Rome is a city that captured my heart from the first moment I set foot in the eternal city! And it is probably the city (other than my hometown of London) that I have spent the most time in as I can’t help but keep returning. I am very fortunate to have visited Rome in every season but one of my favourites is Winter. So if you are thinking about visiting Rome in Winter this guide is sure to help. Here we round up the best things to do in Rome in Winter, how to get around and give you the inside scoop on the Rome Winter Weather and what to pack to make the most out of your winter trip to Rome!
Visiting Rome in Winter – Reasons you should go!
So you are thinking of Visiting Rome in Winter – well I am here to tell you that this is a great idea! Winter is absolutely one of my favourite times to visit the Eternal City for several reasons – here’s a few of them:
- Avoid the Crowds – Rome is one of those places that can get exceptionally busy and one of the busiest places of have ever been is Rome in the Summer. Rome in the Winter on the other hand is a much quieter and in my opinion more pleasant place.
- Cheaper – During Rome peak season hotels can get expensive! Travelling in Winter aka Rome off peak season means you can find some great deals on Rome hotels in Winter.
- Festivities – If you are visiting Rome in November or December you will be lucky enough to see Rome as it gets into the festive Christmas spirit! Christmas in Rome is a magical place and is a great reason to visit Rome in Winter.
- Snow – Rome in the snow is a beautiful place! It is a rare sight to see Rome in the snow but if you do it is beautiful
- Moderate Winter Temperatures – now don’t get me wrong it isn’t hot in Rome during Winter – you will need a coat, hat and boots etc however by comparison to other great Winter break city destinations like Stockholm, Rome’s temperatures are far more moderate – for more information see below.
Rome Winter Temperature and What to Expect From Rome Winter Weather
As I mentioned above, Rome Winter Weather is Cold but not unbearably so! The coldest Winter month in Rome tends to be January and the temperatures can fall below zero! If you are wanting to see Rome in Snow then January is probably your best bet! It rarely snows in Rome in the run up to Christmas – but don’t let this put you off – Rome in December is still a lovely place to visit.
One thing you should expect to see in Rome in Winter is rain so an umbrella should definitely be on your packing list. For more details on what to do in Rome on a rainy day check out our dedicated post.
Overall I think Rome Winter Weather is no reason not to do a Rome Winter break but the key is good packing.
What to Wear in Rome in the Winter / Rome Winter Packing List
Although not freezing temperatures in Winter Rome can get rainy and windy so you will definitely want to make sure you pack correctly.
So here we round up what to wear in Rome in Winter so you don’t forget anything off your Rome Winter packing list.
Rome Winter Packing List
Although not every day will be below freezing in Rome Winters for the coldest of days you may want your thermals with you! I always like a pair of thermal leggings with me especially when I am going to be walking for most of the day.
The air in Rome during Winter is icy, especially in the evenings so you definitely will want a woolen hat with you.
Another essential for me is a good pair of fleece lined leather gloves which I find are best for keeping hands warm and look more stylish than their woolen counterparts and add to the Italian Winter Style.
However if you are an avid instagrammed you may want to have gloves designed to allow you to carry on using your touch phones with
Shoes with a good sole!
If you are up and out early you may encounter some slippery streets so be sure to have good soles on your shoes unless you fancy going skating.
To make sure you don’t feel underdressed in Rome then I would recommend buying some fashionable boots designed for bad weather
I would also recommend traveling with a good thick Winter Coat!
And an umbrella for that inevitable Rome Rain.
What to Wear in Rome at Night!
One of the things I love about visiting Rome is that the city residents are often quite glamorous – I find that when I visit most parts of Italy.So a smart coat and jumpers will make sure you feel dressed up enough at night!
How to Get Around Rome in Winter
Rome is a very easy place to get around especially during Winter as you won’t be fighting the crowds if you decide to use public transport.
Rome has two airports
- Rome Fiumicino aka the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport and
- Rome Ciampino
If you are flying internationally into Rome you will most likely fly into Fiumicino while low cost and internal Italian flights are likely to land at Ciampino.
To get from Fiumicino and Ciampino it is possible to use public transport to get into town! From Fiumicino you can use the Leonardo Express Train which runs from the airport into Termini! To get from Ciampino to the airport you can use the Terravision Bus (there is also the SIT and Flix bus) or you can catch the train again).
There are taxi ranks at both airports too but if you don’t want to wait in the cold you could arrange private transportation from the airport directly to your hotel.
Once you have arrived in Rome my favourite way to get around the city is to walk! There are many piazzas and sights that you can’t see from the road and to get a true Rome experience walking is the best way! And if you get cold there are plenty of places to hop inside and have a nice warming espresso.
If you pick very early tickets to some of Rome’s major attractions then the buses and metro are easy to use in Rome! However if you get a bad weather day in Rome and would like to see Rome in the warmth another great option for getting around and getting your bearings is to take the Rome Hop On Hop Off Bus! You can book your tickets here!
Where to Stay in Rome in Winter
Whenever I travel to Rome the most important factor in picking accommodation is to stay somewhere central! or me it is really important to stay central in Rome. If you are looking for some good and centrally located hotels then you could consider:
Luxury Hotel: Westin Excelsior Rome
Recently we have been staying at the Westin when we visit Rome (you can read our full review HERE)! It is right next door to Villa Borghese Gardens which is a place we love when visiting Rome with kids and is also close to many of the main Rome attractions and some fabulous restaurants.
Other great choices are:
Luxury Hotel: Grand Hotel Parco Dei Principi
Again with great proximity to the Villa Borghese Gardens and a pool open to children over the age of 4.
For those on more of a budget I recommend
Hilton Garden Inn Rome Claridge
A four star hotel in a great location to get to the main attractions and the park.
Best Things to do In Rome in Winter
Rome is full of bucket list worthy activities! In this section we round up the best things to do in Rome in Winter. Including both the best outdoor and of course the best indoor activities in Rome for when you need to escape the worst of the weather.
Best Indoor Activities in Rome
The Pantheon is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. It was once a Roman temple but today is a church! One of the main attractions in the Pantheon is to see the hole in the roof.
Please note: the pantheon is shut on Christmas Day and New Years Day and the public isn’t allowed in when mass is being celebrated.
The Borghese area is one of my favourites in all of Rome! In the grounds of the Villa Borghese Gardens some notable attractions are Galleria Borghese, the Museum of Modern Art and the Globe Theatre.
The Borghese Gallery is the most popular and contains works of art by Raphael and Bernini as well as having a room called the ‘Caravaggio Room’.
Please note: even in Winter it is essential to book your tickets in your advance as tickets are limited and are likely to sell out!
Vatican Museum and St Peters Basilica
Ok I know that the Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica are technically not in Rome. The Vatican is its own country after all however does anyone visit Rome without heading to the Vatican?
The Vatican Museums and the St Peters Basilica are one of the best Rome indoor activities (ok Vatican indoor activities)! The great thing about this is that it really can be a whole day worth of activities which means you don’t have to travel much. Once inside the Vatican Museums, of course a highlight is going to be the amazing Sistine Chapel.
NOTE: Please remember that the Vatican dress code is strict and enforced. For a guide on what to wear in the Vatican check out our post.
The Vatican Museums are much quieter during the Winter to the summer but again if you want to guarantee that you won’t have to queue then it is best to buy TICKETS IN ADVANCE – CLICK HERE FOR OPTIONS!
Another way to see the Vatican is to apply in advance for the Scavi Tour! This is a real behind the scenes exclusive access tour of the Vatican but you have to apply well in advance because there is a rigorous screening process.
If you want to visit the Vatican with kids I recommend checking out our in-depth guide for tips!
It really depends on you whether you want to spend a half or full day exploring the museums and the Basilica.
When I go on a Winter Christmas break I usually go before Christmas. And I can’t be the only person in the world that thinks socks are a must have present every year. When in Rome head to Gammarelli’s the sartorial providers to the Pop and Papacy for generations! Why not pick up a pair of socks by the Pope’s sock makers while in Rome.
Castelo St Angelo
The Castelo was a military fortification for the Vatican and even contained a corridor connecting the Castelo to the Vatican in case the pope ever needed to flee in an emergency. Today the Castelo is a museum with seven levels.
One level – the Terrace of the Angel has some of the best views across Rome.
Dan Brown will recognise the Castelo as it features prominently in the Angels and Demons Book and Film.
Rome Cooking Class
No visit to Rome is complete without indulging in Roman food! Why not try and learn some of the skills and secret of Italian cooking while in Rome so you can recreate some of your favourite dishes at home.
Italy is home of Opera, on a cold Winter’s night there is why not head to the Teatro dell’Opera and catch a performance.
Best Outdoor Activities to do in Rome during Winter
Walk the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps is a bucket list item for Rome whenever you visit bu the great thing about visiting the Spanish Steps in Winter is it won’t be as swamped with people. In Summer the steps are incredible busy but in Winter, especially if you get there early you have a chance to see the steps without the crowds! I think this is one of the most photogenic spots in Rome.
See the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of my favourite sights in all of Rome! It has recently finished its refurbishment so is looking at its best.
If you visit the Trevi Fountain in Summer you will be faced with crowds – It is one of the most crowded places in Summer in the whole of Rome and the only way to get an uninterrupted photo is to go early. Although busy in Winter the Trevi Fountain is much quieter.
While you are there be sure to throw a coin in the fountain as legend says if you throw a coin in the fountain you will return to Rome – and let’s face it who doesn’t want to visit Rome again.
Of all the beautiful Piazza’s in Rome, the Piazza Navona is my favourite. A highlight of the piazza is seeing the beautiful Bernini fountain – The Four Rivers. This is another filming location from Angels and Demons.
The Piazza is filled with restaurants and pastry shops and is a great place to people watch.
If you are visiting in December the Piazza is also home to one of the best Christmas markets in Rome.
The Rome Forum
Of all the outdoor attractions in Rome, I think the Forum is my favourite! When wandering around the Forum you really feel like you are walking in the footsteps of the Ancient Romans.Though you can wander around the Forum on your own I would definitely recommend taking a guided tour around the Forum as it will really help to bring the buildings and ruins of Ancient Rome to life.
Some of the highlights of the Forum for me include The Temple of Vesta, The House of the Vestal Virgins and Arch of Septimus Severus.
No matter the time of year you visit I don’t think the Forum can be missed.
Located next door to the Forum, the Forum and Colosseum can be done on the same day of your ideal Rome itinerary.
In my opinion this is one of the most important sites in Rome – as Bede said – “If the Colosseum falls Rome Falls”. This surely can’t be missed on your trip! This gladiatorial arena is probably the most iconic of all of the sights of Rome and is a must for any trip.
Even in the Winter the queues for the Colosseum can get busy so I would advise buying skip the line tickets in advance and going first thing in the morning to beat the worst of the crowds. For more information on tips for visiting the Colosseum click here!
Villa Borghese Gardens
The Gardens are the third largest public park in ROMe and contain museums, olympic sites, gardens and statues! It is probably one of the few places that is better to visit in nice weather but even in Winter it is worth going for a stroll.
The Gardens also offer some great viewing platforms to take in some great and interesting perspectives of Rome such as that at Piazza Napoleone. Although tickets are required to go in the museums, strolling the gardens is a great free things to do in Rome.
Mouth of Truth
Famous after it’s appearance int he Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday the mouth of truth is worth a visit.
Legend says that the statue is a lie detector and will bite off the hand of those who have lied! The Sculpture is located in Piazza della Bocca della Verita.
Sample Rome In Winter Itinerary!
Below I have outlined the perfect long weekend itinerary or three day itinerary in Rome! I think 3 days is a perfect amount of time for a Rome Winter Itinerary! When we go to Rome during Winter this is what we do
Note about itinerary: These days can be done in any order.
Day One of Rome Winter Itinerary
Grab a coffee and pastry and head to the Spanish Steps early to beat the crowds!
Once finished head to the Villa Borghese Gardens for a stroll! View the boating lake and statues in the grounds as well as the Olympic sights! Be sure to get mid morning advance tickets to go into the museums!
Once you have finished at the Museum head into town and see and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
Have an early dinner at Spiriti e Forme near the Trevi Fountain and then head for an evening at the Opera
Day Two of Rome in Winter Itinerary
Today is all the Vatican! Get early morning tickets to the Vatican Museums and enjoy the collection and marvel at the Sistine Chapel.
Once finished it is time to go and explore St Peters Square (which if visiting pre Christmas has a beautiful Christmas tree) and head into St Peters Basilica!
For the afternoon, head over and explore the military fortress of the Vatican the Castelo St Angelo.
For the evening why not try your hand at making pasta and tiramisu followed by dinner.
Day Three of Rome during Winter Itinerary
Today is about exploring some of Rome’s more ancient sites.
Once finished at the Forum head over to the Pantheon to marvel at this temple turned church.
End your day at my favourite Piazza in Rome – Piazza Navona for dinner and to people watch! If you are there in December be sure to have a stroll around the Christmas markets.
And there you have it – my perfect Rome in Winter itinerary including the best things to do in Rome in Winter! Let me know in the comments if you have visited Rome in Winter – what were your favourite things to do?