Excited about day trips from Rome? Every year, millions of people travel to the Eternal City to soak up her history, art and culture. But, just outside the city gates lies a wealth of artistic and culinary treasures equally worthy of exploration.
From its privileged position in the heart of Italy, Rome is conveniently located for exploring the castles, countryside and crater lakes of the Lazio region. Further afield, the more popular cities of Florence, Naples and Pompeii are all within day-trip range of Rome.
As the saying goes: When in Rome do as the Romans do. And that means escaping the city to relax, breathe in the fresh air and eat well. And you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this guide to the ten best day trips from Rome, ranging from 1 hour to 2+ hours from the city.
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Day trips from Rome (within an hour)
Just 40 minutes south of Rome, in the Alban Hills, lies a pretty pocket of hill towns, villages and vineyards, known as the Castelli Romani. The region’s lush landscape of valleys and volcanic lakes provides a peaceful escape from the city, but also an exciting trip for foodies, history buffs and wine-lovers. At the heart of it all, sits the sleepy town of Castel Gandolfo, the most beautiful of the 13 townships. Perched on the edge of Castel Gandolfo, overlooking the cooling waters of Lake Albano, the papal summer residence has been the rural retreat for the rich and powerful for centuries.
A short drive through the countryside will bring you to the town of Frascati, affectionately known as the “City of Wine.” Besides its famous Frascati wine, visitors can marvel at the elegant Renaissance and baroque villas of Villa Aldobrandini. While the villa itself is not open to the public, the beautiful Italian gardens, peppered with sculptures and fountains, are well worth a visit. Your next stop is Nemi, a small town on the shores of Lake Nemi known for its wild violets and delicious strawberries. Peer down to the lake below and you’ll see the remains of the abandoned temple dedicated to Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
The quickest way to get to Castelli Romani is to take the direct train departing from Roma Termini, which takes 40 minutes.
Located just 19 miles west of Rome on the banks of the River Tiber, the beautifully preserved ruins of Ostia offer an interesting contrast to the archaeology in Rome. Sprawling over 10,000 acres of the tranquil Roman countryside, you won’t find a modern house, busy road or telephone wire in sight. As you wander around the ruins, your imagination will transport you back 2,000 years to a time when Ostia was ancient Rome’s bustling commercial harbour, inhibited by 100,000 people. After the collapse of the Empire, the city fell into decay and was eventually abandoned. Over centuries, much of the town was buried in mud due to the river silting, helping to preserve the site.
The area is vast, so equip yourself with an audio guide and a map before setting off to explore. Meander down the Decumanus Maximus (the main drag), where you’ll be able to identify apartment buildings and aristocratic villas including the House of Cupid and Psyche. The huge, reconstructed amphitheatre, which is still used today, and the Baths of Neptune, adorned with extraordinary mosaics, are also highlights.
To get there, simply take the Roma-Lido train from Roma Porta San Paolo Station, and you will arrive in Ostia Antica in just 40 minutes.
Midway between Rome and Florence, the quaint hill-town of Orvieto makes for a relaxing day trip from the Eternal City. A direct train from Rome will bring you Orvieto in under 90 minutes. On arrival, simply hop on the funicular all the way up to the main town, where you’ll find most of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Located just off Orvieto’s main street, the Duomo of Orvieto will bowl you over from the minute you set eyes on its striking facade adorned with frescoes, mosaics and intricate vines. And the interior is no less impressive. Its wide aisles, towering pillars and numerous shrines, are just a few of the reasons why the cathedral is considered one of the most famous monuments of the Romanesque-Gothic in Europe. Don’t miss the display of cathedral art at the nearby Palazzi Papali.
Continue down the Corso Cavour (Orvieto’s main street), where you’ll find boutique craft and ceramics shops, and a plethora of cafes, gelaterias, and traditional eateries. As the sun starts to dip, climb the Torre del Moro bell tower for panoramic views of the city.
Underneath the city, lies a vast network of over 1,200 hand-dug caves. The hidden underground caves have served various purposes over the centuries including WWII bomb shelters, food and wine cellars, and olive oil production. Today, all but two of the caves are privately owned. The two largest caves are open to the public and can be explored on a guided tour. The most famous attraction of the underground world is the Pozzo di San Patrizio – a historic well, 53 metres deep and 13 meters large, complete with two spiral ramps.
World Heritage Sites in Tivoli
Perched on the western slopes of the Sabine Hills, the historic town of Tivoli is home to not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Villa Adriana, the abode of Emperor Hadrian, and Villa D’Este, a 16th-century palace, famous for its Renaissance gardens.
Built in the 2nd century A.D. as a retreat from Rome, Villa Adriana is a palatial complex that echoes the architectural traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, to form an “ideal city.” Stretching over 250 acres, you’ll need several hours to explore the ruins including the Greek Theatre, temples, Latin libraries and embellished baths. Be sure to wander through the extensive gardens, but before you lay down your picnic blanket, make your way to Villa D’Este.
Nestled atop a terraced hillside, the Villa D’Este is one of the most remarkable illustrations of Renaissance culture. Most famous for its manicured gardens, show-stopping fountains and water features, an afternoon here offers peace and tranquillity in spades.
The ideal way to explore the region is by car. Alternatively, you can hop on a train from Roma Termini, which takes around 30 minutes. If you are visiting both residences, there is a bus that connects both villas.
The volcanic Lago di Bracciano – the second largest lake in Lazio – is just the ticket for travellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. Considered to be one of Italy’s most significant lakes, and the second largest in Lazio, Bracciano is the perfect retreat for swimming, canoeing, freshwater diving, sailing, and peaceful lakeside relaxation.
Bracciano is one of three towns situated on the shores of Lago Bracciano, famous for its 15th century Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, an imposing palace that towers over its historical centre. Considered one of the most striking examples of Italian Renaissance, the castle is a must for anyone visiting Bracciano.
Lungolago Argenti beach below Bracciano town, and between the villages of Trevignano and Anguillara, is the best place to take a refreshing dip in the lake. You can rent a pedal boat, enjoy a picnic lunch, or dine in one of the nearby restaurants. During the summer months, a ferry service connects Bracciano's lakeside beach with Anguillara and Trevignano.
Frequent trains from Ostiense station in Rome make it easy to reach both Anguillara and Bracciano.
Day trips from Rome (within 1-2 hours)
Naples doesn’t pretend to possess the elegance and sophistication of Rome, Florence and Venice. Instead, she is unapologetically gritty and chaotic, but authentic and beautiful at the same time. The city is rich in art, history and culinary classics, and thanks to Italy’s high-speed train service, Naples can be reached from Rome in just over an hour.
MADRE Gallery tucked away in a 19th-century palazzo, is one of the city's best-kept secrets and the first stop for contemporary art lovers. Largo Baracche, Galleria Lia Rumma and the Palace for the Arts are amongst the city’s most prominent galleries, but for something edgier, hit the streets to admire the mural masterpieces of Banksy and Bossoletti.
In Naples, contemporary art stands alongside historic monuments, Roman ruins and baroque architecture. With historic sights scattered over the city, it’s wise to focus on a few key attractions such as Palazzo Reale, Museo Cappella Sansevero and Castelnuovo. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, pizzaiolis across Naples are ready to welcome you with delicious wood-fired pizza and a bottle of Nastro Azzurro. And the best part? Lunch will only set you back around ten euros!
Catch the fast train from Rome’s Termini station at 8 am and you’ll be in Florence enjoying a cappuccino and cornetto by 9.50am. While getting to Florence is easy, cramming the city’s sights into an 8-hour itinerary is more of a challenge. Strolling the streets of Florence is like wandering through an open-air museum – there’s so much to see.
Begin your exploration in Piazza del Duomo, where Giotto’s Bell Tower provides great views of the Gothic Cathedral. Across the river, the Palazzo Pitti is Florence’s most important palace, which today, is divided into four museums housing some of the most important collections of art including paintings, sculptures, porcelain, silver and period. Add to that the sprawling Boboli Gardens that rise up behind the Palazzo Pitti and it’s easy to see why the Palace and its gardens are a firm Florence favourite.
As you would expect, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance has a museum for everyone. The Uffizi and the Accademia are amongst the most popular, and home to some of Michaelangelo’s finest art, including the original sculpture of David. If it’s an Instagram-worthy picture that you’re after, hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the city.
Alternatively, book your Florence day trip here.
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Day trips from Rome (2+ hours)
The ancient city of Pompeii – famously buried in 79 A.D. when mighty mount vesuvius erupted – is an archaeological wonder. Once a thriving Mediterraean port, the city of Pompeii was forgotten for centuries until the first large-scale excavations in the 18th Century. Today the ghostly ruins live to tell the city’s story. The House of Vetti, the Surgeon’s House, the House of the Chaste Lovers and the Main Forum should all make it on to your itinerary, as should the brothels, baths and amphitheater. With so much to see, an audio guide and a good guidebook are a smart investment.
Plenty of tours run from Rome to Pompeii, but it’s also easy to travel by train. From Rome, hop on the high-speed train to Naples, and change to the Circumvesuviana train to Pompei Scavi. The journey will take around 2 hours 30 minutes. Sure, it’s not the most convenient day trip, but worth it to see one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.
Perched on a dramatic cliff top, looking out over the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting than Sorrento. Besides its beauty, the city is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, the home of Limoncello and the perfect base for exploring the surrounding mountains and coastline. While a little more restricted, Day-trippers will still have plenty of time to wander through the Old Town’s medieval maze of winding streets, twisting and turning past traditional trattorias, shops and hidden churches. When you’re ready to cool off, grab a cone and head to the waterfront. While you won’t find a golden beach, there are plenty of spots to bask in the sun – some of which are admission-based resorts or beach clubs. Further, around the headland, the picturesque port of Marina Grande, with its sandy bay, pastel-coloured houses and rustic charm, feels like a forgotten world.
A combination of fresh local produce and traditional cooking techniques means that you could quite easily spend your whole day sampling Sorrento’s food scene. Palle Riso (arrunchini), Saltimbocca (pizza sandwich) and Sfogliatelle (a traditional Neapolitan shell-shaped pastry) are all on the menu. Come dusk, head to the Villa Comunale Park for the best views in town. For something more sophisticated, the terrace at the bougie Bellevue Sirene is the perfect spot for a sundowner, or two.
To get to Sorrento, rise early and take the fast-train to Napoli Centrale. From Naples, take the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. The journey takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes in total.
A drive through any one of Tuscany’s five major wine regions is about as romantic as day trips come. Sure, it’s a long day, but with an early start and smart planning, you’ll be able to maximise your experience.
Easily reached by car in two hours, Southern Tuscany welcomes visitors with its rolling hills, charming towns, medieval castles and storybook vineyards. The Val d’Orcia valley stretches across the province of Siena to its north and reaches Grosseto to the west, and is home to some of the most interesting towns in all of Tuscany.
Nestled into the valley, Castiglione d’Orcia is not only worth visiting for its rolling hills, but also to check out the Romanesque churches, picturesque piazza and the mighty fortress of Aldobrandeschi.
A scenic 30-minute drive north will bring you to the beautiful medieval city of Montalcino, famous for its art culture and wine production, particularly Brunello red wine. Immersed in the colourful Sienese Hills, the region’s rich landscape makes it ripe for culinary exploration. Local honey, olive oil, meats and cheeses, can all be enjoyed in one of the authentic restaurants in the area. When your belly is full, hop in the car and head north-west to the hilltop village of Pienza, where Pope Pius II began modelling his “ideal city” back in 1459. The historic centre, including sights such as Piazza Pio II, Palazzo Piccolomini and Corso Rossellino, as well as the town’s many artisan cheese shops, will keep you sufficiently entertained for the rest of the afternoon.