Regardless of when you visit, chances are you are going to need to find things to do in Rome on a rainy day. Even though the Eternal City is known for its gorgeous weather, Rome actually gets MORE rain than London! Rome averages 837.3 mm (33 inches) of rain per year, while London gets 583.6 mm (23 inches).
In Rome, all that rains tends to come in major downpours and thunderstorms rather than a continuous drizzle. That means that when it rains in Rome, you should have a plan of what to do in order to stay dry. Luckily, there are plenty of rainy day friendly activities in the city.
9 Things to do in Rome on a Rainy Day
- Stand in the Pantheon and watch the rain fall through the oculus. Rather than fight the rain in Rome, embrace it in the best possible way by heading straight to the Pantheon. While the Colosseum and its outdoor sights can feel soggy in the rain, the Pantheon offers a unique chance to be inside, while watching the rain drops fall through the open hole at the topped of the domed ceiling. The staff will set up velvet ropes to ensure that no one slips on the marble floor, so it is not technically possible to stand in the falling rain while inside, but it remains one of the most unique ways to enjoy the rain in Rome. (Note that if the weather is very very bad, there is a chance that the Pantheon will close for safety reasons, and it usually closes in the rare case of snow in Rome).
- Visit a covered market. Some of Rome’s traditional food markets, such as Mercato San Cosimato or Campo de’ Fiori, are set up outside in the (usually) beautiful fresh Roman air. When it rains, the markets must go on! While it is entirely possible to brave the elements to visit these outdoor markets, you will probably be more comfortable shopping and eating inside in one of Rome’s covered markets. Try Esquilino Market, Mercato Testaccio or Mercato Trionfale. These authentic local markets will give you a glimpse of Roman life without requiring you to get your feet wet.
- Break the rules and linger over coffee. In Rome, coffee is normally a beverage that is imbibed as quickly as possible. You usually sidle up to the bar, down the espresso in one gulp and get back out the door after a quick “arrivederci” to the barista. But on a rainy day in Rome? You might want to take your time and plan out the rest of the day’s dampened activities while basking in the warmth of a warm caffe. Keep in mind that the price of a coffee is always more when you sit at a table rather than take it at the counter, but pay the small premium for the comfort while you pour over your guidebook or catch up on a novel. Certain coffee shops are better suited to long breaks – so try Barnum near Campo de’ Fiori, splurge at Antico Caffe Greco close to the Spanish Steps or savor the specialty coffee at Faro.
- Seek out the less visited museums. I promise you that if it rains in Rome, everyone will think they are being clever by going directly to the Vatican. This means that rainy days can be one of the worst times to visit as the line is even longer than usual and you will be stuck outside in the storm while you wait. Instead, try one of the less visited museums in Rome such as the lovely Doria Pamphilj Gallery, the H.C. Andersen sculpture museum, or the free Giovanni Barracco Museum. For even more ideas, here are the best art museums in Rome.
- Dry out over a long lunch. Rainy days in Rome are the time to really take advantage of the cultural penchant for long leisurely lunches. Settle into a cozy table and don’t hold back on ordering both a primo (usually pasta or soup) and a secondo (main course/meat dish). Oh, and wine – plenty of wine. Here are some Rome restaurant reviews to help you pick the perfect place for a meal, and some tips on tipping in Italy so you don’t feel too bad about taking up the table for so long.
- Head underground. There are lots of must-see attractions in Rome, and while many of the monuments are above ground, there are also some incredible sights hidden underground. When the rain moves in, you can explore these incredible archaeological sites as a creative way to stay dry. Take a tour of the catacombs or explore the ruins of ancient Roman houses behind the Colosseum.
- Stop for a drink. While it does snow in Rome occasionally, such freezing weather is relatively rare. However, even the rainy days can feel pret-ty cold and miserable. Warm up in the most Italian way possible by hunkering down in one of Rome’s best wine bars. The lovely enotecas that dot the city are cozy to begin with, which makes them a real treat on a gray day.
- Take a cooking class. Looking for a more productive but no less delicious way to while away the rainy hours? Try a cooking class in Rome to learn how to make some of the traditional dishes (and warm your hands over a hot bowl of fresh pasta). Some of my favorites are the market to table class at Latteria Studio, Speak and Cook to practice Italian while learning new recipes, and Paola’s pasta class in her gorgeous apartment overlooking the Pantheon.
- Church hop. You can easily pass a boozy day or night bar hopping in Rome, but it the Eternal City it might make more sense to church hop. The best known is obviously St. Peter’s Basilica, but almost every church in Rome contains an artistic or cultural treasure. Pop into Santa Maria in Ara Coeli for pure opulence, gaze up at the golden mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere, or admire the Caravaggio paintings hanging in plain sight at Santa Maria del Popolo. There are more than 900 churches in Rome, so this activity could well take up your entire trip!
Looking for more things to do in Rome on a rainy day ? Here is what to do in Rome in winter, and you can download the Discover Rome app for 150+ suggestions on what to see, do and eat while exploring the city.