How to (Actually) Spend the Perfect 3 Days in Rome

Explore the Eternal City on a time limit.

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The Colosseum, Rome

If you’ve got a long weekend free, there are worse places to jet off to than the Italian capital. 3 days in Rome is just enough time to see a select few of the main sites, while getting a glimpse into the real city that’s captured the imagination of so many over the centuries.

Day 1

Start your 3 days in Rome right - with a coffee. Rome is heaven for no-nonsense caffeine addicts; standard morning fare is a pastry and a quick fix of espresso at the bar, and woe betide any who take a seat without paying the extra surcharge. Do as the Romans do and drink on your feet to perk yourself up for the day -- jetlag, who? If you must start the day with a leisurely, sit-down brunch, we recommend you do so from the comfort of your Plum Guide home's sunny terrace. If you’re raring to get going, well; this is the city for you.

First stop is the Colosseum; yes, it’s a cliché, we know. But as all clichés, it’s one for a reason, and that reason is that it’s undeniably incredible. Our recommendation? Go with a guide; you’ll enjoy it much more if you actually know what you’re looking at, rather than those who leave unsatisfied because they’ve just been gawking at some old rocks. Plus, a guide is the only way you’ll get to descend to the gladiator’s tunnels, where the warriors prepared themselves for victory or death in the arena.

You, on the other hand, are preparing for lunch. Don’t be tempted by any of the tourist cafes surrounding the Colosseum; for a truly Roman ambiance, head to Ai Tre Scalini, a restaurant with a very fine vintage indeed. In the 800s, it was an ancient winery; in 1895 it officially became a bottiglieria (wine shop), and today it serves classic Roman cuisine and, of course, plenty of glasses of vino. When in Rome, after all….

Enjoy the view over Rome during lunch

Now you're drunk you’ve eaten, take a stroll towards the beautiful Jewish quarter. Meander past landmarks such as Trajan’s forum and the Altar of the Fatherland -- monuments that would be the highlight of a trip to most other cities, but in Rome are simply part of the scenery. Once you arrive at the Jewish quarter, pop into the Museum to view their impressive collection of antique hand-embroidered textiles, take a walking tour to discover the history of the area, or simply wander the cobbled streets seeking the ideal place for dinner and drinks. You can’t really go wrong with Roman-Jewish cuisine, but our top pick is Giggetto; dine on fried artichokes and courgette flowers while overlooking the ruins.

Day 2

After all your pavement pounding yesterday, today you can grant yourself a lie in - just a small one, mind, so don’t get too comfy. (Though we admit, it’s hard not to get comfortable in your oh-so-luxurious Rome holiday home). After all, you can lie in at home; what you can’t do at home is explore the vibrant neighbourhood of Trastevere. If you want to experience Rome beyond the tourist postcards -- the Rome of baroque churches, piazza filled with locals enjoying aperitivo, effortlessly cool boutiques, and charming alleyways - this is where to be. (If you don’t want to experience these things, then we don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps you’re in the wrong place?) For contemporary fashion, try chic boutique The Butcher; for artisanal home decor such as handmade globes, maps and hourglasses that will prove to be a talking point for years to come, head to Polvere di Tempo. When hunger strikes, stop and indulge in one of the charming street-side cafes - Bar San Calisto is a top pick due to its friendly local vibe, delicious sandwiches, and impressive wine menu. (Word to the wise; in Rome, it’s never too early to enjoy a glass with lunch.)

Trastevere Neighbourhood, Rome

As the afternoon draws to a close, head to the country-within-a-city - yes, you’re going to the Vatican. Usually, the top sites of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums are packed to the (very, very high) ceilings with fellow tourists and religious pilgrims - which is why you’ve booked an exclusive evening tour, you clever thing. With a small group, you’ll get to admire the Sistine Chapel without being elbowed in the ribs, which is perhaps the closest thing to a miracle you’ll ever experience. The Vatican is hardly a party spot, though, so once you’ve seen your fill of gold statues and baby angels head to neighbouring Prati for dinner. If you’ve got 3 days in Rome, then one of those dinners must be eaten at L'Arcangelo, home of what many claim is the best carbonara in the city. We’ll let you decide (if you can get a reservation, that is).

Day 3

If your first 2 days in Rome have overloaded you on history and cherubs, then this third will introduce you to the more modern Rome. Despite the ruins and Renaissance pomp, the city is also home to a host of art galleries focusing on the 20th and 21st century; La Galleria Nazionale is our top pick, with works by contemporary Italian artists as well as masters such as Van Gogh and Warhol. It’s on the very edge of the Villa Borghese, a spacious park filled with sculptures, fountains, and excellent viewing spots to capture those perfect holiday snaps. (There’s also a number of bars and cafes scattered throughout the park - if you stop at more than one for an aperitivo, then who are we to judge?)

For your final evening, wander through the historic centre of the city towards traditionally Roman trattoria Hostaria Romana, where you can feast like an emperor on classic dishes such as osso bucco, arrabiata, and risotto. A wander through the city centre is the perfect way to say ciao to the city before returning to your Plum Guide home for a final night. Don’t forget to pass the famous Trevi Fountain -- dodging the selfie sticks as you go, of course. Your 3 days in Rome may be at an end, but no need to fret; it’s called the Eternal City, after all, which means it’s certainly not going anywhere.

Looking for the best place to stay in Rome? Plum Guide is the official selection of the world's best vacation homes. Independent home critics personally vet each home for quality, so your high standards are met every time. Our final piece of advice for the perfect 3 days in Rome: book a stay in one of the best apartments in Rome (you won't regret it.)

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