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The Most Popular Things to Do in Rome for 3 Days + Some Hidden Gems

Welcome to Rome, the ‘Eternal City’, the ‘City of Seven Hills’, and the ‘Capital of the World’. Located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, Rome is a city that really needs no introduction. In fact, it’s the most-visited city in Italy and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world! In this post, we’ll discuss some of the most popular things to do in Rome for 3 days, including a few that are often overlooked by tourists.

Rome’s history spans 28 centuries, and its stunning architecture, vibrant culture and mouthwatering cuisine captivated the hearts of more than 15 million travelers just last year—wow! From the infamous Colosseum and long-standing Pantheon to the mystical Catacombs of Domitilla and jaw-dropping Altar of the Fatherland, the Eternal City has something for everyone.

So let’s dive right in and make your 3 days in Rome some that you’ll never forget!

Table of Contents

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    Things to Do in Rome for 3 Days

    Sara sitting in front of the Colosseum on our first of 3 days in Rome

    Whether you’re captivated by ancient ruins, awe-inspiring art or delicious food, Rome has something to offer every traveler. This is the itinerary we followed during our visit to Rome for 3 days.

    Note that this trip was a part of a longer 2-week summer Europe itinerary where we also visited several other Italian and European cities.

    Day 1: Ancient Rome

    The Colosseum

    the infamous Colosseum in Rome, Italy

    The Colosseum is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in Rome, and it’s the top attraction that you simply cannot miss when visiting Rome for 3 days. The infamous Colosseum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World—how cool!

    Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in 70-72 AD and completed by his successor, Emperor Titus in 80 AD, the Colosseum is a marvel of Roman engineering and architecture. It’s approximately 615-feet-long, 510-feet-wide and 164-feet-tall at its highest point, making it one of the largest ancient amphitheaters ever built. And, with its location in the heart of the city, near the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the structure stands as a testament to the grandeur and command of the Roman Empire.

    Sara & Tim in front of the Colosseum in Rome

    The amphitheater could accommodate an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators, who came to watch gladiatorial contests, executions, animal hunts, reenactments of famous battles and more. These events were meant to entertain the Roman public, while also showcasing the power and might of the empire.

    Gladiatorial contests were among the most popular spectacles and featured skilled combatants fighting against each other or wild animals. These contests often had a brutal and deadly nature and symbolized themes of power, conquest and bravery.

    the Colosseum is a must-see attraction when you're in Rome for 3 days

    As the Roman Empire declined, so did the use of the Colosseum. In the 6th century, it was repurposed for housing, workshops and fortifications. Over time, earthquakes, fires and looting took their toll on the structure. However, efforts to preserve and restore the monument began in the 18th century, and it’s now one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. 

    On a visit to the Colosseum, you can also see the Arena Floor, the stage for gladiatorial combat and the occasional mock naval battle; the Underground, where the gladiators and animals were once kept; and the Upper Tier, aka the Belvedere. Note that the Belvedere is currently closed for renovations and cannot be visited at this time.

    The Colosseum is one of Rome’s three imperial sites, along with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill—more on these in a bit. These sites are typically visited with one ticket or with a guided tour.

    A Broad Recommendation: Book your Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill tickets in advance, as they sell out quickly. Tickets can be purchased on the Colosseum’s official website up to 30 days in advance. However, the best way to experience these sites is with a guided tour. We toured all three as a part of the Colosseum: Underground and Ancient Rome Tour. The tour included an experienced guide, skip-the-line entrance tickets to the Colosseum, access to the Arena Floor and Underground area of the Colosseum, an hour at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and headsets so we could hear our guide clearly. Plus, we got a nice history lesson in the process!

    • Hours (last entry is 1 hour before closing time):
      • March 27 – August 31: 9:00 am to 7:15 pm
      • September 1- September 30: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
      • October 1- October 30: 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
      • October 31 – February 28: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
      • March 1- March 26: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
    • Cost:
      • €18 for a Basic Ticket, which includes admission to the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill for the same day
      • €24 for a Full Experience Ticket, which includes everything with the Basic Ticket, as well as a visit to the Arena Floor & Underground area, and is valid for 48 hours after first access to the site
      • €5.5 for audio guides
    • Time to visit: 3-4 hours

    A Broad Recommendation: Visiting the Colosseum is free the first Sunday of each month and on April 25th, which is a national holiday in Italy. However, you may have to wait in long lines to get in, as you can’t reserve a time slot in advance.

    The Roman Forum

    the Roman Forum is another must-see attraction when visiting Rome for 3 days

    Adjacent to the Colosseum lies the Roman Forum, another must-see attraction when visiting Rome for 3 days.

    Now a large complex of ruins, the Roman Forum was once a sprawling public plaza of the Roman Empire and the center of political, religious and commercial activities in ancient Rome. As you stroll through the remains of grand temples, government buildings, basilicas and arches from more than 2,000 years ago, you’ll be transported back in time to the days of Romulus, Julius Caesar, Titus and Constantine.

    ruins at the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

    The forum is a rectangular valley that runs from the Arch of Titus to the Arch of Septimus Severus near Capitoline Hill. The forum’s main road is the Via Sacra, much of which is original to Ancient Rome.

    After the 4th century, the Forum fell into disrepair and became a quarry for building stone. But, in the 18th and 19th centuries, excavations—which are still ongoing—uncovered all of the ruins that are seen above ground today.

    Be on the lookout for the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Castor and Pollox, the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Romulus, the Temple of Venus, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Julius Caesar.

    • Hours (last entry is 1 hour before closing time):
      • January 2 – February 28:  9:00 am to 4:30 pm
      • March 1- March 26: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
      • March 27 – August 31: 9:00 am to 7:15 pm
      • September 1- September 30: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
      • October 1- October 30: 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
      • October 31 – December 31: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
    • Cost: Included in the price of the Colosseum
    • Time to visit: 30 minutes to 1 hour

    Palatine Hill

    a panoramic view of Palatine Hill

    Palatine Hill is another must-see attraction during your visit to Rome for 3 days. It consists of a complex of archaeological excavations, secret underground areas, the remains of temples and palaces, and a museum. It’s dominated by the dilapidated ruins of Domitian’s Palace, but during the time of the Roman Republic, several other imperial palaces resided here, including those of Augustus and Tiberius. 

    incredible palace ruins on Palatine Hill

    Palatine Hill is also the oldest area in Rome. According to the legend of Romulus and Remus—twin boys who were born in 770 BC—Rome was founded on Palatine Hill. And, after a deadly sibling spat that ended in victory for Romulus, the city was named “Roma”.

    Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, built his residence, the House of Augustus, on Palatine Hill. This marked the hill’s transition from a residential area to the exclusive place for the wealthy ruling class to build their lavish homes and palaces.

    But, similar to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill fell into ruin at the fall of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, churches and castles were built over the ruins.

    Intensive archaeological excavations began in the 18th century, and Palatine Hill is an active excavation site to this day, which means that there are new discoveries being made all the time—pretty neat, right?

    • Hours (last entry is 1 hour before closing time):
      • January 2 – February 28:  9:00 am to 4:30 pm
      • March 1- March 26: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
      • March 27 – August 31: 9:00 am to 7:15 pm
      • September 1- September 30: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
      • October 1- October 30: 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
      • October 31 – December 31: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
    • Cost: Included in the price of the Colosseum
    • Time to visit: 30 minutes to 1 hour

    Lunch La Prezzemolina

    La Prezzemolina, a great restaurant for Rome pizza

    La Prezzemolina is an easygoing, counter-serve pizzeria in the historic center of Rome. They serve Italian cuisine, including Rome pizza with a variety of toppings, salads and sandwiches. After a long morning of exploring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, we split two large slices of pizza here and rested our legs for a bit.

    Trevi Fountain

    the Trevi Fountain is a must-see when you're in Rome for 3 days

    Trevi Fountain is another top attraction that should definitely be on your Rome bucket list.

    It was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi in 1732 and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. Standing 86-feet-high and more than 160-feet-wide, it’s the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world. You don’t need a ton of time to visit the fountain, and it’s another popular attraction you won’t want to miss while in Rome for 3 days.

    Trevi Fountain gets its name from its location—at the intersection of three streets—and marks the terminal point of the Acqua Vergine, i.e. the revived Aqua Virgo.

    The Aqua Virgo was an aqueduct that supplied water to ancient Rome for more than 400 years. It’s rumored that in 19 BC a virgin helped Roman technicians locate a pure water source a few miles from the city, and this scene is depicted on the fountain’s façade.

    A well-known tradition is to stand with your back to the fountain and throw a coin into the water with your right hand over your left shoulder. Tossing one coin supposedly means that you’ll return to Rome, tossing two coins means that you’ll fall in love, and tossing three coins means that you’ll end up marrying that person.

    An estimated €1.4 million ($1.5 million USD) is thrown into the fountain each year, and the money is donated to local charities.

    • Hours: Open 24 hours a day
    • Cost: Free (unless you throw some coins in!)
    • Time to visit: 10-15 minutes

    A Broad Recommendation: To avoid crazy crowds, visit the Trevi Fountain early in the morning or late at night. You’ll likely get some photos without people in them and be able to enjoy the view in peace. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do this, since I experienced a health issue while in Rome and needed to take some extra time to rest each day. Next time though!

    The Pantheon

    the Pantheon is another must-see in Rome, Italy

    The Pantheon, i.e. the temple of all the gods, is a former Roman temple commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and one of the oldest buildings in Rome. 

    It sits on the Piazza della Rotonda, a square in the historic heart of Rome, which according to legend, is the site where Romulus, the founder of Rome, ascended into the sky to become a god. It was also the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus from 27 BC to 14 AD.

    The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman monuments in the world, likely due to its continuous use throughout its history (it’s been used as a Catholic church since 609 AD), and is one of the most copied.

    The façade and portico, as seen from the front, is reminiscent of ancient Greek temples and boasts 16 columns made of granite that came all the way from Egypt! The main structure, called the rotunda, looks like a large sphere.

    When you enter through the massive bronze doors, you’ll instantly be blown away by the incredible interior. The floor is covered in original ancient Roman marble, and the walls are adorned with Renaissance frescoes, paintings and statues.

    the coffered dome inside the Pantheon

    However, the most impressive part of the Pantheon is its dome, which after almost 2,000 years since it was built, is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The coffered ceiling features a 30-foot diameter opening, the oculus, which is the temple’s only source of external light.

    A Broad Recommendation: Be on the lookout for the tombs of renowned Renaissance painter Raphael and the first two kings of unified Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I. 

    The Pantheon is another attraction that you definitely won’t want to miss during your 3 days in Rome.

    • Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last entry at 6:30 pm)
    • Cost: €5 + €10 for an audio guide or €25+ for a guided tour
    • Time to visit: 30-45 minutes

    Dinner & Drinks at Oro Bistrot

    Oro Bistrot has amazing views of the Altar of the Fatherland and the Trajan Forum

    Round out your first (hopefully incredible) day in Rome at Oro Bistrot. Oro Bistrot is a restaurant by Natale Giunta that offers a wide variety of Italian dishes served in an elegant and relaxing atmosphere.

    Having an aperitif, i.e. an alcoholic drink before a meal to stimulate the appetite, is a popular thing to do in Italy, and Oro Bistrot is a great place to do so! Their rooftop terrace has panoramic views of the Altar of the Fatherland and the Trajan Forum and is a great spot to watch the sunset in Rome.

    We tried to visit as many rooftop bars as we could during our visit to Rome for 3 days, as many of them offer incredible views of the city!

    A Broad Recommendation: Be sure to make reservations for dinner and drinks. We didn’t book ours early enough, so we only ended up having an aperitif here before heading home—luckily, we hadn’t been that hungry.

    Day 2: Renaissance Art & Architecture

    Vatican City

    Sara standing in front of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

    Did you know that there’s an entire country located within the city of Rome?

    Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world and serves as the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Steeped in centuries of history, this sacred enclave welcomes millions of visitors each year.

    From the awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica and the remarkable architecture of St. Peter’s Square which leads up to it, to the iconic Sistine Chapel and the peaceful Vatican Gardens, Vatican City offers something special for each visitor and promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe.

    Vatican City can easily be added to your Rome itinerary, as it’s possible to explore the smallest country in the world in just one day! And, it’s a must-do if you’ll be in Rome for 3 days.

    • Hours: Vatican City is open 24 hours a day just like any other country, but the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica have the following hours:
      • Vatican Museums: Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm) with extended hours on Friday until 10:30 pm (last entry at 8:30 pm) and Saturday until 8:00 pm (last entry at 6:00 pm) from May 5th – October 28th
      • St. Peter’s Basilica: Daily from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm from April – September and from 7:00 am through 6:30 pm from October – March.
    • Cost: €17 or the cost of a guided tour
    • Time to visit: at least 4 hours

    A Broad Recommendation: Avoid planning your visit to Vatican City on a Sunday, as the Vatican Museums are closed other than the last Sunday of each month from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

    Castel Sant’Angelo

    the top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

    The Mausoleum of Hadrian, more commonly known as the Castel Sant’Angelo, was commissioned in 135 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a tomb for himself and his family. The remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded being Caracalla in 217 AD.

    While a majority of the monuments from the Roman era are in ruins, the Castel Sant’Angelo has stood the test of time for more than 2,000 years. It served as a military fortress during the Middle Ages, the Papal Residence and a prison during the Renaissance era, and now, it’s a museum that houses artwork, frescoes, sculptures and other Roman historical artifacts.

    The Castel Sant’Angelo was also once the tallest building in Rome.

    During your visit, you’ll follow a walking route through the fortress, looping around the lower level, then entering the center building and climbing to the top. From the top of Castel Sant’Angelo, you’ll be rewarded with incredible, 360° views of Rome.

    Emperor Hadrian also built the Aelian Bridge, or Hadrian’s Bridge, which is now called the Ponte Sant’Angelo. This bridge connects the city of Rome to the left bank of the Tiber River and the castle and was historically used by Christian pilgrims as a passageway to St. Peter’s Basilica.

    During the 7th century, when the statue of Michael the Archangel was erected at the mausoleum, the bridge was renamed to Ponte Sant’Angelo.

    Castel Sant'Angelo from Ponte Sant'Angelo

    In addition to this tomb, Hadrian is also known for building the Temple of Venus and Roma, the Pantheon and the Villa at Tivoli. 

    • Hours: 9:00 am to 7:30 pm with timed entry at 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm or 6:00 pm (closed on Mondays)
    • Cost: €12-13
    • Time to visit: 1.5 hours

    A Broad Recommendation: Visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo is free the first Sunday of each month. However, you may have to wait in long lines to get in, as you can’t reserve a time slot in advance.

    Lunch at Il Pastificio

    For lunch, we stopped at Il Pastificio, a restaurant that offers fresh, handmade pasta that we stumbled upon while walking around. The pasta factory was born in Salerno in 1992 and aims to preserve and recreate ancient recipes of traditional cuisine. We split a sandwich, rehydrated and sat for a bit before continuing on our 3-day Rome itinerary.

    Gelato at Caffè Minerva

    our gelato from Caffè Minerva

    After lunch, we made our way to Caffè Minerva for some yummy gelato. We sat outside (for an additional fee) and enjoyed the nice weather and some people watching.

    The Spanish Steps

    Sara on the infamous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

    The Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, or the Spanish Steps, attract tourists from all over the world. They’ve been the setting for many notorious films, important events, Italian holidays and traditions, and big fashion shows.

    Commissioned by French diplomat Étienne Gueffier and constructed between 1723 and 1725 by Italian architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, the 135 travertine steps connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinità dei Monti and is the widest staircase in Europe. At the top of the staircase sits the Church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti.

    Be sure to add the Spanish Steps to your itinerary if you’ll be in Rome for 3 days. They’re free to visit and won’t take much time.

    • Hours: Open 24 hours a day
    • Cost: Free
    • Time to visit: 10 minutes

    A Broad Recommendation: DO NOT sit on the Spanish Steps. Over the years, several city administrations have tried to ban loitering and eating on the steps, and as of July 2019, tourists and Romans alike risk paying fines up to €400 for sitting down on, dirtying or damaging the steps.

    Dinner at Cielo Rooftop

    Just a quick, one-minute walk from the top of the Spanish Steps is Cielo Terrace, which sits on the top floor of the Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville. Perched high above the Eternal City, Cielo is known as one of the most glamorous rooftop bars in Rome and offers an extraordinary sunset experience (as evidenced by our photos!).

    Renowned for his culinary creativity and inspirational flavor combinations, Fulvio Pierangelini, Rocco Forte Hotels’ Creative Director of Food, presents a menu of Mediterranean seafood, including crudi, oysters, crab and lobster, seasonal produce, farm-reared meat, and delicious, traditional Italian desserts.

    Have a refreshing aperitif and share a few mouthwatering, signature dishes at Cielo, while enjoying an unrivaled view of Rome. You won’t want to miss this experience during your 3 days in Rome.

    a cute table set-up at Cielo Terrace

    A Broad Recommendation: Making reservations for Cielo is a little confusing. Head to their official website (linked above), and contact them directly via email, and they will get you all set up! We requested separate reservations for aperitifs and dinner, as dinner is served on a higher level of the rooftop terrace.

    Day 3: Rome’s Hidden Gems

    The Catacombs of Domitilla

    the entrance to the Catacombs of Domitilla

    The Catacombs of Domitilla are one of the largest and oldest underground cemeteries in Rome. They were named after the Domitilla family that initially commissioned the project and are located just south of Appian Way, an ancient Roman road that was once the main thruway in and out of the city and features various monuments and numerous other catacombs.

    The Catacombs of Domitilla are situated more than 52 feet underground and span more than 10 miles. They were actively used as a cemetery from the 1st through 5th centuries AD and include more than 26,000 tombs, holding more than 150,000 people. Unlike other Roman catacombs, these catacombs still hold the remains of humans today.

    The catacombs are composed of a porous limestone called tufa, and remnants of biblical frescoes like those of Jesus with the apostles, Noah’s ark, Daniel with the lions, the Virgin Mary with child, Adam and Eve, and the apostles Peter and Paul, have been revealed after an extensive restoration effort.

    We explored the Catacombs of Domitilla via a private Guided Roman Catacombs Tour with Transfers and had an incredible experience. Our guide was super friendly and informative, and you could tell he had a deep passion for Roman history and archeology.

    During the tour, you and your guide will descend into a dark maze of underground tunnels and burial chambers and explore the final resting place of many early Christians. You’ll also visit the 4th-century sunken Basilica of Nereus and Achilleus. The Catacombs of Domitilla are the only catacombs with an underground basilica like this, and you won’t want to miss this experience while in Rome for 3 days.

    • Hours: Monday – Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm (last entry is 30 minutes before closing; closed Tuesdays)
    • Cost: €10 (includes a guided tour of the Catacombs and a free visit to the museum)
    • Time to visit: 1 hour

    A Broad Recommendation: Don’t wear short shorts or skirts or sleeveless shirts; knees and shoulders should be covered during your visit. Also note that you can’t take photos inside the basilica or the catacombs, so put your phone away and soak in all of the history this ancient place has to offer.

    Breakfast at Caffè San Clemente

    Near the drop-off location for the guided Roman catacombs tour is Caffè San Clemente. We had a laid back breakfast on the outdoor patio here, though the food was nothing to write home about, then made our way across the street to St. Paul’s Within the Walls.

    St. Paul’s Within the Walls, aka the American Church in Rome, is an Episcopal Church in Rome’s historic city center. Designed by English architect George Edmund Street in the Gothic Revival style, it was the first Protestant church to be built in Rome and was completed in 1880. A visit here is quick but well worth it, as the interior is beautiful.

    • Hours: Monday – Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm & Sunday from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
    • Cost: Free
    • Time to visit: 10 minutes

    Altar of the Fatherland

    the Altar of the Fatherland, another must-visit attraction when in Rome for 3 days

    Often referred to as “The Wedding Cake” or “The Typewriter”, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument is one of the most recognizable of the Rome landmarks. The monument was built between 1885 and 1935 to honor King Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, and is seen as a national symbol of Italy. And, it should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Rome for 3 days.

    The Vittoriano sits on Capitoline Hill, in the center of ancient Rome. Its neoclassical design was modeled after ancient buildings like the Roman Forum and the Hellenistic sanctuaries and features incredible stairways, Corinthian columns, beautiful fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II, and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas (chariots drawn by four horses).

    The Altar of the Fatherland is just one part of the complex, located at its center, but it’s arguably the most important. It includes a statue of the goddess Rome and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was added in 1921 to commemorate the fallen from World War I.

    Every year, the Complesso Vittoriano hosts important national celebrations, including Liberation Day (April 25th), Republic Day (June 2nd), and Armed Forces Day (November 4th). During these celebrations, the President of the Italian Republic, along with other government officials, pay tribute to the Italian Unknown Soldier and those who died in the line of duty by laying a laurel wreath.

    Visitors can also climb the series of staircases to the upper terrace and café (for free) or ride the elevator (for a fee) to the top of the monument for more epic, 360° views of Rome.

    • Hours:
      • Sunday – Thursday: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm (last entry at 6:45 pm)
      • Friday & Saturday (until September 16th): 7:30 to 10:30 pm (last entry at 9:45 pm)
    • Cost: Free + €15-16 for the Panoramic Terrace, Central Museum of the Risorgimento, and National Museum of the Palazzo di Venezia
    • Time to visit: 1 hour

    A Broad Recommendation: The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier takes place every hour, so try to plan your visit accordingly if you’d like to see this.


    Isola Tiberina in Rome, Italy

    We ended our last evening in Rome venturing off the beaten path and crossing through Isola Tiberina, a boat-shaped island on the southern bend of the Tiber River, to explore the charming Trastevere neighborhood.

    Trastevere is a picturesque area known for its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, lively atmosphere and some of the best restaurants in the entire city. As you wander through its charming alleyways, you’ll stumble upon hidden squares, quaint churches and local artisan workshops and markets.

    Keep an eye out for restaurants like Nannarella, La Tavernetta 29, Grazia & Graziella, Trapizzino and Enoteca Trastevere (where we ate dinner), which all came highly rated. Or, try to blend in and have an aperitif at Bar San Calisto, a popular spot among locals.

    the Piazza di Santa Maria and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

    The lively Piazza di Santa Maria is the heart of the Trastevere neighborhood and home to the stunning 3rd-century Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is arguably the first official Christian place of worship in Rome and is one of the oldest churches in Rome. Inside, you’ll see beautiful 12th-century mosaics and frescoes, as well as an incredible gold ceiling.

    • Hours: Monday – Friday from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm and Saturday & Sunday from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm
    • Cost: Free
    • Time to visit: 10-15 minutes

    If you plan to be in Rome for 3 days, Trastevere is definitely well worth a visit!

    Bonus: Gianicolo for Sunset

    Not too far from Trastevere—around a 15 minute walk—is another one of Rome’s hidden gems. Gianicolo is a hill that offers breathtaking, 360° views of the city, and watching the sun set above some of Rome’s most famous monuments is a sight you won’t want to miss.

    Unfortunately, we did miss Gianicolo because it rained on our last night in Rome, and there was no sunset—what a bummer! Guess we’ll just have to go back someday to see this for ourselves.

    Other Things to Do in Rome

    a cool sign in Rome, Italy

    Of course, there are way too many attractions to see when you’re only visiting Rome for 3 days. One of our guides told us to not try to see everything and to just enjoy our time here, and he was right! Slowing down and embracing every minute in the Eternal City is the way to go. However, we have a long list of activities we’d like to try during our next trip to Rome.

    • Capitoline Hill: Capitoline Hill is one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built. This hill was chosen by Romulus as the starting point for a new city, and it later became the place for Senate gatherings and the official records office, i.e. the Tabularium. Campidoglio, which is the square on Capitoline Hill, was designed by Michelangelo.
    • Borghese Gallery: The Borghese Gallery houses one of the best collections of Renaissance and Baroque art in the world, including works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Bernini.
    • Villa Borghese Gardens: Villa Borghese Gardens is a sprawling park that offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city and spectacular views of Rome.
    • Baths of Caracalla: Built between AD 212 and 216, the Baths of Caracalla were some of the biggest and most impressive thermal complexes of their time. For more than 300 years, people exercised here, strolled the gardens, visited libraries and worshiped at the temples, and today, you can explore what’s left of the complex.
    • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: Built in the 4th century and renovated in the 18th century, this is one of Rome’s four major basilicas. It’s a bit of a hidden gem and usually isn’t very crowded.
    • St. John in the Lateran: While St. Peter’s Basilica takes center stage, St. John in the Lateran is actually the oldest Basilica in Rome and is another hidden gem.
    • Pyramid of Caius Cestius: The Pyramid of Cestius was built around 12 BC as a tomb for a wealthy Roman. It’s the only one of its kind in Europe, as it’s built in the Egyptian style but also covered in marble.
    • Knights of Malta Keyhole: Head to the top of Aventine Hill for a unique and interesting view of St Peter’s Basilica. The keyhole is another one of Rome’s hidden gems. It’s property of the Priory of the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights that originated in Jerusalem in the 11th century and is the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world.
    • Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth): Legend has it that this marble mask will bite the hand of those who have lied, and it’s worth a quick stop for a photo opp.

    Tips for Visiting Rome

    the Fountain of Neptune in Rome, Italy

    Here are some things you should know before visiting Rome for 3 days!

    • Transportation: The Rome metro is fast, cheap and easy to use, and was our preferred method of transportation while in Rome for 3 days. However, you can order taxis through the Uber app or head to one of the many taxi stands across the city as an alternative.
    • Travel from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO):
      • A private transfer costs around €80 and is the fastest and easiest way to get from the Rome airport to Rome city center
      • Official white taxis can be found at the taxi stand outside the terminal and offer a fixed rate of €50 to transfer to Rome city center; do not go with the drivers waiting inside the terminal, as they will likely charge you more and you could get scammed
      • The bus costs €6 and takes around an hour to get to Roma Termini, but you still may need additional transportation to your hotel or Airbnb from there
      • The Leonardo Express train costs €14 and takes around 30 mins to get to Roma Termini, but you still may need additional transportation to your hotel or Airbnb from there
    • Food & Drink:
      • Restaurants offer entrees as “Primi” and “Secondi”, primi being pastas and secondi being meats or heartier dishes
      • Water isn’t free at restaurants, and you have to choose sparkling or still, but there are plenty of clean public water fountains where you can refill your water bottle
      • The house wine in Italy is good, so save yourself some money here and there by ordering that instead of an expensive bottle
      • Italian coffee (caffè) is a shot of espresso, and you can ask for an “American coffee” in Rome if you want an actual coffee
      • In Italy, waiters will not offer you your check after a meal, as to not rush you, so you should ask them for your check whenever you’re ready
    • Safety: Pickpockets are common in Rome, and the risk of theft is especially high at Rome Termini and on the popular Bus No. 64, since they’re usually swamped with tourists. Be extra careful at the Spagna, Barberini, Cipro and Colosseo metro stations as well, and never leave your backpack behind you on the metro or hanging off the back of a chair at a restaurant.


    Italian flags waving in the wind at the Complesso Vittoriano in Rome, Italy

    As you bid farewell to Rome, you’ll carry with you great memories of ancient wonders, artistic masterpieces, and the enchanting spirit of the Eternal City. With this 3-day itinerary, you’ll hopefully have explored some of the most popular things to do in Rome, leaving you eager to return and discover even more.

    Have you ever been to Rome? What activities would you add to this 3-day Rome travel itinerary?

    XOXO Sara at Travel A-Broads

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    Chrissy Koulouris
    10 months ago

    That’s a lot of money tossed into the Trevi each year. Such a wonderful post. I visited Rome before, but would love to go back. Such an amazing guide and will use it when I return!

    10 months ago

    Thanks for such a comprehensive guide! I’ve been to Rome before but only got to stay for a short time, so it’d be awesome to get to go back sometime for longer to explore everywhere else! This makes deciding where to go a lot less overwhelming!

    10 months ago

    Very thorough guide! I haven’t been to Rome yet but am saving this for a future trip!

    10 months ago

    What a great intro to Rome. Easy to follow and you include so much to see and do.

    10 months ago

    Great recommendations as Rome can be overwhelming with choices. I also highly recommend everything Borghese. We stayed right nearby and were so impressed!

    10 months ago

    The Mouth of Truth is a cool thing to add to the itinerary! I haven’t seen it in my previous visits! I agree with the guide too, there is SO much to see in Rome. It can’t all be done so it’s best to just enjoy it at your own pace.