Planning your next holiday in the wonderful Eternal City? Here is a useful and practical guide on what to see in Rome in 2 days or even for a longer stay.
We are in the central part of the peninsula, on the eastern side near the Tyrrhenian coast. Exactly in Rome, the capital of Italy, one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the world, but also the most famous for many reasons that you will discover soon.
These include monuments and palaces from every era; the piazzas with their fountains; churches and cathedrals scattered throughout the city; the city parks; the theatres and museums famous all over the world; the great historical markets, such as Porta Portese and Campo de’ Fiori; and the typical trattorias with traditional Roman dishes.
To be honest, two days in Rome to discover all its secrets is not enough, but perhaps not even a lifetime is enough to explore all the corners of this city. So many things to see and so many legends intertwining with reality.
The history of this city spans so many events over the centuries, events that leave us with an immense legacy, now recognised and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The UNESCO site includes several areas of the historic centre, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and Imperial Forum complex; the city walls and Castel Sant’Angelo; the Sistine area with the trident system, from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Navona; the Capitoline Hill, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo del Quirinale, the Ara Pacis; the major basilicas such as San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le mura.
A priceless treasure, appreciated in every corner of the world, is the typical Roman cuisine. In the dedicated section, you will discover what to eat in Rome that is truly traditional.
Now it is time for the guide to discover the best things to see in Rome in 2 days or for a longer holiday. Ideal, in fact, would be to stay at least 3-5 days, preferring certain periods of the year such as the months of late September and October, and between April and the first weeks of June.
The Christmas period is also very atmospheric, for the lights and decorations that illuminate the city, and for the themed events. To be avoided, in our opinion, are the summer months between July and August, the period when scorching heat or sultry weather generally hits the entire peninsula.
2 day Rome itinerary
Prepare yourself for the wonders of Rome because Rome is “so much stuff”, so much history that leaves traces everywhere, but which is concentrated in a few places you absolutely must visit. That’s where we take you. You can choose what to see among those indicated also according to your interests.
We enter the historical centre where the monuments and places of interest are located. In this perimeter, you can move around on foot. To get to the historical centre, you can use public transport, from bus lines to the metro (line A, line B, line C).
On the Atac website you will find the various solutions for tickets that are valid for 100 minutes from the first stamping (€ 1.50); those that once the 100 minutes have expired can be reactivated (from € 3.00 to € 15.00); those valid for 24 hours from the first stamping and for an unlimited number of journeys (€ 7.00); for 48 hours (€ 12.50); for 72 hours (€ 18.00); for 7 days (€ 24.00).
To visit Rome in two days, a ticket valid for 48 hours may be fine.
If you are planning to travel by car, this solution is strongly discouraged because of the traffic and the ZTL zones that do not allow free travel, unless you want to spend hours trapped in your car and/or get one fine after another.
If you come by car, you can park in the neighbouring zones, in the white stripes, if you can find space, or in the blue stripes, paying parking by the hour. The standard rate is €1.00 per hour outside the LTZs and €1.20 per hour inside the LTZs. Exempt are residents with a permit and electric, hybrid and car sharing cars. Otherwise, you can always opt for the guarded car parks located near the city centre.
Colosseum, Roman Forum and Imperial Forums
What to see in Rome in two days, if not its “Colosseum”?
Our tour starts right from the Colosseum, the Flavian Amphitheatre, a monument with two thousand years of history that absolutely must be seen even if only from the outside.
The name “Flavian” comes from the Flavian dynasty of Roman emperors such as Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, who ruled during its construction, which began in 72 B.C. with Vespasian and ended in 80 with Titus. The name “Colosseum”, on the other hand, became popular during the Middle Ages, supposedly because of its proximity to the “Colossus of Nerone”, an enormous statue of the extravagant emperor.
Those who wish to, and have time, can visit it inside to retrace its history with the help of a guide. During the Roman Empire, various performances were held in this theatre, including animal shows, executions of prisoners, gladiator fights and venationes, i.e. fights between gladiators and animals (lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, bulls, elephants).
From the Colosseum you can continue to the Roman Forum. Here the eye is lost in the ruins of what was once the centre of Roman public life. In the Roman Forum were government buildings, courts, temples and meeting places, the remains of which are still partly visible.
- Civil basilicas for judicial activities
- the Temple of Vespasian and Titus dedicated to the deified emperors
- the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina
- the Arch of Septimius Severus (203 AD)
- the Temple of Romulus (in the early 4th century AD) whose structure was largely incorporated into the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian
- the Basilica on the Velia built during the empire of Maxentius
- the Foca Column (608 AD) in honour of the Byzantine emperor Foca.
From here you can continue along the Via dei Fori Imperiali where you will find the squares built between 46 BC and 113 AD, the fulcrum of political and governmental activity in the Roman Empire.
Each forum was built to commemorate the success of an emperor whose name it bore, such as the Forum of Caesar, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Nerva, the Forum of Vespasian (also known as the Temple of Peace), the Forum of Nerva and the Forum of Trajan.
Those who prefer it quicker can get here by public transport: the nearest metro station to both the Roman Forum and the Imperial Fora is “Colosseum” on line B.
Palatine and Capitoline Hill
Near the Imperial Forum there are two other points of historical interest, the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill, two of the seven hills on which Rome was founded.
Here there are important archaeological sites, imperial palaces, Roman temples and other buildings. These include, on the Palatine, the Lupercale (a cave where the Romans worshipped the god Lupercus); the Temple of Apollo Palatine; the Temple of the Magna Mater; the Elagabalium; the House of the Gryphons and the Domus Augustea or House of Augustus.
On the Campidoglio, or Capitoline Hill, also a popular vantage point, there are the Palazzo Senatorio, seat of the city’s municipality, erected in 1144, the sculpture of the Capitoline She-wolf, the Capitoline Museums, with their collections of Roman art and artefacts.
Piazza Venezia, Theatre of Marcellus
A short distance from Campidoglio, you can reach Piazza Venezia where you can see the majestic Altare della Patria, also known as the “National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II” (1885-1935), one of Rome’s most iconic monuments.
From here you can stop at the Theatre of Marcellus, an ancient open-air Roman theatre (13 BC). Although the ruins of the theatre cannot be visited inside.
A few minutes’ walk from here you can enter the Jewish Ghetto where you will find the Museum, the Synagogue (the Great Temple) and, why not, where you can enjoy kosher cuisine in one of the many restaurants and patisseries in the district.
Here, too, you can admire the remains of an ancient Rome that is still alive, stopping at the Portico di Ottavia, built by Emperor Augustus between 33 and 23 B.C. in memory of his sister Octavia. The temple is the only surviving one of those that surrounded the square of the Circus Flaminius (the area corresponding to the ancient ghetto).
Walking from the Jewish Ghetto, on the Tiber River and connected to the mainland by the Fabricio Bridge, you can reach the Tiber Island, the smallest inhabited island in the world, shaped like an ancient Roman ship. Another stop not to be missed on the tour to see Rome in 2 days.
On the island, once the site of the Temple of Aesculapius, are:
- the medieval Caetani Tower
- the historic Fatebenefratelli hospital, the Israelite hospital
- the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola (year 1000), which houses the Saint’s relics
- the small Church of San Giovanni Calibita (700)
Another bridge connects the island to the mainland on the opposite side, Ponte Cestio, one of the oldest bridges in Rome dating back to 46 BC, leading to the Trastevere district.
Cross the river to reach the charming Trastevere district, famous for its alleys full of restaurants, trattorias, tea rooms and small art shops. A district where Roman nightlife comes alive in the late evening in the pubs and clubs also dedicated to the live music of young rock and rap groups. Worth visiting in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is the Basilica of the same name (12th century).
The first Roman day could end with a nice dinner in one of the typical trattorias of Trastevere. Or with a walk to the Circus Maximus, which is 1.5 km away, to see this ancient Roman stadium surrounded by typical trattorias where you can sample some of the delicious Roman specialities. In the evening, the spectacle is certainly very impressive and made even more inviting by the Roman cuisine.
Piazza del Popolo
We dedicate our second day in Rome to this square at the foot of the Pincio Hill, from where depart the three main streets of the historic centre, Via del Babuino, Via di Ripetta and Via del Corso.
If you come from Viale del Muro Torto, you enter the square from the majestic Porta del Popolo (the ancient Porta Flaminia).
Worth seeing in this square:
- Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo (with the extraordinary paintings by Caravaggio)
- Flaminian Obelisk
- Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto (Church of the Artists)
- Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli
- ountain of the Lions
- Fountain of the Goddess
- Fountain of Neptune
The Pincio and Villa Borghese
From Piazza del Popolo you can climb the Pincio, or Pinciano Hill, where you can enjoy the view from one of Rome’s most beautiful belvederes. From here begins the Pincio Promenade that takes you all the way to Villa Borghese, one of the largest city parks in the capital, where you will find ancient trees, sculptures, gardens, ponds, fountains and refreshment areas.
Highlights include the Casina Valadier, the Giardino del Lago with the Temple of Aesculapius, and the Galleria Borghese, one of Rome’s most important museums, famous for its collection of works of art from the 15th to the 19th century by artists such as Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian, Antonio Canova and Raphael. In the Villa Borghese park there is also an unusual Water Clock, a hydrochronometer that uses water to run its mechanism.
From the Terraces of the Pincio you can descend directly to the Spanish Steps from the majestic Spanish Steps.
Piazza di Spagna
What to see in Rome in two days, if not the iconic Piazza di Spagna?
The staircase leading up to the world-famous oval-shaped square is one of the longest and widest in Europe. On the steps one sits for a short siesta, to enjoy a sandwich, an ice cream or a drink while chatting with friends, reading a book or listening to music.
At the foot of the steps there is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a marble work by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo. The fountain is in the shape of a semi-sunken boat and it is said to have been inspired by a boat that had been carried into the piazza during a flood of the Tiber.
From Piazza di Spagna starts Via dei Condotti, a famous street that is home to haute couture shops and luxury boutiques. The equivalent of Via Montenapoleone in Milan.
About a 15-minute walk along Via del Corso, another important street in the historical centre filled with more commercial shops, leads to another unmissable monument, the Pantheon.
Among the wonders of classical antiquity, the Pantheon in Rome stands out for its state of preservation due, in large part, to its transformation into a church in 609 AD, when it was dedicated to Santa Maria ad Martyres.
Originally, however, the Pantheon was built for an entirely different purpose. The building was erected between 27 and 25 BC at the behest of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a loyal ally of the Emperor Augustus to whom the temple was dedicated.
The Pantheon we see today is not exactly the one built originally. Its present form dates back to the early years of Hadrian’s reign, precisely between 118 and 125 AD, when architectural elements such as the Rotunda, the enormous cylindrical wall over 6 metres thick, and the monumental masonry dome were added.
Also around here you can reach the beautiful Trevi Fountain, Rome’s largest fountain, which entered history for the film “La Dolce Vita” (Fellini, 1960), where a seductive Anita Ekberg plunged into the fountain’s waters, attracting the journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni).
Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, the fountain is considered a late Baroque masterpiece. So take note, as this attraction is a must see in Rome in 2 days! The Trevi Fountain is also the terminal part of the Virgin Aqueduct, the only one still in use today.
About 1 km from the Trevi Fountain you arrive in Piazza Navona, renowned for its Baroque palaces and three fountains:
- the Fountain of the Four Rivers, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini with its sculptures representing the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata
- the Moor Fountain
- the Fountain of Neptune
On one side of the square there is the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, another example of Baroque architecture, designed by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi.
Piazza Navona is also a lively place animated by street artists, portrait painters, restaurants, cafés and art shops. During the Christmas holidays, the square hosts the historic market with Father Christmas, the Befana, reindeer and other traditional exhibitions.
Campo de’ Fiori
Approximately 500 metres from Piazza Navona you can reach Campo de’ Fiori, one of the most famous and lively squares in Rome’s historic centre, with a daytime life enlivened by the daily market, one of the oldest in the city, and a nightlife enlivened by the many restaurants, clubs and cafés.
The name Campo de’ Fiori (“field of flowers”) dates back to the 15th century, when the square was a flower meadow. However, a much less romantic event also took place here: in 1600 the Dominican philosopher and monk Giordano Bruno was burnt here for heresy, in whose honour a statue stands in the centre of the square as a symbol of freedom of thought.
If you walk 1.2 km from Campo de’ Fiori you can reach Castel Sant’Angelo, a very important monument that was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and that, over the centuries, took on various forms, becoming now a fortress, now a prison and finally a papal residence.
A short distance from Castel Sant’Angelo there is the Vatican. In fact, the Castle is connected to the Vatican State through the fortified corridor of the “Passetto di Borgo” (a footbridge).
We conclude our tour of what to see in Rome in 2 days by exploring the entire Vatican area, which includes St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
We recommend including this area in your two-day tour of Rome, although it would be ideal to dedicate a whole day just to the Vatican. As mentioned, our directions are designed to help you navigate the main attractions you should not miss.
St Peter’s Basilica in the heart of the Vatican is one of the most important places of worship in the Catholic world, built at the behest of Pope Julius II between 1506 and 1626 on the site of a church dating back to the time of Emperor Constantine the Great.
Admission to the basilica is free, but a ticket must be purchased to climb to the top of the dome. Inside the basilica, in the first chapel of the right aisle, there is Michelangelo’s Pietà, one of the artist’s most famous works. Other treasures include works by Bernini and other Renaissance masters.
You cannot miss a visit to the Vatican Museums, which house a vast collection of artworks and historical artefacts, including the Sistine Chapel, famous for its frescoes by Michelangelo.
Top things to do in Rome 2 days
After having described the top places to visit in Rome in 2 days, we now move on to what to do in the city of art and history, but also of the exquisite Roman cuisine.
The Museums of Rome
In addition to the already mentioned Musei Capitolini, Musei Vaticani, Galleria Borghese, you can visit Palazzo Doria Pamphilj; the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo; MAXXI, the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, dedicated to contemporary art and architecture; the Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica Barberini and Corsini; and the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia.
The oldest churches in Rome
There are more than 900 churches in Rome, some of which are very old. Here are some of them:
- the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana in Via Urbana in the Monti district dates back to the 4th century
- the Church of Santa Prisca sull’Aventino, in the Ripa district, in via di Santa Prisca, also dates back to the 4th century
- the Church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, on the Celio Hill, with its circular shape, dates back to the 5th century
- the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano in the square of the same name, the current structure dates back to the 17th century, while the original one was built in the 4th century.
Larger city parks
If you have time to spare, we also recommend seeing some of Rome’s city parks in two days, in addition to the aforementioned Villa Borghese,
- Parco dell’Appia Antica, where you will find the Catacombs and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.
- Parco degli Acquedotti and Torre Capo di Bove, which are part of the Via Latina Archaeological Park.
- Villa Doria Pamphili, with the villa of the same name and other historical buildings.
- Villa Ada, once the royal residence of the Savoy family, is the second largest public park in Rome.
- Villa Torlonia, a historical park that was once the residence of the Torlonia family and houses several historical buildings.
The most beautiful viewpoints in Rome
There are several belvederes from which to feast your eyes on the marvellous spectacle of Rome. Among the most famous are the Pincio Terrace:
Gianicolo, also known as Colle del Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill), the second highest hill in Rome, also famous for its large park area with pleasant walking paths, and its monuments dedicated to historical figures. Every day at noon, you can watch the traditional firing of the cannon.
Monte Mario is the highest hill in Rome (139 metres), a vantage point over the city and home to various attractions, including churches, an observatory and nature reserves.
We have already mentioned it, but it comes back because it deserves a few additions: the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), which, in addition to the belvedere, offers a truly peaceful and relaxing green space with many orange groves. Also known as Savello Park, the garden is located on the Aventine Hill. It is open all year round and is free of charge.
The Orange Garden is less than a fifteen-minute walk from the Circus Maximus metro station and close to the famous “Keyhole”, from which you can admire the dome of St. Peter’s.
Bus tour, e-bike, boat
You can have a tour on the panoramic bus to hop on and off at the various stops along the route touching the main points of interest in Rome, with a hop on hop off ticket.
Consider also a boat tour on the Tiber River to see some of Rome’s most famous monuments, such as Castel Sant’Angelo and Tiber Island.
If you’re short on time e-bike tours are an environmentally friendly and quicker option to explore the city.
Local food and wine
In Rome, it is no mystery that the food is divine. Let’s take a look at some of the dishes and specialities not to be missed!
- The Roman pizza, characterised by a thin and crispy base
- The first courses of amatriciana, carbonara, gricia, cacio e pepe
- The main courses of tripe, lamb scottadito, oxtail, lamb “alla romana”, saltimbocca alla romana, coratella with artichokes, fried codfish
- Fried Roman dishes, supplì, zucchini flowers, cod fillets
- Artichoke “alla giudia” and artichoke “alla romana”: artichoke alla giudia is a typical dish from the Jewish quarter, where artichokes are fried until crispy.
Roman Cooking Classes and Tastings
One of the most exciting adventures for lovers of Roman cuisine, whether for passion, hobby or work, are the legendary cooking courses with real Roman chefs, during which you learn the secrets of the Eternal City’s food and wine tradition, and which can also be combined with historical-artistic itineraries and tastings during food and wine tours.
How to get to Rome
By plane, you can land at Fiumicino “Leonardo da Vinci” airport or at Ciampino “G.B. Pastine” airport.
From Fiumicino to Rome Centre, about 40 km away, you can take the “Leonardo Express”, the fastest train that arrives at Termini in about half an hour (cost €18). Alternatively, at a cost of 7€ you can travel on the regional train Fl1, which arrives in Rome in about 45 minutes.
From Ciampino, there is a direct bus (6€) that arrives in the city in half an hour; alternatives are by metro or train.
By train from other cities, you get to Termini or Tiburtina Station; by bus, you get to Tiburtina Station.
Coming by car or motorbike, from the North you can reach Rome by taking the A1 Milan – Rome; from the West, the A12 Civitavecchia – Rome; from the East, the A24 L’Aquila – Rome; from the South, the A1 Naples – Rome.
Now that you know what to visit in Rome in 2 days, all that remains is to wish you a good trip! Remember that, with Italia Delight, you can book food and wine experiences and foodie trips, even tailor-made ones.
Cover photo: massimo-virgilio-unsplash
Featured photo: michele-bitetto-unsplash