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48 Hours in Rome – What to see, eat and do as a Muslim
Rome is the home of the Catholic faith, so why would you want to travel there as a Muslim?
Italy is a beautiful country with many faiths and even the world’s biggest mosque in Europe!
Travelling to Rome to see the sights in 48 hours can seem like a daunting task, but I promise you it is totally possible.
You just need to be prepared to walk. A lot!
In this post, I’ll share what the main sights are that you should concentrate on to get the most out of your visit to Rome.
WHAT TO SEE IN ROME IN 24 HOURS
If you’ve only got one day’s stopover in a multi-city tour or you’re only there for the weekend, it’s still possible to see some sights in 24 hours.
Rome is a pretty compact city, so you can get from one area to the next just by walking.
The Colosseum is a HUGE building full of history and was only a 10-minute walk from our hotel, Rome Life, which I mentioned in my How to plan your holiday to Rome post.
WHERE TO QUEUE
You will still have to queue whether you bought a ticket online or choose to use your Roma Pass to get in.
What no-one tells you is the hundreds of people, not all of whom are officially trying to “help” you get around.
If you’ve bought a ticket online, queue up at Palatine Hill which is just across the road from the Colosseum to validate your online ticket to gain entry.
Be prepared to queue for long periods as it gets busy the later in the day you come.
My advice would be to come around 9.30 – 10.00 latest if you can manage it.
If you’re using your Roma Pass, the Colosseum counts as one of your free museums whether you choose the 48 or 72-hour pass.
You don’t need to queue to validate your ticket, just join the GROUPS entrance to go straight in and validate your Roma Pass at the entrance once you get past security.
Security is pretty tight at all major attractions in Rome so don’t bring your suitcase or a massive bag as you may not be allowed in.
Choose a smaller day bag for your essentials and carry your own water rather than buying it from the water sellers.
If you’re lucky enough to have booked a tour of the Colosseum, make sure you get through the queues well before the tour time because if you miss it, you’ll have to pay extra to get on the next one.
This is what happened to our friends who underestimated the queuing time like us, but said the tour was worth the extra payment.
INSIDE THE COLOSSEUM
Once you actually get inside the Colosseum, there is a lift to take those who can’t walk, those who have wheelchairs up or prams/strollers to the 2 main levels.
The stairs are a little steep, and there’s a lot of them, so be prepared to walk but it is good exercise and so worth it.
There’s a wealth of history inside with lots of plaques to explain the history of the Colosseum and what activities it was used for.
We really enjoyed our time wandering around the Colosseum soaking up the history and walking around.
WHAT WE MISSED SEEING
We didn’t get a chance to explore Palatine Hill which is literally across the road from The Colosseum because one of the kids we were travelling with desperately needed the loo, so we had to go back to the hotel for that.
The Trevi Fountain is in the opposite direction to The Colosseum, so after a loo break and some lunch, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain.
After a meandering walk, I’d say it’s about half an hour away, but you will need to utilise Google Maps to help you out.
The Trevi Fountain is free but has HUGE crowds all around it and has a barricade to get people getting too close.
Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain you’ll come back to Rome.
It’s a lovely building just in terms of the architecture, so I would really recommend it.
The Spanish Steps are only 10 minutes walk from The Trevi Fountain and were super crowded when we went.
People were sitting and milling around.
The thing that makes the Spanish Steps memorable is the flowers all around the steps.
To the sides you will see people selling paintings of the Steps and other Roman sights, we ended up buying one after the artists convinced us he hand painted it for €20.
The local desi guy who was also selling small souvenirs informed us they were mass produced! Ha!
The Pantheon was a temple but is now a church.
No food or drink is allowed so my husband had to wolf down his gelato before entering.
As with entering most churches in Italy you should be well covered, no bare knees, shoulders etc which isn’t a problem for a Muslim!
This is the only time I was stopped in Rome as a Hijabi.
The guards told me, “This is a Catholic Church, do you have a problem with that?”
I said, “No” and off I went inside.
It’s a beautiful building, all gold inside.
There are seats for those who want to listen to Mass but these were all full up very quickly.
We didn’t linger here, but it is free to go inside and have a look.
WHAT WE MISSED SEEING
The Imperial Forums area is a 15-20 minute walk and this was where the main political activities happened. Now, there are just ruins.
We missed seeing these because, by this point, I was really struggling with jet lag and tiredness.
As a Stroke Survivor, this was my first trip abroad and I did really well despite all the walking around, but at that point in the day, my body gave out so we took a taxi back to the hotel from The Pantheon and it cost us €10.
A lot of people asked me if there is Halal food in Rome.
Yes, there is, but the answer is also, we didn’t manage to find GOOD Halal Food.
On our first night in Rome, we walked around a bit and finally settled on this local Trattoria which seemed quite busy and full of locals.
The name of that place was L’antica Fraschetta and it was a few minutes walk from the hotel.
On our second night at Rome, we decided to walk to the nearest Halal place which turned out to be a Turkish restaurant.
Now unlike the UK restaurants, they didn’t make any food fresh and just warmed the rice and chicken up in the microwave.
We were decidedly unimpressed but the rice and chicken were a welcome relief from eating pizza and pasta all day.
On our third night, we went back to L’Antica Fraschetta, or rather the husbands did and got us a takeout of Pizza, Spaghetti in Mushroom sauce and plain spaghetti for the kids, as us wives and the kids were exhausted as we had to go back home the next day.
WHAT TO SEE IN ROME IN 48 HOURS
If you’re lucky enough to have 48 hours in Rome, then here’s what else you can see.
The Vatican is outside of Rome City, so you will need to get a train to get to it.
If you’ve pre-bought tickets for the Vatican Museums you need to get there on time as you won’t be allowed after the allocated time, and it’s a 10-minute walk from the train station so do leave enough time to get there.
The queue to get in is obvious and quite quick, unlike the Colosseum.
It’s very well organised and has metal detectors and guards to keep everyone safe.
Do bring your passport with you as technically it’s another country.
VATICAN MUSEUMS & GARDENS
Book tickets for the Vatican Museum before you leave as otherwise, you’ll be waiting for hours to grab a ticket.
The only time you can get a free ticket is at the end of the month, but the queues to get in are insane, so if you do choose to chance it then, be prepared to wait for a few hours.
We booked our tickets beforehand but didn’t opt for an audio guide or a tour, I’d recommend one or the other to get the most out of your visit even though it will be an extra cost.
The reason you want to visit the Vatican Museums is that it’s the only way to see the Sistine Chapel.
As I mentioned before, the Sistine Chapel is quite small and narrow, and as always there is a queue to get in, but it is worth it.
The ceilings are covered in paintings including the most famous one, but you’re not allowed to take photos or videos.
There’s a ton of guards shouting if they spot you taking any photos or videos, but you’re welcome to take photos and videos within the museums and gardens.
ST PETER’S SQUARE
This is free to look around, and it’s free to go into St Peter’s Basilica but it is a huge queue to get in, so you may need at least half a day if you do choose to go to The Vatican or even a full day.
We didn’t have that amount of time, so we chose to skip a lot of things around the Vatican.
We took a train from The Vatican and had to change after a few stops to get to Rome Mosque which is on the outskirts of Rome
It was a 10-minute walk from the train station to the mosque.
Despite being one of Europe’s biggest mosque, the main mosque is only open on Jummah (Friday Prayer’s) and Eid.
There’s a gatekeeper keeping everything in check, but there is one washroom to do wudu and one main prayer hall open.
There is a very peaceful courtyard but you are not allowed to explore the grounds at all, so do keep in mind if you’re planning to come and offer your prayers.
To be honest, out of all the mosques I’ve visited in Europe including Paris, Hamburg and Zurich, I found this one the most empty.
I understand because of security concerns they want to make sure the grounds stay safe, but it is disappointing to not be able to explore.
Nevertheless, it is worth a visit as it is beautiful.
The mosque is out of the way in the suburbs, but it has 2 train stations a 10-minute walk each side, and this makes it easy to get to and also easy to continue on your onwards journey.
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
From the mosque, we went to Piazza del Popolo. The Piazza del Popolo is one of the largest squares in Rome and is lovely to hang out in.
It’s directly opposite the train station.
We hiked up the stairs and made our way up to the Villa Borghese which are free to enter and explore.
The Villa Borghese is not actually a villa, but a huge garden.
By this point of the day, we were all tired and not keen to walk around the gardens when we spotted some pedal carts.
Upon investigating further, we found we could hire a 4 person or 6 people tandem pedal cart.
We chose to go for the 6 person one because we had 4 adults and 2 kids.
The children sat in the front seat, but you could also put bags and stuff in it, it has a hand bar, so is quite secure.
The pedal cart has one steering wheel for the driver and 4 tandem pedals for everyone to pedal around.
We hired it for €20 for an hour and despite getting lost and stopping for drinks and Pringles, we had a whale of a time!
I would highly recommend hiring it because it’s a great way to explore the park and make some memories.
I can’t share pictures of the Pedal Carts, as we took some selfies with the kids in it, but they’re easily available for hire if you ask around.
WHAT WE DIDN’T SEE
Lots of things!
By this point, all of us were exhausted and ended up going back to the hotel.
I really wish I had the foot roller that I mentioned in my packing post because I could barely walk at this point!
SHOPPING IN ROME
On our final day in Rome, we had a few hours before our flight home, so we checked out and the hotel kindly stowed our bags away whilst we shopped for gifts.
The street near the hotel was the main shopping area and we managed to buy some biscuits to take home as gifts and our friends bought some leather handbags.
We walked near the designer district in the Spanish Steps area pelting with rain, and took refuge in a shoe shop where some of us got some amazing Italian leather shoes!
Be warned, with hand luggage only if you’re overweight they may ask you to check your baggage in or if the flight is overcrowded like ours was.
I hope you enjoyed this post and have a good idea of what to do and see in Rome in 48 hours in Rome as a Muslim.