Christmas in Rome: the top things to do


    Visit Rome in December and you’ll be surprised by how many wonderful things there are to do. Especially during Christmas Holidays. Here is the top things to do, during your Christmas in Rome.

    Christmas in Rome: what to do?

    Rome is fantastic during the holidays, the lights and festive atmosphere fill the streets and squares, the shops and boutiques are adorned with Christmas decorations. Visiting Rome in December is a wonderful opportunity if you are planning your Christmas 2022.
    Not just for the main touristic points of interests, but for the many events, and Christmas themed flea markets that take place around the city.

    According to Christianity, traditionally, Christmas festivities in Rome and in Italy begin on December 8th, on the day of the Immaculate conception. And last until December 26th. Even though, to be fair, the Christmas Tree is decorated and the nativity scene is displayed until January 6th, on the day of the of the Epiphany.
    There’s a saying: “Epifania, tutte le feste si porta via” which means “All the festivities are over with Epifany.”

    Visiting Rome in December will require good winter hiking shoes and a warm coat (possibly weather resistant). Because you never know what you might end up doing.

    Throughout the winter months there are plenty of activities to do in Rome, especially around Christmas Holidays. Museums, churches, events, etc.
    Here are some of the best, fun, affordable or completely free things to do in Rome during Christmas time:

    A visit of Saint Peter’s and the Square

    Christmas in St. Peter's

    The monumental Piazza at the feet of the Basilica, built by the Master Bernini. Entrance is free and it is beautiful during Christmas time. Decorations and themes change every year, the giant Christmas tree and the spectacular Nativity scene placed in the center of Saint Peter’s square, are a Must see.

    So make sure to stop by Saint Peter’s, possibly on Christmas day too!
    The Pope’s Christmas Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica is broadcast all over the World.

    Christmas Eve’s Mass in the Pantheon

    Pantheon of Rome

    If you are intrigued by the idea of participating to a traditional Catholic Christmas mass in Rome, then you absolutely have to consider Christmas eve’s night mass inside the Pantheon. The mass is in Italian, but still a very unique experience.

    A Candlelit ceremony, accompanied by a small quire, to make the atmosphere all the more special. It starts at around midnight, although we recommend arriving at 11pm or earlier to guarantee you a seat, because it fills up really quickly. Also, make sure to dress extra warm, it’s pretty chilly.

    Walk at night through the streets of Rome

    Walking through streets of Rome

    Out for a walk at night? Stop by the illuminated Colosseum for a traditional picture by the Christmas Tree in Piazza del Colosseo. This makes for a very cool Christmas greetings Card!
    Nativity scenes are a big part of Christmas traditions in Rome
    Aside from the beautiful one in Saint Peter’s Square, an excursion through the streets of the City, to look for the most beautiful ones, is another fun thing to do for Christmas in Rome. You can find them unexpectedly, scattered around in the squares, some corners on the streets and in churches, like the ones located in Piazza Navona or the Spanish steps, the one in Santa Maria del Popolo or in Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where it hosts a marble nativity scene dated 1290!

    For a truly magical experience, we recommend warming up on a night tour of Rome with one of our tour drivers. In two hours you would drive through beautiful festive streets and stop in the most scenic and picture perfect places in Rome, from where you can ultimately appreciate all the Christmas lights, trees and cheerful atmosphere all around the Eternal city.

    Discover the most beautiful churches of rome

    Saint Mary Victory in Rome

    Speaking of churches, here are some beautiful churches you must see during the Holidays: Santa Prassede, beautiful ancient Church of Rome, it hosts some of the city’s best mosaics, Santa Maria della Vittoria, a baroque Church where you can admire beautiful artworks like Bernini’s Estasy of Holy Teresa. San Luigi dei Francesi and Sant’Agostino, where you can see stunning paintings by Caravaggio, all for free.

    See the Christmas markets in Rome

    Christmas Marktes in Rome

    Another fun thing about Christmas in Rome, is the Christmas Markets. Here are some of the most famous:

    • The most famous one around, is certainly the one in Piazza Navona. It has been a really big part of the Roman lifestyle on Christmas, for many generations. The Christmas Spirit fills this big square with all sorts of fun things, street artists, Musicians, A real life Santa Claus for the little ones, an old fashioned Carousel and all sorts of stands: Christmas ornaments, Toys, Handmade crafts, Original gift ideas, Local products, Roasted Chestunts, Candy and more. The entire Piazza Navona and its Barouqe features illuminated in festive colors, from the Fountain of the Four Rivers, to Pamphili palace and Saint Agnes Church.
    • Piazza Ankara hosts a very special Christmas Market. An antiques fair, specialized in fair trade products, and all the proceedings go to charity.

    But you can take in the Christmas spirit in Rome, even by simply strolling around in the Shopping District, like Via del Corso and Via Cola di Rienzo. Like every street in Rome, the shops are decorated in red, gold and green, Christmas lights hang from the buildings and on over the roads. Christmas carols fill the air on as you walk by.

    Try traditional Roman food

    Traditional Roman Food

    Walking and gazing in the cold Christmas atmosphere can easily build up an appetite.
    If you are spending your Christmas holidays in Rome, another thing to do, to blend in with the culture, is try traditional Roman food:

    Being Capitol of Catholic culture, Rome follows the tradition of the Wake, or “feast of the Seven fish“.
    Following a Medieval tradition that didn’t allow consumption of red meat or any type of dairy on Christmas Eve, meals on Christmas Eve are traditionally based on fish and seafood.

    So on December 24th, consider dining in one of the best restaurants in Rome, specialized in seafood for a delicious meal, like near the Trevi Fountain or Piazza Navona.
    And on Christmas Day, for lunch you should head for a real Trattoria. You can’t call yourself a Roman if your Christmas menu doesn’t include at least the Abbacchio scottadito, Roasted lamb, with garlic, rosmary and prosciutto, served with oven baked potatoes, and leafy greens like twice-baked cicory. Another traditional dish is Gnocchi alla Romana, which have absolutely nothing to do with the classic Gnocchi. In fact this plate consists of oven baked grits, shaped like small grits, grated with butter and parmigiano cheese (although Pecorino cheese is for the real conoisseurs!). And to top it off, a desert filled with nuts, dates, chocolate and honey, but the classic Panettone will do as well.

    After your Roman feast, a great way to end your Christmas in Rome would be a visit of the Musei Capitolini, on Capitoline Hill, or the Borghese Gallery, to warm up in the majestic museums, walking through the halls, bypassing sculptures and paintings.

    Or a walk in the Borghese park, through the oaks, a stop in Pincio Terrace, A stroll in the Roman Forum, a visit of Castel Sant’Angelo, or a walk in the old Rome city center. Or you could just stop in one of the cafes’ surrounding the Pantheon and enjoy a cup of Hot Chocolate.

    Visiting Rome in December is perfect for everyone. A special vacation in one of the most beautiful cities in the World, with a lot of Holiday-themed activities and other thousands of things to do.

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