Set a date with history: Discovering Rome at the best times since ancient times
Impossibly beautiful ancient ruins in a city surrounded by its famous seven hills and divided by the Tiber River. Fine wine and elegant cuisine. Vespas zipping by sidewalk cafes. It’s what the Italians call “la dolce vita,” or the sweet life. The city is vibrant, but less crowded, during the spring and fall. Tourists crowd the streets in summer, and winter brings chilly rain.
Best time to go
Plan your visit in the spring or fall to avoid Rome’s heavy summer congestion. The weather is more moderate in those seasons, and the humidity is lower. The outdoor heaters at the sidewalk cafes are put away, flowers bloom and trees bud. Unless you’re traveling specifically to celebrate Easter in Rome, make your springtime reservations for a time before or after the holiday. In the autumn, you’ll encounter fewer tourists at the Spanish Steps and the Sistine Chapel as temperatures drop slowly and rain increases.
Pack an umbrella in the winter
Crowds of travelers descend on Rome during July and August as the locals close their businesses and head out on their own summer holidays. While the season is hot, it’s usually less humid than in many North American cities. Pack loose, comfortable clothes, but remember that modest clothing is appropriate in cathedrals and at the Vatican. If you plan to visit in late autumn or winter, pack an umbrella or slicker as rain is more likely. Spring and fall weather is warm and pleasant. You’ll find far fewer visitors in the winter when restaurant and hotel prices are lower.
What about the weather?
Rome weather is typically moderate year-round, with daytime winter temperatures in the 50s and nighttime lows occasionally dropping to freezing. Snow is uncommon. Spring temperatures climb into the 60s and 70s with nighttime lows in the 50s. Daytime highs rise into the 90s during July and August. The average year-round temperature is a pleasant 71 degrees. Rome averages a little more than 200 days with mostly sunny skies, but heat waves from North Africa can cause lengthy stretches of high temperatures.
How do I get around?
Driving in Rome can be nightmarish, especially in the summer when tourists throng the sidewalks, searching for the nearest monument or ancient ruin. Natives and seasoned travelers alike advise against it. If you simply must drive, know where the Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) are. You’ll have to pay a fine if you drive into one of these zones without a pass. The city is walkable and has two Metro lines and plenty of buses. The walk from the Colosseum to the Vatican takes about an hour, and you can take in the Pantheon along the way. You can’t hail a cab in Rome, so head to a taxi stand instead.