Are you thinking of visiting Rome in January? If yes, then you have come to the right place to find out what to expect from the weather, what to pack, and the top things to do while visiting during this time.
Rome is one of the most enchanting and historic cities on Earth. It is one of those few places that truly has something to offer every type of visitor. If you are a lover of history, Rome is packed with Roman historic sites and attractions. Or if you prefer art, the city is full of art exhibitions from both the past and the present. More so, if you are a traveller looking for culture Rome is full of tasty restaurants and stunning architecture for you to soak up.
Rome is a wonderful place to visit year-round, however, January is an extra special time to visit. Although January is the middle of winter in Rome, this should not scare you off from visiting and should even encourage you to visit.
This guide will tell you all you need to know about visiting Rome in January and show you how wonderful of a winter travel destination it is.
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Rome in January – A Complete Guide
In This Post
Why Visit Rome in January
January is a great month to visit Rome for many reasons. Firstly, January marks the middle of winter in Rome which attracts much fewer tourists. However, this is only true for the last 3 weeks of the month as the beginning of January is still part of the holiday season for Italians. Therefore, the first week of January tends to be quite crowded in Rome up until January 6th on Day of the Kings. Visiting during the “busy” week in January is nice because you get to see all the festive celebrations first hand. On the other hand, visiting in the last 3 weeks means the least amount of tourists you can expect all year, and who doesn’t love that?
In January you will also experience a more authentic Rome environment. Without the hundreds of people pushing to get a seat on the Spanish steps, or in line for the Colosseum, you can enjoy the awe-inducing sites without the hordes of tourists.
More so, even if the weather isn’t the greatest there is still a ton to do indoors that you will love. You can learn from one of the amazing art museums, go into one of the many ornate churches, and much more. It truly is the perfect time to spend a few days in Rome.
Weather in Rome in January
In January the weather in Rome is quite mild. You will get an average of 8 degrees, however, the weather is quite unpredictable and you may get some very warm days and some colder days. Expect a high of 13 degrees Celsius and a low of 3 degrees celsius. More so, the rainiest month in Rome is December and January only gets around 7 days of rain for the whole month, so the weather should be relatively dry and mild.
Just note that although it is winter and the temperatures are lower it is actually not that cold in Rome in January. You can definitely get some warmer days, just be sure to have a jacket for the night. In order to stay warm and dry from the winter chill, be sure to follow the following section on what to wear.
What to Wear in Rome in January
As mentioned, Rome in January can get a little bit chilly, therefore, packing for this is essential. I walked around Rome during my visit and found it could get chilly when walking everywhere. Therefore, here is a list of all the things you will need to pack for Rome in January.
January is the month in Rome that you will be needing a warm winter hat.
Bring one or two because when the sun goes down, or during a cold day, you will be needing one!
The best type of gloves you can bring in January are E-Gloves, or gloves that are compatible with your smartphone.
These are great because you don’t need to take off your gloves to capture any photos.
The next thing you will surely need is a thick and warm scarf.
Scarfs are great because they can easily be added or removed to warm you up or cool you down. Plus, in Italy scarfs are widely adopted by men, so men can feel more comfortable wearing one as well.
It is also a good idea to have more than one warm sweaters with you.
Layering will be your best friend while visiting Rome in January because the temperatures will change quite a bit from morning to night and being able to take off some layers is important.
As previously mentioned Rome gets around 7 days of rain in January, so to be safe I suggest you pack an umbrella.
This is the best way to stay dry and there’s nothing worse than exploring a city soaking wet.
Be sure to pack all your other travel necessities along with these. Also, please note that the plugs in Italy are European ones and you may need an adapter.
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Top 10 Things to do in Rome in January
Visit the Colosseum
The Colosseum is one of Rome’s most well know attractions and something visitors to the city cannot miss. This is an impressive show of ancient Roman history that is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is also one of the new 7 wonders of the world!
Visiting the Colosseum in January is the best time of the year to visit. This is because January is the off-season for travel in Rome and there won’t be huge lines and a packed interior for you to navigate. Of course, there will still be people there but not nearly as much as during the summer months.
In order to get in right away and avoid paying more at the entrance, I suggest you buy your tickets beforehand.
View the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi fountain is one of the most incredible fountains I have ever seen. Its vastness and beauty cannot be captured on camera so when you view it in person you will be pleasantly surprised. Going to the Trevi fountain and viewing all its beauty is essential when in Rome. The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world and is often shown in Hollywood movies when the set is in Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is also the perfect place to throw your loose change into to make a wish. You will find various people walking to the edge of the fountain, closing their eyes, throwing their money in and making a wish. Just be sure not to tell anyone your wish or it won’t come true!
Fun Fact: Each day the Trevi Fountain makes around €3,000 and in 2016 it made €1.4 million for the year.
Try to get to the Trevi Fountain early in the morning if you want to see it or take photos of it with few people. Even in the offseason, the fountain is crowded with people and it is one of the most Instagrammable places in Rome.
Admire Forum Romanum
Forum Romanum is an area that holds the ruins of ancient Roman government buildings. This was the main area of the city in ancient times where all political, religious, legal, and social activities occurred. Visiting the Forum is a must when visiting Rome. When you walk around the ruined buildings you can almost imagine it how it would have been 20 centuries ago when Julius Ceaser was around.
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Enjoy Free Entry to Museums and State Sights
From October to March on the first Sunday of every month state sites and museums have free entry for everyone. This means that sites like the Colosseum, Forum Romanum, Palatine Hill are free as well as various museums in the city. However, on the first Sunday, these places are packed so be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
In 2020, the free Sunday is January 5th.
More so, on the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican museums are open from 9 am – 2 pm and entrance is free. However, this is only a good option if you are on a tight time or financial budget because even in the low season you can expect very large crowds.
In 2020, the free Sunday is January 26th.
Visit the Vatican and Vatican Museums
The Vatican is the smallest country in the world and is located right in the middle of Rome. It is home to the Pope and is full of iconic art and ornate architecture. Heading to the Vatican is a must when you visit Rome at any time of the year. Every visitor must see and experience its brilliance.
One thing you may want to do while visiting the Vatican is head to the Vatican Museum which is home to the best art collection in the world with art collections ranging from the Egyptian Age to the Late Renaissance.
More so, you can visit Sistine Chapel which is where you will find Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement”. Sistine Chapel is one of the Vatican’s biggest treasures as it is where popes are chosen and crowned. Plus the walls and ceilings are covered in awe-inducing frescoes that are lusted after around the world.
You can also admire and climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. This is a Renaissance-era church that the pope lives in and it is not only the largest but also one of the holiest temples in Christendom. While there I urge you to climb to the top and admire the views of St. Peters Square.
Just note that although January is the low season in Rome The Vatican will still be very busy and getting tickets beforehand is strongly encouraged.
View The Altar of the Fatherland
The Altar of the Fatherland is a huge monument built to honour Victor Emanuel II the first king of a unified Italy. It is one of the most impressive monuments in a country based on its size and shocking beauty. The whole monument is made from white stone and is decorated in ornate designs, carvings, and statues.
Not only is it amazingly aesthetically pleasing to look at from the outside, but visitors are able to take a lift up to the top of the monument. From the top, you get a stunning view of Rome from above.
Take a Guided Tour
A great way to see the city of Rome in an organized fashion is with a guided tour! There are a ton of different tour companies and tour types available so you are sure to find one that meets your needs. Consider getting a tour to the main sites of Rome for a deep history lesson and guide. Or do something a little different like getting a food tour to see how the people of Rome indulge.
Walk the Spanish Steps
The Spanish steps are a set of steps that connect Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and Trinita dei Monti church at the top. The steps are a lovely architectural design and are always packed with people. Even in the colder months, you can find people enjoy their time on the wide steps.
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Explore the Streets
Rome is more than just tourist attractions and major landmarks. The city is HUGE and there is so much to see on the lesser-known side streets and areas. Take some time on your Rome adventures to go down these hidden streets and see what you can find.
One great area to explore to see a different side of Rome is the neighbourhood called Trastevere. Here you will find romantic cobblestoned streets, authentic cafes and restaurants, streets filled with locals, and shopping stores to explore. This is a beautiful area to visit both day and night to show you a more authentic side of Rome that every few seek out.
Visit Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a famous public square in Rome that was built in the first century AD. It is also the most popular square in Rome and welcomes millions of visitors a year. Head here to admire the fountain and the famous statues, as well as, to get a drink and some food from one of the restaurants.
If you are visiting Rome in the first week of January this is also one of the best places to see the festive lights. The lights in Rome stay up during the first week and they are always found in Piazza Navona.
Where to Stay in Rome
A fair warning, Rome is HUGE. The first time I visited I made the mistake of not realizing this and I booked something that was inside the city bounds but was actually about an hour from the city center. Therefore, I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Here are some budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels that are not an hour from the fun.
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As you can see January is a wonderful time to visit Rome! There is a ton to do, see, and experience and the time of year makes exploring less busier and much easier. If you are planning a trip to Rome you should highly consider heading there in January as its a wonderful month to visit.
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Did a similar tour of Rome in April. But Jan would be good as there would be lesser crowds and shorter queues. I missed visiting Altar of the Fatherland. Hopefully I can visit again.
Mei and Kerstin says
Back in 2014, we visited Rome in February and had very nice weather. It was cold but we had blue sky and sunny days! And of the all the places you’ve mentioned here in your post, our favorite was the Forum Romanum.
I first went to Rome at the end of February, and I think I had a similar experience! There weren’t many crowds and the weather was chilly but manageable. I agree, Rome in the offseason is definitely the way to go!
Michael Hodgson says
Love visiting tourist site such as this in the off seasons. Though January strikes me as a bit chilly, even though to be sure there are lots of things to do indoors. Curious about the Trevi fountain … where does all the money it rakes in go?
Samantha Karen says
It’s not that cold if you dress right! As for the Trevi Fountain, I remember correctly it goes to the city 🙂
Jamie Italiane says
I really dislike crowds. I visited Athens in the middle of summer and was turned off by the crowds and blistering heat. January in Rome may be the perfect time for me to visit Rome.
Thanks for the memories. Eons ago, I spent a full month in Rome in January. I absolutely loved it. All the sights were uncrowded, Epiphany celebrations were in full swing and the food was amazing! Great reminder that I need to return to this wonderful city in the off season!
I love the idea of visiting Rome in January. I have only been in the middle of summer (twice), so I only know Rome with massive crowds. I would love to explore the Colosseum without being shoulder-to-shoulder with a million people, for a change!
Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says
I actually visited Rome over Christmas and New Year as a high school student and loved it! You are right that it is chilly but not outright cold, and I love your suggestions for what to wear. A light to medium jacket was sufficient for me, even spending most of our time walking around on foot.
Carol Colborn says
But it is still cold. I don’t go to Europe from November to March. Even then, your suggestions on what to wear may even make me look fabulous!
Dana Howard Freeman says
What great tips. I was there in August. Obviously much more crowded than in January. This is a great guide for how to see a usually busy city in the offseason!