72 hours in Rome itinerary

72 Hours in Rome Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in the City

Written By: author image Kyle Cash
author image Kyle Cash
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.


Discover the magic of the Eternal City with this 3-day Rome itinerary. From iconic landmarks to local cuisine, make the most of your 72 hours in Rome.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — but we try to conquer it in just three?

Not an easy task, I admit. But you’ve decided to accept the challenge. And, hey, 72 hours in Rome is better than 0 hours in Rome, right?

So buckle up for an exhilarating 72 hours in the Eternal City. You’re about to dive deep into its timeless beauty, soaking up millennia of culture, art, and delectable cuisine!

I’ve visited Rome many times now, so I’m going to give you my guide to Rome in three days, which takes you on a whirlwind tour of the city.

Let’s dive in.

Day 1: Ancient Rome and Iconic Landmarks

Highlights from Day One:

  • Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill
  • Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain
  • Piazza Venezia and Altare della Patria

Morning: Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill

Let’s kick off your first day in Rome with some of the top things to do in Rome, period.

You can’t possibly have a tour of Rome for 72 hours and not check out three of its biggest heavy-hitters — The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill in the city center.

First stop — The Colosseum.

Start your 72 hours in Rome itinerary with the Colosseum

You’ve seen it in pictures, you’ve watched it in movies, but nothing beats seeing it in person. This colossal amphitheater is the largest ever built and a testament to Roman engineering skills. Just imagine having 50,000 spectators screaming at you while you fight another gladiator or some dangerous animal. 

We still scream at people from the stands, but at least they’re not killing each other anymore. Progress, people.

Tip: Start early to avoid the crowds and book your ticket to the Colosseum online beforehand (more on this below!)

Not far away from the Colosseum is the expansive Roman Forum.

Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

The heart of Roman life; this was where it was all happening — political machinations, commercial trade, theatrical spectacles, and more. A leisurely walk here feels like looking through a window to Rome’s eventful past. The ruined temples, arches, and basilicas are fascinating to check out and try and put yourself in their shoes.

Our last stop in this area — Palatine Hill.

According to the legends, this is where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf and where Romulus founded Rome after, well, a slight sibling disagreement.

It’s the most central of Rome’s famous seven hills and boasts some serious ancient palatial real estate. The ruins of the Flavian Palace on this hill are a testament to Roman luxury. 

Remember, visiting these sites is not just about ticking them off a list.

These sites were once seen as the center of the world. So it’s worth taking the time to enjoy them for as long as you can.

After that, it’s off to lunch!

I recommend Ristoro Della Salute. I stopped here after visiting the Colosseum and enjoyed a pizza along with a GIANT mug of beer and paid around 26 euros. Good or bad, I’m not mad at it with the taste and view of the Colosseum right there. (The beer was pretty nice, too)

Afternoon: Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain

After taking in the grandeur of ancient Rome and grabbing a bite to eat, it’s time to head over to some equally mesmerizing sites — Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain.

First stop — Piazza Navona, a stunning square that’s nothing short of an open-air art gallery.

It’s like Rome’s living room, where both locals and tourists hang out. There are a couple of beautiful fountains — especially the star of the show, the Four Rivers Fountain, designed by none other than Bernini. There are elements that represent four major rivers in the world — the Danube, the Rio de la Plata, the Ganges, and the Nile. See if you can guess which one is which as a fun game.  After, wander around the piazza, gelato-in-hand, and soak up the lively atmosphere. 

Next? The Pantheon is a mere stroll away from Piazza Navona.

The author and his girlfriend stand in front of the Pantheon in Rome

This ancient temple turned church, with its whopping great dome — the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever made — shows off the ingenuity of the Romans. Still not impressed? Well, how about the fact that it’s the final resting place of the Renaissance master Raphael? Turning out to be a pretty cool afternoon stroll, huh?

Let’s end this part of the day with a bang at the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

This baroque masterpiece straight out of a Fellini film is nothing short of enchanting. 

That is, when you’re not being knocked out of your dream by hundreds of tourists trying to enjoy their dream as well. Regardless, it’s worth the visit and photo-op. Toss a coin over your shoulder, make a wish, and wish you’re somehow brought back to Rome (just maybe not this exact spot). 

If you’re primarily coming to see the Trevi Fountain, then I recommend swapping the morning section and doing this first to avoid the crowds.

Evening: Piazza Venezia and Altare Della Patria

After your whirlwind tour of Rome’s ancient sites, you’re probably in need of a good sit-down.

And where better to take a breather than in the heart of the city — Piazza Venezia? It’s more than just a traffic hub with a fascinating history and commanding architecture. It’s also a fantastic spot for people-watching – and you might just catch a glimpse of the real Rome amongst the hustle and bustle! 

Nestled in this piazza, you’ll find the imposing Altare della Patria.

Altare della Patria in Rome, Italy

The “Altar of our Fatherland” is a monument in Rome dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, and the unification of Italy.

After this, grab dinner at La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali and take a nice night stroll past the Colosseum.

An eventful first day, right?

Day 2: Vatican City and Religious Monuments

Highlights from Day Two:

  • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City
  • Sant’Angelo Bridge and Trinità Dei Monti Church

Morning: Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Is there any better place to kick off another exciting day than Vatican City?

Your morning goal? The Vatican Museums and the crown jewel of this micro-nation — the Sistine Chapel. Now, remember, you’re about to navigate one of the greatest collections of art in the world. 

Let’s start with the Vatican Museums — a labyrinth brimming with revered masterpieces from antiquity to modern times.

You’ve got Egyptian Mummies, a gallery of ancient maps, countless halls adorned with sculptures, and stunning frescoes – I mean, seriously, what more could you want? 

  • The Pio-Clementino Museum is a must for sculpture enthusiasts – don’t miss Laocoön and His Sons, a dramatic scene sculpted in marble.
  • Gaze at the beautiful tapestries and geographical maps illustrating Italy’s landscape during the 16th century in the Gallery of Maps.
  • Take a spin around the Raphael Rooms, where you’ll encounter stunning Renaissance frescoes by Raphael and his students. A nod of approval is typically the standard reaction here.

It’s a whirlwind of artistic treasures, enough to make even the most seasoned traveler a little dizzy.

Make sure to book in advance so you skip the lines (and trust me, you want to skip these lines).

So, when you’ve had your fill, I suggest a rejuvenating espresso stop at the museum’s cafe before we move on to our next spectacle – the Sistine Chapel.

You would think that after exploring the museums, the Sistine Chapel might be a letdown.

But boy, would you be wrong. Yes, it’s smaller. Yes, it’s crowded.

But come on — this is where some of Michelangelo’s greatest works dance across the ceiling and down the altar wall.

Remember, in the Sistine Chapel, talking and photography is a strict no-go. It might be tough to resist, but let’s respect the rules.

By the time you exit the Sistine Chapel, it’ll be past noon, your feet might protest a little, and your classic art tolerance quota might be maxing out.

But hey. You’ve just conquered the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. (Although I may want to rephrase that. Might not vibe too well.)

So give yourself a high-five, rest those weary feet, and prepare for an afternoon of even more awe-inspiring sights.

Afternoon: St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City

Spend your afternoon gawking at the architecture of this iconic monument, the centerpiece of Vatican City.

Known to be one of the largest churches in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is rich in history, art, and holy significance. I bet, even if you aren’t much of a history buff, you’ll find yourself drawn to it.

Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

While you’re there, don’t forget to climb up to the dome  (it’s worth the 551-step challenge). The panoramic view of Rome is something out of a postcard.

Next, let’s explore St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) and Vatican City.

Take a leisurely stroll around the square and admire the fountains and the 284 Doric columns lined up in a colossal elliptical circus. Keep an eye out for the Swiss Guard in their vibrant Renaissance-era uniforms. A little trivia: the Swiss Guard is among the oldest standing military units in the world. 

Is all that exploration making you hungry?

Why not get your hands on some classic Italian gelato? I recommend Old Bridge Gelateria for some of the best you’ll find in Rome. And I stand by that.

Evening: Castel Sant’Angelo and Sant’Angelo Bridge

First, for the grand finale of your day — Castel Sant’Angelo.

Castel Sant'Angelo sits along the Tiber River

A towering cylindrical building that stands dominantly on the banks of the Tiber. Originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, this monument later served as a fortress and a castle before evolving into the beautiful museum it is today. 

Step inside to explore its diverse history. From intricate frescoes and spellbinding sculptures to an arsenal full of medieval weaponry, there’s something in every nook and cranny for the history buff in you. 

Finally, when you think you’ve had your fill, walk up to the terrace. You get a panoramic vista that somehow manages to capture Rome’s enchanting essence into a single, sweeping view.

Trust me — the sight of the city basking in the soft evening glow will make the trip up the spiral staircase worth it. 

Aerial view of Rome from Castel Sant Angelo

As the sun begins to lower, head out of Castel Sant’Angelo and enjoy a sunset stroll across the Sant’Angelo Bridge.

Constructed by the Romans in 134 AD, every one of the Sant’Angelo Bridge’s ten angels carries instruments of Christ’s Passion. But it’s not all heavy; the view of the Tiber River from this pedestrian bridge at dusk is gorgeous. 

For dinner, head to Trattoria Pizzeria Gli Archi. Perfect way to cap off your night with a good meal and some wine.

Day 3: Art, Culture and Leisure

Highlights from Day Two:

  • Villa Borghese and Piazza Di Spagna
  • Via del Corso
  • Aventine Keyhole and Trastevere

Morning: Villa Borghese and Piazza Di Spagna

Your third day around Rome begins with a stroll through the exquisite Villa Borghese.

Renowned for its stunning gardens and art, this place is a can’t-miss spot on your itinerary and may earn you a little “artsy” street cred with your friends back home. 

Galeria Borghese in Rome

Wondering, “What’s so cool about a park?”

For starters, Villa Borghese isn’t just any park. It’s home to Galleria Borghese, which showcases an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, and antiquities. Picture Bernini’s ‘Apollo and Daphne’ or Caravaggio’s ‘David with the Head of Goliath’. So this is definitely worth a stop-off.

After getting your fill of art, it’s time to reward those tired feet with a leisurely laze around the extensive gardens.

Relax by one of the picturesque fountains. You probably need it after an action-packed couple of days. 

Next, head towards Piazza Di Spagna — an iconic square that’s home to the Spanish Steps and the Barcaccia Fountain.

Want to create the perfect Instagram moment? This is the spot. Want to people-watch? Sit on the steps and enjoy the show.

Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

Just watch out for scammers that usually hang out in the area. If you’ve got an open palm, they’ll slide a rose in it and keep you there until you pay up. So it’s better to walk around with your fists tight like you’re trying to pop a grape.

Nearby is the famed Trinità dei Monti, a French Renaissance church that is worth adding to your exploration list. 

And remember, when in Rome, do as the Romans do—they love their gelato.

So treat yourself to a scoop (or two) from one of the many gelaterias en route to keep your energy levels up for the remainder of your Roman adventure!

Afternoon: Via Del Corso and Shopping

Let’s ease right into the afternoon by sauntering along the iconic Via Del Corso.

Known for being the nerve center of the city’s shopping scene, it’s a can’t-miss experience. Trust me — whether you’re a shopaholic or not, the mix of high-street fashion and charming boutique stores is worth checking out. 

Running straight through the heart of historical Rome for almost 1.5 kilometers, this bustling thoroughfare is flanked by world-renowned brands like Gucci, Armani, and Prada, as well as unique local Italian shops.

Shop, browse, and simply enjoy the luxurious side of Rome for a bit.

Evening: Aventine Keyhole and Trastevere

As the sun begins to set, we’re going to explore some of the hidden gems of the city.

The Aventine Keyhole in the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta is a secret you won’t want to miss out on. It may sound unusual to include viewing a keyhole in a 72-hour itinerary. But trust me, it’s worth it.

Now, you wondered why a keyhole, right?

Peeking through this keyhole, you see a perfect alignment with the garden, the Knights of Malta’s keyhole, a stretch of trees, and in the end — surprise, surprise — the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a picture-perfect trifecta you don’t want to miss.

View of St. Peter's Basilica through the Aventine Keyhole

The best part? It’s free!

Next, it’s time to put on your walking shoes and head over to the iconic neighborhood of Trastevere. Nestled on the west bank of the Tiber and south of Vatican City, this charming district is one of the most popular in Rome.

First, walk around its labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets. The district bursts into life as the sun sets.

Washed in hues of orange and pink, the streets of Trastevere are a spectacle itself for photographers. 

Inviting family-run trattorias, cozy restobars, and picturesque houses line the meandering alleyways. So, grab a seat on the patio, order a glass of local wine, and witness a quintessential Roman evening pass by.

I recommend stopping off at Otello or Tonnarello’s for an absolutely outstanding meal. If you’re feeling especially hungry, try eating all four Roman pastas at Otello’s in one sitting.

A group eats lunch in Trastevere

After, another stroll is in store to work off all that food.

For those after some music, laughter, and local zest — how about some live street performances? Here, musicians, artists, and entertainers take to the streets, showcasing their talent under the starlit Roman sky.

Ultimately, make sure to enjoy it. It’s your last night in Rome, and what a perfect 3 days it was!

Best time to visit Rome

Rome is quite the charmer all year round, but the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September and October). You’ll have sunny days, fewer crowds, cheaper accommodation, and the ability to walk around without feeling like a melting gelato.

January and February might be a bit chilly, but hey, you’ll have an almost tourist-free view of the city.

There’s a certain magic in the air during winter holidays, with twinkling decorations, romantic carolers, and piping hot cappuccinos that are sheer lifesavers!

What to eat in Rome

When in Rome, you can’t miss out on the delicious food that the city has to offer.

From traditional Roman dishes to gelato and coffee, there’s something for everyone’s taste buds. So here are a few things you can’t miss on your next visit.

Traditional Roman Dishes

Rome is famous for its traditional dishes such as Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Amatriciana, and Alla Gricia.

Cacio e Pepe at Otello

These dishes are a must-try when in Rome and can be found in most restaurants.

Another traditional Roman dish is the delicious fried artichokes called Carciofi alla Giudia. These artichokes are fried until crispy and served with lemon wedges.

Gelato and Caffè Greco

No trip to Rome is complete without trying some gelato.

Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream and is made with less air and more milk, resulting in a denser and creamier texture. Some of the best gelato shops in Rome include Giolitti, Fatamorgana, and Gelateria del Teatro. (Along with the earlier mentioned Old Bridge Gelateria.)

For coffee lovers, Caffè Greco is a must-visit.

It is the oldest coffee shop in Rome and has been serving coffee since 1760. You can enjoy a cup of coffee while surrounded by beautiful antique furnishings and artwork.

Getting around Rome

If you plan on visiting several museums or archaeological sites during your trip, consider purchasing a Roma Pass or Rome Tourist Card.

This Roma Pass helps you see the best of Rome with free entry to two museums or archaeological sites of your choice, as well as discounted entry to additional sites. It also includes unlimited use of public transport for the duration of the pass (either 48 or 72 hours).

The Roma Pass can be purchased online or at participating museums and tourist information offices throughout the city while you’re in Rome.

The Rome Tourist Card, on the other hand, gives you priority entrance to the Colosseum, entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine, skip-the-line entrance to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel, plus a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica…can I breathe now? So you don’t get unlimited public transport, which can be a negative if you plan on dashing around the city on the bus or metro.

But both are definitely worth considering, especially with this itinerary.

Keep in mind that some of the most popular sites, such as the Colosseum and Vatican Museums, require reservations even if you have the Roma Pass. Be sure to check ahead of time and book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

When it comes to getting around Rome, the public transport system is generally reliable and affordable.

The city has an extensive network of buses, trams, and metro lines that can take you to most major attractions. A single ticket costs €1.50 and is valid for 100 minutes of travel, including transfers between different modes of transport.

If you plan on using public transport frequently, consider purchasing a multi-day pass for added convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some free entry options in Rome?

There are several free entry options in Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona.

Additionally, many of the city’s churches and basilicas are free to enter, such as the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the Basilica di San Clemente.

When is the free Museum day in Rome?

The first Sunday of every month, many of Rome’s state-run museums offer free admission.

However, be prepared for large crowds on these days.

Where can I buy Rome Museum tickets?

You can purchase tickets for Rome’s museums and attractions online, at the attraction itself, or at a tourist information center.

It is recommended to book in advance to avoid long lines.

What is the price of the Rome Tourist Card?

The Rome Tourist Card prices vary depending on the duration and the type of card.

For example, the 72-hour Roma Pass costs €52 and includes free entry to two museums, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, and unlimited public transportation. And the Rome Tourist Card can start as low as €97.

How long is the Rome Tourist Card valid?

The Rome Tourist Card is valid for 48, 72, or 96 hours, depending on the type of card purchased.

What is included in the Rome Museum Pass?

The Rome Museum Pass includes entry to several of Rome’s top museums and archaeological sites, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

The pass also includes skip-the-line access to some attractions. The cost of the pass varies depending on the duration of the pass.

Did this 3 days in Rome itinerary help?

I’m sure you won’t be ready to leave Rome after a trip like this.

But that just leaves it open for future trips! I hope this itinerary on how to spend 3 days in Rome helped you. If it did, do me a favor and let me know in the comments! Knowing I’m helping people like you is what helps me keep this going. So I’d appreciate the feedback.

And, if you’re looking for more, then check out my full breakdown of how many days stay in Rome is enough.

author avatar
Kyle Cash Owner
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.