trastevere in rome

Trastevere in Rome—What to See + Top Trastevere Restaurants

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Visiting the “enchanted city” and looking for the top spots? Check out Trastevere in Rome.

This gorgeous neighborhood is a maze of picturesque buildings, narrow old cobblestone streets, and an incredible vibe of locals and tourists. It has maintained its own distinct personality, even though the word is out about visiting!

It’s an area made for wandering. Get off the main roads and meander down the side streets to see another side of life in Rome. This area will share its beauty, its love, and its hope for the future.

Trastevere was one of my favorite parts of Rome. From the ancient churches to the many incredible restaurants, Trastevere in Rome is where it’s at! Here’s why you should check it and some great things to do when you visit.

trastevere, trastevere in rome, bridge leading to trastevere, tiber island
Bridge to Tiber Island leading to Trastevere

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Where is Trastevere in Rome?

Trastevere is a neighborhood located across the Tiber River from the heart of Rome. In fact, Trastevere means “across the Tiber.”

It’s on the same side of the Tiber as the Vatican and just a 30-minute walk, so it’s easy to visit after a day at the Vatican if you’re up for it! There are a lot of great restaurants and it’s hopping at night.

It’s immediately across the river from the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, and can easily be added to a tour of both. And, it’s only a few minutes walk from the Roman Forum.

I visited twice on my last trip to Rome and first saw Trastevere with a tour of the Forum and Jewish Quarter. We then enjoyed some drinks and a fantastic dinner. I then went back for a walking tour during the day as well.

It’s the area that I remembered from my first trip wanting to see more, and even after two more visits, I feel the same!

cobbestone street, old buildings, outdoor plants, trastevere in rome

Trastevere’s History

Trastevere was conquered and acquired by Ancient Rome to gain control of both sides of the Tiber River. It’s now the 13th district of Rome.

It was largely ignored by Rome, so it remained fairly independent and kept its own culture. It became a staging ground of sorts for immigration, and the waves of people aiming to make a home in Rome often ended up in Trastevere.

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As a result, it became highly populated by Arabs, Syrians, and others. The first synagogue of Rome, Vicolo dell’Atleta, is located here though it’s now a restaurant. It went out of use in the 16th century when the Jews were moved across the river to the Jewish Ghetto.

Due, in part, to many of its narrow streets not allowing carriages (a huge bonus for today’s pedestrians!) Trastevere remained close, but separate, from Rome. It has its own culture and a very distinct culture from the rest of Rome.

Top Things to See and Do—Trastevere in Rome

I’ll be honest—every time I’ve been to Trastevere when I was not on a walking tour, I lost myself just meandering. I can’t get enough of this picturesque and beautiful area!

On my last visit, I went on a mission: check off some of the popular things to do in Trastevere. And, I did do some of them. However, I soon found myself wandering with no destination in mind.

When you visit Trastevere in Rome, you may find the same. And that’s ok! As, I would say, wandering in this ancient maze of narrow streets is one of the top things to do in Trastevere.

Basilica of Santa Maria (Basilica di Santa Maria)

This ancient church and the large square it’s on, Piazza Santa Maria is the beating heart of Trastevere. The church was built in the 3rd century and is one of the oldest in Rome.

The stunning golden facade and the bell tower were added later, in the 12th century. Don’t miss visiting inside to see the stunning mosaics by Pietro Cavallini as well as the frescoes and marbles.

Then, hang around a bit outside at the fountain. This is one of the top spots for people-watching and it’s a busy area with a lot of people gathering. You’ll find locals and tourists alike.

If you’d like to see another stunning church nearby, check out the Church of Santa Cecilia (La Chiesa di Santa Cecilia). It was dedicated to a 3rd-century martyr who it’s said survived a decapitation for three days. There is a Baroque-style sculpture of the saint and an elaborate crypt.

Basilica di Santa Maria is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors may enter except during mass.

Tiber Island (L’Isola Tiberina)

Often considered part of Trastevere, this small island is actually on the way to the neighborhood. It’s in the center of the river linked by two bridges, Sistio and Fabricio.

You’ll find an old hospital there as well as St. Bartholomew’s Basilica. This area is used for some events and festivals including a film festival and food festivals.

Tiber Island is located here on a map.

statue outside st. bartholomew's basilica, visit trastevere
St. Bartholomew’s Basilica

Wander the Maze of Streets

Take the time to get lost in Trastevere. It’s such a quaint and beautiful place and it’s worth the time to just meander aimlessly. Maybe you’ll see the ancient old synagogue that became a restaurant which sadly closed. Or, see what other gems you come across.

While you wander, taking in the vine-covered buildings that are hundreds of years old (and more!) check out the slice of local life. It’s so interesting to people-watch in this area. You can almost imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago, too.

Many of the streets are narrow and pedestrian-only (whether required or by practice). So you can meander to your heart’s content!

cobblestone alley in trastevere

Go on a Walking Tour

One of the best ways to see this incredible neighborhood is by going on a walking tour. Learn about the history of the area, the best Trastevere restaurants, bars, and other hot spots.

There are tours dedicated to history, food, the Jewish history of the area, and more. Pick what you’re interested in and you’re sure to have a great time.

I had the opportunity to tour this area twice on my last trip. The first was with an amazing guide, Carla Zaia ([email protected]). She went with us to see the Vatican, Forum, and Jewish Quarter as well.

Then I did a Jewish walking tour of Rome and saw parts of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto again. Both were really interesting and provided different aspects of this neighborhood’s rich history.

wall painting of woman, trastevere guide, walking tour

Trastevere Shopping

When in Rome, you have to take some time to do a little shopping. Trastevere is one of the best places for shopping from wine shops to bookshops to vintage wine shops. You can definitely find some interesting things to take home for souvenirs whether for yourself or for someone else.

Here are some of the best shops in Trastevere not to be missed:

  • Atelier Livia Risi is one of the best shops for women’s clothing. If you’re trying to master the Italian fashion look of stylish and functional, this is the place to get some pieces. The shop owner also makes custom clothing if you’re in the area long enough to have something specially made.
  • Mercato di Porta Portese is in the Piazza Porta Portese, a little further away from the city center. You should definitely check it out though if you want to shop like a true Roman. It’s a massive flea market with thousands of stalls where you can bargain for books, clothing, and even electronics.
  • Acid Drop is a small boutique with funk trinkets quirky jewelry. They also have handpainted purses and t-shirts. The shop is owned by a mother and daughter. They make all the items from scratch making them a one-of-a-kind souvenir to remember your trip to Rome.
  • Open Door Bookshop is one of the best bookshops in the area. They have tons of options in languages other than Italian including English, Spanish, and French. Most of the books are secondhand, but you can still find some new releases.
  • Officina della Carta is one of the best places to visit to get custom gifts to take home. Everything is handmade. They have beautiful photo frames and diaries as well as recipe books and notepads.

Restaurants in Trastevere

Trastevere restaurants are some of the best in Rome and it’s a popular place for locals and tourists to dine and enjoy the nightlife. From popular bars to crowded restaurants with amazing food, you’ll enjoy this thriving area for all it has to offer.

Grab a drink outside at one of the small bars and people watch. Then, find a great place to eat dinner. Here are some of the best restaurants in Trastevere to consider.

  • Bar San Calisto—This small bar was on Stanley Tucci’s tour of Rome, so why not? I got a pastry and a coffee and sat outside to people watch. It was crazy busy and ordering is an experience (go to the counter and be quick about it!) It’s a great hotspot, day and night.
  • Nannarella, Osteria, Roma Trastevere— One of the most highly rated restaurants in the area and it has all your favorite Italian classics. The portions are huge, so you can even share with friends if you’re both wanting to try the same things. They have a huge wine list as well as fresh pizza and tons of seafood options.
  • Tonnarello—This is a great place if you are just looking for something casual. Definitely try to get a seat on the patio where they have live music in the evenings. Try the lamb meatballs or one of the pizzas. They also have a seasonal dessert menu.
  • Frontini Trastevere is the best place for a quick meal of pizza or sandwiches. You can order at the counter and then grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables and people watch. The fresh bread is also amazing if you want to take some with you.
  • Opere & Caffe is a small cafe with some of the best cappuccinos and pastries in Trastevere. They can get crowded during traditional breakfast and lunch hours, so you might want to consider going at an off time during the day. They also have a small art gallery in the back where you can buy pieces from local artists.

Hotels in Trastevere, Rome

If you’d like to stay, there are a lot of great hotels in Trastevere, Rome at different price points. Though it’s a little bit away from the city center, it’s not a far walk and such a gorgeous area. I will stay here for sure the next time I visit!

  • BudgetTrastevere Dream House has large basic rooms. They have a nice free breakfast and coffee and tea are always free in the lobby as well. It’s walking distance to many bars and restaurants as well as nightlife options.
  • Mid-rangeHotel Ripa is in Trastevere but less than 3 miles from both the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. All the rooms have minibars and balconies. Upgrades rooms have more amenities including video game systems and coffeemakers. They have free breakfast, a bar, and a gym.
  • LuxuryHotel Smeraldo is only a 7-minute walk from Piazza Navona. The rooms are beautiful, especially the upgraded ones as they have balconies where you get amazing views of the city. Make sure to go up to the rooftop terrace for spectacular views as well. They have a breakfast buffet, a bar, and a dining room all on-site.

Why You Should Visit Trastevere in Rome

If you’re looking for a historic and quaint neighborhood to visit in Rome, look no further than Trastevere. With some of the top restaurants and bars in the city, incredible shopping, and beautiful streets, it’s a popular place to visit that you won’t want to miss!

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