The former heart of the Roman Empire brims with layer upon layer of fascinating history. Rome's ancient monuments that date from its era as the 'capital of the world' are intersected by baroque palaces and ornate temples.

What’s more, the awesome Vatican City, the home of Catholicism is just asking to be explored. With its tumultuous history, stunning art, astonishing architecture and the incredible basilica at its center, there is so much to discover in this tiny country within a city.

Check out our guide on how best to explore Rome and Vatican City in three days:

Day 1
Vox City GuideSt. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Castel Sant’Angelo and an open top hop-on hop-off bus.

Day 2
Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill, Carcer Tullianum, Circo Maximo and Baths of Caracalla.

Day 3
St. John in Lateran and Cloister and Villa Borghese.

Day 1 

Rome skyline

Morning – A visit to the Vatican

Vox city guide

First things first, make use of your Omnia Card on the first day and check off everything from your Vatican bucket list. Pick up your Omnia Card from one of the three collection points and then use the unique number and secure code from your Omnia Card to request access to the app.

Then, you’ll be able to explore Rome at your own pace with an interactive guide at your fingertips, which gives you interesting and practical information, including commentary from local storytellers about over 100 sights in Rome and Vatican City.

St. Peter's Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica

This breathtaking structure is the center of Catholicism. Stepping inside its grand, vaulted, hallowed halls will likely leave you completely agog.

You’ll see Bernini’s stunning gilt canopy, Bramante’s impossibly enormous dome, the Crypts – a resting ground for celebrated characters of antiquity – and a plethora of Baroque and Renaissance artwork.

This is absolutely not to be missed.

Sistine Chapel

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Next on the agenda is a visit inside the beautiful buildings that make up the Vatican complex. Within its walls, there are around nine miles of exquisite art, sculpture and treasures to behold.

Among the collection, you’ll find the world-famous Sistine Chapel, a 15th-century chapel that is known for its incredible ceiling frescoes by Michelangelo. 

Castel Sant'Angelo

Afternoon – Exploring the ‘Eternal City’

Castel Sant'Angelo

Take a leisurely stroll down the avenue that leads from St Peter’s Basilica to the Tiber river. On its northern banks, you’ll find (as it’s rather hard to miss) the magnificent Castel Sant’Angelo.

With your Roma Pass, you can take a look inside and learn all about the citadel’s 2,000-year history and its multiple uses, from mausoleum to fortress, a prison and even a refuge for popes. These days, it serves as a museum, home to wonderful artifacts, pottery, painting and military weaponry.

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Open top hop-on hop-off bus

Acquaint yourself with the rest of the city (and take the weight off your feet for a moment) by next joining on to a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Take a short walk over the Sant’Angelo bridge and join the bus right here. 

Then, explore the city at your leisure and board and alight as you like at any of the 16 stops en route, including Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, Circo Maximo and the pretty island in the middle of the Tiber river, Isola Tiberina. 

And remember, your pass for the bus is available for 72 hours, so you can hop on and hop off as much as you like during your stay.

Click here for a map of the Rome open-top bus tour route.

NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM - palazzo-altemps

Early evening – Art and artifacts

National Roman Museum

Get a flavor for Ancient Rome at this magnificent museum complex split over four sites, dedicated to art collection, artistic production, written communication and protohistory of Latin peoples.

This museum’s last entry is 7PM and is located in the enchanting Centro Storico (historic center) of the city, which is also peppered with restaurants and bars to wind down in for the evening.
 

Day 2

Colosseum

Morning – Step back in time

The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The second day of your trip can mean only one thing: The Colosseum. And for that you’ll need your handy Roma Pass

Rome is very walkable, with awesome sights and historic landmarks around every corner, but you also have use of your travelcard. For use on all buses, trams and the metro system, this is a super handy inclusion with your passes to make the most of getting around the city.

The Colosseum is an unmissable part of any visit to Rome. Its instantly recognizable silhouette is particularly beautiful in the morning sun, so get down there early to best appreciate it. Then venture inside to discover its fascinating history. 

Constructed over 2,000 years ago, it was an amphitheater to host entertainment, including grand theatrical shows and gladiator fights for 50,000 spectators.

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Beside the Colosseum is the vast site of the Roman Forum, overlooked by Palatine Hill. This was the center of power in ancient Rome and is dotted with incredible ruins of civic buildings, religious structures and palaces.

Within the complex, take the time to step inside Carcer Tullianum, the remains of an ancient Roman prison that is said to have been the site where Saint Peter baptized fellow martyrs in a freshwater spring. 

Circo Maximo


If you’ve got time, head down to Circo Maximo and experience life in ancient Rome using their augmented reality system. 

Your goggles and headset will simulate how life was in ancient Rome, with realistic depictions of people going about their daily lives, attending political and social events, and worshipping. 

The tour is just 40 minutes and is available between 12PM – 3PM, Monday to Friday.

Caracalla

Afternoon – A Roman spa day

Baths of Caracalla

If you’ve not quite had your fill of ruins, then hop back on the sightseeing bus and make your way down to the Baths of Caracalla.

Constructed in 216 AD, they became some of the largest public baths in the city, hosting up to 1,600 bathers. 

You can take a tour of the ruins which includes a 4D experience that allows you to view the Baths as they would have originally looked, giving this historic site a contemporary twist.
 

Day 3

It’s been a packed couple of days, so let’s take day 3 a little more gently.

St John in Lateran

Morning – Say a little prayer

St. John in Lateran and Cloister

Dig out your Omnia Card from Day 1 for this one. St. John in Lateran is the most important church in Rome, incredibly beating even St Peter's Basilica in rank among Catholic churches. 

This is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope and it has a striking interior to match the expectation that holds.

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Afternoon – Art with a view

Villa Borghese Gallery

For the final stop on this trip, make your way to the Villa Borghese Gardens, a sprawling park in the north of the city with the eponymous villa at its center. 

This was formerly the home of the eminent Borghese family, and now houses one of the largest private collections of art in the world. Head inside to see masterpieces by Caravaggio, Bernini, Botticelli and more.

After you’ve had your fill of artwork, relax and unwind in the lush parkland that surrounds the museum, and head out to the Terrazza del Pincio for achingly gorgeous views over the city, as the sun sets on your Roman getaway.