Where to stay in Rome first time: 8 Best areas & safe neighborhoods

Wondering where to stay in Rome for the first time? In this guide, I will give you recommendations on the best areas to stay in Rome as a first-time visitor, the safest parts and areas to avoid when booking your accommodations.

Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy and the world. It is known for its rich history, ancient ruins, delicious Italian cuisine, and vibrant atmosphere. 

The Eternal City is divided into two areas by the River Tiber. On the east side is the Centro Storico with iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Spanish Steps. The west side of the river is the famous Vatican City, trendy Trastevere and Prati.

Where to stay in Rome first time?

Centro Storico is the best overall area to stay in Rome for first-timers due to its central location and its safety. This area offers easy access to major attractions like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon, as well as many restaurants, cafes, and shops.

In addition to the Centro Storico, first-time visitors can consider to stay in Trastevere, Monti, Piazza di Spagna, Trevi, Prati, and Testaccio. These are also the popular and safe neighborhoods for tourists that offers a range of attractions and facilities for tourists. 

If this is your first visit, I recommend spending 4 to 5 days in Rome, which is a good amount of time to see major attractions such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican City, explore popular neighborhoods, try local foods, and get a sense of the city’s rich history and culture.

What is the safest part of Rome to stay in?

Prati, Centro Storico, and Trastevere are some of the safest areas to stay in Rome for tourists. But like any major city, you should be aware of pickpocketing and petty theft. Always keep an eye on your belongings, exercise common sense, stay in well-lit and populated areas. 

The safest parts of the Centro Storico are between the Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. They are excellent locations for first-timers with plenty of things to do and see during day and night. 

What areas of Rome to avoid staying in?

It is recommended to stay alert and be mindful of your belongings in the areas around Termini Station and Esquilino as they have higher incidence of pickpocketing or scams.

Some residential areas on the outskirts of Rome may have higher crime rates, I recommend staying in the central areas where most attractions are located.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Rome for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map:

Map of the most popular areas to stay in Rome for travelers
Map of the most popular areas to stay in Rome for travelers

8 Best areas to stay in Rome for first-time visitors

1. Centro Storico, best overall area for first-timers

Centro Storico is the best overall place to stay in Rome for first-time visitors due to its central location, safety, well-connected public transportation, and wide range of accommodation options. 

Staying here allows you to be located right in the heart of Rome, close to the city’s major attractions such as Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, the Colosseum, and Roman Forum.

The Centro Storico is the historical core of Rome, located on the east side of the River Tiber. It is a huge area and can be divided into smaller areas including the areas around:

  • The Pantheon, an ancient Roman temple-turned-church. Staying here means being located in the city’s most central location, close to attractions, lively streets filled with cafes, shops, and gelaterias.
  • Piazza Navona, a vibrant square known for its beautiful Baroque fountains, lively atmosphere, and street artists. Central location with charming atmosphere. 
  • Campo de’ Fiori, a bustling square with a daily market, lively nightlife, and the nearby is the Jewish Ghetto offers a unique cultural experience and is close to the Tiber River.
  • Trevi Fountain, Rome’s iconic landmark, and staying in this area will allow you to enjoy its beauty both during the day and at night when it’s less crowded. 
  • Spanish Steps, best area for shopping with high-end shopping streets, charming cafes, easy access to Via dei Condotti, Via del Babuino, and Villa Borghese gardens.
  • Colosseum, great area to immerse yourself in ancient history, within walking distance of the iconic amphitheater, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. 

Rome’s historic center offers a romantic atmosphere with narrow cobblestone streets, stunning architecture, charming piazzas such as Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, and Piazza del Popolo, filled with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Apart from the historical sites and landmarks, the Centro Storico is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and churches, including the Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis Museum, and the Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola.

It is compact and walkable, making it easy to explore on foot. The area is well-connected by public transportation, including buses and the metro system, making it a great base to explore other popular areas, such as Vatican City and Trastevere.

In addition to sightseeing, the historic center also offers a wide range of dining options. You’ll be located within walking distance from many traditional trattorias, trendy restaurants, cafes, and gelaterias. 

It has numerous boutiques, high-end fashion stores, and artisan shops, making it a great place for shopping. There is also a great nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and lively piazzas where street performers and musicians entertain both locals and tourists.

Centro Storico is generally considered safe for tourists. It is known to have a relatively lower crime rate compared to some other neighborhoods. It is a well-patrolled area, and the presence of tourists and locals contributes to a safer environment. 

Again, there are pickpocketing and scams, but if you take the precautions, you will probably have no problems at all. If you are looking for the safest areas in the historic center, look into the area around the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and Trevi Fountain.

The Centro Storico provides an excellent range of accommodations. The prime location and popularity of the area often come with higher price tags. However, with careful research, it’s still possible to find affordable options.

Being one of the most popular areas in Rome, Centro Storico can get quite crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons, and noisy especially in the evenings. The narrow streets can become congested, and popular attractions may have long queues. 

Overall, despite a few potential drawbacks, staying in Centro Storico is a great choice for first-timers who want to be close to major attractions, safe areas, and experience the authentic atmosphere of the Eternal City.

Best places to stay in Rome Centro Storico for first time:


2. Trastevere – authentic experience, lively nightlife scene

Trastevere literally means “across the Tiber,” and is a charming neighborhood located on the west bank of the Tiber River. It is known for its narrow, winding streets, medieval architecture, delicious food scene, and vibrant nightlife.

Trastevere retains a traditional Roman feel and offers a more authentic experience compared to some other tourist-heavy areas.

Trastevere has a lively nightlife scene. In the evenings, the area comes alive with restaurants, bars, and clubs. The lively piazzas such as Piazza di Santa Maria are often filled with locals and visitors enjoying outdoor cafes and live music.

The neighborhood is renowned for its excellent dining scene, offering a wide range of traditional Roman and Italian cuisine. Trastevere is filled with trattorias, osterias, and pizzerias that serve mouthwatering dishes, making it a food lover’s paradise.

Trastevere has long been a hub for artists, writers, and creative individuals. The neighborhood has a thriving artistic community, with numerous art galleries, workshops, and studios. You can often find street artists showcasing their talents in the area.

Trastevere is home to several cultural attractions. The Basilica of Santa Maria dates back to the 4th century, features beautiful mosaics and a stunning interior. Other notable churches include Basilica of St Chrysogonus and Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.

Trastevere is located south of the Vatican City and the Gianicolo Hill, making it a great base to access the Vatican and the Gianicolo, which provides panoramic views of Rome.

You can explore the narrow streets, with artisan shops, boutiques, and art galleries, offering a wide range of unique and handmade items. There are also local markets such as Porta Portese flea market, where you can find vintage treasures and unique souvenirs.

Trastevere is conveniently located within about a 30 minute walk to the popular attractions in the historic center such as Campo de’ Fiori, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Roman Forum, and Colosseum. There are several bus and tram lines running from Trastevere train station to Piazza Venezia.

If you cross the Ponte Cestio, you can visit Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island), which is a small island located in the Tiber River. There are green spaces and benches along the riverbanks where people can relax and enjoy the view.

Trastevere is generally safe with a rare violent crime rate, but like any urban area, there’s a risk of petty crime. If you use common sense and take basic precautions, you can enjoy exploring the area without worrying about your safety.

While Trastevere offers many advantages, it’s worth noting that it can get quite lively and crowded, particularly in the evenings. If you want to experience local life with a lively nightlife scene, and proximity to popular tourist attractions, Trastevere is a great base in Rome.

Trastevere has a wide choice of accommodation options ranging from budget B&Bs to luxury modern hotels. Accommodation prices here are slightly cheaper compared to the historic center because it is less centrally located. 

Best places to stay in Rome in Trastevere for first-timers:


3. Monti – hip area close to the Colosseum

Monti is a hip neighborhood located in central Rome, close proximity to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Piazza Venezia, making it an ideal base to explore ancient Roman ruins. 

Staying here allows you to explore attractions on foot and by public transportation. It is located within walking distance to the  Roma Termini train station, which is the transport hub of the city. In addition, the Cavour, Termini, and Colosseo subway stops are nearby.

In addition to Rome’s iconic landmarks, Monti also has its own attractions. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is an impressive church, known for its stunning interior and beautiful mosaics

Monti has a bohemian and artistic atmosphere, and is known for its narrow, winding streets, quaint cafes, vintage shops, and art galleries. Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, Piazza degli Zingari, Via San Giovanni, and Via Urbana are packed with things to explore.

Monti is home to a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars, wine bars, and pubs where you can relax and enjoy a drink. It’s a great place to experience the Roman night scene and socialize with both locals and fellow travelers.

The area is packed with boutique shops, vintage stores, and artisanal shops where you can find unique items and souvenirs. There are local markets, such as the Mercato Rionale Monti and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II market, Trajan’s Market, where you can find local products.

There is a wide range of dining options, from traditional Roman trattorias to international cuisines, satisfying a variety of tastes.

Monti provides a number of accommodation options including boutique hotels, apartments, guest houses, and b&bs. Accommodations in Monti are more budget-friendly compared to the historic center.

Monti is considered a relatively safe area to stay in Rome, but like any urban area, it’s always important to take standard safety precautions about petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams targeting tourists.  

Overall, Monti is an excellent choice for first-time visitors to Rome, offering a central location, charming atmosphere, and easy access to major attractions. Just be prepared for potential crowds, noise in the evenings, and higher prices due to its popularity.

Best places to stay in Rome in Monti for first-time visitors:


4.  Spanish Steps – high end shopping area

The Spanish Steps area is located in the heart of Rome, making it a convenient base for exploring the city. You’ll be located within walking distance to the iconic Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon.

The area is known for its high-end shopping streets, such as Via dei Condotti, Via del Babuino, and Via Margutta. It has many luxury stores like Gucci, Prada, and Bulga, making it a great choice for fashion enthusiasts.

The Spanish Steps themselves are an iconic landmark with a rich history, connecting the Spanish Square (Piazza di Spagna) and the Trinità dei Monti church. It  is a popular meeting point and a great spot to relax and people-watch. 

While in the area, you can explore the Keats-Shelley House at the base of the Spanish Steps, as well as the Fontana della Barcaccia and Babington’s Tea Room.

The Spanish Steps area is home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene with various venues for entertainment and cocktails.

The area is also located close to The Villa Borghese Park, features beautiful gardens, lush green spaces, and various attractions and activities, where you can find the Borghese Gallery and Museum and Museo Carlo Bilotti.

The Spanish Steps area is an upscale neighborhood, which is generally regarded as safe. The area is usually crowded with tourists, especially during peak travel seasons, and there is a significant police presence in the city to ensure the safety of visitors.

Like in any major tourist destination, it’s a good practice to keep an eye on your belongings, and be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded areas.

Piazza di Spagna is well-connected by public transportation. There are metro stations close to the square itself and Piazza del Popolo, making it easy to get around the city.

Being a sought-after area, accommodations and dining options around Piazza di Spagna tend to be more expensive compared to other parts of the city. It’s essential to consider your budget when choosing this area.

Best places to stay in Rome in Spagna for the first time:


5. Trevi – iconic landmarks

The Trevi area is one of the best areas to stay in Rome, especially for first-time visitors because it is centrally located and offers easy access to many popular attractions such as Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Barberini.

Trevi Fountain offers a breathtaking sight and attracts numerous tourists throughout the year. Staying in the Trevi area allows you to visit the fountain multiple times, both during the day and at night when it is beautifully illuminated.

The area also offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses, catering to different budgets. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops in the vicinity, providing ample opportunities for dining and shopping.

However, it’s worth noting that the Trevi area can get quite crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Additionally, accommodation prices in the Trevi area tend to be higher compared to some other districts in Rome.

The Trevi area is a popular tourist destination and generally considered safe for visitors. It is heavily patrolled by police and security personnel, especially during peak tourist seasons. But it is important to be aware of your surroundings, as petty crimes such as pickpocketing can occur.

Ultimately, choosing the best area to stay in Rome depends on your personal preferences and interests. If you value convenience, proximity to major attractions, and don’t mind the crowds, then the Trevi area can be an excellent choice for your first-time visit to Rome.

Best places to stay in Rome in Trevi for first-time visitors:


6. Prati – upscale residential area near the Vatican City

Prati is an upscale residential neighborhood located near the Vatican City. With its tree-lined streets, elegant buildings, and local atmosphere, Prati is an excellent choice for those seeking a quieter and more relaxed stay in Rome. 

The area is known for its excellent shopping opportunities, gourmet restaurants, and charming cafés, especially along the famous Via Cola di Rienzo. Prati also offers easy access to the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Castel Sant’Angelo.

Prati is known for being a safe neighborhood, particularly for tourists. It has a relatively low crime rate, making it popular among families, professionals, and tourists, and you’ll find a pleasant and secure atmosphere.

While Prati has its own unique appeal, it lacks the ancient charm found in the historic center. Although Prati is close to the Vatican City and attractions on the western side of Rome, it may require a longer walk or a short taxi or metro ride to reach sites in the historic center.

Overall, Prati offers a convenient and safe location for first-time visitors to Rome, with its central location, shopping opportunities, and local atmosphere, and proximity to the Vatican City.

Best places to stay in Rome in Prati for first-timers:


7. Termini Central Station – convenient transportation hub

Termini Central Station, also known as Roma Termini or simply Termini, is the main transportation hub in Rome, offering easy access to major attractions, as well as convenient connections to airports and train stations.

Termini serves as a terminal for both national and international train services, including high-speed trains, regional trains, and local commuter trains (Rome Metro lines A and B).

Termini is a busy area with a mix of hotels, shops, and restaurants. While it offers various accommodation options, including a wide range of budget-friendly hotels and hostels, it may lack the charm and beauty that Rome is famous for.

While Termini Central Station is generally safe, it’s worth noting that it can attract pickpockets and petty thieves due to the large crowds and busy atmosphere. It’s advisable to take some basic precautions to ensure your safety.

Overall, Termini Central Station is a convenient base to stay in Rome for one night, and for those seeking inexpensive hotels and easy transportation. For a more authentic and charming experience, you may consider staying in the historic center, Trastevere, or the Vatican area.

Best places to stay in Rome in Termini Central Station:


8. Testaccio – best area for food lovers

Located on the east bank of the Tiber River, Testaccio offers a mix of local charm, authenticity, and convenient access to major attractions.

Testaccio is named after Monte Testaccio, a hill made entirely of discarded pottery shards, known as amphorae. These broken clay vessels were used to transport and store goods such as olive oil and wine during ancient Roman times. Monte Testaccio stands as a testament to Rome’s ancient commercial activities.

Testaccio is renowned for its vibrant food scene. It is considered one of Rome’s gastronomic hotspots, and is home to numerous trattorias, pizzerias, and gelaterias where visitors can savor authentic Roman cuisine.

The Testaccio Market is a famous food market in the neighborhood. It has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s and offers a wide variety of local products. 

Testaccio has a lively nightlife and vibrant clubbing scene. It offers a range of bars, clubs, and live music venues that attract both locals and visitors. The  nightlife here is popular among younger crowds and those seeking a lively atmosphere.

Testaccio is within walking distance or a short bus ride from major attractions such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Circus Maximus. The well-connected Piramide metro station provides easy access to the rest of the city.

Best places to stay in Rome in Testaccio first time:


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In conclusion, Centro Storico, Trastevere, Monti, Spagna/Trevi, Prati, and Testaccio are the best places to stay in Rome for first-time tourists. Centro Storico is the best overall area, while Trastevere has a bohemian vibe and lively nightlife.

Termini Central Station suits travelers seeking convenience, and Monti is ideal for trendy cafes and boutiques. Piazza di Spagna caters to luxury shoppers, while Prati appeals to those who value elegance and proximity to the Vatican. Testaccio is a haven for food lovers.

Choose your preferred area based on your interests and enjoy the wonders of the Eternal City.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality travel guides.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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