To many – me included – Rome conjures up visions of ancient architecture, historic sites and lots of amazing food. The thought of walking in the footsteps of gladiators and Roman Senators excites me almost as much as the delicious pizza, pasta and wine. But first to answer the question of: “Where to stay in Rome?”
Before answering that question there are other decisions to make. To start with you need to decide what you want to see and do in Rome. Is it your first visit or have you already seen many of Rome’s iconic sights like the Colosseum and the Pantheon?
Another determining factor is who are you traveling with? Are you a young solo traveler looking for nightlife? A family with children or elderly parents? A couple wishing for romance? Maybe you’re a foodie or historian with a very specific focus? This is a vital component to choosing the best location in Rome for you and your needs.
Sadly, budget also must be considered. Can you afford a luxury hotel in an upscale neighborhood or are you on a backpacker’s budget? Most likely you fall somewhere in between. Luckily Rome has accommodations for every taste and budget.
Finally, you need to consider how much time you have to spend in the Eternal City. A shorter stay, like 3 days in Rome, would be best spent in a central location. Alternately, if you have a couple of weeks, it may be preferable to experience a more local neighborhood.
Once you’ve answered these questions you can move on to where to stay in Rome. Read on to learn about the most popular neighborhoods and areas of Rome to stay and what you can expect to find there.
Highlights: Lovely cobblestone streets; nightlife; lively, young crowd; great foodie scene
We’re not alone in naming Trastevere as one of best areas to stay in Rome. If the idea of a Roman neighborhood with a bohemian vibe, cobblestone streets and colorful, vine-covered buildings has you swooning then you too will love Trastevere.
This medieval neighborhood also happens to be the best spot for nightlife in Rome. Plus, there are lots of great restaurants to begin the night or recover in the morning. Trastevere is lively and just edgy enough to appeal to the many young people and students in Rome. However, you don’t have to be a young student to appreciate Trastevere. It’s also popular with all ages and even families looking for a more authentic Rome experience. Just keep in mind it’s not the quietest neighborhood in Rome, especially on weekends.
The only caveat is that it’s not in the heart of the main tourist attractions and does not have a metro line. Having said that, there are buses and trams and it’s only a 30-minute walk to central Rome and the many sights. Check out Rome2Rio to decide if this area is accessible enough for your needs.
Accommodations in Trastevere are more about guest houses, boutique hotels and hostels rather than large hotels.
Highlights: Ancient Rome sites like the Colosseum; trendy, hipster bars, vintage and antique shops
The area of Monti is an interesting combination of part ancient Rome and part vintage hipster. It’s home to the famous Roman Colosseum as well as cobblestone streets filled with antique and vintage shops, quirky cafes, and trendy bars.
Here in Monti hipsters, artists and tourists share the streets that were once considered dangerous in the times of the Roman Gladiators. Although the area is a draw to tourists coming to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum it’s also full of local life. This, thankfully, means there are plenty of non-touristy restaurants to have dinner after the bulk of tourists have left.
On the slightly negative side trendy and touristy also equate to more expensive accommodations so this is not an area for budget travelers to stay.
Highlights: Quiet and safe; close to Vatican City; St Peter’s Basilica; designer shopping
Those looking for a quiet, safe, upscale neighborhood may want to consider Prati. It’s a good location for families and people who prefer more modern accommodations. Also, anyone planning to spend time exploring the sites within the Vatican or shopping for designer labels.
Prati is an affluent Roman neighborhood with wide boulevards and upscale shopping and restaurants. However, there are some more typical Roman narrow winding streets near Castel St Angelo. It’s buzzing with life on the weekdays due to the many lawyers and businesspeople working in the area. Evenings and weekends tend to be quiet but there are still plenty of places to eat, drink and shop.
As mentioned, it’s a great spot to explore the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica on foot but being on a Metro line makes it easy to access the other sights in Rome. Accommodations here range from mid to high end hotels, guest houses and apartments.
Testaccio – Ostiense
Highlights: Local experience; few tourists; amazing foodie scene
The areas of Testaccio – Ostiense may appeal to you if you’ve already seen most of Rome’s touristic sights and are looking for a more local experience. Or if you’re a foodie. These neighborhoods lay just outside of central Rome behind Aventine Hill and are easily accessible by the metro or bus.
Ostiense used to be mainly industrial and Testaccio was once the slaughterhouse district. After some gentrification, the areas are now quite trendy while still retaining some authentic grittiness.
If you’re yearning for a real Italian food experience this is where you want to be. The streets are full of traditional trattorias, pizzerias and typical Roman restaurants to fulfill your foodie fantasies. Of course, another famous foodie spot, especially for pizza is the city of Naples. In fact, eating pizza is one of the top things to do in Naples. Alas, after dinner at a restaurant in this area of Rome you can head to Via Libetta for some of the best nightlife in Rome and party with the locals.
One thing to keep in mind here is that there are few hotels, so you’ll need to book an apartment or boutique guest house.
Historic Center (Centro Storico)
Highlights: Many major historic sites; good for first-time visitors; luxury hotels
One of the best places to stay in Rome for first-time visitors is the historic center. The reason is that many of Rome’s top sights are here and are walkable from each other. However, the exact borders of Centro Storico can be difficult to define. Here we are covering the center of the area (yes, the center of the center). This is roughly a triangle with Piazza del Popolo at the north point, the Piazza Navona on the southwestern tip and the Trevi Fountain on the southeastern.
As hinted above, greats such as the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona are just a few of the iconic stops in this area. Other not-to-miss spots in or very near central Centro Storico are the famous market of Campo de Fiori and Via Giulia, known as one of the prettiest streets in Rome.
Of course, having all these iconic Rome sights in one area means it’s nearly always busy with tourists. This may be a deterrent to some, but the magic of central Rome usually makes up for it.
Plus, being a high traffic area translates into plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops. Accommodations here are luxury hotels and apartments on the pricier side.
Roma Termini Station
Highlights: Inexpensive hotels; hub of transportation in, around and out of Rome
The area around Termini Station is popular with travelers looking to save money as there is an abundance of budget hotels and hostels. It’s also a good choice for those not staying long in Rome since it’s the transportation hub of the city making it easy to get in, out and around Rome. So, if you’re just staying a couple of days to see the main sights before heading to Florence to visit the epic Uffizi Gallery or Duomo Cathedral this may be your best area.
As with most cities, the area around the station is not the most scenic or atmospheric. It’s also best to walk at least a couple of blocks away from Termini Station to find the nicer budget accommodations and avoid the station end of Via Gioletti altogether.
Having said all that, if you’re on a tight budget this can be a great place with lots of inexpensive restaurants and accommodations.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Rome
Rome is a massive, exciting, ancient and beautiful city. It’s a city like no other in the world. Wherever you decide to stay in Rome you’ll be sure to experience sights, sounds and tastes that will leave you in awe and likely eager to return.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.