Rome is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world and almost impossible to really understand with only 2 days in Rome, but this Rome itinerary will help you make the most of your time. I will also include a few extra activities in case you have more time.
Rome is filled with grand historical monuments, marvelous Renaissance art and artifacts, stunning Baroque churches, incredible ancient ruins and so much more.
From its spectacular cobblestone streets to its mouthwatering Italian cuisine, this vibrant city has something for everyone. Whether you’re planning a quick getaway with just two days to explore or are looking for ideas to fill your time while visiting an amazing European gem–this 2-day Rome itinerary will help you make the most out of your trip.
How to Get to Rome, Italy
Since all roads lead to Rome, it shouldn’t be too hard to get there.
The easiest way to get to Rome is via plane. There are many international airports that offer direct flights and you can find a variety of affordable options from airlines like Ryanair or KLM. Alternatively, if you’re traveling from within Italy, you can take a train or a bus.
We came from Sorrento and took a regional train to Naples and then a fast train to Rome. Once we arrived, we took a taxi to our apartment, but there are also buses and Ubers to get you around the city.
When to Visit Rome, Italy
April, May, June, September, October, and the early part of November offer the best weather for Rome tourists. Of course, it will be crazy busy. I am pretty convinced that all of Italy is super busy most of the year, so it’s best to just come to terms with it.
But if you want to explore without having to fight crowds or spend a fortune on airfare and accommodation, then consider your vacation during the off-season months from November until April – when there are still plenty of things to see but much better prices can be had.
However, don’t forget that this is also Easter and Christmas season so travel expenses won’t always be so low.
Where to Stay in Rome, Italy
Rome is a huge city, so it can be hard to decide where you want to stay. Rome is divided up into several districts referred to as rione. Each of these Rome districts is unique and offers many great sites and accommodation options.
From our experience, the easiest Rome neighborhood to stay in for a short, first-time visit is Centro Storico – the historic center. It’s easy to walk to all the historic sites and equally easy to grab a taxi or Uber to get farther afoot.
Centro Storico is close to the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Campo dei’ Fiori. We also walked (15 minutes) to the Vatican and (15 minutes) to the Colosseum.
We stayed in this small apartment above two bookstores on Via del Governo Vecchio. I even picked up a couple of books set in Italy from Otherwise Bookshop downstairs.
It was pretty loud at night in the second bedroom, but things quieted down by midnight. The location was worth the noise for us.
Some other great neighborhoods for tourists are Trastevere, Monti, San Lorenzo, Testaccio, and Navona.
These areas offer the perfect combination – close proximity to many attractions without sacrificing safety and comfort. If you’re looking for a hotel, we recommend these areas because they are close to the train stations and bus stops, as well as restaurants and cafés.
You can also find Airbnb and VRBO apartments in any of these neighborhoods – which is sometimes a much better deal than hotels.
Make the Most of a Short Visit to Rome.
There are plenty of wonderful things to see and do in Rome, even if you’re only there for a short visit. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time:
Start by getting oriented. Pick up a map from any tourist information office and take a walk around to get a sense of the city’s layout. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the major landmarks and find your way to the main attractions.
If you’re short on time, focus on the city’s highlights. The Colosseum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain are all must-see destinations. You can also explore some of the smaller piazzas and wander through the narrow streets for a taste of local life.
Take advantage of the city’s public transportation system. The Metro is quick and easy to use, and buses can take you to some of the more out-of-the-way places. We used taxis and Uber a few times, which get you where you want to go faster than the Metro or buses.
Walk as much as possible. Not only is it a great way to see the city, but it’s also a great way to work off those gelato calories! Our main mode of transportation was on foot. You can see most of the “big” attractions in Rome while walking.
Rome is an amazing city with endless things to see and do. With just a little bit of planning, you can make the most of your time here and have an unforgettable vacation!
Rome Itinerary Day 1
Walk the Seven Hills of Rome
Start your adventure by getting to know the city’s iconic landmarks by walking the Seven Hills of Rome.
The original city of Romulus was built upon Palatine Hill (Latin: Mons Palatinus). The other hills are the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine (known respectively in Latin as the Mons Capitolinus, Mons Quirinalis, Mons Viminalis, Mons Esquilinus, Mons Caelius, and Mons Aventinus).
See the Google Map for the walking route of the 7 Hills of Rome.
Anders is all about getting to the high points of places, so of course we started with the high points of Rome. It turns out that walking the Seven Hills circuit is a great way to see Rome – you get a different view from the top of each hill. From the ancient ruins at Palatine to the Presidential residence on Quirinal and the relaxed residential vibe of Aventine each hill has its own personality.
Along the way, you will walk past or through many of the most famous ruins and sights of ancient Rome.
It’s around 11 km to make the loop. We took it slowly, got tea and coffee first thing, had lunch midway, and grabbed gelato toward the end.
Rome Food Tour
We loved the Devour Tours food tour we took on our visit to Venice so much, that we couldn’t wait to do another in Rome. We went on the Rome Street Food and History Tour.
It started with crispy, fried artichokes in the Jewish Quarter and moved into the historic center of Rome for fried codfish. We visited a local brewery, ate pizza, and ended the evening with gelato. There were a few other tasty bites in there along with the history and culture of Rome.
This is my new favorite thing to do when I visit a city. I encourage you to take a food tour early in your trip so you know where and what to eat the rest of the time you are there.
I really like Devour Tours since the groups are small, there were eight of us in total, including my family of four. Plus, their tour guides are local and quite knowledgeable. The guides help plan the tours and take you to their favorite local spots.
Sign up for the Devour Tours Rome Street Food Tour ahead of time, as these tours fill up.
Rome Itinerary Day 2
Vatican City Tour
We got up early to hoof it over to the Vatican for a tour with City Experiences Walks. We knew we wanted to see the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, but also knew we didn’t want to stand in line.
The VIP Pristine Sistine Vatican Tour with Museum Breakfast got us into the Vatican half an hour or so before it opened to the public …and we didn’t have to wait in line.
I think we were supposed to go to the Sistine Chapel first so we could see it without the crowds, but we went to breakfast in the courtyard first. It was lovely, but it meant that the rest of our tour was crowded.
Despite the people, the tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s was really good and deeply interesting. City Experiences (Walks) gets such good guides.
When we exited the church at the end of the tour, there was an incredibly long line, even on a rainy day in November. I am so glad we booked the tour and got in early.
The VIP Pristine Sistine Vatican Tour with Museum Breakfast and all of the Vatican tours fill up quickly, so make sure to get your tickets as early as possible.
Visit the Forum and Colosseum
I am putting these two together because one ticket gets you into both!
Rome is a city full of history and ancient monuments, and two of the most iconic places to visit are the Forum and the Colosseum. Both of these sites are located in the heart of Rome, making it easy to see them both in one day.
The Forum was the center of political and social activity in ancient Rome. It was a bustling marketplace and the site of important government buildings, temples, and monuments. Today, visitors can walk among the ruins of the Forum and get a sense of what life was like in ancient Rome. Some of the most impressive structures to see include the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Saturn, and the Temple of Caesar.
The Colosseum, on the other hand, is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in Rome. This ancient amphitheater was used for gladiatorial games and other public spectacles, and it could hold up to 50,000 spectators. Today, visitors can explore the Colosseum and learn about its fascinating history. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the architecture and engineering that went into building the Colosseum or simply wander around on your own.
Both the Forum and the Colosseum are must-see attractions when visiting Rome, and there are plenty of reasons why. Firstly, these ancient sites offer a glimpse into the rich history of Rome and the powerful empire that once dominated the Mediterranean world. Secondly, they are both incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring, with stunning architecture and impressive ruins that have stood the test of time. Finally, they are located in the heart of Rome, making them easy to reach and explore, even if you only have a short amount of time in the city.
Dinner in Trastevere
If you’re looking for an authentic Roman experience, visiting the Trastevere neighborhood is a must-do activity. Located on the west bank of the Tiber River, Trastevere is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood filled with narrow streets, charming piazzas, and some of the best restaurants in the city.
One of the best things to do in Trastevere is to simply wander around and take in the atmosphere. The streets are lined with ancient buildings, colorful facades, and beautiful fountains, making it the perfect place to get lost and explore. The Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is a great starting point, as it is home to the stunning Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome.
When it comes to food, Trastevere is a foodie’s paradise. There are plenty of restaurants, trattorias, and wine bars to choose from, but one of the best experiences is to have dinner at a local family-run trattoria. These restaurants serve up authentic Roman cuisine, including classic dishes like carbonara, cacio e pepe, and saltimbocca alla romana.
For a truly unique dining experience, head to Da Enzo al 29, a beloved trattoria that is famous for its traditional Roman dishes and friendly service. The restaurant has been family-run since 1928, and the current owners are the third generation to run the business. The menu changes daily based on what’s fresh and in season, but some must-try dishes include the amatriciana, the coda alla vaccinara, and the tiramisu.
In addition to its food and charm, Trastevere is also home to a thriving nightlife scene. There are plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from, making it the perfect place to spend a fun and lively evening in Rome.
Other Things to Do in Rome
For those looking to dive deeper into the history of Rome, attending the Gruppo Storico Romano Gladiator School is a must-do activity. Located in the Appian Way Regional Park just outside of Rome, this unique school offers visitors the chance to learn about the ancient Roman sport of gladiatorial combat and even try their hand at some of the techniques used by these ancient warriors.
The Gladiator School is run by the Gruppo Storico Romano, a cultural association that is dedicated to promoting and preserving the history of ancient Rome. The school is staffed by experienced instructors who are passionate about sharing their knowledge of the ancient world with visitors.
During the course, we were taught the basics of gladiatorial combat, including how to use the various weapons and armor that were used by ancient Roman gladiators.
The course is divided into two parts: a short museum tour where we were given a brief history of gladiatorial combat, as well as a rundown of the different types of gladiators and the weapons they used. Then we took to the arena and things really get exciting. We wore the armor and used weapons while practicing some of the techniques used in gladiatorial combat, including footwork, parrying, and striking.
This fun and hilarious experience allowed us to put their newly acquired skills to the test and get a taste of what it was like to be a gladiator in ancient Rome.
Romeow Cat Cafe
For cat lovers visiting Rome, a trip to Romeow Cat Cafe is a must. We go to cat cafés all over the world. It’s a little weird, but we like it!
Located in the heart of Rome’s historic Monti neighborhood, this cozy cafe is home to several friendly and playful cats that love to interact with visitors. The cafe serves delicious coffee and pastries, and visitors are welcome to spend time cuddling and playing with the cats. The atmosphere is relaxed and cozy, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. With its unique blend of coffee and cats, Romeow Cat Cafe is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique and memorable experience in Rome.
The Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, and Villa Borghese
If you’re looking for some of the most beautiful and iconic sights in Rome, then the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, and Villa Borghese are not to be missed. Each of these locations offers something unique, from stunning Baroque architecture to sprawling parks and gardens and they are all close together.
The Spanish Steps, or Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, are one of the most popular attractions in Rome. The steps were designed in the 18th century and lead up to the Trinità dei Monti church, which offers breathtaking views of the city. At the base of the steps, you’ll find the Fontana della Barcaccia, a beautiful Baroque fountain that is a popular spot for taking photos.
The Spanish Steps are also a great place to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere of one of Rome’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
We were a little underwhelmed by the Spanish Steps as they were crowded with other tourists and surrounded by chi-chi shops. I am glad we saw them, though.
Piazza del Popolo is another must-see attraction in Rome. The square is located at the northern end of the city’s historic center and is surrounded by beautiful Baroque churches and buildings.
At the center of the square, you’ll find the famous Egyptian obelisk, which dates back to ancient Rome. Piazza del Popolo is also home to several great cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat.
For a more peaceful and relaxing experience, head to Villa Borghese. This sprawling park is located just a short walk from Piazza del Popolo and is home to several beautiful gardens, fountains, and sculptures.
The park is also home to the Galleria Borghese, a world-renowned art museum that houses works by Caravaggio, Bernini, and other famous Italian artists. Be sure to take a stroll through the park’s winding paths and enjoy the stunning views of the city from the Pincio terrace.
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