Rome is an ancient city packed full of thousands of years of history. Layers of culture, delicious food and, of course, romance mean this jewel of European cities attracts many thousands of visitors all year round. Once the head of the Roman Empire and regarded to be the birthplace of Western civilisation, the Italian capital’s history spans 28 centuries. Much of Rome’s stunning architecture can be attributed to the Renaissance when work was undertaken to create a city that was the creative and cultural capital of the world; Rome became the birthplace of both Neoclassicism and Baroque styles; and it’s home to The Vatican City, where the Pope lives.
Food is also a big part of what makes the city what it is – when Italians think of Rome they think of carbonara, and this delicious dish can be found everywhere, as well as Roman pizza, which is extremely thin and tasty. From world-class dining experiences in stunning locations, to eating pizza fresh from the oven at a street side eatery, Rome is a city for eating.
So, boasting the best food in the world, a centre with historic monuments around every corner, the colosseum, the Vatican City, museums, bars, restaurants, cultural events and incredible architecture it is no wonder that Rome is one of the top destinations in Europe. With all of these wonders to explore and a mass of culture to wallow in, we have rounded up the best neighborhoods in order to help you decide where to stay in Rome.
Rome’s top neighborhoods
1 Centro Storico
4 Tridente & Spanish Steps
7 Vatican & Prati
9 Via Veneto & Villa Borghese
The streets of this central district are alive with the past and present – a vision of the romance of Rome, the Centro Storico is a warren of atmospheric alleyways weaving around a historic centre. Renaissance palazzi and baroque churches are dotted along every street and most of the famous tourist sites are in walking distance. Wander the streets, visit the sites, eat delicious food and enjoy what the centre of Rome has to offer.
Rich in history, culture and culinary delights in abundance, Navona Square and the Pantheon in the Centro Storico district are full of indulgences of Roman proportions. Take a stroll around the Piazza Navona with a gelato in gaze in awe at the tasty treats on sale at the many trattorias, boutiques and bakeries.
Whilst the central location does mean there are a lot more tourists here, there is a wealth of hotels to choose from and what more could you want from your trip to this ancient city than to stay right in the heart of all of that history? It isn’t exactly budget accommodation, however. With the location also comes Michelin star dining and high end boutiques galore – so strap on your Roman sandals, get glammed up and take in all the luxury that Centro Storico oozes.
Monti is one of Rome’s first and oldest districts. A quirky, classic, eccentric neighbourhood in the centre of the city, it has a history of being home to some of Rome’s poorest inhabitants. Nowadays, with its central location in walking distance to most of Rome’s top attractions and streets lined with quirky cafes and fun street performances, it is the hip neighbourhood to hang out in.
Monti’s bohemian atmosphere fills the old streets as visitors are lured down cobbled lanes, into tiny shops and past locals calling to each other. The Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, a picturesque square with a delicate old fountain at its centre, is perfect for people watching: children play barefoot, older people chat about their day. The pace of life in this quarter is local and charming.
A Rione (that’s ‘area’ in Italian) that is rich in layers of art history, Celio offers a residential village feel in the centre of the city. Humble in the gargantuan shadow of the Colosseum itself, which is just a couple of blocks away, during the day the streets in Celia can be a little bit packed with tourists, but the rest of the area has a laid back, provincial pace of life with narrow grids of streets and a leafy park.
Being Rome, of course, Celio is not short of its own history. Three small local churches The Basilica of San Clemente, the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo al Celio and the Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati are crammed full of intricate and intriguing discoveries just waiting for urban wanderers to come and explore them.
And as evening falls Celio hots up with a vibrant restaurant culture which isn’t quite as fine dining as other districts in Rome – but if you are looking for an open-minded place to party, Celio is well known to be home to many of Rome’s most buzzing gay bars.
Tridente and Spanish Steps
To the North of the centre of the city is Tridente, named after the apparent triendent shape of the roads leading from Piazza del Popolo. Tridente is a buzzing, vibrant area that draws big crowds and it is not hard to see why. Tridente and the area adjoining it, the Spanish Steps is one of the most charming areas of Rome. In fact this area is famous for being one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in the whole of the city. The Tridente also draws busy shoppers out to spend their cash on haute couture and that something extra special (and extra expensive!).
Once you need a break from all of that shopping, you can while away an hour or so sat on the Spanish Steps themselves. Originally built in the 1720s to connect the Church of the Trinita dei Monti with the Bourbon Spanish Embassy below, the butterfly shaped staircase consists of 135 steps built in elegant baroque style. The steps have long had a tradition of being a meeting place and general hang out for Rome’s artists.
Today, the steps and the plaza below today are still abuzz with Rome’s creatives and are a fantastic spot to sit and people watch. The area is also crammed full of high-end boutiques selling designer goods and small but ultra-luxurious hotels.
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s iconic sites and is on nearly everyone’s Roman itinerary. A big draw for tourists from all of the globe, the historic Trevi fountain is one of Italy’s biggest attractions, not only for its history and beauty but also for its superstition. It is said that travelers who throw a coin over their left shoulder with their right hand will one day return to Rome.
Staying right in the heart of the historical city close to the Trevi fountain is an unbeatable experience. The area is doubtlessly packed with a plethora of tourists during peak hours but remains charming regardless.
With excellent connections to metro line A, which runs past the Vatican and Termini, Trevi has a whole host of hostels for you to base yourself in for your Roman adventures as well as a wealth of surprisingly reasonably priced restaurants serving tasty food to delight your taste buds.
Areas around major transport hubs in big cities don’t often have good reputations, but choosing to stay near to Rome’s central train station may not be such a bad idea. Termini – named after the station, Roma Termini – has travel links across the city as well as across the whole of Italy. Whilst most of Rome’s budget accommodation can be found in Termini, nowadays this often means the cute, quirky and creative.
Termini is also in walking distance to some of the most intriguing and interesting neighbourhoods that Rome has to offer including San Lorenzo Neighborhood which is home to the University La Sapienza, and Pigneto where a creative community lives and works and cool hotspots and funky hangouts are everywhere. To the north of the Termini Station is the 17th century church Santa Maria della Vittoria, where you’ll find Bernini’s masterpiece Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.
Vatican & Prati
The Vatican City is well known to be an independent state unto itself; in fact it is officially the smallest in the world. Home to the Catholic religion, the world famous Vatican City attracts millions of visitors a year. As one of the top attractions in Rome, the area around the Vatican, including the Prati, is a fantastic place to stay whilst visiting the city.
The Prati district has many good restaurants for you to sample the fresh and authentic taste of Rome. Due to its proximity to The Vatican City, Prati is often very busy with tourists by day but with the evening a much more residential feel falls over the area’s streets. And whilst you might expect the accommodation here to be only high-end, there is a merciful amount of affordable accommodation to suit all price ranges.
This quiet and clean district is safe and it is easy to travel to other popular areas such as Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona and Pantheon by a long(ish) walk or by taking the metro. The Piazza del Risorgimento transportation hub is close by with trams and buses readily available. A top global attraction, a safe neighbourhood and excellent transport links, what more could you need to help you get the most out of your trip to Rome?
If you want all the vibrancy of the Italian capital, but less of the crowds, then staying in the Trastevere area is for you – just across the Tiber River away from the main attractions, this quarter is captivating in its authenticity. Charming cobbled lanes, narrow alleyways and ivy-strewn buildings are home to local bars and family owned eateries as well as fine dining. As such this area is packed with accommodation housed in charming, historic buildings.
Wander and get lost among the culture and atmosphere, explore the stunning 12th century Santa Maria in Trastevere church, and sip on a coffee in the Piazza Santa Maria whilst watching the buskers. As night falls get swept up with the nightlife on decadent cocktail terraces, indulge in the true la dolce vita whilst eating authentic wood fired margherita pizza and dance late into the night in the local clubs.
Via Veneto & Villa Borghese
Northeast of Rome’s tourist zone, close to the Spanish Steps and with access to the metro at the Barberini station, the small area of Via Veneto & Villa Borghese is laden with laid back luxury. One of the most exclusive areas of the city, Via Veneto & Villa Borghese was once the Hollywood of Europe; the rich and famous used to frequent the districts bars and cafes and hang out in its sprawling villas during the 1950s and 60s when the Cinecittà film studios were still functioning.
Those heady days of Hollywood might be long gone but the glamour and the decadence remains inside the walls of the iconic cafes and luxury hotels. Via Vinto is a long, tree lined avenue whose pavements are home to stylish cafés which were once the epitome of Rome’s upscale style. Ultra-high-end hotels are abundant in the area and sit next to embassies and official buildings.
The Villa Borghese park lies at the northern end of Via Veneto, is beautifully laid out oasis with a boating lake, stunning flowers and picturesque pathways. A great place to take a break from all of the site seeing, the park is also home to several museums.