Tivoli from Rome: an alternative day trip in the countryside

If you want to see what lies beyond the Eternal City, take a trip into the heart of the Lazio region countryside and visit Tivoli from Rome. This picturesque hilltop town is the perfect day trip from Rome – just an hour away, and easy to reach with car or public transport – and there’s plenty to see and do, from exploring atmospheric Roman ruins to enjoying fine dining with a view.

The dreamlike gardens of Villa d’Este

The most popular of Tivoli’s attractions is undoubtedly the UNESCO site Villa d’Este, built by the Cardinal Ippolito, son of the famous Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of the infamous Pope Alexander the VI. When you step into the gardens of this opulent 16th century villa, you’ll understand why.

Tivoli from Rome an alternative day trip in the countryside
The so called “Fountain of the Organ” in Villa d’Este

The gardens are filled with not hundreds but thousands of fountains, in a theatrical display that also features countless statues and grottoes. The architect, classical scholar Pirro Ligorio, took inspiration from antiquity and even went so far as to “recycle” some genuine Roman ruins, helping himself to marble and statuary from the nearby Hadrian’s Villa. While Villa d’Este is renowned for its gardens, the house itself is also spectacular, and well worth visiting as part of your Tivoli tour from Rome. Don’t miss the apartments of the cardinal, which are filled with beautiful frescoes.

Villa d’Este is closed on Monday morning.

Hadrian’s Villa: the emperor’s country retreat

Hadrian’s Villa is the most impressive masterpiece of Roman architecture. It was built by Hadrian, one of the greatest and most interesting emperors, in the 2nd century AD. Hadrian didn’t like Rome very much, and he never had a good relationship with neither the senators nor the “plebs”. Therefore, he decided to move the core of the empire from the Palatine Hill – traditional residence of the imperial power – to a brand new complex, the biggest and most beautiful ever built: Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli.

Villa Adriana is a unique archaeological site: Hadrian was a great traveler and a very cultured man, and he designed personally many structures of the Villa in order create a dream house that would have been a reflection of his own personality. As well as savouring the cooler temperatures during the summer, he must have enjoyed the facilities of his luxurious private estate, which included private libraries, art galleries, a theatre, baths, pools and lakes. In the Villa he lived with his court and with his beautiful lover Antinous, which he turned into a god after his premature death.

Marguerite Yourcenar, the famous French novelist, spent quite a long time in Tivoli when she wrote her masterpiece: Memoirs of Hadrian. Still nowadays, this is the best fictional book about Hadrian and his life, and it’s the perfect reading to do before taking a tour of the Villa!

Tivoli from Rome an alternative day trip in the countryside 1
The so called “Pecile” in Hadrian’s Villa at the sunset

Hadrian’s Villa is the dream of an emperor come true, and you should not miss the chance to visit such a beautiful complex if you have a spare day in Rome. Even in the summer, this site is never too crowded, and it’s the perfect destination for a day trip from Rome. The sprawling ruins of Hadrian’s Villa are some of the most evocative in Italy; you could easily spend a whole afternoon exploring the archaeological park, visiting famous sites such as the Maritime Theatre (Hadrian’s private sanctuary, surrounded by a moat), or the iconic artificial lake known as the Canopy, which is lined with columns and statues.

To appreciate the rich history of the site, give yourself time to visit Hadrian’s Villa on your Tivoli tourHadrian’s Villa is open every day.

The town of Tivoli

When visiting Tivoli from Rome, it’s worth spending a full day in the town, to allow time to explore the historic centre. After a morning spent at Hadrian’s Villa, for example, you could stop for lunch at the historic restaurant Sibilla (Via della Sibilla 50), which offers excellent food and spectacular views.

If you’re short on time you might limit yourself to a stroll through the historic centre for lunch or gelato, but to see all the best that Tivoli has to offer and if you have more time, we also recommend a quick visit to the romantic Villa Gregoriana  – a large park with waterfalls and grottoes.

Getting to Tivoli from Rome

To reach Tivoli from Rome, you can either take the train from Tiburtina station or the bus from Ponte Mammolo station (not very recommended, since the metro station is really far away from the city center). Both journeys take at least 45 minutes; train times vary, and the bus can be slow during rush hour traffic. If you visit Tivoli on a Sunday, make sure you check the timetable beforehand.

Tivoli tour from Rome day trip
Exploring the “Canopus” in Hadrian’s Villa

While it’s fairly straightforward to get to central Tivoli from Rome, Hadrian’s Villa can be tricky to reach without a car. For convenience and comfort, many visitors choose to book a private tour. As well as having private transportation to Tivoli and all the organisation taken care of, you can also enjoy the company of a personal expert guide as you explore the villas of Tivoli.



To find out more about visiting Tivoli, contact the team at Roads to Rome Private Tours.

Read more: Best day trips from Rome (Conde Nast Traveler)