You’ve just arrived in Rome and have a few days to kill. How is it possible to observe everything in such a short period of time? This is the ultimate guide to making the most of your adventure holiday in Rome in 2 days.
This thorough plan for 48 hours in Rome is ideal for covering:
- 2 days in Rome, devoted entirely to sightseeing (arrival the evening before, departure the morning after)
- An evening spent in Rome on the day of your arrival, a full day in the city, and a morning spent exploring before your departure.
Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll see in Rome in 2 days or 48h:
Day 1 in Rome
19:00 – Dinner in Trastevere
Hopefully, check-in at your Rome hotel went smoothly, and now it’s time to go in quest of a delicious dinner. Having dinner in the city’s historic Trastevere neighborhood has various advantages. For starters, there are several touristic sidewalk eateries and pizzerias to pick from, and they are also within easy walking distance of several notable landmarks, including the well-preserved Pantheon.
Rome is just as enticing at night as it is during the day, and with the heat of a Roman summer, evening walks may just save a few hours of excessive sweating during the day. Any quiet alleyways between the Pantheon and the Spanish steps are ideally situated to allow a substantial dinner of pasta and a decent carafe of wine to be quickly walked off.
21:00 – Piazza di Spagna & Fontana di Trevi
Make your way to the Spanish Steps to socialize with the locals, while the view from the top of the steps in front of the church Trinita Dei Monti gives a fantastic perspective over the city.
Wander through to the Trevi Fountain, purchase some gelato, and try your luck with the change. Throw one coin over your shoulder to return, two coins to return and be kissed, or three coins to return and be married.
22:00 – Piazza Venezia & Campidoglio
Continue strolling through the alleyways until you reach Square Venezia, so named for the Palazzo that overlooks the piazza and is modeled after the Doges Palace in Venice. The balcony on the second story may appear familiar; it was where dictator il duce Mussolini delivered his fascist speeches.
The second notable structure facing the square is the unmistakable Vittorio Emanuele II monument on the Campidoglio. Over the years, this has garnered numerous nicknames, including the Wedding Cake and the Typewriter. It’s very unlikely you’ll visit Rome in 2 days without seeing it.
The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by armed guards, as is the perpetual flame. If the monument is open, there is a spectacular view of Rome’s roofs, as well as a sight of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum behind it. This closes at sundown, however many of the ruins are illuminated at night.
23:00 – Check out the local nightlife
If the night air has revived you, you may check out the local nightlife, since there are many pubs and clubs operating in the central city area. There are also several other piazzas, like Piazza Navona and Campo Dei Fiori, that are open in the early hours of the morning. Otherwise, it’s back to your Rome hostel or hotel to get ready for the next day of your visit to Rome in 2 days.
Day 2 in Rome
08:00 – Vatican
It’s best to start early, especially in the summer, to beat the crowds and the heat, but thankfully the city isn’t too spread out to travel from one attraction to the next. To say the least, the metro system is simple to use; there are just two metro lines that crisscross the city, and the buses are well labeled with destinations.
Termini is the main bus and metro station. Tickets must be purchased prior to boarding and validated at the yellow machines, with prices beginning at €1.50 per ride.
A vacation to Rome would be incomplete without a stop at the Vatican. Basilica San Pietro is located on the western bank of the Tiber River, with the dome of St. Peter visible from most areas of the city.
The Vatican Museums are open from 9 am to 6 pm, with the final admittance shortly before 4 pm. During the busy summer months, Musei Vaticani has extended opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays until 10.30 pm, with the final admittance before 8.30 pm.
Visit the Vatican Museums for free every last Sunday of the month (except for religious observations). On these days, the Vatican Museums are open between 9 am and 2 pm, with the final entry accepted before 12.30 pm.
You’ll need plenty of time to stroll through the 7 kilometers of museum rooms to get to the Sistine Chapel, where you may marvel at Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling. It’s a good idea to have a description of the frescoes on hand to explain what you’re looking at.
On Wednesday mornings at 10 am you can participate in the General Audience, where the Pope delivers his public speech, greeting pilgrims and giving blessings.
13:00 – Have some lunch in the area
If you’re still hungry for more, there’s the immense interior of the Basilica San Pietro itself, the crypt below, and the view down into the square from the dome above.
It’s generally a good idea to get some food before tackling the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. In the heat, bring lots of water with you since shrewd merchants will offer little bottles at excessive costs. Along with lunch, you’ll be able to avoid the warmest portion of the day.
15:00 – Colosseum
Tickets to the Colosseum may be purchased at the entrance, but if the queue is too lengthy, you can purchase them at the ticket window at the base of Palatine Hill. Because not many visitors go up the hill, the line is usually significantly shorter. The Emperor’s residence remains at the summit, overlooking the forum and strategically gazing down on the Temple of the Vestal Virgins. Romulus is claimed to have established Rome on this hill.
The Arch of Constantine, which stands next to the Colosseum, was an experiment in recycling previous monuments by Emperor Constantine to reward himself for defeating Maxentius. The Colosseum has been devastated during the previous 1800 years by earthquakes, invasions, and marble merchants, but modern restoration initiatives have returned portions of it to their former state.
16:00 – Roman Forum & Trajan’s Forum
The Via Sacra goes from the Colosseum to the Foro Romano, the old Roman commercial center. The remains include Julius Caesar’s burial pyre, his Senate structure, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and Septimus Severus’ arch. Each layer of the Roman Forum has been scraped back to show another Roman era, and in some cases where two eras have blended, like in the case of the Temple of Antonino and Faustina. The entryway halfway up the exposed wall indicates the ground level in the 8th century when the 2nd Century temple was turned into a church.
As history students and professional guides conduct tours of the forum and coliseum, there are plenty of tour guides available. The stories they tell help to bring the ruins to life. Trajan’s Forum, across the street, has a prominent Trajan’s Column. This represents the boundary between ancient Rome and the current city.
Unfortunately, the majority of old Rome is submerged beneath the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, a route created by Mussolini to parade his troops up and down before heading off to combat.
The rest of the day can be spent either people-watching at one of the cafes in Piazza Navona and appreciating Bernini’s Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi or relaxing in the park of the 17th century Villa Borghese. Then it’s back to those spots you missed the night before, to take full advantage of Rome in 2 days!
Day 3 in Rome
08:00 – Tough decision
This is entirely dependent on when you have to go back home. If you leave early in the evening, you may be able to fit in one of two options:
- The Baths of Caracalla are a 10-hectare facility that originally housed 1600 people who came to enjoy the baths, shops, libraries, gardens, and public entertainment. These open at 9 am and close one hour before sunset. Viewing these would take around 3-4 hours, not counting travel time.
- The second alternative is to go down to one of Rome’s extensive catacombs while you’re visiting Rome in 2 days. These are miles and miles of tunnels, burial vaults, and churches dug by the early Christians to avoid Roman persecution. The burial vaults tower hundreds of meters above the ground, while the tubes descend many floors. The resultant rabbit warren needs the use of a guide to properly navigate it. You may visit the Catacombs of San Callisto, which are next door to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, or the ones on Via Appia Antica, which are the biggest. They open at 8.30 am, close at noon, and reopen in the afternoon from 2.30 pm until 5 pm. Again, visiting one site would take 3-4 hours.
10:00 – Indulge in authentic Italian cuisine in Rome
Even if you visit Rome in 2 days, you can leave the whole touristy thing out and indulge in some authentic food experiences. The food markets north of the Vatican are held just off Viale dele Millizie and the ones in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele near Termini offer a selection of fresh and locally made produce.
There you have it, all the major attractions of Rome in 2 days or 48 hours only. The choice now is, do you really want to leave just yet?
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
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