You could spend a lifetime exploring all the treasures of Rome and still not see it all. However, for the most part, visiting as much as possible during your stay is the best you can do. The good news is that it’s possible to see many of the main attractions in a short time. But you’ll need to be focused and stay on schedule if you want to see Rome in 3 days. Here’s how to do it.
1) Day 1 – Ancient Rome
The Colosseum seems like the natural place to start any tour of Rome. Perhaps the most iconic and unmissable of all Rome’s many sites, it’s easy to spot and centrally located. Originally built in the 1st century AD by Emperor Vespasian, this massive amphitheatre was used to host gladiatorial games and other ceremonies. At its peak it could hold up to 80,000 people, all bloodthirstily cheering on the competitors. It might be hard to drag yourself away, but there’s plenty more to see.
The Roman Forum is a complex of ruined temples and halls that formed the main administrative centre of the empire. All the city’s major business was conducted here – so it was a place of great power. Also visit the Palatine Hill, birthplace of the city and site of some of the most precious archaeological finds.
The colossal Circus Maximus was where major chariot races were held, with crowds of up to 250,000 cheering on their heroes on the track. You can still make out the shape of the stadium, even though much of the stone was used to build other structures across the city. From here, head to the Trevi Fountain and toss a coin over your shoulder. If it lands in the water, legend has it you are destined to return to Rome.
Just before your day ends, enter the Pantheon. One of the best preserved Roman buildings - it’s a masterpiece of elegant design. You can even talk to the gods through the oculus in its miraculous domed roof.
2) Day 2 – Religious Rome
Get up and early to beat the crowds at the Vatican. This city-state is located in the middle of Rome and is home to the Pope and world’s largest church, St Peter’s Basilica. Explore artistic masterpieces and climb the 500 steps to Michelangelo’s majestic dome.
Enjoy an early lunch, as you’ll need as much time as possible in the Vatican Museums this afternoon. There are 54 in total spread over 1,400 galleries. The last of them is the iconic Sistine Chapel, with a frescoed ceiling by Michelangelo that’s arguably one of the world’s greatest pieces of art.
3) Day 3 – Cultural Rome
Start at the Piazza Venezia & Altare della Patria, the spiritual and geographical centre of Rome. It’s the central hub around which the living museum of Rome revolves. Everywhere you turn there are attractions to look at. The imposing Altare della Patria - known affectionately as the ‘typewriter’ - was built as memorial to Vittorio Emanuele, the first king of unified Italy. You’ll also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Palazzo Venezia and San Marco Church.
Built in the mid 18th century and once officially part of Spain, the Spanish Steps are one of the city’s most popular attractions. A set of 138 curving, elegant stairs, it’s traditionally a place where artists and poets come for inspiration. Find an open spot on a row, sit down and watch as the whole of Rome passes you buy.
Of course, before, during and after each part of the day, you’re free to enjoy the stunning cuisine and atmosphere of Rome. Just being in the city is an attraction in itself. Although you might be on the move, once you know what to do in Rome during your 3 days, there’s always time to stop, eat, drink and relax.