How to spend 3 days in Rome? It might sound like a lot of days but there’s so much to see in the Italian capital that careful planning is essential!
Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, with a group of friends, or visiting Rome with kids, there are so many activities to keep you busy. This is a city full of soul and packed with history, great food, tons of culture, and some of the most beautiful architecture in all of Europe (ok, maybe I’m just being biased now!).
Read on for advice on how to see the best of Rome in 3 days. This guide includes all you need to know before you visit the likes of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican City – and beyond.
Getting to Rome
If you are traveling to Rome from outside of Italy, your best option is to fly directly into Rome. There are two airports, Rome–Fiumicino International Airport Leonardo da Vinci, airport code: FCO, and Ciampino Airport, airport code: CIA.
If you are flying from the USA or Canada, you will most likely land at the Rome-Fiumicino airport. It is located about 45 minutes by car from Rome.
You can easily get here by bus, train, or taxi. The train station at Fiumicino Airport will take you directly to Rome Termini, the main station in the center of the city. It costs €14 and takes 35 minutes. There are no other stops, it is a direct train.
There are also buses that run from the airport to the main station and cost slightly less at €7 per person. They can take up to an hour depending on the time of day and traffic.
The third option is to take a taxi. Taxis from the airport to anywhere in the city center cost a flat rate of €50.
If you are flying with a budget airline from elsewhere in Europe, you may land at Ciampino. There is no train from Ciampino, but buses operate all day and cost €7.
You can also take a taxi to the city from the Ciampino Airport. Taxis between the airport and city are set at a flat rate of €30.
If you want to organize a pickup from the airport to take you to your hotel you can do so here for Fiumicino and Ciampino.
Where to Stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels in Rome.
If you are only spending three days in Rome, you will want to make sure you stay as centrally as possible.
The city is incredibly walkable, but you can also hop on a bus or tram to get you to nearby spots (I simply enter where I want to go on Google Maps and then select the public transportation option to see the best options for getting where I want to go!).
A few of my favorite hotels at varying budgets near the center of the city include:
- Hotel Rafaello: Room start at $80 USD per night and the location is very close to both Roma Termini and to the Colosseum.
- Monti Palace Hotel: Nice boutique hotel close to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Rooms start at $180 USD per night.
- Hotel Grifo: Stunning hotel with great breakfast near Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and the Colosseum. Room start at $95 per night.
- Hotel Caravaggio: Midrange hotel within walking distance of the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. Rooms start at $120 USD per night.
- The Liberty Boutique Hotel: Our personal pick for boutique hotels in Rome, this recently renovated design hotel is located a short walk from the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps. Rooms start at $130 per night.
Best Time to Visit Rome
The busiest time of year in Italy and particularly in Rome, is in summer. It’s hot, humid, and crowded. If you can avoid it, try to visit Rome in the shoulder seasons.
Rome in winter is actually a wonderful time of year to visit the city. It never gets too cold in this region of Italy. You will still need a coat and sturdy shoes, but it almost never drops to freezing temperatures with average day time temperatures hovering at 12 degrees Celsius or 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rome is a capital city, so there are no off-seasons. There are tourists here year-round, but if you come between October and March, you can at least miss out on the absolute busiest time of year to visit and still enjoy all of the best things that the city has to offer.
How to Spend 3 Days in Rome: 3 Day Rome Itinerary
This 3 day Rome itinerary covers the top heritage sites, major landmarks, and best places to eat in one of the best cities in Italy. Do check opening hours for certain attractions and consider the weather; you can flip items around as needed.
Only spending 1 day in the Eternal City? This one-day in Rome itinerary has you covered!
Day One in Rome – Morning
Commence your 3 days in Rome by heading to the Monti neighborhood and diving into the history of Ancient Rome. You can take the metro to Colosseo and begin your day from there.
Start your three days in Rome at the very emblem of the city; the Colosseum.
Constructed between 72 and 80 AD, the world’s largest amphitheater hosted gladiatorial games as well as theatrical performances and public executions. Close to 50,000 Romans would turn out to watch all three types of events!
You can choose to take a turn around the exterior or purchase a ticket to go inside. In that case, you can buy tickets online here which include the Colosseum and Forum to reduce the time spent waiting in line.
Furthermore, you can opt for a combo ticket that also covers the next few items on this 3 day Rome itinerary.
Remember to check out the Arch of Constantine while you’re here.
The Roman Forum was the epicenter of religious, political, and social affairs during the Roman Empire. Here you will find the remains of imperial residences, senate offices, law courts, and temples.
Civilians would attend the forum on a daily basis to shop at the markets and attend public events. The Via Sacra (Sacred Way) passes through here and connects the marketplace with Capitoline Hill.
If you bought the combo, you can flash the ticket at the gate (keep it safe!) and continue your tour straight after the Colosseum. See those ticket options here.
Rome was famously founded on seven hills. The Palatine Hill rises above the Roman Forum and is one of the top-rated things to do in Rome in 3 days.
This knoll is littered with yet more imperial homes, religious temples, and monuments. These include the House of Augustus, the Temple of Apollo, and the Arch of Titus.
Crucially, Palatine Hill marks the original foundations of Rome. This is where Romulus and Remus were found and adopted by the she-wolf.
Besides gobbling up the history and significance of the ruins, the views from Palatine Hill are out of this world.
Day One of 3 Days in Rome – Afternoon
Seeing those three sights will fill the first morning of your 3 days in Rome. And, you’ve earned that cup of coffee!
Places to eat are limited in this area but Caffè Antica Roma comes highly recommended. This low-key cafe specializes in pastries, focaccia sandwiches, and sweet bakes. Plus, the prices are decent for Monti.
Baths of Caracalla
Walk off that panini with a stroll around the Baths of Caracalla – one of the best-preserved thermal baths. This public bathhouse was constructed at the request of emperor Septimius Severus in 206 AD. However, it fell to his son, Caracalla, to complete the structure. In its heyday, 1,600 civilians could wash here at one time.
As per the norm, the unit included bathing pools alongside a frigidarium, a caldarium, and a tepidarium. alongside larger swimming pools.
You can purchase tickets for the Baths of Caracalla online.
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
One final sight to squeeze into the first of your three days in Rome is a trip to the catacombs.
In fact, there are close to 40 catacombs dotted around the Eternal City. These underground burial grounds date from the 2nd to the 5th centuries. Principally, they were used by Christians and Jewish residents.
As you are coming from the Baths of Caracalla, the Catacombs of St. Callixtus are the easiest to get to.
You can catch bus number 118 from outside the baths on Viale delle Terme di Caracalla. Hop off at the catacombs; the journey takes 15 minutes.
Tours of the catacombs last 40 minutes and you can reserve tickets with a guide online in advance. However, the last slot for admission is 5 pm so you will need to plan your afternoon with care.
Day One of 3 Days in Rome – Evening
It’s been a long day with a lot of sightseeing so you’ve earned a decent meal for the first night in Rome in 3 days. Here are some recommendations for where to dine tonight.
- Trattoria Cecio: Convenient for the train station, Trattoria Cecio is handy to know about! It’s a laid-back joint that focuses on seafood and grilled meat.
- Saltimbocca Ristorante: This beautiful restaurant has an old-worldly interior as well as patio seating. Menus reflect traditional Italian cooking beyond pasta, and their Rome-style pizzas are delicious.
Day Two in Rome – Morning
After digesting the best of Rome’s ancient history yesterday, the second day of your 3 day Rome itinerary is centered around the city’s younger heritage.
Now consecrated as a Catholic church, the Pantheon was originally dedicated to all (pan) Roman gods (theon). With no admission charge, the Pantheon is one of the best free things to do in Rome in 3 days.
Once you step inside you will see that the Oculus remains open to the elements and allows the sunshine (or the rain!) to pour down.
Aim to arrive promptly at opening time, 9 am, to beat the inevitable line. On the other hand, you can purchase an audio tour or guided tour for a small fee.
You can’t spend 3 days in Rome without making a wish at the Trevi Fountain.
This gigantic fountain was part of the old aqueduct system that fed water into the city. Nowadays, the water isn’t potable but it’s certainly photographic!
The fountain centers on Neptune, the Roman sea deity, and his horses. One horse remains calm while the other struggles – perfectly embodying the nature of the ocean.
Trevi Fountain is free to visit but remember to carry a coin to toss into the water. Plus, it’s ideal to get there early in the day before the crowds assemble.
The Spanish Steps is one of Rome’s most photographed spots. Officially the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, these 138 steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church.
During the 17th century, this part of the Centro Storico was considered Spanish territory. They form a butterfly shape when viewed from certain angles. And, if you note the three layers to the design – these represent the Holy Trinity.
You can snap a photo of the Spanish Steps but refrain from sitting on them. Otherwise, you might get slapped with a fine!
Day Two of 3 Days in Rome – Afternoon
After exploring the first three spots and roaming the streets of Centro Storico, grab lunch before moving on to the afternoon activities.
Many of the restaurants in this neighborhood are pricey considering the quality. Avoid disappointment and head straight to Via Della Croce. Plentiful portions, tasty pasta, and a good spread of meat, seafood, and vegetarian options make this one a winner!
Piazza del Popolo
Following Via Margutta will deliver you at Piazza del Popolo. This was the site of the original gate that brought visitors into the city. It’s adorned with fountains and a giant obelisk and is perfect for working off that lunchtime pasta!
Now you’ll appreciate that pasta lunch! Villa Borgese is the largest park in Rome. The green space is laden with statues, monuments, gardens, and museums. There is a lake where you can rent boats in the summer months, a zoo, and an arthouse movie theater.
You’ll not have time to see everything over the course of one afternoon. However, the Borghese Gallery & Museum comes highly recommended. The collection includes works by Raffaello, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. And, getting your art fix is one of the essential things to do in Rome in 3 days!
Advance booking is recommended. Book your tickets easily here.
Another spot to check out has to be the Terrazza del Pincio. The terrace rises above the Piazza del Popolo and you can spot Vatican City on the horizon across the Rome rooftops. Although you can enjoy these views at any time of day, the sunset experience is unreal.
Day Three in Rome – Morning
Today, you will technically leave Rome and enter a different country in Europe! Take the metro to Ottaviano and you’ll soon see your first sight of the day.
Vatican City is a city-state and the seat of the Pope. It’s where you’ll find the likes of St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) and the Sistine Chapel.
However, there’s so much more to see and you’ll need to devote an entire morning to exploring the complex and its artworks.
Tickets to the Vatican Museums Collection, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Gardens are available via the official website. St. Peter’s Basilica is actually free to visit, but you might have to wait in line. Hence why you’ll need to visit the site on the morning of your Rome itinerary for 3 days.
General admission is €17 plus a €4 service fee, and the option to add an audio guide for a further €7. So, you’re looking at a total spend of €28 ($27).
Remember, that the Vatican Museums are not open to the public on Sundays. And, it’s imperative that all visitors dress modestly with shoulders and knees covered.
Day Three of 3 Days in Rome – Afternoon
After spending the past few hours on your feet, take a moment to pause over lunch and a coffee. Cafes in front of St. Peter’s Square are generally hit-and-miss. Therefore, head to the backstreets. Caffetteria Sonnino is a family-owned restaurant with hearty pasta dishes, lovely cakes, and strong coffee.
As you are on the cusp of the prestigious Prati neighborhood, you could also check out a bistro in this area. Margot – Ristorante Prati is an upscale affair with an emphasis on seafood. Prices are reasonable for this part of town and portion sizes are extremely generous so you’ll get your money’s worth!
If you fancy shopping while in Rome, you can work off your lunch in the boutiques of Prati. Otherwise, onward with the final leg of your three days in Rome.
Castel Sant’Angelo doesn’t look anything like the fairytale castles of Europe! That’s because the structure was originally intended as the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian. Although, it has also been used as a prison, execution site, papal residence, and military fortress.
There is no charge to explore the courtyards and terraces. However, if you want to see the interiors and artworks you’ll need to purchase a ticket. Subject to the weather, you can pop inside or head to the final attractions of your 3 days in Rome.
Orto Botanico di Roma or Villa Doria Pamphilj
Conclude your three days in Rome with a final dose of green space.
Rome’s Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico di Roma) is a pristine patch of nature containing around 7,000 botanical species. Plus, you’ll get to check out the views from the Belvedere del Gianicolo. It’s a 20-minute walk along the banks of the River Tiber.
On the other hand, you can visit the larger ground of Villa Doria Pamphilj. This huge estate consists of lakes, fountains, gardens, and stately buildings. You can take bus number 982 from Piazza Pia outside Castel Sant’Angelo and alight once you reach the park.
Both are equally lovely to explore so you can choose based on your personal interests and energy levels.
One of the top things to do in Rome in 3 days is gorge on Italian food. The neighborhood of Trastevere is considered one of the best places to eat in Rome, so let’s make that the spot for your final supper in the Eternal City.
Do aim to arrive before sunset so you can wander the streets and note the traditional architecture.
In terms of where to eat in Trastevere, follow your nose or head to one of these trattorias for a farewell glass of wine.
- Pizzeria Dar Poeta: There are always lines at this popular pizza joint! Arrive early and choose from an extensive pizza menu that covers vegetarians and carnivores in equal measure.
- Trattoria Da Teo: This romantic eatery whips up classic Italian fare and sources seasonal produce for the freshest taste.
- Gelateria del Viale: Leave room for pudding and pick up a scoop of your favorite flavor before taking a moonlit stroll over to the Centro Storico.