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The Best Time to Visit Rome
How to Plan Your Perfect Trip

piazza del popoloEnjoying a spring day in Piazza del Popolo


When is the best time to visit Rome?

I get asked this a lot. I think when people ask me this question, they want to know when it's the nicest weather and the least crowded.

Finding that magical moment to visit Rome when the weather is lovely and when there are also not a lot of people is indeed hard to come by.

But of course I can tell you when that is. Click here to jump to the bottom of the page and find out!



Best Time to Come to Rome for a Short Visit

If you are flexible, i.e. coming for a short break to Rome from another European city, or deciding between visiting Rome at the beginning of your Italian vacation or at the end, you may want to try not coming on a weekend if you can manage it. Consider the following:

  • Many Rome restaurants close one day a week and often it’s a weekend day, especially Sunday. Monday is the next most popular closing day for restaurants in Rome. The most popular restaurants are also at their busiest on weekends. (Of course there are still plenty of restaurants in Rome to choose from.)
  • Standard shopping schedules, especially for smaller stores and boutiques, mean shops close on Saturday at 1pm and re-open on Monday at 3pm. (However, in the historic center of Rome, which is the main shopping zone in Rome, there are many exceptions to this.)
  • The Vatican museums (where the Sistine Chapel is) are closed on Sundays (except for the last Sunday of each month, during which a visit to the museums can be extremely chaotic and crowded.) Saturday is the busiest day of the week to visit the Vatican Museums.

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Busiest times in Rome

Weekends

Due to the advent of so many low cost airlines popping up around Europe, Rome, like other European cities, gets filled up during weekends throughout the year.

This does not mean it’s a bad time to come to Rome, especially if you don’t have a choice. However, if you do have a choice, and considering what I pointed out above, the best time to visit Rome would be mid-week: a tad less crowded (depending on the season), and shops, restaurants and museums tend to be open during mid-week.


Easter and Holy Week

vatican at easterSaint Peters Square at Easter


Easter (including the week prior, Holy Week) can be one of the busiest times in Rome, although, in recent years I have noticed that the week just prior to Holy Week is even busier than Easter week.

This might be due to school vacation schedules. Or maybe people read online that Easter is a busy time in Rome, so they come the week before.

In any case, expect crowds in Rome around Easter. Read more about Easter in Rome.

TO NOTE: In Italy, Easter Monday is also a holiday and many things are closed on both Sunday and Monday.

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Christmas and New Years

Like most European cities, Rome fills up right after Christmas, for New Year’s.

It's actually a lovely time to be in Rome. The city is lit up, Romans are all out enjoying their post-Christmas strolls, and there is a very festive atmosphere. For New Year's Eve, there are fireworks and some concerts in the plazas around Rome.

In recent years, I've also noticed it's just as crowded in Rome the week after New Years as it is the week leading up to New Years.

First of all, the 6th of January (the Epiphany) is a major holiday in Italy. Second of all, winter sales begin the first week after New Years. Third, school is still out for many Italians and other Europeans, so Christmas vacations go through the Epiphany.


April 25 and May 1

April 25 is the celebration of Italy’s liberation in 1945. It is a national holiday, and if it falls near a weekend, most Italians will take a ponte, or “bridge” and travel during the long weekend. 

May 1 is a European holiday, called May Day. As above, if it falls near a weekend, hotel rooms might be harder to come by. 

Many Italians take the entire week between April 25 and May 1, and turn that into a vacation. This means they become tourists in Italy, causing Rome, and hotels, to fill up.

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Less busy times to visit Rome

trevi fountain in januaryThe Trevi Fountain in January - no tourists!

If you want to be in Rome when it's devoid of tourists, the winter months are the quietest. Here are the exceptions to this (particularly if they fall on or near a weekend):

Even despite the above, winter might be the best time to visit Rome if you like to avoid the crowds (including at the Vatican! My sister visited in December one year and told me how nice it was to sit on the benches along the sides of the Sistine Chapel and contemplate the ceiling. I said, "There are benches inside the Sistine Chapel?" Apparently there are. And you can actually see them if you go in December.)

Click here for more about visiting Rome in December, January, February and March.

Of course, it's cold and there is less daylight, and usually more rain, than in the spring, summer and fall. So winter may not be the best time to visit Rome if having great weather is important to you.

However, there are some benefits to coming in these months:


Artichokes are in season!

via veneto at christmas


In December and early January, Rome is beautifully lit up for the holidays

sales in rome


Winter sales begin the first week in January (there are sales only twice a year in Italy!)

pantheon in winter


There are almost no crowds at all the sites and museums (on a recent rainy day in January, I literally had Trevi Fountain all to myself...see above. I was cold but it was beautiful!)

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Best Time to Visit Rome - Two key moments of the year

So here's the secret: If you want to come when it's "nice" weather but there are not as many people, these are the best times to visit Rome:

Late August

pincio in rome in summer - no crowdsLate August at the Pincio in Rome - no crowds!

Late August is a great time to visit Rome. The summer crowds are dissipating but many Italians are still away on their summer break. Most shops and restaurants that close during August, will have reopened by the last week of that month, so the city is starting to come back to life but it's not quite as crowded as September (high season begins in early-mid September.)

Late August might be the best time to visit Rome if you don't mind a bit of heat and humidity. 

Check out my top tips for how to Keep Cool in Rome in summer

Personally I love it here then, the streets are quieter but things are stirring back to life and all the new fall fashions are out!

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Mid- to Late-November

trastevere street in novemberA quiet street in Trastevere in November - still some sunshine and a lot fewer crowds!

Early November is still pretty busy in Rome, because the weather is still nice. But by mid- to late November, it slows down a lot, as people gear up for Christmas/New Years holidays.

The weather in mid- and late November can be iffy (it's our rainiest month), but it's still fairly mild temperature-wise, and there is still pretty good light during the day. So if you don't mind a bit of chill in the air, late November, could be the best time to visit Rome for you!


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