Rome is one of my favourite cities ever. It also happens to be the capital of Italy and a popular tourist destination for all those interested in art, history and good food. There is so much to see that you could live in Rome and still not see it all. However if you’re planning a weekend getaway to Rome that will be enough time for you to easily see all the main landmarks and this post will show you how. I will be outlining all the best things to do and places to see in Rome, with a 2-day walking itinerary that will allow you to see everything in your weekend trip.
- 1 Where to stay in Rome
- 2 Where to eat in Rome
- 3 Best things to see in Rome in a weekend
- 4 Rome weekend walking itinerary
Where to stay in Rome
Like most popular tourist cities hotels in Rome can be a bit expensive. The closer to the centre you are the better the location in terms of exploring the cities however it will obviously also be more expensive. Rome has a good underground system so if you choose to stay a bit further out you will still be able to easily visit the city centre. I don’t have recommendations for specific hotels as I have friends that live in Rome and have always been lucky enough to stay with them. If you’re looking for affordable accommodation check out these hostels in Rome, or if you’re looking for something more unique check out these boutique hotels in Rome.
Where to eat in Rome
In the country of good food it just makes sense that its capital has the most amazing food choices. Especially if you’re planning on exploring Rome on foot you will see just how many bars, restaurants and bakeries there are at every corner. While I’m out seeing cities in Italy I usually like to grab food on the go from a bakery, as I know it will almost always be delicious, I don’t have to waste sightseeing time by sitting down at a restaurant for ages and it will probably be cheap (3 to 5 EUR). Some of the restaurants I have tried in Rome on previous visits and really enjoyed are the following:
- La Vi is close to Piazza del Popolo it’s a fancy buffet place where for a set price (15 EUR) you can eat as much as you want
- Cacio e Pepe is my favourite kind of restaurant as it’s an Osteria. These type of restaurants serve big portions for affordable prices. The pastas especially are homemade fresh and simply amazing
- Not a restaurant but one of my favourite ice cream places is in Rome and it’s called Della Palma. I love it because they have 100 different flavours of ice cream and every time I go I try a different one
- Ginger Sapori e Salute is just next to Piazza di Spagna and while focusing on healthy food they make a killer pasta carbonara at affordable prices
Best things to see in Rome in a weekend
Before we jump straight into the walking itinerary of Rome I wanted to go through what the main landmarks and points of interest in Rome are, so that you can pick and choose which ones you actually want to see.
The Colosseum is possibly the most famous and visited attraction in Rome. Built back in 70 / 80 AD the Colosseum is a huge oval amphitheatre that could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators for public spectacles such as gladiator fights and dramas. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World (confusing I know, considering how old it is). If you want to visit the inside of the Colosseum make sure to book your ticket online beforehand, as queues on the day can be ridiculously long. Want to find out more about what it’s like to visit the inside of the Colosseum? Check out this Colosseum tour guide by Nomad by Trade.
The Fori Romani
Located in the centre of Rome these are a series of monumental “foro” or public squares. These were the heart of the Roman Empire, with every foro serving a different purpose to public life in ancient Rome. If you visit them at night there are light shows that illustrate what each foro used to look like back in the day. Find out more about them here.
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is in my opinion one of the most beautiful attractions in Rome. With its 26 metres in height and 49 metres in width of baroque statues it is a truly imposing sight. Urban legend says that you have to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain if you want to come back to Rome one day. I do it every time I visit Rome and so far I keep going back, so I won’t be stopping this tradition any time soon! The Trevi Fountain is located in the side streets of Rome and access to it is free.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo dei Fiori is where the cool kids hang out. With its homely restaurants, hipster bars, cobbled side streets and fun vibe it has become the area where all the students and young people hang out in evenings. It’s a cool area to explore also during the day as the architecture around is very beautiful.
Piazza di Spagna & Trinità dei Monti
Trinità dei Monti is a beautiful late Renaissance church famous for its position over the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna. Under the church you will often find street artists that will offer to draw your portrait or will try to sell you their landscape paintings of Rome. From here you can enjoy also a beautiful view over the rooftops of Rome.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is a large square in Rome, famous for it’s symmetrical design and the Egyptian obelisk located in the middle. Piazza del Popolo means “People’s Square” and historically was a location of public executions or demonstrations. Today you will often find street performers there or on big festivities, for example Carnival, you will find people dancing and celebrating there.
Trastevere is similar to Campo de’ Fiori but the more tame version for adults. The neighbourhood is lovely to walk around, with cobbled roads and pedestrian sections. There are also some amazing restaurants here.
Possibly one of the most famous things in Rome, the Vatican Museums attract more than six million people every year. A lot of people (myself included) visit primarily to see the Cappella Sistina, Michelangelo’s masterpiece. If you want to visit the Vatican museum on a weekend trip to Rome make sure to buy tickets online beforehand, you can also buy a queue jump ticket for a small extra fee which will ensure you don’t waste any time considering you’re only visiting for a weekend. Find out more about visiting the Vatican here.
This spectacular building in Rome was actually commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Over time it was then taken over by the church and used by the popes as a fortress and castle. One of the unique beauties of this attraction is Ponte Sant’Angelo, the bridge that connects the two sides of the river just in front of it. The bridge is pedestrian and walking towards this impressive building with all the angel statues on both sides is a truly mystifying experience.
Villa Borghese is a beautiful park just over Piazza del Popolo. You can go there to enjoy the stunning view over the rooftops of Rome or for a leisurely walk in the park. Inside the park there is also a famous art gallery called Galleria Borghese which you can visit.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple that subsequently became a church and is known for its recognizable hole in the ceiling. The building is circular and the inside is decorated with beautiful statues. Access to the Pantheon is free however but you might have to wait a little bit as there is often a queue and they sometimes check bags before letting you in.
Rome weekend walking itinerary
Rome is huge city but when it comes to the main attractions and historical sights, these are all located close to each other in the city centre. If you are happy to spend two days walking you will be able to see all the main points of interest of Rome in a weekend.
We started off the weekend on Saturday meeting at Piazza di Spagna at 10am (admittedly not the earliest of starts but I was travelling with an all Italian group, we’re not early risers). From Piazza di Spagna you walk up the Trinità dei Monti staircase, at the top of which you will find your first pretty viewpoint over Rome. From there you then walk towards Villa Borghese, a beautiful park with an awesome view over Piazza del Popolo (lots of viewpoints this morning). The park is very pretty to walk around so it’s up to you how much time you want to spend exploring it. From there you can then walk down to Piazza del Popolo.
From Piazza del Popolo you can walk to the Trevi Fountain. It would take you approximately 15 minutes if you walked straight there, but as these central streets of Rome are some of the most beautiful, I totally get it if you want to go on a detour. Getting lost in the side streets of Rome is almost just as fun and interesting as seeing the main landmarks. These roads are also the main shopping ones where you can find even locals shopping on a weekend, so if you want to spice up your Italian wardrobe here is a good chance (although it will probably be pricey)! The Trevi Fountain will be busy. Be ready for that. Unless you visit on a separate occasion and go really early in the morning there will be a lot of people around. However you can usually still find a corner to throw your own coin and snap some pictures.
After the Trevi Fountain you can walk to the Pantheon, another must see stop in Rome. More importantly however, right next to the Pantheon is my favourite ice cream shop in Rome (it’s only more important to people like me, if you are more into history than me you should spend more time in the Pantheon itself)! The square just in front of the Pantheon is lively and there are lots of bars, if you haven’t taken a break yet I recommend grabbing an ice cream from Della Palma and taking a seat on the fountain steps, give yourself sometime to soak in the Roman atmosphere.
From the Pantheon you can then wrap up your first day of walking tour by going to the Colosseum, doing stops at the Altare della Patria and the Fori Romani along the way. If you want to go inside to see the Fori Romani or the Colosseum you will obviously have to budget in more time for this part of the itinerary. It personally took us from around 10am to 5pm to walk this (perfectly timed too as we got to see the sunset over the Colosseum) with lots of food breaks throughout the day, if you’re more committed it can be done more quickly.
Rome is cut in half by the river Tiber so it made sense to us to divide our itinerary doing one side of the river on day one and the other on the second day. On the Sunday we explored the part of Rom West of the river. We started the day in Trastevere, a beautiful neighbourhood where a lot of the roads are pedestrian, which make it even more enjoyable to walk around the cobbled side streets. After a morning of exploring Trastevere we walked along the river all the way to Castel Sant’Angelo and Vatican City. We didn’t actually go inside the Vatican Museum as I had already been on a previous trip to Rome, however if it is your first time visiting Rome I highly recommend paying them a visit. The museums are huge and will easily take up a whole afternoon.
Have you been to Rome? Do you love it as much as me? Let me know in the comments below! Rome is a beautiful city and one of my favourite places to go back to, even if just for a weekend. The 2-day walking itinerary I have outlined here is the same one I have followed myself on my last trip there, I hope you will find it useful in planning your weekend in Rome! If you have more time in Rome and want to get out of the city, check out this guide to Tivoli, a lovely town near Rome.