Best Area to Stay in Rome for First Time Visitor
The metropolitan area of Rome is the largest in Italy, extending for 5,352 square kilometers (or 2,066 sq miles). Visitors coming to Rome for the first time may have some trouble figuring out what is the best area to stay in, and how to be as close as possible to the main attractions and public transports avoiding at the same time overcrowded, touristic areas.
In our Rome Travel Guide “Roma Wonder” we have divided rome into 6 major areas based on the history and evolution of each of them and the attractions within. Of course each area is very different from the other. Some of them may be bigger and divided into several neighbourhoods, while other are smaller, needing less time to be explored.
Hence, this post is intended to help first time visitors identifying the best areas to stay in Rome. Assessments on each area may change depending on seasonality. We advice first time visitors to read our post Best Time to Visit Rome.
Staying in the Colosseum & Ancient Rome Area
Many visitors choose to stay next to the Colosseum, the monument symbol of Rome, and to other attractions from the Ancient Rome (see all the attractions in the Colosseum and Ancient Rome Area). One of the pros is that this area is served pretty well by Rome public transports – there’s the Blue Metro Line and buses connecting this area to other areas in Rome.
The cons are that the Colosseum and Ancient Rome area is very touristic and overcrowded during the High Season that goes from May to June. Things change a lot during the Shoulder Seasons, especially in Fall, and in Winter. As soon as most of the tourist traffic stops, the Colosseum Areas regain its charm. To sum up, avoid staying in this area during the high season, while take it into consideration in fall and winter.
Trastevere Area & Jewish Ghetto Area
Trastevere Area and Jewish Ghetto Area are certainly the most characteristic neighbourhoods in Rome. Despite their unique charm, we would not recommend people visiting Rome for the first time to stay in these areas since they are not well connected by public transport to the main highlights in the city. Since there’s no Metro serving these areas reaching spots such as the Vatican Museums, the Colosseum and others will require several bus rides and multiple changes. The best way to discover a city is walking. Hence, we advise you to come back to Rome once again and stay in these areas on your second trip when you’ve got the “must see” attractions covered!
Pantheon and Navona Square Area
Pantheon and Navona Square Area could be pretty touristic as well. However, this area is properly regarded as Rome historic center and if you are an early bird you can have all to yourself quaint little alleys, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. This area also features several hotels and apartments for rental that will suit all kinds budgets. One of the pros of staying in this area is that there are some of our favourite restaurants, trattorias and wine bars that stay open until late in the evening. This area is not served by the metro, but is well connected to the Vatican Area and the Colosseum Area by buses.
Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain Area
The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain Area may look as one of the best location to stay in, especially for romantic couples. There you will find several hotels, boutique hotels and luxury apartments. However, staying next to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps can be quite expensive. For visitors traveling with a limited budget or with kids the best option is to stay between this area and the Vatican City Area.
Staying in the Vatican City Area
The area outside the Vatican City Walls, which we referred to in our guide as Vatican City Area, is certainly the best area to stay in Rome for first time visitors. Surfing the net you’ll find plenty of solutions concerning accommodations such as boutique hotels, bed and breakfast, and apartments. Our advice for you is to stay next to Lepanto Metro Station (Red or A Line), thus you will be at a walking distance from several Rome’s highlights such as the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, but also Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, but apart from touristic places and crowds. Traveling by metro, you can reach in just a few stops the Trevi Fountain and with a train change be at the Colosseum and Ancient Rome.
Moreover, this area is less touristic and with nice restaurants, bars, cafes where locals usually go. This area is perfect for families and couples as well.