3 Days In Rome: An Itinerary From A Frequent Visitor

"When in Rome, live as the Romans do." This itinerary will do just that as it guides you not only through the highlights of Rome but its more laidback sites, all in three days!
April 4, 2024
A view of the Vatican and the River Tiber at sunset during a three day trip to Rome

Rome is absolutely magical! I am going to start off by telling you that Rome is one of my favorite European cities and that I get super excited when I get a chance to talk about it. This post details how to spend three days in Rome, and it’s an absolute treat for me to share with you! 

Rome is the heart and soul of the accumulation of 3,000 years worth of culture that has been woven together to make the modern city we get to appreciate today. Everywhere you look and everything you walk on practically oozes history and speaks of long ago stories.

There is so much to see, smell, eat, drink, hear, and experience that it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’re here. We want to share with you an itinerary of Rome that can fit most people’s schedules.

I wish everyone (myself included!) had the opportunity to spend at least a month walking the cobbled streets of this city, but we have lives and jobs and obligations that keep us busy. So in order for you to get the most out of the Eternal City, this three day Rome itinerary will give you the most perfect taste of all this city has to offer.

How to Use This Itinerary

All of the information in this post has come from a combination of my three visits to Rome. Each time I have been to Rome, I have visited the city for no more than four days each, so I think I’ve just about perfected the best way to see the most in three days.

This itinerary for three days in Rome is packed full of things to do and will keep you moving almost all day long. I totally understand that some people want to saunter from place to place instead of racking up the miles, so please feel free to adjust and subtract activities as you see fit!

A bright picture of the Colosseum on a day with clear, blue skies

Each day is set up to focus on a specific area of Rome so you’re not pointlessly traipsing from one end of the city to another. We have also divided each day up into timed sections to give you an idea of how much time to spend at each attraction if you want to fit everything in. Obviously feel free to change this up according to your preferences!

I have also added some additional, smaller things to do in Rome in three days if you have time in between the main activities.

Getting To Rome

If you’re arriving in Italy from somewhere abroad, you will most likely land at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino (FCO) airport. It’s located just over 30 km (19 mi) from the center of Rome.

The easiest, and cheapest, way to get from FCO to Rome is via the Trenitalia Leonardo Express train that connects the airport to Rome’s central train station, Roma Termini. The trip takes about 32 minutes.

Alternatively, you could take an Uber or taxi from the airport directly to your hotel or other accommodation. Either option will cost at least €50-75 and you run the possibility of getting caught in traffic.

Day One

We’re gonna hit the ground running! I suggest getting up early enough to get ready and eat breakfast by 8 am. To save time and money, we almost always ate breakfast and had coffee at our hotel. If you want something different, there are coffee shops (or bars, as the locals call them) everywhere in the city. Our first stop today will include everything in and around the Colosseum!

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your three days in Rome, we suggest buying tickets in advance online…for EVERYTHING.

8:30/9:00 AM – Colosseum, Forum, & Palatine Hill

The Colosseum opens at 8:30 am while the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill open at 9:00 am; the entrance time for the Colosseum on your ticket will dictate what you do first! All three sites are within a short walking distance of one another so you can hop from one attraction to the next as needed.

A view of the entire outside of the Colosseum from the Palatine Hill in Rome

To be able to access almost everything within these three areas, we suggest buying the Full Experience Ticket. When booking, you’ll select a specific date and time. This indicates when you must visit the Colosseum. Entrance to the Forum and Palatine Hill can be accessed at any time within the 24-hour ticket window. For this itinerary, we encourage you to buy tickets for a Colosseum entrance time before 11 am.

Colosseum

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was the largest ancient amphitheater ever built (it had a capacity to hold more than 50,000 people). It was enjoyed by Romans during the height of the Roman Empire featuring gladiatorial games, dramas, animal hunts, public executions, and even naval battles.

The Colosseum is a massively iconic Roman structure and quite a treat to visit. Impressively, a large part of the complex still stands today so you can really appreciate just how grand it would have felt during its heyday. Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour to walk around.

The inside of the Roman Colosseum on a sunny day

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the heart of ancient Roman society and served as the epicenter for all things political, social, and religious. Its buildings and temples hosted governmental affairs, criminal trials, and public meetings. This is where all things important and trivial got done! Today, we get to walk through the old streets and see the ruins that were once magnificent buildings.

A view of the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Hill during a three day trip to Rome

Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill, one of Rome’s seven hills, sits above the Roman Forum. The panoramic views of the city alone are worth the climb. At the height of the Roman empire, the Palatine Hill served as the home for emperors and nobility who lived in absolutely lavish, sprawling palaces.

Above is the Estadio Palatino, or Palatine Hill Stadium was built by Emperor Domitian in the 1st century AD. To the right, you have a perfectly framed view of Saint Peter’s Basilica through crumbling ancient ruins.

Of note, the house of Augustus, or Domus Augusti, is a remarkably unique experience. This can only be accessed with certain tickets, so if you’re interested in visiting this particular site, be sure your ticket includes entrance to the Domus Augusti.

Remains of a frescoed ceiling in the House of Augustus
Red and green crumbling frescos in the House of Augustus

Please take time to wander through all of the gardens and ruins. There is so much to see in this area so it will take you all morning (especially if you like to read all of the information tablets).

If you want a guided experience, we suggest booking a tour with Walks of Italy. This tour company offers a three hour, small group tour of all three sites. Self guided audio tour options include Rick Steves free downloadable guide or one created by Clio Muse Tours.

  • Location: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
  • Price: €24 per person for Full Experience Ticket
  • Booking: via CoopCulture

12:00 PM – Jewish Quarter For Lunch

For lunch and some post-meal meandering, we suggest you check out the Jewish Quarter, home to the oldest Jewish community in Europe. The Jewish Quarter was established in 1555 by Pope Paul IV, set forth by a Papal decree that was created to forcibly segregate and isolate the Jewish population of Rome.

Terror reigned again during WWII when Nazis surrounded the area and deported 1,023 residents to Auschwitz. You will note scattered “tripping stones” placed into the cobblestone roads; each “tripping stone” is a brass plaque dedicated to a person who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

The ancient temple ruin called the Portico d'Ottavia standing next to orange and yellow terracotta buildings
A view of the Portico d’Ottavia nestled between buildings much younger than itself in the Jewish Quarter.

Despite its dark times, it is now a thriving, beautiful neighborhood with delicious restaurants, charming piazzas with fountains, and a continued rich Jewish culture. The following are just a few things to see while walking through this cobbled neighborhood:

  • Portico d’Ottavia is the still standing portion of the ancient Circus Flaminium, which included temples and libraries. Rebuilt in 23 AD, this ruin has been used for other means, including a fish market up until the 1800s.

  • The Theater of Marcellus is located just beyond Portico d’Ottavia and what stands today has been beautifully incorporated into the bones of buildings still used to this day. This is a pattern that is repeated thousands of times over in this fabulous city. You’ll be able to recognize this ruin as its walls are reminiscent of those in the Colosseum.

  • The Fountain of Turtles is situated in the center of Piazza Mattei. The terracotta colored buildings host a number of cafes with outdoor seating. It’s a beautiful spot to rest.
  • Treat yourself to a traditional Roman-Jewish meal! Try lunch at Il Giardino Romano located at Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 18. We recommend ordering the famous fried Jewish artichoke!

  • Stop by the local cheese shop, salumerie, and wine bar, Beppe E I Suoi Formaggio. Choose from a stunning array of cheeses to go or enjoy a sample platter in house. Honestly, you could enjoy a lunch here as they do offer a small selection of dishes from their kitchen. I cannot recommend this business enough and the staff is extremely helpful! Find Beppe at Via di S. Maria del Pianto, 9A.

1:00/1:30 PM – Piazza del Campidoglio And Capitoline Museums

Sitting atop the Capitoline Hill, the Piazza del Campidoglio is an impressive square designed by Michelangelo in the mid 1500s. It is surrounded by three famously old buildings; the Palazzo Senatorio, the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and the Palazzo Nuovo. The former houses Rome’s modern day city hall. The latter two make up the Capitoline Museums, which were founded way back in 1471!

A view of the Capitoline museums from atop the Capitoline Hill in Rome
The building housing the Capitoline Museums is on the right. The large building on the left is Palazzo Senatorio.
A view at sunset from Capitoline Hill looking north east at Foro Traiano and Mercati di Traiano
A perfect view from Capitoline Hill looking north east at Foro Traiano and Mercati di Traiano.

The Capitoline Museums are worth a visit because it displays some of the most crucial art and artifacts from Ancient Rome and beyond. The buildings and interiors themselves are stunning on their own!

Some pieces worth noting are the original brass Capitoline She-Wolf (the central figure of Rome’s founding myth), the Bust of Medusa, and The Marforio. In addition to their permanent works, the museum has rotating temporary exhibits.

A large marble statue and fountain in the Capitoline Museums
The marble structure of the goddess Venus
A bronze statue of a wolf with two small figures feeding below

Buy tickets ahead of time online so you have the option of choosing the best entrance time for our itinerary.

  • Location: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1
  • Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 7:30pm
  • Price: €14 per person
  • Booking: www.museicapitolini.org

3:30 PM – Rest And Relax

Take this time to go back to your hotel for a quick nap, or go to a bar for a glass of wine (or an Aperol Spritz). This three day itinerary involves a lot of time on your feet, so if you need it, take the time to relax.

5:00 PM – Isola Tiberina And Trastevere

Isola Tiberina, or Tiber Island, is the only island in the River Tiber. The small island is only 270 meters long and 67 meters wide. It is connected to both “sides” of Rome by two bridges. 

One of the bridges, the Ponte Fabricio, is the oldest bridge that still exists in Rome today in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it’s amazing to walk along the same exact paving that millions of people before us have tread.

Tiber Island itself has a very unique and significant history, mainly within the realm of medicine. The ancient Romans were the first to establish this island as a center for healing after building a temple to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, following a plague in 293 BC. Today, the Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola stands on the site of this temple.

Fatebenefratelli Hospital was built on Tiber Island in 1585 and is still in use today as a modern medical center. It’s a beautiful, lushly shaded area to walk around. Grab a drink or appetizer at Tiberino (they also serve a full menu and gelato!), and enjoy their outdoor seating in the piazza shared with the basilica.

If you have extra time around sunset, cross the Tiber River from Trastevere to the Aventine Hill via the Ponte Sublicio. Located at the top of this hill is the intriguing Knights of Malta Keyhole, situated in the center of the large wooden door leading to the Magistral Villa and its estate. The villa is the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic religious order founded in 1048.

A view of St. Peter's Dome framed by laurel hedges when looking through the Knights of Malta Keyhole

Through this keyhole, you will have a perfect view of St. Peter’s Basilica framed by deep green laurel hedges. It’s a remarkably stunning site! The view is made even more impressive because you are also viewing three different states in one glance; Vatican City, Italy, and the Magistral Villa which has been granted extraterritorial status.

  • Knights of Malta Keyhole Location: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 3

Crossing the Ponte Cestio on the south side of Tiber Island, will place you in the Trastevere neighborhood. It’s a bustling and romantic district that is full of life and energy. You’ll have no trouble finding plenty of bars with live music and tasty food. Despite being a popular area for tourists to visit, it delightfully lacks the tourist trap feel that you get in other parts of the city.

The winding, skinny cobblestone streets are lined with buildings from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. They glow with an array of warm oranges and reds painted over aged terracotta.

A dreamy cobbled street in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome

Enjoy dinner and people watching at one of the numerous restaurants that offer outdoor seating. Romans usually eat dinner between 7:30 pm and 11:00 pm, which is so much later than in the United States. One of the ways to know a restaurant caters to locals is the opening time; 7:30 pm or later is dinner on Roman time!

For a taste of sublime Roman cuisine, dine at Trattoria Da Enzo al 29. Located on a cramped, narrow street in an unassuming yellow building, Da Enzo is a small trattoria with close seated tables that serves classic Roman dishes that highlight their fresh ingredients. Because they don’t take reservations, it is not uncommon to see a queue outside, however a meal here is worth the wait.

Another restaurant of note is Checco Er Carettiere, located on via Benedetta since the 1930s. Choose to eat inside, outside on the street, or in their inner courtyard for a delicious meal.

A lively square in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome

For an after dinner treat, definitely get a scoop or two of gelato. We love Otaleg’s homemade gelato because they have really unique flavors that differ from the traditional ones found in other stores. Another delish choice is Gelateria del Viale.

  • Otaleg: Via di S. Cosimato, 14a
  • Gelateria del Viale: Piazza Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, 9F

Day Two

The next day of our three day Rome itinerary is going to take you to Vatican City, and then across the rivers to Centro Storico (which includes Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and Campo de’ Fiori). Just like the first day, we suggest getting an early start to make the most of your time and to avoid lines!

8:00 AM – Vatican City: The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica

The smallest country in the world, both by size and population, is Vatican City. It has an estimated population of 524 people and covers only 121 acres, which is less than a quarter of a square mile!

As you probably know, Vatican City is home to the pope and an absolute treasure trove of thousands of years of history!

The Dome of St. Peter's as seen from the outside

Vatican Museums And Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums house one of the biggest and most extensive collections of art and archeological items in the world. It is estimated that there are up to 70,000 pieces in the entire collection, about 20,000 of which are available to view by the public, spread out over four miles of museum!

We HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY (can I say this enough?!) suggest that you buy tickets for the Vatican Museums online. This allows you to skip the line of people who are buying tickets the day of, which can be up to a three hour wait!

While this itinerary starts the day at the Vatican Museums, you could easily flip it around and start your tour of Vatican City in the afternoon. Either way, it’s reasonable to assume that most people will spend three to four hours here touring the extensive number of rooms in the Vatican Museum, viewing the Sistine Chapel, and taking in the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica.

In order to fit in everything we’ve planned for the day, reserve tickets for entry into the Vatican Museums for either 8:00-9:00 am or 1:00-2:00pm.

Tickets through the official Vatican website go on sale 60 days in advance and sell out quickly. Booking as early as possible is the best way to get your choice of time. You can also book tickets and tours through the Vatican’s official partners: City Wonders Ltd. and Carrani Tours. Both offer a huge range of guided and self-guided tour tickets.

The main road looking directly at St. Peter's Basilica which is centered in the photo

The whole experience is impressive if not a bit overwhelming, given how much there is to see. Here are is a list of what we think you should prioritize:

  • The Pinacoteca is a large gallery of paintings from some of the most impressive and noteworthy artists from the 11th to 19th centuries. Some paintings of note include Deposition by Carvaggio, Raphael’s The Transfiguration of Christ, St. Jerome in the Wilderness (the only painting by Da Vinci that is housed in Rome), Madonna of the Girdle by Gozzoli, and the Stefaneschi Triptych by Giotto.

  • The Pio Clementino Museum is a group of 12 rooms that are home to some of the most significant pieces from Greek and Roman culture. The marble sculpture of Laocoon and His Sons, was the first piece to be acquired for the Vatican Museums in 1506 by Pope Julius in 1506. The Apollo Del Belvedere, Bath of Nero, Saint Helena’s sarcophagus, the Belvedere Torso, and the bronze gilded Hercules are a few pieces to keep your eyes out for.

  • The Gallery of Tapestries is a 245 foot long hallway lined from ceiling to floor with beautifully woven tapestries that were used not only for decoration but for insulation! The detail that can be brought out through this art medium is quite breathtaking!

  • The Gallery of the Maps is a famous hallway of ornate maps. The entire hallway appears to glow with a gold hue. There are a total of 40 large-scale paintings of different topographical maps of Italy.
  • The Papal Apartments are filled with some of the most stunning frescoes in the entire museum. These collections of rooms were the private apartments of three previous popes: Julius II, Leo X, and Alexander VI.

The lavish rooms of the Borgia Apartments are filled with frescoes painted by Bernardino di Betto, better known as Pinturicchio. The other set of rooms are famously known as the Stanze di Raffaello, or the Raphael Rooms, painted by Raphael and his pupils.

  • The Sistine Chapel is one of the most notable places to visit within the whole of Vatican City, both for its purpose and its paintings. Considered one of the greatest works of art, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michaelangelo in what is now defined as High Renaissance style.

The Sistine Chapel is the pope’s private chapel and is used for the ceremonial election of a new pope.

What we listed is just a small portion of what there is to see in the Vatican Museums; you could spend numerous days taking in each gallery. The museum’s website lists all of the galleries with blurbs about each so you can choose what interests you the most before visiting.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Built on the site where it is believed that Saint Peter was killed, St. Peter’s Basilica is the most iconic building within the Catholic religion. We highly suggest visiting, even if you aren’t religious. The grandeur of the architecture and artistic accomplishments is worth the entrance alone.

Looking up towards the interior of the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica with rays of sun shining through the windows

Speaking of entrance, the basilica is always free. You do have to wait in a security line that, at times, winds completely around the perimeter of St. Peter’s Square. The first time I visited, I was lucky to only spend about 20 minutes in line, however on my second visit, it took about an hour and a half.

The entire basilica is a museum in and of itself. It is home to some of the most famous works of art and historical pieces in the world, including Michaelangelo’s Pietà and St. Peter’s Chair.

For a truly spectacular site of Vatican City and Rome, climb to the top of the famous dome. Tickets cost €8 to climb the stairs and €10 to ride the elevator!

A view of St. Peter's Square and the rest of Rome from the top of the basilica's Dome

12:00 PM – Lunch

There are so many places to eat around Vatican City as well as across the river close to our afternoon destinations. We’ve eaten at a handful of places in the area and here are our favorites.

Pastasciutta is a yummy “fast food” pasta shop with meals for around €10. You can eat your food in the restaurants or get it to go and eat it on the run. It’s just a few blocks away from St. Peter’s Square.

We also loved the pizza from Alice Pizza. Again, this is a super cheap and quick place to get lunch. They serve pizza by the slice and have a ton of options to choose from daily. We took ours to go and ate it in St. Peter’s Square on a beautiful day!

Two slices of pizza in the foreground of the picture with people walking around St. Peter's Square and the Basilica in the background

If you want to sit down for lunch, we suggest dining at Arlù. Their well curated plates are served in a restaurant with an airy, contemporary feel. I absolutely loved their pesto and Pierce really enjoyed their cacio e pepe.

If you’re ok with a thirty minute walk away from the Vatican before eating, we also recommend eating at Pane e Salame. This is a small, skinny bistro tucked away on a quiet street but just a block away from the busy Trevi Fountain.

They serve excellent sandwiches, cheese and salami boards paired with wine. This is a super popular place so don’t be surprised if there’s a line outside on the street. We were in a line of about 15 people and we waited approximately 20 minutes.

1:00 PM – Explore More Of The Historic Center

The historic center of Rome that sits nestled in the curve of the River Tiber just opposite of Vatican City is made up of a tangle of delightful old streets and beautiful piazzas.

You could get lost in the magic of this area with all of the side streets full of unique discoveries, so don’t only focus on the main attractions. Take time to walk around the neighborhoods, on the quieter streets, to truly get a feel for this area.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona sits on what was originally the Stadium of Domitian (which is now buried over 14 feet below the ground), used for athletic events and competitions. Many centuries later, the area was transformed into the Baroque masterpiece we enjoy today. Palazzos, churches, and fountains grace the square created by the likes of Bernini, Borromini, della Porta, and more.

You can actually tour the ruins of the stadium that sit just under the piazza daily from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm. Book your tour through their website.

Piazza Navona in Rome glowing in the evening sun. Featured in the center is one of the fountains at the far end of the piazza.
This view of Piazza Navona shows the Fontana del Moro in the foreground. To the left is the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.

Walk around the perimeter of Piazza Navona to really appreciate its size as well as the detailed architecture that surrounds the square. The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone sits at the piazzas midline. It is a bright marble church with an opulent interior that is free to the public.

The centerpiece of the piazza is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Designed by renowned sculptor Bernini, it depicts four river gods that represent the four major rivers in the four major continents dominated by papal authority. It is topped by a copy of an Egyptian obelisk.

To balance out the piazza, two additional fountains were added at each end; Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno. I love how the stark marble architecture of the church and the Palazzo Pamphili is softened by the warm colors of the surrounding buildings.

Pantheon

The Pantheon is just a five minute walk away from the Piazza Navona. This building has seen continuous use throughout its history, first as a temple in Ancient Rome and then as a Catholic church beginning in the 7th century. It is one of the best preserved buildings from Ancient Rome because of this.

People walking and biking in the square in front of the ancient Pantheon in Rome

It’s also a great architectural feat; the dome ceiling of the rotunda, which features a central opening to the sky, is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the entire world.

The Pantheon is open to the public daily from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Tickets are now required for entry and are €5 per person. Guided tours are available at an additional cost as are skip-the-line tickets.

There are always a ton of street vendors around the popular tourist spots and they will follow you quite determinedly if you don’t quickly say “no grazie” and walk away. I’ve never felt unsafe in these instances and I understand this is their job, however it does get to be overwhelming if you don’t immediately end the interaction.

The Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva sits just a block away from the Pantheon. This church is the only one still standing in Rome that retains its original Gothic architectural style and design. In front of the church, there’s an unusual elephant statue designed by Bernini that is supporting an obelisk from 6th century BC Egypt. We enjoyed visiting this basilica because it was much less crowded than the surrounding area!

Trevi Fountain

One of the most notable fountains in Rome, maybe even in the world, is the Trevi Fountain. The impressive fountain and its surrounding sculptures are made of the bright travertine stone used to build the Colosseum. The fountain itself is fed via an ancient man made water source built in 19 BC.

The Trevi fountain which is an elaborate white travertine statue and fountain where people throw coins in search of luck

It’s a HUGE tourist attraction and the small area can quickly become cramped. Be sure to toss a coin into the fountain and discover if the legend is true. It is said that one coin tossed ensures your return to Rome, two coins tossed means that you will not only return to Rome but fall in love, while three coins guarantees the first two promises and marriage!

In reality, though, your coin will go to a good cause. Since 2001, all coins tossed into the fountain have been donated to local charities.

If you want a more peaceful and serene experience, try visiting right after the sun rises. You will get the area mostly to yourself, which is rare at any other point in the day.

Campo de’ Fiori

This city square just south of Piazza Navona has always been a commercial center. Today it houses a lively daily market filled with vendors who sell fruits, veggies, and flowers among other things.

This also has become quite touristy, but due to its long standing history in the city of Rome we think it’s worth a visit when walking through this area. Plus there are lots of goods to buy and treats to taste!

3:30 PM – Rest And Relax

You know what to do here. Kick your feet up and take it easy!

5:00 PM – Walk Along The Tiber To Dinner

While walking along the River Tiber is never going to be the quickest way between two points, it is pretty (especially in the evening). Because it twists and turns, each new bend reveals a new view of the city off in the distance.

The streets that follow the river are lined with beautiful trees. Recently, the city has done a good job of keeping the trail below the embankment walls much cleaner so it’s a much more pleasant experience.

The River Tiber at sunset with sun glowing through the trees and St. Peter's Basilica in the background

Sant’Isidoro Pizza & Bolle in Prati is a modern pizza restaurant that solely focuses on delicious pizza and wine pairings.

Casa Sánchez is a great Mexican restaurant if you want something other than Italian food. It’s located a bit north of everything else we have talked about so I do suggest taking an Uber there to save some time.

After Dinner

Rome at night is beautiful! The city comes alive with a golden glow. If you have it in you, I suggest walking around the Forum and Colosseum as well as doubling back on the areas you will have walked earlier in the day. Literally everything in Rome still looks amazing once the sun sets.

The Pantheon lit up at night against a purple sky

Day Three

For day three of our Rome itinerary, we have created a more relaxed list of things to do. The morning starts with a structured plan in order to fit in the last few must-see attractions, and we’ve left the afternoon open. We will include some miscellaneous things throughout the city that we have enjoyed that you may want to consider adding.

Pro Tip: You could also use this time to circle back to different areas of the city that you have already visited and want to explore more. Or there may be a specific store, restaurant, church, market, or park that you saw in passing during the first two days but weren’t able to get to! This is also the day to go back to places that may have been busy on your first visit, such as the line to get into St. Peter’s.

9:00 AM – Galleria Borghese And Villa Borghese Public Park

Located in the old Villa Borghese Pinciana palace, within the large public park known as Villa Borghese, is the world famous Galleria Borghese (that’s a lot of Borghese in one sentence). It houses a vast number of pieces from the private collection of the Borghese family that was started by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 1600s.

This is my favorite museum in Rome. Its small size and restricted visitor limit allow for an intimate experience where you can enjoy the elegant villa and exceptional paintings, sculptures, and artifacts dating from antiquity to the 17th century.

A view of the stately Galleria Borghese on a cloudy day in Rome

The Galleria Borghese is a great museum for anyone, regardless of their level of interest in art. Because it only contains twenty rooms, it is quite approachable and lacks the intimidating vastness of the Vatican Museums. The immeasurable amount of talent within the gallery’s walls can be easily appreciated by all.

You do need a reservation to visit the Galleria Borghese. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance. Each reservation is for a two hour time slot.

A woman walking in the park on a rainy day in Rome
Even in the rain, Rome is stunning.

What is now called Villa Borghese is not actually a villa at all, but a vast public park and landscaped garden that includes within its borders not only the Galleria Borghese but numerous other museums, buildings, and attractions. It even has a zoo.

The grounds are serene and vast! It’s a lovely treat to walk around here, especially in the morning when crowds are minimal. You’ll very likely see the loud and vibrant green monk parakeets flying amongst the trees.

A serene lake with a lit up temple in the background
The Temple of Aesculapius located on a small lake within the Villa Borghese.

Right outside of the park on its south side, stands portions of the Aurelian Wall which was erected in the 3rd century AD to strengthen the city’s defenses. Take a look at these before making your way to the Spanish Steps.

12:00 PM – Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo And Lunch

Albeit quite touristy, the Spanish Steps are a fun thing to do when you’re in Rome for three days. The view is quite iconic! The area is also known for its high end designer storefronts and fashion houses.

Via del Babuino is the main street that connects the Spanish Steps to the Piazza del Popolo. Walk just one block to the east onto Via Margutta for a much quieter but elegant atmosphere. It’s a narrow side street with beautiful houses dripping with wisteria and ivy.

Old buildings from the Renaissance with a trellis of purple wisteria as decoration

The Piazza del Popolo lies just inside of the ancient northern entrance to Rome. This urban square has a number of architectural wonders and statues and a very old Ancient Egyptian obelisk.

While you’re in this area, look for a spot to eat lunch. Ginger is a good spot for lunch because it offers a healthy, light fare.

1:30 PM – Time To Wander

We’ve kept this afternoon fairly free to allow you to revisit anything you may have seen in passing during your trip, but didn’t get the chance to visit. Or, since you’ve already done a ton of walking at this point, you might just want to sit at a cafe and people watch. Or maybe you want to do a hands-on activity like cooking!

A narrow road in Rome with high buildings to either side
You really can’t grow tired of wandering through the side roads throughout the city.

We haven’t taken any cooking classes in Rome, however our good friends booked a three hour cooking class through Walks of Italy. They highly recommended this class; they made two seasonal pasta dishes, including the pasta itself, and got to enjoy wine and snacks throughout!

The Botanical Garden of Rome is a beautiful place to visit. The entrance fee is only €5 to wander around this lush garden with over 2,500 species!

Just beyond the Colosseum to the south are the Baths of Caracalla which were Ancient Rome’s second largest baths, and the Baths of Diocletian which are located close to Roma Termini. Both are worth visiting; I think it’s so cool to walk around places that had such central importance to an ancient culture.

Ancient ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum that sits on the Tiber close to Vatican City in what was originally Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum and later used as a fortress by popes.

5:00 PM – Aperitivo Time

For the last night out, go to Jacopa in Trastevere for a relaxed rooftop aperitif and cocktail experience. Their menu is appetizing and not overpriced like many other rooftop bars in the city. Drinks range from €7-€14. Their small appetizers are perfectly sized snacks that will satisfy your hunger but leave room for dinner!

7:00 PM – Dinner

Dinner at Roscioli near the Jewish Quarter is delicious. It has a very large menu with a significant amount of variety which I feel is sometimes lacking in traditional Roman restaurants.

Where To Stay In Rome For Three Days

The three areas we suggest staying in are Monti, Trastevere, and Centro Storico. All three districts are within a manageable walking distance to everything we have talked about and are surrounded by restaurants!

We have stayed at two different hotels in Monti and were happy with each! Here is the information for both hotels:

Monti Palace Hotel (4 Star Hotel)

Hotel Colosseum (3 Star Hotel)

What Time Of Year Is Best To Visit Rome

In our opinion, the best times to experience three days in Rome are spring (March to April) and fall (September to October). These months are when temperatures are quite perfect for walking around and when there are fewer hoards of tourists. Prices for hotels are also likely to be cheaper during these times than during the high summer months (when it can get horribly hot and humid).

I personally LOVE visiting in early spring when the trees are just starting to bud and flowers are becoming abundant. The city feels fresh during this change of seasons and it’s really a lovely time to be out and walking around.

Wrapping Up

This three day Rome Itinerary has been curated to include all of the main, must-see sites in Rome. It’s a special place, and there’s a bunch to see!

We hope you use this as a template for your first (or second or third or fourth!) trip to Rome and enjoy it as much as we have.

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