When it comes to European cities, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Paris…except for maybe Rome. Both the City of Lights and the Eternal City are worth visiting, each offering endless wonders, memorable sights, and world-class travel experiences.
Rome is one of the world’s most historically significant cities, once serving as the capital of an empire that changed the course of world history. It’s also home to Vatican City, the most important destination of Catholic tourism.
Out of these millennia of history have sprouted many fascinating sites, from the Colosseum to the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Meanwhile, Paris is the world’s most romantic destination—a city where you’ll never run out of places to go and things to do. Known for its array of art galleries, museums, and theaters, Paris is the place to experience culture.
Both cities are home to magnificent culinary scenes, have captivating museums and historic sites, and can easily hold their own on the world stage. So how do you choose in the battle of Rome vs Paris? Check out the guide below to look at the ins and outs of each city and find which destination is better for you.
A Quick Overview & Comparison: Rome vs Paris
Rome and Paris each have their strengths. Both cities are packed with history, culture, and stunning landmarks. As someone who’s had the best memories in Rome, I would choose the Eternal City for its unbeatable cuisine, rich history, and warm atmosphere.
But if you’re looking for a romantic getaway in one of the most impressive cities in the world with an abundance of cultural highlights, Paris could also be a great choice.
- Iconic history
- Italian cuisine
- More affordable
- Warmer weather
- Public transport
- More romantic
- Endless activities
Rome and Paris should both be on your bucket list if you like iconic destinations brimming with history and attractions. While they’re similar in many ways, they offer different atmospheres overall.
The history of both cities is fascinating, but if you consider yourself a history enthusiast in particular, Rome seems to be the slightly better choice. After all, the Italian capital was one of the world’s most important cities in the ancient world.
It also played a role in the middle ages, through the Renaissance, and beyond. Whether you’re interested in ancient or modern history, there is plenty to explore in Rome.
Paris has a great number of museums, too, and while there might not be as much there for history lovers as there is in Rome, you’ll never run out of things to do. Between the museums, galleries, and famous buildings and monuments, Paris will keep you on your toes.
Rome is exciting, too, but if you put the two cities back to back, the list of overall attractions and activities is longer in Paris.
The French have the Italians beat when it comes to planning and organization, and thus, Paris tends to be easier to get around than Rome because it has a more efficient public transport system consisting of buses, trains, and the metro. That said, Rome is still largely walkable and relatively easy to get around, too.
Perhaps also owing to the organization factor, Paris seems cleaner than Rome overall (despite the recent garbage strikes). Neither city can match destinations like Singapore or Japan when it comes to overall cleanliness, but Paris is the cleaner of the two.
Both cities are renowned for their cuisine, but as Italian food is considered among the best in the world, my vote is for Rome on the food front. There may be Italian restaurants all over the planet, but there’s nothing quite like eating Italian in Italy.
Just be sure to steer clear of restaurants that seem overly touristy and too close to famous landmarks. It’s always worth venturing a few blocks away from the crowds to find hole-in-the-wall trattorias with real nonnas cooking in the back!
Though Rome makes for a wonderful honeymoon destination, it just doesn’t get more romantic than Paris. If you’re traveling as a couple in search of a romantic getaway, Paris is among the best cities in the world, from the lights to the rich food to the cruises that sail down the Seine.
However, even if you are looking for a romantic getaway, there are still two reasons why you might consider opting for Rome anyway. Firstly, it’s a little more affordable. While Rome is by no means a budget destination, it tends to be cheaper on the whole than Paris, which is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Secondly, Rome has a Mediterranean climate, while Paris has a continental climate. If you prefer warm weather and sunshine, Rome may be the best choice. That said, if you prefer mild temperatures and want to avoid the extreme heat when traveling in summer, Paris may be best.
Rome or Paris: A Quick Guide to Choosing
Rome Mini Guide
- Location Size – Metropolitan area: 496.1 square miles (1,285 square km)
- Population – 4,316,000
- Rainiest Month – November
- High Season – April – June, September – early November
- Top Sights – Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel Roman Forum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Castel Sant’Angelo
- Major Airports – Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, Ciampino Airport
Rome is a history-lover’s dream and is home to some of the most famous artwork in the world. The city also exudes warmth, both in its climate and its friendly local inhabitants, who will convert you to the dolce vita lifestyle.
Suggested Reading: Where to stay in Rome, Italy
Paris Mini Guide
- Location Size – Metropolitan area: 890 square miles (2,300 square km)
- Population – 11,208,000
- Rainiest Month – December
- High Season – June – August
- Top Sights – Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge Paris, Palais Garnier
- Major Airports – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly Airport
A top destination for couples, families, and those celebrating something special, Paris is one of the busiest cities in the world. The French capital is the home of art, fashion, and attractions that will take your breath away.
The 3 Key Differences Between Rome and Paris
Which Is Safer?
Rome and Paris are both relatively safe cities. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index (SCI), Paris comes in as the 23rd safest city in the world, while Rome is the 30th safest city, making Paris technically safer.
The dangers that tourists face in each city tend to be fairly similar, and common by global traveling standards. Whether in Rome or in Paris, watch out for pickpockets and keep your belongings secure at all times, but especially when around famous landmarks.
How Does The Cuisine Compare?
If you’re a foodie, both Paris and Rome are fantastic choices. In Paris you’ll find classic French bistros boasting dishes such as coq au vin and beef bourguignon, along with sweet favorites like macarons, crepes, and crème brulee.
Which cuisine is better is definitely a matter of personal taste, but Parisian food tends to be rich and has an air of formality about it. Ingredients like butter, cream, and cheese are often the star of the show. And if you want to splurge on a meal, Paris is the place to do it, with over 115 Michelin-star restaurants in the city.
By comparison, the food in Rome is Italian food at its best. While Italian cuisine actually varies from region to region, you can expect to enjoy global classics like paper-thin Neapolitan pizza, panini with fresh locally sourced cold meats and cheeses, and of course, pasta.
A classic Roman pasta to look out for is cacio e pepe, which is basically a Roman mac and cheese. While Paris is known for its desserts, no place does gelato quite like Rome. I can never go past nocciola (hazelnut) when in Rome, but there are infinite flavors to choose from!
If you prefer sweets to savory—although in Rome there’s a good chance that you’ll be overwhelmed by Nutella!—and prefer formal dining, Paris may be the foodie destination of your dreams. However, if you’re a fan of carbs and Italian food in general, you can’t go wrong with Rome.
Which Is Better for Families?
Families can have a great vacation in both Rome and Paris.
From one perspective, many of the activities in Rome tend to lend themselves better to children. For example, kids are likely to have fun seeing the Colosseum, even if they couldn’t care less about history, climbing over the ruins of the Roman Forum, tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and ending each day with a gelato.
Still, as Paris has more activities overall (including a greater number of museums and experiences), you’re likely to find plenty of ways of keeping the kids entertained. Disneyland Paris, anyone?
Taking these both into account, Rome seems to be the better choice when traveling with kids due to the kinds of activities available and also the vibe of each city. Rome feels more relaxed and fun, while Paris is cooler, more adult, and more formal.
Suggested Reading: Where To Stay In Paris, France
3 Questions to Help You Decide to Travel to Rome or Paris
Are you traveling in the summer?
If you’re traveling during the summer, you’ll have a great time in both Rome and Paris, but keep in mind that Rome tends to be warmer.
If you don’t like the heat or are traveling during August (when most Romans leave the city), you might be better off choosing Paris.
Who are you traveling with?
If you’re traveling as part of a family with kids, you might find Rome to be the better choice thanks to the child-friendly activities on offer. On the flip side, if you’re going as a couple or with a few friends, the trendy restaurants, nightlife, and grown-up attractions may make Paris the better choice.
And if you’re traveling solo, just follow your heart! There are unique experiences to be had in each destination, so it comes down to what you’re looking to get out of your trip.
Do you prefer art or history?
Rome is a must-visit destination for history-lovers, while it doesn’t get better than Paris for art enthusiasts. Of course, there is world-renowned art waiting for you in Rome (like the Sistine Chapel ceiling), and there’s lots of history to explore in Paris (more than 140 museums, in fact).
But history buffs tend to be more satisfied in a city that was so historically significant for various societies, while art-lovers are always at home in Paris.