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Rome Tips: Guide to Exploring the City's Hidden Gems

A happy woman in a red dress posing in front of Rome's Colosseum.

I just got back from a 10-day trip to Rome. It was a great long trip where I worked remotely in the afternoons and explored the city in the mornings and evenings. As I was there for a good amount of time, I was able to discover great places to try and even repeat. And I want to share with you my favorite spots from my trip. Note that this is a reduced list considering my long stay because there are places not worth sharing.

Where to eat in Rome like a local?

Before we jump into the list of places I want you to try on your next trip to Rome, here are some general tips for you to remember.

  • All prices include taxes. (tip 1€ to 2€ per person)

  • The bread basket is not always free, so be sure to ask.

  • Water is usually 2€ (still=naturale/liscia ) & (sparkling=gassata/frizzante)

  • Requesting cheese is seen as impolite, but asking for salt is even worse and should be avoided.

Great small bistro in the center of the city, with an amazing creative menu. It has a loyal local clientele during the day and attracts both locals and tourists at night due to its prime location. For dinner, I highly recommend making a reservation as it's a popular spot. We had to wait 30 minutes at 9pm for a table for two. They offer two menus, one for breakfast and another for lunch/dinner. The omelet is a must-try! It's the best omelet in Rome :)

Reservations: website

This is a tiny lunch spot that only seats eight people and offers a daily menu of pasta options. You can enjoy fresh pasta and even watch while they make it. They supply pasta to many local restaurants, and you can also buy fresh pasta or bread to make at home. Reservations are not possible; only walk-ins are accepted.

Reservations: only walk-ins

This restaurant offers fine dining with a tasting menu priced at 60€ per person for lunch and 110€ per person for dinner. Tables are shared. Although we didn't get a chance to try it, we are excited to visit Rome and dine there, as we have enjoyed their other restaurants and their food.

Reservations: website

This is a small-sized bistro located close to the Spanish Steps. It's always busy, but the staff is attentive and the vibe is charming both inside and outside. For breakfast, they only accept walk-ins, but you can make a reservation for afternoon and evening meals and drinks. Since it's a popular spot, I highly recommend making a reservation

Reservations:+39 06 6790 383 | | website

This is a terrace bar and restaurant located above the Spanish Steps, providing a beautiful view of the city. The staff is very nice, and I highly recommend it. However, it can be pricey, so I suggest reviewing the menu. Many people go for a light lunch or just drinks, but it's definitely a must-stop to enjoy the city.

Reservations: +39 0697793716 |

Hotel restaurant for breakfast and dinner with indoor and outdoor dining, both beautiful options for a meal. The staff were really nice and attentive. This is a pricey option, so I recommend looking at the menu before heading there. I visited for breakfast, and my omelette and cappuccino were $23. You go there for the ambiance. (€45 breakfast buffet or an à la carte option)

Reservations: +39 0697793712 |

Great small restaurant in the center of the city, full of locals and Italian cuisine. It has a good traditional Italian vibe. Reservations are a must for dinner and on weekends.

Reservations: (+39) 346 94 26 132 |

Frezza cucina de coccio / IG

The restaurant is large with a cozy and great vibe. The waiters are attentive, and from the second room, you can see the kitchen. The food is good and inexpensive with great local options. It's recommended to make a reservation and choose a table away from the host, as she isn't the best.

Reservations: +39 06 7045 2605

If you need a break from expensive Roman restaurants, this casual and healthy food option is a great choice. Conveniently located near the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, they serve all their food in to-go containers, so you can enjoy it at a nearby plaza or at their restaurant, which has ample indoor and outdoor seating as well as wifi.

This huge three-story pizza restaurant is popular among locals and offers a casual and inexpensive dining experience.

This vegetarian restaurant offers traditional Italian cuisine, so you don't have to settle for just the house salad. The staff is friendly, and the restaurant is conveniently located near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. We didn't have to wait to be seated because the restaurant is quite spacious.

This large restaurant offers healthy dining options from breakfast to dinner, using organic and sustainable agriculture in their dishes. With multiple vegetarian and gluten-free meal options, it's a great choice for those with dietary restrictions. The restaurant is located close to the Spanish Steps and has both indoor and outdoor seating. However, if you're with a big group or want to dine outside, you may have to wait. But trust us, it's worth it to enjoy the charming location!

Reservations: Website

When in Rome, where do I have my cappuccino?

Did you know that in Italy, you can find a cappuccino at most restaurants? If you're in Rome, you might notice that exclusive coffee shops are not as common as in other places. Also, keep in mind that coffee prices can range from 1.50€ to 10€, depending on where you go. Don't worry though, the prices listed next to each shop will help you decide which one suits your budget. As for me, I loved ordering cappuccinos or cafe lattes!

Gelato is a must in Italy.

Popular places like Giolitti often have long lines. You can skip the wait by paying a higher fee for table service. In our experience, all gelato shops were good and similar, so there's no need to wait in line or search for a faraway place recommended by a friend. Eat gelato as often as possible from shops you find on your way.

  • Giolitti // A sundae with 3 scoops cost $11

What not to miss when visiting Rome?

To enjoy the city, walk and appreciate its architecture and rich history. However, if you want to visit the most popular sites, here are my top 6 recommendations in order of preference.

  1. Colosseum & Roman Forum – 18€ ticket options ( Opt 1 / Opt 2 / Opt 3)

  2. Trevi fountain – (go before 9am) / Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

  3. Pantheon – (opens at 9.30am, go before 10 am) / Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

  4. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore Via della Stelletta, 21, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Here are other popular sites (in random order)

What is a good gift to get in Rome? List of souvenir ideas and where to get them.

For unique souvenirs, skip the shops near popular attractions and look for items that reflect Italian design or cuisine. Many boutiques in the city center have preselected great vendors and products, doing the research for you. Cheaper items can be found outside the city center, but require more time to reach. Recommended items include clothing, home goods, food, and leather accessories. Here is a list of places I liked.

Unique ways to discover the city: Best tour options in Rome.

Like all popular cities, there are multiple sites you don't want to miss, and even more tour companies willing to guide you to get the best experience. That being said, you can go to classic/well-known websites to book your tours or venture into these new options to be taken around Rome.

On this trip, I discovered the golf cart tours and found them to be a great addition to the current options. In cities like Rome, with small streets, an overwhelming amount of walking tourists, and traffic, the options below are great ways to get a VIP and unique experience in Rome.


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