Easter in Rome
The Ultimate Planning Guide for 2024

Thinking of spending Easter in Rome? 

Easter In RomeWatching the Pope celebrate Easter at Saint Peter's Basilica is one of the most special things you can do in Rome at Easter.

Wondering what the weather's like, if it will be crowded, what's closed, what you can do? Read on!

Easter in Rome 2024

The information below sets out everything you need to know about Easter in Rome during normal years, but of course, this year some things are a little bit different!

The main celebrations will also be broadcast on the Vatican's official YouTube channel online, including:

  • Ash Wednesday - February 14th a morning Mass in the basilica of Santa Sabina
  • Palm Sunday - March 24th a morning Mass in St Peter's Basilica
  • Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday - March 28th a morning Mass in St Peter's Basilica
  • Good Friday - March 29th an evening Mass in St Peter's Basilica
  • Holy Saturday - March 30th an evening Mass in St Peter's Basilica
  • Easter Sunday - March 31st a morning Mass in St Peter's Basilica and the Urbi et Orbi blessing at noon
  • Easter Monday - April 1st a noon Mass in St Peter's Basilica

The Pope's Good Friday procession to the Colosseum for the Via Crucis will be happening this year, which is sure to be a very special event!

For more details about all the Easter events, visit my dedicated page here.

Easter In RomeEaster is one of the (normally) two times a year the pope delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" speech. It means "to the city (of Rome) and to the world."

Easter in Rome - The most important things to know

After running a boutique hotel in Rome for years, I know the questions people ask when trying to decide if they will come to Rome at Easter, or avoid it.

This page will help you decide if you should come to Rome during Easter time.

And if you do, you'll know what to expect.

Here's everything you need to know about spending Easter in Rome:

Easter in Rome - how crowded is it?

The main thing people ask me about Easter in Rome time is how crowded it is (hint -  less than you might think.)

Easter is one of the most important holidays, if not THE most important holiday in the Catholic calendar.

Rome can be famously crowded at Easter, due to all the pilgrims pouring in from around the world for the (church-related) festivities. 

Up until the early 2000's (right before the internet became many people's number one resource for trip planning), Rome used to get really crowded at Easter. 

Does that mean Rome is too crowded at Easter?

Well, since the early 2000's, when every travel website said that Rome is to be avoided at Easter, guess what?

Everyone listened to the online advice, and now many people avoid Rome at Easter.

That is, except the pilgrims, many of whom are students and stay at campgrounds and religious housing, which means that regular accommodation is not over-priced nor hard to come by.

How do I know this?

Remember, I was in the B&B business for 17 years.

And so are many of my colleagues. And we can all tell you:

Now, Rome is very crowded the week BEFORE Easter (Holy Week), and just after.

But not so much on the Easter weekend itself.

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Easter in Rome - what's the weather like?

The second thing I get asked a lot about Easter in Rome - does it always rain?

Well, nobody can predict the weather but I can tell you that, anecdotally, it seems to always rain in Rome on Easter Sunday, even just a little bit.

Easter is in spring, which can be rainy in Rome, so just be prepared.

Easter in Rome - what's closed and when

In Italy, the two biggest observed dates around Easter are Easter Sunday AND Easter Monday, both of which are public holidays.

Shops, banks and some restaurants are closed on these days.

However, since many shops, restaurants and certainly banks, are closed on Sundays anyway, it's only really on Easter Monday that you may find yourself minorly inconvenienced by closed shops.

Main tourist sites such as the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Galleria Borghese and other archeological sites and museums keep normal hours. 

The Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill are open on Easter Sunday and Monday, although the Colosseum will close at around noon on Good Friday to prepare for the Pope's procession there.

(Usually Colosseum night visits do not start in the season before Easter but if they are on, it will of course not be available on Good Friday.)

Yes, Good Friday is part of the Easter holiday calendar, but shops, restaurants and banks are all open on Good Friday as it is NOT a public holiday in Italy.

As for the Vatican, of course Saint Peters' Basilica (and the dome) will be open throughout the Easter holiday, but the Vatican Museums (and Sistine Chapel therefore), will be closed on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

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Easter in Rome - What to do during the Easter holiday

If you are in Rome during Easter but do not have Vatican-related activities planned, you might be wondering what to do on the Sunday and Monday.

I find most people in Rome over the Easter weekend are here for just a few days, so if you want to fit in a visit to the Colosseum/Roman Forum and the Vatican, you'll need to plan ahead, and in some cases pre-book.

visiting the Vatican Museums over the Easter holiday

Since the Vatican Museums (and therefore the Sistine Chapel) are closed on the Sunday AND Monday, if you want to visit them and are only here for a few days, you wind up with Thursday, Friday, Saturday or the following Tuesday, as options.

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican MuseumsCeiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican Museums - Michelangelo Buonarotti 1508-1512

The best thing you can do is pre-book your tickets, or book a tour.

If you go on your own (without a tour), go as late in the day as possible.

The Vatican Museums are always most crowded early in the morning.

If you do not manage to book a ticket (i.e. the Vatican website shows sold-out), you can still just show up and queue (again, later in the day is better), or, book a tour.

visiting the Colosseum over the Easter holiday

The Colosseum is open every day throughout the Easter holidays.

But there are some limitations.

colosseum from the backVisiting the Colosseum is a must when in Rome - now when to go during Easter?

If the only day you can visit the Colosseum is the Friday, know that on this day, Good Friday, there is a procession, the via Crucis in the evening.

The whole archeological area of the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine Hill will close at 1pm, with last entry at noon to prepare for this.

As you might imagine, the Colosseum will be pretty crowded on both Sunday and Monday, as people cannot visit the Vatican Museums on those days.

So to visit the Colosseum with the least stress and crowds, go at 8:30 AM when they open, or, 1-2 hours before last entry.

From April 1, last entry is at 6pm. But make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you want to also visit the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.

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visiting St Peter's Basilica during Easter in Rome

when to visit st peter's basilica during easterSaint Peter's Basilica in Rome - when can you visit it during Easter?

As you can imagine, St Peter's Basilica is a hub of activity and crowds throughout Easter weekend.

It is always free to visit the basilica (although you can purchase a skip-the-line ticket which can help if the queues are long). Normal opening hours during March are 7am - 6pm, and from April, 7am - 7pm.

However, during Easter in Rome, the basilica will be closed for visits during papal masses.

If you want to visit the basilica over Easter weekend, you will need to make sure you're not trying to go when the Pope is holding mass. There is not a specific re-opening time. They say it's "when the crowds from the mass clear out."

St Peter's Basilica will be closed during the following times

  • On Palm Sunday, there's a papal mass at 9:30am. So you should plan to visit the basilica sometime after noon.
  • On Maundy Thursday, there's a papal mass at 9:30am. So you should plan to visit the basilica sometime after noon.
  • Good Friday, there's a papal mass at 5pm, so the basilica itself will close earlier than usual that day.
  • Holy Saturday, the service is in the evening so the basilica will be open normally.
  • Easter Sunday, Easter Mass will be held in St Peter's Square at 10am. This will be followed by the Pope's address to the crowd, Urbi et Orbi, at noon. So you won't be able to visit the basilica until around 1pm.
  • Easter Monday, the Pope will hold mass at noon, so you should plan to visit the basilica sometime after 1:30pm or so.

visiting Other Museums and Sites during Easter in Rome

Easter In RomeGalleria Borghese. Statue of David by G.L.Bernini

The Galleria Borghese is open on Easter Sunday and on Easter Monday but CLOSED the following Tuesday.


Easter in RomeCapitoline Museums. Capitoline Wolf

The Capitoline Museums will be open on both Sunday and Monday. 


Easter in RomeDomus Aurea Rome

The Domus Aurea is open on Easter weekend (Saturday and Sunday only.)


Easter in RomeDoria Pamphili Gallery

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a stunning, often over-looked museum right in the center of Rome, between the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon (also open).

It's open daily from 9am until 7pm. 12€ and you get an audio-guide with the voice of Prince Pamphilj himself giving you a tour.

Book a reserved entrance tour.

For more things to do, check out my page about Rome events in April for current shows and exhibits, almost all of which are open over the Easter long weekend.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

Easter in Rome - Vatican Masses and Events

There is a long list of Vatican events and masses that take place across the whole Easter period, starting with Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent.

The main Easter celebrations in Rome take place on:

  • Ash Wednesday
  • Palm Sunday
  • Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Holy Saturday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • Pentecost

See my page here for a full schedule of religious events and all the Easter celebrations in Rome, as well as information on how you can get tickets for the Papal masses.

pope francis easter in rome at st peters basilicaPope Francis leading Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

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What to eat in Rome during Easter

Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, so it's time to feast!

Salami with hard boiled eggs and bread generally start off the meal, and in Rome, Easter Sunday lunch typically features lamb and Roman artichokes. Lamb is a popular Easter dish all over Italy, with different regions having different traditional recipes, all of which are delicious!

Easter in RomeEaster "Colomba" cake at a bakery in the Monti neighborhood

For dessert, there is a typical cake which is similar to the panettone we have at Christmas, that's supposed to be in the shape of a dove, called a colomba - although to me it looks more like a rounded cross.

And of course, there are chocolate Easter eggs for children, sometimes with a treat inside.

Easter in RomeFresh springtime fava beans - perfect for enjoying with some Roman pecorino cheese

Easter Monday is traditionally the day for a picnic, even if the weather in Rome can be a bit unreliable.

So, many Italians pack up a big hamper with all sorts of sweet treats, savory tarts, pastries, cheeses, breads, and deli meats to enjoy outdoors.

During Easter in Rome, it is also popular to have fresh fava beans and pecorino cheese as a snack or appetizer.

Easter in RomeGorgeous Easter treats at a Sicilian pastry shop in Rome, "Nonna Vincenza" near Parliament

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Where to Eat in Rome at Easter

Eating on Easter Sunday in Rome

Normally, I'd make a page with a list of restaurants open at Easter in Rome, but really, it's not that difficult.

Many Rome restaurants are open on Easter Sunday and Monday, except for those that usually close those days of the week anyway.

If you want a traditional Easter Sunday lunch, you should try some Roman restaurants that will be sure to have lamb, potatoes and artichokes.

Some examples include Flavio Al Velavevodetto in Testaccio, Cesare al Casaletto at the end of the 8 tram line, past Trastevere; Romolo e Remo near San Giovanni, and Piccolo Arancio near the Trevi fountain.

You should note that most of these restaurants will get booked up by locals, so book early!

Easter in RomeTypical Easter Sunday menu at a restaurant near the Vatican

Eating on Easter Monday in Rome

Most Romans think of Easter Monday as a day for a picnic or barbecue, and head to a park or even the beach.

So while you can choose a restaurant for eating lunch this day, you might want to do as the Romans do: pack a lunch and head to a park in Rome for a spring picnic.

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