The Perfect Two Days in Rome

Two days in Rome can be a whirlwind of history, art, and incredible food. There’s so much history to explore here, but visiting Rome goes far beyond just the history. It’s a vibrant city you’ll love spending a few days exploring! 

As someone who has visited Italy three different times, I’ve put together the perfect itinerary for two days in Rome. I combined all my different trips into this post to suggest the best of everything I’ve done in Rome on all my different trips. Two days is enough time to see most of the top sites, enjoy the history and explore some of the best neighborhoods. 

Table of Contents

We visited Rome in October which was honestly the perfect time of year. We found the perfect Rome itinerary for 2 days. I don’t think Rome will ever get old. This October, I visited for the third time, and it was just as perfect as ever. I seriously think Italy is so wonderful – how could I not want to visit over and over?!

A special thanks to Walks for the tour in Rome and the wonderful time during our two days in Rome.

Where to stay

There are also a lot of amazing places to stay in Rome with a view. Consider staying somewhere extra special on your trip! A few I’d highly recommend are:

Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo

Overview: 200 m from the Colosseum and from the metro station, not far from the Eur business district and from the major archaeological sites, monuments, and museums. The hotel offers 160 rooms, some boasting views of the Colosseum. Outdoor swimming pool and panoramic terrace (open from the end of May till September). Swimming with a view of the ancient Roman sites is amazing!

Relais Fontana di Trevi

Overview: The Relais Fontana di Trevi puts guests deep in the cobble-stoned heart of Renaissance Rome, with other landmarks such as the Spanish Steps and Piazza Barberini within easy walking distance. The ideal accommodation for an unforgettable romantic break with one of the best views of the Trevi Fountain.

Tips for Visting Rome

  1. Plan Ahead: Rome has an overwhelming number of attractions, so plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time. Consider booking tickets for popular attractions like the Colosseum and Vatican Museums online with skip-the-line passes or using the Roma City Pass.
  2. Comfortable Shoes: Rome’s streets are mostly cobblestoned, so wear comfortable walking shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking as you explore the city’s attractions.
  3. Respect the Dress Code: When visiting churches and religious sites like St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, make sure to dress modestly. Avoid wearing shorts, sleeveless tops, or revealing clothing. Bring a scarf if showing your shoulders to cover up.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Protected: Rome can get very hot, especially in the summer months, so carry a water bottle with you and stay hydrated. 
  5. Public Transport: Rome has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, trams, and the metro. Take advantage of this!
  6. Watch Out for Pickpockets: Like any major tourist destination, Rome has its share of pickpockets. Keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded places like public transportation, markets, and tourist attractions.
  7. Eat Like a Local: Avoid tourist traps and seek out authentic Roman cuisine at local trattorias and osterias. Don’t miss out on classic dishes like carbonara, cacio e pepe, and supplì.
  8. Explore Beyond the Main Attractions: While iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City are must-visits, don’t forget to explore Rome’s lesser-known neighborhoods like Trastevere and Monti, where you can discover hidden gems and experience local life.

Rome Itinerary Day 1 – See Rome in a Day

Okay… it’s impossible to see Rome in a day or even during two days in Rome! But, if you’re like us, you want to see the major sites in a city but also don’t want to spend an entire two days in Rome just looking at the ruins. You could honestly spend weeks doing that here! Instead, a full-day tour of Rome can help you see the major sites in a day so that you’ll have time on your second day to explore a little off the beaten path.

You can choose to visit all the sites below on your own, but I’d recommend this amazing full-day tour of Rome. You’ll get the chance to see everything with skip the line access. It’s honestly the best way to see the major sites in Rome in a day. Below is the tour we took seeing Rome in a day.

Below are the major sites you don’t want to miss on your first day in Rome.

Stop 1: Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks and a symbol of ancient Roman engineering and architecture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Today, the Colosseum serves as a powerful reminder of Rome’s rich history and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit while in Rome.

As mentioned in the tips, the lines here can get incredibly long. It’s best to get skip-the-line tickets or take a tour that will take you inside quickly. I recommend this as your first stop of the day because you don’t want to run out of time for it! 

Since we were on a tour, our guide was prepared and gave us interesting facts throughout our visit. Thanks to the VIP access we had, there was little waiting as we walked through the fascinating history.

Hours: From March 31st to September 3oth, the hours are 8:30 am to 7:15 pm. From October 1 to 26, you can visit between 8:3 0am and 6:30 pm. From October 27th to December 31st, the hours of the Colosseum are 8:3 0am to 4:30 pm.

Cost: €18 per person

Stop 2: Roman Forum

From the Colosseum, walk to the Roman Forum. This was the bustling heart of ancient Rome, serving as the political, religious, and commercial center for over a millennium. You can walk along the Roman Forum, learning the history of the epicenter of Roman business and life during that time. 

I thought it was so interesting to learn that modern Rome was built on top of ruins. The streets used to be several meters lower before Ancient Rome collapsed and was built on top of the city.

Hours: The Roman Forum is generally open from around 9 or 9:30 AM until 6:30 PM. During summer and winter, the timings may be extended or reduced respectively.

Cost: €16 per person

Trevi Fountain, Gelato, and the Pantheon

After exploring around the Colosseum and Roman forum, head to the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. This area is walkable from the Roman Forum. You’ll pass the Capitoline Museum on the walk too.

The Trevi Fountain was built in the 18th century, completed in 1762, by the architect Nicola Salvi. It is located at the junction of three roads (tre vie), from which it derives its name. The fountain occupies the site of an earlier fountain dating back to ancient Roman times.

Take some time to enjoy the fountain and walk through the Pantheon. The Pantheon is celebrated for its remarkable dome, which remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. It has a diameter of 43.3 meters (142 feet) and is the same height, giving it a perfect spherical shape. The oculus, a large circular opening at the top of the dome, provides both light and ventilation to the interior.

Pantheon HoursThe Basilica is open all days from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last entry 6:45 pm)

Pantheon Cost: Adults Over 25 are €5. Adults Between 18 and 25 are €3 (proof of age may be requested). Under 18’s and Residents of Rome enter free, but a ticket is still required.

If you take a tour like we did, you’ll enjoy a private transfer to the second part of the tour—the Vatican. Once out of the coach, there’s an hour-long lunch break to relax and unwind before heading inside this incredible place.

If you choose to do this on your own, you can take public transit from the Pantheon to the Vatican. Again, I recommend skip the line tickets so you don’t waste time!

Lunch Near the Vatican

We chose a little pizza shop around the corner called Pinsa ‘Mpo. They had personal pizzas ready to go and when you ordered, they put them right in the oven. Really affordable and delicious! We also enjoyed an Aperol Spritz after lunch in the main square, just outside the Vatican. 

Vatican

The last major stop of your day will be the Vatican. The Vatican is huge and visiting takes a lot of time. Even after hours here, there’s more to explore.

The Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, is not only the spiritual center of Catholicism but also a fascinating destination rich in history, art, and culture.  The Vatican Museums house one of the most extensive art collections in the world, including works by renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Caravaggio. The museums attract millions of visitors each year who come to admire their vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.

Our tour guide took us through the Vatican Museum and into St. Peter’s Square. There, the tour ends around 4 pm, but you still have time to see more of the museums and inside St. Peter’s Basilica once the tour is over. 

We chose to continue walking around St. Peter’s Square and go inside the Basilica. It’s the largest one in the world and spectacular to see. While you’re here, you can send a postcard from the Vatican (it’s technically its own country/province!). Stop at the post office before leaving!

I would seriously recommend this tour if you want an awesome overview during your two days in Rome. You’ll see all the major sites and enjoy them without lines—there’s no better way, if you ask me! There’s honestly no way you could see all of this in a day if it weren’t for the skip-the-line access and incredible guides. It’d be overload, but Walks does such a great job helping you see a lot in a day.

Classic Italian Dinner

After your tour, it’s time for some amazing local Italian food. Avoid the touristy traps and ask your guide, hotel concierge, or a local where to eat!

When I was in Rome, we stayed at an Airbnb close to the Vatican. This Airbnb has a great location, with tons of different dining options within a 5-minute walk. Our host had recommended a lovely neighborhood restaurant called Sistorante that we wanted to try. Below are a few traditional Italian foods to try in Rome.

  1. Pizza Margherita: A classic Neapolitan pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s a symbol of Italian culinary tradition.
  2. Pasta Carbonara: A Roman dish made with spaghetti, eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, pancetta or guanciale (cured pork jowl), and black pepper. The creamy sauce is created by mixing raw eggs with the hot pasta.
  3. Lasagna: Layers of wide pasta sheets, Bolognese sauce (made with ground meat and tomato sauce), béchamel sauce, and cheese, baked until bubbly and golden brown.
  4. Caprese Salad: A simple and refreshing salad made with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, olive oil, salt, and sometimes balsamic vinegar. It’s a celebration of the colors of the Italian flag.
  5. Tiramisu: A popular Italian dessert made with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder, and sometimes rum or Marsala wine. It’s creamy, rich, and utterly delicious.

Rome Itinerary Day 2 – Get to Know the City

When in Rome, you have to experience it beyond history. Italy has deep roots in so many ways besides Ancient Rome. That’s why on the second day, you want to connect with the incredible, traditional food to eat in Italy with a cooking class.

It may seem silly to spend just one of two days in Rome doing a half-day cooking class, but it’s honestly the best decision. Italy has a strong tradition of making simple, delicious food, and you’ll want to spend time experiencing it.

Option 1: Farmers Market Cooking Class

Italy has incredible pasta, pizza, sauces, desserts, and more. You have to not only taste the food, but experience it as well.

We chose to take a class with Walks Inside Rome Cooking Classes. The class started in a local organic farmer’s market where decisions will be made about the dishes you make in class. It all depends upon the organic produce available in the market. I absolutely loved this because it meant you were getting the best possible ingredients.

From the market, you’re taken to the cooking school located near the Pantheon. Here, you’ll enjoy creating and eating a four-course meal with wine, coffee, and drinks included.

In the class, you’ll learn to make pasta, a vegetable dish, meat dish, and dessert. During class, we learned how to make lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, Saltimboca, and tiramisu. I was in actual heaven by the end of the class!

Our two cooking instructors were so friendly and fun to learn from. It was obvious how knowledgeable they were and the love they put into their cooking.

Everyone had a great time cooking together and the class was the right balance of work and play. There were plenty of breaks to eat, drink, and be merry throughout the class as well. We finished around 2 pm with our class.

Option 2: Explore Underneath Rome

Remember how I mentioned that modern Rome is built on top of Ancient Rome? Get to know the hidden history of Rome visiting the spaces below the ground and hidden gems!

Vicus Caprarius: This museum takes you beneath the Trevi district, through an intricate maze of ancient vestiges to the archaeological ruins of Vicus Caprarius (which roughly translates to “City of Water”), an old Roman apartment complex dating back to the first-century A.D.

Crypts, Bones & Catacombs: An Underground Tour of Rome: Rome’s ancient streets are lined with thousands of years of history, both above and below ground level. On this expert-led Rome catacombs tour, you’ll venture beneath the surface to explore the city’s mysterious yet enchanting underworld.

Explore Monti

After your cooking class, it’s time to get off the beaten path a little bit to discover a neighborhood of Rome that is just beautiful. This is an area that I didn’t know much about but, thanks to a local photographer, was able to discover. Trastevere comes highly recommended by everyone, but with just two days in Rome, it can be difficult to get there in a short amount of time (trains don’t go to this neighborhood and it’s a far bus ride).

Instead, walk through Monti. Monti is a beautiful neighborhood where you’ll find cute cafes, vintage shops, book stores, and little plazas. Walking this area is a great way to work off all the food you just ate and see some of the quaint streets people talk about in Rome!

Here are a few top things to do in Monti:

  1. Shop at the Mercato Monti: This eclectic market offers a mix of vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, art, and accessories from local designers. It’s a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts.
  2. Visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: This stunning basilica, one of Rome’s four major basilicas, features beautiful mosaics, intricate frescoes, and an impressive Baroque ceiling.
  3. Stroll through the streets: Monti is perfect for leisurely strolls along its narrow cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings, charming cafés, and artisan shops. Take your time to soak in the neighborhood’s bohemian atmosphere.
  4. Dine at local trattorias: Monti is home to many excellent trattorias and osterias serving authentic Roman cuisine. Stop by one of the neighborhood’s restaurants to enjoy classic dishes like pasta carbonara, cacio e pepe, and amatriciana.
  5. Visit the Domus Aurea: Explore the ruins of Emperor Nero’s extravagant palace, the Domus Aurea, located near the Colosseum. Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history and see its stunning frescoes.
  6. Relax in the parks: Monti is close to several parks and green spaces where you can relax and unwind. Take a leisurely stroll through the Parco del Colle Oppio or enjoy a picnic in the gardens of Villa Aldobrandini.

Evening: Futbol Game/Soccer Game

In the evening, head to an experience you won’t forget – a European soccer game. AS Roma’s team plays in the north part of the city and the games are so fun. Imagine the loudest part of any sports game in the US, that’s what it sounds like the entire game. We had a ton of fun and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. After all my trips to Europe, this was my first game. It’s worth going!

Really, you can see a game on either day that works with your schedule but I’d recommend it on the day where you didn’t walk all over Rome (literally) because you might get extremely tired!

You can find tickets by going to the AS Roma website. Make sure you bring your passport with you and only carry a small bag. Security is high at the stadium and you will be asked to show ID at least two times if not more to check that your name and ticket match. Because of this, I’d recommend being careful if you try to use StubHub or something similar – ticket exchanges can be tricky and you don’t want to buy tickets for the club only section.

I will say, at first when I wrote this two day Rome itinerary, it didn’t seem to be enough, but it ended up being just the right amount of time on this trip to enjoy all the best things about Rome. Even though it was my third trip, it was still as special as my first!

After the game, it’s time to get some rest because this Rome itinerary, 2 days packs in a lot! No matter how you spend your time, a trip to Rome is always worth it. Don’t have time for a full two days? Try 36 hours in Rome.

Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

Other Suggestions for Visiting Rome

Looking for other ideas while visiting Rome? Here’s more things to consider doing on your trip!

  1.  Monte Mario Nature Reserve: Hike one of Rome’s ‘seven hills’ in this nature reserve with fantastic views over the city. Nature trails take you through canopies of oak trees, pines, and cypress trees while enjoying views of Rome. 
  2. Capitoline Museums: Home to one of the finest collections of ancient sculpture in Rome (and, therefore, the world), the Capitoline Museums are—weirdly—rarely crowded.
  3. Castel Sant’Angelo: The Mausoleum of Hadrian, also known as Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering rotunda in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The popes later used the building as a fortress and castle, and it is now a museum.
  4. Borghese Gallery Tour & Tickets:  This Borghese Gallery tour takes you inside one of the most spellbinding art museums in the world. 
  5. Taste Rome Like a Local: Jewish Quarter & Trastevere Food Tour with Rooftop Aperitivo
  6.  Climb the Spanish Steps: Architecturally, they represent the longest and widest staircase in Europe. Historically, they bridged Rome’s powerful French community with the wider Roman and Papal populace by connecting the square below with the French Church of Santa Trinità dei Monti on the Pincian Hill.

Top Questions about Visiting Rome

What is the best time of year to visit Rome?

The best time to visit Rome depends on your preferences and priorities, as each season offers unique experiences. 

Spring (March to May)

  • Pros: Mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and longer daylight hours make spring an excellent time to explore Rome’s outdoor attractions comfortably.
  • Cons: Spring is a popular tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices for accommodations and attractions. However, it’s not as bad as summer. The weather is more mild, but it does rain a lot in Rome in the spring, especially in March and early April.

Summer (June to August)

  • Pros: Warm weather and longer days make summer ideal for sightseeing, outdoor dining, and enjoying Rome’s vibrant atmosphere.
  • Cons: Summer can be hot and crowded, especially in July and August, when temperatures soar and many locals go on vacation. Popular tourist attractions can also be crowded this time of year.

Fall (September to November)

  • Pros: Mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower prices for accommodations and attractions make fall a pleasant time to visit Rome. 
  • Cons: While September can still be warm and pleasant, November marks the start of cooler temperatures and occasional rain showers. Pack layers and prepare for varying temperatures.
      •  

Winter (December to February):

  • Pros: Winter is the least crowded and most budget-friendly time to visit Rome. You can enjoy shorter lines at popular attractions, lower prices for accommodations, and the opportunity to experience Rome’s festive atmosphere during the holiday season.
  • Cons: Winter temperatures can be cool and occasionally chilly, especially in January and February. Indoor attractions such as museums, churches, and galleries are still enjoyable year-round.

How much should I budget for two days in Rome?

A rough budget for two days in Rome for a moderate budget traveler might range from $300 to $600 per person. However, this amount can vary significantly depending on your accommodation choices, dining preferences, and planned activities. It’s always a good idea to research prices and plan your budget accordingly before your trip.

Accommodation:

  • Budget accommodation (hostels, guesthouses, budget hotels): $50 – $100 per night.
  • Mid-range hotels: $100 – $200 per night.
  • Luxury hotels: $200 and above per night.
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Transportation:

  • Public transportation (metro, buses): €1.50 per ticket, valid for 100 minutes.
  • Taxi fares vary depending on distance and time of day, but a short ride within the city center might cost around €10 – €15.
  • Consider purchasing a Roma Pass for unlimited public transportation and free or discounted entry to museums and attractions. A 48-hour Roma Pass costs €28.

Food and Dining:

  • Breakfast: €5 – €10 for a pastry and coffee at a café.
  • Lunch: €10 – €20 for a panino (sandwich) or pizza.
  • Dinner: €20 – €40 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant, including a main course and a drink.
  • Street food and snacks: €5 – €10 per item.
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Is the Roma City Pass Worth it?

If you plan on visiting many of the top sites in Rome during your visit, the City Pass can definitely be worth it. I’d recommend taking into account the things you want to do vs. what is on the pass and checking that all the things you want to do are on the pass. It also includes transportation, so it can help you save there as well!

 

Discover the best Rome itinerary for 2 days, perfect for first-time visitors. See all the major sites and explore hidden gems in the Eternal City.
Discover the best Rome itinerary for 2 days, perfect for first-time visitors. See all the major sites and explore hidden gems in the Eternal City.
Meghan

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