3 Day Rome Itinerary
Rome is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I have had the pleasure of visiting. Set out below is my 3 day Rome itinerary which is pretty jam packed! Walk everywhere if you can as the public transport is not that great. There are also so many water fountains dotted around to fill up your bottle which is very handy in the heat!
Day 1 of 3 Day Rome Itinerary
St Peter’s Basilica
We started off visiting St Peter’s Basilica, an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, at 9am. The queues were already building and we waited around one hour to get in. When we came out at 11am, it actually wasn’t that busy. There isn’t really any rhyme or reason to the queues unless you literally get there when it opens.
The basilica is free to enter and to climb to the dome is €10 which includes a lift part of the way. The interior of St Peter’s is absolutely stunning with high ceilings and the most incredible mosaics and paintings. Designed by Michelango, the dome is a whopping 42m in diameter! The elevator takes you to a viewing point of the interior of the cathedral and you can walk around observing the mosaics. You can really appreciate the beauty from a height.
You then have to climb up the 330 stairs between the dome’s inner and outer shell to the 132m high lantern and views of the city. This is not one for the unfit or claustrophobic as part of the staircase is very narrow.
Understandably, there is caged protection at such a height which does obscure some of the views. That said, the panoramic views are still stunning and it is totally worth a trip.
Unless you want to wait in long queues, definitely book your tickets in advance here. Our tickets were €21 including the booking fee which gives you a set date and time.
We walked straight in showing our electronic tickets and had to climb one flight of stairs to the machines where you exchange your electronic ticket (just scan it) for paper tickets. Then you are in! This is 10 minutes vs 2 hours + waiting for a small booking fee of €4.
Put aside half a day to explore Vatican City. As you enter there are signs for the short or long tour, both of which end up at the Sistine Chapel. Expect it at all times to be busy, apart from the gardens where you actually have space to walk around. Within the complex there are a couple of cafeteria’s for food and drink.
About Vatican City
Did you know that Vatican City is a country? I certaintly did not a few years ago! It is the world’s smallest nation covering just 120 acres. As a visitor, however, it certainly does not seem that small.
Within the complex you have St Peter’s Basilica (above), the famous Sistine Chapel and over 10 museums including collections of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiques.
We loved the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (gallery of maps) which is located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard. It contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti. The ceilings and the individual maps are just stunning. It was interesting to examine the old and new maps of Italy which are situated at the end of the room.
Your visit to the Vatican Museums ends in a very crowded Sistine Chapel. Pictures are not permitted and everyone is supposed to be in silence. The Chapel was built between 1477 and 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV and the frescoes were decorated by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance incluidng Michelangelo, Botticelli aqnd Signorelli.
The images tell stories and include the stories of Moses, of Christ and portraits of the Popes. Look out for the Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden which shows Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden for eating fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge.
A trip to the Basilica and the Vatican Museums is well worth a visit and I recommend booking in advance.
Castel Sant’Angelo is a 15 minute walk from Vatican City. It is commonly known as Hadrian’s Tomb and is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber. It is split into five floors which can be reached by a spiral ramp. Entrance on the web states €10.50 but it was actually €15 so we decided to walk around the outside instead. It apparently affords amazing views of Rome but we decided to head round the corner to a rooftop bar instead.
Parco Del Gianicolo
We then walked around 25 minutes to visit Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill for views of Rome. High up on the hills, the area takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. You are quite far from the city so the views aren’t as amazing as (for example) the viewpoints in Florence so I wouldn’t go out your way to visit. If you do visit, wind your way back down the hill to the local area of Trastervere. By that time a gelato was very much deserved!
Day 2 of 3 Day Rome Itinerary
- Piazza Navona
- Spanish Steps
- Roman Forum
We managed to see so much of Rome and our guide was informative and fun. It is such a unique experience and one that is highly recommended.
After the trip (and of course lunch) we wandered around the centre at our leisure spending more time at some of the places we visited on the tour and having a cheeky spritz and gelato.
Our evening then started early on our Rome by Night Wine Tour where we visited 4 different areas sampling wines and nibbles. You can read more here.
Day 3 of 3 day Rome Itinerary
We booked our tickets to the Colosseum in advance here to avoid the queues. The booking fee of €2 per ticket is added on to the entrance price of €12 (note the site says from 1 November 2019 the price increases to €16). You are sent your tickets electronically after payment and just show them at the tickets line. Voila, you just saved yourself 2 hours queuing! The ticket is also valid for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill on the same or next day.
The Colosseum is absolutely incredible and is a must visit in Rome. It was initially used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, animal hunts and executions. Admission to the Colosseum was free and the members of the different social classes entered through 76 (!) arches with numbers carved and marked in red. The best seats went to the rich and the worst (the highest offering a poor view) went to the poor. All the preparations for the spectacles were made in the underground levels which covered about 1.2 acres of land. The whole Colosseum could seat a whopping 50,000+ people.
Archaeological investigations have also made it possible to reconstruct the activities that took place daily in the Colosseum during the Middle Ages. The fragments of ceramic tableware and cooking pots confirm the presence of some affluent residences. Commercial activities are also demonstrated by the large number of coins, while the quantities of discarded animal bones show the presence of butchers. It really is such a fantastic place where you can spend a good couple of hours.
The Roman Forum and Palantine Hill
These ancient sites are situated around a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum. When you walk around the Roman Forum, you get a glimpse into the founding of the ancient Roman Empire. The Romans turned the area into a centre of political and social activity and was a marketplace of Rome. It was home to some of the oldest (dating back to the sixth century BC) and most important buildings in the ancient city. It wasn’t until 1898 that excavations were carried out, revealing the most amazing site you see now!
Rome was actually founded at Palantine Hill! It is here where folklore says the twins Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf Lupa (symbol of Rome) who raised them. It then turned into a residential district, mainly open to the rich and then paved way for imperial palaces.
My tip is to head off the beaten track slightly and do a circle walk around the back. Make sure you climb to the top of Palantine Hill and take in the most impressive views!
Other things to do in Rome
The only three thinhgs thay were on my list which I didnt manage to see were:
- Mercato Centrale – based in Rome main station, this food market looked as if it offered a whole host of delicious street food!
- Santa Maria Maggorie – also based near the station
- Villa Borghese – beautiful landscape gardens with free entry
Rome is such a gorgeous city to visit with so much history and beauty. You get to explore so much on foot and the food is just incredible.
East London Girl: 3 Day Rome Itinerary