Solo Traveler’s Guide to Rome: Experience the City Like a Local

Solo Traveler's Guide to Rome

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When I found out I’m going to be visiting Rome all by myself, at first I was a bit nervous about exploring such a huge historic city solo. But the more I read about Rome, the more excited I get. Like, everywhere you turn there’s some ancient site or artwork. Really puts life into perspective being surrounded by all that history, you know?

And what’s cool is Rome feels alive with modern culture too. The best thing I did was get off the main tourist trails and really soak it all in. That’s why I’m putting together this guide – to share all the insider tips and stories from real Romans themselves! Things like their favorite hidden piazzas or best late-night food spots.

Whatever you see and visit, Rome is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Start your day the Roman way

Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè in Rome

In Rome, mornings start with a simple yet essential ritual—coffee. Italians take their coffee seriously, and there’s no better way to begin your day than with a perfectly brewed espresso. Head to a local bar, stand at the counter, and enjoy a quick espresso like the locals do.

The atmosphere in these bars is always buzzing with the chatter of locals starting their day. I remember my first morning in Rome, feeling like I had finally arrived when I sipped my espresso among the locals.  Try Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, a favorite among Romans for its unique blend, and you’ll understand why this place has such a loyal following.

Breakfast time

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Unlike in other cultures, breakfast in Rome is light but delightful. Grab a cornetto (an Italian croissant) filled with cream or jam. Pair it with your coffee for a typical Roman breakfast experience.

Locals recommend Pasticceria Regoli, a century-old bakery known for its delicious pastries. I chatted with the owner, who proudly shared the bakery’s history and their secret family recipes.

The smell of freshly baked goods alone is enough to draw you in. Enjoying a cornetto at a small table outside, you can watch the city wake up and feel a part of its daily rhythm.

Wander through history

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Rome’s history is palpable in every corner. Begin your exploration at the Colosseum, the ancient amphitheater that once hosted gladiatorial games.  Nearby, the Roman Forum offers a glimpse into the daily life of ancient Romans.

Walk through the ruins and imagine the bustling marketplace that once stood there. I found myself imagining the sounds and sights of ancient Rome, feeling like I had stepped back in time.  A local guide once told me that each stone has a story, adding depth to the experience. Take your time and let the history of these places sink in.

Beyond the main attractions…

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While the Colosseum and the Vatican are must-see sites, don’t miss Rome’s lesser-known treasures. Visit the Baths of Caracalla, an ancient public bath complex that’s less crowded but equally fascinating.

Or explore the Appian Way, one of the oldest roads in Rome, lined with ancient tombs and ruins. These hidden gems offer a quieter, more intimate look at Rome’s history. A local I met described these spots as “Rome’s secrets,” waiting for those who seek them out.

Savor the flavors of Rome

Trattoria Da Enzo al 29

Rome’s culinary scene is a highlight for any solo traveler. For lunch, head to a trattoria for an authentic Roman meal. Try Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere, known for its cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper) and carbonara.

These dishes, simple yet rich in flavor, epitomize Roman cuisine. Eating here felt like dining in someone’s home, surrounded by locals enjoying their meals.

For the sweet treat – gelato!

Gelateria del Teatro - Rome

No visit to Rome is complete without indulging in gelato. While I was walking around the city, I encountered a cute older couple and they recommended a Gelateria del Teatro, where I tasted some truly unique flavors like lavender honey and rosemary lemon.

I have the biggest sweet tooth so you can imagine my excitement while discovering new gelato flavors. Strolling with gelato in hand, you’ll feel like a true Roman, savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Rome’s vibrant neighborhoods


Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Trastevere, with its narrow streets and lively squares, is a must-visit neighborhood. Here, you can feel the authentic Roman atmosphere. Spend an evening wandering through its alleys, filled with restaurants, bars, and street performers.

Don’t miss Piazza Santa Maria, where you can sit and people-watch like a true local (and the locals’ warmth and hospitality make it easy to feel at home here). I found Trastevere to be the perfect place to get lost and discover hidden gems.


For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, explore Testaccio. Known for its food market and traditional trattorias, Testaccio offers a genuine taste of Rome. Visit the Testaccio Market, where locals shop for fresh produce, cheese, and meats.  Sample some local specialties, like supplì (fried rice balls) or porchetta (roast pork).

Walking through the market, I was struck by the vibrant energy and the friendly interactions among vendors and shoppers. A local vendor taught me how to choose the best produce, sharing tips passed down through generations. That’s so kind, right?

The artistic side of the city

The Vatican Museum

Rome is home to some of the world’s most famous art collections. The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are must-sees, but for a more local experience, visit the Galleria Borghese. This stunning gallery, set in a beautiful park, houses masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael.

The quiet, intimate setting allows you to fully absorb the beauty of the works on display. Locals often visit to escape the crowds and enjoy a moment of serenity.

Street art

Rome’s artistic expression isn’t confined to museums. The city’s street art scene is vibrant and constantly evolving. Head to the Ostiense district to see murals by international and local artists.  This area, once industrial, has transformed into a hub of creativity. The blend of ancient and modern art forms creates a fascinating contrast. Speaking with local artists, I gained insight into the community’s passion for preserving and promoting this urban art form.

And when you want to spend time in nature…

Villa Borghese Gardens and Park

When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, Rome’s parks and gardens offer a peaceful retreat. Villa Borghese, a vast park in the heart of the city, is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Alternatively, visit the Orange Garden on Aventine Hill for stunning views of the city and the Tiber River.

These green spaces are a great escape from the city’s busy streets. Relaxing in the Orange Garden, I had a peaceful moment to take in the amazing views. Locals love these parks for their calm and beauty.

End your day on a high note

Rome Pincio Terrace Sunset

Trust me when I say that Rome’s sunsets are legendary. One of the best places to watch the sunset is the Pincio Terrace, overlooking Piazza del Popolo. Another great spot is Gianicolo Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city as the sun sets behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Locals often gather here to end their day, sharing the moment with friends and family. It’s a perfect way to conclude a day of exploration and discovery.

In summary

Traveling solo in Rome is all about discovering new things and making connections. From your first morning espresso to watching the sunset, every moment in this city is magical. Follow this guide and live like a local to see Rome in a whole new way. Pack your bags, be open to new experiences, and get ready to fall in love with the Eternal City.

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