They don't call Rome the Eternal City for nothing. The capital of modern Italy, Rome has been a center of world power since the glory days of the Roman Empire. Its incredible legacy as a city of emperors, popes, kings, and presidents has left the city with an unparalleled heritage of art, architecture, and culture that very few cities in the world can match. Plus, as the capital of one of the world's richest nations, Rome remains a vibrant living city. Much as it may occasionally feel like an open-air museum, Rome is an ever-evolving metropolis that rewards continued exploration.
Rome benefits from a Mediterranean climate that sees hot temperatures in the summer and mild lows in the winter. Cold weather is rare in Rome, though not unheard of. Rain falls in the city throughout the year, usually peaking around early November, but blue skies are typically the norm no matter when you visit Rome.
Looked at like that, you could argue that there is no particular best time to visit Rome. However, depending on what you want to do in the city, you may find certain times of the year better than others.
Here's a guide to the best time to visit Rome depending on how you want to spend your time in the city. And remember, no matter when you choose to visit, you can make your trip easier by leaving your bags behind at a luggage storage in Rome. Traveling light makes it far easier to enjoy the city no matter when you choose to visit.
Summer in Rome
When it comes to tourism in Rome, the summer months are most definitely peak season. If you want to explore in the sunshine, this is definitely the time of year to do it. Average temperatures in July and August could reach highs above 86°F (30°C), and even the nightly lows rarely drop below 70°F (20°C). Though rain is possible during the Roman summer, it's not common, and when it does rain it's usually no more than a passing shower.
This pleasant weather makes the high season of summer a popular time to visit Rome for people on their summer holidays. Therefore, you can expect to encounter summer crowds at all the city's top tourist attractions, such as Saint Peter's Basilica and the Coliseum. In fact, standing in line at one of these attractions in the high heat of summer can make you feel like the entire world has decided to take a summer break in Rome. If you're not a fan of crowds, high season is best avoided.
However, summer does see some of Rome's best events, such as the Gay Village Festival and the Festa di San Giovanni. If you don't mind navigating major crowds and want to experience outdoor events, high season is the time to do it. Additionally, the city's magnificent churches in both Rome itself and in Vatican City make excellent places to beat the heat and escape the crowds of tourist season.
When visiting Rome during the high season, expect high season prices. Plus, you should also be aware that many Roman businesses shut during August, when smart locals escape the high average temperature of summer and head to the country or the beach. Tourist attractions will always be open, but some restaurants and other small businesses may close, leaving only those that cater strictly to tourists.
If you don't mind long lines and hot weather, summer can be a great time to visit Rome. You won't need more than a light jacket at the most along with your T-shirts and shorts, but be aware that many churches, especially in Vatican City, do have a dress code, so bring a shawl or something you can use to cover up those shoulders and thighs with so you don't break the rules.
Fall in Rome
As summer draws to an end and the holiday season winds up, the Eternal City takes on a new atmosphere. Temperatures remain mild, with the September average temperature hovering around 78°F (26°C). October sees a slight dip, with an average temperature of 63°F (17°C), while November is even cooler at 57°F (14°C).
The weather in fall means that the heavy summer tourist crowds have left Rome, making it a far more enjoyable place to explore. However, this is also the time of year when rain becomes a more common occurrence, so you'll want to pack an umbrella or light raincoat.
Tourist attractions are still open in fall, but the lines aren't as long as they are during peak summer months. However, some businesses may start to shut down for the winter season, although most will remain open. One of the best things about visiting Rome in fall is that you can enjoy all the city's best outdoor attractions without having to worry too much about the heat.
The cooler weather also makes it a great time to sample some of the city's best comfort food. There's nothing like a warm bowl of pasta to take the chill out of a fall day, and you'll find plenty of excellent restaurants serving up delicious dishes all over Rome.
If you're looking for a quieter time to visit Rome without sacrificing good weather, fall is the perfect time to go. Just be sure to pack an umbrella or raincoat in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Of course, if it does rain when you visit Rome, there's no need to panic. Thanks to its incredible museums, art galleries, and churches, there is no shortage of things to do on a rainy day in Rome. Plus, bad weather helps to tame the tourist crowds, and you may have some of the city's most spectacular locations almost to yourself. If you get the opportunity, visit the Pantheon in central Rome to see the rain falling through the oculus, a circular hole in the 2000-year-old dome, for a quintessentially Roman experience.
This time of year also has its share of events worth exploring. The Roma Jazz Festival is held in the autumn, as is the International Film Festival of Rome and the White Night Festival. If you would like to experience some pleasant weather and great things to do without enduring insane crowds, the shoulder season of fall may be the best time to visit Rome for you.
Winter in Rome
Rome's winters are cool and damp, with average temperatures ranging from 36°F (2°C) in December to 50°F (10°C) in February. Snow is not common, but it can happen, so it's always a good idea to pack a warm coat just in case.
Despite the cooler weather, winter is still a great time to visit Rome. The city comes alive with festive cheer during the holidays, and there are plenty of events and attractions to enjoy. One of the best things about visiting Rome in winter is that you can see some of its most iconic sights without having to deal with huge crowds.
The Christmas season is a magical time to be in Rome. The city is decked out in lights and decorations, and you'll find a festive atmosphere wherever you go. If you're lucky enough to be in Rome during the holidays, make sure to visit Vatican City to see the Nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square. This life-size replica of the scene where Jesus was born is a must-see for anyone visiting during Christmas time.
The city also comes alive with music and other performing arts during the winter months. The Roma Europa Festival is held in October and November, while the Accademia Filarmonica Romana hosts a series of classical music concerts from December to February.
If you're a retail addict, this can also be a good time to take advantage of the winter sales that usually take place in mid-January. Visiting during winter will expose you to some of the worst of the Rome weather, but the city has enough great indoor attractions that it may not be a problem.
Winter in Rome doesn't see the same crowds you'll find in summer. However, the city's status as the heart of a major world religion means that Rome does get crowded around Christmas time. Thousands of Catholics descend on the city, especially the Vatican and St Peter's Square, hoping to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve or get a blessing from the Pope. Therefore, room rates around Christmas time may not be as affordable as you would expect. Plus, remember that many of Rome's top tourist attractions are churches. Many of these churches will be inaccessible to tourists for the entire week of Christmas as believers celebrate the season.
Still, if you don't mind a little cooler weather, winter can be a great time to visit Rome. Just make sure to pack a warm coat and you'll be all set to enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Spring in Rome
Spring in the Eternal City offers an excellent time to visit Rome. Like the shoulder season of fall, the weather is generally pleasant, with temperatures in early March reaching highs of 60°F (15°C) and climbing to a comfortable 75°F (24°C) by May.
Rain is also less common in the spring, though you should still pack an umbrella just in case.
One of the best things about visiting Rome in the spring is that you can enjoy all the city's outdoor attractions without having to deal with the sweltering summer heat. The Vatican Gardens are especially lovely this time of year, as are the parks and gardens scattered throughout Rome.
If you're a fan of art and architecture, spring is also an excellent time to visit Rome's many museums and galleries. The Vatican Museums are particularly worth exploring, as they house some of the world's most famous artworks, including the Sistine Chapel.
Keep in mind that while Rome is less crowded in the spring than it is in summer, there are still some peak tourist times to avoid. Easter week is one of the busiest times of the year, as Catholics from all over the world come to see how Rome celebrates Holy Week. Easter is also a National Holiday, and many Romans may close their businesses and head out of the city from late March to mid-April, depending on when Easter falls.
At the same time, Holy Week can be a fascinating time to visit Rome to see all the pageantry of Catholicism. If you don't mind the crowds, you may find that this is one of the best times to see the city.
When is the best time to visit Rome for you?
Ultimately, picking the best time to visit Rome will depend on what you want to do. If you have visions of strolling along the banks of the Tiber river with a gelato in hand or people-watching in Piazza del Popolo, it might be worth braving the crowds of peak season to enjoy the best Rome weather possible. However, summer brings crowds and high prices, making it not the best time to visit for those on a budget or people who don't like crowds.
If you don't mind low temperatures, Winter offers one of the cheapest times to visit the city and your best chance to find Rome's historic sites uncrowded and open to explore. If you can avoid the period around Christmas, you can get some great bargains on hotels.
But if you want a mix of good weather and relatively low crowds while still enjoying a lively city to explore, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall may be the best time to visit Rome. With lots of events going on and most businesses staying open, these transitional seasons offer the best time to experience all the different facets of the Italian capital.