Things to do in Rome in August – and things to keep in mind
August in Rome is hotter than you could ever imagine. The heat is sweltering and shops and bars in residential areas are usually closed due to hard-working residents taking a well-deserved vacation. This is all due to a holiday that dominates this particular month: Ferragosto. This ancient Roman tradition, held every August 15th, was introduced by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC and has continued for the centuries that have followed as well as growing to be a national holiday. Italians near and far flock to the seaside.
However, that is not to say that Rome during this period is gloomy. In fact quite the opposite. Though not as bustling as prior months, August still has a great many deal of things to do and see. Eateries in the center are open and packed streets quiet down as do lines for the usual tourist attractions. Take a peek at the cultural events and tips to ensure your summertime stay is maximized.
And to avoid long queues for Rome’s sites or to make sure you don’t miss out on any activities, don’t forget to book your tickets in advance!
Tips for visiting Rome in August
Visiting Rome in August offers a captivating experience amidst the scorching summer heat. As the Eternal City sizzles under the sun, you can still immerse yourself in its ancient wonders, vibrant culture, and warm summer vibes. From exploring iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City to indulging in authentic Italian cuisine at charming outdoor cafes, Rome in August is an adventure in the heat. While the temperatures may rise and crowds can be intense due to peak tourist season, the allure of this historical city and the unique experiences it offers make it a hot destination worth experiencing.
Make use of the ‘nasoni’
Fresh drinking water is everywhere in Rome. The fountains, commonly known as ‘i nasoni‘ for resembling big noses, are plentiful. Be kind to the planet and bring an empty bottle with you so you can fill it up while you are strolling.
Bring a scarf
In the height of summer, it is common to wear clothing that shows your shoulders. However, please be aware that to enter most churches and particularly The Vatican, they have to be covered. This provides a practical alternative to wearing a t-shirt given the heat and enables you to visit some of the world’s best places of worship.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how common it is for people to forget it. When visiting Rome during this period, please ensure you carry around suncream or apply it prior to leaving your abode. The sun is on full blast and getting burnt is not ideal.
Carry a fan
Though will probably need something a lot stronger, a handheld fan is the quickest way to cool you down specifically if you are waiting in line for an attraction. A perfect way to gain some respite from the muggy heat.
Wear comfortable shoes
Rome is full of cobblestones, which can be hard on the feet if you don’t have something comfortable on. It is normally suggested to sport breathable trainers or sandals with thick soles.
What’s on in Rome in August
Cultural events in Rome in August 2023
La Madonna della Neve
For those who miss wintry nights in the height of summer, fret not: La Madonna della Neve has got you covered. Each year, between 8pm-12pm on 5th of August, Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore transforms into a snowy wonderland filled with music, dance and light shows. The event which is attended by thousands of people annually initially came about during a dream. According to legend the Virgin appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius (352-366 AD) on the night between August 4 and 5 and told them that a spot in Rome would be covered in snow. The next day, the pope woke to find snow on a patch of land that is today’s Santa Maria Maggiore. Even if you are not religiously inclined, this event that takes place in front of the imposing Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is not one to miss.
Don’t miss the Roman Summer 2023, which will last for over four months with more than 1,000 events including meetings, exhibitions, film screenings, theater performances, concerts, guided tours, workshops for children spread throughout the city, with events of all sizes, from big concerts, reviews and festivals to smaller events organized in the neighborhoods. Check out the full program on the official website.
La Luna sul Colosseo
Touring the Colosseum at night is as spectacular as it sounds. It is surprising how much a nighttime tour of this iconic landmark transforms it into a masterpiece. With the arches illuminated by the moonlight and the lack of people compared to visiting during the day, it is safe to say that if there was a cultural experience not to miss in Rome, this would be it. Tickets for La Luna Sul Colosseo are available until the end of September.
The night of San Lorenzo
Every August 10th, Romans gaze upwards at the sky to observe shooting stars in honor of Saint Lawrence. Each shooting star is said to represent the tears shed by the aforementioned saint during his torture. However, it is important to remember that this typically religious day is also amazing in terms of astronomy. Rome is jam-packed full of great spots to watch the stars whizz through the sky. Gianicolo hill, Pincio terrace and the Orange Gardens are all spots that are extremely popular. For something less crowded head to Parco Colle Oppio or even Appia Antica where the lack of light pollution will enable you to see the stars more clearly. Make sure to pack a picnic blanket and some prosecco.
Ferragosto in Rome
Falling on August 15th, Ferragosto marks a significant holiday where Italians across the country come together to enjoy a well-deserved break. It is a time when families and friends gather for festive meals, picnics, and outings. Many businesses and shops close during this time as people take advantage of the warm summer weather to relax and unwind. Whether it’s enjoying a leisurely day at the beach or partaking in cultural events, Ferragosto is a cherished tradition that adds an extra touch of joy to the Italian summer.
Except for the Vatican Museums, most of Rome’s museums and archaeological sites remain open on August 15th. However, the city’s public transport network operates on a reduced “festivi” timetable on this day.
Beach day trip
If you are seeking solace from Rome’s city center’s hot climate, consider taking a half-day trip or a day trip to a nearby beach. There are many options available: the closest is Ostia, which offers the seaside but also a wide archeological site to visit.
Approximately one hour away from Rome by train are Santa Marinella and Santa Severa, whose beautiful castle on the sea is worth a mention. Anzio and Fregene also provide family-friendly beaches. A bit farther away are Circeo with Sabaudia, or Sperlonga and Fondi. All these places are also ideal if you want to eat traditional or more innovative Italian seafood cuisine. Check out our guide to the best restaurants on the Roman coast.
We recommend all of the above, but our favorite beach destination in Lazio is the isle of Ponza.
The art of swimming
If leaving the City is not an option but you’re ready for a break from art and if you’re traveling with kids, or you just love to dive in, there are many swimming pools open in Rome during August.
Belle Arti (Via Flaminia, 158) is an athletic pool with plenty of sun loungers and space to hang out. Its prices are pretty affordable too, with full day entry Mon-Fri at €20 and €30 during the weekend.
As well as having a charming name, Club Piscina delle Rose (Viale America 20, accessible by Metro Line B) has an Olympic-sized pool and a family-friendly atmosphere. Its half-day price is €12, whereas a full day is €20.
Revel in the fun of eating – restaurants open in Rome during August
As well as everything else you can enjoy in Rome (or instead of!) eating out is one of the city’s greatest pleasures. August is a month in which it isn’t as easy to choose a restaurant at random, due to the many closures as locals leave for their holidays, so it pays to have a few ideas up your t-shirt sleeve.
Most restaurants will stay open throughout the month – some might just close on Ferragosto or for a couple of days during the week. We suggest that you pick a restaurant or two from our guide to the best restaurants in Rome – or from our dining al fresco guide – and reserve a table in advance, so as to know whether they’ll be open or not during your stay.
If you’re looking for something more casual, check out our guide to the best summer hangout spots in Rome.
Enjoy moving slowly
But don’t move too quickly! The hot weather of August is the perfect excuse to saunter along and make a real holiday of it. Most tourists will want to visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as these are Rome’s major and most compelling archaeological sites. And while you’re there, it’s easy to pause under a shady tree and take it all in – or savor that picnic you brought along.
Rome is a big, busy city and while the streets will be quieter in August, it’s also a great time to really relax in parks such as Villa Borghese or Villa Pamphilij, lose yourself in the Park of the Caffarella, or explore the Park of the Aqueducts (maybe go on a bike ride or on a golf cart tour along the Ancient Appian Way).
And, if the holiday vibe of August has really got into your blood, then you too can head out of town to a beach near Rome or plan a day trip in the neighboring countryside. While for the best events in Rome in August, click here.