Rome in December is a magical time of year and one of the best times to visit the Eternal City. Whether you are looking to experience all of the holiday festivities or simply looking to take advantage of the sparser crowds, you will find that December in Rome is a perfect time to plan a trip to this historic and cultural city.
Pro Rome Tip: the majority of the city’s accommodations and restaurants are cheaper during the month of December, making it a win win situation for those who wish to see everything this city has to offer on a budget! With some advance planning, you too can enjoy everything there is to see and do in Rome in December!
Rome in December
Many consider December one of the best times to visit the city of Rome, especially if you are looking to spend less or avoid the majority of the crowds. November and December are the beginning of the slow season for Rome and with the exception of the weeks around Christmas and New Years Eve, the city experiences a lull in tourism traffic.
For this reason, Rome in December provides huge deals on not only airfare but also dining and hotel accommodations. While the prices rise during Christmas week, the remainder of the month will see steep discounts on many of the offerings to the tourist sector.
Like the prices, the crowds will also be considerably lower during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Rome in December is much quieter and you will find that you are able to enjoy many of the attractions as well as the streets themselves free of the pressing crowds of tourists typically found during the summer months.
One thing to keep in mind though is that because the traffic is slower and the days are shorter, you will have to plan ahead to be sure that the attractions aren’t closing earlier than usual.
The weather in Rome in December is surprisingly pleasant, especially during the first part of the month. While unpredictable and colder than earlier months, December brings with it brisk air and scant rain showers.
In fact, December sees less rain than November and the temperatures range from lows in the 30s at night to highs in the 50s during the day. Snow is almost unheard of in Rome in general, but every so often they find a flurry or two on the ground and on the rare chance that it does snow, those flakes generally don’t fall until late January or early February.
The earlier part of December can even bring with it some surprisingly warm days! It’s best to plan your trip ahead of time and keep a close eye on the forecasts for the region up until your departure time to accurately plan your packing list.
Layers are the best way to dress to account for the warm days and cold nights. Also be prepared for the chance of rain showers! While Rome in December is drier than November, there is always a chance for a chilly shower so you’ll want to bring some rain gear and a change of shoes and socks to account for any inclement wet weather during your sight seeing!
While the weather may not be a complete washout in Rome in December, you will want to account for the shorter days when planning your itinerary. Outdoor sites especially will have altered hours to account for the earlier sunset, so you will be better off visiting these sites early in the morning or early afternoon. One of the best ways to see the city is with a hop on hop off tour of Rome.
Even when the sun goes down, there are plenty of things to do at night in Rome! Take advantage of special tours, stroll the streets and eat to your hearts content.
The closer you get to the winter solstice, the shorter the days become and some attractions, such as the Colosseum, won’t start tours any later than 3:30 pm to account for the earlier sunset.
Another thing to keep in mind when traveling to Rome in December is the large number of holiday events and the altered venue hours during this month. The Christmas season begins around December 8th, known as Immaculato in Italy, and this holy day will often find many places closed to the public, but you will probably be joining the festivities yourself at that point!
Touring the city with a knowledgeable local will ensure you see everything that this festive season has to offer with the added benefit of being with someone who knows what is and is not available to see or do during that time period.
While visiting Rome in December does have a few minor inconveniences, it is definitely one of the best times to visit the city and will provide a wealth of unique and exciting things to do that you won’t find during other times of the year.
From the Christmas festivities to the lack of crowds, you will be able to truly embrace the lively and exciting spirit of the Eternal City. With some advance planning and a solid knowledge of what to expect, you too will be able to enjoy everything there is to see and do in Rome in December!
Rome in December – What Not to Miss
Romans love their food and it is perhaps one of the biggest draws the city has outside the major cultural and historical attractions. With the weather getting chillier and sometimes unpredictable, indoor activities are a perfect fall back for rained out tours or chilly city streets!
The classes are always tailored to the seasonal availability of produce in the region, so be prepared to taste the amazing delicacies prepared with artichokes, citrus fruits and other amazing winter varietals! Nothing will warm the soul quite like an authentic Italian pasta dish you learned to cook from scratch by a trained professional chef!
Another way to avoid the chilly night air while taking advantage of the unique offerings available throughout Rome in December is to see a musical performance. The month of December finds venues filled with a number of amazing opportunities, many of which are holiday themed.
You can tour a 17th century palace before hearing an opera and classical music performance of Vivaldi’s classics around the holiday season!
Another option is to experience Baroque classics performed in the Capuchin Church after a tour of the renowned Capuchin Crypts. Performed in the old church, the acoustics are perfect for classical music and the event promises to be a profoundly moving experience.
Markets and Shopping
It should come as no surprise that Rome in December is one of the best times to take advantage of all the shopping opportunities that are available. From boutique shopping districts to designer stores, everyone has something available for the month of December to take advantage of the gift giving season. Christmas in Rome IS magical.
Additionally, you will be able to take advantage of the brilliantly decorated squares hosting festive Christmas markets throughout almost the entire month of December. Be sure to find a proper tour that will show you the best of the best of all the markets dressed in their holiday finery and offering plenty of different and unique goods for sale!
Visit the Vatican
Rome in December is filled with innumerable special events and experiences that can only be found during this month of the year and you would be remiss if you did not take advantage of the unique opportunities available while traveling during the holiday season.
In particular, a visit to the Vatican should top your list of things to experience in Rome in December, not only to take advantage of the slimmer crowds before Christmas week but also to embrace the holiday festivities themselves.
The Square is home to a large festive Christmas tree that is lit around December 8th and on Christmas Day itself, you will have the rare opportunity to receive a Christmas blessing from the Pope himself!
For that event in particular, it is advisable to reserve your access ahead of time because of the massive crowds who come to see this once in a lifetime occurrence. Savvy planners can even book tours that will also include the city of Rome itself as well as the Vatican, just in time to receive the Papal Blessing.
Visit the Colosseum and Ancient Roman Ruins
Regardless of the time of year you visit, visiting the ancient Roman historic sites is an absolute must for any trip to Rome. Visiting Rome in December is no exception to this rule!
From the ancient and iconic Colosseum to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Rome is renowned for its marvels of ancient Roman history. Even though the days are shorter and the weather sometimes cold and unpredictable, these sites are breathtaking regardless of the elements and you might even get lucky enough to find them sparsely populated by tourists and travels for that very reason!
Be sure to keep in mind the reduced hours of operation brought on by the slow tourist season and the earlier sunset times when planning your visit to these remarkable sites. Better yet, book a comprehensive tour of the sites through a reputable company that will take all of these factors into consideration and offer a transfer in the event of truly inclement weather.
Visit the Churches and Relics of Rome
Rome is filled with so many breathtaking churches and holy relics that is comes as no surprise that it is a stop on a major pilgrimage route. The history of Christianity goes back thousands of years in Rome and for this reason, it contains some of the most important holy relics to be found!
From a nail from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified to thorns from the crown he wore during the crucifixion, the number of relics in Rome is astounding. Their importance is even more notable during the Christmas season, when everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus by placing elaborate and ornate nativities throughout the city.
In order to understand the importance of Rome in the history of Christianity as well as get up close and personal with the inspiration behind the importance of Rome in December, be sure to tour these many wonders for yourself.
View the Works of Caravaggio
Another way to explore the religious history as well as the cultural history of Rome in one fell swoop is to explore the famous religious artwork of Caravaggio. This world renowned artist was commissioned by churches all over Rome to paint glorious works of art to decorate the altars and walls of the various places of worship.
His work is beloved and considered to be some of the most masterful creations to have come out of the Renaissance period in Rome. Since the weather can be inclement and cold, visiting these pieces of art is a perfect way to avoid the chill while also getting an up close and personal view of the remarkable masterpieces that decorate the many churches of Rome.
And because you’ll be visiting these sites in Rome in December, you’ll have the added bonus of seeing the remarkable nativities and festive decorations in and around all the churches you’ll visit on your tour!
Spend New Years in the Eternal City
There is no better way than to ring in the New Year with the Romans! Think fireworks, incredible food and parties all over the city.
Rome in December might not be what immediately comes to mind when you are planning a vacation to this historic and cultural destination, but the benefits to visiting during this month can be well worth any potential pitfalls.
With the exception of the weeks around Christmas, Rome is December is quieter and less swamped with tourists and while the weather is not always ideal, you’d be surprised by just how many pleasant days there are! If you can tolerate a few rainy days and some chilly nights, visiting during the month of December can be a rewarding adventure that allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience overall.
With some advance planning and flexibility in scheduling, you’ll be able to explore the major sites, experience all the wonders and enjoy some truly once in a lifetime experiences for far cheaper than you would have been able to during peak season. You can easily see Rome in one day or see spend three days in Rome – you can do it anyway you want.
Rome in December is a trip that won’t disappoint!
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