10 things to do in Rome in August

August is one of the busiest months in the Italian capital. If you're planning to go to Rome in August, be sure to read about all the things you can do to make the most of it.

Luisa María Lugo

Luisa María Lugo

10 min read

10 things to do in Rome in August

Piazza Fontana di Trevi in Rome | ©Michele Bitetto

When travelling to Rome in August be aware that it is a very hot month, but don't worry, there are activities you can do to escape the heat.

The best thing about the events taking place this month is that everyone is welcome, including tourists. Although this wonderful city offers plenty to see and do all year round. Be sure to read this guide to make the most of your holiday in Rome during August.

1. Make the most of Ferragosto celebrated throughout the country

Enjoying Ferragosto| ©John Prato
Enjoying Ferragosto| ©John Prato

For years, Ferragosto has caught tourists off guard, as it's a time when Italians make the most of their holidays. Celebrated from 15 August, it is a time when large lunches and parties are planned in various parts of Rome and throughout Italy. Normally, citizens prefer to go to the Italian coasts, but there are also celebrations in the capital.

Don't worry if you go for a walk and some shops are closed or there are not many Romans on the streets. During Ferragosto you may find markets in some squares or large groups of people taking advantage of their summer holidays.

One of the biggest advantages for tourists during Ferragosto is that many famous sites are less crowded. Therefore, you can go and avoid the long queues that you would find on other days in August.

The Gran Ballo is one of the best activities during Ferragosto

Tourists who do not visit the Roman squares or pay attention to what is going on in the streets of the city are missing the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto. Its name makes it clear that it is a festival within a festival, a way for Romans to celebrate Ferragosto.

The Gran Ballo is made up of different events that take place in different parts of the city, including the best squares in Rome. Places such as Piazza del Popolo host groups performing dance performances of different genres.

Book a tour of Rome's squares and fountains

2. Enjoy a night tour of Castel Sant'Angelo in August

Castel Sant'Angelo| ©Diego Albero Román
Castel Sant'Angelo| ©Diego Albero Román

Castel Sant'Angelo is one of the most famous monuments in Rome and it is possible to visit it all year round. The reason I recommend you to go in August is that during this month night visits are available. In addition to having the opportunity to see its exterior illuminated by lights, it is possible to enter from 7.30pm until 11pm. Tickets cost around 12 €.

There are many Roman monuments that allow you to visit their facilities when the sun has already set and the moon is the protagonist in the sky. I recommend that you book your tickets for the Castel de Sant'Angelo so as not to miss out on this fantastic mausoleum.

Inside the castle it is common to see the defensive structures and the prisons where people who have left their mark on history were imprisoned. There are also decorated rooms, libraries and more. Visiting this historic building at night is a great option. It is also possible to take a night tour in June, July and September.

Book tickets for Castel Sant Angelo

3. See every detail of the Vatican Museums on August nights

Visiting the Vatican Museums| ©Ana Rey
Visiting the Vatican Museums| ©Ana Rey

As with Castel Sant'Angelo, it is also a good plan to book tickets for the Vatican Museums as they are open in the evenings. These kinds of tours are available every day in August. The evening schedule starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm (the galleries are vacated from 10.30pm) and is valid from mid-April to October.

If you want to visit the Museums in Rome, you should know that during the day there are many people, so it is not possible to detail every decoration inside. However, on the night tours there are not many people, the number of people is less than 100.

With far fewer visitors in the corridors you have the opportunity to stop and look at the paintings on the ceilings and walls, and the decorations. In addition, the Sistine Chapel is included in the night tour.

Book your ticket for the Vatican Museums

4. Enjoy the snow in the middle of summer next to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

Facade of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore| ©Pierre Selim Huard
Facade of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore| ©Pierre Selim Huard

One of Rome's basilicas is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore or Santa Maria Maggiore, also known as Santa Maria della Neve. Every 5th of August it celebrates a miracle that the Virgin is said to have performed after appearing in the dream of Pope Liberius. Legend has it that on the 4th and 5th of August 358 AD the Madonna asked the Pope to erect a church for her and on the morning of August 5th it snowed on the site where the Basilica was later erected.

Because of this, believers remember the miracle of the snow in August in the square in front of the Basilica. At the celebration, a sound and light show is organised, and those in attendance see an artificial snowfall, so you don't have to visit Rome in winter to see snow.

Book your guided tour of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

5. Celebrate the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Inside the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima| ©Rome Sightseeing
Inside the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima| ©Rome Sightseeing

According to Catholic tradition, Mary ascended into heaven on the 15th of August and so this day is celebrated by believers. Because many people in Rome are Catholic and the Vatican is located there, celebrations are held all over the city.

One of the best known activities in Rome for the Assumption is the mass that takes place in the same basilica where the miracle of the snow is commemorated. A cardinal sent by the Pope himself comes to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to make a floral offering and pray.

Since Ferragosto coincides with this religious celebration, it is normal for many Romans to take advantage of the holiday to start their holiday. If you are religious, you have the opportunity to attend one of the celebrations in Rome's churches.

Book your guided tour to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

6. Attend opera performances in a unique setting

Opera at Caracalla| ©Leigh Williams
Opera at Caracalla| ©Leigh Williams

Imagine this: a stage like no other and performances by opera and ballet experts. If you are visiting Rome in August you don't have to settle for just imagining it, because the performances of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma take place in the Baths of Caracalla at the beginning of August.

During the show it is normal that you will meet other foreign tourists who decide to take part in this activity. These performances guarantee the quality that characterises the famous Roman theatre. The ruins of the thermal baths complement the performances and make your experience unique.

Every day a different artist performs, the performances are announced on the website of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. Ticket prices start at €25 and some are over €135.

Other proposals

But it's not only at the Terme di Caralla that you can enjoy an opera performance, you can also see an open-air opera show on the Borromini Terrace, a rooftop terrace located in the wonderful setting of Piazza Navona.

Other cheaper options are the opera concert at Rome's Palazzo Santa Chiara or the opera concert at the Valdens Church.

Book your tickets for an opera concert in Rome

7. Watch an Italian or international film on Tiber Island

Preparing for the Film Festival| ©Larry Koester
Preparing for the Film Festival| ©Larry Koester

Summer is the perfect time to do things outdoors, especially if it's somewhere cool, like near a river. Tiberina Island is in the Tiber River less than 5 kilometres from Rome, and every summer a film festival is held there. It features short and feature films from Italy and other countries.

Dozens of screenings are seen at this event, and there is even a competition for Italian short films planned. If you want to enjoy quality cinema with interesting themes, this is an original thing to do in Rome in August. And if you are a lover of the seventh art, keep in mind that you can also book your tickets for Cinecittà World in Rome.

Book your tickets for Cinecittà World in Rome

8. Enjoy the music at Villa Ada Rome festival

At the Villa Ada Rome Festival| ©VillaAda
At the Villa Ada Rome Festival| ©VillaAda

The origin of this music festival dates back more than two and a half decades and runs until mid-August. For the first two weeks of the month you have the opportunity to attend and listen to music genres ranging from composition to Italian indie.

Each edition of the festival has a different title which gives you a taste of what you can enjoy. This is a big cultural event that usually features more than 60 concerts, cultural debates and meetings. The programme changes every day, so there are options to suit all preferences.

Tickets to the concerts are not the same price every day, they vary according to the artist performing and range from €10. The Villa Ada Roma festival takes place on Via di Ponte Salario, about 5 kilometres from the centre of Rome.

9. Beat the heat with a good gelato and learn how to make it

Long Live Ice Cream| ©Rahul Pandit
Long Live Ice Cream| ©Rahul Pandit

Rome is the perfect place to enjoy the best ice cream and what's better than in the middle of summer? In the Italian capital there are many ice cream parlours, I recommend you enjoy your dessert in a park, in the parks of this city there are several things to do.

In the summer, Roman ice cream parlours have flavours prepared with typical fruits of this time of the year, such as melon, strawberry and cherry. After you finish your daily run (or at another time of the day) you have the opportunity to treat your palate to an Italian gelato. You can also sign up for a gelato and pasta making class, where you will learn the authentic technique of making delicious Italian gelato.

Book your gelato making class in Rome

10. Don't miss out on cultural events all over the city!

Roma Summer Fest| ©Rockon.it
Roma Summer Fest| ©Rockon.it

Estate Romana is a summer-long festival created to attract tourists to the city. Because the months of June, July and August are very hot, people prefer to go to the Italian coasts. However, this festival is a great reason to stay in the capital.

Estate Romana includes a wide variety of activities, from theatre to readings and museum visits. All events are free and the programme is wide-ranging, so there are options for children, young people and adults.

If you are in Rome in August, go to the Estate Romana website and check out the cultural programme. Activities are also held during June and July.

Summer temperatures in Rome

Enjoying the Summer| ©David Ramírez
Enjoying the Summer| ©David Ramírez

Please note that July in Rome and August in Rome are the hottest months with an average daily temperature exceeding 30°C. In addition, in case the humidity level is high, the thermal sensation becomes much higher, to the point of making you feel overwhelmed.

Besides Ferragosto, one of the reasons why some businesses close down is the heat. Their owners want to stay cool and therefore keep their shops closed until the temperatures start to drop.

Book a Vespa tour of Rome

Are there many tourists in Rome during August?

Strolling around Rome| ©Jordan Rowland
Strolling around Rome| ©Jordan Rowland

Rome is a city that has a lot to see and do all year round and therefore there is always a lot of tourism. In particular, July and August are the busiest months for tourists, so it is normal to see crowded streets and long queues. Italians also choose to travel at this time of year, they go to the coast to enjoy the summer.

Just because there are a lot of tourists doesn't mean there are no things to do, all the activities listed above are available. So are museums and other places you can go to any month of the year.

Book a private tour of Rome

Are prices in Rome too high in August?

Calculating Payment| ©Karolina Grabowska
Calculating Payment| ©Karolina Grabowska

Because Rome is a widely visited city in August, don't be surprised to find a hotel with a higher price than in other seasons, such as spring and autumn. Also, some restaurants and shops also decide to increase their prices during this month.

If you go at the end of the month, there is a chance that prices will have dropped, but only slightly.

Book an electric bike tour of hidden Rome

What to pack for a summer visit to Rome

Pack your luggage| ©Oliur
Pack your luggage| ©Oliur

To answer this you need to take into account the season, as it is summer, what I recommend you bring on your trip:

  • Light clothing.
  • Clothing to protect your head, such as a hat.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Comfortable shoes, but not too hot for your feet.

Also, don't forget to carry a water bottle to keep water handy while you are doing your activities. Hydrate constantly so that the heat doesn't affect you, and remember to sit down and rest at certain times. The latter can be done in a park, in a square or near a Roman fountain.

I hope you enjoy some of the above events on your trip to Rome in August. Have a good trip!

Book a night Segway tour of Rome