Rome is one of the quintessential European cities that most travelers have on top of their travel bucket list. Between the ancient ruins, romantic neighborhoods, and outstanding culinary scene, Rome has enticed visitors for thousands of years (quite literally!).
But there’s so much of Rome’s history and culture that extends outside the city. To truly appreciate Rome and what Italy has to offer, I highly recommend that you plan at least one or two-day trips during your visit. Whether you’re interested in visiting small towns, coastal beaches, or royal palaces – there are so many great things to see and experience for an unforgettable day trip.
What is the Best Day Trip From Rome?
With so many sights, attractions, and cities, deciding where to go on your day trip to Rome can be difficult. For a quick excursion, hop on the train to Hadrian’s Villa, Villa d’Este, Ostia, or Caserta Palazzo Reale (they’re all located under an hour from the city center). If you have more time on your hands, you can instead explore a larger Italian city for a day, like Florence or Naples.
Thankfully, Rome is centrally located, which means practically all of Italy can be reached easily. Here are some of my top picks for places to visit outside of Rome.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Tivoli is one of the best places to visit on a day tour from Rome. Built in 120 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian, it is considered to be one of the largest and most elaborate Roman villas ever to be constructed. In addition to the gardens, pools, and baths scattered around the grounds, archeologists have also discovered structures from different cultures (mostly Greek and Egyptian) due to Hadrian’s extensive world travels.
Much of the villa has yet to be excavated, but recent findings over the last few years have included the Antinoeion (temple and tomb dedicated to Antinous) and a network of underground tunnels used by servants and slaves. From Rome, Hadiran’s Villa and the rest of Tivoli are 35 minutes by car or one hour by public transportation.
Villa d’Este is another must-see sight for those headed to Tivoli. This breathtakingly gorgeous complex is world-famous for its ornate fountains, water basins, and waterfalls – in addition to the Italian Renaissance villa that sits atop the hillside terraces. The grounds of this UNESCO World Heritage Site date back to the 16th century and served as a model for many European-style gardens that you see today.
There are so many different fountains to see while strolling through the gardens, although the Fountain of Neptune, with its powerful water jets and tranquil fish ponds, is arguably the highlight for many visitors. Nearby sits The Fountain of the Organ, which plays Renaissance music using the water and wind at select times during the day.
If you’re still interested in Ancient Roman sights after visiting the Roman Forum and Colosseum, then make the 40-minute journey outside of the city to Ostia Antica. As the main port city of Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica had nearly 100,000 people during its height (between the 7th century and 9th century BC). Archeological excavations have discovered numerous taverns, inns, public baths, and even an outdoor theater.
After touring the grounds, head to the Museo Ostiense next door. The museum features an impressively large collection of ancient artifacts, including sculptures, wall paintings, mosaics, and handicrafts that were also uncovered from the ruins.
On a summer’s day, you’ll find that most local Romans head to the coast to visit Ostia. The area is famous for its historical ruins (Ostia Antica, as mentioned above), although it’s also the closest beach that’s the most easily accessible from Rome. It’s only a 30-minute train ride from Rome, so you can enjoy a bit of sun and surf and still be back in time for dinner.
Only select parts of the beach are free to visit (look for spiaggia libera), while others charge a fee to visit or to rent sunbeds and umbrellas. You’ll also find quite a few beach clubs as well as several restaurants and retail shops along the shore.
As the birthplace of St. Francis (one of the most famous Italian patron saints), Assisi is a symbolic pilgrimage destination for many Catholics. And while the UNESCO-designated town has quite a few religious sites, it’s also a worthwhile day trip for those interested in visiting a quiet and peaceful medieval town in Umbria. The train ride to Assisi from central Rome takes just under 2.5 hours.
The first landmark you’ll notice when arriving in Assisi is the Basilica of St. Francis, which was built after his death in 1228. And while it may be the largest building in town, it’s definitely not the oldest. The Temple of Minerva is from the 1st century BC, although the church inside is from the mid-1500s. You’ll also find the medieval Rocca Maggiore castle, which protected Assisi and the valley of Tescio against intruders for more than 600 years.
A scenic 1.5-hour train from Rome can take you directly to Naples – one of Italy’s most vibrant and fascinating big cities. While it’ll be hard to pack in all the main sights in just a day, you can easily check off a bunch of iconic landmarks, like Castel Ovo and Cappella Sansevero.
However, you can really get a feel for the city just by walking through the different neighborhoods. Quartieri Spagnoli and Centro Storico are considered to be the beating heart of Naples, where you’ll find narrow alleys lined with food stalls, medieval churches, and retail shops. And don’t forget to grab to come hungry! As the birthplace of pizza, Naples is a gastronomic city with so many amazing restaurants, cafes, and markets to try.
In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering the town of Ancient Pompeii in a 20-foot layer of lava and ash. Although it’s unclear how many people died, archeologists have uncovered roughly 1,500 bodies as well as an entire town of temples, houses, public baths, bakeries, and theaters. They also discovered a large Forum with the town’s administration and public buildings, as well as an amphitheater for gladiatorial games.
At over 160 acres, the site is huge. When I visited, I spent 4 to 5 hours there and still didn’t have time to see everything I wanted. You can still see the body casts of some of the victims at the Garden of the Fugitives, although most of them have moved to the Museo Pompeiano a short distance away. The ride from Rome to Pompeii is approximately 2.5 hours by car or 2 hours by train.
As the capital of Tuscany, Florence is a cultural city made for foodies, shoppers, art lovers, and history buffs. It’s also where you’ll find some of the best examples of Renaissance art and architecture, and gave rise to many iconic artists, including Leonardo di Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Titan, and Donatello. You can see these masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery – the most visited Museum in all of Italy.
However, you don’t have to visit a museum to admire the city’s artistic atmosphere. Simply take a walk around the UNESCO-designed historic center, a cobblestoned labyrinth of public squares, historic churches, and charming markets. A visit to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (otherwise known as the Duomo) is a must, as is the 14th-century Piazza della Signoria.
The easiest way to get to Florence is by train, which takes 1.5 hours from Rome’s city center. Of course, I recommend staying for a couple of days if you really want to immerse yourself in the city!
If you do decide to stay in Florence, be sure to check out our guide to the best places to stay in Florence!
In between Rome and Naples is the coastal town of Sperlonga, a popular getaway for Romans in the summer months. The beaches here have been awarded the Bandiera Blu for water quality, making it the perfect destination for swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the laid-back atmosphere while you admire the beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
But Sperlonga is more than just a resort town. It’s also home to the Villa Tiberius – named after the Roman emperor who summered here. While only a few ruins remain, it’s the nearby grottos that most people come to see. Tiberius used these rocky grottos for dining and even commissioned massive sculptures depicting the story of Odysseus. While visitors can explore the grottos freely, the sculptures have been moved to the Sperlonga Archaeological Museum in the villa.
Public transportation is possible from Rome, although it’s much easier to visit Sperlonga with a car for the day. The entire trip should take no longer than an hour from point to point.
Perched atop a volcanic limestone outcrop sits Orvieto, an Etruscan town in Umbria known for its historic architecture and picturesque countryside views. Relatively untouched by mass tourism, Orvieto makes an enchanting day trip from Rome (just 90 minutes by train) for anyone who wants to experience an authentic Italian hilltop town. During my visit, I found quite a few artisan shops selling leather goods and ceramics, so I can recommend Orvieto if you’re looking for a unique souvenir!
The magnificent Duomo is located in the center of town and features a colorful facade, golden mosaics, and a large rose-glass window. However, it’s what lies beneath the surface of the town that makes Orvieto truly amazing. There’s a vast underground connection of over 1,200 tunnels and caves that were used as an escape route for noble, affluent families. The only way to see them is with a guided tour, so make sure to book tickets ahead of time.
Caserta Palazzo Reale
Located just outside of Naples, approximately 1 hour by train from Rome, The Caserta Palazzo Reale was once the royal residence of the Kings of Naples. Boasting over 1,200 rooms, the palace was inspired by Versailles and is the largest former royal palace in the entire world. Every inch of this grandiose structure oozes luxury – from the 116-step Grand Staircase to the golden throne in the Throne Room.
The 295-acre Baroque Garden is almost as impressive as the palace itself, as mirrors and reflecting pools were added to make the area appear larger than it is. You’ll also find quite a few fountains, including the iconic The Fountain of Diana and Actaeon, which sits at the base of the Grand Cascade Waterfall.
Garden of Ninfa
While there are many beautiful gardens in and outside the city of Rome, the Garden of Ninfa has to be one of the most stunning. Between the grassy meadows, glistening pools, and over 1,300 different kinds of plants and flowers, there’s a reason why visitors call it the “Most Romantic Garden in the World”.
But what’s most unique about the Garden of Ninfa is that it grows over the ruins of an ancient village. Ninfa existed during the Middle Ages and had about 150 buildings during its golden era. Most of the buildings were abandoned by the 17th century until the Caetani family bought and transformed the plot into the gorgeous garden that stands there today.
The gardens are located halfway between Rome and Naples. If you have a car, you can reach them in just over an hour from central Rome.
The medieval walled city of Viterbo is one of the top day trips from Rome if you’re interested in architecture and Roman history. Packed with sights like the Palace of the Popes and the Cathedral of S. Lorenzo, there are a lot of fascinating attractions that you can reach in just 1.5 hours.
But venture outside the city walls, and you’ll find a completely different part of Viterbo to enjoy. The whole area around Viterbo is known for its healing thermal springs, many of which have been in use since Etruscan and Roman times. One of the most famous is Terme dei Papi, an outdoor bath formerly frequented by many Catholic popes. However, you’ll find dozens of smaller springs (Bullicame, Salus, Vulci) also in the region.
Hop on the train and make the 1.5-hour trek up north to Bracciano, a colorful medieval town situated on the banks of Italy’s 8th-largest lake. If you’re visiting in summer, then you can spend the day sailing or swimming. There’s also a tour boat that takes you leaves from Bracciano and takes you to the other lake towns of Anguillara and Trevignano.
But even if you come outside of summer, you can still find plenty of other things in town. For example, head to Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, a 15th-century castle with jaw-dropping views over the town and lake. I was surprised at this fun fact – the castle is where Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise got married!
Founded over 1,500 years ago by Saint Benedict of Nursia, the Montecassino Abbey hasn’t always been as glorious as it is today. It was attacked by invading Lombards just 50 years after it was built and left abandoned until it was reestablished in 718 AD. While it thrived for many centuries, it was destroyed in an Earthquake in 1389 and then sacked by the Napoleonic army at the turn of the 18th century. It was also heavily bombed in WWII but rebuilt soon after in the 1950s.
Nowadays, the Abbey is still a working monastery with an on-site museum. From the cloister, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding valley (so try and come on a sunny, clear day!). To get to the Montecassino Abbey, you will need to drive 1.5 hours by car in the direction of Naples.
While all roads may lead to Rome, some of them also lead to other exciting destinations around Italy! There are so many castles, gardens, and villages that you can visit from Rome – either with a car or by public transportation. So enjoy your time in the Eternal City and make sure to go on at least one day trip to make the most of your time in this beautiful country!