3 days in Rome for Beginners

Ok, some people will disagree with me saying that to really visit Rome, you would need 5 days, but being honest with you guys, I visited Rome in 3 days and it was more than enough for me. I managed to visit all tourist points, all points of interest in this period.

Rome has a lot of history hidden in all corners of the city. But for this guide of what to do in Rome in 3 for beginners, we gonna focus on the area inside the Aurelian Wall, which is considered the central area of the city and where most of the important points are.

I know that the city has so many attractions, but if you are a first-timer with shot time, don’t worry, the most important places in Rome can be visited in 3 days. You can always go back there if you wish to see the not so tourist areas.

Going to Rome, I highly recommend you to buy the Rome City Pass for 3 days or 2 days (you can buy it here), in order to save money and time during your trip. For those spending 2 or 3 days in Rome, you can use the pass to have a completely free skip the line ticket to Colosseum, or a skip the line ticket for the Vatican Museum. It is also interesting to buy a ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus, as it will bring you to all the must-see places in the city

3 days in Rome for Beginners

Day 1

Well, let’s start the day with one of the best views, shall we? To get to Colosseum is easy, you need to get to the metro station that holds the same name, by the way, inside, close to the entrance of this station there is a small shop that sells the best pizza I ate in Rome, no kidding, leaving from there and VOILA, you will be right in front of this icon that is probably on your wish list for so long!

The size of the building is really impressive when you realize it was built so many centuries ago by people who didn’t have access to the technology we have today. To get inside you need to buy the ticket, which costs €16 bought in the place and includes the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, that we will be visiting next.

This price is for the normal ticket, not the skip the line ticket. I highly recommend you to buy the ticket online, you can buy it here, which includes the skip the line to Colosseum, and the other ruins around the Colosseum, otherwise, you will have to get in a line just to buy your ticket, then in another line to actually get inside, it can take up to an hour to get inside if you don’t buy your ticket in advance.

You can also choose to get a guide to visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum, in this case, you also skip the line.

The Roman Forum is actually a rectangular square surrounded by ruins of important government buildings. This used to be the center of the daily Roman life, it’s here that the market used to stand. Besides, that’s the area where public speeches, criminal trial, and gladiator matches used to take place.

Next to the Roman Forum is located the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome, and considered one of the oldest parts of Rome. This is where the city of Rome was born and it is believed that the Palatine Hill was the location of the Lupercal cave, where Romulus and Remus were found by the wolf. Many important figures in the Roma history have their houses here, and their ruins can still be visited.

Leaving the ruins areas and following the Via de Fiori, will lead you to Piazza Venezia, it got the name from the Palazzo Venezia, located in the corner of the square, nowadays the building houses the National Museum.

But the cherry of the cake in this square is the Altare della Patria, also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II. Completed in 1925, this is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful monuments in Rome, the size of the monument is really impressive and so it is its statues.

Day 2 – Vatican

Taking the Red line of metro and alighting at Lepanto, you will be really close of the Castel Sant’Angelo, the best view you will have if from the Ponte Sant’Angelo, right in front of it. To visit inside, you need to buy a ticket, sincerely I don’t think it is worth, as there is almost nothing inside, the rooms are empty, and there isn’t much to see.

Following the Via della Conciliazione, you will find yourself right in the heart of Vatican, in the Piazza San Pietro, in front of the iconic Saint Peter’s Basilica, surrounded by the beautiful columns. Depending on the time you arrive, you will notice a HUGE line, that’s why I suggest you arrive early.

In other to save a lot of money during your visit you can buy the Vatican City skip the line ticket that includes the Basilica, Museum and Sistine Chapel, otherwise, you can buy them separately below.

To visit the Basilica you don’t need to buy any ticket, it is completely free, you need to take this line to get inside. Of course, you can also buy the skip the line ticket to the Saint Peter’s Basilica here, it includes an audio guide.

Inside, you will find amazing masterpieces, the highlight is definitely the beautiful Pieta by Michelangelo, and the stunning altar. Don’t forget to look up though, the paintings in the ceiling are definitely worth to admire!

If you wish to have a beautiful panoramic view from Rome, you can visit the dome of the Basilica, for this, you need to buy a ticket and climb the stairs (you can also choose the elevator, but it only goes halfway, so at some point you will need to climb stairs still).

To buy the ticket, you need to pass the security check and follow straight to the ticket office.

Leaving the St Peter’s square, take the street to your left and follow to the Vatican museum. It is a huge museum and requires time to be visited completely, but here, we gonna follow straight to the Sistine Chapel. It is a long way, so be prepared to walk A LOT!

However, if you wish you can totally visit it on your own pass. The line to get inside the Vatican Museum can be long, but you can buy the skip the line ticket for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel here.

ok I know the quality is ridiculously bad here BUT this was the best I could do before someone screamed at me!

To find the Sistine Chapel, you just need to follow the signs in the walls, although you will not have so much time to appreciate every item in the museum, do take your time to admire some of the pieces that call your attention the most. The Sistine Chapel is located in the very last room of the museum. Inside the chapel, you are not allowed to talk or take photos.

Being honest, I wasn’t expecting the Sistine Chapel to be that big and tall, in the photos on the internet, it looks way smaller! The work inside the chapel is breathtaking, there is no space without a painting, it is completely overwhelming, with so many details, colors, different characters.

Right in the middle of the room, in the ceiling, you will find the famous The Creation of Adam! Another highlight is the painting on the Altar wall, The Last Judgement. All the paintings in the Sistine Chapel were painted by Michelangelo, and in the Altar’s wall, it is possible to see one character that is supposed to represent the artist himself, melting.

To get out of the museum, you will have to walk all your way back to the entrance.

Day 3

Leaving from the Flaminio metro station, you just need to go straight to find yourself in the entrance of the Piazza del Popolo. The highlight of this square is the twin churches next to each other, the Santa Maria di Montesanto (left) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (right).

In the middle of the square is located the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II brought from Heliopolis.

Back to the metro station to Spagna station, you will be a short walk away from what is, in my opinion, the most beautiful square in Rome, the Piazza di Spagna, famous for its flowered stairs. This is the perfect place to enjoy your lunch looking at this beautiful view.

Let’s make our way to another iconic monument in Rome, the Fontana di Trevi. To do so, take the Via del Corso until the Via delle Muratte, from here, you just need to walk straight until you get to the fountain. Rome has many fountains scattered throughout the city, but really, they are not as impressive as this one, and the statues are so detailed that it feels like they will move at any moment.

But hey, now that you are here, why not enjoy a Gelato in this meanwhile?

Back to the Via del Corso, let’s go to our last point. Take the Via del Caravitta straight to one of the most famous and one of the oldest buildings in Rome, the Pantheon. It was first built by Marcus Agrippa between 21 and 25 BC to be a temple for Roman gods. However, the building we have today is believed to be the third Pantheon, built between 118 and 125 AD.

It was later turned into a Christian church, pagan statues were replaced by Christian statues, the interior was redecorated, but generally speaking, the Pantheon remains pretty much as how it was originally.

Many important figures for the Church and Italy were buried here, including Vittorio Emanuele II.

If after all this walk you still find the energy to walk some more, I suggest you have a dinner in the Piazza Navona, one of the main squares in Rome.

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  • Years ago, I went to Rome for three days and did everything you mentioned. I feel like you are absolutely correct about 3 days being perfect, because it leaves time to hard over to Venice, Florence or whatever cities you would like to visit on the same vacation.

  • I think I can do it in 3 days too in peak season. 5 days might be better to have a day to rest and visit non-tourist spots too. All the pics I see of Rome are way too crowded so I’ll just go during off-peak season. I’ve never heard of Victor Emanuelle II before. Gotta read up on him. I love historical cities and Rome is definitely the top of them.

    • Definitely 5 days is perfect if you want to rest a little bit and visit non-tourist spots. Unfortunately, it is hard to visit Rome without crowds, these photos were taken in April, which is an off-peak season, so if you want to avoid more tourists, you might want to go during autumns or winters, I believe.

  • You can approach Rome in a number of different ways but first timers usually focus on hitting the sight highlights. You did a good job of focusing on that intent. Going back a second or third time you should focus on the food, wine bars, concerts and meeting the people. I just love Rome – nice introduction. Thanks

  • While this city has a way lot many things to do , a first timer would definitely be confused. Especially a person like me who wants to see ‘everything’. haha. This quite a useful guide while I prepare the itinerary and places to explore for this city.

  • Great guide for first time visitors. I skipped Italy for spain last time, next time I get a chance to visit Europe I’ll make sure to do the opposite. Rome is such a significant page of history,one has to go there once in a lifetime.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Being super honest, the city as a whole is not one of my favorites, but I love history and it is impossible to ignore the importance Rome has to the history of the world. There are so many ruins to visit and so many information to learn!

  • Hi I found you from Facebook.

    HAHA the slightly blurry photo in the Sistine Chapel sums up my experience there as well. Those guards are ruthless when they are scouring the crowd for people trying to get a shot of one of the most beautifully painted ceilings ever. NO PHOTOS! is something I’ll always remember from my trip to the Vatican.

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