From the Colosseum to the Trevi Foundation, the Pantheon to the Spanish Steps, this list just scratches the surface of Rome’s treasured sites, and it’s no surprise that Italy is home to more UNESCO-recognised locations than anywhere in the world. Deciding to visit Rome is easy but trying to find somewhere affordable to stay that’s close enough to all its points of interest can be difficult.
Rome’s historic center is very walkable, but the city is spread out over 18 districts, and choosing the right one to base yourself in will make all the difference to your trip. Italy is known for its grandeur and elegance, and the capital is no different, but you can still find cheap lodgings that are conveniently located in the city.
Our guide explores five of the best places to stay in Rome on a budget from the buzzing bars west of the river to the gritty streets around the station and even the lively piazzas of the historic center. Let’s get into it.
On the other side of the Tiber river from Rome’s historical center, Trastevere was once a simple, working-class district that had little allure for outsider Romans, let alone tourists. However, thanks to its cheap accommodation drawing students from Rome’s two American universities, the neighborhood has grown to host a vibrant ex-pat community. A period of gentrification has bought heady nightlife, young crowds, and an upbeat, bohemian vibe to Trastevere.
Trastevere is also known for its centuries-old buildings in which its humble working-class beginnings are rooted. Family-owned trattorias, craft beer bars and artisan shops are sprinkled around the main squares, and there are plenty of budget hotels and simple B&Bs for the thrifty tourists who collect here.
It might be across the river from all of Rome’s main ancient sites, but Trastevere sprawls along the west banks of the Tiber and stretches all the way up to the edge of Vatican City. It’s even considered to be the “heart of Rome” by some thanks to its authentic and rustic atmosphere, medieval churches, and great restaurants.
Check out Cacio e Pepe while you’re there, the laid-back pasta haunt that’s reputed by locals. They have a limited menu, great prices, and rickety wooden tables, indoors and out. You’ll be crammed shoulder to shoulder with other diners but it’s a real Roman dive. Plates of pasta already go for as little as €6, but you can even opt for a “Mezza-Porzione”, or “half portion” for something lighter and cheaper.
Places to stay in Trastevere on a budget:
Colazione Al Vaticano Guest House ($) – Directly opposite Roma San Pietro Train Station and just five minutes from Vatican City, guests can enjoy free wifi, a shared kitchen, stylish rooms, and a great location at this guest house. Double rooms with a shared bathroom start at just €50 a night.
Hotel Carmel ($) – Nestled in a residential area of Trastevere, guests can enjoy homely and spacious rooms, a charming communal terrace, and a sweet breakfast served daily at this basic two-star hotel. Doubles start at €73 a night with a private bathroom.
Paola A Trastevere ($$) – Located in the heart of Trastevere, Paola is a quaint and authentic B&B offering elegantly furnished suites, private patio rooms, and a sweet breakfast to be enjoyed in your room or in the communal dining hall. It’s one of the highest-rated budget hotels in the district and prices start from €100 a night.
Testaccio is an edgy and contemporary port neighborhood just across the river from the southern end of Trastevere. It’s best known for its vibrant nightlife and cheap dwellings but the dynamic district is also built around Monte dei Cocci, an artificial hill composed of discarded ancient amphorae. Caves dug into the mound that was once used for storage now play host to raucous bars and innovative trattorias, perfectly blending Testaccio’s varied history with its urban brawl.
Testaccio is also a big foody destination. By night, crowded restaurants spill out onto the cobblestone walkways, while late-night discos and street parties keep the energy alive. Yet, by day, the action can be found around Testaccio market, one of Rome’s largest produce bazaars. You’ll find everything from stalls of the finest extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Sorrento limoncello, to fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, as well as Sicilian street food stalls, hot pizza slices, tapas bars, vegan fast food, and artisan gelato.
Testaccio’s distinct cuisine is also marked by the offal specialties that you’ll find on many menus. This local favorite recalls Testaccio’s “Ex Mattatoio”, a late 19th-century slaughterhouse that was one of the biggest in Europe comprising a complex of pavilions on the slopes of Monte dei Cocci. Workers were paid in cuts of meat and offal, and although the complex is now the MACRO modern art museum, Testaccio hasn’t forgotten the importance of this business to their food industry.
Places to stay in Testaccio on a budget:
Little House Roma ($) – Cute and comforting, Little House Roma is a one-bedroom apartment located just 1 mile from Trastevere Train Station and 1.3 miles from the Roman Forum with a fantastic location in the heart of Testaccio. Set in a building dating back to 1900, guests can enjoy a private kitchen-living room area, dining space, one bedroom, and one bathroom. Prices start at €88 a night with a minimum of two nights say.
Tiber Rooms Testaccio ($) – A clean and convenient guest house located in a quaint, historical building with a charming central courtyard. Rooms are spacious and air-conditioned with private bathrooms, ample wardrobe space, and tea and coffee-making facilities. Rooms start from €89 a night.
Vecchia Roma Resort ($$) – This is a warm and welcoming property close to Rome’s historic center. You’ll find communal gardens, cozy rooms with basic amenities, including air-conditioning, and a convenient location just 250 yards from Circo Maximo and half a mile from the Colosseum. Double rooms start at €95 with breakfast included.
Esquilino has earned somewhat of a bad reputation for the higher crime rates around the central station, but the truth is, this historical district is a perfectly safe place to stay, with a great variety of cheap accommodation options, and amazing transport links.
It’s one of the oldest areas of Rome, nestled around Esquiline hill, but it’s often overlooked, with visitors favoring more picturesque neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the gritty streets with their traditional restaurants, old churches, and hole-in-the-wall bars are some of the best places to stay on a budget.
Esquilino encompasses Rome’s main Termini station which connects Esquilino to the rest of the city, and Rome to the rest of the country. There’s a thriving multicultural community in Esquilino and it’s a great place to come for global cuisine as well as rustic local favorites. You’ll find many African and Asian restaurants, shops, and street food stalls.
However, the most popular attraction is the sprawling Santa Maria Maggiore, or the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a papal cathedral and one of seven pilgrim churches in Rome. The church is deemed the most beautiful in Rome by many and second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in grandiosity. It was the first and largest church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary and its rich and varied history dates back to 432 AD.
You’ll also find Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, sitting at the heart of the ancient Gardens of Maecenas in Esquilino. This is not to be confused with the more famous multi-story white monument in Piazza Venezia – Vittorio Emanuele II – with its impressive marble statues. However, you can find the remains of a Roman fountain from the third century at the heart of this leafy square and uniform mansions surrounding it.
Places to stay in Esquilino on a budget:
Roma Resort Colosseum ($) – With free Wi-Fi, breakfast served daily, and stylish en-suite rooms, Roma Resort’s self-catering accommodation is cheap and cheerful and located directly opposite Manzoni Metro Station. Comfy and clean double rooms start from just €62 a night.
Generator Rome ($$) – This trendy and modern hostel, set over seven floors of a 19th-century building, offers private doubles as well as dormitory rooms, all finished to a high standard. There’s a 24-hour reception, secure lockers, a café and bar, and even a spacious rooftop. Dorm beds start from €46 a night, while private twins go for €111. They also offer quadruple rooms for €200 a night.
Merulana Inn Guest House ($$) – Located ten minutes on foot from Termini Station and right next to the impressive Basilica of Santa Maria, Marulana Inn is appropriately grandiose with comfy and colorful rooms, all of which come equipped with LCD TVs, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and ensuite bathrooms. A continental breakfast is served daily and double rooms start at €100 a night.
The hip and eclectic quarter of Monti balances both bohemian and archaic features. Located in the city center of Rome, Monti is anchored by the Colosseum with fascinating architecture and archaeological highlights at every turn, but you’ll also find great beer, vintage shops, and artistic flair around each corner.
Nero’s Domus Aurea and Trajan’s Markets occupy Monti’s southwestern edge, while trendy wine bars, antique stores, and family-run restaurants are tucked away behind its piazzas. Monti is home to a vibrant community of ex-pats, students, and young professionals. It’s one of the best places to get lost and wandering Monti’s streets, from Via dei Fori Imperiali to Via Nazionale and Via Cavour, is one of the must-do things in Rome.
Some streets in Monti are relatively sought-after, but nowhere near as expensive as areas like Piazza Navona, Campo Fiori, and near the Pantheon to lodge. For the convenience that this secret urban village offers, its budget hotels and rustic vacation rentals are a steal.
Places to stay in Monti on a budget:
Martino Ai Monti ($) – Just 200 yards from Esquilini’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica but 10 minutes on foot from the Coliseum, Martino Ai Monti benefits from a convenient central location with modern rooms, free Wi-Fi, and parquet floors. Doubles start from just €75 a night. This quirky hotel is great for last-minute deals.
Tourist House B&B ($$) – Slick and stylish budget accommodation with city-view rooms, ensuite bathrooms, fully-stocked minibars, and free toiletries. A basic double starts from €92 a night with a generous sweet breakfast buffet included.
Hotel Giolli Nazionale ($$) – This three-star hotel is within walking distance of top sites like the Trevi Fountain, the Opera House, and the Colosseum, with quiet, well-equipped rooms, friendly service, and an elegant dining hall. Some rooms even boast balconies with views over the bustling streets. Small doubles start at €113 a night.
Nestled in between Esquilino and the ancient Via Tiburtina, San Lorenzo is a small urban district, belonging to both Mincipio II and Tuburtino. San Lorenzo started from humble working-class beginnings and it was heavily bombed during World War II, but the gritty, resilient nature of its people has nurtured a raw artistic atmosphere and it is a must-visit for creatives, party-goers, and foodies.
Sprawling street art murals, pop-up exhibitions, and university shows can be enjoyed in San Lorenzo. Take a stroll through leafy Villa Mercede with its small library, and pause under Porta Tiburtina, a gateway in the third-century Aurelian walls. San Lorenzo is also brimming with innovative restaurants. From stripped-back cheap eats to New York-style sushi and there’s even a newly-opened Soho House.
San Lorenzo is still an up-and-coming neighborhood but you’ll find a diverse mix of residents with older families, young students, and a steady flow of tourists all enjoying the heady atmosphere.
Places to stay in San Lorenzo on a budget:
Hotel Villa San Lorenzo Maria ($) – With a peaceful communal garden and surrounded by trattorias and cafés, this three-star hotel dates back to 1910 when it was a noble residence. Now you can expect elegant rooms spread across three floors with garden access or private balconies. Standard doubles start at €70 a night.
Casa Maplink ($) – Located on Via Tiburtina, you can expect bright and airy rooms with bohemian decor, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms from this small and modern B&B. Deluxe doubles and twins start from €77 a night with breakfast included.
Hotel Laurentia ($$) – This three-star hotel is just five minutes on foot from the Basilica of San Lorenzo and all the goings on at La Sapienza University. With rooms decorated in a classical style, guests can enjoy shared lounge areas, 24-hour reception, a public bar, and a stone-walled breakfast room. Doubles start at €103 a night.
Is Rome expensive?
Like most European capitals, Rome can be expensive, but it isn’t the priciest city in the country. The top spot goes to Milan with its financial centers and designer boutiques. That said, the prices in Rome can be eye-watering. You can visit on a budget and it is easy to visit a lot of attractions without spending much money, but accommodation and eating out can add up in Rome.
Is Rome safe?
Rome is a relatively safe city, even at night, but like any big metropole, it isn’t danger-free. Petty crime rates are high in tourist areas and you should always be on the lookout for pickpockets and scammers. Some districts experience higher rates of more serious crimes, such as Tor Bella, Monaca, Romanina, San Basilio, and Corviale, and solo travelers should avoid these neighborhoods after dark.
When is the best time to visit Rome on a budget?
The low season is the cheapest time to visit Rome, but as a popular and exciting city all year round, this only denotes a handful of weeks. From the 1st of November, following All Saints Day, to the beginning of December, just before the Christmas festivities begin, is the cheapest time to visit Rome. You can also find low-season deals from January to March before the weather and events calendar picks up again around Easter.