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Rome in summer: How to make the most of your visit

Learn how to keep cool and avoid the crowds with these tips for visiting Rome in summer, from after-hours tours and evening events to free water refills and the city’s lesser-known attractions.

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Rome in summer: How to make the most of your visit

AD: My trip was hosted by Jet2, but all views are my own

With historic monuments on every corner, world-class artworks, romantic cobbled streets and fantastic food, there’s never a bad time to visit Italy’s Eternal City. And when Jet2 invited me to try one of their last-minute holidays in Rome with Jet2holidays, I jumped at the chance to see more of the city (and feast on pizza, gelato and limoncello spritzes).

Summer in Rome means long days, blue skies and plenty of sunshine, but the city gets very hot and crowded between June and August too. So you need plan ahead, both for what to do and when. After testing them out on our trip, I’ve put together my top tips for keeping cool on a summer trip to Rome – as well as what to expect on a Jet2 city break.

The colourful Trastavere neighbourhood in Rome
Colourful Trastavere

A Jet2Holidays city break to Rome

Jet2 flies to Rome from seven different regional airports around the UK, making their city breaks really convenient if you live outside London. Our city break package included Jet2 flights from Birmingham airport plus four nights in a four-star hotel.

A checked bag up to 22kg is included too, but Jet2’s generous hand luggage allowance (with a case up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and 10kg to go into the overhead lockers as well as a handbag or laptop bag for under your seat) means we didn’t need to use it. At 2.5 hours our morning flight was quick and easy, getting us into Rome in the early afternoon.

Flying to Rome with Jet2
Flying to Rome with Jet2

Jet2 flights to Rome conveniently arrive into Rome’s main Fiumicino airport (also known as Leonardo da Vinci airport) rather than Ciampino, a smaller airport used mainly by budget airlines. The quickest way to get from Fiumicino to the city centre is on the Leonardo Express train, which runs to Termini train station every 15–20 minutes.

The journey is non-stop, takes half an hour and costs €14 one way. There can be big queues at the airport train station so it’s a good idea to book in advance on the Trenitalia website or app. You do need to choose a time but tickets are valid for the following 90 minutes.

Sunset over the Tiber in Rome
Sunset over the Tiber

Tips for visiting Rome in summer

Rome is never quiet, but summer is peak season, with the biggest crowds and highest prices between June to August as visitors flock to the city. Though many Italians leave the city for the beaches or mountains for the Ferragosto public holiday on 15 August.

Average high temperatures in Rome lie around 31ºC (88ºF) during July and August, but the high humidity can make it feel even hotter, and temperatures of 40 degrees aren’t uncommon. So you need to be prepared. Here are my tips on how to make the most of your trip to Rome in summer by avoiding the worst of the heat and crowds.

Crowds at the Spanish Steps in Rome in summer
Crowds at the Spanish Steps

Get up early

If you’re an early riser (or suffering from jet lag), mornings are the best chance to see sights like the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps or Piazza Navona without crowds of people. Get there as early as you can to take advantage of cooler temperatures too.

Early mornings are also the quietest times at Rome’s biggest attractions. The Colosseum and Pantheon open at 8.30am and the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Galleria Borghese at 9am, and if you can pre-book tickets you also avoid having to queue.

St Peter’s Basilica opens at 7am and the Vatican Museums at 8am. But for something really special you can book a VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour which starts at 6am. You get to join the Key Master as they unlock the doors to the different rooms of the museum and the Sistine Chapel, with the chance to spend a few minutes alone in the chapel.

The Trevi Fountain and Temple of Venus and Rome in Rome
The Trevi Fountain and Temple of Venus and Rome

Or stay up late

If like me you’re not a morning person, you can also take advantage of quieter attractions and lower temperatures by staying up late instead of getting up early. The balmy summer evenings are perfect for a stroll, with many monuments illuminated at night.

During the summer the Vatican Museums stay open until 7pm and the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill until 7.15pm. There are also special late-night opening events when you can visit the Vatican or the Colosseum in a small group after closing.

Look out for special summer evening events too, like the Viaggio nei Fori multimedia show which recreates the Forum of Caesar using light and sound. There’s also nighttime opera at the Baths of Caracalla,* outdoor concerts and the Lungotevere Lungo il Tevere summer festival with food, music and theatre along the banks of the Tiber.

Illuminated buildings in Rome at night
Rome at night

Hide from the midday sun

Midday and the early afternoon can be unbearably hot in Rome in the summer. So it’s a good time to get out of the sun or head indoors if you can – and avoid places like the Colosseum or the Roman Forum where there’s very little shade.

Rome has plenty of museums and churches to hide out in. Or you can go beneath the city streets to underground Roman ruins, chapels and catacombs – the Capuchin Crypt of Rome, Basilica of San Clemente, ruins of the Domitian stadium beneath Piazza Navona and the Domus Aurea palace designed by Emperor Nero are some of the best.

Or why not just have a long leisurely lunch on a covered restaurant terrace, or a siesta and a gelato in one of Rome’s shady parks like the Villa Borghese gardens?

Afternoons on Via dei Coronari in Rome
Afternoons on Via dei Coronari

Book the big sights in advance

The big summer crowds mean that the most popular attractions like the Colosseum and Sistine Chapel can sell out in high season, so book as far in advance as you can.

Skip-the-line tickets are also available for many attractions so you can reduce queuing time, which often involves standing out in the hot sun. And if certain attractions are sold out, look into guided tours* instead as they often have a separate ticket allocation.

The Colosseum in Rome in summer
The Colosseum

Bring a refillable water bottle

Staying hydrated is extra important in the heat, but it’s easy to top up on water in Rome. There are 2500 free drinking water fountains around the city – known as nasoni (noses) because of their curved shape – with cold water from the Appenines. And if you don’t have a water bottle you can drink from them, just don’t touch your mouth to the nose.

The summer heat is also a great excuse to indulge in plenty of gelato. Or there are other icy treats like granita (a semi-frozen mix of fruit, sugar and water) or grattachecca, a Roman speciality that’s made using shaved ice topped with syrup or fresh fruit.

Tasty gelato in summer in Rome
Tasty gelato

Don’t forget a cover up

Lightweight, loose clothes in breathable fabrics are the best way to stay cool in the heat. But don’t forget to carry a scarf or wrap to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting the Vatican or Rome’s churches. And it has the bonus of shading you from the sun too.

A hat and sunglasses are also useful, as well as plenty of sunscreen (I took a 100ml bottle in my hand luggage but our Jet2 trip also included a checked bag if you want to bring more). And Rome has a lot of cobbled streets so flip-flops and heels aren’t great for walking. I packed my favourite walking sandals* plus a smarter pair for the evenings.

Cooling off in the evening in Rome – Aperol Spritz and loose clothing
Cooling off in the evening

Take advantage of public transport

Rome is a huge city, and we found ourselves doing 15km of walking or more a day just getting from place to place. But there is also a decent public transport system which you can use if you want to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.

Rome has three Metro lines, with Lines A and B the most useful for visitors. Both call at Rome’s Termini train station, with Line A going to Ottaviano/Cipro (for St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums), Flaminio (for Villa Borghese) and Spagna (for the Spanish Steps). And Line B going to the Colosseum and the Circo Massimo park.

Tickets for the Metro and buses can be purchased from tobacconists, bars or vending machines at Metro stations. There’s a flat fare of €1.50 for most single journeys, and bus tickets are valid for 100 minutes so you can change buses. You can also buy 24, 48 and 72-hour or weekly tickets if you’re planning on using public transport a lot.

The Ponte Sant'Angelo bridge in Rome
The Ponte Sant’Angelo

Head out of the city centre

Although summer in Rome can be extremely busy, it’s still easy enough to get away from the crowds just by going a few streets away from the main sights.

Head to the Botanical Garden or Colle de Gianicolo hilltop park near Trastavere, shop the markets in Testaccio or visit the Giardino degli Aranci gardens on Aventine Hill. Or jump on a bus or the Metro and head out of the city centre to one of the surrounding neighbourhoods, where there are some interesting sights with very few tourists.

Monuments and original paving slabs long the Via Appia Antica from Rome
Along the Via Appia Antica

We took the 118 bus from the Colosseum along the Via Appia Antica (Appian Way), the ancient Roman road connecting Rome to Brindisi. There are catacombs, churches and ruined villas and monuments along it, as well as the old cobbled road itself.

We also visited the Parco degli Acquedotti (Park of the Aqueducts) by taking Metro Line A to Giulio Agricola. The park covers 240 hectares so there’s plenty of space to wander around the ruins of seven aqueducts, the oldest dating from 272 BC – if you watched the recent Netflix series Ripley you might recognise it as scenes were filmed here.

The Parco degli Acquedotti (Park of the Aqueducts) in Rome
The Parco degli Acquedotti

Choose a hotel with a pool

A bonus way to cool off on a trip to Rome in summer is to choose a hotel with a swimming pool. Limited space in the city centre means they’re not all that common, but if you can find one it feels amazing to take a dip after a hot day of walking and sightseeing.

Jet2’s holidays to Rome include a choice of over 80 different two- to five-star hotels in central locations, but we went for the Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo. The hotel itself is fairly modern, located close to the Colosseum and an easy walk from the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It’s also around 20 minutes’ walk from Termini train station.

But it was the roof terrace which really sold us on the hotel. There are fantastic views of the Colosseum – particularly at sunset – from the rooftop bar. And there’s also a shallow rooftop pool so you can cool off while looking out at the Colosseum.

Rooftop views from the Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo hotel
Rooftop at the Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo

Hopefully these tips will help you keep cool and make the most of a summer visit to Rome too – and big thanks to Jet2 and Jet2holidays for hosting our trip.

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Learn how to keep cool and avoid the crowds with these tips for visiting Rome in summer, from after-hours tours and evening events to free water refills and the city's lesser-known attractions | Summer in Rome | Tips for visiting Rome | Rome travel tipsLearn how to keep cool and avoid the crowds with these tips for visiting Rome in summer, from after-hours tours and evening events to free water refills and the city's lesser-known attractions | Summer in Rome | Tips for visiting Rome | Rome travel tips

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Thursday 11th of July 2024

What an inspiring, complete review of your trip! I am just getting started myself but I enjoyed reading your content. Thank you! :)

Lucy Dodsworth

Saturday 13th of July 2024

Thanks so much!