Winter in Rome: Complete Guide

The Eternal City can offer its visitors endless entertainment and sightseeing possibilities 365 days a year, but the winter atmosphere is really special and definitely worth a trip.

Needless to say, Christmas time turns the city into pure magic and its mild climate allows tourists and locals to spend several hours outdoor, even in the heart of winter.

Let’s see how and when to plan your next winter trip to Rome!

Saint Peter Basilica in Rome at Christmas - Italy in winter
Saint Peter Basilica in Rome at Christmas

Things to Do in Rome in Winter

November in Rome

Weather in Rome in November

The min. temperature is around 12°C – max. temp. 18°C. Light rain is quite common. You’ll still find some typical autumn vibes.

Events – celebrations – traditions in Rome in November:

  • Nov 1st -All Saints: the Pope celebrates a special mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and it’s a day off for students and workers. Museums might be closed, so double-check your itinerary!
  • Nov 25th – St. Catherine’s Day: in the past, pipers from Ciociaria came to Rome on this day and it was considered the beginning of the Christmas period. This tradition has almost completely disappeared, but you might still bump into a couple of old pipers if you’re lucky enough!
  • Roast chestnuts: they’re sold at every corner of the street and they really smell like early winter!

Things to do in Rome in November

  • Spend the whole day visiting a museum: on a rainy day, what’s best than staying indoor and enjoying some artistic masterpieces? Choose the Vatican Museums where you can spend several hours without getting bored. Just keep in mind that you cannot visit them on Nov. 1st nor on Sunday (except the last Sunday of every month when entrance is free). Click here to book a skip the line ticket to the Vatican Museum.
  • Take a stroll in Villa Borghese Park to see the last autumn colors. Why not pay a visit to the museum as well.

Why visit Rome in November

  • Pros: mild temperatures and lovely autumn vibes
  • Cons: light rain is common
Christmas Tree in Colosseum square, Rome Italy
Christmas Tree in Colosseum square, Rome Italy

December in Rome

Weather in Rome in December

The min. temperature is around 8°C – max. temp. 13°C. December is a bit rainy but not so cold and you’ll surely enjoy many bright sunny days.

Events – celebrations – traditions in Rome in December

  • Dec. 8th – Feast of the Immaculate Conception: another day off and religious solemnity. On this day, the majority of museums are closed, so you’d better double-check your travel plan.
  • Dec. 25th – Christmas: going to a Midnight Mass can be an emotional way of celebrating with locals. In Italy, the traditional festive meal is served either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day and it’s usually a great occasion to meet family and friends and spend long hours around a table.
  • Dec 31st–New Year’s Eve: enjoy the Italian “cenone” (literally “huge dinner”) at a restaurant and taste all the main local dishes! You can then party all night in a club or in the streets to see the midnight fireworks.
  • Christmas lights: Roman streets are decorated with bright and scenic lights and the most beautiful ones are in via Condotti, via del Corso, and Via Veneto
  • Christmas trees: there are several Christmas trees scattered throughout the city, but the best ones are to be found in Piazza Venezia and in Piazza San Pietro
  • Christmas markets: the most famous one is located in Piazza Navona
  • Nativity scene: in Italy, families love to decorate their homes with lights, a Christmas tree, and the unmissable nativity scene. You’ll find one in every church too, so you can wander around to admire it in different styles, materials, and shapes. There’s even a themed exhibition in Vatican City named “100 presepi” (more info at 100 Presepi in Vaticano – Home)
  • Gospel Festival: an annual music festival taking place at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica with shows and concerts featuring the best American spiritual and gospel choirs. More info at Roma Gospel Festival 2019

Things to do in Rome in December

  • Enjoy the view from the Vittoriano: after watching the Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia, take a tour of this iconic monument and climb to its top to see Rome at your feet. At sunset, it’ll be even better! More info at Complesso del Vittoriano Roma (ilvittoriano.com)
  • Spend a few hours at a typical restaurant: pasta with clams, fried veggies, fried lamb, Stracciatella soup, and pangiallo (“yellow bread”) are the main Roman Christmas dishes
  • Skate on ice: there are a few ice skating rinks in Rome and the best ones are at Christmas Wonderland in Viale Angelico 52 Home – Christmas Wonderland (christmaswonderlandroma.it)), Auditorium Parco della Musica in Viale Pietro de Coubertin 30 (PISTA DI GHIACCIO – Auditorium Parco della Musica ) and at Luneur Park in via delle Tre Fontane (Home – Luneur Park)

Why visit Rome in December

  • Pros: many events and celebrations, a magic atmosphere, lights and decorations everywhere
  • Cons: many tourists and pilgrims choose to celebrate Christmas in Rome
St Peter’s Vatican

January in Rome

Weather in Rome in January

The min. temperature is 7°C- max. temp. 12°C. The heart of winter is never too cold in Rome, but it’s a bit rainy and sun is not so common. Anyway, you’ll be able to spend a few hours outdoor each day wearing a coat or a warm waterproof jacket.

Events – celebrations – traditions in Rome in January

  • Jan 1st –you can go to St. Peter’s Square to receive the Pope’s blessing
  • Jan 6th – Epiphany: this feast celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem, but it is also associated to an Italian folk character named “Befana” (an old lady flying on a broomstick and bringing candies to the good kids and coal to the naughty ones). If you’re travelling with children, bring them to meet her at the Christmas market of Piazza Navona. You can also watch the traditional costumed parade featuring more than 1400 characters, horses and marching bands and going from via della Conciliazione to St Peter’s Square to offer some symbolic gifts to the Pope.

Things to do in Rome in January

  • Spend a winter night in Trastevere: typical restaurants, cozy cafés and trendy cocktail bars are all that you need for a winter night out!
  • Visit the Jewish Ghetto: other than being a hidden gem still unspoiled by mass tourism, this neighborhood is perfect to taste Jewish-Roman recipes. In winter, every Roman eats carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes) at least once!
  • Take advantage of the winter sales: enjoy some shopping in via del Corso and via Condotti without breaking the bank!

Why visit Rome in January

  • Pros: you’ll find lower rates (it’s low season) and you’ll be able to visit all the monuments and museums without the usual long lines and crowds (after Jan 6th!)
  • Cons: it rains a lot

February in Rome

Weather in Rome in February

The min. temperature is around 7°C – max. temp. 13°C. Still a bit rainy, but there are also several sunny and decidedly warm days, when you can already smell some spring air.

Events – celebrations – traditions in Rome in February

  • Feb. 14th – St. Valentine’s Day: Rome is a very romantic city, perfect for a weekend for two!
  • Carnival: parties, parades and the traditional sweet treats named frappe and castagnole for 2 weeks of pure fun!

Things to do in Rome in February

  • Take advantage of a warm and sunny day to take a full tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
  • Enjoy a romantic sunset from the panoramic Gianicolo Terrace
  • Take your time to closely watch all the main monuments like the iconic Trevi Fountain or the Spanish Steps without the usual crowds of tourists

Why visit Rome in February

  • Pros: few people visit Rome in February and it’s still low season
  • Cons: light rain is common

What to pack for a winter trip in Rome

  • Wool sweaters
  • Scarf
  • Gloves and hat (for the evening)
  • Coat or a warm waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable and waterproof shoes or boots
  • Jeans/long trousers
  • Umbrella
  • Long sleeves t-shirts or shirts
  • Backpack (and a small bag for the night)

Remember to dress in layers you can take off in heated indoor spaces!

Where to eat and drink in Rome in winter

Restaurants

Cafes and Bars

Why visit Rome in Winter

  • There are fewer tourists than usual (especially in January and February) and you’ll have the main monuments and museums (almost) all to yourself!
  • Flights and hotels are cheaper (especially in January and February) because it’s low season
  • Some rain and cool weather will make you linger in restaurants and cafés to try all the typical products and dishes. You might also want to take a food tour.
  • December is never boring: so many events, celebrations, and fun for the whole family!
  • January is the best month for shopping addicts thanks to the winter sales starting off Jan 7th
  • Roman weather is never too cold, so you’ll be able to stay outdoor every day and walk your way through the city center!

Plan your trip to Rome with my guides:

How to spend a weekend in Rome

How to spend 3 days in Rome

How to spend 5 days in Rome

Where to stay in Rome

A complete guide to Rome

Things to do in Vatican City

Things to do in Rome at night

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