Are you going on a weekend getaway to Rome? Then you'll want to read this: in two days in Rome you'll have just enough time to see the Sistine Chapel, marvel at the views from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, explore the Colosseum and stroll through the majestic piazzas of the city center.
How to skip the lines, how to get to each site quickly, where to eat and how much time to spend on each visit, all this and more in this perfect itinerary to see Rome in 2 days.
Day 1: The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Historic Center
The plan is simple: see enough of Rome to fall in love with the city and want to return, but with the feeling that you've seen its main attractions.
If you've never been to Rome, visiting the Colosseum is one of the top attractions on your list of priorities during your trip. It makes sense, as it is one of the seven Wonders of the World and one of the most representative monuments of the Eternal City, surprisingly well preserved since Antiquity.
It is one of the most crowded attractions in the city, so on a two-day trip I consider it essential to book your tickets for the Colosseum in advance, so you can skip the line. Another option is to take a guided tour of the Colosseum, which usually last around 2 hours and a half and not only will allow you to access the building without waiting but you will have all the historical context to appreciate the visit much more.
Regardless of when you go to the Colosseum, you will find crowds of visitors. I recommend that you go first thing in the morning, as early as you can, which will also allow you to make the most of the day. Opening hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., every day except December 25 and January 1.
The Colosseum is in Piazza del Colosseo, near the Colosseo metro station on the B line. In the post How to get to the Colosseum in Rome you can learn about all the options to go to the monument.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum is the historical center of the city, the heart of Ancient Rome. A complex of ruins of ancient markets, temples and official buildings more than two millennia old, with views of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance and the Colosseum as a backdrop.
To visit the Roman Forum, you have to go to the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. The best access is usually from Via di San Gregorio, where there is less queuing to enter. You will have to turn around a bit coming from the Colosseum, but it will be worth the time savings. Inside you can stroll around and admire the ruins, and the best thing to do is to go out the door that is going towards the Colosseum to return to that area and stop for lunch.
Lunch stop: recommendations
In the area of the historic center, I recommend the Ristorante Fiammetta in Piazza Fiammetta, 10. It is a traditional Italian trattoria where you can eat both on the premises and on the terrace, with very tasty dishes and for a reasonable price of between 20 and 25 € per person.
Closer to the Colosseum I recommend the Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, an unpretentious place run by a family where they serve quality homemade food for a price of around 20 € per person. It is located in Via della Madonna Dei Monti, 9.
If you want to explore other dining recommendations, I have written an article that will help you decide where to book a table during your trip to Rome: 10 places to eat in Rome.
Stroll through the Historic Center
After lunch and after a break where you will surely not be able to resist tasting the famous Italian 'espresso', the day continues with a walk through the center of Rome, where you will see the most beautiful places in the city.
Start in Piazza di Spagna: to get there, you will have to take the metro line B at Colosseo and take a train towards Bufalotta or Casal Monastero, both are good for you. Get off at Termini, go to line A and take a train towards Batistini. In three stops you will be at Spagna, a metro stop at the top of the Spanish Steps.
Enjoy the view and go down the stairs for a walk around the square, where you can see the beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia, and from there head towards the Trevi Fountain.
Walk down Via di Propaganda to Via di Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, continue until you cross Via del Tritone and continue along Via della Stamperia until you find the very famous fountain. It won't take you more than 10 minutes walking.
The most emblematic places
The Trevi Fountain is, for my taste and that of many other travelers, the most beautiful fountain in the world. It has a special symbolism that represents the taming of the sea and the beneficial qualities of water, and a historical importance that give it a unique majesty, and that Rome is full of beautiful fountains. I recommend you to read this article: All you need to know about Fontana di Trevi before visiting.
The Pantheon is the next stop on the itinerary, the best preserved building of Ancient Rome. It was built as a temple dedicated to the Roman gods, and in the 7th century it became the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Inside, an oculus at the top of the dome lets in light and creates a magical atmosphere of light and shadow on the mosaics and sculptures on the walls.
After this visit, continue to Piazza Navona, the center of life in the city. It is a colorful square full of bars, restaurants, cafes and three beautiful fountains to relax by.
From here, you can continue to Campo de' Fiori, a square where a large market of all kinds of goods and flower stalls is placed. A somewhat different atmosphere than centuries ago, as public executions used to take place in this square.
At this point, it will be dusk and it will be the ideal time, if you still have strength left, to have a drink in Trastevere and end the day. Cross the Tiber River, between whose waters you can see the Isola Tiberina, and take a stroll or choose a place to dine outdoors (I wouldn't think twice and grab a pizza at Pizzeria Ai Marmi, at Viale di Trastevere, 53-59).
Day 2: Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and Castel Sant'Angelo
The second day of your trip will be more oriented to enter **Rome'**s must-see buildings, the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica, and then take a walk to Castel Sant'Angelo from where you can return to the city center.
The second day starts with a visit to the Sistine Chapel. For this, you will need to buy your tickets for the Sistine Chapel in advance and even take an Early Bird tour of the Vatican Museums (the site of the famous chapel painted by Michelangelo).
Although if you do this visit with the first opening, at 9 am, you will get to enjoy it properly without the masses of tourists that throng the Sistine Chapel during the rest of the day.
Something to keep in mind is that the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of each month. In case you are going to be in Rome on Saturday and Sunday, you will have to visit the Sistine Chapel on Saturday or do an alternative activity. This article may give you some ideas: 10 secret spots in Rome.
St. Peter's Basilica
Afterwards, take a stroll through the grandiose St. Peter's Square, and continue to the next stop: St. Peter's Basilica.
Admission is free, but if you want to skip the line you will need to book a tour with an official Vatican guide. My advice, while you're at it, is to book the ticket with access to the dome, to enjoy spectacular views of Rome since you won't be able to explore it in depth on this trip. I tell you how to book your tickets here: St. Peter's Basilica Tickets in Rome: how to buy, prices and schedules.
You will have time to visit St. Peter's Basilica at your leisure, so I recommend that you stop to admire Michelangelo's Pieta, located in the first chapel on the right as soon as you enter. Also, take the opportunity to admire the Baldacchino in the center of the basilica, under which is the main altar of this temple, and while you are there, visit the tomb of Pope Alexander VII and its impressive sculptural ensemble.
The third visit of the day is Castel Sant'Angelo, which was built as a mausoleum and throughout its history has had several uses, including serving as a fortress for the Pope in case of war.
In my opinion, the inside of the castle is not worth visiting on a 2-day trip to Rome, but you can take a walk around and enjoy the views of the Tiber River from the Ponte Sant'Angelo.
Stop for lunch
By this time, your stomach will be rumbling and you will need to find a place to eat. Il Sorpasso is a good choice near the Vatican, where you will be served traditional Roman food but with a touch of modernity and a careful presentation. The best is the charcuterie, the first pasta dishes and the meat. It is in Via Properzio, 31/33.
Say goodbye to Rome in Trastevere
If your flight leaves in the afternoon, you will have reached the end of your trip. If not, you will still have the whole afternoon to enjoy and rest from all the sightseeing. You can take another stroll through the center of Rome and return to the site you liked best for a photo tour, as a farewell to the Eternal City. Another option is to explore Trastevere, in case you didn't have time the day before.
Rome is a very curious city, in the sense that no matter how many days you go, you will always have something left to see. Logically, in 2 days you will miss quite a few things, but as you can see you will see the most beautiful and important of the city in this getaway. If everything went well, you will want to come back as soon as possible!