Today, I’m sharing how to make the most of your time with two days to explore Rome, Italy. This is the first post in a four-part series covering our 10-day trip through Italy with stops in Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Florence and Venice.
We spent two days total in Rome. We flew in and out of Rome from New Orleans, so we spent one day there when we arrived, then another day in Rome on our last day. So technically, our two-days in Rome were eight days apart!
Our full trip was New Orleans –> Rome –> Sorrento –> Pompeii –> Naples –> Venice –> Florence –> back to Rome –> New Orleans.
Where We Stayed-
The first night in Rome, we stayed near Termini Station — the main train station in Rome. We’d be taking the train to Naples early the next morning, so we wanted to be within walking distance since we were carrying backpacks. To get to this area from the airport, we took a bus for about 6 euros each to Termini Station. Then from the station, we walked to our hotel. From here, it was about a 15 minute walk to The Coliseum — and we walked everywhere from there — Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon — you name it.
Disclaimer: Conrad and I walked A LOT! On average, we were hitting 9-10 miles per day. So walking distance to us might not necessarily mean walking distance for everyone!
When we arrived back in Rome for the last day of our trip, we stayed near the Pantheon (at Hotel Le Clarisse Al Pantheon). Conrad was obsessed with the Pantheon, so we stayed in this area. It was within walking distance of everything we wanted to see again — Trevi Fountain, The Vatican (25 minute walk), Spanish Steps, etc. To get to the airport, we Ubered back to Termini Station (it was about a 35 minute walk — which we walked once). From there, we rode the bus back to the airport for our flight out.
I highly suggest taking a guided tour on your first day in Rome to see the main spots and get familiar with the city. We had originally planned to do the Hop On Hop Off Tour or a Segway Tour, but our flight was delayed — putting us several hours behind schedule. So we made do with ourselves as tour guides. I had been to Rome once before in college, so I was a little familiar with the must-sees in the short amount of time we had.
1- The Coliseum
In my opinion, you don’t truly feel like you’re in Rome until you see the Coliseum, so this was our first stop. It cost about 12 euros to enter. You have the option of guided tours or self-guided audio tours. Your tickets also get you into the Roman Forum. I also suggest going back at night as well to see it lit up! It’s also fairly close to Circus Maximus, the chariot racetrack.
From the Coliseum and Forum, we walked to the Trevi Fountain — one of my favorite spots in Rome, but also probably the most crowded spot. Make sure you take a minute to throw a coin into the fountain — this means you’ll return to Rome one day!
I knew we weren’t also truly in Italy until we had some gelato, so that was a top priority.
There are also a ton of restaurants on this side of town near the Trevi Fountain, so we picked out a little pizza spot where we could eat on a narrow alleyway and people watch. The best part is how cheap the pizza/pasta/wine is! And the portions are huge, so we were able to split one pizza for 7-10 euro.
3- The Pantheon
The Pantheon is huuuuuge. And so cool. Since it was nighttime by the time we got here, we weren’t able to go inside that first night. But we made it back inside our second day. It’s free to enter. This area (The Piazza della Rotonda) is also a cool place to sit down, eat some gelato and just take everything in!
You can easily spend a full day at the Vatican — but we only had a few hours to see as much as we could. We took an Uber across the bridge to Vatican City and went into the museums and Sistine Chapel first. We did wait in line a bit, but don’t fall for the people trying to sell you tickets for $50+ on the sidewalk!
They say you can skip the line and see the “full” Vatican — meaning the museums, Sistine Chapel AND St. Peter’s Basilica – but St. Peter’s is 100% free and the museums/Sistine Chapel only cost like 14 euro. So hang tight in line and save your money.
Finally, carry a water bottle AT ALL TIMES! It’s so hot during the summer in Rome and you’ll be walking a lot… or standing in line directly in the sun with no shade. It’s so easy to get dehydrated when you travel. But the good news is Rome has tons of water fountains around that you can refill your bottle for free.
5- The Spanish Steps
As if we hadn’t walked enough yet, we wanted to climb some stairs — 135 to be exact. The Spanish Steps are pretty anti-climactic compared to the other main tourist sites, but still a must-see. If anything, walk half way up, take a seat and enjoy your surroundings.
Oh, and avoid all those weird men trying to hand you roses — they’re everywhere! And they’re not just giving you a rose. They’ll expect you to pay for it. And then you’re stuck carrying a rose around while you sightsee — which makes no sense to me. Just wait till you get home if you want flowers lol.
I’ll be back tomorrow to share Sorrento — my FAVORITE stop of the trip!