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3 Days in Rome Itinerary - Making the Most of Your Time in the Eternal City

3 days in Rome might not seem like a lot of time. After all visiting Rome is a whirlwind of architecture, sites, and history. 

The eternal city is a perfect blend of the ancient and modern. Name another city in the world where you can turn a corner and suddenly be standing in front of a two-thousand-year-old ruin, and in the same day look at some of the best art, statues, and monuments in the entire world? 

For many travelers, Rome is a powerful city, it still is for me, even after eight visits.

Rome is also a hub when backpacking Europe, and people often plan on a few days in the city before flying to their next destination. 

With some careful planning, visitors passing through can see the majority of city’s major highlights.

This 3 days in Rome itinerary will help visitors see most of Rome’s major attractions and even get off the beaten path a little bit.

How to Spend 3 Days in Rome

Day 1 in Rome
The Sites Around Palatine Hill

Walks of Italy Rome

We are going to dedicate our first day in Rome to the area around Palatine Hill

Spending your first day here will let you see some major sites in Rome and appreciate the historical architecture that the city has to offer.

Colosseum

The crowning jewel of Rome is one site you don’t want to miss. 

If you’re quiet enough, you can almost hear the roar of the crowd as Gladiators battle for fame, glory, and freedom. 

You will want to wake up extremely early to beat the line to the Colosseum. 

The line gets long quickly, and you could end up waiting hours. And who wants to waste a massive chunk of time when they only have 3 days in Rome?

Roman Forum

Literally just feet away from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum.

This is the market area where Caesar’s inspiring speeches helped him earn the trust and love of the people.

Years later it is also the place where his body was laid as Roman citizens mourned and Marc Anthony gave his famous speech. 

It also lets you look at the ruins of the Roman Forum and where senators fought and argued for people and for power.

Palace of the Emperor's

Just above the Roman Forum in the palace that was home to many of Rome’s Emperors (Most of which were tragically murdered).

Notably, it was home to Caesar Augustus, who was the first emperor of Rome

You can still see red paint on the cracked bedroom walls. The palace is closed to the public, and the only tour operator that has access to it is Walks of Italy. My favorite tour company in Rome.

Circus Maximus

There isn’t much to see here, but it is only a couple minutes walk, and it is on the way to Aventine Hill so why not stop for a photo. 

This is the old chariot racing track from ancient Rome. 

It is almost directly under the Emperors Palace, and you can easily imagine the royalty and senators of the days drinking wine and eating fruit on their balconies as the rumbled on the chariots churned and a cloud of dust filled the air.

Aventine Hill

This is a quiet Neighboorhood with a couple lovely parks. 

The real reason people visit Aventine Hills the is the iconic keyhole that looks out over the river and perfectly frames the Vatican.

That covers day 1 of our 3 days in Rome. Get more out of your trip is by going on a tour with Walks of Italy. It lets you skip all the lines, 

It gets you a guided tour of the Colosseum, Caesar Augustus’s Palace (This guided tour is the only way to see inside the palace), and gives you a tour of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.

For more info read a Walks of Italy Rome Review.

Day 2 in Rome

The Vatican Museum, Saint Peter's Basilica, and Spanish Steps

Sunset at the Vatican

The Vatican

On day 2, we will head to what is technically the smallest country in the world. Day 2 is another early day because the line to the Vatican is mind blogging long. 

The Vatican is a superb museum and will take up most of the day. Two things I recommend saving time for are the Sistine Chapel (duh) and climbing to the top of Saint Peter’s Basilica. 

Saint Peter’s cost an extra ticket but it is one of the most scenic views of Rome (It is the picture above). This is my favorite place to watch the sunset. 

I’ve visited the Vatican 3 times, and each time the Sistine Chapel left me, and countless other visitors, absolutely breathless.

If you aren’t visiting Rome in the summer, there is also a chance to see the Pope delivering a sermon from the balcony of the Vatican.

the Spanish Steps

One your way back to the city stop for a beer at the Spanish Steps. 

This is a major gathering area for tourist and locals. 

It is a great place to grab a drink and mingle with some other travelers. It also connects to one of the major shopping streets in Rome.

Day 3 in Rome

Piazza, Fountains, Pantheon, and Gelato

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Piazza Repubblica

For our last day in Rome, let’s head to the Rome bathhouses around Piazza Repubblica. 

Here we can also do some shopping and visit the Borghese Gallery, which is home to some outstanding art.

After all this walking, we need to take a break and explore the local gelaterias. Fresh Gelato will be an experience you won’t soon forget. 

As we move on to Trevi Fountain, we can admire the works of Michelangelo such as the Piazza del Campidoglio.

Trevi Fountain

Our primary goal for our 3rd day in Rome is to arrive with Piazza Navona

However, we have two stops along the way.

The first is one of my favorite sites in Rome, Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain is the size of a building and is where the five old roads of Rome met, and legend says if you throw a coin in over your left shoulder and into the fountain you will one day return to Rome. 

After this day of sightseeing let’s head back to our Roman hotel or hostel and rest for the upcoming adventures.

(Another option is to skip it for now and come back at sunset or night)

The Pantheon

This ancient site once housed statues of all the Roman gods. 

The Pantheon was so revered as a place of worship that according to legend that when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths that they left the buildings untouched. 

Today it is a church’s building. It is a fantastic site in Rome and one of the most beautiful ceilings in the world.

Piazza Navona

A charming area of the city that is full of churches restaurants, shops, fountains, and painters. 

Every visit to Rome needs to include an evening in Pizza Navona whether you are relaxing or exploring.

Bonus Things to do With 3 Days in Rome

Capitoline Museums An art and archaeological museum

Old Roman RoadA little outside the city but it shows the old cobblestone Roman roads.

The Mouth of Truth A fun little attraction. It is a statue that has a face of a man, with a big gaping mouth. The legend is that if you stick your hand inside the mouth and you are a liar that your hand will be bitten off. 

Do you tell the truth? 

This is the ultimate test. 

The Mouth of Truth is just a ten-minute walk from the Circus Maximus. 

Piazza del Popolo Popular piazza by Rome’s northern gate. 

Baths of Caracalla Ruins of the second largest bathhouse in the city from 1,800 years ago.

Rome has much more to see, but this is your best bet on how to spend 3 days in Rome. It captures the magic of the city and will cover the major sites and historical places to visit in the enteral city.

Exploring the wonders of Rome is a life-changing. What are you waiting for, head to these places to visit in Rome in 3 days

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