The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days

You can only scratch the surface of Rome in 2 days – but if that is all you have, you may as well find a solution to make the most of it. This is a city that deserves a lot of time – I’d dare say a lifetime – to be fully discovered. I have visited countless time; I have even lived there, and I still feel there is more to explore.

The good news is that although you will be trying to visit Rome in 2 days, you’ll be able to see most of its highlights. But the only way you can do it is if you follow a well planned route – one that is crafted to minimize the amount of time you spend moving from one attraction to the other, and that in fact allows you to see places along the way.

You’ll also have to keep good timing; probably eat lunch on the go, and chuck down an espresso or two to boost your energy levels.

I know that planning an itinerary can be a bit of a hassle – especially if you are not an expert. That’s why I thought I’d do it for you.

In this post, I will explain what to see and do in Rome in 2 days, and share some useful tips to help you skip the lines at the famous tourist attractions and save a buck or two. Follow this itinerary, and you’ll hopefully have a blast in the Italian capital. 

Make sure to read my post 30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome” for inspiration on all the great things you can do there. 

Continue reading to discover all the places to visit in Rome in 2 days.

Rome in 2 days
With two days in Rome, you have time to visit the Vatican

A Fantastic Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days

Before I get into the details of this post, let me stress that if you really want to visit Rome in 2 days, you have to book entries to the tourist attractions – and you have to do so well in advance. If you don’t do so, there will be high chances of being stuck in line for a long time, or – worst case scenario – that the attraction you want to visit is sold out and there is no way you can get it.

To help you with the planning, I will make sure to point out any time you need to make advanced reservations. Follow this route and my tips, and you’ll truly enjoy visiting Rome in 2 days.

The starting point in planning this route is that you have at least 2 full days in Rome (which means 3 nights). My recommendation is to start your day very early (ie at 7:00 when you visit the Vatican) and to have lunch on the go (opt for a sit down meal in the evening).

This itinerary is logic in terms of visiting places that are more or less all in the same area on the same day, so that you can walk from one to the other and minimize the use of public transportation. Should you still need to, you can get your Rome Public Transportation Card (ATAC) here.

I have selected those places in the historic center of Rome that are an absolute must, and a few more that will be a nice addition. Mind you: this is a packed itinerary.

For each day, I will point out the starting point and then a walking route to the other places. You may use public transportation to get to your starting point, and then back to your hotel in the evening. For each day, you’ll also get links to a map of the recommended itinerary.

Continue reading to discover what to see and do in Rome in 2 days.

Rome in 2 days
You have to visit the Vatican Museums if you have two days in Rome

Day one: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Galleria Borghese

Day one of your Rome in 2 days itinerary will be packed. You will visit Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps and – if you are into fine arts – finish at Galleria Borghese. I have opted to let you visit the Vatican on your first day because I count on your excitement for being in the Eternal City to push you out of bed really early.

Map of day 1 Rome itinerary

Click here to open up the map for your first day in Rome. You’ll be able to see the walking distance from one place to the other, and to drag and rearrange things to better suit your tastes and needs.

St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel 

Head out no later than 7:00 AM for an early morning tour of the Vatican. Opting for an early morning tour you’ll be out by no later than 11:00 AM, thus having time to visit the other places too – this will help you make the most of Rome in 2 days. 

The official opening time of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel officially is 9:00 AM, while St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7:00 AM. Lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming at around 7:30 AM. But if you only are trying to see Rome in 2 days, you really should get an early access Vatican tour – better if it also includes a dedicated access and tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.

You could also opt to visit St. Peter’s Basilica first, as it opens at 7:00 AM (and you can get in for free) and then walk to the Vatican Museums – but keep in mind that there is no dedicated entrance if you follow this route and you’ll have to walk for 1 km around St. Peter’s Square to make your way to the entrance of the museums.

TIP: Check out my post How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line” for more ideas on how to get in fast!

My humble opinion is that an early guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica will help you save a lot of time. You’ll also have a guide that will take you around and share a bunch of facts about the Sistine Chapel that you wouldn’t get otherwise, and pointing you to all the most important pieces of the Vatican Museums collection.

Another bonus of an early tour is the possibility to enjoy the place when it is still virtually empty. Some tours include a guided visit of the Basilica too, others just a dedicated entrance.

These are the best early access tours of the Vatican with dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica:

Some background information about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican Museums are some of the biggest in the world: there are 54 chambers and a massive collection. Yet, I must admit that to me the real show stealer is the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgement – one of Renaissance’s greatest works and Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

St. Peter’s Basilica is another work of art of Renaissance, built by Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, over a site that is thought to be the tomb of St. Peter. The church has 11 chapels, 45 altars and a myriad of mosaics. This is where you’ll find Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, as well as the Chair of St. Peter.

Read more about St. Peter’s Basilica in my post How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line.”

If you are keep on climbing to the dome, make sure to also read my postA Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome.”

TIP: don’t forget that modest clothing is required to visit the Vatican.

TIP: No photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel.

two days in Rome
Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most famous attractions in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo

If you are done by 11:00 with the Vatican, your should have enough time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo, a great addition to your itinerary to see Rome in 2 days. You will walk by it on your way to the Tiber River, as you try to reach the Spanish Steps on the other side of the river.

Originally a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo saw different uses throughout history. It was a prison for a while, and it now is a museum.

If you are keen on going in, opt for a skip the line ticket. These are some good options:

Rome in 2 days
The Spanish Steps – one of the most iconic squares in Rome

The Spanish Steps

The next stop on your Rome in 2 days itinerary will be the Spanish Steps. It’s such an iconic place in Rome, that it would be a pity to miss it. Piazza di Spagna, as Italian call it, has a whopping 185 steps that lead to Trinità dei Monti church. The steps were built in the 18th century, overlooking what now is one of the most famous shopping streets in the country – Via Condotti. That’s where Antico Caffé Greco – one of the most famous and oldest cafés in Rome – is located.

LUNCH TIP: By the time you get to the Spanish Steps you’ll probably be hungry. The area is very touristy, and you’ll end up spending an arm and a leg if you go for a full meal. Opt for something quick that you can eat on the go, such as gelato or some street food.

You can also go to Pastificio Guerra, in Via della Croce 8 (at the far end of Piazza di Spagna, as you make your way to Piazza del Popolo) for some take away pasta. For a mere €4 euro you’ll get a hearty portion of a local specialty and a carb overload to keep you going till dinner time.

Make sure to read my post All The Food In Rome You Should Eat: 25 Delicious Dishes.”

Piazza Del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is located right at the bottom of the Pincio (the Pincian Hill). This is one  of the largest squares in Rome, at the center of it you’ll find the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis,  the second tallest in the city. As you walk up the stairs to get to the Pincio Terrace and make your way to Borghese Gallery you’ll get splendid views of the square.

two days in Rome
Borghese Gallery – the final stop on your first day in Rome

Galleria Borghese 

Continue walking for little under 2 km through the beautiful park to get to Galleria Borghese. If you are an art lover, you have to visit even if you just have 2 days in Rome.

While the gardens are gorgeous, the museum has one of the finest art collections in the world. You’ll be able to see works of Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.

Only 360 visitors at once are allowed inside Galleria Borghese, so it’s never really crowded. However, this means that entrances are timed and that you’ll have to pick a time slot for your visit; buy tickets online beforehand; and keep good timing to be sure to get there in time for your visit – it takes around half hour to walk there from Piazza del Popolo.

You can buy tickets for Galleria Borghese directly on its website. If they are sold out, you may want to opt for a guided tour which, though more expensive, usually has more availability.

These are some recommended tours of Borghese Gallery:

Make sure to read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

Rome in 2 days
The Colosseum is the ultimate place to visit in Rome

Day two: Ancient Rome

On the second day of your Rome in 2 days itinerary, you’ll visit all the most beautiful attractions of the Historic Center of Rome. According to this itinerary, your starting point is the Colosseum and the final one is Trevi Fountain. If you want, however, you can opt to do it the other way around and go on a night tour of the Colosseum.

Map of day 2 Rome itinerary

You can see the map for your second day in Rome by clicking here. Check out the walking distances and times from one place to the other, and rearrange to fit your needs and interests.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the ultimate tourist attractions in Rome, one of the most visited in the city and in the world. A beautiful sight during the day, it’s splendid at night, when it is illuminated. You wouldn’t want to miss visiting – not even when you are exploring Rome in 2 days.

The bad news is that there usually are very long lines to enter the Colosseum.

My Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” explains in detail all the options you have to skip the line at the Colosseum. Make sure to read it for further insightful information.

In short: the best way to skip the line at the Colosseum is by purchasing skip the line tickets online. With that, you’ll just have to go through security.

TIP: In the peak season the Colosseum is often sold out. Buy your tickets well in advance. If you decide to buy tickets with no guided entrance, you will have book your date and time slot on a separate website.

TIP: It’s a bit more expensive, but much less of a hassle to invest in a guided tour of the Colosseum. You’ll just have to point out the date and time of the tour, and the tour company will make sure to arrange everything else for you.

These are some very good group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

Read the full description of the tour to see what it includes, especially if you are keen on visiting certain specific parts of the site – the basic tours only go to the main floor, the most expensive ones also to the underground.

Going on a night tour of the Colosseum

As I have said before, you can walk the itinerary for your second day in Rome the other way around, and actually finish at the Colosseum. If this sounds like a good idea, make sure to have dinner before heading there for your tour.

Night tours of the Colosseum typically start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours. Only a limited amount of visitors are allowed every night, which means you’ll have a more intimate experience.

Night tours give access to the main areas of the Colosseum as well as the undergrounds.

Tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person.

These are some good night tours of the Colosseum:

two days in Rome
With two days in Rome, you have enough time to visit the Forum

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill 

Your ticket to the Colosseum also gives you access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Most of the tours of the Colosseum also go to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and since this is a large site you may well want to have a guide to take you around.

These are some of the best guided tours of the Roman Forum:

Some background information about the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum used to be the heart of Rome at the times of the Republic. It was a very busy place, with a market, temples, brothels and even the House of the Senate. During the the Roman Empire, it became a ceremonial center.

The Palatine Hill is thought to be the legendary place where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo founded Rome after having killed Remo. It’s where the emperors and aristocrats of Rome used to live.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is the very heart of Rome and you will pass by it during this Rome in 2 days itinerary. There, you’ll  be able to see Trajan’s Column and the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1911 to commemorate the first king of unified Italy.

two days in Rome
A kitty at Largo di Torre Argentina cat shelter

Largo di Torre Argentina

On your way from Piazza Venezia to Piazza Navona you’ll walk by Largo di Torre Argentina, probably my favorite place in Rome (you’ll soon found out why). Even when you are exploring Rome in 2 days, you will end up there somehow!

Mistakenly known as the place where Julius Cesar died – in fact, he died on the steps pf the Theater of Pompey, a couple of blocks away – Largo di Torre Argentina has the ruins of some of the oldest temples of Rome.

This should be enough to make you want to stop there. But if you are a cat lover, you’ll be happy to know that it is also home to the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome. You can walk around the site to find the entrance to the shelter, where an association takes care of the cats and works to raise fund for them. You can visit to play with the cats, buy a Cats of Rome calendar as a souvenir, or even make a donation.

You may also want to get on the official website of Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary to make a donation.

LUNCH TIP: In Largo di Torre Argentina you’ll also find a few places where you can grab lunch on the go. Pizza Florida is a good place to try “pizza al taglio,” one of the local specialty – and it is very budget friendly.

Campo de’ Fiori

Before you go to Piazza Navona, make sure you stop at Campo de’ Fiori. I believe it is one of the prettiest squares in Rome. The area was paved in 1456 and since the 19th century it’s been home to a lovely market that sells fruits, vegetables and flowers. There also are lots of cafés to hang out.

Piazza Navona

Another beautiful square that you can add to the places to visit in Rome in 2 days. It was paved over in the 15th century over the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano. It now is where one of the many city markets are located. It’s also home to the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and to the 17th century Sant’Agnese church.

Rome in 2 days
Make sure to stop at the Pantheon!

The Pantheon

Nobody should go to Rome and miss the Pantheon, not even when visiting Rome in 2 days.

You walk by the Pantheon on your way from Piazza Navona to Trevi Fountain. Its dome, thought to be one of the best preserved building from antiquity, is one of the most iconic structures in town. Its construction was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian, and it was built in the 126 AD. Inside there you’ll find the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.

You can walk in for free, but if you have time (and energy) you can opt to get an audio guide to tour around for about 35 minutes. It costs €5 euro. You can get yours here.

Check out my post A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets.”

Trevi Fountain

One of the most iconic places in Rome, Trevi Fountain is an easy addition to this itinerary to see Rome in 2 days. It’s been recently renovated and brought back to its splendor. It’s a crowded place, so forget about those romantic solitary pictures. But it’s a must see!

TIP: Do not even think about jumping in this or other fountains in Rome. It’s forbidden and if caught you will be fined!

Beautiful streets of Rome right by the Pantheon

The Jewish Ghetto

At the end of your second day, head to the Jewish Ghetto. It’s a 15  minutes walk from Trevi Fountain, and a fantastic dinner spot.

Established by Pope Paul IV five centuries ago, the Ghetto is the place where all the Jews living in Rome were forced to move. It was walled and had gates that were closed at night.

Nowadays, the Jewish Ghetto is famous for its Roman Kosher cuisine. Go there for dinner to try some of the best specialties such as carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic. Read this post for inspiration on where to eat in the area.

Guided Tours Of Rome

The itinerary I have drafted to help you see Rome in 2 days is completely doable independently. If you want to make the most of the attractions you may want to join a guided tour here and there – in fact, I recommend that to avoid the hassle of having to book everything separately.

These are a few good guided tours of Rome:

Rome in 2 days
The beautiful Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia

Using A 48 Hours Roma Pass 

My post “The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It” gives a good overview of what the Roma Pass is and tips to use it to its full power.

In general, a Roma Pass may be a good thing to have if you are visiting Rome in 2 days. You can make the most of it by visiting all the attractions included and get discount for others, and most pass options also give you access to public transportation. Some even include a one way transfer to the airport.

These are some good 48 hours Roma Pass options. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before buying your pass:

  • Roma Pass 48 hours – a very good budget option with free admissions to a variety of museums, but take care to notice that tickets to the Colosseum are not included.
  • Visit Pass Rome Gold – a pass that gives you fast track access to a variety of sites including the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums; privileged access to St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo; skip the line tickets to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. It includes a public transportation pass for 48 hours.

One thing to be aware of is that even when you have the Roma Pass you will have to book your entry to sites such as the Colosseum and the Borghese Gallery. You may end up being better off booking individual skip the line tickets or guided tours.

These are the best skip tours that include skip the line access:

Colosseum and Roman Forum:

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica:

Rome in 2 days

Practical Tips To Make The Most Of Rome In 2 Days

Where to stay in Rome 

There are many good hotels in Rome. When visiting Rome in 2 days, it is important staying in the historic center for easy access to attractions. If you stay by Ottaviano metro station, you’ll have very easy access to the Vatican which is the first place you should be visiting. Alternatively, opt to stay in Monti for quick access to the Colosseum.

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Ottaviano:

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Monti:

Read my post A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”

When to visit Rome

You can visit Rome at any time of year. I find it marvelous in October, when the temperatures mild, and sites are a bit less crowded. You may want to opt for late spring or early summer to have longer days and squeeze in more places to visit. I’d also recommend to avoid going in August. It’s when Italians go on holidays, the city empties of locals and is packed with tourists.

How to get to Rome

The two airports of Rome are Fiumicino, for intercontinental flights and major airlines; and Ciampino, domestic and European flights with budget airlines. Both are well connected to Rome city center.

The cheapest way to get from Ciampino to Rome city center is by bus. Terravision has regular buses. You can book tickets here.

From Fiumicino Airport to Rome you have more options. The cheapest one is the express train, which runs every 15 minutes (or every 30 minutes late at night). You can buy tickets and check the timetable online. 

Taxis have a €48 flat rate.

Alternatively, these are some good transfer options

For more information, check out my post How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”

Rome is well connected by train to other cities in Italy. There are several train stations. The main one is Termini. You can buy tickets and check the train timetable here. 

two days in Rome
Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful one in Rome

How to move around Rome

Uber isn’t a thing in Italy, so if you want to get a taxi you will have to either stop it in the street or use the app MyTaxi.

I believe that the best way to get around Rome is on foot. This itinerary to see Rome in 2 days is meant to maximize the amount of places you can see in one area without having to rely on public transportation. In case you do need to use public transport, you’ll be glad to know that it is quite efficient, with several buses and metro lines. You can get a Rome public transportation card here.

TIP: As a responsible tourist, I strongly advise you against riding a horse pulled carriage. With the traffic and noise in town, those poor animals are bound to be stressed and you don’t want to contribute to it!

Check out my postThe Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”

Luggage storage in Rome

If you  must to check out early in the morning from your hotel but your flight or train is late in the evening, you may want to take advantage of the time you have to explore a few more places. Most hotels will allow you to leave your bags in storage, but it may be more convenient to take them to a luggage storage service where you can pick them up before heading to the airport.

Most train stations have luggage storage and I’d recommend using one of them. I’d recommend opting for one near Termini train station as chances are that’s where you’ll  be taking your train to other destinations or to the airport. Alternatively, you can use a luggage storage place on town. Check out this one or this one.

Other useful tips 

Get a guide book

Make sure to bring along a good guide book to get more information about the places to visit in Rome in 2 days. Check that it has a map!

These are some good guide books:

Get a data plan for your smartphone

Top up your smartphone so that is has enough data and make sure it has a plan that allows you to navigate the internet if needed, so that you can go on Google Maps if needed. You can also download maps to use them offline.

Drinking water 

Tap water is safe to drink in Rome – carry around your own bottle to refill at public drinking fountains. Most restaurants only served bottled or filtered water.

Mind the scams 

Beware of scams! As in any big city, tourists are a target for scams in Rome. Keep attention to people being overly friendly; keep an eye on your stuff; say no to people who offer to help you at train station with things such as tickets and luggage.

Mind the dress code

Make sure to be dressed modestly if you plan to visit churches, especially for the Vatican. You’ll have to cover your legs, chest and shoulder.

Get a good travel insurance

Whether you are visiting Rome in 2 days or more, don’t forget to get a good travel insurance. Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get your travel insurance here.

Further readings about Rome

For more itineraries, read my posts:

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Find out how to make the most of Rome in 2 days

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