10 Things to Do in Rome in Winter

Enjoy one of the most magical seasons of the year, marked by Christmas and its beautiful prints. Here is a list of plans so 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 will have the whole city to yourself, you will enjoy the Christmas markets and you can have fun behind a beautiful mask at the Italian carnivals.

Take note of the 10 plans 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!

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 hosts the main Christmas market in Rome, near the splendid fountains created by Bernini. How to resist a hot chocolate in the open air with this magical panorama?

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

What can I find at this flea market?

  • Gourmet stalls specializing 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 are left wanting more, write down the best Christmas markets to make your experience in the Eternal City unique. You will 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 traveling 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 8.

Whether you are a faithful believer or not, I advise you not to miss it - it will give you goose bumps! 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 of flowers to the statue of the Virgin.

However, it is the firefighters of Rome who place the wreath, since the statue is located at... No less than 10 meters 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 in your agenda a good cultural plan, especially in winter, a time when outdoor activities are not so appealing. I suggest you book tickets for an opera concert in Romapara 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 organized all over the city, especially in the squares and churches. My favorites are those of:

  • 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

Aqueduct Park in Rome| ©Andy Montgomery
Aqueduct Park in Rome| ©Andy Montgomery

It's not Paris, but it doesn't need to be. Rome is one of the most romantic European 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 aqueducts

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

This enclave, secluded and hidden, has become one of the most spectacular secret corners of the Italian capital to watch the sunset.

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

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

Is there any neighborhood more charming than Trastevere? If you want to treat yourself on Valentine's Day with your better half, I suggest you have dinner with your partner by candlelight in one of the most bohemian, artistic and beautiful areas of Rome: the Trastevere.

Take note! There is no better plan for this day than a good dinner at 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 its wine list will knock your socks off.

Book a bike tour around 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 suggest you visit in Rome.

The Ice Park Village, in the Euroma2 shopping center

Although it is not my favorite because of its small size, the rink The Ice Park Village organizes a specific program dedicated to the little ones of the house with playful games, clown shows and theme parties with Santa Claus as the protagonist sliding on the ice.

On the other hand, adults can warm up with a hot chocolate or a cup of coffee while enjoying live music and shows on the ice by national and international sportsmen and women who usually entertain on winter evenings.

  • Where? Next to the Euroma2 shopping center, at 83 Océano Pacífico Street.
  • Opening hours? Monday to Sunday, including holidays, from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • 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 those 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 Roman San Silvestre

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

"Where you go, do as you see". How many times have you seen on TV Santa Claus 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, but you will 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 Claus hat? Every year you can choose from ten possible routes through the Roman districts and also decide whether you want to participate 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: December 31

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 are one of those lucky ones who will end their 365 days on the right foot (especially because you will set foot in the Eternal City), I'll tell you that New Year's Eve in Rome is amazing.

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

After midnight, 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. Take advantage of the winter sales!

Taking advantage of the sales| ©Sam Lion
Taking advantage of the sales| ©Sam Lion

After Christmas in Rome begins the sales, one of the most anticipated events of the year where stores make spectacular discounts of up to 70%.

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

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

9. Meet the friendly Italian Queen Maga

Parades and celebrations are held during the feast of La Befana.| ©GenovaQuotidiana
Parades and celebrations are held during the feast of La Befana.| ©GenovaQuotidiana

Did you know that in Italy it is the jovial witch Befana who is in charge of distributing gifts in the early hours of January 5? Neither short nor lazy, this legendary old lady on her flying broom has stolen the job from Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men. Want to meet her?

Don't miss the festivities on January 5 and 6. The evening before the witch Befana sneaks into Roman homes, Piazza Navona is decked out to welcome her in an impromptu carnival with people in costume under the moonlight. In the square there are also rides, craft toy stores and candy stalls.

On the morning of January 6 you can attend the parade that runs from Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square and involves more than a hundred people dressed in period costumes, mounted on horses, and, of course, starring the 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 the carnival of Rome, one of the most centuries-old traditions of the country that preserves intact the elegant, baroque and ornate aesthetics of the seventeenth century.

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

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

Some ideas for your original costume

If you have doubts about what to wear, I suggest you dress up as the traditional characters of Rome, such as "Rugantino", an arrogant rogue from Trastevere who always wears old pants, 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 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 around 3º C and highs of 14º C.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

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

What to wear for winter travel in Rome?

Organizing your luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich
Organizing your luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich

Before traveling in winter to the Italian capital, I recommend that you take a look at the weather forecast for your stay. In recent years, they tend to be quite accurate.

However, in winter temperatures are quite cold so I recommend that you pack sweaters and warm clothes in your suitcase. Be careful not to forget an umbrella and a raincoat because the rains in these months are recurrent.

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

  • Wool hat.
  • Thick scarf.
  • Warm and thermal gloves.
  • Wool sweater or polar fleece, whichever is more comfortable for you.
  • Thermal undershirt. Better safe than sorry!
  • Thick pants.
  • Coat or down jacket.
  • Umbrella and raincoat

Compare the different seasons to visit Rome

  • Winter
  • December - March
  • Weather: Freezing
  • High 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
  • High 31º C
  • Low 14º C

Ideal for outdoor activities

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

Ideal for outdoor activities