What to do in Rome in Two Hours

Exploring Rome in two hours - Travel for a Living

What do you do if you find yourself in Rome with two hours spare? Whether you have a stopover in Rome before travelling onwards or have some time after a business meeting, every now and then you might end up with a few hours to kill. Obviously the easiest would be to head to a nice café, sit in the sun, enjoy an espresso or two and watch the world go by. And I can think of worse ways to spend time. But after all, we are talking Rome here. The eternal city. Why not make the most of it? What to do in Rome in two hours (I pretend) I hear you ask?

Well, I am not saying two hours is enough to see all of Rome. But it is (just about) enough to give a brief glimpse of what Rome has to offer.

Two weeks ago, we were faced with exactly this situation. We were heading to Rome on business. And we had a little time to kill between arriving in Rome and meeting the client. For my colleague it was her first time in Rome (well she had been to Rome airport several times, but never actually in Rome). I’ve visited Rome before (if you are planning your first trip to Rome, ‘How to get around Rome’ and ‘Rome on a Budget’ might come handy?). So I took the lead and put together a tour that should allow us to see Rome in two hours. Well, not all of it, but some of the most famous sites of Rome.

When it comes to what to do in Rome in two hours, you are spoiled for choices and there is no way you can see it all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Let’s get going, I hope you are wearing comfortable shoes?

Two Hour Walking Tour through Rome - Travel for a Living
Image Source: Google Maps

Rome in two hours: Part 1

We started our two-hour walking tour at Termini, Rome’s main train station. If you are arriving from the airport by train, Termini is where you get off the train.

If you have more than two hours in Rome or fancy some food first, I would recommend the ‘Mercato Central Roma’, a food market just adjacent to Termini Station.

Since we had food on the flight over and knew we would go for dinner with the clients later, we skipped the Mercato Central and started straight with our Rome in two hours walking tour.

Starting at Termini, we first headed towards the Spanish Steps. We chose a route that would lead us to the top of the stairs, overlooking Piazza di Spagna as we arrive.

We came across the Piazza di Repubblica (Republic Square) and the Church Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Saint Maria of Angels and Martyrs). The route then led us past the Barberini Palace and the Piazza Barberini (Barberini Square) with Bernini’s Triton Fountain.

Two Hours in Rome - Travel for a Living

From Piazza Barberini, we headed up Via Sistina. Which lead us to the Trinità dei Monti, the majestic church at the top of the Spanish Steps.

How to see Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living Exploring Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

Once we had enough of the view (and the masses of tourists on the steps), we headed down the 174 marble steps to the Piazza di Spagna. Don’t forget to look at the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Boat), another one of Bernini’s fountains in Rome.

See the best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

If you have more than two hours in Rome, you might want to linger in the area for a little while. The Piazza di Spagna offers plenty of luxury shopping opportunities with the likes of Chanel, Dior, Missoni and Prada door by door.

Or do as we did and get yourself some yummy Italian Gelato as a little treat.

The best of Rome in two hours - Travel for a Living

Rome in two hours: Part 2

Once we finished our gigantic ice cream, we continued our Rome walking tour.

After all, Rome in two hours doesn’t allow for too much resting and lingering.

Our next stop was the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). This large Baroque fountain sits on the back of a building (so you don’t actually see it until you turn the corner). The Trevi Fountain is on the most famous fountains in the world. As it is such a popular tourist spot, that you will struggle to actually get a good (let alone uninterrupted) view of it. We managed to approach it from the side and snap a quick selfie. And throw a coin, I mean there is no way you can visit the Trevi Fountain and not throw a coin into it. Not sure we did the whole coin throwing thing right though, should have googled it beforehand. Apparently you have to throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. What does it mean to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain? It is said that throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain ensures you’ll be back in Rome one day. What shall I say? Seems to have worked for me (as I just returned to Rome and the Trevi Fountain for a second time).

A two-hour walking tour through Rome - Travel for a Living

So, when you make your list of what to do in Rome in two hours, do include some coin throwing. Just to ensure you will be back for a more thorough visit. Check out this awesome three day itinerary of Rome to get you in the mood. I mean surely you don’t need convincing to return to Rome for a second (third / fourth) visit?

From the Trevi Fountain we headed towards the Pantheon. Although we were on a mission to get our walking tour of Rome completed in time, I would urge you to take in your surroundings. Appreciate the beautiful buildings, facades and little streets around you. Maybe have a quick coffee in one of the little cafes if time allows.

Rome in two hours - a self-guided walking tour through Rome - Travel for a Living

The Pantheon is an ancient Roman Temple come church. It has an impressive portico of columns. And the building itself is circular with a large oculus in the middle of the dome. As it is free to enter, we had a quick browse around the church before continuing our Rome in two hours walking tour.

Rome in two hours - Travel for a Living Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

Rome in two hours: Part 3

From the Pantheon we continued towards the Piazza Venezia. With the Palazzo Venezia (Venetian Palace) and the impressive Altare della Patria (Althar of the Fatherland).

Along the way, we came past the Piazza della Minerva with the ‘Elephant and Obelisk’. The smallest of twelve obelisks still existing in Rome and yet another example of the many Bernini sculptures dotted around Rome.

Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

The Piazza Venezia (Venetian Square) is a big junction with several of the main Roman roads crossing. As you approach, you can’t fail to notice the Altare della Patria. It sits proud at the Southern edge of the square. The massive white building might look impressive. But compared to its surrounding buildings, this is a ‘new build’, having only been completed in the 20thcentury.

Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

From Piazza Venezia we headed towards the last stop on our two-hour walking tour of Rome. The Colosseo. There is no way you can visit Rome and not see the Colosseum, wouldn’t you agree?

Before we got there, we stopped at some of the ancient Roman ruins that are dotted around the area. Trajan’s Forum and the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum).

Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living Rome in two hours - a self-guided walking tour for the tourist in a hurry - Travel for a Living

Rome in two hours: Part 4

The Grande Finale of our Rome in two hours walking tour was the Colosseum. We didn’t actually have the time to go into the Colosseum. But even just seeing it from the outside is impressive. After all, the Colosseum is the largest ever built amphitheatre.

For a spectacular view of the Colosseum, head to the Parco del Colle Oppio. We timed it just well to have the sun slowly set behind the Colosseum. Does it get any better than that?

Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

There you have it. Rome in two hours. Needless to say, our two-hour walking tour of Rome barely scratched the surface of what the eternal city has to offer. But it enabled us to catch a glimpse. Which is more than we often get to see of cities we visit on business.

If we had more time, I would have also loved to include Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square or Villa Borghese. But that’s not possible if you aim to see all of Rome in two hours. You need far more time for that.

In total our tour was approx. 5.5 km / 3 miles. Which means the actual walking shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. But with frequent photo stops (and some gelato), our overall time was just over two hours.

When visiting Rome, I would always recommend wearing comfortable shoes. You have loads of cobbled streets in the centre. So, as pretty as high heels might look, they are very impractical for Rome.

Tell me, what would you include in a Rome in two hours tour? What are your absolute must-sees?

A self-guided walking tour through Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain - The best of Rome in just two hours - Travel for a Living

Leave a Reply


  1. Maartje Hensen

    Omg this is awesome! Rome was my very first trip with my girlfriend, love to go back!!

  2. Jasmine Buckley

    This is such a handy itinerary Sarah! Coincidentally, I am in the process of rewatching the Spartacus tv series and I really want to see the Colosseum! Rome is so rich in history and it’s good to know there are so many things to see even if time is limited. My best friend is visiting Rome in August and I have sent her this post and your Rome on a budget post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. whereivebeentravel

    This is impressive!! I wish my work travel would take me to Rome! I’ll be in Rome in October for a day and this will come in handy.

  4. Kate Toll

    What a great itinerary! There are so many things I want to do when I go back to Rome! That gelato looked incredible!! A walking tour is definitely a wonderful way to make use of a short trip to Rome!

  5. Get Lost

    Wow, what an epic whistle-stop tour of Rome! I spent 3 days in Rome and even that wasn’t enough to take it all in, but you’ve managed to capture most of the top sights (and stop for gelato!) in such a short time! Well done! Thanks for the great guide! It shows you just how much you can see in a short time if you plan carefully!

  6. Daphna

    This is so great! I spent four days or so in Rome, back in the day, but it looks like you got a bunch of the main attractions in two hours!

  7. Venaugh

    If I went to Rome, I’d hope to have more time than 2 hours but I love that even with such a short time you can still see soooo many amazing things! Thanks for this guide!

    • Travel for a living

      Yes, I would certainly urge everyone to spend more than two hours in Rome. But so often do I briefly visit a city during my work travels and don’t get to see anything. So actually having two hours for a quick tour was absolutely great (especially for my colleague who hadn’t actually been to Rome before, airport aside)

  8. Joanna

    Rome is such a walkable city. I have been there so many times and never took the public transport. Just walked everywhere. And indeed, you can see so much during two hours in the city.

  9. ildikomdd463b962f

    I’m impressed!! You definitely mad great use of your time and saw a lot. I particularly love the Pantheon. It is such a cool structure. Another great idea if arriving at the train station is the Palazzo Massimo museum very close to it. That is my favorite museum in Rome.

  10. Ally

    Woah, that’s an epic two hours in Rome! Saving this for when I finally make it to Italy 🙂

  11. Miriam

    Rome is a wonderful city and every time I go there I always discover a new ancient stone. In a few hours you were able to see a lot of things!Well done

  12. Mikaela Musa

    Thank you for sharing this itinerary! I wanted to visit Rome and this will help with the planning. I think I’m going to love it there since it’s a walkable city.

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