Rome's wealth of historical treasures is nothing short of astounding. Navigating your way through everything can be a bit daunting - so to lend a helping hand, here's a breakdown of what simply cannot be missed as part of a thrilling three-day adventure in the 'Eternal City'.
Technically a sovereign nation of its own, the Vatican City is home to a number of world-famous sites such as the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, and St. Peter's Basilica. Since you'll be aiming to pack in as much as possible during your visit, book in advance to skip the line and head straight for the Vatican Museum. The museum gets very busy as the day progresses so make sure you get there close to or shortly after opening time. Afterwards, take in the sheer scale and grandeur of St. Peter's Basilica and leave ample time to marvel at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - find out why this pinnacle of Renaissance art, created by Michaelangelo, has earned its immortal reputation.
Linking the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and Piazza Trinità dei Monti and the Trinità dei Monti church at the top, the Spanish Steps are another iconic location in Rome. Feel like Audrey Hepburn in the film, Roman Holiday, as you descend the 135 steps with a traditional Italian gelato in hand. Others may know them from the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Tender is the Night. Aside from the glamorous connections, the steps are a pretty location for people watching under the Roman sun.
Also featured in the film Roman Holiday, as well as Fellini's La Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain is another unmissable attraction in the Italian capital. The largest Baroque fountain in Rome, it is most synonymous with coin tossing. It's believed that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you're certain to return to Rome one day. About three thousand euros are tossed into the fountain each day. The coins are then collected late at night by a local charity and the money is used to help feed the homeless and needy of Rome - so you know that your coin is going to a good cause.
In the evening, head to the Piazza Navona to take in the gorgeous Baroque architecture of the surrounding buildings. The square has been a public place since the 15th century and is a popular gathering spot with locals and visitors alike. Enjoy a sumptuous meal at one of the many restaurants in the square as you are serenaded by the professional musicians who regularly perform here.
Start the second day with a visit to the Colosseum. This enormous structure was constructed by the ancient Romans as a place where gladiators would battle one another for the amusement of vast crowds. On a busy day, up to 80,000 people could be seated in the stadium. It is still the largest stadium in the world and is an impressive site to behold. Be sure to book your tickets online before arriving, as this will help you cut down the queuing time.
A ticket to the Colosseum will also grant you access to the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the seat of power during the long reign of the Roman Empire. The area was also home to the central market and trading district, so it really was the beating heart of the ancient city. Explore the fascinating ruins to get an idea of what the city would have looked like over two thousand years ago.
The best-preserved piece of ancient Roman architecture in the city, the Pantheon has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world and is still standing over two thousand after it was built. It originally served as a temple to the Roman gods but was converted into a Christian church in 609 AD, which allowed it to remain in such good condition.
The only Egyptian-style pyramid in Europe, the Pyramid of Cestius was built around 12 BC at a time when the people of Rome were obsessed with all things Egyptian. It was built to serve as the tomb of a wealthy local businessman, while it has been looted many times and very little is now known about its original occupant or what was buried with him. The best view of the pyramid is from the Protestant cemetery. While you are there, take time to visit the grave of the English poet John Keats, who died in Rome at the young age of 25.