Julie Italy 12 Comments

Visit the Colosseum, stroll through the historic heart of Rome, tour the Vatican Museums, climb to the top of the dome on St. Peters’ Basilica, cycle the Appian Way, have an aperitif with a spectacular view of Rome, dine on gelato and pizza by the slice…these are all things you can with 3 days in Rome.

Rome is filled with historical treasures, wonderful neighborhoods to explore, museums and cathedrals, and a long list of restaurants to try. On this Rome itinerary, you have just enough time to see the main highlights and sample a few of these restaurants.

About this Rome Itinerary

Rome is one of Europe’s most popular destinations and with that, lines can be long to visit the more popular sites. The last thing you want to do on vacation is to wait in line after line after line. What fun would that be?

I put a lot of research into how to skip the lines at these attractions. You will have to book some tickets in advance but it will save you hours once you are in Rome. All of the links to book your tickets are included in this post.

It is important to know that St. Peter’s Basilica does not open until early afternoon on some Wednesdays (when the Pope holds an audience in St. Peter’s Square). Day 2 of this itinerary includes a visit to St. Peter’s Square in the morning, so avoid doing day 2 of this itinerary on a Wednesday (unless you want to modify it and attend the Papal Audience).

All of the times in the daily schedules are rough estimates, just to give you an idea about timing throughout the day. Your times may differ, based on queues and how much time you decide to spend at each place. I did my best to anticipate waiting times and visiting times, but on very busy days (or very quiet days) these times can differ.

We have tons more information about Rome (and Italy) which you can see in our Italy Travel Guide.

I do my best to keep the hours of operation and pricing up to date for each attraction, however, these can change at any time. I recommend getting updated hours and pricing for your dates of travel. The link to the official website is provided for each site.

Best Things to Do with 3 Days in Rome

Below is a list of the places to visit if you have 3 days in Rome. All of these are included on this Rome itinerary.

  • Colosseum
  • Roman Forum
  • Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Navona
  • Borghese Gallery
  • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Trastevere
  • Altar of the Fatherland
  • Appian Way
  • Catacombs

St Peters Square Rome Italy | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The view of St. Peter’s Square from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Rome Itinerary Day 1

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Altar of the Fatherland, Trastevere

Ciao! Welcome to Rome!

Today you get to visit one of the world’s most popular attractions (the Colosseum), stroll through ancient Rome, take in the view from one of the best viewpoints in the city, and end the day with dinner with a view.

Get ready to take lots of photos and make some wonderful memories.

Everything on today’s itinerary is located within a small area of Rome so you won’t do a ton of walking.

9:00 am: The Colosseum
10:30 am: Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
12:30 pm: Lunch
1:30 pm: Via dei Fori Imperiali
2:00 pm: Altar of the Fatherland
3:00 pm: Capitoline Hill
5:00 pm: Aperitif at Oro Bistrot
6:00 pm: Trastevere

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (places to go and the walking routes). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
 
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

9:00 am: The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the most popular attraction in Rome. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction was completed in 80 AD, making it the largest amphitheater in the world at that time. The Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 people, spectators who were drawn here to watch gladiatorial contests, executions, animal hunts, and re-enactments of famous battles.

Best Colosseum Views | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The Colosseum. This photo was taken from Giardinetto del Monte Oppio. 

 

How to Visit the Colosseum | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The view from the Arena Floor | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 Colosseum Underground Photo

Touring the Underground | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

You can tour the Colosseum on your own or with a guide. Purchasing tickets in advance and touring it on your own is the cheapest option. Taking a guided tour is more expensive but you will get more out of your visit (we have done both and recommend taking a guided tour of some sort).

On a visit to the Colosseum, you can also add on the Arena Floor (stand on a portion of the floor and gaze up at the Colosseum…it’s well worth the few extra euros), the Underground (tour the maze of hallways under the Colosseum), and the Upper Tier (currently closed but you can get updates about its reopening on the official website).

For more information about the Arena Floor, the Underground, and what there is to do at the Colosseum, read our article How to Visit the Colosseum. It also has lots of helpful tips for your visit.

How to Visit the Colosseum

On your visit to the Colosseum, you can either wander through it on your own, take the audio guide tour, or join a guided tour. Most visits last 1 to 3 hours.

You must purchase your entrance ticket in advance (you cannot just show up and get in line for a ticket).

If online tickets are sold out for your dates of travel, I recommend joining a guided tour of the Colosseum. You will spend a little more money than purchasing your tickets directly from the Colosseum website, but at least you will get to visit the Colosseum.

Hours: Hours vary by season. Click here to get hours for your dates of visit.
Cost: €16 (+ €2 online reservation fee) for the standard ticket that gets you in to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum; there is also a Full Experience ticket that also includes a visit to the Colosseum arena and underground area for €24
Website: Get updated hours and pricing and purchase your ticket here.
Roma Pass: If you have the Roma Pass, you must make your reservation to visit the Colosseum in advance. There is a €2 reservation fee. Click here for more information.
Getting Here: The closest metro stop is Colosseo. When you exit the metro station, the Colosseum will be right in front of you.

For more information, including ticket types, how to book your tickets, things to do at the Colosseum, plus many more photos, check out our guide on How to Visit the Colosseum.

10:30 am: Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are a short walk from the Colosseum. They are both included on your entrance ticket into the Colosseum. If you are on a guided tour of the Colosseum, most tours will continue to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

From the Colosseum, walk up Via Sacra towards the Arch of Titus to enter the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Visit Palatine Hill first and then the Roman Forum.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill sits next to the Roman Forum. It is a complex of archaeological excavations, the remains of temples and palaces, and a museum. During the time of the Roman Republic, many imperial palaces were built here, including palaces for Augustus, Tiberius, and Domitian.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

While on Palatine Hill, make sure you visit Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino for a bird’s eye view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. It’s one of the best views in Rome. Here is the view:

Roman Forum | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The Roman Forum | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is ancient Rome, a complex of government buildings, temples, and marketplaces from 2000 years ago.

Notable things to see in the Roman Forum include the Via Sacra, the Temple of Venus, the Temple of Romulus (the bronze doors date back to 309 AD), the Temple of Antonius and Faustina and its “hanging door,” the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the Temple of Julius Caesar.

A visit to the Roman Forum lasts 20 minutes to an hour.

Roman Forum Photo

The Roman Forum | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

12:30 pm: Lunch

For lunch we recommend La Prezzemolina. This highly rated restaurant serves Italian street food and pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) at budget-friendly prices. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Rome.

For more restaurant recommendations, check out our Rome Restaurant Guide.

1:30 pm: Via dei Fori Imperiali

From La Prezzemolina, take a stroll along Via dei Fori Imperiali. This street runs between the Roman Forum and the Forum of Augustus and the Trajan Forum. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Column, which was erected in 113 AD.

Via dei Fori Imperiali | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The view of the Forum of Augustus on the walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali

Via Fori dei Imperiali ends at Piazza Venezia. From here, you can climb the steps on the Altar of the Fatherland for one of the best views of Rome.

Altar of the Fatherland

Altar of the Fatherland | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

2:00 pm: Altar of the Fatherland

The Altar of the Fatherland, also called Altare della Patria, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, or simply the “wedding cake,” is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Rome.

This national monument was built between 1885 and 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II, who was the first king of unified Italy. It contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and an eternal flame.

For free, you can climb the series of staircases to the upper terrace and café. For the best view, ride the elevator (€12 in 2022) to the top of the monument for panoramic views of Rome. From here, you can see all of Rome’s major landmarks, including the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.

Top of the Altar of the Fatherland | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

On top of the Altar of the Fatherland | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 

Best Rome Itinerary | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

View from Altar of the Fatherland | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

3:00 pm: Capitoline Hill

There are two reasons to visit Capitoline Hill: for a great view of the Roman Forum and to visit the Capitoline Museums.

To get here from the Altar of the Fatherland, it is a 3-minute walk along Via del Teatro di Marcello. You will walk up a series of steps to get to Campidoglio, which is the square on Capitoline Hill. This square was designed by Michelangelo.

Campidoglio Square

Campidoglio Square | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The Capitoline Museums are located inside of Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo. These museums contain works of art by Caravaggio, Rubens, and Tiziano. Be sure to see the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (a copy of this statue sits in Campodoglio Square) and the original statue of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, called the Capitoline Wolf (a replica of this statue sits next to the Senatorial Palace).

For hours and pricing, visit the official website.

For the best viewpoint of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill, walk between Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Senatorial Palace along Via del Campidoglio to Terrazza sul Foro for another great view of the Roman Forum.

Roman Forum | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The view from Terrazza sul Foro | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

5:00 pm: Aperitif at Oro Bistrot

Having an aperitif (an aperitivo) is a pre-dinner drink that is served with a few small snacks. It is popular thing to do in Italy and a great way to unwind after a busy day sightseeing.

One of our favorite places to go for a drink with a view is Oro Bistrot. It is located very close to Piazza Venezia and is a 7-minute walk from Capitoline Hill.

Oro Bistrot is a rooftop terrace that has a spectacular view of the Altar of the Fatherland and the Trajan Forum. They open mid-afternoon and you can have a drink here and then move on or stay for dinner (dinner does not start until 7 pm). Make a reservation in advance for drinks and dinner.

Here is the view. We spent several hours at this spot and sunset was amazing.

Rome Rooftop Bars | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Cocktails at Oro Bistrot

 

Altar of the Fatherland

The view from Oro Bistrot | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

6:00 pm: Trastevere

You have the option to spend all evening at Oro Bistrot, or you can go to Trastevere. This neighborhood is filled with some of the best restaurants in Rome and it is a lovely area to explore. We recommend Nannarella, Enoteca Trastevere, and Trapizzino (make your reservations in advance, we have links to these restaurants on our Rome Restaurant Guide).

To get here, hire a taxi (you can walk but it is a 22-minute walk, about 0.6 km/1 mile from Oro Bistrot). The hotel staff at Oro Bistrot can call you a taxi. We were able to get a taxi at Piazza Venezia.

Trastevere Rome | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Trastevere | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary


Rome Itinerary Day 2

Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo, Historic Heart of Rome

Morning (7:30/8:00 am): Vatican City
12:00 pm: Lunch
1:30 pm: Castel Sant’Angelo
3:00 pm: Scenic Walk to Piazza Navona
3:20 pm: Historic Heart of Rome
5:30 pm: Free Time or Rooftop Bar
7:00 pm: Dinner

The best way to avoid the crowds and the long line at Vatican City is to get an early start, which accounts for the 7:30/8:00 am time listed above. You can hit that snooze button, but you risk an hour wait (or longer on some days) to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. 

And again, be aware that on Wednesdays when the Pope is in town, he holds an audience and St. Peter’s Basilica does not open until the early afternoon. So, if possible, move this day to a different day of the week.

Morning: Vatican City

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. In Vatican City, there are three big sites to visit: the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Museums Pinecone Courtyard | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Pinecone Courtyard of the Vatican Museums

 

The School of Athens Vatican Museums

The School of Athens fresco in the Raphael Rooms

 St Peters Basilica | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

St. Peter’s Basilica | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

There are several ways to visit Vatican City. You can take a guided tour or visit it independently. We have visited Vatican City independently and on a tour. Taking a tour is more expensive but has several advantages.

Taking a tour is much more educational, as a knowledgeable guide will teach you about important sights within the museums and concentrate on the most important things to see. Some tours take you right from the Sistine Chapel into St. Peter’s Basilica, which can save you a lot of time (you get to skip the line into St. Peter’s Basilica). Yes, a tour is more expensive, but skipping that line is well worth the extra money.

Here are three different ways to plan your visit to Vatican City:

BEST OPTION: Early morning guided tour of Vatican City. The Vatican Museums open at 9 am. On an early morning tour, you enter at 8 am, which allows you to see part of the museums with very low crowds. Some tours will take you directly into St. Peter’s Basilica via the tunnel from the Sistine Chapel, which bypasses the enormous line to enter the cathedral. An early morning tour is pricier (on average you will spend about €80 to €135 per person), but it is an all-around better experience. We recommend this early morning tour (it is with the same tour company we used).

CHEAPEST OPTION: At 8 am, go first to St. Peter’s Basilica. This early in the day, there should be little to no line to enter the cathedral. Once inside, do the dome climb first, then visit the rest of the cathedral (learn more about what to see and do in our Guide to Vatican City). After the basilica, visit the Vatican Museums (book tickets for a 10 am entry, and do this several weeks before your visit). You will tour the museums and Sistine Chapel on your own, without a guide. The museums will be busy so be prepared for some crowds.

GUIDED TOUR: The early morning tours of Vatican City are expensive, since you are paying for early access. You can save some money and still take a guided tour by choosing a tour that starts at 9 am, which is opening time of the museums. This tour gets nothing but stellar reviews and includes the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

GUIDE TO VATICAN CITY: In our Guide to Vatican City, we cover hours, pricing, and helpful tips for your visit. You also have the option to add on the “secret rooms” of the Vatican, such as the Cabinet of Masks, and we cover these as well.

12:00 pm: Lunch

For lunch, we have three recommendations that are all within walking distance of St. Peter’s Square. You can either have a quick lunch or a longer, leisurely lunch.

We had a quick lunch at Alice Pizza, dining on pizza by the slice. It’s great if you are on a budget or are saving your money for dinner. Two restaurants we have not tried but sound amazing are Borghiciana Pastificio Artiginale and Scialla the Original Streetfood.

1:30 pm: Castel Sant’Angelo

Stroll along Via della Conciliazione towards Castel Sant’Angelo (and look back several times for the amazing view of St. Peter’s Basilica).

As you walk to Castel Sant’Angelo, you have the option to make a small detour to Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II for a beautiful view of the castle and Ponte Sant’Angelo.

Tiber River Castel Sant Angelo | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

The view from Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II

Castel Sant’ Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. Later, it was used as a fortress, a prison, a castle, and now it is a museum.

During your visit, you will follow a walking route through the fortress. First, you make a loop around the lower level. At the end of this loop, you will enter the center building, and climb to the top on a series of ramps and steps.

From the highest terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo you have almost 360° views of Rome.

Get hours and pricing on the official website.

Vatican City

The view of Vatican City from Castel Sant’Angelo | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

3:00 pm: Scenic Walk to Piazza Navona

Cross the Tiber River on Ponte Sant’Angelo (the bridge that crosses the Tiber River in front of Castel Sant’Angelo). This bridge is lined with angels and is a great photo spot.

Castel Sant Angelo | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Ponte Sant’Angelo | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Walk east along the Tiber River. Once you get to Ponte Umberto I, walk a short distance on this bridge for an iconic view of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Tiber River.

Tiber River Rome

The view from Ponte Umberto I

Then walk down Via Giuseppe Zanardelli until you get to Piazza Navona.

This walk is 800 meters (0.5 miles) and takes 10 minutes without stops for photos.

Italy Travel Guide Florence

3:20 pm: Historic Heart of Rome

Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most famous squares. It is filled with cafes, fountains, and lots of people. While you are here, take a look at the three fountains (the Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Fountain of Neptune, and the Fountain of the Moor), watch the street performers, and step inside Sant Agnese in Agone.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 

Fountain of Neptune Piazza Navona | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Fountain of Neptune | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Piazza Navona is a good place to rest your feet for a few minutes. Many cafes get mediocre reviews, but it’s a nice spot to get a cup of coffee or glass of wine. We recommend Bernini.

Once you are finished in Piazza Navona, continue the stroll through the heart of Rome.

It’s a quick walk to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. For hours of operation and ticket options (the Pantheon is no longer free to visit), visit the official website.

Pantheon

Pantheon | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Continue to the Trevi Fountain, passing by the Temple of Hadrian and Venchi (one of our favorite gelato shops in Rome).

The Trevi Fountain is one of the busiest places to visit in Rome. If you want to leave the crowds behind, visit Garden Roof Trevi (also called Trevi Rooftop). This tiny rooftop bar overlooks the Trevi Fountain. You can have a drink with a view and rest your feet for a few minutes.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 

Trevi Fountain View

The view from Garden Roof Trevi

Continue the walk until you get to the Spanish Steps.

This stairway is one of the most popular places to visit in Rome, frequently shows up in walking tours of the city, and is free to visit. The fountain that sits at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Longboat), dates back to 1629 and was built by Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Spanish Steps

Spanish steps, midafternoon in September

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Tired and need a break? Think twice about having a seat on the Spanish Steps. In 2019, a new law was put in place to crack down on “bad behavior” in Rome. If you are caught sitting on the Spanish Steps, you risk paying a €400 fine.

For a unique view of the Spanish Steps, go inside the Keats-Shelley House. It takes 30 minutes or less to tour this small museum. For hours of operation and pricing, visit the official website.

5:30 pm: Free Time or Rooftop Bar

Dinner in Rome does not typically start until 7 pm. That gives you some free time. You can either return to your hotel for a little bit or visit a nearby rooftop bar for an aperitif and another nice view of Rome.

Just a one-minute walk from the top of the Spanish Steps is Cielo Terrace, which is on top of the Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville. They serve both aperitifs and dinner, so you could stay for dinner. Learn more in our guide to the Rome Rooftop Bars.

Cielo Terrace Rome | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Cielo Terrace

Almost next door to Cielo Terrace is Imàgo, a Michelin-starred restaurant with amazing views over Rome. If you like the idea of dining here, make your reservation at least one month in advance.

Best Restaurants in Rome

The view from Imàgo

7:00 pm: Dinner

For dinner, you can stay at Cielo Terrace or have dinner elsewhere. If you didn’t go to Trastevere yet, you could have dinner here tonight. For recommendations, take a look at our Rome Restaurant Guide.


Rome Itinerary Day 3

Appian Way, Catacombs, Borghese Gallery

In the morning, cycle on the Appian Way and tour the Catacombs. In the afternoon, visit the Borghese Gallery, a museum that contains one of the best art collections in the world.

9:00 am: Appian Way & Catacombs
3:00 pm: Borghese Gallery
5:00 pm: Villa Borghese Gardens
6:00 pm: Aperitif
7:00 pm: Dinner

Morning: The Appian Way & the Catacombs

The Appian Way is an ancient Roman road that was built to connect Rome to Brindisi. Many monuments lie along this road, including the Circus of Maxentius and numerous catacombs.

If you are visiting Rome with kids, this is one of the best things to do in Rome.

Appian Way

The Appian Way | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 

Biking the Appian Way | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

To visit the Appian Way, you can either rent bikes and cycle the road on your own or take a tour. Many tours use e-bikes and include a visit to the catacombs.

We took the bus to the Appian Way, rented bikes at a small shop (Appia Antica Caffe), and cycled the road on our own, ending the morning with a visit to San Sebastian Catacombs. This takes about 3 hours, so if you get started at 9 am, you will finish around 12:00 pm. To learn how to do this on your own, take a look at our article about the Appian Way.

Joining a tour takes out a lot of the hassle of getting to and from the Appian Way (we used a combination of the metro and bus to get here). Plus, you get to tour the catacombs with a guide, so you’ll get the most out of your visit.

Here are several of the highest rated tours of the Appian Way and Catacombs. Some take 3 hours and there is one on this list that takes 6 hours. If you plan to visit the Borghese Gallery, take a shorter tour so you have enough time to also visit the Borghese.

 

 

3:00 pm: Borghese Gallery

I put the Borghese Gallery at 3 pm, to give you enough time to have lunch and get here from the Appian Way. Plus, you will have to arrive 30 minutes before your tour time to pick up your tickets.

Getting to the Borghese Gallery: The closest metro station is Barberini and from here it is a 20-minute walk or a quick bus ride to get to the Borghese Gallery. You also have the option to use the bus, taxi, or Uber. There is more information about how to get here on the official website.

Even if you are not a big fan of art museums, or even just museums in general, the Borghese Gallery is still worth the visit. This art museum contains one of the best collections of art in the world. See works of art by Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Bernini.

Borghese Gallery Exterior

Borghese Gallery | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

 Apollo and Daphne Borghese | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Apollo and Daphne

 

Borghese Gallery

PRO TRAVEL TIP: You can only visit the Borghese Art Gallery with a reservation. Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance. Reservations are made for two-hour time slots, starting at 9 am, and the last time slot is at 5:45 pm.

You can make your reservation online or call +39 06 32810. There is a €2 fee for making online reservations. Tickets can also be purchased through GetYourGuide, which includes a guided tour of Borghese Gardens. This is a great option if you want to visit the museum with a guide or were unable to purchase tickets on the official website.

Collect your tickets a half an hour before your time slot. For a 3 pm reservation, plan on arriving no later than 2:30 pm. If you arrive late, even 5 minutes late, they may turn you away. We saw this happen to other people who arrived late for their reservation.

Hours: 9 am – 7 pm; last entry at 5:45 pm
Closed Mondays
Cost: €13, prices can increase during special exhibits, +€2 reservation fee
Website: www.galleriaborghese.it
Nearest Metro Station: Barberini

5:00 pm: Villa Borghese Gardens

After your visit to Villa Borghese, take a stroll through the gardens. Notable things to see include Tempio di Esculapio (a small temple on the lake) and Orologio ad Acqua del Pincio (a hydropower clock).

At the far end of the Villa Borghese Gardens, you will be standing on Terrazza del Pincio. From here, you will overlook Piazza del Popolo.

Piazza del Popolo

The view from Terrazza del Pincio | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

6:00 pm: Dinner

If you aren’t getting tired of rooftop bars yet, we have a few more recommendations. Just a short walk from Piazza del Popolo is Terrazza Nainer. A little farther away is AcquaRoof Terrazza Molinari. This rooftop bar and restaurant serves amazing pasta dishes.

AcquaRoof Restaurant Rome

AcquaRoof Terrazza Molinari | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Another recommendation is Divinity Restaurant & Lounge, which is near the Pantheon. They have an outdoor terrace where you can have an aperitif and they also have an outdoor restaurant. The food and drinks are great and here is the view at sunset:

Divinity Rooftop

The view from Divinity Restaurant and Lounge at sunset | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary


Are the Travel Passes Worth It?

There are several different travel passes in Rome, including the Roma Pass, the Omnia Card, and the Turbo Pass. Of the three passes, the Roma Pass is best for this itinerary. The Roma Pass is the cheapest of the three (the Omnia Card and Turbo Pass are more expensive and cover a lot of sites not listed in this itinerary, so you won’t get your money’s worth).

The 3 day Roma Pass costs €52. It also covers a long list of sites that are not in our itinerary, but it does cover the Borghese Gallery, the Capitoline Museums, and the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

With the Roma Pass, the first two sites you visit are free and then the remainder get a discount. You also get free use of the public transportation. The savings are minimal and with the Roma Pass, you still have to make your Colosseum reservation in advance. We don’t think it is worth it, but you can learn more about it on the official website.

How to Get Around Rome

The majority of the must-see sights in Rome are located in central Rome. It’s possible to get around mainly by walking, but you can save your steps, and a little bit of time, by also using the Rome metro, the bus, or taking a taxi.

Taxi stands are set up throughout the city. On Google Maps, you can search “taxi stand” for the ones closest to your location. Then you get in the taxi first in line and tell them your next destination. We frequently do this and in 2022, every taxi we took used credit cards (but it is good to have some cash on hand as a backup). To tip the taxi driver, we added on 1 to 2 euros to the fare.

You can also use Uber but we ended up spending a lot of time waiting for the Uber to arrive and figured out it was quicker to walk to the closest taxi stand.

The metro is fast, cheap, and easy to use. It’s a lot more economical than a taxi. Just beware of pick pockets on the metro and in other crowded places throughout Rome.

Dinner in Piazza Navona

Cafes in Piazza Navona | 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Where to Stay in Rome

For recommendations on where to stay, read our Best Hotels and Neighborhoods Guide for Rome. Learn where to stay for a great view of the Colosseum and Piazza Navona and get recommendations whether you are looking for a budget hotel, luxury hotel, or if you are traveling as a family.

Where to Eat in Rome

We listed several recommendations in this itinerary, but for a bigger list of recommended restaurants, take a look at our Rome Restaurant Guide. And for rooftop bars, take a look at our guide about the Rome Rooftop Bars.

Best Time to Visit Rome

Spring and fall are the best times of the year to visit Rome. During this time, the weather is great for sightseeing and crowds tend to be lower than the busy summer months. But here is a breakdown by season of what you can expect in Rome:

WINTER: It’s chilly in Rome during the winter months. Daytime high’s average around 13°C (55°F) and it is a little colder at night. Rainfall is slightly above average for the year (averaging about 7 days of rain per month in December, January, and February).

SPRING: In early spring, the high temperature is 16°C (60°F) and it continues to get warmer week by week, reaching an average high of 27°C (80°F) by June. Rainfall chances go down the closer you get to the summer months. May and June have warm weather and lower chances of rain than the fall and winter months.

SUMMER: Expect the biggest crowds of the year and hot weather during the summer months. Daily high temperatures average 31°C (87°F) but they can easily get up to 35°C (95°F). Rainfall is the lowest of the year. If you plan to visit in the summer months, make your hotel reservations far in advance as well as your entrance tickets into the museums.

FALL: In early fall, crowds can still be high, not really quieting down until the end of October. Daytime high’s range from 26°C (79°F) in early fall and cooling off to 17°C (62°F) by late fall. Autumn is the wettest time to visit Rome (mid-September through early December with rainfall peaking in November), so bring an umbrella if you plan to be here at this time.

VERDICT: The best time to visit Rome is May through mid-June. The weather is nice and crowds are manageable. 

More or Less Time in Rome

If you have less than 3 days in Rome, learn how to plan your visit with our One Day in Rome itinerary and Two Days in Rome itinerary. If you have more than 3 days, take a look at our 4 Days in Rome itinerary, which has several different ways to spend your final day in Rome.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time do you need in Rome?

Ideally, plan on spending two or more days in Rome. With 2 days, you have just enough time to visit all of Rome’s top attractions without cramming them into one very busy day. Even more time allows you to go off the beaten path, explore the underground sites and the Appian Way, visit a few neighborhoods, and sample some of Rome’s amazing restaurants.

What shouldn’t you miss in Rome?

Here are the best things to do in Rome if it is your first time in the city:

  • Colosseum
  • Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
  • St. Peter’s Basilica (be sure to climb the dome!)
  • Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel
  • Stroll through the historic heart of Rome (Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona)
  • Eat gelato
  • Enjoy the view from the Altar of the Fatherland
  • Appian Way and the Catacombs
  • Galleria Borghese

What are the best things to do in Rome with kids?

If you will be visiting Rome with kids, the best things to do include the Colosseum, cycling on the Appian Way, renting bikes and exploring the Villa Borghese Gardens, visiting St. Peter’s Basilica and Piazza Navona, seeing the Trevi Fountain, and of course eating gelato.


If you have any questions about this 3 days in Rome itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip Rome

If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for four different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice.

For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.

For a full list of things to do in Rome, check out our article Best Things to Do in Rome. For the best viewpoints of Rome’s famous landmarks, take a look at our article Best Views of Rome.

If you have less time in Rome, take a look at our One Day in Rome itinerary and 2 Days in Rome itinerary. If you have more than 3 days, take a look at our 4 Days in Rome itinerary.

For advice on where to eat, read our guide about Where to Eat in Rome, that has restaurant recommendations near the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the historic heart of Rome, plus some great rooftop restaurants. We also have a guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

Don’t miss our detailed guides about How to Visit the Colosseum and How to Visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Get recommendations on where to stay in Rome in our Rome Hotel Guide.

 

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.

 

3 Days in Rome Italy Itinerary

 

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Comments 12

  1. Avatar for Wazeem
    Wazeem

    Hallo Julie,
    a wonderful coverage of the beautiful city in 3 days, thank you so much for your tips. i am confused about taking separate ticket/tours and the city pass. Which pass would you recommend for public transport(we hav a car parked at our stay)+ all the places in your itinerary?
    Thank you

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Here is a link to a website that explains the transportation passes in Rome. We mostly walked to everything and either used the metro or a taxi occasionally. To make these passes worth it, you will have to ride the buses and metro a few times. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for angelika
    angelika

    Hi. I am following your 3 days in Rome and find it very helpful and well planned. I booked the tour to the Vatican you recommend starting at 9am. This tour includes a guided tour to St Peters Basilica. But then in the fine print and in the e-mail I received it says that we may be asked to wait in line for St Peters. This is very confusing. I think I will cancel this tour again. Do you have a better recommend for a tour that guarantees Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. Thank you. Angelika

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      There are a few select tours that use the tunnel to go from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. It closed during COVID and about a year ago I heard that it reopened. There are a couple reasons why the fine print would say that. Either there still could be a small line to enter through the tunnel, they did not update their fine print, or they don’t have access to the tunnel, which means that you will exit the Vatican Museums and walk outside to the basilica and then potentially wait in line. Before canceling your tour, you could reach out to the tour company. If you are looking at the same tour, Enjoy Rome is the company (it is listed just under the title of the tour). If you click their name, you go to their page that has contact information. It can be challenging to find a tour company that uses the tunnel. We used LivItaly and they do offer tours that use the tunnel, at least that is what they told me about a year ago. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for angelika
  3. Avatar for Rwina
    Rwina

    Hi,

    I’m looking to go to Rome in a week (eek) and this is such a great 3 day itinerary! I wanted to check if wait times you discuss would still be as long now in the autumn? Thanks

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Rwina. They should be shorter this time of year, since it is the off season. In places where it’s possible (for example, the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums) I still recommend purchasing your tickets in advance as soon as possible, just to get the entry time you want. Have a great time in Rome! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Claire Halliday
    Claire Halliday

    Hi Julie
    Please confirm the guided tour of the Vatican that you recommend. The link takes me through to several options.

    Many thanks
    Claire

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, I know, unfortunately the way some GetYourGuide links work is it takes you to a page with multiple tours. The small group tour that we recommend is called “Vatican Early Entrance Skip-the-Line Small Group Tour” by LivItaly. You can see this in the URL: vatican-early-entrance-small-group-tour-t36484. Here is the link again. It will be the first tour on the page on the top left. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Claire Halliday
  5. Avatar for Julie Burgess
    Julie Burgess

    Hi Julie, Do you all ever do food tours or cooking classes? If so, do you recommend any in the cities of Rome, Sorrento or Florence. We are traveling to all three in that order. Thanks…love your blog!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Julie. Thanks for writing in. We have done food tours, but in other countries, not Italy. They are great and introduce to foods you wouldn’t necessarily know about on your own. Same goes for a cooking class. Here is a very highly cooking class in Rome. This tour is through GetYourGuide (who we have used for other tours in Rome and had a fantastic experience) but the link will take you to even more options. This food tour is one of the most popular tours in Rome and takes you through Trastevere or the Jewish Quarter. There are most likely food tours available in Florence and Sorrento. I think Rome is the best place for a food tour but a cooking class would be good at any of these locations. Cheers, Julie

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