Rome in February is all about romance and fun. February is one of those quiet months when sightseeing and exploring the major landmarks usually crowded becomes pleasant and possible without too much stress.
Similar to January in Rome, also February sees fewer tourists than the upcoming spring and summer months. This guide of mine will provide you with all the necessary tools to plan a perfect winter trip including knowing what to expect from the weather, what to wear, and what local events you can’t miss.
If you are lucky enough to come to Rome in February, make your Valentine’s romance memorable and join us for the exciting Carnival celebrations.
Visiting Rome in March instead? Check out our full guide!
Table of Contents
- 1 Weather in Rome in February
- 2 Is February a good time to visit Rome?
- 3 6 reasons to visit Rome in February
- 4 Is Rome expensive in February?
- 5 February in Rome – Festivals and important dates
- 6 What to do in Rome in February
- 6.1 Go on a date
- 6.2 Attend Carnival celebrations
- 6.3 Visit the Colosseum
- 6.4 Go to the museum
- 6.5 Visit the Vatican Museums
- 6.6 Visit Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square
- 6.7 Duck into the Pantheon
- 6.8 Go to church
- 6.9 Explore Trastevere
- 6.10 Go shopping
- 6.11 Discover Rome’s modern side
- 6.12 Visit the Nomentano neighborhood
- 6.13 Take a cooking class
- 6.14 Take a day trip
- 7 What to pack for Rome in February
- 8 What to wear in February in Rome
- 9 What to book ahead for Rome in February
- 10 What to eat in Rome in February
- 11 Where to eat in Rome in February
- 12 Where to stay in Rome in February
Weather in Rome in February
Together with January, February is one of the coldest months in Rome. The average temperatures range between 14°C (57°F) the highest during the day and 3°C (37°F) the lowest at night.
February is less wet than November and December, but you can still expect some rainy days with an average of 7 days of showers for the whole month. Overall, February has many sunny and clear days, so walking and attending Carnival celebrations is very pleasant.
Snow in Rome is extremely rare and even when it happens, it doesn’t last long. I saw Rome covered in snow twice, once in 2012 and once in 2018, and both happened in February.
The snowfall of 2012 happened on the night between February 3rd and 4th and was epic as the city woke up completely white the snow some 20 cm high. I remember Rome remained white for a long time and eventually the snow turned into ice on the edges of the streets.
In 2018, it snowed around the end of February and even though it was less than six years before, it was still a big event in the capital.
Apart from these two episodes, February in Rome is generally cold and quite dry with some scattered showers.
Is February a good time to visit Rome?
February is the perfect time to visit Rome if you are traveling on a budget and prefer a quiet city with few crowds. The weather will be cold, but if you are not afraid of temperature drops, exploring and walking around the city will be very pleasant without the usual sweating of the summer months.
6 reasons to visit Rome in February
- For a romantic trip. Rome is always romantic, but around Valentine’s Day, you will be even more inspired.
- Carnival celebrations. Less famous than other Carnivals in Italy, also in Rome there are several celebrations for this occasion.
- No crowds. Like January, Rome will be almost tourist-free.
- More affordable. One of the last months when hotels are cheaper just before the beginning of spring.
- Pleasant temperatures. Cold but sunny and clear.
- Winter sales. The last month of winter sales before stores put out the spring/summer collection.
Is Rome expensive in February?
February is one of the cheapest months to travel to Rome. Like January, hotels have cheaper rates and seasonal deals and promotions. International flights and some domestic transport, too, are cheaper than in the high season.
This allows you to either stretch your trip a couple more days or afford some hotel upgrade or more fashion shopping. February is the perfect time to afford 4 days or even a week in Rome.
February in Rome – Festivals and important dates
- Valentine’s Day – February 14th. Valentine’s Day is not a holiday and schools, shops, and offices are open. Many restaurants will have themed dinner deals.
- Carnival – February 16th-21st. Carnival days are not holidays either and schools and offices are open. For security reasons, you might find some businesses or activities closed right where are the celebrations and parades, usually along Via del Corso.
- Ash Wednesday – February 22nd. This is an important religious date because it marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent, but it’s only celebrated with a Mass or with events in religious associations to welcome the 40 days before Easter.
What to do in Rome in February
Go on a date
You can always plan a romantic trip to Rome because the city inspires love and pampering around every corner, but more so on Valentine’s Day. All around the city, shops and stores will be filled with hearts and themed decorations and many restaurants offer themed dinner menus and promotions.
But these are not the only things you can do in Rome in February when you feel romantic to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Whether you want to go on a date or seize the moment to propose to your other half in Rome, there are many ways you can do so.
If a candlelit dinner is not original enough for you, you can opt for a romantic spot in one of Rome’s parks and set up a lovely picnic. Or you can take your girlfriend to enjoy a great view of the city, either from a rooftop restaurant, a rooftop bar, or a panoramic viewpoint.
Don’t miss our tips on the best romantic hotels in Rome.
Attend Carnival celebrations
It might not be as famous as Carnevale di Venezia, but Rome’s Carnival is also full of celebrations and exciting events. Every year, the city center is home to festivals, events, and masquerades that parade from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. Masked street artists will perform all over the streets along the Fori Imperiali and also in Piazza Navona.
You are totally welcome to join the party just as a spectator or by wearing your own mask and blending with the locals. This is a great fun time for children and kids, they all wear their masks and join the celebrations by throwing colorful confetti and playing with sparklers.
Some other Carnival celebrations this year include skating in the Pincio and a traditional concert at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, both on Sunday February 19th.
>> Check out our updated guide to the events of the Carnival in Rome.
Visit the Colosseum
Any time Rome is quiet and tourist-free is a great time to visit otherwise crowded landmarks like the Colosseum. You can opt for an independent visit by buying a standard single ticket or book a private Colosseum tour to get access to areas closed to the general public such as the Arena Floor and the Colosseum Undergrounds. Even in the case you only want to visit the areas open to everyone, you can purchase your ticket online beforehand and get a fast-track entrance.
February is a bit of a tricky time. I always suggest including the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill when you visit the Colosseum because they are all included in the same ticket that lasts two days. In February, however, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are quite cold and you definitely need to make sure you go when it’s not raining. If you do decide to visit all the archaeological sites included in the ticket, make sure to wear warm clothes and consider thermal layers.
Don’t miss our tips for visiting the Colosseum.
Go to the museum
When museums are (almost) empty, you can enjoy a better experience surrounded by art and silence only. Plus, they are some of the best things to do in Rome when it rains.
Museums otherwise crowded like Capitoline Museums and Galleria Borghese, or important galleries such as Palazzo Barberini and Palazzo Pamphilj are home to wonderful permanent exhibitions and visiting them virtually alone you can enjoy each masterpiece at your own pace.
February is a month when usually in Rome there are several temporary exhibitions that make for a great addition on top of the permanent ones. Some of the exhibitions and concerts running in February 2023 are:
- L’Ottocento a Villa Farnesina (Villa Farnesina, Via della Lungara 230). This is an exhibition illustrating the presence of the two prominent figures of Duke of Ripalda and Count Giuseppe Primoli in the 19th century in Rome.
- Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum (MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Via Guido Reni 4a). This exhibition displays over 100 works including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and videos narrating the life and work of the music icon.
- Van Gogh (Palazzo Bonaparte, Piazza Venezia 5). Exhibition of the most important and famous paintings of the Dutch artist.
- Il viaggio di Enea. Da Troia a Roma (Parco archeologico del Colosseo, Piazza Santa Maria Nova 53). Aeneas and the most important moments of his life are portrayed through works dating between the 8th century BC and imperial times.
Visit the Vatican Museums
Just like the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, too, are always very crowded. This is why, when Rome is quiet and there are few tourists, visiting them is a must. Whether you have never been or have already visited them with crowds, it’s worth it.
I have been to the Vatican Museums a few times, once there was such a huge crowd that I really couldn’t enjoy the Sistine Chapel. On the other hand, when I visited after closing time, it was a completely different experience.
Rome in February is pretty quiet so the best time to visit incredible places like the Vatican Museums in order to have a better chance to appreciate their art and history. To save some time, you can book a private Vatican tour that is always inclusive of fast-track entrance and will take you to visit all the worthy landmarks.
Visit Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square
After the museums, before leaving the Vatican, I suggest making your way to Saint Peter’s Square and visiting the wonderful Vatican Basilica. Free to enter, in the high season, you will always see a huge line framing Saint Peter’s Square and Bernini’s colonnade. That’s why, if you are in Rome in February, this is something not to miss.
A giant Renaissance Basilica built on the site of the 4th-century Constantinian Basilica and an ancient Roman graveyard where Peter was buried, this is one of Rome’s most important churches and deserves a visit.
If you want to make the most of your time in the Vatican and explore its long history in a deeper way, book a tour of the ancient necropolis under Saint Peter’s Basilica. Here, you will learn where Nero’s Circus was located, where Peter met his martyrdom, and where the thousand-year worship at his burial place started.
Duck into the Pantheon
The Pantheon is one of those stunning landmarks that cover multifaceted topics from history to architecture to religion. While you will be entering a current Catholic church, originally, this majestic worship place was built as a temple to all gods.
Admired throughout the centuries for its dome, the largest of the ancient world and the largest concrete dome ever built, in the high season the Pantheon attracts thousands of visitors every day. You can easily see the long lines arriving from Via del Corso or Largo Argentina, as soon as you reach the lovely Piazza della Rotonda.
The Pantheon is not too big and when it’s crowded you risk having to rush your visit and see less than you would in otherwise calmer times.
Go to church
Going to church is always a good idea in Rome. Whether you are going to pray or for sightseeing, you are always bound to find a source of inspiration. Most churches in Rome are the work of famous architects and inside are packed with artwork and masterpieces of famous painters and sculptures.
Apart from being a quiet month, February is also cold, so when outside the chill bites, duck into the closest church and admire the art and beauty contained there. You are bound to find fantastic masterpieces of Bernini in Rome like the wonderful Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in Santa Maria della Vittoria church, the architectural feats of Francesco Borromini such as Sant’Agnese in Agone or Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza churches, or the paintings of artists like Caravaggio and Raphael.
One of the most popular and charming things to do in Rome whether it’s your first trip or the tenth is a walk around the cobbled alleys of Trastevere. This traditional neighborhood is a magnet for tourists and locals alike. From the charm of Rome’s old architecture to the narrow lanes that exude tradition around every corner, the ancient churches, and noble palaces, Trastevere is steeped in history.
In seasons like spring and summer, walking in those winding alleys might be quite hard if they are too crowded. Cars never stop darting back and forth and sidewalks can be narrow, making the visit difficult and stressful at times. Eating in Trastevere, too, will become hard because you need to book well in advance or you are not going to find any tables in the good local restaurants.
If you are in Rome in February, I definitely suggest seizing the opportunity and enjoying this wonderful Rome neighborhood while it’s quiet and you can actually have a great time. Mind you, will always see locals because Romans, too, love Trastevere, but without the tourist crowds, your experience will be more authentic and relaxed.
Don’t miss our tips on the best hotels in Trastevere!
With the winter sales still on, February is a fantastic time to go shopping in Rome. Chances are you are going to find fewer items because the sales start in the second week of January, but since it’s getting towards the end, you can find the prices slashed even further.
If you are feeling like shopping, head to the Tridente and walk along streets like Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, Via di Ripetta, Via Condotti, and all the roads around Piazza di Spagna. If you are in the Vatican area, make your way to the Prati neighborhood and check out the stores in Via Cola di Rienzo for trendy brands and Via Ottaviano for more affordable prices.
Those who are serious about shopping can certainly make a trip to Designer Outlet Castelromano McArthurGlen to find fantastic brands such as Armani, Puma, Lacoste, Coccinelle, Pollini for gorgeous bags, Falconeri for the best cashmere sweaters, Missoni, Moschino, Primigi for kids, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, and more.
Discover Rome’s modern side
If it’s not your first time in Rome, you can also venture off the beaten path and explore fascinating neighborhoods such as Ostiense, Testaccio, and Garbatella south of Rome.
Easy to reach by walking or with public transport, these three neighboring districts will show you an unexpected side of Rome, its modern face in both art and history. Revealing the city’s industrial past and home to some of the best street art in Rome, if you want to soak in tradition, these are great areas to explore.
Visit the Nomentano neighborhood
Other neighborhoods I love visiting often are the neighboring Rioni Trieste and Nomentano. Residential and elegant, they look very modern but enshrine both the vestiges of Rome’s ancient history and those of a more recent past and contemporary art.
It’s here that you can visit the wonderful Villa Torlonia park with its Casino Nobile, the Roman residence of Benito Mussolini, the lovely Serra Moresca (Moorish Greenhouse), and Casina delle Civette (Owls’ Cottage).
Along Via Nomentana is also another fantastic hidden gem in Rome, the complex of Sant’Agnese Fuori Le Mura, home to early-Christian catacombs and Costanza’s Mausoleum with some of Rome’s most beautiful mosaics.
Off Via Nomentana, with an easy stroll, you can also reach the fantastic and quirky Quartiere Coppedè, a Liberty-style neighborhood where the facades feature a mix of mythical figures, monsters, and animal-shaped sculptures.
Take a cooking class
What’s better than staying in, cooking, and eating when outside is freezing cold? Take one of the many cooking classes in Rome and you will do all this with the perk of being in great company and learning tons about the local culture and gastronomy.
We took a fantastic pasta-making class in Trastevere and learned how to make fresh fettuccine and a scrumptious amatriciana sauce from scratch.
Take a day trip
Even though you are not going to find the freezing weather of northern regions such as Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia and cities like Venice, Trento, or Turin, the towns north of Rome are quite cold.
Places such as Viterbo, Calcata, and Bracciano make for wonderful day trips from Rome, but keep in mind that especially Viterbo is a bit cold because it’s elevated more than 300 meters above sea level.
If you visit Rome in February, I would suggest a day trip to places such as Ostia Antica for its wonderful archaeological site and Tivoli for its two UNESCO-listed sites Villa D’Este and Hadrian Villa.
What to pack for Rome in February
- Travel documents. Passport or national ID depending on where you are coming from. A passport is needed to enter Italy if you are from outside the EU. Before traveling, make sure you checked if you also need a visa or if your nationality can get one on arrival.
- Umbrella. Rome in February is not very rainy, but you can always find some showers along the way. A lightweight foldable umbrella to carry around will save you time and money because you won’t have to rush to find one when it rains and then settle for a low-quality one sold in the street.
- Camera. Whether it’s a compact, a mirrorless, a DSLR, or even only your smartphone, make sure you have a device to snap your pictures in Rome to build unforgettable travel memories.
- Crossbody bag. A light bag is helpful to carry around your valuables such as your phone, your camera, your documents, and your water bottle. I suggest a crossbody bag rather than a backpack because sometimes backpacks are not allowed in some landmarks, including the Colosseum.
- Warm clothes. February in Rome is no time for t-shirts and flip-flops, make sure you have warm winter clothes. More on this, below.
- Travel water bottle. I recommend carrying your own reusable water bottle that you can refill with Rome tap water in the nasoni little fountains scattered around town. This is both handy and convenient because a half-liter bottle of water can cost from 1€ up and a liter of mineral water in a restaurant from 2€ up.
- Moisturizing creams. The cold weather makes your skin dry, so I recommend bringing your usual creams. I use one for the day and one richer for the night, as well as an eye cream. In Rome in winter, I always use also a rich hand cream.
- Nightwear. Hotels will certainly have the heating on, but I still recommend wearing a pajama or a nightgown indoors.
- Slippers. High-end hotels provide their own disposable slippers but if you want to be more comfortable or if you are opting for more budget accommodation, I suggest packing your own.
What to wear in February in Rome
- Comfortable winter shoes and/or ankle boots. These are necessary to keep your feet warm and protect you from possible rain.
- Socks or tights. Warm cotton or wool socks are necessary in winter in Rome. If you are wearing a skirt, make sure you wear tights. In February, I usually wear covering, thick, and thermal tights with high boots.
- Boots. Fancy and with high heels for the evening if you wear a skirt or flat and padded ones for the day to wear with a skirt or even on top of skinny jeans/trousers.
- Warm underwear tops. On very cold days and evenings, you can opt for thermal tops.
- Long-sleeve tops. These are for layering to be worn on top of underwear tops.
- Jumpers and sweaters. Depending on your style, you can wear jumpers or sweaters under your coat. These are essential because the weather will require them.
- Warm trousers. I suggest packing comfortable and more sporty trousers for your daily sightseeing and a more elegant pair for the night, but both need to be warm, either wool or heavy cotton.
- Coat and/or winter jacket. Rome’s February weather requires a heavy coat. No time for light jackets, if you want to wear a jacket, make sure it’s a winter-heavy one.
- Scarf, hat, and gloves. In February in Rome I wear a hat and a scarf every time I go out of the house, whether it’s day or night. I don’t always wear gloves, especially during the day, but if I go out at night, I often do.
What to book ahead for Rome in February
- Dinner on Valentine’s Day. While February is generally quiet, couples don’t miss to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If you are planning a romantic dinner, reserve a spot in your favorite restaurant beforehand to avoid finding it fully booked.
- Weekend dinner. Even though there are fewer tourists, never forget that Romans love to eat out. If there is a specific restaurant you want to dine at or if you are planning a meal out on the weekend, especially in the city center, a prior reservation is your best bet to secure a spot. You don’t need to book too much in advance, but I recommend at least a couple of days before in popular areas like Trastevere.
- Hotels. Hotels always need to be booked in advance. February is quiet and Rome has a huge offer of accommodation so you don’t need to book months ahead.
- Flights. It’s safer to book both international and domestic flights, as well as other means of transportation, ahead.
- Colosseum. Even though seeing fewer crowds, the Colosseum is still one of the most popular sights in Rome so it’s never really empty. If you want to save time, I recommend booking your ticket online or directly a private tour inclusive of the skip-the-line entrance.
- Vatican Museums. Pretty much the same applies to the Vatican Museums, fewer queues but still queues. So, if you are planning to visit, I definitely recommend booking online a fast-track entrance or a private tour.
What to eat in Rome in February
- Artichokes. The season for the artichokes (carciofi) is starting so if you find them on the menu, go for it. You will see them in many preparations, but they are very famous as starters in the two versions “alla romana” stewed and “alla giudia” deep-fried.
- Puntarelle. A crunchy side dish Romans love that in February is in full season, puntarelle is usually served in tangy anchovies and vinegar sauce.
- Pasta e fagioli alla romana. Creamy and smooth, this pasta dish with beans is perfect to fulfill your appetite and keep you warm on a cold day.
- Bucatini amatriciana. This is one of the most famous Roman dishes and winter is the perfect season to order it because it’s rich and hearty.
- Spaghetti carbonara. Another famous pasta dish in Rome, carbonara is made with eggs and guanciale (cured pork cheek), so perfect for a cold day. Check out our guide to the restaurants with the best carbonara in Rome.
- Tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Rich in cheese and seasoned with a generous sprinkle of black pepper, tonnarelli cacio e pepe is another famous pasta in Rome that gets you up and running in the cold.
- Coda alla vaccinara. Hearty and slow-cooked, this Roman-style oxtail stew is the perfect winter dish to warm you up.
- Abbacchio a scottadito. Grilled lamb chops might feel too heavy in summer but they are perfect in winter. Order this dish with a veggie side dish.
- Carnival pastries. February is the season to try all the delicious, deep-fried Carnival sweets and pastries. Start with the lightweight frappe and carry on with castagnole, round and soft fritters.
Where to eat in Rome in February
- Aroma (Via Labicana 125). This is the multi-awarded gourmet restaurant on the top floor of Palazzo Manfredi 5-star hotel with a spectacular view of the Colosseum.
- Idylio by Apreda (Via di Santa Chiara 4/A). This is the Michelin-starred restaurant of The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel and is all about making your Valentine’s dinner elegant and romantic. The fixed tasting menu costs 180€ per person and includes gourmet courses such as lobster risotto with carrots and spiced coffee, and spaghetti with beetroots, sea truffles, and black truffles.
- Imàgo (Piazza della Trinità dei Monti 6). This is the 5-star restaurant of the 5-star Hassler Hotel near the Spanish Steps. You will enjoy a no less than luxurious experience. Dining at its finest with a breathtaking view of the city’s domes and rooftops.
- Zia (Via Goffredo Mameli 54). This is one of the best restaurants in Trastevere. Fine dining and innovation, here you will enjoy a delicious gourmet dinner. The restaurant is not a cheap eat and you need to book before going. If you are planning on going on Valentine’s Day, book a week before.
- Settimo Restaurant (Via Lombardia 47). This is the great restaurant of Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese Hotel. Fine dining combined with a fantastic view of the city.
- Casa Coppelle (Piazza delle Coppelle 49). Very elegant restaurant decorated with a Parisian touch in the city center, Casa Coppelle blends the Mediterranean style of Roman cuisine with the flavors and sauces typical of French gastronomy.
Where to stay in Rome in February
- Monti Palace Hotel. This is a mid-range option among the best hotels near the Colosseum. It’s perfect if you want to stay near the archaeological parks and other major landmarks.
- Bio Hotel Raphaël – Relais & Châteaux. If you want to take advantage of the season deals and pamper yourself a little more, this luxury 5-star hotel in Rome near Piazza Navona is a fantastic choice.
- Eitch Borromini. For a luxury but more affordable stay in the heart of the Centro Storico, this historical palace turned into a 4-star hotel is one of the best accommodation options near Piazza Navona.
- SuiteSistina For Lovers. Honeymooners or boyfriends who are planning to propose in Rome in February inspired by the season will love the arrangements of these romantic suites. Located in Via Sistina, you will also be in the heart of the city center.