Where is Rome City Center and the Best Area to Stay First Time?

The historical center of Rome and the geographical center are completely different places. Rome is a huge metropolis, the largest city in Italy with a population of around 4 million people. Since Rome is mostly built with 5-6-story buildings, the city’s area is immense. The ring road has a diameter of about 20 km, and due to the many narrow streets and the relaxed attitude of Italians, there’s a lot of traffic chaos and daily life mess.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read this article yet, but since you’re reading it now, everything will be fine.

In Rome, you can experience huge time losses while moving around, so it’s essential to strategically choose a hotel from the start to enjoy and fall in love with the Eternal City, walk everywhere on foot, and avoid wasting time, money, and nerves on taxis and public transport.

If you read this article to the end, learn from others’ mistakes, and become smart, you’ll come back to Rome many more times.

Before your trip, it’s crucial to spend at least 10 minutes studying the city map so that when you step out of your hotel, you won’t find yourself on the outskirts of the city. Google Maps shows the geographic center of the city not far from our “beloved” Termini station, but it doesn’t coincide with the historical center.

Let’s Define the Historical Center

On the map below, I marked the main attractions that immediately come to mind. I’m sure even if you’ve never been to Rome, you’ve heard about them in history lessons or movies – the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, and so on.

Main attractions on the map relative to the geographical center of Rome

You don’t have to be a geometry whiz to notice that the highest concentration of attractions is around the Pantheon.

In terms of Ancient Rome, the Vatican is on the outskirts. So, phrases like “We stayed right by the Colosseum” or “close to the Vatican” might sound cool when you tell stories to your friends, but those who know the city will just smile politely.

Yes, it’s certainly better than staying in a hotel somewhere at the end of a metro line, where you have to take a 20-minute bus ride just to reach it, and the bus comes once an hour.

Speaking of the metro, the closest stations to the historical center are Barberini (a 10-minute walk to the Trevi Fountain), Spagna (the Spanish Steps), Colosseo (the Colosseum), and Ottaviano (the Vatican museums). Within the most interesting part of the city, which is huge, there’s no metro.

I recommend reading about the metro in Rome. If you look at Rome from a bird’s eye view, you’ll notice that, for example, the Prati district (up and to the left of the Vatican) has an almost parallel-perpendicular structure, just like in New York. Prati, translated from Italian as “meadow,” only began to be actively developed in 1870 – it’s a relatively modern part of Rome.

The historical center of Rome on the map is located next to the Pantheon

But we’re interested in the area highlighted in white in the photo because this is where all the atmospheric narrow streets, no “perpendicularity,” interesting places, and attractions every 10 steps are located – pure bliss!

By staying in the true historical center, you’ll reach most major attractions within 10-30 minutes and make the most of your vacation.

I’ve filtered out the best hotels in the historical center based on tourists’ reviews for you at the link. I also recommend reading articles from the hotels in Rome section.

How to Choose a Right Hotel in Center of Rome on Your Own?

The most important conclusion for you is that the center of Rome is the Pantheon. When choosing a hotel on your own, simply compare the distance from your address to the Pantheon. Let’s highlight three levels of distance:

  1. Ideal location – about a kilometer to the Pantheon, a walk of no more than 20 minutes. In this case, you won’t need to use public transport at all to see the main attractions. At most, you’ll take a taxi for 10-15 euros a couple of times to get back to the hotel if you get tired.
  2. Walking and taking a bus or tram to the Pantheon takes 25 to 45 minutes – that’s more or less acceptable, assuming you don’t live near Termini.
  3. Traveling for more than an hour, including bus or metro trips – that’s a real disaster. Transport in Rome is far from ideal, more like terrible. Plus, there are regular traditional strikes, possible disorientation in the Eternal City, delays, events that are impossible to predict or even imagine – all of this will increase the chances of not falling in love with the most beautiful city in the world. Get ready to spend 2 to 4 hours on the road daily. Is that the Rome you dream of?
The second level of distance is a good compromise between the cost of accommodation and the distance to the center.

Let’s look at specific examples.

Let’s check the address of HT6 Hotel Roma: Via del Tempio 6

HT6 Hotel in Rome City Center

Go to Google Maps www.google.com/maps/

Enter the address of your hotel, and click “Directions.” Google will immediately show you all the options to get there on the map. We see that it’s only 800 meters to walk to the Pantheon, and on the other side, across the river, begins the Trastevere area. All the bars and restaurants in Trastevere are concentrated along the river.

Route on the map from the Hotel to the Pantheon

Conclusion: HT6 Hotel Roma has an excellent first-level location if the budget allows and the reviews are satisfactory – book it.

Let’s take the address of the second hotel, B&B Hotel Roma Trastevere: Viale di Trastevere 249/D

B&B Hotel Roma Trastevere


Looking at the map, we see that it takes a 37-minute walk to the Pantheon, but on the way, you’ll pass through the Trastevere zone with restaurants. Also, buses H (to Termini), 170, 781, and tram N8 go to the center. Trams in Rome run relatively according to schedule.

Conclusion: B&B Hotel Roma Trastevere has an excellent second-level location and good reviews – it’s ideal. I’ll add that Roma Trastevere station is a 5-minute walk away, and you can get to Fiumicino Airport (FCO) for only 8 euros on a regional train. I stayed at the hotel myself once and recommended it to friends several times.

Considering the room cost of around 70-90 euros per night (depending on the specific dates), this hotel is an ideal compromise between quality, cost, and location. The area is no longer touristy, which means you have a much better chance of eating deliciously and high-quality meals.

Save my Favorite Bars & Restaurants nearby

All the mentioned places are within a 5-minute walk from your hotel, and on Sundays, there’s a flea market, Porta Portese, nearby.

I recommend booking the hotel at least 3-6 months in advance and as close to the historical center as possible. In such case you won’t need to use public transport at all. Besides, it will save your time, nerves, and enjoying the city from the first moments. On the map below, I marked the main attractions for you.

Now I am sure that you will easily find a hotel in Rome in the best area without any issues. If you need my advice, leave a comment below.

Guide, traveler, marathon runner, journalist, creator of the site ITALY FOR ME. I live in Rome and am in love with Rome. On the subject of the article, please ask questions in the comments. I try to answer everyone at least once a day.

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