While it’s a fact that deciding to visit Rome in 2 days is pretty challenging, it’s also true that with our simple itinerary we make things much easier.
Probably our Rome two-day itinerary is pretty packed with things to see and do. If you feel you don’t have enough time or prefer to stay longer in a place, you can just skip some landmarks. On the other hand, if you go faster and want to include more, you can check our guide to a full 3-day Rome itinerary for more inspiration.
What to do in Rome in 2 days
The first day of your 2-day Rome trip will mainly focus on the Vatican, while on the second day we will explore the city center and Ancient Rome. I’ve included some tips on how to save time and see as much as you can in your two days.
- Day 1 of our two-day Rome itinerary
► Vatican Museums
► St. Peter’s Square and Basilica
► Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian Mausoleum)
► Tiber Island and Jewish Quarter
- Day 2 of our two-day Rome itinerary
► Roman Forum
► Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Museums
► Trevi Fountain
► Spanish Steps
► Piazza Navona
► Campo de’ Fiori
- How to get around
- Where to stay
Day 1 of our Rome two-day itinerary
While I suggest heading to the Vatican Museums as early as you can in the morning (they open at 9 am but the queue starts earlier), you will save time and make things much quicker by booking online either a skip-the-line ticket or a private tour.
While only 1 day in Rome might not be enough to visit the Vatican Museums, if you plan your trip and itinerary properly, in 2 days in Rome you can (and should!) definitely enter this magnificent gallery with some of the world’s most famous masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel.
If you book a hotel near the Vatican, you can reach your first sight walking.
How to get there → Metro line A (Cipro and Ottaviano).
How long it takes → Two to three hours inside the museums.
St. Peter’s Square and Basilica
How to get there → On foot some 10-15 minutes from the Vatican Museums.
After the museums, head to St. Peter’s Square to admire Bernini’s colonnade, the beautiful fountains and statues and obviously to enter the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the best things to do in Rome in 2 days.
Entrance to the church is free and there is only one way to skip the long queue, booking a Vatican private tour. If you only book a tour of the basilica, you can’t skip the line, but if you book a full Vatican tour you will because you will access the basilica from another entrance.
How long it takes → Around an hour inside the basilica.
How to get there → 10 minutes walk from St. Peter’s Basilica via Via della Conciliazione
Built as the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo has served several purposes throughout history. From funerary complex to prison to residence, set along the river it’s one of the most photogenic landmarks of Rome’s city center.
Depending on how much time you have or how soon you want to get to your next destination, you can decide to enter the Hadrian Mausoleum or not. To visit some of the areas such as the prison, you need to take the official guided tour at the ticket booth.
By yourself, you can walk around the complex, visit the museum inside and enjoy a fantastic view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the terrace.
How long it takes → Around an hour inside the complex
Stroll around Trastevere
How to get there → On foot some 20-25 minutes from Castel Sant’Angelo or around 15 minutes by bus 23 or 280.
A historical and picturesque neighborhood with plenty to see, since you are staying two days in Rome, you can afford to spend here a couple of hours.
Since you spent all morning sightseeing in the Vatican, I suggest you have lunch as soon as you arrive in Trastevere before starting to visit the area. Plenty of places to eat in Trastevere where you can have a delicious hearty meal such as Da Enzo Al 29 (Via dei Vascellari 29) and Aromaticus (Via Natale del Grande 6/7). If you prefer a quick bite on the go, stop at the delicious Trapizzino for a street food style meal.
The best way to discover Trastevere is by getting lost in its cobbled alleys and also visiting the local historic places such as the beautiful Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica. If you are interested in Rome’s modern history, visit Museo di Roma in Trastevere for a hint of how was life in the 19th century.
And if you want a sweet treat after lunch, make sure you pay a visit to some of the best gelaterias in Rome such as Otaleg, Fiordiluna and Fata Morgana.
How long it takes → Around an hour inside both the basilicas, a couple of hours to enjoy the neighborhood.
Tiber Island and Jewish Quarter
How to get there → Around 10 minutes walking
From Trastevere, you reach the Tiber Island via the Ponte Cestio bridge. On the Tiber Island, is San Bartolomeo church built on the site of the ancient temple of Asclepius, the god of the medicine. Historically, the island has always been linked to healing the poor and sick people, and today there are two hospitals, Fatebenefratelli and the Israeli hospital. There is one very famous traditional restaurant, Sora Lella, founded by the actress Elena Fabrizi, sister of Aldo Fabrizi, a very famous Italian actor, and today managed by her nephews.
Take the ancient Ponte Fabricius bridge to get to the Jewish Quarter. This is the only bridge that was kept in its original construction.
Here, you will find several things to see and do such as the archaeological site of the Portico d’Ottavia, the Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe) in Piazza Mattei, the Synagogue and the Jewish Museum.
The Jewish Quarter is famous for the many restaurants serving Roman traditional dishes in Kosher style, so I definitely suggest to stop here for dinner.
How long it takes → A couple of hours to stroll around both neighborhoods.
Day 2 of our Rome two-day itinerary
Start early at the Colosseum
How to get there → By metro line B (Colosseo station)
A bit like for the Vatican Museums, also for the Colosseum you need some extra planning. You are spending two days in Rome, so you can totally devote a couple of hours to visit the amphitheater inside.
However, even if you can afford to navigate Rome in 2 days, you still need to save time, so purchasing a skip-the-line ticket or a Colosseum private tour is highly recommended. To avoid spending an hour just for the line, that is.
How long it takes → One to two hours inside the Colosseum.
How to get there → A few minutes’ walk from the Colosseum.
The natural continuation of a visit to the Colosseum is a stroll around the Roman Forum, one of the places to visit in Rome in 2 days. This was the pulsing heart of ancient Rome and the place where trading, politics and social life happened. You will see Roman villas, temples and the altar where Julius Caesar was cremated.
The ticket you have purchased for the Colosseum will be valid for the Roman Forum too, and very likely also if you booked a private tour, this archaeological site will be included in the package.
How long it takes → One to two hours inside the Roman Forum
Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Museums
How to get there → Some 10-15 minutes’ walk from Piazza del Colosseo
Piazza Venezia is a busy traffic and bus hub in central Rome and as soon as you arrive, the first thing you will see is the Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) and the Vittoriano Complex.
From Piazza Venezia, you can reach the Capitoline Museums from the tall staircase to the Campidoglio, seat of Rome’s Mayor. The Capitoline Museums are an important stop if you want to learn more about Rome’s origins and history. You will be amazed at the huge collection of ancient sculptures and tools from Etruscan times and the foundation of the city. The gallery will take at least two hours, so make sure you have the rest of your 2-day Rome itinerary well planned.
How long it takes → At least 2 hours inside the Capitoline Museums
Snap your best pictures at the Trevi Fountain
How to get there → 10 minutes’ walk from Piazza Venezia, 15 minutes from Piazza del Campidoglio.
The stunning Baroque Trevi Fountain is a must-see if it’s your first time, even if you have only one or two days in Rome. The Assembly of Rome’s Council ruled to put a barrier in front of the fountain to preserve one of Rome’s most important landmarks from the vandals. This will allow you to take much clearer pictures of this majestic building without the usual crowds.
It’s been recently cleaned so you can see it in all its original white splendor. And if you are here around lunchtime, stop at Piccolo Buco restaurant, which serves great traditional dishes and also one of the best pizza in Rome.
How long it takes → From 10 minutes to as much as you like to stare at the marvelous fountain!
How to get there → Some 10 minutes’ walking
The Spanish Steps are one of the most popular historic landmarks that you will want to visit even on short trips of 2 days in Rome. Built to connect the church of Trinità dei Monti to the Bourbon Spanish embassy.
Apart from the famous staircase, Piazza di Spagna features also the beautiful Barcaccia fountain by the father of famous artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Actually, here, there are several things to do. You can visit the house of John Keats, the British poet buried in the Non-Catholic cemetery, have a coffee at the historic Caffé Greco or a tea at Babington’s Tea Rooms.
How long it takes → Same here, from 10 minutes to how long you need whether you want to climb the staircase or not or visit some of the local landmarks or not.
Enter the Pantheon
How to get there → Less than 15 minutes’ walk
Built as the temple to all gods, the Pantheon is now a Catholic church. Famous for its hole in the dome, it’s the burial place of some members of the Savoys, the former Italian royal family, and painter Raffaello Sanzio.
One of the best-kept Roman temples and one of the largest concrete domes in the world, the Pantheon is a must-see in your 2-day Rome itinerary.
If you are feeling like a sweet treat, right behind the Pantheon, in Piazza Sant’Eustachio 47, is one of the best gelatos in Rome, Gunther Gelato Italiano.
How long it takes → From half an hour to an hour.
Stroll around Piazza Navona
How to get there → 5 minutes’ walk from the Pantheon
This is one of Rome’s most famous and beautiful piazzas. The first thing you will notice is that it’s not round but stretched oval-shaped. Piazza Navona, in fact, was built on top of the Domitian Stadium. This is an ancient Roman stadium the emperor Domitian wanted to devote to Greek games and you can visit the archaeological ruins from the entrance on Via di Tor Sanguigna.
Today, Piazza Navona is famous for its gorgeous fountains, especially the Four Rivers Fountain in the center. On the northern edge, don’t forget to snap a picture of the Fountain of Neptune, while on the southern end is the beautiful Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor).
How long it takes → From half an hour to an hour to take pictures of the fountains and quickly visit Sant’Agnese in Agone church.
Campo de’ Fiori
How to get there → 5 minutes’ walk from Piazza Navona crossing Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
For full disclosure, it’s fair to say that in Campo de’ Fiori every morning it takes place one of Rome’s famous markets. But it closes around lunchtime, so if you really want to see it, after the Roman Forum, you can skip the Capitoline Museums and head directly here.
From Campo de’ Fiori, you can then carry on with this same itinerary from the end to the top. Obviously, if you are staying three days in Rome, you can leave the market to the day after and start here your itinerary.
All around Campo de’ Fiori are nice shops and restaurants, and in the evening, it becomes a favorite hangout among locals and tourists who love to enjoy their dinner or after-dinner drink al fresco.
How to get around
All the landmarks in this Rome two-day itinerary are close to each other. Some of them really close, like a maximum of 5 minutes on foot, so walking would be your only option.
If some are too far or you feel like you don’t have enough time and want to skip some landmarks, then I suggest you rely on public transport. There is also the taxi option, but in the city center buses and trams connect pretty well all the attractions. So a taxi would probably be excessive.
Where to stay
Since you are staying only two days in Rome, I suggest you either book your room close to the city center or where it’s well-connected with public transport.