City Breaks

Rome Week: Where to Stay in Rome

Rome is made up of many neighborhoods and choosing where to stay — with or without kids — can be overwhelming. The final decision should be made based on the type of experience you want to have, what you want to explore while you’re there, and the accommodation category — hotel, apartment, or villa — you choose.

Our Rome family hotels list is comprised of options near the main tourist attractions. Of course, you pay a premium for convenience, particularly during the peak family travel periods. I invited a long-time Rome expert, Patrice Salezze, to provide an overview of the different neighborhoods for Rome Week. Patrice runs Papavero Rentals, an exceptional villa and apartment rental agency covering all of Italy. Thank you Patrice, this information is amazing!

Pantheon, Rome

Ancient Rome

Coloseum/Palantine Hill/ Roman and Imperial Forum/ Circus Maximus

Considered by modern Romans as the center of Rome, it was also the heart of Ancient Rome. Legend has it that Romulus founded Rome here, between the Circus Maximus and the Palatine Hill. Walk down any street and you are reminded of ancient Rome with incredible monuments that dating as far back as 2,000 years. The Temple Vesta’s footprint can be traced back to 7th century BC.

Pros: Very quiet in the evenings ensuring a good nights sleep, 2 metro stops Colosseo and Circus Maximus will get you easily to the Spanish Steps and on to the Vatican, steeped in ancient history, short 10-minute walk to the Campo de’Fiore, 15 minutes walk will take you over the Tiber river into the Trastevere district where you will find many good and inexpensive trattorie.

Cons: Limited restaurants and shops in the immediate area, very quiet neighborhood in the evenings.

Things to see: Bocca della Verita, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman & Imperial Forums, Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia. Further south are theBaths of Caracalla. Picnicin Villa Celimontana – one of the prettiest parks in Rome.

The apartments at the Palazzo Romulus e Remus are ideal for families. With just aminimum stay of 3 days, this hotel-like apartment building has a reception desk with 24/7 assistance. The staff is happy to call a taxi, make dinner reservations, and offer touring advice. The rental also includes daily maid service and a continental buffet breakfast that can be enjoyed in the chic Palace café or brought back up to your apartment.

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Piazza Navona

Romans may consider Ancient Rome as itscenter butmost tourists agree that for sightseeing, the Piazza Navona neighborhood is centrally located for walking distance to the most sights. This area was also rebuilt during theRenaissance and Baroque periods as attributed by its architecture. A short 10-minute walk from the ancient Rome, this area includes the Jewish district, the Campo de’ Fiore, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

Pros: Centrally located, monuments and churches are all within walking distance of each other. No need for public transportation or taxis.

Cons: Can be loud in some areas. The Campo de’Fiore is active from the early morning hours when the campo is turned into a daily market. The set up starts early in the morning, breaking down by 3:00 and comes alive again from 10 pm to 2 am as the gathering place for high school and college students. The road along the Tiber has heavy traffic and the sirens from the many ambulances servicing the two main hospitals can disturb some light sleepers.

Things to see: If Venice’s living room is Piazza San Marco, then Rome’s is the Piazza Navona. Musicians, mimes, artists are set along the oval piazza. It is a great area to people-watch. We recommend sitting outside Tre Scalini’s while enjoying the world famous Tartufo gelato confection invented in this very restaurant. Stroll the antique street of Via Giulia to the Ponte Sisto ( Sisto Bridge), The Pantheon and the Rotonda Square, Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Four beautiful Caravaggio’s are still in thechurch of San Luigi dei Francesi.

The Jewish Ghetto with Jewish museumand Synagogue and very good restaurants. Also visit The Trevi Fountain,National Gallery of Ancient Art, Palazzo del Quirinale and the Scuderie Quirinale. Originally the palace’s stables, it is currently host to the Caravaggio exhibit now going on until June 13. There are 24 Caravaggio’s paintingson loan from museums around the world. The exhibit does not have any of Rome’s Caravaggio paintings on display here as they suggest you visit them in the places they were commissioned for. So visit the exhibit first and head out to explore the others.

A bike rests on Rome road, decorated with flower pots

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps/ Palazzo del Popolo

This neighborhood can be called the Meeting Place of Rome. There are signs throughout Rome pointing in the direction of the Spanish Steps, and is an easy place to meetyour friends, family or tour guide. The steps also give you a nice relaxing place to wait – with or without a gelato! This district was built in the 16th century and its streets are filled with the famous and most luxurious shops and hotels. Bustling with tourists from day to night, it is still an ideal place to stay for its great location, easy access to transportation and quiet evenings.

Take a stroll up Via del Corso to the infamous and breathtaking Piazza dell Popolo with the mirror image churches of Santas Maria del Miracoli and Montesanto. Rome’s most elegant garden, The Borghese is an escape from the city and offers a tranquil place where you can rent bikes, picnic or just stroll on a Sunday afternoonalongside Roman families.

Pros: Ideal location, lots of activity yet quiet peaceful nights. Convenient transportation with the Spanish Steps Metro and a large Taxi Queue. Fashion designer stores on Via Condotti, more shopping on Via Frattina. Gelato and cafes abound. Easy walking distance to many sites including the Piazza Navona area.

Cons: Tourist area means higher prices in restaurants and shops. Add the high price of real estate and the cost of sleeping in this area is higher than others.

Things to see: Keats-Shelly house, The Arc ofPeace, Borghese Museum, Modern Art gallery, Eturscan Museum, take a seat on the Spanish steps after a morning of shopping on Via Condotti.

For convenience and luxury, the Moda apartments are just a few meters from the Spanish steps and the perfect place to return to between sightseeing trips. These two apartments are on the same floor sleeping 5 and 6 guests, and can be joined together for extended families of up to 11. The evenings are so quiet you can keep your windows open during the night.

Street coffee shop in Rome


Literal translation is “beyond the Tiber.” This area was the medieval home of the city’s working class and much ignored until the last thirty years where it is now the district young Romans dream to move into but manycan’t afford. A colorful neighborhood with a Bohemian flavor, it abounds withpizzerias, gelato shops, cafés and pastry shops, this area has becomethe “SO-HO” of Rome.

Pros: A fun neighborhood, less expensive apartments and hotels, lots of medieval and ancient Rome buildings and streets. Inexpensive pizzerias and cafés abound.

Cons: A little further walk to the historic center of Rome, can be loud in the evenings especially on weekends,more pickpockets happen in this area then the historic center.

Things to see: Walk across the Tiber to Trastevere by way of the Cestio bridge that crosses the Tiber Island. Stop into the church of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music. The beautiful church ofSanta Maria in Trastevere sits in the square of the same name ( as well as a very good seafood restaurant called Sabatini). It’s a pleasure to take a leisurely stroll through the tiny streets full of charm and character.

Piazza Navona, Rome


The Vatican area is above Trastevere, and is perfect location for those that are concentrating on Vatican events. A 10-minute taxi ride will take you to the historic center of Rome.

Pros: Close to the Vatican City, Castello Sant’Angelo

Cons: Not much else to do in this area in the evenings, Historic center is reached by metro, taxi or 30-minute walk.

Things to see: The Vatican Museum is large complex housing multiple museums that include the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms Galleries of Maps, Tapestries and Candelabra, Pio-Clementie Museums, Vatican Libraries and the Pinacoteca.

In medieval times, the area outside of St. Peter’s was called “The Borgo” a small neighborhood that catered to pilgrims. This is the reason for so many street names starting with the word Borgo – Borgo Angelico, Sant’Angelo, Vittorio, Pio, Sant’Spirito. From St. Peter’s Basilica, walk down Via dei Corrodori which turns into Borgo Sant’Angelo that leads to catel Sant’Angelo.

Note, the high rampart above Via dei Corrodori – this is the paththat past popes would take to reach the safety of Castel Sant’Angelo. You can retrace those steps by taking a tourthat isoffered each Saturday and Sunday at 3. You must have reservations – +39 080730.

It is now possible to buy advanced tickets directly from the Vatican website. In the past, you could only do this through accredited tour operators who charged hefty commissions. Buying directly from the Vatican website is only an additional 4 euro per ticket for handling charges. You can also book tours with Vatican guides and Scavi and Vatican GardenTo order your tickets, we recommend you going to the Vatican Website exactly 2 months before your requested date.


This area is the main hub for all public transportation within the city. The main train and bus stations are here and both the A and B metro lines intersect at the train station. Tour busses are lined up for Rome sightseeing toursas well as day trips to other areas of Italy.

Pros: access to all major sights and areas of Rome and environs, plenty of budget hotels and restaurants

Cons: Heavily trafficked, bus fumes and lack of charming atmosphere. Be careful when choosing a hotel as some areas are a bit run down.

Things to see: Palazzo Massimo the National Museum of Rome. The ruins of the Baths of Diocleation – thermal baths built in 306 AD. In the 16th century an aging Michealangelo was commissioned to convert a part of the baths into the Church of Santa Maria degli Angelica. Arrive there on a sunny midday to view the ‘meridian’ built in 1703. Light shines through an opening high up on the wall and falls across a brass strip marking the north-south meridian of Rome. For 150 years, noon was defined when the sun’s rays lined up with the brass strip. The church of Santa Maria della Vittoria for Bernini’s famous St. Theresa.


Tivoli was founded before Rome and acquired Roman citizenship in 90 BC. It became the summer retreat of Rome’s wealthiest and is now known as a day trip excursion to see the famous gardens and Villa d’Este. Tivoli was the summer home destination for the wealthiest Romans for the past 2,000 years including Hadrian’s and his villa.

Today it is a great location to stay while visiting Rome, especially for families with children. Just 18 miles outside of Rome, you have easy access to the city by bus or train and on other days visit the countryside or sea.

Pros: Close to Rome that you can visit daily. Cooler summer temperatures that are appreciated in the hot summer months. Easy access to other small villages scattered in the countryside and nice beaches. Slower pace, a good place to return to after a long day of sightseeing.

Cons: Not for those that want to spend every day and night in Rome.

Things to see: Day trips to Rome, Tivoli Gardens and Villa d’Este as well as Hadrian’s Villa. Villa Gregoriana all in Tivoli. Outside the city is the town of Palestrina, after being heavily bombed in WWII, a pagan temple was found and has made this town in important tourist stop. Also visit the Barberini Palace and the Art Museum of Antique Arts. Hill towns of Marino, Rocca di Papa and Nemi. Winery tours in the nearby town of Frascati and a day trip to Ostia Antica’s ruins if you can’t make it to Pompeii. The beaches of Fregene, the Etruscan ruins of Cerveteri and their tombs in Tarqunia. Further north is the town of Viterbo with the nearby Parco dei Mostri – a park filled with monster figures carved from stone.

We recommend a lovely family-friendly villa on the highest hill above Tivoli that is available on a weekly basis. Cool breezes and views of Hadrian’s villa and the Rome skyline including St. Peter’s Dome can be seen from the pool and terraces.

Rome Taxi Tips

The official taxi’s in Rome are white and have a Taxi sign on the roof and side of the car. A taxi fromFiumicino airport to Rome center is fixed at 40 euro. Confirm that with the driver before the taxi sets off. The meter should not be running.

Taxi’s cannot be hailed on the street, you must go to a taxi stand located in many areas of the city. If you can’t find a taxi stand go to the nearest coffee bar, order a drink and ask them to call a taxi for you. They will give you the taxi’s number, you will need this to recognize the taxi when it arrives. This number is located on the driver’s side of the car.

There are two rates in Rome cabs: Tariffa 1 is the most frequent, used within Rome. If you are going outside the city’s ring road than Tariffa 2 would be showing on the meter except for trips to and from the airport which are not metered. Beware of dishonest cab drivers that turn on the Tariffa 2 from the airport. Confirming the price before you start will discourage your driver from turning on the meter. Also, when you are in the city, keep an eye on the meter – make sure that Tariffa 1 is showing on the meter. Many dishonest drivers turn on the Tariffa 2 meter which is a higher price and moves faster. It can double or even triple your cab fare.

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Relevant Links:

Rome travel tips and guides

52 things to know before traveling to Italy with kids

Top things to do Rome

Unique Rome sights with kids

Rome iPhone Apps

Family-friendly dining in Rome

Introduction to Rome with kids (book by the Tourist Office)

Tips for visiting Rome sights with kids (written for WhyGo Italy)

Customizable favorite kid-friendly activities in Rome (written for NileGuide)

Our guide to kid-friendly walking tours of Rome

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  • Lovely tour and highlights of the neighborhoods.I love walking around Rome and visiting the historic sites. One of my favorite spots to visit is the Trastevere and trying the many food venues there is amazing.

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