Wondering what to do in Rome? Want to get off the beaten path and see some non-touristy Rome attractions? Here are some ways to get in touch with authentic Roman culture while traveling in Italy’s capital city.
As one of the most visited cities in Europe and the world, Rome has plenty of well-known tourist attractions.
The Colosseum and Roman Forum are incredible remnants of the ancient Roman empire, St. Peter’s Basilica is an important symbol of Catholicism, and the Trevi Fountain represents a world-famous artistic masterpiece.
These Rome attractions are famous for a reason and you shouldn’t skip them! But, there are other ways to explore the city without fighting through crowds of tourists.
After marveling at the well-known sights, get to know the more local side of Italy’s capital city.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Rome, but don’t want to just follow the classic tourist trail, here are 11 non-touristy things to do in Rome, Italy.
11 Non Touristy Things To Do In Rome, Italy
After living in this rustic and vibrant city for five months, I’ve learned about some of the more unusual things to do in Rome.
From chowing down on authentic food, to partying with the locals, to visiting the famous Rome attractions at sunrise, here are my favorite non touristy things to do in Rome.
1. Picnic At Villa Pamphili Park
Villa Pamphili is a gorgeous seventeenth-century villa located in the middle of Rome’s largest public park.
On a sunny day, you can find all the local Italians lounging out here on picnic blankets with bottles of wine and picnics of cheese and fruit.
Italians also come here to work out, walk their dogs, play with their kids, or play football.
It’s hard to believe this space is actually inside the city because the presence of nature is so strong. Giant fields of grass, towering trees, and numerous walking paths create a maze of greenery with endless routes to follow.
You can even find statues, fountains, and ruins here that add a sense of antiquity and history.
2. Go Dancing At A Local Club
Rome’s nightlife is full of international students and travelers, but there are some spots that tourists don’t normally go to.
In Trastevere, Coffee Pot is a nice restaurant that turns into a club at nighttime, and it has two floors full of dancing and drinking Italians.
Visit the nearby Piazza Trilussa to find locals hanging out and drinking on the steps.
Another awesome dance club is Toy Room, which costs 10 euros to enter and is full of crazy lights and decorations.
On Thursday nights, visit a venue in Trastevere called Alcazar and enjoy the enticing live music of open jam night.
On Monday nights during the summer, head towards the Vatican and walk down to the river for a boat party called Lian Club.
3. Shop At The Porta Portese Flea Market
If you’re looking for some great shopping that won’t empty your wallet, this is one of the best things to do in Rome, Italy!
Every Sunday from early morning until around 3 pm, a giant flea market floods the streets of Via Portuense, Via Ippolito Nievo, and Via Ettore Rolli.
Here you’ll find tents overflowing with shoes, clothes, bags, jewelry, souvenirs, wallets, and tons of other unexpected things.
Most goods are super affordable, though some high quality, pricey Italian leather sometimes pops up amongst the cheap stuff.
Vendors are all friendly and sometimes willing to bargain, and there are a few food stalls selling sandwiches to fuel you up while shopping.
4. Eat Authentic Local Food At Supplì
Easily one of the best non-touristy things to do in Rome is seeking out some authentic Italian food.
When a restaurant is so crowded that a line spills out into the street, and there is no sign at all except for a little doormat, you know you’ve found a hidden gem.
Supplì, a little takeaway place in Trastevere, is a favorite among locals.
Here you can buy cheap and delicious food, including pasta dishes, roasted or fried vegetables, Roman-style pizza (classic “Pizza Rossa” is incredible), and of course the hearty fried rice balls known as supplì (also known as arancini in Sicily).
Open from 9 am to 10 pm and closed on Sundays, they often switch up the food selections as well.
5. Chill Out In A Classic Roman Public Square
Europeans thrive in public squares.
You can find businessmen on their lunch break, elderly couples sitting on park benches in comfortable silence, kids running around in the grass, and women gossiping enthusiastically.
Italians of all ages come to rest in public squares during their day, so they are a great spot for people-watching, reading, or observing the landscaping and architecture.
Certain squares, like Piazza Del Popolo or Piazza Venezia, will be crowded with tourists, but quieter, non-touristy squares reside all over the city and you can find them if you just wander around.
6. Explore Mercato Testaccio
For foodies, this is probably the best non-touristy thing to do In Rome because you can taste some of the best Roman food among the locals.
Testaccio is a very quiet, local neighborhood of Rome with few tourists, so it’s a great place to find authentic and cheap food. Mercato Testaccio has tons of market stalls selling amazing produce and ready-to-eat food.
Some of the best places to eat here include Casa Manco, famous for their artisan pizza with unique toppings, and Mordi e Vai, famous for their hot tripe sandwiches.
7. Watch The Sunset From Aventine Hill
Aventine Hill is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Rome because it faces west, and there are a few different stone balconies at the hill’s edge for a perfect view.
This hill is also home to the Aventine Keyhole, where you can look through the tiny hole and see a picturesque view of the city. This secret view is one of the best things to see in Rome and not many people know about it!
The keyhole often has a line though, so to avoid waiting around you can just hang out in one of the gardens atop Aventine Hill, or go inside one of the churches.
Basilica di Santa Sabina all’ Aventino is actually Rome’s oldest basilica, built between the years 422 and 432.
8. Admire The Rose Garden
During spring and early summer, the local rose garden is one of the best things to see in Rome.
Also located on Aventine Hill, the gorgeous rose garden is open from 8:30am to 7:30pm.
Though the garden is only open from April 21st until June 17th, it is definitely worth a stop if you visit Rome during this time. (Those exact dates will vary every year)
You can enter for free and spend some time admiring the different colored flowers and walking through the archways dripping with roses.
9. Buy Fresh Produce At Mercato Esquilino
From 5am-3pm near Termini Station, this indoor market hall becomes home to endless rows of international food.
If you are in Rome for a while and want to cook your own meals, this is a great place to buy cheap produce as well as nuts, seeds, and fresh spices.
There’s also tons of meat and a seafood hall selling every type of fish and mollusk imaginable.
10. Walk Or Bike Along The Tiber River
Get some fresh air in Rome by strolling along the Tiber River path. There is a sidewalk at the street level, but you can take the stairs down to the lower level which runs right next to the river.
Walking towards Testaccio will give you a more peaceful walk with very few people besides a few local runners, but even right next to Vatican City the lower path never gets too crowded.
Cool graffiti is plastered all over the stone walls and you can even find pull up bars for exercising next to the path in Testaccio.
11. Head To The Touristy Rome Attractions At Sunrise
Of course, Rome’s famous attractions are stunning and should not be missed. For a more surreal experience free from crowds, visit the popular areas at odd times.
Between midnight and 8am, the streets of Rome are basically deserted unless you are near a night club.
So you can visit all the best Rome attractions without any tourists crowding your line of vision or filling your ears with chaos. It’s a surreal experience!
If you aren’t a morning person, make sure you still stop by the best Rome attractions during the day.
It is definitely worth it to book your tickets ahead of time so you can skip the super long lines and get on with your day.
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Rome is an incredible city, so it is packed with tourists for good reason. Don’t let the crowds stop you from enjoying Italy’s iconic capital!
I hope this list of non-touristy things to do in Rome will allow travelers to immerse themselves in the local side of Rome and have a more enriching experience in the Eternal City.
Before traveling to Italy…
☼ Consider buying travel insurance! I recommend Squaremouth Insurance because they have affordable plans and a really helpful live chat. Check out my Budget Traveler’s Guide To Travel Insurance for more info on this topic.
☼ Be sure to visit iVisa.com to check if you need a visa for Italy!
☼ If you’re wondering where to stay in Rome on a budget, check Hostelworld. I ALWAYS use this website for traveling and it’s great for finding amazing hostels abroad.
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