2 Days in Rome, Italy

I have visited Rome three times over my life and have always been impressed with it. There is a definite reason a whole movie was made about a Roman holiday. It has wide streets dotted with antiquities at every turn. During my most recent visit, my family spent two days in Rome at the end of a Mediterranean cruise. It was the perfect end to our holiday.

Things to do in Rome, Italy in two days
The Colosseum at Night

Since it was my boys’ first time in Rome, we visited its most significant sites in this two-day Rome Itinerary.

If you visit Rome in summer, expect it to be hot!

Getting Around in Rome

How to get around Rome
The Tiber River flows through Rome.

I mainly walked everywhere on my previous trips, as most of what you will want to see is close by. But it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on this trip, so we used many cabs.

Cabs can be hard to find in Rome; many are not real cabs. Real cabs are white, have a blue license plate and a taxi sign on top, and will have a meter in the car above the rearview mirror. Out of desperation, we were forced to take imposter cabs at some points, and they were much more expensive.

Taxis may be waiting at taxi stands, but you can also get them through Uber, which directs you to a taxi company. Like I said before, sometimes no cabs will accept your fare, and you either have to move to a better location, take an imposter or get an Uber Black for more money.

things to see in Rome
The Pantheon is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. Its plaza is a great place to eat dinner. Beware, there are upcharges in Rome to sit outside.

Where to Stay in Rome

We stayed in a beautiful hotel near the Trevi Fountain that I highly recommend, Hotel Delle Nazione, with a great location, big rooms, and breakfast.

Two-Day Rome Itinerary

Day One in Rome

Visit Vatican City

2 day Rome Itinerary
A view of Vatican City as seen from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

Not only is Vatican City a country, but it also contains the biggest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, the famous Sistine Chapel, some of the best views in Rome, and one of the biggest museums in the world.

If you are only in Rome for two days, you will only get to see the highlights. However, you could spend a few days touring the museums, which include art from all over the world, including the Renaissance art you would expect, such as Michelangelo and Bernini, but also surrealist artists, such as Dali, an Egyptian museum and a collection of “pope mobiles.”

Tour the Vatican Museums

Most of the museums are not air-conditioned, so I recommend booking a tour through the Vatican website first thing in the morning. Prebooking saved us hours of waiting in line in the heat. No matter what, expect huge crowds, especially in the Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, painted by Michelangelo, is one of the world’s most important pieces of art, and the chapel is where a new pope is elected.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Touring the Vatican
La Pieta by Michelangelo is my favorite sculpture and can be seen in St. Peter’s Basilica.

To get to the basilica without going outside and standing in line again, exit the Sistine Chapel through the doors on the right.

This Renaissance and Baroqean pulpal basilica was built over St. Peter’s grave. The current version of the basilica was built in 1607. It is filled with art, recesses, chapels, and one of the world’s largest domes, designed by Michelangelo.

Be sure to visit the Vatican necropolis crypts under the basilica by going down the stairs in the middle of the basilica to see the tombs of popes and St. Peter, which is included in your visit.

Go up St. Peter’s Dome for Some of the Best Views of Rome

You can buy a ticket to climb to the dome when you exit the basilica on your right. Even on a busy day, the line wasn’t too long, and the ticket wasn’t too expensive. Be warned that even if you spend the extra few dollars to take the elevator halfway up, there are a lot of steep, claustrophobic stairs you will take to get to the reward of the views from the top.

Vatican Gardens

I love gardens, and the Vatican Gardens are one that I still haven’t had the chance to explore. You can only visit them as part of a tour, such as this one. 

Vatican City is about 4 km from the main tourist area of Rome.

Walk Back into the Center of Rome

If you walk back, you can walk along the Tiber River. I would highly recommend popping into some random churches on your walk, as what looks plain on the outside in Rome can often be stunning inside. Also, stop for gelato whenever possible.

Spanish Steps

What to do in Rome in 2 days.
The Spanish steps were named because there was a Spanish embassy to the Holy See in the piazza.

This set of 135 steps is enveloped by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top and the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom, one of Rome’s most famous plazas.

Borghese Gardens

If you only have two days in Rome, you may have to take this stop off your itinerary, but this public English-style garden is free of charge to enjoy and is near the Spanish Steps.

Lunch at Tritone 1884

We enjoyed lunch at this traditional Roman trattoria near the Trevi Fountain with housemade wine and tiramisu. Speaking of tiramisu, try the Roman version, which is more like a custard than a cake, even if you don’t like it in the US.

Trevi Fountain

This Baroque fountain was built in the 1700s of travertine marble over one of Rome’s most significant natural springs, making it part of its aqueduct system, which ran through the Roman walls. It is now crawling with tourists (and pickpockets) and surrounded by restaurants and stores.


The oldest intact building in Rome, the Pantheon, was first started in 27 BCE by Agrippa as a temple to the Roman gods (Pantheon means all gods). It was taken over by the Roman Catholic Church in 608 AD. The Pantheon has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, with a hole allowing light to flow into the space. It also contains the grave of the artist Raphael.

The entrance just recently required a ticket, which you can buy here.

As of this writing, the Pantheon closes at 7 pm, which will be the perfect time for…

Dinner on Pantheon Pallazo

Vittorio Emanuelle II Monument

End your night with a walk by this enormous marble monument to unified Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuelle II, which is especially beautiful at night due to the eternal flame. The memorial also has Italy’s tomb of the unknown soldier. Vittorio Emanuelle II is buried in the Pantheon.

Day 2 in Rome

Rome highlights
The interior of the Colosseum


Try to beat the heat by starting your day at the Colosseum, the oldest and largest amphitheater in the world, designed to seat around 50,000 people. The theater housed fighting competitions between gladiators and between animals and was built in 72 AD.

There are four basic tour options to see the Colosseum. Every ticket also includes entrance into the Forum and Palatine Hill.

  1. You can look at the structure from the outside.
  2. You can buy self-guided general admission tickets, which will allow you to be on the top level. You may be able to buy these on the same day online but expect long lines to enter the Colosseum.
  3. Book a tour of the Colosseum arena floor. These must be booked around a week in advance.
  4. Book an underground Colosseum tour and see the labyrinths and where the animals were caged. Very few people are allowed in this area at one time, so you must book these tickets far in advance.

The Roman Forum

Next door to the Colosseum, you will find the Forum and Palatine Hill.

The Forum is the ruins of ancient Rome’s governmental center and marketplace. The street, Via Sacra, that leads to it, is lined with the ruins of temples.

Palatine Hill

This is one of the Seven Hills of Rome and is supposedly where Romulus found the city in 758 BCE. In the Forum times, it was an upper-class residential area. It now provides excellent views of the city and the Forum. There is also an antiquities museum and papal gardens on the hill.


Escape the heat of the day by touring any of the numerous catacombs on the outskirts of Rome. The underground cemeteries, usually built under churches, were used as places to bury and celebrate funerals when it was illegal to be Christian. Not only are they cool, but they are an excellent way to see Roman lasagna, layers of archeology found in Rome.

On this most recent visit, we toured Catacombe San Sebastiano. We could see the underground labyrinths, a middle layer of Roman temples, and a ground-level currently operating church.

If you have more than two days in Rome and want to explore multiple catacombs, consider a bus tour to the catacombs or an e-biking tour of the Appian Way.

Rome Highlights in Two Days
Piazza di Santa Maria

Eating Rome Food Tour

On our last night, we took a food tour, which my family enjoys in any city.

We chose the Trastevere Twilight Tour, which brought us to a different part of Rome than we had previously explored. Trastevere is known as the “left bank” of Rome. Most of the stops were small, family-owned establishments and included alcohol. It was a favorite activity for most of our group of 16, and I would highly recommend it. If you are ready, book your Rome Twilight Trastevere Tour here.

I hope you can see why Rome is a city I am happy to continue returning to. Are you headed there soon? If you have been, what is your favorite part of Rome?

If you liked it, please share it. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “2 Days in Rome, Italy”

  1. Hello, interesting reading. Especially, as we visited Rome early June and stayed there for a week renting an apartment in Travestere. The apartment was perfect but the area, sadly, run down, dirty, covered in graffiti, rubbish bags strewn all over the streets and big bins never emptied.
    We saw all the sights and enjoyed the history and antiquities. Not much good to say about Rome though. The city is filthy, smelly, rubbish prevails on the pavements. Traffic is heavy. We had problems finding taxi stands but figured out the bus routes. Buses are old, dirty, crowded and have no air conditioning. It was difficult to walk around Rome as the temperatures were getting high. The pavements are narrow and made of cobblestones which are hard to walk on. The cars just brush against you as you try to walk on. The cafe tables out on the streets make the movement even more difficult.
    We did the walk from St.Peter’s and then by the banks of the river to Trasvestere – despite some nice architecture along the way, it was dirt and graffiti that hit the eyes.
    We had a week in Rome, so enough time to see the sights . The impression we were left with was, unfriendly, filthy, unkempt city. Dirty with dog faeces, strewn with uncollected rubbish, only worth visiting to see the marvels of ancient monuments and history.

  2. Rome is such a wonderful city! It’s actually one of my favorites in Europe. Even included a lot of great things in this post to send you plus I really appreciate the food recommendations! Thank you for sharing.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.