The Perfect 3 Days in Rome, Italy [3-Day Rome Itinerary]

Wondering how to spend 3 days in Rome Italy? Unsure what to do and where to go? This comprehensive 3-day Rome itinerary should help.

So, you’ve got 3 days in Rome and want some ideas for how to spend them?

Makes sense!

Rome is huge and full of amazing things to see and do. And 72 hours there, while excellent, isn’t enough to experience everything.

How can you make the most of your limited time?

Based on my recent trip to the Eternal City, here’s a comprehensive 3-day Rome itinerary that might help…

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Colosseum on first day of 3 Days in Rome
Searching for inspiration on how to spend 3 days in Rome? Look no further, we’ve got you covered! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Day 1 – Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill

Start your time in Rome by exploring three of its most iconic ancient marvels.

Tour the Colosseum. Hop across the road to the Roman Forum. Then, head up Palatine Hill.

These three attractions are indescribably special. They’re some of the best things to do in Italy. If you love history, you’ll be in your element. And even if you don’t, you’ll be blown away!

Here’s a very brief rundown of each place:

  • The Colosseum – The most famous amphitheatre in the world, where, over two millennia ago, gladiators fought to the death, prisoners met their demise, and battles were recreated.
  • The Roman Forum – Once the epicentre of daily life in Rome, you’ll see ancient temples, gardens, senate houses, age-old roads with carriage wheel ruts, giant archways, and more.
  • Palatine Hill – Supposedly where Rome itself was founded, complete with truly ancient dwellings, opulent palaces, and beautiful gardens; the view of the Forum is hard to beat, too.

For me, exploring these three attractions takes a full day in Rome.

Some blogs suggest more sightseeing afterwards. But this is a tiring day already, so I recommend finishing here.

Grab a taxi or hop on a bus to a piazza in Centro Storico for dinner (Piazza Navona is popular, for example). If you have energy afterwards, go for a drink and soak up the atmosphere. Then head to your accommodation to rest up for day two…

Tips For Day One in Rome

First, book ahead. Six million people visit the Colosseum every year, so it’s always busy.

Booking tickets online beforehand lets you skip the queue and save hours of waiting in the sun. This site has more info.

Second, take a break between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

The same ticket gets you into both. Yet once you enter the Forum (Palatine Hill is within the same archaeological site), you can’t leave and then re-enter (without buying a new ticket).

So, grab some lunch, recharge, and then enter the Forum in the afternoon.

Third, take your time.

There’s lots to see here, and each attraction is unique. So go slow. Avoid rushing. Read the signs; feel the atmosphere and history. Remember, you may never come again, so make the most of it!

St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City
On your second day in Rome, experience the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Day 2 – Vatican City

Today, you’re heading to the smallest country on the planet, Vatican City. And it gets busy with a capital B.

My advice? Start the second of your three days in Rome early.

Aim to arrive by 0730 to 0800.

The Vatican (open to the public from Monday to Saturday) doesn’t open until 0900, but crowds gather well before. Similar to the Colosseum, try buying “skip the line” tickets in advance to avoid the longest queues.

There are two main attractions to explore here:

  • The Vatican Museum (including the Sistine Chapel)
  • Peter’s Basilica (including St. Peter’s Dome)

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums all sit under the same roof. Expect a web of interconnected rooms and galleries displaying upwards of 20,000 artworks – many from history’s most acclaimed artists.

The Sistine Chapel is arguably the best-known part.

People flock here to see the immense frescoes painted by Michelangelo in the 1500s. This sacred space gets extremely crowded, but don’t let that put you off. Seeing the Sistine Chapel is a true bucket list activity.

St. Peter’s Basilica

From the Sistine Chapel, a corridor leads all the way to stop number two: St. Peter’s Basilica.

Unfortunately, this route is reserved for select tour groups. You’ll probably have to exit the Museums and take the 20-minute walk to the Basilica instead. It’s worth the effort, though…

The biggest church in the world doesn’t disappoint.

It’s awe-inspiring, ornate, and packed with intrigue. The fact it’s free to enter is the cherry on top (although long queues are the norm).

If you’re fit and have a head for heights, be sure to climb St. Peter’s Dome, too. You have to pay, but the views over St. Peter’s Square and Rome mean it’s money well spent.

Finishing Day Two

After the Vatican, feel free to call it a day with the sightseeing. You could hop in a cab or take the bus back to Centro Storico for dinner.

But if you have more energy? Consider walking there instead, crossing the River Tiber in the process.

It’ll take roughly 30 minutes and introduce you to more of Rome, while also providing great views of another famous attraction, Castel Sant’Angelo. Snap some photos from the bridge before making your way into the historical centre.

Once there, you can grab dinner and soak up the atmosphere until you’re ready to call it a night.

The Pantheon in Rome
In the following section, we’ll explore the remaining historical attractions to complete your 3-Day Rome Itinerary! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Day 3 – Centro Storico Attractions

On your final day in Rome, it’s time to tick off five of the remaining attractions in the historical centre:

  • The Villa Borghese Gardens – Beautiful, expansive, centuries-old park that once belonged to the famed Borghese family.
  • The Spanish Steps – Grand 18th Century staircase that connects Trinita dei Monti (a French monastery church) with Piazza di Spagna below. Its terraces offer great views over Rome.
  • The Trevi Fountain – Famed 18th Century fountain depicting Neptune, God of the sea, being pulled in a chariot by two horses.
  • The Pantheon –2,000-year-old Roman temple (now a catholic church) with one of the largest and most impressive domed rooves in the world. The infamous Renaissance artist and architect Raphael is also buried here.
  • Campo de’ Fiori – Translating to “Field of Flowers,” this is one of Rome’s most bustling piazzas, known for its daytime market, restaurants, shopping opportunities, and nightlife.

These popular places are all within walking distance of each other, which is ideal when you don’t have much time.

I suggest starting at the Borghese Gardens and working your way down to Campo de Fiori, though.

You could do it the other way around, but Campo de’ Fiori would be a great place to grab some dinner and a drink in the evening! Likewise, if you wanted to celebrate the end of your time in Rome, you could party into the early hours…

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome
Consider adding Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome to your itinerary, and explore the other attractions listed below! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Alternative Ideas for Your 3-Day Rome Itinerary

That 3-day Rome itinerary covers most of its main attractions. However, there are many other ways to spend your time in the Eternal City!

Here are a few alternative sights, places, and activities to consider doing instead of (or alongside) the previous ideas:

Castel Sant’Angelo

Otherwise called Hadrian’s Mausoleum, this imposing structure on the banks of the River Tiber dates back almost 1900 years.

In the past, it served as a tomb for Roman Emperors, a military fortress, a prison, and even the Papal residence.

Today, Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum full of historical exhibits, statues, and art. But even if there wasn’t so much to see, stepping foot inside such a storied building is arguably reason enough to visit.

On the itinerary above, day three in Rome includes walking around the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens.

What I didn’t mention is that there’s a famous art museum of the same name located within them. Enjoy gilded palaces and famous art? You’ll love the Borghese Gallery.

Gawp at the opulent villa this prestigious Italian family once called home and see masterpieces from the likes of Caravaggio and Raphael.

The Catacomb of Priscilla

Exploring a 13km network of tunnels where 40,000 people were buried might sound too morbid for a fun three days in Rome.

However, while it’s some distance from the main Centro Storico attractions, the Catacomb of Priscilla comes highly recommended!

I haven’t been, but it looks like another unique historical attraction.

An ancient Christian burial site, numerous early popes were laid to rest here, and you’ll see some of the oldest religious frescoes in the world.

Baths of Caracalla

A 15-minute walk south of the Colosseum are the impressive ruins of ancient Rome’s second-largest public baths.

Founded circa 216 AD, the Baths of Caracalla were in operation for hundreds of years and accommodated up to 1,600 bathers.

Visitors today explore a jumble of crumbling rooms, towers, walls, and archways. It’s an impressive site. Yet back in Roman times, these baths would have been resplendent – decked in marble, with frescoes, statues, mosaics, and gardens.

Via del Corso

Via del Corso is one of Rome’s best and busiest streets.

This central thoroughfare runs north to south, from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. It fizzes with activity!

If you want to eat, drink, and shop, then it’s the place to go.

Similarly, Via del Corso’s nice and close to places like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. You could easily explore it on day three of the above itinerary while venturing between these famous landmarks in Rome.

Tour in Rome
Last but not least, discover these top-rated tours in Rome to elevate your experience! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Join a Top-Rated Tour in Rome

Tours are a fantastic way to explore destinations like Rome, where there’s so much to see and do.

Whether you join a free walking tour, ride a hop-on hop-off bus, pay for a guided tour of the Colosseum, or all of the above, you’ll be chaperoned to the “best bits” in a time-efficient manner.

This helps you make the most of every precious minute and ensures you don’t miss anything. Better still, having a guide means you learn much more about each place than you would travelling alone.

Each of the Rome tours above comes highly recommended, so be sure to check them out, or click here to see more guides in Rome.

Enjoy Your 3 Days in Rome!

The Eternal City is a spectacular place to explore. With 3 days in Rome to play with, though, it pays to plan the trip so you can see/do as much as possible without burning out.

I hope the 3-day Rome itinerary above will help serve that purpose. Planning a trip to Bel Paese? You might also like these maps of Italy.

Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including and news sites across the US.