More crowds, less crowds and how to avoid them
Rome crowds in December, January, February
With its vast array of archaeological and art treasures, it’s no surprise that Rome is one of the world’s most visited cities. Between seven to 10 million tourists descend upon the Eternal City every year and the number sometimes doubles during Catholic Holy Years. It might seem like no matter when you visit, crowds and long queues are inevitable.
One of the best things about visiting Rome in December and January is that it is un-crowded! Traveling to Rome off-season has its advantages after all, one of them being that there are no long lines to visit Rome’s Attractions Highlights like the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Borghese Gallery, just to mention a few.
In December you won’t find many tourists in the Eternal City, while there’s usually a lot of traffic from locals and Italian visitors strolling around the city mostly for shopping or reuniting with their families for the holidays.
There are certain times of the year that are frenetically busy: April, May June, September, October as well as Easter, and the last of the Year. Sites such as the Colosseum (above) and Vatican Museums are particularly packed. Travel in the slower months of November, the first part of December till Christmas, January and February, and you’ll be rewarded with much quieter sites. The weather might be cooler, but prices will also be lower. During the winter the sun in Rome can be really pleasant.
The Colosseum – an elliptical amphitheatre considered one of the greatest examples of Roman architecture – usually has a long queue for tickets. There’s a simple trick to jump the queue if you haven’t had the forethought to pre-book online. There’s a combined ticket that includes entry to the nearby, less-popular ruins of Imperial palaces and gardens on Palatine Hill or Palatino – now an open-air museum. Its entrance and usually line-free ticket office are about five minutes’ away. So, get your combined ticket at the Palatino, return to the Colosseum and waltz in, bypassing the hoards outside. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the Colosseum is the underground section – a warren of underground chambers and passageways that housed the animals and gladiators that made up the greatest show on earth 2,000 years ago.
A quintessential Roman experience is to visit the gloriously foamy Trevi Fountain (above) – one of the most famous fountains in the world – and toss in a coin, which allegedly will ensure you a return visit to Rome. It’s seemingly always crowded here, but time your visit for the early morning (around 7am or 8am) or late at night and you’ll find it, if not deserted, much less hectic.
To avoid a tiresome wait at the ticket office of the Vatican Museums, it pays to be organized. Book your tickets in advance online. Then, to see the Raphael rooms – four interconnected rooms that have frescoes by the renowned Renaissance artist – or Michelangelo’s famous painted ceiling in the Sistine chapel, arrive at opening time and head straight for these key sights. Alternatively, time your visit for lunchtime, at around 1pm, or organize your visit so you get to these most popular sights just before the museums close.
Outside of the main touristic paths there are a lot of thing to see, Rome is an amazing city, you never stop to learn from. The smallest street can hid a treasure. Often the sites aren’t less important, but you will be surprised to find them unexpected quiet. Discover another Rome, and enjoy it’s silence out of the time, that makes you touch for a moment, it’s eternal soul.