Rome Winter · January · February · March · Useful tips

Rome in winter. Winter in Rome is the ideal travel time if you want to enjoy churches and museums in peace. With the exception of the Christmas season, there are few tourists in Rome and you can roam the city, churches and museums with more tranquility.

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Visit Rome in winter

Rome is also interesting in winter. The winter sales start in January and then shopping is really fun. There is not much going on in the sights, churches and museums and the tranquility increases the enjoyment of art. You can also enjoy the heavy Roman cuisine on the long winter evenings.

Weather

Statistically, there are 6 rainy days in January, and 4 rainy days in February and March. In principle, it can be said that precipitation is rare in this season. In the beginning of January there can be cold winds, from mid-February it is quite pleasant. The average maximum temperatures are 14°C / 57° F, the average minimum temperatures are 3°C / 38° F.

However, the weather is not the same every year. In winter 2021, for example, it rained a lot. So follow the weather report and pack a rain cover.

Ice and snow in Rome

Fontana del Giglio ice Villa Pamphili
Iced lily fountain in Villa Pamphili

Every now and then there is snow in Rome. When it snows in Rome, it gets really funny. Since the Romans are in principle only with summer tires on the road, nothing works. The traffic comes to a complete halt, the schools remain closed. The buses do not drive anymore. The exceptional situation lasts at most two days, then everything is over.

If you are lucky enough to experience snow in Rome, you should definitely take pictures. You can remember that for a long time.

The fact that there are icy temperatures for Roman conditions is nothing unusual at the end of January and the beginning of February. If it stays cold for longer, the wells freeze. This special spectacle could be admired in late January 2017.

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Avoid queues

Especially if you are only a few days in Rome, it is a pity to waste valuable time in the queues. You should therefore, if possible, reserve everything in advance, from entering the museums to visiting a restaurant.

Priority entry to St. Peter’s Basilica and the dome

To access St. Peter’s Basilica, you have to go through a security check like at the airport. You are not allowed to pass here with a pocket knife. You can take umbrellas and liquids with you. If you have booked a tour for the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, you pass the security check in the Vatican Museums and no more at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The official tour operator of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vox Mundi, offers priority access to the security check at St. Peter’s Basilica if you have booked an audio guide or a guided tour in advance.

The entrance to the dome is located above the visitor center on the right side of St. Peter’s Basilica. The visit of the dome costs 10 euros including the fee for the elevator.

Please note the clothing rules in St. Peter’s Basilica: you can only enter with presentable clothing. The clothing should not be strapless or low cut, pants or skirt must cover the knees. Sandals and hats are not allowed.

Here you can find more information about St. Peter’s.

Colosseum tickets

Make a reservation for the Colosseum. Otherwise you may only find unfavorable remaining contingents or no tickets at all. You can also visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill before the booked entry time for the Colosseum.

You must also make a reservation even with the Roma Pass. You can reserve by phone at +390639967700. The reservation costs € 2. Here you can find a comparison of the Rome City Cards.

Tickets to the Vatican Museums

At the Vatican Museums, you have to pre-order access for a specific time. There are a variety of offers for the Vatican Museums. Most visitors, however, opt for a guided tour of the Vatican Museums with St. Peter’s Basilica. In this case you can only see half of the museums, because you get to St. Peter’s Basilica through a passage for groups from the Sistine Chapel. The alternative, however, would be to walk from the Sistine Chapel through the Vatican Museums back to the entrance, then around the museums to St. Peter’s Basilica and then queue up at the security check again – a total of several hours. Due to the corona regulations, however, the passage may be closed.

Very intersting is the special early admission. You will be among the first to visit the museums and the Sistine Chapel in the morning.

For more information, see our articles on the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Tickets to the Villa Borghese Gallery

You can only visit the Gallery Villa Borghese by reservation. If you have a Roma Pass, you can reserve by calling +390632810.

Pantheon

Entry to the Pantheon is free. Nevertheless, you have to reserve the visit on Saturday and Sunday. Pantheon online reservation

Public holidays

Official holidays are December 25th and 26th and January 1st and 6th. Almost all museums are closed on January 1st. The Vatican Museums are closed on January 6th and on the name day of St. Joseph on March 19th. March 19 is Father’s Day in Italy, but not a public holiday.

There are some carnival events in Rome and the Chinese community extensively celebrates the Chinese New Year.

Rome winter · Papal audiences and Angelus

As a rule, the general audience of the Pope takes place every Wednesday morning. You can see on which days the audiences take place in our monthly overviews as well as in the calendar under the information about the papal audiences.

The Angelus prayer with Pope Francis takes place every Sunday at 12 noon on St. Peter’s Square. The Angelus prayer also takes place on January 1st and 6th. Admission to the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square is free and possible without reservation.

Traffic calmed Sundays

In Rome in the winter months there is Sundays with driving ban in the center. Especially environmentally friendly cars and taxis are allowed to drive.

You can find the data in our monthly overviews. The driving ban applies from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On these days there are events on the streets and some streets are fully closed. The city center with little traffic is especially nice!

Museums

On January 1st, all museums are closed with the exception of a few special openings. Details and opening times of all museums can be found in the list of museums.

Hotels

The hotels around Termini Central Station are reasonably priced, but you always need public transport to get anywhere, or you have to walk a long time. If you want to get to know Roman city life, hotels right in the center are ideal, on the ancient Martian field, which stretches from the Tiber to Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps and Piazza Venezia. If you choose a hotel on the other side of the Tiber, you should not choose too far from the Vatican. We have put together some hotel recommendations on our hotel page.

Rome Winter · Gastronomy

In winter you can immerse yourself in the pleasures of Roman cuisine without regrets. Tie napkin and off you go! Deep-fried artichokes – Carciofi alla Giudia (say Kartschofee alla Djudeea), pickled artichokes – Carciofi alla Romana, fried zucchini flowers, deep-fried stockfish – baccalà, fried rice balls – Supplì, fried olives with meat filling – Olive Ascolane, with a beautiful buffalo mozzarella from Campania, white bacon – Lardo, spicy sausage and cured ham. Also popular are preparations made from beans or lentils, which are served in clay pots “cocci”.

Winter in Rome Ghetto

It continues with a nice pasta dish, for example, the Gricia (pronounced Greetscha) bacon and the sheep’s cheese Pecorino, the Amatriciana (pronounced Amatritschana) – a Gricia with tomatoes, or Cacio e Pepe – there the noodles are finished in a cheese melt.

A classic Roman main dish is the oxtail in tomato sauce – coda alla vaccinara (pronounced vatscheenara), or offal. If you are not so adventurous, you are on the safe side with a saltimbocca alla romana – veal escalope with cured ham and sage. Also excellent is polenta with sausage or pork ribs in tomato sauce.

In Rome there is very good fresh fish. Some restaurants also offer raw fish, such as raw scampi or gamberi, tartare and carpaccio.

Bar sotto il mare antipasti

My favorite for the fish is the bar Sotto il Mare in Via Tunisi, below the entrance to the Vatican Museums. This place is very rustic, also the service, but the fish dishes are prepared with the utmost care. For dessert there is fruit ice cream in the fruit skin from Naples.

Another good place for the fish is Ripa 12 in Trastevere in Via di San Francesco a Ripa. Here you get, among other things, sea bream – Orata or sea bass – spigola – raw filetted with rocket.

Browse our category Food in Rome.

Shopping

Especially in the Christmas season in Rome you will find a huge range from classy designer fashion to international chains with mass production.

As soon as the Christmas season is over, the first shops are lowering their prices. You can find real bargains in Rome after the 6th of January. On the Via del Corso and the side streets you will find everything your heart desires.

Other well-stocked shopping centers are Euroma2, which is not easily accessible by public transport, and Porta di Roma, bus line 38 from Termini and line 80 from Piazza Venezia.

Outside Rome, there are two outlet centers, in Castel Romano and in Valmontone.

Porta Portese flea market Rome

Bargains and collectibles can also be found at the Porta Portese flea market every Sunday morning between Viale Trastevere and Tiber, Tram 3 and 8.

More details you find in our category Shopping in Rome.

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