A winter holiday in Rome is always a good idea. Visiting the Eternal City just before the holidays is one of the magical things about visiting Europe this time of year. The streets are decorated with holiday decorations, shop windows are dressed to the nines, and there’s just nothing quite like settling in for an afternoon coffee or tea in some cosy corner somewhere to chat with friends or read a good book. Rome in December may not have the snow that you could be looking for, but is sure comes packed with the holiday charm.
Weather in Rome in December
The weather in Rome in December is a lot like November. A few cloudy and rainy days are mixed in with some sunny winter days, but every day requires some kind of sweater or jacket combo. Don’t forget a good scarf and hat to keep your ears warm. Especially if you’re traveling from a warm climate, December nights can be quite chilly. December temperatures range from about mid-50s to high-30s fahrenheit, so not quite freezing but definitely chilly enough to warrant the thicker coats and socks.
Days are much shorter as well. Sunset takes place as early as 4:30/5pm, so expect to enjoy some afternoon activities in the dark. This also means temperatures drop earlier, so if you plan to head out for the day, don’t forget an extra layer to bring with you.
Looking for an umbrella or jacket or scarf?
Despite your best intentions you forgot an umbrella that suddenly became a necessity, or you didn’t pack enough warm clothes? For an inexpensive umbrella (and perhaps some cheeky novelty gifts) check out any one of the many Flying Tiger Copenhagen stores that are scattered all over the historic center. Inevitably when the cloud cover comes, there will be plenty of street salesmen stocked with umbrellas. We advise not purchasing from them as the quality of the umbrellas isn’t worth the €5-10 they’ll ask you.
If you’re looking for a jacket, head to one of the main streets full of shops. We’ve written about where to go shopping in Rome before. Look for an H&M, Zara or OVS for quick, ready-to-wear solutions that will keep you toasty as the temperatures drop.
Christmas in Rome
Rome is a whole different city around Christmas time. The city lights up with holiday decorations and pretty much every type of business likes to get in on the Christmas cheer.
Here’s our mini guide to celebrating Christmas in Rome
Shopping for Christmas Presents in Rome
There are so many shopping areas in the city. One of the largest and most popular shopping destinations is the Tridente District, called this because three streets make up a prong-like shape. Via del Babuino, Via del Corso and Via Ripetta all start at Piazza del Popolo and head south toward Piazza di Spagna and the historic center. Along these streets and between them you’ll find all sorts of shops, from international boutiques to local artisan shops.
For the very best department store experience in Rome, head to the Rinascente on Via del Tritone. Here you’ll be able to live out any Bergdorf Goodman or Neiman Marcus type experience you’re seeking. *And don’t miss out on visiting the lowest level below ground where you’ll find an exhibit to an unearthed Roman-era aqueduct right next to a coffee bar.
If you’re staying in the Prati area, the area around Via Cola di Rienzo is equally packed with all sorts of shops for gifts or just window shopping.
In the EUR neighborhood, head to Viale Europa, a tree-lined 60s era street lined with a good number of Italian brands and boutiques.
For a day full of shopping, head outside the center of Rome for the outlets at Castel Romano, located in the southern fringe of the city. At Castel Romano you’ll find everything from Gucci to Versace, Lacoste to Puma, toy stores and book stores, all at more reasonable prices. If you don’t want to foot the bill for a taxi out there, the outlet mall has a daily shuttle service from Termini station (Via Giolitti, 48) for €15 that leaves at 9:30 – 9:55 – 10:30* – 11:30 – 12:30 – 14:30 with list of return shuttles throughout the day.
Buying a Christmas Tree in Rome
You won’t find a lot of real Christmas trees in Rome, however the demand for them is growing each year. We wrote a post about purchasing Christmas Trees and decorations in Rome, that is a good resource. In general, real Christmas Trees are sold at florists or garden centers. Many supermarkets are now selling them as well. For artificial trees, convenience stores like Flying Tiger or Coin will be your best bet in finding a suitable Christmas tree.
December in Rome, like November, is a good time to be inside. Some of our favorite ways to escape the chill is to visit one of the lesser known museums and sites or stop in one of Rome’s luxury hotels for spot of tea!
November may be the best month to visit museums as a way to escape any inclement weather or cooler temperatures. Perennial museums like the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums are always a good idea. Or use the excuse of staying inside to visit some of the lesser known museums and sites like Villa Medici, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and Quirinal Palace.
If you’re looking for a list of upcoming events and shows, check out the comprehensive calendar put out by the expats at Wanted in Rome. Find everything from free concerts to poetry readings, upcoming exhibitions and live theatre.
High Tea in Rome
It’s true that Rome isn’t particularly known for it’s high tea culture, but that’s not to say that the city doesn’t have some world class high tea experiences available! Check out our post on High Tea in Rome to get the scoop on where to go!
Coffee Shop Culture
Looking for the nearest coffee shop to get some work done, dive into a good book, or just chat over a cappuccino? Coffee shop culture is a bit of a novelty in Rome (and Italy in general), but we put together a list of some of our favorite coffee shops and secret corners where you can get away for a cosy afternoon.
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Have you visited Rome in December? Share your experience with us in the comments below!