If you’ve ever visited the charming capital city of Italy before, you probably know by now that seeing the best of Rome involves a lot of walking. Public transport isn’t the most reliable of all, so you can easily end up wasting a lot of your precious time waiting for buses. This is something to think about when choosing where to stay in Rome, whether you prefer hotels, hostels or airbnb accommodations.
The modern center of Rome is probably the most convenient, as you’ll be close to all things you’ll want to see and do in Italy’s capital city. However, one or two weeks of staying here can set you back a few thousands of dollars. Besides, this isn’t the place to stay in Rome if you prefer to take a glimpse into the life of local people. The center is chocked full of overpriced restaurants and shops. However, there are many neighborhoods located within walking distance where you can find reasonably priced accommodation and great dining options.
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One Area of Rome to Avoid (or Maybe Not)
One area I didn’t like and I would avoid is the Termini Station.
Although there are lots of less expensive bed & breakfasts and hotels in this area, it is not a pleasure to walk around here. I’ve read many opinions that it isn’t safe. I can’t say that, as I only walked around there during the day and it looked safe to me. Yet, the streets are dirty and there are many people with luggage, running to catch their trains and buses. Termini looks like a transit area (which it actually is) and this is the main reason why I was happy to avoid it.
On the other hand, if you intend to take lots of day trips from Rome and you want to use the train to get to those places, staying at a hotel in Termini will help you save a lot of time. When it comes to longer day trips such as Naples and the Amalfi Coast, being close to the train station can make a huge difference. Here you’ll be within walking distance from Piazza della Repubblica and the Baths of Diocletian. You’ll also be on the Metro Line B, so you’ll be able to get to Piramide train station easier, should you want to take a day trip to Ostia Antica.
When you choose where to stay in Rome, take a look at the map and pick something as close to the river as possible. Try to find something with easy access to the Metro or to a direct tram line to the center. If you have to change transportation to get to the center, you’re dead.
Here are a few Rome neighborhoods that are fairly close to most of the tourist attractions.
Trastevere – Perhaps One of the Best Areas to Stay in Rome
The Roman neighborhood of Trastevere starts on the left bank of the Tiber river and it goes up the hill until it meets the Gianicolense neighborhood. Trastevere is a lively area, where the old meets the new, where streets are always full of people and the air smells like flowers and hot stone. Modern bars, restaurants and shops are scattered along the cobbled streets between very old houses and stone churches, fountains and statues.
One of the best accommodation choices in my view is Villa Riari, a bed & breakfast with a nice garden and reasonable prices. It was my first choice back in June when I was wondering where to stay in Rome. I gave it up only because I was traveling solo and the single rooms in Villa Riari looked quite small. However, I went to see the location of the villa and I liked it a lot. It is very close to Villa Farnesina and the Botanical Garden of Rome. It is also close to Parco Del Gianicolo, on the Gianicolo Hill viewpoint (which offers one of the best panoramic views in Rome).
Depending on where you choose your hotel in Trastevere, you can walk your way to the Tiber banks, and then to Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona, Piazza Spagna, Fontana di Trevi and any other tourist objectives you might want to see in Rome. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take tram 8 to go to Piazza Venezia and continue on foot from there.
Gianicolense – Only a Short Tram Ride Away from Campo de’ Fiori
This is the neighborhood I chose to stay in during my trip to Rome in June.I stayed at Figlie Maria Missionarie, about 5km away from Campo de’ Fiori. This hotel is also 5km away from Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. I think it took me about one hour to walk to Saint Peter’s square. This is a nice walk, I recommend it.
Gianicolense is a peaceful residential neighborhood, away from tourist crowds. I’ve chosen this neighborhood to stay in Rome because of its direct public transport connection to Piazza Venezia. There are two choices: tram 8 and bus H. Tram 8 has its end of line in Piazza Venetia and it crosses Trastevere and Gianicolense. Bus H has a longer route. It also reaches Piazza della Repubblica and Termini Train station.
I’ve been staying in Rome for one week. During all this time, I used tram 8 quite a lot. It has a good frequency – I think I never had to wait for longer than 15-20 minutes. On the contrary, bus H can come only once every 45 minutes to one hour. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when the next bus is expected to arrive, as the scheduling system seems flawed and unreliable.
There are coffee shops and restaurants in Gianicolense, so you won’t have to go to the city center to have dinner, should you prefer to go to sleep early. There’s also a farmer’s market which I highly recommend if you want fresh fruit that won’t cost you a small fortune.
Vatican & Prati
These neighborhoods are quiet and stylish, with narrow, cobbled streets and old houses.
These streets are a pleasure to walk around and they are fairly close to the central area. From here you can walk to Piazza Navona, Fontana Di Trevi and other landmarks in the center of Rome.
Whether you choose to stay here or not, make sure you visit Castel Sant’ Angelo, because it is fabulous. This ancient mausoleum and papal residence is one of the best panorama spots in Rome, so you shouldn’t miss it.
Located North of the Colosseum, the neighborhood of Monti is a short walk away from Termini. It could be a great choice for travelers seeking to take short train trips around Rome. Besides, being close to the Colosseum Metro station on Line B (blue line), you’ll be able to use the metro to get to Piramide (this is where the Ostiense train station to Ostia is) and to Termini Railway Station (from where you can take day trips or head over to one of Rome’s airports).
From here, you’ll be able to reach the Baths of Caracalla either on foot or by taking the metro to the Circo Massimo station. This is also the direction of the Appia Antica Regional Park. However, this is too far for walking. I didn’t have a car and I had enough of the public transport in Rome for one week, so I postponed going on Appia Antica for another time.
This neighborhood is in fact a giant park located on a hill, right in the middle of Rome. From here, you can easily reach Piazza di Poppolo and the top of the Spanish Steps that lead to Piazza di Spagna.
Things To Know When You Choose Where To Stay in Rome
Rome spreads over hills. If you don’t want to climb several flights of stairs a few times a day, you may want to pick a hotel close to the Tiber river. Beware, though, hotels in Campo De’ Fiori or other central areas can be expensive.
When it comes to breakfast, if the hotel offers a basic croissant and coffee breakfast for 5 Euro, you can safely skip it, as you can find a good Italian espresso and a delicious croissant in almost every bar in Rome. I didn’t have breakfast at Figlie Maria Missionarie, in Gianicolense, but I had my morning coffee and croissant in a nearby bar, for the price of 2 Euro. If you don’t mind spending 5 Euro for your breakfast, you can add a freshly squeezed orange juice. This should fill you up for the whole morning.
If you don’t know where to stay in Rome, grab a map of the city, take a look at the landmarks you’d like to see, and pick a hotel that’s close to as many of them as possible. The hotels I’ve linked you to above are in the mid-price segment. However, you’ll also find luxury accommodations, as well as cheap hostels and apartments within a couple of miles from the center.
Before booking your stay in Rome, check the available transportation options from your hotel to the center. Find a hotel that’s directly connected to the central area. Being on one of the two Metro lines helps. Being on the tram line 8 also helps. Not having to rely on public transport is the best.
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