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Rome is a magical city, probably one of my favourite city break destinations. But I’ve only ever visited in the Summer months. But actually visiting Rome in winter allows for a completely different experience – a more peaceful one without battling with huge hoards of tourists.

Visiting Rome in Winter and see the colloseum at sunrise

Sometimes the winter months are the best for visiting these popular cities. There are shorter queues, fewer crowds, you’re more likely to be able to get a table at the best restaurants and the cooler temperatures mean you can stay out longer without burning to a crisp or drowning in a puddle of perspiration!

So today we’ll be talking about what winter in Rome is like. Where you can visit if it’s raining, the best winter festivals in Rome, which restaurants you should visit to warm up and how to get the most from visiting Rome at Christmas time.

Visiting trevi fountain with fewer crowds during winter in rome

I’m a big fan of getting tips from locals when I travel so I’m happy to hand you over to our guest writer Angela to tell you all about visiting Rome in Winter from a local’s perspective…

** Pssst, this article may contain affiliate links. If you have no idea what this means, click here and everything will be explained!**

Visiting Rome In Winter – An Interview With A Local

Why should we visit Rome? 

Because Rome is the eternal city par excellence. Because you can find delicious food. And because there is literally something for everyone.

Do you want to experience the ancient imperial times? Get to the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Caracalla Baths, Domitian Stadium.

Are you into religious tourism? In Rome, there is the Vatican City, with all its attractions you can visit, but that’s not all. There are thousands of churches scattered around the city, some very interesting and with some important relics pilgrims won’t want to miss.

Also food-wise, Rome is very exciting. Whatever your diet, you will find what you are looking for. Vegan, traditional Roman, fish and seafood, pizza, Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian and all types of foreign, fusion and contemporary cuisine. It’s not difficult to find delicious food in Rome.

Is there any part of Rome where you recommend basing yourself?

If you are spending just 3 or 4 days in Rome, I would suggest central neighbourhoods such as Trastevere, Campo de’ Fiori or around the Vatican.

If you want to stay a bit longer, you might prefer quieter areas, and some of my favourites are Prati/Trionfale, which is well-served by public transport and attractions such as the city centre and the Vatican are within a pleasant stroll reach.

Also, Monti, not far from Termini station but a lovely neighbourhood, or even Testaccio and Ostiense, working-class districts that are very trendy with many things to see and do, great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.

What do you love most about winter in Rome?

Rome is a great destination any season, and whilst tourism peaks in Summer, I prefer the city in winter or more quiet periods.

It depends on people’s preferences, but summer in Rome can be really hot and the streets are not so pleasant to walk around. Plus, it’s packed with tourists so also the attractions are less enjoyable.

Winter in Rome is cold but totally bearable. Also, if you happen to travel to Rome in December, you can enjoy a lovely festive atmosphere with Christmas markets, lights, decorations and trees all over the city.

The Roman Forum on a sunny winters day

What is the weather like in winter in Rome? Do we need our thermals?!

Winter in Rome is cold but it barely goes below zero, so depending on where you are coming from you might find it even mild.

We do have sunny days, and sometimes they are the coldest.

It also rains quite a bit so I definitely suggest warm clothes and carrying an umbrella always in your purse/backpack.

Also, some days Rome can get very windy, so I suggest wearing your hat and scarf as well as a warm wind jacket.

Can you suggest some things to do in Rome in winter?

Winter is the perfect season to curl up in some cosy coffee shops and enjoy a warm cup of tea, coffee and cake.

Temperatures are not too extreme, so you can enjoy a nice walk in one of Rome’s parks or walk around some of its neighbourhoods such as Trastevere, the street art of Ostiense, or the quirky Quartiere Coppedè.

Winter is also a great season for temporary exhibitions, so keep an eye on museums and galleries such as Chiostro del Bramante, MACRO and Palazzo delle Esposizioni. 

If you are in Rome for Christmas, you can enjoy the many events the city organises.

Any suggestions for things to do in Rome in the rain?

There are many things to do in Rome when it rains. For example, it’s the perfect occasion to visit the museums that often get neglected.

The archaeological sites of ancient Rome make for a huge open-air museum, but there are many fantastic galleries worth a visit, such as Galleria Borghese, Centrale Montemartini, and obviously the fantastic Vatican Museums, where you can easily spend half a day.

Some other things to do in Rome when it rains are shopping, both in stores and local markets, which are all covered, and enjoy some spa treatments.

There are some built near the excavations of ancient Roman ruins, so you can combine some leisure time and historical sightseeing.

 colloseum on a sunny day in winter

Any cosy cafes or restaurants where you recommend getting warm in Rome in winter? Anything you recommend on the menu? 

There are so many cafes in Rome where you can spend a cold afternoon and still appreciate the local lifestyle. One where I like to enjoy both an afternoon tea as well as a full meal is Romeow cat bistro. The only cat cafe in Rome, it’s vegan and absolutely delicious. It’s located in the trendy Ostiense neighbourhood close to the old Gasometer.

Another nice coffee shop is Giada Food Lab & Drinks in Trieste neighbourhood. It’s a Bistro and cocktail bar, and here you can have lunch, dinner or afternoon tea/coffee. You will find a huge selection of smoothies, milkshakes, fresh juices, coffees, teas, herbal teas, warm chocolate as well as soft drinks. The pastries department won’t disappoint either and will make everyone happy, vegans included.

Dish of pasta - eating italian style is one of the great ways to spend a rainy day in rome

Can you recommend things to do in Rome at Christmas Time?

There are many things you can do for Christmas in Rome. If you are a fan of local markets, you will love perusing the stalls you will find in many squares around the city, especially Piazza Risorgimento near the Vatican, Piazza Navona and Piazza Mazzini. 

Also around Christmas, you can do some ice skating. While some ice-skating rinks open only around this time of the year, others stay open until February.

Your best bet is to look out for the timetables or ask your hotel reception. Some of the easiest to reach are the one at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, and the rink at Euroma2 shopping centre.

Is there anywhere you recommend spending New Year’s Eve in Rome?

Every year for New Year’s Eve the Council organises street parties, exhibitions and shows.

There is always a big free concert at the Circus Maximus and then the party continues in the streets and along the Tiber river with smaller concerts, theatre plays and live dance shows.

Every year is different but the fun is always guaranteed.

Any other Exciting events or festivals in Rome in the winter?

In February, you can enjoy the Carnival. From Fat Thursday to the following Mardi Gras, Rome city centre is the place for masquerades, games for kids, live shows and exhibitions as well as parades in traditional costumes.

There are almost a week of shows and parties before the beginning of Lent. The best places to enjoy the festivities are Piazza Navona, Via del Corso, Piazza del Popolo and along Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Any Interesting Facts about Rome you can share with us? Anything else we should know?

In Rome, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Explore lesser-known neighbourhoods such as Ostiense, Garbatella, Quadraro for its great street art. Also, some pretty great things to do in your Roman holiday is a day trip to one of the many beautiful places nearby like Viterbo, Bracciano and Tivoli.


Thanks to our guest author: Angela Corrias

www.RomeActually.com

Angela writes a blog entirely focussed on Rome (written in English) so it’s a brilliant source to help you plan your ideal Rome city break. She runs this website alongside her other blog ‘Chasing The Unexpected’ about international travel covering destinations like Iran, Afghanistan, China, India and Italy.


With thanks to Angela for writing this fabulous guest post about visiting Rome in colder weather. I’ve certainly learnt lots about visiting Rome in winter – I’d love to visit in February for the carnival – that sounds so much fun!

vatican city on a bleak winters day

If you want to learn more about city breaks from the locals who live there, make sure you check out my other ‘Interviews with Locals

Or read these next;

Would you visit Rome in winter? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Or perhaps you have experienced winter in Rome for yourself?

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