Do not fret if your schedule only allows for three days in Rome; they are more than enough in order to have a transformative impact on you! The rich, cultural offerings of the Eternal City will seep into your bones and you can craft your itinerary to include the most important landmarks and sights of the city, as well as some time carved out to experience Roman lifestyle.
It is inevitable that some compromises will have to be made as Rome has so much to offer, but the right 3 day tour of Rome can be a great start to creating indelible memories here. You can always toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure that you will be coming back to Rome to explore it further!
3 Days in Rome itinerary
What to do in Rome for three days?
This article will help you build the itinerary for three days in Rome, our suggestions carefully thought out after trial and error, and by collecting reflections from those who visit Rome.
We ensure that it is possible to cover the main attractions of Rome in just two days. This leaves the third day to move at a slower, more lingering pace in order to absorb the Roman atmsophere by choosing a more lifestyle-based activity.
Day 1: Exploring Ancient Treasures
You may muse over the question: What to see in Rome?
Your three day tour of Rome should begin with visiting historical landmarks and monuments – these now serve as fundamental testimonies for the ancient Roman Empire.
It only makes sense to start the tour of the famous places in ancient Rome with the grand amphitheatre Colosseum.
The architecture of the Colosseum is widely known as the symbol for not just Rome but for Italy as a whole. It was built under the rule of Emperor Vespasian and completed during Titus’s rule. Can you imagine the elliptical theater filled with 50,000 to 80,000 spectators watching public spectacles, ranging from gladiator fights and animal hunting to executions? This is where the imagination starts flowing freely, making sense of the ‘colossal’ theater, its size and grandiosity even just as rules has a humbling and awe-inspiring effect on visitors.
Location: In the historic city center, located on the east side of the Roman Forum.
Piazza del Colosseo 1, 00184 RM
Reserve this time to explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine hill.
The forum is a square scattered with the ruins of the buildings and architecture that made the central hub of ancient Rome. It is one of the most fascinating plazas to gaze upon, as different formations leftover are so telling of the kind of vibrant and busy activities that used to be conducted there. We can see important temples, platforms where public speeches would be given, basilicas, government buildings and arches.
The perfect viewpoint from where to observe the forum is the Palatine hill. One of the seven hills that Rome was built on and around, it is situated in between the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. All of Rome’s history seems to revolve around this hill as this is where the story of Romulus and Remus being raised by a she-wolf originate from. Palatine hill also has some ancient structures that you can see, such as the House of Livia, the House of Augustus and the Farnese gardens.
Location: Situated in the historic center of Rome, in between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill, next to the Colosseum.
Piazza Santa Maria Nova 53, 00186 RM
Day 2: Vatican City and its Museum
Dedicate the majority of your second day in Rome to discover the most sacred mini-state in the world: The Vatican City.
The second of your three days in Rome can start with exploring:
- St. Peter’s Basilica: This is perhaps one of the most well-known religious sites in the world. It is built on the burial ground of St. Peter, who is considered to be one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. It has beautiful architecture with the highlighted aspect being the dome designed by Michelangelo, deemed as the largest dome in the world. Masses of locals and tourists flock to the basilica for ceremonies held by the pope.
- St. Peter’s Square: This iconic square is located in front of the basilica and is where many congregate not just to admire the basilica and the magnificent design of the square, but also for papal blessings and addresses. On Wednesdays there is a general audience you can be a part of, and on Sundays the pope gives an address and prayers from the balcony of the basilica. The square itself holds much to be admired. Designed by Bernini, it is surrounded by columns, each adorned with one of thirteen statues of saints and apostles. In the middle of the square stands a tall, Egyptian obelisk.
Early Mornings at the Vatican:
Visiting the Vatican could be a more mesmerizing experience when lit with the subtle glow of the mornings. The ambience of the atmosphere may lend further intrigue when viewing the 2100-years-old art collection.
A glorious and inspiring afternoon can be spent at the Vatican Museums, admiring the masterpieces within the collection, such as the Sistine Chapel.
More about the Vatican museums:
Pope Julius II was a great patron of the arts and started an esteemed private art collection including famous commissions from the largely admired artists Raphael and Michelangelo. This art collection later became accessible to the public, and are the museums that we know today.
Here are some of the most famous works available to see:
- Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo with “The Last Judgement” and “The Creation od Adam”.
- The Raphael rooms are four papal apartments that were painted by Raphael and his team of artists. The most famous fresco is “The School of Athens”.
- “Transfiguration” by Raphael depicts the pivotal spiritual transformation Jesus went through, and can be seen in the Pinacoteca Vaticana.
Vatican for kids: Are you traveling with children? Do you want to make sure that the Vatican experience is as enjoyable for them as it is profound for the adults in the group? Consider booking a tour that is specifically tailored to be fun and informative for the little ones.
In Vatican city, which is located on thye west bank of the Tiber river.
Clivo Delle Mura Vaticane 26, 00120 RM
DAY 3: Roman Lifestyle and Food
If you shift your perspective, a third day in Rome can be seen as quite the luxury affording you the opportunity to indulge in Roman lifestyle. At this point, you have a lot of freedom on how you would like to experience this, whether that be understanding the city through food and wine, or through themed workshops. Or, if you are spending three days in Rome with family, to take part in a small group tour with an activity that gets the entire family involved!
For food and wine experiences: A potential schedule could look like spending the morning by the Spanish steps and perhaps doing some shopping on the fashion streets of via del Corso and via Condotti, to later head to the neighborhoods of Testaccio or Trastevere to take part in a food tour! There are so many different iterations of a food tour that can be taken, and some tours are customizable by you as well!
For themed workshops: If you are intrigued by the art in Rome and would like to delve deeper into understanding it, consider taking a Caravaggio themed tour that takes you around the city in search of his studios, lodgings and works of art. Look out for other themes you can find in the city that inspire you, and see if there is any sort of tour that aligns with them.
For family-oriented activities: You can explore spaces outside the center of Rome, such as the ancient road of via Appia through a bike tour! This more hands-on tour also lets you get in some physical exercise as well as explore to a different rythym and sense of adventure.
Where to Stay in Rome for 3 Days?
So far, we have covered things to do in Rome for three days.
An integral part of your three-day experience includes the perfect accomodation that suits your needs and style, and that provides you with a strategic upper hand on how you will be ‘conquering’ Rome during this short stay.
We put a lot of thought into creating a map of hotels in Rome which will give you insight into our recommended accomodation choices. The list has been curated according to the best areas in Rome to stay, that give you access to the widest range of sightseeing activities.
We hope for any three day visit you may plan to the Eternal City to be satisfying and horizon-expanding!