Skip to Content

3 Days in Rome. The Perfect Itinerary with Optional 4th Day

Rome packs in more sights and attractions than any other city in Europe. there are so many things to see in Rome Italy, we’ve put together a 3-day Rome itinerary to help you plan your time in the Eternal City

A man and woman looking out over The Colosseum in Rome Italy.

We have compiled an extensive guide to help you plan your Italy itinerary with a complete travel guide to Rome. We’ve included where to stay in Rome, how to get around, and a fabulous three day Rome itinerary with an optional 4th day that will ensure you see the best attractions.

We’ve included all of Rome’s best attractions including some attractions that are surprisingly free of charge. If you are on a budget, we have a complete list of wonderful things to do in Rome for free here.

People in front of the Fountain of Neptune in Piazza Navona in Rome.

You Might Also Like: If you are looking for a quick side trip from Rome, check out our guide to some of Italy’s Most Beautiful Islands. Some are closer to Rome than you think.

Best Time to Visit Rome

  • The shoulder seasons are always the best time to visit Rome. It is actually the best time to visit Europe. The months on either side of the summer peak season – April – May (Spring) or late September – October (Autumn). October is an especially great time to visit Italy and Europe as a whole.
  • During the peak summer months of late June – early September you can expect soaring temperatures, sky-high prices and crazy crowds. Especially not ideal for those visiting Rome with kids
Girl walking towards the Vatican museum in Rome Italy.

You Might Also Like: Discover Italy’s third largest city’s authentic, spirited and charmingly chaotic character. These are the Best Things to see and do in Naples.

Getting To and From Rome Airport

Rome has two airports – Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA).

Train From Rome Airport

  • The easiest way to get to Rome from FCO is by the Leonardo Express train. 
  • The train connects FCO to Termini Station, the central station in the heart of Rome.
  • The trip takes 30 minutes. Tickets are €14 each way.
  • You must validate your ticket before entering the train. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes.

From Termini Station, you can take the local Metro system which is very easy to navigate or take a taxi outside the station. Make sure it is a registered white metered taxi.

Taxi From the Airport

Take a white, metered city taxi. The fare is fixed as set by the city of Rome based on one way for up to four passengers with luggage.

  • Between FCO and Rome, the fixed rate is €48.
  • Between CIA and Rome, the fixed rate is €30.

Private Airport Transfers

Private transfer services cost the same fixed price as a taxi except it is prepaid on booking and the driver will be at arrivals to greet you.

Shuttle Bus

A shuttle is the cheapest way to travel from either airport.

  • Between FCO and Rome – The trip takes just under an hour with two stops in the centre – Termini Station and Piazza Cavour near the Vatican.
    Tickets cost €6 one way. 
  • Between CIA airport and Rome city center – Termini Station takes approx. 40 minutes.
    Tickets cost €5 one way. 
Scooter driving past old roman building in downtown Rome.

Did You Know: Rome rates as one of Italy’s most romantic cities for couples?

  • The best time of year to visit Rome is the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn. This doesn’t mean you won’t get caught in a shower. A lightweight, packable rain jacket is always a handy travel companion.
  • You will be doing a lot of walking in Rome. We suggest a comfortable walking shoe that will be suitable for many occasions. There are plenty of stylish walking shoes on the market these days perfect for sightseeing through to casual dinner.

A good anti-theft handbag for the ladies or an anti-theft messenger bag for the gents will go a long way to keeping your valuables safe. Especially in crowded tourist spots where pickpockets can be rife. 

The Perfect 3 Day Rome Itinerary

With so much to see in Rome, it is wise to plan your time before you arrive. Also, consider any attractions that may require an early start or pre-purchase tickets such as some of the Vatican attractions or the Galleria Borghese. 

When planning your time in Rome, buying Skip the Line tickets for the big attractions such as the Colosseum can save anywhere up to a couple of hours of your precious time. 

We’ve mapped out a 3 day Rome itinerary with an optional 4th day to help you plan your perfect Roman holiday. 

Bridge reflection at night in Trastevere neighbourhood, Rome.

Day 1 Ancient Rome Colosseum and Ancient Sites

The Colosseum | The Roman Forum | Palatine Hill | Piazza Venezia | The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

Start your time in Rome with a visit to the Eternal City’s most iconic ancient sites – The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Three of the oldest and most important historical sites in Rome are located in the same area, and all three are accessed with one ticket.

Allow around 3–4 hours to visit the ancient sites including the Colosseum

Long exposure photo of the Roman Colosseum at night.

The Colosseum

Some consider the iconic monument of the Roman Empire, not just a must-see site in Rome but the most important attraction in Italy.

The Colosseum, built to hold up to 80,000 spectators is still the largest amphitheatre ever built. Surviving earthquakes, fires, wars, and riots, 2,000 years later it continues to draw a crowd.

Once clad in ivory travertine marble, looted over the centuries, The Colosseum was used for the mass entertainment of the people of Rome. While the most notable forms of entertainment were gladiator combats and animal fights, the Colosseum could also be flooded for mock naval battles.

Seating in the Colosseum with hordes of ant like tourists.

Best Time to Visit the Colosseum

Early morning. While you may not beat the queues entirely, you will still have the jump on the bigger crowds and save precious time for Rome’s other ancient sites.

If you have time, we also recommend making a stop by, or close to the Colosseum at night for a great photo opportunity. It looks quite remarkable when lit up at night. 

People standing looking over the Colosseum.

Colosseum Tickets

The combined ticket to accessing all three sites (The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill) is €12 and is valid over two consecutive days from the first use for one admission to each site.

Tickets can be bought online in advance (skip the line) for an additional €2 reservation fee.

Note – Even with skip the line pre-purchased tickets, you still must clear security at The Colosseum, and the lines can be very long.

Colosseum Opening Hours

The Colosseum opens at 8.30 AM daily.
Closing times will vary from 4.30 PM–7 PM throughout the year.

Tip For Visiting The Colosseum

On the first Sunday of every month, entry to the Colosseum is free. It is the worst time to visit and should be avoided if possible. Thousands of people descend upon the site causing long delays at security and a very crowded experience once inside.

For the best Colosseum experience, avoid the first Sunday of the month and book a Skip the Line ticket in advance online.

You can find detailed information about online tickets and opening hours for The Colosseum here.

Lights shining in the arches on outside of the Colosseum at night.

The Roman Forum

Next to the Colosseum is The Roman Forum. Once the centre of the Roman Empire and the most magnificent site in all of Europe. Filled with the ruins of temples, palaces, government buildings, and shops, the Roman Forum offers a glimpse into the size and importance of the centre to the Roman Empire.

Arches inside the roman Colosseum.

Roman Forum Opening Hours

The Roman Forum opens at 8.30 AM daily.
Closing times will vary from 4.30 PM–7 PM throughout the year.

Roman Forum Tickets

Entry is included in the ticket to visit The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill – €12.

Pylons , trees, greenery and sculptures inside the Colosseum.

Palatine Hill

On the hill overlooking the Roman Forum is where Rome was founded. The residential area for Roman nobility, Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome offers incredible views across the city, the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum ruin below. The views from Palatine Hill give you a superb overview of the history of Rome.

Tangle of pillars and statues in Colosseum.

Once the most lavish place in the world. A place where emperors fought to live and where Imperial Palaces were extravagant beyond imagination. The site of temples and the centre for the legend of Romulus and Remus, Palatine Hill is loaded with a remarkable history.

Ponds, green areas, pylons and sculptures inside the Colosseum.

A beautiful and serene green haven, The Palatine is the perfect place to escape the crowds and the heat.

In the shade of pine and olive trees, wildflowers grow amongst the ruins. Enjoy the calm while strolling through the shaded Farnese Gardens and you’ll find it’s not hard to imagine the opulent lives of the Emperors of Rome.

Palatine Hill Opening Hours

The Palatine Hill opens daily 8.30 AM–7 PM

Palatine Hill Tickets

Entry is included in the combined ticket to visit The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill – €12.

Sky view over the tangle of pillars and statues, Colosseum.

Did You Know?

Rome has more than 900 churches in the city. Make time to pop in and visit a few as you wander around. Many house priceless works of art such as The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, considered a baroque masterpiece. Among some of the priceless works of art in the church, the magnificent Frescoes of Andrea Pozzo are worth seeing. 

Centro Storico (Historic Centre)

Piazza Venezia

Located in the heart of Rome, it is hard not to end up in Piazza Venezia at least once while visiting Rome. At the centre of four of Rome’s major crossroads, it is renowned for its chaotic traffic and its proximity to some of Rome’s most important attractions.

In addition to its most prominent monument, The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument there are also many other notable palaces and buildings around Piazza Venezia.

Obelisk and trees along the road in Rome.

The Palazzo Venezia which served as the embassy of the Republic of Venice in Rome became the papal residence to Pope Pius IV in 1564. It is now the Museum of Medieval and Renaissance art – Museo di Palazzo.

Piazza Venezia was also where Italian dictator Mussolini delivered his speeches to crowds of supporters in the 1920s-1940s.

Palazzo Bonaparte is where Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Ramolino, lived from 1818 until her death.

Grassed area and view of Colosseum buildings, Rome.

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

Located in the centre of Piazza Venezia, the grandiose white marble monument was built between 1885 and 1911 as a tribute to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.

The top of the monument has a terrace for a 360° panorama of the city. Said to offer the best views of Rome, it is not surprising The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is a favourite photo spot for visitors to Rome. The monument is also the site of Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Panoramic Lifts Opening Hours

The Panoramic Lifts operate every day 9.30 AM–7.30 PM (last admission 6.45 PM)

Cost: €7

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument with a man on horse statue at the front and chariots either side.

Day 2 Rome City Center

Piazza Campo de’ Fiori | Piazza Navona | The Pantheon | Trevi Fountain | Spanish Steps | Villa Borghese

Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

Once a flower meadow, Piazza Campo de’ Fiori was built in 1456 by Pope Callistus III and quickly became a vital and prosperous centre of Rome. It was also where Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in 1600 for heresy. A hooded monument created by Ettore Ferrari in 1889 in his honour stands in the square.

Today, the medieval square is a popular gathering space any time of day. During the day, a lively market brimming with flowers and local produce make it an excellent spot for a morning coffee and a little people watching. At night, the square comes alive again with bars and restaurants.

Framed hanging vegetables in market at Campo de Fiori, Rome.

Piazza Navona

One of the most famous and beautiful squares in Rome. Piazza Navona, built on the site of an ancient Roman stadium features three magnificent fountains, the most impressive, the Central Fountain of the Four Rivers featuring an Egyptian obelisk.

True to its origins as an entertainment space for sporting events and festivals; the square still attracts a lively crowd of hawkers, street artists and performers, and of course, tourists.

Cobble stoned streets lined with stalls in Piazza Navona, Rome.

The Pantheon

A quick 5-minute walk from Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s best-preserved monuments. Over 2,000 years old, The Pantheon, originally a Roman temple to all gods, then a Roman church has the largest unsupported and unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

To this day it is considered an incredible architectural achievement. Perhaps this is what prompted Michelangelo to question if the Pantheon was the work of angels or humans.

The exact age of the Pantheon is still unknown although legend states it is built on the site where Romulus, the mythological founder of Rome ascended to heaven.

Domed roof with skylight in the Pantheon.

The Pantheon Opening Hours

  • Monday–Saturday: 8:30 AM–7:30 PM (last admission 7:15 pm)
  • Sunday: 9 AM–6 PM. (last admission 5:45 pm)
  • Public holidays: 9 AM–1 PM. (last admission 12:45 pm)

Closed: 1st January | 1st May |25th December

Visits are not allowed during masses – Holidays: 10.30 AM | Saturday: 5 PM

Entry: Free

Marble pillars in the Pantheon.

Trevi Fountain

Regardless of the crowds, Bernini’s Trevi Fountain is an icon of Rome and shouldn’t be missed.

We recommend visiting the fountain twice during your stay in Rome. Once in the daytime to appreciate the magnitude of the crowds the famous Rome attraction draws. Then, visit again later in the evening when the crowds have thinned, and the lights give the fountain an entirely different beauty.

Hundreds of tourists vying for photos at Trevi Fountain.

As cliche as it might be, don’t forget to throw a coin in the fountain. Legend says it guarantees you will return to Rome. Romance will cost you two coins and the promise of marriage, three.

While the Trevi Fountain may be one of Rome’s most famous, there are loads of beautiful and historic fountains in Rome. Discover more of Rome’s famous fountains here

How Much Money is Thrown Into the Trevi Fountain?

An estimated €3,000 euros are thrown into the Trevi fountain each day (estimated €1.4 million per year). The money is collected three times a week when the fountain is closed to the public – Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 AM–9 AM and the funds are distributed to charities to support Rome’s homeless and in need.

No crowds just a peaceful view of the Trevi Fountain at night.

Piazza di Spagna and The Spanish Steps

There is always a crowd gathered at the base of Rome’s Spanish Steps. Part of Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) the Spanish Steps are one of the most popular meeting places in Rome.

Built in 1725 as a symbol of the newfound peace between France and Spain, the steps join the Trinità de’ Monti Church at the top of the hill with the Piazza di Spagna below.

Cemented in popular culture with the 1953 film, Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, the steps are considered one of the most enchanting and renowned staircases in all of Europe.

Wedding photo shoot on the crowded Spanish Steps.

With the baroque Fontana della Barcaccia in the centre of the piazza, the iconic steps attract locals and tourists from all over the world. It is also a popular spot for wedding photographs despite the crowds. Climb to the top for iconic views of Rome.

Top of Spanish Steps.

Villa Borghese and Borghese Gardens

Villa Borghese is where art lovers can indulge in Roman art without the maddening crowds. The 22 rooms of The Galleria Borghese, once the private residence of the powerful Borghese family features one of the world’s most significant private art collections.

Collected by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century, Galleria Borghese is bursting with Renaissance, and Baroque masterpieces by Bernini, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Rubens.

Man holding child sculpture at Galleria Borghese.

Tickets for Galleria Borghese

Visitor numbers to the gallery are strictly limited and managed by pre-sale time scheduled tickets.

It is recommended to book at least one month in advance to secure a time slot.
Ticket Cost – €18 + €2 online reservation fee.

Visit the official Borghese Gallery website for ticket sales and information. 

Opening Hours for Galleria Borghese: Tuesday to Sunday, from 08.30 AM to 7.30 PM (Closed Monday)

Tips for Visiting Galleria Borghese

Although compact, the gallery is quite overwhelming. Take a guided tour to make the most of your visit and ensure you don’t miss any of the most important pieces.

Cameras and bags are not permitted inside the Borghese Gallery. All bags must be checked at the entry.
Allow at least 2 hours to visit the gallery.

People walking up to the Villa Galleria Borghese.

Borghese Gardens

After the gallery, spend some time exploring Rome’s most famous park – The Villa Borghese Gardens.

Considered the green lung of Rome, the 80 hectares of gardens were built in 1606 by Cardinal Borghese to transform his vineyard into the most extensive gardens in Rome. The gardens were redesigned entirely and became a public park in 1903.

The park is open every day from dawn-dusk.

Entry to the gardens is free.

People rowing a boat to Villa Borghese.

Day 3 Vatican City and Trastevere

Vatican Museums | Sistine Chapel | St Peter’s Basilica | Castel Sant’Angelo | Trastevere

Vatican City

The smallest country in the world but one of Rome’s biggest attractions. The main attractions in Vatican City are:

  • The Vatican Museums
  • The Vatican Gardens
  • The Sistine Chapel (part of the Vatican Museums)
  • St. Peter’s Basilica

Many people plan a visit to Vatican City to see all the main attractions in one day which makes good sense.

Vatican Dress Code

Modest dress is required by both men and women when visiting the Vatican, including the museums. Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, short skirts, and hats are not allowed. Entry is denied to those not dressed appropriately.

Giant bearded man statue outside The Vatican.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Visiting The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums house one of the most impressive art collections in the world. A collection of almost 20,000 pieces covering a space nearly 15 km long ( 9 miles).

With this in mind, allow at least 2 hours to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

A trip to the Vatican is always going to involve long queues, so it is advisable to arrive before opening hours, even with a skip the line ticket.

Start your day at the Museums. Early in the morning, you will have a chance to enjoy the museums, leisurely and in relative peace.

Horses and men on pedestal sculptures and circular marble floor inside Vatican Museum.

Opening Hours of the Vatican Museums

The museums open at 9 AM every day except Sunday. Closing times vary. See here for the Vatican Museum calendar.

Tickets for the Vatican Museums

Full ticket for the open (self-guided) tour of the Museums and Sistine Chapel – €17 + €4 booking fee.

There are many Vatican tours to choose from if you don’t want to self-guide or wish to add additional attractions to your visit.

See here for a full list of Vatican Museum Tours.

Mother hugging son on spiral staircase inside Vatican Museum.

Sistine Chapel

All tickets to the Vatican Museums include access to the Sistine Chapel.

Located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, the Sistine Chapel is typically the last room you visit on a Vatican Museums tour.

If self-guiding, this is another reason to arrive early at the Museums. You can tailor your visit to have a greater chance of being one of only a few in the chapel.

Considered Michelangelo’s most beautiful work, The Sistine Chapel is a highlight of the Vatican.

Photographs are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, you may not use your phone, and you are requested to remain quiet while inside. 

After the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, you can then visit St. Peter’s Basilica.

Optional additional tour – Vatican Gardens.

Trees and large pot sculpture in the Vatican Gardens.

St Peter’s Basilica

Entry to St Peter’s Basilica is free. However, queues at the entrance can be quite long and security slow. If you book a combo Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica guided tour, you can access St Peter’s Basilica via a backdoor entrance, avoiding the crowds.

People walking along the arches under the domed roof of St Peter's Basilica.

The biggest Catholic church in the world, St Peter’s Basilica, situated on Vatican Hill, dominates Rome’s skyline. The creation of Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St Peter’s Basilica has a capacity of over 60,000 people and covers 22,300 square meters.

Below St Peter’s Basilica are two levels. The first, the Vatican Grottoes, a large underground graveyard where 91 Popes are buried. The second level, The Vatican Necropolis, houses the tomb of St Peter.

Opening Hours of St Peter’s Basilica

Everyday 7 AM – 6:30 PM (7 AM – 7 PM in winter)
On Wednesdays, if there is a Papal audience, the Basilica remains closed until noon.

Entrance: Free

Climb the Basilica Dome

After visiting the Basilica, you can climb the 231 steps (or take the elevator) to visit the dome of St Peters Basilica which gives you an up close look at the beautiful mosaics inside the dome.

From the dome, you can choose to take the additional 320 stairs (there is no elevator) to the roof for some of the most spectacular views of Vatican City and Rome.

Basilica Dome Opening Hours:

The dome opens at 8 AM and closes one hour before the Basilica closes.

Tickets for the Dome:

Lift to the terrace plus 320 steps: 8€.
Climbing 551 steps by foot: 6€.

Obelisk, surrounded by semi circular buildings and road leading into the Vatican.

See the Pope in Rome

If you want to see the Pope when you are in Rome, it is not as difficult as you might think. Tickets for the Papal Audience or Papal Mass are always free and relatively easy to get. Tickets are not required for Sunday Angelus. In all cases, expect crazy queues on a first arrived first in basis. Even those with tickets are not guaranteed entry once capacity is reached.

  • The General Audience is held on Wednesday’s when Pope Francis is in Rome.  Starting at around at 10 AM and lasts for 1–1.5 hrs. You will need a ticket for this.
  • Sunday Angelus is held every Sunday at 12 PM in St Peters Square. No ticket is required. The Pope will give a short speech followed by a blessing. This will last around 20 mins.
  • Papal Masses are held quite regularly and may be held in different churches around Rome, not just St Peters. You will need a ticket, but these are free.
  • It may be difficult to get tickets for special Holiday Masses such as Christmas and Easter.

Check the Vatican website for the Pope’s public schedule to make sure he is in Rome. | Check the Prefecture of the Papal Household website for information on tickets.

Castel Sant’Angelo

After St Peters Basilica, stroll over to Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the River Tiber. Also known as Hadrian’s Tomb, it is one of the oldest buildings in Rome.

In over 2,000 years, the emperor’s tomb has served as a castle, a fortress, a prison and now, a museum. Explore the mausoleum, the prison and enjoy spectacular views from the upper terrace.

Castel Sant’Angelo Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 9 AM–7.30 PM. Opening hours may be shorter in winter. Check-in advance if visiting Rome in the winter months.

Tickets for Castel Sant’Angelo: Full price €14

Golden glow of Castel Sant’Angelo at night with people standing in front.


From Castel Sant’Angelo take the 15-minute stroll along the River Tiber, and you’ll reach Rome’s favourite local hub, Trastevere.

Arched bridge over the river in Trastevere neighbourhood.

Trastevere is a vibrant neighbourhood with working-class roots on the western banks of the River Tiber. An area considered slightly bohemian, known for its traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs and artisan shops.

Wine cask and restaurant loaded with people and lovely garden in Trastevere neighbourhood.

The perfect neighbourhood to slip from afternoon to evening. Get lost exploring the tiny, colourful cobblestone lanes in the afternoon.

Join the pre-dinner promenade around Piazza di San Calisto and Piazza Santa Maria. Then, pop into a local trattoria for a drink and dinner and watch as the neighbourhood comes alive.

A VW car parked in colourful street in Trastevere neighbourhood.

Optional 4th Day Vatican Over 2 Days

Vatican Museums | Sistine Chapel | Villas of Castel Gandolfo | Barberini Garden

If visiting Rome over a weekend, we recommend planning your visit to Vatican City over two days for the best experience and include the Vatican Gardens and the Villas of Castel Gandolfo – the Apostolic Palace 24 km from Rome.

Vatican City Day 1

  • Arrive St Peter’s Basilica early to avoid the crowds (opens 7 AM).
  • Spend the morning exploring the Basilica.
  • After St Peter’s Basilica visit Castel Sant’Angelo.
  • Leave Castel Sant’Angelo and explore the Trastevere neighbourhood.
4 marble statues of apostles atop the Vatican.

Vatican City Day 2 Including a Trip to Castel Gandolfo

Take a Vatican Full Day by Train Tour. Included is a visit to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, a tour of the Vatican Gardens and the Villas of Castel Gandolfo, 24 km from Rome.

Every Saturday, a modern electric train connects Vatican City station with the Pontifical Villas in the city of Castel Gandolfo.

People in the street at Castel Gandolfo.

The Vatican Full-Day by Train Tour includes –

  • Special skip the line entry and open visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with a special multilingual audioguide.
  • A guided walking tour through the Vatican Gardens to the Vatican railway station.
  • Return transfers by special train to Castel Gandolfo.
  • Return shuttle bus transfers from Castel Gandolfo station to the Pontifical Villas.
  • Entry (with audio guide) to the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo – Museum and papal apartment.
  • A guided tour of the Barberini Garden (Pontifical Villa Barberini) by ecological vehicle.
  • Time to explore the town of Castel Gandolfo.

The tour starts at 8 AM finishing at Roma San Pietro station just after 6 PM.

Full price ticket €41

See the official Vatican Website for details.

Statue out the front displaying name Vatican Museum.

Villas of Castel Gandolfo

The Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo perched above Lake Albano is a 17th-century 135-acre papal palace in the city of Castel Gandolfo, Italy.

Open to the public since 2014; it had served for centuries as the summer residence and vacation retreat for the pope.

Gate of Pontifical Villas in the city of Castel Gandolfo.

Over the centuries, each pope has left his mark on the papal palace or had his own affinity with it.

  • Pope Pius XI, as part of a massive refurbishment, added a farm in the 30s’ to supply the Vatican with fresh produce.
  • John XXIII notoriously used to sneak out to mingle with locals in town.
  • John Paul II loved the place so much, all up, he spent over five years of his 16-year papacy there, even building a swimming pool in the grounds.
  • Benedict XVI retired there for months after resigning in 2013.
  • Francis expressed no desire to indulge in the papal retreat and has only visited three times, never spending the night. 
Seating at outdoor table with baskets of bread overlooking the water at Castel Gandolfo

Besides the Papal Apartment, five hundred years of papal history are on display including paintings, photographs, relics, liturgical vestments, and other curiosities. You can see the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX, Popemobiles over the ages and even the BMW used by Pope Wojtyla during his summer stays.

Pontifical Villas in the city of Castel Gandolfo.

Opening Hours of the Apostolic Palace: If visiting outside of an official tour, opening hours vary for an individual visit. Check the official Vatican Calendar here for times.

Tickets for the Apostolic Palace: If visiting outside of a tour, entry to the Papal Apartment is €11.

Buying tickets online in advance is recommended.

Giardini di Villa Barberini

For the first time, visitors can also visit the extraordinary grounds of the papal gardens – The Giardini di Villa Barberini section of the 55-hectare property.

Built into the first-century AD ruins of Emperor Domitian’s country residence, artful flower displays, fruit and veg patches and shady wooded oak parks set amongst Roman ruins will leave you spellbound with the beauty of Castel Gandolfo.

Stone stair case leading down to manicured maze gardens, Barberini Garden - Pontifical Villa Barberini

Visiting the Castel Gandolfo Gardens

Tours of the Giardini di Villa Barberini are as part of a guided tour booked in advance through the Vatican Museums website.

The only time you may visit on your own is on Saturday mornings at 10.30 AM. The cost of the tour is €26 and is only in Italian.

How to get to the Castel Gandolfo Gardens Independently

If you wish to travel to Castel Gandolfo on your own, trains leave Rome Termini station for the village of Castel Gandolfo every hour.
The journey takes 40 minutes and costs €2.10.

Pines and potted plants in Barberini Garden -Pontifical Villa Barberini.

Day Trip From Rome: Got more time to spend in Rome? In just over an hour and twenty minutes by train, you can travel from Rome to Florence.  A Florence day trip from Rome makes a fantastic extension to your Rome itinerary without the hassle of having to change hotels. See all the Best Things to do in Florence here.

Where to Stay in Rome

Choosing where to stay in Rome can be difficult. With 22 different districts, each made up of several neighbourhoods, each with a different atmosphere and price tag. 

Yellow facade of obscure shaped building in Rome.

Centro Storico

If you are short on time, the historic centre is perfect for on your doorstep access to all major attractions such as Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. It is crowded and expensive but very convenient, especially for first-time visitors.

Jewish Quarter

If you want to be centrally located but a little bit away from the crowds with a charming old town atmosphere, stay in the Jewish Quarter.

Not far from Centro Storico, the old Jewish Ghetto is filled with beautifully crooked streets running from Piazza Venezia to the Tiber River. A renowned culinary district, it is perfect for those who want an authentic Roman foodie experience and a fantastic gastronomic encounter.

You Might Also Like: Discover the heart of Italy with these traditional Italian recipes by region and learn how to recreate centuries of culinary tradition at home.

Tridente and Via Veneto

Tridente is one of the most upscale areas of Rome and still technically part of the historical centre. Close to the Spanish Steps, you’ll find 4 & 5-star boutique hotels and high-end shopping.

Nearby Via Veneto was the place to stay in the 50s and 60s for politicians, film stars, and paparazzi. While it has lost some of its former pizzaz, you’ll still find elegant hotels and classy restaurants.


Considered hip, lively, slightly bohemian and even a little offbeat, Trastevere is one of the most visited and popular districts in Rome. Exciting nightlife, great restaurants and a charming character in a tangle of quaint streets.

On the other side of the Tiber River, Trastevere is one of Rome’s most atmospheric neighbourhoods.

Termini and Esquilino Central Station

The advantage of staying near Rome’s Termini station is convenience and cost. With access to all central public transport systems, it makes getting around Rome a breeze for those who don’t like to walk. You’ll find lots of budget hostels,  low-cost hotels and B&B’s which makes it perfect for the budget traveller and offers ease of access to the airport.

It is also Rome’s multicultural area so you’ll find lots of hawkers, ethnic shops and eating options from all over the world, including a Chinese style market.

Cars parked along Rome's famous shopping street.

Vatican City and Prati

If you want to divide your time between Rome and Vatican City, the Prati district to the east of St Peter’s Cathedral is a refreshing change to the touristy Borgo district. You’ll also find very reasonable hotel prices and be well-positioned for those early starts when visiting the Vatican.

Monti & Celio


Looking for an authentic Roman neighbourhood experience, you’ll find it in Monti. Once the red light district of Rome, you’ll now find traditional Ma and Pa trattorias and local boutiques, great for unique Italian clothes shopping. It also has some of Rome’s most beautiful churches.


Not far from Monti, the residential neighbourhood of Celio lays claim to the Colosseum at its heart. An area that is slightly crazy with tourists during the day offers some of the best views of Rome by night – The Colosseum and Roman Forum.

Neither Monti nor Celio has many hotels which add to the authentic suburban feel. These are the places to stay if you’re big into Roman ruins and want an authentic neighbourhood vibe.

Typical Italian table with checked tablecloth and 2 chairs on sidewalk in Rome.

Flaminio and Parioli

If you want museums, fancy restaurants, art galleries, a tranquil atmosphere filled with enormous green spaces and clean, tree-lined avenues; Flaminio or Parioli are for you. Rub shoulders with Rome’s upper echelon in this high end residential area close to the Villa Borghese.

Rome Tourist Accommodation Tax

When choosing the best place to stay in Rome and comparing rates, make sure you factor the Tourist Accommodation Tax. The tax is calculated by the star rating of the hotel for up to 10 nights.

1,2 Star Hotels –€3 pp/per night
3 Star Hotels –€4 pp/per night
4 Star Hotels –€6 pp/per night
5 Star Hotels – €7 pp/per night

Guesthouses, bed & breakfasts and holiday rentals carry different tariffs. See the official Rome Tourism site for more details.

Related: Backpacking in Italy? You Need These Italy Travel Tips

2 very cool old cars at the Vatican.


Via Veneto & Via del Corso

Looking for the best places to shop in Rome, head to Via Veneto and Via del Corso. 

Via Veneto is one of the most expensive and elegant streets in Rome. Immortalised in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Via Veneto has attracted a jet-set crowd since the 50s’.  Along with some famous hotels, restaurants, and bars, you’ll find a great range of shopping options from antiques, vintage to high-end designer stores. 

While not as famous Via Veneto, Via del Corso offers a large array of shopping options from international stores to boutique and designer brands.

Galleria Sciarra – The Hidden Art Nouveau Courtyard

Make sure you seek out the beautiful Galleria Sciarra. Only a few steps from the Trevi Fountain and the Via del Corso, the largely unknown, hidden courtyard is a feast of Art Nouveau. Gorgeous frescoes in brilliant colours painted by Giuseppe Cellini is a celebration of women in the various phases of life.

Built in the late 19th century for the wealthy Sciarra family, the opulent courtyard was meant to be a shopping mall.
Had it come to fruition, it would have been the most beautiful in Rome.

Stained glass and facades inside Galleria Sciarra.


Rome is packed with scammers, fraudsters and pickpockets. Be diligent with your belongings at all times, especially in crowded tourist areas – even in St Peter’s Basilica.

Do not accept any “gift” from strangers such as a flower, crafts, even handbags. Don’t even handle them no matter how much the well-meaning person forces it on you. You will be harassed to pay for merely touching the “gift”. 

Related: Keep your belongings safe in Rome – Read our guides to the best anti-theft handbags for travel and the best anti-theft travel gear. 

Travel Insurance for Rome: Get a free quote from World Nomads Travel Insurance.

Vagrants of the World Travel are a World Nomads affiliate meaning we receive a fee for any quotes generated via this site at no extra cost to you.