Updated: May 9, 2021
Curious about what lies beyond the Eternal City? Rome is surrounded by beautiful towns, and remarkable archaeological sites, which are much less crowded than most attractions in Rome. From gorgeous gardens to atmospheric Roman ruins, here are five of the best places to visit on your day trip from Rome:
The easiest day trip from Rome, Ostia Antica is a mere 30 minutes away. It’s a fascinating place – a vast archaeological site containing the remains of a Roman port town. Ostia Antica resembles – and possibly outstrips – Pompeii without the crowds, and is surprisingly well-preserved.
When you explore the town on an Ostia Antica tour, you experience the surreal sensation of walking through a giant film set. Walking down the cobbled streets, you’ll find two-storey insulae (Roman apartment blocks) with most of their walls intact. There are also temples, baths, bakeries, and, most impressively, a huge theatre which is still used for plays and concerts today.
Read more in our free guide to Ostia Antica.
Getting there: Take the train from Porta San Paolo station (next to Piramide metro station). The journey takes just half an hour.
This charming hilltop town is renowned for its villas – Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa.
Villa d’Este is a luxurious 16th century villa with spectacular gardens, containing not hundreds but thousands of fountains. In terms of sheer theatricality, there’s no garden that can rival Villa d’Este’s magnificent display of statues, pools, fountains and grottoes.
The architect of Villa d’Este took inspiration from the nearby Hadrian’s Villa.
The emperor Hadrian initially used Tivoli as a country retreat, retiring to his villa when the heat and chaos of Rome became overwhelming. But over time he came to govern the Roman Empire from his estate in Tivoli, using it as his principal residence. A tour of Hadrian’s Villa is a fascinating insight into the luxury of the emperor’s lifestyle, as you explore the evocative ruins of baths, theatres, libraries and temples.
Getting there: Take the train from Tiburtina station in Rome, or the Cotral bus from the metro station Ponte Mammolo. Journey time is about an hour. Alternatively, you can book a private tour of Tivoli, which includes transport from Rome to Tivoli.
High speed trains have made it simple to visit Florence on a day trip from Rome. Set out early in the morning and you’ll be surprised by how much you can fit in – a tour of the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s David), a visit to the Duomo and a stroll through the city centre. Obviously there’s a lot to see, so plan carefully, book museum tickets in advance, and take a break over lunch or coffee in order to avoid suffering from Stendhal Syndrome!
Roma Experience offers various Florence tours, including private tours of the Uffizi and Accademia, and a special off-the-beaten-path tour. If you’ve got limited time in Florence, seeing the city in the company of an expert guide is undoubtedly the best way to make the most of your trip.
Getting there: There are regular trains from Termini station, which take about an hour and a half.
Civita di Bagnoregio
Harder to get to than the other options on this list, but undoubtedly one of the most memorable day trips from Rome. Civita di Bagnoregio is a gorgeous little town perched on top of a hill in the middle of a canyon – a photographer’s dream. It remains connected to the “mainland” by a narrow footbridge; cross the footbridge, pass under the huge Etruscan archway, and you feel like you’re entering another world.
Technically there’s not much to see or do in Civita di Bagnoregio, as the town is very small, but visitors enjoy its picturesque charms and relaxed pace of life. Spend a day pottering around its piazzas and alleyways, stop for a leisurely lunch at top-rated restaurant Alma Civita, and you’ll soon fall for Civita’s unique beauty.
Getting there: Unfortunately public transport isn’t really an option – you’ll have to drive from Rome. Alternatively, book a private tour of Civita di Bagnoregio, and let the tour operator take care of the transport.
If you’d like to explore a characteristic small town that’s not too far from Rome, Orvieto is your best option.
It’s best-known for its beautiful 14th century cathedral (Duomo), which has a dazzling mosaic façade, but there’s plenty else to see to justify a day trip from Rome. Explore the network of underground tunnels dug into the volcanic rock (which have been used as refrigerators, wine cellars and bomb shelters), take a stroll through the piazzas and back alleys, and enjoy a plate of pasta washed down with the local white wine.
Getting there: There are regular trains from Termini station, which take just over an hour to reach Orvieto.