Rome in December: tips for visiting Rome in winter

Rome in December: what to wear, best things to do and main events

Is December a good time to visit Rome?

Picking a destination like Rome has a huge benefit: it’s always a great time to visit Rome, no matter the month. But there are certain times of the year that are more interesting in terms of events and the weather. If you love the holiday season, December is the best time to visit Rome: there are plenty of Christmas markets, the holiday cheer is in the air and it isn’t high season! If you’re traveling to Rome in December, here’s what you should expect!

INSPIRATION
Caravaggio’s Paintings In Rome

The weather in Rome in December

Winter isn’t till December 21st, so December is in between fall and winter. Either way, the weather is actually quite good in Rome in December: there are many clear and sunny days and little rainfall. However, the days are quite short, with the winter solstice being on December 21/22, and sun setting as early as 4.30pm. During the day average temperatures hit 9°C to 12°C while in the evening they cool down to 5°C.

What to wear in December in Rome?

Temperatures in December are cold but there isn’t much rainfall! Here’s a few things that should go on your packing list:

  1. You’ll definitely want to pack a pair of comfortable shoes (remember, Rome is filled with cobblestones) and boots.
  2. Absolutely dress in layers, especially if you’re out all day long.
  3. Long pants that are warm, long-sleeved shirts, pullovers, cardigans, turtlenecks
  4. Jeans and cotton pants 
  5. A heavy jacket or coat
  6. Scarves are musts
  7. Warm winter hat
  8. Don’t forget a rain jacket and an umbrella

Dress code in Rome

Now that we’ve covered the weather and what to pack for Rome, I’ll let you in on the dress code in Rome! As mentioned above, if you’re visiting religious sites like the Vatican, you need to cover your shoulders and knees. But that shouldn’t be a problem in December! For outings, locals have a smart-casual or smart-elegant dress code. Most restaurants, unless they are very elegant, don’t require jackets for men, but we encourage you to dress nicely, either with a shirt or a polo for men, and a dress or pants and a nice top for women.

Please note that if you are going clubbing, depending on the club there will be a dress code that’s required. For more stylish clubs, men – make sure you have a shirt, dark pants (not jeans) and nice shoes.

Restrictions in Rome for the 2021 Christmas season

One thing to keep in mind when visiting Rome this winter is the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Italy has recently implemented new sets of rules for a safer holiday season which will be in place from December 6 until January 15, at least. One of these is a distinction between a Green Pass and a Reinforced Super Green Pass, which applies only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered. The latter is required to dine indoors at restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as to access museums, cinemas, theatres, arenas, stadiums, and clubs, plus private celebrations, while the former, the simple Green Pass, is mandatory for hotels, changing rooms for sporting activities, regional rail and local public transport.

Another regulation is the mandatory mask mandate until the 31st of January, 2022. This applies in streets near Via del Corso in the Tridente district – in the city center, around Via Cola di Rienzo and near the Vatican, but also more generally any crowded shopping street, Christmas market, and other popular meeting places where social distancing is not possible and gatherings can take place.

Click here to find out more about Covid-19 regulations

What events are on in Rome in December?

December is a great time in Rome! The city is filled with holidays cheers, the Christmas lights are all over the center, Christmas markets are open all month long and there are great concerts, too!  If you’re spending Christmas in Rome, there are great events in store for you:

  1. Enjoy the holiday season by heading to one of these Christmas markets in Rome.
  2. Plan your New Year’s Eve in Rome by going to one of these dinners or parties.
  3. See beautiful Nativity Scenes at the 100 Presepi Exhibition on Via della Conciliazione.
  4. Lift your spirits to angelic heights by heading to a concert in some of the most unique churches in Rome! From world class organ and piano performances of Bach, Chopin and Mozart, Soprano solos of classic Puccini and Verdi to a heart melting children’s choir, it’s a holiday must-have experience!
  5. Get tickets to one of the performances of the Roma Gospel Festival at Auditorium Parco della Musica!
  6. Go ice skating at one of these ice skating rinks in Rome.
  7. Enjoy the ballets and operas at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, at Teatro Costanzi.
  8. Enjoy of a five star movie experience at Piccolo Cinema Eden.
  9. December has some of the best exhibitions in Rome.
  10. Don’t miss out on the best concerts in Rome in December.

National holidays in Italy in December

Please bear in mind that the Immaculate Conception on December 8th and Christmas Day on December 25th are holidays, meaning all museums and sightseeing areas might be closed.

The Vatican Museums will be closed on December 25th, while on the 24th and 31st they will be open until 3.30pm (last entrance 1.30pm). The Colosseum Archeological Park and the Borghese Gallery will be closed on December 25th and January 1st. As far as restaurants are concerned, many will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (but not all, you’ll find many restaurants offering delicious Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus, especially in the centro storico). While on New Year’s Eve restaurants are always open – but you should book in advance. 

The best things to do in Rome in December

In addition to going on guided tours of the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum and throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, there are plenty of other great activities for you to do in December during the day:

  1. Go Christmas shopping in Rome
  2. Listen to jazz, soul and blues at one of these live music venues in Rome
  3. Take part in a painting class near Piazza Navona
  4. Grab a drink at one of the best cocktail bars in Rome
  5. Learn to make pizza near Piazza Navona
  6. Learn to make gelato in an authentic gelateria
  7. Learn to make pasta + tiramisù near the Trevi Fountain
  8. Indulge in a wine tasting experience in a cozy wine bar near Campo de’ Fiori
  9. Have colazione at one of the best breakfast spots in Rome
  10. Take advantage of the national holiday and go on a winter weekend getaway from Rome!
  11. Catch a Christmas play or concert
  12. Indulge in a delicious sugar-coated piece of heaven at the best bakeries in Rome.
  13. Pamper yourself at one of these day spas in Rome.
  14. Book a food market tour!
  15. Check out the best restaurants in Rome for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Emergencies in Rome + Essential Info

In case anything were to happen during your stay in Rome, here are some useful contacts:

  • Doctors: in case you were to get sick in Rome, MedinAction is an on-demand house call medical service for travelers, expatriates, and students abroad. MedinAction delivers qualified English-speaking doctors in Rome and other cities in Italy (Milan, Bologna, Florence, Venice) to a patient’s doorstep, 24/7.
  • Carabinieri: 112
  • Police: 113
  • Fire Brigade: 115
  • First Aid Ambulance: 118
  • Police Headquarters: 06.4686
  • 24h Pharmacies: 06.228941
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