Few cities in the world have as much historical significance and style as Rome. You'll find art around every corner and amazing food & wine on every block. Frankly, we just think the Romans do life right. Whether you're spending a long weekend in the eternal city or you've got weeks on end - we're betting you'll be hard-pressed to leave.
This travel guide has our favorite spots to wander, eat and drink in Rome. Use the table of contents to jump around!
table of contents
getting here & around
Getting to Rome is pretty easy from any major city around the world with a ton of nonstop flights to Fiumicino Airport (FCO) each day. From the airport, hop on the Leonardo Express train to Termini station (€14 per person, plus cost of taxi from train to hotel) or take a taxi (around €45) and be in the center of Rome in about 30 minutes. You can also call an UBER, but the lowest tier option is UBER Black since UBERx doesn’t exist in Rome yet.
Once you’re in the city center getting around is really easy. If the weather is nice, walking will give you a chance to explore the streets and stumble across ruins and historical buildings that you might otherwise miss (it also give you a chance to burn off all that pizza and pasta you’ll be noshing on). Bring comfortable walking shoes since a lot of Rome’s streets and sidewalks are cobblestone and can be a bit treacherous in heels (we learned our lesson). If you’re out late at night and you don’t want to walk, you can ask the staff at the restaurant or bar to call you a taxi instead of having to hail one on the street.
There also are plenty of public transportation options in Rome if you don’t feel like paying for a car. You can purchase a three-day Roma pass for only €34.
Centro Storico – The historic center. Probably the most convenient place to stay since it’s central to almost everything. This area is packed with history, containing the Pantheon and many famous piazzas.
Ancient Rome – The location of Rome’s most famous sites like The Colosseum and The Roman Forum. Very touristy, but also very cool.
Monti – A trendy neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops and cute streets perfect for wandering.
Tridente – North of Centro Storico. This neighborhood has some of the best shopping in Rome. Via del Corso and Via del Babuino are lined with the shops of Italy’s top fashion brands. It’s also home to the famous Spanish Steps.
Trastevere - A hip neighborhood across the river that feels a little more boho than the more historic areas.
Pigneto – A bit off-the-beaten-path, Pigneto is Rome’s newest creative hub.
We hate to say it, but we don’t have a favorite hotel in Rome (yet). We’ve found most of them are just too expensive and the ones that are affordable are kind of crummy. We’d recommend renting an Airbnb in Centro Storico if you can’t afford a hotel that’s $350+ a night (hey, we can’t either).
There’s also a new boutique hostel that just opened called Generator. We haven’t been able to check it out, but we’ve heard good things.
Surprise, surprise. The Italians are fabulous cooks and life in Rome revolves around food. This is the city for lengthy 3-hour dinners, spent with good company and appreciating some of the finer things in life.
Vicolo delle Vacche, 9 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
One of our favorite spots in Rome - it’s been around for years and remained popular. Etabli is an adorable, quirky restaurant with multiple rooms designed to feel like you’re in someone’s living room. Come early for an aperitivo in the main room where comfy chairs surround a fireplace and then move to a table for dinner. Everything on the menu is delicious – you really can’t go wrong. Recently we split a bottle of wine, a small cheese & charcuterie plate, and two pastas - perfecto!
Via del Monte della Farina 28 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
Emma is a popular pizza restaurant located in a tiny square in Rome. Come here for lunch or dinner. Order a pie for yourself or a few to share (trust us, you’re going to want your own). Pizzas range from traditional margarita to adventurous meat and veggie combos, all made with super high quality ingredients and thin crust.
#WildTerrains tip: The outdoor seating in the square is where it’s at – they even have heat lamps during the winter. If you have to sit inside, ask to be seated in the back dining room (the front dining room is a little drab).
Osteria delle Coppelle
Piazza delle Coppelle, 55 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
Osteria delle Coppelle is an adorable restaurant popular with young 30-somethings in Rome. We actually spent New Year’s Eve here and had an amazing time surrounded by locals. Great wine, good food, friendly service. The owner Francesco was really lovely as well.
#WildTerrains tip: There’s a hidden club in the back of the restaurant that’s great for post-dinner drinks.
Piazza delle Coppelle, 49 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
Located right across the square from Osteria delle Coppelle, Casa Coppelle is one of the most stunning restaurants we’ve ever seen. The gorgeous space was designed by Jacques Garcia. The restaurant has multiple rooms in royal shades with dark, moody lighting, plush velvet seats and walls lined with chic bookcases and paintings. The entire experience feels sophisticated while towing that fine line of still being comfortable and unpretentious. The food is fancy home-cooked Italian. Prices are a bit higher than other places in this guide, but totally worth it in our opinion for a nice dinner.
Via Velletri 39 (near Villa Borghese) | Website
A posh restaurant near Villa Borghese that’s made it to the top of many best restaurant lists. It’s a tad pricey for the portions, but chef Alba Esteve Ruiz is considered one of the more creative chefs in Rome. The space and service are impeccable. We love Marzapane for a leisurely weekend lunch or a special night out.
The Jerry Thomas Project
Vicolo Cellini, 30 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
Jerry Thomas is a swanky speakeasy with superb cocktails, hidden on a quiet street behind an unmarked black door with a gold owl as a door knocker. You’ll need a password to enter – get it by answering a question correctly on their website the day you want to visit (sounds like a lot of work, we know - but it's really not that hard). Jerry Thomas is actually considered one of the best cocktail bars in the world, so this should be on your must-do list. The bar is relatively small so we recommend making a reservation if you want an actual seat. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10pm-4am. Closed Sundays & Mondays.
#WildTerrains tip: They don’t take credit cards so be sure to visit an ATM before you head inside.
Agaveria La Punta
Via di S Cecilia, 8 (Trastevere)
You can find La Punta below a Mexican restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. It’s a cocktail den (from the same people behind The Jerry Thomas Project) that specializes in mezcal and tequila. The owner and staff are super friendly. It's a bit off the tourist path and a great spot for a nightcap.
Via Panisperna, 101 (Monti) | Website
A bohemian cocktail lounge with mismatching chairs, low tables and quirky details. It’s typically filled with large groups of locals and couples until late – all sipping on meticulously mixed cocktails. Super casual.
Via Fratelli Bonnet, 5 (Monteverde) | Website
A new-ish wine bar located in the Monteverde neighborhood of Rome. They’ve got a great selection of organic wines and food with a super friendly staff. Closed on Sundays.
Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6 (at the top of the Spanish Steps) | Website
Considered one of the most famous bars in the world, the bar in the Hassler Hotel feels like you’re taking a step back in time. The bar is small but well-stocked with top-notch spirits and posh bartenders. Dark wooden walls, leather furniture, and expensive glassware make this the ultimate man-cave.
#WildTerrains tip: If you like Negronis (or are on the fence about them), you should order one here. It’s the best we’ve ever had.
Romans love their espresso and there’s a specific way to drink it here. Their coffee shops are set up like a bar – order your espresso and then drink it while standing at the bar. Embrace the process, because takeaway coffee is not common and you will probably get some funny looks if you try it. Some cafes have sections with table service, but it’s less common. Heavier drinks like cappuccinos or lattes are typically only had in the mornings for breakfast. After breakfast, stick with an espresso or macchiato (espresso with a little drop of milk).
Via Urbana, 93 (Monti)
A cute local coffee shop in Monti. There’s a standing café area if you want to order at the bar and have a quick refuel. There’s also a cozy café with table service if you feel like lingering a bit.
Piazza Benedetto Cairoli, 16 (Navona/Pantheon) | Website
A tiny coffee shop on a cute street where you’re only option is to order at the bar. Perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up between sightseeing.
#WildTerrains tip: Craving a cocktail and a seat instead? Check out the bar in the back.
So. Much. To. See. So. Little. Time.
Piazza del Colosseo | Website
If there’s one site to see while you’re in Rome it’s the famous Colosseum, where ancient gladiators battled terrifying creatures. The underground areas of the Colosseum (called the third ring) were recently opened to the public but you have to take a guided tour to visit.
#WildTerrains tip: The lines to get in are painfully long. Book your tickets (including third ring tours) in advance.
Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6 | Website
The Roman Forum is an area in the center of Rome that contains the ruins of many ancient historical buildings in Rome. It's a bit confusing to know what's what if you don't have a guide or at least a map to follow, but super interesting if you can figure out what's going on!
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
An impressive monument built to honor Vittorio Emanuele II (unified Italy's first king) near the Roman Forum. It’s free to enter the building and climb the stairs to get panorama views of Rome from the building’s massive mid-level terraces. There’s a little café on the side overlooking the Roman Forum and the Colosseum with pretty incredible views if you have nice weather. From the mid-level, you can also buy a ticket and wait in line to take an elevator to the very top of the building.
Piazza della Rotonda
A 2nd-century temple built by Emperor Hadrian for the Roman gods. This is also the site of Vittorio Emanuele II’s tomb. The structure is a bit of a miracle given that the dome hasn’t collapsed and it’s said that modern day builders wouldn’t be able to replicate such an impressive construction.
Piazza de Trevi
Super touristy but totally worth a visit. The fountain was recently restored via a €2.1 million grant by Italian fashion house Fendi. If you have a fear of crowds, brace yourself or go late at night (like between the hours of midnight to 6am).
Piazza di Spagna
An impressive set of stairs (135 to be exact) that are surrounded by some of Italy's most expensive shops (like a multi-floor Valentino shop that would require you to take out a second mortgage just to step inside). Go for the people watching.
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5 | Website
Galleria Borghese is an art gallery located in the Villa Borghese Gardens, which is Rome’s largest public park and a popular hangout spot for locals. The gallery houses one of the most impressive collections of Italian sculpture & art in all of Europe. Book your tickets in advance.
The Vatican & The Sistine Chapel
Vatican City | Website
Vatican City is a city-state surrounded by Rome and is HQ for the Roman Catholic Church. It contains multiple museums which house many famous ancient Roman sculptures and Renaissance frescoes. The Sistine Chapel is the official residence of the Pope and home to Michelangelo's famous ceiling frescos depicting The Last Judgment. Definitely get your tickets in advance - the ticket line can be hours long here.
Rome is an artistic city known for its craftsmanship – from leather goods to jewelry to chic clothing – you can find everything here.
Piazza di Spagna and surrounding streets
So many luxury fashion brands originate in Italy (think Fendi, Ferragamo, Valentino, Bulgari and the list goes on…) and you’ll find all of them in this area. Window shop or blow your credit card bill out of the water – the choice is yours.
Via del Boschetto
One of Rome’s most adorable cobblestone streets is located in the Monti district in Centro Storico. Via del Boschetto is lined with cute artisanal shops making it a great place to kill an hour searching for gifts to take back home.