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I always say that most cities can be seen in three days or less and Italy’s capital city of Rome is no different. Home to almost 3 million people and countless landmarks, some as old as the 2nd century BC, spending 3 days in Rome may only allow you to scratch the surface. However, if you want to find out the best area to stay in Rome and amazing Rome day tours, then read this Rome 3 day itinerary.
Also read: The Ultimate Guide to Cinque Terre
Best Area to Stay in Rome
There are several areas that I recommend staying in Rome and I learned my lesson after staying too far from the city center. You should aim to be within walking distance to major sites and/or close to public transportation. There’s nothing like finding the perfect place that’s also affordable and finding out that it’s an hour on foot to everywhere you want to visit and the bus ride is almost as long.
Trastevere may be the best area to stay in Rome, and for good reason. Described as bohemian, this part of the city is filled with restaurants and artisan shops. If you’re looking for an authentic Roman experience I recommend staying here.
Because Trastevere is on the other side of the Tiber River, it’s quite possible to avoid the tourist crowds that often times consist of people on day trips versus people staying in Rome proper. When wandering this medieval city be sure to visit the Basilica di Santa Cecilia, Villa Farnesina, and the University of Rome’s Orto Botanico (botanical garden).
If you don’t mind being in the center of everything, and I for one don’t, then Tridente is the best area to stay in Rome for you. It also may be one of the easiest ways to get the best out of 3 days in Rome. The area is formed by three roads (hence the name Tridente) that connect.
Here you have easy access to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the most popular hotels in the city. I can’t stress enough how popular this area is and because of that, it’s guaranteed to be crowded no matter the day or season. Staying in the heart of the city has its perks and downfalls.
If you want to be close to the Vatican, then Prati is the place to be. Out of all of the Roman landmarks, the Vatican tends to be the furthest from where people actually stay, but if you know you want to spend a day or two checking out St. Peters Basilica and the Vatican Museums, then this is the area for you.
You’ll be happy to know that this is probably the most quiet of the areas listed while still having charm, beautiful hotels, and too many delicious restaurants to choose from. Prati is also easily accessible by metro which is important whether or not you plan to get around by foot. You don’t want to have to rely on taxis.
Rome 3 Day Itinerary
See the Roman landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon. These are landmarks that you want to visit as early in the day as possible as they can get pretty crowded. The best part about them, and why they’re worth seeing together, is that they’re within walking distance to each other. If you don’t mind the crowds, then check them out whenever you have a gap in your schedule.
Snack on local delicacies such as arancini. Arancini are deep fried rice balls stuffed with ragu, mozzarella, and caciocavallo cheese. They’re a great snack for roaming the streets of Rome but if you have enough, they’re sure to fill you up. Also be sure to indulge in traditional and authentic gelato for dessert.
No 3 days in Rome is complete without a trip to the Vatican. Vatican City is a city-state (like Washington ,DC) that just so happens to be surrounded by Rome. Unfortunately you don’t get a passport stamp for visiting but it’s nice to walk right into the smallest state in Europe. If you do nothing else, visit St. Peter’s Basilica as it’s one of the most beautiful basilicas you may ever see. The line to get through security may seem daunting but it moves pretty quickly and after that you can walk right into the basilica. Also be sure to check out the Vatican Museum.
Take a day trip to nearby cities such as Pompeii, Naples, or Venice. The destinations may take a couple hours to get to but it’s worth the journey on high speed train or bus. All three cities have something different to offer and all are worth a visit, so I cant help choosing which one is best. Read below for some amazing guided tours.
There are also plenty of Italian cities that are even closer to Rome such as Florence and Tivoli. Even though they may be closer, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to spend a full day wandering around Hadrian’s Villa or throughout the Duomi di Firenze.
On this day I recommend visiting what will always be the most crowded attraction in Rome. First, visit Palatine Hill earlier in the day to avoid crowds. This was once the most desired neighborhood in Rome and imperial palaces were built here. It’s more than worth a visit and the best part is that buying a ticket here includes a timed entry ticket to the colosseum.
Next it’s time to check out the Colosseum. This amphitheatre was once able to house 50,000 spectators as gladiators fought to the death. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what most people think of when they think of Rome, especially since the release of the movie Gladiator. In any event, this ancient marvel is still intact enough to tour and be amazed by.
5 Star Hotels in Rome
I’ve found five, 5 star hotels in Rome that are not only beautiful, but won’t break the bank and they’re all under $300 a night.
- Hotel NH Collection Roma Palazzo Cinquecento
- Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
- Palazzo Montemartini Rome, A Radisson Collection Hotel
- Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection
- Singer Palace Hotel
Rome Walking Tours
Rome Walking Tours are one of the best ways to experience the city while also knowing where you’re going and why. While I’m the type to enjoy aimlessly wandering around new places, I enjoy some structure every now and then. Check out these four walking tours that everyone would enjoy.
Street Food Tour with Local Guide
Aside from it’s ancient architecture and medieval neighborhoods, Rome is also know for it’s delicious food. This Street Food Tour is a great way to sample some of the foods that Rome is known for, such as supplì and cured meats, while also tasting the local wine and beer. The best part about a walking food tour is that you get to see neighborhoods that are important to the culture that you may miss otherwise. And the best part is that you’re touring with a local guide.
Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Fast-Track Tour
The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill are some of the most crowded landmarks in all of Rome. I’ve seen lines that seemingly wrap around the block, and they’re pretty big blocks. Check out this fast track tour of the monuments that’ll have you breezing by those that didn’t plan ahead. You’ll also have the chance to visit the tomb of Julias Caesar, which is an added bonus.
Crypts & Catacombs Tour with Bone Chapel Visit
Hopefully you love crypts and catacombs as much as I do because this tour of both will be that one unique thing you did in Rome. On this particular tour you will visit the Capuchin Crypt which is the resting place of 4,000 Capuchin monks. You also get to visit the 12th-century San Clemente Basilica which is sure to leave you in awe.
Borghese Gallery Guided Tour
No 3 days in Rome is complete without a visit to at least one museum. This Borghese Gallery Guided Tour is the perfect way to see art just as beautiful as it’s surroundings. Housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, this art gallery contains the works of Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian. This group tour allows you to skip the line and jump right into the good stuff, the art.
Rome Day Tours
Located on the outskirts of Rome are two renaissance villas that are sure to take your breath away. Emperor Hadrian built his villa in the 2nd century and it’s still the biggest Italian residence to date. You get to learn the history of these beautiful landmarks that are important staples in Italian history.
Venice is one of the most unique cities in all of Italy and easily one of my favorites. Take the high speed train to Venice and see popular landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Basilica. It’s sure to be a day you never forget as you ride around the canals via private water taxi and roam the canals on foot during your free time.
When Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the ash covered not only buildings, but the bodies of the people as well. This tragic occurrence preserved everything within the city and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. This tour lasts 10 hours and starts early so be sure to allot a full day to this activity.
This seven hour bus tour consists of riding around the ancient city of Rome and learning about its history. The best thing about the panoramic bus tour is that you get amazing views of your surroundings that a regular bus wouldn’t allow. There’s also the option of added tours and attractions.
Also read: The Ultimate Amalfi Coast Itinerary