A trip to Rome in January is a poetic, brisk, winter delight. January is a great time to experience the Eternal City, offering a refreshing urban environment with less crowds and lower prices. Take it from the famous 20th century American playwright Tennesse Williams, who said that winter in Rome is “a golden dream.”
In my experience, if you visit Rome during popular periods, you experience a certain side of the city bustling with lively tourist crowds. But in winter, you get closer to the heart of this city that is sometimes drowned out by the crowds: daily life next to the ghosts of ancient ruins, the smell of fresh pasta, warm museums, the sound of raindrops from inside a cafe where you’re sipping hot chocolate, the distant church bells.
Planning a trip to Rome in January offers a ton of great opportunities and unique experiences. Let’s take a look at some of the main attractions and considerations of traveling in this period.
Weather and Temperatures in Rome in January
January weather in Rome is far from the chill of Northern European winters, but it is still quite chilly with averages around 45° Fahrenheit. If you visit Rome in January you’ll find yourself in the heart of winter, for sure, but a mild winter. Snow is unusual, but rain is quite common.
The environment of the Roman January creates a unique wintery ambiance and lower crowds—a great adventure for the traveler who isn’t afraid of missing the summer sun.
Crowding and Costs in Rome in January
If you travel to Rome in January, you can expect to find a fraction of the crowds that you’d experience in warmer months. Waits for attractions, tours, and dining will be less, trains and buses will be less crowded, and the drone of crowds will quiet. Another huge advantage is lower costs for accommodations and hospitality. From hotels to restaurants, less demand works in your favor.
Visiting Rome in January poses unique possibilities for sights and ambiance. Whether you want to stick to indoor museum experiences, or are looking forward to less crowds at the Roman ruins, there are tons of options for ways to make the most of your Roman adventure.
1. Sistine Chapel
When in Rome, be sure to visit the Sistine Chapel! This is also much easier to do in January, as in summer the site is infamous for long waits. If you’d like to opt for a tour, we recommend combining it with the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.
2. Vatican City and Museums
Of course, you should make sure to spend time enjoying the art of the Vatican City and museums. The Vatican houses some of the most famous art from Europe. Don’t miss the Octagonal Courtyard with its profound collection of ancient Greek and Rome artifacts.
3. Feel Like a Gladiator in the Colosseum
Travel back in time and feel like a gladiator in the Colosseum! This famous ancient amphitheater of Rome – used in ancient times for major events such as gladiator fights, battle reenactments, dramas based on mythology, and executions – is another attraction that you’ll find much easier to visit if you travel to Rome in January rather than summer. We recommend this tour that combines it with a visit to the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill Tour.
4. Visit and Warm Yourself in the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Via
If the more frigid weather of Rome in January is daunting to you, make good use of indoor sights! You can visit and warm yourself in the Santa Maria Church in Via,locatednear the Trevi fountain. The church houses an image of the Madonna that was dropped into a well located in a stable at the same location, back in 1256. The water of the well swelled and overflowed – redelivering the tile of the Madonna to the surface and eventually to the hands of the stable owner, Cardinal Pietro Capocci.
5. Listen to the Pope During the Angelus Address
If you enjoy Catholic religious sights or history, you can listen to the Pope during the Angelus address, which happens in St. Peter’s Square, in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, at noon on Sunday mornings.
6. Going Shopping in the Fashion Districts
Going shopping in the fashion districts is a great place to find some clothes to bring home with you from your trip! The “fashion triangle” starts at Piazza del Popolo, passes Piazza di Spagna, and ends at Piazza Venezia. Via del Corso is probably the most famous street in the fashion district, Via Tuscolana is lesser well known but is likely to offer more affordable prices.
7. Warming Up with Hot Chocolate
Whenever you’re in Rome in January, warming up with hot chocolate is guaranteed to be a joy. Italian hot chocolate is much thicker and creamier than hot chocolate in other areas. You can find hot chocolate at any bar (an Italian cafe) and some gelato shops.
8. Epiphany Celebration in Piazza Navona
January 6th is a big celebration in Italy: the Epiphany. In Christian tradition, this is the day that three wise men from the east were said to have visited the baby Jesus at this birth. As part of the celebration, a Christmas witch called the Befana is said to visit children in Italy and leave them presents. If you visit Rome in early January, you can join in the Epiphany celebration in Piazza Navona, which is where most families celebrate this day as it marks the end of that piazza’s Christmas market.
9. Toss a Coin into the Waters of the Trevi Fountain
Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the waters of the Trevi Fountain, from your right hand and over your left shoulder, you will have good luck and will return to Rome in the future. The Trevi fountain was completed in 1762, and is the largest Baroque fountain in the city, at 86 feet tall and 161 feet wide. The Trevi Fountain is usually packed with tourists, so a visit in January is a good way to make use of the lesser crowds.
10. Visit the Pantheon
Another item on the long list of sites that are easier to visit in Rome in January: the Pantheon. This is an ancient Roman temple that in 609 AD was turned into a Catholic church called the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Taking a tour is a great way to ensure you don’t miss any of the important sights inside or outside of the building.
11. Explore the Roman Forum
Be sure to explore the Roman Forum, a vast complex of archeological discoveries and ruins of buildings centered around an ancient plaza. The forum served as ancient Rome’s marketplace: a hub for commerce, religion, economic, political, and social activities. Unlike other ruins that were created intentionally around a certain mode, the Roman Forum was built organically and somewhat chaotically over time.
12. Fontana del Nettuno in Piazza Navona
When visiting Rome in January, don’t skip a visit to the Neptune Fountain, or Fontana del Nettuno in Piazza Navona. This fountain was once named Calderari fountain, for its proximity to an alley of makers and sellers of pots and pans. You can also visit the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Moor Fountain in the same piazza
13. Christmas Markets
A seasonal favorite still abundant in Rome in early January are Christmas Markets. These markets are held in piazzas and are full of food, crafts, and music. The famous historic market in Piazza Navona runs through January 6, and Cinecittà World Christmas Market runs through January 8.
14. Borghese Gallery
For art lovers traveling to Rome in January, stroll the ancient and modern art collections at the the Borghese Gallery. Here you can view sculptures from the ancient world, bas-reliefs, mosaics, paintings, and sculptures. Reservations are required for tickets, so make sure to plan in advance.
15. Trastevere Food Tour
In January you’ll find more lively local life in Rome, so eating like a local is critical! Check out this tour, offering 10 authentic dishes in total and traveling through the Trastevere neighborhood – a “boho” spot in Rome that is known for being a hidden gem with cobblestone streets and working class origins. Its name means “across the Tiber.”
What to Wear in Rome in January
The weather for most January days in Rome will be chilly and rainy. You might see a bit of sun if you’re lucky, but pack for winter!
Warm layers that you can adjust for indoor and outdoor activities, as well as winter outerwear and waterproof laters will be key.
Don’t forget sweaters, long pants, and closed-toed shoes that are comfortable for walking in. Waterproof shoes are even better, so you don’t have to worry too much about avoiding puddles on rainy days.
Winter clothes like a heavy or wool coat, scarf, winter hat, warm gloves, and a raincoat (and/or umbrella) will be key, as well!
The Best Hotels of Rome in January
Picking a “home base” for your trip to Rome in January is key to set the right mood and ensure you stay comfortable after days adventuring in the wintery weather. Here are a few hotels that we recommend.
The 5-star hotel Monastero dei Santi offers a luxury stay for your January trip to Rome: 24 hour front desk service, free parking, and a la carte breakfast plus a balcony and city view from every room is sure to make your stay memorable and worry free.
Location, location, location! Harry’s Bar Trevi Hotel & Restaurant is located right next to the Trevi Fountain. This is an especially great pick for visiting Rome in January rather than summer, because that area is sure to be especially chaotic during the high season.
Next to the incredible park Villa Borghese, Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & SPA is not only a 5-star hotel but also a spa offering an indoor pool, Finnish sauna, and Turkish bath. This is a great choice for relaxing amidst your city adventure, and a great option for additional indoor spa activity amidst the January weather
What to Pack for a Trip to Rome in January
Travel essentials are key for a trip to Rome in January! Don’t forget cash (you can get Euros with an international ATM card), a camera, a backpack or hip back that you can wear on walks around the city, a powerbank to charge your cell phone on the go, and a refillable water bottle.
Additionally, consider the things specific to winter: a warm coat, umbrella, heavy layers, and perhaps clothes that can be packed easily in case you need to add additional layers or change clothes during the day.
FAQs about Rome in January
When considering a January trip to Rome, many travelers have questions about the weather, packing, and crowds. Here are our answers to some of the most important questions you might have.
Rome is a cozy city in January! Cooler temps and rain mean less crowds and cost, and more time for museums, listening to the rain outside while sipping hot chocolate, Christmas markets, and calm walks around the piazzas after the storms. No matter how many days you want to visit for, a trip to Rome in January is worth considering!
Does it Snow in Rome in January?
Rome doesn’t get much snow, rain is much more common. Sometimes you’ll get a quick hail storm, as well. But don’t let the weather scare you – packing with the weather in mind makes this easy to adapt to. In any case of precipitation, there are dozens of bars or cafes to duck into on every street!
How Cold is it in Rome in January?
Chilly, but not a winter wonderland: the average temperature in Rome in January is around 45° Fahrenheit. If you don’t mind a little rain and pack savvily, Rome’s January weather is totally doable!
Is Rome Busy in January?
Rome isn’t busy in January! Compared to the summer and shoulder seasons, both crowds are prices are down. This means less rush for accommodation (and thus lower prices), shorter or absent lines for attractions and museums, and less overpacked streets.
Is Rome Good to Visit in January?
Rome is definitely worth a visit in January! You’ll find yourself among less crowds of tourists, shorter waits for attractions, and lower prices. Temperatures will be chilly but not impossibly cold. With plenty of indoor activities, Rome is a great destination option even in less
How Busy is the Colosseum in January?
The Colosseum, like most attractions in Rome, will have little to no wait in January! January is a great time to visit Rome and find little to no crowds. The trade off is that temperatures will be lower, but many travelers find the January ambiance calm and inviting.