You’re going for the history, tourist sites, pasta, pizza and feel of the city. Check out our notes on how the recommendations are divided below.
Airports Fiumicini (aka Leonardo da Vinci) is the closest, ~30 mins from the center of the city. Taxi will be less expensive than an Uber, roughly 50 Euro. A high-speed train from the airport gets you to Termini station in 32 minutes for 14 Euro one way.
Walking Catch glimpses of Rome’s storied development around the city and small alleys filled with beautiful flowers by foot.
good to know
Try the four Roman pastas Cacio e pepe, pasta alla gricia, bucatini all’amatriciana and pasta carbonara
Fork and knife pizza New Yorkers might be appalled, but it’s common for thin-crust Roman pizza to be eaten with a fork and knife. Pizza is a lot lighter there than a New York slice and ordering a whole one for yourself is normal.
Best time to go Spring and fall are the best as summer gets very hot.
eats & drinks
Antico Forno Roscioli A bakery featuring breads, pizzas, snacks and other grocery items with a small seating area. Part of the Roscioli food group. $ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Roscioli It is a bit touristy with spotty service but in a very central location and with high quality food.. The burrata is fantastic and you can split pastas, such as the amatriciana (amazing) and cacio pepe (pretty good). The wine selection is great and the interior is well decorated. Make sure to call ahead for a booking. $$$ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria A coffee shop with standing room during the day and a small communal table in the back, it turns into a wine bar with the same menu as Roscioli. A good backup in case you can’t get in or want something more low key. $ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Forno Campo de’ Fiori An old-school bakery in Campo de’ Fiori, serving pizzas, pastries and sandwiches $ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Pizzeria Emma Pizza served in a bright, airy and more modern setting that balances the new with the old. Outdoor seating is available. (It’s part of the Roscioli food group.) $$ Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Beppe e i suoi formaggi A lovely and intimate cheese shop and wine bar that are connected together. Great selection of cheese plates and wine. Near the island in the river and a good place to stop by after dinner if you’re going to Testacchio. $$-$$$ Old Jewish Ghetto. ~10 minutes from Trastevere
Il San Lorenzo More of an upscale seafood restaurant, this restaurant has high quality service, a pleasant atmosphere and delicious food. Make a booking. $$$ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
Ginger Sapori e Salute A gem in the city for people looking for high quality, fresh ingredients, whether it’s produce from their farm, smoothies or cold-pressed juices. The interior is modern, sleek and can feel like a welcome change from the dark, older trattorias in Rome, if you’ve been there for a bit. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. $$ Piazza Navona/Campo de’ Fiori/Pantheon/Colosseum area
La Campana A slightly more upscale trattoria that offers classic Roman food, including pastas and meats, and a serve yourself antipasto bar for lunch with delicious okra, artichokes and more. $$ 10-12 min walk to Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, also near river
Flavio Velavevodetto The Roman pastas here are delicious, especially the cacio e pepe. It has become more known with tourists (and now serves gluten-free pasta), but the quality hasn’t disappeared. Request outdoor rooftop seating if you’re there in the summer months. Testacchio $$
Da Enzo A classic Roman trattoria in a location otherwise filled with tourist traps. Make a booking for lunch or dinner if you can or prepare to wait. $$ Trastevere
Pizzeria da Remo Classic, thin-crust, fork-and-knife Roman pies in a casual neighborhood setting and outdoor seating. Go early as the lines build up later. $ Testacchio
Pizzeria Ostiense Thin crust and very inexpensive pizza in a casual, neighborhood with outdoor seating. It’s similar to pizzeria da remo but not quite as good. If you’re in the area for go as it’s good but not worth trekking to unless you’re going out there. $ Ostiense
Pergamino Caffe Where to stop by for coffee if you’re at the Vatican as it’s otherwise a dead zone. $ Vatican City
Pizzarium Where to find good pizza by the slice and there’s one near the Vatican too. $ Mercato Centrale or Vatican City
Jerry Thomas Speakeasy Named after the OG mixologist, this speakeasy can be difficult to get into and requires a password to get in the day of (check their website). It’s worth it for the cocktails.
Hotel Eden The rooftop bar at this newly revamped luxury hotel offers stunning views of the city and delicious aperitivo snacks that come with your drinks. It is very pricey but worth going. $$$$ Rome Center
Litro While it’s hard to find quality places in this hood, this wine bar is worth visiting and serves good cocktails.
see & do
Villa Borghese Gardens An expansive park that houses the Villa Borghese (now a museum worth visiting) atop of the Spanish Steps. It’s a beautiful place to walk and run through or to sit outside for a coffee or drink. There is a small area where you can rent paddleboats and has easy access to the zoo.
Campo de’ Fiori Market Open most days until 2 pm, expect fresh fruit, spices, home goods and other knick knacks. The square itself is worth visiting and you can wander the alleys from it for shopping.
Lavorazione Giunco A home decor store with handmade hats in a variety of styles as well as picnic baskets that would make the English jealous.
Mercato Centrale Roma The major market in Rome that’s sleek and well-organized with lots of food stalls. Go for cheese, pizza, gelato or groceries.
Mercato Testaccio A smaller, neighborhood market that’s worth going to if you’re already in the area, but, there is not a lot to do there during the day unless you’re going to cross the river to Trastevere. Check out the sandwich shop Morde e Vei if you go.
River Tiber and Bridges Walk along it, run along it or go down the steps to the open market stands during the summer months featuring more American-style food vendors (think tacos, bbq and burgers). The bridges are lovely viewpoints for seeing the Vatican and more of the city.
Ponte Sisto Open to foot-traffic only, it crosses the river Tiber and connects pedestrians to Trastevere. Great photo op.
Marta Ray An Italian brand that makes shoes and handbags. Their flats are comfortable, well-priced (around 89 Euro) and come in lots of colors and styles.
Shopping Near the Spanish steps, there are a series of streets that have more high-end boutiques and brands.
Villa Spalletti Trivelli An intimate hotel with unique rooms, complimentary minibars, a complimentary bar and private garden, it’s located in Central Rome and offers a more bed & breakfast like experience in a luxury hotel. The only draw is that you have to buzz the front door to get in as there is no doorman, so no stumbling home late at night boozy.
Corso 281 Located on the main Corso with the Colosseum your view on the left when you step outside, the location can’t be beat, even if it is a little hectic. Rooms are suites and rather spacious considering the location with modern decor and a complimentary Nespresso machine and Wi-Fi. A select service hotel that’s clean and convenient without any fuss. (Can be found on Hotel Tonight.) $$-$$$ Central Rome/Colosseum
G-Rough Design-focused and Italian hipster are probably the best ways to describe this all-suite hotel near Piazza Navona. A select service hotel with a ground floor bar, it’s perfect for those looking for more privacy in this former 16th-century palace. (The same team has hotels in Venice.) $$-$$$ Piazza Navona
Fifteen Keys Sleek, bright and airy and meant for the young and hip, this former townhouse has been converted into chic rooms. You might have to ring a doorbell to get in, but the location in the popular residential area near Termini station is pretty great. $$ Colosseum
CasaCau Intimate, well-designed and chic one-bedroom apartments with varying layouts and offerings — like dining tables and to a two-person sauna. All have kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi and select services with friendly staff. It will probably be enjoyed more by design-focused, artistic types than those looking for pure luxury (head to Hotel Eden or Hotel de Russie). $$ Trevi Fountain
Neighborhoods Instead of dividing the recommendations by their location in one of the 11 divisions, we’ve categorized them by proximity to major attractions, so you know where to eat, drink and do while visiting one of these sites. However…
Testacchio Less to do during the day other than the market, it’s more of a local, residential neighborhood with great food.
Trastevere Filled with a lot of tourist traps (we have a couple of exceptions), but there is a beautiful botanical garden and some shopping to be done.
Ostiense More of a hip, student hangout, there is less “to do” there and more of things to eat.
Buy in Advance Anything that you want to see or do that’s a major tourist site will require tickets. Buy ahead as much as possible.