Where should I stay in Rome? An area guide

March 04, 2019

Working out where to stay for a weekend break can be tricky if you've never been to the city before - especially if you're on a budget. You want to be in the right area, close enough to the centre to be able to see everything, but not close enough that you'll be paying £200 a night in a super fancy hotel (unless that's what you can afford on holiday in which case, good for you! I'm jealous!)

So I've made an area to guide to help out anyone that's looking, with some of the central areas that I'd recommend staying in and why.


Centro Storico

The most obvious part of Rome to stay in is the centre, which I'd define as the right side of the river,  as far up as Villa Borghese and as far down as the Colosseum.

Pros: This is the cutest area of Rome as a tourist, including Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori and the main shopping street, Via del Corso. Piazza di Spagna, Castel St Angelo, Villa Borghese and Trastevere are all walking distance, and you're right in the middle of the prettiest part of Rome.

Cons: If you're right in the centre, there's no metro - or it'll be a 15 - 25 minute walk to nearby stations like Barberini, Repubblica or Lepanto. So you'll have to rely on buses (unreliable, at the best of times) or factor in a little extra time on foot if you want to visit the Colosseum, Vatican and other sites a little further.
The other downside if, of course, the cost - most Airbnbs and hotels in the area are the most expensive - although some good deals can be found!

Where to explore: A great walking tour that I like to take people on starts at Campo dei Fiori, crossing over Corso Emmanuele to walk round the backstreets of Piazza Navona, cross Piazza Navona to the Pantheon, then going towards Via delle Coppelle and ending up on Via del Corso, before heading up the Spanish steps for a panoramic view of the city.
There's usually a good exhibition on at the Chiostro delle Bramante (or it's just a nice place for coffee and a sit down) and the three Caravaggios in the Church of San Luigi de Francesi is well worth a visit.


Prati

I'm biased, because I live in Prati, but I think this is an ideal area to stay in in Rome. It's so much more than just the Vatican! I'd classify it as the left side of the river, up until Piazza Clodio and right across as far as Cipro metro station.

Pros: This is a really local area, meaning that restaurants and bars usually charge a bit less and are higher quality. It's still walking distance to the Vatican and the centre - around 25 minutes walk to Campo dei Fiori, depending on where you're staying, but there's also the Metro, which makes it easier to get around - both into the centre, only a few stops to Spagna, Flaminio and Termini, and to the Colosseum and the southern parts of Rome. You can also get some great deals on Airbnb!

Cons: None! No, I'm kidding. It's a little further out, so you'll have to put in a little more time to travel, and its more modern than the centre - so far fewer cute 'Roman' streets.

Where to explore: The Mercato Trionfale is a really good place to go and buy dinner if you're in an Airbnb - it's a chance to see a bit of the real Rome and buy some great delicacies for dinner. There's some great bars on Via Crescenzio (Sorpasso, Passaguai, La Zanzara), 200 Gradi in Piazza Risorgimento is great for a sandwich and Via Cola di Rienzo is full of shops.


San Lorenzo/Termini

Termini is an area packed with hotels, and often a go-to place to stay for tourists.

Pros: Termini is pretty central - you can get to both the South and East of Rome on the Metro, as both lines A and B stop at Termini. It's easy as well from the airport, and is right by a great local studenty area, San Lorenzo, which has great nightlife and some really good restaurants.

Cons: Termini has a bit of a reputation for being a rough area, so for women travelling alone I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, especially if you're planning on going out for drinks and coming back after midnight. That is the exception, not the norm however!

Where to explore: There are three new Banksy paintings in San Lorenzo, worth a look if you're into streetart. Hang out with locals in the piazzetta di San Lorenzo in the evening for cheap drinks, and head to Ex Dogana for cultural events and dancing at the weekends.

Monti/Colosseo

Monti is a great central area to stay.

Pros: Monti itself is lovely, with lots of cute streets, bars and good restaurants. It's very near to the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, which means walking distance (20 - 25mins) from the historic centre. It is served by the Metro B station Cavour, just one stop from Termini where you can change for any Line A destination. It's well known for great vintage shopping, and has a market selling vintage and handmade items a couple of times a month.

Cons: Again, it's a relatively touristy area - so watch out for touristy restaurants and steer clear!

Where to explore: It's well known for great vintage shopping, and has a market selling vintage and handmade items a couple of times a month.

Testaccio

Testaccio is the area on the right side of the river, underneath the Colosseum and above Piramide.

Pros: Testaccio is a very local area, and a great place to stay to get a taste of the real Rome! There are loads of excellent places to eat, and it's well connected by both tram and bus. It's just a short walk away from Trastevcere (15 mins) and lesser known attractions like the Giardini degli Aranci and the Knights Keyhole, both of which are well worth a visit!

Cons: There's no metro line here and buses and trams are a little more unreliable.

Where to explore: The Rose Garden on the same hill as the Giardini degli Aranci is gorgeous when roses are in season (April/May, if I',m not mistaken?) and the Tram Depot is a great place to stop for coffee/aperitivo and people watching. The market is famous, and a good place to stop for Roman streetfood, plus there's tons of nightclubs in the area if that's what you're looking for!


Trastevere

One of the most famous areas of Rome, it really is one of the most beautiful. Whilst there aren't many hotels in this area, there are loads of great Airbnbs with real character.



Pros: Trastevere is famous for its food, nightlife and Instagrammable look, so it's a great place to stay if you want to be in the middle of the action. It's also a short walk across the Ponte Sisto to arrive in the centre, at Piazza Venezia, Campo dei Fiori or Piazza Navona.

Cons: No metro and limited buses, so getting anywhere further out is a bit tricky. It's very busy and touristy, particularly on a Saturday night when all the American students from the nearby American university. It can be tricky to find good restaurants, so Tripadvisoring first is recommended! (or checking our my where to eat in Rome guide!)

Where to explore: The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere right in the main square is a lovely church, and the fountain outside is a good place to sit with a gelato and do some peoplewatching. Above Trastevere (about 15 mins walk uphill) is the Fontana dell'Aqua Paola, famous from the opening scene of La Grande Bellezza, and Gianicolo Hill, which has a great view over the city.





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