Rome is just one of those places that you absolutely have to visit at some point in your life. Wandering around its ancient cobblestone streets is as if your history textbook from school came to life, and you’re now in it! Even if you know absolutely nothing about Roman history, the city’s impressive landmarks are so iconic and well-published around the world that you’re guaranteed to recognize a handful of things during your weekend in Rome.
Summer in Italy may sound like a dream come true. But when you find out that temperatures can reach up to 90°F in July and August in Rome, it’s a smart choice to visit at another time of year. Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Rome when the weather is wonderfully warm and sunny without being overly hot and exhausting.
There’s so much to do in the ancient capital city that spending just 3 days in Rome can seem like something that’s impossible to plan. From centuries-old landmarks, world-famous art galleries, and fascinating museums to peaceful manicured parks, mesmerizing architecture, and incredible cuisine, it can be a huge challenge to decide what to see and what to skip.
To help you make the absolute most of your weekend in Rome, we’ve compiled a handy itinerary for you. Take a look, and you’ll find the best ways to get around the city to save you time, as well as the top attractions you’ve simply got to check out. We’ve also added some of the most popular places to eat and a few extra recommendations if you find yourself with some spare time. Enjoy!
If you’re still deciding where to stay then make sure to check out our article on the best boutique hotels in Rome!
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How to Spend a Weekend in Rome, Italy
Getting Around Rome
There are two airports in Rome – Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and Ciampino Airport (CIA). Fiumicino Airport is the largest and is the one your flight will most likely be landing at. This airport has excellent connections to the whole city, and you can easily hop on a train, metro, or bus to get to your accommodation. If you want to avoid the hassle of public transport, you’ll find plenty of taxis available.
You don’t need to worry about renting a car for your 3-day trip to Rome. Despite there being so many things to see and do in the city, Rome is surprisingly compact. You can easily get around on foot. But as you’ve only got a short time, you may want to save time by using the metro and bus services.
The only rideshare company that operates in Rome is Uber – but they only offer their higher-end, more expensive services. You’ll save a lot of money if you download the ITTAXI or FREENOW app. Both apps are really similar to Uber and let you hail an ordinary cab or book one in advance and pay online.
Rome Weekend Itinerary – Day 1
Start the first day of your Rome itinerary with a classic Italian breakfast at Er Baretto. This cute expresso bar is hidden away in a back street and dishes up some of the best coffees and cappuccinos you’ll have in your life! They offer an incredible selection of homemade pastries and sweet treats, as well as savory sandwiches and paninis.
If you visit Er Baretto in summer, you’ll have the chance to see it at its best. At this time of year, the small outdoor terrace is decorated with a rainbow of vibrant, sweet-smelling flowers.
Next up is Rome’s most famous attraction – the Colosseum. Just a short walk away from Er Baretto, this iconic landmark was built almost 2,000 years ago and was the Roman Empire’s main entertainment hub. Today, it’s a fascinating tourist attraction with countless shocking and enthralling stories to tell.
You can’t visit the Colosseum on your own – you need to go with a guide. Thankfully, all the official ticket options include a guide. For a 3-day trip, we suggest buying the 24h ticket to get the best value for money. If you visit on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll get to explore the Colosseum for free!
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Close to the Colosseum, you’ll find the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. Both of these attractions are conveniently included in the 24h ticket. The Roman forum used to be the center of the city, and you can still see the places of worship, administrative buildings, and centuries-old markets today.
Nearby you’ll find Palatine Hill. One of the seven hills of Rome, this place is said to have been founded by Remus and Romulus. According to ancient mythology, they are two twins who were found and kept alive in a cave by a wolf.
Mouth of Truth
If you’re a fan of fun, quirky attractions, you’ll like what’s next on your 3-day Rome vacation. The Mouth of Truth (known as Bocca della Verità in Italy) is a giant marble face that represents the God of the Sea. According to the legend, the ancient carving is said to bite the hands off liars. So make sure you only think truthful thoughts when you place your hand in its mouth for your picture!
After hours of engrossing sightseeing, it’s time for a late lunch at Osteria Circo. This beautiful, rustic restaurant serves classic Italian dishes for very reasonable prices, especially considering the popular location.
The restaurant has a unique decor. The back seating section has been carved out of ancient bricks, making you feel like you’re dining in a cave.
The menu is loaded with all kinds of delicious options, from burrata, prosciutto, and focaccia to Caesar salad, ravioli, and rigatoni. You won’t find any pizzas on the menu, but the pasta dishes are absolutely sublime. There’s also a wonderful wine menu with bottles from all over Italy to choose from.
Giardino degli Aranci
Giardino degli Aranci is the perfect place to wind down after a busy day. This stunning green space, also known as Savello Park and Orange Garden, dates back to the 10th century and is free to enter throughout the year.
Thanks to its lofty location, Giardino degli Aranci boasts spectacular views. St. Peter’s Basilica is the focal point, surrounded by the city’s mesmerizing rooftops, domes, and bell towers.
If you visit the park around sunset, you’ll be in for a real treat. There’s nothing like seeing the city skyline illuminated in stunning shades of red and orange.
Rome Weekend Itinerary – Day 2
Start the next part of your 3-day Rome itinerary with a visit to Piazza Navona. This gorgeous square is located in the heart of the historic part of the city and always has a lively, buzzing vibe. The highlight of the square is the collection of three fountains – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Nettuno, and Fontana del Moro.
If you want to take pictures of the fountains without crowds of tourists, try and get there as early as possible. We suggest avoiding the cafes and restaurants in this area. Because it’s such a big tourist attraction, the prices are incredibly high, and the service is often rushed.
For a sweet treat, we suggest walking outside the square to Cremì. This small shop serves a staggering range of homemade gelatos and fruit sorbets, as well as creamy milkshakes, fluffy waffles, and wonderfully smelling crepes.
You can sit inside – if you’re lucky enough to find a spare table. But if the weather’s fine, we recommend ordering your treat of choice and enjoying it while you wander around. Aside from its reasonable prices, one of the best things about Cremì is that you can top your gelato or sorbet with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce for free!
Just steps away from Piazza Navona and Cremì, you’ll find the Pantheon. This iconic building is the best-preserved temple in Rome and boasts the largest brick dome the world has ever seen. It’s the most replicated of all the ancient works and was declared by Michelangelo to be the work of angels, not men.
When you step inside the Pantheon, you’ll be left speechless. The huge, vacant dome is designed to make you feel tiny, just like how the original architects imagined it would feel to stand before the gods. You can enter the Pantheon for free during the week, but on the weekend, there’s a small fee.
Take a short walk into the center of the city, and you’ll come across another one of Rome’s most famous attractions – the Trevi Fountain. Hidden away in one of the bustling city’s back streets, this fountain was built in 19 BC when it originally marked the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct.
Despite its practical use, the fountain is visually spellbinding, with countless intricate details you could spend hours looking at. The story goes that if you toss one coin in the fountain, you’ll return to Rome. Toss two coins in, and you’ll fall in love. Toss a third one in, and you’ll marry the person you fall in love with!
Continue on through the romantic back streets of Rome, and you’ll come across the Spanish Steps. This part of the city is also known as Piazza di Spagna and is a wonderful place to relax after a hectic day. Just don’t expect any peace and quiet. This square is always packed with people jostling around the fountain and others lounging on the steps.
Climb up the steps, and you’ll find yourself in front of the Trinità dei Monti Church. This area is popular with local artists who you’ll see painting portraits and beautiful scenes. From up here, you’ve also got a great view of Via dei Condotti, one of the city’s best shopping streets.
For a romantic dinner for two, head to Il Gabriello. This gorgeous restaurant features wooden tables with white linen tablecloths, sparkling chandeliers, and impeccable service. It’s set inside a brick-vaulted space and is conveniently located just a short walk from the Spanish Steps.
Take a look at the menu, and you’ll find an excellent selection of Roman-style pasta dishes, alongside delicious wines from the Lazio region. There’s also a small choice of desserts which are freshly prepared each day.
Rome Weekend Itinerary – Day 3
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
The final day of your weekend trip to Rome begins with some of the most famous museums in the world. The Vatican Museums are made up of 13 individual museums spread out over a huge area that stands almost 5 miles long. There are various different routes you can choose between, ranging from 1.5 hours to 5 hours.
Whichever route you choose, your journey will end at the Sistine Chapel. This magnificent building doesn’t look much from the outside. But step through the entrance, look up, and you’ll be amazed at the brightly colored frescoes painted by Michelangelo.
St. Peter’s Basilica
If you’ve still got some energy left, head to St. Peter’s Basilica and climb to the top. This activity definitely isn’t one for you if you’re not a fan of heights or enclosed spaces. The spiral staircase that leads to the top gets incredibly narrow.
But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in all of Rome. From the top of the basilica, you’ve got a bird’s-eye view of St. Peter’s Square.
For something a little tamer, climb the 231 stairs or ride the elevator to the first level and admire the inside of Michelangelo’s dome. From here, you can also see the Jesus and apostles statues.
Pizza & Sandwich Da Pasquale
Now it’s time to reenergize with some pizza! Pizza & Sandwich Da Pasquale is one of the best pizza places in the area. Don’t let its unassuming façade fool you. This simple dining spot dishes up freshly made pizzas (available whole or by the slice), delicious sandwiches, mouthwatering pasta dishes, and all kinds of Italian antipasti.
Order a pizza to share and some mozzarella cheese, prosciutto ham, and salami for a true taste of Italy. There’s also a fantastic selection of local wines and beers to choose from.
The Castel Sant’Angelo doesn’t look like your typical castle, with turrets and towers. This is because it wasn’t initially designed to be a fortress. The castle was originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum. It wasn’t until years later that it began to play an important military role.
For a short while, the Castel Sant’Angelo was a place where popes could go to seek refuge during invasions. There’s even a secret tunnel between it and the Vatican!
Today, you can explore the castle and check out the ancient pope apartments, as well as the tombs. Make sure you visit the rampart walk and admire the view during your visit, too.
Lungotevere & Ponte Umberto I
When you’re finished exploring the Castel Sant’Angelo, you’re in the perfect position to watch a gorgeous sunset. The large bridge in front of the castle that crosses the river (Lungotevere) is ideally located to enjoy a relaxing stroll while the sun slowly dips into the horizon. You can also see the dramatic sight of reflections of the castle dancing in the water.
When you’ve crossed the bridge, continue walking and you’ll come across Ponte Umberto I. Another gorgeous bridge in Rome, this crossover is also beautifully positioned at this time of day. From here, you can see reflections of St. Peter’s Basilica as the city becomes bathed in golden light.
Drink Art Gallery
Take a short walk to Drink Art Gallery and reflect on your fabulous day. This trendy cocktail bar opens in the early evening and is decorated to look like an American bar from the 1930s. Here you can choose from a top selection of creative cocktails, fine liquors, excellent Belgian beer, and vintage wines. The place is full of original works of art and retro knickknacks, giving you plenty to look at.
Drink Art Gallery sometimes hosts live entertainment, so check the website before you go to see if anything is happening during your visit.
More Places to Eat & Drink in Rome
Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi
Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi is the oldest gelateria in the world! This gelato shop has been churning up delicious gelato since 1880 and serves approximately 2,200 pounds of the stuff every day.
Although the shop doesn’t offer any unusual flavors, the classics taste divine. Whether you choose strawberry, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, or chestnut, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed.
For a unique evening out, spend some time at Club Derrière. This bar is as close to a speakeasy as you’ll get in the 21st century. To enter, you need to know the password and find the entrance, which is hidden behind a wardrobe in the back of Osteria delle Coppelle.
When you’ve been granted entrance, you can treat yourself to one of the delicious cocktails from the constantly-changing menus. The cocktails always follow a theme, and you can never be quite sure what you’re going to get.
What to do if you have more than 3 days in Rome
Villa Borghese Gardens
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Rome, the Villa Borghese Gardens is the place to go. The most loved park in the city, this beautiful green space is hidden away from Pincian Hill and provides a much-needed escape.
A wonderful place to walk around any time of year, the park was designed in 1606 by a cardinal who wanted to transform his vineyard into a spectacular garden. He certainly achieved his goal, and today the park is home to countless walking trails, shimmering lakes, art galleries, museums, cafes, and even a zoo.
If you haven’t satisfied your appetite for art, make plans to visit Gallerie Borghese. This incredible art museum is home to one of the finest collections of art in Rome, with dramatic pieces created by the likes of Caravaggio, Bernini, and Raphael.
The museum is tiny compared to the other art galleries in Rome, with just two floors and 20 rooms. But don’t let its size fool you. Because it’s so small, everything you see is an amazing work of art, and you’re not surrounded by the crowds that fill the other galleries.
To see the spookier side of Rome, head for the Capuchin Crypt. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, this one-of-a-kind attraction is home to the skeletal remains of 3,700 Capuchin monks that were buried there hundreds of years ago.
The crypt is hidden below the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, and the bones aren’t locked away from prying eyes. Instead, they’re put on display and used to make all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Take a look around, and you’ll find skulls and bones used to make walls, doorways, arches, chairs, and lampshades.
If you find yourself at the top of Aventine Hill, you’ve got to seek out the Aventine Keyhole. Located within the Santa Maria del Priorato Church (the exact spot will be given away by the crowds of people), the keyhole provides you with a unique viewpoint.
When you press your eye up against the keyhole, you’ll be able to see two nation-states, with the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica proudly standing in the center. It’s the perfect way to end your 3 days Rome!
We hope you enjoy your weekend trip to Rome, Italy! Should we add something else to our 3-day Rome itinerary? Let us know in the comments.
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