3 Days in Rome

3 Days in Rome: Everything You Need to Plan Like an Expert

Planning a Rome vacation is easily a dreamy bucket list item for many travelers. With just 3 days in Rome, you can go from a history buff’s dream come true with ancient ruins and the Colosseum to a foodie’s love affair with mouthwatering dishes like Cacio e Pepe, followed by a serving of creamy pistachio gelato.

It’s so easy to see why planning your Rome itinerary can feel so overwhelming. There’s an endless number of things to see, do and eat!

So, in this guide, everything you need to know for your Rome itinerary is broken down for you. You’ll find a step-by-step planning guide for your 3 perfect days in Rome with:

  • day-by-day itinerary planning ideas,
  • maps and Rome sightseeing routes
  • the top places to visit in Rome,
  • how to skip the lines at the Colosseum and the Vatican,
  • Rome travel tips,
  • where to stay in Rome, and of course,
  • what to eat in Rome!

The beauty of a Rome 3 day itinerary is there’s so much to do that it’s completely customizable.

So, whether you’re looking to fill your days with sightseeing, visit museums, do a deep history dive on an Ancient Rome tour, or follow your taste buds on a street food tour with a local guide, use the ideas below to create your dream Rome itinerary.

3 Days in Rome: Everything You Need to Plan Like an Expert

3 Days in Rome:
Everything You Need to Plan Like an Expert

Rome a.k.a. the “Eternal City” is an ancient and modern city all rolled into one and a sightseeing adventure awaiting. So, naturally, one of the first questions people ask when planning a trip to Rome is, “How many days in Rome do I need?”

As with any big city in Europe or around the world, you can spend as little as one day to get a quick whirlwind glimpse, a weekend in Rome for a city overview or you can stay weeks (or even months or years) and still have more to see!

Personally, I think that 3 days in Rome is about the perfect amount of time, especially if it’s your first time in Rome. You can cram a lot into this time frame, see as many of the city’s top attractions as you’d like, but also still have time to soak up some of Rome’s ambiance.

It’s also never a bad thing to have the perfect excuse to return for another dose of Rome, particularly given its central location with access to other places in the south of Italy like Lecce or Monopoli. 😉

How to Get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome

Howt to Get from the airport to Rome

For the same price as a taxi, and without the hassle of dealing with “broken” taxi credit card machines or not enough cash, Welcome Pickups provides reliable door-to-door service from Rome’s airport to the city center and your hotel.

The service can be pre-booked so you get to your hotel and begin your trip in a positive way. I’ve had great experiences with Welcome Pickups in other cities, including Madrid, and would not hesitate to book an airport transfer with them again.

If you don’t mind sharing transportation, hop on a shuttle bus to one of three locations in central Rome. Tickets can be purchased in advance and you can easily catch the next bus if you miss your reserved time.

Another convenient option is to take the Rome airport train, otherwise known as the Leonardo Express, from Fiumicino to Rome’s Termini. The ride is about 30 minutes and is the fastest public transportation option available. A slower train is available for a few Euro less, as well, but the extra half hour saved is worth it in my opinion.

ProTip: Avoid the Frecciargento train. It’s no faster than the Leonardo Express but costs more for first and second-class tickets. This train is better if you’re heading to places like Genoa, Florence, Pisa, or La Spezia instead of staying in Rome.

Where to stay in Rome for 3 Days

Where to Stay in Rome

There are so many great options for where to stay in Rome.

However, if you don’t mind walking or using public transportation, getting off the beaten path of popular places to stay in Rome can be especially rewarding by seeing how the locals truly live.

That’s where rental accommodations come in and Plum Guide is a trustworthy site to make your booking. Apartments and homes are inspected by “Home Critics” and only if the property passes does it get listed on Plum Guide. You can even reach out 24/7 by phone to their support team should you need help or have a question.

If you’re like me and totally in love with Italy, then looking like a local coming out of a chic Roman apartment will complete your Italian fantasy!

With that being said, a few favorite neighborhoods and locations to stay in Rome for first-timers are:

  • Centro Storico: This is the “Historical Center” but actually has many different neighborhoods. For example, the Pantheon neighborhood is in the heart of the historical center. With tons to see nearby and easy walking to many major sights, it’s a great choice but will also come at a high cost. The Jewish Ghetto, also in the Historical Center, is another popular choice with great charm.
  • Near the Coliseum: Quite touristy and therefore expensive, but neighborhoods around here have great nightlife, wine bars, and plenty of public transportation available.
  • Near the Train Station: If you’re using Rome as a base for day trips as well, staying near the Termini is a good choice. It’s not as “charming” as other parts of Rome, but as long as you’re a vigilant traveler, it’s not unsafe and could end up being quite convenient.
Area Rome First-Timers Wanting…
TestaccioLocal Food
TrastevereNightlife, outdoor bars, and a local vibe
Aventine HillSunset views, getting local away from tourists
FlaminioHuge villas and exclusivity

There are plenty of other options though, depending on what you want and what makes the most sense for your budget. Both hotels and apartment rentals can be found throughout the city.

Perhaps you’d like to return to a quiet neighborhood with local shops and restaurants after a day of sightseeing. Then, renting an apartment in a residential neighborhood with great views of St. Peter’s might be just right for you.

Or maybe you’d like a luxury stay not far from the train station. If so, this top-rated hotel is likely just what you’re searching for.

Check current prices in Rome. | Book a Rome Hotel

What to Do in Rome in 3 Days

3 Days in Rome

In order to visit Rome in three days, you need to be well planned out so as not to waste valuable time backtracking or crisscrossing the city.

When organizing the top things to do in Rome in 3 days, lay it out so it’s easy, attainable, and stress-free according to what you hope to see and your travel style.

Below, each day is planned with maximum sightseeing in mind and shorter distances from one location to the next. Of course, all while still taking your time to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, stop and eat some Gelato!)

Day 1 – Vatican City and Iconic Rome Sightseeing

With so many places to visit in Rome in 3 days, I like to keep the plan straightforward on the first day and set myself up for a quick win. If you or a travel companion is an anxious traveler, this can go a long way in helping you set your Rome trip up for success.

You could consider a Rome Walking Tour or a Rome Sightseeing Bus (like this Hop-On-Hop-Off), for a quick way to see the basics of Rome in a day or even for part of the day.

But, in planning out the best ways to see Rome in 3 days for myself, I jumped right in on seeing all those fantastic Rome tourist attractions! 

Start in Vatican City….Maybe.

three days in Rome

For being the smallest country in the world, you could spend not just one day, but many getting lost in Vatican City, at least the Vatican City Museum, that is. But, the area is compact with several major sights to see without having to worry about maps or public transportation.

Art and history lover or not, plan to spend a few hours, at a minimum, and more than likely a half-day to see the sights in Vatican City. After all, this is where the famous Sistine Chapel is, as well as Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square), and the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Tips

Rome Vatican City

When To Go:

Everyone has a theory on when best to head to the Vatican to avoid atrocious lines. Read more on these options below.

  • Plan to arrive first thing in the morning even before the Vatican opens.
  • Or in the afternoon (around 2 pm) by doing today’s itinerary (mostly) in reverse. 

Whichever you choose, I strongly recommend pre-booking tickets that let you bypass the line. If you plan to do a ton of Rome sightseeing, the Rome and Vatican pass will give you the best value.

In addition to everything it includes, you’ll have Fast Track Entry to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel.

If you plan to see select sights while in Rome and don’t need everything the Rome and Vatican pass includes, individual skip-the-line tickets for Vatican City are the way to go.

No matter when you arrive, these ticket options will save you the time and hassle of waiting in any line. And, in the peak summer travel season, those lines can eat up hours of your day, not to mention how uncomfortable it can get melting waiting in the strong summer sun!

what to do in Rome in 3 days

Also, keep in mind:

  • Afternoons are also a good time to visit if you know you don’t want to spend the entire day. Just make sure you’re leaving yourself enough time to see everything, especially the Sistine Chapel.
  • Weekdays are better than weekends.
  • Sundays are closed, except for my next point. This means Saturdays are really crowded with people visiting Rome for the weekend.
  • If you want to save some cash, the last Sunday of the month is free admission. This is great for your wallet, but do plan on extensive lines since everyone else wants a freebie as well.

Remember to dress respectfully. Your knees and shoulders must be covered even in the heat of Rome in summer.

Catholics consider Vatican City to be one of the holiest places on Earth. Therefore, a strict dress code is enforced. Don’t be turned away or worse, have to rent a reused scarf!

Bring a shawl, scarf, or cardigan that’s easily packable in your day bag so you can quickly cover up before heading into the holy buildings.

Zip-off pants that convert to shorts are also great if you want to stay cool the rest of the day but need your knees covered during the holy exhibits.

Here are a few more popular Rome Vatican Tours and skip-the-line ticket options.

The amount of time you spend at the Vatican will determine how much of the day’s itinerary you can complete from here. Anything more than half a day in Vatican City and you’ll need to make adjustments to the recommended sights listed below for the rest of day 1.

Keep in mind, museum fatigue is real. It’s better to spend a few hours when you’re fresh and return on another day to complete your visit rather than walk through the Vatican museum and sights with your eyes glazed over.

Castel Sant’ Angelo

Rome three day itinerary

From the Vatican, the Castel Sant’ Angelo is only short a 15-20-minute walk. This massive monument has been through it all.

First built as Hadrian’s mausoleum, it was then taken over by the church in the 14th century and turned into a spectacular castle and fortress for past Popes. Today, it’s a museum with a ton of history to uncover.

Climb the seven levels to explore the museum’s art, armor displays, and Pope chambers, all the way to the top to see the magnificent views of the city from the upper terrace.

ProTip: The last admission is at 6 pm during the high tourist season (Spring-Fall). In the winter, the last admission is 1 pm. So, if you’re visiting Rome in winter, do this first before making a half-day of it at the Vatican. Save time by purchasing your reserved tickets in advance.

Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50
Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 9 am-19:00 (Spring-Fall)

The Rome and Vatican Pass includes Castel Sant’ Angelo should you decide to use the pass for this attraction. 

Piazza del Popolo

Rome Itinerary What to visit in Rome

Afterward, stroll along the Tiber River and across the Ponte Cavour for about 20 minutes to the “People’s Square.” This is a great location to people watch, as well as see the Ramesses II Egyptian Obelisk, the “twin” churches, Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, and beautiful fountains.

The Piazza del Popolo is just steps from the Porta del Popolo, which back during the Roman Empire was the place of the city’s northern gated entrance along an ancient route leading to the city.

Spanish Steps

what to see in Rome in 3 Days

Oh no, we aren’t finished yet for today! I told you it was a busy day. 🙂 Next, grab a gelato and walk the 10 minutes over to the Spanish Steps, which are another great day or night sight to see.

Despite the crowds, the Spanish Steps are a classic place to soak up the atmosphere of the city whether you’re just snapping photos or stopping for a wood-fired pizza. Watch all the touts ( just don’t get sucked into any of their tricks…more on that below), not to mention the lovebirds and locals.

Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187
Hours: Anytime

Trevi Fountain

What to visit in Rome in 3 Days

Beautiful day or night, the Trevi Fountain is less than a 10-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. It’s without question Rome’s most popular and most spectacular fountain.

For most of the day, the Trevi Fountain is extremely crowded. Early mornings and late nights are your best chances for experiencing the fountain in relative peace.

If you’re doing your Rome sightseeing with a significant other, the Trevi Fountain is also insanely romantic after dark. The illuminated fountain creates a wonderful ambiance as you throw your coin in making your wish.

Address: Piazza Di Trevi, 00187
Hours: Anytime

ProTip: To avoid some of the morning crowds at the Vatican, you could begin the day’s itinerary with an early start at the Trevi Fountain and do the above sights in reverse.

A few things to keep in mind. You’ll want at least a few hours if not half a day in Vatican City. So be sure to leave yourself enough time, especially for the Sistine Chapel, which closes before other sights in the Vatican.

Second, if you’re visiting Rome in the winter, Castel Sant’ Angelo’s last entry is at 1 pm so plan accordingly for this.

Lastly, afternoons are generally less crowded in Vatican City. However, peak summer is still peak summer. Expect lines and for the best experience, book your skip-the-line Vatican tickets ahead of time or opt for the Rome and Vatican pass which comes with Fast Track Entry.

Piazza Navona

things to do in Rome in 3 days

A quintessential Italian Plaza with classic Baroque architecture. Whether you start with Vatican City or the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona is the perfect place to grab a meal, people watch, and finish the day while enjoying the Italian lifestyle.

Most famously, the Bernini Fountain of Four Rivers with an Egyptian obelisk at its center. The square also includes the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, additional fountains, and plenty of vendors selling art and trinkets. And, of course, no piazza would be complete without restaurants lining its perimeter.

Just remember, in any European city, the best restaurants are actually found near the main square, not in it!

Saltimbocca just near the piazza has the perfect dish of Cacio e Pepe or Carbonara for dinner. Top it off with a can’t miss gelato cone from Frigidarium.

Day 2 – Ancient Rome

Of course, the best things to do in Rome in 3 days must have a day dedicated to ancient Rome!

Today is not only going to take you back in history, but it’s also going to be a lot of walking to get the absolute most out of your 3 day trip to Rome. Be sure you have comfortable walking shoes (my favs!), sunscreen, water, and snacks.

The Roman Forum and Colosseum are right next to each other, making it easy to see both.

Booking tickets ahead or going with the Rome and Vatican pass are the best choices for Rome’s top sights, especially at places like the Colosseum where lines can get quite long.

If you don’t already have Colosseum tickets, start at the Roman Forum. It has shorter ticket lines (generally speaking) and will help you somewhat speed through the ticket line at the Colosseum with a combo, same-day ticket.

The Colosseum

3 perfect days in Rome

No trip to Rome is complete without feeling like a gladiator in the Colosseum (a.k.a. the Flavian Amphitheater)!

Arrive when the Colosseum opens and plan on a minimum of one hour here, but allow for plenty more. After all, the Colosseum’s history goes back to the year 72 AD when construction began. Today, it’s one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions!

You can certainly see the Colosseum on your own, but a place steeped in so much history deserves more than just a simple viewing.

Skip the line tickets come with a free audio guide, not to mention help you bypass a potentially hours-long line!

And, to get the most out of your visit, a guided Colosseum tour with an expert will help you understand the history you’re standing in, as well as jump past long queues. Guides also have access to parts of the Colosseum not open to the general public.

Must see Rome in 3 days itinerary

If you’re staying near the Rome Metro, take the train to the “Colosseo” station along the “B” line, typically shown as the color blue on a subway map. It’s really simple and quite affordable, not to mention included with your travelcard if you’ve opted to use the Rome and Vatican pass.

Lastly, the last Sunday of the month is also free for the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Avoid this day! Free is great, but it can be an absolute madhouse that could greatly detract from your time at these bucket-list sights.

Address: Colosseum Piazza del Colosseo, 1
Hours: Daily 8:30 am – 1 hour before Sunset

Sometimes getting a unique look at such a popular tourist attraction like the Colosseum makes it all the more unforgettable.

Here are a few popular Rome Colosseum Tour options for a different experience.

ProTip: Be mindful of Italy’s afternoon “riposo,” or a midday break. Main attractions will still be open, but shops and restaurants may close in and around 2 pm – 5 pm. If you’re looking for a proper lunch, be sure to take a break from sightseeing and grab lunch before 1 pm. While this is something that has decreased over time, especially in tourist-heavy areas, a midday rest is still part of the Italian culture.

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Rome things to do in 3 days

Walk in Caesar’s shoes and wander the fascinating Roman Forum. You can’t help but feel like you’re stepping back in history as you see the heart of where modern civilization began! 

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were the epicenters of ancient Rome. This is where Emperors lived, gladiators fought, and residents came to worship, buy and sell at the local markets, and find out the latest news. The remaining ruins have survived centuries upon centuries of abandonment, looting, and finally preservation.

At the very least, book skip-the-line tickets in advance. But, truthfully, a guided Roman ruins tour is worth every penny to make sure you truly understand and appreciate the significance of what you’re seeing. 

If you’re trying to save some money and still get amazing historical information, download the free Rick Steves Audio Europe App or buy his Rome Guidebook depending on the format you prefer. Both have DIY walking tour information, routes, and maps to help you navigate the ruins.

Address: Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/ 6
Hours: Daily 8:30 am-1 Hour Before Sunset

ProTip:  One way to bypass any possible afternoon riposo closings, as well as the high tourist food prices near the Roman Forum and Colosseum, is to plan for a picnic, mixed with some people watching.

Before starting your day, stop at a local grocery store and pick up some supplies for lunch. In and around the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, look for places away from the crowds and ticket hawkers to stop and feast on your midday snack.


3 day trip to Rome

Just a 20-minute walk from the Colosseum is the Pantheon. For being over 2,000 (yes, THOUSANDS) years old, this magnificent feat of architecture is sure to take your breath away.

Allow yourself time to just soak in the timeless treasure and peer up at the astounding concrete dome. It’s the largest concrete dome in the world without columns for any support! 

Today, the Pantheon is a church. When you’re standing inside, you’ll see why the Pantheon is considered to be among the best surviving examples of ancient Roman architecture. Not to mention, its classic exterior columns and rotunda inside have been models for many other buildings. 

The Pantheon also contains the remains of famous artists like the Rennaissance painter, Raphael. To learn more about the stunning art and fascinating history of the Pantheon, consider exploring with an audio guide.

Address: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186
Hours: Sunday: 9am-6pm, Monday – Saturday: 8:30am – 7:30pm

ProTip:  Depending on your timing and how many gelato cones you’ve eaten so far 😉 ,  you could plan to walk through the Jewish Ghetto and have lunch either before or after visiting the Pantheon.

The history of the neighborhood includes a Jewish Museum, the Great Synagogue, and gold placards along the streets remembering Holocaust victims who lived here.

In addition, the area is known for its fantastic places to eat, be it a sit-down restaurant or local food shops selling small bites. 

At this point in your 3 days in Rome itinerary, decide what makes the most sense for you to finish out the day. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon will likely take at least half a day, depending on how long you spent in each place and/or if you stopped for a proper lunch. 

Are you up for more Rome sightseeing today? 
Must see in Rome 3 days

There are still plenty of options for what to see in Rome in 3 days as you plan out your trip. A few favorites include:

St. John in the Lateran: While St. Peter’s Basilica takes center stage, St. John’s can actually tout the title of “Oldest Basilica in Rome.”

This is a great “off the beaten tourist path” option for those coming to Rome wanting to get away from the crowds in Vatican City. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the Colosseum and included in the Rome and Vatican pass.

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore: This Catholic church is the largest in all of Rome and was originally built in the 400s. The church also holds the remains of Bernini, the famous sculptor and architect, who designed the main fountain in Piazza Navona, among many other accomplishments.

Pyramid of Cestius: This is the only Egyptian Pyramid of its kind in all of Europe and dates back to 18 B.C. You can also see the Pyramid from the Protestant Cemetery, which is also worth a visit. You’ll find the graves of Keats and Shelly, both famous English poets.

Baths of Caracalla: Ancient Roman Baths were a daily part of the culture in ancient Rome. Communal baths were social places where insider business deals were made and gossip swapped. These baths date back to the 3rd century.

Do you have sightseeing fatigue? How about a Rome tour?
Visit Rome in 3 Days

Consider an Italian experience or choose from some of the best tours in Rome. Here are a few popular suggestions:

Day 3 in Rome – Art, Skeletons, and Ancient History

Now that you’ve seen the heart and most famous attractions of Rome in 2 days, the third day is best being used doing something that aligns with your personality, personal interests, and travel style. Below are a few options on how to spend your last full day in Rome.

1. Borghese Gallery and Gardens

This museum is a must for all art lovers. You’ll see famous paintings by Raphael and Caravaggio and Bernini’s famous Baroque sculptures. The works of art are situated in Villa Borghese and surrounded by the peaceful Villa Borghese Park which holds the world’s largest private art collection.

If it’s on your Rome must-see list, you absolutely need to pre-book your Borghese Gallery tickets as they do sell out weeks (if not more) in advance.

If you’ve chosen to sightsee in Rome using the bundled Rome and Vatican pass, a Borghese Gallery ticket is included among your attraction choices, and reserving your space for the date and time you want is strongly suggested.

2. Rome Catacombs Tour

In Ancient Rome, burials weren’t allowed inside the walls of the city. Underground tunnels just outside the city, particularly those along the “Old Appian Way” (One of Rome’s very first roads), are a popular sight to see.

The best way to do so is by taking a Catacombs Tour. The Catacombs like those at St. Domitilla, St. Callixtus, and St. Sebastian are a winding maze of tunnels layered in ancient history and art, which is likely to be missed if you’re not sure where you are or what you’re looking at.

3. Plan a Rome to Pompeii Day Trip

Pompeii City Vesuvius Background Italy

Another popular possibility is to go from Rome to Pompeii for a full day to explore the ruins preserved in the ash of Mount Vesuvius.

There are DIY and guided tour options depending on your interests and travel style. I’ve put together this Rome to Pompeii Day trip guide to help you figure out all the best options.

What’s great about this full-day trip away from Rome (no matter how you plan it) is that you can also include other stops in places like Naples, Mount Vesuvius, or the Amalfi Coast.

4. Ostia Antica (and the Beach)

Rome 3 Day Itinerary

If you’re not up for a full day outing to Pompeii, another way to spend your last and final day in Rome and get your archaeology fix is to head out of the city and to this phenomenally preserved archaeological site. Walk the town and envision ancient Rome without needing to do much imagination because of how well preserved it is.

Allow for at least half a day at Ostia Antica and then, if you’d like some beach time, take the same train just a few more stops to the last station and step off right at the ocean.

There are public beaches where you can simply put down a towel in the sand wherever you find a spot or private sections of the beach where you pay a few Euros for a beach chair, umbrella, and other amenities.

Keep in mind if your 3 days in Rome are part of a larger Italy itinerary, the Ostia Lido beaches are a great way to escape the summer heat of Rome, but are not as spectacular as beaches you’d see along the Puglia coast or in the Cinque Terre, for example.

ProTip: Similarly, if you’ve planned a Pompeii day trip at any point, it may make more sense to focus on those ruins which are better preserved than Ostia Antica and save this last day in Rome for one of the other options listed above.

How To Get to Ostia Antica:

If you’re visiting Ostia Antica on your own, it’s only about an hour away from Rome via public transport. Take the Metro Line B to Piramide. Get off and take the Ostia Lido train from there to Ostia Antica stop. The ruins are a 10-minute walk from there and it’s typically where everyone’s heading, so follow the crowd! 😉

How to skip the lines at the Colosseum, the Vatican, & more

Throughout this guide, the Rome and Vatican pass has been recommended again and again. It’s for good reason! Of course, we all love to save money while traveling. But, just as important as saving money is saving time. Especially when you’re trying to maximize all your days in Rome.

Rome is one of the most popular travel destinations on the globe. This amounts to a lot of people trying to see all of Rome’s attractions every single day. So, you want to do everything you can to avoid waiting in long lines.

The Rome and Vatican pass comes with Fast-Track entry to:

  • St. Peter’s Basilica,
  • the Vatican Museums,
  • the Sistine Chapel,
  • the Colosseum, and,
  • the Roman Forum.

The pass also includes:

  • FREE entry to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John in Lateran, and 72-hour hop-on-hop-off bus access.
  • FREE entry to your choice of 2 out of 6 popular Rome sights including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill, Borghese Gallery, Castel Sant’ Angelo, and the Capitoline Museums.

In addition to the above money and time-saving features, the Rome and Vatican pass also adds a 3-day travelcard for the city’s trains and buses and reduced-priced entry at 30+ other Rome museums and sights.

Whether or not the Rome and Vatican pass is right for you depends on your Rome sightseeing plans. You’ll unquestionably save money (and time) if you plan to see and do most of the things in this 3 days in Rome itinerary.

However, just as important as booking your flights and hotel is making sure you can bypass long lines with the Rome and Vatican pass or by pre-booking individual skip-the-line tickets and tours. The beauty of fast-track entry cannot be overstated.

Rome Transportation – Getting Around Rome

How to get around Rome

When planned logically, many of the main sights in Rome are within relative walking distance to one another. However, when you’re trying to make the most of your time or dodge the hot Roman summer sun, Rome’s public transportation system is a helpful and handy thing to keep in mind. 

The Rome and Vatican pass includes free, unlimited use of Rome’s metro, buses, trams, and overground trains, as well as the hop-on-hop-off bus for your 3 days in Rome.

Without the unlimited metro pass, you can buy one-way tickets at any Tabacceria (Tobacco shops) which are all over the city. These tiny shops will simply have a large, “T” outside. Vending machines at metro stations also sell single-use tickets and passes.

The tickets are cheap, only €1.50 per one-way ticket which gets you 100 minutes of ride time. Passes for 24, 48, and 72-hour increments are also sold.

All tickets and passes can get you on any public transportation (subway, bus, trams, and even commuter trains that get you out of the city- like the one to Ostia Antica and the beach, as mentioned above). But only the Rome and Vatican pass includes access to the hop-on-hop-off bus, as well.

And, remember to validate your single-use tickets at the validation machine to ensure it’s dated to show the time period for which the ticket is valid. There’s a timestamp machine on public buses. A timestamp is marked as you use your ticket to enter the metro. 

Be sure to check the timetables on Sundays and nights. You may see that public transportation (particularly buses) say they run 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean every line will. Make sure you know ahead of time which lines to take to get to your hotel or destination so you aren’t stuck.

If you do find yourself at a closed stop, know that taxis can only be hailed from certain spots. An Uber will be your friend in these situations! (Yes, Uber is legal in Rome.)

Be Wary of Labor Disputes. It’s not uncommon for all public transportation to be closed down due to labor disputes. Make sure you’re checking for strikes so you can have a Plan B if needed.

What to Eat in Rome

What to eat in rome

Can you honestly go wrong with food in Rome!? Mouthwatering doesn’t even do it justice! With so many dishes to taste and only so much room in your stomach, there are a few dishes (other than pizza!) you simply must try.

Better yet, plan a Rome foodie experience with a local.  Join a dinner party prepared by a true Roman chef or a cooking class and spend time with travelers from around the world. 

No matter what, remember to always ask for a carafe of the house wine to go with your meal!

  • Cacio e Pepe: Don’t be fooled by this simple looking dish of just cheese and pepper. It’s out of this world delish and one of my all time faves!
  • Carciofi Alla Romana: Artichokes simmered in flavorful olive oil and herbs is a must and can be found just about anywhere.
  • Carbonara: This pasta dish with its cheesy egg and pancetta sauce is all about simple ingredients and great taste.
  • Porchetta: A whole, deboned, spit-roasted pig generously stuffed with herbs. Surprisingly, skip the wine on this one and instead have a beer, as the locals do.

Last but not least…don’t forget the gelato….ever!!! As with all food in Rome, calories from gelato don’t count! So, ask a local to point you in the direction of a favorite gelateria or just follow the long lines so you know you’re getting a good shop.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Rome

Rome attractions

Rome Travel Tips

  • Consider a Rome 3 Day Pass.

This Rome and Vatican pass is good for three days and includes public transportation, as well as free or discounted admission to many major sights as mentioned above. The Vatican sights plus the first two sights are free with your pass, which means to get the biggest bang for your buck, see the most expensive sights first. Most attractions also offer Fast Track Entry for pass holders. 

  • Cash, Coins, and ATMS

Don’t worry about getting money out before you arrive. ATMs are everywhere so it’s easy to get what you need when you get to Rome. Although, be sure to get or have some Euros if you’ll be taking a taxi or the metro out of the airport.

While all taxis are supposed to have the ability to accept credit card payments, it could be “not working” for your ride.

In Italy, it’s important to have some cash with you at all times. Visa and Mastercard are accepted but not always. This includes having small coins for public bathrooms, as well as cheap countertop espressos!

  • Know When to Order What Coffee.

Speaking of espresso, it’s always fun to try to live like the locals do when traveling. In Italy, this means no milk after 12 noon! So, save your cappuccinos for breakfast and your espressos for after dinner.

Also, standing at the counter and ordering your espresso can often be as cheap as 1 Euro! Sit down at a table and you’ll typically pay substantially more.

  • Beware of Pickpockets.

Rome (along with other big cities like Bari) is notorious for being a place where the mass number of tourists who visit the city each year are targeted by pickpockets. Be alert, in particularly busy areas like the metros, the Sistine Chapel, and the Trevi Fountain to name a few, as these are typically the target areas for pickpockets.

Protect yourself with these tips.

  • Never put your wallet in your back pocket. If you must have it in a pocket, put it in your front and then put your hand in your pocket.
  • Wear a money belt or a scarf with a hidden pocket.
  • If you’re traveling with others, have a spotter. When you’re in an extremely busy location, someone in the group will keep their eyes on your bag or vice versa.
  • Be extra vigilant on Bus 64, the public bus route to many popular Rome sights. 

Always keep valuable documents and passport copies separate, such as in a safe at your hotel. There’s never a reason to walk around with your passport.

Instead, take a photo of it and keep it on cloud-based storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you need to show it or if you lose your passport, you’ll have a safe photo that is easily accessed.

  • Watch For Touts and Scams.

Equally as frustrating as pickpockets are the touts and scammers. You’ll find these people in the busy tourist areas like in front of the Coliseum or walking around the Spanish Steps.

Avoid accepting “gifts” from anyone. If a restaurant claims to have no menus, ask to see prices. And, a plain-clothes “police officer” asking to see your receipt after you’ve made a shopping purchase should always be asked for proper I.D. before paying any supposed fine.

Rome travel tips
  • Water Fountains

Make sure to have your own water bottle with you. Any public water fountain is good, free, quality water!

  • Outlets and Power

European outlets are 220v, which means if you have US devices, you’ll need a plug adapter. I have this set and take the one(s) I need for my destination. I’ve found these to be more reliable than a universal adapter. Italy typically uses the type C and F adapters in my set.

  • Table Service and Gratuity

If you’re sitting down at a table, expect about 10% to be automatically included in your bill as a gratuity. There’s often a surcharge added for outdoor dining, as well.

Tipping in Italy and Europe isn’t the same as in the United States. However, it’s always appreciated to round up your bill when figuring out what amount tip should be left. For example, if your dinner cost 28 Euro, simply round up to 30.

  • Beware the cobblestone!

Rome is full of cobblestone streets and uneven pavements. Wear your most comfortable walking shoe, all while still maintaining some level of style!

If you’re traveling with babies or young children, a travel stroller isn’t going to fare very well. Instead, use a carrier, like the Tula to “wear” your little ones.

Without a doubt, Rome is an incredible city!

The history, food, and culture embody the essence of all that is Rome. Luckily, with 3 days in Rome, you can experience the best of Rome’s sights while enjoying Italy’s world-famous cuisine, wine, and hospitality. 

What questions do you have about your Rome 3-day itinerary?

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3 Days in Rome: Everything You Need to Plan Like an Expert
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4 thoughts on “3 Days in Rome: Everything You Need to Plan Like an Expert”

  1. This is such a great guide with a ton of useful info! I spent three days in Rome and loved the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Catacombs, Trevi Fountain, and just wandering around the neighborhoods. Especially Trastevere.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Anna! Glad you enjoyed your visit to Rome. 🙂

  2. I was just wondering about the maps that previously went with this post. When researching over Christmas about our trip I thought the maps were a fantastic addition and very useful. I can’t seem to find them now. If it is still possible where could I find them?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Cranait. I appreciate you letting me know. There seems to be a glitch with the maps and we are working to restore them. Check back soon!

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