A history nerd and foodie’s guide to Rome: Our 3-day itinerary
Rome is one of Europe’s most beautiful and best cities for a mini break away with bae – especially if you both love history and great food!
Full of some of Europe’s most iconic ruins, the best pasta you’ll ever eat in your life and pretty winding streets that have square after beautiful square to sit out in with an Aperol Spritz, it’s a must-visit for you next weekend away together. Whether you’re a foodie, history fanatic or even just want some super Instagrammable pictures, it’s definitely top of our list for couple’s getaways.
But because there is simply so much to eat, do and see, we’ve made a 3-day itinerary to help you make the most of your visit there and hit up all the most important historical spots – along with a few hidden gems – the best restaurants and how to find the best spots for a truly jaw-dropping pic!
We found it a good strategy to get your heaviest day out of the way first, which involved doing a lot of the major historical stuff. You might not want to do all of it, which is fair because it was definitely a long day, but we can say everything was well-worth doing.
We did all this in one day because these historical sites are all grouped together in the south of the city. They’re a little bit away from the rest of our sites, so it’s easiest to group them all together. Hit up the Colosseum first and be sure to have your day ticket that covers the Forum as well booked through their official site. There are plenty of people around offering tours but we found the audio guides very helpful and much cheaper. Be sure to go as early in the morning as you can to avoid the crush, crowds and heat.
The Colosseum has a mini museum inside as well that gives you tons of information so you can walk through the history of the ruins. If you want a picture of the iconic building, there are steps that lead up to another level on Piazza del Colosseo up to via Nicoli Salvi, which is where you can sit up on the wall and get an amazing shot of the building behind you. Again, go early so you aren’t swamped with hawkers and other tourists.
After the Colosseum, pass by the Arch of Constantine to get to the Forum – which was definitely the most awe-inspiring part of our trip. Like stepping straight into 200AD, be sure to have comfortable shoes for the uneven cobbles and don’t bother with a guide – there are signs everywhere telling you what you’re looking at. This is an absolute must-visit, as it’s an extremely atmospheric place that really gives you a feel of what the city must have been like for the historical Romans.
Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus is your next stop, but if you’re tired at this point and not majorly into history, this is where I’d advise you to duck out. An upward climb will give you incredible views, and the complex above is breathtaking in it’s enormity, but if you’re a little oversaturated at that point, cut your losses and go for a chill afternoon drink in the slightly pricey, but worth-it-for-the-views ‘Ristorante Martini & Rossini’, right across from the Colosseum to soak it all up.
Keep your afternoon and evening free then to crash a little after all your walking and touring and spend the evening wandering the beautiful streets of Rome as they come alive at night. Check out Navona square to see beautiful fountains and tourist-packed restaurants and then wander off the beaten track a little for dinner in the lovely Saltimbocca Ristorante, and drink gorgeous wine and eat super authentic Italian dishes – we recommend the prawn pasta. It was to die for.
Day two is definitely lighter than day one, even though it looks like there’s a lot on your list with the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vicus Caprarius, and the Spanish steps on your morning list. But really, most of these aren’t full of lots of information, they’re just beautiful places you can spend a few minutes admiring, so it’s a bit of a whistle-stop tour of some of Rome’s most beautiful and hidden gems
If you’re coming from the west of the city, hit it up in the order above, if you’re coming from the east, reverse it. Again, try to come early as tourists will flock to some of these major sites. The Pantheon will always have queues and looks super impressive from the outside. The queues do move relatively quickly though and you’ll probably be in with 15-20 minutes. The inside is beautiful and church-like, but not the most exciting thing on the list.
Next up is Trevi, the big one. No matter what time of day you go to Trevi, it’s going to be busy, so be prepped for that and keep your hand on your bag/wallet as the crowds are easy to be pick-pocketed in. Toss in your coin to make a wish and snap a pic with the stunning and surprisingly massive fountain – it’s also beautiful at night if you happen to be passing that way!
Next up is Vicus Caprarius, which not many people have heard of but is a really cool underground kind of spot in Rome. It’s the source of the Trevi fountain so a mere street or two away from the bustling centre. A €4 ticket will take you under the streets of Rome and into the structure that shows you the history of the fountain and the city as you walk around ruins that have been there since before the fountain itself!
Next up are the Spanish steps, which personally I found a little underwhelming, but there an iconic part of Rome so a must-see according to many. We went in the morning, but maybe this is a spot better hit up at night, where it’s known as a gathering spot for lots of young people.
In the afternoon, go across the iconic Pont Sant’Angelo to see Castel de Saint Angelo, a second century castle that houses an impressive military museum and cool viewing point up top. Full of stunning art and with a rich and long history, this is one I would recommend getting a tour for, as you have seven levels to get through.
Have a chill evening wine-bar hopping and trying all the best small plates and wine that Rome has to offer from Enoteca Il Piccolo to Astemio Wine and Food, a little out of the way, but a particular favourite with us.
Another intense day that’s very worth it for the culture and history, this is your Vatican day! Another one to get tickets for but not a tour, an audio guide is the perfect way to take the Vatican museum at your own pace. It involves several different routes as it’s truly massive, but that also means you can do as much or as little as you like. We definitely recommend checking out the Egyptian exhibition to see real mummies and incredible Egyptian artefacts as well as learning more about the relationship between the two ancient cultures. The Raphael Rooms and the gardens were also stunning. The end of the line and star of the show for most people is the Sistine Chapel, where no photos or noise is allowed.
After that, grab some gelato from Gelateria on Via di Porta Angelica to keep you going and head over to St Peter’s Square to soak up the views. If you have the time (and patience for queues) we heard the tour of the dome was incredible, but we hadn’t booked and didn’t want to wait for hours.
After your super cultural morning, take your last afternoon and evening in Rome to relax in the Trastevere region, by far our favourite spot for food and drink. More relaxed and less touristy than over the river, here you’ll find culinary gems like Cambio, Enoteca Trastevere, Casetta di Trastevere and Tonnarella’s, almost all of which you’ll want to book ahead as they’re very popular for their super authentic and incredibly fresh food – seriously my mouth is watering just thinking about them right now.
Take your time to wander the streets that are slightly more run down but definitely less busy and more authentic than the Municipio and enjoy your last night taking the sights, smells and tastes of Italy!