Packing for Rome in December – Essentials to Bring to Italy

Rome in December is pretty cold and packing the right clothes and essentials can spare you from headaches and surprises. From the necessary travel documents to the electronics and the right bags, we are providing you with an extensive list of what to pack for Rome in December to just print and tick off item by item.

December is a magical time to visit Rome, but you really want to come equipped with everything you need to avoid having to spend unnecessary money once here.

In this easy guide, we are giving you tips on what weather to expect, what to wear during the day or if you are attending a Christmas event or party, and what are the essentials when it comes to packing for Rome in December, including your travel documents and the gadgets you might need.

Whether you are staying in Rome for 3 days or spending a whole week in Rome for Christmas, this December packing list will help you plan a perfect trip.

Did you book your ticket? Now start ticking off your list what to pack for Rome in December!

Check out our tips about packing for Rome in any season for more inspiration.

Is Rome too cold in December? Weather overview

December marks the beginning of the winter season in Italy with the winter solstice on December 21st. While the whole month starts to be chilly, towards the end of December, the weather in Rome in winter is pretty biting.

On average, temperatures in Rome in December range between 13°C/55°F and 4°C/39°F. It hardly goes below zero, but it can happen, especially at night towards the end of the month.

December is slightly less rainy than November but still one of the rainiest months of the year in Rome with an average of 8 days of rain. This means that your chances of finding a rainy day are quite slim, and often the rainfall will be concentrated at night.

If I think of Rome in December, I picture almost always chilly yet sunny days, and quite clear nights with some occasional clouds. This being said, wearing a waterproof coat will definitely give you peace of mind.

Adding to that, most Christmas and New Year’s celebrations take place at night between the end of December and the beginning of January. This is why it is essential to know what to wear and what to pack for Rome in December to be ready for biting temperatures.

Traveling for the winter holidays? Find out what to do in Rome at Christmas!

Image: A warm coat is what to pack for Rome in December. Photo by Rome Actually

What kind of bag should carry in Rome?

A small backpack or a crossbody bag are both viable options. Of course, if you prefer to walk around with a purse, that’s fine too. Just make sure your purse closes with a zip and it’s not easy to open.

Your backpack doesn’t need to be too large, unless you have a lot of video or photography gear to carry around. Remember that in places such as the Colosseum, it’s not allowed to enter with a large backpack.

A crossbody bag is a good solution because it’s handy, spacious, and you can wear in front, which is advisable if you are walking in crowded areas such as Rome’s piazzas or are using public transport. In both Rome metro and buses/trams there can be pickpockets, and they get very active during the festivities and busy times of the year.

Essentials to pack for Rome in December

  • Foldable umbrella. Rome in December can have a few rainy days so carrying a small umbrella in your bag is helpful and not too much of a weight.
  • Travel bottle. Carry your own water bottle that you can refill in the myriad of nasoni fountains gushing out cold and drinkable Rome water all day long.
  • Wet wipes. A small pack to carry in your bag when you are out sightseeing.
  • Packing cubes. I’ve been using them for a while and couldn’t travel without. They make my suitcase tidy and my life much easier when I’m looking for something.

Travel documents

  • Your visa. Unless you are a citizens of the European Union, chances are you need a visa to enter Italy. Some countries have an agreement with the Schengen Area that gives their citizens a visa on arrival, but if you have to apply in your home country before traveling, make sure you don’t forget it.
  • Your passport/ID card. If you are a EU citizen, your national ID card will be enough to travel to Italy, unless you are a non-EU national. In this case, you will be asked to show also your passport and the residence permit of the European country you are living in. If you come from outside the EU, your passport is required.

Money and valuables

  • Wallet. A wallet or a pochette to keep your money and bank cards is necessary. Make sure to keep it inside your bag or backpack. Men should never keep their wallet in the back pocket of their trousers because there is a good chance they are not going to find it anymore.
  • Cash. If you are living in the euro zone, it’s a good idea to arrive in Italy with some cash so that you avoid the first bank withdrawal fees. Also, to pay some things such as a coffee of €1.10, you probably don’t want to use your ATM. On the other hand, if you have another currency, I don’t recommend exchanging money in your home country or even at the airport upon arrival in Rome as the fees are higher than when withdrawing directly from the local ATM.
  • Debit/credit card. You can use to pay anywhere from stores to restaurants, to hotels. When you board the Rome metro, you can use the tap&go system, if you have a contactless card.

Flu remedies, medicines, prescriptions

  • Fever drugs. Aspirin or paracetamol to use in case of fever. Paracetamol if you are allergic to aspirin.
  • Antinflammatories. In case of inflammation or pain. In Rome, you can find Ibuprofen, Neurofen, Momendol, and other types. If you describe your symptoms, the pharmacist will be able to help you. If they are in doubt, they will send you to a doctor or ER.
  • Your doctor’s prescriptions. This is in case you need some drugs that you think you might need in Rome in December and require a prescription like antibiotics, I suggest you come with a translated copy of your doctor’s prescription.
  • Your usual medicines. If you are already taking medicines and need to keep taking them, I suggest you carry them from home. In the pharmacies in Rome, you are likely to find them, but you never know if they will be available in a timely manner or if they don’t give you a prescription.
  • Natural remedies. In Rome you will find plenty of herbal medicine stores that sell ready remedies or herbs. The pharmacies, too, sell always more natural remedies, including homeopathic treatments and herbal teas. If you have already your favorite remedies for all types of winter ailments and think you might need them promptly, I suggest carrying them with you. Otherwise, make sure you bring a translation or scientific name so that you can find it here.

Packing for December in Rome: Toiletries for men, women, and babies

For women

  • Moisturizers. For day and night. With cold temperatures and windy weather, the skin tends to become very dry.
  • Hand cream. Don’t forget to pack a rich and hydrating hand cream for December in Rome. Your hands will definitely get dry.
  • Cleansing products. Complimentary in your hotel room you are likely to find a set of toiletries including a bar of solid soap. However, this type of soap usually makes my skin dry, so I always have a travel-size bottle of gentle cleanser. If you are used to applying toner after cleansing and before the cream, pack that too because I doubt your free toiletries set will include that.
  • Sunscreen. Rome in December can be sunny. Sunscreen is a bit over the top, unless you have fair and sensitive skin.
  • Make-up. For daily use and in case you attend a party for the winter festivities.
  • Deodorant. This is never included in the hotels’ complimentary toiletries and even though you can find plenty in shops and pharmacies, you might want to use it also on the first days so better you pack it.
  • Perfume.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss. Your hotel will provide that, but usually toothbrushes are not the highest quality.
  • Hair brush or comb.

For men

  • Shaving cream. Sometimes hotels’ free toiletries include shaving creams and after-shaving balm but it’s not always the case. If you don’t need to shave on the first day, you can buy one in Rome. But if you’d rather save that money, you’d better pack it from home.
  • After-shaving balm.
  • Razors and shaving accessories.
  • Deodorant.
  • Perfume.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss.

For babies

  • Bath cleansers. A handy solution is a bath cleanser for both body and hair. Of course in Rome you can find it everywhere but in case you need it the day you arrive, I don’t think your complimentary toiletries include baby products.
  • Wet wipes. Handy to carry around especially in restaurants where often bathrooms feature baby changing units.
  • Diapers. I suggest packing enough diapers for the first days, then you can buy them in Rome.
  • Rash cream/oil. Pack a small bottle and buy it in Rome if you run out.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste for children. If you have a toddler or up.
  • Portable baby changing kit. This becomes very handy when you are out. If you need to change the diaper, you can enter a bar or when you go to a restaurant. If they don’t have their own changing unit, you can use your portable diaper changing kit on your stroller or on top of a table.
Image: Hat and neck warmer are essentials to pack for Rome in December for toddlers. Photo by Rome Actually

Clothes to pack for Rome in December

  • Sweaters. Wool or other type, as long as they are warm.
  • Warm coat or jacket.
  • Warm cotton or wool socks. To use during the day with sneakers or ankle boots. If you wear a skirt or a dress, use warm tights, at night even thermal ones.
  • Underwear tops. I strongly recommend to wear underwear tops especially if you go out at night. In cold days, you can even wear thermal ones.
  • Long-sleeve tops. I suggest packing warm tops for layering in case inside a restaurant is too warm for a sweater.
  • Warm trousers. Comfortable trousers to wear all day while walking and sightseeing. It can be wool or cotton trousers.
  • Hat, scarf and gloves. You are likely to wear a warm hat and a scarf all day in Rome in December. But remember that this is the month of Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve, so at night, a pair of warm gloves will come in very handy.
  • Walking shoes/ankle boots. To use during the day, so comfortable and possibly waterproof.
  • Decolleté for women or a nicer pair of shoes for men. This is in case you are planning to go out for a restaurant dinner, are attending a Christmas mass or celebration, or are joining a New Year’s Eve cenone/party. For men, a pair of fashion camper-style shoes will go the long way and can be used both to walk during the day and for a fancy night out.
  • Fancy dress for women. For fancy dinner and parties.
  • Button-down shirts for men. A little elegant to use at restaurants or at parties.
  • Fancier jacket/blazer or coat. Also for special events in Rome in December.

For more detailed information, check out our guide to what to wear in Rome in December.

Image: Sweaters are what to wear in Rome in December. Photo by Rome Actually

Nightwear to pack for December in Rome

  • Pajama/nightgown. Your hotel will certainly have the heating on, but for the night you will still want to wear a pajama or a nightgown, either warm or light. A warm pajama also for babies and children.
  • Slippers. Some hotels provide basic slippers with the room, but if you prefer comfy and warm ones, you better pack them from home.
  • Socks. Warm socks to wear indoor when relaxing.

Electronics to pack for Rome in December

  • Your smartphone (and charger!). When you pack for Rome in December and every other month, your smartphone’s utility goes beyond taking selfies. You are likely to have your international flight tickets, hotel’s reservations, domestic flights and train tickets, and eventual tour reservations in your email.
  • Travel adaptor. Italy uses three plug types, types C, F and L. Plug type C has two round pins, plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side and plug type L is the plug type whit three round pins. Italy operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. There are universal adaptors that you can use wherever you are.
  • Headphones. Apart from music and phone calls, headphones can become handy when you take tours in busy areas and the guide has a microphone. They will hand out disposable headphones or you can use your own.
  • Your camera + lenses. If you use a DSLR, you can pack two lenses, one versatile winde-angle and one 50mm for when it’s dark. If you are using a compact, there is no lens problem and also the camera will be less heavy and less bulky.
  • Power bank. You will definitely need one if you are staying out all day and use your phone to take pictures and videos.

What to pack for Rome in December with kids

  • Coat. Coat or jacket as long as they are warm enough for winter temperatures.
  • Winter walking shoes/ankle boots.
  • Warm underwear tops. This is very much necessary to protect the belly and the back whether it’s windy or not.
  • Sweaters/jumpers. It’s all you will need to pack for your kids for December in Rome.
  • Cotton or wool socks.
  • Hat, gloves, and scarf/neck warmer. Quite needed especially in the evening. If you have a baby or a toddler, a neck warmer will be safer than a scarf. Even though children might not be very patient wearing gloves, if you go out early morning or late in the evening, they will be necessary.
  • Reusable water bottle. Just like adults, kids can have their water bottle to refill in Rome’s fountains pouring drinkable water 24/7.

What if you forget something?

If you forget to pack something, even an essential item for Rome in December, don’t panic. Unless that something is your passport/ID card, your visa, your ATM or credit card, or your smartphone.

Everything else, it’s not a problem, in Rome’s stores and pharmacies you can find just about everything.

For goods such as diapers, wet wipes, soaps, shampoo, shower gel, foods, and this type of daily stuff, you can go to stores such as Conad, Carrefour, Pam, Coop, and similar.

If you are looking for higher quality food products to buy a gift, or if you have rented an apartment in Rome instead of booking a hotel room and want to cook your own meals, you might want to shop at local food markets or deli stores.

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About The Author: Angela Corrias

Hi, my name is Angela Corrias! I am an Italian journalist, photographer, and blogger living in Rome. After over ten years of living abroad, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to better organize my future adventures, I needed a base. Since I know and love Rome so much, I moved back to the Eternal City. This is how Rome Actually was born. Here, I cover everything about Rome, from the local food to the culture to Roman history.

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