Rome for the Weekend

Ah Rome – the Eternal City. So much history, so much romance, so much culture. You could spend years exploring the Italian capital and still not uncover every nook and cranny, every hidden gem.

But unfortunately, most of us will not have years to while away in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. However, all is not lost, because complex and layered as it may be, Rome 101 – the real must-see places of the city – can all be done within a weekend.

Sunset at the Vatican Rome
Sunset at the Vatican Rome. Photo by Benson Kua.

In fact, the city in some ways lends itself to short breaks, as many of the best things to do and see are in relative proximity to one another, making it easy to fit several into a single day. Here is a suggested itinerary for a three-day stay in the city.

Day 1

If you can, book a flight that arrives in Rome the previous evening. For example, flights from London usually get in at 6:35pm. This will mean you can get up bright an early for a full day of sightseeing the next morning.

Tombs at the Pantheon
Tombs at the Pantheon. Photo by Dennis Jarvis

First up, how about a trip to the Vatican? Located in the east of the city, a visit to the walled sovereign city-state is an absolute must for any first-timers in Rome. You’ll probably want to spend at least the whole morning here.  Make sure you don’t miss the Sistine Chapel, or the impressive Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Afterwards, take a stroll down the along Via della Conciliazione until you get to Castel Sant’Angelo – where the emperor Hadrian is buried – and stop for lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants.

In the afternoon, head across the river where you’ll find the Pantheon, one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings in the city. Nearby there is also the splendid Piazza Navona and its fountain. This area is also a great place to have dinner, with plenty of restaurants about.

Day 2

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Colosseum, so make this your first port of call on day two. You can combine this with an exploration of the nearby Roman Forum – a huge complex of ruined temples, basilicas, and arches which was the ceremonial, legal, social, and business center of ancient Rome.

Rome Colesseum and Forum
Rome Colosseum and Forum Photo by Robert Lowe.

You’ll probably need the at least the whole morning to do both of the above. So after lunch why not enjoy a fairly leisurely afternoon, taking in the magnificent Trevi Fountain – being sure to toss a coin in its waters as per tradition – as well as the surrounding streets.

If you fancy an afternoon treat before dinner, head to San Crispino on Via Panetteria, rumored to serve the best gelato in the whole of Rome.

Day 3

Make the most of your final day in Rome by seeing all the major attractions you haven’t had the time to visit yet. Head towards the north of the city center and you can take in the Villa Borghese and its famous gallery, the awesome Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo, all in close proximity.

Piazza del Popolo Rome
Piazza del Popolo Rome. Photo by Filippo Diotalevi.

Later on, take a walk down the Via Condotti for a spot of window shopping, with all of Italy’s most famous luxury fashion brands represented here. For a slightly more Bohemian experience, head to Via Margutta, the famous street of artists.

Have you ever been to Rome? What are your must see sights?