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Rome in Winter: Weather, Best Things To Do, Top Tips & More! (From a Local!)

Are you planning a winter trip to Rome, but aren’t sure what to expect? You’ve come to the right place! In this article I outline everything you need to know about visiting Rome in winter.

Including the average weather you can expect to find throughout the winter, what to pack for winter in Rome, how to get around, winter holidays to plan for and of course, the best things to do in the Eternal City in winter.

While visiting Rome in winter might not be the idyllic Italian summer dream you imagine, winter in Rome is much more clement than other European cities.

You are most likely guaranteed an amazing experience, without the huge summer crowds and for a cheaper price tag.

So without further ado, let’s read on and start planning your perfect winter trip to Rome!

The beautiful facade of the Trevi fountain in Rome

The beautiful facade of the Trevi fountain in Rome

Weather in Rome in winter

The weather in winter in Rome isn’t as bad as you’d expect. On the whole, it can be fairly pleasant and – compared with the north of Italy in winter (Milan, for example) – it is warmer and sunnier. 

It’s obviously not like visiting Rome in summer or spring, but you have a reason to be hopeful for a relatively mild day, especially towards the start of November or end of February.

November weather in Rome

November sees the transition from chilly autumnal temperatures to the colder winter in Rome. The first half of the month is relatively mild, with temperatures averaging out at 15°C (59°F). 

However, things start to change as the month wears on, dropping to an average of 10°C (50°F). 

Around 15 days of the month on average experience rainfall, but there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy exploring the city and its many, many sights.

When I lived in Rome I spent a whole November having lunch outside in a t-shirt and light sweater, basking in the sun on our balcony.

That’s obviously not to say it’s always like that, but the start of winter in Rome is definitely more chill than other parts of Italy!

Enjoying the beauty of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Enjoying the beauty of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Rome December weather

December is a cold month in Rome. Gone are the mild temperatures of November, as the average temperature drops to 7°C (44.6°F). 

There’s also a high chance of rainfall across the month, so it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella and raincoat. Nights also tend to be very chilly, so make sure to bring plenty of layers and cosy pyjamas.

That said, you’ll still find that Rome by night tours are still very popular also in winter. Just bundle up, and get ready to explore the Eternal City after dark!

Weather in Rome in January

The first month of the year is also one of the coldest in Rome. The average temperature is around 7°C (44.6°F), dropping to a very chilly 3°C (37.4°F) at night.

Visiting at this time of year also means rain: around half the month, on average, sees rainfall. 

There’s also only around six hours of sunlight each day, with a lot of cloud cover to contend with – not the best weather for photos! (And Rome is full of amazing Instagram-worthy photo spots!)

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Castel Sant’Angelo & Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome, Italy

Rome February weather

February is a time of change for Rome’s weather, but still temperatures are very low. The average temperature starts to climb to around 9°C (48.2°F); some days even see highs of 14°C (57.2°F)! 

There can be some cold winds at this time of year, and still quite a lot of rain – 13 days on average throughout the month.

Sunset over the rooftops of Rome

Sunset over the rooftops of Rome

How to get around Rome in winter 

Getting around Rome is like getting around in Rome in summer, except in reverse. Because it’s not as hot, walking is definitely more of an option.

You won’t overheat, but just make sure you wrap up warm (and bring an umbrella along with you, just to be sure). 

The metro and buses are convenient and inexpensive ways to get around, especially when it’s raining. And it won’t be horribly sweaty like these modes of transport are in summer. 

One thing you might not want to do in terms of getting around in winter is an e-scooter. Rainfall and slippery cobbles make it a less enjoyable experience than in summer. 

However, on dry days, these are definitely an option – just make sure to wrap up warm! And bring gloves, as they tend to get semi-frozen holding on to the e-scooter handle.

On the other hand, one great way to get around is grabbing an Uber or taxi. It’s convenient, it’s relatively cheap, and you can get from A to B without getting rained on a single drop!

If you’re on a shoestring budget, however, then perhaps you might not want to spend all your money on taxis to get around; it might be a better idea to stick to public transport.

Watching the sunset over the Vatican and Ponte Sant'Angelo from Ponte Umberto in Rome

Watching the sunset over the Vatican and Ponte Sant’Angelo from Ponte Umberto in Rome

What to pack for winter in Rome

While winter in Rome isn’t as drastic as other places in Europe, packing all the travel essentials on your Italy packing list is crucial to having a good time. Bringing along the wrong wardrobe will just not cut it!

It’s a good idea to bring plenty of layers. That way you can stay warm when you’re outside, but strip off a layer or two when you head indoors where there’s heating.

And with rainy weather expected in Rome, bringing along a raincoat and an umbrella is always a good idea.

A good pair of shoes, ideally with some level of waterproofing, will help for when you’re strolling around sightseeing or shopping. 

Besides clothing, some useful accessories you can pack are a refillable water bottle to refill at places like the nasoni (public drinking fountains) in Rome. Not only does this save money, but it saves on plastic too.

I always suggest also bringing a power bank, so that you can ensure your phone is always charged and ready to go, both to map your way around the city and snap gorgeous photos of it!

View over Rome and the Altar of the Fatherland from the rooftop bar of Hotel Minerva

View over Rome and the Altar of the Fatherland from the rooftop bar of Hotel Minerva

Rome winter holidays to plan for

Christmas is the obvious holiday that you might want to plan for on your Rome trip.

This time of year in the city is full of festive fun, with Christmas trees and beautiful lights dotted all over the city. If you want to visit this time of year, make sure to book in advance as it can get busy. 

Another festivity to take into account is the Immacolata Concezione, another religious holiday, which falls on the 8th of December.

Depending on what day that is, some people might take a long weekend break and shops or restaurants can be closed.

The famous Altare della Patria in Rome

The famous Altare della Patria in Rome

Best things to do in Rome in winter

Visit the Vatican & Sistine Chapel

Of course, you can visit the iconic Vatican City any time of year, but during winter it takes on a different atmosphere.

For one thing, it’s way less crowded than in high season (i.e. summer), meaning you can concentrate on the amazing beauty of its interiors.

And another thing, is the bonus of spending basically a whole day inside, keeping warm and maybe even sheltering from the rain – all while experiencing Baroque artwork and the Sistine Chapel in relative peace.

Visiting the Vatican and Sistine Chapel isn’t only a must on a Rome winter trip, it should feature on every Italy itinerary and Italy bucket list!

Make sure to book your Vatican & Sistine Chapel ticket online beforehand, as the queue can be huge! Especially if you’re visiting in winter, you don’t want to wait outside in the cold to get in!

Click here to book your Vatican & Sistine Chapel skip-the-line entrance!

The Basilica di San Pietro and main square of the Vatican in Rome - a must on any Rome in winter trip

The Basilica di San Pietro and main square of the Vatican in Rome

Do a cooking class

Cold weather probably means you won’t be spending time sitting in sun-drenched piazzas.

But what it does mean is spending more time indoors, and what better way to spend your time than learning some new skills? Namely, how to whip a Roman banquet for yourself.

There are a whole list of places where you can learn all about Roman cuisine, from laid-back one-to-one cooking lessons all the way to fully fledged, multi-day cooking courses for the serious chef.

You’ll arrive back home not just with memories and souvenirs, but a new skill, too!

Click here to book your cooking class in Rome!

Eating spaghetti carbonara in Rome

Eating spaghetti carbonara in Rome

See the sights without crowds!

Probably one of the the best advantages of visiting Rome in the low winter season is experiencing the Eternal City without thousands upon thousands of other visitors to share it with.

You’ll be able to hit up some of the city’s most famous landmarks without even having to queue (a lot of the time, anyway).

There’s the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Trajan’s Market, Capitoline Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, the Pantheon… the list goes on. 

There are countless historic treasures to see in Rome, and visiting in winter means you’ll actually have time and space to really take it all in, without having to rush your Rome itinerary.

Even if there are less tourists in Rome during winter, it’s still a good idea to book entrance to attractions online beforehand. Even if the queues are shorter, you don’t want to waste time outside in the cold.

Click here to book your Colosseum & Roman Forum skip-the-queue entrance!

View over the Roman Forum and the Colosseum from the Campidoglio

View over the Roman Forum and the Colosseum from the Campidoglio

The Colosseum in Rome at sunset

See the Christmas lights & markets

Visiting Rome over the holiday season? Then you’re in luck. Christmas in Rome is an exciting time of year to visit.

The Italian capital is decked out in an array of incredible decorations and illuminations that make it a special place to be.

It’s not just about the decorations. Those in the city on Christmas Day itself can pay a visit to the Vatican City and receive a blessing from the Pope, as well as listen to his Christmas message.

Elsewhere, Christmas markets provide the ideal opportunity for shopping (and sampling a few seasonal snacks, of course). More than likely you’ll find some unique souvenirs to take back with you at these markets.

One of the most famous is the Christmas market at Piazza Navona: think toy sellers, street musicians, and a whole lot of other stalls. Prepare yourself for a magical atmosphere.

Lost somewhere in the wobbly side streets of Rome

Lost somewhere in the side streets of Rome

Go for an evening out in Trastevere

Trastevere is a hip spot to seek out aperitivo spots and cool eateries, and naturally hustles and bustles with life in the summer months.

Even though it’ll be less busy than in Rome’s hot summer, visiting in winter you’ll still get to experience this famously lively side to local Roman life.

Visiting Rome without at least exploring this district any time of year would be a shame. It’s a beautiful part of the city, and a must-see during your adventures in Rome at night.

Make sure you don’t miss out! To give a little inspiration to your aperitivo adventures, start with the trendy Freni e Frizoni, near Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.

The beautiful Trevi fountain in Rome - you have to see it if you visit Rome in winter!

The beautiful Trevi fountain in Rome

Wander around the cute cobbled streets of Rome

With fewer tourists to contend with, the historic streets of Rome become less crowded and more peaceful, filled with locals who know where they’re going and not visitors who are looking for something cute to put on Instagram.

You can punctuate your wanderings by sipping coffee in a cafe and watching the world go by, and then head out again to discover some more interesting areas of the city.

One particularly lovely part of the city to wander is the Aventine Hill. Though its famous Rose Garden won’t be open, and the Orange Garden won’t be looking its best, this leafy district is still worth a stroll in winter. 

Regardless of the season, from the Orange Garden you always get one of the most incredible views over Rome.

Elsewhere, the Quartiere Coppedè is a strange but exciting district, a creation of the early 20th century that is a must for architecture-lovers.

The Jewish Ghetto will also be less busy and features a handful of amazing Romano-Jewish eateries.

Wandering along the cute cobbled streets of Rome, Italy

Go for a wine & food tasting tour!

On a cold, rainy day in Rome, why not while away some hours sampling some of the country’s best wine? The place to head for this is an enoteca.

These wine bars are packed with a wide selection of regional wines, almost always atmospheric and sometimes with live music thrown in. 

For those looking for a more educational, in-depth experience, then you could always opt for a wine-tasting tour – complete with a knowledgeable guide and professionals who know all about the wine world. 

Click here to book your Rome traditional food & wine tasting!

View over Rome from AcquaRoof Terrazza Molinari

View over Rome from AcquaRoof Terrazza Molinari

Should you visit Rome in winter?

Definitely! For one thing, those who dislike busy tourist crowds will absolutely love visiting Rome in the winter months.

There are way fewer tourists at this time of year, which also means less time spent waiting in line at the city’s famous attractions. 

For those who don’t mind crowds and like things with a bit of buzz, then visiting around Christmas will offer up a hefty serving of seasonal atmosphere with markets and decorations.

The fact that it’s low season for tourism also means that accommodation, transportation and flights to Rome will be cheaper, too.

Yes, it may be a little chilly, and the days may be shorter, but it’s warmer than the north of Italy and, as long as you wrap up warm, you’ll be in for an amazing time exploring this iconic city. 

View over Piazza del Popolo and Rome from Terrazza del Pincio - one of the best Rome winter viewpoints

View over Piazza del Popolo and Rome from Terrazza del Pincio

Where to stay in Rome in winter

There are lots of amazing places to stay in Rome. There are some cute hotels near the Colosseum, or the Pantheon,  as well as many cute Rome AirBnbs. However if you’re visiting in winter, here are my top picks for every budget.

Budget: Palladini HostelThis hostel is super central, close to the train station and all the action of Rome, with spacious dorms and a lively atmosphere.

Click here to book your stay at Palladini Hostel!

Mid-range: Tridente Rooms – The rooms of this bnb are simple but spacious, and it’s right next to Villa Borghese, my favourite park in Rome.

Check out prices and availability at Tridente Rooms here!

Luxury: Hotel Eden – Dorchester Collection – Perfect if you want to treat yourself, this hotel is beautifully decorated and very conveniently located in the centre of Rome.

Don’t miss out, book your stay at Hotel Eden here!

The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Final thoughts on visiting Rome during winter

There you have it, the ultimate guide to visiting Rome in winter! Have you visited Rome before, how did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!

While it’s not exactly a winter sun destination, the weather in Rome in winter is much more clement than most other cities, not only in Italy, but across all of Europe in winter. 

It makes it a great place to visit for those who want to see all the iconic attractions, without the huge tourist crowds, and for a cheaper price tag.

You can make the most of it by then heading to Matera, or skiing in the Alps, or visiting the best of Tuscany.

I hope you find my guide useful in planning your winter trip to Rome! If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!

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Photo collage of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain with text overlay saying "Rome in winter: Ultimate guide!"