A free day in Rome offers many tempting possibilities for solo travelers. If you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome’s popular tourist sites, take a walk across the Tiber River to the Trastevere neighborhood. Its ancient cobblestone streets, arched passageways, and medieval buildings (along with some of Rome’s best ristorantes and pizzerias) make it a popular hangout for Romans.
Exploring Trastevere on foot is the way to go. Put on your most comfortable shoes, bring your appetite, and get ready to taste authentic Italy. There are plenty of reasons why Trastevere is perfect for solo travel. Read on to see our solo travel tips for exploring Trastevere.
Where is Trastevere located in Rome?
Trastevere’s name holds the clue to its location. Translated into English, it means, “across the Tiber.” Trastevere has been one of Rome’s 14 districts since the time of Emperor Augustus, and is located on the Tiber River’s west side, across from the center of Rome and south of Vatican City.
What are the best ways to get to Trastevere
One of the helpful things about being on a guided tour of Rome is that you can always ask your Tour Director for the best way to get to the Trastevere neighborhood. Easily walkable from the center of Rome (just a 15-minute walk from the Pantheon), this vibrant neighborhood is also reachable by bus (H from Termini Station). The metro’s line B has a stop at Circo Massimo, which still leaves a mile walk to our recommended starting point, Ponte Fabricio.
Or opt for a taxi to take you directly there. One great option is getting a group of your fellow travelers together and splitting the taxi fare. Then you can share the Trastevere experience together!
What are the best things to do in Trastevere as a solo traveler?
Walk over Rome’s oldest bridge to L’Isola Tiberina
There’s no better way to start your day in Trastevere, Rome, than walking over the Ponte Fabricio, Rome’s oldest bridge (built in 62 B.C.), to the ancient island of L’Isola Tiberina. The bridge is just a two-minute walk from the Great Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. The tiny, boat-shaped island in the middle of the Tiber River doesn’t take long to navigate before continuing to Trastevere.
You’ll find it quiet on the island in the morning. A visit to the peaceful, 1,000-year-old Church of St. Bartolomeo will keep that tranquility going. You can admire beautiful Baroque frescoes in addition to relics of saints and both ancient and modern-day martyrs. Summer evenings fill L’Isola Tiberina with fun and festivals (including the annual open-air Isola del Cinema film festival). The island is the perfect spot to start and finish a fantastic day in Trastevere.
Explore the ancient heart of Trastevere
You could wander the winding, narrow streets of Trastevere, Rome, exploring its cafes, shops, and off-the-beaten-path religious shrines all day long, and never tire of the neighborhood’s charm. But the centuries-old piazzas are where you’ll feel the heartbeat of this neighborhood. Even in a city full of ancient monuments, the Piazza di Santa Maria stands out for its historic offerings.
The most famous landmarks are the Basilica di Santa Maria, which dominates one end of the piazza, and the beautiful fountain in its center. Both are among the oldest of their type in Rome. Take some time to make like a local and do some people-watching on the fountain’s steps—perhaps with a cappuccino from Caffè di Marzio in hand. Then stroll over to the Basilica di Santa Maria to marvel at its stunning golden mosaics on the exterior and glittering murals inside.
Marvel at Raphael’s impressive frescoes in Villa Farnesina
It’s still early enough in the day to chase some fabulous Renaissance masterpieces. While crowds pack Rome’s most famous displays of artistic achievement, one of the best things to do in Trastevere is take in the glory of the Villa Farnesina in relative calm. Built on the banks of the Tiber by a 16th-century financier to the popes as an escape from the busyness of Rome, this lavish palace spares no luxury. Now a museum, Villa Farnesina is home to spectacular frescoes, including one of Raphael’s most acclaimed works, the Triumph of Galatea, on the first floor.
Don’t miss the Hall of Perspectives upstairs. Created by Baldassare Peruzzi, the trompe-l’oeil creates the illusion that the walls have disappeared and become colonnades leading to a peaceful landscape. While in the Hall of Perspectives, look for the graffiti scratched on the walls by German soldiers during the Sack of Rome in 1527. The museum is open from 9am to 2pm, Monday through Saturday. The cost of entry is 10 euros.
Grab lunch on the go… or sit down at a classic Italian ristorante
If your stomach’s grumbling by now, you’re in luck. Trastevere, Italy, is a hot foodie destination with plenty of authentic local cuisine. Depending on your appetite, you could:
- Opt for the pizza locals love at Dar Poeta (Vicolo del Bologna, 45), located in a cobblestoned alley between Piazza Trilussa and Piazza di Santa Maria. They’ve perfected a soft, doughy crust with a crunch.
- If you don’t mind a walk (about 20 minutes from Villa Farnesina), staffer Jules recommends Fratelli Santi Mauro & Zeno, also known as Two Brothers Deli (Via Giacinto Carini, 27). “They have amazing paninis, and you can create your own sandwiches,” said Jules. “The owners are so friendly. I recommend getting a bulky roll, pesto, tomato, prosciutto, salami Picante, and sienna cheese. I still dream about these on a daily basis!”
- Looking for an upscale option? Try Ristorante le Mani in Pasta (Via dei Genovesi, 37) on the eastern end of Trastevere, Rome. The local fish, pasta, and meat dishes are to die for, but the restaurant’s popularity may mean you’ll have a bit of a wait.
Escape to Rome’s secret garden: Orto Botanico
Now it’s time to while away an afternoon like the Romans do. Orto Botanico is one of the city’s hidden gems, with 30 acres of peaceful gardens, fountains, greenhouses, easy-to-stroll gravel paths, gentle waterfalls, a lake, and plenty of shade—all tucked away so close to the crowded streets of Rome. If you picked up lunch at Fratelli Santi Mauro & Zeno, you could dine like a local and enjoy a picnic in the park.
You’ll find art, history, and nature as you stroll the grounds. The University of Rome maintains over 8,000 species of plants (some older than Rome). The Japanese Garden, the Bamboos, and House of Butterflies are not to be missed. Sculptures and historical buildings are scattered throughout the grounds. Orto Botanico is open daily (from 9am to 5:30pm, and until 6:30pm April–October). An entrance fee of 4 euros will gain you entry; add another 4 euros for the House of Butterflies.
Climb Janiculum Hill for panoramic views of Rome
The ancient city of Rome was built on its famous seven hills. Janiculum Hill (or Belvedere del Gianicolo), is set above Orto Botanico, and is often called the city’s eighth hill, or the Balcony of Rome. It’s the place to go for the best views—and stunning photos—of the Eternal City.
Once you’ve finished exploring the gardens below and you’re up for a walk (a taxi is always an option if an uphill walk seems too much this late in your day), head up to the top of Janiculum Hill to take in the panoramic views of Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica is easy to spot, along with other famous landmarks, including the winding Tiber River. If you arrive at noon, you’ll experience the daily firing of the cannon. If you’re around to view the sunset, you’ll enjoy one of the most magical moments in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome.
Take a gelato break
If you’ve lasted this long without a gelato, now’s the time to indulge. Luckily, you’ll find one of Rome’s best gelaterias in Trastevere: Otaleg. You’ll need to backtrack from Janiculum Hill, which is appropriate since Otaleg is gelato spelled backward! A 12-minute walk will bring you to the artisanal sweets that locals rave about.
Master gelataio Marco Radicioni takes gelato-making to taste levels you’ll dream about long after you’ve returned home. In addition to traditional favorites, he serves up bold ingredients, including prickly pear, gorgonzola, and marsala, all guaranteed to delight your taste buds.
Head over to Piazza Trilussa, one of our favorite gathering places in Trastevere, Rome
As your day in Trastevere, Rome, winds down, some of this neighborhood’s real magic begins. Seemingly everyone, locals and tourists alike, gather at their favorite piazza to hang out, catch up with friends, enjoy a glass of vino, or grab a bite to eat. One of the best gathering places is Piazza Trilussa, where Ponte Sisto crosses the Tiber River. The steps of its 17th-century fountain fill with crowds of people, often with a drink in hand from one of the cafes or restaurants ringing the piazza. For many, it’s the start of an evening out. But after a long day of walking the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome’s cobblestoned streets, Piazza Trilussa can be the perfect ending to your day.
Plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating overlooking the piazza offer top Italian dishes, from pizza to homemade pasta. Just a five-minute walk from the piazza is Mimi e Coco Trast, a traditional Italian restaurant our staffers love. Or you could find a bar that offers a buffet of Italian appetizers for you to graze when you buy a drink. When you’re ready to head home, walk over to the Ponte Sisto and catch a bus back to the center of Rome.