There is so much to do and see in Rome that an entire week of sightseeing really wouldn’t be enough. That said, most people only have a week or two to explore Italy and a couple days to see all of Rome. I’ve created what I think is the perfect 2 day visit to Rome. This itinerary is designed with the first-time visitor in mind.
My biggest advice to you is not to get bogged down with trying to see and do everything–you never will anyway. And remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day so you have time to do as the Romans do. Take time for coffee breaks, stroll aimlessly through cobblestone streets with gelato in hand, and linger at dinner over one too many glasses of vino.
I suggest you book your hotel near Piazza Navona or Campo di Fiore. Both areas are in the heart of Rome, near major attractions, safe, and charming. This itinerary is designed around this location being your starting point.
* If you arrive in the evening you may want to check out the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, or Piazza Navona. These are all great places to visit at night.
Travel Tip: There is a McDonald’s near the base of the Spanish steps that has a public bathroom (which can be hard to find in Rome).
7:00am – Buon giorno! Stop in for a quick cappuccino and cornetti from Cafe San Eustachio to fuel up for the day.
8:00 – Roman Forum/Palatine Hill/Collosseum – Start your site-seeing at the Roman Forum and make your way to the Collosseum at the end.
11:30 Lunch break
Post-lunch – Spend the afternoon wandering through Piazza Navona, visit the Pantheon, and check out the Trevi Fountain (the largest baroque fountain in the city). Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain you will return to Rome one day. Be sure to have your back facing the fountain and throw it over your shoulder–it worked for me!
4:00 – Have a coffee break at Hotel Raphael or treat yourself to a gelato near Piazza Navona or the Trevi fountain. (Tre Scalini (Piazza Navona) and Il Gelato di San Crispino (trevi fountain) are two of my favorites!)
Rest up at your hotel and get ready for dinner.
6:30 – Head over the Tiber River to explore the Jewish Ghetto.
7:30 – Make your way over to my favorite neighborhood, Trastevere. Mike and I lived in this charming area of the city for a summer a few years ago and there are tons of fantastic restaurants to choose from. My mouth is watering as I type this! There are plenty of options near Santa Maria piazza. A great option is Ristorante Roma Sparita (famous for Anthony Bourdain’s visit and their cacio e pepe). As a side note, cacio e pepe was my absolute favorite meal in Rome, so if you get the chance order it!
Evening – There are lots of restaurants you can have a drink and mingle with locals. If you’re tired make your way back to your hotel and get ready for a big day tomorrow!
7:30 – Grab a slice of Roman Style potato pizza at Forno in Campo di Fiori (or stop in for a mid-day snack if that doesn’t sound good early in the morning).
8:00 – This morning we’ll be exploring Vatican City. With a population of just over 800 it is the smallest independent state in the world. This city houses St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. You can see the Pope in a papal audience on Wednesdays. The Pope will even bless newlyweds in the audience, so don’t be surprised if you see a few women in their wedding dresses walking around.
9:00 – Explore the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel (be sure to get tickets/reservations ahead of time)
11:00 – Wander around St. Peter’s Basilica
Noon – If you haven’t seen the Spanish steps yet, we’ll head that direction. A great spot for lunch is at Le Jardin De Russie (about 10 minutes from Spanish steps and a magical escape from the busy city). You could also pack a picnic lunch and head to Borghese park, lounge around and then explore the art. From there head down to the Spanish steps.
Afternoon – Via Condotti (near the Spanish steps) is a strip of designer shopping. Have fun window shopping the big Italian designers (or if you’re lucky buy yourself a new bag – the perfect Italian souvenir!)
If you aren’t worn out yet you can visit one of these sights: Castle St. Angelo, Capuchin Bone Church, Markets of Trajan, Basilica of San Clemente, Capitoline Hill and Museums, or San Pietro in Vincoli.
4:00 – When you’re done touring head back to Piazza Navona, get yourself another gelato or slice of pizza (you earned it!) and rest in your hotel or at a cafe.
End your night with a gelato or head back over to Trastevere and below the bridge for some nightlife!
Rome is a busy and much more in-your-face city than other destinations in Italy, so it may be a bit of a shock if you are coming from Tuscany or the Italian seaside. But I promise that if you give it a little time you will find yourself blown away by the culture, art, history, and food! There really is no other place like it!
Rome will leave you singing if you let it!
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine,
That’s a – more.
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing “Vita bella.”
Hearts’ll play tippi-tippi-tay, tippi-tippi-tay
Need help packing? Check out my packing post on Rome here!