Post overview: Best neighborhoods in Rome
So you’ve landed in Rome… now what? Part of the allure of the Eternal City is how everything is within walking distance, and trust me – you will be walking plenty.
But where do you start? What are the best neighborhoods in Rome that will be enchanting and full of history? Where can you eat good food and sip good wine? Fret not, I’m here to help.
As an unabashed lover of all things Rome I’ve spent weeks wearing out shoes over cobblestone streets and stretched pants inhaling the most delicious food.
With all of this research I’ve formed strong opinions over where you’ll find the best neighborhoods in Rome. If you’re visiting the city and just want to get lost exploring, I’ll point you in the right direction.
So without further ado, here are the best neighborhoods in Rome.
Visiting Rome? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in Rome for First Time Visitors (+2 Areas to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in Rome, hands down.
Understanding Rome’s Riones
While researching neighborhoods in Rome you might come across an unfamiliar word: rioni. The term comes from the Latin word regio, which means region. It’s used to differentiate the administrative districts in the city.
The first ruler to officially divvy up the city was the sixth King of Rome who created four quarters, or regions around 550 BCE. Later came Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, who in the year 7 BCE pivoted to 14 regions.
During the Middle Ages that number would change to 12. During the Renaissance they went back to 14. And under Napoleon there were eight. Safe to say the neighborhoods in Rome have had some growing pains.
Present day there are 22 official rioni, each numbered, with a name and even a coat of arms. Some date back to ancient times and others are more modern, but needless to say each neighborhood in Rome has its own charm.
Rome is a little bit different. There is something in Rome, incredible, like in a Fellini movie. Everybody’s screaming and laughing very loud.Alessandro Michele
Tips for Exploring Neighborhoods in Rome
Download an offline Google Map: Unless you’re willing to pay steep cell phone service premiums, odds are your internet access in Europe will be limited to places that offer WiFi. This can leave you in a pickle while exploring new neighborhoods in Rome. Luckily you can download a map on Google for offline use. While you can’t have it route you places, it’s still an invaluable tool while navigating a new city.
Don’t eat in the touristy areas: Albeit sometimes unavoidable (and there are plenty of exceptions), touristy hot spots in Rome will often have sub-par food at rip-off prices. Thanks to the inescapable crowds restaurants know that they’ll always get customers. Thus they don’t have the same need to deliver quality. In Rome, you’re better off leaving the main tourist attractions and going somewhere else in the area to have a bite to eat.
Learn (the basics in) Italian: I was shocked to hear so much English spoken while exploring the different neighborhoods in Rome. Regardless, it’s nice to abide by local customs when visiting a new place. You should try to greet everyone in Italian (ciao is both hello and goodbye). And when you ask if they speak English, ask it in Italian (parla inglesi?). It’ll get you some brownie-points with the locals who will appreciate the effort.
Download a translate app: Speaking of the language barrier, you might experience a moment where you and a local aren’t understanding each other. This is why I suggest downloading a translate app. I use the Apple one that comes installed on iPhone, but Google makes one too. You can type or even speak into it, and it’ll translate in seconds. Just don’t forget to download Italian for offline use in case you don’t have internet service!
Best Neighborhoods in Rome
Quick note: I want mention that this roundup of the best neighborhoods in Rome is not meant to replace an itinerary. Instead, this article can help you choose which neighborhoods to peruse on days when you just want to explore. If there are landmarks on your “can’t-miss” bucketlist visit them, regardless of the neighborhood!
Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life… Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Once home to the noble Roman families, Campo Marzio hasn’t lost its elegance. It’s among the best neighborhoods in Rome for those with an affinity for opulence, or folks like me who just like to admire.
Meandering every alley that catches your eye and stopping by for a glass of rosé at every alluring wine bar might quickly cause you to lose track of time. Shopping is another option; there are both designer retailers and eccentric boutiques begging to be explored.
The neighborhood is teeming with sharped dressed Italians, strutting the streets and enjoying the neighborhood. The excellent sense of Italian fashion roaming the streets quickly makes you second-guess everything you packed!
At the top of Campo Marzio is the Villa Borghese. It’s an enchanting public park that was once the backyard of a Catholic cardinal. Climb to the viewpoint for one of the best views in Rome or simply explore its nearly 200 acres.
Campo Marzio is well suited among the best neighborhoods in Rome for first time visitor. Thanks to the rich history and landmarks you won’t have a hard time finding something to do.
Things to do in Campo Marzio:
Peruse the Villa Borghese & Borghese Gallery: Getting to the Villa Borghese will require an uphill walk that will likely have you huffing and puffing. Especially after a long day exploring the best neighborhoods in Rome. But the views from Terrazza del Pincio viewpoint are well worth the effort (especially at sunset).
If you plan ahead you can also purchase tickets for the Borghese Gallery. It’s a small museum that’s inside the park chock full of breathtaking art. Of all the artwork in the museum Bernini’s statue of Pluto kidnapping of Proserpina is unforgettable!
Climb the Spanish Steps: In the 16th century the Trinita dei Monti church was built on a slope with no connection to the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) below it. It wasn’t until 1723 that the 135 Spanish Steps began being built. During the spring the steps are decorated with flowers but regardless of the season you’ll love it. The steps are always littered with chipper tourists sprightly posing for photos!
Be welcomed by the Piazza del Popolo: Translating to The People’s Square, the piazza sits just inside the Aurelian Walls of ancient Rome. Before the use of trains most visitors to Rome came through the Porta del Popolo, a gate in the Aurelian Walls that still stands today.
From the square you have access to the Villa Borghese, Leonardo da Vinci Museum and the Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo. The square is also the site of random fairs and events (I once visited while they exhibited antique firefighting trucks).
Where to eat in Campo Marzio:
Al Vantaggio: In service for more than 100 years, Al Vantaggio is a can’t-miss destination for a no-frills, homestyle Italian meal. Simple dishes are elevated with family recipes passed down over generations. Plus, the wine selection is nothing to scoff at either. 😉
Ristorante Dillà: Familiar favorites get a facelift at Ristorante Dillà. It’s a charming restaurant with a knack for savory food and impeccable presentation. The octopus is a heavy-hitter but classic pastas are just as flavorful. My husnand and I discovered it’s a great spot for a casual, impromptu date.
Pompi Tiramisu: Come on, you know me better than to leave you stranded without dessert. Pompi Tiramusi has locations peppered around the city and they consistently make some of the best tiramisu. Pop in for a sugar-boost before leaving the neighborhood, you won’r regret it.
Where to stay in Campo Marzio:
Boy oh boy, Trevi is one of the best neighborhoods in Rome but line your ribs with magazines because this joint is crowded! You’ll be rubbing elbows with thousands of tourists from across the globe, it comes with the territory.
Most come for the namesake Trevi Fountain, a jaw-dropping display of Roman architecture, and end up exploring its surrounding areas. Luckily there’s plenty to do, like heading down every charming alley that catches your eye.
The neighborhood’s rough boundaries are the Altare della Patria to the south and the Via del Tritone to the north. Sandwiched in between are bustling shops and quaint restaurants that play host to guests from across the globe.
It’s one of the best neighborhoods in Rome for first time visitors because it has a little bit of everything. A major landmark and the local boutiques that give the city character share a common playing field.
Things to do in Trevi:
Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain: One of the city’s crown jewels, the Trevi Fountain was built in 1732 and uses the only still-functioning aqueduct from the times of ancient Rome.
While gazing upon Oceanus’ envy-inducing figure don’t forget to toss a coin in the fountain. According to myth tossing a single coin into the Fontana di Trevi means you’ll return to Rome. Tossing two means you’ll fall in love with an attractive Italian. Tossing three means you’ll marry an attractive Italian in Rome.
The money tossed in the fountain is collected and donated, with sums of more than one million euros a year. Not only are you enjoying one of the best neighborhoods in Rome, you’re also chipping in towards a good cause.
Pay the Italian President a visit: During my most recent visit to Rome I was exploring Trevi with my mom. We stopped in a big but empty square to rest our feet (my mom’s a trooper, it was mine that were crying for help).
We thought the building before us must be the home of someone important. It had a bunch of fancy cars coming in and out, so we Googled it when we got back to the hotel. Turns out we stumbled upon the home of the Italian President! Knock knock, is anybody in there?
The Quirinal Palace helps makes Trevi one of the best neighborhoods in Rome to explore. But I have to come clean, from the outside it doesn’t look like much more than an office building or hospital.
Nonetheless it’s still a bragging right to visit the Italian White House. You can also take a step further by booking a tour of the inside. They’re super inexpensive (less than €2 per person) but are only available in Italian.
Where to eat in Trevi:
L’Antica Birreria Peroni: Opening up shop in 1906 and serving Peroni beer on tap, L’Antica Birreria Peroni proves that the Italians aren’t only good at making wine. The quaint brewery serves authentic plates too, but don’t expect to get in without a wait in line. Luckily it’s open until midnight so you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy a drink.
Lucciano’s – Il Maestro del Gelato: Viral sensations rarely live up the the hype, but Il Maestro del Gelato is the exception. Famous for fun shaped gelato-pops (like the Colosseum) this is a great place for a chilled, sweet treat.
There’s a portion of the gelato shop that has a window, giving you a glimpse into the gelato making process. During my visit more than one kid was hypnotized by the sugary science experiment.
L’Antico Forno di Piazza Trevi: This recommendation comes with a major caveat – you must get here before the crowds. You’ve likely seen the Instagram posts and TikTok’s of folks drinking coffee with a view of the Trevi Fountain. Odds are they’re at L’Antico Forno di Piazza Trevi.
The only issue is that this charming neighborhood in Rome swells with claustrophobia-inducing crowds. The epicenter is the Trevi Fountain, so you got to eat and book it! Please do yourself a favor, arrive before 9AM.
Where to stay in Trevi:
From the dome of St. Peter’s one can see every notable object in Rome… He can see a panorama that is varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history than any other in Europe.Mark Twain
Bordered by the Vatican to the east, the Tiber River to the west and the Castel Sant’Angelo to the south, Prati is a goldmine for tourist attractions. It’s no wonder this is one of the best neighborhoods in Rome to explore.
Prati is a neighborhood in Rome that doesn’t feel as old as the historic part of the city, across the river. However, majority of the buildings date to the early 1900s, thus they are not necessarily modern either.
There aren’t as many alleys or cobblestone streets, but that doesn’t mean it’s not charming. Small cars zip and weave between traffic and the buildings are old and full of character.
It’s also a popular shopping destination, full of unique boutiques and one of a kind finds. Even the streets are chock-full of vendors selling trendy clothes at a reasonable price-tag. Before you ask, yes I’ve been a customer.
Best things to do in Prati:
Tour the Vatican: Technically speaking the Vatican is its own country. I know — it’s pretty wild! In fact it’s the smallest country in the world. So you could make the case that it doesn’t qualify as one of the best neighborhoods in Rome, but instead one of the best countries in Rome. 😉
But I won’t let you miss out on one of the city’s most famous attractions on a technicality. Truth of the matter is that while you’re exploring Prati, the Vatican is a natural (and non-negotiable) stop.
The Vatican has two main attractions, the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. The museum requires a ticket and the basilica is free. Regardless, they’ll both have lines that’ll make you wish you brought a foldable chair and a book.
Climb to the top of the Castel Sant’Angelo: Also known as Hadrian’s Mausoleum, the Castel Sant’Angelo is the final resting place of more than one Roman emperor (including Marcus Aurelius).
During its 2000 year history it’s also been a fortress, church and a prison. Today it’s most popular thanks to one of the best views in Rome. From the top you can see all the neighborhoods in Rome and more than one landmark.
Entrance to Castel Sant’Angelo will cost €13 and tickets can be bought online or at the ticket office in person.
Snap a photo in the Piazza Cavour: The Piazza Cavour is home to the Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice), a monolithic work of archeticture that proves not all of Rome’s landmarks are ancient.
Unless you’re on your way to court you’ll likely not be allowed inside, but the square is a vibrant green space to rest your legs or enjoy a quick bite. You could also just swing by for a photo, but good lucking fitting it all in frame!
Where to eat in Prati:
Osteria Faruso: Right behind the walls of the Vatican is Osteria Faruso, a casual restaurant for a flavorsome meal. The pizza diavola (made with spicy salami) is an underrated gem. It single-handedly brought me back to this restaurant three times, and it’s only €9!
Freni e Frizioni: A cocktail bar born in Trastevere (also one of the best neighborhoods in Rome), Freni e Frizioni has a new outpost in Prati. The bar has a grungry, street vibe to it but makes expertly crafted, unique cocktails.
Staying true to the Italian way you’ll also get some aperativos with your drink, but they’re not just roasted nuts. Freni e Frizioni instead opens up an aperativo buffet to give you something to munch on between sips.
Where to stay in Prati:
She had always been fond of history, and here [in Rome] was history in the stones of the street and the atoms of the sunshine.Henry James
Home to four of the seven proverbial hills, Monti is the first official rione in Rome. It shares a border with the Colosseum and is an goldmine full of the city’s ancient ruins.
Its name comes from the Italian word for mountains, and if I’m being honest it is little hilly. You can expect to stop often for spritzes and the like, you know, to hydrate. 😉
As one of the best neighborhoods in Rome to explore, you can find a little bit of everything within its borders. History buffs, foodies and tourists will all find something memorable in Monti.
And it’s also the neighborhood I stayed in during my most recent, month-long stay in Rome (which was my favorite). Safe to say Monti holds a special place in my heart and I’m confident you’ll love it too.
Things to do in Monti:
Tour the Colosseum: Before I dive into what makes the Colosseum so dumbfounding I need you to do me a favor: buy your tickets now. Now that that’s taken care of, welcome to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World!
The Colosseum single-handedly makes Monti one of the best neighborhoods in Rome. The ancient marvel could once host 50 to 80,000 spectators (for comparison, the 2023 Super Bowl had 68,000 folks in attendance).
It draws more than 6 million tourists a year so prepare for crowds, but you can leave the shields at home since all the gladiators retired 1,600 years ago. 😉
See a statue carved by Michelangelo (for free): The Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains was built during the fifth century to house the chains that bound Saint Peter while he was imprisoned in Jerusalem.
For those who aren’t of the Catholic faith, a reason to visit is to see Moses, a 500 year old statue by Michelangelo. I don’t know whether to more envious of Moses’ abs or Michelangelo’s skill.
Imagine what ancient Rome looked like at the Foro Traiano: The Foro Traiano is little brother to the more popular Roman Forum, but still home to ancient ruins.
The ruins run adjacent to the Via dei Fori imperiali and can be viewed completely free of charge. It’s a small attraction, but one that nonetheless makes Monti one of the best neighborhoods in Rome for first time visitors.
Where to eat in Monti:
Ai Tre Scalini: Tucked behind hanging vines of ivy is Ai Tre Scalini, a hole in the wall restaurant that makes mouthwatering meals at bargain prices. The cannelloni is a home-run order and when you mix in the charm of the small restaurant the experience goes up a notch.
Flor Gelato: I know I keep recommending gelaterias but that’s only because I’d be doing you a disservice if I omitted the popular Italian dessert. Flor Gelato will always hold a place near and dear to my heart because of one gelato flavor, the pear. Refreshing and not too sweet, it tasted like summer in a cup!
Where to stay in Monti:
Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time.Richard Meier
Before traveling to Rome, one of the few neighborhoods that all of my friends kept telling me I have to visit was Trastevere. I’ll tell you, I came back and gave each and every one of them a giant smooch for the recommendation.
I’m hesitant to call a neighborhood life changing (I’ve been told I have a flair for the dramatic) but it really was love at first sight.
It was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome, surpassing even my wildest of expectations. You’ll find it on the western bank of the Tiber River, south of the Vatican.
Trastevere feels insulated, maybe because it’s across the river from the city center and the buildings are tall, creating a “walled in” feeling. The results are cavernous streets that funnel pedestrians into bubbly piazzas.
It’s the kind of neighborhood that fills inspo boards and bucket lists, charming as can be. Needless to say you’ll see more than one Instagram husband working hard for his keep. 😉
Trastevere has also been an artistic hub for decades, boasting an unrivaled bohemian flair. You can expect plenty of street performers and vendors adding to its unique charm.
And between the vibrant cafes and abundant wine bars you can peruse Trastevere all day. It’s one of the few neighborhoods in Rome I suggest visiting without a plan (or at least a loose one) because it’s ripe for exploration.
Things to do in Trastevere:
Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere: The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome and the first in the city to be dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus.
The basilica was founded in 220 AD and has been rebuilt nearly a half-dozen times since. The current building was constructed in the 12th century and has been attracting both Catholics and non-believers ever since.
Enjoy the view from Janiculum Hill: The Belvedere del Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill is the second tallest hill in the modern city of Rome (behind Monte Mario). It has a viewpoint that offers some of the best views in Rome.
The best time to visit is for sunset, just remember every one else seems to think so too. The Janiculum Hill is a popular destination for innocent lovebirds, tourists, families and basically everyone else in Rome.
Enjoy the scenes at the Piazza Trilussa: Lively like Times Square the Piazza Trilussa is a hot-bed for street performers. From the square you can hear music from all around the world.
It’s at the entrance of the neighborhood, right across from the Ponte Sisto (a small and often just as lively pedestrian bridge). There are steps at the square that make great seating for people-watching or enjoying a snack.
Where to eat in Trastevere:
Trappizzino: The Trappizzino was born in 2008, combining the doughy bread of a pizza with the fillings of traditional dishes. Essentially it’s like a pizza pocket with anything from pasta to meatballs, usually in a sauce.
Trapizzino is both the name of the restaurant as well as the dish. It’s a convenient bite as you work your way through this charming neighborhood in Rome because you can order it at the window and take it go.
Tonnarello: A popular tourist destination, Tonnarello is a beloved restaurant for those looking for authentic, Italian dishes at a bargain price. The pasta dishes will cost around €12 and a glass of wine runs for as little as €5.
Lines are practically a guarantee but the restaurant has plenty of seating so it’ll move quicker than you expect it to. It was such a great experience we came here five times while visiting Rome for a month!
Mimi e Coco: The kind of restaurant you walk by a hundred times and never see an empty seat, at one point you’re going to give Mimi e Coco a try and see what all the hoopla is about.
The dishes are delicious! The prices were very reasonable and the overall vibe was easy-going. Do yourself a favor and order a drink with your dinner, you won’t regret it.
Where to stay in Trastevere:
- Budget: Bloom Hotel
- Mid Range (and my favorite hotel in Rome): Horti 14 Borgo Trastevere Hotel
- Luxury: Ripagrande a Trastevere
Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice.Matteo Renzi
Running down the middle of the historic center of Rome is the Sant’Eustachio neighborhood. It’s named after the Sant’Eustachio Church, founded in the Eighth Century and a block away from the Pantheon.
But the namesake church isn’t the only noteworthy house of worship, Sant’Eustachio has a dozen churches that are well worth a visit. We’ll touch on that further down the article.
It’s also sandwiched between two of Rome’s most visited attractions, the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Come prepared to find flocks of tourists migrating between the two sites.
Because of the hordes of people this is one of the best neighborhoods in Rome to explore early in the morning. There is a stillness standing before the monuments in the quiet, before the chaos that’s memorable (and the photos are much, much better).
Things to do in Sant’Eustachio
Admire the Pantheon’s grandeur: Erected in 126CE, the Pantheon served as a temple for Romans of all denominations (pantheon is Greek for “all the gods”). It’s massive too, pictures never seem to do it justice.
You can tour the inside but these lines circle the Piazza della Rotunda, so get there early. Also for the first time ever the Pantheon is charging a fee to see the inside, beginning on July 1st 2023 admission will cost €5 per person.
Gawk at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola: Construction of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola began in 1626 and it officially completed in 1650. The frescoes on the ceiling were painted in 1685, helping the church grow famous.
They depict the works of St. Ignatius as well as him being welcomed into heaven by the Virgin Mary and Christ. If you look on the floor, there are markers telling you where to stand for the best, almost 3D, views of the frescoes.
Analyze the complexities of a (free) Caravaggio painting: The Church of St. Louis of the French looks like a palace. In fitting fashion, it’s home to a chapel that boasts three masterpieces by the Renaissance artist Caravaggio.
The paintings would be just as at home in the Louvre or the MET but they’re on display for for free. They depict the life of Saint Matthew and Caravaggio masterfully uses darkness to imply the magnitude of the events.
The fact that valuable artwork like these are on display across churches in Rome never ceases to amaze me. An art-student or enthusiast would easily agree that they make Sant’Eustachio one of the best neighborhoods in Rome.
Visit the Piazza Navona: Rome is a city full of public squares but there are few more famous than Piazza Navona. Built over the ruins of an ancient Roman stadium, the piazza is massive and home to three magnificent fountains.
At its center is the most famous of the piazza’s three fountains, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers. In the middle of the fountain is an ancient Egyptian obelisk representing papal authority.
And every day like clockwork vendors, performers and tourists fill the square with lively chatter restaurants open up shop. But word the wise, I wouldn’t stop by for more than a drink, you’ll find better food elsewhere.
Where to eat in Sant’Eustachio
All’Antico Vinaio: Far from your typical Subway sandwiches, All’Antico Vinaio makes expertly crafted works of art. The simple combinations of crisp veggies, savory meats and fresh cheeses have made the shop famous.
Lines are common place and the inside of the minuscule shop can be chaotic. It’s full of clamoring folks shouting orders across the counter. A bite is reward enough though, the tasty sandwiches are worth the battle scars.
Armando al Pantheon: First I want to say that if you manage to get a table at Armando al Pantheon I’m incredibly envious. Second, can you order me a carbonara?
This is one of the few restaurants that are exceptions to the “don’t eat in the touristy areas” rule. Family owned and operated since 1961, Armando al Pantheon is far from a tourist trap. They make authentic Italian dishes that are so good even the Michelin Guide recommends them.
Giolotti: This is the best gelato in Rome, hands down. It has the lines to prove it too. The last time I visited I was sandwiched between punk rockers and a group of nuns. Gelato, bringing folks together since the 16th century.
You’ll get in line and work your way towards the register, where you’ll pay for your order and get a ticket. From there you head to the counter and place your order (it’s hard to go wrong).
Where to stay in Sant’Eustachio
Rome is one enormous mausoleum. There, the past lies visibly stretched upon his bier. There is no today or tomorrow in Rome; it is perpetual yesterday.Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Best Rome Neighborhoods (Post Summary)
For those of you who like simple lists, these are the best neighborhoods in Rome.
- Campo Marzio
Map of the best neighborhoods in Rome
For my fellow visual learners, here’s a map of the best neighborhoods in Rome.
I thought I knew everything when I came to Rome, but I soon found I had everything to learn.Edmonia Lewis
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the 10 best neighborhoods in Rome for first time visitors. I hope you enjoyed the post. As always, let me know in the comments if I missed your favorite.
Until next time, cheers!