3 day itinerary for rome italy
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How to Build a 3 Day Itinerary for Rome Italy

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If you’re looking to build 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy, these are the must-see places I recommend! You can definitely conquer Rome in three days and visit all of these destinations, as that’s exactly what I did. Before we get started, I did this on a budget, so I’ll provide recommendations throughout on how to save in the eternal city.

When I first arrived in Rome from London, it was the afternoon, so after checking into my hostel, I walked around Rome at night. For my first full day, however, I began by picking up my Omnia card at the Vatican, then continuing on to tour the Vatican museums.

Day 1: Visit the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are Christian art museums located within Vatican City and display collections amassed by Popes throughout the centuries. The Museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display. There are 24 galleries inside the Vatican Museums, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the last room visited. The Sistine Chapel is obviously a must on a 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy!

My Omnia Vatican and Rome Card covered the cost of entering and was easy to get as I picked up my pass just outside the Vatican. If you opt not to do the card, entrance info is below.

Itinerary Info for The Vatican Museums

You can also get guided tours for the same cost as listed below. Reservations are now mandatory, so make sure to book far enough in advance to use your Vatican Museums tickets. If booked directly, there’s also a €5 reservation fee.

(as of March 2024)

  • €20 – Adults
  • €8 – Children (7-18 / Students up to 25)
  • Audioguide: €7 – Adults / €5 – Children
  • Duration: 3-4 hours

Climb St Peter’s Basilica Dome

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peter’s Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City. As it’s right next door to the Vatican Museums, it’s easy to get to after you visit the Sistine Chapel. Other than ogling all the wonderful art within the church, such as The Pieta (1498–1499), which is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed, you can also climb St Peter’s dome for an impressive view of Rome! It’s a view that’s unforgettable, and a must-see when visiting the capital of Italy.

To get to the dome, follow the signs for “Cupola” inside St Peter’s Basilica until you reach the ticket office. You can either purchase tickets there or, if you bought the Omnia card it includes admission to the dome.

Itinerary Info for St. Peter’s Basilica

To climb the dome, they take cash only! Also, security may delay entry. The day I went in, I recall it not taking long, but do account for this possibility.

(as of March 2024)

  • Self-guided: €6 – Adults
    €4 – Children (6-14)
  • Audioguide: €11 – Adults
    €7 – Children (6-14)
  • Guided tour: €15 – Adults
    €10 – Children (6-14)
  • Dome: €10 for elevator / €6 for the stairs
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
the best way to tour the Colosseum

Day 2: Hop on Hop off Bus to the Colosseum

On my second day in Rome, I took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour from the Omnia Card to the Colosseum. It was great as they have an audioguide you can listen to on your way there and get to see some of Rome along the way rather than taking underground transportation.

The Colosseum is an icon of Rome, and visiting it is a must on everyone’s 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy! With 2,000 years of history, it is one of the world’s most well-known structures. If you have the Omnia Pass, you can explore the top-tier walkways, exhibitions, and artifacts. However, check availability first. Omnia cardholders also get access to a special discount on guided tours and audio-video guides.

Note: the Omnia Card does not cover tours of the underground structure. Many friends had told me to go on this tour. However, had I known it would sell out so quickly, I would have booked it in advance. So, unfortunately, I missed out, but you don’t have to if you’re quick enough to book it during your 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy!

Itinerary Info for the Colosseum

(as of March 2024)

  • €16 – Adults
  • €16 – Children (0-17)
  • €26 – Adults + audioguide
  • €12 – Children (0-17) + audioguide
  • Duration: 1 hour

Walk Around the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Right next to the Colosseum, you’ll find the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It is a rectangular forum or plaza surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city of Rome. For centuries, it was the center of day-to-day life and the site of processions, elections, public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches. As well as the center of commercial affairs and a marketplace for the Roman citizens. Known as the “most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.”

I didn’t really know what to expect when visiting the Roman Forum, but it wound up being one of my favorite things on my 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy! Seeing the Vestal Virgins and the Temple of Caesar were highlights.

Itinerary Info for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Entry to the Roman Forum is no longer free and is covered by the single Colosseum ticket that grants access to the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill area.

Duration: 2-3 hours

(as of March 2024)

Visiting the Roman Pantheon

The Pantheon is the most well-preserved building from ancient Rome. I visited it on the first night I was in Rome. I came back to it a day or two later to see its interior and was truly impressed. The name “Pantheon” is from the Ancient Greek “Pantheion” (Πάνθειον), meaning “of, relating to, or common to all the gods.” The purpose of the building is not known. However, the name, porch, and pediment decoration suggest a temple. It may have been where the emperor could make public appearances. It maybe the first building from Classical architecture where the interior is deliberately made to outshine the exterior.

The hop-on hop-off bus tour through the Omnia card gets you close to the Pantheon; it’s just a short walk away from a few of their stops.

Itinerary Info for the Roman Pantheon

There is no entrance fee to get in, but there is the option to listen to an audio guide or book a tour if you wish. Recently they also released an app, which looks like a great way to explore the building!

Duration: 15-30 minutes

(as of March 2024)

Wandering the Piazza Navona

I loved Piazza Navona! It was gorgeous, and I stumbled onto it by accident on my first night in Rome! The architecture, people, vendors, and restaurants were so full of life, making it one of my must-sees on my 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy! It’s a great place to sit and have lunch or dinner at a charming little restaurant facing the piazza.

Itinerary Info for the Piazza Navona

Free! Unless you shop or snack, of course!

Duration: 15 minutes – 1 hour

(as of March 2024)

Day 3: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a Catholic basilica. Considered to be the largest of the 26 churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The four major Basilicas, including Santa Maria Maggiore, are under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope. It is located within Italian territory but not in the Vatican City. However, since the Holy See fully owns the Basilica, Italy is legally obligated to recognize its full ownership, and the immunity they are granted carries over to Santa Maria Maggiore. Because of this, the Santa Maria Maggiore is policed by guards from Vatican City, not by Italian police.

Santa Maria Maggiore is located at the top of Cispius, the highest part of the Esquiline Hill. Esquiline Hill is the highest of the seven hills of Rome. The medieval bell tower of the basilica is also the tallest in Rome, at 75 meters (about 246 feet). Making it the largest of the churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

You’ll notice the immense amount of ceiling work inside the Basilica. It is said that the gold on them was the first gold brought from the New World. The floor in some places has varied designs, and one that stuck out was a Jewish star. Although the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is an early Christian Church, it views itself as the new Jerusalem. So that is why the Jewish star is in the floor designs.

Crypt of the Nativity

Crypt of the Nativity

Under the basilica’s high altar is the Crypt of the Nativity, or Bethlehem Crypt. This crystal reliquary, designed by Giuseppe Valadier, is said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. It is also the burial place of Saint Jerome, the 4th-century Doctor of the Church who translated the Bible into the Latin language. Sorry, the image is pretty blown out; it was hard to get a good photo of it.

Itinerary Info for the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Admission to Santa Maria Maggiore is free. However, you can purchase tickets to visit the Liberian Historical Museum, the Loggia delle Benedizioni, the Hall of Popes, Bernini’s staircase, and the archaeological area at the reception desk or by making an online reservation. Audio guides are available in 5 languages (Italian, English, Spanish, German, and French) and can be rented at the reception desk.

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

(as of March 2024)

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Photo by C1 Superstar from Pexels

Toss a Coin into the Trevi Fountain

Unfortunately, when I was in Rome, the Trevi Fountain was closed, so it didn’t look nearly as beautiful as the photo above. I’m told this has been happening a lot lately. They’ve been on and off doing renovations, so the fountain had been drained. As one of the most famous places in Italy, it was still a treat to see!

If you happen to have better luck than I do and the Trevi Fountain has water in it, you can toss a coin into it over your shoulder while facing away; it reportedly elicits a return to Rome! I hope you get to do this on your 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy! I saw the Trevi Fountain on my first partial day in Rome technically, but with the legend, I think it’s a lovely way to end a trip to Rome.

Itinerary Info for the Trevi Fountain


Duration: 15 minutes

(as of March 2024)

3 Day Itinerary for Rome Italy

After visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, I had to head to the airport to get to Glasgow. However, if you have a full day left in your 3 day itinerary for Rome Italy, there are tons of free things to do in Rome you can check out! I also recommend Castel Sant’Angelo. I didn’t get to visit it and only saw it from the exterior, but I’ve heard great things about it and were I to return to Rome, I’d definitely be on my list!

Header photo by DomyD

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