Rome is one of Europe’s great cities, a metropolis that buzzes with life all year round. So if you’re hoping to find it deserted, it isn’t going to happen any time soon. Nonetheless, the off-season in Rome is a real thing, and the experience you’ll have here during this time of year will be hugely different to the one you’ll have during high season.
The off-season in Rome runs from the middle of November through to Easter (but doesn’t take in Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when the city sees a short burst of tourism). This is when the weather is at its coolest – but it’s nothing you can’t take on with the help of cosy knitwear and a good coat and hat. And what do you get in exchange when you trade in the sunshine of the summer months? Well, quite a few benefits, as it turns out.
Off-Season Crowds in Rome Are Smaller
This has to be the single biggest benefit of visiting Rome in the off-season – and the difference it can make to your experience really can’t be overstated. Rome is the site of some of the most famous attractions in the world, and the lines build up fast in the morning. That’s why tours like our Colosseum tours and Vatican City tours often include the chance to skip the line. Getting up early doesn’t necessarily help, when everyone else has the same idea.
But in the off-season, the crowds at these major sights are far, far smaller. You’ll still have to book a place on a Rome tour if you want to dodge lining up altogether; but once inside, say, the Sistine Chapel, you’ll have much more space to admire its beauty without being jostled by other sightseers.
Off-Season Accommodation in Rome is Cheaper
You might think in a city the size of Rome, you’d never run out of accommodation. But you’d be wrong. By the time you get to the summer, most of the affordable, centrally located hotel rooms and apartments will usually already have been booked up months before.
But in the off-season, those prime locations take longer to fill up, so you can get a better place to stay – and pay less for it, too. Yes, that’s right, many places drop their prices to lure in travellers throughout the cooler months. And the less money you spend on your bed for the night, the more you’ll have to spend on delicious Italian food and must-see sights during the day.
Holiday Attractions in Rome Run and Run
Over the Christmas period Rome puts on quite a show, with Christmas decorations, lights and Nativity scenes transforming the city. Christmas is a mini high season in itself, it’s true; but you don’t need to come during the Christmas period to get the benefit of lots of the Christmas attractions. For example, festive ice rinks, such as the one overlooked by the dramatic Castel Sant’Angelo fortress, are generally set up in November, and stay open until February.
Rome’s Residents Look Ultra- Stylish in the Cold
One of the great delights of visiting Italy is the opportunity for outstanding people-watching. Italians, and especially older Italians, are among the most stylish people on the planet. There’s simply no mistaking the typically Italian dress sense, featuring fine leather shoes, interesting eye glasses and exquisite attention to detail. In Rome, the concentration of fashionable people is especially high. And in winter, their finery is at its finest, as the woollen suits, richly coloured scarves and heavy overcoats come out.
Rome in Winter is Beautiful
Following on from the above point – it’s not just the people in Rome that are extra photogenic in winter. The place is too. Okay, so this one isn’t totally fair, as Rome looks gorgeous in any season, and the weather is never going to stop you feeling awed by the Forum or the beauty of St. Peter’s Square. But when the puddled rain on the ground reflects the beautiful lights that illuminate the Colosseum in the long winter evenings, or when you’re lucky enough to catch that rare day of Roman snow – you’ll think Rome in the off-season is the most stunning place in the world.
Seeing the Pope is Easier in Winter
If you’d like an audience with Pope Francis, the off-season could be your answer. He appears in St. Peter’s Square every Wednesday throughout the year, as long as he is in the city; but the off-season offers other opportunities to see him too, like the Ash Wednesday Mass. And though he never draws anything less than a full house, in the off-season it’s easier to get a spot in the crowd.
Rome is a dream in any season. Book one of our Rome tours and find out for yourself.