From the iconic ruins of the immense Colosseum to the majestic exteriors of the Vatican, Rome is a thriving hub of legendary history and culture. With an exhilarating past dating back nearly three thousand years, there is a bounty of things to explore, photograph, taste and experience in Rome- but what if you’ve only got two days in this ancient city? It can be hard to narrow down the best sights, but there are a few that should be on everyone’s bucket list. In fair weather and wearing a comfy pair of shoes, Rome is a wonderful city to discover in a short space of time, so get planning with these essential suggestions.
Ruins of an Empire
No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. In peak tourist season you may have to queue for entry, which is why getting there in the morning is key. Following an energising cup of coffee and some pastries at a nearby trattoria, head to the colosseum and learn about its many uses as well as marvelling at the still remarkably intact architecture.
From here, walk west a little to the Roman Forum which was once the centre of commerce and society back in the days of the Roman Empire. From the crumbling remains of temples through to towering stone pillars, this area has been painstakingly excavated to reveal to us contemporaries what life would have been like during the thrilling days of Caesar, Augustus and Constantine.
After discovering the Forum, take a walk up to Palatine Hill, the oldest part of Rome. As well as more extraordinary ruins to meander through, you’ll also see some stunning panoramic views back across to the Colosseum- ideal for those obligatory holiday snaps. You’ll have to pay to get in the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, but they’re well worth the ticket cost to learn about centuries of rich and diverse history.
Treasures in Trastevere
Once you’ve got the essential sightseeing out of the way, take a walk across the Tiber river to the Trastevere district. Cited as one of the most up and coming neighbourhoods in Rome, this charming riverside area is full of hidden cultural treasures. A trip to the stunning Basilica of Santa Maria is a great alternative to some of the more well-known churches in Rome. With some of its architecture dating back around 1350 years, it’s walls are packed with centuries of history as well as hosting a beautiful 13th century mosaic by artist, Pietro Cavallini.
After wandering the winding cobblestone streets some more, take your pick of cafés for an authentic Italian meal or refreshing aperitif. During the warmer months, you can sit outside in Piazza Santa Maria and watch the world go by, while in winter you can hole up in one of the many cosy pizzerias for a delicious bite. Trastevere also boasts a thriving nightlife scene, whether you want to relax with a glass of wine or put your dancing shoes on.
If you’re in the area on a Sunday and fancy a spot of shopping at the city’s biggest flea market, head to the Porta Portese near Ponte Sublicio. You’ll find everything here, from vintage clothing and accessories to unique souvenirs to take back home. As well as discovering some great buys, a trip to Porta Portese also offers visitors a glimpse of real Roman life as it’s been a popular local institution for many years.
If the sun is shining on your last day in Rome, hop on the metro to Giulio Agricola station south east of the city centre. From here you’ll be able to walk 10 minutes to the entrance of Parco degli Acquedotti, one of Rome’s most spectacular outdoor spaces and a popular filming location. With several ancient aqueducts running through it along with the ruins of the luxurious 2nd century Villa delle Vegnace, stroll through this quiet slice of the city and enjoy the rustic and mostly untouched surroundings.
For some peace and quiet closer to the centre, head to the refined English gardens of Villa Borghese – just a 20-minute walk from Repubblica. A popular spot for locals and tourists alike, it’s not just a beautiful outdoor space full of vibrant greenery, secluded alcoves and the calming sound of flowing fountains. Villa Borghese gardens are also home to several fascinating attractions, including the Borghese Art Gallery showcasing classical artworks, the Bioparc zoological garden which houses over 200 different animal species, and the magical open-air theatre that’s a replica of the Globe Theatre in London.