The first few times I visited Italy’s Eternal City, the topic of how many days in Rome never really crossed my mind. In 2007, the very first time, I was more concerned with finding my way from Termini Station to the nearest bureau that would cash traveler’s checks, in an era before smartphones no less.
These days, of course, when you can tap your contactless credit card to access the city’s metro system, it’s more important than ever to plan your trip to Rome in advance. This includes not only how long you choose to spend here, but what you do (and eat) in Rome, and how it fits in with the rest of your trip to Italy.
Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll discuss all these matters—how to spend 3 days in Rome, including what to do and what to skip—and interject anecdotes from all my many trips to Europe’s most exciting, dynamic national capital.
Where to Stay in Rome
Regardless of how many days in Rome you end up staying, where you make your Rome home is extremely important. As is the case in much of the rest of Italy, Airbnbs tend to offer more bang for your buck in better locations. I’d recommend using the platform’s “Map” tool and searching near your favorite attractions, whether that’s around the Colosseum (the area east of here is surprisingly un-touristy) or in foodie haven Trastevere.
When it comes to the best hotels in Rome, whether you end up choosing upscale properties such as Boutique Hotel Galatea or the The Inn at the Roman Forum, or something more modest, you should keep a couple truths in mind. The first is that you get what you pay for, both in terms of convenience and the experience of staying there. The second fact is that many of Rome’s buildings (and their plumbing/ventilation) were built for bygone eras.
Rome Itinerary Ideas
A weekend in Rome
Whether this takes the form of a long weekend in Rome from elsewhere in Europe, or two full days in-between Tuscany and Puglia or Campania, a weekend in Rome is the perfect amount of time to discover Rome’s main attractions. One day one, wake up early and visit the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo before all the other tourists arrive, slowly making your way down to the Colosseum before nightfall. One day two, visit attractions you missed on day one, but prioritize carbonara and tiramisu in the legendary culinary neighborhood of Trastevere.
3 days in Rome
If “three days” is your answer for how many days in Rome you spend, you can simply expand your two day itinerary. For example, you can pair your pasta dinner on day two with lunch of carciofi alla romana (fried artichokes) in the Jewish Ghetto. On day three you can focus on seeing Rome’s best viewpoints, including Villa Borghese park, Giardini degli Arancia garden and Janiculum Hill, which rises just behind Trastevere and offers a breathtaking panorama of the city.
4 days in Rome
With four days, you can expand what to do in Rome in 3 days quite dramatically, literally visiting another country if you so choose. If you do decide to spend some time in Vatican City, I recommend going with a guide, whether that’s by availing the the “Pristine Sistine” tour from Walks of Italy or another one of many opportunities to skip the line. You might also take a slightly more distant day trip, potentially to Villa d’Este in Tivoli, a city a short train ride from Rome’s Tiburtina station.
5 days in Rome
In terms of what to see in Rome in 5 days, you have a few choices. Some travelers might dig deeper, adding city center attractions like storied Piazza Navona and the underrated Testaccio neighborhood to their itineraries. Others might hit the beach in Sperlonga or Lido di Ostia, the best coastal destinations within day-trip distance of Rome. Still others might maintain the same level of sightseeing, and instead devote the extra time to living local for a few days with meals and coffee around your hotel or Airbnb.
A week in Rome
Likewise, having a week in Rome opens up a fork in the road when it comes to planning your trip. If you’re more into slow, authentic travel, you might double-down on your impulse to “live in Rome.” Take cooking classes, or even learn Italian within the confines of a local neighborhood in the city. Alternatively, you might take a more ambitious day trip. Choose San Gimignano in the Tuscan Wine Country or head to the Pompeii or Ercolano ruins beneath Mt. Vesuvius near Naples.
How to Work Rome into Your Italy Itinerary
When considering how many days to visit Rome, it’s important to think about the rest of your Italy trip. For instance, spending 5-7 days in Rome makes sense for an Italy itinerary 3 or 4 weeks in length. However, you might want to simply devote a long weekend to Rome if you’re only spending a week or two in Italy, so that you have adequate time for other Italy destinations.
Another issue for how many days in Rome you spend is when in your trip you’ll visit Rome. Ideally, you would visit Rome right in the middle of your trip, on the way from Florence and the greatest Tuscany region down to Naples or Puglia. However, if you’ll be flying in and out of Rome, you could use the capital as the bookends of your trip: 1-2 (or, for longer trips, 2-3) days on either end as the ciao and arrivederci to your Italy adventure.
Other FAQ About Visiting Rome
How many days should I spend in Rome?
For most travelers, I find that 3-4 days in Rome is the perfect amount of time. This allows you to devote a full day to core sights such as the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Colosseum, split a day between the culinary neighborhoods of Trastevere and Testaccio and also make day trips, whether over the Tiber River to Vatican City, or further afield to Tivoli Gardens or the beaches of Sperlonga and Lido di Ostia.
Is 3 days in Rome enough?
3 days in Rome, planned out well and executed with discipline, is more than enough to enjoy Rome. Structure is the key here. More “Type A” travelers will want to spend one day doing sightseeing and another eating, with the third reserved for some kind of day excursion. Other travelers will intersperse Rome’s cuisine, culture and scenery throughout each day, although I find “going with the flow” is more difficult the less time you have.
Is 5 days enough in Rome?
5 days in Rome is ideal for travelers who want to feel the energy of Rome as much as they want to check experiences and meals off their bucket lists. With five days, you can rent an apartment in a local neighborhood, and “live” in Rome in-between sightseeing excursions, eating at local restaurants and drinking in neighborhood bars and cafes as opposed to the more touristic spots that shorter Rome itineraries necessitate.
The Bottom Line
How many days in Rome are right for you? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. These include what else you plan to see in Italy, whether or not you’ve visited the city before and the pace at which you normally like to travel. It also depends on how you define “Rome”! Ultimately, you shouldn’t stress about how much time you spend in timeless Rome, which is called the Eternal City for a reason. You’ll probably be back in the future; paradoxically, no matter how many times you visit or how long you spend here, you’ll never see everything. No matter what shape your trip to Rome—or Italy—ends up taking, I hope you’ll consider hiring me to plan it.