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Top things to do in Rome in 2 days: An itinerary

by Sam
St. Angelo Bridge, Rome, Italy

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Deciding an itinerary of the best things to do in Rome in 2 days is no easy task. Italy’s capital city is home to a number of unmissable attractions, including the world-famous Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Vatican City and more! Almost every Rome itinerary will include these popular spots, but figuring out a logical route and where else to visit can be hard as there are so many different things to see and do in the city. If you don’t plan ahead or do your research then you can end up wasting precious time travelling between attractions rather than actually enjoying them. To save you the hassle of figuring it out for yourself, we’ve come up with a comprehensive itinerary of the best things to do in Rome in 2 days, covering the city’s main attractions as well as a few hidden gems!

Planning a trip around Italy? Make sure to check out our itinerary of the best things to do in Venice in 2 days as well as our Cinque Terre Itinerary!

Two Day Rome Itinerary: The best things to do in Rome in 2 days

Day 1

Trevi Fountain

Start day 1 of your Rome itinerary off with a visit to the Trevi Fountain. It’s one of the city’s most iconic spots and is an architectural masterpiece thanks to its magnificent design. Completed in 1762, the fountain is considered to be one of the most beautiful fountains in the world.

Being one of the most popular places to visit in Rome, it’s essential to arrive as early as you can. From around 9am to 11pm the Trevi fountain can get uncomfortably busy, especially during summer.

It’s best to arrive before 9am if possible so that you can enjoy the fountain without too many selfie sticks in your way.

As the Trevi Fountain is lit up at night we recommend visiting again come nightfall. It’s a truly magical sight when the fountain is illuminated, and is well worth visiting a second time to see.

A tradition at the Trevi is to use your right hand to throw a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain. It’s said that if you do this once you will return to Rome in the future, if you do it twice you will find romance, and if you do it three times you will get married. All the money collected in the fountain is donated to a charity that helps poor and homeless people.

Depending on where your accommodation is, you can either walk or take the metro to the Trevi Fountain. The nearest metro station is Barberini, which is a 7-minute walk away from the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy


Galleria Sciarra

Just a 2-minute walk away from the Trevi Fountain is the beautiful Galleria Sciarra. Despite being so close to one of Rome’s most iconic attractions, most tourists are unaware of its existence.

Originally intended to be a shopping mall, Galleria Sciarra is a magnificent Art Nouveau courtyard. Its walls are decorated with colourful frescoes, which celebrate the virtues and lives of women.

You don’t need long to appreciate Galleria Sciarra, but as you’ll be nearby it’s well worth stopping for a few minutes to admire its beauty. From the outside it seems as if it’s just a simple passage connecting two streets, but as soon as you enter it becomes apparent there’s much more to it!

Galleria Sciarra has been undergoing renovations since late 2018, with works expected to continue until late 2019. Some websites are reporting that the courtyard is closed to the public but during our visit in February 2019 we were able to access it on a public walkway under some scaffolding.

The ongoing works mean you cannot fully appreciate the courtyard, but in our opinion it’s still impressive enough to warrant visiting in spite of that!

Galleria Sciarra - one of the lesser known things to do in Rome in 2 days


Colosseum

One of the highlights of any trip to Rome is a visit to the remarkable Roman Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre in the world. Built between 72 AD and 80 AD, the Colosseum was used for gladiator battles as well as other public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions and battle re-enactments.

Standing 48 metres tall and measuring 189 metres by 156 metres, it is estimated to have had a capacity of around 50,000-80,000 people. The easiest way to get to this incredible structure is to walk, which should take just 20 minutes from Galleria Sciarra.

The Colosseum is undeniably impressive, so it’s no surprise that it was voted as one of the new wonders of the world. Along with the Pantheon, it is one of the best preserved pieces of architecture from Ancient Rome.

From the outside the Colosseum is a magnificent sight, with its wonderful exterior arches perhaps the most iconic feature. Considering it was built almost 2,000 years ago, the amphitheatre is certainly one of Ancient Rome’s finest architectural achievements.

Although earthquakes have resulted in some damage to the Colosseum, it’s still one of the most incredible monuments in the world.

As one of the most famous attractions in Rome, the Colosseum gets very busy. It’s possible to admire the outside of the amphitheatre for free, but considering you’ve come all this way it’s worth the entrance fee to visit the inside too!

Tickets can be bought on the day, but it’s best to book in advance to secure your entry time. Guided tours are available and we recommend taking one as they are a great way to learn more about the amazing history of the Colosseum.

Standard entry tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 on the day or €14 if you book online in advance, which allows you to skip the line. If you want to get a tour or to access other sections then expect tickets to cost more than this. Click here to book tickets through the Colosseum website!

An alternative to booking on the Colosseum website is to book your tickets through Get Your Guide. There are a number of great options available, including skip-the-line tickets, guided tours and tickets with special access to the arena floor.

The advantage of booking through Get Your Guide is that you can read reviews to make sure tours are well-rated before you book! Wherever you decide to book your Colosseum tickets, you will also be able to access the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as part of the price.

Click here to book a skip-the-line 2 hour tour of the Colosseum!

Click here to book a skip-the-line 1.5 hour tour of the Colosseum with access to the arena floor!

Colosseum - one of the best things to do in Rome in 2 days


Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was located at the centre of ancient Rome, and was the setting for important religious, political and social activities. It served as the venue for markets, gladiator battles, criminal trials, public speeches and more.

The ruins of the Roman Forum are some of the oldest and most important structures of ancient Rome. It’s just a short walk from the Colosseum to the forum so there’s no need to use public transport to get there.

Some of the most significant ruins at the forum are the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Curia. As the Roman Forum was the centre of the ancient city, it’s an area rich in history. You can easily spend hours exploring the ruins and learning about the forum’s historical significance.

It’s also worth taking the time to visit Palatine Hill, which offers fabulous views of the Roman Forum. According to legend, Palatine Hill is where Romulus founded Rome. The hill is also home to a number of ruins, and is definitely worth visiting if you have the time.

Standard tickets to the Roman Forum cost €12, which also includes entry to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill. As this itinerary visits the Colosseum first, make sure to keep hold of your ticket to gain entry to the forum.

Audio guides are available to rent for €7 if you want to learn about the history of the Roman Forum. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a guided tour this can be booked online in advance through Get Your Guide.

These guided tours cover the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, with skip-the-line tickets for all three attractions included in the price. If you’d prefer to just wander at your own pace but don’t want to queue then it’s also possible to buy skip-the-line tickets without taking a tour.

Click here to book a guided tour of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill!

Click here to book skip-the-line tickets to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill!

Roman Forum and Colosseum - both essential things to do in Rome in 2 days


Pyramid of Cestius

An optional addition to your Rome itinerary is a visit to the Pyramid of Cestius. It’s the only pyramid in Rome and is located approximately a 20-minute walk away from the Roman Forum. Although the pyramid isn’t as iconic as those found in Egypt, in our opinion it’s one of Rome’s hidden gems.

Inspired by the pyramids in Egypt, Caius Cestius wanted one to be built in Rome for him to be buried in. It’s believed to have been built between 18 BC and 12 BC and has steeper sides than the famous pyramids in Giza.

Most of the time it’s only possible to admire the pyramid from the outside. There are 2 spots from which to do this – the road directly adjacent to the pyramid and the non-Catholic cemetery.

If you opt to view the pyramid from the road it’s completely free, whereas if you want to see it from within the cemetery you will need to donate €3 to enter.

Entry to the Pyramid of Cestius is only possible on the third and fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month, except during August when it is closed all month. On these days you can buy tickets for a brief tour of the inside of the pyramid for €5.50 plus a €2 booking fee.

As access to the pyramid is very limited it’s important to book online as tickets often sell out months in advance. Click here to book tickets to the Pyramid of Cestius.

If you’d prefer not to walk to the pyramid you can also take the metro from Colosseo to Piramide.

Pyramid of Cestius - one of Rome's hidden gems


Orange Garden

The next stop on your Rome itinerary is the Orange Garden, which is around a 15-minute walk from the pyramid. This beautiful park offers breath-taking views of the city, making it a perfect spot to relax and give your feet a break from walking! If you’re there at the right time, the Orange Garden is one of the best spots in Rome to watch sunset.

Once you’re ready to move on from the garden, take a short walk to the gate of the priory of the Knights of Malta. Although it may not look like much at first glance, if you peer through the gate’s keyhole you get a perfectly framed view of St. Peter’s Basilica.

It’s not known whether the keyhole was purposely positioned to provide this view, but it’s a great spot to visit if you’re looking for one of the more unique things to do in Rome.

Gate of the priory of the Knights of Malta Keyhole near Orange Garden, Rome, Italy


Trastevere

The final stop of the day is the picturesque neighbourhood of Trastevere. It’s around a 10-minute walk from the Orange Garden, and is home to a number of bars, restaurants and gelaterias.

Although Trastevere isn’t home to any of Rome’s top attractions, it’s one of the city’s most photogenic neighbourhoods, so have your camera at the ready during your visit!

There are a few different things to do in Trastevere, but in our opinion the best option is to simply wander the streets. The neighbourhood is full of character, which makes it a lovely place to stroll around.

Once you’ve seen as much as you want we recommend finding somewhere nearby to stop for dinner and/or drinks. After that it’s up to you how you spend your evening, but if you have the energy we suggest heading back to see the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain lit up at night.

Trastevere - one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Rome


Day 2

Vatican City

Start your second day off with a visit to an entirely different country! Vatican City, the smallest nation in the world, is a tiny city-state entirely surrounded by Rome.

It’s is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and is home to various religious and cultural sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. The country is also home to some incredible works of architecture as well as some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures.

Getting to Vatican City is quite easy as all you need to do is take the metro from near your accommodation to Ottaviano station, which is around a 10-minute walk away.

Although you’re technically entering another country, you don’t need your passport to visit the Vatican. You may need some form of ID if you plan on renting an audioguide, but no identification is required aside from that.

The two best places to visit in Vatican City are St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. The former is one of the largest churches in the world and is an amazing example of the Italian Renaissance architectural style.

One of the most impressive design features of the church is the dome, which was designed by Michelangelo. The dome dominates the skyline of Rome and can be seen from viewpoints across the city.

Entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica itself is free, but if you want to visit the dome it costs extra. Visiting the dome allows you to get a better view of the mosaics that make up its design, as well as giving you the chance to get brilliant views of Rome and St. Peter’s Square. It costs €8 if you walk all the way to the top of the dome, or €10 if you take a lift part way and then walk the rest.

One of the main attractions in Vatican City is the Vatican Museums. They are Christian and art museums displaying a collection of artwork and sculptures that popes have amassed over time. This collection covers a series of around 1400 rooms, chapels and galleries.

Tickets to the Vatican Museums also give access to the world-famous Sistine Chapel, which allows you to see its incredible frescoes, including Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling. As well as the incredible work on the ceiling, Michelangelo also painted his famous fresco ‘The Last Judgement’ on the chapel’s altar wall.

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the pope, and its magnificent interior is alone worth visiting the Vatican Museums for.

Entrance to the Vatican Museums costs €17 on the day or alternatively €21 if you book online in advance. Booking in advance allows you to get a skip-the-line ticket so you won’t have to wait around as long, so it’s definitely worth a few extra euros as it can get extremely busy.

Entry to the museums is normally free on the last Sunday of every month, but queues on these days are normally very long. Click here to check out the Vatican’s schedule to make sure it’s open on the days of your trip!

Tickets can be booked in advance for the Vatican Museums on their official website. Click here to book your tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel!

Guided tours are available at an extra cost and can be booked in advance through the Vatican’s website or Get Your Guide. For a truly unique experience book an exclusive early morning VIP guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

These early morning tours allow access to both the museums and the Sistine Chapel before they open to the public for the day. Alternatively you can arrange a standard skip-the-line guided tour of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Both are great options if you want to learn more about the history of the Vatican.

Click here to book the exclusive early morning VIP guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel!

Click here to book a standard skip-the-line tour of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel!

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City - an essential inclusion on our 2 days in Rome itinerary


Spanish Steps

Located in Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish steps are a worthy inclusion on any Rome itinerary. The elegant steps are one of the city’s most iconic sights and connect the square to the Trinità dei Monti church. Built between 1723 and 1725, the staircase is one of the best examples of the Italian Baroque architectural style.

The steps are a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists, and have been included in several films and TV shows, including ‘Roman Holiday’ and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’.

Spend some time in Piazza di Spagna admiring the Spanish Steps and the Barcaccia Fountain at the foot of the staircase. It can get quite busy but it’s still a lovely spot to relax and just enjoy the atmosphere when in Rome. It’s worth taking a stroll up the steps while you’re there, but the best view is from the fountain at the bottom.

It’s around a 40-minute walk from the Vatican to the Spanish Steps, but if you’d prefer then you can take the metro from Ottaviano to Spagna.

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy


Piazza Navona

A 15-minute walk from the Spanish Steps lies Piazza Navona – one of the largest and most popular squares in Rome. The piazza is a long oval shape as it was built on the site at which the Stadium of Domitian once stood.

Nowadays the square is home to three beautiful fountains, the impressive church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, a number of restaurants and more. Street artists and musicians are common in the square, which helps add to its lively atmosphere.

It’s a lovely place to give your feet a rest from walking and just soak up the atmosphere and the beautiful surroundings!

Piazza Navona - one of the most beautiful squares in Rome


Pantheon

Less than a 5-minute walk from Piazza Navona is the Pantheon, a former Roman temple to the gods that now serves as a church. It’s considered to be the best preserved Ancient Roman monument and is an undeniably impressive sight.

Originally built in 27 BC, the Pantheon burnt down twice and had to be rebuilt. The current building was built between 118 AD and 128 AD, and has survived for almost 2000 years.

The Pantheon’s most remarkable feature is its dome. To this day it remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, and so it’s considered to be one of the Roman’s greatest architectural achievements.

At the top of the dome there is an opening known as an oculus, which is also referred to as ‘the eye of the Pantheon’.

On the 21st April a clever lighting trick occurs in the Pantheon. When the sunlight hits at midday the entrance is filled with light. This used to illuminate the emperor when he entered, symbolising his status as a god on earth.

Due to the oculus in the dome rain does sometimes fall inside the Pantheon, but a number of holes and the slightly slanted floor drain the water away.

The Pantheon is free to enter and is open most days of the year. Opening times are 8.30am-7.30pm Monday-Saturday and 9am-6pm on Sundays, although times may vary on public holidays. There are a few days the Pantheon is closed, so click here to check up-to-date information on opening dates and times!

Although entrance is free, if you want to learn more about the incredible history of the Pantheon we recommend booking a tour through Get Your Guide. There are different tours available depending on if you’d prefer to have an audio guide or take a guided tour. Both tours are a great opportunity to learn about one of Rome’s most iconic buildings.

Click here to book an audioguided tour of the Pantheon for just €4!

Click here to book a guided tour of the Pantheon for just €20!

The Pantheon - essential for any itinerary of 2 days in Rome


Vittoriano

The Vittoriano, also known as the Altar of the Fatherland, is an enormous white monument built to honour Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II. Made entirely out of marble and standing 70 metres tall, the monument is a truly spectacular work of architecture.

Many locals don’t actually like the Vittoriano though, and have nicknamed it the ‘wedding cake’ as they feel it doesn’t blend in well with the city’s skyline.

Make sure to go inside the Vittoriano to visit the viewing platform on the first floor. Access is free and you get brilliant views of both the Colosseum and Rome in general.

If you want an even better view you can take an elevator to the top of the monument for just €10. Personally we were more than happy with the views from the free viewing platform, so it’s completely up to you whether you want to pay to see the view from the top.

There is also a gallery in the Vittoriano, which regularly holds art exhibitions. The cost of admission varies depending on the exhibition, so make sure to check out the gallery’s website for more information if you’re interested in visiting.

Vittoriano Monument - a great addition for an itinerary of 2 days in Rome


Alternative things to do in Rome

If you’re planning a Rome itinerary for 3 or 4 days, or even if you just find yourself with a bit of spare time during your trip, then there are plenty of other great things to do and see in the city. We’ve come up with a few suggestions below if you’re trying to figure out what else to do on your trip.

Visit Quartiere Coppedè – The tiny neighbourhood of Quartiere Coppedè is well worth a visit for architecture lovers. Situated a few kilometres outside the main tourist centre of Rome, its buildings are a unique mix of different architectural styles, from Art Nouveau to Baroque to Medieval and beyond.

The neighbourhood is home to around 40 buildings, with some of the must see sights being the Fountain of the Frogs, the outdoor chandelier and the Villini delle Fate. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds at the main tourist attractions then this is the perfect place for you.

Visit the Villa Borghese park – Villa Borghese is one of the largest public parks in Rome, and is a lovely place to relax or  take a stroll. The park covers 80 hectares and is home to a number of museums, a small lake, fountains and more.

Although it’s probably not worth prioritising over other attractions, it’s a pleasant spot to visit if you have the time. The park is easily accessed from either the Spagna or Flaminio metro stations, and entrance is completely free!

See the dome illusion at the Sant’Ignazio Church – The Sant’Ignazio Church is one of the most unique churches in Rome. Funds were running low during construction so instead of paying to build a dome on top of the church, a painter was hired to paint an illusion of one.

The illusion is certainly impressive, and if you didn’t know it was a fake dome then you’d be forgiven for believing it was real. If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, there’s also an incredible fresco on the  nave ceiling of the church.

See the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum lit up at night – If you have the time then we definitely recommend visiting both the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum at night.

Seeing two of Rome’s most iconic landmarks lit up adds an extra charm that you don’t get during the day. Less tourists visit at night so you’ll also be able to enjoy both attractions without the massive crowds found during the day!

Visiting the Colosseum at night - one of the best things to do in Rome


Best places to stay in Rome

Mid-Range

Argentina Residenza

The Argentina Residenza hotel is a great option if you’re looking for a good quality but reasonably priced hotel. It’s in a great location in central Rome, which means there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.

Rooms are extremely comfortable and fitted with air conditioning, which is much needed during the summer months! Considering the location and standard of the hotel it’s extremely good value, with rooms starting from around €93 ($105 USD) per night.

Click here to book a stay at the brilliant Argentina Residenza Hotel on Booking.com or if your preferred booking platform is Agoda then click here to view the property on their website!

Treat yourself!

Palazzo Navona Hotel

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in the centre of Rome then the Palazzo Navona Hotel is for you. This exceptional 4 star hotel is perfectly located just a few minutes walk from both the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. On top of that, the hotel boasts a rooftop terrace and bar with brilliant views over central Rome.

Everything about the hotel is luxurious, so it’s worth splashing the cash if you’re looking for a relaxing and enjoyable stay. Rooms start from around €188 ($211 USD) per night, with breakfast included in the price.

Click here to take a look at the wonderful Palazzo Navona Hotel on Booking.com or if you prefer to book through Agoda then click here to check out the hotel on their website!

Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This money is used to support this website and cover the costs of keeping it online and free to access!

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