Rome Travel Guide & 3 Day Sample Itinerary
Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world — it’s filled with a rich history, delicious food, and beautiful artwork. Here’s some of my recommendations and a sample 3-day itinerary:
My favorite area to stay in is the Piazza Navona area. It’s within walking distance of a lot of the historic sites and near a lot of great food as well. There’s also a taxi stand near Piazza Navona so it makes it convenient for getting around.
These are the two AirBnB’s I’ve stayed at that I’ve loved:
- Two Bedroom (three beds total)
- Book tickets to major sights ahead of time – the line to buy tickets at the Colosseum is horrendously long and you don’t want to waste time waiting around.
- If you pass by a church, head inside! They’re free to enter and you’re guaranteed to see something beautiful in every church. Also most churches open at 7am, so if you’re jetlagged and up early, this is a great activity to do before other major sights open up.
- Wear sneakers! Rome is full of cobblestone streets and the best way to get around is walking.
- Don’t forget to pack “modest” clothing that covers your knees and shoulders for visiting St. Peter’s Basilica.
- As with most major cities, be wary of pickpockets.
- Scavi/Vatican Necropolis tour – St Peter’s Basilica is built upon the tomb of St. Peter. This tour allows you to visit the tomb. It’s 13 euros per person but highly worth it. Even if you are not highly religious, if you are remotely interested in Roman history you will get a lot out of the tour as you get a glimpse of what Roman culture looked like 2000 years ago.
- If you are interested in doing this, this should be the first thing you book! The Vatican is quite strict with their scheduling, so you just send them all of your available dates and they will respond with a selected date/time for your tour. You don’t really get a choice in the matter. I would recommend booking this as early in advance as possible as they are small tour groups and they book up fast. See below for booking instructions.
- Book ahead of time by emailing email@example.com the following information:
- # of participants
- Your names
- Your tour language
- Your available dates
- Your contact info (email address)
- Vatican Museums – A must visit! The Raphael Rooms alone are worth the tour, but you’ll also get to see a lot of Ancient Roman sculptures and mosaics that are incredible. Also the tour ends with the Sistine Chapel which is another must-see. There’s no talking allowed in the chapel so your tour guide will not be with you in the chapel, you’ll likely just go in alone at the end of the tour. Any tour telling you that you’re going to get a “tour” of the Sistine Chapel is probably lying (or breaking the rules).
- St Peter’s Basilica – while you can visit the basilica after your tour of the Vatican Museums, I would recommend doing it on a separate day if you are able to and booking a guide so you can learn more about the mosaics and the history. The walk up the dome is a bit grueling but worth the view. You have to pass through security to get into the Basilica and this can be a long line depending on what time of the day you get there. If you book a tour of the Basilica and it tells you the meeting location is at the entrance of the Basilica, I would recommend getting there about 45 minutes early to give yourself time to get through security.
- Roman Centre: I’d highly recommend downloading the Rick Steves Guide and doing the “Heart of Rome” walking tour that will take you from Campo di Fiori to the Spanish Steps. You’ll see a lot of major sights along the way including the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. It’s really easy to follow and you can technically start it at any of the stops along the way but I’d recommend doing the whole thing if you have time. (Don’t forget to pack headphones!)
- Roman Forum + Palatine Hill: You could probably spend the whole day here. Your ticket includes access to the Colosseum as well, however if you are interested in Roman history and have the time and luxury, I would recommend doing them separately so you have more time at each. Palatine Hill is huge and contains a lot to see. Most of the guided tours that include the Roman Forum and the Colosseum will only give you an overview of the Forum and leave out some of the major sights on Palatine Hill because it’s so time consuming.
- Colosseum: Book a tour that includes access to the underground area! It will really give you the full gladiator experience.
- Villa Borghese Gallery: A museum that contains breathtaking pieces by Bernini and Caravaggio. If you are interested in art, this is a must-visit. The gardens are beautiful to explore as well and good place to have a relaxing picnic. You can also see a lovely panoramic view of Rome from the Pincio Terrace in the Borghese gardens.
Other Notable Sights:
- Castel San Angleo
- Baths of Carcalla
- Circus Maximus
- Hadrian’s Temple
- Domus Aurea
- Capitoline Museums
This Night Walking Tour is a great way to see some of the big sights in Rome and learn some background history of important sights. It’s also really beautiful to see the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain at night!
This Testaccio Walking Tour was a great way to get a primer on classic Roman dishes. You’ll get to try almost every staple Roman dish and also get to explore a cool neighborhood with a rich history of food. This is a good place to start if you’ve never had some of the classic Roman foods!
This Food + Wine Tasting at Rimessa Roscioli was one of my favorite food-activities I’ve done in Rome. The dishes and wine are very high quality and you learn a lot about the agriculture of the region. If you only try one of the things on this list, I’d highly recommend this one. It is a lot of food and wine so come prepared with an empty stomach! They accommodate for non-drinkers and vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free diets.
A pasta cooking class is a must in the city that is home to so many iconic pasta dishes! Here are a few that I had bookmarked to try:
(important to note that I am a vegetarian so all of my culinary adventures in Rome have a strong focus on pizza/pasta and I know nothing about the meat dishes)
Trastevere: You should eat in Trastevere at least once if you are coming to Rome. It’s a lovely neighborhood to just walk around in as well after dining.
Dar Poeta – delicious thin pizza.
Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 – authentic roman dishes. There’s usually always a line so I’d recommend getting there before it opens if possible, but otherwise it is worth the wait.
Ristoranta La Scala
Armando’s al Pantheon – make reservations ahead of time! You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. If I only had one night in Rome, this is where I would go for dinner.
Alfredo alla Scroffa – make reservations ahead of time! They have the best fettucini alfredo you’ll ever eat. This is where it was originally “invented” and was a quite popular restaurant with Hollywood stars in the ‘50s and ‘60s so you’ll see some cool pictures hanging around the restaurant.
Da Francesco – one of my go-to’s and a hidden gem. High quality and delicious Roman cooking. You can’t go wrong with either the pizza or the pastas. Personally, I love the black truffle pizza and foccacia.
Osteria da Fortunata
Risotteria Melotti Roma
These are my 3 favorite gelato places in Rome (ranked in order). There are many other really great gelato places out there, however there are also some very poor quality ones that solely aim at tourist business. See below for how to avoid these tourist traps.
- Gelateria del Teatro – the best gelato in Rome. It may not be as popular as the other ones, but the quality of the flavors is unbeatable. My favorite flavors are the Sicilian almond and the fior di latte. I also love the pistachio. Their cones are also the best tasting out of the three, though gelato melts quicker than ice cream so it may be best to avoid cones in the summer months.
- Giolitti’s – a classic! Their crema flavor is my favorite.
- Frigadarium – They have good gelato, and if you stumble across it having a short line then go for it. However, they usually have unbearably long lines and Gelateria del Teatro is about a 4 minute walk from it, so I’d highly recommend just going there instead.
Here’s how to spot a bad gelato places:
- They have unnaturally bright colored gelato. Pistachio gelato should be a beige-ish sage color, not bright green.
- The gelato is whipped up/fluffy looking or overly decorated. Really good gelato will have a more simple appearance and the gelato won’t rise above the container level.
Bonci Pizzeria – Delicious pizza al taglio with a revolving menu. It’s roughly an 18 minute walk to the Vatican, so I like going to Bonci before any scheduled Vatican tour as you’ll need plenty of carbs to sustain you on a walk around the Vatican museums. I would recommend trying the supplì while you’re there as well.
Sample Three Day Itinerary
- Arrive in Rome! Grab lunch in the Roman Centre at Da Francesco.
- Next, pick up some gelato at Gelateria del Teatro and head over to Campo de Fiori to start your Rick Steves App walking tour through the Heart of Rome.
- Finish your evening with a food tour of Trastevere – you’ll get to eat at Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 without waiting in the long line!
- Transport yourself to a new country today – Vatican City!
- Start your day off with a visit to the Vatican Museums – book an early tour that includes breakfast to beat the crowds such as one of these or this one.
- Take a lunch break at Bonci Pizzarium and enjoy classic Roman pizza al taglio. Don’t forget to try some suppli while you’re there!
- Head back to Vatican City and tour St. Peter’s Basilica. If your legs are up for the challenge, climb the dome after your tour and see a beautiful panoramic view of Rome.
- End your day with a food and wine tasting dinner at Rimessa Roscioli.
- It’s Colosseum day! Start your day with this guided tour of the Colosseum that includes access to the underground area and brief stops in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
- Spend the afternoon either exploring the Baths of Carcalla or visiting the Villa Borghese Gallery & Gardens.
- End your trip with dinner at Armando al Pantheon’s or Alfredo alla Scroffa and enjoy some Roman classics! Make sure to make reservations ahead of time at either of these places.
Enjoy Roma and feel free to DM me with any questions 😊
Great post and wonderful photos. I’ve been to Italy many times but somehow never made it Rome. It certainly looks like an amazing city to explore and photograph. Can’t wait to visit one day. Thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva