Is it possible to visit Rome in two days? While 3 or even 5 days in Rome would help you better experience the Italian capital’s many facets, 48 hours in the Eternal City are a great way to start. In this post, we’ll show you how to see the most of Rome in two days.
See Rome in Two Days: Day 1
You made it to Rome! Let the excitement seep in as you wander along cobblestone streets, taking in millenia of architectural wonders and human activity as you go.
Sunrise at the Colosseum
On your first day in the Eternal City, you’ll likely want to visit some iconic sights, the most renowned of which is the Colosseum. And there is nothing more special than watching daylight dawn over this World Wonder.
Heading to the Colosseum for sunrise has two major benefits: nature will put on quite a show, and you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty without the crowds. What’s more, making your way through the still quiet city is a delight in and of itself.
Conveniently, Hotel Gregoriana is just about a 20-minute walk away, so you won’t have to wake up at too much of an ungodly hour, either.
Pro Tip: Here’s How to Experience the Colosseum If You Missed Your Alarm
Slept through your alarm? You can still enjoy the Colosseum later in the day without crowds!
Chiesa di Sant’Agata dei Goti
If you have the chance to visit Rome in two days, you’ll easily be able to fit in a couple of church stops. Now, you don’t need to be catholic, or even religious at all, to appreciate the beauty of Rome’s places of worship.
There are over 900 churches in the Italian capital - so which one should you pay your respects to? Perhaps you’ll simply stroll around and walk into whichever temple piques your interest. Rome’s churches are usually open to the public and free of charge.
If you’re looking for guidance, not far from the Colosseum, you’ll find the lovely Chiesa di Sant’Agata dei Goti. The first thing you’ll notice is the lush, plant-filled inner courtyard. This temple has been gracing the city with its presence since 450 AD.
At first, it wasn’t a catholic church. In fact, this temple was built by and for the invading Visigoths, who were credited with bringing Germanic heritage to the Eternal City.
Upon entering the elaborate decorated chapel, you’ll immediately feel a sense of peace. This lovely chapel is the ideal spot for a quiet moment amidst the chaos of the city.
Next, head to Monti, a favourite neighbourhood for Romans and visitors alike. Monti entices with its sidewalk cafes and restaurants, ivy-clad buildings, and narrow, cobblestoned streets.
Here, you’ll be able to browse endless vintage stores, shop at a local food market, or simply soak up the charm of these trendy yet entirely authentic surroundings, gelato in hand.
If your two days in Rome fall on the weekend, don’t forget to stop at Mercato Monti, a chic indoor market featuring clothes and accessories by local designers.
Monti is located between the Colosseum and Hotel Gregoriana.
The Roman Forum
Monti may be a popular gathering spot for contemporary Romans, but two millennia ago, the heart of local life pulsed some 500 metres west of this neighbourhood.
2000 years ago, the Forum (or more accurately, a collection of different fora elaborated upon by each emperor), was Rome’s largest marketplace. Today’s visitors can spend hours admiring an extensive collection of ruins, from temples to government buildings.
Even if you only have a limited amount of time, a quick stroll through the Forum will provide you with an in-depth introduction into Roman life and architecture of yesteryear.
Another more local spot you can easily visit during two days in Rome is Via Margutta. Although this little street connects the Spanish Steps to Piazza del Popolo, it remains relatively undiscovered by tourists.
A stroll down Via Margutta will take you back to 1950s Rome. You might even spot vintage cars like classic Fiat 500s parked in front of gated private homes. Aside from a couple of art galleries, upscale boutiques and restaurants, this street remains very residential.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo, meaning the People’s Square, used to be the first part of Rome that visitors saw when arriving by train. The square’s twin churches, one of which houses a Caravaggio, remain key Roman landmarks to this day.
Travellers can enter both churches, or simply admire the Flaminio Obelisk and sphinxes watching over the piazza. The Obelisk, itself dating back to 1310 BC, was among the first ancient Egyptian constructions to be brought to Rome 2000 years ago.
Villa Borghese Gardens
A set of stairs will whisk you from Piazza del Popolo to one of Rome’s green lungs, the Villa Borghese Gardens. This large park connects the tourist hub of Spagna to the upscale neighbourhood of Parioli.
Hire a golf cart or electric scooter and make your way around the Gardens - you’ll rapidly see why locals hang out here after work.
With water features, fountains, temples and villas converted into museums, you could spend an entire day here, either relaxing or soaking up the culture on what used to be private grounds belonging to one of Rome’s wealthiest Renaissance families.
Sunset over the Spanish Steps
A memorable way to end your first day in Rome is to watch the sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps. This monumental staircase connects the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinita Dei Monti Church and is another must-see while visiting the Eternal City.
While the viewing platform atop the Spanish Steps can get unbearably busy at day’s end, you can simply avoid the crowds by climbing another short flight of stairs, to the left of Trinita Dei Monti. These will lead you to the entrance of a French convent turned Catholic school, the entrance to which acts as a much smaller - and more private - lookout.
See Rome in Two Days: Day 2
Wake up early and get ready to explore more of Rome on Day 2!
Trevi Fountain at Dawn
As one of the most popular sights in Rome, the Trevi Fountain welcomes millions of travellers each year - and thousands of people daily from dawn until dusk. Whether you’re visiting Rome in two days or 10, you will likely be one of them.
If you don’t mind setting an alarm while on holiday, you can still enjoy a relatively quiet Trevi Fountain for the first half hour after daylight starts to shine. By 9 or 10 am, you’ll already be fighting your way through the crowds.
Fortunately, this famous baroque structure is only a 7-minute walk from Hotel Gregoriana, so a 6 am stop is quite manageable.
While it costs to visit most of Rome’s monuments, entry to the Pantheon is free of charge (but be aware of long queues!).
This temple, commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD to honour all the gods, remains one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world.
Interestingly, unlike many of its contemporaries, the Pantheon was used throughout history and not abandoned at any time. First it was a Roman temple, then it became a church (and still hosts Catholic masses today).
If you haven’t gotten your fix of Roman ruins, head to Teatro Marcello, within walking distance of the Pantheon. This 2000-year-old theatre was commissioned by Julius Caesar himself and once was the biggest entertainment hub of the Roman empire. At full capacity, it could hold some 20,000 people.
Today’s visitors can see the remains of a 30 metre tall arena, ruined temples and columns, and slabs that once made up an ancient Roman road.
After visiting Teatro Marcello, cross the Tiber River for a wander around Rome’s bohemian Trastevere neighbourhood, one of the oldest residential areas in the city. As you stroll, you’ll see many well-preserved mediaeval homes.
Harbouring a network of tiny streets and cobblestones similar to Monti, Trastevere is a prime destination for foodies during the day and party animals after dark. With a large student population, due to the proximity to two universities, you’ll find bars and eateries at all price points.
If you aim to visit Rome in two days, another unmissable sight is the Castel Sant’Angelo, the Eternal City’s castle and fortress.
Castel San’tAngelo came to life as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian’s family around 139 AD. Over time, the castle was turned into a military stronghold, with a secret tunnel connecting it to the Vatican (so that the pope could escape in case of siege).
The terrace offers one of the best views over Rome.
Sunset Drinks at the Rinascente Rooftop
After a second full day of exploring, why not toast to the Eternal City from one of its many rooftop bars?
The city’s main department store, Rinascente, harbours a lovely terrace with panoramic views of historic Rome. This rooftop bar offers a selection of drinks (alcoholic and not), a food menu, and, most enticingly, the possibility of watching the sunset over the Eternal City.
You might head to the Rinascente for views and drinks, but don’t forget to check out the basement. Here, you’ll find 60 metres of an underground aqueduct, built some 2000 years ago and re-discovered during renovations.
The aqueduct is still functional today and, in fact, provides water to some of Rome’s historic monuments, including the Trevi Fountain.
Verdict: You Can See a Lot of Rome in Two Days
Rome is one of those sprawling cities that has so much to offer, from historic highlights to charming hideaways. What you do in Rome truly depends on your interests, but if it’s your first time in the Eternal City, this guide should have given you a good idea of how to visit Rome in two days. Now all that’s left for you to do is pack your bags!
(Images and text by Marguerite Bravay, travel blogger and founder of Berlin and Around)