Rome in summer sounds like a dream, but it can actually be a bit hot and frustrating. It is also one of the most popular times to come to Rome, so you will be dealing with crowds and competition for hotels and prime restaurant reservations. So, how can you make the most of Rome in summer – and survive high season?
Here are my favorite tips for beating the heat and enjoying the city in August.
Things to do in Rome in Summer High Season
- Plan activities after dark. Even in the hottest months of the year, the evenings usually offer a tiny bit of relief from high temperatures. Go slow during the day and save your energy for some of the great summer events in Rome that take place after dark. There are concerts and open-air movies for a cultural break, as well as outdoor restaurants and bars. You can also visit some major sites like the Colosseum at night, or plan a Friday evening out at the Vatican.
- Take a day trip out of the city. There is something about the sun reflecting off the empty cobblestones that make the city feel even hotter during the peak of summer. Give yourself a break with a small getaway out of Rome. Catch an early train before it gets too hot and rent a chair at the beach, or book tickets to wander through the Papal gardens with a leisurely lunch afterward in Castel Gandolfo.
- Eat lunch inside. As tempting as it is to enjoy a plate of pasta al fuori, the heat can easily make you lose your appetite. This is even more true in August when even the slightest breeze seems to have disappeared completely. Rome is hottest at mid-day, which coincides almost perfectly with lunchtime. While I am usually a fan of street food for lunch, I definitely recommend planning the time and the budget to sit down and eat inside for lunch.
- Bring a water bottle for the nasoni. During the 2017 drought, the city of Rome began to turn off its ever-flowing fountains. It was practical but also a pity because these classic water fountains known as nasoni are one of the best ways to cool off in Rome in summer. The water from these fountains is completely safe to drink so bring your own water bottle to fill up while you wander around town. (Feel fresh to splash around a bit, too).
- Be prepared for businesses to be on vacation, too. August is undoubtedly the month for vacations in Rome. While the city doesn’t quite shut down, you will start to see a lot of closed signs in late July, with the closures peaking in the second half of August after the Italian holiday of Ferragosto. Visitors still come to Rome in July and August, but a lot of the actual Romans leave. That includes shop and restaurant owners! Do a bit of research to ensure that everywhere you want to eat will be open.
- Make plenty of gelato stops. Real Italian gelato is made from whole ingredients and should not contain any chemical colors or filler. That means that you can feel completely justified in stopping for a cool, sweet snack more than once a day. Here is the best gelato in Rome to get you started!
- Pop into a church. Filled with lots of marble, churches are essentially oversized refrigerators. With 900 churches in Rome, there is also quite literally one on every corner.
- Pace yourself and take a pausa. There is no ‘siesta’ in Rome, but there is a pausa, when businesses close for a break between 1 pm and 4 pm. Follow the local lead and have a long lunch and a bit of rest during the heat of the early afternoon. All the major attractions will be waiting for you the next morning when it will hopefully be a bit cooler as well! If you head to Rome in summer with a long list of thing to see every day, you are going to get heat stroke! And there is nothing like a crowd of tourists to make things feel even hotter. Set realistic sight-seeing goals and enjoy a slow evening walk on around the outside of the monuments instead of killing yourself to get inside every single one.
- Refuel with a shakerato. Tragically, iced coffee is not really a thing in Rome. A few places do have it – like Tram Depot or Pergamino’s nitro cold brew (which is so good), but for the most part, you are stuck with piping hot cups of standard espresso at coffee bars. However, even the most classic coffee bar can make you a shakerato. The hot espresso if poured over ice, and shaken martini style until the now cold brew froths up. Drink it from a cocktail glass and get a refreshing coffee pick-me-up.
- Confirm that your accommodation has AC. Air conditioning is becoming more standard but don’t take it for granted. There is a widespread belief in Italy that cold air blowing can make you sick, so not all homes have invested in AC. It is particularly needed in July and August if you are planning to rent an apartment for your stay. As I write this, it is currently 31C (88F) INSIDE my own apartment because we do not, in fact, have air conditioning. Learn from our pain.
Be sure to also check out Georgette’s tips for seeing Florence without the crowds.