1. Visit a city within the city
This is a day trip with a twist. Rather than catching a train out of town, you’ll head further into Rome to the independent city-state of Vatican City. Home to about 800 Roman Catholic clergy and the Swiss Guard, this tiny country is best known for its most famous resident — the Pope. Just 17 minutes from the city center by car, Vatican City is a destination rich with history. Architecture fans, art buffs, and the faithful can opt for skip-the-line tickets to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and more. Not only will you breeze past the crowds, you’ll also learn the stories behind the artworks from an expert guide.
2. See the ruins of Ostia Antica
Got a history buff on your hands? Travel back in time on this day trip to Ostia Antica, the former port city of ancient Rome. Closer than Pompeii, this archeological site is interesting, accessible, and a great way to learn about the past. Let your guide show you the remains of taverns, thermal baths, theaters, and more as you walk in the footsteps of thousands of Romans. Once you’ve explored the Baths of Neptune, head for the communal Forica (public washrooms), where you can take a seat on a marble bench and see how ancient Romans took care of business.
3. Tour the Roman countryside
One of the most accessible (and convenient!) trips from Rome, this 3-hour tour of the countryside will take you through medieval villages and castles along the Appian Way. Splendid views aside, the main event is the small, picturesque town of Castel Gandolfo, located in the regional park of the Castelli Romani. Once you’ve explored the charming area and learned about the glamorous (and somewhat eccentric) former inhabitants of the town, it’s time to relax. If the weather’s nice, consider a dip in Lake Albano before heading back to Rome.
4. Explore Tivoli’s famous villas
Just 40 minutes by car and 30 minutes by train, a day trip to Tivoli will show you two of the most famous villas in the world. The first, Villa Adriana, was designed for Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. It’s the peaceful home to classical sculptures, mosaics, and lush gardens. In contrast, Villa d’Este was once linked to one of Italy’s most famous Renaissance families, the Borgias (yes, those Borgias). The property was first commissioned by Lucrezia Borgia’s son, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este in 1550. In other words, Tivoli is the dream destination for history nerds of all eras.
5. Discover Pompeii‘s past
One of the world’s most famous archeological sites thanks to the world’s most famous volcanic eruption, a trip to Pompeii is made all the more interesting in the hands of a pro. Take the two-hour train ride down from Rome and join a small group on a tour with a professional archeologist to learn about the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the surviving artworks, mosaics, and frescoes and see the plaster casts of the people found after the eruption. After your tour, stick around and explore Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the local cathedral close to the excavation site.
6. Grab a slice in Naples
On your way to Pompeii, you can stop over at Naples to try some of the best food in Italy. As the cultural home to pizza, this is definitely the spot to take an extended lunch break. And if you’re not headed to Pompeii, no problem. Naples is just under two hours from Rome by car (or train), and like we said — the pizza justifies the travel time. Once you’ve fueled up, head to the Royal Palace and National Archaeological Museum to learn more about the history of this picturesque region.
7. Sip and savor Tuscany’s best
Vinophiles — or wine geeks to the uninitiated — unite! It’s time to head to the land of unending vineyards and complex reds. Leave Rome behind and take off to Tuscany for an unforgettable day of swirling, sipping, and channeling your inner sommelier. If you’re wondering if a three-hour journey from the nation’s capital is worth it, picture this: rolling hills, fresh bread, and all the wine your heart desires. Sound good? We thought so. Whether you’re headed to Siena, Montepulciano, or San Gimignano, make sure to leave your Tuscan experience in the hands of a pro. It’s the best way to uncover local favorites, and leave you time for the important stuff: trying more wine.
8. See the greats in Florence
If you’ve arrived in Italy with your own collapsible museum chair, Florence is the ideal day trip for you. Just under an hour and a half train ride, Florence is home to amazing artwork and close to Tuscany (see point 7). We’re talking culture and proximity to amazing wine — it doesn’t get better than this. But back to the art. Florence has galleries, ateliers, and museums dotted generously throughout the city. You can’t miss the Uffizi Gallery, the current home to renowned pieces by Botticelli and Caravaggio. Make sure to visit the city’s most famous resident, Michelangelo’s David, at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Oh, and last but not least: don’t forget to climb to the top of the Florence Dome. It’s the perfect spot for a panorama shot!
9. Soak up Sorrento’s sunshine
Just around the corner from Naples, the coastal city of Sorrento is the perfect spot for soaking up the Italian sunshine. Around three hours from Rome by train, this destination is a natural stop if you’re coming back from Pompeii. While you can easily spend the day taking snapshots of the scenic surrounds, the old town is worth exploring too. Head down one of the many laneways to find the perfect souvenirs and local artwork. And don’t leave town without trying the region’s lemons — either as a freshly made lemonade or in a limoncello cocktail.
10. Snap a pic in Pisa
You came, you saw, you held up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Go on, no shame in a classic pic! If you have an open afternoon, hop on a train from Rome and head down to Pisa. In a little over two hours, you’ll find yourself perfecting your tower angle and happily snapping away. Aside from seeing the 12th-century architectural marvel in person, there are a number of classical buildings and museums to explore. As one of Italy’s oldest cities, Pisa has a historically diverse range of buildings and is an architecture fan’s dream.Plan your trip