Despite what you may think, winter is the perfect time to visit Rome. Much less crowded than the summer months, with cheaper accommodation costs and away from the stifling heat of the summer sun; your winter break to the Eternal City has everything you need for the perfect getaway. From a Christmas walking tour of Rome to a tour of the Vatican under the twinkling lights of the festive season, make the most of your visit to Rome with this guide to Eternal City during winter.
1. Avoid the crowds at the Colosseum
The best thing about visiting the Eternal City during the winter months is getting to enjoy the magic and magnificence of Rome without the crowds. Of course, there is no landmark more magnificent in all of Rome than the Colosseum. An incredible 7.4 million visited the iconic structure in 2018, many of them taking a tour of the Colosseum during the summer months. Be one of a much smaller group on a guided Colosseum tour when you travel off-peak.
Without the crowds, you can truly immerse yourself in the enormity of this monument. From exploring the Colosseum underground to embracing your inner gladiator with a Colosseum arena floor tour, you’ll be sure to secure tickets to the best Colosseum tours when you travel during the winter months.
2. Ice-skate in the historic capital
While it does occasionally snow in Rome, for the most part temperatures remain comfortably above freezing. You won’t have to worry about catching frostbite as you explore this historic hub! That’s not to say you can’t experience the city’s chillier side though. Get the chance to ice-skate your way around some of the city’s most charming piazzas and iconic sites with outdoor skating rinks from December to February. Ice rinks can be found scattered around the city at Castel Sant’Angelo, at Piazza San Giovanni Battista de La Salle or Viale Pietro De Coubertin, located close to Villa Borghese Gardens.
3. Celebrate Christmas at the Vatican
Christmas is a magical time of the year no matter where you are but celebrating the festive season at the Vatican is simply enchanting. In the run up to Christmas, the Vatican organizes a whole range of festivities, and celebrating Christmas Eve mass with the Pope is by far the most spectacular. While official named Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, this ceremony is actually held at 9.15 pm on the 24th of December. Be sure to pencil it into your diary if you plan on traveling to the Eternal City during the holidays.
Whether you’re a devote Christian or an experience collector, this mass is a truly magical occasion. Join a congregation of about 15,000 people from all walks of life as you celebrate this festive eve with Pope Francis. Tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime event are completely free and are available to book from November onward. Getting your hands on one of these 15,000 tickets is no easy task. To secure a spot at the ceremony you must send a fax to the number +39 06 698 85863. Even trickier than getting the ticket itself might be finding a fax machine that still works in 2019!
If your Vatican tour doesn’t align with this Christmas mass, don't worry. You can enjoy the spectacular Vatican Museums without the crowds and chaos when you take a tour of the Vatican during these quiet winter months.
4. Shop 'til you drop
The Italian capital exudes style. Be sure to stock up on your Christmas shopping if you plan on visiting Rome this winter. Although the historic charm of the city doesn’t lend itself to traditional shopping malls, there are some major shopping streets scattered throughout the metropolis.
If you’re looking for high-end fashion in the capital than look no further than Via del Corso. This impressive boulevard stretches from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popo and is jam packed with Italy’s best stores. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the Spanish Steps, Via del Corso is the perfect place to peruse Italian fashion while exploring its cultural landmarks. With popular high-street fashion stores including H&M, Zara, Nike and Bershka, you’ll get your hands on some serious bargains and great Christmas gifts in this shopping district.
If you want to treat yourself with something extra special on your trip to Rome then check out the Prati district for upscale fashion. The most famous shopping street in the area is Via Cola di Rienzo. Stretching from the River Tiber to the Vatican, these upmarket stores match the upscale clientele of the district.
5. Indulge in roasted chestnuts
No matter what time of the year you visit Rome roasted chestnuts are always a much-loved snack among locals. And what better treat to warm you up, after exploring this incredible city on a winter’s day, than these mouth-watering delights? Vendors can be found on any of the city’s most popular piazzas including Piazza Navona and at the Spanish steps. You’ll also find some close to the Trevi or scattered along Via del Corso. Just follow your nose, the sweet smell of chestnuts roasting will guide you to them!
6. Take a Christmas walking tour of Rome
Rome is a magical city no matter what time of the year you visit but there is something even more magical about the Eternal City as it glistens under the white lights of winter. If you plan on visiting the Italian capital in December or January then be sure to check out this festive walking tour of Rome. From the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona to the Pantheon; explore the city’s iconic sights with a hot chocolate in hand and commentary from an expert local guide on this top-rated city walking tour.