While Rome may have a near unlimited wealth of culture and experiences to enjoy, don’t let that distract you from seeing all that our surrounding region Lazio has to offer. Lazio is a geographically and culturally diverse region with so much to do and see. Rome is a perfect central starting point for a plethora of one of a kind day trips. Within Lazio – and just a short journey from Rome by train, bus, or car – you can see archeological wonders, stunning mountain ranges, quaint borghi, or even the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here is a rundown of some of the best day trips from Rome.
Outside of the hustle and bustle of the eternal city you can find lots of beautiful villages or borghi. These borghi are often surrounded by sublime natural landscapes and have local specialty foods and wines.
Just over an hour’s car ride from central Rome, Calcata is a small town perched atop a cliff in the province of Viterbo overlooking the Treja Valley. Predating Rome, Calcata was an outpost for the Faliscan people. From the outside the town appears to be some sort of medieval fortress, lined with individual residences but all connected as one unit on a mountain top. In the 1930s the Italian government condemned Calcata as unsafe in fear of the stability of the volcanic cliffs it sits on. Its residents evacuated and resettled nearby, however in the 60s it had a resurgence, being populated by artists and hippies. This shift has led Calcata to become one of the most unique and beautiful artist communities in the world. It is worth a visit for the views alone but you should also enjoy the traditional and gourmet cuisine offerings and check out the art galleries.
If you prefer a waterfront small town experience, then look no further than Bracciano. The medieval town of Bracciano surrounds an ancient castle atop a hill and extends down to the waterfront of Lake Bracciano. Just an hour by train (FR3 line), Bracciano boasts the beautiful Castello Orsini-Odescachi, a hallmark of renaissance military architecture. Also if you visit Bracciano you should make your way to the Italian Air Force Museum with four hangars of historical Italian aircrafts.
Closest to our beloved city Roma, is Nemi, another beautiful lakefront town only 40 minutes away by car and also accessible by train or bus. Nemi is home to the religious site The Temple of Diana, a place of pilgrimage on the Italian peninsula. Nemi is also famous for its wild strawberries, which are apparently smaller but sweeter than commercial ones. If you happen to visit in June then you can experience their strawberry festival, an annual tradition since 1922, where you can try many local dishes and drinks highlighting the town’s famous fruit.
If you are craving an outing in nature, a ski trip, a good hike, or a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, then I highly recommend visiting some of Lazio’s many mountains.
Only a 50 minute drive north of Rome, Monte Soratte sits at the edge of the metropolitan city of Rome, Monte Soratte is also accessible by train, tram, and bus. Peaking at 691m, Soratte has trails of all difficulty levels so anyone can enjoy trekking the terrain. I recommend hiking this nearby mountain to enjoy gorgeous views of the Roman countryside.
Still relatively close to Rome, Terminillo has the best and most versatile ski offerings in Lazio. Terminillo has a beautiful resort with plenty of places to eat and drink. It has a peak altitude of 2100m and over 30 km of skiable slopes! It can accommodate anyone with beginner to expert skiing abilities and is only an hour and 45 minutes from Rome by car. If you wind up going when there isn’t any snow, there are plenty of great hikes and also mountain bike and ebike rentals to experience thrilling mountain sports year round.
Monte Semprevisa is the highest peak of the Lepini mountain range, topping out at 1536m. Located at the southern boundary of the province of Rome and bordering Latina, Semprevisa is one of the most breathtaking mountains in Lazio. The mountain isn’t too treacherous and even children can hike the trails. If you are lucky, while hiking you may run into wild horses that are known to wander the mountain.
Nothing says relaxation like the beach. While Rome may be known as a landlocked city, and the beaches of Lazio may get overshadowed by some of the southern coast, Lazio’s beach offerings are fantastic and close by. If you haven’t yet, you should plan a beach day and kick back in the sun.
Sperlonga is a beach town just over an hour south of Rome by train or car, and offers all the glamour of any famous Italian beach destination. There are vast sand beaches, clear blue water, and plenty of amenities in the local town. If you make your way to Sperlonga I recommend visiting the ancient Roman sea grottos located in the Villa of Tiberius. These have beautiful pool-like water features in a cave under the Villa of the Emperor Tiberius.
300 Gradini, or 300 steps, is aptly named because to access it you must walk 300 steps down a shrub-covered cliff to reach this oasis. Despite all the stairs, this destination is definitely worth it if you want a gorgeous secluded experience. It is located in Gaeta just past Sperlonga, and has one of the best sea views in all of central Italy. The southernmost part of this beach is nudist and LGBT friendly and is often completely deserted. The private stretch of undisturbed shoreline has something to offer for anyone who seeks a private natural beach experience.
A closer option, Santa Marinella is a great option for someone traveling from Rome via public transportation. It is accessible by train and only an hour away. The crowds are usually pretty mild, and the water is immaculate. Just steps from the train station are crystal clear waters and plenty of options to rent beach equipment and grab something to eat or drink. Santa Marinella is convenient and lovely.
While Rome, the eternal city, has no shortage of archeological treasures, there are also many hidden gems spread out throughout Lazio. Go on an adventure for the day and unearth some history you may have never stumbled upon otherwise.
Gardens of Bomarzo
The Gardens of Bomarzo are a sublime example of archeological artwork. Commonly known as the “park of monsters”, Bomarzo is full of mannerist monuments, haunting sculptures carved directly into the bedrock of the land it sits on. The Gardens of Bomarzo have massive sculptures and buildings that compliment the surrounding nature. It was made as a shrine, commissioned by Pier Francesco Orsini, mourning the loss of his wife Guilia. The structures here are designed to strike astonishment into the hearts of its viewers. Bomarzo can be reached by train from Rome and will take about 55 minutes.
Cascata delle Marmore
Truly one of the most spectacular displays of ancient Roman innovation and ingenuity, Cascata delle Mamore is a site you can’t skip. It is a massive man-made waterfall with a total height of 165m and 3 sections of falls. Built as a measure to prevent illness (likely malaria), Cascata delle Marmore was built to redirect water from a still wetland to the Nera river below. Now, much of the water that ran through the ancient Roman canals is directed elsewhere to be used for hydroelectric energy, but the falls still see waterflow. It is about a two hour journey northeast of Rome by car, bus, or train.
Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli
Hadrian’s Villa was constructed in 120 AD as a retreat for the emperor, who was said to be unsatisfied with his villa in the Palatine Hills in Rome. This site is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is owned by the Republic of Italy, and has been managed by the Polo Museale del Lazio since 2014. The villa has many pools and baths throughout the massive property and is adorned with sculptures and mosaics throughout. It is a prime example of ancient Roman art, architecture, and its staying power.