Christian Rizzo

Hadrian's Villa: Day Trip from Rome

Discover the imperial grandeur of Hadrian's Villa, a royal retreat just a short trip from Rome.

Day Trip
Imperial grandeur of Hadrian's Villa


If you are looking for a day trip from Rome that combines ancient history and Renaissance art, you should consider visiting Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este in Tivoli. These two UNESCO-listed sites are located about 30 km east-north-east of Rome, at the falls of the Aniene river. They offer a glimpse into the lives and tastes of the Roman elite, from the 2nd century AD to the 16th century.

Hadrian's Villa was the residence of Emperor Hadrian, who built it as a retreat from the busy city of Rome. It covers an area of about 120 hectares and includes palaces, temples, theatres, baths, gardens and artificial lakes. You can admire the architectural and artistic influences from different cultures, such as Greece, Egypt and Persia, that Hadrian incorporated into his complex.

Villa d'Este was the residence of Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, who transformed a former Benedictine monastery into a lavish palace and garden. It is famous for its hundreds of fountains, waterfalls, pools and grottoes, which create a stunning visual and acoustic effect. You can also enjoy the frescoes, sculptures and paintings that decorate the rooms of the villa.

The distance and travel time from Rome to Tivoli are about 30 km and 45 minutes by car, or about 60 minutes by public transport.

Getting There

By Public Transport

You can take a bus or a train from Rome to Tivoli. The bus departs from Roma Tiburtina TiBus station every 2 hours and takes 41 minutes to reach Ponte Lucano, which is a 15-minute walk from Hadrian's Villa. The bus ticket costs €1 - €3. You can also take a train from Roma Tiburtina station to Tivoli station, which takes 44 minutes and costs €2 - €5. From Tivoli station, you can take a local bus (line CAT number 4) or a taxi to Hadrian's Villa or Villa d'Este.

By Car

If you prefer to drive from Rome to Tivoli, you can take the road A24/E80 and follow it till the exit Tivoli. Continue on SP51a and after 2 kilometers turn on via Antonio Marziale. You should see Hadrian's Villa indications also. Turn on the right on via Rosolina. At the next crossroad, Hadrian's Villa parking is close on the right. To reach Villa d'Este, you can follow the signs for Tivoli centro storico (historic center) and park in one of the public parking lots near the villa.

Top Attractions at Hadrian's Villa

The Canopus

The Canopus is a stunning artificial canal that recreates the scenery of the Egyptian city of the same name. It is lined with statues of gods and goddesses, as well as columns of caryatids (female figures) that support a roof. At one end of the canal, there is a semi-circular nymphaeum (fountain) decorated with shells and mosaics. The Canopus was used for banquets, ceremonies and entertainment.

The Maritime Theatre

The Maritime Theatre is a circular building that encloses a pool and an island with a small villa. The island could be accessed by a wooden drawbridge that could be raised or lowered by the emperor. The villa had a living room, a bedroom and a study. The Maritime Theatre was a private retreat for Hadrian, where he could escape from the crowds and enjoy some solitude.

More Attractions

Activities and Experiences

Guided Tour

A guided tour is the best way to explore Hadrian's Villa and learn about its history, architecture and art. You can choose from different options, such as a general tour, a thematic tour or a private tour. A guided tour will also give you access to some areas that are not open to the public, such as the Antinoeion, a temple dedicated to Antinous, Hadrian's beloved companion who drowned in the Nile.

Virtual Reality

If you want to see Hadrian's Villa as it was in its heyday, you can try the virtual reality experience offered by some operators. You will wear a headset that will immerse you in a 3D reconstruction of the villa, based on archaeological evidence and historical sources. You will be able to walk around the buildings, admire the sculptures and paintings, and even interact with some characters.

Lesser Known Stories and Interesting Facts about Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa is not only a masterpiece of architecture, but also a treasure trove of stories and secrets. Here are some of them: