Rome is the perfect destination for a long weekend break or as part of a trip around Italy. That said, there is lots to see and you will need to do some planning to make sure you see the main sights during your time there. Here’s my main picks for 3 days in beautiful Rome:
Probably the most famous square in Rome, Piazza Navona is a must see. Featuring ornate fountains, colourful buildings and an array of street artists, this is a lively slice of ancient Rome. Wander and take the obligatory fountain photos, before settling on a bench and taking in the atmosphere.
A short walk from Piazza Navona, I’d recommend visiting the Pantheon via Sant’Eustachio, a cafe widely thought to serve the best coffee in Rome. It’s based in a quaint square and although not cheap, the coffee really is delicious.
Built in 118- 128 AD, the Pantheon shows its age but is extremely well preserved as ancient Roman architecture goes. The word Pantheon is a Greek adjective meaning “honor all Gods” and in fact, the pantheon was first built as a temple to all gods. After visiting, grab a panini at L’Antica Salumeria, to the left of the Pantheon and eat this sat on the nearby steps. There’s a handy water fountain in the square too, so fill up your water bottle.
We purposely left our Vatican City visit until the afternoon, as I’d been advised that the queues were much more manageable- the majority of organised tours visit first thing in the morning. This definitely turned out to be true, we queued around 45 minutes which didn’t seem too bad!
There is so much to see within the Vatican, I would definitely put aside a fair few hours for your visit. The museums are full of beautiful artwork and the gardens within the property are gorgeous. It’s quite a long and busy walk through to the Sistine Chapel but there are so many stunning ceilings and artefacts that it’s an enjoyable journey. Needless to say, the Sistine Chapel is breathtaking, even with everybody packed in like sardines.
Artwork, Vatican Museums
Savour some delicious gelato
Gelato stalls are located all around the city and are a great way to cool down after a long walk around the Vatican (or at any time for that matter). As a rule, the brighter the colour of the gelato, the less authentic the place. The best place we found was Gelateria dei Gracchi and this has rave reviews from the locals, so you know it’s good.
Round off day one with aperitif at a cool Roman bar, Black Market, in the Monti area. The staff were friendly and it has a relaxed vibe, with plenty of comfortable armchairs and sofas to relax on after a long day of sightseeing. They serve a number of craft beers and some great cocktails- I went traditionally Italian and enjoyed a few Aperol Spritz.
Enjoying an Aperol Spritz @ Black Market
Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Tickets for the Colosseum include entry to the Roman Forum and Palantine hill, which are close by. Queues are much shorter to get in to these sites (there is one entrance for both), so I would recommend getting your ticket here, visiting them and then heading over to the Colosseum.
The Roman Forum contains the ruins of several ancient government buildings, which for centuries were the centre of Roman public life including elections, criminal trials and gladiatorial matches.
Palatine Hill is the most central of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the oldest parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the forum and offers spectacular views over the Colosseum and the surrounding area.
Both sites are stunning and it’s worth making sure you walk around the whole site but there is little in the way of shade, so make sure you’re protected from the sun and drink plenty of water.
View from Palatine Hill
The biggest ampitheatre ever built, this Rome’s must see sight and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The exterior is almost as impressive as inside and it’s worth taking a walk around the perimeter. Back in Ancient Rome, the ampitheatre held between 60,000 and 80,000 and even now it’s a sight to behold.
The surrounding area is, as you would expect, the most touristy part of Rome. This means there is little in the way of good bars and restaurants. Grab a quick panini and some fruit from a nearby supermarket for lunch and stop for a quick beer at Brewdog. Although not typically Roman, it’s situated down a side street away from the crowd and offers a more laid back vibe than the surrounding touristy options.
Inside the Colosseum
Watch the sunset at a rooftop bar
Following an action-packed day of sightseeing, finding a good rooftop bar and watching the sunset with a cocktail is the ideal way to wind down. We visited Roof Garden Les Etoiles, in the Borgo area and I would definitely recommend it. Considering the views and location, the drinks were very reasonably priced, with only a small mark-up. The views over West Rome were stunning; I’d recommend doing as the Romans and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.
Watching the sunset
Although vastly overcrowded, this is undoubtedly the best fountain in Rome and is a must-visit. It’s tricky to get good photographs, as there are so many people but patience is your best friend here- a spot on the fountain edge will become free for that perfect photo opportunity if you wait a little while.
Sadly the Spanish Steps were under repair whilst we were in Rome but when they are open, they’re a great place to sit down and watch the world go by. The square that they are situated in is really cute and there are plenty of interesting side streets nearby that you can get lost exploring.
If you’re keen to check out the high street shops, it’s worth pairing this with a trip to Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps, as Via Del Corso (home to the majority of high street shops) runs parallel to both of these attractions. The Zara is certainly worth a look around- cool and airy with several floors, the store is considerably better than its UK counterparts.
Villa Borghese Gardens
A beautiful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Villa Borghese Gardens are an ideal way to round off your trip to Rome. The entrance to the park offers great views over the City and the grounds are stunning. Your feet are likely to be exhausted by this point in the trip, so renting a bike or Quadracycle (we went for the latter) is a great way to see the park. There are some companies that also offer Segway tours of the park, if that’s more up your street.
View from Villa Borghese Park
Whilst your three days in Rome will be tiring, it’s well worth fitting in all the main attractions and seeing as much of the city as possible during your trip.
Do you have any recommendations for other must see/do attractions or sights in Rome? What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?