By Jessica Russo
With a nickname like "the Eternal City," it's safe to say Rome is a special place. The history, the architecture, the museums, the food - oh, the food!
Traveling to Rome is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. What do you see first? How will you fit everything in? Lucky for you, we've come to the rescue. Here are three perfectly planned days in Rome, packed with all the must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats to make your dream trip a dream come true.
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If you're anything like us, the Colosseum is high up on the Rome bucket list. So why wait? Get up early and start the day strong at one of Rome's most iconic landmarks! To avoid long lines, arrive as soon as the Colosseum opens (you can thank us later).
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
No visit to the Colosseum is complete without exploring the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, and Palatine Hill. Discover ruins of an ancient city and snap pics of breathtaking views. One tip: ditch your gladiator sandals and wear comfy walking shoes. The grounds near Rome's ancient sites are notoriously hilly and uneven.
Lunch at Mordi e Vai or Il Bocconcino
Nosh on fresh pasta or crispy pizza at one of our favorites near the Colosseum!
Mouth of Truth
You'll want to see this familiar face! The "Bocca della Verità" is a mythical marble mask that stands against the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Long before modern lie detectors existed, Romans believed this ancient face would bite the hands off of liars! Take a selfie with the Mouth of Truth, if you dare.
Sip on an espresso or aperativo
Here's an important travel tidbit: make time to do nothing. Oftentimes, people pack so much into their days they can hardly relax, let alone remember what they've seen. Be sure to take breaks - sip an espresso, clink glasses with a pre-dinner drink, or hang out in a piazza and cool off with some gelato. This is the perfect time to reflect on what you've seen, regroup, and plan the rest of your day. Traveling is all about enjoying the little moments and soaking up culture. People watching in a cute cafe is never a waste of time.
Altare della Patria or "Vittorio Emanuele II Monument"
Grab some creamy gelato and strut around Piazza Venezia, which lies in the shadow of the eye-widening Altare della Patria! This impressive monument was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. Be sure to have your camera charged - this is definitely a photo-op.
Dinner at Ristorante La Cabana or L'Antica Birreria Peroni
Two great spots near Piazza Venezia!
See the Trevi Fountain at night
Looking for the perfect end to your first day in Rome? Toss a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain! Just a 5-minute walk from our recommended dinner restaurants, this stunning fountain is a feast for the senses. Hear the water rush and feel your eyes widen as this sparkling spectacle becomes illuminated against the dark night sky.
Get some sleep!
After an adventurous day of exploring Rome, you deserve a good night's sleep. The Eternal City is fascinating, but it can surely tucker you out. Allow yourself enough rest so you can snap back and enjoy the next days of your journey!
Rise and shine! This morning, head on over to spectacular St. Peter's Basilica. Feel yourself flutter with excitement as you approach this awe-inspiring cultural landmark. Take (way too many) photos in St. Peter's Square, then make your way into the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel!
Just outside Vatican City, you'll find this 2nd-century storybook castle. Consider purchasing admission tickets, or gawk at this wonder from outside!
Lunch at Fresco Coronari or Giulio Passami L'olio
Try one of our favorite lunch spots, or find one to call your own!
Venture up to the Spanish Steps! This historic staircase is surrounded by tons of shops, restaurants, and bars. Once you trot down the steps and take your photos, treat yourself to some souvenir shopping!
Just a 10-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain stands tall and proud. If you saw it at night on Day 1, you might want to see what it looks like during the day, if you're in the neighborhood.
Take a break in Rome's famous Piazza Navona. Relax with some yummy gelato or lift your spirits with an apertivo!
The Pantheon is on everyone's Roman bucket list. This mesmerizing site is free of charge, but rich with artistic grandeur. Feel your head bobble around in awe, as you notice every detail of this fascinating structure. One little tip: the Pantheon is known for its stunning ceiling, a dome with a central oculus open to the sky. Be sure to go while it's still light out!
Dinner at Cantina E Cucina or Trattoria Al Moro
Stroll the cobblestone, pedestrian-filled streets at your own pace. Why not try one of these local favorites for dinner?
Borghese Gallery and Museum
Start your day with a lovely stroll through the picture perfect Borghese Gardens! Step into "Museo e Galleria Borghese" and feast your eyes on breathtaking art and architecture.
Change gears and head down to Trastevere, one of Rome's many hidden gems! This little, funky neighborhood offers a true local feel with crafty cafes and wonderful family-run restaurants. Once a bohemian working-class area, Trastevere holds onto its humble roots, while also introducing trendy trattorias and artisan shops.
Lunch at Impiccetta or La Boccaccia
Trastevere is filled with amazing places to eat. Try one of our favorites!
If you haven't given yourself some time to shop around, now's the time! Away from all the overpriced, mass-produced souvenirs near Rome's historic center, Trastevere offers local gems you'll treasure forever.
Ready for postcard worthy views of Rome? Head up to Janiculum Hill and snap incredible photos! For an extra memorable experience, venture up right before sunset.
Dinner at La Tavernaccia or Da Enzo al 29
These local restaurants are some of Rome's very best. Whether you're in the mood for pasta amatriciana or cacio e peppe, indulge in decadent pastas, fresh cheeses, and savory meats.