Commonly referred to as the Eternal City, Rome is essentially a sprawling open-air museum that constantly draws huge crowds. Packing your itinerary full of all of Rome’s best attractions is the easy part - you can barely walk down the road without seeing a famous landmark or archaeological site. Trying to pick which of the Rome’s 15 districts to base your adventures from can be a bit more difficult.
Each neighbourhood has its own unique charms and allure, and will appeal to different travellers depending on their circumstances and plans for their trip. Here are some ideas for finding the right place to stay in Rome, whether you’re visiting for the ambiance, authentic eats or ancient architecture.
Heart of the historic city
Close to all the most popular attractions
Walkable and convenient
Ponte is a relatively small rione (district) of Romesituated in the corner of the Centro Storico, the historic centre. Surrounding by narrow winding streets and old buildings, you’ll find yourself immersed in the ancient heritage of this famous city. The Centro Storico has an abundance of mediaeval beauty and baroque splendour, which feels particularly special if you are visiting Rome for the first time. Ponte makes a base for exploring the heart of this ancient city.
Ponte puts you within walking distance of all the most significant sites, while being in a quieter part of the historic centre. While there are few major attractions in Ponte itself (don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to see) , you’re only a few minutes away from the Piazza Navona. The Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon are also only a short walk away. Following this route, you may encounter a whole swatch of selfie stick toting tourists, and it can be on the pricier side. Saying that, there are a number to decent places to eat in Ponte itself and you can find quieter streets and the river if you walk towards the southwest.
Explore nearby attractions including Piazza Novona, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.
Safe, residential neighbourhood and quiet at night
Located near the Vatican, major attractions and Villa Borghese
Good shopping and food nearby
Located on the left bank of the Tiber River near the Vatican, Prati is a beautiful residential neighbourhood that’s suitable for families. The wide boulevards are pram and stroller friendly, there are a range of shops and restaurants close by and you can cross the river and find yourself in the Centro Storico. If head across the bridge on the east of Prati, you’ll soon find yourself at the Villa Borghese, one of the largest parks in Rome and a highlight for children. The park has playgrounds, a lake, a small movie theatre, a playcentre and much more.
While you could choose to stay near the Spanish Steps (closer to the both the Centro Storico and that Villa Borghese), it can be busy and noisy with lots of tourists. Prati is much quieter at night, so it’s easier for the kids to fall asleep, and less overwhelming when you walk out the door. It’s also easy to rent an entire apartment here and hotel rooms tend to be larger, making them more suitable for families.
There are still many places to eat, most of which welcome children, and the piazza is alive at night. There are also plenty of bars with live music in this part of town. Prati also has two metro stations, so you can access the city (and main station) via public transport, otherwise, Ubers are and taxis are easily available.
Book a tour to the Vatican to skip the queue - and take the early morning option to avoid the crowds.
Away from the bustle and very romantic
Bohemian feel and ideal for Airbnbs
Cobbled streets lined with eateries
This traditional part of town is located on the west bank of the Tiber River and oozes old-world charm. Trastevere is known for its petite piazzas, quirky churches, and tiny bars all connected by cobbled streets lined with vines. It’s not quite as central as some of the other neighbourhoods, but get to major attractions by taking a long stroll through picturesque surroundings or via public transport. There are a few hotels, however, Trastevere perfect place to rent an apartment or Airbnb and feel like a local - and for a reasonable price!
The neighbourhood feels authentically Italian, full of friendly locals shopping the markets and sitting in quiet corner with a glass of wine. If you enjoy eating out, there’s lots of places to try, with street food stalls along the river here, and a vast variety of affordable eateries to try as well. Trastevere may get busy during the day, but it feels just far enough off the beaten path to be less crowded and still convenient. Be sure to check out Janiculum Hill, Basilica Santa Maria, Isola Tiberina, Villa Farnesina, and Porta Portese Market to soak up the bohemian vibes in Trastevere.
Stay at Tolomeo B&B, a quaint bed and breakfast in a convenient location
Book a pasta cooking class at a local restaurant
Easy access to transport and major sites
Good for a short stay
One of the more affordable, yet central neighbourhoods in Rome, Monti lies between the central station, Termini, and the Colosseum. As such, it’s near the main transportation hub, making it very convenient for anyone staying for a few days and wanting a cheap and quick way to see the sites. Like most places centred around transit, the area near the station is a bit run down. Further west, the surroundings become much more pleasant.
The famous Roman ruins of the Colosseum and Roman Forum are in this part of town, along with the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore and Nero’s Domus Aurea, and the historical centre is easily accessible. Some of the top-rated hostels and simple lodges can also be found around this area.
If you head further south from the train station, neighbouring Esquillino has even cheaper options. It’s a gritty neighbourhood and isn’t as safe at night, so keep your wits about you if you head there after dark. Saying that, there are a couple of really good spots for quintessential cuisine there including Forno Roscioli Pietro and Trattoria Da Danilo, as well as the Esquilino Market.
Stay at the Ostello Bello Roma Colosseo where you can choose from a range of rooms
A range of Roman cuisine
Laidback and authentic atmosphere
We all know the foodies love to flock to Rome for a number of convincing (and crave-inducing) reasons. If this is the main motivation for your visit, then a stay in Testaccio is certainly in order. Testaccio has earned the impressive moniker of the Food Bowl of Rome, as it is where Roman cuisine was said to have first been born.
Nowadays, Testaccio is home to the full spectrum of food - fine dining, modern cuisine, local delis, and little markets full of enticing street fares and fresh ingredients. Felice, Flavio al Velavevodetto, and Trapizzino Testaccio are just a few of the most legendary dining destinations to try in the area. If you happen to be in the mood for some after-dark drinks, the nightlife is surprisingly good as well, with a few trendy hotspots to hit up while you’re in town.
Tucked away behind Avetine Hill, Testaccio is located just outside of the historic heart of the city. You can walk to many of the ancient sites from here, including the Colosseum, though a lot of the other attractions will require the Metro. Testaccio generally attracts more Romans than tourists, and it’s not as carefully manicured as some of the other areas on this list. Saying that, there are plenty of places to stay and you’ll be able to choose from a range of budget-friendly accommodation.
Book a Testaccio food tour to discover the local delicacies.
Home to Basilica di San Giovanni
Great place to escape all the tourists
Cheap shopping and community gathering
If you want to escape the crowds and have small taste of what it could be like to live in Rome, base yourself in San Giovanni. Named for the basilica of the oldest church in Rome, it’s an unashamedly authentic area. There is a wide range of accommodation available, so you should be able to find something to fit your style and budget.
San Giovanni is well connected to the rest of the city and makes an easy base for exploring the city. Major attractions are easily reachable via public transportation and you can take leisurely strolls along Appia Antica, surrounded by history, or enjoy picnics in the gardens of Villa Celimontana. As well is the main Basilica di San Giovanni, which was built in the 4th Century, make sure to visit the San Clemente Basilica and Terme di Caracalla, the ruins of the ancient thermal baths. The main square is popular gathering place for the local community, with everything from demonstrations to concerts occurring regularly.
San Giovanni is also a great neighbourhood for getting a taste of regular life. Try shopping on Via Appia Nuova, visiting the Via Sannio Market on a Sunday, and visiting the local restaurants and bars. The neighbourhood also home to Rome’s burgeoning gay scene and is a good option for a fun night out.
Book an underground tour of the Basilicas and learn more about early Roman Christianity.