October 2019

The Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh

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A black and white photo of the historic architecture of Edinburgh
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

When it comes to spooky cities, Edinburgh takes the cake. It’s often considered one of the most haunted cities in the entire world — and anyone who has been will be hard pressed to argue!

When I was there a few years ago, I took part in some of the city’s many ghost tours. And there are a lot to choose from!

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, these tours take you on an adventure that not only teaches you a part of Edinburgh’s history but also leaves you feeling just a little “weird.”

Or, if you are like me, scared shitless.

While I hate horror movies because I always find them too unbelievable, as Alfred Hitchcock said, a good fright comes from what people don’t see or know.

When I finished my ghost tours, I was so spooked that I refused to sleep with the light off that night. The only other time I felt such unease was after I saw The Blair Witch Project.

Whether you’re looking for a fright or just want to learn about this historic city’s spooky past, you’ll definitely want to take a ghost tour during your visit. Here are the best ghost tours in Edinburgh to help you make the most out of your next visit:

1. City of the Dead

City of the Dead is one of the top-rated ghost tours in Edinburgh and it’s the company I went with during my first visit to the vaults.

The underground vaults were built in 1788 and used as storage space and workshops for businesses near the South Bridge. However, the bridge was poorly constructed, and water from the surface would leak down into the vaults. The vaults were then abandoned in 1795 and became slums, turning into a red-light district with countless brothels and pubs.

Additionally, the city’s poor called these vaults home. The rooms were cramped and dark and had poorly circulated air and no sunlight, running water, or sanitation. Crime was widespread, but by 1820, the leaking became so intense that even the squatters had left.

The story I remember most is of a girl and her mother. The little girl felt someone grab her hand. Thinking it was her mom, she grabbed back. But the hand, according to the story, “felt weird” and slowly kept squeezing her hand until it hurt. When the girl said, “You’re hurting me,” the mother said, “I’m over here, honey.” The guide, moving the flashlight to the girl, found that she was standing alone. Who held her hand? How did she get separated? I don’t know. Maybe they made the story up. Or all the other stories for that matter. But moving through the vaults in the dark, with your mind in overdrive, creates an atmosphere of unease that you want on a ghost tour.

Of course, the guy jumping out of the corner in the dark doesn’t help at all either!

+44 131-225-9044, cityofthedeadtours.com. Tours are available daily at 3:30pm and 8:30pm (limited hours in the winter, check the website for availability). Tours last around 90 minutes and are not suitable for children under 12. Tickets are 13 GBP per person.

2. Free Ghost Tour

When it comes to free haunted walking tours, this is your best choice in the city. Free Ghost Tours offers daily tours that depart from the Royal Mile, covering all the major sites and stories of the city such as the real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the haunted graveyard, with trials, and the Westport Murderers.

If you’re not looking for a terrifying experience, this is a good tour for you as it’s suitable for children. Just be sure to tip your guides at the end (the entire tour runs on tips, so be generous!).

+44 772-191-3031, freeghosttour.com. Tours run nightly at 5pm, 7pm, and 9:30pm. Tours last 90 minutes. Admission is free — just be sure to tip your guide!

3. Mercat Tours

In addition to their historical walking tours, Mercat Tours also offer 5 different ghost tours, including tours for children as well as tours for adults only as well. They have tours in the haunted vaults, the graveyard, and through the Old Town of the city

This is the only company in the city that offers vault tours during the day, which is a good way to beat the crowds. They also have tours available in French and German too!

+44 131-225-5445, mercattours.com/tours/ghost-tours. Individual tour times range from 11am to 10pm. See the website for more details. Tours range from 1-2 hours and tickets start at 14 GBP per person, with discounts available for students, children, and seniors.

4. The Ghost Bus

The Ghost Bus is a ghost tour on wheels, providing a spooky ghost tour with a comedic touch. You’ll be whisked around the city in a black double-decker bus from the 1960s while being informed and entertained along the way. The tour guides are all trained actors, giving this tour a much more theatrical touch.

The buses are decorated too, making it a fully immersive experience. If you’re looking for something more unique than a standard walking tour, this is it!

+44 844-567-8666, theghostbustours.com/edinburgh. Tours are offered daily at 7:30pm and 9pm. Tours last 75 minutes. Tickets are 17 GBP for adults, with discounts available for students, seniors, and families.

5. Auld Reekie Tours

Like Mercat, Auld Reekie Tours offer a few different tour choices for anyone looking for a fright. They have vault and graveyard tours, as well as an adult-only tour for anyone looking for an extra scare. If you’re looking for a frightening tour, check out their nightly Terror Tour. It’s only suitable for 18+ and will definitely leave you wishing you had a nightlight when you get home!

Not only do they have the standard vaults tour but you can actually book out the vaults for an overnight stay if you’re feeling like an extra scare (it’s not cheap, but it would definitely be a memorable experience!).

Tours operate daily from 10:30am-10pm. See the website for specific tour dates and times. Tours range from 75-90 minutes. Tickets start at 12 GBP for adults.


No matter which tour you choose or whether or not you believe in ghosts, like all good ghost tours, haunted houses, and Halloween exhibits, these tours do a great job of making you feel uncomfortable by playing on your innate fear of the unknown. Are these places really haunted or is your mind just playing tricks on you?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter — what matters is that you had fun and learned something about Edinburgh and it’s spooky past in the process.

Just keep the light on when you get back home. Trust me.

Book Your Trip to Edinburgh: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite places to stay in Taipei are:

  • Castle Rock – This is my favorite hsotel in the city. It has plenty of common areas that make it easy to meet people and the location is perfect. it’s a great backpacker hostel!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!gho

Want More Information on Edinburgh?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Edinburgh for even more planning tips!

The post The Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

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How to Save Money & Visit Rwanda on a Budget

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two giraffes standing neck and neck in Rwanda
Posted: 10/3/2019 | October 3rd, 2019

In this guest post, Alicia Erickson offers some handy tips on how you can visit Rwanda on a budget! She spent some time living there and, today, is sharing her tips on the country (one I haven’t got to yet!). She’s a freelance writer so I don’t have a blog to link too! Here are her tips:

Rwanda, a tiny nation nestled between Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the center of the African continent, is filled to the brim with rainforests, wildlife, lakes, and volcanoes. It is aptly nicknamed “the land of a thousand hills.”

Rwanda also happens to be one of the safest and easiest nations to navigate in East Africa. Sure, this nation might have a bit of a reputation that proceeds itself. But the genocide that ravaged the country ended more than 25 years ago. Over the past two decades, innovation, environmental sustainability, and women’s rights have been at the forefront of Rwanda’s rapid development.

You might wonder, is Rwanda budget-friendly? Sub-Saharan Africa in general can be a tricky place to travel cheaply, as it is often perceived as a high-end safari destination. Rwanda is no exception. Much of its recent tourism development has been geared toward high-end luxury lodges and trekking with the coveted mountain gorillas, which costs a lofty $1,500 for a permit.

However, don’t let the hefty price tags associated with gorillas and luxury lodges deter you from experiencing the quiet magic that Rwanda exudes. Having lived and traveled there on and off from 2015 to the present, I have found a number of tricks for saving money and exploring lesser-known destinations that are very cheap and sometimes free! Without a doubt, Rwanda on a budget is absolutely possible, if you don’t mind forgoing some of the higher-end tourist options.

Here is how to save money and visit Rwanda on a Budget:


How to Save Money on Accommodation

Views over the twin lakes in Musanze and the Virunga Mountain Range
Although there are many high-end hotels and lodges, there are also a handful of hostels, reasonably priced guesthouses, and even some Airbnbs, not to mention camping. I’ve used all these options in both Kigali and destinations across the country.

Budget options tend to be simple but clean. Be aware that water and electricity reliability fluctuates, though they tend to be more consistent than in neighboring countries.

  • Hostels: Hostels are relatively new to Rwanda, but there are a few to choose from. A dorm room in a hostel such as Discover Rwanda Kigali or Mamba Guesthouse runs $10–15 USD/night.
  • Guesthouses: Hotels and lodges tend to cost well over $100 USD/night. However, there are also a number that offer private rooms for about $20-45 USD/night. The Nest in Kigali is a great bed-and-breakfast option, with private rooms costing about $50 USD/night.
  • Airbnbs: Airbnbs are increasingly popular in Kigali, Lake Kivu, and Musanze. Prices for a private room start at $20 USD/night.
  • Camping: Camping is widespread in national parks such as Nyungwe Forest and Akagera and often available on the sites of many guesthouses. Keep in mind that evenings can get cool and that camping is a bit of a challenge during rainy season. Costs run $8–15 USD/person/night. Akagera National Park, Red Rocks in Musanze, and Kitabi Eco-Center in Nyungwe all offer tents for rent.

How to Save Money on Transportation

Views over the hills of Kigali

  • Motorbikes: I found public motorcycles to be the fastest and cheapest way to get around within cities. Motorbike trips within Kigali cost 300-1,000 RWF ($0.40–1.10 USD).
  • Taxis: Taxis are more expensive and harder to find. However, when it rains, motorbikes don’t drive, in which case taxis are the best alternative. An average ride within Kigali costs 2,500-5,000 RWF ($2.70–5.40 USD).
  • Buses: When venturing out of town, public buses are cheap, safe, and relatively reliable throughout the country. The major bus station in Kigali is Nyabugogo. Countrywide buses cost 2,000-4,000 RWF ($2.20–4.30 USD).
  • Car rentals: There are a handful of destinations, such as the national parks, that are better explored by car or motorbike, both of which are available to rent. Renting a car starts at $50 USD/day, depending on type of vehicle.

How to Save Money on Food

a man in Rwanda standing in a supermarket surrounded by fresh fruit
Kigali is rich in international food, though eating out can get expensive quickly. Expect costs to be on par with European or American restaurants.

Unfortunately, street food is essentially nonexistent because it is seen as dirty. Instead, seek out hole-in-the-wall local restaurants serving rice and beans, ugali (a thick, maize-based porridge), brochettes (grilled meat), and potatoes. Wine and cocktails are extremely expensive and are average quality at best, so local beers are your best bet to quench your thirst.

Here are some average food and drink costs:

  • Lunch buffet of local food: all you can eat for 2,000 RWF ($2.20 USD).
  • Dinner at local restaurant: 3,000–8,000 RWF ($3.25–10 USD). In Kigali, head to Car Wash for brochettes and Panorama Ten to Two for grilled lake fish.
  • Produce at local market: 100-1,000 RWF ($0.11–1.10 USD), depending on the product. Fruits such as mangoes, passion fruit, and tree tomatoes are cheap and delicious. Always bargain!
  • Lunch or dinner at an average-priced Western restaurant: 4,000-6,000 RWF ($4.50–6.50 USD). Try Meze Fresh, Borneo, Now Now Rolex, and Baso Patisserie for tasty and filling international cuisine that won’t break the bank.
  • Dinner at an international restaurant: 12,000-18,000 RWF ($13–20 USD). If you’re going to splurge, Kigali has some phenomenal Indian food (Khana Kazana) and French food (Poivre Noir).
  • Local beer: 1,000 RWF ($1.10) for Mutzig or other local beer
  • Wine/cocktail: 5,000-10,000 RWF ($5.50–11 USD)

Suggeted Budgets for Rwanda

two zebras in Rwanda
You can save a lot of money by traveling slowly and independently and going a bit off the beaten track. While a lot of activities and extras aren’t excruciatingly expensive, they can definitely throw off a daily budget.

On a day when you’re camping or staying in a dorm, eating at markets or local restaurants, and doing free activities using public transportation, you can get by with $25 USD/day.

If you rent a car for a few days, have the occasional night out, and budget in a couple excursions, such as game drives in Akagera or hiking Mt. Bisoke, your daily costs, averaged out over two weeks or so, will increase to around $50–75 USD/day.

9 Money Saving Tips for Rwanda

three women on the road in Akagera, Rwanda
Rwanda is pretty cheap to visit but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save on your trip. Here are some insider tips on how to save money in Rwanda without losing the great experience:

  1. Take local transportation wherever possible: Buses will get you to most major destinations, from which you can take public motorbikes to your final destination. Buses not only run to destinations within Rwanda but to the borders with the DRC, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as to major East African cities, such as Kampala. The main bus station in Kigali is Nyabugogo. If you want to explore Rwanda more independently and cheaply than by car, consider renting a motorbike or bicycle in Kigali, depending on where you want to go.
  2. Motorbikes vs. taxis: Motorbikes are cheap, fast, and efficient. Public motorbike drivers wear red vests and carry an extra helmet for passengers. The average cost should be 100 RWF ($0.11 USD) per kilometer, but always make sure to bargain. Drivers don’t always know exact locations, so it is helpful to familiarize yourself with neighborhoods and reference points, such as a major hotel. Note that motorbikes usually don’t drive in the rain, in which case taxis or walking tend to be the only option. Taxis are much more expensive and less convenient in most other situations, unless carrying a lot of luggage.
  3. Consider walking: Walking isn’t always the fastest option in Kigali, given the hills, the fair distances between neighborhoods, and the fact that the city sits at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. However, it is also extremely safe, and walking is a great way to save money and to discover neighborhoods and side streets you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  4. Eat local: Western restaurants can get expensive. Eat at local buffets for a fast, filling, inexpensive meal, and shop at local markets and roadside stands for an abundance of cheap, fresh tropical fruits, which are always negotiable in cost.
  5. Bring a reusable water bottle: Water is not safe to drink from the tap, but many hotels and houses have filtered water to refill your bottle rather than buying new bottles.
  6. Go off the beaten path: Sure, Rwanda may be known for gorilla trekking and hiking Mt. Karisimbi, the highest peak in the Virunga range, but these come at high costs. Look for free activities, find off-the-beaten-path trails through small villages for endless days of hiking and exploration, and relax at the lake.
  7. Alternatives to popular activities: Named “the land of a thousand hills” for a reason, Rwanda is abundant in green hills and mountains that are ideal for hiking and biking. Trails extend throughout the country, dipping down into valleys of banana plantations and up around mountainous passes. If you’re feeling adventurous, find a motorbike or bicycle and do some exploring! If you’re aching for a volcano or primate experience, trek with chimpanzees in Nyungwe, observe golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park, or do a day hike up Mt. Bisoke, which are cheaper but still fulfilling alternatives.
  8. Avoid tour companies: Pre-booked activities and tours can get expensive, and traveling without them is straightforward. Due to the country’s small size and relatively well-developed transport system and infrastructure, it is pretty easy to travel independently. Tap into some of the resources I’ve provided below to help answer further questions.
  9. Travel during rainy season: Although traveling during the heart of rainy season may not initially sound ideal, it can have some perks as well. Treks, park entrance fees, and lodging often offer reduced rates during the off-season, not to mention that crowds are smaller. Rwanda’s landscape happens to be especially luscious this time of the year as well. Also, it rarely rains all day — it’s most likely that you’ll have a heavy rain in the afternoon, with sunshine and blue skies the rest of the day.

A Quick Note on Visas

traditional dancers in Rwanda
Visas are available both online and on arrival, dependent on the type and length of visa you are seeking. A 30-day, single-entry visa on arrival is available for $30 USD. The East African Tourist Visa ($100 USD, apply online in advance) grants 90 days of multiple-entry access to Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Note: if you leave these three countries, the visa is canceled. Visa extensions are granted at the immigration office in Remera, although this process is often complex and time-consuming.

Suggested Budget Resources

Expats in Rwanda – Before arriving in Rwanda, join the Facebook group, “Expats in Rwanda,” a group for expats travelling in and living in Rwanda. The group is always engaged in discussions regarding recent news in the region, the opening of new restaurants and accommodation, and listings of items for sale or rent. You’re likely to find cars, motorbikes, and camping gear for rent, sublets (short and long-term) in houses, as well as an entire network of people to ask questions about your upcoming trip. If you’re travelling on your own, you can also link up with other travelers/expats to join in on a game drive to Akagera, a hiking weekend in Musanze, or a lake trip to Kivu, which can save money.

Living in Kigali – Another great resource is Living in Kigali, which offers up-to-date information on the ever-changing Kigali in terms of activities, events, food, and nightlife. Grab a copy of the illustrated “Kigali” map when in town, offering a detailed layout of city by activities, restaurants, and neighborhoods.

Red Rocks Rwanda Not only is Red Rocks an affordable accommodation option in Musanze, but it is also a travel company and cooperative. They have fantastic information on activities in the Northern Province and can also help you connect with community-based tourism and volunteer opportunities as well.

Nyamirambo Women’s Center – Located in the Muslim neighborhood renowned for its nightlife, Nyamirambo Women’s Center is an artisan cooperative and travel company supporting residents of Nyamirambo. If you’re interested in seeing Nyamirambo through a local’s eyes, they offer city tours as well as activities such as basket weaving.

Irembo Irembo is a tourism board for Rwanda. For information on available treks and permits, head to Irembo’s tourism site, where you are also able to directly book permits as well.


There has never been a better time to visit this tiny and proud nation. Rwanda has received immense attention on the travel radar over the past couple of years, but it is not yet overrun with tourism. If you take time to acquaint yourself with its culture, people, and natural riches, Rwanda on a budget is more than doable.

Hike and bike through the emerald hills and banana plantations, swim in the refreshing volcanic lakes, camp in the bush alongside the Big 5 wildlife, explore an emerging and innovative art scene, and allow Rwanda’s charm to seep under your skin.

Alicia Erickson grew up as a third-culture kid, developing a love for travel at a young age. She has been a digital nomad for the past 5 years, working as a political analyst, social entrepreneur, writer, and yoga teacher while she explores the world. She splits her time primarily between East and Southern Africa, India, and Seattle, where she seeks off-the-beaten-path locales and is particularly drawn to mountains and the savannah, food, wine, and design culture.

Book Your Trip to Rwanda: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

The post How to Save Money & Visit Rwanda on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

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The 9 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome

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the Colosseum of Rome
Posted: 9/30/2019 | September 30th, 2019

Rome is a city that sparks a thousand mental images. From ancient structures like the Colosseum or the Pantheon, to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, to the Vatican — not to mention tons of pasta and other delicious food — it has it all.

But planning a trip to Rome can sometimes be a pain.

Where should you stay? What are the best neighborhoods?

Rome is huge. It has 15 municipi (administrative areas), with the city center municipio alone divided into 22 smaller districts.

Whether you’re after a more historical area or something more local-feeling, or whether you are keen to experience great Italian food or Roman nightlife, there is a neighborhood in this amazing city to suit you.

To help you figure that out, here are some of my extensive thoughts on the best places to stay during your time in Rome based on my years of experience visiting there:

1. Trastevere

a busy square in Trastevere, Rome
Trastevere is filled with narrow, cobblestone alleyways that run past buildings decorated with tangled ivy and vines. It makes you feel like you’re back in a medieval city.

For many centuries, Trastevere was a working-class district, but in recent years, it’s become a bohemian hotspot for foodies and tourists wanting to see beyond Rome’s big-name attractions. At night, you can mingle in the Piazza di Santa Maria with crowds of young locals and students enjoying the nightlife, eating, and drinking. And if you climb the nearby steps of Gianicolo Hill, you’ll reach a spot with views across Rome, including the Pantheon and the Capitoline Hills.

Best places to stay in Trastevere

  • BUDGET: Hostel Trastevere – This hostel close to grocery stores and public transit has a great outdoor terrace common area with shade sails to keep you cooler in summer, and a cheap buffet breakfast, as well as fast Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. Rooms sleep a maximum of five people. The beds are comfortable too.
  • MID-RANGE: Trastevere’s Friends – This B&B is quiet, with spacious double rooms, making it especially popular with couples. The rooms here are light and bright, and most include ample wardrobe space for unpacking. The place is clean, and the owners and staff are extra-friendly.
  • LUXURY: Trastevere Royal Suite Trilussa – This luxury hotel has views over the Tiber River and is central to all the amazing restaurants and cafés of Trastevere. Each room is uniquely decorated with paintings or ornate mirrors. Breakfast is included in your room price.

2. Monti

Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome; photo by Emanuele (flickr:@zakmc)
The very oldest part of Rome is Monti, which is full of winding cobblestone streets and antique stores. Local residents are often creative types, and they’ve made sure there are plenty of quirky cafés, intimate bars, and independent businesses for you to explore. You can wander the streets past endless shades of pastel-colored walls, and browse the clothes and jewelry at the Mercato Monti vintage market.

Best places to stay in Monti

  • BUDGET: Palladini Hostel Rome – This might be a hostel, but it hasn’t skimped on the décor, with stylish black-, red-, and white-themed communal areas and artwork and chandeliers in the private rooms. It’s just 200m from Termini station so it’s really easy to access any public transport option you might want.
  • BUDGET: Hostel Alessandro Downtown – Cleanliness, a friendly staff, and a social atmosphere make this a good choice. It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet other travelers, either in the hostel itself or the bar, which is popular with many backpackers exploring Rome.
  • MID-RANGE: Apollo Rooms Colosseo – Clean and new, with friendly owners and a gelato bar at the back of the building, this property has a vibe that makes up for the fairly small (but tastefully decorated) rooms.
    LUXURY: Monti Palace Hotel – This stylish hotel includes a wholesome buffet breakfast and a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city. The rooms are spacious, sleek, and well lit.

3. Prati

Saint Mary Maggiore basilica in Rome; photo by Pawel Pacholec (flickr:@pawel_pacholec)
Prati is close to St Peter’s Square and the Vatican — it shares a border with the northern end of the Vatican State — and includes Via Cola di Rienzo, which is one of the most well-known shopping streets in the city for high-end brands. Prati is also an area where you’re less likely to find hordes of tourists, and it’s great for imagining what life would be like if you were a wealthy Roman.

Best places to stay in Prati

  • BUDGET: Arts & Rooms – This is a great budget option, with fast Wi-Fi and a communal kitchen filled with snacks (guests get use of the coffee machine too). It’s elegant, with simple but tasteful furnishings.
  • MID-RANGE: Luxury on the River – Despite its name, this place comes at a mid-range price and is located in a historic building overlooking the river. It has helpful staff and a varied breakfast, plus the rooms are quite large. There’s real Italian flare to the décor and a cozy lounge and library.
  • LUXURY: Hotel NH Collection Roma Giustiniano – This four-star hotel with spacious rooms is a great value. All its rooms have gorgeous parquet floors, and many have balconies with great views. There’s also a small gym and a restaurant on-site.

4. Ostiense

colorful street art in Ostiense, Rome; photo by Nicholas Frisardi (flickr:@123711915@N05)
Ostiense is a half-hour bus ride south of the center of Rome, but it’s a great neighborhood for a less touristy experience. Formerly an industrial area, it’s had a hipster makeover and is famous for its street art, food, and nightlife. On Via Giuseppe Libetta, you’ll find many of Rome’s best nightclubs and music venues. There’s even history here: the ancient Pyramid of Cestius, made of white marble blocks.

Best places to stay in Ostiense

  • BUDGET: Verrazzano 37 Guest House – This small place offers four comfortable rooms with modern furniture, a shared kitchen, and free Wi-Fi and is right near a 24-hour grocery store. It has nice double rooms, making it especially popular with couples on a budget.
  • MID-RANGE: Gasometer Urban Suites – Created out of a former factory in 2018, this spot features stylish and spacious rooms, and you can access a shared rooftop terrace with great views (and also a gym).
  • LUXURY: Sheraton Roma Hotel – This luxury hotel and conference center has a fabulous pool area and is great for a summer stay, especially with kids. It’s less Italian in style than other accommodations in Rome but makes up for it with spacious, quiet rooms and excellent breakfasts. There’s a lot of garden greenery and even a small wooded area surrounding the hotel, so it feels like you’re much further from central Rome than you actually are.

5. Testaccio

Testaccio skyline in Rome; photo by Nicola (flickr:@15216811@N06)
Testaccio, a 20-minute walk south of the Colosseum, is an edgier district, a former slaughterhouse area now adored by foodies. It’s not necessarily full of Instagram-worthy architecture, but it’s really got heart.

There are a bunch of art museums and other sightseeing spots in Testaccio, but the best reason to stay here is the food, from the Testaccio Market with its gourmet street food stalls to spots like Da Remo, which many people claim has the best traditional pizza in Rome.

Best places to stay in Testaccio

  • BUDGET: I-sleep B&B – This budget accommodation is in a really convenient location, but it’s still reasonably quiet. A light breakfast is included with your room rate. Most rooms are decorated in a modern black-and-white style and are clean and comfortable.
  • MID-RANGE: 149 Guesthouse – Really helpful staff make a stay here great, and the espresso machines and jacuzzis are also a bonus. It’s in a classy building; rooms with balconies look over the leafy trees along the street. If you’re there on a Sunday, make sure you check out the outdoor Porta Portese flea market nearby.
  • LUXURY: Seven Suites – You’ll get very good value for these spacious, modern rooms and a good breakfast in the café at the front. It’s recently renovated, with classy bathrooms and really comfortable memory-foam beds. It’s a small property with just six rooms, so it’s quiet.

6. Pigneto

street art in Pigneto; photo by Agostino Zamboni (flickr:@agostinozamboni)
Less than a 15-minute tram ride from the center of Rome, Pigneto is a colorful neighborhood full of interesting graffiti, street art, and murals that’s had a hipster makeover in recent years. Some people call it the Brooklyn of Rome, and I think that’s a fair description! It’s filling up with trendy bars and restaurants and often gets labeled Bohemian, although it’s a real mix of small, older homes and new apartment buildings. It’s also home to lots of small cocktail bars and cafés and other great spots for some people-watching.

Best places to stay in Pigneto

  • BUDGET: Relais Villa Fiorelli – This is located in a quiet spot on the Piazza di Villa Fiorelli. It has simple, modern rooms with free Wi-Fi, some with balconies looking over the lush garden. Room rates include breakfast served either in your room or outside in the garden. The recent addition of the new Line C Lodi metro station makes it even easier to get into central Rome from here.
  • MID-RANGE: Eurostars Roma Aeterna – Right on the Piazza del Pigneto, this hotel is in a former pharmaceutical factory. Inside, rooms are decorated with minimalist but stylish décor and photography. It offers a great breakfast, and there’s a well-equipped free gym too.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Latinum – This boutique hotel of just twelve rooms has a special glass floor so you can see what lies under it, thanks to some archaeological excavation — a great way to remind you of the history of Rome even when you’re back in the hotel. It’s an elegant spot with beautiful wooden furniture, and the rooftop terrace is a good place to relax.

7. Tridente

Trevi fountain in the middle of Rome
The Tridente area has plenty of tourists coming to see the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but there’s also amazing shopping and fancy hotels and restaurants. Strolling back to your accommodation in Tridente, you’ll pass historic sites, old architecture, and endless options for dining.

Staying here means you might not get a particularly local feel for what it’s like to live in Rome, but you’ll be near many of the places you’ll want to visit, and you’ll get a taste for where wealthy Romans live.

Best places to stay in Tridente

  • BUDGET: Crispi Relax – Less than a five-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, this guesthouse is great value for such a central location, with clean, air-conditioned rooms, though they’re relatively small (not surprising for the area). Some rooms have balconies for some extra space, and you can take in the views of what’s happening right there in the center of the city.
  • MID-RANGE: Condotti Hotel – Also just around the corner from the Spanish Steps, Hotel Condotti is a small and elegant boutique hotel with an entrance off a quiet street, beautiful décor, and lots of added extras. If you’re traveling with kids, you can stay in the adjacent building in suites made of two connecting double bedrooms.
  • LUXURY: Hotel d’Inghilterra Roma – This hotel close to the Spanish Steps and the Via del Corso shopping street, located in a beautiful 16th-century building, offers affordable luxury compared to some really pricey places in this part of town. The staff are very attentive, and the hotel restaurant, Café Romano, gets rave reviews. Each of its 88 rooms is decorated with its own style and charm.

8. Parioli

the Villa Borghese gardens in Parioli, Rome
Parioli is a largely residential, quieter part of Rome, but is less than a half-hour ride by metro or bus into the center. It’s full of gardens and parks, and its southern boundary runs along the Villa Borghese gardens. It’s typically home to some affluent locals with classy-looking apartment buildings, and if you’re planning a longer stay, it’s a great base that offers a taste of semi-suburban life in Rome.

Best places to stay in Parioli

  • BUDGET: Hotel Delle Muse – This family-run hotel offers free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant. There’s a large covered terrace garden where you can eat lunch and dinner. The staff are really helpful, and there’s a bus stop nearby. Rooms are fairly small and a little dated, but it’s a clean and comfortable place at a good price.
  • MID-RANGE: Parioli Place B&B – Friendly staff, great breakfast, and modern black-and-white interiors make this a solid mid-range choice. The roof garden is a lovely spot, and you can opt to eat breakfast up there, too.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Lord Byron – This is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World yet is actually great value. The marble bathrooms are decadent, and the mahogany and rosewood furniture lends a completely charming art deco atmosphere — you’ll feel a little like you’re sleeping in a gallery. The hotel also has a lounge bar and the award-winning restaurant Sapori del Lord Byron.

9. San Lorenzo

Lucina Church in San Lorenzo, Rome; photo by Carlo Raso (flickr:@70125105@N06)
If you want to stay somewhere with a student vibe, then San Lorenzo is it, near the Sapienza University and walking distance east of the city center. The neighborhood was bombed heavily in World War II and was never rebuilt quite as well as other areas, but what San Lorenzo lacks in prettiness it makes up for with fun.

There are lots of shopping options both for new Italian fashion and vintage clothes, great cheap pizza, and cool bars. Head to the Via dei Volsci and Via dei Sabelli to see where the young people of Rome enjoy a night out.

Best places to stay in San Lorenzo

  • BUDGET: The Yellow – Situated on the university side of the central Termini railway station, this hostel is popular with backpackers looking for a party atmosphere, and it has local live music in its bar. There are other added extras, like yoga sessions on the rooftop or on-site Italian cooking and pasta-making classes. The staff are really friendly and responsive, and the place often ranks highly in votes on Rome’s best hostel stay.
  • BUDGET: Alessandro Palace Hostel – This hostel offers lots of extras, like a rooftop bar with shady spaces to sit and relax, a gym, and two restaurants. The dorm rooms are quite roomy.
  • MID-RANGE: Hotel Laurentia – Right in the liveliest part of San Lorenzo, this hotel has fine rooms and a delicious breakfast. The rooms (ranging from singles to quadruples) are spacious for the price, with a simple but elegant look. The dining area is quite different, with large brick arches dividing it into somewhat separate sections for some privacy.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Royal Court – A very good value, this four-star hotel on the Termini Station side of San Lorenzo has an art nouveau look, with wood flooring and period furniture, and many of the rooms have really unique furnishings. The rooms and bathrooms are large; the quadruple rooms are a great option for family trips.


Rome is a big city with lots to see and experience, so figuring out which neighborhood will work best for you is partly about deciding whether you want to indulge in regular restaurant meals or nightlife, or be near plenty of the historical sights or try some more local neighborhoods for a “when in Rome” kind of experience.

If you have a longer stay, you can always consider starting in one of the inner city neighborhoods while you see the most famous sights, then having a few days a little further out to enjoy shopping and dining among locals.

Whatever you choose, Rome is a simply amazing city, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed with it!

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Book Your Trip to Rome: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on Rome?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Rome for even more planning tips!

Photo credits: 3 – Emanuele, 4 – Pawel Pacholec, 5 – Nicholas Frisardi, 6 – Nicola, 7 – Agostino Zamboni, 10 – Carlo Raso

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