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3 Days in Rome

3 Days in Rome, Italy | Rome Travel Guide | Rome Itinerary | Things to do in Rome | Where to stay in Rome | Best gelato Rome | Best food Rome | What to do in Rome | Rome, Italy | Where to eat in Rome | 3 Day Itinerary Rome

Heading to Rome? This detailed 3 Days in Rome itinerary and guide shares where to stay, tips for the city, the best places to eat, and the must-see sights!

Ahhh Rome! When you think of Italy, you likely think of Rome. From the Colosseum to the Vatican, Rome is not only home to some of the world’s most famous sights, but it’s also Italy’s capital, the largest city in Italy, and one of the most visited.

From the second we arrived in Rome, we fell in love with the beautiful buildings, rich history, great coffee, amazing food, and delicious gelato. We spent a total of ~3 days in Rome, but had to juggle our full time jobs and sightseeing, so it wasn’t 3 full days, but we sure squeezed in as much sightseeing and eating as we could!

It is impossible to fit everything that Rome has to offer in 3 days. We could spend months there and still not eat at all of the best restaurants or see all of the sights. But if you want to experience the big highlights, have some awesome food, and devour some to die for gelato, keep on reading to see our top tips, where to stay, and what to do in 3 days in Rome!

PS: For more Italy ideas, watch our Italy vlog series and check out the rest of our Italy guides:

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Tips for a Great Trip

Altare Della Patria

Rome Tips

  • Sometimes the city trains in Rome (not the big country wide trains like Italo) have strikes and do not run. We didn’t experience this thankfully, but we hear it’s common, so it’s good to know and be prepared for!

  • In our experience, the buses are not reliable at night. We waited 40 minutes for a bus one night and it never came to the stop we were at. We eventually started walking to see if we could find another bus stop that would have a bus that could get us where we needed to go. We ended up sprinting to a bus, getting on, and made it to our final destination. What a night! 

  • Rome is the second worst pickpocketing city in the world. But don’t let that scare you! We had zero issues and Kathryn has even been to Barcelona, the top pickpocketing city, all by herself and didn’t have issues. But it’s good to be prepared! The area around the Colosseum is full of people trying to sell you things and random people lurking, so be extra aware there (and at other famous sights). We also hear that the metro is a hot spot for pickpockets. To see some of our anti-pickpocketing tips, check out this blog!

  • Carry a water bottle with you and fill up with the city’s fountains. We loved that we could get free and delicious water all over Rome from their fountains!

  • Book tickets in advance and buy skip the line passes whenever you can! Rome is very busy and the lines for some places can be really, really long. It’s worth a little bit extra to avoid the chaos.

  • You must cover your shoulders and knees when entering religious spaces, such as in the Vatican. 

  • Make dinner reservations whenever you can! We ate at US hours (6 PM) and didn’t run into issues getting a table, in fact sometimes we were the only ones there haha, but if you plan to eat when Italians eat (8 PM and later), you’ll want to reserve a table if that’s an option! 

General Italy Tips

  • Wake up early to beat the crowds. It’s 100% worth it!
     
  • In Italy, they do not drink lattes (especially flavored ones) or many of the other coffee drinks we are used to in the US. The main drinks to order are: an espresso, macchiato, or a cappuccino (but only before 10:30 AM). We drank lots of macchiatos and loved them! Coffee is also way cheaper than in the US! You also usually drink your coffee and then pay, which is different than we were used to.
     
  • Tipping is not expected in Italy like it is in the US. Some places do charge a small service fee or charge a little more for table service though.
     
  • There is a rumor that gluten and dairy sensitive folks can eat gluten and dairy in Europe. Kathryn is gluten free in the US (and doesn’t eat much dairy) and decided to test the theory and felt fine the whole trip (and we ate a TON of gluten)!
     
  • If you’re driving, make sure to get an International Driving Permit. You can get this from AAA for only $20. Make sure to bring your actual driver’s license with you too!
     
  • We highly recommend getting an internet plan for your phone or SIM card. Relying solely on wifi can be a bit stressful at times and it’s worth the cost to be able to use your phone freely. We also suggest downloading offline Google Maps so you can use maps without eating up data.
     
  • Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great! 
     
  • None of our Airbnb’s had keypads so we had to meet the hosts in person, which wasn’t a huge deal, but this can be a tad trickier if you arrive somewhere late so keep that in mind. You also have to pay a tourist tax for all Airbnbs (this should be in their listing) and they will ask to see your passport, so don’t be alarmed when they ask!
     
  • Bring Euros! We used Euros WAY more than we thought we would. We took out some Euros at our bank beforehand to ensure we had some on hand, but then used bank ATMs the rest of the trip (the ones in actual banks, NOT the ones just on the street in the big cities—those will charge you massive fees). We ended up spending around 500 Euros in cash over two weeks. In the smaller cities, don’t expect everywhere to take a credit card, but even in some of the larger cities, some gelato spots or restaurants only took cash. You also need some coins handy if you want to use public restrooms.
     
  • If you’re staying at Airbnbs and need somewhere to store your bags, we recommend checking out Bagbnb. We have used this in many cities and it is a huge help!
     
  • Sometimes restaurants/coffee shops/gelato spots weren’t open when Google said they would be (and we never knew why). We ran into this issue in almost every city, both big and small. We learned to not trust Google for hours and to not get too set on going somewhere because there was a chance it wouldn’t actually be open. Being flexible is key!

Getting There

Rome is probably the easiest city to get to in Italy. With a large international airport, most flights will fly into Rome. However, flying into Rome isn’t the only option depending on where you are coming from.

We visited Rome from Positano and took a combination of a bus + two trains to get there. The train station in Rome is huge and you can get to and from many other Italian cities by train–we took the train to Florence from Rome and it was super easy!

We booked most of our city to city train tickets in advance because we think the prices are a bit cheaper. But if you’re a bit more flexible with your schedule, you can get tickets the day of too. None of the trains we were on while traveling around Italy were ever 100% full.

Where to Stay

Rome, Italy

We’re probably a broken record now, but we love Airbnb! However, our Airbnb in Rome was a bit different than a normal Airbnb experience. It was actually a boutique hotel inside of what we assume was an apartment building. The hotel had three rooms, two with private bathrooms inside and one with a private bathroom across the hall (which is what we had and it wasn’t bad!).

The room was massive and while we didn’t have a kitchen, we had lots of space to work and great views out the window! We stayed close to the Vatican, which is a little far from some of the main sights, but we chose this spot due to cost ($79 a night with taxes and fees during peak season!).

One area that would be fun to stay in and feel more like a local is Trastevere. We wandered around this area one day and it felt more neighborhood-y than some other parts of Rome, has good food, and is close to some of the major attractions.

Here’s a list of both Airbnbs and hotels that would be great to stay at while in Rome!

Airbnb

PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Hotels

Hotels are also a good choice in Rome, especially if you want to have an easy breakfast in the morning. Here are a few hotels that are close to transportation and the main sights: Crosti Hotel, B&B A Picture of Rome, DAB B&B, Suite Art Navona.

Getting Around

Rome is another city that we would not recommend renting a car. It’s very busy and the thought of driving in a busy city in a foreign country gives us a bit of anxiety. Plus, you really don’t need it!

We got around the city with a combination of: walking, busses, and the metro. The biggest perk of Rome being such a bustling, big city is that the public transportation rocks! We stayed a little bit away from some of the major attractions and were able to get everywhere easily (minus the busses at night). 

To determine the best way to get around, we used Google Maps on our phones (which is why getting an international phone plan really helps!) and it was really accurate and helpful!

Itinerary

Day 1

Colosseum Rome
Pizza e Mozzarella Rome
Giardino degli Aranci Rome
  1. Kick off your trip with a Roman pastry called maritozzi at Pasticceria Regoli (Note: closed on Tuesdays). Maritozzi is a sweet bun filled with whipped cream. It’s so simple, but very rich and delicious. They also have tons of other delicious treats there too if you want to sample a few items. And while you’re there, make sure to grab some coffee too!

  2. Spend the rest of your morning exploring the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum! We highly recommend booking a tour for this! Not only do you get special access and the ability to skip the lines, but you also get to learn SO much more than exploring on your own.

    We did the Colosseum Underground Tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with The Roman Guy and it was excellent (Frank was the best!) and definitely worth the high cost, especially to get access to the Underground, which only a limited number of people get to see per day.

    • One thing to note about this tour is that while you may sign up for a specific time, they can sometimes change the time of your tour (which happened to us–ours was supposed to be in the morning and it got moved to the afternoon), so you’ll need to be a bit flexible.

      In our opinion, the Colosseum would be the best to explore in the morning before it gets extra busy, which is why we are putting it as the first big item in this itinerary, but depending on which tour group you choose (there are many!), the time of your tour may vary.

    • Before your tour, swing by this spot to grab photos of the Colosseum. This is the area with lots of people trying to sell you things, so be on alert! 

  3. Colosseum tours are very long, so by the time you finish it’ll be time for lunch (and you’ll want a break after walking and lots of learning!). We were big fans of finding quick spots in Rome to get food at and one spot we loved was Pizza e Mozzarella (Note: closed Sundays), which is a tiny pizza spot where they have many pizzas made already, you choose which ones you want to try, they cut off slices for you, heat it up in a forno (a small oven), and then you pay by the weight.

    This is a common concept in Italy and we loved getting to try multiple types of pizza for pretty cheap. This spot is cash only and doesn’t have a ton of places to sit down, but the owner was super nice and let us take the nice trays with us to eat down the street and then return them.

  4. Walk up the steps of Altare Della Patria, which is a beautiful building with nice views of Rome from the top of the steps, a tomb of the unknown soldier outside, a free museum inside, and a paid (€7/person) observation area of the city. We only did the free activities there and it was worth a pretty quick stop! While you’re in the area, stop by Piazza del Campidoglio and Largo di Torre Argentina too!

  5. Wander around the Jewish Ghetto (also known as the Roman Ghetto). This area is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. In the 1500’s this area was walled in and residents were only allowed to leave during the day (it was locked at night) and when they left, they had to wear something, such as a yellow cloth, to indicate to others where they came from.

    It’s a neat little area to walk around for a bit with a lot of history! We recommend checking out Rick Steve’s Jewish Ghetto audio guide to learn some of the history as you walk around.

  6. Head across the Tiber River (and swing by the Ponte Sisto) to the neighborhood of Trastevere. We really enjoyed this neighborhood, as it felt more local than some other parts of Rome, had lots of restaurants and bars, and beautiful buildings (although, some with a bit of graffiti, just fyi). Rick Steve’s also has a Trastevere audio guide that will help you understand more of the area’s history. 

  7. While you’re in Trastevere, we recommend grabbing a snack at Suppli (Note: closed Sundays). Suppli is basically a fried rice ball, filled with sauce, meat, cheese, or seafood and is another Roman specialty. It’s delicious, although pretty rich, and we got a couple to share while we walked around.

  8. After walking around and letting the Suppli settle a bit, grab dinner in Trastevere. Some popular spots are: Da Enzo (VERY popular, but can have a super long wait–get reservations!), Pasta e Vino Osteria (we ate here and it was great!), La Tavernetta 29, or Otello.

  9. Watch the sunset at Giardino degli Aranci (a park with orange trees and the famous Aventine Keyhole) or Janiculum Terrace. Both of these are walkable from Trastevere, but Janiculum Terrace is about half the distance. Depending on the time of year and what time the sun sets (in November it sets at 4:45 PM, but in July it sets at 8:45 PM), will determine if you will want to do this before or after dinner.

  10. Head back to Trastevere to get gelato at either Otaleg or Fiordiluna. If you want to grab a drink, our friends recommended Pimm’s Good.

Day 2

Pantheon Rome
  1. Wake up early for sunrise at Trevi Fountain. If you listen to one tip of ours, let it be this one! This place can be madness during the day (1,000 people visit an hour!), but at sunrise, there were maybe 20 people (granted, sunrise in July is SUPER early). It was really nice to enjoy this spot without fighting crowds for photos. Make sure to bring a coin or two! If you throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder it means you’ll return to Rome. 🙂

  2. Just a short walk from Trevi Fountain are the Spanish Steps. This is another very popular spot that is worth going to bright and early. We went right after Trevi Fountain and saw very few people. This was a quick stop for us–we just walked up and down the steps, snapped a few photos, and then kept moving. You are allowed to sit on the steps, but not allowed to eat on them fyi!

  3. Grab a granita di caffè at La Casa del Caffe Tazza d Oro. This is an icy coffee concoction layered with whipped cream and oh my gosh it is SO GOOD! We could’ve had 5 each, but there was still lots of gelato to be had, so we had to pace ourselves ;). 

  4. Walk a few steps to the Pantheon. This building is one of the most famous sights in Rome and is SO cool! Until modern times, the dome in the Pantheon was the largest ever built and the building is as tall as it is wide. There is also a hole on the top of the dome, allowing sunlight in and even rain, which is collected by holes on the floor. To learn more about the Pantheon, we recommend Rick Steve’s audio guide.

  5. For lunch, we highly, highly recommend Pane e Salame for one of their charcuterie boards. They are huge and delicious! We had to wait maybe 15 minutes to get a table, but the food comes very quick once you sit down. 

  6. Get your first gelato of the day (yes, we said first!) at Gelateria del Teatro. This was one of our top three spots during our entire trip to Italy. The tiramisu flavor was incredible and all of the gelato flavors that we tried here were extremely high quality. 

  7. Visit Piazza Navona, which is a square built on the Stadium of Domitian and has beautiful fountains and is surrounded by beautiful buildings and restaurants. It’s a nice quick stop while near the Pantheon.

  8. Wander around! One thing we enjoyed doing in Italy is just walking and seeing what we find. There are lots of cool alleyways, beautiful buildings and churches (like Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), and historic ruins all throughout the city. 

  9. Grab dinner at Cantina & Cucina. The cacio e pepe and the meatballs were incredible! It’s also a good spot to try another Roman dish, Roman Artichoke. Adam wasn’t a huge fan, but I thought it tasted like potato chips and was pretty good. It’s definitely worth a try!

  10. And now it’s time for your second gelato! We recommend checking out Neve Di latte or Gunther

Day 3

Vatican City
  1. Grab a coffee and pastry at Sciascia Caffe or Artigiano del Caffè, both of which are right near the Vatican, the main attraction for today.

  2. Go on a guided tour of Vatican City! Fun fact: this is actually a separate country from Italy, but inside of Rome. It is closed on Sundays so plan to go a different day. We did the early access tour with The Roman Guy and it was very worth it! You get into the Vatican an hour before it opens to the public (there will be other tours going at the same time as you though).

    Our guide took us straight to the Sistine Chapel and we got to experience it with wayyy less crowds (we went through it a second time later in the tour and it was packed). We cannot imagine experiencing the Vatican without a guide. It is huge and while we didn’t get to see everything, we got to see the highlights and learned a ton! After the tour, you can walk around on your own. Warning: you will feel exhausted after–it’s a lot of info and a good amount of walking. 

  3. After the Vatican, grab lunch at Borghiciana Pastificio Artigianale. We are pretty confident that this was one of the best meals of our entire trip. It’s a small pasta spot near the Vatican and the homemade pasta is to die for! We got the carbonara and this special pasta with zucchini, bacon, and cheese which was incredible. The prices were good too! Like the Vatican, it is also closed on Sundays.

  4. A quick walk from the Vatican is Castel Sant’Angelo. It’s €10.50/person to enter, but we hear it’s not as impressive inside as it is outside, which is free to walk around. We did not personally visit this spot due to a lack of time, but it looked pretty cool and worth walking by.

  5. Grab gelato at La Romana, our favorite gelato spot from our trip to Italy. We intentionally saved the best for last so you didn’t experience any disappointment trying other places after going here. Our best friend Liz recommended this spot and she was not lying when she said it was the best. The texture was sooo creamy and smooth, you can get your cones filled with chocolate (recommended!), and you can get whipped cream on top (also recommended).

    While all of the gelato we had in Italy was amazing and who knows, this may not even be the best, this place just really stood out to us. Okay we’ll end our love rant for this place so we don’t overhype it toooo much 😉 

  6. Spend the rest of the day casually strolling around Villa Borghese, which is a large park with a zoo, ruins, gardens, and many museums, including Galleria Borghese. Make sure to head up to Monte Pincio, for a nice view of Rome. After a busy couple of days, this would be a great spot to relax a bit!

  7. For dinner, the options are endless! A few spots worth looking into: Bread-In (if you want something quick and cheap), Vulio (another cheap option with bread topped with delicious cheeses and meats), CiPASSO (a nicer spot), Ad Hoc (fancier!), or one of the other spots recommended in this guide that you may not have made it to! 

If you have extra time…

Coffee

Food

Gelato/Dessert

Activities

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