Roundup of the best places to stay in Rome | Where to stay in Rome, Italy
As an American traveler, I’ve had the privilege of visiting 20+ countries and I’m here to tell you: there’s no place like Rome.
I’ve visited the Eternal City four times in the past three years — twice as month-long stays — and decided it was time to share the best places to stay in Rome for first timers.
Rome is a manageable city, it doesn’t sprawl too far but not all neighborhoods are created equal. I’ve stayed in a few areas that I ended up regretting. But more importantly, I found a handful of areas that were easy to love.
So without further ado, let’s cover the best areas to stay in Rome for first time visits.
Short on time? Quick roundup of the best hotels in Rome:
- Here’s my favorite hotel in Rome (where I typically stay)
- This is the best hotel near the Colosseum (those views!)
- This is a great option if you’re looking for luxury, but your dad’s not rich (damn)
Where to Stay in Rome
You know the drill: Learn basic Italian phrases
I lost count of the number of times I heard American tourists completely disregard any semblance of effort. Greeting folks with a simple “ciao” goes so far, and yet folks resort to “hello.” Italians are a warm and hospitable people and they will make an effort to speak English with you, so make a small effort to greet them in their language.
Cash is (still) king
As you probably know, cash is preferred to cards in Europe. As such, it’s always handy to have euros while visiting Rome (I typically arrive with 300-500€). Most restaurants take credit cards, but a few small shops I went to asked for cash, especially if the total was less than 10€.
However, if you find yourself short on cash there’s plenty of ATMs to be found so don’t stress it. I suggest using them minimally though because ATM fees add up fast.
Personally speaking, I don’t travel with a money belt, but my worrywart of a mother raves about this one.
Dinner is a late, long (and slow) affair
Here’s something most folks don’t realize when visiting Rome for the first time: dinner starts around 7:30-8pm. If you’re trying to get into a popular restaurant that doesn’t take reservations than I suggest showing up before 6:30pm to increase your chance of scoring a table.
Once seated, don’t expect fast service. Meals are fully enjoyed in Rome, they’re not seen as something to check off your list for the day. Lean into change of pace and embrace it. You’ll never be pushed out of a restaurant and will need to ask for the check when you’re ready to call it.
Where to Stay in Rome | Best Neighborhoods in Rome
#1. The Historic Center
Key takeaway: “We didn’t use a taxi or bus a single time while staying in Rome’s Historic Center because we were in the heart of it all. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted, which is why I consider this the best neighborhood in Rome for first-time visitors.”
When my husband and I decided to return to Rome for our second month-long stay, we had to do some serious research. Deciding where to stay in Rome for a full month was no easy task — we wanted to be centrally located so that we could easily enjoy all Rome had to offer.
As you know, location is everything and, thankfully, the Historic Center can’t be beat. As the name implies, you’ll be very close to ancient sights, a plethora of great restaurants, charming cafes and locals shops.
You’ll be a mere 15-minute walk from the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo, 20 minute walk from the Colosseum, 10 minute walk from the Pantheon, 15 minutes from the Trevi Fountain, etc. It doesn’t get better than this.
The center of the neighborhood is the public square called Campo de’ Fiori (“field of flowers” in Italian). Centered around a statue of Philosopher Giordano Bruno — burned at the stake in 1600 for sharing views that conflicted with the church’s teachings.
The piazza teems with life every weekday morning when the farmers market takes place. You can find everything from fresh fruits and veggies to linen dresses and cheese.
Things to do in Rome’s Historic Center, the best neighborhood in Rome for first-time visitors
Enjoy the weekday farmers market at Campo de’ Fiori. Stock up on some local tomatoes and cheese and make yourself a charcuterie board when you get home.
Get your coffee fix at Roscioli: Did we come here every morning for a month? Yes, yes we did. And we’d gladly do it again. Swing by for table service or take your coffee standing at the bar (like the Romans). Regardless of whether you sit or stand, don’t sleep on the maritozzi (we referred to them as Italian donuts).
Spend an afternoon at Il Goccetto: We tried a ton of wine bars while visiting Rome and Il Goccetto was our favorite by a country mile. Arrive early because the lines start forming quickly. Park yourself at a table, order a bottle of Pecorino wine and some appetizers and talk about nothing. Bring a deck of cards for extra fun.
In sum: Campo de’ Fiori is the best place to stay in Rome for first time visitors (and those that want to re-visit the top sights). After staying in this great Rome neighborhood for an entire month, I can confirm that this is the best place to stay in Rome.
#2. Trastevere | The Most Charming Neighborhood in Rome
Key takeaway: “When people imagine the movie version of Rome, this is the neighborhood they’re thinking of. Trastevere is the best neighborhood in Rome for those that love the rosy version of living — everything is beautiful, everyone is alive.”
Trastevere seems to be everyone’s favorite neighborhood in Rome, but it’s not hard to see why. Chock-full of meandering cobble-stone streets peppered with colorful ivy-covered homes, it’s no wonder why getting lost in Trastevere is one of the best things to do in Rome.
This is the most charming neighborhood in Rome, making it the perfect place to get your fill of people-watching, shopping, pasta, wine and gelato. It’s not uncommon for folks to wander to this neighborhood on a daily basis, regardless where they stay in Rome. It’s a gem that’s not to be missed.
This particular neighborhood in Rome has a very youthful feel to it. You’ll be rubbing elbows with younger locals eager to stake out their table at the local bar. It feels like a super cool artsy, small town full of college students, I don’t know how else to describe it.
To that point, the evening hours are the liveliest. Don’t expect quit hours after 10pm, on the contrary – that’s when this area wakes up. Regardless, it’s impossible to deny that Trastevere is one of the best areas to stay in Rome.
Things to do in Trastevere, the most charming neighborhood in Rome
Visit the church of Santa Maria: Santa Maria in Trastevere is a striking church that should be included on every “must do in Rome” list. Home to beautiful mosaics and a breathtaking gilded ceiling, this church stands as a testament to the beauty of Medieval Rome.
Have dinner at Tonnarello. Tonnarello is a very inexpensive and delicious pasta joint. We enjoyed it so much that we visited five times during our stay. I’m still dreaming about that pasta!
Hell, just get lost. You’ll feel like you’re on a movie set, so don’t rush the experience. If anything catches your eye then give yourself permission to pop in and explore. Isn’t this the whole point of vacation anyways?
#3. Rione VI Parione (Near the Piazza Navona & the Pantheon)
Key takeaway: “This neighborhood in Rome is best for those that love the easy-button life. If running for a quick morning coffee means opening your hotel door to the sight of the striking Pantheon at sunrise, so be it. This is a great area for those that want to be a stone’s throw from Rome’s masterpieces without much step count.”
One of my friends lived in Rome for six months and stayed near the Piazza Navona. Since then, she’s convinced that it’s the best place to stay in Rome. Hell, the only place in her book.
Unparalleled access to historic sites, al fresco restaurants and public transportation, the Rione VI Parione neighborhood has it all. Plus, it’s not hard to score a good deal on a hotel in this Roman neighborhood.
I mean, you can’t visit Rome without seeing the breathtaking Bernini fountain at Piazza Navona, so why not wake up to the beauty on a daily basis? End every day at a local wine bar (the wine is so inexpensive in Rome, it never ceases to amaze me) and see why folks can’t get enough of la dolce vita (“the sweet life”).
Things to do near Piazza Navona & Pantheon
Admire Piazza Novana: Piazza Navona is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Eternal City. As such, paying a visit is non-negotiable. Today folks flock from all over the world to see the splendors of Baroque Roman architecture firsthand, you’ll want to follow suit.
Learn about the Pantheon: The Pantheon is one of the most recognizable buildings in Rome, second only to the Colosseum. Folks are welcome to tour the inside free of charge, making this one of the best free things to do in Rome.
Erected in 126CE, the Pantheon served as a temple for Romans of all denominations (pantheon is Greek for “all the gods”).
The Pantheon is important for two reasons: First, it speaks to the unparalleled engineering and architectural skill of Romans. Secondly, the building has undoubtedly withstood the test of time. Clocking in at an impressive 2,000 years, the Pantheon is considered Rome’s best-preserved ancient monuments.
#4. Centro Storico (Near the Spanish Steps)
Key takeaway: “The perks of staying in this charming Rome neighborhood are many — access to top-notch restaurants, beautiful architecture and world-class shopping. The cons? You’ll wish you were in a higher income bracket.”
Centro Storico needs no introduction. Best known for the famous Spanish Steps, this is where Rome’s best dressed congregate and strut, making us mere mortals feel like we’ve been doing something wrong the last 20 years.
But listen, these folks only add to the beauty of the Eternal City, as such, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Rome for those searching where to stay in Rome for a good time. Afternoons are reserved for relaxing strolls and window shopping, with long stays are outdoor cafes and pizzerias.
Villa Borghese Park is an uphill walk away, but the views from Terrazza del Pincio viewpoint are well worth the effort (especially at sunset). If time allows, pop into the Borghese Museum (Bernini’s statue of Pluto kidnapping of Proserpina is unforgettable — one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life).
As you can imagine, between the designer stores and villa of one of the wealthiest Italian families of all time, pinching pennies will be hard in this zip code. Hotels are on the pricier side, but if you’re looking to impress your special someone for a special occasion, this might be the best place to stay in Rome.
Things to do in Centro Storico
Enjoy dinner at Dilla: according to my husband, the truffle pasta is the single best dish he’s had to date. Dilla was one of the more expensive restaurants we visited, but we enjoyed it so much we returned twice. Life changing pasta, people!
Gawk at the splendor of the Trevi Fountain: Everyone visiting Rome should make an effort to see this masterpiece. Flanking the entire side of a massive building, the fountain is breathtaking. But the only way to experience Trevi Fountain without claustrophobia-inducing crowds is to visit at sunrise or well past midnight.
Take your time admiring the works of Giuseppe Pannini, because this is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see in your life. And no, it’s not just Oceanus’s chiseled abs that do it for
me visitors, it’s the breathtaking beauty and size of this undeniable masterpiece.
Tour the Borghese Museum: Holy cow. If you only have time to check out one museum while visiting Rome, make a beeline for the Borghese Museum. This place is a masterpiece! The stars of the show are the Bernini sculptures and paintings by Carvagio.
But the Bernini sculptures are reason alone to fly 3,000 miles, they’re breathtaking. I couldn’t get over the sculpture depicting Pluto’s kidnapping of Proserpina, which was completed when Bernini was only 23 years old. Not a typo — 23 years old, imagine!
#5. The Monti & Celio Neighborhoods (Near the Colosseum)
Key takeaway: “You won’t see Russell Crowe clad in a midi leather kilt, but you’ll see the epic Colosseum on a daily basis, which is the next best thing, really.”
When researching where to stay in Rome during our honeymoon, we ultimately landed on the Monti neighborhood. The reason was simple: we wanted to see the Colosseum, and we wanted to see it often. I mean, who doesn’t want to open their windows to that beauty?
This charming neighborhood in Rome is home to winding cobble stone streets (albeit hilly), peppered with quaint restaurants and cafes. Which is fine and dandy, but we didn’t realize it was further removed from the other areas of the city we wanted to explore, which is why I don’t consider this the best area to stay in Rome for first time visitors.
However, there’s no denying that the Monti and Celio neighborhoods are the ultimate Roman experience for anyone that’s dreamed of seeing the Colosseum in person. In fact, we plan to visit Rome next fall with my dad and this will be the area we stay.
Why? You might ask. Well, his knowledge of Rome hardly expands past the Gladiator and Russell Crowe in a leather kilt. So there’s that. You can’t choose your family, folks, but you can still try to love them.
Plus, in terms of good vibes, the Monti neighborhood in Rome is easy to love. The overall vibe is easy-going, creative and artsy, without pretension (no easy feat). And although I can’t guarantee you’ll see Russell Crowe in a short leather kilt, I can confirm that you’ll see uniform-clad “Roman” hawkers near the coliseum.
Which isn’t the same thing, I know, but beggars can’t be choosers folks.
Best things to see and do in Monti, Rome
Tour the Colosseum: As you know, you can’t come to Rome without touring this monolithic masterpiece. It’s incredible in person and worth the inevitable crowds. Seeing this is a once in a lifetime experience, so book your tickets early.
#6. Prati Neighborhood (Near Vatican)
Key takeaway: “Daily access to the Vatican, this Rome neighborhood will make your heart soar while you explore hidden gems and less touristy areas of Rome without sacrificing the charm.”
Here’s the best hotel near the Vatican (the rooftop is epic!)
If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself in Rome more than once. Rome is a magical city that simply can’t be described on paper, it can only be felt.
Located across the River Tiber, Prati offers an escape for hordes of tourists and photo-clad menus. Neighboring St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican, exploring this less frequented part of Rome is a treat.
If you’ve explored the Eternal City on several occasions, I highly recommend staying in the Prati neighborhood during your next visit. Simply put, if you’re striving to get a better understand of the city, Prati is a top contender for where to stay in Rome on a return trip.
It will force you out of your comfort zone. We spent a few days exploring Prati and found a handful of great restaurants where we were the only tourists. This isn’t a great option for where to stay in Rome for everyone though, it’s more for those that are comfortable swimming in uncomfortable waters.
The perks of this neighborhood in Rome are lower hotel prices and an overall quiet scene. You won’t be awoken by party goers in the wee morning hours.
Neighborhoods in Rome I Don’t Recommend for First Time Visitors
I made the mistake of staying in Flaminio when visiting Rome for the first time because we found a great deal on an AirBnb. Overall, this neighborhood was too far removed from everything, so public transportation became a daily routine (which is a pity in such a walkable city!). So if you’re researching where to stay in Rome to be in the heart of it all, skip Flaminio.
Likewise, Esquilino is too far removed from the action to be a viable option. Granted, it’s closer to the top sights than Flaminio, but you’ll still be using public transportation to get to the top attractions which uses precious vacation time!
Roundup of where to stay in Rome:
In sum, here’s a quick overview of where to stay in Rome for first time visitors and returns visits alike.
- The Historic Center
- Trastevere | The Most Charming Neighborhood in Rome
- Rione VI Parione (Near the Piazza Navona & Pantheon)
- Centro Storico (Near the Spanish Steps)
- The Monti Neighborhood
- Prati Neighborhood
Map of best places to stay in Rome
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Don’t hesitate to reach out with question. I love Rome and I’m here to help!