The Best Day Trips from Rome: Enjoy a Mini Break Near the City
These are our favourite places to explore beyond the Eternal City
One of the most visited cities in the world, Rome is the spiritual and cultural centre of Italy. Stroll past centuries-old sculptures with a gelato in hand, down tree-lined boulevards in the shadow of the senate ruins, or explore hidden piazzas home to cafes and trattorias. There’s enough to keep you busy for days and that’s before you start exploring the surrounding regions. Here at Plum Guide, we've done all the hard work, so you don't have to. Our guide to day trips from Rome uncovers the best destinations to enjoy a mini break from the capital.
Sometimes not even a mountain of gelato is enough to escape the summer heat. When this happens, make like the locals and take a day trip from Rome to the seaside suburb of Ostia. Take your pick from the beachside cafes lining Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast, each with their own seafront sunbeds. Walk the length of the flat white sandy beach and sip Aperols to the sound of the waves. If the beach isn’t your thing Ostia is also famous for being the harbour of ancient Rome with archeological sites of the empire’s seafaring past to explore.
Rome is littered with artworks most museums would give their left arm to own, but the Papacy’s private collection is something else entirely. Hop across the border into the city within a city (it’s as easy as crossing the road) and spend the day exploring St. Paul’s Basilica and the Vatican museums. Don’t miss the opportunity to stand underneath Michaelangelo’s famous fresco, one of the things to see in Rome and experience artworks by Raphael, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and other household names that will leave even the most secular of souls in awe.
Pompeii has gone down in history as one of the great human tragedies. Still, the nature of the ancient metropolises’ demise, preserved under molten lava, means that millenia later it offers a fascinating insight into the daily lives of our Mediterranean ancestors. Around two hours south of the capital, Pompeii is one the most popular day trips. Better yet, spend a weekend combining Pompeii with a visit to Mount Vesuvius, Europe’s only active volcano, Naples and the surrounding seaside towns.
Sorrento and Capri
Speaking of seaside towns, they don’t come more glamorous than the Amalfi Coast, of which Sorrento and Capri are the jewels in the proverbial crown. Sorrento is instantly recognisable for its multicoloured homes stacked on steep cliff sides that descend into the Gulf of Naples. Get lost in the narrow streets lined with limoncello shops, cafes and restaurants. Hop on a ferry to Capri, home to some of Italy’s best seafood restaurants. Ride the single-seater gondola up to Anacapri and explore the roof garden at what feels like the top of Italy.
Assisi and Orvieto
North of the Eternal City you’ll find the towns of Assisi and Orvieto, both excellent day trips from Rome. The hilltop town of Orvieto (around an hour’s drive from the capital) is steeped in history from its cathedral, the Duomo di Orvieto, to the vast network of sixteenth century underground caves. Another couple of hours further north you’ll find yourself in the Umbrian town of Assisi. The town isn’t just home to UNESCO World Heritage sites, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore Rocca Maggiore, an impressive fourteenth century castle with unparalleled views of the Umbrian valleys, and the Basilica of St. Francis, one of the only places in Italy with frescos to rival Rome.
Another of our favourite day trips is Siena, around two-and-a-half hours north of the Italian capital. It’s also one of the best places to stay near Rome serving as the perfect base for exploring the Tuscan wine country. Time your visit right to catch one of Italy’s most famous events, the Palio di Siena horse race, which takes place twice a year on July second and August sixteenth. Even if you miss this spectacle there are plenty of others to enjoy from Piazza del Campo, which has been the centre of life in Siena since the thirteenth century, to the Torre del Mangio tower, best enjoyed at sunset when the terracotta rooftops give the town a beautiful red glow.
Wine lovers won’t want to miss the Val D’Orcia region of Southern Tuscany, what most people think of when they think of Tuscany. You can actually visit the famous copse of Cypress trees, the symbol of this region, near the town of San Quirico. Hop from small town to small town visiting as many vineyards as you can along the way. Enjoy views of the Crete Senesi landscape, red clay hills that have inspired artists for centuries, and have been compared to the lunar surface. Don’t leave without visiting Buonconvento, known as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
The final stop on our guide of day trips from Rome takes us to the charming lakeside town of Castel Gandolfo, best known as the summer residence of the Pope. Despite only being an hour’s drive, or short train journey from Rome’s Termini station, Castel Gandolfo couldn’t be further from the hustle and bustle of the Eternal City. Stroll along the boardwalk which hugs the shoreline of Lake Albano. Take your picnic to go and sail out into the waters for the best views of the town perched in the Albano hills.
If you'll be heading to the city and its surrounding regions in the near future, one of Plum Guide's expertly inspected homes in Rome is sure to provide the perfect base for exploring.