Am I really in Rome for two days? Wake up Dan, you’re dreaming, you can’t finally be in Rome. It must be a dream, a fantasy … all because it’s your birthday and you’ve always wanted to go to Rome.
Well, this was a dream come true, I got to spend two days in Rome for my birthday! It was a great plan coming together, because after Linda got to visit Paris, I got to see Rome.
How to get to Rome from the airport
Travel from Fiumicino Airport to Rome is actually very easy, because you have a number of options. Taxis and private shuttle are the best option if you plan to arrive late at night or your hotel isn’t easy to get to.
- Taxi. Taxis from Fiumicino Airport to Rome charge a flat fee of €48, paid by cash or credit card.
- Private shuttle. A private transfer is the most hassle-free way to get to Rome from the airport. You book ahead of time, and your English-speaking driver will be waiting for you when you land. He’ll help you with your luggage and already know where to take you. It is often less expensive than taxis, plus no no worries about being taken out of the way for a higher fare.
- Uber. It’s legal in Italy, but it’s more expensive than taxi or private transfer to Rome. Don’t bother.
- Train. Fiumicino Airport is well connected to Rome city center by train. You can choose between an express train to Termini station, or a “regionale” train that takes longer and stops at more stations. You can buy tickets online or directly at the station. Tickets must be validated on the machines on the platform before getting on the train.
- Bus. The SIT shuttle bus is probably the cheapest way to travel between the airport and three stops in Rome city center.
If you want to know how to get to Rome at the end of a cruise, we’ve got you covered, too.
10 things to see in Rome Italy
Getting around Rome is easy, but it’s harder in the summer when tourists crowd the streets and squares. We began our first day with a hop-on hop-off bus tour. The narrated “HOHO” ride gave us a good overview of the city’s layout and we learned more about Rome as we drove around.
1. Victor Emmanuel II National Monument.
Sure, we had our list of must-see Rome attractions, but we take HOHO tour buses because they take us past buildings and monuments that we wouldn’t otherwise know about. For example, our guide pointed out the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument.
Also called the Altar of the Fatherland, it is a national monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. It houses the Tomb of the Italian Unknown Soldier and an eternal flame.
Had we not been on the bus, we never would have had a chance to see it. At least not with only two days in Rome.
2. Borghese Gallery and Gardens
After we’d done a complete circuit and done the complete tour, we hopped off to stretch our legs and headed to Borghese Gardens. These gardens make up the third-largest park in Rome, and its centerpiece Is the Borghese Gallery. This is an exquisite, 400-year-old villa that was once the home of the Borghese family.
One of the family members was an avid art lover, collecting Renaissance masterpieces from Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens and other Renaissance masters. His collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities is now on display in the villa, and as a result, Borghese Gallery is now considered a world-class art gallery.
Tickets are in high demand, and it’s nearly impossible to see the works without a reserved spot. But somehow just as we arrived there was a last-minute cancellation and we were able to get tickets. We couldn’t resist the opportunity, even though it wasn’t in our original plans.
Is the museum worth squeezing into a 2-day Rome itinerary? Yes, but we recommend you plan better than we did. Cancellations are rare. Buy tickets online ahead of time.
3. Roman Colosseum
Where to start Day 2 in such a glorious city? Way too many sites have been unfairly distributed to this one place. I decided to begin with the Colosseum. What a magnificent structure it is, and it is still standing after two thousand years. This is a building of legends.
The Roman Colosseum is an amphitheater built by Emperor Vespasian around A.D. 70-72.It was known as the Flavian Amphitheater when Vespasian’s son Titus finally opened it just 8 years later. The government hosted games here as entertainment for the public. For them, gladiatorial combats, wild animal fights, and even torture were all entertainment.
The colosseum originally had a wooden floor, but all the once-hidden passageways and chambers are exposed. After four centuries of games, it was neglected until the 18th century, when they began to restore the damage it had endured over the centuries from fires and earthquakes. Now the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Rome that tourists like me just have to visit.
ⓘ TIP: Linda purchased skip-the-line tickets online, to make the most of our precious time in Rome. That turned out to be a smart more, because they no longer sell them at the gate. The best part was that one single ticket gave us access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, all of which are top Rome attractions.
4. Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine dates from the 3rd century and commemorates Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
Standing next to the Colosseum, the marble arch spans the road that military leaders once took when they returned from a military victory.
5. Palatine Hill
Rome was built on seven hills, and Palatine Hill is the center-most hill of all. Being the center of Imperial Rome, Palatine Hill houses great attractions like Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum.
The hill is tied to Roman mythology. Legend has it that the twins Romulus and Remus were found in the Lupercal Cave by their wolf mother.
6. Roman Forum
Two thousand years ago, the Roman Forum was the center of daily life. This plaza was the center of commerce, where public speeches, criminal trials and elections were held.
Today, the Forum holds the ruins of several important ancient government buildings, shrines including the Temple of Saturn and the complex where the Vestal Virgins were. We special made a point to see two significant historic sights:
- the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated, and
- the Arch of Titus, which commemorates the Roman victory in the fall of Jerusalem.
The Pantheon was originally built in 27-25 AD to commemorate the victory at Actium over Antony and Cleopatra. It was a functioning temple with statues of various Roman gods filling the niches. Animals were sacrificed and burned in the center; the smoke escaped through the oculus above, the temple’s only means of light.
These days, the Pantheon is a Basilica. Niches once used for Roman idols are now filled with Catholic idols. Interestingly, Michelangelo carefully studied its dome before starting his work on St. Peter’s Basilica.
8. Trevi Fountain
The Fontana di Trevi, Trevi Fountain in English, is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and arguably the most beautiful in the world. There is a tradition that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome.
Hmmm … I wonder what throwing 40 euro coins would do for a return visit?
9. See Rome, unscripted
Tours are fun, but travel isn’t just about sightseeing. It’s about experiencing the regional culture and foods, and pretending that you’re a part of local life.
Wandering around with no particular end in sight offers a chance to discover quirky things that aren’t in travel guides. Try crossing one of Rome’s many bridges, or exploring the nooks and crannies of a small side street. Who knows what you might uncover?
Romans take an after-dinner stroll — passeggiata — and we enjoyed being a part of it. With gelato, of course.
As always, we find a great deal of enjoyment in people watching, both the locals and the visitors. It’s easy to tell the difference, because tourists display some curious antics while posing for pictures.
We also just like to observe people as they enjoy the scenes. Here are a few characters in action:
Final thoughts about spending two days in Rome
It didn’t take long to admit that we need to plan more time in Rome as there is so much to see. We had so little time during this trip, but 2 days in Rome are better than none, right?
Read all our Rome & Vatican blog articles: Things to See in Rome in 2 Days, Things to Know Before Visiting Vatican City, Best Things to Do in Vatican City, Guide to the Vatican Museums, and Tips for Visiting the Colosseum.
Cruising to Rome? Best Things to Do in Civitavecchia Cruise Port, How to See Rome on Your Own from Civitavecchia Cruise Port, and How to Go from Civitavecchia Port to the Train Station will be helpful.
|ROME TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
|✔ Travel Guide: This Italy travel guide is a top seller on Amazon. If you’re only visiting Rome, Rick Steves Rome is better.
✔ Visas/ETIAS for the EU: Find out what you need, and apply here.
✔ Travel Insurance: Covers lost bags, delays, injuries, and more. We like SafetyWing
✔ Currency: This free app calculates exact currency exchange values.
✔ Flights: Rome’s airport is FCO. Check flight prices here.
✔ Airport transfer: Prebook transportation to your hotel
✔ Accommodation: For Rome, check Booking ● Vrbo ● HostelWorld. For Vatican City, click here.
✔ Getting around: Fastest by metro or on foot. Outside of the city, take the train, use Flixbus, or rent a car.
✔ City Discount Card: The OMNIA Vatican Card and Roma Pass includes the most attractions.
✔ Tickets & tours: GetYourGuide and Take Walks offer a wide variety of options.
✔ Organized trips: G Adventures has insanely affordable small-group tours + guaranteed departures.