Where to stay in Rome? Florence might top our list of most beautiful places in Italy, but Rome is without compare. However, accommodation in the city can be expensive, so use our area by area guide to find tucked away hotels, affordable B&Bs and great value hostels.
Immediately north of the Colosseum, the Esquiline Hill is the highest and largest of the city’s seven hills. Formerly one of the most fashionable residential quarters of ancient Rome, it’s nowadays a mixed area that together with the adjacent Viminale Hill makes up the district known as Monti. This area is an appealing and up-and-coming quarter of cobbled streets and neighbourhood bars and restaurants.
It’s also an area that most travellers to Rome encounter at some point – not just because of key sights like the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, but also because of its proximity to Termini station, whose environs shelter many of Rome’s budget hotels.
Termini really can work a budget, if you know where to look. It may be one of Rome's relatively run-down districts, but the city centre is only a walk away and Termini Station is Rome's main rail hub.
Thanks to the railway station the Termini district is well connected to the rest of the city, and to the rest of Italy. Should you want something more secret, then discover Rome off the beaten track or, if you need some sea air, a few of the 20 best beaches in Italy are just a train journey from Rome.
Explore the Eternal City with our tailor-made whirlwind tour of Rome.
Between Via Cavour and Via Nazionale, and up as far as the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, is the small area that has come to be known as Monti. Once the ancient city’s slum district, it’s now an atmospheric, vibrant quarter focusing on lively Piazza Madonna dei Monti; Via dei Serpenti and Via del Boschetto lead north from the square, both crammed with appealing bars and restaurants.
Monti is the district to choose for boho chic. Local shops, bars and restaurants exude cool here, but the general vibe is laidback and charming. You'll find Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Monti, and both the Colosseum and the Forum are near neighbours.
Trastevere sits on the Tiber's west bank and is one of Rome's most authentic areas, yet still buzzes with restaurants and bars, in fact it's one of the districts where you'll find the best pizza in Rome.
Outside the city walls, Trastevere (the name means “across the Tiber”) was for centuries heavily populated by immigrants, and this separation lent the neighbourhood a strong identity that lasted well into the twentieth century. Nowadays it’s a long way from the working-class quarter it used to be, often thronged with tourists lured by the charm of its narrow streets and closeted squares.
However, it is among the most pleasant places to stroll in Rome, particularly peaceful in the morning, lively come the evening. Dozens of trattorias set tables out along the cobbled streets, and still buzzing late at night when its bars and clubs provide a focus for one of Rome’s most dynamic night-time scenes.
Trastevere is well liked for pretty streets, cobbled alleyways and squares which are as historic as they are lively. If you want to explore more authentic Italian history take a look at the 24 best things to do in Italy.
Spanish Steps might be known for smart shops, hotels and restaurants, but it's also home to the magnificent Villa Borghese, one of Rome's largest parks. Right in Centro Storico, this is also an ideal district from which to explore the most beautiful city in the world – as voted by you.
The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna) sweep down in a cascade of balustrades and balconies to Piazza di Spagna. In the nineteenth century they were the hangout of young hopefuls waiting to be chosen as artists’ models. Nowadays the scene is not much changed, with the steps providing the venue for international posing and flirting late into the summer nights.
The only Spanish thing about them, incidentally, is the fact that they lead down to the Spanish Embassy, which also gave the piazza its name.
Campo de’ Fiori was medieval Rome's heart but today the district is best known for its lively street market, artisan workshops and quaint shops tucked into charming side streets. For more ancient history, take a look at which are the best Roman ruins: what to see and what to miss in Rome.
Campo de’ Fiori is in many ways Rome’s most appealing square, home to a lively fruit and vegetable market, and flanked by restaurants and cafés. No one really knows how the square came by its name, which means “field of flowers”, but one theory holds that it was derived from the Roman Campus Martius, which used to cover most of this part of town.
Another claims it is named after Flora, the mistress of Pompey, whose theatre used to stand on what is now the square’s northeast corner – a huge complex by all accounts, and the supposed location of Julius Caesar’s assassination. Later, Campo de’ Fiori was an important point on papal processions between the Vatican and the major basilicas of Rome, and a site of public executions.
Nearby, the atmospheric Jewish Ghetto has a more intimate neighbourhood vibe and it's a great area for food. Don't miss carciofi alla giudìa, deep-fried artichokes, they're a Ghetto specialty in spring. For more inspiration, you might like 20 things to do in Rome year round.
Testaccio sits southwest of Rome centre and is the district known for edgy restaurants and pioneering new food trends. It is an earthy neighbourhood but it also a wealth of ancient history and a distinctly arty side.
In recent years the area has become trendy. Property prices have soared, and some unlikely juxtapositions have emerged. Vegetarian restaurants are opening their doors in an area still known for the offal dishes served in its traditional trattorias, and gay and alternative clubs standing cheek-by-jowl with the car-repair shops gouged into Monte Testaccio.
Testaccio’s historic market (Mon–Sat 7am–3.30pm) occupies an airy space between Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta, and is a great place to pick up a picnic lunch.
MACRO contemporary art museum makes its home in Testaccio and if you want late-night drinks this is the place for those too. For more family-friendly treats, here's where to discover the best gelato in Rome.
Some of the animals that were to die in the Colosseum were kept in a zoo up on the Celian Hill, just behind the arena, the furthest south of Rome’s seven hills and probably still its most peaceful, with the park of Villa Celimontana at its heart. Just east, San Giovanni is named after the basilica complex at its centre, which was, before the creation of the separate Vatican city state, the headquarters of the Catholic Church.
At the summit of the Celian Hill, the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, marked by its colourful campanile, is dedicated to two government officials who were beheaded here in 316 AD after refusing military service. Around the corner are the remains of what is believed to be their house, the Case Romane.
The ten rooms are patchily frescoed with pagan and Christian subjects, including the Stanza dei Genii, with winged youths and cupids, and the courtyard or nymphaeum, which has a marvellous fresco of a goddess being attended on.
Via del Babuino leads down from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza di Spagna, a long straggle of a square almost entirely enclosed by buildings and centring on the distinctive boatshaped Barcaccia fountain, the last work of Bernini’s father. It apparently remembers the great flood of Christmas Day 1598, when a barge from the Tiber was washed up on the slopes of Pincio Hill here.
Facing directly onto Piazza di Spagna, opposite the fountain, is the house where the poet John Keats died in 1821. It now serves as the Keats-Shelley House, an archive of English-language literary and historical works. The museum of manuscripts and literary memorabilia relating to the Keats circle of the early nineteenth century – namely the poet himself, Shelley and Mary Shelley, and Byron (who at one time lived across the square).
On the west bank of the Tiber, just across from the city centre, the Vatican City was established as a sovereign state in 1929. A tiny territory surrounded by high walls on its far western side and on the near side opening its doors to the rest of the city and its pilgrims in the form of St Peter’s and its collonnaded piazza.
The city-state’s one thousand inhabitants have their own radio station, daily newspaper, postal service and indeed security service in the colourfully dressed Swiss Guards. It’s believed that St Peter was buried in a pagan cemetery on Vatican hill, giving rise to the building of a basilica to venerate his name and the siting of the headquarters of the Catholic Church here.
Stretching north from St Peter’s, the Renaissance papal palaces are now home to the Vatican Museums – quite simply, the largest, most compelling and perhaps most exhausting museum complex in the world.
Rome is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. To find more picturesque destinations for your inspiration - explore our list of the most beautiful places in Italy.
Ready for a trip to Italy? Check out the Rough Guide to Italy. If you travel further in Italy read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit. For inspiration use our Italy itineraries or speak to our local experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.
Raised bilingually in London and Turin,