Planning a 3 days quick trip to Rome? Are you wondering what to squeeze in a 3 days itinerary in Rome? This city deserves a much longer stay, as there are so many things to see and do in Rome.
But sometimes time is limited and you might have to squeeze in as much as possible in a few days.
Luckily Rome is quite a walkable city for tourists, so in a short time, even 3 days, there is so much that you’ll be able to see.
But now let’s get started! We’ll now see a suggested 3-day Rome itinerary made of a mix of the top must-sees with some really cool hidden gems.
It will be a Rome itinerary that will give you a good balance between the unmissable, but crowded, icons of Rome and the lesser known and quiet spots.
Let’s go! Andiamo! 😊
Rome in 3 days – our 3 days in Rome itinerary
DAY 1 of the 3-day Rome Itinerary
A good day starts with a good breakfast.
So let’s head down to a bar near your hotel or B&B to have a typical Italian breakfast, which consists of cornetto and cappuccino.
If you want to try something even more traditional (and treat yourself even more!) try cappuccino with maritozzo, a sweet bun filled with fresh whipped cream.. Just like a dream! Here’s a list of my favorite maritozzi!
After filling up your stomach and soul, let’s start the first day of your 3-day Rome itinerary with the icon of Rome: the Colosseum!
What was the Colosseum? It was the equivalent of a modern stadium today. With the difference that in this ancient stadium, instead of football matches and concerts, there were way more violent and cruel shows.
Different kinds of shows used to take place in the Colosseum:
- the venationes: the fights between animals (lions, panthers, tigers, ..)
- capital executions of criminals through the use of wild animals
- and most of all, of course, the gladiator fights, who were the real stars of the Colosseum, more or less the equivalent of football players today
Some authors also talk about naumachia shows, which were naval battles that took place inside the Colosseum filled up with water!
The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill
After you visited the Colosseum, which will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours, it is an absolute must to explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine hill.
While the Colosseum used to be a venue for special events and entertainment, the Roman Forum used to be the heart of the everyday life for the Ancient Romans.
The Forum in Ancient Rome was the equivalent of a modern city square today. A square with a lot of important buildings around it, such as the senate building, the courthouse, the market and the temples.
The Roman Forum was the first city square to be built in Rome, and after that 5 more forums were built.
But the Roman Forum still kept its charm for the Romans, as it was considered to be, already back then, the historical center of the city.
In fact you need to imagine that when the last forum was built in Rome (Forum of Trajan in the 2nd century) the Roman Forum was already 700 years old! This means that for the Ancient Roman people the Roman forum was already.. Ancient!
The Roman Forum was the downtown of the ancient city of Rome.
But where did the ancient Roman emperors live? On the Palatine hill, which is right inside the same archaeological park!
When you walk uphill and you start feeling tired from all the walking, you might be wondering “is this really going to be worth it?”. When you’ll ask yourself this question, remember this answer: “YES, absolutely and totally worth it!! Don’t even think about skipping this part!” 😜
On top of the Palatine hill you’ll find some incredible highlights:
- The incredible panoramic views over the Roman Forum and the rest of Rome. Honestly, one of the best views EVER!
- The ruins of the huts of Romulus, the founder of Rome. This is the very spot where the city of Rome was founded over 2700 years ago!
- The house of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. This has just recently been reopened to the public after the pandemic and it is one of the most beautiful things my eyes have ever seen in Rome. I wrote this quick and easy article about it (with pics included). Have a look so that you can get an idea of the mind-blowingness! (does this word even exist?!?)
- The imperial palace of Domitian and its ridiculously huge rooms, including floor heating in the emperor’s winter dining room. So lush!
Visiting the Roman Forum and the Palatine hill is beautiful. But if you don’t have a guide explaining to you what you’re looking at, you might miss a lot as you won’t always be able to decipher the ruins.
I recommend booking a guided tour for your visit to enjoy the park to the fullest. Or you can book a live virtual tour to get an overview of the highlights of your visit before you go. So that you can go straight to the most interesting points without walking randomly.
The Monti district
We’re hungry now, aren’t we? Let’s head down to the relaxing district of Monti, just a few steps away from the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum.
In Monti you’ll find loads of photogenic views and one of the most typical neighborhoods of Rome. Monti is less touristy than other areas of central Rome, such as Piazza Navona and Trastevere.
This district is full of hipster bars and restaurants which make it one of the coolest places to be in Rome among the locals.
Which is ironic, considering that in Ancient Rome it was totally the opposite! In Ancient Rome in fact, Monti used to be called “Suburra”, (which means “area below the city”). It used to be an area of Rome where wooden and fragile houses were often going on fire.
Here in Monti you’ll find loads of restaurants for your lunch.
To visit Monti you can follow our Monti district itinerary included in our Off-the-beaten-path Video guide of Rome.
The itinerary starts from via dei Fori Imperiali (where you finished your Roman Forum and Palatine hill tour) and ends in Piazza Vittorio. This video guided itinerary includes loads of photogenic corners, mind blowing ancient mosaics, a Michelangelo statue, a really cool bar.. And gelato!
Trevi fountain and Spanish steps
After the sun sets down, head to the Trevi fountain. This monumental and iconic fountain is an absolute must for your Rome itinerary, even though you’ll always find it super crowded with tourists. If you really want to see the Trevi fountain without the crowds you have to get there at sunrise. While the Trevi fountain is beautiful during the day, it really becomes magical at nighttime. The light reflections of the water over the white travertine stone are just wow!
Toss a coin giving your back to the fountain and make a wish!
Remember: right hand toss the coin over the right shoulder. And do not say your wish out loud to anyone, or it won’t become true. These are the essentials for the Trevi fountain to work for your wishes 😜
After the Trevi fountain, head down to the glamorous Spanish steps, only a few minutes walk away.
Your day has come to an end. It’s been very filling, so now you can go to bed with a happy heart and get ready for tomorrow.
DAY 2 of the 3-day Rome itinerary
The second must-see for your 3-day Rome itinerary.. It is not in Rome!
Well, geographically it is located inside the city of Rome, but we’re actually going to enter another state! No passports needed, we’re going to the Vatican!
The Vatican is the smallest state in the world, with fewer than 1,000 residents and an area of only 49 hectares (120 acres).
Visitors can only access the St Peter basilica area and the Vatican Museums, which have direct access from the city of Rome.
This means that you can enter the Vatican museums right from the walls dividing the city of Rome from the Vatican city, without having to show passports and comply with the usual procedures when crossing a country border.
The Vatican Museums are a group of museums which include some of the most incredible art collections in the world. From ancient Roman Ruins to Egyptian mummies, Renaissance paintings, Raphael and Michelangelo’s frescoes.
There’s now words to describe the wealth that the Pope collected for centuries into this series of museums.
When you access the Vatican museums you’ll also get to enter the Sistine chapel.
The Sistine chapel is a consecrated chapel where important liturgical celebrations take place. It is also the place where the conclave, the Popes’ election, takes place.
The Sistine chapel eventually became also a wonderful cradle of Renaissance art.
The chapel is world-renowned mostly for Michelangelo’s vault and Last Judgement. But Michelangelo was not the only artist that worked there. In fact, for the wall paintings on the sides there has been a real dream team of the greatest artists from the 1400s. They were: Pietro Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Cosimo Rosselli, Pinturicchio.
The tour in the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel usually ends inside the St Peter basilica.
You can do all of this in one morning. Because of the incredible quantity of things to see in the Vatican Museums, a tour guide is totally recommended.
Another thing: the Vatican Museums will be VERY crowded. But this should not refrain you from visiting, this is an absolute must-see and it’s crowded for good reasons.
However there is a way to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine chapel without the crowds..
There are tours for small groups which take place outside of visitors’ time. We personally experienced the Key-master tour at sunrise and it was one of the most incredible experiences ever.
You need to wake up very early and be at the museums before sunrise. Then you meet with the Key-master, who treasures the over 2000 keys of the museum. You get to walk with him and personally open the doors and turn on the lights of the rooms containing pieces of Raphael, Michelangelo and ancient roman masterpieces. And yes, including the Sistine chapel door!
If you’re willing to invest a higher budget (and wake up really early!) this experience is totally worth it. You can find the Key-master tour here.
Centro Storico (the historical center of Rome)
After spending the morning indoors, you might want to spend the rest of your day outdoors. Let’s take a nice spontaneous stroll through the Centro Storico, the historical center of the city.
Get some lunch and some rest. Then head down to the beautiful Piazza Navona. From here you’ll start the Hidden Gems of the Historical Center of Rome itinerary included in our Video Guide.
Even though this itinerary contains a lot of hidden gems, we’ll still walk through some of the most iconic Rome landmarks, such as Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.
From Piazza Navona, you’ll set on a journey through baroque wonders, Roman espresso coffee, incredible paintings that look like photographs, optical illusions inside churches, and a shopping mall which turns into a museum.
We will then finish our walk with an aperitivo on top of one of Rome’s panoramic rooftop bars. Enjoy the skyline of Rome!
Piazza Navona by night and Campo de’ Fiori
One thing that I like to do after dinner is to take a careless walk around Piazza Navona. You’ve been here already in the afternoon, but Piazza Navona is something that you should witness also at night.
Rome at night is like that beautiful woman that dresses up for the party and turns everyone’s heads when she walks in the room.
From Piazza Navona, take a few minute walk towards Campo de’ Fiori. This square hosts one of the most ancient markets of the city, to then become a lively nightlife destination after sunset. You do not have clubs in campo de fiori, but bars only.
Have a sip in the only square of Rome which does not have a church.
DAY 3 of the 3-day Rome itinerary
The secrets of Trastevere
Buongiorno! This is your third day of your 3-day Rome itinerary and you got a little acquainted with it. You actually fell in love with Rome, didn’t you? 😉
Today is a day that we’ll dedicate to the less known sides of the city.
The ones that many tourists miss when they plan their Rome itinerary. Have you ever seen those pretty narrow alleys with clothes hanging on the line? Those little squares with the fountain in the middle and elderly men playing cards and sitting on chairs? Today you’ll discover the hidden gems of Rome in Trastevere and the Jewish district.
Start from Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi in Trastevere. This is where the Secrets of Trastevere itinerary starts from. (You can find this itinerary in the bundle of the Off-the-beaten-path Video Guide of Rome).
This itinerary covers the quieter area of Trastevere, away from the lively and crowded streets of the busier side of Trastevere (which we’ll explore in the evening).
From here we’ll start visiting the wonders of San Francesco a Ripa and other churches of the neighborhood to find incredible Bernini sculptures, churches decorated with tomatoes (I am not kidding!) then we will descend underground a crypt (still managed today by the nuns) and discover Ancient Roman ruins in it.
We will then cross the river and hop on the island of Rome and discover the legends that still affect the way we speak today. On the island we will treat ourselves to one of our favorite activities: strolling while eating a gelato
The suggested time to start this itinerary is 10AM, so that you’ll find all the churches and crypt open.
Jewish district: food, religion and ancient ruins
As it happens, the Secrets of Trastevere ends where the Jewish district: food, religion and ancient ruins itinerary starts.
Just across the Tiber river from Trastevere in fact you’ll find the district that kept the Jewish community in Rome within a walled ghetto for 300 years!
Even though we still refer today to it as the Jewish “ghetto”, this area has not been a ghetto anymore since the end of the 1800s.
So do not imagine dodgy streets and rocket houses. The Jewish district of Rome is actually one of the most picturesque and pretty locations of Rome.
I like to call it a super intense concentration of lasagna of history! Because in such a small area there is so much history, from ancient Rome, to the middle ages, to modern times.
And where else can you dine outdoors with the view of the ancient Roman ruins of the portico d’Ottavia? This is a true Roman traditional neighborhood
The Jewish community of Rome is the most ancient Jewish community in Europe.
This means that the Jewish people of Rome are the most “Romans” of all Romans, because they have been sticking around the city since ancient Rome!
No wonder why some of the most traditional Roman food is actually coming from the Jewish tradition! When you’re here, stop by one of the restaurants to try the Carciofo alla Giudìa, a deep fried artichoke which is super crunchy outside and super soft inside. You will fall in love!
This and other delicacies are included in this Jewish district Video Guided itinerary, which will end up in an elegant rooftop bar with super beautiful panoramic views!
The busier side of Trastevere
Now it’s time to dive into the busier side of Trastevere.
Head down to Ponte Sisto (a bridge built the same year when Michelangelo was born, by Pope Sixtus IV, same pope that made the Sistine chapel).
This bridge is always crowded in the evenings with musicians, people dancing and sipping their drinks.
Cross the bridge and you’ll end up in Piazza Trilussa, where even more musicians usually play, while people listen to the music sitting on the stairs of the fountain.
From Piazza Trilussa walk to the right to find the Pimm’s bar entirely covered with ivy (in the summer).
Walk past Pimm’s and take via della Scala to the left. Continue walking until you find via della Paglia. Turn left and at the end you’ll find Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and Piazza San Callisto next to it. It will be full of people and bars and gelatos. While you’re here, look for the Gelateria Otaleg, it’s one of our favorites gelatos. Enjoy!
I hope you’ll find this information useful to plan your 3-day Rome itinerary!
When someone asks me what to see in Rome, I always like to combine the must-see with some good amount of Rome hidden gems to balance off.
Let me know what you think of this itinerary and if it was useful to plan your trip to Rome!