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, 3 days in Rome was more than enough for me. Perhaps you will want to dive deep into the city and culture, then you would need more days, but it is completely possible to see the main tourist attractions, visiting Rome in 3 days.

Rome has a lot of history hidden in all corners of the city, ancient Roman ruins are scattered everywhere in the city, from the city center to the Roma’s outskirts. Many piazzas in Rome too, are standing since ancient times and help to tell the history of Rome.

But for this guide of thing 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 tourist attractions and important places to visit in Rome are located.

If you are planning a vacation in Italy to visit more than just Rome, a good idea is to rent a car to drive across the country and visit as many cities as possible, if that’s your case, take a look at this itinerary of 10 days in Italy.


3 days in Rome for Beginners

Going to Rome, I highly recommend you to buy the Rome City Pass for 3 days or 2 days, in order to save money and time during your trip. Using the pass you have a completely free skip the line ticket to Colosseum or 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.

I know that the city has so many attractions, but if you are a first-timer and can’t spend a week in Rome, don’t worry, with this itinerary of three days in Rome, you will be able to see the most important points of the city. You can always go back there if you wish to see the less touristy areas.

Arriving in Rome

What most people do to get home is to fly directly to the city. Rome has two airports, Leonardo da Vinci Airport, better known as Fiumicino Airport, as it is actually located in the city of Fiumicino, located 28 km away from Rome, it is the main Italian airport and one of the most important airports in Europe. Fiumicino is the biggest airport in Rome and serves most of the international flights to the city.

For those arriving in Rome via Fiumicino, here is a guide to how to go from Fiumicino airport to Rome central.

Rome has another airport closer to the central area, known as Ciampino Airport, it is way smaller than Fiumicino and easier to get to. However, only a few international flights land there, most of them are from low-cost airlines.

If you are coming to Rome via land, you will arrive in the central station known as Rome Termini, it is pretty easy to get around the city from Rome Termini, as you can easily take the metro (check the metro map here) or one of the buses outside the station to other points of the city.

3 Days in Rome Itinerary

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 wishlist 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, and includes the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, that we will be visiting next. The ticket costs €16, it can be bought at the entrance of Colosseum or any of the Roman ruins mentioned above.

I regret not taking any guide to visit the ruins, as you feel kind of lost there, you will find yourself in the middle of a bunch of ruins and won’t be able to understand what is what there.

Even inside the Colosseum, you know what was the purpose of the building, but with a guide, you will hear the stories and will be able to understand what was the usage of which are inside the Colosseum.

This price is for the normal ticket, not skip the line ticket. I highly recommend you to buy the ticket online 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.

Check this list of things you must see in Rome.

With the guide you will also be able to locate yourself in the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, it will make things way more interesting since many buildings are not in their best conditions, and you will need help understanding the ruins.

The Roman Forum is a rectangular square surrounded by ruins of important government buildings. This used to be the center of the daily Roman life, it’s where the market used to stand. Besides, that’s the area where public speeches, criminal trials, 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 Roma history have had 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 on 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 to 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 it, 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 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 order 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 just need to take the line to get inside. Of course, you can also buy the skip the line ticket to the Saint Peter’s Basilica, 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, this is probably the most famous panoramic view in Rome btw, you can visit the dome of the Basilica, for this, you need to buy a ticket (this ticket already includes the skip the line for the Basilica) 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 anyway.

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 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.

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 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 dinner in the Piazza Navona, one of the main squares in Rome.

Where to stay in Rome



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18 Comments

  • 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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