Rome is a glorious place to visit no matter what time of year. But travelers must consider a number of factors, including events, weather, and budget, when planning their vacation to the Eternal City.
The High Season
June through August sees the heaviest tourist traffic in Rome. The weather is warm to hot (the average high temperatures range from 81 to 88 F) and the chance of rain ruining a vacation is low. The summer is ideal for sightseeing, dining at an outdoor café, and eating gelato, which is why so many travelers plan their trips during this time. Many people take vacations in summer. But if you visit during the high season, expect big crowds and long waits in line at many attractions.
If you plan to visit in August, be prepared to find more tourists than locals. Romans, indeed most Italians, take their summer vacations in August, which means that many facilities, from hotels to restaurants to museums, will close and/or operate on a limited schedule. August 15, Ferragosto, officially begins the summer break for the majority of Italians. Many hotels actually offer lower rates during August.
Spring can also be a busy time in Rome, not only because of the beautiful weather but because of the Lenten season. Thousands of Christians flock to Rome during Lent and Easter to visit its churches and museums, especially St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums in the Vatican City (What to See and Do in Vatican City). Many hotels charge the highest price during Easter week.
Christmas in Rome is typically less crowded than Easter, but still a very popular time to visit Rome and the Vatican City. Although the weather is chilly (average temperatures from late November to early January range from a low of 35 F to a high of 62 F), the atmosphere is festive and warm thanks to Christmas markets, especially in Piazza Navona, and a host of musical pageants and performances at area churches and theaters.
The Shoulder Season
Many travelers prefer to wait until the shoulder season to visit Rome. This season, which falls between the high and low seasons, happens twice a year: April to June and September to October. Weather-wise, this is a wonderful time to visit Rome: days are mild and nights are cool. In the past, hoteliers and tour operators were more likely to offer travel deals during the shoulder season. In recent years, however, many tourists have figured out that the so called shoulder season is a fine time to visit the Eternal City. As a result, it can actually be more difficult to find lodging or discounts during this time than during the traditional high season. Visitors who wish to visit Rome during this time should plan their trips far in advance to avoid disappointment.
The Low Season
November and February are the least popular months in which to visit Rome. November is typically the rainiest month of the year and February can be miserably chilly. January (after January 6) and March (prior to Easter week) are also low season. However, travelers to Rome during this time will be rewarded with lower hotel rates, near-empty museums, and the chance to observe Rome as the Romans do.