Rome on a Budget 3-Day Itinerary

Revised 5/5/20.

If you’ve read my How to Spend 2 Weeks in Italy then you’re here to read how to spend three days in Rome on a budget, yes? Great! Here I will break down my 3-day Rome (and Vatican City) itinerary perfect for any first-time traveler, budget or not, to Rome.  I have done this suggested travel myself as a solo, budget, female traveler so, yes, these three fabulous days in Rome can be done! 

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Rome on a Budget (or Not) Guide

To help with your Italy travel planning, remember to check out my great travel information on Italy and Vatican City, along with my suggested travel resources

Don’t forget to also peruse my Guide to Budget European Accommodations for additional accommodation-planning information.

Let me state here that when I say “budget”, I mean your daily travel expenses should total €100 or less.  Yes, it is very possible to see Rome on less than €100. Or more!  It’s up to you and your budget. The following travel guide can work for anyone, budget or not. The key factor that can push you out of the “budget” range is the accommodations you choose, not the attractions. Nice, huh?

Ok, now let’s get you to Rome!

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Booking Resources for Your Rome Itinerary Success!

Rome Transportation

Although I have provided details on arriving in Rome and Rome transportation in How to Spend 2 Weeks in Italy, know that the Rome historical center can be done on foot.  However, if you really want to move around Rome quickly and give your feet a rest, you can buy a 48 or 72-Hour Roma Pass.  The cost is €28 to €38.50, respectively, which starts at first point of entry and includes entry to attractions.

Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo Rome Italy
Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo

Where to Stay in Rome

You’ll ideally want to stay within a 20-minute walking distance West of the train station (but not next to the train station).  If you don’t want to walk you could catch a taxi to your hotel that should cost no more than €10 or €12 – confirm with the driver in advance – for a maximum 10-minute ride.  For ease of arriving and departing Rome, and walking around for the best Rome sights, I recommend staying within the circle on the map:

Where to stay map in Rome Italy

For budget purposes, my hotel Recommendation/Value for Money with breakfast and taxes included at €66/night is Hotel Antica Locanda.  It’s in a fabulous location with a great breakfast and staff, and includes all of the lovely amenities you could need, including a roof top patio.

If you want cheaper accommodations, there are other hotels and hostels to choose from starting at around €20/night, depending on what amenities and location you want. Hostelworld has some great, Rome listings.

Conversely, if you want to pay more, take a look at Rome accommodations.  I would still recommend staying in the suggested area noted above.

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Check Out Future Rome Accommodations!

Explore the recommended stay or other apartment and home rentals, or hotel and hostel options, now to get the best deals on your upcoming trip to Rome!

Rome Attraction Musts

St Peters Square, Vatican City Rome Itinerary
St Peters Square, Vatican City

If you have never been to Rome, the following are attractions that would a shame to miss. You can easily do 3-4 Rome highlights in a day without being too tired.  Some of them are free!  The reason why I suggested the following “musts” on separate days is due to popularity and  crowds. 

Therefore, I suggest you do the Vatican City (all four activities) and the Colosseum and Forum first thing in the mornings. Get your tickets online in advance and make Vatican reservations and Colosseum/Forum/Pallatine Hill reservations in advance  – the sooner the better – to avoid the line headache.  These activities are big draws and lines can accumulate quickly so I encourage your ticket is for the first tour of the day and show up at least 30 minutes before the first tour starts. 

If you can get in and out before the crowds accumulate, you’ll have more time to enjoy the rest of the day in Rome and not waste half your day standing in lines. That is not the way to spend the day in Rome.

Via Sacra sign Rome Italy
Via Sacra

Rome Day 1

Rome Day 2

Rome Day 3

  • Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
  • Tivoli Fountain
  • Piazza Navona
  • Pantheon
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Check Out Your Future Rome Attractions!

Explore the recommended attractions now to save your place on your upcoming trip to Rome!

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Rome Events Calendar

If it helps in planning what you would like to see, here is a list of annual events held in Rome

Rome Dining

My rule when eating abroad is: anything you eat outside of your own country has no calories.  Drop the diet and repeat after me:  “I’m on vacation!”

My Italy eating rule is: gelato should be eaten at least once a day. With my rules in mind, here are some tips on dining in Rome to get your started:

  • The Piazza Navona, Trastevere & Gianicolo areas have good rated restaurants to check out.
  • There are many small cafés to pop into for coffee or inexpensive pizza or calzone for a bite on the go.
  • Consider getting drinks and dinner after your Dolce Vita stroll.
  • Gelatto, and lots of it!
  • Here is a good link to research wine bars in Rome.
  • Katie has some good advice where to eat in Rome.
  • If you’re on a budget, check out Hostel World’s cheap eats in Rome suggestions.
Spanish Steps Rome Italy
Spanish Steps
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How's Your Italian?

Why not brush up on your Italian before your trip to Verona?

Rome on a Budget: 3-Day Itinerary

My suggested Rome hotel can be booked for €199 for 3 nights (a fabulous breakfast and taxes included). If you get a better deal or choose a more budget-friendly accommodation, then your average daily costs with all meals could be less than 100! 

That said, here is my suggested 3-day Rome and Vatican City itinerary so you can see how budget-friendly Rome can be without sacrificing comfort or skimping on the major sites.

Note: prices below do not reflect lunch or dinner meals, and attractions prices may have changed slightly since time of writing.

Rome Day 1 = €94

  • Vatican City:
  • Ponte Vittorio Emanuell II Bridge
  • Gianicolo Hill (Janiculum) for sunset and sweeping view of Rome
  • Dine in the Trastevere area
  • Hotel (breakfast and taxes included)

Rome Day 2 = €110

Rome Day 3 = €84

  • Borghese Gallery (make a reservation)
  • Stroll the park to the Villa Borghese
  • Palazzo Barbarini
  • Tivoli Fountain – grab lunch / people watch
  • Pantheon – FREE to enter, or you can pay for a guided tour
  • Piazza Navona – grab a drink or lunch and people watch
  • Walk along the Tiber to Piazza del Popolo
  • Stroll “La Dolce Vita Dolce Vita” – walk with the locals (usually 5-7pm) Via del Corso from Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps.  Take in some window shopping and dinner.
  • Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps
  • Hotel (breakfast and taxes included)

Rome Extra Day = €74 + metro

Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear if this was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below!

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Gwen is the Founder of CORR Travel and a global traveler and photographer with over 25 years of solo travel experience. She is also the Founder of the sustainability blog. Travel is her passion and environmental sustainability and biodiversity protection is her "religion".

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