19 Best Things to Do in Rome at Christmas 2023 + Where to Eat

Are you joining the crowds to feel the Yuletide spirit in the Italian capital? Find out what to do in Rome at Christmas to enjoy the city in the winter festivities.

Being the capital of Christendom, it’s only normal that Rome in December is very popular among travelers. Christmas markets, lights, and events are only some of the things to do in Rome during the winter festivities.

I can’t even believe we are already almost at that time of the year. I feel summer has just finished, and the unusually warm weather of this fall in Rome this year doesn’t help to make us think it’s time to plan for Christmas.

However, going out and about around Rome, I can see already some Christmas decorations in stores and themed events being prepared. This Christmas, Rome is the venue for wonderful Yuletide-themed events for kids and adults. Read on to get inspired to book that ticket or to know what to do in Rome at Christmas if you already have one!

READ MORE: If it’s your first trip, you might want to check our detailed guide to the top things to do in Rome for first-time visitors.

Christmas Tree in front of the Colosseum among the things to see in Rome for Christmas

What to do in Rome at Christmas this year

Visit the Vatican

Whether you are religious or not, Catholic or not, the Vatican is always a must for anyone visiting Rome, and at Christmas more so. There are many highlights in the Vatican and landmarks to see, and for Christmas, there are more events and functions.

A lovely initiative in the Vatican is what’s known “100 Presepi in Vaticano”, with “presepe” meaning nativity scene. It takes place under Saint Peter’s Square colonnade for a month from December 9th to January 7th every day from 10 am and 8 pm, except on December 24th and 31st when it closes at 5 pm. This is a fascinating route through several traditional nativity scenes to show the religious and social meaning of Christmas.

Preparations start in the first week of December, so if you can be in Rome from mid-December, you can enjoy also the first stages. This year 2023, on December 16th there will be the 31st edition of the yearly Christmas concert in the Vatican. This year, it will take place in the Auditorium Conciliazione (Via della Conciliazione 4) at 5 pm.

Like every year, plenty of singers from different music genres including blues, jazz, pop, rock, gospel, and opera will perform in Rome. The names of the artists will be released soon by the Vatican. If you would like to participate, you can buy the tickets here. The proceeds from the concert will fund several charity projects that will be announced soon.

Check out our Vatican extensive guide to know everything you can visit in the Holy See and how to book the different places, as well as our handy tips about where to book your hotel if you want to stay nearby.

One of the five itineraries included in our new eBook “Tasting Rome by Neighbourhood” explores the area around the Vatican. Check it out to find the best restaurants and things to do nearby.

READ MORE: For as stunning as it is, don’t limit your religious tour to the Vatican. Read our posts to discover beautiful and lesser-known churches in Rome as well as the most famous churches.

Visit the best Christmas markets

One of the best things to see and do in Rome during the Christmas holidays is to visit the lively and colorful Christmas markets. Every year there are some different markets from the year before, but some are annual appointments.

The most well-known market is the one set up every year in Piazza Navona and this year, you can also visit one in the gorgeous settings of Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps together with a nativity scene.

Image: Visiting the Christmas market in Piazza Navona is one of the things to do in Rome at Christmas. Photo by Rome Actually

Some others, among the most famous Christmas markets in Rome, are the one in Piazza Risorgimento, right close to St. Peter’s Basilica, selling anything from jewelry, homeware, gifts, clothes, and the one in Piazza Mazzini, Prati neighborhood, very big where you will find artisans from many Italian regions selling the typical products, mostly culinary.

Another out-of-the-ordinary market is the Christmas edition of the Green Market Festival held in different places such as Città dell’Altra Economia in Largo Dino Frisullo in the Testaccio neighborhood on the 8th-10th and near the Pyramid (Via della Piramide Cestia) on December 16th and 17th.

Image: Christmas World in Villa Borghese in Rome.

Explore Christmas World at Villa Borghese

This year, Christmas World is set up in a huge area of the charming Villa Borghese park. After the huge success of last year, this 2023/2024 edition in Villa Borghese is aiming to be the most spectacular.

Not only does it take place in a beautiful setting, but visitors will have the chance to experience the Yule spirit of many world cities, from Tokyo to Berlin, from New York to Paris, from London to the North Pole.

Dazzling lights, themed experiences, shows, and markets will entertain adults and kids. Traveling from the magic of Paris to the oriental atmosphere of Tokyo has never been so easy. On the same day, you and your family will be able to wander around London’s markets and enjoy New York’s vibe and ice rink.

Children will love to see Santa Klaus darting around waving hello to everybody with his elves and families will enjoy the Chocolate Factory, folk shows, Gospel concerts, the ice skating rink, and the musicals.

  • Address: Galoppatoio, Villa Borghese.
  • Opening times: From December 1st, 2023 to January 7th, 2024.
  • Entrance fee: Adults 16.50€ (19.50€ on weekends), for children 4-12yo and seniors over 65 is 13.50€ (16.50€ on weekends).
  • Website.

Visit the Christmas Village at Cinecittà World

Some of the most fascinating events happening during Christmas 2023 in Rome include the Christmas Village at Cinecittà World from November, 11th 2023 to January, 7th 2024. This will have a Christmas market rich in artisan food and handicraft goods as well as music and shows, a feast of lights and decorations.

The young ones will love to visit Santa Klaus’ house and factory, while foodies won’t want to miss strolling along Cinecittà Street to visit the huts of the Christmas markets to sample traditional Italian foods as well as buy season gifts. One of the new attractions this year in the Christmas village of Cinecittà World is the Stardust festival (Polvere di stelle, in Italian), where you can walk across a light path populated with fantasy animals, colorful trees, light interplays and decorations.

At Cinecittà World for Christmas this year you can also experience the North Pole with a large snow park that will include ice rinks and adrenaline-filled playgrounds and the roller coaster of the Scivolone slide, Kamikice, and soft mountains from where to throw your snowballs.

There is everything for everyone. This year, too, cinema fans will love the Gocce di Cinema (“Cinema Drops”), scenes from Christmas movies on a maxi screen, and kids will enjoy virtual experiences of a roller coaster and flying on Santa Klaus’ sleigh.

  • Address: Via Irina Alberti.
  • Opening hours: Open the weekends of December and every day from December 25th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024.
  • How to book: Follow this link and select the day you want to go. A new page will open and you can purchase your tickets.
  • Website.

Concerts and events at Auditorium Parco della Musica

For Christmas 2023, Auditorium Parco della Musica – Ennio Morricone is preparing a rich calendar of events from December 8th to January 7th, 2024 with concerts, and theater performances.

Among the artists and the performances are Italian singer and songwriter Enrico Nigiotti, theater plays starring Massimo Venturiello and Domenico Iannacone, Eric Waddell & The Abundant Life Singers concerts, and Mannarino rock concert.

On the days around Christmas, Florida Inspirational Singers choir will perform gospel concerts on the 23rd of December, while on the 25th, there will be two concerts of Harlem Gospel Choir.

Check out the official website for dates, performances, and opening hours.

  • Address: Viale de Coubertin 30.
Image: Season lights for Christmas in Rome.

Christmas Lights in Rome

Whether you are in the most significant places for the Catholic faith like the Vatican or other churches (I’m thinking of Santa Maria Maggiore, San Paolo Fuori le Mura, San Giovanni in Laterano), you will love the lights that embellish the places.

But that’s not all. Sacred places are only one aspect of Christmas in Rome. Walking along famous Rome streets like Via del Corso, Via Cola di Rienzo or Via Ottaviano, colorful festive lights will run above you all throughout.

The Christmas lights in Rome never fail to make the city even more beautiful.

Christmas Trees in Rome

From St. Peter’s Square to the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia, you will see many Christmas trees around Rome. The most famous, usually a gift to the Vatican from another country, is the one in St. Peter’s Square. Very tall and finely decorated, it’s really beautiful. But not the only one worth photographing. Don’t miss Spelacchio in Piazza Venezia, Romans’ pride!

The piazza in front of the Colosseum usually has a lovely Christmas tree, and the little squares around the city as well as shops, hotels, and restaurants have their own tree, you will love all the colors, styles and lights.

Image: Christmas tree and nativity scene in St. Peter's Square in Rome

Nativity scenes in Rome

Being a Catholic city in a Catholic country and the seat of the Holy See as well as the capital of the former Papal Kingdom, it goes without saying that Christmas in Rome is very much felt. You will find nativity scenes everywhere in Rome, as much, if not more than the decorated trees. This is definitely one of the best Christmas things to do in Rome.

Just like for every other festive decoration, the Vatican shows also the largest nativity scene with human-like statues until January 7th in St. Peter’s Square.

As it’s the scene central to Christmas celebrations and meaning, you will find this in every single church in Rome, and some are really beautiful. Check out large churches like Santa Maria Maggiore, San Paolo Fuori le Mura but also important places like San Pietro in Vincoli and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme for more variety.

Go shopping

Going shopping is always a sound thing to do in Rome, but at Christmas, it’s really a treat. Shops are full of gift-like goodies, colorful packages and plenty of original ideas to attract customers.

From fancy lingerie to trendy clothes and shoes to original homeware, if you are after some Christmas gifts in Rome, you will be spoilt for choice and for sure won’t be disappointed.

Roads like Via del Corso, Via Nazionale, Via Cola di Rienzo and Via del Tritone will be flashing with lights and beautiful windows, but I wouldn’t disregard smaller streets like the alleys around Trastevere or around the Spanish Steps for some artisan handmade products, or the same Christmas markets all around the city.

Going on a shopping spree is one of the favorite things to do in Rome at Christmas for both residents and tourists.

Visit Viterbo’s Christmas Village

Why not a day trip to Viterbo during Christmas? It’s always a great time to visit this charming city, and this time of the year, it becomes magic. But how do you experience the magic of Christmas in Viterbo scenic town? Wandering through an artistic fairy tale where children and adults can walk around little wooden houses, culinary products, artisan creations, gift ideas, and enchanted worlds.

At Viterbo Christmas Village, your kids will have the rare chance to meet the real Santa Klaus in 15th-century Palazzo degli Alessandri, they will see his red-nose reindeer Rudolph resting in its stable, in the heart of Viterbo’s old town, San Pellegrino neighborhood, in the historical Palazzo Scacciaricci, they can write and send a letter to Santa Klaus.

In Piazza San Carluccio, you will also see where the Italian Befana, the old lady who brings gifts across the country on the night of January 5th, makes candies for the good children and charcoal for those who have been too naughty!

Image: Home of Santa Klaus at Viterbo Christmas Village
Home of Santa Klaus. Photo courtesy of Viterbo Christmas Village

Among the new guests of Viterbo Christmas Village in 2023 are the naughty Grinch who will be living in the historic Torre Scacciaricci tower and the village of the elves where children and adults can discover a magic world of sacred trees and enchanted woods.

Kids and adults will have plenty of fun ice-skating on the frozen lake, will admire the nativity scene in the majestic Papal Palace, will go back in time on a vintage carousel in Piazza Duomo and history buffs can even discover underground Viterbo and the Museum of the Knights Templar as well as the medieval ceramics tradition at a local workshop. All this, wandering the enchanting streets and alleys of the medieval town spruced up for the Yuletide with lights, installations, Christmas music, and Scandi-style little houses.

Viterbo’s Christmas Village runs from November 25th, 2023 to January 6th, 2024. Until December 22nd, it will open only on weekends and for Immacolata Day on December 8th-10th from 10 am to 8 pm. Getting close to Christmas, it will be open every day from December 23rd to January 6th from 10 am to 8 pm. On the 24th and 31st of December, it’s open until 6 pm, on December 25th and January 1st, it will open at 11 am instead of 10 am.

Check out the official website for opening hours and updates.

See the lights of Botanical Gardens’ Trame di Luci

Between November, 16th 2023 and January, 7th 2024, Rome’s Orto Botanico in Trastevere will become an enchanted park of colorful lights where adults and children can walk surrounded by shimmering trees and mesmerizing fountains.

Make your way across a magical 1.5-km illuminated trail and experience Rome’s festive vibe.

Your family will be charmed by the view of landmarks such as the Cathedral of Light, Kaleidoscope, Butterflies, the Steps to the Moon, Laser World, and Field of Light. This will make a dazzling adventure of lights and colors in a sensory overload in the heart of Trastevere.

Whether you are traveling to Rome with a toddler or kids, they will all love it.

  • Address: Largo Cristina di Svezia, 23A/24
  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 5.30-11 pm (last entrance at 9.30 pm), closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Entrance fee: 23€ single adult tickets, 17€ for children 5-14yo.
  • Website.

Feast on a sumptuous Christmas lunch or dinner

Many restaurants in Rome plan an exclusive menu for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas Day lunch.

Some fantastic places to book your dinner on Christmas Eve 2023 are:

  • Hotel De’ Ricci (Via della Barchetta 14). Their menu includes treats like orange-infused squid carpaccio with olives and basil, cod-stuffed dumpling, and seared tuna filet with Roman puntarelle salad. The price is fixed at 100€ per person, water and coffee included.
  • Il Margutta (Via Margutta 118). Three options for a luscious Christmas Eve dinner at one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Rome, one ovo-lacto vegetarian, one vegan, and one gluten-free. Some of the courses are potato dauphinoise with Roman artichoke and truffle, and tortelloni pasta stuffed with chestnuts, ricotta, and castelmagno cheese. The price is 80€ per person, 40€ for children up to 10 years old.
  • Casa Coppelle (Piazza delle Coppelle 49). Their menu starts with egg poché with parmesan foam, beef tartare, and steamed lobster, and carries on with sophisticated courses such as seafood risotto, cannelloni with vermouth sauce and ‘nduja spicy sausage powder, and cocoa deer with parsnip and litchies.
  • Giano Bistrot (Circonvallazione Gianicolense 226). This fine-dining bistro organizes a seafood-based Christmas Eve dinner according to tradition with courses like clams spaghetti, scampi cream risotto, and grilled catch of the day. The price is 60€ per person.
  • Aqualunae (Piazza dei Quiriti 19). After a tasting of award-winning olive oil on homemade bread, this gourmet restaurant in Prati proposes courses like tonnarelli with prawns, artichokes, lemon, and nuts, risotto with clams and mustard, and umbrina fish on sweet potato cream, sundried tomato pesto, and Jerusalem artichokes. The price is 80€ per person, drinks are not included.
  • Hosteria Grappolo d’Oro (Piazza della Cancelleria 80). Close to Campo de’ Fiori, this traditional restaurant kicks off its Christmas Eve dinner with a chickpea cream with red prawns from Sicily, squid and crunchy artichokes. The first courses are two, followed by a fish-based main and an artisan panettone. The price is 70€ per person.

Some great restaurants open for lunch on Christmas Day 2023 are:

  • Giano Bistrot (Circonvallazione Gianicolense 226). For the lunch of Christmas Day, Giano Bistrot offers a choice between seafood and meat menu. Some of the courses of the fish menu are seafood fettuccine and amberjack with veggies and potatoes, while on the meat menu you will find porcini mushroom fettuccine and roasted leg of veal with potatoes. The price of both seafood and meat menus is fixed at 60€ per person.
  • Casa Coppelle (Piazza delle Coppelle 49). Their festive menu is the same of the Christmas Eve dinner and starts with egg poché with parmesan foam, beef tartare, and steamed lobster. Among the other sophisticated courses are seafood risotto, cannelloni with vermouth sauce and ‘nduja spicy sausage powder, and cocoa deer with parsnip and litchis.
  • Aqualunae (Piazza dei Quiriti 19). This fancy bistrot also organizes the lunch of Christmas Day with fares like tortelli stuffed pasta on capon stock, truffle, and mortadella and pistachio froth, merlot risotto, and stuffed chicken with crunchy potatoes. The price is 78€ per person with and extra 32€ for wine pairing.
  • Classico Bistrot (Via della Giuliana 3). Not far from the Vatican, Classico Bistrot organizes a meat-based menu for lunch on Christmas Day with traditional specialties such as wild boar sausage, cannelloni, and artichoke-stuffed roasted lamb. The price is 70€ per person, drinks are not included.
  • Hosteria Grappolo d’Oro (Piazza della Cancelleria 80). On Christmas Day, this central restaurant propses fares like tagliolini pasta with guanciale, artichokes, and pecorino, and a main of roasted lamb with potatoes. The price is set at 60€ per person.
  • Numa al Circo (Viale Aventino 20). The dishes of the Italian tradition fill the tables of this restaurant in Aventine Hill. You will find Roman artichokes, Bologna-style lasagna, and stew with green sauce, among the other dishes on the à-la-carte menu.
  • Osteria Fratelli Mori (Via dei Conciatori 10). Menu à la carte also in this restaurant in Testaccio with first courses and mains borrowed from the Italian and Roman tradition.
  • Proloco Trastevere (Via Goffredo Mameli 23). Plenty of traditional specialties in this Trastevere restaurant that has been founded to promote the regional excellence. Among the dishes, you will find stuffed artichokes, ricotta and spinach cannelloni, broccoli and ray soup, and codfish Trastevere-style. The price is 60€ per person, water and bread included. Reservation is mandatory by calling 0645596147.
Image: Christmas lunch at Osteria dei Fratelli Mori in Rome
Christmas lunch at Osteria dei Fratelli Mori in Rome

Try the best Christmas cakes and panettoni in Rome

If you are spending Christmas in Rome, don’t forget to try some of the delicious local cakes and traditional panettone. Here are the places where you can find some of the best sweet treats:

  • Dolcezze di Giano (Circonvallazione Gianicolense 224).
  • Cresci (Via Alcide de Gasperi 17).
  • Federico Prodon Patisserie (Vicolo del Farinone).
  • Velo Pasticceria (Via del Corso 63).
  • Giuffrè (Viale Trastevere 255).

If you are looking for an alternative to the classic panettone for Christmas, visit Grezzo raw vegan pastry shop for a delicious cocoa-coated tronchetto with pistachio and orange, the Krumorino raw panettone, torrone nougat with raw cocoa, and raw tronchetto with hazelnut and raw chocolate.

Image: Panettone of Dolcezze di Giano in Rome at Christmas.
Panettone of Dolcezze di Giano in Rome

Join a “cenone” dinner on New Year’s Eve

One of the most popular things to do in Rome for New Year’s Eve is to take part in one of the rich “cenone” dinners where at midnight you toast to welcome the new year. This year, to welcome 2024, some of the restaurants that organize the cenone in Rome are:

  • Bistrot 64 (Via Guglielmo Calderini 64). A rich and sophisticated menu for New Year’s Eve with exclusive dishes based on roveja wild peas, lobster, Jerusalem artichoke, pigeon, and caviar. The price is 190€ per person with an extra 80€ if you wish to add wine pairing.
  • Carter Oblio (Via Giuseppe Gioachino Belli 21). Another highly gourmet New Year’s Eve dinner this year in one of the best restaurants of Prati neighborhood with dishes such as oyster and kimchi as appetizer, duck cappelletti stuffed pasta on cardoon broth, oyster mushroom, and truffle as one of the first courses, and myrtle-infused deer as one of the mains. The price is 180€ per person.
  • Etienne Bistrot (Via Scirè 18). A fish and seafood-based menu is the one proposed by this restaurant in the Trieste neighborhood with creations like amberjack carpaccio on yuzu gel, tomato water, and snow of fermented pomegranate for appetizer, black tortelli pasta with prawns and bisque of shellfish as first course, and amberjack filet with tapioca chip and a sauce of mustard and honey. The price is 200€ per person or 250 if you wish to add wine pairing.
  • Il Margutta (Via Margutta 118). Delicious and original creations at this vegetarian restaurant near Piazza del Popolo with a choice of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menus. The price is 120€ per person, 60€ for children up to 10 years old.
  • Amaro Lobby Bar (Via del Gianicolo 3). This is the elegant lounge bar of the Villa Agrippina Gran Melià Hotel and for New Year’s Even cenone they offer a tasting menu where meat and fish dishes are mixed. The price is 230€ per person, 85€ for kids up to 13 years old.
  • Jackie O’ (Via Boncompagni 11). The historical restaurant inspired by Jackie Onassis since the ’50s proposes a scrumptious dinner menu for the 31st of December. Some of the dishes include brittle of smoked buffalo mozzarella with anchovies and red prawns, and lemon and ricotta dumplings on a lobster sauce. The price is 220€ per person, drinks not included.
  • Casa Coppelle (Piazza delle Coppelle 49). Their menu includes deer plin stuffed pasta, and partridge stuffed with ciauscolo sausage and fois gras as a main. After midnight, they serve dumplings with the traditional cotechino with lentils. The price is 190€ per person, drinks not included.
  • Proloco Trastevere (Via Goffredo Mameli 23). Starting with dark chocolate bread and oysters, the dinner of December 31st in this Trastevere restaurants carries on with delicacies such as codfish risotto, tagliolini with butter and white truffle, and squid stuffed with celeriac cream and sour cherries. The price is 95€ per person, drinks not included.
Image: Jackie O' restaurant in Rome.
Jackie O’ restaurant in Rome

Visit Regno di Babbo Natale (Santa Klaus’ Kingdom) in Vetralla

This magical place is about an hour’s drive from Rome towards Viterbo. In fact, Vetralla itself is a beautiful town of the Tuscia Viterbese. This is a large shop for Christmas decorations in a park with plenty of themed activities for kids.

At the entrance, you can choose between three different lines, one only to the shop, one including also the House of Santa Klaus, and one including these two, plus the Village of the Elves. After whichever landmark you choose, you can spend the rest of your morning or evening at the Victorian Village with plenty of entertainment for children and kids in the amusement park with a carousel, an elf’s train, and a skating rink.

If you are traveling with your family, this is one of the coolest things to do in Rome at Christmas with kids. Keep in mind that you will need a car to get here, so perfect if you have decided to rent one and drive in Rome.

  • Address: km 62.200, Strada Statale Cassia, 01019 Vetralla (VT).
  • Opening hours: Every day 9.30 am-7.30 pm.
  • Entrance fee: Free to enter, each playground’s attraction has a fee of 1 token: 1 token costs 4€, 3 tokens cost 9€.
  • Website.
Image: Sayed Hamed with our son in Vetralla's Regno di Babbo Natale, one of the best things to do in Rome for Christmas with kids.

Get lost in MagicLand

Vetralla’s Regno di Babbo Natale and Valmontone’s amusement park joined forces and launched a magical experience for families spending Christmas in Rome.

Aptly named MagicLand, it’s located less than an hour’s drive from Rome and promises an unforgettable time spent with elves, animation, shows, and obviously great food.

  • Address: Via della Pace, Valmontone.
  • Opening hours: on weekends and every day from December 23rd and January 7th. Closed on December 25th. Check out their website for a full schedule.
  • Entrance fee: 10€ for adults, 1€ for children up to 140 cm/55 inches.

Walk around fairy tales in Ariccia’s Parco delle Favole Incantate

Another fantastic thing to do in Rome at Christmas with kids is a visit to Parco delle Favole Incantate in Ariccia, about an hour’s drive south of Rome. Italian for Park of Fairy Tales, this enchanted park is located inside the beautiful Parco Chigi.

Your children will absolutely love wandering into the woods looking for the characters Disney took from the most famous fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, Aladdin’s Genie, and obviously, Santa Klaus. On weekends, there are shows and performances taken from children’s stories.

  • Address: Via dell’Uccelliera 1, 00040 Ariccia (RM).
  • Opening hours: Every day 4.30 pm-11.30 pm (Saturday and Sunday until 12 am). Weekend shows start at 6 pm.
  • Entrance fee: On weekdays 5€, on weekends and holidays 10€ per person. Free up to 8 years old.
  • Website.

Fantastico Castello di Babbo Natale (Lunghezza Castle)

If you want your family to immerse in the most magical and enchanted Christmas spirit in Rome, head to the beautiful Castello di Lunghezza. Located east of Rome, it’s possible to reach by train or by car if you are driving.

Your kids will love to get lost in the toy factory, Santa Klaus’ post office, the village of the elves, and also in the house of Santa Klaus to see his bedroom, dining hall, and office.

For the whole day, your family will be entertained by live shows and artists’ performances such as dancing, music, acrobats, elves making pastries and cakes, and famous characters such as Cinderella, Masha and Bear, the Grinch, Spiderman, and characters from Frozen.

  • Address: Via Tenuta del Cavaliere 230, Lunghezza (RM)
  • Opening hours: December 2nd-3rd, 8th-10th, 16th-17th, 18th, 26th, 2023, January 6th, 2024 from 9 am-7 pm.
  • Entrance fee: Adults 16€, 2-11yo, over 65, and people with disabilities but autonomous 14€, free for babies and toddlers from 0 to 2 years old and for non-autonomous people with disabilities and their guide.
  • Website.

Is Rome crowded at Christmas?

Yes, Christmas time in Rome is very crowded. First of all, unlike in August, Romans stay in town during the Christmas holidays. Plus, many tourists from around Italy, Europe, and other countries like to spend the winter festivities in Rome.

Christmas markets and celebrations, all the way to New Year’s Eve teem with locals and travelers.

What to wear in Rome at Christmas

December in Rome is cold, especially if you come for Christmas that it’s at the end of the month, and if you want to join the celebrations, also for New Year’s Eve, which is often at night. Here are some of the clothing items you should pack for Rome in December and if you are visiting at Christmas.

  • Coat. Something warm over your clothes is necessary. If you feel more comfortable with a jacket, that’s fine too, just it needs to be a warm, padded jacket, because raincoats or spring/autumn jackets are not enough.
  • Long-sleeve tops. This is good for layering in case you are going to a restaurant where the inside is kept very warm. Your top should be also warm, though, not too light. Wool, silk, or warm cotton are good options.
  • Sweaters. Whether you are wearing a top or a blouse underneath, a wool sweater or such warm garment is recommended.
  • Warm trousers. Either warm cotton or wool is recommended. If you are more comfortable in sporty trousers to walk all day, you can wear insulated or padded ones.
  • Boots or warm walking shoes. Whether it’s raining or not, warm shoes are a must this time of the year in Rome.
  • Scarf, hat, and gloves. I wear a scarf and a hat every time I go out in Rome in December. I don’t always wear gloves because I don’t find them practical, but sometimes I do regret my choice. Truth be said, there isn’t always the need for gloves in December, more so in January and February. But it’s still winter and the weather can be unpredictable. Adding to that, if you are planning some nights out, you might actually need a pair of gloves.
  • A fancy outfit. Christmas celebrations, especially when held in hotels, restaurants, or concert halls, require an elegant outfit. For men, a suit or some smart trousers and a button-down shirt are all a good choice. Women can wear elegant trousers with a fancy top, or a dress, or a nice knee-length skirt. Obviously, the shoes should fit the attire, so avoid runners or sneakers!

Check out our full guide to what to wear in Rome in December.

What to book ahead during Christmas in Rome

Christmas is a very busy period in Rome so I strongly recommend booking ahead as much as you can, or at least what you really want to visit.

  • Hotels. I recommend booking your accommodation well ahead of time before traveling. This applies especially if you want to book a hotel in Rome’s city center, and if you fancy a specific accommodation. There are plenty of hotels in Rome, but by booking ahead you have a better chance to find the room you are aiming for.

Check out our tips for the best hotels in Rome and great Rome hotels for families.

  • Events. Concerts, tickets for Christmas celebrations and villages will certainly be crowded and places might be limited so I recommend booking and purchasing your ticket online.
  • Restaurants. If they are central, booking is always a good idea, but absolutely necessary if it’s on weekends and mandatory for lunch and dinner on festive days such as December 8th (Festa dell’Immacolata), 25th (Christmas), and 26th (Santo Stefano/Boxing Day). Reserving your table even a week in advance is recommended also for lunch on New Year, January 1st.
  • New Year’s Eve dinner. Usually, for New Year’s Eve dinner, restaurants don’t serve an à la carte menu but they organize what we call “cenone” (big dinner), with a fixed menu for everyone. There are normally two menus, one meat-based and one seafood-based. Here, booking is mandatory and required by the same restaurants. The fixed menus come also with a fixed price and include drinks and bubbles for the midnight toast.

Traveling after Christmas? Check out what to expect from Rome in January!


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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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