With so much to see in Rome, it can be hard to tear yourself away from the city. But venture out into the surrounding Lazio region and you’ll discover there are a host of historic sites and foodie hotspots to explore. Farther afield, Florence, Naples and Pompeii are all within day-trip range of the Italian capital.
Here are the very best places near Rome to visit in a day, and how to get there.
Explore the ancient ruins at Ostia Antica
One of the easiest outings from Rome is a day trip to the Scavi Archeologici di Ostia Antica. Like a smaller version of Pompeii, this engrossing archaeological site showcases the remarkably well-preserved ruins of ancient Rome’s sea port. Highlights include the Terme di Nettuno, a 2nd-century baths complex with striking floor mosaic, a steeply stacked amphitheater, and the Thermopolium, a cafe where you can make out traces of a menu frescoed on the wall. A slightly more modern eatery, the Ristorante Monumento serves filling pastas and local seafood near the site’s main entrance.
How to get to Ostia Antica: To get to the site, take the Ostia Lido train from Stazione San Paolo (next to Piramide metro station) and get off at Ostia Antica (25 minutes).
See Renaissance masterpieces in Florence
With Florence only an hour and a half away by fast train, the city can be visited in a day. You won’t have time for everything, but you’ll be able to squeeze in the headline sights, especially if you’ve pre-booked tickets through Firenze Musei. From the train station walk down to Piazza del Duomo, home to a trio of celebrated sights: the Duomo with its distinctive red-tiled dome, the Giotto-designed campanile, and the Battistero di San Giovanni.
Done there, continue onto Piazza della Signoria, where you can visit Florence's lavish town hall, Palazzo Vecchio, and come face to face with Renaissance masterpieces at the Galleria degli Uffizi. To fuel your wanderings stop for an innovative lunch at #Raw and coffee at Gilli, one of the city’s historic cafes.
How to get to Florence: Regular trains connect Rome Termini with Florence’s Stazione di Santa Maria Novella (1 hour 30 minutes).
Castelli Romani is the perfect day trip destination for foodies
A pretty pocket of vine-clad hills and volcanic lakes on Rome's southern doorstep, the Castelli Romani make for a fabulous foodie trip. Work up an appetite at the Scuderie Aldobrandini, a small museum charting the area’s local history. Castel Gandolfo is also home to the pope’s summer residence. The Palazzo Apostolico, also known as the Palazzo Pontificio, opened its doors for the first time a couple of years ago and, with prior booking, you can now visit its first-floor museum and landscaped gardens.
In Frascati, you can feast on porchetta (herbed spit-roasted pork) and local white wine at the Cantina Simonetti, one of several cantine (cellars) in town. For a more refined meal, head to Castel Gandolfo and the Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli, a landmark restaurant offering seasonal food and dreamy views over Lago Albano.
How to get to Castelli Romani: Direct trains serve Frascati (30 minutes) and Castel Gandolfo (on the Albano Laziale line; 45 minutes) from Rome’s Stazione Termini.
Visit two World Heritage Sites on a day out in Tivoli
Take in two World Heritage Sites in Tivoli, a small town 16.25 miles (26km) east of Rome. If you’re coming by public transport it’s easiest to start the day at Villa d’Este, a stylish Renaissance villa up in the hilltop center. Then, head down to Villa Adriana, some 2.5 miles (4.1km) away. The Emperor Hadrian’s colossal country estate is spectacular with towering ruins sprawled beneath gnarled olive trees and enormous umbrella pines. Once you’ve admired Villa d'Este's florid Mannerist frescoes and extravagant garden fountains, grab lunch at the nearby Antica Trattoria del Falcone.
How to get to Tivoli: Tivoli is accessible by regular Cotral bus from Ponte Mammolo metro station (50 minutes). Another option is a train from Stazione Termini to Tivoli. They depart every 15 minutes. Book your seat at trenitalia.com. To get to Villa Adriana from Tivoli’s historic center, take local CAT bus 4 or 4X from Largo Garibaldi.
Learn about the Etruscans in Cerveteri
For a glimpse into the lost world of the Etruscans, head to the Unesco-listed Necropoli di Banditaccia in Cerveteri. This haunting necropolis, which is just outside the modern town, is a veritable city of the dead with streets, squares and terraces of circular grass-topped tombs known as tumuli. Once you’ve explored these, complete your Etruscan education at the Museo Nazionale Cerite back in the historic center. Nearby, Da Bibbo is a cut above your average osteria.
How to get to Cerveteri: From Rome, regular Cotral buses serve Cerveteri from Cornelia metro station (55 minutes). By car, the town is 28 miles (45km) north of Rome, off the A12 autostrada. The necropolis is a mile from the city center.
See the Duomo and wander the medieval lanes of Orvieto
Midway between Rome and Florence, the cliff-top town of Orvieto is a day-trip classic. Its handsome medieval lanes are a joy to explore and there are plenty of fine restaurants to try. What makes a visit so special is its awe-inspiring cathedral, one of Italy's great Gothic churches. Spectacular inside and out, the zebra-striped Duomo features a mesmerizing facade and an astonishing fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli depicting the Giudizio Universale. Once you’ve visited the Duomo, there are sweeping views to be enjoyed from the Torre del Moro and caves to be explored at Orvieto Underground.
For a tasty, fortifying meal, search out the Trattoria del Moro Aronne.
How to get to Orvieto: Regular trains serve Orvieto from Rome Termini (1 hour 15 minutes). By car, it’s just off the main north–south A1 autostrada.
Have an unforgettable day in Pompeii and Naples
For an exhilarating day to remember, jump on a train and head south to Pompeii and Naples. It's possible to do both in one day, but you will need to be full of energy. Start in Pompeii to beat the heat and crowds. You’ll need around three hours to cover its greatest hits, which include the Forum, Lupanare (an ancient brothel), and amphitheater.
In Naples, head to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale to marvel at stunning classical art, and the baroque Capella Sansevero to gaze at Giuseppe Sanmartino's incredible Cristo velato (Veiled Christ) sculpture. For lunch, sample authentic Neapolitan pizza at the Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo, one of several cult pizzerias in the centro storico.
How to get to Pompeii and Naples: To get to Pompeii by mid-morning, take an early Frecciarossa train from Termini to Napoli Centrale and then a Circumvesuviana train to Pompei-Scavi-Villa dei Misteri. Frequent fast trains serve Napoli Centrale from Stazione Termini (1 hour 15 minutes).