Updated: October 26, 2016
When is the Best Time to Visit Rome, Italy?
- Best Time for Sightseeing in Rome: Spring, particularly mid-March and April, outside of Easter week, is a great time to see the sights of Rome, with the soft light reflecting off magnificent Roman monuments made of white marble. Temperatures tend to be comfortably warm, and crowds won’t reach their peak for a few more months. Late September through early November are also ideal, with the oppressive heat of Rome’s summer replaced by pleasant sunshine and optimal daytime temperatures. Visitors can enjoy the changing colors by taking a stroll in Borghese Park or a walk on Appian Way. August is the worst month to visit; locals leave on holiday and the city is teeming with international visitors, which means you’ll be bumping elbows with lots of other tourists while enduring uncomfortably high temperatures. As many of the city’s museums are closed on Mondays, and weekends bring the biggest crowds, the best time of week for sightseeing no matter what time of year you’re in Rome, is typically Tuesday through Friday.
- Best Time to See the Vatican: Winter is by far the best time to visit the Vatican Museums as you’ll be able to cover a lot more ground than you’d be able to during the busier seasons. No matter when you visit, keep in mind that the Vatican museums are closed on Sundays with the exception of the last Sunday of the month, when they are open and free. This is actually the worst day to visit as you’ll have to wait in line for three hours or even longer. On Wednesday mornings, the museums typically have few crowds while the Pope does his audience.
- Best Time for Shopping: The best time for shopping bargains in Rome is just after the end of holiday season through mid-February. The winter sales draw Italians from across the country to take advantage of the great deals at mom-and-pop shops, outlets and shopping malls. This is a time to save big on clothing, and especially good discounts can be found on larger Italian sizes like shoes. Many stores are closed on Monday mornings, especially the smaller ones, and during the month of August when many Italians take a month-long vacation, some areas become a veritable ghost town, although most centrally-located shops stay open. No matter when you visit, Sundays are all about bargain hunting for fashionistas at the Mercatino del Borghetto Flaminio, where many of the nearly 200 exhibitors sell castoffs from their wealthy friends’ wardrobes.
- Best Time for Smaller Crowds: Winter is the best time to visit Rome if you want to avoid the biggest crowds, particularly from the second week of January through February, though it does tend to get busier around Valentine’s Day. There are typically fewer people at all of the sights and attractions, and you might even enjoy spots like the Trevi Fountain practically all to yourself. If you’ve ever fantasized about having space to move around the Sistine Chapel, this is the time to come. No matter when you visit, avoid weekend crowds and plan to see the major sights early in the morning, Tuesday through Friday, for the best experience.
- High Season (May through mid-September): High season in Rome is summer, when temperatures are high and you’ll likely be standing in long lines as well as doing lots of walking, sweating alongside countless numbers of other tourists. There isn’t a lot of shade to be found so you’ll need plenty of SPF, and water. The upside is that the days are long for enjoying all that the city has to offer, and the heat is a great excuse for a gelato. Keep in mind that there are other times of the year when visitor spikes occur that are considered to be a “mini-high season.” Those are centered around major holidays and big events, including Easter and the week before, known as holy week, as well as one to two weeks before Christmas and just into the new year.
- Shoulder Season (mid-March through early May, mid-October through November): Early spring and mid- to late-fall are considered part of the shoulder season. As Rome is one of the most popular cities in Europe to visit, that doesn’t mean that you won’t battle crowds, but it will be slightly less busy and you’ll likely enjoy pleasant weather for sightseeing as well. Many feel this is the best time to visit – though that also means that you’re unlikely to find discounted hotel rates.
- Low Season (late November through mid-December, mid-January through early March): Low season is basically wintertime, though it begins in late November and continues through February with the exception of a few high season spikes as noted above. While Rome is popular year round, this is the best time to experience thinner crowds as well as better rates on accommodation and airfare. While it can get a bit chilly and there are plenty of rainy days, the weather rarely dips below freezing, and there are usually a number of sunny, relatively comfortable afternoons.
Rome Weather by Month
Rome Temperature by Month (high in celsius)
Rome Rain by Month (mm)
- Rome Weather in January: Rome is at its coldest in January, with daytime temperatures typically ranging from 8°C to 13°C. There are about six hours of sunshine each day and approximately 83mm of rainfall, spread out over 14 days, which means that while you’re unlikely to be stuck indoors all month, you will likely need a raincoat at least some of the time. Days are relatively short, with sunset at about 5 pm early in the month and 5:30pm by late January. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 83mm.)
- Rome Weather in February: While February is cool, things are starting to warm up a bit, rising an average of a degree by month’s end. While it is slightly drier than January, at least a few showers and storms are likely this month, so you’ll still need that rain jacket. By the end of February, the sun doesn’t set until about 6pm. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 76mm.)
- Rome Weather in March: This is the month when things really start to change, ushering in the arrival of spring with average temperatures increasing from about 9°C at the beginning of the month to 12°C by the end of March. Rainfall drops significantly, to 68 mm over 13 days, and you can expect to enjoy quite a bit more sun too. Days are getting longer, with the sun setting at 7:35 pm on March 31. As the weather can go either way this month, quite pleasant or chilly and drizzly, dressing in layers is your best bet. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Precipitation: 68mm.)
- Rome Weather in April: Spring is in full swing in April, with flowers blooming and plenty of warm, sunny days along with a few cool and rainy ones. While you’ll have a fair chance of experiencing a shower or two, you’ll also enjoy about 10 hours of sunshine each day and lots of time to take advantage of it with the sun going down just after 8pm by month’s end. Bring both long- and short-sleeved shirts along with a light rain jacket and you’ll be set. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 68mm.)
- Rome Weather in May: Things are really heating up now, with temperatures often idyllic and the sun frequently shining. With just 48mm of rainfall spread across 10 days, you’ll only rarely need a rain jacket – your sunglasses, however, will come in handy most of the time. Later in the month it can start to get hot and humid, but in the afternoon a gentle breeze often sweeps through to cool things off. The sun doesn’t set until after 8:30 pm toward month’s end, and after dark, a light jacket or wrap is usually perfect for staying warm. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 48mm.)
- Rome Weather in June: Early in June, the weather is often idyllic, pleasantly warm, but not too hot. By month’s end, temperatures begin to sizzle and rain is rare, with only about 41 mm spread out over eight days. Days are quite long, with June 21st the longest day of the year and the sun staying up until almost 9pm. Bring loose-fitting lightweight clothing, like skirts, dresses and capris pants for women, along with a big-brimmed hat. For men, linen pants or long Bermuda shorts are common. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation: 41mm.)
- Rome Weather in July: July is Rome’s warmest month, with plenty of sunshine, hot temperatures, very little rain and often little or no breeze to help cool things down. Many people who live and work in the city get out as fast as they can during the peak of summer, and head to the coast or cooler mountain areas up north. Light clothing for men and women is the order of the day. The upside to July’s heat is that the nights tend to be wonderfully warm, making eating outside and people watching after sunset, around 8:30pm by July 31, a real pleasure. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: 23mm.)
- Rome Weather in August: August is still hot and sunny, but temperatures begin to cool slightly, starting out with highs around 27°C, gradually coming down to about 25°C by the end of the month. The chances for rain increase too, with about 36mm of rainfall across six days, though most of the time if you want to cool off you’ll need to head into air-conditioned buildings or out to the coast. This is the time of year most locals take their vacation, escaping the heat by enjoying a cool dip in the sea while visitors bake in the oppressive mid-day sun. The reprieve comes as the sun goes down at 7:45pm by month’s end – a great time to take advantage of the enjoyable summer nightlife. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: 36mm.)
- Rome Weather in September: Temperatures drop in September, with warm but pleasant weather. Early in the month average highs are around 23 to 24°C, but by September’s end, daytime highs are typically about 19°C. Rainfall increases significantly, to 68 mm spread over nine days, so there’s a chance you’ll need a light rain jacket, particularly if you visit in late September. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 75mm.)
- Rome Weather in October: Rome enjoys a refreshing chill in the air during October; the leaves on the trees begin to turn red, and the weather is mostly warm during the day, but comfortably cool at night. Early in the month high temperatures average around 19°C, though it can sometimes be warm enough to go to the beach. Gradually, that number dips to about 15°C by the end of October. While precipitation increases to approximately 94mm spread across 12 days, nearly 60 percent of October’s days bring sunshine. As the country moves to Standard Time in late October, days are shorter, with sunset coming at just after 5pm by Halloween. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 94mm.)
- Rome Weather in November: With winter just around the corner, the weather continues to cool down, averaging at 14 to 15°C early in the month, dropping to around 10°C by month’s end. Come prepared for rain, but you might be surprised by a number of beautiful days, particularly in early November, though you won’t have as much light to enjoy them in as the sun goes down around 5pm the first half of the month, and by November 30, it sets at 4:40pm. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 120mm.)
- Rome Weather in December: Rome in December tends to be cold and damp, as one of the coolest times of the year to visit the city. Average temperatures start off around 10°C, dipping down to 7°C to 10°C by month’s end. You’ll likely experience a few showers or even a small storm while you’re here, and short days, though the earliest the sun goes down is 4:39pm during the first half of the month. Be ready for cold nights and wet days, though you could get lucky and enjoy the occasional pleasantly warm day, just don’t count on it. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 96mm.)
Rome Events and Festivals
Rome Events in January
- Epiphany/La Befana – Ephiphany, called La Befana in Italy, is a national holiday held on January 6 each year, marking the end of the Christmas season. Italian children wake up to candy and toys in their shoes and there are many celebrations and parades throughout the country. In Vatican City, a procession of hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue that leads up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for Jesus.
- Post-Holiday Shopping Sales – A state-mandated sale period begins in January and lasts for six to eight weeks. While the date varies each year, the sales usually begin early in the month, after La Befana, and are known for offering some incredible bargains. Look for signs in shop windows reading SALDI, which means “sales.”
- Festival of Saint Anthony – January 17 is another Italian holiday, though much smaller than La Befana. The feast day for Saint Anthony Abate is held at the church dedicated to him. As he is the patron saint of animals, one of its festivities includes the blessing of animals. Pet-loving Romans bring their furry friends to be blessed, most notably at Sant’Antonio Abate on the Esquiline Hill.
Rome Events in February
- Carnival – Carnival (Carnevale) and the beginning of Lent start as early as February 3. While most associate the event with Venice, Rome decided to try and revive its Carnival magic of old in 2009. Both the pre-Lenten festivities (Carnevale) and the religious processions, which begin on Ash Wednesday, are part of the tradition in the capital and the Vatican City. Many events take place in Piazza del Popolo, including choreographed horse shows, races, dancers and costumed performers. There are lots of activities for kids, including free horse rides in the Piazza, a merry-go-round and puppet shows. In the area around the Castel Sant’ Angelo offers an especially festive atmosphere with music and often a decorated artificial ice rink.
- Valentine’s Day (Festa di San Valentino) – Valentine’s Day is celebrated very much the same way in Italy as it is in the U.S., with hearts, chocolates, love notes and romantic candlelit dinners. A more recent tradition of locking padlocks to bridges, railings and lamp posts was started just after the release of the best-seller, Ho voglio di te (I want you) by Italian author Federico Moccio, which was followed by the popular movie with the same name. In the story, young lovers tie a chain and a padlock around a lamppost on the north side of the Milvian Bridge (Ponte Milvio) in Rome. They inscribe their names on it, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber River below, as a wish that they will be together forever. Throughout the country, including Rome, you can spot padlocks that have been placed near bridges and all sorts of other unexpected spots too. On Valentine’s Day, couples can also get a two-for-one ticket deal at all state-run museums and archaeological sites.
- Sales – Continue to keep an eye out for those post-holiday sales, as things wind down, remaining items are drastically reduced.
Rome Events in March
- Festa della Donna – International Women’s Day is on March 8 every year, and in Italy it’s known as Festa della Donna (Festival of Women). The day is characterized by the men giving their partner’s bunches of yellow mimosa flowers, taking care of all the household chores, cooking dinner and ending the day with a relaxing foot massage. The city is overrun with mimosas, while fun opportunities abound for celebrating the day in the local restaurants and clubs.
- Commemoration of Caesar’s Death – Held on the Ides of March, March 15, a number of cultural events are usually held in the Roman Forum near the statue of Caesar, commemorating his death, including a re-enactment of Caesar’s death that is held at the site of his assassination in the Torre Argentina archeological site. Some arrive in fancy-dress costume.
- Maratona di Roma – On the third Sunday in March each year, the Rome Marathon which draws runners from around the world, begins at the Roman Forum, passing some of the city’s most famous sites and the Vatican before ending at the Colosseum.
- Easter Week – Easter week can be in March or April, though it always starts on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. In 2016, it will be on March 20. The Pope will hold a special mass in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, including a Blessing of the Palms at Holy Mass that begins at 9:30am. On Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, March 24, 2016, an unusual mass that brings fewer crowds and a better chance of seeing the Pope will be held at 9:30 in the morning. On Good Friday, March 25, 2016, a Papal Mass will be held at 5pm in Saint’ Peter’s Basilica, followed by the stations of the cross, or Via Crucis, at 9:15pm. The Pope will read a meditation in various language while a huge cross with burning lights helps to create an especially moving experience, even for those who aren’t religious. The Pope will lead an Easter Mass on Sunday, March 27, at 10:15am followed by an appearance at noon on the central loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica to deliver a blessing “to the City and to the World,” known in Italian as Urbi et Orbi.
Rome Events in April
- Settimana della Cultura – The Week of Culture is typically held in mid-April, though the exact dates aren’t usually released until just before the event. During this time, national museums and archeological sites offer free admission and some sites not normally open to the public may be open. In Rome, this usually includes the National Roman Museum and the Capitoline Museums, among many others.
- Rome’s Birthday – April 21 is Rome’s birthday, the day in 753 BC that Romulus founded the Eternal City. Rome’s monuments, archaeological sites and many museums allow free entry, and there are a number of special events that take place throughout the city. There are concerts on Piazza del Campidoglio, a parade, historical re-enactments at the Circus Maximus, the large field where chariot races where once held, and fireworks over the River Tiber. Many of the events generally take place the weekend closest to April 21st.
- Liberation Day – This holiday is celebrated throughout Italy, and many tourist shops, museums and restaurants will be closed. It marks the day in 1945 on which the Partisans rose up and overthrew Mussolini and the Germans, bringing the Second World War to an end. Concerts, political rallies and parades take place in many towns, though Rome plays host to the most of the events, including the “Historical Path of Liberation,” a re-enactment in Persian-Nuccitelli Square that includes actors and historians.
Rome Events in May
- International Workers’ Day – May kicks off with International Workers’ Day on May 1, or Labour Day as it’s also called. This national holiday is celebrated throughout the country, including Rome, which hosts a free rock concert on Piazza San Giovanni, the very popular Concerto del Primo Maggio (1st of May Concert) featuring a host of famous bands and songwriters that starts in the early afternoon and continues until around midnight.
- Open House Roma – On the first weekend in May there are free guided tours of buildings and architecture studios in the city (reservations required).
- Italian Open Tennis Tournament – The Internazionali BNL d’Italia, or Italian Open, is held in early- to mid-May each year at the Stadio Olimpico’s tennis courts. The nine-day event tends to bring out many major tennis stars who use it as a warmup to the French Open.
Rome Events in June
- Festa della Repubblica – Republic Day is a big national holiday held on June 2 each year, similar to Independence Day in other countries. It commemorates the nation becoming a Republic in 1946 after the end of World War II. An enormous parade takes place along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Afterwards, there is music in the Quirinale Gardens.
- Festa di San Giovanni – The Feast of Saint John (San Giovanni) on June 24 celebrates the birth of Saint John the Baptist, with much of the festival taking place around his namesake church, the white Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. During the day, the San Giovanni neighborhood is filled with people dining on snails, porchetta (pork roasted with herbs) and other local specialties that are served by stalls set up in front of the basilica. After dark, the piazza is beautifully lit with torches, while concerts and fireworks also take place.
- Saints Peter and Paul Day – This religious holiday held on June 29, celebrates two of Catholicism’s most important saints. Special masses are held at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and San Paolo Fuori Le Mura.
- Gay Village Festival – This festival runs for about six weeks, starting in mid-June. It’s popular with all Romans and features music, dance parties, theater performances and a film festival.
Rome Events in July
- Expo Tevere – Taking place from early- to mid-July, this huge arts and crafts fair takes place along the banks of the Tiber River from Ponte Sant’Angelo to Ponte Cavour. It features stands that sell artisan foods including olive oils and vinegars as well as wines and variety of unique goods, perfect for those who are hoping to find an authentic, unique gift to bring home.
- Alto Roma Fashion Week – This bi-annual fashion week is held each year in early- to mid-July and includes a number of fashion shows and exhibitions that are open to the public. It offers the chance to take in all the action on the catwalk, check out the upcoming winter’s haute couture, enjoy art shows and even bump elbows with up-and-coming designers.
- Festa dei Noantri – The “Festival for the Rest of Us” is focused around the Feast of Santa Maria del Carmine. It celebrates the working-class heritage of the Trastevere neighborhood and the Madonna of Mount Carmel. The very local festival includes the statue of Santa Maria, donning handmade finery, passed around from church to church, accompanied by musicians and religious pilgrims. Held in one of city’s most lively nightlife quarters, you can expect plenty of food, wine and dancing, as well as an impressive fireworks display to cap off the event.
Rome Events in August
- Festival di Caracalla – Evenings at the Opera Under the Stars at the Baths of Caracalla take place from late July through the first week of August. The program is held at what was considered the cultural hub and vibrant social spot in Ancient Rome. Now the ruins, centuries later, have become an open-air improvised stage welcoming thousands of visitors and locals each summer.
- Festa della Madonna della Neve – this festival held on August 5, celebrates the miraculous summer snowfall that was said to have occurred back in the year 352. Legend says that the Madonna appeared in Pope Liberio’s dream, and told him to build a church where he saw fresh-fallen snow the following day. The next day, Romans awoke to find the ground covered in snow, and Basilica di Santa Maria was built on the site. The event is re-enacted each year with a flurry of white flower petals that float down from the roof of the basilica onto the crowds below, accompanied by a special sound and light show.
- Ferragosto – The holiday of Assumption on August 15, is the traditional start of Italians’ summer holidays. Most museums and tourist sites stay open, as well as shops in the downtown area, but many others shops and businesses shut down for the day. While locals usually head to the coast or the mountains, those who stay in town can expect to take part in dance and music festivals, including Gran Ballo di Ferragosto, which fills Rome’s squares with live dance performances, with a different type of dance in each square.
Rome Events in September
- Sagra dell’Uva – This harvest festival held in early September takes place at the basilica of Constantine in the Forum, offering visitors the chance to honor the grape. Grapes are sold at bargain prices, along with food and wine. It also includes lots of music and folksy street entertainment.
- Notte Bianca Festival – The White Night Festival which takes place in mid-September, stages a diverse array of concerts, dance, art and theater events, with many shops, art galleries and museums remaining open through the night. Nearly every music genre is covered, and it even includes magicians and circus performers as well as a number of stalls selling all sorts of items.
- Arts and Antique Fairs – There are a number of arts and crafts fairs held in Rome during the month of September for those who are in the market for fine art, antiques or Italian crafts. The antiques fair in Via dei Coronari starts in mid-September and runs for an entire month, while an art fair held along Via Margutta, one of Rome’s most picturesque streets known for its collection of trendy art studios, takes place around the same time. During the last week of September, Via dell’Orso near Piazaa Navona, hosts a crafts fair.
Rome Events in October
- RomaEuropa Festival – Each fall, Rome plays host to this festival that’s sometimes referred to as the Festival of Modernity. The most prestigious art and music festival in the city, it takes place throughout the month of October and November with a variety of music concerts at the Auditorium and in the main theatres and squares of Rome.
- International Film Festival of Rome – Taking place during the second half of October (sometimes into November) at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the International Film Festival is a true red carpet event, showcasing a variety of international premieres, documentaries, exhibitions, live shows and concerts. It attracts of bevy of A-list stars, like Susan Sarandon and Martin Scorcese, along with local celebrities such as Monica Belluci.
- Halloween – Although Halloween isn’t an Italian holiday, it’s become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among young adults. Many of the city’s nightclubs host Halloween costume parties, offering the chance to dress up and go out dancing.
Rome Events in November
- All Saints Day – November 1 is a public holiday, and a time when Italians remember their deceased loved ones by visiting cemeteries and graves. Many Romans visit churches and some even head to Rome’s catacombs.
- The Roma Jazz Festival – This jazz festival takes places throughout the second half of November and includes performances from Italian as well as international musicians that take place in the Auditorium Parco della Musica.
- Feast of Saint Cecilia – Celebrating the patron saint of all musicians, the Feast of Saint Cecilia is an all-day event on November 22, held in Trastevere’s Basilica Santa Cecilia as well as the Catacombs of San Calliston, featuring plenty of live music and mouth-watering cuisine.
Rome Events in December
- Christmas Markets – Rome’s Christmas Markets open in early December and run through January 6. The famous Piazza Navona market is a favorite with its stalls selling handmade gifts, children’s toys, nativity crafts and delicious Italian holiday treats.
- Feast of the Immaculate Virgin – On this December 8th holiday marking the Immaculate Conception, the Pope celebrates a religious function at the Spanish Steps, leading a procession from the Vatican to Piazza di Spagna where he lays a wreath on the Virgin Mary Statue. He then moves on to give mass at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
- Santa Lucia Day – The feast day of Santa Lucia, December 13, includes a procession from Castel Sant’Angelo to Saint Peter’s Square.
- Christmas Eve/Christmas – Christmas Eve is a time spent with family, visiting Christmas markets and seeing the completion of nativity displays as the baby Jesus is added. In Saint Peter’s Square, this is when the nativity display is unveiled. Many also attend midnight mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica, the second largest church in the Christian world, where the Pope delivers his speech to a vast crowd in person and across the globe, with the broadcast going out to more than 40 countries.
- Festa di San Silvestro/New Year’s Eve – December 31st in Rome brings hundreds of celebrations that take place throughout the night, with all the city’s magnificent churches and old piazzas donning spectacular decoration. Piazza del Popolo holds the largest public celebration, featuring music, dancing and fireworks to ring in the new year.