The beautiful historic city of Rome has so much to offer. Our last post on what to do in Rome covers the basics, a short list for the first time traveler. In the future, we will get around to writing a list of offbeat adventures from Rome. Although there is a lot to see within the city itself, it is also a great location to use as a home base to explore the areas around it. We asked fellow travelers what day trips from Rome they recommended.
By Jeremy & Kate Storm, Our Escape Clause
Set in southern Tuscany, head north from Rome to discover the delightful medieval city of Siena! Tuscany’s second largest city and once a powerful city-state in its own right, Siena is home to all the classic trappings of towns in Tuscany: red rooftops, sprawling piazzas, stunning views of rolling hillsides, and of course, plenty of that epic Tuscan food.
While you’re in Tuscany, be sure to try some truffles, cantucci cookies, and Tuscan ragu–plus plenty of gelato, of course! Though Tuscan cuisine has many similarities to what you’ll find in Rome, it truly is its own beast–be sure to have one meal in a traditional Tuscan trattoria to get the full experience!
Spend your day there (in between your long, leisurely meals, anyway) exploring Siena’s history: start in the Piazza del Campo for views of Siena’s most famous piazza (home of the famous bi-annual horse races!), pay a visit to one of the first hospitals in Europe at the Santa Maria della Scala, and tour Siena’s stunning cathedral.
Then, of course, there are the views: there are plenty of towers to climb and views to seek out in Siena, but with only a day trip to work with, we recommend the tour of the “Gate to Heaven”–aka, the tour that will take you to the roof of Siena’s cathedral, allowing you to admire some truly incredible views of both the Tuscan countryside and the cathedral itself.
By Alex Waltner, Swedish Nomad
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, and for a good reason. Not too many buildings in the world are leaning this much and in addition to that, it’s a historical tower dating back to the 12th century. It’s easy to go here on day trips from Rome via guided tours or taking the train. Take the train from Tiburtina and you will arrive in just 2 hours and 24 minutes including a quick change in Florence. From the Pisa centrale it’s easy to walk to the leaning tower of Pisa. There is also a bus.
Tickets can be purchased online via Trainitalia or Trenitalia.
After some mandatory selfies and admiring the tower and nearby cathedral, I suggest to continue strolling around the old town. It’s pretty and filled with shops and restaurants. Back in the days, Pisa was a real powerhouse that kept level with major Maritime powers like Venice and Genoa. Pisa is also one of the oldest cities in all of Italy, so there’s a lot more to explore than just the Leaning tower of Pisa. In fact, there are more than 20 historical churches and several museums and art galleries to discover.[bctt tweet=”Looking for day trip ideas from Rome? Check out this #collab post!” username=”SiddharthShruti”]
By Mike, 197 Travel Stamps
Italy’s train system has been rapidly expanded over the last years. Nowadays, high-speed trains are crisscrossing the peninsula and it is possible to travel between Rome and Florence in under 1.5 hours – a distance of nearly 300 km. Therefore, Florence can easily be visited on a day trip from Rome. Book your train in advance and leave early in the morning. I would recommend spending the morning in Florence in the beautiful museums. Visit the statue of David in the Accademia and the famous Galleria degli Uffizi museum.
After all the museums, it is time for some amazing Italian food – Italian pizza maybe? Head to the south bank of the River Arno to Pizzeria Dante and you won’t be disappointed. Once your belly is filled, you can enjoy the beautiful city center of Florence. Don’t miss out on the famous Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo di Firenze. If you feel like exploring more than one city in your day trip, you could also visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the afternoon and head back to Rome in the evening.
By Tom Bartel and Kristin Hennin, Travel past 50
The Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana in Italian) in Tivoli is definitely worth a day trip from Rome. It makes a great adjunct to your visit to the Roman ruins within the city. The site of Hadrian’s Villa in the mountains near Rome was chosen for its cooling breezes and for the abundance of water. Aside from naturally occurring streams it’s also near several aqueducts which carried water from the mountains to Rome. Consequently, the Villa features extensive landscaped gardens and multiple large pools.
The Villa, and that word might be an understatement, expands over 80 hectares (200 acres) and so takes at least a couple of hours to explore it all. Unfortunately, Hadrian’s Villa is a ruin, and the opulence which once must have reigned is long gone. Although some of the statuary has been restored, most was carried off long ago. Luckily, some of it ended up in the Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome. Also, much of the marble facades and many of the remaining statues were removed in the 16th Century by the Cardinal Ippolito d’Este to his own Villa d’Este five kilometers away. So, you can visit some of Hadrian’s home there, although you won’t recognize it.
To take your day trip to Hadrian’s Villa, take the train to Tivoli from Rome’s Tiburtina Station. The train leaves about every hour and cost about €6 round trip. You’ll probably want to take a taxi to the Villa from the train station. It’s about 5 kilometers away.
By Elaine and Dave, Show Them The Globe
Widely recognised as one of Italy’s most beautiful destinations, the Amalfi Coast is a great day trip option from Rome. With sweeping views over the ocean and pastel coloured hillside towns sweeping down to the sea, the drive is breathtaking and it is one of the most beautiful road trips we’ve ever taken. Easily reached from Rome by rental car in under 3 hours, the UNESCO inscribed Amalfi Coast is more than worth the drive.
Before starting the drive along the Amalfi Coast make sure to check out the quiet hilltop town of Sorrento with its amazing views across the peninsula. As you reach the Amalfi Coast, the roads become narrower and hug the jagged coastline with its huge cliffs plunging down to the sea. Quaint cafes and colourful villages sit alongside luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants and limoncello and seafood are the order of the day!
There are countless stunning views and charming towns and villages but our favourite spot was the famous town of Positano, known as the jewel of the Amalfi Coast. The colourful pastel houses overlook the azure waters of the Adriatic and we loved relaxing over lunch at one of the hillside cafes before wandering down to the lively beach.
The Amalfi Coast is most easily reached from Rome by rental car and this gives you the flexibility to explore this beautiful part of Italy at your own pace. We recommend starting your drive in Sorrento and driving east along the Amalfi Coast to Salerno. Many visitors combine a trip to the Amalfi Coast with a visit to Pompeii.
Pompeii & Naples
By Sanne van den Berg, Veni Vidi
250 kilometers south of Rome you can find one of the most special and spectacular archaeological excavations in all of Italy: the Roman ruins of Pompeii. In 79AD, the volcano the Vesuvius erupted. It buried several roman towns in the area, among which the Roman city Pompeii. Eventually, the site was lost and not rediscovered until the end of the 16th century. Because of the eruption, the city has been preserved very well. Nowadays, you can explore this large excavation. You can even admire some of the beautiful frescoes. With a little bit of imagination, it feels like you’re in a real Roman city.
One of the most beautiful frescoes on the site can be found in the Villa dei Misteri. There’s a theatre and Forum as well. However, my favorite activity in Pompeii was getting lost while strolling through ancient streets, peeking into a deserted villa and finding stunning frescoes.
When you’ve explored Pompeii, it’s time to head to Naples, 25 kilometers north of Pompeii. From your car, you’ll be able to see the Vesuvius. It’s possible to climb the volcano as well. In Naples, a visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is a must. The museum has statues that put the Vatican Museums to shame. Make sure you don’t miss The Farnese Hercules (discovered in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome) and the Alexander Mosaic (originally the floor of a house in Pompeii). When you’ve seen enough art and culture for one day, it’s time for dinner! Eating pizza in Naples should be on your Italy bucket list, since Italian pizza as we know it was developed in Naples.
By Noel Morata, Travel Photo Discovery
Villa D’Este located in Tivoli is just on the outskirts of Rome’s Metro area and about a 31 km drive from the city. This is a fantastic day trip from the city by train, car or even a shuttle ride. Designated as a World Unesco Heritage site in 2001 the villa, gardens waterworks are simply spectacular to visit. The owner of the estate, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este wanted to create a showcase to his prestige and wealth during that timeframe. The spectacular gardens and fountains really steal the show and there are so many wonderful surprises visiting the entire estate. You’ll find plenty of amazing places to photograph including beautiful vistas of the surrounding landscape which accents these wonderful gardens. While visiting, enjoy a nice lunch on the terrace – the food is delicious and the setting is out of this world!
By Raksha Rao, The Roving Heart
I was volunteering at a local B&B just off Rome for about a week. The owner told me many stories in the Lazio region, that I soon realized that there are more than a few hidden gems in the region just waiting to be discovered. One of them is an ancient city called Palestrina, just 35km east of Rome, and hosts a temple even older than the Roman Empire. It’s the temple of Fortuna Primigenia, once considered one of the significant temples of the time. It houses a spectacular series of terraces creating a system of ramps and stairways. And it is said to have built in the 2nd and 1st century BC. Isn’t it just fascinating?
The Renaissance Barberini Palace, located above the temple, hosts a National Archaeological Museum. It exhibits the important works from the ancient town of Palestrina. Apparently, there are hardly 60 visitors per day, that pass through this museum. Which might result in this museum shutting off soon, our host told us. There’s hardly much information about Palestrina as a travel destination. But, in the academic circles, it has already made its mark. Ivy league universities like Yale and Princeton feature these man-made wonders as an example of incredible architecture.
This one is strictly offbeat and totally worth the time! Do visit it when you’re around Rome next time!
By Abby, The Winged Fork
Ostia Antica was a port city of ancient Rome located at the mouth of the Tiber. Once a colony of Rome, this city was established in the 7th century BC. We loved how beautifully the ancient mosaics and frescoes had been preserved. The mosaics on the floor of the baths tell stories of conquest and victory. The Porta Romana, the old entrance to the city is still there. And so is the old inscription from the main gate. Entering the main gate we landed on Decumaus Maximus, the main street that ran the length of Ostia. The streets were quite wide in those days and paved with basalt. Seeing history so well preserved leaves you in awe and wonder.
Squares of victory, baths of Neptune, Mithras and others; a theatre and a Christian chapel, a forum, mills and more could be recognized from the map that we bought at the entrance. So many temples were well preserved too – Temple of Attis, Temple of Rome and Augustus, and the Republican Temple. A number of houses tell us stories of the people that lived there, while the museum in the middle of the site held statues, the most famous one being of Amor and Psyche. And the view from the theatre was perfect! To get to Ostia from the B&B we were staying at in Rome, we changed 3 trains. But once we got to Ostia, it was hardly a 10 minute walk from the train station. We spent a whole day visiting, but Ostia is so big that we would have liked to spend a few more days there exploring.
How many of these have you explored? Any more that you can recommend? Drop your suggestions in the comments below.
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When it comes to the cities I haven’t yet explored on this list, I think the Amalfi Coast would be the one I’d want to explore next. It’s always so beautiful in every photo!
You just made me add Palestina to my list of places to visit in Italy. However, I don’t know why but I feel Amalfi coast is hyped and extremely touristy. Is it really worth a visit if you are stuck in traffic for most part of your drive?
I’ve been to Rome multiple times and was just telling my husband we should do day trips out the next time we’re there. Your post came in handy! Thanks for sharing!
When it comes to Italy I only visited Venice but definitely plan to go to Rome any time soon! As I see there is many things to explore and many nice cities to travel to as well!
I can’t wait to visit Rome! I hope I have enough time to do at least a few of these day trips – especially Pisa and the Amalfi coast! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Rome is always beautiful, I especially like Palestina. The view from here is wonderful. I never visited rome yet, but I am excited to travel here as soon as possible. Your guideline will help me to get the best traveling experience in Rome. 🙂
Palestina, Villa D’este and Hadrian’s Villa are now on my list–as if the list of places to visit in Italy isn’t long enough! I think your suggestions of Pisa and Pompeii make great daytrips. These are two places that are great to see, but don’t really have enough constitute staying the night. Great list!
We spend few days in Rome and took day trips to some of these places. It was great because it allowed us to explore the cities outside of Rome, and made our vacation even more special.
Very nice summary ! I’m definitely bookmarking this for my next trip to Rome / Italy !! The Amalfi coast looks sexy !!
What a fun collaboration. So many awesome side trips to choose from. I’ve done a few and my fave was Amalfi Coast. Geez, can you even take a bad picture there? So amazing! I’d like to visit Hadrian’s Villa. That one looked really nice and I’d love to take pictures of it.
Wow so many incredible destinations! I’ve only been to Pompei, Naples and Amalfi, but there’s so many more of these places I’d love to visit. I’d love to taste truffles in Tuscany, fill up on Italian food in Florence and of course, have some pizza in Pisa! So many more Italian sites to add to the list 🙂
Such a wonderful collab with so many suggestions for side day trips one can take from Rome. Hadrians Villa sounds most intriguing to me! I was imagining just how fascinating it must have been in its full glory. The views from Amalfi coast look great! Thanks for this list, very useful, bookmarking it already.
Thanks for sharing all Day trips from Rome as all are very famous attractions in the world. I have done towards North of Rome but have missed the Almafi Coast.
Italy’s is super high up on my list and all of these day trip destinations look and sound absolutely wonderful! Love that Amalfi Coast is only three hours away from Rome. I hear it’s a great road trip destination and I can’t wait to visit someday. Bookmarked for later!
Great post! We had a road trip through Tuscany and Lombardy a few years ago and really enjoyed the Chianti region (but Siena was a bit too crowded for us). Southern Italy is also beautiful, but I was there for archaeological fieldworks so I didn’t get to do “vacation” in Amalfi Coast. Pompeii and Herculaneum are of course great sites that should be on everyone’s bucket list (can’t wait to go back)!