Why You Should Visit Rome
Rome is one of the most historical and beautiful cities on the planet. So there’s a good chance that you’ll rarely run out of fun things to do in this bustling Italian capital.
In addition to soaking in the cosmopolitan culture of Rome itself, you’ll have a chance to visit the Vatican. This holy city-within-a-city qualifies as its own country. Rome has a long and impressive history that dates back centuries and involves plenty of colorful stories and myths.
So if you love history, there’s a great chance you’ll have the time of your life in Rome. If you’ve always wanted to go to Rome but found it inaccessible, you’re in luck.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan your incredible Roman holiday. No matter your traveling style and budget, there’s a good chance you can find something that suits you in Rome.
Overall Best Time to Visit Rome
If you’re looking to have Rome partially to yourself, plan to head to the city between October and April. Temperatures are cooler, but most of the massive crowds are gone, and you’ll have an easier time getting into popular attractions.
Although Rome rarely gets freezing cold during the day, even during winter, it can get plenty chilly, so prepare for unpredictable weather and bring a range of outfits.
The only exception to the October to April rule is Christmas. Since it has religious prominence, Rome can get pretty packed during that time.
Similarly, Easter is a trendy time to visit Rome. If you want to partake in the religious festivities, make sure you book your flights and accommodation well in advance and prepare for some price hikes.
May and September are also good bets. You’ll find sunny, temperate weather with temperatures hovering around the mid to high 70s and not too many crowds.
The best way to gauge when you should go to Rome is to think about what you want to do while you’re there. That way, you can plan accordingly and maybe even save some money.
Cheapest Time to Visit Rome
The cheapest time to visit Rome coincides with the best time to visit Rome. October to April are when the crowds thin out, giving you unparalleled access to some of Rome’s unique sites and attractions.
You’ll also be able to score outstanding deals on hotels and flights during these months, with the notable exceptions of Easter and Christmas. There are several other ways that you can cut costs when visiting Rome.
Keep these tips and tricks in mind to shave off a few bucks.
- Avoid Easter, Christmas, and high season
- Don’t use tour companies – instead, purchase tickets from the attractions themselves
- Enjoy free tours at churches
- Stay in a less touristic area
- Go where the locals go
A little legwork can yield excellent results, so consider doing your research before heading to Rome. You might come across surprise deals or learn local secrets that will help you stay well within your budget.
Least Busy Time to Visit Rome
The months between October and April are the least busy time to visit Rome, except for Easter and Christmas. Expect cooler temperatures and vastly fewer people during this time.
If you don’t like the crowds, it’s a great time to visit, although you should account for the chilly weather at night. If you’re planning to visit during this time, bring a wide array of clothes, including a stylish hat and a pair of gloves.
A nice, practical, everyday coat works wonders too. Finally, if you’re heading out for most of the day, it’s a good idea to bring a lightweight sweater that you can tuck into your bag and pull out as needed.
Worst Time to Visit Rome
Although the worst time to visit Rome is just as subjective as the best time, August is sweltering and humid. Since plenty of Italians are on vacation this month, fewer restaurants will be open, but more tourists will crowd the streets.
Expect massive crowds and inflated prices. Additionally, September sees some rain, and it can be downright miserable trying to make your way around town.
Although there are plenty of things to do indoors, most people avoid scorching hot and rainy seasons. Instead, wait a month or two and head to Italy during the winter. You will probably have a much better time.
If you decide to visit Rome in August or September, it’s a good idea to pack some extra things, in addition to your patience.
- Sunscreen and a sunhat
- Waterproof shoes
Even though we technically consider this period the “worst” to visit Italy, the truth is, you’ll have a good time whenever you go. Rome is full of so many amazing things to see, indoors and outside, that as long as you plan accordingly, you shouldn’t run out of options.
It’s a good idea to come up with your Rome itinerary ahead of time and stick to it as much as possible. Segment the city into different areas and always have a contingency plan for rain.
Remember, you might feel a little bit jet-lagged when you arrive, so try not to push yourself too hard. Instead, rest on the first day and hit the attractions once you’ve adjusted to the time difference.
Things to Consider
Before you request time off work or make your packing list, it’s helpful to keep a few things in mind when you’re visiting Rome. These things to consider will help you make the most out of your vacation, avoid faux pas, and have a smooth trip.
Know When to Visit the Vatican
If you’re going to Rome, there’s a great chance that you’re visiting the Vatican. The Vatican is often considered the holiest place in the world, a country in and of itself, and a pilgrimage point for Catholics all over the planet.
So you can undoubtedly visit, but remember that Pope Francis greets people on Sundays and Wednesdays. So visit on either of those days or a holiday like Christmas or Easter, and the Vatican will be packed.
Although the Vatican might be its own city, it’s still a holy place. So keep these rules in mind to be appropriate and welcome in the most sacred city on the planet.
- Cover up – you shouldn’t wear revealing clothes in the Vatican, no matter how hot or humid it is
- No photographs inside the Sistine Chapel
- Don’t bring large backpacks (purses are ok)
- No alcohol inside the Vatican
- Avoid bringing any weapons into the Vatican or things that can be used as weapons like pointed walking sticks
If you keep these rules in mind, you’ll be welcomed into the Vatican with open arms.
Understand Tipping Culture
Don’t tip in Rome. Not only is it not customary, but the waitstaff might even see it as impolite and insulting to their jobs.
So, although it might be difficult for Americans to grasp, you really should not even leave the spare change on the table. Instead, respect the culture, thank your waiter, and take your extra money.
Set an Itinerary
Rome is as overwhelming as it is beautiful, so you should have an itinerary before you visit. Research the city well in advance, and plan out each day, offering ample time for rest or lingering at different attractions.
As tempting as it might be, try not to schedule too much the day you arrive because you’ll be dealing with jet lag. If you go during the summer, consider breaking up your trip into indoor and outdoor activities to give yourself a nice break from the heat.
You can also join local Facebook groups and ask fellow tourists and ex-pats how they break up their itineraries. There’s an excellent chance that you’ll get some insider information and a good roadmap to navigate the city.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s totally normal to have some apprehensions when planning a trip overseas. However, these frequently asked questions, and their answers, should help shed some light on how you can make the most out of your Rome vacation.
Can I drink the tap water in Rome?
Absolutely. The tap water in Rome is perfectly potable, so you can drink it, brush your teeth, and shower with it freely.
It’s a good idea to invest in a reusable water bottle to reduce the amount of expensive single-serve water bottles you buy and simply wash and reuse them. Plus, reusable bottles are much better for the environment too.
Can I use my credit and debit cards in Rome?
Yes, you can use your credit and debit cards in Rome, although you should let your bank know that you’re traveling overseas. Your bank might freeze your cards due to suspicious activity, which can mess up your travel plans and cost you a lot of time and effort.
So instead, go to the bank and tell them your itinerary. That way, you’ll be good to go. If you use your credit or debit cards for purchases, expect to get an international fee on your statement.
This is customary and varies depending on which bank you use. You can also take money out of local ATMs. Although you’ll incur a charge this way, you might be able to track your spending better.
Will I be able to get by with English in Rome?
Although you should learn some vital Italian phrases like “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome,” you don’t need fluent, or even essential, Italian to get around Rome.
Many people speak fluent English, especially in the hospitality sector. If you go outside the city limits, you could have a slightly more significant problem with the language barrier, but even that’s minor.
Before you hop on the plane, download Google Translate. The updated version of this app lets you take pictures of signs and translate them, as well as speak on the phone and translate it into text.
Google Translate comes in handy both for communicating with people and building rapport. However, since it only works online, you’ll need WiFi or data to access it.
Do Americans need a visa to visit Rome?
Americans do not need a visa to visit Rome, and you can stay for up to 90 days on a tourist visa. You will get your stamp as soon as you cross into the country.According to the United States State Department, you will need the following to enter the country.
- Your passport expiration date must be six months out
- At least two blank passport pages
Customs may also ask you for proof of a return flight or onward ticket. Please have this information on your phone, so you can provide it as needed. Most vacationers will buy a roundtrip flight, but if you purchased a one-way ticket, you must show proof that you’re leaving the country.
Have your COVID-19 vaccination information on your phone too. You might also need to provide the physical card with proof of vaccination and booster shots. Italy does not require any additional shots for entry.
Will I offend waiters if I tip?
While you might not offend the waiter, tipping is not standard practice in Italy, and you should avoid it. It might seem strange not to tip, but remember, plenty of waiters make decent wages in Italy, so you’re not supplementing their income like in the United States.
Don’t tip cab drivers or salon workers either. You might wind up in an embarrassing situation where they hand the tip back to you or even make a comment about it.
On the other hand, if you’ve received fantastic service, simply tell your waiter, cab driver, or salon worker that you appreciate all they do and will refer people to their place of business.
Italians are amiable people, so if you have concerns that go above and beyond these frequently asked questions, simply ask them. Also, you can join social media groups catering to ex-pats and travelers, where you’ll find valuable insight into how to behave on your Italian vacation properly.
The reality is; that if you try your best, you will probably be ok. Keep these things in mind, don’t overthink it, and prepare to enjoy your holiday.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Rome?
The best time to visit Rome comes down to what you and your family want to do and see. If you’re craving a quiet time away from the crowds and don’t mind colder weather, go during the winter.
Likewise, you’ll have a great time if you avoid Easter and Christmas. Winter is also an excellent time to find great deals on good hotels and flights.
Talk to your family about what they want to get out of the vacation, and use that as a guide. Book your flights and accommodation in advance, buy an Italian phrasebook, and you’re good to go. Happy travels!