Rome is a glorious place to visit no matter what time of year. But travelers must consider a number of factors, including events, weather, and budget when planning their vacation to the Eternal City. The best time to visit Rome is between October and April. While you'll want to avoid visiting during Christmas or Holy Week (unless you like crowds), at other times you'll find these months crowd-free, with reduced airfare and room rates.
The Weather in Rome
Rome's climate is Mediterranean, with warm, humid summers—temperatures in July and August can easily exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity to match—while the rest of the year is pleasant, with temperatures rarely dipping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. January is usually the coldest month, as temperatures typically don't exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit. October and November are the rainiest months, but a great time to pick up slashed room rates.
Peak Season in Rome
June through August sees the heaviest tourist traffic in Rome. The weather is warm to hot (the average high temperatures range from 81 to 88 degrees F) and the chance of rain ruining a vacation is low. The summer is ideal for sightseeing, dining at an outdoor café, and eating gelato, which is why so many travelers plan their trips during this time. Many people take vacations in the summer. But if you visit during the high season, expect big crowds and long waits in line at many attractions.
Spring can also be a busy time in Rome, not only because of the beautiful weather but because of the Lenten season. Thousands of Christians flock to Rome during Easter Week to visit its churches and museums, especially St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums in the Vatican City or to see the Pope preside over special ceremonies.
Many hotels charge the highest price during Easter week.
Key Events and Festivals
Summer and winter (around Christmastime) are popular seasons for Rome's many cultural events and religious celebrations. The Festa di San Giovanni takes place each year in late June, marking an important festival with a celebration of dancing, music, and food. Of course, Christmas and Easter are also popular. The former is celebrated with elaborate nativity scenes in many churches as well as a famous (and large) Christmas market in Piazza Navona. Easter is a time for religious festivals and processions during the prior week, both in the city and at the Vatican.
The weather throughout much of the spring is similar to fall, making spring another popular time of year for a visit. March weather is slightly more variable (and chillier) than April when the city begins to warm up. If you're visiting during the Holy Week, expect to fight crowds and pay a premium for lodgings and other necessities.
Events to Check Out
- The Rome Marathon is held in April each year, a tough 26.2-mile race through the historic city center.
- Easter usually falls in March or April and is one of the busiest times of the year in Rome and Vatican City. The Holy Week events culminate with an Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square.
Weather-wise, early summer—from May through June—is a wonderful time to visit Rome: days are mild and nights are cool. In the past, hoteliers and tour operators were more likely to offer travel deals during the shoulder season. In recent years, however, many tourists have figured out that the so-called shoulder season is a fine time to visit the Eternal City. As a result, it can actually be more difficult to find lodging or discounts during this time than during the traditional high season. Visitors who wish to visit Rome during this time should plan their trips far in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you plan to visit in August, be prepared to find more tourists than locals. Romans, indeed most Italians, take their summer vacations in August, which means that many facilities, from hotels to restaurants to museums, will close and/or operate on a limited schedule.
The August 15 holiday of Ferragosto officially begins the summer break for the majority of Italians. Many hotels actually offer lower rates during August.
Events to Check Out
- Republic Day is celebrated June 2. This date marks the day in 1946 that Italy became a republic and is celebrated with a parade on the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
- Summer holidays for most Italians kick off on Ferragosto, which falls on the religious holiday of the Assumption, August 15.
November is typically the rainiest month of the year, but many Romans will recommend a fall visit. Mid-September through October has some of the country's most pleasant temperatures, with a bit of a chill at night. Most rainfall occurs during the fall, but early enough in the season, that risk is minor—and worth it for the lack of crowds and otherwise beautiful weather.
Events to Check Out
- Early September kicks off football (soccer) season in Europe. Rome's two teams, AS Roma and SS Lazio, share the Stadio Olimpico playing field and play on Sundays.
- The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is held on October 3, marking the 1226 anniversary of the Umbrian saint's death. Romans commemorate the occasion with a wreath-laying near the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.
Christmas in Rome is typically less crowded than Easter, but still, a very popular time to visit Rome and the Vatican City. Although the weather is chilly (average temperatures from late November to early January range from a low of 35 F to a high of 62 F), the atmosphere is festive and warm thanks to Christmas markets, especially in Piazza Navona, and a host of musical pageants and performances at area churches and theaters. The week from Christmas to New Year's Day is also often a period of high hotel prices.
January (after January 6) and March (prior to Easter week) are low seasons. Travelers to Rome during this time will be rewarded with lower hotel rates, near-empty museums, and the chance to observe Rome as the Romans do.
Events to Check Out
- Christmas markets start selling handmade gifts, crafts, and treats in early December, officially kicking off the holiday season. The nativity display in Sala del Bramante near Piazza del Popolo showcases nativity scenes from around the world.
- New Year's Eve is a widely celebrated holiday in Rome. Piazza del Popolo has the city's biggest public celebration with music, dancing, and fireworks.