Visiting Rome for 2 days and wondering how to plan your time so that you get to experience the very best of the city? In this guide, we share a suggested Rome itinerary for two days that brings you to all the must-see places, introduces you to the local food, and allows you to explore the city just a little bit deeper than most standard itineraries. Find out!
If you are visiting the Eternal City for the first time, you are probably wondering how much time you need and if two days are enough for Rome?
Rome is a big city with so much history, impressive landmarks, and so many interesting places that you could spend a month and still just scratch the surface… So no, you can’t see everything in Rome in just two days.
However, 2 days in Rome is a sufficient amount of time in order to see all the ‘musts’, including the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. In addition – if you plan well – you can get just a bit off the beaten path and explore the city center deeper, which will make your trip so much more memorable!
In this guide, we show you how to best plan your time so that you can make the most of your 2-day trip to Rome. We also include several options so that – in addition to the ‘musts’ – you can choose what else to see based on your interests.
At the bottom of this article, you can also find a short version of this itinerary, a map indicating all the places mentioned in our guide, and some essential tips. Take a look!
Good to know: Please note that the hours below are just indicated for your reference and based on how it usually is in the high season (+-April-October). Be sure to double-check the opening hours of the places you want to visit/ the tour starting times and adjust the itinerary if needed.
TIP: If you want to see some of the best places in Rome in two days in a most relaxed way and without having to plan or arrange anything, check out this private 2-day VIP tour. It has a great itinerary and everything including transportation, tour guides, and entrance tickets, etc. will be arranged for you. And because you have a guide and a driver, this itinerary will require much less walking than if you ‘do it yourself’. Accommodation and meals are not included, of course, but they pick you up/drop you off at your hotel each day.
And if you want to plan your own trip, here’s how we recommend spending 2 days in Rome:
DAY 1: Colosseum & Historic City Center
On your first day in Rome, we recommend covering all the ‘musts’ of ancient Rome and the most famous landmarks in the city center. Plan at least 3 hours for the Colosseum area (Colosseum + Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum).
Here’s how your first day in Rome could look like:
8 AM: Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular landmarks in the historic city center of Rome and it can get extremely crowded here during the day. But it’s usually much quieter in the morning. And if you are staying nearby (as we were), it’s really simple to visit this famous fountain before day tourists arrive.
So we highly recommend starting your visit to Rome here. That way, you can see the impressive Trevi Fountain without the biggest crowds. And you can always come back here later in the day or in the evening when the fountain is nicely lit.
Don’t forget to toss a coin so that you come back to Rome again! For that, you should stand with your back towards the fountain, and throw the coin over your left shoulder.
Next, walk to the Pantheon (+-10 minutes walk from Trevi).
9 AM: Pantheon
If you absolutely want to visit the Pantheon inside and see its famous oculus, be sure to be here at least half an hour before it opens. The Pantheon is generally open from 9 AM, but it doesn’t harm to double-check before you go!
Since Pantheon is a working church, entrance is free of charge, and – normally – there are no tickets or reservations, but there is always a long queue here. In addition, recently, they require advance reservation if you visit on a weekend. Check the official website for up-to-date info.
You only need 10-15 minutes for a visit inside the Pantheon, but if you want to learn more about this unique temple that was turned into a church, and its 2000-year old history, you can opt for an audio tour as well. An audio tour takes about 35 minutes if you listen to the whole narrative.
9.30 AM: Walk to the Colosseum via Piazza Venezia
If you are staying in the center of Rome, we recommend that you simply walk to Colosseum. It’s about 25 minutes walk from the Pantheon.
On your way, you’ll pass Piazza Venezia and you can also walk past Capitoline Hill. Here you can see Capitoline Wolf – a small statue depicting a wolf that saved and cared for Romulus and Remus, twin brothers that later founded the city of Rome.
Continue on Via dei Fori Imperiali in the direction of the Colosseum.
10.30 AM – 2 PM: Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Colosseum is one of the main landmarks in Rome and a must-see. While you can always just admire this ancient amphitheater from the outside, a visit inside is well worth your time!
However, this is one of the busiest places in Rome, so planning in advance is essential! But you don’t absolutely have to rush here first thing in the morning – it will be busy no matter when you come and – in summer – it will be hot anyway. Just be sure to book your priority tickets or a guided tour for the Colosseum, so that you can actually visit it at the time you want and can make the most of your day.
TIP: We highly recommend going with a local guide because a visit here is overwhelming! The Colosseum itself is crowded, there are many entrances, various levels to visit, and just finding the right entrance can be a very stressful experience in itself. The same counts for the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. These are all huge areas with so many interesting sights that you will not know where to go first (or what you are seeing)…
We have been to Rome several times and on the most recent visit to the Colosseum, we took this highly rated tour and it was the best decision. In just 3 hours, we visited the Colosseum (including the Arena Floor and underground level that you can only visit with the guide), the Palatine Hill, and saw the main sights of the Roman Forum.
We wouldn’t have been able to see half as much if we went on our own!
PRO TIP: Even if you are short on time, we highly recommend booking a tour that includes a visit to the Colosseum Underground. It’s a great experience and gives you a totally different insight into what this arena was truly about. Here are all the tour options, and here’s the tour that we did. If you don’t like going with big groups, you can book this same tour as a small-group option, or even as a private tour. Either way, it’s really worth it!
Good to know: No matter how you decide to visit Colosseum – on your own or with a guide – your ticket will also include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. You really need at least three hours in order to visit all three sites, and you could easily spend the whole day here too. But with just two days in Rome, 3-3.5 hours should be sufficient for the highlights (once again, it helps to go with a guide).
2-3 PM: Lunch
After your visit to the Colosseum and the other sites nearby, it’s time for lunch. There are lots of restaurants near the Colosseum, and it shouldn’t be a problem to find something to eat.
I recommend that you sit down for a decent lunch. You’ll be tired after all the walking and this is also the hottest time of the day – you’ll be glad to rest a bit.
There are quite a few restaurants in the area east of the Colosseum. Trattoria Luzzi, Naumachia Ristorante, or Pasqualino Al Colosseo are all good options, and there are quite a few others (we indicated these on our map further below). Often, it’s not a matter of choice, but just being able to find a free table in this area at around lunchtime.
3.30-4.30 PM: Baths of Caracalla
After lunch, I highly recommend visiting the nearby Baths of Caracalla. It’s about 20 minutes walk to get there and you need about 30-45 minutes for a visit, but it’s absolutely worth it! And no, this is not a must-see place and many tourists don’t even know about it, but – to us – this is one of the most special places we visited in Rome and so if you can squeeze it in your itinerary, definitely consider!
Dating from the 3rd century, Caracalla Baths were one the largest Roman public baths with several heated baths, saunas, an Olympic-size pool, sports facilities, and even a library. This archeological site is quite well preserved, and you can also see some stunning mosaics that give you a glimpse of how grand and decorative these baths were.
To us, the Baths of Caracalla is one of the most special places in Rome. And while you won’t often read about them, I highly recommend including a visit here into your 2-days Rome itinerary. This is one of those unique places that will make your visit so much more special. It’s also a good place to escape the crowds. Despite being so close to the Colosseum, this is one of the hidden gems of Rome that most tourists never see.
Good to know: The Baths of Caracalla are open daily except on Mondays and some public holidays. Here you can find the official opening times and also get tickets, but it’s not really a must – normally, you can just get a ticket at the entrance.
5 PM: Back to the city center
Next, make your way back to the city center.
Depending on where you go next, you can either take a metro or walk. Circo Massimo is the nearest metro station, about 10 minutes walk from the Baths of Caracalla.
You can further explore the city center on your own, or opt for a walking tour (see below).
5.30 – 6.30 PM: Free time: shopping, drinks, gelato…
We recommend that you take a metro to Flaminio station, close to Piazza del Popolo.
Here, you’ll find Rome’s most popular shopping neighborhood (around Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, etc.). You can also visit the two churches on the square – Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.
But after all the sightseeing, you may want to simply sit down for a coffee or get some gelato and take a short break. Gelateria dei Gracchi is one of the best places for ice cream in this area.
Or – depending on your preferences and whether you had a good lunch – you could also get an early dinner at one of the many restaurants nearby.
7-10 PM: Evening walking tour of the historic center
If you want to get the most of your visit to Rome and see as much as possible in a short time, we highly recommend taking an evening walking tour of the highlights of the historic city center.
In summer, it’s often difficult to really appreciate all the sights during the day – it’s so busy everywhere and also so hot that all you want to do is look for some shade. Going in the evening, you can actually enjoy the landmarks of Rome.
There is a very good city highlights tour that starts at Piazza del Popolo at 7 PM (but do double-check the times!). With this 3-hour tour, you visit ALL the main sights that you absolutely should see in the center of Rome. And if you prefer to go a bit earlier, there’s a very similar tour that starts here at 6 PM (the itinerary and duration of the two tours is practically identical).
And yes, you can see all these places on your own, but a commentary from a local guide will help you appreciate it all so much more!
Good to know: If you rather explore the city center on your own, it’s perfectly doable too. Some of the places you should absolutely see include Piazza del Popolo, views from Pincio Terrace, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, as well as Campo de’ Fiori.
If you do one of the walking tours, they end at Campo de’ Fiori, which is a good neighborhood for dinner. Italians eat quite late, so you’ll have no trouble finding a restaurant at 9 or 10 PM.
ALTERNATIVE (less walking)
If you want to see a lot of Rome in 2 days without having to walk much, you can also opt for an e-bike tour of the city highlights. There is a very good and highly-rated e-bike tour that starts very close to the Colosseum, so it’s quite easy to fit it into your itinerary. In the high season, this tour starts at 3 PM.
Going by bike will save you lots of walking and you’ll be able to cover lots of ground in a short time. Furthermore, having a local guide, you don’t have to plan much AND you’ll get to see some a different side of Rome, places that you’d likely not get to otherwise (or not in just 2 days anyway).
The afternoon tour includes the following places: Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the view of the Palatine, Aventine Hill and Orange Garden with a panoramic view of Rome, Trastevere, Piazza Farnese, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, the Jewish ghetto and Portico di Ottavia, and Theater of Marcellus.
It’s also possible to take this tour in the morning and see the more popular sights in the city center. In that case, you simply turn this itinerary around and book the Colosseum visit in the afternoon.
DAY 2: The Vatican + Catacombs OR Villa Borghese OR Trastevere & Food Tour
PLANNING TIP: Book the Vatican Museum tickets or a Vatican tour in advance. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Also, keep in mind that the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays and also on some religious holidays, so adjust your itinerary accordingly. And – normally – you can still visit St. Peter’s Basilica even if the museums are closed. If you plan to do the Catacombs tour, visit the Borghese Gallery, or do the food tour, be sure to book in advance as well (see below for more info).
EARLY MORNING: St. Angelo Bridge & St. Peter’s Square
In the morning of your second day in Rome, walk to the Vatican. Coming from the city center, you’ll pass St. Angelo Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo.
The bridge and this entire area is always crowded during the day, so early morning is by far the best time to appreciate it.
Also the nearby St. Peter’s Square is nice to see without the crowds. So be sure to stop by here for a few minutes before heading to the Vatican Museums.
MORNING: The Vatican
The Vatican is the main highlight that you should plan to see on the second day of your 2-day Rome itinerary.
Just as Colosseum, this is one of the most popular places in the city, and booking your tickets for the Vatican Museums in advance is a must!
There are SO MANY options when it comes to the Vatican tours. You can just get the tickets for the Vatican Museums (including Sistine Chapel) + visit St. Peter’s Basilica (on your own or with a tour). Or you can opt for a tour of either the museums, the Basilica, or a combination of the two.
With just two days in Rome (and if you want to make the most of your time), it’s probably wise to get a tour that includes the main highlights of the Vatican. If you don’t mind spending the bigger part of the day at the Vatican, you can also visit everything on your own.
TIP: If you want to see the main places in just 3-4 hours, then go with a local guide. That way you can be sure that you will cover all the ‘musts’ in the most efficient way.
The Vatican Museums are overwhelming. And while all the routes seem to lead to Sistine Chapel, in the beginning, it’s not clear where to go at all… We recently visited on our own and I really regretted we didn’t book a tour here.
St. Peter’s Basilica is free to visit and you can easily see the church on your own. However, it’s massive and there’s so much to see, so a guide is nice to have here too. As a minimum, get an audio guide so that you have a better idea of what you are seeing around you. I also highly recommend that you check out the underground crypts where some of the popes are buried and also climb the Dome.
Here are some of the best Vatican tours that will allow you to make the most of your visit:
- Early morning tour that includes everything. This tour includes all the musts of the Vatican: St. Peter’s Basilica with a visit to the underground crypts and the dome climb + the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel. Keep in mind that the entire tour will likely last 5 hours, so until 1 PM.
- Very early morning tour that focuses on bringing you to the Sistine Chapel before anyone else arrives. This tour includes the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel + St. Peter’s Basilica. It doesn’t include the underground or the dome climb, but you can probably do that on your own after the tour ends (+-11 AM).
- Vatican Tour and Sistine Chapel. This is the most popular and very good value tour of the Vatican Museums. Keep in mind that it doesn’t include a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. You can still visit St. Peter’s on your own. There will likely be a long queue to get inside, so account for the waiting times.
Lunch & make your way to your next destination
There are quite a few nice restaurants in the neighborhood just next to the Vatican Museums, so it’s a good place for lunch. We had lunch at La Locanda di Pietro – a local restaurant with excellent food and very friendly service.
Rome is so much more than the Colosseum and the Vatican, but with limited time, most tourists never get the chance to experience this incredible city beyond the main landmarks. Often, simply because it’s so busy everywhere and so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to go and what else to see…
So for the afternoon, we have 3 different suggestions on what you could see and do, depending on your interests: (1) a crypts & catacombs tour, (2) Villa Borghese, or (3) Trastevere + local food tour.
Below, you can read more about these three options. And no, you can’t see all of these with just 2 days in Rome (and if visiting all the main landmarks)… But no matter what you decide, it will make your short visit to Rome so much more special than if you would just concentrate on the ‘musts’.
If you are planning on doing the Catacombs tour OR visiting Villa Borghese Gallery and Gardens, take a metro to Piazza Barberini. There’s a direct metro line between the Ottaviano metro station near the Vatican and Piazza Barberini, and it’s just 4 stops.
The catacombs tour leaves from Piazza Barberini at 2.30 PM. And if you are going to Villa Borghese, you can walk there from Piazza Barberini in about 15-20 minutes.
If none of these two options interest you, you can also explore the Vatican deeper and at a slower pace. Afterwards, visit the Trastevere neighborhood and go on a local food tour. Food tours usually start at around 5 PM.
Below is some more info for each of the options.
AFTERNOON OPTION 1: Crypts, Catacombs & Bone Chapel Tour
If you want to see some of the oldest and most unique sites in Rome, you may opt for this highly-rated crypts, catacombs, and bone chapel tour. This tour starts at 2.30 PM and lasts until 6 PM.
This is your chance to get acquainted with a very different side of Rome and visit the centuries-old burial sites (catacombs). These miles-long underground tunnels also served as a hiding place for the early prosecuted Christians.
You then visit the 4th-century Basilica of San Martino ai Monti with ancient frescoes.
This tour also includes a visit to the Capuchin Crypt with quirky ‘art works’ created using the bones of nearly 4,000 monks.
Good to know: These tours normally run daily throughout the year, except for some religious holidays. Which catacombs you visit might depend on the day of the week.
AFTERNOON OPTION 2: Borghese Gallery & Gardens
Villa Borghese is one of the most beautiful public parks in Rome. It’s also home to the famous Borghese Gallery where you can see some of the most famous paintings and sculptures by Caravaggio, Raphael, Canova, and many others.
Good to know: The Borghese Gallery is very popular, the tickets are timed, and they usually sell out long in advance. So if you want to be sure to visit, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance! The Gallery is closed on Mondays and on some public holidays.
Also here, you’ll probably need about 3 hours for a visit to the gallery and the gardens, so +- 3 to 6 PM.
AFTERNOON OPTION 3: Trastevere & Food Tour
The most relaxing option of the three is spending more time at the Vatican during the day, exploring the Trastevere neighborhood, and then going on a food tour in the early evening.
You could either take a taxi or walk to Trastevere after visiting the Vatican. If you walk, you can either go via Gianicollo Hill (about 40-50 minutes) or next to the river (about 30 minutes walk).
Trastevere is one of the nicest local neighborhoods in the center of Rome. It’s a colorful and lively area best known for its many restaurants. Be sure to visit Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and also Basilica Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
Afterwards, take a food tour with a local guide. Food tours are great for getting to know the more local side of Rome and exploring some cool neighborhoods, while at the same time enjoying some delicious traditional food that you’d likely never taste otherwise.
Taking a food tour is truly one of the best ways to get a bit off the beaten path and experience different facets of Rome! I highly recommend this – it will make your visit so much more special!
There are many really good options when it comes to food tours in Rome and it might be difficult to choose which one to take. I don’t think you can really go wrong with either of them, but do check where and when they start so that you can easily fit it into your itinerary. Also, read some reviews so that you know what to expect.
Our experience: We did this street food tour on our most recent trip to Rome and it was a great experience. Even having visited Rome several times in the past, we learned a lot of new things, saw some places we had never seen before, and tasted some really delicious local food. This tour starts at 5 PM close to Campo de’ Fiori, about 10 minutes walk from Trastevere. It takes 2.5 hours and ends close to the Pantheon.
Another good option that would fit this itinerary well is this food tour in Trastevere. It starts at a local restaurant in Trastevere at 5 PM and takes about 4 hours. And if you are not interested in a food tour, there are plenty of nice restaurants in Trastevere. I indicated a few of them on our map below.
Rome 2 days itinerary
So, these are our suggestions on how to spend two days in Rome. As you can see, there are some absolute must-sees (like the Colosseum or the Vatican) that should be in any itinerary. But it’s those additional options that will make your visit so much more special and more memorable.
And yes, you can visit pretty much everything in Rome on your own and you don’t absolutely need a tour for most places. However, going with a tour will often not only save you time, but will also give you unique insights and will allow you to experience Rome to the fullest. So choose wisely, but definitely consider some tours if you want to make the most of your 2 days in Rome!
Here’s a short summary of everything listed above – this should give you a better overview and let you decide how to plan your time.
Two-day Rome itinerary suggestions:
- 8 AM Trevi Fountain
- 9 AM The Pantheon
- 9.30 AM Walk to the Colosseum (via Piazza Venzia)
- 10.30 AM – 2 PM: Colossem, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- 2 PM Lunch near Colosseum
- 3.30-4.30 PM Baths of Caracalla
- 5 PM Metro to the city center
- Evening: The highlights of the city center (on your own or with a 7 PM tour)
- OR Afternoon e-bike tour (+- 3-7 PM)
- 7 AM Walk to the Vatican (via St. Angelo Bridge)
- 8 AM – NOON Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica
- 12.30-1.30 PM Lunch near the Vatican
- 2 PM metro to Piazza Barberini (depending on the option chosen)
- 2.30-6 PM Catacombs OR Villa Boghese (+ dinner in the city center)
- OR Trastevere + 5 PM food tour
Good to know: This itinerary is suitable for any time of the year. The only thing to keep into account is the summer heat (pack a water bottle and sun protection!) or – in late fall/winter – shorter days. However, we recently visited Rome in November when it gets dark at around 5 PM, and we could see everything we planned. So this 2-day itinerary would definitely work for the darker and colder months as well.
Map of places to visit in Rome in 2 days
And here’s a map of Rome showing all the places mentioned above. In addition to the main landmarks, I also indicated some restaurant suggestions, best places for ice cream, metro stations, etc.
The places we recommend visiting on day 1 of this itinerary are indicated in purple, day 2 – in red. Restaurant suggestions are in yellow, and metro stations – in blue.
How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.
Practical tips & info
To make the most of your two-day trip to Rome, here are some useful tips:
- Stay in the historic city center. We love the area close to the Pantheon and we always stay in this part of town because it makes sightseeing so easy. On our most recent visit, we stayed at 9Hotel Cesari, just a few minutes walk from the Pantheon or the Trevi Fountain, 20 min from the Colosseum, and 30 min from the Vatican.
- Start your days early and book the tickets/ tours in advance. As a minimum, you really have to get skip-the-line tickets for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums.
- Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be walking a lot.
- Wear respectable clothing (knees and shoulders are covered). This is a must if you are visiting the Vatican and the Catacombs, but also for churches.
- Take a reusable bottle. You’ll find lots of water fountains all over Rome where you can refill your bottles for free. Ideally, you have one bottle per person, especially if visiting Rome in the warmest months. Something like this is perfect for travel, but any sturdy plastic bottle will do just fine (and there are foldable travel bottles as well).
- Leave big bags at your hotel. You’ll have to pass airport-style security at the Vatican and the Colosseum, so the less stuff you have with you, the easier it will be. A small backpack is fine, but ideally, you take as little with you as possible.
- Pack a power bank for your phone and/or some extra batteries for your camera. Also, Italy uses European plugs, so if you are traveling from the US, UK, and some otehr parts of the world, be sure to pack a European adapter.
For more travel tips for Rome, take a look at our guide via the link below.
LEARN MORE: Tips for Visiting Rome
So, this is our suggested Rome itinerary for two days. I hope that it helps you plan a fun and truly memorable vacation in Rome!
Have a great time!
TIP: If you are not yet sure how much time to spend in Rome or are looking for some additional information or more travel inspiration, take a look at our other guides to Rome:
More travel inspiration for Italy:
- Best Places to Visit in Italy
- Best Cities in Italy
- Best Towns in Tuscany
- 1 Day in Venice
- 1 Day in Milan
- 1 Day in Cinque Terre
- Amalfi Coast
- Capri Island
- Bellagio, Lake Como
- Lake Garda
- San Marino
- Best Places to See in the Dolomites
- … For more inspiration and destination guides, please check our Italy travel blog.
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