Discovering Rome means stepping back in time. Are you ready to? This ancient empire is home to some of the oldest buildings and statues in the world. Impeccable art won’t stop following you in the capital of Italy and can be admired in world-famous galleries, as well as on the streets and squares of Rome. Here are the most important and interesting places you need to visit when you only have 3 days to spare in the great city of Rome.
When to Visit Rome
In my opinion, anytime is a good time to visit Rome, and I have, I have discovered this great city in all seasons. Spring sees the city begining to warm up. Summer is the warmest but you will also be sharing the city with many tourists. Autumn sees the leaves begin to fall while the winter sees Rome at its coldest with fewer tourists and cheaper accommodation prices. Christmas time can be magical with the Christmas lights and decorations. Whenever you get the chance to visit Rome, you will make it the perfect time to be there.
How to get to Rome
Rome can be reached by plane, train, bus and car. If flying into Rome there are a number of airports you can arrive at. And all have great transport connections to get you into the centre of Rome for your ‘Roman holiday’. If you are travelling Europe by train, you can use your Eurail or Interrail Pass to get you to Rome’s main railway station – Termini Station. There are also plenty of buses operating through Europe including Eurolines which will bring you to Rome. If you have your own vehicle many roads will bring you to Rome.
Where to Stay in Rome – Your Accommodation Options
Rome offers many accommodation options. To make the most of your 3 days in Rome, I suggest to stay close to the centre where you will find many of the tourist attractions that I include in this 3 day Rome itinerary. Here are some Rome accommodation options, from budget to ‘let’s splurge on some luxury’.
Hostels in Rome: There are many hostels in Rome to choose from. A mere 1.3km from the centre of Rome and only 4 stops from the Spanish Steps is the New Generation Hostel Rome. A great location near all the sights, plus clean and comfortable. Another great hostel is Generator Rome. Located in the heart of the Eternal City and close to the Colosseum and Termini Station it offers shared and private rooms for the budget conscious visitor to Rome. Another hostel I can highly recommend is the stylish and clean RomeHello Hostel which is only 1km from the centre of Rome. For more hostels in Rome visit HostelWorld, they have a great selection.
Budget to mid-range Hotels in Rome: You are spoilt for choice with the number of budget to mid-range hotels in Rome. Set only 250m from Piazza Navona, The Club Navona offers many things to a visitor to Rome. Not that you will be spending much time in your room, it is always nice to come back at the end of a long day sightseeing to a comfortable room with a TV, free toiletries, coffee machine and a buffet breakfast in the morning! Plus it is an easy 10 minute walk to the Pantheon. For a homely feel, check out Residenza II Duca. Only 1.8km from Piazza Navona this guest house finds rooms equipped with TV, private bathroom and other offerings for your stay.
How to Get Around Rome
I believe, the best way to get around Rome is on foot. This is because many of the best attractions are near each other in traffic-free zones. So get yourself a good pair of walking shoes! But you are welcome to use the Rome Metro and to catch buses. But without further ado, here is how to spend 3 days in Rome. You can always take the Rome Hop-on Hop-off bus which will take you to all the main sites in Rome.
Day 1 in Rome
Start your 3 day visit to Rome in the Vatican City, an independent city-state, the smallest of its kind in the world. Located within the borders of Rome, it is one of the most popular places to visit while traveling around Italy. Although there is no passport control, prepare for security checks, since the area is of great importance. It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home to the Pope. On occasion, you may be lucky enough to see the Pope, as I was, when I was in St Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday when he was conducting a mass.
St. Peter’s square and the Basilica are the main places to visit and stand in awe. But it is within the Museums of Vatican City where the amazing Sistine Chapel is located. Famous for a treasure trove of art, architecture the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for its ceiling painted by Michelangelo. I hope you don’t get a sore neck for the amount of time you will be looking at the ceiling, appreciating its beauty!
Try not to get a sore neck from looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Vatican City at Easter Time – yes, that’s the Pope conducting a service in the distance
Book your ticket to visit the Vatican in advance and jump the ticket queues.
After the morning in the Vatican City it may be time to eat. There are many cafes and restaurants in the vicinity to eat at. Note, that most of Rome ‘shuts up shop’ for a couple of hours from midday although, many of the touristy areas and services will remain open.
After lunch, head to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The Spanish Steps, located in the centre of Rome, lead up to the Church of Trinita de Monti. The whole scene is a masterpiece from the 18th century, famous among foreigners and locals. The set of stairs has inspired many artists and videographers, since it is something unusual, quite unlike anything else. About half a kilometre from the Steps lies what has been called the most beautiful fountain in the world. Trevi Fountain is full of myths and ancient glory, dating back to the year 19 B.C. This incredible scene will take you back in time. Throw a coin into the fountain and make a wish. I was told to stand with my back to the fountain and throw a coin over my left shoulder with my right hand but whichever way you throw your coin into the fountain I am told the first wish you should make is the wish to return to Rome.
Late afternoon, early evening head to the Pantheon. You’ll struggle to live in the present here as you step into the Rome’s past. The Pantheon, a temple from the year 126 AD, is the best-preserved construction from ancient Rome, is now serving as a Catholic church.
Piazza Navona, located only a few minutes walk from the Pantheon, is one of the most popular squares in Rome. Dating back to the 1st century AD, the area used to be a massive stadium. Piazza Navona is the perfect place to have an Italian dinner since many terraces and restaurants are offering local delights ensuring you have a perfect ending to your day before returning to your accommodation.
Enjoy a meal at Piazza Navona
Day 2 in Rome
Start day 2 of this 3 day Rome holiday at The Colosseum. This building is one of the main symbols of Rome with a history of over 2,000 years. The famous amphitheater is in the centre of the city and not to far from the Roman Forum, our next stop. The Colosseum is admired by over 6 million people every year and has been an inspiration for countless movies and books. Its construction allowed for some 50,000+ guests to be entertained with gladiatorial contests, executions and re-enactments of famous battles – not sureI would enjoy this kind of entertainment now! The Colosseum is one of the 7 wonders of the world and is, along with Vatican City, one of the main attractions to visit while in Rome on this 3 day visit.
Inside the Colosseum
After the Colosseum, head to The Roman Forum, Forum Romanum in Latin. The Roman Forum is a plaza showcasing the remains of some of the most important government buildings in ancient Rome. Like the law courts plus it was lined with shops and open-air markets. It was the place where people came together, the place for gossip and business and was often referred to as ‘the Forum’. Surprisingly, the Forum was only excavated in the 20th century, but because of its great history, has quickly become one of the most visited attractions in the capital.
Lots of old buildings make up the Forum
From the Roman Forum head to Palatine Hill. You will discover that Rome was built on seven hills, the Palatine Hill being the most famous one. It is one of the oldest parts of the city and is thought to be the birthplace of the capital of Italy. Today, nature blooms in the middle of the ancient district – one of the richest ones in Old Rome. You won’t truly understand the city without diving into its history and for that matter, Palatine Hill is the place you shouldn’t skip.
The next stop on this 3 day tour of Rome will take you to one of the greatest public baths in Rome. The Baths of Caracalla were popular for over 300 years and Ancient Romans used the thermae not only as a place to keep their hygiene, but also to maintain their social status. Today, what remains of the grand architecture of the Baths can be admired from inside and out.
End day 2 on this 3 day Rome holiday at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This is the oldest church in Europe being built in the 4th century AD and continues to be one of the most visited churches in Rome. In the centre of the basilica stands a 7 metre high figure of Christ. The Basilica of St John has been called the mother of all Rome’s churches and even just for its interior, should be visited at least once by every visitor to Rome.
You could end your day back at Piazza Navona for an evening meal before retiring for the evening.
Day 3 in Rome
Hold off on breakfast and head to the Appian Way – keep reading to find out why! The Appian Way is a long path that dates back to the year 312 B.C. In ancient times, the road stretched from Rome to the city of Brindisi. It was one of the most important roads in Rome, and perhaps even the oldest road still used to this day. The well-preserved pathway is home to a regional park, many monuments, and catacombs. Furthermore, the Appian Way is a great place to have breakfast or brunch picnic. In addition, you can find adorable cafes located on the sides of the ancient road, ensuring you won’t leave hungry.
Follow the Appian Way
Along the Appian Way lie the Catacombs, an underground graveyard complex. The tunnels were used by Jews and Christians who were against the pagan way of burning the dead. Due to the high price of land, Christians started burying bodies in these underground cemeteries. The many-kilometre-long tunnels create labyrinths that are a popular attraction among foreigners and locals. To see the Catacombs, it is best to reserve a tour, since that will save you both time and energy. Alternatively, you can get there by public transport, which is the cheaper option. Book your tour here.
Come back above ground to visit the Borghese Gallery, one of the most famous galleries in the world. The art museum showcases a variety of sculptures and paintings, mainly from the 15th to 18th centuries. Yet, there’s a whole floor dedicated to the antiques from the 1st to 3rd century as well where you will find amazingly preserved artworks covering the walls and ceilings. Another ‘stand in awe’ like in the Sistine Chapel. As it’s a hugely popular destination, it is compulsory to book a ticket in advance.
After another long day discovering Rome, find a nice restaurant for some local food! Or if after some nightlife on your last night in Rome check out Macchesletivenutiafa, a great bar in the heart of Trastevere. Or try the popular Roman hangout Al Are Scalini for yummy local specialities like lasagna ai funghi with a cold wine or beer! If not tables, no worries, put your name on the list and sit outside on the ‘three steps’. If you want to reveal the night away, head to the Voodoo Bar to party the night away.
This has been an action packed 3 day itinerary to Rome where you will walk a lot. I hope this itinerary has helped you to prepare for a busy Rome holiday, since the historical spots just can’t be missed! The city is equally loved by adventurers and explorers, whether your cup of tea is walking in the Catacombs or admiring the Colosseum. The photogenic city is a perfect getaway, allowing you to have an ideal cultural vacation. I would love to hear about you time in Rome in the comments below.
To extend your time in Rome, or another part of Italy, find out about having a working holiday in Italy.