If you have been wondering about taking a magical, snow-clad trip in Europe minus the hustle and bustle that accompanies the holiday season, Rome is the city to be in. This capital city, with its centuries of history, scenic attractions, and Vatican City — the world’s smallest country situated inside a city — welcomes hundreds of tourists every year during the summer months. However, a white veiled Rome is also a sight to behold — the snow-drizzled cobbled streets are perfect for long walks with the soft sun caressing your face and a light breeze blowing through your hair.
Average Temperature During Winter In Rome
The winter months, which generally last from November to February, are mostly blessed with a mild, cozy weather. November and December rarely experience temperatures below freezing point. If you enjoy the rains, that’s one more reason to visit Rome in winter. While January is the coldest month (3–11 degrees), February is fairly warmer, almost like springtime.
5 Reasons To Visit Rome In Winter
1. Off season perks!
One of the best reasons and seasons to visit Rome! Transportation and accommodation will definitely NOT burn a hole in your pocket due to the lull in general tourist interest.
2. Nada Crowds
Not a big fan of having to rub shoulders with tourist hordes? Winter is the answer. Experience the city in peace without having to forgive someone for dropping slushie on you.
3. Nada Queues too!
Locals don't shut shop in Rome during winter, like most other European cities. Business is on and the best part being, no queues! Waltz in any time of the day and you'll have most places to yourselves.
Christmas in Rome
Who would ever contest the idea of spending Christmas in Rome? Roam the Christmas markets in the day and get dazzled by the magical Christmas lights donning the city at night.
Coffee and Rain
If sipping hot coffee on a rainy day at an Italian cafe is a recurrent daydream, you need to take this trip and visit Antico Caffè Greco, a local's favourite in Rome.
15 Things To Do In Rome During The Winter
Go ice skating in Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo or the Mausoleum of Hadrian is a museum is located on the right bank of the Tiber river, a short distance from Vatican City. A magical way to spend your winter evening in Rome is to go ice skating at Castel Sant’Angelo, one of the most visited public ice rinks.KNOW MORE
Run the Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna. It’s about 250-miles long with a depth varying between 7 and 20 feet. Although swimming is banned, you can go out for a short run along the Tiber, as that’s not an option during the summer months.KNOW MORE
Explore the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill without crowds
Inaugurated in 80 AD, the popularity of Rome’s 50,000-seat Colosseum hasn’t faded since. After touring this gladiatorial arena, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, you can visit the Roman Forum, a site home to many of the city’s ancient monuments and temples. The Palatine Hill, the lesser-known neighbor of the Colosseum is a green, peaceful sanctuary that provides the best panoramic view of Rome.KNOW MORE ABOUT COLOSSEUM
Visit the Indoor Market in Testaccio
This popular food market is situated near the Mattatoio cultural venue, one of the oldest markets in Rome. Originally an open-air market in Piazza Testaccio, it was covered, redesigned and made an indoor market in 2012. Most stalls here have been run by the same family for generations - years of quality produce, from vegetables and fruit to cheese, bread, meat, and even fish. The best time to visit the Testaccio market is around 12:00 PM before the lunch crowd trickles in.KNOW MORE ABOUT THE MARKET
Walk the streets of Trastevere with the locals
Formerly a working-class district, Trastevere is a postcard-perfect neighborhood with cobblestoned alleys, faded, old buildings, their walls adorned with greenery and clothes strung up to dry between them. The church Basilica di Santa Maria is a major attraction in this neighborhood. You can reach Trastevere by crossing the Tiber River via the stone footbridge, Ponte Sisto.KNOW MORE ABOUT TRASTEVERE
Picnic at the Villa Borghese
This lush green garden will enrich you with a luxurious experience, attributing to its bust-lined paths, fountains, statues, temples, a carousel for the kiddos, and even an artificial lake where you can enjoy a quiet boat ride. You can also tour the museums there, including the famous Museo e Galleria Borghese, situated in the eponymous Villa Borghese.KNOW MORE ABOUT VISITING VILLA BORGHESE
Attend the Christmas mass at St. Peter’s Basilica
Celebrate your Christmas by attending the Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Square, which is located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the Pope delivers the most-watched mass in the world. The mass happens on December 24, 9:15pm. Although tickets are free, there is a massive demand. Try to book yours as soon as they become available in November.KNOW MORE ABOUT ST. PETER'S BASILICA
Revel in the Holiday Magic
Before heading to the mass at St. Peter’s, you can check out the huge nativity scene or presepe, the highlight of Christmas decorations, that is unveiled there on Christmas eve. Other elaborate presepi are found in Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Euclide, Santa Maria in Trastevere, and Santa Maria d'Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill.
Gorge on artichokes
This seasonal food is available from winter through early spring. The Roman style artichokes (Artichokes Alla Romana) — sautéed in olive oil with fresh mint, garlic and oregano — is a traditional side dish served with different kinds of meat, especially lamb. Another famous artichoke recipe is Carciofi alla romana.
Go wild with the winter sales
Rome is one of the fashion capitals of the world and the winter sale is when you seize the opportunity to buy that made-in-Italy coat you have always wanted. You can either opt for the winter sale that starts in the first week of January or the one that starts in late January, the latter offering new spring looks.
Cozy up with a Roman spa
If you are tired from all the sightseeing, pamper yourself with a Roman spa. At the Hotel de Russie, you can indulge yourself in the hot indoor pool, accompanied by a steamy Turkish bath and cedar sauna. You can also access the jacuzzi and steam bath facilities at Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria.KNOW MORE
Walk the streets of Central Rome, barring the human flood
The Historic Center or the Centro Storico is the central area of Rome where most of the Eternal City’s attractions are located. The double advantage of a winter trip is not only can you cover them on foot but also avoid any kind of rush.KNOW MORE
Catch a show at Teatro dell’Opera
Whether you are a theater enthusiast or not, the Teatro dell’Opera will impress you with its myriad shows ranging from operas and ballet to concerts and musicals. Originally known as the Teatro Costanzi after Domenico Constanzi, who built it, this opera house can seat 1600 people.KNOW MORE
Experience the Pantheon on a Snowy Day
Marble columns, thick walls and a 43-meter high dome with a hole in the top called the oculus, the Pantheon is a monument of marvel and beauty. Formerly a Roman temple dedicated to all gods, it’s now a church. The Pantheon remains closed on December 25 and January 1, so plan your visit accordingly.KNOW MORE
Celebrate Hanukkah at Piazza Barberini
If you are planning to celebrate Hanukkah, head to Piazza Barberini. A 20-feet-tall menorah is lit every night which attracts huge crowds. The ceremony takes place at 6 pm each night or 4 pm on the Sabbath. At the end of Hanukkah, people celebrate with food, wine, and dancing.KNOW MORE
Popular Winter Events In Rome
Christmas Markets in Rome
If you are planning to dive into a full-fledged shopping spree, which includes gastronomic delights and multiple holiday rides, the options are countless. You can choose from the Christmas fairs and markets at Piazza Mazzini and Piazza Navona to the one at Rome Cavalieri.
Attend one of the many Concerts
Get into the festive mood by attending a Christmas Concert (they occur several times throughout the season) at the Methodist Church on Piazza di Ponte Sant’Angelo. This 75-minute show offers a collection of beloved Christmas carols, famous opera numbers, and more.
Cheer through a football game
SS Lazio and AS Roma, Italy’s best football teams, not only have their roots in the Eternal City but also share the Stadio Olimpico. So if you are up for a challenge, learn the Italian national anthem and sing it alongside the fans alike.
Attend the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
On this national holiday (December 8), Pope Francis pays homage to the Virgin Mary by making a pilgrimage to Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps at 4pm. As this day marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, most shops remain open.
See Harry Potter in Concert
If you are a Harry Potter enthusiast, you are in luck. Between December 29 and 30, 2019, you can catch the three Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban concerts scheduled by the Parco della Musica auditorium.
Christmas In Rome
Never ending bokeh of Christmas lights, the Christmas tree on the Spanish steps or the nativity scene at the Vatican square, and the festive smell that engulfs you - Christmas in Rome is going to be a memorable chapter in your life. Be it food, monuments, or just happy faces, there will always be enough options and never enough time.
Here are a few recommendations to help you navigate your Roman holiday: Head to the Piazza Navona and Piazza Mazzini to shop till you drop. Or take a break and treat yourself to a hearty lunch at the Michelin-star restaurant Moma or the equally wonderful Marzapane. Indulge yourself in some art and culture at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (exhibitions) or the Auditorium Parco della Musica (concerts). Nights are longer in winter, so take advantage and walk into one of the bars in Campo de ‘Fiori and Piazza Navona.
Getting Around Rome In Winter
While most of Rome’s key attractions are reachable on foot, the city has an extensive public transport system. Once you land at the Fiumicino International Airport, you can either catch a train or a bus. The former can take you to one of the two main railway stations, Roma Termini (in the historic center) and Roma Tiburtina (just outside the walls).
In case of the latter, the biggest bus depots are located at Piazza Venezia, which is in front of the Termini station. In fact, this station is the main hub of Metro, as lines A (orange) and B (blue) intersect there. You will also find commuter trains as long as you are traveling within city limits or, if are interested in old-school, vintage travel, hop onto a tram.
Always remember to book the ticket first, regardless of the transport. The other transit options include scooters, bikes, and cars on rent. Don’t forget the helmet or the polizia will catch you.
You can also avail taxis through the MyTaxi app or from a designated stand. Hailing a cab is not an option. Taxi fares are generally high on Sundays or public holidays, so try to avoid catching a cab during the festive season. UberX and UberPool are also available but they will cost you significantly more.
Read our detailed blog on Public Transportation in Rome and travel like a local!
What To Pack While Visiting Rome In Winter
A raincoat and a jacket
Although winters in Rome are not excessively cold, it does rain frequently and sometimes it can get quite windy.
Hat, gloves, scarf, and waterproof shoes
In order to stay cozy and comfortable and not make an enemy of the rains, pack these essentials.
Instead of depending on availability, pack the medicines you need and carry some extra vitamin C and Zinc in case you catch a cold.
A good camera
We cannot stress this enough! Breathtaking sunsets and the twinkly Christmas decorations deserve to be shared with friends and family back home.
The Christmas markets can certainly turn you into a shopaholic, so make sure your bags have enough space to fit in everything you buy.
Seasonal Delicacies in Rome
This popular Roman-Jewish delicacy is deep fried in olive oil such that it’s crispy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside. We'd suggest heading to Piccolo Arancio near the Trevi Fountain.
A Tuscan soup made with cannellini beans, vegetables and leftover bread, this appetizer is a winter favorite. Visit Il Chianti Vineria for a hearty meal.
This dried salted cod fish is a favorite Christmas Eve meal among the Italians. Grab a plate at Il Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara .
The Italian equivalent of a Christmas cake, this bread-like dessert is available in many restaurants, such as the Fratelli Marcucci and Volpetti.
If you are looking for comfort food, head to L’Arcangelo and order gnocchi - warm marbles of potatoes covered in a classic Tuscan meat sauce with just a pinch of Parmesan cheese on top.
Insider Tips For Spending Winter In Rome
- If you are an ardent follower of street art, there are some great ones in the lesser-known neighborhoods such as Ostiense, Garbatella, and Quadraro.
- Museums and galleries such as Chiostro del Bramante, MACRO, and Palazzo delle Esposizioni host a number of exhibitions during winter.
- If horror excites you, then don’t miss the Roman Catacombs. Together with the crisp winter air, they will give you the chills and you get to fully experience that because no crowds!
- Wine connoisseur or not, treat your taste buds to the world-famous Italian wines with a cozy indoor wine tasting.
- On New Year’s Eve, you can attend the free concert at the Circus Maximus. The party, which includes smaller concerts, theater plays, and live dance shows, continues in the streets and along the Tiber river.
- A tip to enjoy the Pantheon in a new way - look at the winter night sky through the oculus and enjoy the twinkly lights in the Piazza outside, when looking out from the inside.
- If you are in the mood to stay cozy and warm, winter is the perfect time to attend a Roman cooking class. Learn the tricks and techniques behind serving a delicious home-cooked meal.
- For all feline lovers - Romeow cat bistro is the only cat cafe in Rome and it’s vegan! You will find it in the trendy Ostiense neighborhood close to the old Gasometer.
A Month-By-Month Guide To Visiting Rome
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