3 days in Rome

3 Days in Rome (Budget Guide + Itinerary!)

3 days in Rome is a good amount of time to explore this incredible city! If you can stay longer, do it! But three days is a good compromise if you’re strapped for time.

Rome is one of my favourite cities in Europe. I’m not prone to hyperbole, but I can say without a doubt it is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I have ever visited.

History oozes out of every corner. From the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, there are so many incredible sights in the city, you will be left spellbound by the beauty of Rome.

My 3-day itinerary for Rome will take you to the best places to visit in the city, tell you where you should stay and advise you on the best time of the year to enjoy the Italian capital.

Let’s get stuck in!

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How to spend 3 days in Rome

Quick 3 Days in Rome itinerary
Day 1 – Walk around Rome, The Colosseum, Roman Forum
Day 2 – The Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, Baths of Caracalla
Day 3 – Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, Capitoline Hill

My thoughts on Rome

Monument in Rome

Ever since I watched Gladiator when I was 10, I’ve wanted to visit Rome. The history, the architecture and the grandeur made it an alluring place to me.

Sometimes, your expectations are often misguided when you’re presented with the reality. Thankfully, my expectations were outdone when I visited Rome.

The city was very impressive. The buildings are out of his world, there is history around every corner and setting your eyes on the Colosseum is a magical moment.

It’s not a perfect city. The traffic in Rome can be horrendous, public transport isn’t as good as it could be and it can get very very busy.

However, these are minor gripes and you will still have a fantastic time regardless. I have visited a lot of cities and not many of them compare to Rome. Similar to my trip to Palermo, there are a lot of ancient and impressive buildings.

But, they are on another scale in Rome!

You will not find the range of places of interest, magnificent buildings and excellent food that you will in Rome. If you’re planning on travelling around Europe, you would be crazy to not visit Rome!

It’s one of my favourite places in Europe and somewhere you’ll thoroughly love too!

Some of the best things to do in Rome

3 days in Rome should give you enough time to see most of the sights in the city. It is a tight schedule, so I would advise spending a few days there if you can, but you can still see a lot in three days.

One of the things I would recommend getting is the Roma Pass.

The card gives you free access to a number of the top attractions in Rome. It also provides you with free public transport for the entire inner-city area.

The pass will make your time in Rome that little bit cheaper and easier!

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Below are some of the best things to see in Rome in 3 days that you have to do during your time in the city.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

You can’t go to Rome and not visit the Colosseum. If there is one place you have to visit this is it! As incredible as it looks in photos, the Colosseum is even more impressive in real life.

It towers above you and is a lot higher than you might think. Words cannot do justice to how majestic and striking the Colosseum is.

It’s hard to imagine that at one point it was used as a garden and its significance was forgotten about during the Middle Ages! 

You have to pay to enter, but it is well worth it. I spent a good hour walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. This was my favourite place to visit in Rome. I can’t recommend it enough!

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Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is a beautiful piece of architecture. It was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and was completed in 1762. This is not any ordinary fountain, the Trevi Fountain stands 26 metres high and 49 metres wide.

It is a behemoth and stunning piece of architecture!

As beautiful as it is, this is one of the main tourist attractions in Rome. This means it is often packed with people admiring the fountain or getting selfies with it in the background. This does undermine the experience a bit, but the Trevi Fountain is still amazing nonetheless.

Along with the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain is somewhere you have to visit while you’re in Rome!

Vatican City

St Peter's Square

Although the Vatican City is considered a separate country from Italy, it is located within the city of Rome. The Vatican City is a microstate and the smallest sovereign state in the world!

Whether you’re religious or not, it is somewhere you should visit in Rome. There are plenty of things to see and do. You can check out the impressive St Peter’s Square and head into the Basilica of the same name.

You can also visit numerous museums, which will inform you about the history of the Vatican City and the Catholic church.

It may not be a big place, but there are plenty of reasons to visit the Vatican City and explore this fascinating place!

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Rome itinerary – Day 1

Walking tour

Rome at night
Whenever I arrive in a new city, the first thing I do is to go for a walk. I feel this is the best way to get to grips with a new city and allows you to venture to places you might otherwise not come across.

I realise this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I suggest you give it a go. There is a lot to see in Rome, so even if you head out in a random direction you’ll still come across something!

If this doesn’t like something you want to do, my advice is to go on a walking tour. Many hostels offer free walking tours and they are a great way to see Rome and learn about its fascinating history.

Another option is to book a walking tour if you can’t find a free one. It’s worth it for the inside knowledge you will gain as you make your way around the Eternal City!

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The Colosseum

Inside of the Colosseum

The Colosseum is the main attraction in Rome, so it makes sense to see it on your first day. Speaking from personal experience, I would struggle to contain myself if I didn’t see it on the first day!

The anticipation would kill me!

As I mentioned above, the Colosseum is an incredible sight. It’s one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen! It’s no wonder it’s considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

My advice is to book a tour to get the best experience. You can pay to enter and look around yourself, but by going on a tour you will find out much more about the fascinating history of the Colosseum.

This is the one place you can’t miss out on in Rome. It’s an amazing structure and probably the best thing to see during your 3 days in Rome!

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Roman Forum

Roman Forum

If you want to get to the heart of ancient Rome and visit a place that should be on every Italy bucket list, the Roman Forum is the place to go.

What remains today are the ruins of several important government buildings and the centre of day-to-day life in Rome. It was here that triumphal processions, elections and criminal trials would take place.

The Forum is located next to the Colosseum, so you can walk over once you’re finished there and marvel at some more incredible Roman ruins!

You do have to pay to enter, but it is well worth the fee to get inside. It can get busy, so it may be a good idea to book a ticket in advance and skip the line.

It’s an incredible place and home to the Palatine hill, where according to legend, twins Romulus and Remus were brought up by a wolf, and where Romulus founded the village that came to be known as Rome after he killed his brother!

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Rome itinerary – Day 2

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple which now functions as a temple. It’s amazing to think that it was built in 126 AD and is still standing today!

One of the best things about the Pantheon is that it’s free to enter as it’s a church. This makes all the more worthwhile to visit.

The Pantheon is home to the tombs of King Victor Emmanuel II and the famous Italian artist Raphael. The architecture inside the Pantheon is incredible and you will be marvelling at as you make your way around the interior.

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo is another impressive building in Rome that you have to check out. Built in 139 AD at the direction of Emperor Hadrian, it was intended to be used as a mausoleum for him and his family.

Since that time it has been used for many different purposes. It’s functioned as a prison, citadel and was even used as a safe have for Popes during times of unrest. A corridor connects the Vatican palace to the castle, which provided an escape route in case of an emergency.

More recently, the castle featured in Dan Brown’s novel Angels and Demons and in the film adaptation. As a result, it is a popular place to visit! It’s a stunning building and some of the rooms inside are exquisite.

The lines aren’t as bad as they are for St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, but there can still be queues. Booking a ticket in advance allows you to skip the line and get in without any hassle or hanging around.

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Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla are a lesser-known place to visit in Rome, but one you should visit nonetheless. They are located close to the Colosseum and is a huge complex where over 1600 people at any one-time could bathe.

Unfortunately, not much is left of the original buildings, however, they are still an impressive sight. Due to its relatively low profile, it gets fewer visitors than other spots in the city, so you won’t have to compete with other tourists for space here!

You do have to use your imagination about how the complex would look when it was at its peak, as there isn’t much left, but it is an impressive place nonetheless. It’s amazing to think that 200 years ago these baths were operating and providing heating and water supplies we’d be proud of today!

You have to pay to enter and my advice is to book a ticket in advance along with an audio guide so you can get the most out of the experience!

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Rome itinerary – Day 3

Trevi Fountain

View of Trevi Fountain

A great way to start the final of your 3 days in Rome is to head to the Trevi Fountain. As I mentioned above, it is an incredible piece of architecture and one you can’t miss out on!

One of the things you may notice when you visit the fountain is people throwing coins into the water. This originates from a 1954 movie, Three Coins In The Fountain. The myth is as follows:

  • If you throw one coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome
  • If you throw two coins into the fountain, you will fall in love with an Italian
  • If you throw three coins in the fountain, you will marry the person you met

While this is nothing more than fun and not to be taken seriously. There’s no harm in joining in the with the tradition!

It’s an interesting reason to visit the fountain, as is the fact that the Trevi Fountain is an incredible sight and somewhere you have to see while you’re in Rome.

Vatican City

Vatican City

The Vatican City is one of the most interesting places you can visit in Rome. This microstate is the home of the papacy and awash with historical significance.

You will find St Peter’s Square and Basilica, both of which are impressive and a sight to behold. You will also find several fascinating museums and the Vatican gardens too.

Despite its small size, there are a lot of things to do in the Vatican City. You could easily spend the majority of the day, checking everything out.

My advice is to spend as much time as you can here and visit one of the museums. You will learn a lot about the history of the papacy and the Vatican itself!

Capitoline Hill and Museums

Capitoline Hill

One of the best places to visit in Rome is Capitoline Hill and the numerous museums that are clustered there. The palace at the top of the hill was designed by Michelangelo and is a beautiful piece of architecture.

The Capitoline museums are worth a visit if you’re interested in seeing some beautiful pieces of art from Rome’s past. 

Another reason to visit Capitoline Hill is to marvel at Piazza del Campidoglio, one of the best squares in Rome. It’s a beautiful square which was commissioned by Pope Paul III. Completed by Michelangelo, it’s not on the scale of St Peter’s Square, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

You will need to pay to enter the museums, so it’s worth booking your ticket in advance to avoid the lengthy queues that can form.

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Other places to visit in Rome

  • The Mouth of Truth – Located by the entrance to Santa Maria in Cosmedinchurch, the Mouth of Truth is a large marble manhole which dates back to the first century. Legend states that the Mouth of Truth bites off the hand of liars. If you’re nearby, give it a try and see if your hand remains intact!
  • Stadio Olimpico – The Stadio Olimpico is the home of Rome’s two top-flight football teams Lazio and Rome. It also hosted the 1960 Olympics. If you’re a sports fan, it’s worth visiting to check out the stadium.
  • Rome’s Catacombs – Rome has a large labyrinth of catacombs beneath its streets. It’s a really interesting place to visit, especially if you want to see a different side of the city. You’ll have to book a tour, but it’s worth it! Click here to book your tour!
  • Food tour – Italian food is among the best in the world. As the capital, you will find plenty of great places to eat. One part of the city has a great food scene and that is Testaccio. You will get the chance to eat in multiple restaurants and sample some brilliant delicacies. A food tour in Testaccio is a great way to learn more and indulge in Italian food!

Rome travel tips

Where to stay in Rome

As the capital of Italy, there is no shortage of places to stay in Rome. Whether you want to stay in a hotel or a budget hostel, you will be able to find accommodation to suit your needs.

A choice you need to make is whether you want to stay in the centre or a bit further out. The downside of staying further away from the centre is that you will have to get public transport or a taxi into the centre, but it will be quieter.

If you stay in the centre, you will probably pay more, but you will be close to the action and won’t need to worry about getting in and out of the centre which can be a hassle.

I’ve included it and several hostels and hotels you should consider staying at during your trip to Rome in the table below.

Cost of travel in Rome

Ruins in Rome

Rome is one of the more expensive cities in Europe, but it’s not going to destroy your budget. If you’re clever and budget accordingly, you can visit Rome for a reasonable price.

One of the things to note in Rome is that if you eat or frequent the tourist hotspots, you will pay a lot more. Restaurant prices can be extortionate in these areas.

It’s best to browse the menus or look at sites such as TripAdvisor to get an idea of the prices. We got stung once or twice by not doing this!

The following prices are for the average travel budget. That is someone who is not going to splurge, but someone who will not be travelling on an ultra-frugal budget either.

They don’t include prices for extras such as nights out at a bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenirs/clothing purchases, tours. etc. You will have to budget extra for these purchases as they are ‘non-essential!’ 

Here’s a rough breakdown of essential travel costs in Rome:

Bed icon

Accommodation

Hostel: Dorm – €18-32; Private – €45-80
Hotels: €70-145
Rental Apartment: €80-150+

Restaurant Icon

Food and Drink

Breakfast: Free-€5
Dinner: €7-15
Takeaway meal: €4
Pint of beer: €5

 

Transport icon

Transport

City Metro / Bus: €1.50
Day ticket: €6
3-day ticket: €16.50
Train from Fiumicino airport to city centre: €11

 

Best time to visit Rome Building in Rome

When it comes to deciding when to visit Rome, I’m not sure there is a definite period you should strive to visit the city in. This, and the incredible sights, make it one of the best elopement destinations in the world!

Yes, it will be a lot colder during the winter months, but this will not diminish the experience that much. You may benefit from fewer tourists and cheaper prices.

Going to Rome during the summer has its benefits and downsides. The weather will be fantastic, which makes seeing all the sights a breeze. However, temperatures can be very hot at the same time.

I visited during June and it was very hot. I had to take cover from 12 till about 4 as it was too hot to walk around in the sun. This does diminish the experience somewhat as you have to stay in the shade or burn in the blistering heat.

A better time to visit Rome might be to go during the shoulder seasons of March/April or September October. You will get decent weather during both periods, but it won’t be excessively hot as summer or as cold as winter.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a personal choice. There is no one tome you should visit Rome and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whether you go during the summer or in December.

Whatever the weather, you will need to dress appropriately. Check out my packing list for Italy, to see what you should take. You don’t want to get sunburnt in summer, or drenched in winter on your trip to Rome!

How to get around Rome

Bus in Rome
One of the downsides about Rome is that the public transport system is not the best. This is compounded by the fact that Rome is a big city and it’s hard to make your way around the city on foot.

Rome has a metro system, but there are only three lines and although they do take you most of the tourist spots, it’s not very extensive. Likewise, the tram system only has six lines and doesn’t reach the city centre.

Your best bet for public transport in Rome is to get around by bus. They are aplenty and reach most parts of the city. However, they are not without their issues.

The schedules are very complicated and not easy to understand. Plus, you can’t buy tickets on the bus, they must be bought beforehand.

My advice is to walk around Rome as much as you can. Rome is a big city, but it’s not too big that you can’t walk around to most of the main spots. 

An advantage of this is that you might come across sights and places that you might otherwise not see.

If you’re are going to use public transport in Rome, keep your valuables safe. Pickpockets are common in the city and they lurk near stations, on buses and the metro. Only take what you need and keep valuables hidden from sight.

The last thing you want is to be robbed while you’re enjoying one of the most beautiful cities on the planet!

Concluding thoughts

3 days in Rome may not be enough to do justice to this magnificent city, but you can still see a lot in that time. If you’re visiting Italy, you have to visit Rome, it’s a beautiful and fascinating city that will leave you mesmerised.

Have you been to Rome? Did you do all of the things on my itinerary? Is there anything I missed? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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Rome in 3 Days