To see all of the fascinating city of Rome would take a number of days.
However, if you are on a general European tour and only have a few days to spare, the highlights can be done. The following is a three-day itinerary to see the major sights in the Vatican City and Rome itself.
Day one: The iconic Roman ruins
A trip to Rome without visiting the Colosseum is, well, unheard of! You can easily see the Colosseum, along with other iconic Roman ruins in one day. You can then get a feeling of what the city must have been like in the past. This is the largest amphitheater built by the Roman Empire and was used for public spectacles, such as the thrilling gladiatorial fights.
Also head up to Palatine Hill, the site where the most important houses of the emperors and kings have stood. Palatine Hill is also one of the famed Seven Hills of Rome and is close to the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. Visit the Via Sacra to find out about the everyday lives of Roman citizens back in the day. You can visit the tomb of Julius Caesar while you are there. Then head to the Roman Forum, the site of Roman government.
Day two: Explore Vatican City
While Rome is the site of Roman power, the Vatican is one of the holiest sites in Christendom and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The city-state has many fascinating museums to visit, but you might find it a stretch to do it all in one day.
There are some must-see sites in the Vatican that could comfortably be covered in a short time. These include the Vatican corridors, where you will visit Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Belvedere Courtyard, Pine Courtyard, Candelabra Gallery and the Gallery of the Maps and more.
Most important of all is the fascinating and beautiful Sistine Chapel. The chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace and was originally named the Cappella Magna (Great Chapel). However, after Pope Sixtus IV restored it in the 1400s, it was renamed to the Sistine Chapel. These days it is the papal conclave, where a new pope is selected. The chapel is famous for the exquisite frescoes by Michelangelo that adorn the ceiling and also the well-known The Last Judgment.
While on the west side of the river, have a totally different adventure in the colorful Trastevere neighborhood. This bohemian and funky area of the city still has evidence of its working-class roots. These days it is popular for its traditional trattorias, artisan shops and craft beer pubs. There are also several bed & breakfasts and budget hotels in this area, making for an enjoyable and alternative stay in Rome.
Day three: Roaming in Rome
Spend the third day strolling through the heart of the city, enjoying many of the iconic sights, such as the Piazza Navona, surrounded by palaces, fountains, restaurants and cafes. Another fascinating place to visit is the Largo di Torre Argentina, where a cat colony lives among the Roman ruins.
Other spots not to miss are the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Make sure you throw a coin into the fountain using your right hand, over your left shoulder, as this will ensure you will visit Rome again in the future. Having enjoyed a busy three days, you will no doubt be longing for more!