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Where to Stay in Rome

Where to Stay in Rome

If you plan to visit Rome for for the first time, choosing the best place to stay can feel somewhat overwhelming, but it’s probably easier than you might think with many of the city’s attractions located in the area between the Vatican to the west and Stazione Termini, the main transport hub to the east. Rome’s historic center is surprisingly compact, making it easy to reach many of the highlights on foot. Just south is the Roman Colosseum, the city’s iconic symbol, while Villa Borghese, a large park that provides a tranquil oasis for a relaxing break in between sightseeing, is to the north. The area around Via del Corso, one of the main arteries, is where you’ll find the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Vatican City, an independent city-state that has its own flag, coins and militia to protect the pope, is to the west. It’s one of the most intriguing areas, home to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Rome city center

Best Neighborhood for First-Time Visitors to Rome: Historic Center

A stay in Rome’s historic center is arguably best for those visiting Rome for the first time as you’ll be surrounded by the city’s iconic monuments, immersing yourself in its rich history. It includes the magnificent baroque Piazza Navona, the remarkable Pantheon that’s managed to stand the test of time for over 2,000 years and the bustling Camp de’Fiori Market. You can easily walk to Trevi Fountain and the Roman Colosseum from here too, which means there’s no need to navigate public transport unless you plan on taking a day trip. The centuries-old lanes and alleyways are also home to a wide range of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars which means anything you need is likely to be just steps away. 

A stay in Rome’s historic center also means you’ll be able to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of one of the most picturesque areas in the city. You’ll find some of the most luxurious accommodation options around the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, with everything from upscale private apartment rentals to chic B&Bs and posh hotels. While price tags tend to be among the highest in the city, it’s worth the extra cost if you can swing it.

Aventine Hill, Rome

Best Neighborhood for a Romantic Couples Stay in Rome: Aventine Hill

While it’s a bit off the main tourist path, Aventine Hill offers magnificent views from its elevated perch along with elegant art nouveau-style villas that provide an exclusive, idyllic retreat for romance-seeking couples. One of Rome’s seven hills, it sits in front of Palatine Hill, and as it’s mostly residential, it’s often overlooked by visitors, but some say it’s Rome’s best-kept secret, with its tranquil, secluded setting. There are plenty of interesting sights like the famous keyhole with its view of St. Peter’s Basilica and the beautiful Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci), a small park that offers an oasis in the city for a relaxing break. This is also where you’ll find Rome’s Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale) with more than 1,000 different rose species. It also happens to be one of the city’s most romantic places, with the beauty of the flowers in all their glorious colors and the wonderful fragrance that wafts through. 

With leafy streets, Aventine Hill is also ideal for romantic strolls, and you’ll find plenty of boutiques, cafes and opportunities for people watching too. The downside to a stay in Aventine Hill is that there aren’t as many places to stay so you will need to book well in advance.

Trastevere, Rome

Best Neighborhood for Nightlife in Rome: Trastevere

One of the liveliest districts in Rome, Trastevere which translates to “beyond the Tiber,” offers a central location on the other side of the Tiber River from the historic center. It’s a charming bohemian neighborhood with a hip atmosphere and buzzing nightlife, ideal for those seeking something more off-beat than glamorous with lots to do after dark. It comes complete with enticing cobbled streets jam-packed with cafes and bars drawing locals and visitors alike. It’s charming and filled with character with most buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Little has been modernized, at least from the outside, which is why so many are drawn here – it feels quintessentially Roman. Plus, back over the river in the historic center you’ll find plenty of spots to hang out after dark, from casual neighborhood cafes to upscale designer bars. Expect plenty of crowds, which means it can be noisy, but you’ll also enjoy some great people watching too.

Ancient Rome

Best Neighborhood for Sightseers in Rome: Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome, part of the Monti district which sits immediately northeast of the Colosseum, is one of the three main sightseeing areas in the city, which also includes the Vatican and the historic center. It’s focused around the Colosseum with the historic center sitting to the north. You might even be able to wake up to a view of the Colosseum right from your window. Those who stay here will also have easy access to those sights like Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. While most attractions are within walking distance, the Vatican may be a bit too far to reach on foot, but you can take advantage of public transport with the metro stations at Cavour nearby. It’s also easy to reach the nightlife in Trastevere, just a few tram stops away. This is a cool, hip and happening place of its own, however, with lots of restaurants and bars lining the streets in addition to being well-connected via public transport. Like Trastevere, Monti truly comes alive at night. It can be raucous and loud, especially on weekends, but that’s all part of its charm.

Testaccio, Rome

Best Neighborhood for Foodies in Rome: Testaccio

Foodies looking to avoid the touristy dining spots while being immersed in some of the most authentic culinary experiences might want to base themselves in the Testaccio neighborhood. Like a small village in the middle of the city, it’s a great place to get into the rhythm of daily life, with layers of history, unevenly buried, profoundly Roman. Bounded by busy Via Marmorata on one side with the ancient city wall on the other while the Tiber river provides a curve, the shape of the neighborhood looks like a large wedge of cheese. Many residents here today are direct descendants of the earliest inhabitants, and while it’s a bit gritty, the food and rich history more than make up for that. In antiquity, the area was home to the Emporium port where much of the Roman food supply was funneled in such as grains and olive oils which arrived via terracotta amphorae vessels. Today, Testaccio is hailed as a bastion for gastronomic excellence, including distinct offal-based cuisine that draws visitors from across the globe. You’ll find everything from old-style trattorias and eateries specializing in Jewish cooking to fine-dining Michelin-star restaurants.

San Giovanni, Rome

Best Neighborhood for the Authentic Local Roman Vibe: San Giovanni

Located south of the historic center and Termini station, the San Giovanni neighborhood has been called one of the best-kept secrets in Rome. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to be immersed in the authentic local scene, including many great eateries, local markets and shops. There aren’t many tourist attractions here although the neighborhood is home to the Basilica di San Giovanni, founded in 313 AD under Constantine the Great. It’s the oldest church building in Rome although little remained following a devastating earthquake in 896 AD other than the 5th-century octagonal baptistery that can still be seen today. It was completely rebuilt in 1650, hence its baroque appearance. Pleasant walks in nature and history-filled surroundings can be enjoyed by walking the Via Appia, a path through travels through catacombs, patrician villas and monuments. Villa Celimontana park, constructed around a 16th-century villa, is an ideal spot to unwind and enjoy picnics. When it comes to accommodation, you’ll find everything from luxury hotels lining authentic residential streets to historic stays in medieval monasteries.