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How to see Rome in two days – a local’s guide

Rome is a wonderful place. It’s a truly beautiful and sometimes mysterious city. Rome was my home for over two years and these were some of the best years of my life so far. During my time there I learned a lot. Although it’s an incredible place it can also be a hard place to visit and I hope this guide will help you enjoy this famous and ancient city even more. No matter how many days you plan to spend in Rome it will never be enough. When people visit Rome however they often only stay for a few days at a time. So here is my whistle-stop tour for seeing Rome in 2 days and all you need now is to book your hip Rome hotel…

Getting around

Via Dei Condotti Rome

My first recommendation is to avoid taxis. Personally I am not a big fan of taxis anyway but in Rome 90% of the time you feel you have been ripped off. Rome is a fairly small place and easy to navigate around. You can get around most of the city using the bus or my favourite option, walking. Avoid the bus tours everyone tries to sell you and buy either a one-day travel pass (€4) or a three-day pass (€11). This will entitle you to unlimited travel around the whole of Rome.

Where to stay

a beautiful hotel in Rome Italy

When you visit Rome, it’s important to choose the right location to stay. Piazza Venezia or Piazza Barberini would be a good choice because of their central location. St Peters and The Vatican is a nice area to stay but it can be a little harder to get to other places from here. My personal preference would be to stay in Trastevere. If you stay here you would get a ‘real’ Roman experience although unfortunately there are only a handful of hotels located there.

Termini seems to be a popular tourist location because it has plenty of cheap hotels and it’s accessible to all the main sights in Rome. Personally I would avoid Termini, the restaurants are appalling and the crime rate here is above average.

A two day Rome itinerary

How to see Rome in 2 days

Depending on your length of stay, this itinerary will cover most of the main sites. If you’re lucky enough to stay longer I would recommend seeing the main sites in a few days and then spend the rest of your break relaxing and enjoying the beautiful city at your leisure.

Rome Day 1

  1. Early Morning: Take a trip to St Peter’s. If possible try to visit before 9am as you will beat the crowds. Getting up early will ensure you get a completely different experience to when it is full of hundreds of people all taking photos and driving you crazy.
  2. When you have finished at St.Peters, follow the surrounding wall around to the Vatican museum (on your way you will see a little ice cream shop on your right, my personal favourite in all of Rome). Again it is best to get to the museum as early as possible as the queues can get ridiculous. Ignore the people trying to sell you tours and head in on your own, you can always hire an audio guide once inside. Allow a couple of hours in the museum.
  3. Once you have finished in the museum jump on the metro and head in the direction of Termini for three stops. Once at Flaminio jump off and head to Piazza del Popolo. I would imagine that you are now feeling a little hungry and in need of a beer. A great stop for excellent pizzas is Pizza Re (Pizza King) on Via di Ripetta.
  4. Next head along Via del Corso and check out the shops. Some of the shops you’ll like and some you may end up wondering who the hell buys the stuff in them. Romans tend to have a unique sense of fashion (as you will see from those around you!).
  5. Follow the signs or your map to the Trevi Fountain, once there beware of beggars and people trying to sell you useless rubbish.
  6. Round the corner from the Trevi Fountain you will find the famous Spanish Steps. Walk and up feel free to count them (if you’re feeling masochistic!). Now with your back to the steps, head right and make your way to Barberini (along Via Sistina).
  7. Once at Barberini you will see one of Bernini’s famous fountains, an impressive sight before the final part of the journey. Walk along Via Barberini until you come to Piazza della Repubblica. If you feel like you’ve earned a special treat, I would suggest sitting outside the Boscolo Hotel and enjoy an expensive but well deserved Mojito.
  8. After a pretty hectic day you might fancy a quiet meal. I would recommend “Perdincibacco” next to St.Peters on Via delle Fornaci. The food here is good and you can get a litre of very good house red for just €6.

Rome Day 2

Seeing Rome in 2 days

  1. The first stop is to visit the Colosseum, if possible I would suggest trying to get a ticket in advance. There is a good chance you can get it from your hotel, if not they will point you in the right direction. Again avoid the offers of tour guides or having your photo taken people dressed up as gladiators. It may look fun but they will charge you over €10 for the privilege!
  2. After you’ve exhausted the Colosseum head to the Forum, here you can walk around ancient ruins for free.
  3. You will end up in Piazza Venezia, here is a good place to stop for a coffee and watch the world go by for a bit. Although usually in cafes you will rarely see Italians sitting down having a coffee. This is because they know the coffee prices are often ridiculous in tourist spots (sometimes up to two or three times the normal price).
  4. After you’ve enjoyed your probably very expensive coffee, make your way down Via del Corso until you see signs on your left for the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a very busy spot, but a good mix of locals and tourists. Once past the crowds head inside and have a good look around, it’s an incredible monument and my personal favourite.
  5. For lunch you can do as Romans do and stop off for Pizza al Taglio. You will probably have seen various places selling large slabs of pizza. A slice of pizza can be cut off for you depending how hungry you are! They will then weigh it and tell you how much you owe. The pizza in Rome is incredible and probably very different to what you have eaten in the rest of the world!
  6. After the Pantheon and lunch make your way to Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori (which literally means field of flowers, not that you will see any there). Both places are fantastic spots to stop for a coffee (this time it’s worth paying the tourist price and having a seat). Kick back, take a rest and do some quality people watching. I recommend Caffe della Pace behind Piazza Navona. It isn’t a cheap stop (at €5 for a freshly squeezed orange juice) but it’s well worth it.
  7. Once the sun has gone down, I highly recommend heading back to the Colosseum to get some photos. In the evening it’s arguably an even better sight with the lights inside turned on.
  8. Then head to Trastevere and take a stroll around the cobbled streets before choosing one of the many excellent local restaurants. I would recommend “Da Agusto” or a lovely trattoria “Da Lucia.” When deciding on a restaurant try to find the ones that have groups of Italians waiting outside. These are more likely to be a safe bet.
  9. After dinner and maybe an ice cream (you can’t come to Rome and not try their ice cream) you may fancy a bar or club. Most tourists would head to Campo di Fiori but some of the city’s best night clubs are in Testaccio. Rome’s nightclubs can sometimes be an unusual experience but definitely worth a visit.

Rome is a wonderful place with so much to offer. If you enjoy it half as much as I did you I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

Rome: the Lowdown


Rome is the capital of Italy and is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river. Rome is a very historic city and is over two and a half thousand years old and was one of the founding and most powerful cities in Western Civilization. It is often cited as one of the best cities to visit in the world. Rome has hot dry summers, wet and cold winters and pleasant temperatures in spring and autumn. It is not uncommon to have fine beach weather from the start of May until the middle of October.

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter


  • Linda Brown

    2 January, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Thank you so much for the information. We are cruising to Rome in April and it is our final port. We were there last September and vowed to go back for a few more days. This time we will swing it on our own with no guide and your advice seems quite helpful.

  • pixie

    23 May, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you Scott for a great itinerary. We followed it and it was a great help, we had 3 days in Rome which was even better. Had a great time.

  • Scott Balaam

    15 November, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    You can definitely get to see everything that’s included in the article, admittedly it’s tight and you will be tired come the end but it’s feasible but you will need two full days and be up nice and early.


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