Rome City Guide

If eating our way through the Eternal City and checking into some of the capital’s hottest new hotels are prerequisites to crafting a reliable Rome city guide, then you’ve found a source you can count on – because cacio e pepe is practically coursing through our veins after this latest scouting trip.

There are northern Italians, Southern Italians, and then, there are Romans. The Roman approach to life is distinct (and it involves a lot of artichokes, in our experience). A dive into the phrase “all roads lead to Rome,” serves as a reminder that centuries ago, the Roman Empire – once the most powerful in the world – was the center of the world. And as modern as Rome has now evolved to become, the heartbeat of this city is still guided by its storied past.

…whether it’s securing behind-the-scenes access to see world-famous sights from secret vantage points you didn’t even know existed to scoring a table at a hundred-year-old trattoria, we’ve got you covered.

On its surface, Italy’s capital city could be misconstrued as a city to see a few major sites before moving on to the coast or Tuscan countryside. Touring the Colosseum? Check. Walking through the Roman Forum? Check. Day trip to Vatican City? Check. But this is the kind of place that begs to be dug into deeper; whether it’s securing behind-the-scenes access to see world-famous sights from secret vantage points you didn’t even know existed to scoring a table at a hundred-year-old trattoria, we’ve got you covered. Spending only a few days in Rome simply to cross off the essentials would be a mistake – there’s so much more to uncover with an extended or (if your wish at the Trevi Fountain came true), a return visit.

Where to Stay in Rome

Six Senses Rome

After six years of planning and development, Six Senses Rome opened its doors in March 2023 to palpable excitement amongst the hospitality community and discerning travelers alike. The property represents the brand’s first foray into a city market; it seamlessly blends Six Senses’ signature barefoot luxury style with nods to the origins of Roman civilization. Its location directly next door to Chiesa San Marcello al Corso – a church whose facade Six Senses has committed to restoring as a part of its sustainability fund – and just a few minutes walk from the Trevi Fountain finds you in the heart of the city. In mere minutes upon returning to the hotel after sightseeing or shopping on Via del Corso, you can be submerged in the Six Senses Spa’s subterranean Roman baths which are complete with a cold plunge pool for the ultimate reset.

InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace

Freshly opened in May 2023, InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace is perfectly positioned on Via Veneto in a historical building housing the former American Consulate. From the moment you see the façade modeled in a neo-Renaissance style by renowned Italian architect Carlo Cusiri Vici (dating back to 1900), guests are reminded that they aren’t checking into a standard hotel; this latest outpost from IHG Hotels has been meticulously crafted to pay homage to its Roman roots. We happen to love the top suite boasting an expansive private terrace overlooking the charming neighborhood. The property’s collaboration with Scarpetta has attracted a local clientele who have been craving a New York-meets-Rome vibe. Or, find yourself upstairs at Charlie’s Bar where you can sip on an impeccably-made cocktail overlooking the entire city.

What to do in Rome 

In the spirit of creativity, we’re recapping a handful of some of the most creative and customizable options your advisor can help you with.

Depending on your travel style and how much you prefer to have your days scheduled versus remaining spontaneous, work with your SmartFlyer travel advisor to design your ideal itinerary. For some, this may mean morning touring, lunch reservations, afternoons spent with a private guide, aperitivo in a bustline piazza, and dinner at a local trattoria. For others, your days will be more independent, perhaps beginning with a morning stroll in the Borghese Gardens followed by a walk through the Trastevere neighborhood. But no matter how you like to spend your days, we’re here to help you unlock the sides of Rome you may not even know exist. In the spirit of creativity, we’re recapping a handful of some of the most creative and customizable options your advisor can help you with.

Fiat 500 Tour: An icon of the Italian automotive industry, the Fiat 500 dates back to the 1930s. Hop in a colorful vintage Fiat 500 and discover Rome from a unique perspective: you’ll pass by incredible monuments and iconic landmarks such as the massive thermal baths of Emperor Caracalla, the Circus Maximus, the Mouth of Truth, and the Cestia Pyramid. Stop for breathtaking views and unforgettable panoramas like the one you can enjoy from the historical Fontana dell’Acqua Paola on Janiculum Hill.

The Exclusive Passageway: First-time visitors to Rome often check off a visit to The Vatican, but few secure access to areas closed to the public. In this exclusive tour, partner with your local ambassador for a colorful dive into living history. Leave behind long lines and admire St. Peter’s breathtaking marvels: the Cniccoline Chapel and the Bramante Staircase. In complete privacy, you’ll have the chance to see the 15th-century frescoes of Beato Angelico in the Niccoline Chapel. And for the ultimate showstopper, climb Bramante’s famous spiral staircase. Before departing, your private guide will show you Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and you’ll take in The Last Judgement in awe.

A Balcony on History: If you’ve been to the Roman Forum in the middle of the day (let alone during peak season) you know what it’s like to navigate through endless tour groups – you know, the ones with the leader with the flag and a bus load of people wearing headsets? Well, this isn’t that. Work with your SmartFlyer travel advisor to secure access to The Roman Forum from a vantage point we guarantee you didn’t know existed. Prepare to be delighted as you enter a 1600s baroque church that will serve as your path toward a stone balcony suspended over The Roman Forum. Here, you’ll be able to take in two thousand years of history in a single glance. End your experience in the heart of Rome, or, opt for a further customization of your privately guided experience by combining this with “A House of Wonders,” described below.

A House of Wonders: For the traveler who’s been to Rome many times and is confident they’ve done it all, we have just the experience to show you otherwise. With the help of our ground partners, we can secure your access to a private home in a neighborhood that could be described as the Bel-Air of Rome. Beneath a veil of bougainvillea, you’ll find yourself greeted by a family of ancient Roman aristocrats. After enjoying a strongly brewed espresso and homemade torta caprese that will have you reaching for seconds, prepare to be delighted by what awaits beneath their well-kept library. Here, they’ll share with you the Roman ruins dating back to the 1st century B.C. which were discovered in the 1980s when they were digging up the land for their garage. When they uncovered invaluable ruins, archeologists came in to help preserve the space, now reserved as a private museum.

The best patisseries and gelaterias in Rome

An article on Eater recently caught our eyes which declared, “The Hottest Late-Night Party in Rome is at the Bakery.” After consulting with an Italian friend, it was confirmed: the post-club craving in Rome isn’t kebabs, it’s freshly baked brioche buns bursting with cream. And while breakfast is most certainly included when booking with your SmartFlyer travel advisor, that doesn’t mean we’re above a first (or second, depending on if you are departing the discoteca), the more, the merrier.

While each category in our Rome City Guide saw fierce competition, the gelato section holds a special place in our hearts. Many are familiar with the “gelato a day” rule when in Italy, and we can assure you, we uphold it. So, between that commitment to our daily intake and chatting with Romans, we’ve rounded up some top contenders for your gelato quest.

The best bars in Rome

The art of the aperitivo is one we take seriously. In Rome, that means heading to a bar – preferably located in a piazza – around five o’clock to order your Aperol spritz, negroni, or house wine.

The best restaurants in Rome

Possibly the most difficult part of compiling a Rome City Guide is narrowing down where to eat. While we did our part by eating pasta two times a day while on the ground, we were sure to consult and cross-reference multiple recommendations from locals, including our very own Cydney Lembersky, a SmartFlyer travel advisor based in Rome. Below, we’re running through some of our most beloved Roman spots for vibes ranging from classic trattoria to more modern, depending on what you’re in the mood for.




Ready to experience Rome for yourself? Contact a SmartFlyer travel advisor to get started with your itinerary planning.

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