I love Rome any time of the year: of all the cities I have visited, Rome is my top favourite (visit my Roman alphabet here).
Do you have time to travel in the “off-season”? Come to Rome during the winter months and have a blast! Less tourists, milder weather, cheaper accommodation can make Rome your go-to winter destination.
Weather: The weather from October all the way to February can be rainy, with November being the wettest month. It very rarely snows, and when it does, be prepared to go and take pictures, as the snow will not last. The average temperatures hover around 10-15° C (50-60°F), and the weather can be variable from day to day.
Getting There: Traveling to Rome is definitely cheaper during these months, excepting the Christmas season obviously, and it’s usually best just to get a direct flight to one of the Rome airports. Do not rent a car!! Take taxis, buses, the subway, but it’s not worth the money to drive a car in Rome.
What to Wear: You will see Romans bundling up in fur coats and winter parkas but this is really not necessary! Just remember – I’m talking at you from Canada! Seriously, though, dress in layers, bring an umbrella or a raincoat, and if you are a runner just pack a rain shell and wear your regular fall running gear. Remember to bring comfortable shoes for walking around Rome and fancy dress shoes and outfit for evening wear.
Here is my Top Ten list:
10 – Go Shopping!
You can pretty much find anything in Rome. Here are some fun markets:MercatoPortese takes place every Sunday, and it is just south of the Trastevere. Go there to pick up something fun!
MercatoMonti is a hip, trendy space where young up-and-coming artists, designers and fashionistas come together to promote their creations. It is held every Saturday and Sunday from September to June in the conference room of the Grand Hotel Palatino, Via Leonina 46, RioneMonti – Rome
MercatoEsquilino is a covered food market that has every kind of fruit, vegetable, bean and grain you can imagine. It is closed Sundays and open from 5am every other day. You can find it at Via FilippoTurati, 160, 00118 Roma
9- Love the underworld?
Visit Roma Sotteranea! You can join their public tours through fascinating archaeological sites, or if you enjoy spelunking you can join the organization and explore some of Rome’s caves, catacombs, tunnels, aqueducts and more!
8- Hit the beach!
Take a walk along the water’s edge; pack a picnic and a blanket; create some art out of driftwood; take your shoes and socks off and feel the sand between your toes! Ostia Lido beach can easily be reached from Rome centre by public transit (download the Citymapper app for up-to-date transit info). You can also head up to Ostia Antica, which the where the harbour of ancient Rome was situated. You will want to spend a couple of hours at least, exploring the sites. The first Sunday of the month is free, so plan to go then if you’re watching your pennies.
Weird Ostia facts: if you’re a film trivia aficionado, visit the site of Pasolini’s death on Ostia Lido.
7 – Three amazing things about the Pantheon: it has lasted over 2000 years in almost perfect condition; no one really knows what it was built or used for; it is an amazing place to visit in the winter. Why? Because of the “Oculus”, which is a round hole in the top of the domed ceiling. The oculus is about 8 meters wide, and through it falls anything the heavens have to offer.
6 – Ice skating, anyone?
Yes! There are four or five locations in Rome where you can skate outside, and the nicest one is just below the Castel Sant’Angelo. Hang around in the Trastevere or go for dinner, then get your skates on and skate until midnight! The rinks are open from late December.
You might be interested in: Where to stay in Rome.
5 – Read a book!
One of my very favourite things to do is to sit and read a book. There are several English language bookstores in Rome. My favourite is the Open Door Bookshop, where you can find new, used and collectibles. I also love LibreriaGriot, which is a haven for all things from the African continent. Books, memorabilia, a café and cultural events take place in this corner spot located at Via di Santa Cecilia 1/A.
4 – Feeling antsy about the state of the world? You did your vaycay and now you want to Do Something?
Volunteer with a charity in Rome, either for a few days or for a longer time. Depending on your language skills and experience, you can find something to suit your abilities and schedule here:
Med in Action has an extensive list (a good organization to remember as they provide medical care for expats and tourists: multilingual, they provide insurance receipts for your private health coverage)
Doctors Without Borders (Italia) accepts professionals to volunteer within Italy or elsewhere.
3 – Run the Tiber! Take a run along the river. Anytime from 7am there will be people running and cycling. Check out this 15k route!
2 – Eat! Five top choices: grab a paper twist of roast chestnuts from a street vendor in any of the big piazzas; visit Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè for the best coffee in town; check out Ba Ghetto for authentic Jewish Roman food; spend an evening at the Spirito di Vino restaurant, hidden away in an underground cellar in an ancient 13th century synagogue; drop in to the Rumi Bottega in the Trastevere and grab some delicious organic local-sourced takeaway!
Check out my: Rome Food Guide.
And for the number one, top place:
1 – Music, Food, and Rome by night! The best! Take a tour of Rome at night, on a tram. That’s not all! Your tram is furnished with intimate tables, candles, and a small stage. While you travel for three hours through Rome at night, you will be served an excellent Italian meal, and you will listen to the sounds of jazz played by live musicians on the stage. Book a reservation, as the evenings sell out well in advance. Have a look here: TramJazz.
Rivka Cymbalist writes about travel, running, reproductive justice, self-sufficiency. Read about her here.