Rome in August - Essential Trip Planning Guide

Are you coming to Rome in August?

You may have heard...

  • August in Rome is hot, sticky and humid
  • Everything shuts down in Rome in August for the Ferragosto holiday
  • August is high tourist season in Rome, so it will be really crowded
rome in august at pantheonYes, it's hot in August in Rome. But it's also a great time to visit because it's actually much quieter than other summer months.

Actually, only one of those things is true.

Rome in August - At a Glance

On this page you'll find:

Rome in August - how hot is it?

view from the top of the spanish steps in august33 degrees is pretty hot

This is the true one of the list above.

Yes, it does get really hot and humid in August in Rome.

Or it can.

Come prepared for the heat but bring a light cardigan or scarf just in case. 

Usually during the day, it's in the high 20's °C/ low 80's °F...up to the mid 30's °C / mid 90's °F.

At night, it usually goes down to the mid teens (°C) / low 60's (°F.)

At night, it's really nice to walk around even without a jacket.

And during the day, you should really consider staying out of the heat in the middle of the day when it's a full-on sunny day.

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What to Pack for Rome in August

Rome in August is hot and muggy, so when deciding what to bring with you, think light, breathable clothing.

Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are best, and try to avoid anything too clingy or tight, looser-fitting pants, skirts and tops are ideal.

Feel free to wear shorts if that's what you prefer - Romans are used to tourists wearing them!

But remember to bring longer pants or skirts to wear when visiting churches.

As it will be very sunny, it's also essential to pack a good sunhat and sunglasses to protect you from the hot Roman sun.

Finally, make sure you bring some decent quality shoes or sandals with you - no flip flops!

Especially in the heat, flip flops just can't cope with Rome's cobblestones so to avoid any mishaps, be sure to wear good walking sandals or canvas tennis shoes when out sightseeing.

Visit my page all about what to pack for Rome in August for specific recommendations, suggestions on what to wear in Rome in August and more!

For even more ideas and a downloadable packing list, see my page about what to pack for Rome, as well as my page about staying safe in Rome.

Visit my Amazon page for all my shopping recommendations!

What to Wear in Rome in August

sitting outside at Ciampini in rome in augustHow the Romans dress in August - This scene of people sitting outside enjoying an aperitivo at Ciampini is very Roman

For sight-seeing in August in Rome, here is the ideal way to dress:

  • Extremely comfortable shoes (or sturdy walking sandals)
  • Light cotton pants, bermuda shorts or capri pants, or a long skirt
  • T-shirt, tank-top, polo or other light cotton top
  • A sun-hat with sun-block (this one is a must!)
  • Cotton scarf for men and women in your bag
  • Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen!

Summer is also tank-top weather. Just remember that the sun is very strong and high overhead for a lot of the day.

So slather on lots of sunscreen, or consider wearing a t-short or other light short-sleeved top that covers your shoulders.

And, as with shorts, if you plan to visit any churches or other Christian site, you will not be allowed in with bare knees or bare shoulders. Especially if you are going to the Vatican, you will need to dress appropriately.

Even if you are just out sight-seeing, make sure to at least bring a scarf to cover your shoulders if you decide last minute to pop into a church (one way to keep cool by the way!)

Visit my dedicated pages for all the summer months in Rome

Rome in August - What to Expect

You can expect hot, muggy weather, day and night. . . and pretty empty streets.

You can also expect crowds at the Vatican and Colosseum, because anyone who is in Rome is here for tourism, and those are the sites they want to see!

In Rome in August, yes you can expect some things to be closed, particular in the days surrounding the 15th, Ferragosto.

But you can also expect plenty of shops and restaurants to be open, even all month long.

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Rome in August - Is everything closed?

After I first moved to Rome in fall 2001, I spent my first August here in search of anything open: a supermarket, a pharmacy, and especially, a decent restaurant.

Yes, the capital of a G8 country shut down almost entirely, for the whole month of August.

I just could not believe it.

closed for the holidays in rome"Chiuso per ferie", or "Closed for vacation" - A pretty common sign around Rome in August

I have seen a lot of people asking in online forums if hotels close down in August in Rome.

They definitely do not.

You will have your pick of where to stay, at excellent rates.

Things have changed a lot since then.

I believe the two main factors are economics and economics.

First of all, Italians simply cannot afford to go away for an entire month anymore.

It costs too much to take the whole family to the sea and rent a house for a month. (Many Italians blame this on the changeover from the Lira to the Euro.)

Second of all, Italians who run small businesses are just as aware of globalisation as anyone else.

There is business to be had in Rome in August.

After all, even if the Romans are not here, the tourists sure are.

And guess what?

Many Romans are here too now. 

That said, many shops and restaurants, particularly the very traditional Roman ones, do shut down for some or all of August. 

However more and more shop owners are opting to stay open for some if not most of the month.

The same is true for restaurants, even some really good ones.

And even on August 15. 

Click here to visit my page about where to eat in Rome in August.

I doubt I will see in my lifetime the old-time Roman restaurants such as Armando, Hostaria Romana, Trattoria Monti, Roberto e Loretta, Colline Emiliane and such, take less than a month off at August.

What sites are open on August 15?

On August 15 in Rome, many major sites are open, with one big exception.

Obviously, all the fountains and squares are available for sight-seeing.

Churches will be open although many of them have mid-day closing time for a few hours, or will be holding Mass.

piazza navona in romeRome always has beautiful things to see even if some things are closed. It's an open-air museum! Don't miss Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful squares in Rome!

The Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, are always closed on August 15.

Some museums that normally close on a Monday, such as the Galleria Borghese, will remain open on the 15th if it falls on a Monday.

And so, to give their staff a "holiday" day, they may be closed on another day that week also. 

Check the Vatican Museums (and Sistine Chapel) website as sometimes they close dates near the 15th as well, especially if the 15th falls on or near a weekend.

Some smaller places of interest close for part or all of August, such as the non-Catholic cemetery (usually closed for 2-3 weeks in August.)

For a listing of pharmacies, hairdressers, and cinemas open in Rome in August, head over to my pal Gillian's page about this.

Rome in August - Is it high season and really crowded?

It's funny, I keep hearing that August is high season in Rome.

Many travel websites also state this.

But I ran a B&B in the center of Rome for 17 years, and I can tell you that August has never been and certainly is not now, even close to high season.

August in Rome is a mix of mid- and low- season.


You read that right.


pincio in august - no crowdsThis is the Pincio, at the end of the Borghese Park, and not far from the Spanish Steps. It's the middle of a clear, sunny day in August, with a gorgeous view to the Vatican. See the crowds?

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Here is what I think:

First, almost no Italians travel to Rome in August for their holiday.

Italians tend to spend their August holidays at the beach, in the mountains, or out of the country.

They come to Rome for tourism during other parts of the year, but not in August.

Sabaudia beach near romeIn summer, Romans love heading one of the many beaches near Rome, like this one at Sabaudia.

Second, August is family vacation time across Europe and North America.

Many of those potential tourists think just like Italians do: Rome is too hot, so let's go spend our holidays at the beach.

And finally, even for the families that do come to Rome, it can be expensive to stay in a hotel, especially for families that need more than one room.

All of those families grab the bargains -- B&Bs and self-catering apartments -- and hotel prices drop like stones.

Yes, you’ll find crowds at the usual spots (the Vatican, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain), but the rest of the city is pretty empty, and you can get some real bargains at the hotels in Rome.

Too hot in Rome in August?

Looking for a day trip?

Hotels will be more expensive at vacation spots like coasts, lakes, islands and mountains, but a day trip could be just the thing to get you out of the city and see something new and different and maybe even cool down.

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.

Foods in season in August in Rome

This is the time to eat all the summer fruits and vegetables, such as peaches, apricots, melons, and plums; and eggplant, zucchine, tomatoes, basil, beans and fennel.

prosciutto and melonSummer is the season to have sweet melon with salty prosciutto.
focaccia with tomatoes at pizzeria emmaYou can only get tomatoes like this, sweet as candy, in summer. At Pizzeria Emma, you can savor every detail from the fresh juicy tomatoes to the sharp olive oil to the light, crunchy focaccia.

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What's Happening in Rome in August

If you think Rome in August is kinda dead and everything is closed and there is nothing going on, you are in for a pleasant surprise!

There is a LOT going on in August in Rome:

Seeing the Pope in Rome in August

Do you want to see Pope Francis in Rome in August?

You may be in luck!

In recent history, popes have spent their summers outside of Rome, in the Papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

Pope Francis has yet to take a summer holiday there.

Since August 2015 Pope Francis has held audiences throughout August in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican.

No tickets are necessary to attend the Papal audience during the month of August. 

Also, on August 15, ferragosto, a major Catholic holiday, you may attend the Angelus in St. Peter's Square for free.

It begins at noon.

Click here to read more about seeing the Pope in Rome.

Rome in Summer
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Shopping in Rome in August

If you are a shopper, then you have two great but different reasons to love being in Rome in August:

  • Summer sales officially begin the first weekend in July and end in the middle of August. So by August, a lot of the good stuff may be gone, but what is left is highly discounted. Bargain-shopping time!
  • If on the other hand, you love getting in on the ground floor of the latest fashion trends, then August is the time to shop for fall fashions in Rome. Ugh right? Who can try on wool pants and puffy coats when it's sticky hot outside? But guess what? That's when all the hot new fashions come out. And fashion-smart Romans will do their fall shopping in July and August. By September, when you want that stuff, most of the best of it (and in your size) will be gone.
Burberry fall fashions out in RomeGet the trends before they are out of your size. Shopping in Rome in August is perfect if you want to be ahead of the fall fashion curve!

Rome in August - Things to Do

Summer is a great time to do outdoor things.

And there's a lot you can do outdoors at night, like visiting the Colosseum by night, which is a bit cooler than during the day. 

Free things to do in Rome in August

On the Free Sunday you can visit Rome's museums for free.

State-run sites like the Colosseum and Castel Sant'Angelo, as well as civic museums such as the Capitoline museums are all free on the first Sunday of the month.

The Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of the month, for limited hours.

For details, visit my page about Rome events in August.

Rome in August is pretty hot! Why not hit the beach?

Even if visiting the beach was not on your itinerary for your visit to Rome in August, I find that when Rome temps start soaring, many people ask how to get to the nearest beach.

fregene beach near romeFregene beach is not far from Rome, and a great way to spend a day cooling down.

Here's my definitive guide to the best beaches near Rome, and how to get there.

Ideas for things to do in Rome in August

For current events, holidays, concerts, exhibits, festivals and more, visit my page about Rome events in August.

More things to do in Rome in August

Maybe it's your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time in Rome.

Or you have more than 3 days here.

Or you just want to see and do lots of fun things.

Besides the obvious must-see tourist attractions, there are lots of great things to see and do in Rome in August.

Here are some ideas for your visit:

You may also want to visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.

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