3 Days in Rome – The Ultimate Rome Itinerary

Is 3 days in Rome enough? This is something we are often asked. So we put the question to our Rome expert  Karen Worrall, who shares her perfect three-day Rome itinerary. 

The Perfect 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

After spending a lot of time in Rome over the years, I know it takes weeks to see everything it has to offer. However, with a bit of planning, you can experience its most significant sites, along with its essence in three days.

To help you in your planning I put together this itinerary to help you make the most out of your time in the Eternal City.

three Days in Rome Itinerary

About this Rome Itinerary

I put this itinerary together to help you make the most of your time exploring the city by sections so you see maximum things without burning out.

I usually base myself in the Centro Storico or the Vatican area as they are both within walking distance of many of the main sites, and you breathe in the city’s history as soon as you step outside – if not before in the actual building you sleep in.

3 Days in Rome The Forum inside

This is the actual itinerary I meticulously planned and took on my last trip to Rome in December 2018 while guiding my family around who had never been before.

I stayed in the Centro Storico and used very little public transport at all, as almost everything was within around 30 minutes walking distance.

One of the big joys of visiting Rome for me is finding the tiny streets off the main routes, as that’s where you often find the most local character.

Rome is a pretty safe city (just be wary of pick-pockets in large crowds and Metro stations), so don’t be afraid to walk around and get lost a little.

So, let's get started with our guide on the best things to do in Rome in 3 Days.

If you are looking for some more varied areas make sure to check out my Rome neighborhoods guide below:

#1 Money Saving Tip in Rome

The best way that you can save money and seeing all of the sites is to get yourself an Omnia Multi Pass/Roma Card

You can get it for 3 days and it includes all of these and more:

  • Enjoy fast-track entry to Rome’s historic sites, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Colosseum, with a 3-day combined city pass.
  • Also, take advantage of FREE UNLIMITED PUBLIC TRANSPORT.

With only having a short amount of time this will help you get around quickly and skip the line at a bunch of places. Definitely worth it.

For a more detailed outline see the How to Skip the lines and Save Money in Rome section below.

Book your Omnia Pass Now!

Day 1 in Rome

Here is an interactive map of Rome that will help you see what kind of distances you will be covering as well as where everything is in relation to each other.

 

Map of Rome 3 Day itinerary

 

Click here for the Interactive Map

This should make it easier to plan out your 3 Days in Rome Itinerary.

Centro Storico

For me, this is the place to start off your 3 days in Rome – at the very center of its illustrious history and legacy.

No other city has such a feel to transport you back in time than Rome.

There are so many things to see in Rome. You can literally touch the walls of the Colosseum, walk right beside the buildings, part buildings and ruins of the Roman Forum, and sit on top of the Palatine Hill admiring the vista of the city, as the emperors would have done centuries before.

So we begin here, taking you back to the glory of the Roman Empire.

1. Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument – Piazza Venezia

3 Days in Rome Day Statue

Spend your first day in Rome in its Centro Storico (historic center). Begin by acclimatizing yourself to the time machine-esque trip you’re about to go on admiring the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) next to the bustling square Piazza Venezia.

Built at the end of the 19th century, this grandiose skyline-hogging monument pays homage to the unification of Italy and its first king – Vittorio Emmanuele II.

It simultaneously celebrates modern Italy while giving a nod to the glory of ancient Rome with the bronze Equestrian statue of the ruler flanked by two chariots driven by the goddess Victoria.

Climb the steps for a tantalizing peek of the Colosseum and Roman Forum just beyond, or see the whole historic center by taking the platform lift to the top.

Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument

Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument

Inside is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the other side of the monument houses the Museum of the Risorgimento – dedicated to the unification of Italy.

The museum is appealing for return visitors and a must for Italians, but I’d recommend saving time by simply admiring it from outside on a first visit unless you’re very interested.

 

If you’re there at 11.30am, you should see the changing of the guards outside the Tomb on the main steps.

 

Hours: Viewing the monument 24 hours. Inside the gates and lift Monday-Sunday 9.30am-7.30pm.

Cost: Monument free. Platform lift €7/3.50. Museum of Risorgimento €10/8.

Location: Piazza Venezia.

Metro Stop: Colosseo (Line B). Also, buses 64 and 40 from Roma Termini.

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2. The Colosseum – or Flavian Amphitheatre.

 

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

The next three places are sometimes grouped into one description.

In my opinion, they are the most quintessential parts of Rome and should each have time spent on them.

From the Vittorio Emmanuelle Monument, walk along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali (road of the Imperial Forum) past teasing views of the Roman Forum on the right and Imperial Forum on the left (don’t worry, we’ll get there soon) towards the familiar shape of Rome’s most famous landmark.

Some people say you can see most of the Colosseum from outside, so save some money and just look and take a quick pic to “say you’ve been there.” I couldn’t disagree more.

Visit Rome Colosseum

You have to go inside to feel it. You will be transported back to the days of the Colosseum is the entertainment arena, bringing the plebs and aristocracy together for the spectacle.

The originally named Flavian Amphitheatre (named after Emperor Flavius who commissioned it), just finished a complete sandblast facelift in 2016, and with its shiny new look, opened a new museum on its history on the second level.

Tickets and opening hours sign with qrcode on it to look out for

Tickets and opening hours sign with QR code on it to look out for

My top tip here:

Do not pander to the dozens of irritating ticket touts outside the Colosseum (many of whom are illegitimate) and pay extra to “skip the line”.

There are three legitimate, easy ways to avoid the line that is much cheaper and reputable:

  • If you have a Roma Pass you can go to the pre-paid line, which is short.
  • You can pre-pay your tickets online at coopculture.it booking the time you’ll go in and join the same short pre-paid line.
  • If you get there without either of these, as you start lining up at the first entrance you’ll see a huge sign that says “Tickets and opening hours” which has a QR code on it. Simply scan this code on your phone or tablet and you can prepay for your tickets right there, then join the pre-paid line and be inside in a flash.
  • Note that as of March 1st 2019, even with the passes, you will still need to reserve your entry time. You need to do this as far in advance as possible. Information on how to make these reservations can be found on this page.

You can now also take a tour to Belvedere and Underground, which goes up to the newly opened fourth floor, and down into the pits beneath the arena where gladiators and martyrs alike were kept before events.

You have to go on a guided tour to these, which you can book online in advance, or at the time when you arrive (but I’d advise booking in advance in summer months as they have limited places).

If you need a little refuel, before heading to the Forum, stop for a cappuccino or snack at the Hostaria al Gladiatore just behind the Colosseum on Piazza del Colosseo 5.

Hours: Daily: Last Sunday of October until February 15th open 8.30am-3.30pm, then until March 15th open until 4pm, then until last Saturday of March until 4.30pm, then until August 31st15pm, then until September 30th until 6pm, and until last Saturday of October until 5.30pm.

Cost: €12, which includes entrance into the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of every month (Belvedere and Underground Tour unavailable on this day), reduced to €7.50 for students and 18-25s from the E.U, and free for under 18s. Belvedere and Underground tour €9 on top of Colosseum entrance.

Included for FREE with your Omni Multi Pass/Roma Card

Location: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184.

Metro stop: Colosseo (Line B).

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3. The Roman Forum

3 Days in Rome you can visit the Forum

The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the epicenter of ancient Roman life. It was home to the main market and bustling central meeting point.

It houses the Curia where the Senate met, many temples including that of Castor and Pollux, with the Temple of the Vestal Virgins built into the side of the Palatine Hill bordering it.

The Roman Forum is a must see on a 3 Days in Rome itinerary

The Roman Forum

Which is why I’d highly recommend taking a good guidebook with you (I like Lonely Planet’s Pocket Rome) to show you what everything is and why it was important.

Guided tours are readily available including many you can join right outside it at the time.

There is a lot to see and while there are plaques with information on the main buildings and ruins, having a detailed guide (book or person) will make everything mean a lot more, and you’ll be able to feel like you are really there in its heyday. Don’t miss the Curia, Temple of the Vestal Virgins, Temple of Castor and Pollux, and the Arch of Septimus Severus.

 

The Curia

The Curia

The Imperial Forum is located just across from the Roman Forum and is now only publicly open on the first Sunday of the month, except with an authorized tour.

You can still see the remnants of the forum from above on the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, and use your guidebook along with the information plaques to learn about it.

Trajan’s Market (Mercati de Traiano) Imperial Forum Museum (Museo de Fori Imperiali) just behind it can be visited daily from 9.30am-7.30pm, and is free.

Our 3-day trip in Rome is short, so I’d skip it this time, or just have a quick peek.

Hours: 8.30am-4.30pm (Jan 2-Feb 15 and last Sunday of Oct to Dec 31), until 5.00pm (Feb 16-Mar 15), until 5.30pm (Mar 16-last Saturday in March), until 6.30pm (Oct 1-last Saturday in Oct), until 7.15pm (last Sunday in Mar-Aug 31), until 7pm (Sept 1-30).

Cost: €12, which includes entrance into the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Included for FREE with your Omni Multi Pass/Roma Card

Location: Between the Colosseum and Piazza del Campidoglio.

Metro: Colosseo stop (line B) blue.

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4. Palatine Hill

Visit Palatine Hill during you 3 day Rome Itinerary

Palatine Hill


Me contemplating the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius reading his Meditations on our 3 Days in Rome

Me contemplating the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius reading his Meditations.

From the Roman Forum, walk up the slope near the entrance following signs for the Palatine Hill.

This, one of Rome’s seven hills has had a prestigious history.

It is the site of the cave Lupercal that Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus were found in, where humans started settling in the 10th century BC, and the residence of several Emperors, including Augustus and Domitian.

This oft-overlooked spot is my favorite place in Rome and is very peaceful, even in summer.

I love to sit beneath one of the elegant Italian stone pines musing Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

This is a great place for a picnic and in my opinion the best spot in Rome to watch the sunset.

For dinner, I’d suggest grabbing something from a restaurant behind the Colosseum, such as the Trattoria 4 e 4’otto on Via Dei Santi Quattro for a tasty fixed price menu (the pizza is very good).

Hours: 8.30am-4.30pm (Jan 2-Feb 15 and last Sunday of Oct to Dec 31), until 5.00pm (Feb 16-Mar 15), until 5.30pm (Mar 16-last Saturday in March), until 6.30pm (Oct 1-last Saturday in Oct), until 7.15pm (last Sunday in Mar-Aug 31), until 7pm (Sept 1-30).

Cost: The Houses of Augustus and Livia, ramp of stadium of Domitian and Palatine Museum can be visited using the Omni Multi Pass/Roma Card.

Location: Via de San Gregorio 30.

Metro: Colosseo stop (line B).

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Day 2 in Rome

On the second day in Rome, we’ll visit the Vatican area. Whether you’re here for the religion, history or art, the Vatican has some world-class sites.

Rome Itinerary Map Day 2

 

day 2 itinerary 3 days in rome

 

Click here for the Interactive Map!

 

Vatican City

The world’s physically smallest country is very big on its influence.

The Papal headquarters and headquarters of the Catholic Church it is a must for pilgrims being one of the holiest places in Christendom.

However, there is also a lot more to it than religion. Fans of art, history, architecture, and museums will find plenty to be in awe of.

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5. Bridge of Angels and Castel San Angelo

Rome Itinerary Castel San Angelo

Spend your second day in Rome visiting the attractions of the Vatican area.

While there are many bridges that cross the River Tiber that winds through Rome, few are as beautiful and popular as the Ponte Sant’Angelo, or Bridge of Angels.

Approach the Sant’Angelo Bridge coming from the left bank, and the guardian statues of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, and St Paul holding the sword greets you. This is to prepare the visitor to contemplate the angels ahead.

Your Pocket Rome guide and almost all guides will have this information, and there is a little on the statues themselves.

Looming before you is the imposing sight of the fortress Castel Sant’Angelo.

There are great views from the top and some beautifully decorated rooms but unless you’re really interested in its’ history, I’d view the Castel from the outside then keep on going towards the Vatican.

Hours: Bridge 24 hours. Castel Sant’Angelo Tuesday-Sunday 9am-7pm.

Cost: Bridge free. Castel Sant’Angelo €10.50, €7 for concessions. This is also included FREE with your Omnia Rome Pass

Location: Lungotevere Castello, 50.

Metro: Lepanto (line A).

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6. St. Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter Cathedral Rome itinerary

From the Castel Sant’Angelo, walk along the Via Della Conciliazione (Mussolini’s controversial “gift” to the Pope) to see the best view of St Peter’s Square ahead of you. The outstretched arms of its Colonnades welcome in visitors with 140 saints statues.

This is something you cannot miss when spending just three days in Rome.

The second largest Basilica in the world and one of Christendom’s holiest temples is a must-visit when in Rome, regardless of your religious views.

Vatican when visiting Rome in 3 days

If you wish to see the Pope, he addresses pilgrims for mass in the square weekly at 10 am on Wednesdays, and gives blessings on Sundays at 12 pm.

To go into the Basilica, line up to the right of it, go through the security gates, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered, and then head into the stunning church.

Take in the exquisite detail of the huge church that can accommodate 20,000 people, including Michelangelo’s Dome 447ft above you. Not to be missed are the Pieta by Michelangelo, Bernini’s baldachin, and the statue of St Peter on his throne.

 

 Inside St Peter’s Basilica Rome itinerary

Inside St Peter’s Basilica

You can climb stairs or take the lift to the top of the dome for incredible views of the city, and also go down into the crypts to see the sarcophagi of popes past.

Hours: Daily: October-March 7am-6pm, April-September 7am-7pm. Dome 7am-one hour before Basilica closes.

Cost: Basilica free. Dome €6 taking steps, €8 taking lift to terrace then steps. This is also included FREE with your Omnia Rome Pass

Location: Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City.

Metro: Ottaviano (line A).

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7. Vatican Museum

 

Statues of the Pio Clementine museums in the Vatican museums of Rome

Statues of the Pio Clementine museums in the Vatican museums

World renowned for the caliber and staggering quantity of fine art, the Vatican Museums are a must-see.

Over two million incredible works mean you’ll only see a tiny fraction of the collections in a few hours, so my advice is if you have favorites you definitely want to see, pick up a map when you go in, and head to those first.

The museum offers several recommended color-coded routes, which last from 90-minutes to five hours, so you can choose and follow one of these.

If you are only doing 3 days in Rome, here’s my recommendation of what to see in order, that will take about two and a half hours.

Then see how you are for time. You will never get bored in the museums, but you will probably get overwhelmed.

Visit The Maps Gallery on you three days in Rome itinerary

The Maps Gallery

I’m recommending going to the Vatican Museum around midday to one o’clock, as the lines are much shorter than in the morning.

 

If you do schedule this in the morning and want NO CROWDS I highly recommend the "Waking up the Vatican VIP Tour " which gives you VIP early access to the Vatican Museums with the official key keeper.

 

Allow at least two hours for your visit.

Like the Colosseum, this is one of Rome’s most popular sites, so in busy summer months it is advisable to book tickets online in advance, use your Roma Pass, or if you book on a guided tour you avoid the lines too.

*Note* You need to book your entry into the Vatican Museum in advance, as skip the line access is run on a timed system.

Stop for an early dinner in the area, as there are a lot of great options.

My favorite is Ristorante dei Museo just opposite the Vatican Museum’s exit on Via Santamaura for delicious homemade Roman dishes (the Spaghetti Carbonara and bucatini all’Amatriciana are excellent), and fun family atmosphere cultivated by egregious owner Maria.

Where to eat on your 3 Days in Rome

Me and Maria, the fun owner of Ristorante dei Museo opposite the Vatican museum exit

 

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm (last entry 4pm). Every last Sunday of the month 9am-2pm (last entry 12.30pm).

Cost: €17 Last Sunday of the month free from 9am-2pm. *Note* You need to book your entry into the Vatican Museum in advance, as skip the line access is run on a timed system.

Location: Viale Vaticano 00165.

Metro: Ottaviano. S.Pietro Line A.

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8. Piazza Navona

Piazza NAvonna Three Days in Rome

From the Vatican, walk the 30-minute scenic stroll back past Castel Sant’Angelo, across the Tiber to the Centro Storico to see Rome’s most beautiful baroque square.

The Piazza Navona is stunning. The Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini holds court in its center.

The rivers were the Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa), the Ganges (India) and Rio de la Plata (Americas), which were the most known rivers of the four corners of the world at that time.

Right behind it is the intricate church Sant’Agnese in Agone, dedicated to St Agnes who was martyred at this very spot.

3 Days in Rome visit the Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona Four River Fountain with Chiese de Sant’Agnese behind.

Built by Bernini’s rival Borromini, and Rainaldi, it is gorgeous and well worth going inside to admire the elegant gold dome, Borromini sacristy, and crypt.

The other two impressive fountains adorning the square are the Fontana dell Nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain) and Fontano del Moro (Moor Fountain).

Both have Bernini statues as their centerpiece with the fountains created by Giacomo della Porta.

From December 8th  (the Immaculate Conception day) to January 6th (The Epiphany), it is home to Rome’s prettiest Christmas Market.

Hours: Square and fountains open 24 hours. Sant’Agnese Church weekdays (except Monday) 9am-7pm, weekends 9am-8pm (closed from 1pm-3pm every day.)

Cost: Donations are appreciated in the church.

Location: Piazza Navona, 00186.

Metro: Barberini (line A).

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9. The Pantheon

Your 3 Days in Rome itinerary should include the Pantheon

Rome’s most complete oldest surviving structure – from 125 AD - is also still one of its most awe-inspiring.

The 142ft wide and high church’s highlight is its 27ft oculus in the dome area. This incredible feat of engineering is the only source of natural light for the building.

Sets into the walls of the opulent interior are beautiful tombs of important Italians including that of artist Raphael (on the left).

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

It has been used as a church consistently since 609AD and is still used as such today, with regular services as well as being used for weddings.

Open until early evening daily, rarely any lines to get in, only taking around 15 minutes to see and the picturesque Piazza della Rotonda with lively cafes and often live music in front of it, make it a great place to end your second day.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-7.15pm, Sunday 9am-5.45pm, Public holidays 9am-12.45pm.

Cost: Free to enter or take a guided tour.

Location: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186.

Metro: Barberini (line A).

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Day 3 in Rome

Rome Map Day 3 Itinerary

3 days in Rome map Day 3

 

Click here for an interactive map!

 

Iconic sites and underground

For our final day in our 3 days in Rome itinerary, we’ll see some of the most famous squares, fountains, and gardens.

Being so ancient, Rome has a lot of her history hidden underground, so we’ll venture below to explore some of the subterranean secrets.

10. Trevi Fountain

You can't visit Rome without the Trevi Fountain

After visiting the city’s most beautiful square yesterday (Piazza Navona), we’ll start today seeing it’s most beautiful fountain – the Trevi.

The name of Nicola Salvi’s stunning fountain opened in 1743 name comes from the Italian words tre (three) and via (streets), as it is at the meeting point of three roads.

Possibly the most famous fountain in the world, classic movies La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday helped make it even more popular with worldwide audiences since the 1960s.

Remember to throw in a coin over your shoulder to help assure your return to Rome, two coins to find love, and three to find marriage.

Whether you believe the superstition or not, you’ll be helping local charity Caritas, who sweep the fountain every night and give the daily “donations” of around €3,000 to the city’s poor via rechargeable grocery cards to help feed them.

After admiring the fountain and throwing in your coin, follow the signs to stroll along the pleasant 10-minute walk to our next stop – The Spanish Steps.

Hours: 24 hours.

Cost: Free

Location: Piazza de Trevi, 00187.

Metro: Barberini (line A).

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11. Spanish Steps

At the Spanish steps on the 3rd day of our Rome itinerary

My husband Nick and I at the bottom of the Spanish Steps

The steps, named after the nearby Spanish Embassy, join the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) at the bottom with the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top.

They’ve been a place to see and be seen since 1723, a popular place for artists to find models reclining on any of the 138 steps, up until modern day Instagrammers posing for endless selfies.

The Spanish steps in Rome

Spring sees the square covered in azaleas so is particularly attractive. The center of the Piazza below has the gorgeous nautical-themed Fontanta della Barcaccia by Bernini.

The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is just to the right as you look at the steps, so if you’re a fan of the authors it’s an interesting stop.

Walk ten minutes from here along Via del Babuino to our next stop – the Piazza del Popolo.

Hours: 24 hours.

Cost: Free

Location: Piazza di Spagna, 00187.

Metro: Spagna (line A).

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12. Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo

Situated right at the ancient city’s Northern entrance by Porta del Popolo, the gate adorned by Bernini, is this imposing square.

Its name could be given to honor the adjoining church Santa Maria della Popolo, nearby Poplar trees or from the Latin “populous”, meaning people.

It was the site of dramatic executions, games, and fairs over the years its highlight is its centerpiece Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II, which was brought to the city by Emperor Augustus.

Piazza Popolo on your Rome Itinerary in 3 Days

Statues of Neptune and the Goddess Roma stand nearby, while the almost twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria dei Montesanto were started by Rainaldi and finished by Bernini.

Santa Maria del Popolo is the third church to complete the trinity.

Stop to admire the 360 views and well-appointed monuments in this striking square, it is very photogenic.

Next, walk up the steps climbing Pincio Hill to our next stop – the Villa Borghese Gardens

Hours: 24 hours.

Cost: Free.

Location: Piazza del Popolo.

Metro: Flaminio (line A).

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13. Villa Borghese Gardens

Borghese Gardens

Borghese Gardens

Rome’s largest private garden was acquired from its owners the Borghese family in 1901 and has been a public park since 1903.

This is a great spot to stop for a picnic, or just if you’re craving a little nature in the midst of the city.

This large green space is pleasant for a simple stroll, but keep an eye out for its highlights including Temple of Aesculapius, Bioparco (Rome zoo), Pincio’s water clock (which still functions), Silvano Toti Globe Theatre (replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) and the Galleria Borghese.

The Borghese Garden in Rome

The Galleria is the private art collection passed of the affluent Borghese family.

Online reservations are encouraged, but last minute tickets are usually available on the day except in high season.

It is quite pricey, and you probably overdosed on art at the Vatican Museums yesterday, so I’d recommend visiting this museum on another trip, but the gardens are a nice respite.

Also, be aware that if you are not able to utilize the facilities in the entrance of the villa until you have paid for a ticket and booked your time to go in.

Even buying lunch or coffee in the café evidently doesn’t count; the stoic toilet attendant won’t let anyone in without ticket proof. If you require this (as the gardens are quite large), the best option is to find a regular café nearby outside the park.

From leaving the park at the north of the ancient city, we take our first bus of the trip. Hop on bus 160 at Victor Hugo/Museo Bilotti, go 20 stops to Navigatori, then you’re about eight minutes walk from the catacombs.

Hours: Garden 24 hours. Villa Borghese Gallery Tuesday -Sunday 9am - 7pm.

Cost: Garden free. Borghese Gallery €19.50 plus €2 reservation fee, with guided tour. €2 every first Sunday of the month (plus €2 booking fee). Included in the Roma Pass.

Location: West bank of the Tiber.

Metro: Spagna (line A).

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14. Catacombs of Domitilla

Catacombs of Domitilla

Catacombs of Domitilla

Rome has multiple underground cemeteries, and the Catacombs of Domitilla is one of the oldest with graves from as early as the first century.

It is also the largest with 7.5 miles of graves, going 45ft down, and over 26,000 souls are interred here.

Get your ticket for the 45-60 minute guided underground tour or choose a Skip The Line Guided Tour, and you begin your descent into the underground Basilica dedicated to martyrs, before going deeper down into the actual catacombs.

The tour is fascinating and gives incredible insight into how the Christians of ancient Rome buried their communities, and an introduction to Rome’s underground history.

The guides are extremely knowledgeable and interesting, especially Francesca.

Highlights include the fresco that is often mistaken for the Last Supper but isn’t, the 62 skylights used for entrances and the Basilica.

The museum next to it is worth a look too and is free.

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Cost: €8

Location: Via delle Sette Chiese, 282, 00147.

Metro: Garabatella.

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Alternative – Domus Aurea

Octagonal room in the Domus Aurea.

Octagonal room in the Domus Aurea.

The Domus Aurea – Nero’s golden house – which has been recently opened and is still currently being excavated – is another fantastic choice for seeing some of Rome’s underground secrets, but it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

So if you are in Rome over a weekend, you could switch the Catacombs for here.

You book a guided tour, in advance is best, and spend about 90 minutes underground seeing what the palazzo was like through remnants of paintings, structures, and virtual reality headsets.

Hours: Saturdays and Sundays only year round. November-February English tours start from 9.30am-4.15pm around every 30 minutes. March-October English tours start from 9.00am-4.30pm every 30 minutes.

Cost: €14/10 (plus €2 reservation fee if you book in advance).

Location: Via della Domus Aurea, 1, 00184.

Metro: Colosseo (line B).

End your day having dinner in one of Trastevere’s many charming osterias, such as Nannarella on Piazza di San Calisto (the Capricciosa pizza and homemade pesto pasta are very tasty).

3 Days in Rome Itinerary Resources:

What Time of Year Should I visit Rome?

It is popular to visit year round, with spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) providing the most pleasant temperatures of usually around 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit and infrequent rain.

The summer gets very sticky, reaching temperatures over 100 Fahrenheit, especially in August, which is when the locals flee for their holiday homes by the Spiaggia (beach).

Winter (December-February) sees cooler temperatures of usually between 45-65 degrees, and more rain, but also a lot fewer tourists to compete for the sights with.

Before You Go

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How do I get Around Rome

Rome’s city center is mostly walkable, but public transport is widely available and pretty easy to navigate.
Bus day pass:
If you are planning on visiting several areas in a day, getting a 24-hour bus pass for €7 is a good move.
Single bus tickets cost €1.50 and last 100 minutes, so they can be used for more than one stop if it isn’t too long.
The Metro system is also efficient, but mostly serves the east side of the city, so taking the bus or walking can often be faster in other areas.

For going outside the city center, the train system is very good.

You can find full information and timetables for:

  • Rome buses, trams and Metro: Run by ATAC
  • Train system
  • Taxi: Roma Capitale is Rome’s official taxi company. Cars are white with an ID number and Roma Capitale written on the sides.
  • OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card: This 3 Day card gives you free entry to top attractions in Rome and the Vatican City as well as a Fast Track Entry, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, free guidebook, and travelcard. Tailor-made for visitors to the city, tourists can save both time and money during their time in Rome.

Other upsides include it beginning from the time activated, rather than being a regular two or three-day pass, plus it can allow you to skip lines at certain busy museums.

The Hop on Hop off Bus is another option. If you get the Omnia Multi Pass/Roma Card the Hop on Hop off bus is included for 3 days.

Moovitapp (free) is great for getting around Rome.

Getting to and from the Airport: Rome has not one, but two, airports — Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA) — and they’re both international. We recommend taking either a private transfer or the train. Or you can opt to take an Uber.

The normal, regionale train leaves from the station at Fiumicino, it takes half an hour, and costs just €8 each way.

But be warned, it doesn’t go to Termini. Instead, it makes several stops in Rome, including at Stazione Ostiense—probably the most useful if you’re staying in the Centro Storico. 

The Private Transfer will cost about $17 USD one way and an Uber will run you a minimum of 40 Euros.

 

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How to Skip the Lines and Save Money in Rome

 

There is no doubt that Rome can be expensive.

But luckily there is a pass that will allow you to get free or discounted admission as well as skip the lines at most attractions listed in this post.

The Omnia Rome and Vatican Card is the one we recommend. This pass allows you to get the most bang for your buck while helping you save time by skipping the lines.

We have used their passes in both London and Paris as well and found them to be the best ones on the market.
3 days in rome omnia Rome Card

So what do you actually get with the Omnia Rome and Vatican card? The benefits are listed below:

  • Free entry to Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel - plus a free Wi-Fi downloadable audio guide for St Peter's Basilica
  • Fast Track Entry to St Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel & The Coliseum - save over 4 hours at each attraction during busy periods.
  • Free hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket of Rome for 3 days.
  • Free travelcard for unlimited access to Rome's public transport system.
  • Free detailed Guidebook to help plan the perfect trip.
  • Discounted Entry to another 30 plus sights, attractions, and museums in Rome.

Now you can see why we recommend this card. It includes a lot. For us, the most valuable part of the pass is the Skip the Line access.

There is nothing worse than spending hours standing in line to see what you came for.

Trust me, when it is the peak of summer, it is hot and Rome is packed with tourists you will appreciate the value of this perk.

So, how will this pass save you money?

In order to get the most out of the Omnia Rome and Vatican Card, we recommend using it for the most expensive entry fees on your itinerary.

When we totaled up the entry fees on this itinerary (almost €100), added in the value of the Hop on Hop Off Bus (€32) and the Public transportation Card (€18) and compared what is covered in the Omnia Rome and Vatican Card (€113), we came up with a savings of almost €50.

In our opinion that is a great amount of savings.

If you only want to visit a couple of things while in Rome, then it might be worth it to just purchase individual entries.

But bear in mind, not a lot of them include Skip the Line privileges which you will definitely want at the Colosseum and The Vatican.

While the cost savings is worth it on its own merit, it really is the time saving and convenience elements that you will love the most.

In order to make the most of your 3 days in Rome you will definitely want to get this card. You can purchase it from the official site here.

*Note* As of March, 1st, 2019 both the Vatican Museum and the Coliseum now operate on a timed entry system.

This means you will have to reserve your time in advance.

This applies to everyone, even Skip the Line entries that are included with the Omnia Rome and Vatican Card.

 

How to Get To Rome

Check out how cheap you can fly to Rome below!

Recommended Reading

Where to stay in Rome

Karen gave an in-depth breakdown of all the neighborhoods in Rome:

By clicking on the links below will take you to a break down of each Rome neighborhood and suggested hotels.

  • Vatican –  Vatican area houses its world-class museum, a castle and the imposing St Peter’s Basilica.
  • Ancient Rome/Centro Storico – The very heart of ancient and modern Rome
  • Monti – The coolest area in Rome, full of boho chic and bustling nightlife.
  • Trastevere – Ancient churches, squares filled with live music plus a great local restaurant scene.
  • Testaccio – Lesser-known historical delights and leafy green avenues wait just south of the center.

Recommended Rome Tours

We've taken a few amazing tours and Rome and highly suggest having a guided experience or two when visiting the city.

If you want to see the Vatican a good way to avoid crowds is the private VIP tour Waking up The Vatican offered by Viator. It's expensive, but if you've always dreamed of it, you get access to the Sistine Chapel and other rooms alone with your guide, before it is open to the public. Breakfast is included.

Our favorite tours revolved around food.

The best way to explore Rome is through your stomach. Nothing beats Italian cooking!

Eating Europe offers an excellent food tour of the Testaccio neighborhood. Don't eat a thing before you go, you are in for a feast of pasta, olive oil tasting, local cheeses, and gelato just to name a few.

We took several tours in Rome with Get Your Guide and enjoyed them immensely.

A Vespa Tour of Rome with a private driver was a highlight of our time in the city. I felt like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday as my skilled driver whizzed through the streets showcasing all the highlights of Rome.

Our Rome cooking class and market tour really made us feel like a local. We shopped for fresh ingredients at a local market and then learned to cook a traditional Roman meal. Cooking courses always give us the chance to relive our holiday once we are back in Canada.

Read about our tours in Rome at Gladiator School, A Vespa Tour of Rome, Protestant Cemetery Tour and our Rome Food Tour

Phew! That was a lot.

If you want to make the most of Rome in 3 Days, this is my recommendation on how to do it.

You'll get to see the most famous and important sites, mix in history with art, religious sites, parks, over and underground places to get a feel for the city overall.

I’ve been to Rome many times, and still find new exciting things to visit each time, so hopefully, this will whet your appetite for the city as well as it’s pasta, pizza, and coffee.

And if you threw your coin in the Trevi Fountain, you’re sure to be back again soon.

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3 days in Rome - The Perfect Rome Itinerary

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Author Bio

Karen Worrall is a travel blogger and freelance writer. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, she has lived in six countries, including London in England, and sailed the seven seas entertaining on cruise ships for 13 years.

You can find her on FacebookInstagram, and on her website Cruise Ship Karen.

Read her other Rome article breaking down all the neighborhoods and suggesting where to stay in Rome


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