How to Conquer Rome in Two Days

Rome is an amazing city. It is also an exhausting city. It is crowded with tourists, scorching in the summer, and packed with must-see monuments, churches, museums, and piazzas. While I recommend devoting at least four days to Rome, it can, if need be, be conquered in just two. But only if you are prepared and organized for an exhausting, but exhilarating, two days!

Step 1 – Divide and Conquer
Rome may not have been built in a day, but if you divide the city in half — anchoring each day with one of the two major sites, the Forum/Colosseum and the Vatican — it can be conquered in two! I like to draw a line down the center of the city, grouping the Forum, Colosseum, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and the Capuchin Bone Church into a one-day itinerary, and the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castle St. Angelo, Trastevere, Jewish Ghetto, and Campo di Fiori into another one-day itinerary.

Step 2 – Plan, Plan, Plan
If you are short on days in Rome, it is essential that you don’t waste any of that precious time waiting in Rome’s long (and hot) lines. The biggest offenders are the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel and the Roman Forum and Colosseum. I like to make these the first visit for each day. So day one would start with the Forum and Colosseum (don’t forget to start at the Forum rather than the Colosseum, you can read more of my Italy travel tips here), and day two would start with the Vatican Museums. You can reserve the Vatican here and the Forum/Colosseum here.

Step 3 – Start Early
Because there is so much to see in Rome, you have to get an early start. It will also help you avoid some crowds and the hottest part of the day (obviously, this is more important in the summer time). The Piazza Navona and St. Peter’s Basilica are both especially magical in the early morning hours.

Step 4 – Hydrate, Wear Sunscreen, and Dress Appropriately
Long days of sightseeing are taxing on the body, so make sure you have slept, are hydrated (the fresh spring water throughout the city is the best), slathered in sunscreen, and wearing comfortable shoes and church-appropriate clothing. And don’t forget to pack a snack!

Step 5 – Hit the Ground Running
Once you have planned and prepared yourself mentally and physically, it is time to tackle Rome! Here is the itinerary I would recommend:

Day One:
8:15 am Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
9:30 am Colosseum
11:00 am Piazza Navona (don’t miss Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers and gelato at Tre Scalini)
12:00 pm Lunch Break (here are some tips for selecting restaurants in Italy)
1:00 pm Pantheon
2:00 pm Trevi Fountain
3:00 pm Spanish Steps (don’t forget to window shop down via Condotti)
4:30 pm Capuchin Bone Church (creepy, but a must-see)
5:30 pm Take a break (you earned it) before dinner. Or, if you are feeling adventurous head to San Pietro in Vincoli to Michelangelo’s amazing Moses sculpture

Day Two:
7:30 am (For the really adventurous) See St. Peters Basilica in the early morning, sans crowds and with gorgeous light
9:00 am Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel
11:00 am St. Peter’s Basilica, if you don’t see it in the morning (make sure to use my shortcut)
12:00 pm Castle St. Angelo
1:00 pm Explore Trastevere (make sure to eat in this area)
4:00 pm Cross over the Isola di Tiber and into the Jewish Ghetto
5:00 pm Campo di Fiori
6:00 pm Take a break before dinner, or if you want more, visit the Domus Romane

If you have more time in Rome, I highly recommend adding the following sights:
Borghese Gallery (and park)
Markets of Trajan (the world’s first mall!)
Basilica of San Clemente
Capitoline Hill and Museums

I hope this helps you conquer Rome, and as always feel free to email me if you need any travel advice!

46 thoughts on “How to Conquer Rome in Two Days”

  1. Thank you so much for this information! I cant wait to explore Italy in a few weeks. Love reading your blog, thanks again!

    Clare, Melbourne, Australia.

  2. Can you please tell me some shopping places(not the expensive ones) in Rome and Florence. I don't have anything particular in my mind to shop. So specialities of those places if you would mention it will be helpful.

  3. Last time I was there it was 6 euros (that might be for students though). I typically walk, but at a pretty brisk pace. Taxis can be tricky with traffic, but are a good idea for getting from one side of town to the other.

  4. This is a very cool itinerary! We're going in Rome next week and have been scrambling to build out an IT until I found this! such a gem! One question though, did you pre-book your entrance tickets to the museums? if yes, do you have any recommendation where can we buy it? Did you use the RomaPass?

  5. Very nice post. You made it as simple as possible. Travelling to Italy this month soon. And have to cover Rome,Florence and Venice in 7days than will head to Paris for two days. Any suggestions? We are confused about the locations to visit quickly in Florence,venice and paris. We don't want to miss the best. Thank you so much 😍 waiting for your kind reply.

  6. Hi! My mom and I are going to Rome and a few other cities in a few months. We have one problem that we didn't think about and I was hoping you had a solution.
    We are staying in Rome for one night and leaving for Florence the next day, however our checkout is at 10 a.m. and we won't be leaving for Florence until the evening. Where can we store our suitcases during the dayso we don't have to lug them around the city? Is there a place we can pay to store them for a few hours?
    Thank you! <3

  7. Hi there, this is a pretty common scenario when traveling in Europe. You have two options. The main train station in Rome (Termini) has luggage storage. You pay per hour and it is lock away. Or, most hotels will happily hold your luggage after you check out and until you are ready to depart. They usually have a locked storage room. You just have to ask. Hope this helps and buon viaggio!

  8. This is exactly what I have been looking for a week now… But thank God I found it the day before my 2 days trip to Rome… Gonna follow this.. Thanks a lot!!! 🙂

  9. Hi! Thanks for the helpful post! So valuable! Quick question: we happen to plan to visit Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel on 9/24 (the free entry day of the month). I know it will be extremely crowded. Any tips in terms of getting in smoothly besides go line up early? Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, it is all about being very early, or at the very end of the day. Honestly, it is worth paying for entry to lessen the crowds. The Vatican gets very hot and crowded even when it is full price!

  10. Can you help by letting us know if you walked, used the train or bus to travel from place to place? We will be there in three days.

    1. I always walk in Rome. It is the best way to see the city. If you are short on time, you could use the metro for cross-town trips, like from the Colosseum to the Vatican. But Rome is pretty small and easy to walk.

  11. Loved the post! We will be going to Rome in July. Was wondering if you had a pair of shoes you could recommend for women this time of year here?? Thanks looking for comfortable with Capri pants or sun dresses maybe for the Vatican City and colosseum.

    1. My go-to uniform is usually an airy sundress with short sleeves that also comes to my knees. I usually pair these dresses with either some cute Superga sneakers, leather sandals (Madewell always releases a great summer pair, just break them in before you go), and Melissa sandals. Melissa’s are great because they are indestructible and very cushioned. I find they are the best for days with a lot of standing in lines or museums. I have written about them a bit here here

      Hope this helps! Buon viaggio!

  12. Hey. this is a very useful itinerary. however, we are travelling with a 3 year old. Would you recommend Hop on Hop off to cover all these sites to save time and walking

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