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.
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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.
Barberini areaHome 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 BarberiniThe 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 BarberiniAs 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 BarberiniWe 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).
Look for a hotel near Barberini
Celio / San GiovanniThis 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 GiovanniAlso 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 GiovanniApart 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 GiovanniFor 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.
Look for a hotel in Celio / San Giovanni
Centro storicoThe baroque heart of the city, Rome’s centro storico (historic center), also known sometimes as Campo Marzio or Ponte 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 storicoThis 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 storicoHotels 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 storicoDespite 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.
Look for a hotel in Rome’s centro storico
East of Via Nazionale, centered 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 bustling multi-ethnic food market. It’s also in walking distance of vibrant student hangout San Lorenzo, and our preferred area, Monti. 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 a variaty of 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.