Social Studies was my favourite subject in school because of the Roman Empire. I was so stoked when we booked our trip to Rome! Although a tiny bit rushed, we were able to cover (almost) everything we wanted to do in Rome in 3 days. Just don’t make the same noob mistake as we did and visit during Easter week. (but how can one say no to flight deals?!)
Buy the 72hr Roma Pass
Passholders can visit 2 archaeological sites and ride public transportation within Rome for free. This is your key to exploring Rome in 3 days. Keep in mind that the Vatican City is not included. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill all count as one entry; so you can visit all three in one day, and another site on a separate day. We picked Ostia Antica as our second archaeological site.
Tip: Order the Roma Pass online in advance and pick them up at the airport to save time. Vatican City is not included in the Roma Pass
Rome in 3 days – Getting around
After landing at Fiumicino Airport, we hopped on Trenitalia’s FL1 regional train which took us to Piramide, where we switched to Metro Line B and headed for central Rome. Rome’s vast metro network is impressive. Most of its major attractions are within a few minutes’ walk from the nearest station. The stations and trains themselves can sometimes be unpleasant because of the graffiti, cleanliness (lack of), and massive crowds, but one shouldn’t complain because the fares are cheap (or free with the Roma Pass) and it’s the fastest way to get around!
You can also explore by walking. This is what we did- we covered many sites in central Rome on foot since the crowds were sometimes too overwhelming. (We did visit Rome during Easter so that was our fault) Plus, navigating through the alleys and taking in the beauty of Rome’s architecture is part of the fun!
Rome in 3 days – Where to stay?
We were on a budget so we opted to stay at a hostel (around 50 bucks a night) outside of city centre, just a few blocks from the San Paolo metro station. We had no problems for the most part but we did feel a little unsafe walking after dark, constantly wary of being pick-pocketed by the swarm of gypsies at the metro entrance.
When we visit Rome again we’d stay near Termini Station. It’s the main transport hub and you can go pretty much anywhere to and from this station- the airport and all the major attractions in Rome included. Good hotels in Europe with a fair pricetag are hard to come by, so Airbnb is definitely the way to go! Honestly, though, the metro is so easy to use and convenient so it doesn’t really matter where you stay as long as you’re close by a station.
Rome in 3 days – What to do and see?
Go wild with Rome’s history. It’s nuts! We visited some obvious choices and one not-so-obvious site.
Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill
Tip: Arrive at the Colosseum before it opens. We got there 20 minutes early and were the first ones to be let in.
When we reached the top level and laid our eyes on the massive structure for the first time, we were blown away by the largest amphitheatre ever built. The best part? The unobstructed view, peace and serenity from no crowds. It was so breathtaking I cried!
At maximum capacity, the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators. How did people sitting at the top tier see what was going on all the way at the bottom? The arena could also be flooded to create simulated sea battles.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are both right next to the Colosseum. It was pretty cool to be walking the same paths as others did thousands of years ago- dating back to 1000BC!
Tip: Prebook tickets online. We visited Vatican City on Apr 2, right after Easter Monday. Thanks to the advanced tickets we simply showed up at the time slot we were assigned and skipped the huge line that wrapped around the museum.
All the Renaissance masterpieces we read about in history books were right before our eyes. Our two favourites are the gold vaulted ceiling along the Gallery of Maps, as well as the famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Museums aren’t usually our thing but this was something else. We spent hours here before ending our tour St. Peter’s Basilica.
Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Spanish Steps
These are all within walkable distance from each other. There are signs pointing you in the right direction so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. The intricate details and symmetry on every structure are mind boggling. Sure, the Pantheon and Spanish Steps were both pretty cool, but my personal favourite was the Trevi Fountain. If you stay close to the fountain, make sure you pay a visit at night when it’s lit up!
We also stumbled upon Piazza Venezia when we were on the hunt for the best gelato in the city!
Ostia Antica used to be the main port of Rome; it is not a well known attraction but definitely worth a visit. We spent the entire morning here, making new discoveries every corner we turned and picturing what life must’ve been like over 2000 years ago. Everything here- from the streets, to the apartments, to the bathhouses and taverns- is brilliantly well-preserved.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes for this massive site. The paths are rough with uneven cobblestones and dirt.
Rome in 3 days – What to eat?
Pasta, pizza, and gelato for days. As a huge pizza fan, AS loved the food here. Me, not so much. I got pretty tired of all carb overload by day 3. There are a few darn good restaurants and joints we ate at, though!
Sapori e Delizie
A 5-10min walk from Cavour station, some say they serve the best pizza in Rome. I don’t know about that but the food was darn good. It’s a tiny, tiny place but the service is great and food is very affordable. A huge pizza and carbonara was around €10 for 2 people.
Il Dolce Sorriso (now closed)
A renowned gelato place for its flavours and charm! We had gelato every day at different places but this was honestly the best gelato we’ve ever had. We were almost late for our flight because we wanted to get gelato from here so badly!
Update: Unfortunately it is now permanently closed 🙁
Ristorante La Tavernetta 48
Tucked away in a small alley, this restaurant is a little hard to find. The food is excellent, the staff are super friendly, and their lunch specials are a steal. We had so much food and wine for €13 each!