What to Do in Rome on a Rainy Day
10 Great Ideas

If you're wondering what to do in Rome on a rainy day, and thinking this is a good day to visit the Vatican, I suggest you think again!

colosseum rainy romeThe Colosseum on a rainy day in Rome

I actually love when it rains in Rome for a few reasons - and you will too!

10 Things to do in Rome on a Rainy Day

And the Vatican is NOT one of them.

I know, your first thought is, it's raining in Rome, this would be a good day to go to the Vatican.

Don't you think everyone else visiting Rome is thinking the same?

This means a LOT of people, more than usual, crowding into the Vatican Museums.

And if you bring an umbrella that's too big, you'll have to check it.

And go back for it at the end. No fun.

Sorry to rain on your parade (pun intended!) but unless you have no choice (you have limited time, you've already purchased tickets / a tour to the Vatican Museums), then I suggest you avoid this and make a new plan.

There is so much else you can do!

After years of living in Rome and enjoying my city in the rain, here are my best tips for you to enjoy it, too!

  1. Go out in the Rain
  2. Bring a camera
  3. Wait for the sunset
  4. Head to the Pantheon
  5. Visit the Capitoline Museums
  6. Visit the Galleria Doria Pamphilj
  7. Watch the rain shimmer down the glass of the Ara Pacis
  8. Visit churches
  9. Head underground
  10. Get cozy in a café or wine bar

1. Go out in the Rain

Now you are thinking, well that is not what I was looking to do.

But hear me out.

Rome doesn't usually get torrential downpours.

(Well, sometimes it does. In that case, skip down to the Indoor Things to do in Rome on a Rainy Day.)

Rome has a pretty mild climate year-round.

So, when it does rain, it can come in spurts.

As long as you dress for the rain, you hopefully won't get too wet, and you will usually have some of Rome's best monuments and fountains to yourself.

trevi fountain in the rainOn a rainy day in Rome, you can sometimes have the Trevi Fountain to yourself

I get this question a lot - can I /should I go to the Colosseum if it's raining in Rome?


First of all, just dress for the rain (a lot of visiting the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum / Palatine Hill, is outside and not covered.)

visiting rome colosseum in the rainVisiting the Colosseum in Rome in the rain

Second of all, there may be fewer people there because of the rain. 

Even if you visit the Colosseum on a night tour, if it's raining, I suggest you go.

It will still be amazing!

2. Bring your camera

Rome is blessed with some seriously amazing skies. I'm not a meteorologist so I don't know why. 

rainy skies on fori imperiali in romeA cloudy sunny rainy day on via dei Fori Imperiali - why I love to be out in Rome on a rainy day!

I just know I love taking pictures of it, just about year-round.

And when it rains, it almost always seems to clear up in the afternoon, and then the sky goes even crazier...

sunset in piazza navonaThe sunset in Piazza Navona after the rain really looked like this. No filter. This is why I love to be out in Rome when it rains!

And bonus!

Head out after the rain!

Either the next morning, before the water evaporates, or even same day once it stops raining.

Look what pix you can get!

vatican reflection in rain puddleRome is so full of beautiful things to see, you get a whole other perspective after the rain. Just walk up to the puddles and look down!

3. Wait for the sunset . . .

And speaking of the Roman skies after the rain. 

colosseum sunsetSunsets in Rome are even more dramatic after the rain

Here are just some examples of my Roman sunsets with post-rain skies over the years.

For more, come check out my Instagram feed, where I post daily!

view of rome after the rain from les etoilesThe view of Saint Peter's dome from Les Etoiles is one of my favorite in Rome. And after the rain, it gets even better!

4. Head to the Pantheon

As you can see, there are a lot of things I love to do when it rains in Rome.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but one of the best things you can do on a rainy day in Rome is head to the pantheon.

visit the rome pantheon while it rainsVisiting the pantheon while it rains can be very special

That giant hole in the ceiling (called an oculus)?

It's about 30 feet across!

And when it rains, it rains inside the Pantheon.

Yes, it does.

Check out the floor under the oculus.

That is the original floor (I do love the way Hadrian decorated the place.)

And those are the original drains, from the days of the Roman empire!

see the rainwater drain in the pantheonWhen it rains in Rome, and in the Pantheon, the water goes out through the original Roman-era drains in the floor.

Indoor things to do in Rome on a Rainy Day

As you can see from the above tips, I love going out in Rome on a rainy day, unless of course it really is coming down hard.

Here are some wonderful things you can do inside when it's raining in Rome (again, NOT the Vatican if you can help it!)

There are a lot of things to do in Rome indoors that require advance booking.

So I am not going to recommend those on this page, because you will not be able to decide to go at the last minute.

These include the Galleria Borghese, Domus Aurea, Saint Peter's Tomb, Colosseum Underground and Palazzo Farnese.

Three Museums to visit when it's raining in Rome (and even when it's not!)

Here are some of my favorite museums you can easily visit when it's raining in Rome (or any time), without booking in advance:

5. Capitoline Museums

One of Rome's most amazing museums, and usually under-visited (at least in my opinion) are the Capitoline Museums.

You (usually) don't need to book in advance, there is hardly ever a line, and once inside, it's not crowded.

statue of bronze she-wolf with twins romulus and remus in the capitoline museums in romeThe original bronze she-wolf with suckling twins Romulus and Remus, inside the Capitoline Museums in Rome

Unlike the Vatican Museums which are fairly linear, keeping the flow moving more or less one direction, the Capitoline Museums are spread out and have many options for directions to go and parts to spend time in. 

The museums, on Capitoline Hill, are open daily from 9:30am - 7:30pm, except May 1 and December 2515€

You read that right.

They are open on New Years Day!

Bonus tip!

On the rooftop on one side of the Capitoline Museums, there is a cafe.

And this view below.

And, you don't even need to go into the museums to visit this.

Just go up the back staircase, which can be accessed on the right hand side of the Campidoglio Square, just after you come up the ramp and pass the statues of Castor and Pollux.

cloudy skies and rome rooftops from capitoline museums roofI love this rooftop view from the top of the Capitoline museums. And if you are in Rome on a rainy day, you might get an even more dramatic shot, like this one

6. Doria Pamphilij

Another stunning gallery right in the center of Rome, and easily overlooked, is the Galleria Doria Pamphilj.

I sort of describe it as a "mini-Versailles."

That's probably not fair since this gallery is fantastic in its own right, but hopefully it conjures up some of the grandeur you will see.

hall of mirrors galleria doria pamphiljThe Hall of Mirrors is just one of the many gorgeous rooms in the wonderful Galleria Doria Pamphilj

Never a line, never crowds, and easy to spend a couple of hours enjoying world-class art.

Oh, and the guy talking to you on the audio-guide that comes with your entry ticket?

It's Prince Pamphilj himself.

He sounds so nice.

Via del Corso, 305 near Piazza Venezia. Open daily 9am - 7pm. 12€

7. Ara Pacis

There are really more than 3 must-see museums in Rome.

But I put this one here in part because I do love the Ara Pacis but also because . . . it's all glass!

When you are inside and it's sunny out, it's just spectacular.

Ara Pacis museum in RomeThe Ara Pacis, Emperor Augustus' Altar to Peace, is housed in a spectacular modern all-glass building designed by Richard Meier. When it rains, you will be surrounded by cascading raindrops and glimmering glass.

But if you are in Rome on a rainy day, and inside this building, it's beautiful to see the rain coming down the glass.

And it makes you feel safe and sheltered.

All while you are up close and personal with one of the most incredible, intact and gorgeous artefacts of Ancient Rome ever unearthed.

Lungotevere in Augusta (corner of via Tomacelli, not far from the Spanish Steps).

 Open daily 9:30am - 7:30pm. Closed January 1, May 1, December 25. 10.50€

8. Visit churches

There is the Vatican, as discussed above.

But remember, it's going to be packed.

On the other hand, Saint Peter's Square can be beautiful to photograph with those changing Roman skies I told you about . . .

st peter's square after the rainVatican Square is another wonderful place to be in Rome on a rainy day, especially when the sun comes back out!

You could also head to Santa Maria Maggiore, one of my favorite churches in Rome, and another Papal Basilica.

Santa Maria MaggioreSanta Maria Maggiore, one of four papal basilicas in Rome, is a fantastic place to spend a rainy day

It's so large, and has so much to see, you could easily wait out a little rain while soaking up some of the beauty of this ancient church turned major basilica.

For a special church itinerary to do in Rome on a rainy day, try these Special Churches in Rome, with a walking map!

9. Head Underground

We have so many wonderful things to see underground in Rome.

I won't suggest the Domus Aurea (which is probably my favorite underground thing!) because you must book in advance.

So unless you have already booked this, try these:

The Roman Houses at Celio

Roman Houses at Celio - Visit these remarkably intact Roman dwellings under the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Saints John and Paul) on the Celio hill.

houses at celio frescoesI love these pagan frescoes inside the Roman Houses of Celio.

You will see Roman-era mosaics, frescoes, Nymphaeums, and more.

At the end is a small but wonderfully curated archeological museum.

Open Thursday - Monday 10am - 1pm; 3 - 6pm. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Palazzo Valentini / Domus Romana

Palazzo Valentini - I was completely blown away by this archeological visit.

palazzo valentini plexiglass floorExplore this stunning Ancient Roman palazzo and walk over its floor along this plexiglass floor. It's a strange feeling but I find it fascinating!

Right underneath Trajan's column at Piazza Venezia, you will see ruins of a Roman nobleman's villa, along with stunning artefacts from the time of the emperors. 

Wednesday – Monday 9:30 - 6:30pm (last visit). Closed: on Tuesdays and December 25, January 1, May 1.  

Pre-booking is usually advised but you can try to go on the same day.

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere - The church dedicated to the saint by the same name is lovely by itself. 

santa cecilia undergroundThere is a lot to see underneath the basilica of San Clemente!

And not to be missed is an extraordinary sculpture of the saint, in front of the altar.

But the underground is something else.

For only 2.50€ you can visit an ancient Roman Domus (possibly of Cecilia's family) and other structures from later periods too.

Open daily 10am - 1pm; 4-7pm. Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 22

San Clemente

Basilica of San Clemente - This is another underground in Rome that is simply amazing.

san clemente undergroundOne of the best things about visiting San Clemente is this ancient Mithreum in the lowest part of the underground.

 The basilica itself is already spectacular, with its 9th century mosaic apse and Cosmatesque floors.

But head down underground to two levels of history, with the lowest from Mythra worshippers (pre-Christian). 

Piazza di San Clemente not far from the Colosseum. Excavation open Monday - Saturday, 9am-12.30pm; 3-6pm. On Sundays and State Holidays, 12.15-6pm. 10€.

A great thing to do in Rome on a rainy day:

  Book a tour of Underground Rome - Catacombs, Colosseum, churches and many more options!

10. Get Cozy in a Cafe or Wine bar

I think one thing most people do when it rains is stay inside, and often it's in their hotel room or apartment.

Fair enough.

Good to get some downtime in Rome, write those postcards, catch up on email...

But if you are out and about and caught in the rain and want a nice place to sit out the rain, or, if you feel like getting out and doing something more Roman than hanging in your room, you can get cozy in a nice wine bar or indoor cafe.

Here are some of my favorite hangouts in Rome in winter or in the rain:

Stravinskj Bar at Hotel de Russie

stravinsky bar - hotel de russieThe super cozy Stravinskj Bar at Hotel de Russie is one of my go-to spots in cool or rainy weather in Rome

Via del Babuino, 9. Near Piazza del Popolo. Open daily.

Babington's Tea

babingtons tea house in romeSeriously what could be cozier and frankly appropriate in rainy Rome weather than having a proper English tea at Babingtons?

Piazza di Spagna, 23, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Open daily 10am - 9:30pm

Cafe Doria

caffe doria interiorA Roman Roman treat near the Pantheon, Cafe Doria is actually part of and inside the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, listed above on this page.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Via della Gatta, 1, near the Pantheon. Open Monday - Saturday 7:30 - 8pm; Sunday 10am - 8pm.

Chiostro del Bramante

chiostro del bramanteHidden away upstairs and inside of the Chiostro del Bramante, this lovely cafe offers a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Rome.

Arco della Pace, 5, just behind Piazza Navona.

Open daily 10am - 8/9pm.

You can enter directly without paying for the art gallery inside.

Cigar Lounge Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri

the cigar room of the waldorf astoria cavalieriGet your cigar-groove on in this sumptuous cigar-lounge at the Waldorf Astoria Cavalieri. Photo - Waldorf Astoria

Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101, just slightly above Rome in Monte Mario, with stunning views of the city. Open daily, closed August.

Barnum Cafe

cozy barnum cafeBarnum cafe is one of the loveliest bars around Campo dei Fiori and the perfect spot when it's chilly or raining in Rome.

Via del Pellegrino 87 near Campo Dei Fiori. Open Monday - Saturday 9am - 2am.

Obviously you can just plunk yourself down and have a nice long meal inside a restaurant.

If you're looking for Places to Eat in Rome, start here.

Or if you simply decided to avoid the rain and go shopping, come check out my page gifts in Rome.

There you can find out my favorite things to buy and where to buy them.

rainy day pin

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