Rome 2 Day Itinerary: How to (Actually) See Rome in 2 Days

The ultimate 48 hours in Rome, including the sights locals love and tourists often miss out on.

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River Tiber in Rome

Day 1

Morning

We’re starting our Rome 2 day itinerary in Monti and we’re starting it like any Roman would, with coffee. The first cup of the day is a ritual for most Italians. Stick to espresso, macchiato or cappuccino. Definitely don’t order anything with milk after 10 am. We recommend Panella, a Monti institution that doubles as a bakery with mountains of cornetto (that’s Italian for pastry, not to be confused with the ice cream) and sweet treats.

Leaving Panella, head towards the Colosseum through Parco del Colle Oppio. It’s a pleasant walk on which you’ll get your first glimpse of the ancient amphitheatre. Queues for tickets can be a chore, so it’s best to purchase yours in advance online. We also recommend paying a little extra for the self-guided audio tour. Without someone to bring the tales of blood-thirsty emperors and slain gladiators to life, it’s just a pile of very old limestone, tuff and concrete.

View of the Colosseum, Rome

You shouldn’t need more than an hour, two tops, to explore the Colosseum. Head West along Via de Fiori Imperiali towards Piazza di San Marco. You’ll see Caesar’s Forum, the Trajan Forum and Altare Della Patria. That’s three of Rome’s most famous landmarks without paying for a single ticket. Altare Della Patria, which translates as “Altar of the Fatherland” sits on the symbolic centre of ancient Rome, commemorating not only the first king of a unified Italy but also the soldiers who perished in both World Wars.

Afternoon

By now you’ll have worked up an appetite. Luckily, you’re in one of the world’s foodie capitals. We continue our Rome 2 day itinerary by taking the tram southwest from Piazza D’Aracoeli towards Trastevere. Be warned the trams are anything but modern, much like the rest of Rome.

In Trastevere take your pick of trattorias, less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria. We recommend Cajo e Gago or Carlo Menta for a plate of cacio e pepe. This simple recipe, born in Rome, consists of black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and fresh spaghetti, or tonnarelli.

Pizzeria in Trastevere, Rome

After lunch, spend time exploring Trastevere. Highlights of this bohemian neighbourhood include its street art, and quirky shops like Polvere di Tempo, a hipster’s paradise of handmade timepieces, leatherbound notebooks and stamps for sealing wax. Don’t miss the Basilica of Santa Maria, one of the oldest churches in Rome.

Evening

Head north across Ponte Sisto towards Campo de’ Fiori, home of the famous statue of sixteenth-century philosopher Giordano Bruno. The statue stands on the exact spot where Bruno was burnt alive for heresy and defiantly faces towards the Vatican. Continue north through Piazza Navona, the former Roman stadium now home to a collection of fountains sculpted by Rennaissance masters like Bernini and Della Porta. But it's the next stop on our 2 day guide to Rome that will leave you speechless.

A short walk west from Piazza Navona, you’ll arrive at the Pantheon. Two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome and famously features in movies including Roman Holiday and Ocean’s Twelve. Time your visit for the late afternoon around sunset, not just because the crowds are smaller, but because the sight of this famous landmark bathed in the soft evening light is one you'll want to show off about you won’t forget.

Inside the Pantheon, Rome

By now it’s getting close to dinner time. We recommend Il Barroccio for no-fuss fare including traditional pizza and homemade carbonara. After dinner, visit the Trevi Fountain which movie lovers will recognise from films including La Dolce Vita and Angels and Demons. Don’t forget to throw a coin and make a wish. Cap the night off with a gelato from Gelateria Frigidarium which in our humble opinion serves the best ice cream in town.

Where to stay in Monti and Trastevere?

Looking for a romantic vacation home in Rome? Plum Guide has exceptional vacation homes dotted all over the city. For a couple’s retreat close to Monti and Trastevere we recommend checking out Il Coro, Evander, and The Author’s Escape.

Day 2

Morning

Now you’re a fully-fledged Roman there’s no question how you’re starting the day. Head west to Sant’ Eustachio cafe, where the baristas have an unusual method for making caffé zuccherato (sweetened coffee). They do this by adding a spoonful of foam from the first few drops of an espresso whipped with sugar. In other words, these guys are artists when it comes to making a cup of joe.

No visit to “The Eternal City” would be complete with seeing the Vatican. Our 2-day Rome itinerary continues with St. Peter’s Square. Highlights include the ancient Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome from Alexandria and Bernini’s imposing colonnades and sculptures depicting popes, martyrs, evangelists and other religious figures. Just as impressive are the two giant fountains. The older of the two, designed by Maderno, dates back to the late fifteenth century.

Afternoon

St. Peter’s Basilica sits at the centre of the Vatican, the symbolic heart of the Roman Catholic religion. Things to tick off this afternoon include the Vatican Musesum, the Spanish Steps and the Romantics Museum. The Spanish Steps climb a steep (135 steps) slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, topped off by the Trinità dei Monti. Pat yourself on the back by taking a photograph at the top (we're sure your friends back home will be desperate to see.)

Evening

Southwest of Trastevere, you’ll find Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, at the top of Janiculum the second tallest hill in Rome and arguably one of the city’s most romantic spots. Order a pizza to go from one of the many pizzerias in Trastevere and watch the sunset over your your trip Rome and St. Peter’s Cathedral from the secluded vantage point.

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