Are you planning a solo trip to Rome but are not sure where to start?
As an experienced solo traveller was has visited Rome on multiple occasions, this is where I can help. Roman friends have generously shared their city with me on most of these visits and given me insights that no guidebook can provide.
Do you want to discover the best places to visit, how to get around, where to stay and essential safety tips? Read on for my guide to solo travel in Rome. It’s all you need to visit Rome alone.
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Solo Travel in Italy
Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
It is impossibly romantic and has spectacular landscapes and an unbeatable artistic and historical legacy. Its food and drink are reasons enough to visit Italy, including mouth-watering gelato and the best coffee in the world.
Furthermore, Italy is a good destination for female solo travellers, even those who are travelling alone for the first time.
Thanks to the country’s mature and extensive railway and bus network, it’s easy to get around.
There is little danger of you being the only foreigner in a town (unless you want to be) or being unable to communicate. English is widely spoken in the main visitor hubs and there is a well-trodden tourist path.
But don’t let this stop you from having a stab at the language. Italians are forgiving – and appreciative – of you having a go. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve butchered their mother tongue.
From Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpieces to pizza, Italian culture is famous the world over. This breeds instant familiarity with the country, even as a first-time visitor
Last but not least, Italy is a relatively safe travel destination.
Rome is wonderful for solo travellers (but it’s not perfect)
Rome is all about history, art, religion and la dolce vita.
This is the birthplace of the Roman Empire and it is home to some of the most evocative ruins in the world. An afternoon spent walking in the footsteps of Ancient Romans in the Forum and Colosseum will stir your imagination.
Rome is also the greatest Baroque city on the planet.
Through his elaborate fountains, sculptures and monuments, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) has left an indelible mark on the city’s artistic heritage. You’ll find paintings by Caravaggio, the bad boy of Baroque art, in Rome’s churches and galleries.
As home to the headquarter of the Roman Catholic Church, Rome has more churches and basilicas than you can shake a stick at, including the phenomenal St. Peter’s.
Now for the but.
This is a big and busy city, the most visited in Italy. In 2019, there were over 10 million overnight stays in Rome.
Trust me. You rapidly tire of swerving around tour groups, and of bumping elbows with others craning their necks to ogle Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
Even outside of the volcanic temperatures of the summer months, Rome can be hot. Pace yourself and carry water at all times.
Rome’s popularity means that it may blow a hole in your holiday budget. This is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, especially when it comes to booking a bed for the night.
But despite all this Rome is one of the greatest cities on earth.
Is Rome Safe for Female Solo Travellers?
Keeping safe when travelling alone is at the forefront of the minds of most female solo travellers, and a key criterion in choosing a solo travel destination.
Rome is one of the safest cities in the world, particularly when it comes to personal security. The main daily hazard that you are likely to face is crossing its busy roads unscathed.
However, in common with many big cities, Rome is not completely without risk.
Petty crime – be mindful of bag snatchers and pick-pockets, who are most industrious during Rome’s peak tourist seasons of Summer and Autumn.
They like to hang out on popular trains and buses, including those to and from Fiumicino Airport and crowded made-for-tourist buses #40 and #64. Thieves often work in groups to distract victims and rob them while they are distracted.
To keep your personal items secure, lock up your valuables at your accommodation and use an anti-theft backpack when you are out and about. I use this PacSafe backpack which has anti-RFID technology and a hidden pocket.
Scams – Over the years there have been numerous scams operating in Rome, including fake petitions, ATM fraud and counterfeit European currency handed over as change.
Female solo travel safety in Rome – Spiked food or drink is a reported problem in Rome, particularly around Termini station and in tourist areas such as the Colosseum, Campo Dei Fiori and Piazza Navona. This has led to tourists being robbed or assaulted.
Protect yourself from drink spiking by not accepting drinks from strangers and never leaving food or drinks unattended.
What to Do if You Are on a Solo Trip to Rome
Manage your expectations. Whether you are in Rome for a day or a week you are unlikely to see everything.
Despite multiple visits, there are still things that I haven’t seen.
Take a look at my Rome highlights to see what takes your interest. In my view, three days in Rome is ideal if you are a first-time visitor.
Top Ten Places to Visit in Rome Alone
1. Colosseum (Colosseo)
Monumental doesn’t even begin to describe the Colosseum.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980, this most iconic of Rome’s buildings opened for business in 80 AD with a gala that saw 5,000 animals slaughtered in a single day. It hosted armed combat for over 500 years before falling into a steady decline in the Middle Ages.
VISITING THE COLOSSEUM
As this is Rome’s most popular tourist attraction, you should book in advance.
Entry ticket for the Colosseum (tickets for Colosseo also include Roman Forum and Palatine Hill) | BUY HERE
Colosseum ticket with multimedia video guide | BUY HERE
Skip-the-line Colosseum ticket with live tour guide | BUY HERE
2. Roman Forum (Foro Romano)
The echoes of the footsteps of Ancient Romans resound over the well-worn stones of the Roman Forum. Built in a marshy valley between the Capitoline and Palatine hills, this was the heart of the Roman Empire and is one of the most evocative places in Rome.
The Pantheon is one of Rome’s most awe-inspiring buildings.
It started life in 27 BC as a temple built by Marcus Agrippa, Emperor Augustus’s son-in-law. This was destroyed by fire and the present temple was built in AD 119-28 by Emperor Hadrian.
In 609 AD the Pantheon was consecrated as the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres and is the final resting place of the artist Raphael and kings Vittorio Emmanuele II and Umberto I.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
This UNESCO World Heritage site barely needs an introduction.
St. Peter’s Basilica is said to be built on the site where St. Peter was buried, and Emperor Constantine built the first church here in 326 AD. This was rebuilt between 1506 and 1626 with Michelangelo playing a big part in its design, including its gravity-defying dome.
5. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums’ 1,400 rooms are brimming with artistic treasures, from Classical sculptures to Renaissance gems. But the museums are most famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and the Stanze di Raffaello.
6. Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
Do you want to ensure a return trip to Rome? Tradition says that throwing a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain will do the trick.
All I can say is that it has worked for me.
7. Spanish Steps (Scalinita della Trinità dei Monti)
Connecting Piazza di Spagna with the church of Trinità dei Monti, the Spanish Steps are another of Rome’s most famous sights. Piazza di Spagna has been a popular meeting place since the days of the English Romantic poets (Keats died in a house on the piazza).
And did you know that this was one of the filming locations for Roman Holiday, a famous 1953 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (and one of the best movies set in Italy)?
8. Piazza Navona
For a dose of Baroque splendour head to Piazza Navona. This elegant and lively square is dominated by the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), one of Bernini’s most famous works.
Its unusual elongated shape betrays Piazza Navona’s roots as a Roman circus.
9. Galleria Borghese
Housed in the Villa Borghese, the 17th Century summer retreat for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, Galleria Borghese is home to an extraordinary collection of paintings and sculptures. This includes masterpieces by Bernini, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio.
Take time after your visit to stroll around Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome’s green lung.
NEED TO KNOW
This is one museum in Rome where it is compulsory to book your ticket in advance.
10. Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci)
Make your way to the Orange Garden for an unforgettable view of Rome.
From its vantage point at the top of the Aventine Hill, there are fabulous views over the city. Established in 1932 for the adjacent church of Santa Sabina, this tranquil public garden is planted with orange and pine trees.
How to Get to Rome
Rome has two international airports: Fiumicino Airport (Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci) and Ciampino Airport.
Located 20 miles southwest of the city centre, Fiumicino (FCO) is Rome’s main airport. The smaller Ciampino Airport (CIA), ten miles southeast, serves budget airlines.
Although Ciampino is closer to the centre of Rome, I prefer flying to Fiumicino Airport as there are more and easier options for getting into the city. These include the Leonardo Express train, which departs twice every hour, buses and shared shuttles.
Taxis operate fixed fare services between Fiumicino and the city centre. In 2022, the fare set by the Roman authorities was €48 which may put it beyond the budget of many solo travellers.
From Ciampino Airport, you will need to take a bus and then the Ciampino Airlink train which will deposit you at Rome Termini station. Again, taxis operate a fixed rate service from Ciampino (€30).
All lines lead to Rome Termini, the city’s main train station.
Rome has excellent rail connections to other major Italian cities, including Florence, Naples, Bologna, Milan, Venice and Turin. Services are operated by Trenitalia and Italo.
You can interrogate both of these operators’ timetables here.
Getting Around Rome
Despite its size, Rome is surprisingly walkable. The key is to group your sightseeing into neighbourhoods that you can navigate on foot.
Public transport in Rome
The good news is that Rome’s public transport system is cheap and extensive. The bad news is that it can be confusing and sometimes chaotic.
All of Rome’s trains, buses and trams use the same ticket. In 2022, this costs €1.50 which allows you to use public transport for 100 minutes after its validation. You can only make one trip by metro or train.
Buy your public transportation tickets at vending machines in any metro station, at convenience stores, newsstands or in tabacchi. It’s a smart move to stock up with tickets early in your Rome solo trip.
You validate your ticket by sticking it in the Metro turnstile or in the machine when you board the bus or tram. In return, it will spit out your ticket with a time stamp.
It’s safe to say that Rome’s three-line metro system is not the most useful of any European city. Although it will bring you to the Vatican, Colosseum and Forum, Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, there are large swathes of the city centre that it doesn’t reach.
The easiest way to pay for your journey on Rome’s metro system is to use your contactless bank card on its newly installed readers at the stations’ turnstiles. Otherwise, go old-school with a paper ticket.
Avoid the worst of the crowds – and Rome’s nimble-fingered pickpockets – by choosing the first or last compartments.
Buses in Rome
Rome’s bus routes are positively Byzantine. Although many bus stops now have screens that show the arrival time of the next bus, posted timetables or maps are rare.
To plan your route, head to ATAC’s journey planner.
Trams in Rome
Rome has a small tram network and I have found the ones serving Trastevere (#3 and #8) to be the most useful.
If you’re in Rome for at least 48 hours, consider buying the Roma Pass. This city card gives you free skip-the-line admission to one or two attractions and free use of the city’s public transport system.
Click here for more information.
Where to stay in Rome as a solo traveller
Choosing the right hotel can make or break a solo trip to Rome.
Your hotel or apartment needs to be comfortable, welcoming and, most of all, safe. And as accommodation costs are likely to account for a significant slice of your travel budget, you want to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
Rome is a big city and the accommodation choice can seem overwhelming. As with choosing a hotel or apartment in any city, ultimately where you rest your head will depend on your budget and style of travel.
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Factors You Cannot Ignore When Choosing a Hotel (Especially as a Solo Traveller)
The streets around Rome termini station are rich hunting grounds for budget to mid-range accommodation.
The advantages of staying in this area are that it is relatively cheap and is close to Rome’s main transport hub. However, as a female solo traveller, I’m not keen on this area late at night.
That said, I have stayed near Termini a few times with zero problems.
Hotel Canada, BW Premier Collection
I stayed in this 3-star hotel when on my most recent trip to Rome. It offers comfortable rooms and an elegant lounge, and Termini station is a ten-minute walk.
The 1Q Hotel Roma was my base on an earlier solo trip to Rome. This trendy 4-star hotel has a lovely rooftop terrace and there’s a shared laundry.
>>> SEARCH FOR OTHER HOTELS NEAR ROME TERMINI HERE
Around Villa Borghese
I’m a big fan of this district. Although it’s away from the tourist hubbub, you are within walking distance of Rome’s Centro Storico.
Even if my friends didn’t live in this part of Rome, I would still stay here.
This elegant 4-star hotel is my usual base when I am visiting Rome. It’s five minutes’ walk from Piazza del Popolo and Flaminio Metro Station. Just steer clear of the “Economy Double” rooms; they are tiny.
>>> SEARCH FOR OTHER HOTELS AROUND VILLA BORGHESE HERE
Trastevere is one of the most enchanting areas of Rome and one that has retained a local feel. The one downside is that is not the most central district in which you could stay.
>>> SEARCH FOR HOTELS IN TRASTEVERE HERE
If it’s your first visit to Rome, you can’t go far wrong booking a room in the historic centre or Centro Storico (on my first visit over 30 years ago I stayed in a pensione on Campo de Fiori). It’s super central and has an ambience all of its own.
However, as this is tourist central, it can be very busy and noisy at all times of the day.
>>> SEARCH FOR HOTELS IN CENTRO STORICO HERE
Solo Dining in Rome
Solo dining in restaurants is one of the toughest challenges a solo traveller faces. Whilst eating out alone no longer brings me out in a rash, it is not something that I relish.
But thanks to Rome’s wide choice of dining options, solo dining need not be an ordeal.
Take advantage of aperitivo time. For the price of a drink, you’ll be served all sorts of yummy Italian savoury treats. This takes place in the early evening at participating bars.
Whilst Rome is blessed with excellent restaurants, there are also many sub-standard and overpriced ones serving tourist fayre. Your best bet is to venture outside of the centre to where the locals dine.
Never ever choose a restaurant that helpfully displays pictures of its offerings on the menu. If you need restaurant recommendations, ask your hotel.
In the centre, one of my favourite areas to eat is the Jewish Ghetto, if only for the amazing fried artichokes (carciofi alla guidia). Another good central option, and one that is also popular with Romans, is Gusto.
READ THIS NEXT: The Secret to Successful Solo Dining
Organised activities are a great way to meet other travellers in Rome
Many people dread the loneliness of solo travel and joining an organised activity can be an excellent way to meet people when you are travelling.
Here are a few activities that look like huge fun.
Pasta & Tiramisu Workshop with Dinner
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making pasta and tiramisu, this is your chance. Drinks and dinner companions are included.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Street Food Tour with Local Guide
Choose between a lunchtime or evening slot for this foodie tour of the Jewish Quarter. There is also an option to take a food tour in Trastevere.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Rome food tour by night
This highly-rated four-hour walking tour takes you to Rome’s foodie neighbourhoods and introduces you to the city’s cuisine through 20 tastings. Aperitivo and wine included.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Recommended Day Trips from Rome
If you have a longer stay in Rome, there are a number of magical destinations that you can visit as easy day trips by train. Here are a few of my favourites:
Once the thriving seaport for Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is an easy and inexpensive day trip from Rome. With its well-preserved mosaics, frescoes and ruins, it gives Pompeii a good run for its money.
READ THIS NEXT: Ostia Antica vs Pompeii: 7 Reasons to Visit Ostia Antica from Rome
Perched on a pedestal of tufa, the medieval city of Orvieto is one of Italy’s finest. Its cobbled streets and artistic and historic treasures are a joy to explore, not least of which is Orvieto Cathedral.
READ THIS NEXT: 20 Magical Things to Do in Orvieto, Italy
The birthplace of the Renaissance and home to some of the greatest sculptures and paintings in history, Florence is one of my favourite Italian cities.
READ THIS NEXT: Solo Travel Guide to Italy’s Renaissance Gem
For Italy on steroids, visit Naples as a day trip from Rome. In addition to its rich historical and cultural heritage, this is the place to eat some of the best pizzas in the world.
READ THIS NEXT: One Day in Naples, Italy
Recommended Rome Guidebooks
A decent guidebook can be worth its weight in gold in helping you make the most of your time in a city. Here are the two Rome guidebooks that I use:
Rick Steves Italy | CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON HERE
I have this volume downloaded to my mobile devices for portable information on the go. Packed with useful information, including walking tours.
Blue Guide Rome | CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON HERE
Whilst they may be lacking in some of the more practical information, the Blue Guide is top of its class for detailed historical and architectural information
Final Tips for Solo Travel in Rome
Most first-time visitors to Rome make a beeline for the Colosseum and Vatican Museums. To avoid standing in long queues – or, worse still, not getting in at all – buy your tickets in advance.
Try to visit as many of the city’s main sights as possible early in the morning when they are less busy.
Dress modestly when visiting Rome’s churches. Always respect worshippers and never use flash.
Finally, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Who knows what hidden treasures you will find?