Whether this is your first or your fifteenth Rome vacation, deciding what part of the eternal city to stay in can be overwhelming.
To help you find the best area of Rome to book your hotel in, we’ve put together a guide to several central Rome neighborhoods so you can choose the best location for your stay. You’ll find important information such as access to public transport links, proximity to Rome’s famous landmarks, restaurant recommendations, and a summary of the pros and cons for each area.
We’ll also let you in on our own favorite area to stay in Rome – a traditional neighborhood just steps from the center of the city, that’s also home to one of our favorite restaurants.
Central Rome districts
Note: With our restaurant suggestions on this page, we aim as much as possible to recommend Roman specialties in restaurants frequented by locals, but generally unknown to tourists. If the menu is only available in Italian, you can usually take that as a good sign – use our guide to Italian menus to help you work out what to order. And when dining in Rome, making a restaurant booking ahead of time is always essential. Using The Fork app helps you book without having to call, though not all restaurants participate.
Home to Via Veneto, the glitzy accommodation zone of Rome, the area that radiates out from Piazza Barberini is the neighborhood where big stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Clint Eastwood stayed.
The pros of staying around Barberini
The area is well connected to public transport, with its own metro station (currently closed, alas, but Spagna station is nearby), and is a popular destination for those who enjoy a bit of boutique browsing. Don’t miss a visit to the Palazzo Barberini, an off-the-beaten-track art gallery that’s home to a number of Caravaggios.
The cons of staying around Barberini
As might be expected in such a ritzy neighborhood, everything is hugely over-priced (this is probably where Rome’s unfair reputation for being expensive comes from), and it can be difficult to find an authentic restaurant or a “real” local bar.
Where to eat near Barberini
We recommend Pro Loco Pinciano, just a short walk from the top of Via Veneto, for fabulous Lazio specialities that are “zero KM” (the description used by Italian foodies for local, low-impact ingredients).
Celio / San Giovanni
This neighborhood of shops and hotels extends south-east from the Colosseum, towards Rome’s primary cathedral at San Giovanni, the official seat of the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope). Being close to such two great landmarks will appeal to many, with the area also served by several trams and three metro stations (San Giovanni, Manzoni, and Colosseo).
Pros of staying in Celio / San Giovanni
Also known as Labicano, this area is a little quieter than other areas, but there are still some cute places to hang out in, and it’s also home to Rome’s burgeoning gay district (in Via Labicana right next to the Colosseum). It also has a hell of a lot of history, which you can get to know by booking a walking tour of San Giovanni and Celio here.
Cons of staying in Celio / San Giovanni
Apart from the nascent “pink triangle”, and despite its proximity to the Colosseum, this area can seen by some as being a little away from the action. And that very proximity does equate to higher prices in many places, along with a high proportion of tourist trap restaurants.
Where to eat in Celio / San Giovanni
For good aperitivo and well-prepared Roman favourites for an honest price, head to La Naumachia, which is also a great place to book if you are in a large group.
The baroque heart of the city, Rome’s centro storico (historic center) is without a doubt the most desired location in the Eternal City. Its piazzas, fountains and quaint alleyways are the “Rome” of cinema and popular imagination.
The pros of staying in Rome’s centro storico
This area has in-your-face breathtaking architecture everywhere you look. From the Pantheon to the Piazza Navona, nearly all of Rome’s famous landmarks can be found right here. Take an introductory wander around the area with our free, self-guided walking tour of Baroque Rome…
The cons of staying in Rome’s centro storico
Hotels in the historic center can be overpriced due to their popularity, and because many of the buildings are many hundreds of years old they may not always have the modern-day amenities travelers are used to. With poor public transport links in this part of the city, the best way to get around is undoubtedly on foot. And being so popular, this area is absolutely rammed with tourist traps.
Where to eat in Rome’s centro storico
Despite the well-deserved bad reputation of this area for bad food at high prices, there are still a few amazing places to be found in the alleyways and lanes. We recommend Da Tonino for honest, authentic homestyle pasta: true Roman food in a sea of fakes.
East of Via Nazionale and around Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, lies the multicultural neighborhood of Esquilino. Don’t miss this fascinating walking tour of an incredible area. Steps from Termini station and with its own metro stop at Vittorio Emanuele, Esquilino is Rome’s Chinatown, and features a vibrant multi-etnhic food market. It’s also in walking distance of vibrant San Lorenzo. Although the area may seem a bit suspect at night, it really isn’t less safe than other central districts.
The pros of staying in Esquilino
Accommodation here is cheap! Many of the buildings around the piazza have been converted into hotels, and the intense competition keeps prices down. This is also where to find that non-Italian dish you’ve been craving.
The cons of staying in Esquilino
Esquilino may not be for everybody, particularly if you’re put off by graffiti and a general sense of disrepair. And budget accommodation can of course often mean low-quality rooms, for which the area is slightly notorious. Finally don’t be conned by some places here pretending to be in the much fancier neighborhood of Monti!
Where to eat in Esquilino
This area is one of the few places you can get ethnic food in Rome – Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Korean, African. However for one of the best Italian restaurant experiences in the entire city, head to Mercato Centrale in the bowels of Termini station, and eat at La tavola, Il Vino e La Dispensa – a true insider’s tip of a place, where you can enjoy (literally) Michelin-standard Italian food for a fraction of the price.
Located next to Vatican City, Prati is a modern, high-end neighbourhood whose cosmopolitan vibe and internationally-oriented restaurants cater to well-heeled Romans. It is also, however, very popular with tourists with a Burger King jostling for place with McDonalds (why someone would choose to eat there, instead of grabbing a delicious panino al prosciutto from a local deli counter is beyond us, but it clearly fills a certain demand!).
The pros of staying in Prati
The advantages to staying in Prati, aside from its convenience to the Vatican, include good public transport links – with a direct metro connection to Termini – and a choice of high quality local and international restaurants.
The cons of staying in Prati
Prati’s popularity with tourists does equate to higher prices and, as with all touristy areas, you should be alert for the ubiquitous scammers, particularly when making your way to the Vatican. Don’t make the mistake of buying a tour in the street, instead, book your skip-the-lines ticket in advance.
Where to eat in Prati
We recommend La Zanzara for a seriously hip, modern take on Roman classics.
Literally meaning “across the Tiber”, Trastevere (want to sound like a local? It’s pronounced tras-TEV-er-e, not trasteVERe) is the ancient district where non-Romans had to live. A maze of medieval buildings, it has a distinct charm all of its own.
The pros of staying in Trastevere
It’s just so achingly beautiful. Not for nothing did Woody Allen film ‘To Rome with Love’ in its charming ivy-clad lanes. It’s also got some fabulous bars – including Rome’s best real ale pub – and some legendary restaurants in it. And it backs on to the Janiculum Hill, which has some of the best views over Rome. It is just a few minutes’ walk over the Isola Tiberina island into the Jewish Ghetto, and from there the city center (about 20-30 minutes’ walk).
The cons of staying in Trastevere
While it’s not in the center of the action, it is most definitely on the tourist trail – and that means it gets absolutely packed with tourists congratulating themselves for finding something off the beaten track (they’re wrong). Accommodation is therefore relatively expensive, and usually quite cramped due to the age of the buildings. After dark it gets jammed with young Roman hedonists having a night out, particularly near Piazza Trilussa. It’s noisy at all hours, and transportation links are not so great – just the Number 8 tram.
Where to eat in Trastevere
You’re really spoiled for choice here, with some of Rome’s most famous restaurants (notably La Tavernaccia for some of the best trad pasta in the city, and Dar Poeta for some incredible Neapolitan-style pizza), but our personal recommendation is Osteria La Gensola, an up-market seafood restaurant.
Via del Corso area
Over the river from Prati, and north of the centro storico (historic center of Rome), lies Via del Corso, a long street that passes by the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and more. Sounds ideal, right?
The pros of staying near Via del Corso
The area around Via del Corso is one of the most vibrant parts of the city and many will also appreciate the convenience of a metro station right by the Spanish Steps. It’s also home to one of Rome’s main shopping districts and if money’s no object, you’ll find Fendi, Gucci, and a heap of other big fashion names along the side-street of Via dei Condotti.
The cons of staying near Via del Corso
Unfortunately, the many famous Roman sights nearby make the area one big tourist trap, with prices to match. In particular watch out for pickpockets, who are known to operate in the area, particularly near the Trevi Fountain. Poor-quality food abounds too. If you want to eat well, you mostly have to get out of the area.
Where to eat near Via del Corso
If paying over the odds to eat in an inauthentic restaurant where none of the customers are Italian appeals to you, then you might enjoy it here. That said, there are a few true gems to be found. Most are in the “haute cuisine” school, but for simple but decent fare we recommend Antica Enoteca, just steps from the (Spanish) steps.
Via Nazionale area
Heading south-west from Piazza Repubblica, Via Nazionale is a vibrant shopping street that ends in Piazza Venezia, the exact center of Rome.
The pros of staying near Via Nazionale
Hotel accommodation here is usually of a more international standard, larger rooms with better prices. It boasts a great location, with great public transport links at both Termini and Repubblica stations, and it’s also not far from our top pick of Rome neighborhoods.
The cons of staying near Via Nazionale
Via Nazionale may be a bit impersonal for some, and there are a few tourist-oriented bars and eateries to avoid.
Where to eat near Via Nazionale
For peerless handmade pasta cooked traditionally – but with a few creative twists – we recommend Trattoria Valentino, which is about as “in the know” as it gets.
This traditional residential district, just steps from the center of the city, is our number one top tip for where to stay in Rome!
Pros of staying in Monti
An authentic, vibrant, but quaint neighborhood next to the Colosseum – and in walking distance from Termini station – Monti is also served by its own metro station at Cavour. It’s next to Via Nazionale too. It’s got everything you could want, yet isn’t overrun – yet.
It’s home to dozens of great restaurants and bars, with a great movida (nightlife) too. Accommodation is on the boutique side of things rather than large international standard hotels, but so charming that you’ll forgive everything.
It’s super connected too – five minutes to the Colosseum and Forum, and only a ten-minute walk to the centro storico, Piazza Venezia, and Via del Corso, should you wish to wander further afield.
Cons of staying in Monti
There are honestly almost none. Our only warning is that it can get a little noisy at night around Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, which is where all the cool kids hang out.
Where to eat in Monti
You’re spoiled for choice here, but for a really unique dinner, head without delay to Madre Roma, where you’ll find a mid-to-upper range menu of Italian/South American fusion food in an utterly delightful setting with top-class service. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Rome.