Yes, Rome wasn’t built in one day, and you could easily spend at least a couple of weeks in this beautiful city exploring it. However, if you’re tight on time (like I was), you definitely can see Rome’s highlights and a few hidden gems in a few days. The eternal city is filled with so much history, art, architecture, and gastronomy, that this is the city worth seeing. So grab yourself a pair of comfy shoes and get ready to start your adventure!
In my recent trip to Rome, we spent 3 (and a half) days here. This guide has been split into each day, and will begin with the basic and top tips so you can have the best time in Rome!
Rome is actually quite well connected and has various different types of transport, such as buses, metro, and tram. Due to this, they have different types of tickets available which can be used on all three of these modes and be purchased at bars, tobacconists or at the vending machines in metro stations. Depending on where you’re staying, you can judge whether getting individual tickets or a 72 hour ticket is worth it for you.
- Individual ticket: valid for 100 minutes (can be used in bus, metro and tram) – 1.50 euros
- 72 hour ticket: (can be used in bus, metro and tram) – 16.50 euros
- Validate your ticket! You can do it in the machines on buses or when you enter the metro line
As a traveler, I recommend to take buses as they allow you to see more of the city and they’re easy to get around. When waiting at a bus stop, check the bus number is written on the sign and that the bus stop you’re getting off is on there, that way you know you’re standing on the right side! This travel guide should only make you get one bus on the second day and one bus on the third day to get in between places as they have been organised in close proximity!
Don’t keep buying bottled water in Rome! Keep your plastic bottle, and refill it in the fountains which are all over the city. If you really struggle finding one, there’s several apps that show you where there’s water fountains. These fountains have the most fresh, cold water, and are so lovely during the summer.
We were surprised to find that in most attractions that we went to we qualified for student discount. If you’re below the age of 26, have a valid student card with your picture and date of birth (if it doesn’t have a date of birth you can additionally show proof with your passport or a driving license), you’re set to save some euros!
WATCH OUT FOR
Pickpockets. Seriously. They mostly hang around really busy tourist areas or in places such as buses or metros. Make sure you’ve always got a hold of your bag and don’t hesitate to turn it on your front.
Scammers. Mostly trying to take pictures with you, trying to give you flowers, people in costumes. You get the gist, just politely say no and continue with your day.
DAY ONE – ROMAN RUINS
♦ALTAR OF THE FATHERLAND (ALTARE DELLA PATRIA)
Start at Altare della Patria. This is one of the largest national monuments in all of Italy. The monument was originally designed to remember the first King of Italy, and the tomb of the unknown soldier was added years later. Whilst this isn’t one of the must-see top attractions, its a great way to start your journey in Rome as it will show you its great architectural achievements and also surprise you with a great view of Rome if you climb the stairs to the top.
♦PALATINE HILL AND ROMAN FORUM
Next, is the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It is best that you start here, as many tourists don’t know that lines for the Roman Forum are miniscule in comparison to the Colosseum lines (Guess what? The ticket you buy includes Roman Forum, Palatine Hill AND the Colosseum). After you buy your tickets, explore the Roman ruins and immerse yourself in what was the centre of Rome in a forum that dates back to as early as 8 B.C.
Now that you already have your Colosseum ticket, head to the line and show your ticket to the person in front of the ticket holder line. This should save you a great amount of time and you can enjoy your time in the Colosseum! The Colosseum used to be able to accommodate up to 50,000 spectators who came to watch gladiator combats and wild animal hunts.
DAY TWO – VATICAN CITY + TRASTEVERE
♦VATICAN MUSEUMS AND THE SISTINE CHAPEL
If you can, try to avoid Vatican City on a Sunday as the museums will be closed and St. Peter’s Basilica will be very busy, and be closed at times to hold mass. If you’re interested in buying tickets in advance or discounted tickets, you can purchase them in the official link below:
For our visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, we booked a tour that showed us the highlights as we were aware that there was going to be a big crowd despite the time or day that we went, and what better way to learn than to get a history lesson from a licensed tour guide! Our tour was 3 hours long and showed us all the highlights.
If you’re on a tour, you’ll most likely do the Vatican Museums and The Sistine Chapel first. This is done for a reason, after the Sistine chapel, there is a group entrance that tour groups take that takes you directly to St.Peter’s Basilica and lets you skip most of the line to get in! If you’re not in a tour, you can easily slip through here and you could follow a tour group.
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most impressive structures that we experienced throughout this whole trip. It was way bigger and it has an air of serenity and peace that you can’t put into words.
Remember to dress modestly for this day. no knees or shoulders, its easier to go prepared so there’s no worries later on!
Your day at Vatican City will most likely have tired you and your brain out so feel free to rest for a while or take a nap before embarking on your trip to discover the neighbourhood of Trastevere. This is my personal favourite neighbourhood in Rome. It is full of restaurants (a foodie favourite), lots of bars, and city life. Enjoy your night!
DAY THREE – GET LOST IN THE CITY + HIDDEN VIEWS
Grab yourself some gelato and sit in Piazza Navona. Enjoy the beautiful fountains (have your own Eat, Pray, Love moment).
Next, walk towards the Pantheon. The Pantheon has a free entrance, and the lines might look long but they actually pass by quickly! The Pantheon is a church so do try and keep quiet. It is the best preserved monument in Rome, with it turning into a church as far back as 609 A.D.
Here you can marvel at the light effect coming in from The Oculus, and you can also see the tombs of previous kings, and the tomb of Raphael, one of the most famous artists of the Renaissance, can be found here.
Now you can make your way to the Spanish Steps (or Piazza di Spagna). A common favourite to sit down and people watch. The Spanish Steps is great place to wind down. Climbing to the top leads you to a wonderful view and leads you to the Trinita de Monti church. From here, you can continue onto Fontana di Trevi.
Toss a coin in Trevi Fountain, tradition tells that if you throw it into the fountain you’re guaranteed to come back to Rome! (I did so when I was 13 and look who came back). Take A chance to look for lunch around this area before heading off to the next stop.
♦GIARDANO DEGLI ARANCI
Take a bus towards Giardano Degli Aranci. You’ll have to walk up a hill for a bit before you can come across this orange garden that shows spectacular views of Rome. Stop by a food store before you come here and enjoy some snacks under the cool shade and enjoy the view!
♦THE AVENTINE KEYHOLE
Next comes one of the most precious quirky secrets of Rome. Whilst its a secret thats no longer not so secret, you’ll usually find a group of around 10 people around here which is quite peaceful to the crowd you would have faced in Trevi Fountain. Walk further onto Aventine Hill after the Orange Garden, and you’ll find a myserious looking door. As you peer into this keyhole you’ll find yourself with the perfect view of St.Peter’s Basilica through a perfectly placed garden!
So there you go, Rome’s highlights in just three days!