The major attractions in Rome like the Vatican and Colosseum hardly need an introduction. But what about the rest of the Eternal City?
The best part of being in Rome is walking down a street, turning a corner, and finding another hidden gem.
Experience the city like a local and get away from the hunger games experience found at Rome’s most popular tourist attractions. Here are some of the best places in Rome off the beaten path.
Last Updated: July 30 2020 (Way more cool & contrarian sites)
First, bookmark this article and our blog on your browser. You can build your own fancy guide book with our posts and circle back when you arrive in Rome. If you like this article, check out our guide to Rome at night.
Also, it’s good to be contrarian but Rome has stood up the test of times and merits some guided tours during your visit. Consider a private tour of the Borghese Gallery if you want to do something different.
1. The Appian Way
Ever hear the expression all roads lead to Rome? The Appian Way, or Via Appia Antica, is the oldest road in Rome that started that expression. Built-in 312 B.C., it was created to give the Roman Republic army an easier method of transportation.
Vast green spaces with towering trees and ancient Roman ruins line both sides of the cobblestone paths. Nature and clean air make you feel like you are hours outside of Rome when in reality you’re just outside the center.
If you’d rather let someone else handle the transportation, check out our Rome Catacombs Tour. This exclusive tour of Rome off the beaten path includes the Appian Way.
How to Get to the Appian Way:
- Take the nearest Metro to Piramide (B line)
- From there, take the 118 Bus
- Get off at Catacombs of San Callisto (ask the driver if you’re not sure)
- You’re on the Appian Way!
- Head in the direction of Appia Antica Café for refreshments. Then, keep going in the same direction for the best scenery.
- Take the nearest Metro to Colli Albani (A line)
- From Largo Colli Albani (in front of the metro station) take the 660 Bus
- Get off at Cecilia Metella
- You’re next to Appia Antica Café!
- As you get off the bus, the direction you want to head in is to your left
2. Singita Miracle Beach in Fregene (My Fav)
This is one of my favorite beach destinations in the world. You can sit on the beach and layout but that isn’t my thing. I show up around 6 pm or 7 pm for an early evening cocktail to watch the sunset.
Where else can you people watch beautiful and stylish Italians while drinking Franciacorta on the Mediterranean and eat amazing Italian food after visiting the Sistine Chapel?
They have an amazing evening aperitivo here with tons of food and great drinks. It’s super relaxing with fantastic music. Don’t miss it.
Singita normally opens from April until late October. You can call or email to reserve a table, bed, or blanket and make sure they are open. Really nice people.
How do you get there? The only issue is you’ll need a car or motto which in itself is a very off-the-beaten-path thing to do while in Rome. If you rent a motto, make sure you get a 125cc because you’ll be on the highway. The lack of trains to this destination makes it a bit of an elitist place to go.
3. Buy Expensive Clothes Near the Spanish Steps
Ok, this doesn’t exactly feel super off-the-beaten-path but it can be. The best stores are near the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. While everyone walks up and down the streets you’d be surprised how many people avoid going in the shops.
You can’t get a good deal on sunglasses or a purse if you compare it to Marshalls but you can get a good deal on these items if you compare it to how much it costs in NYC or LA. Expect an LV bag or nice pair of designer shades to cost about 2/3 of what you’ll pay stateside – even factoring in exchange rates.
Via del Babuino is by far my favorite road for great Italian designers that you may not see in NYC. Take your wife or convince your husband to go into a bunch of these shops and try on some fancy dresses and suits.
This is one of my favorite things to do on a sunny day in November or December day when you can dress nicely and not drip with sweat.
4. Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust)
The Gardens of Sallust are a really cool and centrally located ancient garden that was once owned by Julius Caesar himself! This is a great way to see something 99.99% of tourists don’t see and walk through a former property of the great general himself.
They are located nearby Termini station and don’t post regular hours. We recommend you call to see when they are open.
Address: Piazza Sallustio 21 | +39 06 4201 1597
5. Protestant Cemetery
Tucked back behind a quiet street in Testaccio lies Rome’s non-Catholic cemetery. It’s the resting place of poets Shelley and Keats, among other famous artists and politicians who couldn’t be buried on then Roman soil because of their religion.
In the summer the shade will be more than welcome, and in the other months, you’ll have a unique and historically rich attraction practically to yourself.
6. Go Out for a Rooftop Aperitivo
Related Article: Rome’s Best Rooftop Restaurants Updated Annually.
If you’re an American in Rome, the practice most comparable to aperitivo is happy hour, but you didn’t hear that from us. If you go out for aperitivo, order a cocktail and gain access to a buffet of snacks. This takes place after work but before dinner, and it’s an awesome way to get into the flow of daily life in Rome.
The traditional Italian cocktails like Bellini, Negroni, or an Aperol Spritz are great but the craft has improved in Rome over the last 20 years. Ask what types of craft cocktails they have or go with a nice Prosecco which is always cheap and palatable.
Snacks will vary from couscous and veggies to sweets. If you want to see how locals partake in aperitivo, consider going to Terrazza Parrazio in the Trastevere neighborhood. The name changes from year to year but it is always in the same place and has an incredible view.
This modern restaurant is popular among trendy locals for having the best aperitivo in Rome. They also normally have live music.
7. Per Grazia Ricevuta
A quintessential hidden gem in Rome, this shrine to the Madonna, or Virgin Mary, is on the main street in popular Trastevere. The shrine, which is a wall of inscriptions, gives thanks to Madonna for the blessings people have received.
Whether or not you’re Christian (or religious at all), faith and religion play a huge part of daily life in Italy’s capital city. If you’re lucky enough to be there when nonni, grandparents, walk by, you’ll most likely see them make the sign of the cross.
Address: Viale Trastevere, between Viale Emilio Morisini and Viale Glorioso | Getting there: Take tram 3 or 8, or the H bus
8. Centrale Montemartini Museum
A 19th-century power station turned art museum, this place holds one of the best collections of Greek and Roman statues.
It’s a hip museum where the statues are mixed in among the black metal of the old machinery. It’s off the radar of tourists (and most locals!), so you’ll have plenty of space to enjoy the exhibitions.
Address: Via Ostiense 106 | Price: Tickets are €7.50 | Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
** The museum is a 5-minute walk from Dopiozeroo (above). A perfect night of museum fun and happy hour after!
9. Palazzo Spada
In Rome’s historic center near Campo de’ Fiori, nestled between small winding streets, is this beautiful art gallery. Cardinal Spada purchased the building in 1632 and then hired Baroque architect Francesco Borromini to restore it. But, the tricky architect had something up his sleeve.
When Borromini was restoring the gallery, he added an illusion in the internal courtyard. Standing in the courtyard, the corridor seems to stretch endlessly, and the statue at the end seems life-size, if not bigger. But, it is only 28 ft long (35m), and the statue a mere 23 inches high. So moved by the forced perspective, Spada wrote a short poem regarding his interpretation:
Address: The entrance to the gallery is not in front of the palazzo but rather on the side on Vicolo del Polverone, 15b (there are signs) | Price: Tickets are €5 for adults over 25, €2.50 if under | Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
10. Spas in Rome
Let’s be honest, a spa day is an outstanding way to overcome jet lag after a long plane ride. In addition to the hustle of sightseeing in Rome, making time for relaxation is also important.
From taking a dip in some Turkish Baths to getting a massage, partaking in Rome’s spas is a way to connect to the history of this ancient city.
Ancient Romans were fans of public baths, and the setup wasn’t that different than a modern spa! There was a caldarium (hot bath), a tepidarium (warm bath), and a frigidarium (cold bath). Some places even had steam baths. Just call your spa services “anthropological research”.
11. See the Catacombs of Rome
Popularized by Indiana Jones, the catacombs are not only an excellent way to experience the darker side of Rome, but they also constitute Rome off the beaten path.
Most people who visit the Eternal City skip the Catacombs of Rome, but you’re not like everyone else!
Book a tour of this underground burial site with a passionate, English-speaking guide and also enjoy private luxury transportation, a walk on the ancient Appian Way, and a visit to the Capuchin Crypts.
I Want More Italy!
- If you want us to arrange the entertainment in Rome (and beyond!), contact our Trip Planning Team to coordinate an unforgettable Italian experience.
- Check out our YouTube video and step-by-step guide about how to do Rome in a Day. If you’d rather let us guide you, check out our Rome tours.
- Not sure where to stay in Rome? Read this guide!
- Follow our adventures in Italy on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Then, comment and tell us what you want us to cover next.