- WHERE TO STAY
- CRUISE PORTS
The district we are talking about is at the north-east of Rome's tourist zone, the small area in Rome that most leisure visitors will spend most of their time. On the edge of the ancient city quite near the Spanish Steps is a metro station called Barberini.
From here the wide elegant Via Veneto winds up a gentle hill and after about 10 minutes' walk reaches Villa Borghese, Rome's largest park by far with many museums, a boating lake, even a Shakespeare theatre and Rome zoo in there.
The Via Veneto is the axis of this hotel district. This is one of the most exclusive parts of Rome, and along the Via Veneto you will find many of the most expensive hotels in Rome, most of which are near the top of the hill very close to Villa Borghese.
You will find many countries' embassies here, including the US embassy half way up the Via Veneto. If you choose to stay here you should be aware that unless you stay on the very fringes of this district you are paying a price premium to do so over other central Rome districts.
Much reference is made of the (evidently) famous 1960s film, “La Dolce Vita” directed by Federico Fellini. The film depicts the high life of Rome in the 1950s centred along the bars and café’s along the elegant Via Veneto. A place where celebrities would come to be seen and pose. Like all successful films, a lot of people visiting Rome made a point of checking out this area of Rome they had so enjoyed on film.
Today not too much has changed, even if most of the people here have long forgotten the film. Walking from the city, the wide, elegant tree lined Via Veneto is a clear marker you have moved into a sophisticated, refined district from the narrow lanes and bustle of the ancient city.
There are grand hotels and countless bars and restaurants up the length of the Via Veneto. Prices tend to climb as you climb up the hill with the most expensive at the top.
Near the bottom there is a Hard Rock cafe that seems to be out of character. Many of the restaurants and hotels have a separate restaurant erected on the wide pavement, even these structures are very elegant inside.
Most of the chains have their flagship Rome hotel near the top of the Via Veneto, backing onto or with views of the Villa Borghese. Doormen and restaurant waiters here look like they've just come off a film set and the prices on the menus displayed put off perhaps the majority. The residential area up here away from the main streets are also very elegant and high class too.
At the bottom of the Via Veneto is Piazza Barberini that really signifies the edge of this district. From here you are in the ancient city in a very different environment of narrow lanes and restaurants and bar, even a Burger King and McDonald's. Around here there is some budget accommodation in the Via Veneto area.
At Piazza Barberini, now more a large traffic island piazza rather than a place lined with restaurants the Fountain of the Triton always has a crowd of tourists taking pictures. Barberini also is as close as Rome's Metro system comes to the Via Veneto.
From the top of the Via Veneto with a street map or directions from your hotel you can quickly walk to the Spanish Steps in 10 minutes where there is also a Metro station, Spagna.
Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome. It features a lake, temples, fountains, statues and several museums.
The most famous is the Museo e Galleria Borghese, housed in the Villa Borghese, the building after which the park is named.
It has a collection of sculptures with some important works by Canova and Bernini, including the latter's masterpiece “Abduction of Proserpina by Pluto”. The Galleria Borghese also houses a collection of paintings from several masters including Titian, Rubens and Raphael.
There are busy areas like the boating lake, but for the most part its very easy to find your own shady spot all to yourself. It is not manicured lawns for the most part and the landscape is quite contoured. To walk across the park would take around 15 minutes, many people hire bikes and there is a miniature train service.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink too. As you wander you may come across a replica Shakespeare theatre (in use), Rome's modern art gallery and zoo, a kiddies' cinema and countless statues and monuments. There are also very good views down onto the ancient city from just above Piazza Del Popolo.
As said a few times before, this area is an upmarket district to stay. Cheap budget hotels around Villa Borghese and Via Veneto have to be put into this context.
Room rates are very volatile in Rome according to time of the year, so at some times of the year benchmarked against other comparable European cities they may seem attractive. Whatever time you stay you are paying a premium over accommodation just a couple of km away around say Termini Station, the most price competitive district in Central Rome.
However, there are some budget options in the district mostly at the bottom of the hill around Piazza Barberini and we have a page devoted to budget hotels around Villa Borghese and Via Veneto.
The hotels for which the district is renowned for are mostly the top of the range hotels. The most exclusive area is at the top of Via Veneto, where you have the grand hotels, expensive restaurants and general ambience of the Via Veneto.
The ancient city of Rome is within easy walking district of the district. Line A of the Rome Metro at both Spagna and Barberini stations are within 10 minutes' walk of hotels in the district. The Metro will take you to the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum, both of which have Metro stations.
Local buses radiate out in all directions from the area.
A cute little electric bus, route 116 goes down the Via Veneto and because of its small size is able to wind through the narrow streets below, normal vehicles cannot go. It's not suitable for sightseeing but is a way of getting from A to B passing the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon.
See our Rome bus page for more details of the bus services in Rome.
Most of the cities many hop-on hop-off tourist buses pick up in the area and are an extremely popular means of seeing the main sights by visitors.
Important: This particular area of Rome is one where the different hop on, hop off sightseeing buses routes deviate significantly from each other. Some of the hop on. hop off sightseeing buses go through Villa Borghese & Via Veneto, others the nearest they come to the district is Piazza Barberini - so do make sure to check.
There really is only one way of exploring the ancient city centre of Rome and that's to walk. Not only is walking the most practical way of visiting all the sights in the ancient city centre its also by far the most rewarding way.
For those who want to explore at their own pace then we have a few free reference walks that connect some of the most famous sights visitors want to see on their visit to Rome. Evening is a great time to blend the sights with a meal and a romantic walk afterwards.
The self guided walk linked below starts from the Spanish Steps, just 5 minutes' walk from Via Veneto.
Termini Station is the main hub for public transport in the centre of Rome as well as being the central train station for Rome. Termini Station is linked directly from Barberini and Spagna Metro. For most hotels, the Metro station will still be a good walk away so you may well endure dragging luggage as a reward for surviving the crowded Metro train. Maybe a taxi to/from Termini Station is a better option?
From Termini Station, the Leonardo Express train runs direct to the main Rome airport, Fiumicino. See our Fiumicino train page for further details. There are also much cheaper airport buses from Fiumicino Airport that also terminate at Termini Station.
To and from Ciampino Airport, Terravision run frequent airport coaches from Termini Station. Ciampino has no train service into the airport. From both Spagna and Barberini Metro stations you can go to end of Line A to Anagnina where a connecting local bus goes to Ciampino Airport. See our Ciampino bus page for further details.
Civitavecchia is Rome's cruise port about an hour from Rome to the north west. Trains between Termini and Civitavecchia Cruise Port run twice hourly for much of the day from Termini Station and are a much more economic option to the alternative taxi/private car.