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What to do in Rome in 3 days: Your ultimate 72-hour itinerary

Discover the best things to do in Italy's historic capital city

Colosseum Rome
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
June 14, 2018
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One of the world's most romantic and fascinating cities, Rome is a bucket list destination for travellers around the globe, and it's easy to see why. With ancient ruins and history at every turn, visitors will feel like they've stepped back in time as they explore famous relics like the Coliseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. And paired with the incredible Italian cuisine, it's a win-win for a long weekend of culture and indulgence. Read on for your ideal three-day itinerary...

1st Day

Morning: Tour the Colosseum

There's no better way to start your trip than with a visit to what is perhaps Rome's most iconic landmark - the Colosseum. Located in the city centre, this breathtaking amphitheatre dates back to AD 72, and has a fascinating history. Book tickets before you go to skip the queues and gain entry to the Gladiator's Arena, where gladiators and exotic animals engaged in mortal combat for the entertainment of the Roman Emperor and his citizens. After your visit, pick up a slice of authentic Italian pizza from one of the busy cafés for a quick bite to eat before you continue your day of culture and history.

Afternoon: Stroll through the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Roman Forum© Photo: iStock

Certain tickets booked in advance provide combined access to both the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, making it ideal to tick off all three in one day out. At the Roman Forum you will see some of the oldest monuments in the city, with some dating back to the sixth century BC. Meanwhile, Palatine Hill is the site where Rome was founded, and here you'll see some ruins of the buildings that once stood here. It's worth buying a ticket for an audio tour or taking a guided tour so you can learn more about the relics you see.

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Alternatively: Pay a visit to the imposing Il Vittoriano, which houses the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento, a small museum that documents Italy's history from the late 18th century to WWI, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While you're there, take the Roma del Cielo lift up to the top for the best 360 degree views across Rome.

Evening: Dine at one of Rome's most star-studded trattorias

After a long day of exploring Rome's history, you'll be ready for a leisurely dinner at one of the city's finest restaurants. Try Pierluigi, a trattoria that is lured in famous visitors like Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, and is located on the side of a cobbled piazza - a great choice for an al fresco dinner.

2nd Day

Morning: Pay a visit to the Vatican and Vatican Museum

Vatican© Photo: iStock

After climbing 320 steps to reach the Dome of St. Peter Basilica, travellers will understand why this is an obligatory stop. From the top, 448.1 ft from the floor of the basilica, you can see the whole of Rome, making it an unforgettable view. Inside the walls of the Vatican, which is the smallest independent state in the world, you will find the Vatican Museum, filled with countless works of art and considered one of the greatest museums in the world. You can also discover the Sistine Chapel, famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo and Sandro Botticelli.

Once outside of the Vatican walls, visitors should visit Aventine Hill for another spectacular view. At the top of the hill, the small and charming Piazza of the Knights of Malta features a wooden door that blocks the entrance to the Priory of the Knights of Malta. A look through the keyhole reveals the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, stunningly framed by the arched bushes inside the garden. It is also here that you can see through three different countries: you will be standing on the independent territory of the Sovereign of the Knights of Malta, looking through Rome and straight at St Peter's Dome, which is inside the Vatican.

Afternoon: Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, visit the Pantheon and rest on the Spanish Steps

Tick off some of Rome's most famous landmarks including the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Myth has it that if you toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder it will ensure you return to Rome in the future. Stroll through the city and pick up some delicious Italian gelato before coming to a stop and resting your legs on the Spanish Steps.

Tevi Fountain Rome© Photo: iStock

Alternatively: Get some retail therapy at Rome's shopping boutiques. Italians are known for their impeccable style, so you won't be disappointed with the shops and designer boutiques within the city centre.

Evening: Enjoy a night out at the theatre or opera

Treat yourself to a special night out at one of Rome's many theatres or opera houses. During the summer months you can enjoy a programme of opera and ballet at the open-air Roman Terme di Carcalla, a truly memorable way to spend an evening in the Italian capital.

3rd Day:

Morning: Tuck into an Italian breakfast before taking a stroll through Villa Borghese

You're likely to be feeling tired after a busy 48 hours in the city, so what better way to refuel than with an indulgent Italian breakfast? Head to one of Rome's most popular coffee bars, Pasticceria Linari, for a frothy cappuccino and girella (sweet pastry filled with apricot jam) to get you ready for the day ahead.

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Then pay a visit to Rome's most famous park, Villa Borghese, which boasts its own replica of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, an art gallery, lake and incredible views across Rome.

View from villa borghese© Photo: iStock

Afternoon: Have one final lunch and stroll along the river

Culminate your trip with a leisurely lunch at one of Rome's relaxed eateries for one last taste of the delicious pasta and pizza that they are known and loved for. Then walk off your meal with a stroll along the river, stopping to admire the views back to the Vatican.

Alternatively: If your legs are feeling tired, you could take a hop-on, hop-off river cruise, which will allow you to take in the scenery for one last time while relaxing on deck.

Where to stay in Rome:

Celio: For a stay close to the Colosseum and Roman Forum you won't be disappointed by Celio, a boutique hotel with its own roof garden, gym and small outdoor swimming pool. Rooms from £109 per night.

The Beehive: This eco-friendly hotel is a great budget-friendly option, just down the road from Termini train station. Here you'll find an outdoor garden, yoga classes and a vegetarian cafe, with rooms starting at €80 (around £69) per night.

How to get to Rome:

There are two airports in Rome - Ciampino and Fiumicino - both of which are served by airlines like Vueling, British Airways and Ryanair non-stop in around two and a half hours.

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