Perfect 3 Days Itinerary for Rome (Great for First-Timers)


Looking to spend 3 days in Rome and wondering how to spend your time? You’re in luck! This Rome itinerary is perfect for first time visitors as it combines the top, must-see attractions in Rome from the Colosseum to the Sistine Chapel along with plenty of time for self-exploration in the areas surrounding the tourist hot spots.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you cannot expect to visit all the attractions the Italian capital has to offer in three days.

In this 3 days itinerary for Rome you can admire many of the best-known sights of the Eternal City and also have the opportunity to do some wandering around, which is one of our favorite ways to explore a city for the first time.

Plus, you can find some helpful resources including attraction tickets you can purchase in advance to skip the line along with audio guides you’ll want to check out too! Rome is packed full of thousands of years of history, so it’s helpful to have that little voice in your ear as you’re witnessing these magnificent sites!

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Table of Contents
  1. Day 1 of 3 Days in Rome
  2. Day 2 of 3 Days in Rome
  3. Day 3 of 3 Days in Rome
  4. Extra time on Your Rome Itinerary
  5. Where to Stay in Rome

Day 1 of 3 days in Rome

Morning on Palatine Hill & The Colosseum


According to the legend, the city was founded by Romulus on Palatine Hill, on the 21st of April 753 B.C. While he was building the new city’s walls along with his twin brother Remus, Romulus killed his brother, who was guilty of climbing the new walls. Romulus became the first king of Rome.

While the legend is a mythological story about how Rome was born, it is true that the oldest area of the city is on Palatine Hill. That is why I suggest you start your 3 days itinerary in Rome by visiting the archeological park of Palatine and a great introduction to the city and its fascinating history.

The Palatine is the more central of the seven hills that constitute the core of Rome. Strolling around it, you will step back into the history of the city.

Among the sites worth a visit there is the well-preserved House of Livia with frescos and mosaics still in situ. Moreover, you can admire colorful frescos in the two-level house of Augustus and enjoy a visit to the stunning Domus (palace) Flavia.

On the Palatine Hill is also one of the oldest European botanical gardens, the Farnese Gardens realized in the 16th century over the ruins of the Tiberius Palace.

You can discover more about the history of this area by visiting the Palatine Museum.

After the Palatine, you’ll head to the next stop on this Rome itinerary, visit the symbol of the Eternal City and one of the best historic sites in Rome, the Colosseum.

Inside this amphitheater gladiators used to fight against fierce animals. Nothing remains of the dramatic combats but entering inside is a mesmerizing experience.

You can end the first morning of your 3 days in Rome by visiting the Roman Forum. Once the main marketplace of the city, it hosts the main building of the political and social Roman era life.

Consider checking out these options for visiting the Palatine, Colosseum, and Roman Forum: (note that all of these include admission to all threes sites)

Afternoon Around Capitol Hill


Continue your Rome itinerary for more ancient Rome exploring. In the vicinity of the Roman Forum is the Capitol Hill, home of Rome municipality. On Capitol Hill, you can enjoy one of the best views over the Roman Forum and admire many art masterpieces showcased in the Capitoline museums.

Under this name is a single museum composed of two buildings. The smaller tower, Palazzo Nuovo exhibits an impressive selection of Greek and Roman sculptures.

On the opposite side is Palazzo dei Conservatori with artworks from the best Italian artists like Bernini, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio.

On Capitol Hill, you can admire the She Wolf sculpture with the twin babies Romulus and Remus. According to the legend of Rome’s foundation, the She Wolf breastfed the twins when they were born.

Next, to the Capitol, you can visit the stunning church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Famous for its over 100 steps, the church is cherished by Romans for the wooden sculpture of the saint baby.

According to the tradition, this portrait of baby Jesus has miracle powers. You can proceed your day visiting the Aventino with one of the best off-the-beaten-track attractions in Rome the keyhole on St. Peter’s Basilica.

Otherwise, you can stroll under until Teatro Marcello visiting the Jewish area of Rome.

Here are some options for exploring this area of Rome:

Evening in Trastevere


End your first of 3 days in Rome in the evening by visiting the Tiberina Island and the picturesque area of Trastevere for dinner before resting up for the rest of your trip.

Tiber Island or Tiberina is the only island in Rome. Shaped like a boat,  this small island is connected by bridges and was the seat to the temple of Asclepius which later served as a hospital. The island is a symbol of medicine and healing to this day.

Also, located on the island and another great idea for what to do in Rome in your 3 days is visit the Basilica of St. Bartholomew dating back to the 10th century.

Use the evening to explore Trastevere, one of the most popular neighborhoods to explore in the city. Located on the west of the Tiber River, this former working-class district is now home to some of the best nightlife and restaurants.

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Day 2 of 3 Days in Rome

Morning at Vatican City


Before starting of on your next day and what to do in Rome in 3 days, you need to be fully rested and fresh before starting your second day visiting the mesmerizing Vatican Museums.

People flock here to admire the Sistine Chapel with the astonishing The Last Judgment ceiling fresco realized by the Italian Renaissance master, Michelangelo.

However, the Vatican Museums is a chest full of art treasures. An entire day of your 3 days in Rome couldn’t be enough to explore the collections and the stunning rooms of the Apostolic Palace.

In choosing the highlights you want to explore once inside, make sure to include the impressive Raphael’s Rooms. Under this name are four rooms that formed part of the apartment situated on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace and covered by pictorial decoration by Raphael and his school at the beginning of the 16th century.

More great paintings are displayed in the art collection galleries with works of Italian masters like Giotto Melozzo da Forlì, Leonardo, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Leaving the Vatican Museum, your next stop on your Rome itinerary is visiting Saint Peter’s Basilica. Among the masterpieces to admire inside, there is the moving Michelangelo’s Pietà but also the Baldachin by Bernini.

St. Peter’s is one of the most famous churches and places of worship in the world and if you need to dress appropriately to enter inside the church and the museums. Wearing short skirts, sleeveless t-shirts, short pants, and hats is prohibited – be sure to check their official dress code in advance to make sure you’re dressed accordingly.

Here are some great options for exploring Vatican City on your Rome itinerary:

Afternoon at Castel Sant’Angelo & Piazza Navona


In the afternoon of your second of 3 days in Rome, you can head to Castel Sant’Angelo. Built as a funerary mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family, this monument has been continuously reused through the centuries.

Now a museum, Castel Sant’Angelo is living a new life also thanks to the popularity of “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown. You’ll want to purchase your admission ahead of time to save time (which also comes with an audio guide).

Cross the scenic bridge and on the opposite side of the Tiber River, stroll around via de’ Coronari, a charming cobblestone street full of antiquities shops and end your tour in Piazza Navona.

On this square face some fascinating churches, like Sant’Agnese in Agone and Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza.

Nearby are more stunning churches worth a visit, like Sant’Andrea della Valle and San Luigi de’ Francesi with masterworks by Caravaggio. 

Evening Exploring


Finish off your day 2 of 3 days in Rome itinerary by having a meal in the picturesque Piazza delle Coppelle or in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori. Here you can find plenty of great Italian eateries before heading back to your hotel for the evening to rest up for your final 3 days in Rome itinerary.

It is possible to visit both areas in the same evening too if you’re feeling up for it, it’s only about a 13-minute walk between the two areas!

Here are some options for tours in the area:

Read Next: How to Spend 3 Days in Venice Itinerary

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Day 3 of 3 Days in Rome

Morning at the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, & Spanish Steps


Dedicate your last of your 3 days in Rome exploring the city center and some iconic sights. Start your morning visiting the Pantheon.

This former Roman-era temple then converted into a church, hosts tomb of eminent Italian figures, like the Renaissance master Raffaello Sanzio, or simply known as Raphael.

What will catch your sight will be the stunning ceiling with a hole at his center that constitutes the only source of natural light. Try a one hour guided tour to learn more about the Pantheon on your visit.

A few steps away is the lesser-known Piazza di Pietra, with the imposing columned of the Hadrian Temple

Behind here is the even lesser-known Piazza Sant’Ignazio, a charming example of residential architecture during the Baroque era.

During the morning of 3 days in Rome discover the Eternal City strolling around downtown. Leaving piazza Sant’Ignazio cross via del Corso and visit the infamous Trevi Fountain.

This is one of the most popular attractions in the city and something that shouldn’t be missed as it’s what to do in Rome in 3 days if you wish to come back to the city again! The legend goes if you throw a coin over your back with your right hand over your left shoulder that you’ll be back to visit Rome again.

The beauty of this fountain will leave you speechless, but just prepare yourself mentally as the area where the fountain is small and it’s crowded. Photos are often deceiving as often photographers are using a wide angle lens to capture it’s beauty and it makes the space around the fountain to appear larger than it is.

The next pick for what to do in Rome in 3 days on your final morning is reach the Spanish Steps. This is another one of the most iconic points of interest in the city. The steps are overlooked by the Trinità dei Monti Church.

Travel Tip: No shorts are allowed in the Pantheon

Here are a few options you may want to check out for your morning Rome itinerary exploring:

Afternoon at Villa Borghese


After a restorative break on the last day of your 3 days in Rome enjoying a typical Roman meal in a trattoria (a simple fare restaurant serving local cuisine) proceed your stroll around downtown Rome until you reach Piazza del Popolo with its three churches.

From here conclude your day exploring the gardens of Villa Borghese. Inside this park in the heart of Rome, there is a stunning museum, Galleria Borghese. On display are some exquisite sculptures made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini along with an important collection of archeological works.

To admire these artworks is essential to book in advance. While in Villa Borghese you can also take a romantic break boating in his pond.

Check out some options for your afternoon:

Evening Savoring Your Last Meal in Rome

At the end of your three days in Rome and Rome itinerary, you’re ending up in the northern part of the city. For your last supper check out All’Oro for an unforgettable Michelin star meal to send you off.

Since this is a Michelin-star establishment, you’ll need to secure a reservation in advance.

Or if you’re looking for something a bit more social or hands-on check out this 4-hour gourmet food and wine tour that pairs 20 tastings with Barolo wine. The best part, everything is unlimited so you won’t be leaving Rome hungry!

Or join an unforgettable 3-hour cooking class where you’ll learn how to make pasta from scratch while sipping on spritzes. After you learn how to make your pasta, you’ll get to eat it with your fellow chefs of the evening. You’ll get to bring home a recipe to remember your Rome itinerary by!

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Extra Time on Your Rome Itinerary


Do you have more than 3 days in Rome or extra time on your Rome itinerary? We recommend to check out these ideas for what to do in 3 days in Rome or more to add to your Rome itinerary.

Or do you have less time? Check out this one day in Rome itinerary for more ideas.

  • Visit the Domus Area and experience the luxurious home built by emperor Nero after the fire of Rome through virtual reality and multimedia exhibitions, get your tickets here.
  • Discover Palazzo Altemps, an enchanting building a few steps away from Piazza Navona home of a prestigious collection of antique sculptures once belonged to the most affluent aristocratic Roman families.
  • Experience Rome through its river through a cruise on the river Tiber or a food and wine pairing cruise learning the history from the water.
  • Explore an Italian Renaissance garden in the heart of Rome by visiting Villa Medici on the Pincio Hills.
  • Stroll around Quartiere Coppedè, the most bizarre neighborhood in Rome named after the architect, Gino Coppedè who designed it between 1915 and 1927.
  • Discover the richness of Rome underground by visiting and touring the catacombs of Saint Callixtus.
  • On a Sunday morning visit Porta Portese, the largest second-hand flea market in Rome and a weekly tradition for many locals

Want to get the most out of your 3 days in Rome? Try out this Rome City Card, you can get either 2 days or 3 days in Rome City Cards that get you access to some of the most popular attractions in the city while skipping the ticket line!

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Where to Stay in Rome


$ Hotel Genio

This is the perfect place to stay during your 3 days in Rome itinerary if you’re on a budget. This is one of the best budget and affordable hotels in Rome with a great location that’s still a 4-star hotel. Located just a 5-minute walk to the Pantheon and less than a 15-minute walk to the Trevi Fountain. Located in a neo-Renaissance building with classic rooms. Don’t miss the view from the rooftop terrace either.

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$$ Relais Orso

Another great option for where to stay during your 3 days in Rome and explore all the amazing activities on your Rome itinerary is this great priced 4-star accommodation. This hotel is upscale with chic rooms that feels like a luxury 5-star hotel. Soak in the hot tub or enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace with a view. The location is also superb with just a 5-minute walk to the Pantheon and a 10-minute walk to the Trevi Fountain.

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$$$ The Westin Excelsior 

Live like royalty during your 3 days in Rome at this supreme 5-star hotel offering sophisticated luxury rooms. This hotel feels more like a museum covered with gorgeous frescos and ceiling paintings. The rooms are suites with ornate and luxe decor. Don’t miss their world-class spa, elegant restaurant, and piano bar on-site either.

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$$$$ Hotel Hassler Roma

If you’re looking for the most unforgettable luxury experience during your 3 days in Rome and your Rome itinerary then look no further. This gorgeous 5-star hotel is located right next to the Spanish Steps so you’re located near all the amazing ideas for what to do in Rome in 3 days straight out of bed. This property not only has a prime location but the most amazing amenities including 3 upscale restaurants with stunning views of Rome city center, a day spa, and rooms that have incredible views all the way to the Vatican. If you’re looking to splurge and live like an A lister this is where to do it.

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Author’s Bio
Guest author Federica Provolenti bio pic

Federica Provolenti is an Italian journalist who leads by chance a nomadic life. Born and raised in the Eternal City, she studied Archeology and History of Ancient Greek and Roman art before starting her career as a reporter.

Now based in London, Federica has lived in Chicago, the US where she graduated in Digital Media and Storytelling. On her blog A stroll around the world, she shares her vast knowledge of the cultural destinations and luxury lifestyle.

You can follow her along her journey on her website A Stroll Around the World.

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