Rome in December - Essential Trip Planning Guide

If you are coming to Rome in December, you are in for a treat!

Rome is very un-crowded in December, the weather is ok, and the city begins to light up for the holidays.

Did I mention how un-crowded it is?

piazza barberini in decemberPiazza Barberini in December - notice anything? No crowds!

December in Rome - at a glance

Here's what you need to know about coming to visit Rome this time of year:

Weather in Rome Italy in December

pantheon romeDecember skies in Rome can be cloudy and rainy, and the days are at their shortest.

The first day of winter is December 21.

So actually, most of December is an autumn month (yeah, that seems weird to me too.)

It seems to rain a little less in December than in November, and the days can be clear, sunny and crisp.

And they are short of course. 

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, is on December 21/22 so December does have some pretty short days.

In December, the sun is already low in the sky by 4pm and sunset is around 4:45pm.

In late fall and winter, outdoor archeological sites close earlier.

Last entry to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is at 3:30pm, and they close by 4:30pm. 

Because of the limited daylight, and because these sites close earlier, the best time for visiting them in December is morning and early afternoon.

We don't really get snow in Rome, but once every decade or so, there might be a bit, although typically not in December (in recent years, when it's snowed in Rome, it's snowed in January or February).

During the day it's in the low 50's °F/low teens °C, and in the evenings it can still be quite chilly, in the mid 30's °F/single digits °C.

Click here for more about Weather in Rome.

What to pack for Rome in December

When packing for Rome in December, the key thing is to bring plenty of layers. If the sun is out, it can feel pretty mild during the day, but once the sun goes down it will feel much colder!

Think long sleeved t-shirts, heavy pants/jeans, warm pullovers or cardigans, and a good, waterproof jacket/coat. And don't forget the scarf!

Visit my dedicated page all about what to pack for Rome in December for more details and specific recommendations.

My Amazon shop also has lots of Italy-related picks!

No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

See also my general page about What to Pack for Rome, with downloadable packing list.

What to wear in Rome in December

My number one rule for sight-seeing in Rome, any time of year: be comfortable.

This especially pertains to shoes. Sneakers, trainers, hiking shoes, good walking shoes: all these are fine and you will fit right in.

Check out these Italians at Vatican Square in December, all wearing comfortable shoes and jeans.

what people wear in Rome in DecemberWhat to wear in Rome in December? The most important thing is to be comfortable. Jeans, sneakers, and a warm jacket are perfect!

Rome in December can be chilly. But at the beginning of December, there can even be balmy days.

Layering is always a good idea.

Be prepared for changes in temperature between when the sun is out, and when it gets dark.

And always wear or carry a scarf with you.

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.

December in Rome - what to expect

This is a great time to come to Rome if you are looking for hotel bargains.

In December, you can expect it to be fairly cold in Rome, with some rain

You can also expect it to be very uncrowded, except during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

colosseum ticket booth winterThis is the ticket booth in front of the Colosseum, in the middle of a December day. No lines, no crowds.

December is a beautiful time of year to be in Rome, because the city starts lighting up with decorations and there is a festive feeling in the air. 

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December - low season

December is the beginning of (mostly) low season.

Hotel and airline rates drop dramatically from around the beginning of November and, other than during the Christmas and New Years holidays, stay low throughout winter.

This is a great time to visit if you want to see all the popular sites and monuments in Rome, with much smaller crowds than you find in high season.

Foods in season in Rome in December

By December, you can definitely find Roman artichokes just about everywhere.

Not just fried (alla giudia) which seem to be more and more available during the year, but stewed artichokes.

These are on the menu as Carciofi alla Romana and you can only get them in winter and very early spring when this particular type of artichoke is in season in Rome.

roman artichoke il falchettoCarciofo alla Romana - one of the best things about December in Rome!

Chicory is now also in season, which means you can find it not just cooked but also raw.

There is a special raw chicory salad that is sort of particular to Rome: puntarelle. This is raw chicory, cut into thin strips until it curls, then soaked in ice-water until it becomes crispy and crunchy, and then dressed simply with olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt and crushed or chopped anchovies. If you love puntarelle, or want to try them, now is the time!

puntarelle da daniloPuntarelle at Da Danilo in Rome

December is also the real beginning of citrus season. Oranges, mandarins and clementines fill the markets now.

What better way to keep cold and flu germs at bay than to have a nice fresh-squeezed spremuta (juice) of Sicilian blood oranges?

Rome in December - things to do

This is a good time to visit monuments and museums, since they will be much less crowded (except during the holidays).

It's also a great time to catch some special museum exhibits indoors.

Several museums stay open later on the weekends.

AND NEW FOR CHRISTMAS DAY 2023 - The Colosseum will be open from 9 am to 1 pm.

Here are some special things you can do in December in Rome:

Holiday things to do in Rome in December

As you walk around Rome in December, you will see more and more lights and decorations going up outside people's apartments, storefronts, bars, restaurants, hotels and just neighborhood streets in general.

christmas tree at piazza veneziaOne reason it's so delightful to be in Rome in December is to enjoy all the Christmas trees and lights around the city, like this tree at Piazza Venezia.

Here are a few holiday things you can do in Rome in December:

For more details visit these pages:

Christmas Tours to Take in Rome in December

The below tours are available only during the Christmas season.

Some are available on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and others are not available those days.

Click each link to see details and more tour options.

Enjoy the Holiday atmosphere in Rome with a local.

Visit all the best shopping areas and see Rome's streets lit up for the Christmas season. Take in the city's nativity scenes and spot a few Christmas trees. One drink included.

Wheelchair accessible.


Learn all about the Christmas traditions in Rome on this Nativities and Angels tour, taking you on a walking tour across the historic center of Rome.

Starting in Piazza del Popolo and ending in St Peter's Square this a great way to see Rome's decorations!

Concerts in Rome in December 2023

With the holidays around the corner, you have a huge choice of indoor concerts to enjoy this time of year.

Below you'll find Christmas concerts, New Year's Eve concerts and general music concerts:

New Years Concerts in Rome in December 2023

2024 New Year Tenor Concert

The Three Tenors - Enjoy New Year's Eve Concert in Rome in the beautiful Caravita Church in the center of Rome.

The singers are some of Rome's most talented, and they do credit to the original Three Tenors. 

December 31, 2023, and January 1, 2024.

Tickets from 86€.

Sparkling wine after the concert is included.

Virtuosi dell'opera di Roma: New Year's Concert

Greet the new year in Rome with a beautiful lyrical concert of classic opera and concert music. Works include pieces by Puccini, Strauss, Rossini, Verdi, Mozart, and many more.

December 31, 2023, and January 1, 2024. 

Tickets from 37€.

Great for families; wheelchair accessible.

christmas gospel concert

Check out the Rome Gospel Festival at the Rome Auditorium.

There will be a special New Year's Eve show by DaNell Daymon & Greater Works Choir.

Tickets from 20€.

great arias concert

Check out the Great Opera Arias concert.

Held in the beautiful theater of Santa Chiara complete with cocktail bar, this intimate event is a lovely way to spend an evening, including New Year's Eve, in Rome.

Tickets from 38€.

Music Concerts in Rome in December 2023

Enjoy La Traviata The Original Opera with Ballet within the Walls Church, with a mix of songs and prose from this classic Verdi opera.

Enjoy listening to famous opera songs in the stunning and exclusive Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

You can opt to include dinner in the beautiful rooftop restaurant, Terrazza Borromini.

See the "Three Tenors" in a beautiful church setting.

You will be treated to three of Rome's most famous tenors singing some of the best-known and loved songs of Italian opera. They will be accompanied by costumed dancers.

Visit the extraordinary Capuchin Crypt, then head into the recently restored church to listen to sacred music in a gorgeous setting.

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Free things to do in Rome in December

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 December events in Rome.

More ideas for things to do in Rome in December

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 December.

Here are some ideas for your visit:

For more information about events in Rome in December, visit the official website of the Rome Tourist Board.

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Rome in December - What the weather's like, what to pack, things to do. By Romewise.
Rome in December - What the weather's like, what to pack, things to do. By Romewise.

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