Walking the streets of Rome you can just feel the history. Being surrounded by the incredibly impressive buildings like the Pantheon, Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum naturally leads you to imagine the Roman times over 3,000 years ago.
It’s easy to see why people are drawn to visiting the city. Not only is it a place with an incredibly rich and fascinating history, but the Italian culture and food just adds to the charm of the city.
Top tip: Bring a water bottle along as well, a plus about Rome is there are plenty of water fountains around to keep hydrated.
Here is my guide on What to Do in Rome in Three Days…
Recommendation Duration: Allow yourself at least 3 days to experience Rome. The sheer size of the attractions requires a couple of hours each.
Day One – Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
Every attraction in Rome has queues of people waiting to get in and the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum are no exception. Tickets cover all three archaeology sites and you can buy tickets in advance or head over to the Palatine and Roman forum ticket office to miss the queues.
What is the Roman Forum?
It’s a glimpse of what the Roman Empire was the founded on. The Romans turned the marshland into the centre of political and social activity. The forum is home to some of the oldest and most important building during the time of the Roman Empire.
Walking around today you’ll glimpse where this grand city stood and the historic moments that took place here.
Scam warning: there will be people wandering around with bracelets in their hands. They will try and befriend you, stick a bracelet on your arm and then ask you for money to feed their family. The ones we encounter were harmless but I have been to other countries where it’s not so friendly when you refuse to give them money.
What is Palatine Hill?
During Rome’s Republican era Palatine Hill was kind of like the areas of Mayfair in London or Upper Eastside in NYC. It became a fashionable place to live, due to be the incredible views across Rome. We all know Augustus, Cicero, and Marc Antony (Marcus Antonius)? Well, they all had homes on the hill.
Completing the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill should take you until lunchtime. If you didn’t bring a packed lunch then there are plenty of restaurants in the area.
Gelato is a must in Italy and what better way to finish lunch off than with an ice-cream! Nearby is Fatamorgana (it’s a chain so you’ll see a couple in Rome). They cater for all types of allergies and ice-cream types so it’s great if you are vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free and plus many more.
Wander back to the Colosseum for the last attraction of the day. Slightly damaged by the earthquakes and stone-robbers but still stands as an iconic landmark from the Imperial Rome era. You can imagine how grand it was back in its day, the crowds it drew, watching gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles.
Surprisingly the Colosseum held as many people as some of our stadiums today, it could cope with 50,000 to 80,000 watching an event.
If you are a foodie I recommend having dinner and wine at Masto Via Galvani 39/41, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. It’s a popular place on the food tours of Rome and oh my! The cheese and meat boards (I’m a vegetarian but my bf and sister loved the meat) are delicious!
Day Two – St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City.
Guidebooks and blogs tell you to go early to beat the crowds. They are right! Lines to St Peter’s Basilica can take three, four or more hours to enter! Doors open at 7 am so make sure you are an early riser to beat the queues, heat and enjoy a lovely sunrise over Rome.
Start with the Basilica, wandering around the grand interior and imagining the Pope giving his service on a Sunday. At 7.45am the dome opens, ensure you have your walking shoes on as there are 521 steps to get to the top. You can skip 320 steps by purchasing a ticket to ride an elevator part way up.
Reaching the first section of the dome you’ll see Michel Angelo’s paintings coming into view. Spend a few moments enjoying these famous pieces. Another 201 steps up to the top to witness the spectacular views of the city.
If early mornings are not your thing then there are also several tour companies which offer “fast track” access and guided tours for a fee.
After building up an appetite enjoy an Italian breakfast at one of the nearby cafes. Be aware that the ‘American Breakfast’ is pricey so perhaps avoid if you are on a budget.
The next thing on the list is the Vatican. Cut the lines by purchasing tickets beforehand, tickets will be for pre-selected time slots so allow enough time in between St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum.
Wander the hallways filled with masterpiece paintings, sculpture and other works of art collected by the popes through the centuries.
End up at the Sistine Capel awing at more of Michel Angelo’s paintings. It does get very crowded in the chapel especially with the big tour groups wandering around.
Once you’ve built up your appetite head to Vivi il gusto for lunch after the Vatican. It’s a family run restaurant and it’s very entertaining watching the owner, he’s passionate about his restaurant, very Italian hand gestures and making sure that everyone’s happy! He wouldn’t let us leave until we had a couple limoncello shots.
A gelato a day never hurt anyone! Near the Vatican, there is another great place to get your Gelato fix at Eld Bridge.
Day Three – Rome City Centre (Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Castle Sant’angelo)
Start the morning off with seeing the Spanish Steps and fountains. Walk up to the top and visit the church. Next, enjoy a lovely stroll down the winding streets and you’ll easily find yourself at the Trevi Fountain. Don’t forget to throw a coin in and make a wish!
Once you’ve taken your photos walk slowly down to the Pantheon enjoying the pretty streets and people watching. Arriving at the square next to the Pantheon you’ll be surrounded by buzzing vibe of restaurants and street performers.
Just around the corner go to Venchi for your daily gelato. Whilst finishing off your gelato head to Pantheon. The church is free to enter but you will have people trying to sell you tours explaining the church.
A couple of minutes away there is a perfect lunch spot, I Pizzicaroli, serving incredible open sandwiches, cheese and meat boards. It’s a cash only place so make sure you have some euro’s handy. There are plenty of restaurants in the area so there will be no shortage of places to eat.
End the afternoon at Castle Sant’angelo. The castle has an interesting history from being a mausoleum, the popes using the building as a fortress and castle, and now as a museum. The view from the castle is stunning and there is a little café if you have time to sit, relax and enjoy a drink.
What’s your favourite place in Italy?