A male and female couple overlooking the Roman Forum in Rome

How to spend 48 hours in Rome

Rome is a busy place. Dating back 3,000 years, Italy’s capital city has accumulated an abundance of art, ancient ruins, architecture and culture. It was also, at one point, the centre of the Roman Empire. And these days it is home to Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. And who can forget the rich culinary scene that Italy is world-famous for?

Needless to say, a city break in Rome will be a jam-packed one. Planning your itinerary might even feel a little daunting. But don’t worry we’ve compiled this two-day itinerary to help you fit in as much as possible.

Day 1 in Rome

Rome is a busy city and we have a packed itinerary ahead of us. Thankfully the Italians like their coffee strong so we recommend starting your day at an espresso bar. You’ll find loads of them across Rome, so just have a quick look on Google maps and see which one is closest to your hotel.

After the coffee has hit your five senses, we’re heading west of the city centre (get off the Metro at the Ottaviano Station) to visit some of Rome’s most famous tourist attractions. Start at Vatican City where you’ll find St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the world’s largest Christian church. Then on the edge of Vatican City, you’ll find the Vatican Museum. This museum gets very busy during peaks times so we recommend getting there early or, even better, visit their website and see if one of their evening tours are available during your stay.

Afterwards, head across the Tiber River for some lunch and more sightseeing. Immediately on the other side of the river, you’ll find museums such as Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Museo Criminologico, and Museo d’Arte Sacra. If you continue walking towards the centre you’ll pass the iconic Pantheon, which was built circa 118 to 125 A.D and is the home of many famous tombs (including Raphael’s).

Continue walking towards the city centre via the striking Trevi Fountain. Then a few minutes north you’ll find the Barcaccia Fountain, a 17th-century baroque fountain shaped like a ship, located at the foot of the famous Spanish Steps. Both fountains are prime photo locations. The Trvi Founatin also looks incredible lit up at night.

If you’re keen to engage in some retail therapy, then you’re in the correct location to do it. Designer labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and VERSACE all have stores nearby.

By this time, you’ll be hungry. There are numerous restaurants in this area, including international names and local gems. If you’re looking for something familiar Rome’s Hard Rock Café is a tiny bit further east.

Depending on how late it is, you might still have time to fit in a visit to the Borghese Gallery and Museum (you do have to reserve your visit though, so plan ahead). It’s a fifteen-minute walk away from Hard Rock Café and houses one of the world’s most impressive collections of Baroque art. It’s also housed within a beautiful 18th Century villa, which is an art piece within itself. Even if the clock has passed its 7pm closing time, the surrounding Villa Borghese Park is perfect for an evening stroll.

Day 2 in Rome

Today, we’re heading south of the city centre to discover more of Rome’s famous sites – starting with the Colosseum! After you’ve finished marvelling at what is one of the world’s oldest buildings, head five minutes west towards the Roman Forum. It’s a fascinating area of half-ruined Roman temples, squares and government buildings that date back 2,000 years – and was the heart of the Roman Empire. Then right next door is Palatine Hill, which is largely regarded as the location where Rome was founded and is home to ruins of Roman Imperial palaces, temples, and baths.

Head slightly west now for a relaxing stroll through the Monti neighbourhood. It’s a quirky area filled with alfresco dining, bars, vintage shops, and independent businesses. We recommend scouting out somewhere for lunch while you’re here.

Then for the second half of the day we’re providing you with two options.

If you were too tired last night to explore Villa Borghese Park, we recommend doing it today. Aside from the Galleria Borghese, the park is home to other interesting sites including Globe Theater Roma, Rome Zoo, Temple of Asclepius, and Porta Pinciana. You’ll have to walk back up north to get there, but you are only roughly 30 minutes away.

If you don’t want to walk, then we recommend strolling along to the Jewish Quarter which is near the ancient sites you witnessed this morning. This is one of the oldest Jewish Quarters in the world, and these days it is considered a must-visit on a foodie tour of Rome. Within the Jewish Quarter, you’ll also find the Jewish Museum and the Tempio Maggiore di Roma which is the largest synagogue in Rome.

If it’s still light outside when you’re finished, we recommend soaking up the rest of Rome’s sights on a moped. Moped hire companies are very common across Rome, so you’ll find one in no time. Scoot down cobbled lanes and through the elegant piazzas, taking in all the beautiful sights of Rome before your weekend in the Italian capital comes to a close.

If you’ve been to Rome, let us know which of its attractions should be the top of everyone’s list!

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Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.