Pisa may be famous mostly for a certain leaning tower, but that’s not the city’s only attraction. The leaning tower of Pisa was originally built as the bell tower for the Pisa cathedral which, along with the baptistery and tower itself, is a UNESCO world heritage site. If you visit Pisa, you must see the cathedral as well.
Snap some great photos at the tower itself and enjoy the impressive architecture and unique tilt of the structure. Plus, visitors can also go inside, climbing up the narrow, winding staircase all the way to the top for some great views of Pisa! The city also features a beautiful botanical garden initially created by the famous Medici family, great museums, and endless charming streets to wander down.
- How to get there: The easiest way to get to Pisa is to hop on the train from Rome. The ride will take you just under three hours and only cost around USD 10* for the ticket. The train station is about a half an hour walk from Pisa’s main attraction, but you can always hail a taxi if you’re low on time. While you can pick up a bus ticket for about the same price as the train, if you travel by car or bus you’re looking at a journey of at least five hours each way, making it less of a day trip and more of an overnight adventure.
- Time required: 8–9 hours total. You’ll need to factor in at least five hours round trip for the train journey, but once you’ve arrived in Pisa, you don’t need more than three hours, even including time to grab a nice lunch nearby.
- Good to know: Once you’ve seen the tower, you can take a stroll along the River Arno for some lovely views of the city. It’ll take you to one of the most charming little churches in the city, the Santa Maria della Spina, a small but ornate 13th-century creation that looks like it was lifted from the pages of a fairytale.
In a country full of beautiful places, Tuscany may be the most stunning region of them all. Renowned for its food and wine, the area is also famous for its diverse landscapes that range from serene coastal cities to rugged mountain paths and rolling fields. Tuscany is the birthplace of many famous artists and the location of one of Michelangelo’s marble masterpieces.
Whether your interests lie in renaissance art or sampling locally made wines, there’s something in Tuscany for everyone. We have included information for visiting specific cities in Tuscany below, but it is also an amazing place to explore the countryside and get a sense of the heartland of Italy.
- How to get there: Tuscany is big and if you’re exploring the countryside or visiting wineries, the best way to do this is with an organized day tour since you’ll probably be going off of the train lines. A tour will take you to all the best sights and you have plenty of options tailored to different interests. Another better option could be renting a car and going on a 3–hour scenic road trip to Tuscany from Rome.
- Time required: 10–12 hours. You need to invest 6 hours for travelling to and fro and the rest of the time can be spent enjoying the beautiful scenery, fascinating history, and wine tasting in various wineries that Tuscany has to offer. There are even tours offering cooking classes in farmhouses!
- Good to know: While you’re exploring Tuscany, stop off at the Saturnia hot springs, which are located about two hours outside of Rome. You can bathe in the thermal waters at one of the many spas upstream or take a free dip in the natural thermal pools with a beautiful, steamy view of the countryside.
Naples is one of Italy’s largest cities and you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied on a day trip here. Apart from the plethora of beautiful buildings and historical sites to enjoy, one of the best parts of a day trip to Naples is visiting the infamous Mount Vesuvius. The short climb yields beautiful views of Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Beneath the city is the amazing San Gennaro catacombs which you can explore to see some of the oldest Christian art in Italy. If that’s not your style, you can take a walk to the Piazza del Plebiscito, from which you can get to all of Naples’ main attractions like the Royal Palace, the Cathedral and Castel Nuovo.
- How to get there: The train from Rome to Naples can take between one hour or three depending on which type of train you ride. Tickets start at around USD 10*. If you’re going for a day trip, you’ll want to pick tickets for one of the high-speed options because there are a lot of sights to see waiting for you in Naples. Alternatively, a bus ticket has a similar cost of about USD 10, but it’ll take you at least three hours for the journey. Trains really are your best bet if you’re travelling without a tour group.
- Time required: 10–14 hours. There are so many things to do in Naples that one day isn’t enough to see it, but don’t let that stop you from trying. You could definitely spend as much time in the city on your own if you wanted, with trains running from morning until midnight to get you back to Rome.
- Good to know: Naples is the birthplace of pizza and said to have the best pizza places in the world (amongst various other famous Italian food). No trip is complete without a visit to one of the hundred pizza parlours approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
As far as Rome day trips go, Orvieto is a great choice. Located in Umbria, it’s a charming and picturesque medieval hill town best known for the stunning mosaic façade on its 14th-century cathedral. The town is surrounded by ancient walls that you can visit as you take some great pictures of the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Orvieto.
Orvieto, like the catacombs in Naples, also has an amazing underground you can visit, with tunnels dating back before Christ. Once you’ve explored the various cave systems at Pozzo della Cava and the Church of Sant’Andrea, you can head up to the Torre del Moro and climb the 250 steps for some amazing panoramic views of Orvieto and the surrounding valleys.
- How to get there: You can take either a regional or a fast train to get to Orvieto from Rome, but the difference in time ends up being only about ten minutes, while the price for a fast train is nearly double the regional. If you take the regional train, be sure to validate your ticket prior to boarding or you could face some steep fines. The train station is downhill from Orvieto’s beautiful old town. You can take a funicular up the hill and then see the sights by foot.
- Time required: 5 hours in total. Most tours combine Orvieto with Assisi for a ten-hour day. If you’re travelling solo, you could see Orvieto’s main sights in three hours, with two hours of total transport time.
- Good to know: When you arrive in Orvieto’s main square, visit the information office located on the left to pick up a free tourist map of the town. It’ll make navigating the old town much easier and doubles as a souvenir of your trip!
Ostia Antica was once one of the most important port cities in ancient Rome, but it was abandoned after commerce shifted to different ports and the city was hit by an outbreak of malaria. The port city has since been rediscovered and is now a massive archeological site. It’s only 30.5 km outside of Rome, which makes it an easy day trip, but you’ll find it less impressive than sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum if you’ve already been to those.
This archeological site features a big ancient theatre in the Roman style, remarkably preserved outdoor mosaics depicting different trades in the Square of the Guilds, and the Baths of Neptune, which is one of the biggest excavations in Ostia Antica and has some amazing mosaics featuring Neptune accompanied by mythical sea creatures.
- How to get there: If you’re travelling to Ostia Antica, you’ll want to pick up a public transportation day pass. Take the Line B metro to Piramide and hop on the Roma Lido commuter train to Ostia Antica. The site itself is about a ten-minute walk from the station. Plus the train ticket will only cost you about USD 2*, making it one of the cheapest day trips to get to!
- Time required: 4–5 hours in total. Because it’s so close to Rome, Ostia Antica can easily be done in an afternoon or morning. Or you can stay all day if you’re really enjoying it!
- Good to know: Go during the summer for the Ostia Antica festival when the archeological site comes to life and you can see plays performed in the ancient theatre!
Have you ever wanted to see Michelangelo’s most famous work of art, David, in the museum built specifically to house it? It is in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. The famous city also has a museum devoted to some of the best Renaissance art in the world, so if you’re at all interested in art, you really can’t go wrong by heading to Florence.
If you’re not an art enthusiast, the city still has a lot to offer. Beautiful and iconic architecture, like the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and the famous Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest bridge, can be found all over the city. There are food markets and a short hike leading to the thousand-year-old church of San Miniato al Monte, which offers some of the best views of the city and Arno River that you’ll find within the city limits.
- How to get there: The best transportation option is the fast train. It’ll get you from Rome to Florence in an hour and a half, versus the four hours a regional train will take. Make sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid skyrocketing prices as your day of travel approaches. The train will drop you off at the Santa Maria Novella station, which is a few minutes walk from the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Florence.
- Time required: 9–10 hours total. With a total of three hours in transport time, you’re going to want to spend as much time as possible in Florence — there’s so much to see! Check out the train schedules ahead of time to make sure you can spend as much time as you’d like sightseeing before catching a train back to Rome.
- Good to know: In 1966 a flood struck Florence and most of the art and décor from the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral was moved into the Duomo Museum for safekeeping. This means that the inside of the cathedral is surprisingly sparse compared to the ornate exterior. You’re better off skipping the inside and heading to the museum instead.
If you’re ready to get away from the hustle and bustle of Rome, head to Tivoli for a complete change of pace. The mountain town is bursting with beautifully landscaped villas, filled with picturesque waterfalls, all surrounded by lush greenery and villas that are more like individual palaces and have landed a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Everywhere you look in Tivoli you’ll find architectural wonders, from medieval fortresses to cathedrals. It’s also home to some of the best-known gardens in Italy, the Villa d’Este Gardens. Photos don’t do them justice. The palace of the Villa d’Este is an incredible piece of architectural work that you can explore to see beautiful thematic rooms and fantastic views of the gardens.
- How to get there: The train from Rome takes about 45 minutes and travels through scenery that’s every bit as picturesque as Tivoli itself. It drops you off at the train station which is a pleasant half an hour walk from the center of town, though taxis are available too. Another option is to take the public bus, which will only cost you about USD 2. It’s slower than the train but the exact time by bus varies based on traffic.
- Time required: 6 hours total. With an hour on either end for transportation, you can easily spend three or four hours enjoying the scenery and fresh air here.
- Good to know: Just a little to the west of Tivoli is the Villa Adriana, a massive complex designed as a retreat for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This gem is often missed by tourists who don’t know it’s there, but it’s an amazing site with the ruins and restorations of ornate ancient buildings.
Santa Severa Castle cuts an imposing figure, a large, walled fortress on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s the main draw for tourists coming to this area and it doesn’t disappoint. The castle is home to a great museum that you can get a tour through. You’ll have to pay a little extra to go up into the tower, and small children aren’t allowed, but it’s absolutely worth it for some spectacular views of the sea.
If you want to escape the heat and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean, out of all the day trips from Rome, this is the one for you. It’s a fairly isolated beach compared to those nearby and mostly frequented by locals, but you’ll get a phenomenal view of Santa Severa Castle. Getting there isn’t too tough and you’ll have an incredibly relaxing day at the beach.
- How to get there: The regional train from Rome will cost you about USD 6* and it takes around an hour and a half each way. It’s also pretty much the only way to get there. Remember to validate your ticket before boarding the train!
- Time required: 7–8 hours total. Transportation to and from will add about three hours travel time to your journey, but otherwise the museum will probably take you under an hour and then you can stay relaxing on the beach as long as you want!
- Good to know: If you want a beach with more amenities you can head a little further north to Santa Marinella, where the beach is a little more populated and has more options for food and other goods.
Viterbo is an interesting city to explore, located on the slopes of Monti Cimini. In addition to some great nature walks you can take on the mountainside, Viterbo is a charming medieval city. It was damaged during WWII but you can still see a lot of the original architecture just by wandering through the medieval alleyways. Viterbo is well known for having been a place that the pope resided for a two-decade period and you can visit the beautiful Papal Palace, which was the seat of the papacy. Plus, the famous Papal thermal baths are located just west of Viterbo. You can visit the remains of the renaissance bath palace that was beloved by several popes and inspired both Dante and Michelangelo. You can also take a bath in thermal waters!
- How to get there: You can go by train or bus to Viterbo, with tickets starting at about USD 6*. The train takes an average of an hour and forty minutes, while the bus typically takes just over two hours.
- Time required: 8–9 hours total. Travel time for this day trip from Rome is four hours or so, and you could easily spend another four hours enjoying the city and bathing in the springs!
- Good to know: If you go in September, you can see the festival celebrating the patroness saint of the city, Santa Rosa. During the festival, 100 men from the city carry a 30-meter-tall illuminated tower through the streets. It’s a unique experience to add to your bucket list!
Sorrento is a colorful little town perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples and a great day trip destination from Rome. From the winding back alleys of the historic old town to beautiful churches and monasteries and from a collection of world-class museums to a popular shopping district, Sorrento has a little something for everyone.
Any trip to Sorrento really begins in the Piazza Tasso, the city’s bustling main square. From there you can head up Viale Enrico Caruso for a few meters to see one of Sorrento’s most interesting sights – the Valley of the Mills. From Piazza Tasso, you can also find your way to the city’s gorgeous Duomo, which makes a great stop before visiting the Museo della Tarsia Lignea, or Inlaid Wood Museum.
- How to get there: The best way to get to Sorrento from Rome is to hop on a train from either the Tiburtina or Termini stations in Rome. The journey will take you about three hours each way and you’ll want to book your ticket at least a day in advance to make sure you get on.
- Time required: 7–8 hours total, inclusive of travel time. Many tours will combine Sorrento with a trip to Pompeii as well. You can do Sorrento in less time if you don’t spend too long in the museums, but four hours gives you plenty of time to give the city a good wander and see all the best sights.
- Good to know: Sorrento is home to some of the best limoncello on the planet and if you ask anyone from the city, Sorrento is the original birthplace of the tasty liquor, though this is disputed by a few other towns along the Amalfi Coast. There are a few distilleries you can visit to see the creation process and taste the finished product.
The sweet spot for visiting Italy is April through June. July and August is the peak tourist season in Italy when the skies are blue, the sun is shining and the lines are really long. You’ll find that being there in the shoulder season means that some things are cheaper than they would be when tourism is in full swing and you can dodge the big summer crowds too.
However, since Santa Severa is perched on the sea, it is a great spot to go to escape the heat. Spring and summer are the most popular seasons to visit this area. Any time between May and August is good.
Tivoli is best enjoyed from January to May; the colder temperatures in the winter months are offset by a magical winter wonderland. It rains a bit in the spring, but this is still the most popular time to visit.
Italy is certainly a country that is solo traveler friendly in terms of getting from one place to another. You can take trains to most of the destinations you’re likely to go to. The only downside is that ticket prices can get quite expensive for the fast trains if you haven’t booked your tickets well in advance. If you’re a spur of the moment traveler, this can be a problem.
Rome day tours are a great option for really learning the history of a place in a fun group setting where you can get to know other travelers. This is especially valuable for those social solo travelers who want to make friends and see the sights. Plus, there’s so much to see and so many places to go on day trips from Rome that it can be a little overwhelming and tours help make sure you don’t miss a thing!
With all these great day trips from Rome, it’s hard to choose just one. Whatever your interests, there’s a day trip for you, whether you’re an amateur archeologist, art enthusiast, photographer or foodie. Italy has so much to offer; it’s sure to be a trip you’ll never forget.
*Note: Prices are as of March 2019