Medieval cities, ruins, imperial villas, vineyards, the Tuscan countryside... beyond the outer walls of Rome, there are countless places to see, touch and feel ancient history. Read on and I'll tell you which excursions near Rome are worth a visit.
1. Assisi and Orvieto
This experience is the ideal complement to a trip to Rome: you will be able to enjoy a simpler and quieter atmosphere than that of the City of Seven Hills. On this tour to Assisi and Orvieto from Rome you will travel to the region of Umbria, and see Orvieto and its incredible cathedral whose façade resembles a pictorial triptych, showing scenes from the New Testament in mosaic.
At the end of your visit to Orvieto you will head to Lake Trasimeno, a beautiful expanse of blue surrounded by small villages and inhabited by cormorants, kingfishers and cormorants, where you will stop for lunch.
To end the day you will go to Assisi, where you will visit key sites of the historical figures of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare. You will visit convents, basilicas and palaces, as well as an ancient Roman temple. On your return to Rome, the tour will end with a short tour of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Martyrs, next to Piazza della Repubblica.
In my opinion, this tour is totally worthwhile as it includes return transport, a professional guide who will explain all the details about the visits and lunch at the lake.
If you have a day to spare on your trip to Rome and want to explore the history of St. Francis of Assisi.
2. Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica is the name given to the archaeological site of what was once an important port near Rome. These ruins are an open window to the ancient world, and you can stroll through a perfectly preserved open-air theatre, a commercial square with mosaics of the different guilds of the settlement, the forum, the temple and a number of warehouses, as it was a site dedicated to the exchange of goods.
On this excursion to Ostia Antica from Rome you will have a professional guide at your service who will know the ruins like the back of his hand and will know how to set the scene for you to imagine yourself in the days of splendour of the Roman Empire.
The experience includes the guide's narration and transport to and from Rome, but not lunch, which will be taken in the restaurant at the ruins.
If you have been left wanting to explore ancient ruins after a visit to Pompeii (or want to do a shorter tour than Pompeii).
3. Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este
The excursion to the famous villas of Tivoli, Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este, is one of the best experiences you can include in your trip to Rome.
The Villa Adriana, as its name suggests, was the residence of Emperor Hadrian, the place from which he ruled the vastness of the Roman Empire. It is therefore a place like no other, built in an environment of natural pools and aqueducts on which gardens were cultivated for the emperor's rest.
The more than 30 buildings of Hadrian's Villa are ruins today, including residences, dining rooms, a theatre, baths and buildings inspired by different corners of the world. With the narration of a guide it is not difficult to imagine yourself in the times of the Empire.
Villa d'Este offers a diametrically opposed visit, being a luxurious 16th century villa with spectacular gardens and a myriad of fountains and statues, so exquisite that on my visit I felt like I was on a theatre stage.
This tour includes return travel from Rome by air-conditioned coach, as well as full narration by a professional guide.
If you would like to combine two visits of architectural and historical interest and prefer not to take an excursion to another city outside Rome.
4. The Catacombs of Rome
This tour of the Catacombs of Rome takes you to explore the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the most important for early Christian worship in history and burial place of some of Rome's most famous martyrs and the first sixteen Popes.
Because of this, you will find an immense amount of early Christian symbolism and art, such as the Chrismon, the monogram of Christ, the Alpha and Omega, and the icthus, all of which were part of the secret code of this early persecuted cult.
One of the main attractions of these catacombs are the Papal Tombs, as well as the many beautifully preserved tombs and pieces of art, which constitute the most important display of Christian art in the world.
The visit of the Catacombs lasts 45 minutes, and you will see a multimedia piece on the history of Ancient Rome that lasts 25 minutes.
If you are particularly interested in Christian history or want to literally visit Rome from top to bottom.
What you should know before booking an excursion to the surroundings of Rome
- When you make your booking, you will receive a confirmation email to your email address. There is no need to print the confirmation, just meet your guide at the meeting point and show him/her the voucher included in the email from your mobile phone.
- Some of the tours are conducted in English. Please bear this in mind before booking and check this on the experience page to avoid a surprise.
- To receive a refund, in the event that you are unable to go on the tour or for any other reason, you must cancel at least 24 hours in advance.
Tips for excursions around Rome
- There's one thing you can't forget to wear: comfortable shoes. Whichever tour you choose, by the end of the day you'll be thankful you're wearing trainers.
- Except for the excursion to Assisi and Orvieto, lunch is not included in the above experiences. So, since you won't have much freedom in choosing a place to eat, it might be a good idea to pack your lunch in your backpack from Rome.
- Especially in the case of the Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este from Rome, it is important to take an organised excursion. They are such huge places that on your own it is easy to miss out on the highlights, and to wait in endless queues that you won't have to do with a guide.
- When visiting the Catacombs, bear in mind that you should cover your knees and shoulders, as you would at any other Catholic place of worship. Jeans and a jumper are usually sufficient for the cold weather in Rome in the winter months, but in summer, the last thing you want to wear is long trousers. Try to pack something covering but light if you're travelling during the summer season - you'll need it to visit the city's myriad Catholic sites.
- One thing they don't tell you when preparing for these excursions is that, especially in the case of Ostia Antica and the Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este, they are poorly adapted for people with special mobility needs. The ruins are full of stones and mounds that can make access difficult, so bear this in mind before deciding on an experience.
Other tours you may be interested in
Rome is an exciting city that you'll never fully get to know, but the endless possibilities for excursions are definitely something to consider on your trip. You can read more about the other excursions we recommend in this link: The 9 best excursions from Rome.
If reading about Ostia Antica has made you want to visit Pompeii and see with your own eyes the ruins left by the eruption of Vesuvius, you can read more about how to take a trip to Pompeii from Rome here: Pompeii Day Trips from Rome.
In addition, it is also possible to visit the famous cities of Florence, Naples and Pisa from Rome on a day trip. On these experiences, you can see Michelangelo's David, discover the marvellous Florence Cathedral and its architectural genius, or taste authentic Italian pizza. Here are two articles where you can read all the details about these experiences: Florence Day Trips from Rome y Naples day trips from Rome.