Rome is like a museum! The whole city is literally like a big, never-ending museum. On every corner, every piazza, every turn there’s a monument, a fountain, a bridge, a museum, a ruin from the ancient times. If there’s one city that short city breaks aren’t enough for, that’s definitely the Italian capital! Now, through this 3-days Rome itinerary, we’ll try to cover most of those places that must be seen.
Are you ready to walk through human history? Everything from the Roman Empire, the dark Middle Age, the Renaissance, Romantic age, and the history of Christianity is awaiting. All this leading to the vibrant, noisy, and colorful present days that offers music, sunshine, and amazing food! Ready to plan your Rome itinerary? Let’s get right into it!
The ultimate 3-day Rome Itinerary
Seeing everything in Rome in 3 days is tricky. It does require 3 full days to become possible, and your legs will hurt you badly after those 3 days. But it’s all worth it, otherwise, I wouldn’t write about this right now!
Each stop along the 3 days Rome itinerary will include full options that you can do there. The reason is, that I know that many of you will be interested in one specific activity, while others would rather skip it. We better have it all covered!
All routes are planned for walking. No public transport is included as Rome’s historic center is very walkable. Just remember to pack your most comfy shoes, otherwise you’ll be in pain after the first day on cobblestone streets.
Day 1 – Start on Piazza Venezia, end on Piazza del Popolo
The first day of the Rome itinerary will possibly have the less walking, however as this side of the centro storico is really rich in history, and things to visit, you’ll have to stop on basically every street.
We’ll start our Rome itinerary on Piazza Venezia, as this is basically the center of this beautiful museum called the Eternal City. And it’s also one of the most stunning squares around, so double win!
#1 stop: Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria basically something you must see. No options left! The enormous white monument is standing proudly on Piazza Venezia, at the feet of the Capitolium Hill. Altare della Patria was built in honor of Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy. The monument is a neoclassical masterpiece representing the Roman Forum, something as a new age agora.
Tip: I found out about this after 8 visits in Rome. I have always seen the entrance on the right-hand side, in the wall, but I just ignored it unfortunately.
You can go up to the top via the elevator or stairs (196). The rooftop of the Altare is allowing a 360-degree view around Rome. The elevator will cost you €7.00, and it is an absolutely fascinating experience!
#2 stop: Capitolium Hill
On the right-hand side of the Altare della Patria you can see the wide stairs leading up to the Capitolium hill, which is one of the 7 hills of Rome. The amazing design of Piazza del Campidoglio is Michelangelo’s work, one of the most famous, and most celebrated artists of the Renaissance age.
You’ll see in the middle of the square an imposing bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius. This is surrounded by the Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori. On the Capitolium hill, you’ll also see the legendary Capitoline Wolf sculpture, along with a fountain right behind the statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Tip: Going by the building of Palazzo Senatorio, on the right-hand side you can reach a viewpoint to oversee the whole Roman Forum. This is one of the best free things to do in Rome since otherwise to see it all, you should be getting tickets to go in and see in from the Palatin hill.
#3 stop: Fontana di Trevi
Rome’s biggest baroque fountain, and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The Trevi Fountain is 26 m tall and 20 m broad. It was built in the 17th century, and it’s still the most exquisite place to be found in the capital city.
As you may already know, people throw coins in the fountains, and then they wish something. Now, what’s the real tradition and belief? This ritual is originating from 1954, by a movie called Three Coins in the Fountain.
Tip: If you toss one coin, you will return to Rome. Do it with two to fall in love with an Italian, and three to marry the person that you met.
Lunch break: Ristorante Sugo d’Oro
Sugo d’Oro is an amazing restaurant, with reasonable prices! It’s located between the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza di Spagna, on the corner of Via di Propaganda and Via della Vite.
A stylish Italian restaurant, with amazing food! If you’re a fan of seafood, that’s especially suggested to try here! It’s a mid-budget place, with the food made of ingredients from local suppliers.
#4 stop: Spanish Steps & Trinita dei Monti
Piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular squares in Rome, with a stunning Baroque style, and the famous Spanish Steps leading up to the church of Trinita dei Monti. You can also see here, the beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia, which fountain looks like a boat, standing in the middle of the square.
Spagna is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Rome, hosting the fashion industry’s big players. Via dei Condotti, the street that’s facing the Spanish Steps is the most popular, where you can explore the stores of the most famous luxury brands.
Now, if you’re heading to the top of the Spanish steps to Trinita dei Monti, you’ll shortly reach our next stop!
#5 stop: Villa Borghese & Terrazza del Pincio
Something that’s never missing from my Rome itinerary, no matter how many times I’ve already been here!
When you arrive on top of the Spanish steps, go straight on the left. You’ll see on the way as first the Villa Medici, and a few steps further you’ll see a small alleyway leading to the top of the hill. It’s no way you can miss it!
The Villa Borghese is one of the largest parks in Rome. This park is the Italian version of places like Central Park or Hyde Park in NYC and London. What makes it so Roman? It has beautiful viewpoints, where you can see the whole historic center from. There are breathtaking Roman villas, amazing sculptures, fountains, lakes, and more sculptures to explore in Villa Borghese!
It’s perfect to get out of those narrow streets and enjoy the art in nature! You can also visit here the museum called Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese). The entrance is €20. If you’re already in the park, you can walk from here to Terrazza del Pincio directly or, from Piazza del Popolo it can be reached as well.
Pro tip: If you are seeking some fun moments, definitely rent a bike! The one with 4 heels can bring out the rally driver of you!
Aperitivo time: Ristorante Ciampini
The restaurant is located on Trinita dei Monti, right near the Villa Medici. Usually, if you’re following this route, you’ll be arriving here in the afternoon time when it’s already Happy Hour time, or Aperitivo time!
Why is that good? This is the time for aperitives! You order an Aperol Spritz (in most places it’s valid for all cocktails) and you’ll get some snack near it which is free. Each restaurant has its own snack they serve near these drinks. The Ristorante Ciampini has these delicious tiny sandwiches with fresh tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and some with ham!
#6 stop: Piazza del Popolo
Depending on if you head back down the Spanish steps it will take about 15 minutes to reach this square. If you do pick this route, I highly suggest walking along the Via Margutta. The famous movie with Audrey Hepburn was set here, the Roman Holiday! If you visit the Terrazza Pincio, there’s a staircase that will lead you down to the piazza.
Piazza del Popolo was the start point of Via Flaminia, the main entrance of Rome in ancient times. This was the first place that all people coming from the north have first seen when they arrived in Rome.
You can see in the middle of the square the Flaminio Obelisk. You can visit the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, where the two canvases of Caravaggio are kept.
On Piazza del Popolo you’ll also find the twin churches Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. They look similar on the outside, but they are quite different from the inside!
Evening venue: Sina Bernini Bristol and Rooftop Terrace
This rooftop terrace is a little bit far from here, walking from Piazza del Popolo is about 20 minutes. If you’d rather use public transport, take metro from the stop called Flaminio or back in Spagna. It’s one of the best rooftop bars in Rome, with stunning views around the city. Sina Bernini is a great pick to enjoy some evening cocktails on the first Roman evening!
Day 2 – Rome itinerary from Piazza Venezia to Piazza Navona
The second day will consist of as much walking distance as the previous day. The distances between all the sights on the second day will be a bit more exhausting, as it’s a lot of cobbled stones to walk along on, but it’s really worth it! However, I can promise you that what you’ll be about to see will be worth the walk!
#1 stop: Pantheon
From Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon is a short 5-8 minutes walk. You can reach it either from Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, or on the back streets, which I strongly suggest, to explore some more hidden beautiful parts of the centro storico.
The Pantheon is located in the heart of Rome, on Piazza della Rotonda. The enormous temple was built in the 2nd century, and it’s Rome’s best-preserved building from the Roman Empire. The open oculus on the roof of the building makes it even more unique, this being, by the way, the main light source of the building. This is definitely a must for every Rome itinerary!
The entrance for visitors is free, and it’s open during the day, with limited opening hours on Sunday. Bear in mind to bring with you cover-up, and wear long skirt/dress/jeans whatever otherwise you’ll not be allowed inside. Remember, this is a still-functioning church!
#2 stop: Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II & Torre Argentina
The Largo di Torre Argentina, along with the ancient ruins of temples that are well preserved on the side of the street is unmissable. Especially for those who love cats!
If you’re stopping for a second and you have a closer look on this place, you’ll spot tens and tens of cats living between the ruins of Torre Argentina. This place is officially functioning as an open cat shelter. Volunteers are feeding these animals, and taking care of them. There’s also a cat bar at the back side of the ruin park, down the stairs.
Lunch time: Ristorante Mamma Roma
The restaurant is located on Via del Rinascimento, right near the Piazza Navona. From Torre Argentina, this is just 5 minutes away, following the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, and taking on the right to Via del Rinascimento. This place is always in my personal Rome itinerary!
As Ristorante Mamma Roma is not directly on the square, it’s not that crowded, and not that expensive, which is really good! The food in this restaurant is super delicious, and did you see that cute Vespa?
The pasta dishes are made of home-made pasta, and their pizza is, indescribable as well! My favorite pizza I had so far in this place was the Capricciosa. Mamma Roma is a high mid-budget place, which means a pizza is about €10-15.
#3 stop: Piazza Navona
The most charming, most beautiful Baroque square in Rome! It’s also my favorite piazza since I first visited the Eternal City in 2015. Piazza Navona is the most popular square in the city, and there are many reasons why! It was built in the 15th century on the site of the Circus Agonalis stadium from the Roman Empire.
During the day it’s hosting a large art and painting market nowadays, with many street artists on site too. There are 3 fountains on Piazza Navona. The most famous, in the middle of the square is the Fontana dei Quatro Fiumi, designed by Bernini. On the two sides, you can see the Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno as well.
The piazza is surrounded by restaurants, and there are plenty to choose from. However in this area, the prices are much higher, and some places are really touristy (in quality as well) so I personally would suggest choosing a spot outside the square, if you’re not sure which to pick in here!
From Piazza Navona, our Rome itinerary will take us on the south side of the square to Via del Governo Vecchio. Here are some other great restaurants you can choose from, such as Ristorante Pasquino, and the Bistro & Winebar Pasquino.
This street has dozens of amazing handcrafted gelato shops, as an example, the Ice cRome. Governo Vecchio is famous for its cute shops, small restaurants, pubs, antiquity stores, gelato shops, and for its really Italian charm too.
Walking all the way down this street will lead us to the next stop near the river Tevere!
#4 stop: Castel Sant’ Angelo
At the end of Via del Governo Vecchio, it’s a small square (usually used for the car park) followed by Via del Banco di Santo Spirito on the right. Following this street, you will arrive at the Sant’ Angelo bridge and the amazing Castel Sant’ Angelo.
The castle was originally built in the Roman Empire, to serve as the mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian and his family. Later on, it was used as a military fortress. In the Middle Ages, it comes under the Vatican’s control, and the castle was connected to it, so in case of danger, the pope could escape.
The museum functioning inside the castle is split into 5 floors, where you can discover the papal residences and the cells of historic figures. In the papal residences, you can see some beautifully preserved Renaissance frescoes and some extended weapon collections too. It’s really worth visiting and going up to the rooftop, for an amazing view of the city! For a long time, the castle was the highest building in Rome.
The entrance is about €14,00 and you can get tickets on sight or online. As it’s not that over visited, you won’t be facing big lines at this one, if you’re purchasing your ticket upon arrival, but it’s always safer to get it online still.
#5 stop: St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City
Heading from the Castel Sant’ Angelo toward the Vatican, you will first arrive the St Peter’s Square, and St. Peter’s Basilica. The square is one of the most famous and largest squares in the world. Obviously this is another spot that shouldn’t miss of your Rome itinerary!
What to see in and around the Vatican City?
First, you’ll see the 284 columns on both sides embracing the St Peter’s Square. In the middle of the square, there’s a 25-meter tall Egyptian obelisk. Another fascinating bucket list item is the two fountains on the two sides of the square. One was designed by Lorenzo Bernini, the other one by Carlo Moderno. They seem to be very similar, for as long as you’re not going closer to check the details!
The highlight for Dan Brown lovers. Around the obelisk, you can actually find the symbol of air appearing in the book and movie of Angels and Demons.
St Peter’s Basilica
The main cathedral of the Catholic church, the St Peter’s Basilica is one of the world’s largest churches. The new building was finished in the 17th century, including the work of artists and architects such as Michelangelo, Bramante, and Carlo Moderno as well.
You can visit the basilica for free! However, on Sundays, it’s limited access to just some parts of it. As an additional experience, I really suggest visiting the cupola! You can reach it on stairs the whole way up for free, or you can use the elevator for a fee of €8, and that will take you to the top of the church. From there you’ll need to use the tiny stairs all around the cupola to the top. That view is worth everything!
As the last one, you can also visit the Vatican Museums. I really suggest booking your tickets in advance, to avoid getting stuck in queues for hours or paying more to skip the line.
If you’re looking for tickets for the Vatican Museums, get them online here! The museums and the Sistine Chapel will take you at least 3 hours, if not more. So plan carefully what you’ll be doing at each stop, as if you’re entering everywhere, 3 days won’t be enough at all!
Great places to spend the evening in the area
Back on via del Governo Vecchio, the Pizzeria Pasquino and the Bistro Pasquino are really great to get some amazing pasta and wooden-baked pizza. The Bistro & Wine Bar Pasquino is open until late night, so if you’re looking to grab a bottle of wine (or more), and stay out until late, enjoying the Roman night, this is a pretty great choice!
Terrazza Borromini is located on Piazza Navona. A rooftop terrace with a spectacular view on the rooftops and church towers of the historic center of Rome!
Campo di Fiori is another great spot to head in the evenings. When the market on the square is closed, the city is filled with life and laughter coming from the restaurants.
Day 3 – Memories of the Ancient Rome, and the colorful Trastevere
The third day includes about as much walking as the previous two. However, on this third day, our route will be leading down South, along the Fori Imperiali, between the memories of an ancient empire.
After that, the afternoon will be all about the authentic, and colorful neighborhood of Trastevere, where you can spend the evening out, to enjoy some real Roman vibes, with much fewer tourists than on the other side of the river.
#1 stop: Colosseum & Roman Forum
Heading from Piazza Venezia toward the Colosseum, you’ll be passing the Altare della Patria on the right, the Foro Traiano, and other ancient remainings of the Empire all along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. On the right-hand side, you’ll be able to see the Roman Forum as well.
The Colosseum is part of the 7 wonders of the world. With a history of 2000 years, it’s a must for that Rome itinerary! It’s also a perfect way to get into a time machine and travel back to the time of gladiators and the life of the Roman Senate.
The best is to visit it together with the Roman Forum and get a ticket for both in one. Prices are €12.00 to €16.00 for these two and the Palatine Hill. Depending on if you’re purchasing on the sight or online. I really suggest doing it online, to not waste time!
There’s a saying that visiting Rome without a walk on the Roman Forum is like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower!
There’s no better way to relive history than imagining to walk in the footsteps of the emperor Julius Caesar, or whoever your favorite historical figure is!
Around the Colosseum, you’ll see the Arco di Constantino, which is one of the most famous arches in Rome. Also walking straight from this on Via di San Gregorio, you’ll reach the Circo Massimo, the most famous stadium of ancient Rome.
#2 stop: Aventino Hill
On the side of the stadium, you can walk over the side of the Aventine Hill, on Via dei Cerchi. Depending on your preferences, you have some options here:
The Aventine Hill is one of Rome’s 7 hills. It’s famous for its orange gardens, stunning panorama, and another hidden treasure, such as the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta.
To arrive back easily on the route, near the Orange Garden is a hidden passage you can walk down to the riverside of the Tevere. If you’re skipping the hill, walk along the Via dei Cerchi to reach the riverside.
Tip: On Via dei Cherchi, on the left-hand side, you can also visit the Boccal della Verita (Mouth of Truth), and see the Fountain of the Tritons.
47 Boutique Hotel Rome is another stunning rooftop bar located near the Tevere river, with a spectacular view! Great for an aperitivo before crossing the Tevere.
#3 stop: Tiberina Island
Walking along the river, we arrive at the Tiberina Island, which is a boat-shaped island in the middle of the river. It’s the seat of the ancient temple of Asclepius, that later became a hospital.
Crossing the Island, we’ll arrive at one of Rome’s most authentic neighborhoods, the Trastevere. The cobbled narrow streets, colorful buildings covered with flowers, and ivy… Oh, and drying clothes hanging above you makes Trastevere a must for a Rome itinerary!
#4 stop: Trastevere
This neighborhood, besides its authenticity, it’s highly advised to visit for its amazing family-owned and traditional restaurants. Great bistros for afternoon aperitives, and great bars for the evenings.
The most famous square is the Piazza del Santa Maria in Trastevere. You’ll find here the recently restored Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere as well. It’s a popular spot also for street artists, especially in the evenings.
Tip: From Trastevere, you can reach the top of Gianicolo Hill, where one of the less known fountains, yet almost as amazing as the Trevi fountain is to be found! This is called Fontana dell’ Acqua Paola. On top of the hill you can find an enormous statue of Garibaldi, and get another breathtaking view over Rome.
Aperitivo time: Tonnarello and Ombre Rosse
They are right near each other, both having a bit of authentic and a bit of modern style in them. These are really great for the previously mentioned happy hour drinks and snacks. In Tonnarello you can get mini pizzas as well as nuts and chips. In Ombre Rosso, they serve some amazing bruschettas on the side of your drink!
Tips for your Rome itinerary
My first and possibly most important tip for Rome, and for Italy in usual is, to always have cash with you! Painful or not, unfortunately in Italy, paying by card is still not as popular as in other Western countries.
You can still pay with a card in most places, but you can never know! Oh, and most of them may not accept American Express, heads up!
If you’re planning to visit popular sights like Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican Museums, or any other larger museum, bear in mind that you’ll need to add extra hours to your itinerary which can result in skipping other sights due to a shortage of time!
Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes! I can’t say this enough!
Walking around in Rome for 3 days isn’t easy, especially for those who aren’t used to so much walking. But walking for 3 days in the wrong shoes will take your trip into a nightmare. As I have mentioned, t of the streets in Rome are covered with cobblestones, and while that makes the place charming and lovely, your legs won’t be enjoying it at all!
When to visit Rome?
Thanks to its geographical location, Rome is great to visit in any season. However, it’s really important to consider your personal needs!
Rome is getting more and more popular in the winter season, as it’s less crowded, and it’s not freezing cold, so walking is still great!
The summers in Rome can be really hot, and the humidity is insane too! If you’re not used to walking in that weather, I really do suggest avoiding the summer! Especially, if your Rome itinerary will include everything listed above!
The best period I would say is during the spring and the autumn. The temperature is usually around 20-25°C during the day, which is ideal for walking tours!
How to get around in Rome?
Almost everything that you need to visit in Rome is in the historic center. If you’re staying here, you won’t need to use public transport, as everything is within a walking distance!
However, if you do need to, you can get tickets at any newspaper shop to use for all public transports. These are valid for 100 minutes, and one ticket is €1.50. You can also get them in the subways of the metro stations!
On the other hand, a taxi is the most common in Rome, if you’d rather avoid public transport. Uber isn’t really a thing in Italy yet. You can order Uber Lux and Uber Black, however! When you use a taxi, make sure the taximeter is on, and check your Google Maps for the shortest routes, as they might take you on a taxi sightseeing if you’re not on top of things!
Where to stay in Rome, Italy?
If you’re looking for luxury hotels, I would recommend the Hotel Palazzo Manfredi and the Palazzo Naiadi. Manfredi has an amazing terrace called Ristorante Aroma which offers a unique view on the Colosseum!
For mid-budget accommodation, I really suggest looking to the area of Piazza Navona for b&b such as Inn Rome Rooms & Suites, and for Airbnb in the area of the Vatican City and Trastevere. The most charming apartments are all there!
For solo female travelers, at a lower cost, I recommend the Orsa Maggiore Hostel for Women Only. As its name is saying, it’s only for ladies, and the prices/ night don’t go over €15, while it’s also very close to the main landmarks.
Party hostels are also available, and one of the most popular is the Alessandro Palace, near Termini train station.