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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Mellor

When Is The Best Time To Visit Rome?

Figuring out the best time to visit Rome is a crucial step on the way to ensuring the trip is memorable


Snow covering rooftops in Rome.

Whenever my partner and I come to Rome, it's almost always in the summer for a house sit. And, invariably, we end up in a conversation with a Roman that ends up circling around to "So, do you live here?" and we explain that we don't we live farther south. "So, you're choosing to be here now?" is a variation on what they always ask in return. Usually with some shuddering, or exasperated sighs.


Because, the unfortunate truth is, summer is one of the worst times to visit Rome. But we'll get to that in a minute.


Winter

If you want the city to yourself, definitely consider a winter trip. While Rome is fairly far north, similar to Chicago or New York in latitude, it doesn't get nearly as cold as either of those cities. And becasue it's fairly close to the sea, they don't get the dry winters seen in some of the more arid parts of the country.

The coldest month in Rome tends to be January, with temperatures rarely (but sometimes) falling below freezing and blanketing the city in snow. Typically, the temperature hovers in the 40s to 50s and starts to warm back up pushing into February and March. However, Rome in the winter is often very wet, so consider packing a decent rain jacket, and maybe even a pair of water-proof boots.

While you might not be able to enjoy an espresso and cornetto under the foliage of sycamores as you can in the warmer months, Rome does a great job of transitioning their outdoor cafés into cozy, indoor nooks. And if you're keen to eat outside despite the temperature, Roman restaurants employ a number of heaters to warm up their outdoor spaces.


Will the monuments and museums be open?

Yes! While the monuments such as the Colosseum and Roman Forum might have reduced hours, they'll still be open for tourists all year. Of course, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain never close, since they are free-to-the-public, open-air attractions.


Spring

Often considered one of the best times of the year to visit, springtime offers you a chance to see Rome in full bloom. My partner and I first came to Rome in 2015 during the spring, and there was that sense of everyone coming out of the cocoon. Windows were finally able to be open all day, a t-shirt wasn't a terrible idea, and miles of walking didn't make us sweat since the chilly breeze was there to cool us off.

While there can still be the vestiges of winter lurking in a handful of days that are below 60, most spring days will be in the mid-60s and sunny. Which we found to be perfect tourism weather!

While there are a number of markets in Rome, both indoor and outdoor, we've found that winter markets and summer markets both can make the vendors a little cranky, since it can be hard to escape the cold or heat. But shopping outdoors in the spring felt like we were making friends, like the vendors had nowhere else to be than enjoying a beautiful day outside.


Summer

While it's easily the most popular time of year to visit Rome (possibly because it coincides with the American school system's summer break), summer in Rome can be a brutal affair.

2022 and again in 2023, Rome broke the record on its hottest day ever (105 then 107). This, coupled with heatwaves that are likely to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, means that your trip to Rome might be one of heat and humidity. And if you like the heat, more power to you! I'm from a hot and humid place in the southern United States, and while I don't mind the heat too much, I'd forgotten how much I rely on the air condition at night—something very few Italian homes have. If you're planning on coming to Rome in the summer, consider staying at a hotel, or at the very least, double-check that your AirBnB has an AC and not just a fan because during the heat waves, the temperature doesn't typically fall below 80 at night, making sleep almost impossible.


Summer in Rome often (if not always) means large crowds, long lines, and limited spaces. If you're the type of traveler who likes to stroll and take their time, taking in the sights slowly, you might find this difficult while being corralled through a museum or archeological site by docents, guards, or other tourists who want to get into the room you're in.


To top it off, the air quality typically falls in the summer as much of the smog from the cars, dust from the Sahara, and smoke from the variety of fires that crop up due to the dryness push out clean air. While this isn't often that noticeable since there is often a nice breeze and the smell of cooking, you might notice it when you're out in the open in a place like Circo Massimo.


To blunt my own writing somewhat, this isn't a warning to not come to Rome in summer, it's only to give you an idea that Rome in the summer is far from the idyllic, picturesque locale it appears to be in many travel articles or tv shows. While I personally like Rome in the summer, I like the fact that normal life stretches past midnight as people are still gathered around café tables to enjoy the cool night air, the high sun that can tan me in an instant, and the feeling that the pace of life has slowed somewhat, it's not for everyone. My partner and I have met a number of fellow travelers and friends who had their hopes and expectations dashed as they found that Rome in the summer can sometimes be more of a chore than a gift.


Fall

If you're planning on visiting Rome in the fall, don't go in August. And while I realize that August is technically summer, it's after the "summer travel period" of May, June, and July (which is also, technically, some of spring). During August, Italians take the month off for Ferragosto, a national holiday that was originally intended to celebrate a break from agricultural toil on August 1st and was later changed to also celebrate the Assumption of Mary on August 15th, it has become a "vacation month" or "vacation few weeks" for Italians. Not only does this mean a number of small, locally-run stores are closed, it will also mean the price for lodging will skyrocket around Italy.


We only recently visited Rome in the fall of 2022, and while we were initially wary of visiting since our own town farther south in Italy can be tricky when it comes to the weather (freezing days of rain book-ended by warm, almost summery days) we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful time.

It seems the secret was already out, though, because even in October we were seeing large crowds at all of Rome's main attractions. While it's not totally unusual for there to be small spurts of large crowds in the off months, everyone we talked to in the restaurant and bar industry also seemed surprised by how many people were still showing up to Rome every day.


With temperatures in the low 80s to mid 70s, Rome in the fall offers a summery feel without the heat waves, or the massive crowds. Just very large crowds.

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