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3 days in Rome

We are planning a trans-atlantic cruise in October. The cruise starts in Rome, so we're thinking of spending 3 days in Rome prior to the cruise. Our cruise line offers a 3-day pre-cruise package that tours Castelgandolfo, the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and Tivoli. The package seems pricey to us, but we like the convenience of the pre-planned tours. How easy is it to tour Rome on our own for three days? Is it easy to get around? Do we need special reservations for the Vatican museum, and is there an admission charge? Thanks for your help.

Posted by
267 posts

we spent 31/2 day's in rome this past april and had no problem touring rome on our own. most sights are within walking distance. you may want to use public transportation to the vatican city (we did walk one way). we really enjoyed our vatican tour with angel tours, you can check out the prices on the web site. the price included the tour, admission price and passing the was approx 4 hrs :):) check out the roma pass for reduced prices to the colloseum, palentine hill and the forum and public transportation. there is also the hop on -hop off buses you can use to stop at different tourist sights. good luck :):)

Posted by
6796 posts

Please do not take this as smug, but my recommendation is to go and get Rick Steves Rome guidebook. You have plenty of time to read and plan, and yes, you can do it all on your own. You might also get, or borrow from a Library Rick Steves: Europe Through the Back Door. While that has only a small amount of info on Rome, he does discuss much about getting around, hotels, eating, and all of the other things valuable to know. That said, in three days you can see alot. I would plan in blocks of time, morning/Afternoon and split Rome up into Ancient Rome (Forum/Colossium/Palatine; Vatican (St Peters and the Museum); Borghese Museum, Ostica Antica; and then fill in the rest with walks to catch Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, the Piazzas, and other mostly free walk by type sights.

Posted by
1871 posts

It's so easy to just walk everywhere in Rome. do get a guide book, Rick's or Fordors, or Eyewitness. Do some reading before you go, plan out the sites you really want to see.

You do need a reservation for the Vatican museum and there is a charge. It's overrun with tourists. to really enjoy, get a guide. We used Angel Tours (find then on the web and make a reservation. - you do not have to pay in advance, you pay the guide when you get there) If you do the tour with Angel tours, it includes Vatican Museum (skip the line!!) Sistine Chapel, St Peters. Castelgandolfo is "ok" and could be skipped.

I must warn you, cruise ships are one of the biggest tour groups through the Vatican, when a ship docks...everyone goes there. So, if you can get to the Vatican before your cruise, and miss another group, you will enjoy it more.

3 days in Rome allows you plenty of time to see the sites. I also highly recommend Ostia Antica. You can take the Metro there (do have to change lines once- but it's easy)

At the other sites, you can hire Angel Tours as well, or usually there is a sign up window for guided tours, just read the signs and get in the correct line.

Posted by
104 posts

Maybe reservations for the Vatican Museum are recommended, but they are not mandantory - I was there this summer, and my friend and I got up early and waited in line for about a half an hour before the museum opened, and we walked right in (and this was in July, so I imagine October would be less busy). The museum itself was not that exciting, though it would probably be better with a guide. The Sistine Chapel, however, was worth the admission price - it was breathtaking!
We spent four days in Rome, and we did it all on our own. Your package doesn't even include Ancient Rome? You could definitely do it on your own, the city is very walkable, and the only time we took the Metro was to the Vatican and back, since it is a bit far from the rest of the major sights.

Posted by
440 posts

Barbara, please leave yourself time to just roam, sit and watch, relax. Your three days looks pretty hectic. I always walk everywhere and discover little gems along the way. Being lost is good too. Celebrate being 'found' with a glass of something lovely.

Posted by
32051 posts


As others have said, it's very easy to tour Rome on your own. I would also strongly recommend packing along a copy of Rick's Italy or Rome Guidebooks, as they provide a lot of information on the various sites in Rome (including lodgings for your pre-cruise nights).

In addition to the local tours of the Vatican mentioned in a previous post, if you want a local Guide for other sites I would highly recommend Francesca Caruso. She's an outstanding and very knowledgeable Guide.

Happy travels!

Posted by
22860 posts

You also have the Hop On/Off buses for a good overview of the city. The parts of Rome you will be most interested in seeing are about 2000 years old and all they did then was walk. The city is slightly rolling so there are some small up and down hills. You can walk completely across ancient Rome in an hour or an hour half if a slow walker. I concur abut Angel Tours.

You will need to get to the cruise ship port at Civitavecchia. It is about an hour train ride and easily done by yourself.

Posted by
1158 posts

Rome is a walking city.
Get a free map from any of the Info centers around the city and you will be fine. Also you can use the public transportation system.. It's 4EUR for one day unlimited pass.
You don't need any reservations for Vatican museum, but you might need to stay in line, depending when you go.I think it's 20EUR including Sistine chapel.

Posted by
157 posts

Touring Rome on your own is very easy. The major sites are all within an easy walking distance - remember it is an ancient city and the place was built with the ability to walk it. If you decide to use more modern means there are taxis and a limited but very easy to use subway system. As others have commented bring along Rick's books for some ideas. But three days will give you a great overview and highlights of a great city.

Posted by
88 posts

Two years ago, we took the 2 day Imersion Tour from Through Eternity tours (RS Recommendation) and loved it so much that when we return this summer we are going to use them again. The tour guide knows shortcuts and when to go/not go to sites to avoid crowds.