Rome is a city with a special atmosphere, full of monuments and history, and at Christmas time it becomes even more magical thanks to the nativity scenes, garlands and fir trees that decorate the streets of the city, not forgetting the Christmas markets!
From late November to early January, Rome's Christmas markets flood the squares to sell handicrafts, toys and typical sweets. Make the most of your stay to stroll around, enjoy the atmosphere and buy some gifts - you're sure to find something unique to give as a present this festive season!
1. Visit the flea market in Piazza Navona
The Piazza Navona Christmas market is the most typical Christmas market in Rome. It is located in the old city centre (where the Stadium of Domitian once stood) in a beautiful baroque setting presided over by the church of Santa Agnes and the Palazzo Pamphili next to Bernini's famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, one of Rome's finest fountains.
For a little over a month, the square is transformed into a beautiful Christmas market that looks like something out of a fairytale. In addition to the beautiful stalls that decorate this place, there are other attractions in Piazza Navona such as a vintage merry-go-round, a large nativity scene and Christmas tree and even an event with Santa Claus and the witch Befana, two endearing characters during this festive season in Italy.
This is a very pleasant area to stroll around, so it is highly recommended to take the Fountains and Squares of Rome tour, where an expert guide will tell you all the details of this unique square. Many street performers such as musicians and magicians come to liven up the atmosphere and you will have a great time.
- Address: Piazza Navona
- How to get there: By metro, line A, Barberini station.
- Opening hours: Open until January 6th, from 10am to 1am.
2. Decorate your home at the Piazza Risorgimento market
After visiting St. Peter's Basilica or the Sistine Chapel you can take the opportunity to visit another of Rome's Christmas markets, the one in Piazza Risorgimento, just outside the Vatican walls. There you can find a lot of things, and not only related to Christmas. From decorative items for the house to handmade kitchenware and costume jewellery, you'll be surprised by the variety of products!
The decoration of the Christmas market in Piazza Risorgimento is perhaps not as typical as the one in Piazza Navona, as it looks more like a modern fair. However, it's worth a visit because the atmosphere is also festive and they sell so many different things that you're bound to end up picking up a bite to eat.
- Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120. Vatican City.
- How to get there: By metro, line A, Ottaviano station.
- Opening hours: Open until 6 January, from 10am to 8pm.
3. Find the best antiques at Piazzale Ankara
Another of Rome's Christmas markets to check out during your trip is Piazzale Ankara, famous for its antique and fair trade stalls whose profits go to charity.
You'll find it not far from the lardines of Villa Borghese, one of Rome' s most beautiful parks. So if you book a guided tour of the Borghese Gallery, don't hesitate to visit the Christmas market in Piazzale Ankara - it's a great thing to do after a stroll through this park where nature and art merge perfectly.
Presided over by a huge Christmas tree, you can buy all kinds of goods here, from Christmas decorations and delicious food to cool gifts. And if you feel like doing something different, Piazzale Ankara also has a skating rink where you can show off your ice-skating skills. It's a great place to do in Rome during the Christmas season- you'll have a great time!
- Address: Piazzale Ankara
- How to get there: By metro, line A, station Spagna or Flaminio.
- Opening hours: Open Tuesdays from 7am to 2pm.
4. Experience the tradition of Piazza Caprera
If you love the traditional Christmas markets of Northern Europe, don't miss the Piazza Caprera Christmas market in Rome, which recreates the magical, wintry atmosphere so typical of German markets.
The stalls at this market offer a wide variety of products to give as gifts this holiday season (antiques, costume jewellery, perfumes, clothes...), although the food and typical sweets from different Italian regions sold here are a real treat**(I recommend trying the panettone and Neapolitan struffoli**). If you have a sweet tooth, it's a good time to try some and accompany them with a glass of mulled wine or a cup of chocolate.
Like other Christmas markets in Rome, the one in Piazza Caprera also has an entertaining programme of activities to liven up the atmosphere, such as traditional music, storytelling and clowns. So if you're visiting the city as a family over Christmas, this is one of the places to go with kids in Rome, along with the Piazza Navona flea market. Put it on the list after the guided tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel for kids.
- Address: Piazza Caprera
- How to get there: By metro, line B, Bologna station.
5. Immerse yourself in the Christmas atmosphere in Monti Market
Although the Mercato Monti is open all year round, during the Christmas season this fair is immersed in a very Christmassy atmosphere and many Romans come here on weekends to look for their Christmas presents. So it's a great place to visit for souvenirs from your trip.
In addition, the Mercato Monti has the Colosseum as a backdrop, so before or after visiting this Christmas market you can take a guided tour of the Colosseum, which I recommend any time of the year.
- Address: Via Leonina, 46/48, 00184 Roma
- How to get there: By metro, line B, Cavour metro station.
- Opening hours: Open every weekend of the year, from 10am to 8pm.
6. Enjoy the best views at the flea market in Piazza di Spagna
It is not very big, but it is in a fantastic location, next to the Fontana della Barcaccia and in front of the monumental staircase that leads to the church of Santissima Trinità dei Monti, from where there is one of the best views of Rome. It is a place where Romans and tourists alike flock to.
- Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma
- How to get there: By metro, line A, station Spagna.
- Opening Hours: Open from December 1st to January 6th.
7. Enter the flea market of the Museum of Criminology
If you are interested in the world of criminology, as well as having a fun time in this museum in Rome, you can take advantage of your visit to visit its Christmas market, which is promoted by the Department of Penitentiary Administration of Italy. Here you will find quality products made by the country's prisons, such as nougat, panettone, honey, cheese and T-shirts, among many others.
If you are passionate about Italian cuisine and you already know the best places to eat in Rome, this is a good opportunity to buy some things and help a good cause. What's more, during the opening of the Christmas market, admission to Rome' s Criminological Museum is free.
And if you want to make the most of the day, this museum is located very close to Piazza Navona, so you can book your ticket for the Piazza Navona underground, either before or after the visit.
- Address: Via del Gonfalone, 29.
- How to get there: By bus, lines 23, 40, 62, 64.
- Opening Hours: Open from 11 to 18 December, from 10am to 7pm.
8. Explore Japanese culture at Mercatino Giapponese
The Christmas edition of the Mercatino Giapponese is one of the shortest (it only lasts two days!) but packs a lot of fun into a few days. It's a bit secluded, in the PratiBus district, but you can take the opportunity to rent a scooter in Rome and get to know it. You'll find it has a little bit of everything for visitors of all ages to have a great time: from shows and demonstrations to cooking and martial arts workshops. There's even a large food court.
Plus, if you're a fan of the Japanese theme, the stalls at the Mercatino Giapponese are sure to have just the gift you're looking for (jewellery, accessories, art, decorative objects, etc.), whether it's for your loved ones or for yourself!
Access to Rome's Christmas market is not free - admission costs around €4 - but it's well worth a visit. Only children under the age of 14 and people with disabilities can enter for free.
- Address: Via Biordo Michelotti, 2, 00176 Roma
- How to get there: By metro, line C, stop Malatesta and/or Pigneto.
- Opening hours: Open mid-December, from 10am to 7.30pm.
9. Look for the most curious gifts in Piazza Mazzini
Not far from Piazza Risorgimento, in one of Rome's more affluent neighbourhoods, is the Piazza Mazzini Christmas market in Prati, which specialises in furniture, antiques and vintage items.
Although this market is not as spectacular as the one in Piazza Navona, they go to great lengths to decorate it with Christmas and winter motifs and create an intimate atmosphere. Piazza Mazzini is also a very pretty square that is adorned with Renaissance gardens and fountains, so it's worth a visit in itself. I recommend you book a tour of Rome's fountains and squares for this.
Apart from the usual products of this flea market, during this time of the year they expand their offer to sell quality Christmas decorations, wooden handicrafts and many gift ideas such as clothes, costume jewellery or incense. I recommend buying some typical Italian sweets here (e.g. from Sardinia or Sicily) because the Piazza Mazzini Christmas market is famous for them.
- Address: Piazza Mazzini
- How to get there: By metro, line A, station Re di Roma.
- Opening hours: Open from the beginning of December until Christmas Eve, from 8am to 8pm.
10. Have fun like a kid at Natale all'Auditorium
Another of Rome's Christmas markets that you can visit during your stay in the city is the one at the Parco della Musica Auditorium, which also hosts the Christmas World exhibition, an exhibition dedicated to celebrating Christmas and the encounter between different cultures.
The Natale all'Auditorium Christmas market also has a special programme dedicated to children, with shows, activities and workshops to keep them entertained while the adults browse the market stalls and do some Christmas shopping.
There are plenty of gifts to choose from: from typical sweets to beautiful handicrafts, you're sure to find a souvenir to take home from your trip to Rome!
- Address: Via Pietro de Coubertin, 30
- How to get there: By bus, line 910, Termini/Piazza Mancini Terminal
- Opening Hours: Open from December 4th to January 9th.