Rome is a destination filled with enough sights and experiences to fill weeks and weeks, but if you are traveling all across Italy or Europe, you might only have 3 days in Rome. You’ll have to make the most of your time to see as much as possible in this stunning city, so be sure to make a plan ahead of time to maximize your time and see all the major sites.
With proper planning, you’ll not only be able to tick most of the big historical sites off your list, but also enjoy some of the best experiences of Roman life. From ancient history, stunning works of art and amazing food, 3 days in Rome will bring some of the best of the best and memories that will truly last a lifetime.
With some advance planning and a good game plan, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and explore most of the major sites as well as a number of the smaller, more intimate areas and moments to be had in this remarkable city. The best way to maximize your experience is to find a mixture of iconic, popular spots as well as quieter or lesser known spots.
Choosing the right timing and route is the best way to enjoy everything the city has to offer in a short amount of time and comes with the added benefit of being able to avoid most of the large crowds that flood this popular tourist destination. Read on for a sample itinerary to see just how easy it can be to maximize 3 days spent in Rome.
3 Days in Rome: the ultimate guide to seeing the city
Day 1 – Morning
Hopefully you’ll be fresh and ready to hit the ground running on day 1 of 3 days in Rome! Head to Campo de’ Fiori to see the exhilarating rush of morning as locals and travelers alike come out early to stock up on all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as cheese, cured meats, fresh flowers and a little bit of everything in between.
You’ll witness the spectacle of eager and excited vendors shouting across the market to one another and the flurry of sights, sounds and smells will be quite a rush of excitement. This market is one of the largest in all of Rome, and often considered one of the largest in Italy!
Settle in at one of the cafes around the market for a hot cup of Italian coffee and perhaps a cannoli or pastry fresh from the bakery before starting your adventure! Don’t forget to grab some cured meats or aged cheeses straight from the source to bring home as a delicious souvenir to remember your time spent in Rome!
Day 1 – Afternoon
Just north of the market, Piazza Navona is the perfect spot to start off your afternoon of exploration. Surrounded by grand facades and stunning fountains from the Baroque period of Rome. The famed Fountain of the Four Rivers is a remarkable work of art that often makes the top lists of things to see while in Rome and the famed architecture of Bernini can be seen throughout this lively public square.
For a special souvenir, have one of the many street artists that populate the area create a portrait or caricature of you to take home from your travels. Don’t worry about going hungry either! Piazza Navona is surrounded by restaurants and cafes all serving the most delicious Italian cuisine!
Afterward, pop into the nearby Leonardo di Vinci Museum for a unique look at the engineering and innovations created by this famous figure. This interactive museum brings the studies and projects of da Vinci to life, as well as providing high-tech ways to experience the genius work.
Day 1 – Evening
To round out the first day of your adventure-filled 3 days in Rome, sign up for a cooking class! You’ll find numerous in Rome, some of which are conveniently located along the same streets you’ve explored all day long!
Whether you want to make authentic Italian pasta, homemade pizza or even decadent tiramisu, you’ll find a class suited for you and perfect for dinner on your first day in Rome! Almost every class you find will include all the necessary elements for a perfect Italian dinner. From appetizers to wine and homemade, authentic entrees, you won’t be left with an empty stomach!
Learn all the tricks of the trade from a skilled Italian chef! Those skills will last a lifetime and become a truly treasured memory of your adventures while spending 3 days in Rome!
Feeling like you still want to explore? Check out on of these night tours in the Eternal City!
Day 2 – Morning
On your second morning of 3 days in Rome, you’ll be eager to see and do even more now that you’ve had a taste of everything this city has to offer. One of the best ways to spend the morning is by taking a tour of the Vatican. The world’s smallest state and the home of the Pope, this area is a vast and sprawling complex filled with art and artifacts as well as some of the best architecture around.
You’ll find tours that provide a special breakfast at the Vatican as well as tours of the museums and gardens before the crowds arrive, making this a special and memorable option for a morning in Rome.
From works of art by Raphael and da Vinci to the famed Sistine Chapel, the museums at the Vatican are a treasure trove of wonders and marvels spanning millennia, and of course the impressive and breathtaking St Peter’s Basilica, a morning tour will be sure to maximize the sights while avoiding the large crowds that often flood the grounds.
Prop tip: Book fast track tickets to skip the line as they can get very long certain times of the year. Since you only have a few days, don’t waste them standing in lines everywhere.
Day 2 – Afternoon
Following a morning at the Vatican, where you’ve seen some of the most popular Rome attractions, it’s only fitting to continue your sightseeing with a tour of some of Rome’s most iconic ancient ruins.
You can find tours that optimize the time you have available, hitting a number of the biggest sites within the city, sometimes in as little as three hours. From the Pantheon to the Colosseum, as well as the Roman Forum and dozens of examples of the stunning architecture to be seen in between each of these sites, you’ll be able to cover a number of the biggest attractions in a short amount of time.
It’s particularly helpful to find tours that group sites together based on their proximity, giving you the best option for seeing as much as possible without having to travel too far in between and ultimately saving time for seeing additional sites along the way!
Grab some delicious Italian pizza from one of the many restaurants and cafes peppered along the route for a perfect lunch option during your busy sightseeing schedule!
Day 2 – Evening
While you’ve seen plenty of attractions during the day, 3 days in Rome provides plenty of time to see them all if you utilize the evening and night hours as well! And what better way than to see the attractions that lie underground.
From the Catacombs to the Bone Chapel as well as cities buried, literally, by the weight of time, touring through the underground world of the Eternal City is an exhilarating way to spend your second night in this remarkable city.
If that is a bit too spooky for your adventure, you can spend the evening strolling the streets by dark. You’ll enjoy the romantic ambiance of dimly lit alleys and streets as well as the reduced size of the crowds, giving you a perfect opportunity to leisurely explore.
Sample various options of cuisine from many of the different restaurants dotting the city for a tiny taste of everything this city has to offer! Most traditional restaurants have dinner service that can last for hours, so walking through the streets and sampling small portions from different venues will give you a perfect snapshot of everything this city has to offer while maximizing the time you have when spending only 3 days in Rome.
Day 3 – Morning
Start your morning in Rome with a cappuccino! No one makes one quite like the Romans.
For a special, and surprisingly overlooked experience, head out early to the Palazzo Barberini. Despite having a vast collection of some of the greatest Baroque period art, this museum and gallery is a little known secret among tourists and opens early at around 8:30 am, sometimes resulting in the ability to explore the stunning art without any crowds at all!
Inside you’ll find works by Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini, among others, as well as massive frescoes and hundreds of other pieces dating from 1200 to 1400 AD. Even the building itself is a work of art, from the grand staircase designed by Bernini himself to the painstakingly preserved rooms that display the art in this historic palace.
If you are feeling like you don’t want to walk most of the day, rent a vespa!
Pop into the small, secret garden behind the structure for a serene and magical moment on the last morning of your 3 days in Rome. Not only will you be able to view remarkable art by Renaissance and Baroque masters, but you’ll be able to truly savor these moments without having to fight through throngs of eager tourists.
Day 3 – Afternoon
Most people never really explore beyond the historic center of the city, especially because of how much there is to see and do there! In order to broaden your experience of this spectacular city, spend the afternoon exploring Trastevere.
Located over the Tiber River across from the historic center, this neighborhood is often ranked as one of the prettiest in all of Rome. By night, this neighborhood is a bustling hot spot of tourists and travelers, but by day, it tends to be quieter.
You’ll be able to stroll through the picturesque streets filled with ivy and colorful buildings, explore Piazzas and Palazzos as well as Cathedrals and other historic sites without the push and shove of the crowds found around the historic center.
Pop into a cute cafe or small restaurant for lunch and enjoy a peaceful time during the last of your 3 days in Rome. While the historic sights are not nearly as famous or iconic as the ones found across the river
Day 3 – Evening
On the last evening of your adventure, take time to slow down and savor every last moment. The best way to end 3 days in Rome is to sit down at an authentic Italian restaurant and enjoy the lingering, relaxed atmosphere of a traditional dinner. Typically not starting till 8 or 9 pm, you’ll enjoy multiple courses all paired with delicious wine, spaced out to give you ample time to enjoy each morsel, sip and moment.
Reminisce over the time you spent in the city and savor each bite before strolling the streets one last time. Be sure to make your way to Trevi Fountain. By night, the square is much quieter and you won’t have to push and shove through the crowds to see the sight of the fountain lit up at night. As the story goes, anyone who throws a coin into the fountain will be guaranteed to return to Rome again in the future. What better way to finish your whirlwind tour of this magical city than by ensuring that you will return to do it again!
- For the MOST KNOW travel tips in Rome, check out these tips before heading out.
- If you only have one day in Rome or even five days in Rome, you can alter your itinerary to get the most out of it.
- Tipping in Rome is not the same as western countries. You are not required to leave 15-20%.
The Eternal City is a breathtaking and ancient city filled with stunning sights and remarkable experiences. While it would take months to truly explore every nook and cranny of this magical city, if you only have 3 days in Rome, you can make the most of it and see a majority of the biggest attractions.
Be sure to plan your trip to maximize your time but don’t forget to take the time to slow down once in a while to savor the magical moments found in Rome! Whether you want to see the best of the best from the top ten list or you’d rather curate a more intimate and special travel experience, you’ll be able to find plenty of opportunities to enjoy this city around every corner! Even though you only have 3 days in Rome, the memories you will make there will surely last a lifetime!
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