How much of the Eternal City can you see in 2 days in Rome? Quite a lot – provided you plan your flying visit with care.
With history on every block, the landmarks of Rome show you how the city was shaped by the Republic, the Empire, and the Middle Ages through to the modern day.
Between all the points of interest, the Italian capital is interspersed with gorgeous parks and walkable neighborhoods. Not forgetting an endless supply of trattorias where it’s far too easy to lose hours out of your two days in Rome.
This post breaks down the key things to see in Rome in 2 days.
Best time to plan a Rome two day itinerary
With mild winters overall and activities for all weather, you can visit Rome at any time of the year.
However, bear in mind that the city is extremely busy with tourists in July and August. Aim to visit in the shoulder seasons of early summer (May and June) or fall (September or October) for agreeable weather and somewhat reduced crowds.
Check out our packing list for Italy in summer to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into weather-wise.
If you’re spending 2 days in Rome during the peak of summer, prepare for lines at attractions. You’ll appreciate pre-booking admission tickets in advance and securing a hotel in advance.
Best things to do in Rome in 2 days
Rome is chock-full of sights that will intrigue all types of travelers, regardless of how much of a history buff you are. This Rome 2-day itinerary focuses on the key landmarks plus beautiful plazas and interesting neighborhoods.
Naturally, the itinerary includes the likes of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. In addition to reading this guide, we recommend you cast an eye over our 3 days in Rome itinerary (complete with tips on where to stay).
While this post focuses on the star attractions in the city, you may consider swapping out one or two attractions to suit your personal preferences.
How to Spend 2 Days in Rome: 2 Days in Rome Itinerary
This itinerary sets out to show you how to see the best of Rome in 2 days.
Day 1 of Rome 2-day itinerary – Morning
Rome is one of the best cities in Italy for immersing yourself in Ancient Rome. Therefore, you’ll start your 2 day Rome itinerary in Monti, the historic neighborhood southeast of the Centro Storico. If your hotel is further afield, you can take the metro to Colosseo.
If this is your first time in the capital, you’ll want to prioritize the Colosseum as one of the key things to see in Rome in 2 days.
Constructed between 72 and 80 AD, the Colosseum is the world’s largest amphitheater. Although famed for hosting gruesome gladiatorial games, the venue was also used for public executions and – less gruesome – theatrical performances. Fifty-thousand spectators would flood the arena which gives you a sense of how huge the Colosseum is.
If you want to preserve time, you can just walk around the walls of the amphitheater. But, it’s absolutely worth purchasing a ticket to see the interior.
While spending 2 days in Rome, this guided tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill will streamline the experience. As well as benefiting from priority access, you’ll have a local expert at your side to reveal the secrets of the Colosseum.
Roman Forum (Forum Romanum)
Only a few minutes from the Colosseum, the Roman Forum was one of the most important components of the Empire. If you purchase the combination tour, you’ll head there next with your tour guide.
Once the center of all religious, political, commercial, and social affairs, the Roman Forum connects with Capitoline Hill via the Via Sacra. The open-air complex is strewn with what remains of imperial residences, government offices, law courts, and sacred temples.
Palatine Hill (Palatino)
Soaring above the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is one of Rome’s seven hills. In fact, this is where the orphaned mythological founders, Romulus and Remus, were tended to by the she-wolf.
That alone makes visiting the Palatino one of the most curious things to do in Rome in 2 days. In addition, the mound features even more imperial residences as well as the Temple of Apollo.
If you book a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill – allow for around 3 hours in total.
Capitoline Hill (Capitolino)
Once you leave the Palatino, it’s an easy 15-minute stroll followed by a clamber up the Cordonata Capitolina to the neighboring Capitolino.
At the top of the Capitoline Hill, the Campidoglio is a handsome square designed at the hands of Michelangelo under the commission of Pope Paul III. You’ll note a bronze depicting the she-wolf with Romulus and Remus and several ruins and museums.
In reality, you’ll probably not have time to visit these historic attractions during a Rome two day itinerary. However, you should visit the Terrazza sul Foro for a panoramic perspective over the Roman Forum.
Day 1 in Rome – Afternoon
After a historically heavy morning, take a much-needed break for lunch.
Restaurants and cafes close to Capitoline Hill can be a little hit-and-miss, but that’s not the case at Bottega Tredici. Just 10 minutes away, the menu is a modern take on classic Roman dishes with gourmet ravioli and stuffed gnocchi served on the patio or indoors.
For something faster and cheaper, pick up a couple of slices from Alice Pizza. The menu is vast but you can’t fault the classic Margherita. If you want to make time for a food tour in Rome, lunchtime is a great option to travel and enjoy a street food-style tour without losing too much time on your 2 day itinerary.
Located in the heart of the Centro Storico, the Pantheon was originally intended to serve all the deities of Ancient Rome. Nowadays, the temple is used as a Catholic church and to harbor the tomb of Raphael.
The Pantheon generally has a queue but usually, it moves relatively fast. Only by going inside can you see the Oculus, the hole in the summit of the dome, which opens the atrium to all the elements.
The Pantheon is free to visit, making it one of the best things to see in Rome in 2 days on a budget. Grab this cheap audioguide to listen to on your phone while you wait so that you can learn more about the structure without paying for a full tour.
Alternatively, you can opt to skip the line and see it with a guide if you want to learn more about it. Book a full tour with a guide here.
Spend the rest of the day wandering around the Centro Storico. The Piazza Navona is a huge square with fountains and statues flanked by baroque buildings.
Dotted around the piazza are various attractions including what remains of the Stadium of Domitian and the Palazzo Pamphili. Meander down the picturesque Via dei Coronari, named for the rosaries (coronari) once sold to pilgrims bound for Vatican City.
You can also visit the Campo de’ Fiori where fresh produce, pantry items, flowers, and gifts are sold. There are lots of little taverns and small cafes nearby where you can grab a glass of wine or an espresso to boost your energy.
Day 1 of 2 days in Rome – Evening
If Rome is stunning by day, just wait until you see the city illuminated at night. One of the easiest ways to maximize your two days in Rome is by visiting some of the monuments in the Centro Storico at night.
Start your evening with a dish of carbonara or cacio e pepe, two traditional Roman pasta dishes, and wash it down with a glass of wine at Ristorante Il Falchetto.
Officially the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, these 138 steps are more commonly known as the Spanish Steps.
The nickname originates from the 17th century when this area of the city was considered Spanish territory. Linking the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church, the staircase forms the shape of a butterfly.
Although it’s no longer permitted to sit on them, you’re welcome to walk up to the church and take pictures from the fountain in the piazza.
Holding UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the square is always abuzz – especially at night.
For a great photo opp, stand at the base of the stairs near the fountain and ask someone to take a photo of you. With the wide-angle on your phone’s camera, you can capture a wonderful shot from here.
If you’re feeling inspired to return to the Eternal City already, visiting the Trevi Fountain will increase your chances. Rumor has it, tossing a single coin into the water guarantees that you’ll be back in Rome someday.
Therefore this is one of the must-do things to do in Rome in 2 days if you believe in fate! The trick is to stand with your back facing the fountain and toss the coin over your shoulder.
This monumental fountain was originally part of an old aqueduct system that fed potable water into the city. That’s the case these days, but the statue of Neptune and his horses is an incredible sight to take in.
Crowds tend to gather around the fountain from the late morning onward and disperse later in the afternoon. It won’t be empty in the evening, but you’ll experience a wonderful ambiance around dusk and once the fountain is lit up.
If you really want a chance to get a picture without too many people, come just after sunrise. You’ll be there with just a few die-hard influencers and you can get a few shots without having to wait your turn.
Day 2 of 2 Days in Rome – Morning
It’s been a busy first 24 hours in Rome!
Perk up over a cappuccino and pastry at Gran Caffè Valadier in the posh district of Prati. The interior of the cafe is traditionally appointed with high ceilings and an open counter while there’s sidewalk seating out front. Otherwise, you can sip while walking the 10 minutes to your first sight of the day.
Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borghese
This huge piazza was the setting of the original gate that welcomes visitors into Rome. The Piazza del Popolo is decked out with fountains, statues, and an obelisk shipped in from Egypt.
These days, the piazza serves as the main entrance to Villa Borgese, the largest park in Rome. Within this compound, you’ll encounter various monuments and museums including the Borghese Gallery and Museum where works by Raffaello, Caravaggio, and Botticelli are hung. Seasonal boat rentals operate on the lake while there is also a theater, cinema, and zoo on the grounds.
If you have time to spare, I highly recommend taking a tour of the Borghese Museum. There are so many wonderful museums in this city, but this is one of the absolute best. Check out prices and book a guided tour here.
Before leaving this area, head to the Terrazza del Pincio for a scenic lookout that reaches as far as St. Peter’s Basilica.
Leaving Piazza del Popolo, you can follow the River Tiber south toward the Centro Historico. Once at Ponte Umberto I, cross over and you’ll arrive at Castel Sant’Angelo.
This riverside fortress has been used as a prison, execution site, and papal residence. Although, it was originally constructed as the mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian. It’s free to visit the gardens and terraces to soak up the scenic views but you’ll need to pay if you tap on a stroll through the galleries.
Day 2 in Rome – Afternoon
Depending on your preferences, you can walk all the way from the castle to Trastevere. Otherwise, you can take bus 115 from the right bank of Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II.
Trastevere is a beautiful riverside neighborhood known for its traditional architecture and authentic restaurants. In fact, this is one of the areas in Rome where finding a quality place to eat isn’t an issue.
Osteria da Zi Umberto offers indoor dining in a centuries-old building with wooden beams plus patio tables. Cacio e pepe is the signature dish but they specialize in classic foods of Rome that you don’t want to miss.
If you fancy a pizza, head to the neighboring restaurant Pizzeria Dar Poeta.
Once you’ve satisfied your stomach, you can spend the rest of the day wandering around the piazzas and cobbled alleyways. The flea market Porta Portese is in operation on Sundays but otherwise, there are little boutiques throughout Trastevere.
You can also hop across to Isola Tiberina, follow the riverside path, or hike up to the Janiculum Hill (Belvedere del Gianicolo) lookout.
Day 2 in Rome – Evening
As it’s the final evening of your 2 day Rome itinerary, you may want to stick around in Trastevere or head back to Centro Storico or Prati for a moonlight wander.
Alternatively, you could opt to splash out on a once-in-a-lifetime visit to one of Rome’s principal attractions.
Vatican City is one of the most impressive things to see in Rome in 2 days. However, visiting the city-state essentially takes up half a day and it’s not like the capital of Italy is short of activities.
Therefore, if you have the energy to spare, you can maximize your time by visiting Vatican City at night.
This is a pricier way of going about the visit but it is a truly unique experience as very few tour groups are permitted inside after hours. This small group tour of the Vatican starts at 19:30 PM and lasts 2.5 hours.
Groups are capped at 6 participants and you’ll be shown around the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica by a licensed guide
The only snag, the highly exclusive tour only runs on Friday nights so you’ll have to ensure your 2 days in Rome collide. Perhaps you’ll just have to skip out on work for a 3-day weekend in Rome. Book that special night tour here.