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Rome in January

Are you thinking of coming to Rome in January?

Yes, it's cold but it's also quiet and almost tourist-free! What a great time to sight-see in Rome. Here's what you can expect.

giardino degli aranci in januaryGiardino Degli Aranci with panoramic views of Rome. I snapped this in mid-January around 10am. Crystal clear skies and nobody around but me.

January in Rome - At a Glance

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

Check out my YouTube video about visiting Rome in January!

Weather in Rome Italy in January

January is definitely the heart of winter. So expect winter weather, but mild winter weather.

Rome doesn't really get much sleet and snow (although it can happen.) Sometimes there is a quick hail shower, but again, it's not that common. Does it rain a lot in Rome in January? It can rain sometimes, sure. But February and March tend to be rainier.

The weather in Rome Italy in January is fairly mild, with lows (at night) of about freezing, and highs during the day of about 10-14 Celsius / high forties - low fifties Fahrenheit.

The days are still pretty short, being winter, but they are already getting longer since the winter solstice on December 22.

What to pack for Rome in January

Packing for Rome in January is easy as the weather in Rome in January is pretty consistently wintery cold. It can be surprisingly warm for a short few hours during the day when the sun is out, but it gets cold quickly, which is why you should pack plenty of layers, including jackets and a heavier cardigan or pullover.

It’s also essential to be prepared for rain (or snow!) in Rome in January, so I would recommend including rain-hats and a sturdy umbrella on your packing list.

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

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

Visit my Amazon page for all my shopping recommendations!

What to wear in Rome in January

Make sure to bring winter items (above.) The key is to be comfortable.

And the other key is layering. You'd be surprised at how warm you can feel during the day in the sunshine walking around the Coliseum.

how to dress for winter in romeA rainy January day by the Spanish Steps. Wear jeans, comfortable walking shoes, a comfy warm winter jacket, and carry a small umbrella, just in case!

I cannot stress highly enough how important it is to wear comfortable shoes, whether you visit Rome in January or another time of year. So make sure you bring quality, comfortable socks, too. 

For more about what to wear and how to dress when you visit Rome in January, visit my page here.

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Rome in January - What to expect

Check hotel rates for Rome in January

If you want to visit Rome on a budget, you will find great deals on accommodations in January (after the 6th).

Weather-wise, you can expect wintery but often mild weather in Rome in January. The days are short but it can be surprisingly warm and sunny between 11am and 4pm.

As far as crowds go...

Is it crowded in Rome in January?

You might expect January, being a winter month, to be pretty quiet in Rome. That depends on which part of January you are here. 

The first week of January is high season in Rome, and very crowded. First of all, it's still part of the New Year's and general holiday season.

January 6 is a major holiday in Italy and other Catholic countries: It's the Day of the Kings (the day the Magi brought gifts). In Italy, this holiday is mostly about kids, and is called Befana, which is the name of a not-very-pretty witch, who is actually nice, and who flies around bringing gifts to the kids. The Christmas holiday season officially ends on the 6th of January (although you will still see lights up around Rome even through late January.)

christmas lights via dei giubbonariChristmas lights on via dei Giubbonari in Rome

Most major tourist sites, and even shops are open on January 6 (except for the Vatican Museums.)

However, schools and a lot of offices are closed through that date. And often, this will stretch through whatever the following weekend is. Then everything gets back to "normal" the following Monday. So until then, Italian families are travelling and visiting Rome. And that makes it pretty crowded here!

I've visited the Vatican in the first week of January and it's as crowded then as it is in May.

st peters square in early januarySaint Peter's Square on January 2. A mob scene! This is one of the busiest times of the year in Rome.

And, finally, winter sales usually begin sometime the first week in January, and Italians will flock to their favorite stores that day, so it's yet one more reason you will see Rome's streets very busy in the first week of January. In 2020, the sales begin on Saturday, January 4. Stay tuned.

After that, Rome tourism drops to almost nothing. And THEN, you can pretty much count on having a lot of sites, including the Sistine Chapel, to yourself.

OK maybe the Sistine Chapel is not the best example, there are always people in there.

But one winter I went and there were lots of places to sit down.

Did you know you can sit down inside the Sistine Chapel?

You would not even see the benches other times of the year, because of how crowded it is. But in low low season, like Rome in January, you betcha you can sit down!

pantheon januaryThe Pantheon in Rome in January - very uncrowded!

Rome in January - Low Season

By the end of November, it's the beginning of (mostly) low season in Rome. And once you get past the Christmas holidays. January is the quietest time of year to be a tourist in Rome.

Hotel and airline are low throughout winter.

This is a great time to visit Rome without the crowds. You can see all the popular sites and monuments in Rome, and have many of them nearly to yourself.

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.

Rome in Winter
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*This product is produced in, and dispatched from the United States. Please consider that delivery timeframes may fluctuate based on where you are in the world, particularly while COVID-related disruptions persist. Deliveries outside of the United States may be subject to custom or import fees, which Romewise bears no responsibility for - if you are unsure, please check with your national authorities before ordering.

Foods in season in Rome in January

January is a great time to enjoy all the seasonal winter foods like artichokes, chicory, broccoli, cabbage, apples, pears, citrus fruits, and persimmons. 

puntarelle with anchoviesPuntarelle (curled raw chicory), with anchovies, one of my favorite winter treats. At i Tre Archi on via dei Coronari in Rome.

Some of my favorite seasonal things to eat in Rome in winter include broccoletti (like broccoli rabe), puntarelle (pictured above), artichokes, clementines, and Sicilian blood oranges.

Want to know more about Rome cuisine? Click here.

Rome in January - things to do

If you are here for the first week of January, you are probably enjoying the holiday festivities like New Year's Eve in Rome, and still checking out all the lit up streets and nativity scenes everywhere. 

Wondering what to do on New Years Day? Visit my page here.

January is the beginning of winter sales in Italy, so if you are here for the beginning of them, you can get the best stuff. By the end of January, you will start to see all the new spring fashions arrive, and can get a head start on all the latest spring fashion trends.

After the busy first week, January is a great time to visit monuments and museums, since they will be much less crowded.

Free Things to do in Rome in January

roman forum

On the first Sunday of every month from October to March, state sites and museums are free for everyone. This includes archeological sites like the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracalla and Ostia Antica; and museums like the Galleria Borghese and Palazzo Barberini. 

On the first Sunday in January, Rome is packed to the gills, so get there very early, and for the Galleria Borghese, you need to book long in advance.

In 2020, the Free Sunday is January 5.

On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open from 9am - 2pm (normally closed Sundays.) 

If you are on a tight schedule and this is the only day you can go, or if you are on a tight budget, then this is a great opportunity. But otherwise it is usually better to book your visit ahead of time and pay to go another day. You can expect large crowds even in low season.

In 2020, the Vatican Museums will be free and open on Sunday January 26Expect large crowds on this day, even in January.

St. Peter's Basilica and Square are free and open daily.

Vatican events in Rome in January

On January 1, you can normally head to St. Peter's Square for the Angelus.

At noon, Pope Francis appears in one of the windows, and address the crowds.

It's free, and lasts about 15 minutes. Expect large crowds.

This event will not be taking place on January 1 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings in line with the latest Government decree.

There will be papal masses held on January 1 (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God), January 6 (Epiphany). In 2021, the attendance to these masses will be severely limited to comply with Coronavirus restrictions.

If you want to try to get tickets to attend any of these masses, visit my page about Seeing the Pope in Rome.

foto courtesy of

On the Befana, January 6, which is the Epiphany (Day of the Kings), you can watch a mini-procession along the street leading up to St. Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione.

Starting at about 10am (but you should get there earlier for a decent viewing position), there will be a little procession, with people dressed in period costume, that will sort of re-enact the visit of the 3 Wise Men. Great thing to do with kids!

January 17, 2020 is the celebration of Sant'Antonio Abate in St. Peter's Square. I have been and it's absolutely wonderful!

It's the day of the "Blessing of the Animals", and many farmers bring their farm animals, but also locals bring their pets. You will also see a big parade of officials on horseback, in all their regalia.

Outside the square, a cardinal gives a prayer and blesses the animals. It's quite festive. When I went in 2015, a man brought his turtle and lo and behold, the cardinal blessed it!

Rome in January - Current Events for 2020

The cooler fall and winter months are a great time to take in the arts and some art indoors. Some museums stay open later on the weekends.

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

Wondering what's open and what's closed January 1?

Visit my page about New Years Day in Rome with all the latest news and events.


Bacon, Freud and the school of London Works from TATE

At the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante, now through  February 2020.

The Chiostro del Bramante is behind Piazza Navona, on Via Arco della Pace, 5. T. +39 06 915 19 41

Click the picture to visit the museum's official site.

Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm.

13€ includes audioguide. No advance booking required.

Until January 6th 2020, enjoy beautiful exhibitions on Palazzo delle Esposizioni, on via Nazionale.

Click the picture to visit the museum's official site.

Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun: 10am - 8pm; Fri-Sat: 10am - 10:30 pm; Closed Mondays. 8€ 

Pompeii and Santorini until January 6th 2020

Scuderie del Quirinale, in Via XXIV Maggio number 16.

Museum hrs: Sunday - Thursday 10am - 8pm; Friday and Saturday 10am – 10:30pm. 

15€ full price (click the photo to visit this site).

Now through February 2020, the Galleria Borghese will host a special exhibit - "Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth Century Rome".

During the exhibit, standard ticket prices are 20 Euros.

Palazzo Barberini hosts a new exhibition which highlights the close artistic bond established between Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) and his followers.

Until January 6th 2020.

Palazzo Barberini 13,Via delle Quattro Fontane, Tuesday - Sunday 8:30am - 7pm.

 Tickets from €16.

Canova. Eternal beauty.

At the Museum of Rome – Palazzo Braschi you can visit an exhibition-event focused on the link between Antonio Canova and the city of Rome, with over 170 works and prestigious loans from important museums and Italian and foreign collections.

Now through March 2020, Palazzo Braschi 10,Piazza di San Pantaleo.

Open daily, from 9.30am to 7pm. Last admission 1 hour before closing time.

Tickets from € 11.00 (reduced).

An incredible journey through time to discover Van Gogh and Monet.

Until January 6th 2020, former Barracks Guido Reni - Via Guido Reni, 7.

Hours: Mon-Fri from 10am to 6pm; Sat-Sun and holidays from 10am to 8pm.

Full price tickets € 13.50.

Leonardo in Rome. Influences and heritage.

Until January 12th 2020every day from Monday to Sunday 10am - 7pm (last admission at 5pm) - Closed on Tuesdays.

Adults - 12€ includes audio guide.

Villa Farnesina, via della Lungara 230.

The first major exhibition entirely dedicated to the history and civilization of one of the most powerful and fascinating cities in the ancient world, Carthage. The immortal myth.

Now through March 29, 2020 in the monumental spaces of the Colosseum and the Roman Foruminside the temple of Romulus and the Imperial Ramp.

This is part of a standard Colosseum/Roman Forum entry ticket. There is no additional cost. Click here to buy tickets to the Colosseum.

Open daily 8:30am - 4:30pm.

Luca Signorelli and Rome. Oblivion and rediscovery.

The Capitoline Museums pay tribute to the famous Renaissance painter Luca Signorelli.

Capitoline Museums, Exhibition Halls of Palazzo Caffarelli.

Until January 12th 2020, daily from 9:30am to 7:30pm.

Tickets from € 16,00.

Colors of the Etruscans

An extraordinary selection of figured wall plates and polychrome terracotta molded architectural decorations.

Centrale Montemartini, Via Ostiense, 106, now through February 2, 2020. Tuesday-Sunday 9:00am - 7pm.

Tickets from € 9.00 (reduced ).

Concerts in Rome in January 2020

With cold and sometimes blustery days that January brings, it can be fun to enjoy a concert indoors. 

Concerts New Year's Day

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. 

January 1, 2020. From $45. Children under 7, and disabled people can attend for free.

Sparkling wine after the concert is included.

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.

January 1, 2020From $35. Great for families; wheelchair accessible.


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.

Enjoy this special Baroque concert +  tour of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, one of the most stunning private palazzos in Rome!

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.

Capuchins Crypt Tour and Concert in Rome - Enjoy a tour and private concert in the Capuchins Crypt, Church, and Museum. Option for dinner afterward.

Other Things to do Indoors in Rome in January

Visit one of Rome's many museums, including the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, Doria Pamphilj, and of course the Capitoline Museums...

One of my favorite museums in Rome is the Capitoline Museums. These museums comprise some of the most extensive and comprehensive displays of painting, sculpture, artefacts and architecture in the world.

The museums are vast and they can easily take up an entire day. So if it's cold and rainy out, this is a great place to be. There is also a cafe on the roof, with spectacular views towards St. Peter's basilica, the synagogue and the Pantheon. And from the tabularium, you have amazing views of the Roman Forum...which, when it's icky out, can be beautiful if you are seeing it from the inside!

Open daily from 9:30am - 7:30pm. 15€. No need to book in advance.

This is the time of year I'd visit St. Peter's tomb under the Vatican. Why? Because I went in August one year thinking it would be "cool", and instead I was roasting. They seal you into every room you go into, so it's quite hot.

So in cold January, this is not only a great thing to see, but a great way to be warm in an awesome place!

More ideas for things to do in Rome in January

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! Here are some ideas for your visit:

Take a cooking class.

There are so many great options for taking cooking classes in Rome. From pizza-making to learning to make fresh pasta, to going shopping with the chef and making a home-cooked meal at his/her house!

Click here to view cooking class options in US$, and here to view Rome cooking class options in other currencies.

Take a day trip

We are close to so many things, like PompeiiOstia AnticaTivoliFlorence and much more!

Take a bicycle tour.

You can go out onto the Appia Antica, a lovely area to tour by bike. You can also try one of Rome's newest tours, by electric bike. What a great way to see the sites, get some exercise but not get too over-exerted.

Click here to view Rome bike tours options in US$, and here to view Rome bike tours in other currencies.

Take an art class.

This is all the rage now. You want to learn to fresco? sketch? make mosaics? How about pottery? Want to include a little wine-sipping with your art? Rome inspires! Get creative!

Click here to view Rome art activities in US$, and here to view Rome art activities in other currencies.

pin rome in january

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