Rome, Italy’s capital is a city brimming with world famous monuments and evokes images of romance and idyllic summer evenings. Its ancient streets and attractions perhaps the most photogenic anywhere in the world. An open air museum once beautifully described by Italian actor Alberto Sordi as “a living room that shall be crossed on one’s toes”. So beloved is Rome no other city can boast so many familiar idioms.
‘All roads lead to Rome’, ’when in Rome…’ and ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
A city that attracts so many positive expressions must be a unique destination and deserving of your visit. Happily therefore Rome suits a weekend break or day trip just as easily as a honeymoon destination for passionate newlyweds. Here is our guide to 2 Days in Rome to provide you with the best possible taster ahead of what will surely be many return visits.
How to Get to Rome
By Flight: If this is your first time to Rome, you should know that the main airport for international flights, including long haul is Fiumicino Airport. Also referred to as Leonardo da Vinci airport this is located 30 km west of central Rome. From here there are several shuttle service alternatives. At around €6.00 for a single journey the cheapest is the bus service to Rome’s Termini rail station linking with the city’s two metro lines. This journey takes 40 minutes with services leaving every 30 minutes. The Leonardo Express train shuttle also linking to Termini station takes 32 minutes. Services leave every 15 minutes and you can buy the ticket ahead of time, here. You can book a hotel shuttle for 19 euros here or a private transfer here. The most expensive private taxi option will cost in excess of €50.00.
Short haul and budget airlines use Ciampino Airport 16 km south of the city. From here there is no rail shuttle to central Rome but a bus is available at a cost of €11.00 for a return ticket. The journey will take in the region of 40 minutes and services leave every half an hour. A taxi from Ciampino will cost approximately €35.00
By Train: Roma Termini is the city’s largest and Italy’s busiest rail station. With 29 platforms Roma Termini provides daily services to cities across Italy as well as Europe, making it easy to take day trips from Rome. Naples to the south can be reached in just 1 hr 10 minutes whilst a journey from Milan to the north will take 3 hrs 30 minutes.
By Coach: Whilst Rome has 8 different bus stations most arrivals to the Eternal City will again be at the central Roma Termini. However Flixbus services also use the Roma Autstazione Tiburtina in the east of the city.
By Car: It is of course possible to drive to Rome but it is strongly not recommended. Whilst all roads may lead to Rome they are often narrow and busy. Instead consider parking on the outskirts and travelling in by alternative means.
Should you be visiting Rome as part of a wider motorhome tour we recommend reserving a couple of nights at nearby Village Flaminio, just 11km north of its historic centre. For other recommendations check out our post ‘Top 10 Motorhome Stops in Italy to get you off the Beaten Track’.
How to Get Around Rome
Walk: One of the principal joys of a visit to Rome is taking the time to walk its ancient streets absorbing the history as you meander from one attraction to another. The centre of Rome is small enough for this to be easily undertaken. Your visit will be so much more rewarding as a consequence.
Train & Metro: Rome’s three metro lines covering just 60km make up one of the smallest metros in Europe. However, it still serves the city’s main attractions and will undoubtedly be useful at some point during your visit.
Lines A & B will be most handy with their only intersection at that all important Roma Termini station. The orange Line A runs northwest to southeast and the blue Line B south to northeast. Tickets purchased on the Metro are valid for all public transport in Rome although they will not take you all the way to the airport. Ticket options include:-
- BIT Ticket: Costs €1.50 and is for use 100 minutes after it is stamped. This ticket only allows use on one metro trip.
- Rome Metro Card: This popular option for tourists provides unlimited access to all public transport for 1 or 3 days. The costs are €27.00 and €39.00 respectively.
- Roma 24H Ticket: For just €7.00 this ticket provides metro travel for one day until 00.00. 48 and 72 hour options are also available for €12.50 and €18.00.
Bus: Rome also boasts some 350 bus routes and an amazing 8,260 stops. Due to Rome’s notorious traffic congestion these are perhaps not the speediest way to reach your destination.
Rome City Pass
Visitors may wish to consider purchasing in advance of their trip the Rome City Pass. This includes priority access to many of the major attractions, 20% discounts on entry tickets, a one way airport transfer from either airport and a free day ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus service. These must be purchased in advance. Click here to check the latest Rome City Pass offers.
Things to Do on a Two Days Trip To Rome
Day 1 of your trip to Rome strangely starts with a visit to another country! Vatican City, home to the Catholic Church and the world’s smallest nation is completely surrounded by Rome. There are no border controls to pass through just a picturesque walk through the neighbouring streets. The Vatican is home to many of Rome highlights. St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica and of course the world famous Sistine Chapel are all located here.
St. Peter’s Square
The first sight of this magnificent square is breath taking and awe-inspiring. Designed in the 17th Century by Bernini St. Peter’s Square measures an incredible 320 metres by 240 metres wide and holds an astounding 300,000 people.
The square’s majesty amplified by the 284 columns flanking its northern and southern elevations topped with statues of 140 saints dating back to 1670. The equally imposing central obelisk measuring 25 metres in height was brought to Rome from Egypt in 1586. On Sunday’s the Pope addresses the crowds at noon from the window of his study.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Constructed during the 16th century St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. Named after St. Peter, one of Jesus Christ’s disciples he is traditionally believed to be buried beneath the Basilica. Entrance to the Basilica is free but you can expect lengthy queues. Once inside visitors can see impressive artworks such as:-
- St. Peter’s Baldachin – a giant bronze sculpture by Bernini placed over the supposed burial site of St. Peter himself.
- Bronze statue of St. Peter whose foot has been worn down over the years following the kisses of pilgrims.
- Michelangelo’s 1499 artwork ‘La Pieta’ statue of Mary holding the body of Christ.
For a cost of €6.00 it is also possible to climb the 551 steps to the top of the famous Dome. An inspiration for the Capitol in Washington DC and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London this climb does reward you with stunning views over Rome as well as St. Peter’s Square below.
Be warned though as the last steep and narrow section may be a little treacherous for some.
The Sistine Chapel is as much known for its glorious ceiling as being the location from where Popes are elected and crowned.
The building itself dates back to the 15th Century and is named after the then Pope, Sixtus IV. Visitors though flock in their hordes to wonder at the ceiling famously painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.
The queues for the Sistine Chapel will be some of the longest you’ll see anywhere. Adult and children tickets cost €16.00 and €8.00 respectively but to avoid the queues the best option may be to arrange a guided tour to include the Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the Chapel. This cost €49.00 may be significantly higher than the single entrance fee but does help you save all too valuable time.
After spending many hours in the Vatican marvelling at the ancient treasures and monuments we recommend taking a walk back to central Rome via Castel Sant’Angelo. Constructed between 135 and 139 AD by then Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family Castel Sant’Angelo instead became a riverside fortress. The crowning Angel statue added many centuries later depicts Pope Gregory I’s vision of Saint Michael the Archangel in 590. The views of Castel Sant’Angelo from the statue lined Ponte d’Angelo are some of the most impressive in all of Rome.
Day 1 ends at the Pantheon. Completed in 126 AD this is undoubtedly the city’s most well-preserved building and an architectural delight.
The Pantheon most known for its central oculus, a 9 metre wide hole in the domed roof serving as the building’s principal light source. Originally a Roman temple the Pantheon became a church in the 7th century after it was donated to Pope Boniface IV. It continues as a church to this very day, almost two millennia after its construction.
It is free to enter and gaze at the splendour of the Pantheon although do expect the usual queues and security precautions.
After the magnificent spectacles of day 1 there is only one way to start day 2 – a trip to Rome’s prominent symbol and one of the world’s most famous monuments. The Colosseum is Rome’s most popular tourist attraction with over 6 million people visiting each year. In 2007 the Colosseum justifiably became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
A visit to this towering Roman monument provokes contrasting emotions.
Initially undoubted awe at the grandeur and architecture of the 1st century. Measuring 188 metres in length by 156 metres wide and 57 metres high the Colosseum boasts an astonishing circumference of 527 metres. In its prime this amphitheatre was capable of holding 50,000 people who accesses the arena via one of 80 entrance arches.
This reverence later superseded by inevitable dismay and horror at the thought of the barbaric events hosted in front of baying hordes. The inhumane treatment of slaves and unimaginable cruelty to animals all in the name of entertaining the masses. Despite this brutal uncivilised history a visit to the Colosseum remains a remarkable and unique experience.
As with the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica you can expect lengthy queues to access the Colosseum. Similarly we strongly recommend reserving tickets in advance. Also consider arranging a combined ticket for the Colosseum and adjacent Roman Forum.
A guided tour is also available which will grant you access to the underground areas not usually open to the public.
Sitting adjacent the Colosseum the Roman Forum was for centuries the focal point of day to day life in Rome. Whilst only ruins remain of this significant central hub it is easy to visualise the ancient splendour as you walk along Via Sacra, the main street of Ancient Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire the Forum was mostly forgotten and following years of plundering and earthquake damage buried beneath the earth. Incredibly, whilst is location was known excavations were not recommenced until the latter part of the 19th century.
Today walking these ruins with a physical or audio guide is a fascinating insight in to the history of this beguiling city.
A 20 minute walk north from the Colosseum and Forum lies Rome’s largest and perhaps the world’s most famous fountain.
At the meeting point of three streets its name derives from ‘Tre Vie’ meaning three ways. Standing almost 30 metres in height the fountain is centred around a statue of Neptune being pulled to the sea by two winged horses representing the changing tides of the sea.
Trevi Fountain origins date back to the late 17th century and its originally design for Pope Clemens XII by Bernini. However, after a less expensive redesign by Nicola Salvi the fountain’s construction was finally completed in 1762.
The surrounding viewpoints of Trevi Fountain are narrow in places and so large numbers of fellow visitors may make it difficult for you to follow tradition and throw a coin in to the fountain. According to legend, throw one coin and you will return to Rome, throw two and you will find your love, three and you will marry that person. Amazingly over €1 million is thrown in to the fountain each year by people eager to return. Thankfully, this is collected by the City Government and donated to good causes.
Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps
Continuing north a ten minute walk will bring you to the Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps. This renowned square named after the long standing location of the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican is famed for its splendid Italian Baroque style.
The steps themselves date back to the beginning of the 18th century and connect the Piazza to the 16th century Church of Trinita dei Monti. The 135 steps and three terraces are a popular resting point for tourists.
Piazza del Popolo
Continuing to walk north on the Via del Babuino will bring you to another of Rome’s most famous squares – the Piazza del Popolo. Located inside the city’s northern gate this is where foreign visitors first arrived during the Roman Empire era.
The impressive central obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II was relocated to the Piazza from the Circus Maximu where it was erected during the 10th century. Climbing the stairs to Pincio Park on its east side offers visitors impressive views over the square and Rome. From there it is also a short walk to Villa Borghese, Rome’s largest public park.
Where to Eat and Drink in Rome
One of the principal joys of visiting any of Italy’s historic cities such as Genoa or Rome is to find your own path through the city between monuments and attractions at your own pace.
Stop at a local gelateria, choose your favourite flavour and you will be rewarded with a feast for your eyes as well as tastebuds.
Throughout its narrow ancient streets you will stumble across small restaurants all offering enticing Italian favourites such as pasta, pizza and fresh salads. Clearly those around most well known attractions will also require bigger budgets. It is these hidden gems that truly make a memorable visit.
One restaurant worthy of a special trip is Trattoria Pennestri in the Ostriensi district of south Rome near the Piramide metro station on Line B. This understated restaurant serving traditional Roman dishes paired with fabulous wines makes a fitting end to 2 days in Rome.
The Two That Do blog, founded by husband and wife Paul & Nicki Rought aims to share experiences of their world wide travels. An active couple constantly seeking new experiences and always learning The Two That Do includes city and country guides, Van Life tips and blogs on their various adventures. Highlights include paragliding over Cape Town, pasta making in Italy and sand-boarding in Namibia. Find them on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.