The Essential Itinerary for a Perfect 3 Days in Rome

If you’ve only got 72 hours in Rome, you’ll want to make every second count. 

You’re planning a trip to Italy and want to see all the bel paese has to offer. That means you’ll be hopping around from one town to the next to get in as much sightseeing as possible! 

While 3 days in Rome is not a long time to explore the Eternal City (heck, a lifetime isn’t enough), you can surely get a glimpse of the Italian capital in that time. From strolling through the historic center to breezing through museums and getting a taste of Roman culinary culture, we’ve got you covered with this day-by-day guide on how to spend 3 days in Rome. 

If you've got 3 days in Rome, you'll want to make every second count. Here's how.

Day 1: Explore the historic center & the Colosseum

Get settled into your accommodation, freshen up and get ready to explore the heart of Rome: the historic center. Don’t forget a pair of comfy shoes: Rome does have the largest and richest historic center in the world—which means lots of walking will be involved! 

Start your walk through the ages from the beautiful Piazza del Popolo, where you’ll be welcomed by the famous Egyptian obelisk, followed by the popular twin churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli. These two churches frame the entrance to the three streets—Via del Babuino, Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta—that form the Cento Storico’s shopping area known as the “Trident.” 

But instead of venturing into the streets, climb up the stairs that lead to the famous Terrazza del Pincio immersed in the Villa Borghese gardens. Here, you’ll enjoy one of the most  stunning views of Rome. Afterwards, walk along the tree-lined avenue that leads to Trinità dei Monti church, where you’ll find the iconic Spanish Steps leading into Piazza di Spagna down below. 

Admire Bernini’s famous Barcaccia fountain (this is a great Instagram spot in Rome!) and direct yourself towards the Pantheon. Step inside and admire the largest unsupported dome in the world, then head to Piazza Venezia and walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali to admire the stunning Roman Forum. 

Now it’s time to visit the notorious Colosseum! If you haven’t purchased your tickets online in advance, be prepared for long lines. However, the good news is that all tickets to the Colosseum include entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, too!

To get the most out of this iconic monument, we highly recommend taking a guided tour. Our friends at Walks offer a fantastic VIP-level Colosseum tour, complete with skip-the-line access!

After your visit, head into the hip Monti neighborhood a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum for a snack, an aperitivo or gelato.

The Colosseum is a must during 3 days in Rome.
The Colosseum’s ancient grandeur will take your breath away. Photo credit: Abbie Stark

Day 2: Dive into the culinary scene and explore Trastevere

No trip to Rome would be complete without tasting its culinary specialties. From Roman artichokes to carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe pastas, there are loads of dishes that are must-tries during your 3 days in Rome! 

Testaccio is surely Rome’s top foodie neighborhood. From its spectacular Testaccio Market to the numerous trattorias and osterias (including the award-winning Flavio al Velavevodetto and Da Felice), you’re in for a real culinary treat in this area. And don’t get us started on the amazing street food you can find here, from arancini to supplì and olive ascolane! It was no question that we’d base one of our Rome food tours here.

Velavevodetto is the best trattoria in Rome for cacio e pepe.
Velavevodetto is a Testaccio favorite for some of Rome’s best pasta (which is saying a lot!). Photo credit: Velavevodetto

After lunch, walk towards Aventine Hill where two hidden gems await you: the Giardino degli Aranci and the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta. With its panoramic terrace, the Giardino degli Aranci offers breathtaking views of Rome, but the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta is truly one of a kind. Get in line, wait your turn and peek into the keyhole to get the most sensational view of St. Peter’s Basilica! 

Finish your day by walking back down towards Circo Massimo, pass through the iconic Mouth of Truth and head into the Jewish Quarter. Breeze through this beautiful neighborhood, admire the Fontana delle Tartarughe and then get ready to explore stunning Trastevere, where picturesque piazzas, yummy gelato and great views await you! This is the place to stop for aperitivo or dinner, so be sure to check out one of our favorite restaurants in Trastevere

5 days in Rome would be incomplete without a wander through Trastevere.
Trastevere is the place to be for that iconic Roman vibe. Photo credit: Abbie Stark

Day 3: Visit the Vatican

Your last day in Rome should be dedicated to visiting the Holy City. From Piazza San Pietro where the Pope gives his Papal Audience, to St. Peter’s Basilica and the oh-so-stunning Vatican Museums with their world-famous Sistine Chapel, the Vatican is a cultural and architectural must. 

If you’re short on time, you can get tickets for an exclusive early morning experience before the Vatican opens to the public. This will allow you to visit the museums without the crowds. And if you’ve got some extra time before leaving Rome, you could stop by for lunch in the trendy Prati neighborhood or the lovely Borgo Pio. 

Spend the last of your 3 days in Rome visiting the Vatican museums and other sights in the Holy City.
The historic Hall of Maps at the Vatican Museums. Photo credit: Abbie Stark

Just outside the Vatican, Prati is full of restaurants, bars and shops. Famous shopping street Via Cola di Rienzo is dotted by boutiques, giving you the perfect excuse to  do some Italian shopping!

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