If you’re only got 72 hours in Rome, it may be tempting to spend your whole holiday tucking into pizza and gelato. But, there are so many top attractions and ancient sights to see in this historical city.
Here’s how you can do all your Rome sightseeing in 3 days...
Spend your first full day in the city exploring Ancient Rome’s famous sights. There’s the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City and many more sights to see in the eternal city. Take a guided bus tour around these famous spots and you’ll find it easy to get from one to the other.
The Colosseum is Rome’s must-visit ancient sight. If you want to take a look inside, your best best is to head there first thing, or buy your tickets in advance to avoid the long queues.
After ticking off the Colosseum, you’ll be taken to the nearby Roman Forum which is an impressive complex of ruined temples, basilicas, and arches. Hop off the bus to take a look at these in more detail. You’ll then be whisked off to the Vatican to wave to the Pope (if he’s in) and enjoy a wander around the gorgeous St Peter’s Square. Finally, you’ll end at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain – don’t forget to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain to guarantee a return visit to Rome.
Rome Big Loop - Red Route Timetable
Spend your first evening enjoying pizza, pasta and an Aperol Spritz or two at the Piazza Navona. This lively square offers plenty of options for drinking and dining, with loads of alfresco seating areas for you can enjoy the weather. There are usually street performers entertaining the awaiting crowds too.
It’s time to get a closer look at some of those famous landmarks and attractions, and to learn more about the culture and history of the city. Now that you’ve ticked off the main sights, you can explore the city at your own pace with as many coffee and gelato pit stops as you fancy!
Head back to the Vatican City and spend some time visiting the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. You’ll need at least a couple of hours to see everything properly, and perhaps even more if you’re interested in art and history. There are over 1,400 rooms and chapels to explore in the Vatican Museums filled with famous artwork.
You’ve also got the Sistine Chapel, which is home to Michelangelo’s intricate ceiling masterpiece, and St Peter’s Basilica. Climb the 500 steps to the top of the dome to get a stunning Bird’s Eye View of the surrounding area.
Rome’s other must-visit museums and galleries include Galleria Borghese which contains paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian, and loads of Renaissance and Baroque art. There’s also Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art for contemporary pieces, and Palazzo Doria Pamphili which displays a collection of regal treasures and a unique exhibit called the gallery of mirrors.
If you’re in Italy more for the food than the art, why not take a gelato tour around the city stopping off at some of the iconic eateries. There are gelateries on almost every corner of the city in Rome, including San Crispino which was made famous in the film Eat Pray Love, and Otaleg! where you can watch the good stuff being made from scratch.
If you’re visiting Rome in summer, don’t miss an outdoor concert or opera performance at one of the many venues around the city. Opera and ballet shows are staged at the Baths of Caracalla, and there are regular concerts in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
Dedicate your third day in the city to travelling along Rome's ancient Appian Way and exploring the creepy Catacombs. Appian Way is one of the oldest Roman roads in existence, and the entire area has been turned into a free-to-enter regional park. You can walk or rent a bike and ride along the ancient road, which is lined with tombs, monuments, and churches, and enjoy a peaceful picnic on one of the grassy areas.
Then, head to Rome’s most sacred Catacomb, the Catacombs of San Callisto, which is the burial site of more than 50 martyrs and 16 popes. Explore this huge network of tunnels – it’s adorned with some of the earliest Christian frescos, carvings, and drawings, and spreads out across five levels and over 90 acres.
Rome Catacombs & Caracalla Circuit - Purple Route
One of the best places to watch the sunset in Rome is the Spanish Steps. Find a spot close to the top and watch the sun dip down. Then head to one of the nearby restaurants for your last Italian feast of the trip – and you’d better make it a big one. There are quite a few trattorias to choose from, but Settimio all'Arancio and Al Gran Sasso are firm favourites and within walking distance.
Sorted for your long weekend or minibreak to the eternal city? Plan your Rome itinerary well and you can see a lot in just a few short days. Follow our top tips above, and you’ll get the perfect balance of food, culture and spectacular sights. And if you've got even more time in this historic city, click here for more ideas of how to spend your time.