A weekend is rarely enough to make the most of any destination, but sometimes the nature of a busy itinerary is that you have limited time. Or maybe you’re taking off for a 48 hour escape before the cold reality of Monday morning and the return to work slaps you around the face.
Rome is a city where you could comfortably spend a fortnight touring ancient ruins and growing fat on exquisite pizza, but it also allows you to cram a huge amount into a single weekend if circumstances dictate.
Here’s a quick guide to spending 48 hours in Rome.
How to get there
You can fly to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport from pretty much anywhere in the UK, from a wide choice of airlines ranging from budget to something a little nicer. The journey only takes around 2.5-3 hours, so you could leave Friday night after work to maximise your time.
The airport is only 26km outside the city centre, and an Express train will get you into the thick of Rome in around half an hour, for the cost of €14.
Now you’re there, it’s time to pack as much into the next two days as humanly possible.
Where to stay
But first you need a roof over your head. Backpacking in Rome is incredibly popular, so there are plenty of cheap, reputable hostels in the city.
We recommend booking ahead to make sure you don’t waste time traipsing around in search of a bed, but depending on time of year you may well be able to just turn up on the day. Dorm prices start from around €10 per night, though it can be worth paying a little more for a central location.
Keep in mind that, if you’re arriving on a Saturday for the weekend, you’ll only need accommodation for a single night. If you have the budget, you could plump for something a little fancier. Look around and you might back a nice 4-star hotel room for around €80. Treat yo’self.
You only have 48 hours, which means there’s no shame in being a massive tourist, so here are the absolute must-see attractions in Rome.
The Vatican Museums within the boundaries of Vatican City house the world famous frescos of the Sistine Chapel, and from there you’re perfectly positioned to wonder at the opulence of St Peter’s Basilica. You can get there easily from central Rome on Metro Line A.
Similarly iconic is the Colosseum, the most famous of Rome’s attractions, an imposing amphitheatre where gladiators fought to the death in front of 50,000 bloodthirsty spectators. You can comfortably tick off the Roman Forum, a collection of former temples and official buildings, at the same time. Metro Line B will drop you right outside.
If that isn’t enough history for you, visiting the Pantheon is a great way to explore the city. Marvel at the 2nd-century Corinthian columns, and then walk a simple route to Trevi fountain, where a proffered coin is said to guarantee your return to Rome, and onto Piazza Mignanelli to see the Spanish Steps and the Trinita dei Monti.
The route is easy to navigate, and offers the perfect opportunity to escape the Metro and see Rome from street level.
Where to eat
Restaurants in Rome aren’t particularly cheap, and it can be surprisingly difficult to find the good places amid those looking to capture tourists with sub-par grub. Get it right and Italian food is some of the best in the world, so it’s worth doing some research beforehand.
Get the names of a couple of recommended places, and make them a firm part of your plans. Then eat as much pizza and pasta as will fit inside you.
For dessert we wholeheartedly recommend visiting Gelatoria del Teatro, the ice cream parlour owned by gelato maverick Stefano Marcotulli. Ignore the normal flavours and try something weird, like chocolate and wine flavour, or raspberry and garden sage. Just remember to take a number when you enter or they’ll send you to the back of the line.
Nightlife in Rome is equipped for all tastes, whether you prefer taking it easy or getting wet ‘n’ wild. You might only have one night here, so make sure you get it right.
If you’re after something crazy, the Campo dei Fiori has a bunch of bars specifically designed for travellers to drink a lot and let off some steam. You could join an organised pub crawl and make some temporary drinking buddies, or head to the Testaccio district for your choice of nightclubs.
There’s also a huge range of wine bars and quiet cafes all over the city if you prefer something a little quieter after cramming so much into your day and so much food into your stomach.
Go, go, go!
A single weekend in Rome is never going to seem like enough, but plan ahead, get up early, and drink enough coffee, and you might be surprised how much you can cram into 48 hours. If you feel unsatisfied, just go back the weekend after.