Italy has always been the country on my list with so many beautiful and diverse locations that I never knew where to start. I want to do it all. I always assumed I’d spend a couple of weeks exploring the country of Italy.
A perfect 2 days in Rome was never really on my mind as a Floridian. But then I had the opportunity to live in Bulgaria with my boyfriend this summer, and the capital city of Sofia has an international airport with direct flights to some of the greatest destinations in Europe and beyond.
One afternoon we were sitting at the table where we work next to each other all day and I started googling flights out of Sofia. I typed in our weekend dates, selected Sofia as the departure and “Europe” as the destination. Dozens of flights popped up, but Rome stuck out the most. Not only was it an extremely affordable round-trip flight, but it was also a quick one. So, a few days later we were on the plane to spend a few days in Rome!
Unfortunately, I was really sick the second day we were there. So that quickly turned my 3-day blog post into a perfect 2 days in Rome.
We hit the ground running when we got to Italy’s capital, but we also had a wonderful mix of leisure time and fun. Overall, 2 days in Rome probably isn’t enough for most people but you can hit the highlights and feel like you’ve been immersed in the history of one of Europe’s most popular destinations.
How to Spend 2 Days in Rome, Italy
Day 1 in Rome:
Ciao! You’ve made it to the beautiful, ancient city of Rome. This city will ignite all of your senses. From incredible architecture dating back thousands of years to the delicious homemade pastas, pizzas, and more, it’ll be hard to decide where to begin.
Take a Private Golf Cart Tour
For us, on a hot summer day, we started our weekend in Rome with a private golf cart tour. We seriously cannot recommend this enough, especially for those days that you’re practically melting in the Italian heat. I always use Viator for my travel experiences, and I’ve been incredibly happy with the experiences!
*If you use my link to book your tour I’ll get a small commission.
We arrived first thing in the morning, so we were picked up at our hotel at 10:00am. Eugene, a young and intelligent guide, was eager to hit everything on our list. I had a loose “bucket list” of places to see, but I told Eugene to take us on the tour he would want to be on, so we began!
We hit so many spots in the short 3 hours around the city! Seriously, it was amazing to feel like we had seen so much in such a short amount of time.
In just 3 hours on the golf cart tour, we:
- Strolled through Giardino degli Aranci (a beautiful park).
- Peeked through the Aventine Keyhole (there’s usually a long line to look through the keyhole onto the Basilica, but we walked right up with our impeccable timing).
- Stopped by the Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Wedding Cake Building) and listened to Eugene talk about some of the history of the Roman Forum.
- Devoured the best gelato of our lives before lunchtime.
- Saw the Colosseum from one of the best spots (and Eugene snapped some of my favorite photos from the whole trip!).
- Drank from one of the many popular water spouts in the city.
- Drove down the charming iconic streets filled with vibrant colors and dangling bouganvilla.
- Walked by the beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo and heard more historical stories.
- Then got dropped off at a restaurant recommended by Eugene (he even made us a reservation) where we dove right into our first pasta of the trip!
- Copy & paste the bold highlights throughout this post into a google doc to take with you!
If the golf cart tour isn’t in your budget or just not your thing, I highly recommend you kick off your 2 days in Rome with a free walking tour or bicycle tour. One of the greatest ways to get the most out of your time is by getting a lay of the land and deciding where you want to spend more time, while also getting the opportunity to breeze by some of the attractions that you wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way on your own to see.
Grab an Afternoon Espresso in Rome
Ah, so now your head is spinning with Roman history and your tummy is as full as your camera is with photos. It’s, obviously, time for your afternoon espresso. After lunch, take your server up on the espresso or stop by a local coffee shop for that hit of caffeine to keep moving.
*Note that Italians typically do not drink cappuccinos after about 10:30am. It’s considered a more “indulgent” coffee drink because of the milk. It fills you up and is considered just a morning drink for this reason. Of course, you can order a cappuccino anywhere at any time, but the Italians will know you haven’t heard of their ways.
Exploring Rome on Your Own
Now that you’ve seen some of the greatest highlights of Rome, it’s time to take this extra time to stop by other spots on your own. If you go to all of these spots, it can be a little exhausting. So maybe choose two spots to explore instead of cramming it all in and feeling rushed.
Check out the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Just a 5-minute walk from the Colosseum is the famous Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Give yourself an hour or two to stroll through the ruins of these buildings that were once temples and shrines of Ancient Rome.
I think the Roman Forum and Colosseum remain some of the most mind-blowing attractions of Rome. It’s hard to wrap my head around the history and stories that fill the space. At times, it almost felt like we were visiting an attraction at a theme park. I had to pinch myself to remember I was right in front of the real thing.
Piazza Novana is a beautiful square to stroll through.
While it wasn’t filled with street performers and artists as I had read (we traveled in summer 2021 when the pandemic was still hitting hard), it was beautiful to snap photos and people watch.
The Pantheon was closed during our time in Rome, so we never did more than a drive-by, but it’s a staple site in Rome.
Now a Christian church, it was once a temple dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome. It’s a great photo-op even if they’re not open.
Capitoline Hill is in a great location to wrap up some of your site-seeing for the day.
You can go to the Capitoline Museum, but there’s so much to do and see during your 2 days that you might want to skip this one
Day 1 Evening/Night:
Head to the foodie neighborhood of Rome, Trastevere, for dinner. There are countless restaurants, hole-in-the-wall gems, and gelaterias in the area. Of course, I haven’t been lucky enough to eat at all of them, but I can easily say you can’t go wrong with the local, authentic Italian food!
Down by the river you’ll also find restaurants, bars, and vendors lined up side by side every evening. It’s the perfect spot for an evening nightcap and stroll.
Day 2 in Rome: Hitting More of the Highlights
Today is your day to wake up early and hit the highlights that you might’ve missed during your tour. A couple of options include:
Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain.
If a photo op is really important to you here, make sure to start your morning off by visiting the Trevi Fountain. We knew we wanted to visit the Trevi Fountain, but travel is not just about the perfect shot for me, so we found ourselves here right in the middle of the day. It was crowded, yes, but it wasn’t unbearable. It’s probably the most beautiful fountain I’ve ever seen in real life so I’d say it’s worth the visit. You don’t need long here, so squeeze it in when you can.
Shop Via del Corso, the most popular shopping area of the historic district, on your way to the Spanish Steps.
Rome is known for designer stores and high-end shopping, but you can also find your affordable selections like Levi’s, Zara, and H&M. This is the perfect time to snatch up any of the typical souvenirs you collect during your travels.
The Spanish Steps were very underwhelming to me. The view is decent from the top, but if you want an amazing view then head to the top of the steps and walk over to The Villa Borghese Gardens. It’s a beautiful park with a stunning sunset view if you happen to go in the evening. Some people rent bicycles and cruise through the lush gardens. We happened to be there the night of the EuroCup 2020 so we stayed for some beers and cheered on the Italians. Not only did they win, but the energy and epic after-party of all the civilians celebrating was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Definitely make time to visit the Vatican Museums.
I, personally, feel like you can’t visit Rome and not go to the Vatican Museum. This can be as easy as a self-guided audio tour through the museums to an elaborate private tour. We chose the middle ground with a 3 hour guided tour through the Vatican Museums with one other couple.
It was a wonderful and in-depth experience, but we probably would have enjoyed the audio tour just as much. I think my favorite part about guided tours through places like this is that they try to cater to the group’s interests and answer a lot of questions. Our guide was extremely passionate and that adds to the experience.
At the end of the tour, you get to walk through the Sistine Chapel and that was simply magical to me. I love seeing places that I’ve read about my entire life and then seeing them in person. I mean, the Sistine Chapel. Michaelangelo! Seeing it with my own two eyes felt surreal.
*Photos and video are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, that is strictly enforced.
Vatican Museums Dress-Code:
When I was researching the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, I read a recent blog post about the strict dress code. No shoulders or knees were allowed to show. No hats could be worn. Essentially, wear clothes that you’d wear to church because basically, that’s exactly what the museums are, a church.
I covered my shoulders, wore summery pants, and, straight-up, melted in the heat. We showed up and the dress code was hardly enforced at all. In fact, the only place they cared about it was inside of the Sistine Chapel.
You can easily bring a light shawl to throw over your shoulders. Most girls wore maxi dresses or long skirts, but I swear there were girls and women dressed like they were going to a Britney Spears concert instead of the Vatican. My advice, wear what you want but bring a shawl for your shoulders in the Sistine Chapel.
Walk Over to St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica is a church located in Vatican City. Again, if you only have 2 days in Rome, this is a must-see. Because of our limited time, we didn’t go inside but it’s supposed to be incredible. Many tourists book tickets to go to the top of the Basilica to get a bird’s-eye view of the ancient city.
Day 2 Evening / Night:
Look, I know you’re probably sick of me suggesting tours. They can be exhausting. However, to get the most out of your 2 days in Rome, tours will give you the most bang for your time. You will see and experience so much more than you do on your own.
The food and wine tour in Rome was one of the best tours we’ve ever been on, and absolutely delicious. If your travel style is anything like ours, you’ll skip the Colosseum tour so you can book the food and wine tour.
We hit up five different places, had an awesome guide and group, and our wine glasses were never empty. We got to indulge in some of the finest meats, cheeses, pasta, pizza, and more. Of course, we finished up the night with a scoop of gelato. It was a four-hour tour and I would totally do it again when we go back to Rome.
The Weekend Fox Tips for 2 Days in Rome
- WHERE TO STAY: With just 2 days in Rome, you’ll want to find accommodations that are centrally located to everything. We stayed at 47 Boutique Hotel and loved it. Breakfast was included and they also had an incredible rooftop restaurant that we ate at for dinner one night. It was a 6-course meal and absolutely divine. When I book my accommodations online, I always look for reviews that have high ratings for the location.
- GETTING AROUND: You have a few options for getting around in Rome. Luckily, you can walk almost anywhere. However, because of your limited time, jump on one of the electric scooters or shared bicycles. They have a ton of them in Rome and they’re easy to ride. You’ll need to download an app to rent them.
- There are plenty of taxis in Rome, too! I had read to be careful about them ripping you off, but we had solid experiences with our taxis. They had the meter where we could see it. Pricing was fairly reasonable for a big city, and we also track on our phones to make sure they aren’t driving us in circles. Rome does not have legal Uber’s.
- BE A SMART TRAVELER: Always be mindful of pick-pocketers. I almost always travel with a small backpack or my fanny pack. I love wearing it across my chest for easy access and safety. And yes, everyone wears these in Europe, even the men!
- WHAT WE SKIPPED: There is so much to do and see in 2 days, but you can’t quite do everything. We skipped The Mouth of Truth (we drove by, but it wasn’t worth the stop to us). We also did not do the Colosseum tour or visit any other museums other than the Vatican Musesums.
I hope this helps you plan the most perfect 2 days in Rome! As always, feel free to email, DM, or comment with questions! I try to get back to travel questions the absolute quickest. Cheers to more adventures!
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