You are currently viewing 10+ Best Things to Do in Rome ItalyPin

10+ Best Things to Do in Rome Italy

Visiting Rome, Italy? Don’t miss these spots!

We started out our short European tour in Rome.  Rome is a highly touristy city, and there aren’t many places you can go to avoid crowds.  It doesn’t mesh as well with our travel style since we gravitate toward more relaxing environments, but our motto is to try everything once.  With only 48 hours in Rome, we decided to make the most of our trip and see all the famous landmarks.  Photography and food, as always, was a top priority.  With a group of 6, we hired a private tour guide who drove us around.  It was convenient since he could drive us right up to each landmark.

We went at the end of August with the massive crowds and the blistering heat. I would recommend another time of year. Regardless, we got a glimpse of the city’s rich history.

best things to do in rome 2 day itineraryPin

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: March 15, 2024

10+ Best Things to Do in Rome Italy

1. Pantheon →

Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, map

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple and the best-preserved ancient Roman building. Its iconic dome, the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, still stands as a testament to the ingenuity of ancient Rome. Visitors are mesmerized by the oculus, an open hole in the center of the dome that lets in natural light, creating a mystical ambiance.

Local Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and experience the serene beauty of the Pantheon.

The pantheon When in Rome Day 1 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

2. Colosseum →

Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy, map

An iconic symbol of ancient Rome and one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, the Colosseum reminds us of ancient Rome’s architectural prowess and the gladiatorial spectacles that once took place within its walls. Exploring the vast amphitheater, visitors can imagine the roar of the crowds and the valor of the gladiators.

Local Tip: Opt for a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the Colosseum’s history and significance. Also, bring a wide-angle lens for photos.

tour rome colosseumPin

3. Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)

Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy, map

This charming square is a hub of culture, fashion, and art, located at the base of the Spanish Steps. Soak in the vibrant atmosphere while marveling at the elegant Baroque architecture and browsing luxury boutiques.

Local Tip: May is the best time of year to visit the Spanish Steps when they are decorated with azaleas.

Spanish Steps when in Rome Day 1 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

4. Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy, map

The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Visitors like to toss coins into the fountain. The first coin is to guarantee your return to Rome, the second coin finds you love, and the third brings you marriage.

Local Tip: To avoid the crowds and truly appreciate the fountain’s beauty, visit in the early morning or late at night.

Toss a coin in Trevi Fountain When in Rome Day 1 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

5. Coffee at Sant’ Eustachio or Caffé Tazza D’oro →

Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, map

Indulge in the quintessential Roman experience of sipping coffee at one of these historic cafes. Sant’Eustachio and Caffè Tazza D’oro are renowned for their exceptional coffee blends and traditional brewing methods. Between these two spots, they are arguably the best coffee in Rome.

Local Tip: Order a “caffè corretto” for a delightful twist – espresso spiked with a shot of liquor, typically grappa or Sambuca.

Sant'Eustachio Sant' Eustachio Best Coffee in Rome When in Rome Day 2 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

6. Vatican City museums and the Sistine Chapel →

00120 Vatican City, map

The Vatican is the smallest country in the world and is the pope’s home and the Catholic Church’s spiritual center. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring art and history housed within the Vatican City Museums, culminating in the breathtaking Sistine Chapel adorned with Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes. Visitors are transported through centuries of artistic genius and religious significance.

The photo below shows the beautiful spiral staircase exit at the Vatican Museum.

Spiral stair exit Vatican Museum Exit When in Rome Day 2 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

7. Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, map

It’s the most popular public square in Rome and a great spot to hang out and people-watch. You can also see the famous paintings “the Calling of St Matthew”, “St Matthew and the Angel, and “The Martyrdom of St Matthew” inside the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi.

Local Tip: Explore the surrounding narrow streets to discover hidden gems and quaint trattorias away from the tourist crowds.

piazza navona When in Rome Day 1 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

8. Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (Altare Della Patria)

Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, map

Vittorio Emanuele II was the first king of unified Italy. The Unknown Soldier Tomb is located here as well. If you climb to the top of the building, you can enjoy beautiful views.

Local Tip: It’s also known as the “Wedding Cake” because of it’s white marble facade.

When in Roma Day 1 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

9. Roman Forum (Foro Romano) →

Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, map

Step back in time and explore the heart of ancient Rome at the Roman Forum, a sprawling archaeological site filled with ruins of ancient temples, basilicas, and government buildings. It has many famous temples and monuments and is a glimpse into the glory days of Ancient Rome.

Local Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a guidebook or audio tour to fully appreciate the historical significance of each site.

See More: 15 Best Travel Shoes for Comfort, Style, and All Weather Types

10. St Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) →

Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City, map

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest and most impressive churches in the world. It is within Vatican City and is a free attraction. You can pay to climb the steps or take an elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the city.

St Peter's Basilica Vatican City When in Rome Day 2 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

More Things to Do in Rome Italy

These are on my list for our next visit to Rome.

  • Ancient Appian Way and the Catacombs – free attraction
  • Basilica di San Clemente
  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Baths of Diocletian National Museum (Terme di Diocleziano)
  • Campo de Fiori is a free attraction. It has great nightlife and a historic market during the day with amazing Italian food products.
  • Capitoline Museums (Museo Capitolini)
  • Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum
  • Explora Museum
  • Galleria Borgheses – one of the top art galleries in Rome. It’s half-villa/half-museum with beautiful gardens.
  • Gionicolo Hill (Passeggiata del Gianicolo) – free attraction that gives you a great view of Rome and famous landmarks like St Peter’s Basilica.
  • Knights of Malta Keyhole – great view of St Peters Basilica
  • The Orange Garden (Parco Savello) – great views of Rome
  • Palatine Hill – a park with ruins
  • Porta Portese – Sunday morning market in Trastevere. Free to see.
  • Santa Maria della Vittoria – free
  • Testaccio Market – community market in Testaccio.
piazza campo de fiori + best things to do in rome italyPin

Map of the Best Things to Do in Rome

Rome Italy 2 Day Itinerary

This is how we spent two days in Rome. We visited with Jacob’s family so we had to consider what they wanted to do as well. After a whirlwind of sightseeing on day one in Rome, there was only one big landmark left that we wanted to see: Vatican City. The rest of the afternoon, we took it easy just the way we like it.

Day 1

11:00 AM The Colosseum
12:30 PM Il Pomodorino for Lunch
2:00 PM Trevi Fountain
– Toss a coin & have a gelato break
3:00 PM The Pantheon
4:00 PM Piazza Di Spagna (Spanish Steps)
5:00 PM Piazza Navona
6:00 PM Dinner at La Tavernaccia Da Bruno
– This was by far our best meal in Rome. More details below.
7:00 PM Break at the Hotel
9:00 PM Night Photos at the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II
9:15 PM Night Photos at The Colosseum – Could not find a great angle for the Colosseum. Anyone know where you’re supposed to take the photo for the majority of the postcard shots?

Day 2

8:00 AM Vatican City – Waited in line for 1.5 hours
9:30 AM Entering Vatican City / Sistine Chapel – It surprised us how massive the Vatican Museum was.  Our main goal was to get to the Sistine Chapel and it was quite a walk. See more details below.
11:00 AM St. Peter’s Basilica
11:40 AM View of The City
12:30 PM Castel Gandolfo – The Pope’s summer house.
1:00 PM Lunch at Ristorante Bucci – Details below.
3:00 PM Coffee Break at Sant’ Eustachio
4:00 PM Grocery Store Stop for Culatello di Parma
5:00 PM Breather at the Hotel
7:00 PM Dinner & Drinks

La Tavernaccia Da Bruno: Our tour guide was reluctant to take us because it wasn’t very fancy, but I was dying to try it after reading where to eat in rome by the city’s cabbies.  So happy we went. If it was on yelp, I would give it 6 stars.

We ordered all carbs, which is not typically how Italians eat, but hey, when in Rome… we eat what we want. Dinner included the Rigatone alla Carbonara (eggs, guanciale (bacon from pig’s cheek), black pepper and pecorino cheese), Pasta all’arrabbiata (my standard spicy pasta I order everywhere) and Pizza Capricciosa.

Sistine Chapel: The Sistine Chapel was dark and crowded. They didn’t allow photos but everyone and their moms were sneakily pointing their camera at the ceiling and taking them anyways. I was not about to be left out.

Ristorante Bucci: Enjoyed some wine from the region and the views of Lago di Albano (Lake Albano). We ordered the mozzarella di buffalo as an appetizer and paccheri ai fiori di zucca for a main entree, and it did not disappoint!

Castel Gandolfo When in Rome Day 2 | What to do and see in Rome in 48 hours | Travel Photography

Where to Stay in Rome

Planning Checklist

Have you been to Rome? What else do we need to put on the list?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

SEE More International City Guides


“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust

Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.