Wondering whether to book a trip to Rome in December?
Rome is an incredible city all year round, but Rome in December is simply magical.
It’s such a special time to visit Rome for so many reasons.
But before visiting, I was concerned it might be a wasted trip compared to visiting Rome in the sunny summer.
After taking a trip to Rome in December, I feel confident to provide a complete guide to visiting the Eternal City in the final month of the year.
So let’s get straight into it!
🇮🇹 When planning a trip to Rome, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels: Booking.com
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours: Walks Tours & Devour Tours
👨👩👦👦 Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
💻 VPN: Surfshark
Is December A Good Time To Go To Rome?
In one word, yes!
December is without a doubt an amazing time to visit Rome. There are lots of reasons to visit but the main reasons are fewer crowds, of course, cheaper prices, Christmas festivities and not to forget, decent weather!
Rome Weather In December
Rome in December experiences colder temperatures than in other months (obviously) but it is by no means miserable and rainy all day every day.
You can expect an average daily temperature of 9.5ºC (or 49ºF) throughout the course of the day. Obviously it’s going to be warmer than that in midday and colder than that during the night. But in my opinion, that weather is pretty good for December!
The temperature is pretty good during the day, but it gets chilly in the mornings and evenings. Make sure to bring a jacket because there are so many amazing Rome night tours.
Though when I visited, it felt like Summer in Ireland! The skies were blue, the sun was shining and I could walk around without a jacket on.
It only rained once during my 4 days in Rome, but I think I might have just been very lucky! You should expect some rain when visiting Rome in December, but don’t let it put you off- the weather, for the most part, is perfect.
Warm enough to feel nice, but not too warm to make walking around Rome uncomfortable.
Also, if you are wondering, it more than likely won’t snow during your trip to Rome. There are only 4 cases of snow in Rome since 1986.
What To Expect In Rome In December
When visiting Rome in December, you should naturally have completely different expectations from someone visiting Rome in the Summer months.
If you are visiting Rome in December, expect Rome to be relatively quiet. Of course, there will be tourists- it’s Rome- but it isn’t very busy at all.
But you can walk around the Colosseum without rubbing shoulders with someone, you can actually see the Spanish steps instead of hundreds of people sitting on them, you can get a photo at the Trevi Fountain if you wait in turn (you’d wait hours in Summer), and you can walk into the Vatican Museums with little to no queue.
It’s so different to visiting in peak season. I remember I expected the Colosseum to be packed, but there were maybe only a few hundred people there, which compared to the thousands there normally are, was a welcomed surprise.
And with fewer crowds come lower prices. As it is not peak tourism season for Rome, prices are generally slightly lower than they would be in the Summer months. Not huge amounts, but every penny counts, right?
You can also expect Rome to be decorated beautifully for Christmas. I expected Rome to have some Christmas festivities being the home of Catholicism, but I didn’t expect just how blown away I would be by the Christmassy-ness of Rome in December. This leads onto…
Holidays In December In Rome
Italy and Rome in particular are predominantly Christian– Rome is home to the Vatican after all. This means that Christmas is very widely celebrated in Rome on the 25th of December each year.
As such, in late November and throughout December, in the lead-up to Christmas, Rome completely transforms and somehow becomes even more beautiful.
I recommend spending at least 3 days in Rome, but in December, I would push it to 4. Having an extra day in December is really worth it, as the city is completely transformed.
Personally, I spent 4 days in Rome and it was great having some spare time to experience some of the festivities.
The lights, Christmas decorations, and HUGE Christmas trees throughout Rome, really make it feel like a big Santa’s grotto. My favourite Christmas tree is the one in Piazza Venezia, the busiest piazza in Rome. It’s simply spectacular. Photos really can’t and don’t do it justice.
A second-place shoutout goes to the Vatican City Christmas tree. It is also very impressive. The Vatican was very beautiful at Christmas, the nativity display was amazing too.
If you are in Rome over Christmas, the Pope addresses Vatican City during his Christmas Day speech. Of course, there is also mass on Christmas Eve, in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Watching the Pope’s speech on Christmas would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, and a special moment too.
All in all, the Vatican at Christmas is just incredible.
Throughout Rome, there is also a buzz in December, in the lead-up to Christmas, everyone is in the Christmas spirit. It would be common to say “Merry Christmas” when saying goodbye to someone, for example.
The city really gets festive, and there are Christmas markets in Piazza Navona. The markets are small but filled with lots of Christmas goodies.
You should have high expectations for Rome regardless of when you visit. The city is extraordinary, but in my opinion, Rome in December is that tiny little bit better than at any other time of the year!
What To Wear In Rome In December
As I said, Rome can get pretty chilly in the mornings and evenings, so you’ll want to have appropriate clothing.
During my 4 days in Rome, I wore long bottoms (usually jeans, but sometimes jogging bottoms for comfort) and a t-shirt with a sweatshirt, and I always carried a jacket or coat for when it got cold.
Make sure your layers can be taken on and off as needed. As you probably won’t need to wear your jacket during the sunny daytime but will need to wear it as the sun begins to go down (around 4.30 pm in December).
It’s especially important to stay warm, as the best way to get around Rome is by walking.
I did see some people wearing shorts, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You also can’t wear these if you visit the Vatican or any churches. Remember to dress respectfully– as a basic rule of thumb, ensure your shoulders and knees are covered.
Where to Stay in Rome in December
No matter what time of the year you decide to visit Rome, I always have the same hotel recommendations.
If you ask me, the best area of Rome to stay in is near Roma Termini. It’s the central station in Rome and it’s right in the heart of the city. Everything is within walking distance and you are close to all of the main sights and attractions.
The best hotel for your money is the Seven Hotel. It’s got a very high rating on Booking with a score of 8.8/10. The rooms are very modern and stylish- fitting in perfectly with the theme of Rome. It’s also got heating in the rooms which might be welcomed in December. And I normally recommend getting the bus from Fiumicino, but Seven actually has its own shuttle bus. It is so useful and takes away all the stress of arriving in a new city.
If Seven is a little out of your budget then I recommend the Raeli Hotel Regio. It’s a budget hotel so it’s not quite a hotel with a view of the Colosseum, but it’s definitely good value for money. Rome is a city where you spend little time in the hotel anyway, so it doesn’t really matter where you stay, as long as you have somewhere to sleep, right? Raeli Hotel Regio is the perfect place to sleep on a smaller budget.
Best Things To Do In Rome In December
Before visiting Rome in December, you may wonder what there is to do.
Of course, there are things which you should do when you visit Rome no matter what time of the year it is such as taking a tour of the Colosseum, making a wish at the Trevi Fountain etc., but I am not going to include these as these are year-round activities.
So here are 5 things to do exclusively in December while in Rome.
1. Go Christmas Tree hunting
This is one of the best things to do in Rome at night in December. The city is full of beautiful trees and decorations. As I said before, my favourite is in Piazza Venezia. A bonus with this tree is that it is also fully powered by solar panels surrounding the base of the tree.
2. Visit the Nativity at the Vatican
Another free thing to do in Rome in December (free things are great to do if you are visiting Rome on a budget) is to see the Nativity display in St. Peter’s Square. Particularly if you visit on Christmas Eve after the baby Jesus has been added to complete the display. It’s definitely the best Nativity scene I have seen.
3. Explore the Christmas Markets in Piazza Navona
The Christmas Markets in Piazza Navona offer a fun and traditional activity for Christmas time in Rome. It’s not quite a full-blown German Christmas Market, but there are wooden huts selling Christmas goodies and food (mainly yummy sweet treats), with some carnival games and a Carousel. Regardless of the markets, seeing the square is a must when visiting Rome for the first time.
4. Attend midnight mass in St. Peter’s Basilica
Midnight between Christmas Eve (24th December) and Christmas Day (25th December) is marked in the Vatican by attending mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Tickets are required to attend but they are free. St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, and the mass ceremony surely won’t be one to forget. Even though it’s “midnight mass”, it’s actually now held at 10 p.m.
5. Listen to the Pope’s Christmas address
The Pope showers his blessings in the Vatican twice a year, once at Easter and once at Christmas. On Christmas morning, the Pope delivers an address to Vatican City, which you can attend to listen to and watch one of the Pope’s infamous Christmas speeches. The atmosphere is also great, with lots of festivities such as singing Christmas carols.
Rome In December: FAQ
Below are a few FAQs related to Rome in December, along with my answers.
Rome is amazing to visit at Christmas. Seeing the city decorated in lights and Christmas decorations is beautiful. Vatican City, in particular, is very pretty at Christmas time.
Rome has short but relatively warm and sunny days in December. However, the mornings and evenings get very chilly.
Rome is not too cold in December. You can expect average daily highs of 13°C (55°F) and average daily lows of 5°C (41°F). It’s only really chilly in the mornings and evenings, during the day it is fine.
Not at all. The crowds in Rome in December are very low. You don’t have to queue for hours to get into the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain isn’t flooded with crowds- it’s very nice and bearable as a tourist.
Yes, you can! In fact, Rome is amazing to visit in December. Rome is decorated for Christmas and it is absolutely breathtaking. Not to mention, there are low crowds and good weather.
Without a doubt, yes, it’s absolutely worth visiting in December! Rome is beautiful when it is decorated for Christmas. It is also significantly less busy, with fewer crowds. And the weather is okay too!
Rome In December: Conclusion
And there you have it, a complete guide to visiting Rome in December. Before I booked my trip, I too wondered if it would be worth visiting Rome in the winter months, but I am so glad I did.
I had the best time ever, I absolutely loved Rome and I would recommend to anyone that the best time to go is in December.
For other reasons mentioned throughout this article: Christmas decorations- wow; fewer crowds- who wants crowds; okay weather- can’t complain for December; cheaper prices- prices are down as it’s not peak season.
To me, it’s a no-brainer on whether to visit in December or not.
So if you book a trip to Rome in December, I hope you have a great time and enjoy your trip! It will be one of the best trips of your life for sure. Rome is a real-life fairy tale.
Now that you’ve decided it’s a great time of year to visit Rome, it’s time to start planning things to do. I’d recommend a food tour of Rome, especially at this time of year.