Last updated on February 7, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Rome

Where to stay in Rome – best places with kids, on a budget, first-time

This is a guide which was long due, having lived in the eternal city for over 5 years.

I had so many friends coming to visit and asking me where to stay in Rome, which area works best.

It can indeed be quite overwhelming, especially if you are a first time visitor or you have kids with you. It’s a chaotic city with a real traffic problem.

This guide will tell you all the best places to stay in Rome, the top areas, based on your type of trip, you are either travelling with family, as a couple or ultimately as a single.

But let’s dig into it.

You can read also

For the latest news and cultural events in Rome, you should check the Wanted in Rome website, a great source of information. 

Where to stay in Rome – in a nutshell

The Italian capital is the 4th biggest city in Europe with a population of over 4M people. No wonder you find it hard to understand what is the best area to stay in Rome.

The best neighbourhoods to book your accommodation are the ones in the centre, usually well served by the Metro line or the bus/tram system.

They are mostly located in Municipio I (one of the 15 administrative subdivisions in Rome).

Tip #1: being close to a Metro helps a lot when moving around. Buses are not that reliable, unfortunately. You may end up waiting much more than you anticipated which can be quite annoying.

Best areas to stay in Rome
Best areas to stay in Rome (Map data © Google)
  • Where to stay in Rome for the first time visitor: the Historic Centre (Centro Storico) is a great place to stay in Rome if it’s your first time in the Italian capital. You will be close to all the major attractions as the Colosseum, Venice Square, Navona Square, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc. You will have plenty of restaurants, bars and cafe options. What’s the catch? It’s probably the most expensive area in the city. Still, you can find some great deals if you book well in advance. Read below more about the Historic Centre, including 2 great value accommodations and the best restaurants.
  • Best area to stay in Rome with kids: Prati is my favourite neighbourhood to stay when travelling with kids. It’s one of the quietest areas in the centre of Rome, it’s next to Vaticano with many pedestrian-only areas and it’s an easy walk to Villa Borghese, the biggest park in the central area where you can have some time off with the kids. San Giovanni is another good area, cheaper but well connected with a Metro. Great if you have grown-up kids that would like to buy some fashionable Italian clothes. This is the area where actually the locals go (Via Appa Nuova). It’s a short walk also to the Colosseum and to a couple of small parks with playgrounds. Read more on staying in Rome with kids.
  • Best place to stay in Rome as a tourist: I have already mentioned how the Historic Centre is a great area to stay in Rome for its position. In saying that I find Trastevere as the best spot for tourists that are looking for small lanes, boutique squares, tiny churches and a good nightlife made of late drinks. It’s more of a “this is what I expected from Rome” feeling. A neighbourhood to fall in love with. Read more on Trastevere.
  • Where to stay in Rome on a budget: The Central Station (Roma Termini) is the area with the cheapest accommodation around. There is a vast choice. My suggestion is to stay close to Repubblica Square, otherwise, you may end-up in Chinatown which is probably not the typical Italian experience you are probably looking for. A good alternative, especially in summer, is to book your place in Ostia, a town on the beach and connected with a direct train to Rome. You will get to enjoy the Rome attractions and, at the same time, you can have a nice swim either in the early morning or at sunset time. Restaurants also tend to be cheaper, especially if you are after a few fish dishes. In summer you have also great nightlife along the beach. Read more below on where to stay in Rome on budget.
  • Best neighbourhood to stay for nightlife: San Lorenzo is the University area, probably the neighbourhood with the youngest demography. Here you will find plenty of bars for a late night and a few small clubs. For bigger dancing clubs stay in Testaccio. Read more below about the nightlife in Rome.
  • Best place to stay with family: If you are travelling on a family reunion or you just have a big family then Prati is the area where you will be more likely to find an AirBnb style accommodation with multiple rooms. This is the best area of Rome for spacious apartments that go beyond the 2 bedrooms units. I also like to highlight here the 47Luxury Suites AirBnb, with balcony meters from the Colosseum. This is rarely available, and for a good reason, the unique view.
  • Best places to stay in Rome for couples: the most romantic part of the city is certainly Trastevere with its tiny lanes and boutique squares. You can find in the area so many nice little wine bars, restaurants and cocktail bars to spend the night. Not to mention a nice walk along the Tiber River and a visit to Tiber Island. Read more below about Rome with your partner
  • Where to stay for a honeymoon: this is such a romantic city! Hard to get it wrong, isn’t it? The Palazzo Pamphilj is an amazing choice. Great central position in front of Piazza Navona, luxurious rooms, amazing building and the rooftop with a view that you will remember forever. Very famous with celebrities and politicians. The Hotel de Russie is another great contender, with the lovely garden, possibly the best in the Historic Centre, meters from the Spanish Steps, so amazingly romantic.
  • Where to stay in Airbnb: Nowadays you can find AirBnb literally everywhere in Rome, also because every booking platform now offers AirBnb style places, most of the time at a cheaper rate. You can check the Casa Ricci Marchetti, with an amazing Colosseum view, absolutely gorgeous. Or the Trevi Maison, you could literally jump in the Trevi fountain from the window, really amazing! And another great example is the hidden Garibaldi Rooftop Apartment, with the amazing balcony and rooftop area with a unique view to the eternal Rome (see photos here). You can read more on my full guide to the best Airbnb in Rome, where I suggest the top AirBnb based on the view, location, rooftop/balcony, budget, etc.
  • Best neighbourhood for sightseeing: if you want to stay close to all the attractions, mostly within walking distance, then stay in the Historic Centre, closer to Vatican City. From there you can visit 90% of the attraction except for the Colosseum, which would be a long walk (~3km), but you can take either the Metro or a bus, easy.
  • Best places to stay in Rome near Colosseum: Monti is the neighbourhood to be, facing both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. In Monti, you will find one of my favourite accommodations, the 47Luxury Suites AirBnb. It hosts up to 8 people, with a balcony and view to the Colosseum, I may add in great luxury. The Colosseum Palace Hotel is also an exceptional guesthouse that offers great rooms, with a la carte breakfast, and an amazing shared terrace with a view to the Colosseum, really spectacular.
  • Best place to stay near the airport: if you need to stay close to the Fiumicino Airport then you have two possibilities. You can stay at the airport itself and there are two hotels, the Hilton Rome Airport and the Air Rooms Rome Airport, they both have similar value for money. The alternative, if you are more on a budget, is to stay in Fiumicino town or just outside the airport, like at the B&B Hotel Roma Fiumicino where they offer also a quick shuttle to the airport. This hotel is also next door to the Parco Leonardo Shopping Centre which is a great plus for the last shopping.
  • Best place to stay outside Rome: the best choice here is Ostia, right at the beach and very well connected with direct trains to Rome. The price of accommodation is also lower which makes it a valid option for a trip on a budget
  • Where to stay near the Vatican: the Vatican City is bordering Borgo, where you are literally meters from San Peter Square and Prati. Borgo is one of the most expensive areas to stay in Rome however Prati is a good value neighbourhood, with a wide variety of accommodation for any kind of price. Read more below about Prati
  • Where to stay in Rome like a local: one of the best areas of Rome for a local experience is probably San Giovanni. It’s a neighbourhood which is still close to the centre and very well connected by Metro to everywhere in the city. It’s a well-known part of the city for shopping, very busy during the massive end-of-season discounts (January and mid-July). You will find only local restaurants and small shops as they used to be. It all tends to be cheaper and better value. Read more about San Giovanni
  • Where to stay in Rome with a car: parking is a problem in Rome, everywhere, and very expensive when available. Moreover, a big part of the city centre is ZTL (Restricted Traffic Area). My suggestion here is to either find accommodation with parking (very rare) or leave the car in a multilevel parking area next to a Metro station in the outskirts of the city. In this case, I suggest Anagnina, you park for 2-4Euros/day and you can take the direct Metro to the city centre from there, so practical! 
  • Where to stay in Rome for 3 days: with three nights and three full days you can pretty much book wherever you want, in conjunction with the kind of experience you are looking for and how you travel (family, kids, couple etc). In 3 days you can explore a lot of Rome, for example, you could focus on the Vatican and part of the Historic Centre on Day 1, then the second day you keep visiting the historic centre up to the Colosseum. The third day will be dedicated to Trastevere and the Janiculum Terrace, the balcony of Rome. I have organised a guide for 3 days in Rome with three itinerary options that work great for couples, or families or art&culture lovers.
  • Where to stay for 2 nights: you will start running short on time, but surely you will fall in love with the city and you will promise yourself to be back. In this case, I would stay in the Historic Centre. From there, focus on the Vatican and all the surrounding attractions. Read more on 3 detailed morning and afternoon options for a 2 days in Rome itinerary, with maps and photos.
  • Where to stay for one night: unfortunately one night will not allow you to see too much of the eternal city. Focus your time on the Historic Centre, where you also should book your stay. For dinner go to Campo de’ Fiori, a lovely and popular square with plenty of restaurant and bars.
  • Can I visit Rome in a day: you can’t visit all of Rome but, if you get organised, you will be surprised by how much you can experience. Check out my post of Rome in one day to see 3 possible options, including one on a budget
  • So, how long to stay in Rome: I lived there for over 5 years and I loved it so much. I had such a great time. In my opinion, the minimum stay should be at least 3 full days. If you have 5 or 6 days then you can visit other interesting and unique attractions and destinations as the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the nearby Appia Antica (a well-preserved road from ancient Rome), Ostia Antica (archeological site with the remains of the early Roman harbour) or the ancient town of Tivoli with the amazing Villa d’Este and the superb waterfalls. And I could keep going with more suggestions. Leave a comment below if you need more information 😉
  • Best self-guided walks: I have organised 7 walks of Rome with maps that you can follow yourself, without the need of a guide. I have used a few of them into the itineraries below, based on the type of trip you have in mind (romantic, cultural, historic, etc)
  • Unique experiences in Rome:
  • Do you want to go straight to your hotel? Pre-order an airport transfer that will wait for you directly at the airport. So easy.

Tip #2: Rome is busy and chaotic, no questions about it. Try to visit it in the very early hours of the morning when the city it’s still sleeping. You will not have many people around.

Where to stay in Rome for first time visitor – Historic Center

The Historic Centre (Centro Storico) is the best place to stay in Rome for first time visitor because you can find almost all of the Roman attractions in walking distance.

It’s actually quite a wide area, on the Northernmost side you have Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. On the Southernmost side, you have the Colosseum and the Roman Forum

A walk between the two sides would take at least 40 minutes, without any stops.

Historic Centre of Rome
Historic Centre of Rome (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

Stay on the north side if you plan to do some shopping in the popular Via del Corso and if you plan to visit the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Vatican City.

Villa Borghese, the biggest park in central Rome is also there, which makes it an ideal destination if you have kids with you or you just want a break from the chaotic city.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Stay on the south side if you plan to visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trajan’s Market, the Palatino and Trastevere.

You can obviously walk all around the Historic Center and you can also use the 2 Metro Lines (Red and Blue) that cross in the Central Station Termini.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Pantheon Square
Pantheon Square – From my Walking in Rome Photography Project

Eating and Drinking in the historic centre

In the heart of the Historic Centre, you should not miss visiting Pane e Salame, a cosy bar/restaurant that offers local products as cured meats, cheese, homemade bread and fantastic wine. All at a very reasonable price, especially considering it is meters from the Trevi Fountain. 

The CiPASSO Vineria-Bistrot is another spectacular restaurant one block from the Tiber River and meters from Castel Sant’Angelo, nestled in a small alley.

The food is to die for, Italian with a modern twist. It’s quite trendy, and they do not take reservations, so expect to wait for a table, however, you can always have a drink at the entrance.

La Terrazza restaurant is more of a fine dining option (Michelin stared). Besides the amazing food, you have also one of the best views of the city, to remember for a long while. Try to book well in advance.

For a glass of wine go to the very characteristic Vinaietto, a small Bohemian bar with a massive wine selection at a great price too. Very casual and underground, where the locals hang out.

Where to stay in Rome with kids and family

Rome can be quite chaotic however you can still find quieter areas where you can have a nice sleep and an easy time, especially if you have small kids.

There are two areas that excel and possibly provide the best places to stay with family. They both tend to have hotels or apartments with 2 or more bedrooms (on the bigger side).

Prati (with small kids)

Prati is a nice neighbourhood next to Vatican City with a great local feeling, plenty of family-run restaurants and small shops.

Prati area
Prati area (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

There are two Metro Station, Ottaviano and Lepanto (Red Line), for a quick and easy connection to Central Station Termini (and from there to the Airport or the next destination).

It’s walking distance to Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican Museums, besides the world-famous Museo dell’Ara Pacis

The pavement is quite large and easy to walk with a pram. Moreover, you are also close to the Villa Borghese, just on the other side of the Tiber River.

This is the biggest park in Central Rome, an excellent place to spend some time with the energetic small kids.

You can find inside the park also the Bioparco, a boutique zoo where they really look after the animals, always great fun for children.

On the side of Villa Borghese, you can also find the Museo Dei Bambini Di Roma, an interactive museum dedicated to the kids, with play areas too. 

If you are on an Airbnb, pay a visit to Castroni. This is a gourmet grocery store famous for Romans. You can find here all the most interesting products, locally produced and from all over Italy.

For dinner go to the Osteria Nuvolari, a nice restaurant at a great family price; they are definitely used to have kids around the tables. 

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Early morning in Prati
Early morning in Rome

San Giovanni (with grown-up children)

San Giovanni is all about having a local experience, with boutique shops and family-run restaurants.

There is also a small park in the area with a little playground but really nothing special.

San Giovanni
San Giovanni (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

What San Giovanni is famous for is the great shopping and if you have grown-up kids they will love it. Only the latest Italian fashion of course.

In January and late July, seasonal discounts are one and the price can drop even 70% from the original retail price, absolutely a bargain.

From San Giovanni, you are also within walking distance to the Colosseum (a mast for kids), the Roman Forum and the Domus Aurea (remain of a villa over 3 floors from the Roman empire).

You can also catch the Red Metro Line, very handy for moving quickly through the city.

For dinner go to the Alchimia FoodLab and you will have one of the most beautiful food experience in Rome. Italian style with an international twist.

Another choice, more on the hipster side, is VEG-Joy, a vegan restaurant with many options, including vegan burgers. All very reasonably priced.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

The Holy Spirit Hospital in Borgo
The Holy Spirit Hospital in Borgo

Best places to stay in Rome for couples – Trastevere

Trastevere is one of the most romantic city neighbourhood in Italy I believe. Hard to find anything similar to it.

It was once the poorest part of the city, “over the Tiber River” (Tras-Tevere).

An area where nobody wanted to live, of course.

Trastevere
Trastevere (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

Now Trastevere is an amazing and poetic neighbourhood, with its lovely old boutique buildings, tiny street, hidden squares, cobblestones all around, small churches, wine bars, lovely restaurants and plenty of people around.

Yes, it can be noisy if you do not choose the right accommodation and that’s why I am here, to suggest the right ones 😉

Walk during the day along the Tiber River and at sunset visit the Tiber Island, so magical. 

If you do not mind an uphill walk then go to the Janiculum Terrace for the best panoramic view of the city.

The Parco del Gianicolo is the perfect spot to sit, relax and forget about the traffic and chaotic part of the city. It’s a lovely place, especially in summer, when it tends to be much fresher than Trastevere.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Eating and Drinking in Trastevere

For dinner go to the Impiccetta, which offer a very tasty local cuisine at a fantastically affordable price.

The Casa Mia Restaurant is a new kid in the block, maybe still not well-known, but with a very tasty selection of local dishes.

They have an open kitchen concept, which means you will be able to see how they work and how busy they are. Have a try before it gets too popular.

For a happy hour drink, head to the Chakra Cafè, very popular for its cocktails and aperitivo.

Small lanes of Trastevere
Small lanes of Trastevere

Where to stay in Rome on a budget

Rome is not a cheap city for accommodations, however, you can still find some good places to stay on a budget.

These are mostly around the Central Station Termini, probably not the most iconic or beautiful part of the city and that’s the catch.

The other possibility is to stay outside Rome altogether. And the town of Ostia, on the coast, is the best option in my opinion.

Central Station Termini (in the city)

This is the area of Rome with the highest concentration of accommodation, mostly on the budget side.

It’s well connected with the rest of the city, having a Metro Station with both the Red and Blue line. 

Central Station
Central Station (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

Moreover, there is here a direct train to the International Airport Fiumicino or a bus for half the price (but it will take twice as long due to the traffic).

There is also a bus to the Ciampino Airport (mostly low-cost airlines).

So, why is this area cheaper than the others?

It’s not as safe and glamour as the other neighbourhoods. But it’s well connected with the rest of Rome and within walking distance to San Lorenzo, a great area for nightlife.

There is plenty of police around so it’s rare there is any issue, but already the fact to have so much police around can be a discomfort. It’s a personal thing.

I would probably not stay in the area of the Esquilino (south of the station), as there is not much of an Italian feeling and character left. It’s the Chinatown of Rome.

If you can, book your accommodation close to Repubblica Station, or more into the Monti neighbourhood.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Eating and Drinking around Termini

For a quick pizza go to Pinsere, where you will find a fantastic pizza at probably the cheapest price in Rome.

There is no seating area, it’s more of standing and enjoy the place.

If you want to have a break from pizza and pasta then Zazie is a great Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant, offering mostly organic food. 

For a fishy dish go to the Cantina Cantarini. It’s a family-run restaurant and they make great local dishes, unpretentious and so yummy!

Walking in the Historic Centre
Walking in the Historic Centre

Ostia (outside but well connected)

The Central Station area has the best places to stay in Rome on a budget, however, if you can’t find any or you want to save even more, then you should look outside the city.

You need to budget the cost of the train tickets (usually not as expensive).

Ostia Beach
Ostia Beach

A good town is Ostia, on the coast. You will also find a long beach, which is probably nothing to call home about, but still a good one for that hot summer days.

Between June and August, Ostia becomes also one of the nightlife places to be. You will find plenty of bars and disco clubs along the beach.

It’s also a good place for families if you want to mix city exploration and sandcastles building, time for everyone.

Just do not book a hotel facing the beach, it can be noisy in summer.

There is a direct train to Rome every 10-15 minutes, which works great. There are three stations in Ostia, try to stay close to either Lido Nord or even better Lido Centro, more central to the town.

There is also a direct bus to the close airport of Fiumicino run by the company Cotral (I personally never used it) or you can easily grab a taxi for a quick ride (10km).

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Eating and Drinking around Ostia

Il Tempio is a great spot for pizza, running for the last 40 years probably.

There is not much space to sit, however, the food is to die for and at a very reasonable price (read cheap).

Proietti is another great spot to eat, at a fantastic price, specialised in meat.

You select your meat slice and they grill it for you. The typical Roman “Rosticceria”. Great value for money.

Best place to stay in Rome for nightlife

As we said above, Ostia has good nightlife in summer, a great place for an Aperitivo at the beach with chill-out music and a few disco clubs opening late at night. 

In the city of Rome, there are two good neighbourhoods, San Lorenzo where the university area is, and Testaccio, along the Tiber River.

Trastevere is also a place with plenty of restaurants and late-night drinking but on a quieter side..

San Lorenzo (young and energetic)

This is the university area of Rome, this is where you see the local young crowd in the evening having a drink, a quick dinner and getting ready for a long night.

It’s an area that was heavily bombed during the second world war.

You will notice, in fact, that the buildings have been mostly rebuilt after the end of the conflict.

San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

If you stay in this area then select carefully your accommodation as this area can be quite noisy at night.

There are not as many attractions in this area, the nightlife is number one.

For something different, have a walk in the Verano Cemetery, where you will find graves of many famous painters, writers, poets and artists.

Another interesting place is the San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura Church, easily reachable with tram #3. This is such an interesting place, incredibly underrated, and maybe better like that because you will share it only with a small bunch of other visitors.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Eating and Drinking in San Lorenzo

The wall 23 (formerly Descanso) is a great bar for drinks with a small selection of food. 

The Apartment Bar is another cosy place with a 10Euro food buffet and great cocktails.

They have also a DJ set which starts with some chillout music and moves later in the night to commercial music.

Testaccio (dancing clubs and early morning)

Testaccio was the area of the working class. Today is the place to be for late nightlife.

Testaccio
Testaccio (Map data © OpenStreetMap)

It faces Trastevere, on the other side of the Tiber River, and it has a Metro Station (Piramide) which is very handy if you plan to move around the city.

In this area you should check these accommodations:

Eating and Drinking in Testaccio

This area is very famous with Romans for restaurant cooking the traditional food of the city. The Antico Forno is one of the most beloved choices.

Felice a Testaccio is another great choice specialised in Roman cooking. Try to book a table as it is a very popular restaurant. Order the “abbacchio” (baby lamb), one of the culinary icons of the city.

For the best nightlife walk to the Mattatoio area, today a Museum of Contemporary Art, plenty of bars there.

A good disco club is Caffè Latino, open till 4am, with plenty of Latin music, either live or with a dj. 

Shake is very popular for its live music. They also have a cheap buffet for dinner.

On the Rox is the place to go for the after-party, open til 5-6am in the morning.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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