Are you planning a winter city break in Rome and looking for the best things to do and see? You have come to the right place! This guide will show you how to spend a memorable vacation in the Eternal City during the winter and Christmas seasons.
From thrilling ice rinks to bustling Christmas markets and an unforgettable cooking class, there is plenty to discover in Rome in winter, whether you are organising a weekend getaway as a couple or a week-long trip with friends.
Of course, Rome is also the perfect destination if you are a solo traveller or exploring with children. It provides plenty of attractions and activities for all – which is what I love the most about the city!
I visited Rome in December with my partner Matt, and we had an incredible time. I loved the festive atmosphere of the capital, and the weather was not too cold, which was perfect for exploring. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Trastevere, the ideal base for sightseeing, close to everything on foot.
So, are you excited? Keep on reading to find out 10 magical things to do in Rome in winter, what to see, where to stay, how to get around and practical eco-friendly tips for responsible travel at the end. Enjoy!
My Rome experience:
Duration 5 Days
Dates visited Dec 29 - Jan 4
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- Overview: top things to do in Rome in winter
- What to do in Rome in winter – Map
- Fun & unique things to do in Rome in winter
- How cold is Rome in winter
- How to get to Rome in winter
- How to get around Rome in winter
- Where to stay in Rome in winter
- What to pack & wear in Rome in winter
- Tips for reducing your eco-impact in Rome
- Rome travel planning guide
- Rome in winter – FAQ
Overview: top things to do in Rome in winter
- Go ice skating
- Explore the Christmas markets
- Visit the Vatican City
- Get mesmerised by the Trevi Fountain
- Admire the Colosseum
- Join a cooking class
- Watch an Opera performance
- Stop by one of its museums
- Warm up with a cup of coffee
- Enjoy a shopping spree
Looking for the perfect Rome itinerary? Check out this article:
5 Perfect Days in Rome, Italy: Complete Itinerary
What to do in Rome in winter – Map
Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.
Fun & unique things to do in Rome in winter
From buzzing Christmas markets to fun ice rinks and magical Opera performances, Rome in winter has something for every traveller.
Here are our 10 favourite activities and experiences to fully discover the Italian capital during the winter season:
1- Go ice skating
Nothing more special than ice skating on a cold winter night with hot chocolate under the Christmas lights.
Even though you will not find much snow in the winter in Rome, you will still find many ice skating rinks throughout the city open during the Christmas period.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a professional dancer, ice skating is always a fun activity for all ages and a perfect way to take full advantage of the holiday season and get into the Christmas spirit.
Here are a few ice rinks you should check out:
Ice Park Auditorium: Auditorium Parco della Musica
It is the best place to go ice skating in Rome in winter. This ice park is a thrilling rink but also a full complex where you will find live music, exhibitions and food stalls right in the city centre.
📍 Via Pietro de Coubertin
Castel Sant’ Angelo Ice Rink: Grinzing Village
You will find this ice park just next to Castel Sant Angelo in Piazza Adriana, making it one of the most spectacular rinks in the city. Enjoy a pleasant evening with a breathtaking view of this architectural gem.
📍 Lungotevere Castello
Ice Park Village: Euroma2 shopping centre
It is the best ice rink to visit for families with children. Located inside the Euroma2 shopping centre, children of all ages can enjoy specific programs with fun games, theme parties and hot drinks.
📍 Viale dell’Oceano Pacifico
2- Explore the Christmas markets
It is impossible not to mention the Christmas markets when visiting Rome in winter. You will find many buzzing markets scattered throughout the city, each offering something different whether you are looking for local food, handmade souvenirs or new clothes to add to your wardrobe.
And even if you are not in a buying mood, it is still a good idea to add these markets to your bucket list for their fantastic Christmas atmosphere. Stroll around, enjoy the beautiful lights and songs and taste culinary specialities.
Here are some markets you should stop by on your wander:
You will find the most popular Christmas market in Piazza Navona, located in the heart of Rome. Set around the beautiful 17th-century fountain, enjoy the many stalls offering food, decorations and handicrafts.
Another market to visit in Rome is in Piazza Mazzini. Open year-round, the square transforms itself during the Christmas season to offer a variety of products and souvenirs, including decorations and handmade gift ideas.
Mercato Monti is another lovely market open all year round but doubles its stalls in winter. It is a popular place to visit during the Christmas period for its traditional gifts and handmade souvenirs.
3- Visit the Vatican City
Vatican City, home to the Pope and a treasure trove of iconic art and architecture, is a must-see attraction at any time of year. It is something to do particularly special in winter for its Christmas atmosphere – but be ready for the crowds!
I could not believe my eyes when I saw the queue (I visited Rome in December), so I recommend booking your tickets online to skip the line.
Inside Vatican City, you will find multiple emblematic landmarks such as Vatican Museums housing ancient Roman sculptures, the Sistine Chapel, famous for its Michelangelo ceiling, and the St Peter’s Basilica with its magnificent Dome offering panoramic views of the capital.
I suggest spending a day visiting them all, as they are all worth the visit. I also recommend booking a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, which is quite vast and complex. If you do not like guided tours, opt for an audio tour, which is what we did to save time.
Bonus tips: when you are inside the Sistine Chapel, instead of turning left at the end, turn right and continue to the Basilica (for free).
UNFORGETTABLE TOURS I RECOMMEND
4- Get mesmerised by the Trevi Fountain
Nestled in the narrow cobbled streets in the heart of Rome, you will find the Trevi Fountain, a hidden gem worth the stop and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
This 18th-century landmark will leave you speechless as you admire its intricate design by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.
Also, note that it can get quite crowded at any time of the day (even at night), so be ready to dive in to get closer to the fountain. And, of course, do not forget your camera to capture your best memories – especially if you are gifted with some snow!
UNFORGETTABLE TOURS I RECOMMEND
5- Admire the Colosseum
It is impossible not to talk about Rome without its Colosseum, an impressive historical amphitheatre, the largest ancient ever built, still standing despite its age.
Walk around and admire this spectacular monument from the outside before joining a guided tour to uncover 2,000 years of history – something I recommend doing, especially great for history buffs! Or simply if you would like to know more about Roman history.
On your tour, you will follow in the footsteps of gladiators to learn about the past of this magnificent structure and hear about the festivals held there. I could not recommend this tour enough, as the inside of the Colosseum was just as impressive as the outside.
And since the place gets incredibly crowded, I suggest once again booking your tickets in advance and online to avoid the queues. And if you prefer to do the tour yourself, opt for audio guides.
UNFORGETTABLE TOURS I RECOMMEND
6- Join a cooking class
What could be better than cooking traditional Italian dishes whilst sipping a cocktail?
Joining a cooking class in winter in Rome is one of the best things to do with friends or as a couple on a rainy day! You will learn how to prepare some of the most famous pasta dishes and traditional Italian desserts.
Luckily, you will find plenty of workshops in the heart of Rome, so you can easily add this unique experience to your itinerary. The classes usually last 2 to 3 hours, and some also offer drinks for extra fun, such as Aperol or Limoncello Spritz.
COOKING CLASSES I RECOMMEND
7- Watch an Opera performance
Attending an opera performance in Rome is an experience like no other! Let yourself be immersed in the enchanting world of classical music through vibrant concerts and interpretations.
The Roman opera scene features many works by renowned composers such as Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Rossini. In addition, do not miss the tales and melodies of La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro and Tosca. You guessed it, opera enthusiasts and music lovers will be treated to an eclectic repertoire!
When it comes to the best place to catch a show, the most famous one is Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the main opera house in the capital. Alternatively, you can experience beautiful music and drama in historic churches, captivating theatres or intimate venues throughout the city.
Finally, check out the winter agenda to see what is on during Christmas with unique and festive shows, including advent performances.
PERFORMANCES I RECOMMEND
8- Stop by one of its museums
It is hard to select the best museums to visit in Rome when the city is home to some of the most captivating and renowned art galleries in the world.
Whether you are a history buff or not, I recommend spending time in one of its many museums to learn more about the fascinating artistic past and rich history of the country.
Plus, it is a great thing to do on a cold and rainy day and is accessible to children through dedicated activities and exhibitions.
Besides the Vatican Museums mentioned above, here are a few museums you should add to your bucket list:
Borghese Gallery and Museum
The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery located in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. It is an elegant palace and a world-famous art museum for its outstanding paintings by renowned artists.
The National Museum of Sant’Angelo Castle
Castel Sant’Angelo is a towering fort originally commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family. The monument was later used by the popes as a fortress and is now a famous museum.
National Roman Museum
The Museo Nazionale Romano is composed of four archaeological museums, including the Palazzo Massimo, the Baths of Diocleziano, the Palazzo Altemps and the Crypta Balbi – all offering something unique.
Other museums to add to your list include The Capitoline Museum, Palazzo Barberini and MAXXI Museum.
9- Warm up with a cup of coffee
All the coffee lovers out there, you have come to the right place! Rome is the ideal place to taste a delicious cup of coffee, or as they prefer, un caffè (an espresso).
You will find many coffee shops throughout the city for a well-deserved break on your busy day of sightseeing, perfect for warming up!
And if it is possible to sit inside and get cosy, be aware that most locals drink their coffee, standing at the bar – it surprised me the first time I experienced it in Venice (I did not know what to do or where to stand), but I got used to it. Also, remember to bring cash, as not all accept cards.
Here are some iconic caffés you should visit:
Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè
Sant’ Eustachio is one of the most popular cafés in Rome, built in 1938. It is considered today one of the best places to drink an espresso, standing up at the bar or sitting in the sun on its terrace.
📍 Piazza di S. Eustachio
La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro
La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro is a historical café-bar you will find a few steps away from the Pantheon. Founded in 1946, the coffee shop roasts its own Arabica beans on-site for tasty cups of coffee.
📍 Via degli Orfani
Faro – Caffè Specialty
Faro is an independent speciality coffee bar in Rome offering artisanal coffee with sustainable origins and food (including organic and vegan) such as sandwiches, wraps and pastries.
📍 Via Piave
10- Enjoy a shopping spree
Finally, the Christmas season is an ideal time to go shopping, whether it is for yourself or a loved one. From luxury clothes in high-end boutiques to handmade crafts in markets, there is something for everyone.
But, remember to be mindful of your shopping habits to avoid waste and fast fashion. Visit vintage shops and eco-friendly boutiques, prioritise sustainable materials and local products or buy second-hand.
If you are unsure, do your research online beforehand, ask as many questions as possible and avoid anything made with animal products.
Bonus tip: the winter saldi (sales) start after Christmas in early January and end in the middle of February.
You will find many boutiques by wandering around the city centre (Via del Governo Vecchio), Trastevere or Piazza di Spagna (Via dei Condotti). Do not hesitate to get lost in the narrow cobbled streets and venture into small independent shops – it was one of my favourite things to do!
Here are also a few sustainable boutiques:
RE(f)USE – Carmina Campus Roma
RE(f)USE is a Carmina Campus store dedicated to fashion and design made by reusing rejected materials. Each item sold in the shop is unique, so no two products are the same due to the use of recycled fabrics.
📍 Via della Fontanella di Borghese
L’Asterisco is an inspiring lifestyle boutique selling eco-conscious products such as sustainable clothing, eco-friendly accessories, household items and natural and organic cosmetics.
📍 Via Pavia
Shop the printable travel itinerary
Create your dream city break & live a unique green experience.
How cold is Rome in winter
Rome is a great destination to experience in winter as it is not too cold or wet. The weather is almost always mild and rarely cold. December to February is the coldest period, with temperatures averaging around 13 °C, but snow is uncommon.
And although the temperatures do not drop much, the weather can still be unpredictable with rainy spells. But that will not be a big problem, you just need to plan accordingly and bring the right clothes.
The other advantage of visiting Rome in winter is that you can discover the city with fewer crowds and lower prices! Yes, even though the Italian capital remains a popular destination in winter, there are not as many tourists as in summer, so you will have more space for exploration.
Looking to reduce your impact in Rome? Check out this article:
Sustainable Travel Guide to Rome, Italy
How to get to Rome in winter
The best way to get to Rome in the winter season will depend on where you come from and your budget, but there are many options to reach the Italian capital.
One of the quickest ways to get to Rome is by plane. Rome has two international airports connected to the main cities in the world. But please, try to prioritise direct flights to reduce your carbon footprint – if flying is the only option. Once at the airport, you can easily take the train, bus or taxi to reach the city centre.
One of the most eco-friendly ways to get to Rome is by train. The capital benefits from an extensive railway hub linking to the main cities in the country. The high-speed trains Frecciarossa connect Rome and Florence in 1h30 and Milan in 3h. And if you are coming from Europe, one of the best ways to reach Rome is by getting to Milan and taking the train from there.
Finally, the most affordable option to get to Rome is with the coach. It is a great way to reach the Italian capital if you are exploring Europe on a budget, but it can take longer. Check out the bus company Eurolines which operates throughout Europe.
Fancy a scenic road trip in Tuscany? Check out this article:
Tuscany Road Trip Guide: Perfect 3-Day Itinerary
How to get around Rome in winter
Once in Rome, you will find many options for getting around the capital, even in winter.
The best way (eco-friendly too) to travel around Rome is on foot. The capital is compact and easily accessible by walking around, as all the main attractions and highlights are close to each other. I mainly walked when I visited Rome in December for a few days, and it was super easy. It was also not too cold.
The second best option to get around Rome is by public transport. The Italian capital has a reliable transportation network consisting of buses, a subway and trams that can take you anywhere. It is also an eco-friendly and budget-friendly way to explore the city. And to be more efficient, use the app Moveit or TicketAppy to book your ticket on your phone.
The last and fun option is to travel around Rome by bike. It is a fantastic way to get around the capital whilst reducing your carbon footprint! However, I recommend being careful of the cars and traffic if you are exploring with children. And if you need a boost, rent an electric bike.
Planning a city break in Florence? Check out this article:
Florence Travel Guide: Epic 3-Day Itinerary
Where to stay in Rome in winter
- Centro Storico: the best area for first-time visitors
- Trastevere: the best area for couples
- Piazza di Spagna: the best area for luxury hotels
- Monti & Colosseum: the best area for history lovers
- Prati & Vatican: the best area for a quiet stay
- Esquilino & Roma Termini: the best area to stay on a budget
- Testaccio: the best area for food lovers
- San Giovanni: the best area for local vibes
Looking for more sustainable inspiration? Check out this article:
Sustainable Travel Guide to Venice, Italy
What to pack & wear in Rome in winter
Each suitcase will look different to everyone, depending on how long you are staying in the capital, but here are some essentials for a comfortable winter city break:
- Comfortable walking shoes (to keep up with your itinerary)
- Waterproof winter jacket (to dodge the rain) ⇢ check out my favourite winter coat
- Good backpack (to access your stuff anytime) ⇢ check out my favourite backpack
- Phone and tablet (to listen to music or use as GPS)
- Camera (to capture your incredible vacation)
- All chargers (indispensable) ⇢ check out these portable chargers
- Passport, driving licence, and any necessary visas
- Credit card and cash (to bring home souvenirs)
- Travel books and guides (to discover the best of the capital)
- Reusable water bottle (to stay hydrated on the go) ⇢ check out my favourite bottle
- Notebook or travel diary (to record your thoughts) ⇢ check out my favourite notebook
IMPORTANT – take care of your belongings and watch out for pickpockets, especially in busy tourist areas such as the Colosseum and the city centre around the Pantheon.
Check out this page for more inspiration on eco-friendly products & gear.
Shop the printable travel packing list
Prepare for your perfect winter city trip & stay warm and dry!
Tips for reducing your eco-impact in Rome
Sustainable travel means exploring the world whilst being aware of your surroundings and having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the places you visit.
Being a responsible traveller in Rome is possible! Here are some eco-friendly travel tips for reducing your carbon footprint whilst visiting the capital in winter:
- Use the train to reach the Italian capital. Rome is incredibly well-connected by train to the rest of the country and Europe, so prioritise travelling this way to lower your carbon impact.
- If you need to take the plane, book direct flights (which require less fuel than indirect flights) and offset your carbon footprint. But, do not use carbon offsetting as a complete solution. Combine it with other sustainable practices, like avoiding single-use plastic on the plane and mindfully packing your suitcase for your green city break.
- Select an eco-friendly accommodation. It is not always easy to determine whether a hotel has eco-conscious practices, but try to look on their website for green credentials and ask questions. You can also use Bookdifferent or Ecobnb to help you decide.
- Once there, walk or use public transport. Rome has an efficient public transport network that can take you anywhere easily and fast. Another way to get around sustainably is on foot. But if walking is too tiring, use the bike! The capital is ideal for cycling around at your own pace.
- Eat at local restaurants or markets that use produce from the area and emphasise organic and sustainability. It will contribute to the local economy and reduce your carbon footprint by supporting places where food does not come from long distances.
- Always respect the local heritage. Treat people and their surroundings with respect. Sustainable travel is not only about the environment but also about the local communities. So, always be respectful, smile and talk to the locals 🙂
More inspiration for your green vacation:
- Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
- 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
- Best Ecotourism Activities Around the World
Rome travel planning guide
Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your winter holiday in Rome stress-free with one of my favourite providers, Nomad Insurance.
Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over Rome. However, I also recommend travelling with the UltraPress Purifier Bottle, a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.
Yes, renting a car in Rome is easy and is a great way to explore the Italian countryside freely. I recommend booking yours with Rentalcars.com – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.
The best way to book your accommodation in Rome is with Booking.com – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable guesthouses to luxury hotels.
I recommend booking your plane with Skyscanner. It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.
Rome in winter – FAQ
Yes, Rome is worth visiting in winter! The city benefits from a mild climate with temperatures around 13°c, fewer crowds and lower prices. You will enjoy the capital with a Christmas atmosphere, from fun ice rinks to buzzing markets.
Rome in winter is cloudy with mild temperatures and wet spells. However, snow is very rare! Even though the capital is always busy with tourists, it is less crowded than in summer. You will find plenty of Christmas markets and ice rinks scattered throughout the city, and you can indulge in some shopping with the Saldi – January sale.
No, Rome is not too cold in winter and December. The weather remains mild, with temperatures averaging around 13°c. I visited Rome at New Year’s time and never felt cold. I still wore my winter coat with a scarf, but when it was sunny, I was too hot. The sky is usually cloudy but you can also expect sunshine!
Yes, Rome is a lovely city to visit during the Christmas season. You will enjoy the festive holiday atmosphere all over the city, from temporary ice rinks to cute markets and twinkling lights. And do not forget to catch an opera show for a memorable experience!
And you, have you ever visited Rome in winter or would you like to go one day?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love ♡