Rome is ideally placed for a variety of day trips. And, with fast and convenient rail connections, you don’t even need a car. I’ve rounded up some of the best day trips from Rome by train: a mixture of ancient ruins, hill towns and historic villas.
The Papal City Of Viterbo
Claudia Tavani, of Strictly Rome, recommends visiting Viterbo.
One of the best tips to follow when visiting Rome is to get out of town to explore lesser known places. Viterbo is the kind of place you really shouldn’t miss: despite being quite close to the Italian capital it will offer you a completely different vibe. This mid-sized city, about 100 km from Rome, is known to Italians for its beauty and its charming history and atmosphere. However, it is not well known to international tourists.
The main places to visit in Viterbo are all in the well kept medieval centre, which is entirely surrounded by ramparts. Inside the walls you’ll find the Papal Palace: the city was the seat of the Pope for about 24 years during the 13th century. Not far from here, the Duomo of San Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria Nuova are also must-sees.
The San Pellegrino district is a charming place for a walk. It’s a series of cobbled alleys and ancient buildings where getting lost is actually pleasurable! And make sure to head to the Terme dei Papi – beautifully kept historical thermal baths that are also very budget friendly.
Trains to Viterbo depart regularly from Roma Ostiense station. The journey is less than two hours.
Castel Gandolfo, One Of The Castelli Romani
Another papal town is Castel Gandolfo. This is one of the Castelli Romani, a group of hill towns to the south-east of Rome. It is also where the Pope had his summer residence until 2014. The highlight of a visit to Castel Gandolfo is the papal palace and gardens. However, there is also a historic town centre, and a lakeside area below the town.
Castel Gandolfo is about 40 minutes by train from Roma Termini. Read more about Castel Gandolfo, A Day Trip From Rome.
The Lakeside Town Of Bracciano
Bracciano is the recommendation of Annalisa of Travel Connect Experience.
40 km north of Rome, in the direction of the city of Viterbo, lies a crystal clear lake of volcanic origin, part of the Parco Regionale di Bracciano e Martignano. Lake Bracciano is one of the most beautiful lakes near Rome and one of the locals’ favourite destinations for a day trip from Rome.
Bracciano is one of three medieval towns overlooking the lake. The main historic attraction is the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, dating back to the 15th century. Today it is a museum where you can stroll around more than 20 rooms displaying original furniture and frescoes.
Whether or not you visit the castle, you should dine at one of the little restaurants located in the nearby Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini. The local delicacies include pasta with lake fish, boar meat, porcini mushrooms, truffles, and wine.
If you visit the lake during the warm season – May to October – the best thing you can do is immerse yourself in the refreshing water along the beach at Anguillara Sabazia. There are tiny beach clubs and kiosks where you can sit and enjoy the long sunsets with a drink.
To reach Lake Bracciano from Rome, take a train from Valle Aurelia, Ostiense, or Trastevere and get off at either Bracciano or Anguillara Sabazia. The journey takes around an hour.
Orvieto, A Hill Town In Umbria
Umbria is full of medieval hill towns, but Orvieto is probably the easiest to get to from Rome. Although the town dates back to the Etruscan period, most of what you see today is medieval. The old streets are enclosed by the walls of an ancient fortress, and you can wander through the historic centre, visit the magnificent cathedral, and admire the views of the Umbrian countryside.
Orvieto is just over an hour by train from Rome. Read more about taking a Day Trip To Orvieto.
Roman Remains At Ostia Antica
In Roman times Ostia Antica was an important sea port, and home to 50,000 people. Today it is an archaeological site: similar to Pompeii, but not as well known (or as crowded…) Explore the ancient streets with their houses, shops and warehouses. Then visit the forum and the amphitheatre, and marvel at the mosaics and the frescoes of the “decorated houses”.
Ostia Antica is a short train ride from Piramidi station. Read more about Exploring Roman History At Ostia Antica.
Civitavecchia, The Port Of Rome
Dymphe of Dymabroad recommends Civitavecchia, a more modern port town.
Civitavecchia makes for a lovely day trip from Rome. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but Civitavecchia is beautiful as well! It is a sea town with a very long and interesting history that stretches back to the Etruscans. It is also known as “the port of Rome”.
There are many things to do in Civitavecchia. One of these is visiting Forte Michelangelo. This impressive building was commissioned by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, as a defence against the pirates that were a threat to the security of the city. The tower of the fort was built by Michelangelo.
Other great sights you have to see in Civitavecchia are the Cathedral and the Fontana del Vanvitelli, a historical fountain. And don’t miss the Piazza Leandra.
It is easy to get to Civitavecchia by train. There is a direct route from Rome, and the journey takes about 50 minutes.
Tivoli And Its Villas
Around 30 km from Rome, Tivoli has been a summer retreat for wealthy Romans since classical times. It was known as a spa town, and it is still possible to bathe in the thermal waters. However, the main attraction is the historic villas of Tivoli. The most important of these is the 16th century Villa d’Este, with its hillside garden and extravagant water features. You can also visit the ancient Villa Gregoriana, with a more recent grotto garden, and a little way from the town is the ruins of the Villa Adriana, once home to the Emperor Hadrian.
Tivoli is just over an hour from Roma Tiburtina station.
Taking The Train From Rome
You will find it very easy, cheap and convenient to take the train from Rome. If you haven’t used the Italian trains before, have a look at our guide to How To Use The Trains In Italy.