10 Things to Do in Rome in Winter

Enjoy one of the most magical seasons of the year, marked by Christmas and its beautiful images. Here is a list of plans so that you don't freeze.

Nuria Rozas

Nuria Rozas

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Rome in Winter

The snowy Coliseum | ©Stefano Costantini

Winter is a magical time to visit Rome: you'll have the whole city to yourself, enjoy the Christmas markets and have fun behind a beautiful mask at the Italian carnivals.

Take note of the 10 things you can't miss in the Eternal City during the coldest and most idyllic months of the year. Don't let the weather stop you, brave man!

1. Enjoy the Piazza Navona Christmas market

Visiting the Piazza Navona market| ©Rafael Jiménez
Visiting the Piazza Navona market| ©Rafael Jiménez

The majestic Piazza Navona is home to Rome's main Christmas market, near the splendid fountains created by Bernini. How can you resist a hot chocolate in the open air with this magical panorama?

If you want to take a guided tour of the city during your trip, I recommend booking the Fountains and Squares of Rome tour, which includes Piazza Navona.

What can I find at this flea market?

  • Gourmet stalls specialising in Italian sweets and chocolates.
  • Stalls with decorations for the Christmas crib.
  • Spaces for the sale of handicrafts.
  • Christmas lights and street musicians.

If you're left wanting more, make a note of the best Christmas markets to make your experience in the Eternal City unique. You'll want to see them all!

Book a tour of Rome's fountains and squares

2. See the Pope's Floral Offering to the Virgin Mary

Madonna of the Immaculate Conception with the Wreath of Roses| ©John Silver
Madonna of the Immaculate Conception with the Wreath of Roses| ©John Silver

If you are travelling to Rome over the December long weekend, one of the most exciting and spiritual celebrations in the city, along with Rome's Holy Week, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

Whether you are a faithful believer or not, I advise you not to miss it - it will give you goosebumps! In this act, the Pope performs the traditional public homage to the Immaculate Conception in the Plaza de España with the laying of a wreath at the statue of the Virgin.

However, it is the firemen of Rome who lay the wreath, as the statue is... No less than 10 metres high! If this plan interests you, I recommend you also book tickets for the Papal Audience.

Book tickets for the Papal Audience

3. Marvel at the opera of Rome

Outside the Teatro Costanzi| ©California Will
Outside the Teatro Costanzi| ©California Will

Whatever time of the year you visit Rome, you can never miss a good cultural event on your agenda, especially in winter, a time when outdoor activities are not so much in vogue. I suggest you book tickets for an opera concert in Rome forone of the evenings of your trip.

Tune your ears and get ready to enjoy classical music. And if you are a music lover, you can take advantage of Christmas to attend the classical music concerts that are organised all over the city, especially in the squares and churches. My favourites are the ones at:

  • Chiesa di Sant'Antonio dei Portoghesi
  • Santa Maria ai Monti
  • Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio.

Book tickets for an opera concert in Rome

4. Celebrate the most special Valentine's Day

Rome's Aqueduct Park| ©Andy Montgomery
Rome's Aqueduct Park| ©Andy Montgomery

It's not Paris, but it doesn't need to be. Rome is one of Europe's most romantic capitals. So, if you are going on a getaway to the Eternal City with your better half on Valentine's Day, here are some suggestions:

Contemplate the sunset among the aqueducts

One of the best places to walk hand in hand and declare eternal love in Rome is the Park of the Aqueducts, literally a film set (Sorrentino shot one of the scenes of the film 'La Grande Bellezza' here).

This secluded and hidden enclave has become one of the most spectacular secret spots in the Italian capital for watching the sunset.

And if you're in Rome on a day other than Valentine's Day, you can see this park when you book a bike tour of the aqueducts.

Enjoy a romantic dinner and stroll along the Tiber River in the moonlight.

Is there a more charming neighbourhood than Trastevere? If you want to treat yourself and your loved one on Valentine's Day, I suggest you have a candlelit dinner with your partner in one of the most bohemian, artistic and beautiful areas of Rome: Trastevere.

Take note! There is no better plan for this day than a good dinner at the Enoteca Ferrara, in Piazza Trilussa, which will make you fall in love for several reasons: for its pleasant and romantic inner courtyard, the abundant dishes and its reasonable prices.

A small door without signs, at number 41 in Piazza Trilussa, will welcome you to this historic place: the former convent of Sant'Eufemia, now converted into a wine cellar restaurant. I hope you arrive thirsty, too, because the wine list will knock your socks off.

Book a bike tour through the aqueducts

5. Glide on an ice rink in Rome

Skating in Rome| ©Jacqueline Poggi
Skating in Rome| ©Jacqueline Poggi

In winter Rome turns white thanks to the artificial rinks, which turn the city into an ideal setting for a fun afternoon with your partner, friends or family.

Ice skating rinks are usually open from December to February. And these are the facilities I recommend you visit in Rome.

The Ice Park Village, in the Euroma2 shopping centre

Although not my favourite due to its small size, The Ice Park Village rink organises a specific programme dedicated to the youngest members of the family with playful games, clown shows and themed parties with Father Christmas as the main character sliding on the ice.

Older children can warm up with a hot chocolate or a coffee while enjoying live music and ice shows by national and international sportsmen and women who usually entertain on winter evenings.

  • Where? Next to the Euroma2 shopping centre, at 83 Océano Pacífico Street.
  • Opening hours? Monday to Sunday, including public holidays, from 10am to 10pm.
  • Price? 8€ on weekdays and 10€ on Saturdays and Sundays.

Grizing Village at Castel Sant Angelo

This ice rink located next to Castel Sant Angelo in Piazza Adriana is the most spectacular of all the ice rinks in the city. In my opinion, skating here is incomparable, as we have an architectural jewel as a backdrop.

If you skate at the Castel Sant Angelo rink, don't forget to stop at the market and try the typical Italian sweets and mulled wine - you'll love it!

6. Lose calories in the San Silvestre Roman race

Participating in the We run Rome| ©Mara Jochem
Participating in the We run Rome| ©Mara Jochem

"Where you go, do as you please. How many times have you seen Father Christmas on TV running the San Silvestre on New Year's Eve or swimming in the sea in the middle of winter? Don't worry, because with this plan you won't freeze, you'll warm up: the city has its own race, the We run Rome.

Can you imagine how much fun it can be to run with 2,000 other people wearing your Santa hat? Every year you can choose from ten possible routes through the Roman districts and also decide whether you want to take part in the competitive 10 km race or the non-competitive 5 km race.

Useful information

  • Starting point: Via delle Terme di Caracalla.
  • Time: around 2 p.m.
  • Date: 31 December

7. Celebrate New Year's Eve in Rome

Preparing the Lentils| ©Mikel Seijas Alonso
Preparing the Lentils| ©Mikel Seijas Alonso

Who hasn't dreamed of ending the year in another city? If you're one of those lucky ones who are going to end their 365 days on a high note (especially because you'll be setting foot in the Eternal City), I can tell you that New Year's Eve in Rome is amazing.

The Italians have prepared a unique feast of lentils and pork, a dish that according to tradition brings luck and abundance. After dinner in a restaurant, you can join in the custom of toasting at midnight with a good "spumante" wine.

From midnight onwards, the city is transformed into a giant stage and you can enjoy free concerts all over the city. The most famous are those held in the Circus Maximus and in the Imperial Forums. In addition, fireworks welcome the new year.

8. Make the most of the winter sales!

Make the most of the sales| ©Sam Lion
Make the most of the sales| ©Sam Lion

After Christmas in Rome, the sales begin, one of the most anticipated events of the year where shops offer spectacular discounts of up to 70%.

It's definitely a good time to go shopping in Rome and to show off Italian fashion on your return, so leave some room in your suitcase!

The winter sales start at the beginning of January and end in mid-February. If you're a big shopper, this is the best time of year to find bargains, as the shops, unlike the summer sales, are not overcrowded with tourists.

9. Meet the friendly Italian Queen Maga

Parades and celebrations take place during the festival of La Befana.| ©GenovaQuotidiana
Parades and celebrations take place during the festival of La Befana.| ©GenovaQuotidiana

Did you know that in Italy it is the jovial witch Befana who is in charge of handing out the presents in the early hours of 5 January? This legendary old lady on her flying broomstick has stolen the job from Father Christmas and the Three Wise Men. Do you want to meet her?

Don't miss the festivities on 5 and 6 January. The evening before the witch Befana sneaks into Roman homes, Piazza Navona is decked out to welcome her in an impromptu carnival with people dressed in costumes under the moonlight. The square is also lined with rides, handmade toy shops and sweet stalls.

On the morning of 6 January you can watch the parade from Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square, which involves more than a hundred people dressed in period costume, mounted on horses and, of course, starring Befana.

Book the Rome sightseeing bus

10. Wear your mask at the Carnival of Rome

Carnival Masks| ©Keith Jones
Carnival Masks| ©Keith Jones

If you want to live an unforgettable experience and immerse yourself in Rome's carnival, one of the country's most centuries-old traditions that preserves intact the elegant, baroque and ornate aesthetics of the 17th century.

I advise you to get a mask to camouflage yourself in this fun attire among the Italians.

The Roman carnival is held before Easter. The big parade starts in the Piazza del Popolo and continues through the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navon full of horse-drawn carriages, troupes, street performers and the knights and dames dressed in their colourful masks. Count yourself among them!

Some ideas for your original costume

If you have any doubts about what to wear, I suggest you dress up as one of Rome's traditional characters, such as "Rugantino", an arrogant rogue from Trastevere who always wears old trousers, or the nobleman "Cassandrino".

Book the Rome sightseeing bus

What is the temperature in winter in Rome?

Rainy night in Rome| ©Gabriella Clare Marino
Rainy night in Rome| ©Gabriella Clare Marino
  • December: the minimum temperature is 4°C and the maximum is 13°C. Bring your umbrella because it usually rains 8 days on average during this month!
  • January: the thermometer registers temperatures between 12°C and 3°C. Temperatures drop even more!
  • February: the thermometer registers lows of around 3º C and highs of 14º C.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

Coffee is a symbol in Italy. Take shelter from the cold in one of its emblematic coffee shops, some with more than a century of tradition. You could do with a caffeine kick!

What to wear when travelling to Rome in winter?

Organising your luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich
Organising your luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich

Before travelling to the Italian capital in winter, I recommend you check the weather forecast for your stay. In recent years, they tend to be pretty accurate.

However, in winter the temperatures are quite cold, so I recommend you pack warm jumpers and warm clothes in your suitcase. Be careful not to forget an umbrella and a mackintosh, as rain is common during these months.

To sum up... What should not be missing in your suitcase?

  • A woollen hat.
  • A thick scarf.
  • Warm, thermal gloves.
  • A woollen jumper or fleece, whichever is more comfortable for you.
  • Thermal vest. Better safe than sorry!
  • Thick trousers.
  • Coat or down jacket.
  • Umbrella and mackintosh

Compare the different seasons for visiting Rome

  • Winter
  • December - March
  • Climate: Freezing
  • Maximum 16º C
  • Minimum 2º C

Ideal for visiting museums

  • Spring
  • March - June
  • Climate: Temperate
  • High 27º C
  • Low 4º C

Ideal for outdoor activities

  • Summer
  • June - September
  • Climate: Hot and humid
  • Maximum 31º C
  • Minimum 14º C

Ideal for outdoor activities

  • Autumn
  • September - December
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Maximum 27º C
  • Low 6º C

Ideal for outdoor activities