25 Nov Rome in two days: sightseeing itinerary
With two weeks in Italy we chose to see Rome in two days. We did most of our Rome sightseeing by walking around the city.
Where to stay in Rome for 3 nights
To be able to pack lots of sightseeing into Rome in two days obviously, location matters. For our three nights in Rome, we chose to stay in an Airbnb studio apartment. It was close to a metro station and was a 1.4km walk to the Colosseum. We found it was close enough to the sights but far enough away from the crowds of tourists.
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How to buy Colosseum tickets on the day
I was reluctant to pre-purchase our Colosseum tickets as the weather was looking unpredictable. This is what worked for us during the shoulder season, I don’t recommend you skip pre-purchasing in the busy summer months. We got up and headed out first thing in the morning. Walking from our apartment, we headed past the ticket line-up at the Colosseum and to the nearby Palatine Hill.
We were able to walk straight up to the counter and purchase tickets as there was no line. The ticket is a combined entry for Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Even if you only wanted to visit the Colosseum you could buy your tickets at the Palatine Hill counter and leave. I had read this on a few websites and the host checking us into our Airbnb even circled it on a map as an alternative ticket counter. We were surprised how many people were lining up for tickets at the Colosseum, despite the lines at the other two sights being much shorter.
Rome two day itinerary
Day 1 in Rome
Breakfast in Rome
On our way to the sights of ancient Rome, we stopped for breakfast. Cappuccinos and cornettos (Italy’s version of a croissant), standing at the bar.
Our first sight for our two days in Rome was the Palatine Hill, for the reason above. Palatine Hill has a strong history. It begins with Roman mythology that says Romulus and Remus were found by she-wolf Leperca in a cave, located in the Palatine Hill. Later becoming the city of Romulus. Today you can view ruins of houses, palaces and gardens, lived in by wealthy Romans as well as emperors. Palatine Hill also provides an excellent viewing spot to look out over the Roman Forum and the city.
Walking down from The Palatine Hill brings you to the Roman Forum. Once the heart of Rome, The Forum was full of important buildings and temples. Most of them were destroyed in 410 A.D and then in the Middle ages, the area was reduced to a field. Excavations of the area begun in 1803 but took over one hundred years to complete. Found at the Forum site were remains of various centuries.
Located directly across the road are the remains of another ancient Roman square. Several columns stand that once supported the Basilica Ulpia and behind them is Trajan’s column. Standing at about 30 metres high, the column is carved with scenes showing Trajan’s victories.
Lunch and a rest
We had spent the morning walking around the Rome sights and now the sun was getting hot and our feet were sore from the cobblestones. We were ready for a rest. Walking back to our apartment, we bought two salami sandwiches from Baker Boss which, I’m calling our best eat in Italy. It had olive oil, sea salt and herbs on top with salami, spinach and a soft cheese inside. It was crunchy, tasty goodness. We rested in the apartment before heading back out to explore more of Rome.
Walking the back streets
With our ticket purchased earlier at The Palatine Hill, we took our place in the ticket holders line. It wasn’t very long and we were soon at the security point. Here we put our small bags through the X-ray and passed through the detector. This was a little frustrating as people in front had left phones and things in their pockets.
Once inside, we walked around the first level before making our way up via the stairs. From further up you get a better view and are able to take in just how big the Colosseum is. There are various different colours throughout, showing parts that have been restored.
It is believed that the Colosseum was financed from treasures taken from the Jewish Temple after the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. After the war, it is estimated that 100,000 Jewish prisoners were brought to Rome to work as slaves on the construction. It is one of those places that feels surreal to be standing in, thinking of its significant history.
Getting the bus in Rome
From the Colosseum, we needed a bus to get to an uphill view of Rome. We went to the ticket machine in the nearby station and bought a 24-hour ticket as we would be in Rome the next day and it also covers the Metro.
The bus didn’t come at the listed time so we waited and waited. The sun was going further down and I was going to give up when it finally arrived. We had to stand on the bus as it was packed full. After about 20 minutes we arrived at our stop. We looked at the bus stop names on google maps and had to keep trying to look out so we knew when to get off.
After getting off at the bus stop Carini, it was an 850m walk to Janiculum Terrace. It wasn’t straightforward, using google maps we found the right way. Unfortunately, the view wasn’t as spectacular as we had hoped. Once we had looked around and taken photos, it was dark. We decided to walk to a tram stop that would take us closer to our accommodation.
Day 2 in Rome
On Day 2 in Rome, we got up and headed out early, wanting to see the popular Rome sights before they got crowded.
From the nearby Manzoni station, we rode the metro to Barberini station which was close to a lot of the sights.
From Barberini station, it was a 600m walk to The Trevi Fountain. Well known for being extremely crowded, we found the famous fountain to be quiet in the early morning. We took a moment to take it in, snap some photos and take some for other people.
This time we walked 1.1km to get to The Pantheon. The first Pantheon burned down in 80 A.D with the current building believed to have been built between A.D 118 and 125. Originally a Roman temple it is the best-preserved ancient Roman building. This is due to it always being in use, today it is used as a church.
The architecture of The Pantheon is truly incredible. When standing in front, giant-sized columns disguise the building’s shape. Stepping inside reveals that the building is entirely round, with a huge panelled dome on top. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the light coming through the hole in the centre.
A short 450m walk bought us to Piazza Navona. This public square is located on the site of a former stadium. Today you can come here and view three famous fountains and enjoy the atmosphere. A large white building seemed popular and we realised it was baroque style church Sant’Agnese in Agone. Inside, the church is intricately decorated from floor to ceiling.
Campo de Fiori
Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill)
We happened upon this Rome sight purely by accident. We decided that instead of retracing our steps we would walk all the way back to the apartment, to see new things. Campidoglio is a hilltop square, designed by Michaelangelo. A large staircase leads the way to the top of the hill where the Capitoline Museum is located.
A steeper staircase just to the side leads up to Basilica Dell’Ara Coeli. Sitting below the church are the ruins of an imperial house that was discovered in 1926.
We grabbed some lunch and went back to the apartment for a rest before venturing out again.
Trastevere is a neighbourhood in Rome located on the opposite side of the Tiber River from Rome’s main tourist sights. We got the tram over and spent the afternoon strolling around the area. After walking past some restaurants we spotted a busy little gelato shop and got a cone with one scoop for 1 euro each!
We then followed the crowds and ended up in front of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. It is beautifully decorated both inside and out. After viewing the church we walked towards the river and crossed the Ponte Sisto, a bridge built between 1473 and 1479. The bridge has four arches so we crossed the next one, Ponte Garibaldi to get a view of Ponte Sisto from across the river. We then waited at the stop for the next tram.
After eating dinner at a random restaurant along the way, we went to see the Colosseum lit up at night. We could see the sound and light show happening inside which looked like it would be a great experience.
Rome in two days
It’s always difficult trying to decide how long to spend in each place. We feel that we saw a good amount of Rome in two days. Visiting during the shoulder season and getting out early meant we weren’t stuck in crowds and were able to really appreciate the sights in Rome.
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