EPIC THINGS TO DO IN ROME IN 2 DAYS

AMAZING 2-DAY ROME ITINERARY

Are you planning your 2-day in Rome itinerary covering all the top places in Rome in 2 days? Then read on as I share my tips for an amazing trip to this unique city! Rome is like no other city. It is full of (sad) history and culture, beautiful people, stunning architecture, and great food. 

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 DAYS IN ROME

Before starting with the best places to see in 2 days in Rome, you´ll find a quick guide with the most important travel information.

I cannot say Rome has become my favorite city, but I (and my two cousins) really enjoyed our trip. Verona or Florence might win the prize! However, Rome was still a great trip.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

How to Get Around 2 Days in Rome 

  • Rome can be wonderfully explored on foot. The main attractions are quite close to each other, and if you are used to walking, you can enjoy these places as a pedestrian.
  • We got tickets for hop-on and hop-off sightseeing buses (we stayed in Rome for more than two days and walked each day at least 15-20 km) and used the buses when we were tired or to save time. I admit that I love those sightseeing buses and regularly use them to get a good overview of the city.
  • Rome’s public transportation is apparently good, and you can use buses to get around easily and cheaply.
  • In my experience, there is no real need to use taxis or to rent a car.

Where to Stay in Rome for 2 Days

Rome is one of the busiest cities in Italy – full of tourists at any time of the year. Accommodation can be pricey though you will not find many of the typical 5-star hotel chains you see everywhere else where you have crowds of visitors.

  • Luxury Hotels: There are some amazing 5-star luxury hotels. St. Regis is one of the few hotel chains with a property in Rome. The hotel is popular because of its central location (it is within walking distance to Rome attractions like the Spanish Steps, etc.). Click here to find out more and get the best rates.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Here is a popular 3-star hotel – find out more about the Suites Farnese Design Hotel.
  • Budget Hotels in Rome: Looking for a budget hotel in Rome? This might be the perfect choice for you: We were a group of three and needed a big room with three beds. And we were really, really happy with our hotel. It was not spectacular, but the location was good, and so was the value for money: Find out more about the St. Peter Bed in Rome here.
  • I had coffee at Atlante Star – the view from the rooftop is amazing and reason enough to stay there overnight. Check out their prices here.
  • If you prefer staying at an Airbnb, check out that post.

2-Day Rome Itinerary – Best Time to Visit 

We visited Rome in the winter – and had a blast.

  • I definitely don’t recommend visiting in the summer. From June to September it is warm too hot, generally dry, and tourists from all around the world flock to Rome, so it gets extremely crowded and hotel prices are high.
  • The best time for a 2-day Rome trip is from October to April. It can get coldish in the winter months but it hardly dips below freezing point. 
  • Wintertime has the least crowds, which results in shorter lines (standing in lines might play a big role when visiting Rome). The weather in January, during my trip, was mild, and crowds were gone though it was still busy and lively, while accommodation costs are lower. 

These activities can all be done at any time of the year – but I guess winter, fall, or spring might be the best time to visit.

Money Issues in Rome

  • The currency is Euro (€).
  • Shops often advertise that EC/Credit Card payment is possible.
  • But the reality is that once we wanted to buy something (including tickets for the hop-on and hop-off buses), it did not work because of a broken “card machine.“ This happened regularly, and it was a bit frustrating and disappointing. I don’t want to assume too much, but we figured that credit card payments were not allowed to avoid paying taxes to the government. 
  • I might be wrong, but definitely withdraw money and have cash on you to avoid problems, or book tickets in advance and pay online.

WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN ROME IN 2 DAYS

Visiting Rome means being transplanted back to ancient times. There is so much history, and as the Roman Empire used to be the most powerful in its time, so much fascination. So, let’s dive into the top places to visit and the best activities for your Rome itinerary.

DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN ROME

Start your day with a trip to the Colosseum…

Learn About Rome´s History at the Colosseum – Around 9 am

The Colosseum is one of the main tourist attractions. It is even a great place if you visit Rome with kids.

The Colosseum – officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater – is almost 2,000 years old. It was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. However, there is a cruel and tragic history behind it, as the Colosseum used to be a venue for gladiator and wild animal fights for about 4 centuries. In the 6th century, it was abandoned and actually used as a quarry for numerous building projects. Restoration efforts only began in the 1990s. 

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Despite its bloody history, it is an awe-inspiring place to see in Rome.

The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built – it could hold up to 50,000 visitors. It is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today, though about two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time. It is made of stone, concrete, and tuff, and it stands 4 stories tall at its highest point. 

The architecture is one of the most distinctive in any European capital. While looking at it from a distance is nice (and free), you should get a ticket and explore the inside. Keep in mind that it is one of the main attractions, so there will be tons of other tourists visiting as well. 

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  • So, buying an online ticket in advance is a good option to avoid the line (as this includes “skip the lines” already). We got extra audioguides (and my cousin answered all my additional questions) and learned about its history in a nutshell. 
  • If you don’t have such an awesome cousin, you could book guided tours in advance.
  • Come here early to avoid the crowds 
  • Regular tickets are € 16.00 and include entrance to the Colosseum plus entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine archaeological area – but they do not include to “skip the lines”.
  • Reduced tickets available (bring your ID) 
  • There are tickets (not always available, though) that also allow you to visit the arena for a higher price
  • Opening hours: 10.30 am – 7.15 pm (last entry at 6.15 pm), closed January 1 and December 25
  • It takes about 1-2 hours to visit the Colosseum
  • There is no dress code but wear comfy shoes
  • HOW TO GET THERE: Roma, Piazza del Colosseo
    Metro: Line B stop Colosseo
    Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118
    Tram: n. 3

From the Colosseum, it is time to head to the next attractions, which are just a stone‘s throw away: the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Stroll the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – Around 11 am

If you have a ticket for the Colosseum, it normally includes the entry fees for these sights as well, which are other places to add to your 2 days in Rome itinerary.

The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is located just to the west of the Colosseum and is the ancient city of Rome, whereas Palatine Hill rises above the Forum and it is the place where the emperors built their palaces. 

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill used to be the center of public life during the Roman Empire and included many of Ancient Rome´s most important structures. The remains paint a picture of how important this place used to be.

  • To be honest, I wish I had an audio guide or a tour guide. Even though my imagination is okay, it was not enough to really grasp the importance of the place, and I felt a bit lost without a guide. 

You´ll also have great views of the Colosseum, and it is not as crowded as other Rome attractions, or maybe because of its size it felt less busy. 

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  • Combine it with a trip to the Colosseum
  • Regular tickets are € 16.00 and include entrance to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine archaeological area
  • Opening hours: 10.30 am – 7.15 pm (last entry at 6.15 pm), closed January 1 and December 25
  • Plan in 1-2 hours for these two attractions
  • HOW TO GET TO PALATINEVia di San Gregorio 30. From the Colosseum you can easily walk, otherwise: Metro: Line B stop Colosseo, Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118 Tram: n. 3
  • HOW TO GET TO ROMAN FORUM: Largo della Salara Vecchia 5/6, Metro: Line B stop Colosseo, Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118

From there, you could take public transportation, a taxi, or walk to the next famous landmark.

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II – Around 2 pm

This building has become one of my favorite sights and is Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele. Though I haven’t seen it in many top 10 lists for Rome, it has made it on my list. Its symmetry is just astonishing. 

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It is 135 meters wide and 70 meters high – and the top is crowned with an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel cast in bronze and two chariots driven by the goddess Victoria. 

Apparently, the building was considered very ugly by the Romans and is often compared to a wedding cake because of its structure. Though I don’t like wedding cakes much, I loved this building, which is actually also known as the Alter of the Fatherland.

It was created as a monument for the first king of united Italy (completed in 1925) and is probably one of Rome’s most modern-looking buildings. Yes, I seriously did not see many new buildings, so I perceived this 100-year-old building as modern! 

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We did not visit the museum inside but instead climbed some of the stairs and enjoyed the great views from there.

  • There is also a flag museum (free of charge) you can visit.
  • Climbing the first stairs to the lower terrace (with the view in the picture) is free
  • Using the lift to the panoramic terrace (the only way to get to the top) cost about 7€ 
  • HOW TO GET THERE: From Palatine Hill, you can either walk (about 2 km) or take a bus, e.g., line 81, hop-on and hop-off buses also take you there.

From there, you could take a taxi, or walk for about 10 minutes to the next famous landmark.

Check out Pantheon – Around 4 pm

The Pantheon is one of the main landmarks in Rome. Honestly, I was not too impressed. Maybe, I was in a bad mood when I entered because just a few seconds before, my ice cream had fallen, and I was sad over the waste of my valuable, delicious Italian gelato.

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It was built between 25 and 27 BC as a temple dedicated to the twelve Gods and to the living Sovran. It was most likely reconstructed between 118 and 125 AD and is almost 2000 years old. It is the only ancient Roman building that has remained more or less intact through the centuries (remember the Colosseum that has largely been destroyed). In the 7th century, the temple was officially converted to Christianity and named Basilica of Saint Mary and Martyres.

  • The Pantheon is free to visit
  • You do not need to book any ticket in advance. Lines might be long though
  • The Basilica is open all days from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm (last entry 6.30 pm), closed on 1st January, 15th August, and the 25th December, times may vary in accordance with special religious celebrations.
  • You can book audio guides for about 7€
  • Guided tours are also available at the church (take about 45 minutes and cost about 20€)
  • Mobile App is available: Pantheon Rome
  • It is a church, so dress moderately

From there, you could take public transportation, a taxi, or walk to the next famous landmark which is about 1 km away.

Relax at Piazza di Spagna – the Spanish Steps – Around 6 pm

The Spanish Steps are another tourist magnet.

 The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti in Italian) was built in the 18th century and has its name from the Spanish Embassy at the Piazza di Spagna. They are a set of steps (135 steps in total) climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

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Though we visited in January, it was so busy. We even had issues finding our way to climb down! Since spring 2019 it is not allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps anymore.  

It was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. I am sure it will be much better now that you can actually walk down the stairs and so it has made it on the list of the best places to visit in Rome.

Okay, one great way to end the day is to head to the nearby Trevi Fountain.

Make a Wish at Trevi Fountain – Around 7.30 pm

I mentioned that I didn‘t like the Spanish Steps that much because it was crowded. But I cannot recall any place that was as crowded as the Trevi Fountain. 

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That place is jammed with people from all over the world. It gets even busier in the evenings. Yes, in the picture, it does not look busy. But it is. We went back there again early in the morning when it was still quiet to see it without the crowds.

There had been another fountain on that site that was demolished in the 17th century, and then Trevi Fountain was designed completed by Giuseppe Pannini in the 18th century. It is about 26 meters high and about 49 meters wide. In the center of the fountain, you will see a statue of Oceanus, the Sea God in Greek mythology.

  • There are many cafes and restaurants close by, too, so you´ll find something to your fancy.
  • Have your drink on a bench in front of the fountains instead of in a cafe.
  • Don’t forget to throw in a coin if you want to revisit Rome. The myth says that throwing a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures you´ll visit Rome again.
  • While the water from the fountain was long known as the best in Rome, it is now not drinkable!

This will probably be a busy day, but sticking to a tight schedule will allow you to see many of Rome´s sights within two days. Check out ideas on how to spend your evenings in Rome.

  • Tip: With 2 days in the city you might be able to visit Trevi Fountain twice. Early in the morning, it tends to be less busy, and you can manage to take a picture without other people in it.

DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN ROME

Yes, Rome in 2 days is quite busy, but it is worth it. So, here are my suggestions for your second day.

Enjoy Castel Sant’Angelo – Around 9 am

Castel Sant’Angelo is located close to the Tiber River. It is a popular place to find musicians and small stalls selling souvenirs. You can also visit the museum inside and enjoy great views of the city.

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The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself (around 2000 years ago!) and his family. It has been used for different purposes, from defense fortress to prison and dungeon and more.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it became a museum and venue for cultural and social events.

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View from Castello del Angelo  @shutterstock

Inside you will now find the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo with many pieces on display, including a grand collection of paintings, sculptures, military memorabilia, and medieval firearms.

The museum is divided into several sections, with elegant Renaissance interiors, including the Sala Paolina with frescoes depicting episodes from the life of Alexander the Great on the castle’s upper floors. There is also a terrace offering unforgettable views over Rome and Vatican City with a little cafe.

  • Open daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm (last entrance 6:30 pm), closed: 25th December and 1st January 
  • Ticket prices are around 14€ for adults
  • You cannot bring backpacks, suitcases, or large bags to the sites
  • You have to go through security checks
  • Plan in between 1-3 hours

Okay, one great way to end the day is to head to a nearby rooftop bar.

Enjoy an Espresso at a Rooftop Bar – Around 12 pm

When in Rome, make sure to head to some of the great rooftop bars here.

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If you plan to visit Castel Sant’Angelo and its terrace you will have great views already, but why not enjoy some more fantastic views?

TIP: For amazing views of St. Peter‘s Basilica in Vatican City, we went for an espresso at Atlante Star. It is a four-star hotel with a lovely view of Vatican City and Rome. I guess there aren’t many rooftop bars that can claim to offer views of two countries.

Stroll the Tiber River – Around 2 pm

If you have some energy left, invest time exploring an UNCROWDED place in Rome (well, kind of).

When you stroll the Tiber River, you will have the place almost to yourself – a rarity. I am into strolling rivers. It may sound weird, but I have fallen in love with places where I basically just strolled along the rivers.

The river is not as dominant (nor as pretty) as in other cities, but you could stroll, have a drink, picnic, etc.

Read more: Visit Appia Antica – A day trip from Rome.

End the Day in Travestere – Around 5 pm

For the second night, I definitely recommend dining in the Trastevere neighborhood. This area is probably one of my favorite areas in Rome. The cobblestone streets with their many shops, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes are really charming. 

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If you want to enjoy a hip, easy-going vibe, plan some time to stroll through Travestere and pick one of the numerous restaurants to dine in. There are also some that are quite affordable.

If you spend your last evening here, you will probably have a great last memory of Rome!

DAY TRIP FROM ROME

Vatican City is a must-see in, well, I would say Rome though it is not part of Rome. However, it was one of the highlights of my Rome trip.

And so I highly suggest staying 3 days in Rome, so you can add a day trip to your itinerary. But you could also add it to your 2-day itinerary and visit Vatican City in half a day/ 1 day.

Explore Vatican City

This tiny country (the smallest in the world, to be more precise) lies within Rome, and crossing countries is made easy. 

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The Pope’s home is probably one of the most extreme places I have visited so far. There is so much “bling-bling“ and pomposity that it felt unreal.

  • I strongly recommend getting tickets for the museum as well and planning in at least half a day for this place, including the Sistine Chapel. 
  • Have I mentioned that it gets bustling and crowded? So make sure you book your tickets in advance. Even in January, there were long lines – which you can skip with “Skip the Line“ tickets.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A WEEKEND TRIP TO ROME

Rome is a great winter destination but probably is amazing to visit at any time of the year. 2 days in Rome (plus one day in Vatican City) is the minimum time to spend. 2 days will allow you to see some of the best sights in Rome.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you plan your 2-day Rome itinerary.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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