Rome in February: trip planning guide

by marta
View over the inside of the Colosseum from top floor with arches and the arena floor

All you need to know for a trip to Rome in February. What to expect from the weather, what to pack and what to do in Rome in the winter

February in Rome is a month of transition. Very much a winter month and therefore still mostly cold and with the occasional rainy day, February is also the time when spring slowly comes back to Rome and the result is surprisingly pleasant.

Blossoms start appearing on trees, the perfume of mimosa flowers fill the air and while you will still need to wrap up at least on some days and in the coldest hours of the day, you may also find yourself shedding your top layers and bask into the warming sun.

This is a great time for sightseeing and, if you have kids, to enjoy the fun atmosphere of the Rome carnival!

We spend every February in Rome and this is our guide to make the most of this special time in the city.

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Weather in Rome in February

February in Rome is the end of the winter. At the start of the month, you are likely to still get short hours of daylight and rainy days however, as you get closer to the end of the month, the weather improves and the start of spring is in the air.

The average temperature in Rome in February is 9C/47F with a range from 14C/57F to 3C/37F degrees.

Usually you have about 6 days of rain in Rome in February and this tends to be heavy downpours rather than a drizzle. A travel umbrella will be your best friend at this time although rain tends to come in forms of showers so, usually, you can simply find refuge somewhere and quickly resume sightseeing

What to wear in Rome in February

Winter attire is a must in Rome in February although you want to add some lighter layer should you get lucky with the weather (we were in short sleeves last year!).

Heating makes indoor spaces cozy but never hot or even warm enough to take off sweaters so make sure you dress accordingly

If you are traveling to Rome in February, it is important to pack:

  • Good walking shoes, waterproof (ankle boots, full knee high book, not lined)
  • Socks and tights
  • Long trousers
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Short sleeve ones
  • Warm sweaters (woolen)
  • Winter coat (ideally waterproof), scarf

You can find my full packing list for Rome in winter here

Dates of notice in Rome in February

February is, overall, low season in Rome and you usually do not get large crowds. However, there are a couple of events worth noticing.

14th of February: St. Valentine’s day is not a traditional festivity in Rome but a commercial one. It will not affect your sightseeing however, it may well interfere with a quiet night out: make sure you book in advance if you have a special place you want to go to and check restaurants don’t charge the earth for ‘Valentine specials’

Carnival (days vary): The exact days of carnival vary but if you are in Rome in February, you are likely to get at least a little taste for it.

Carnival is not as traditional here as in other parts of Italy (nothing like Venice or Viareggio) and it is mostly a children festivity in Rome: little ones dress up and fill the streets with confetti.

carnival usually does not interfere with sightseeing and opening hours of museums and attractions.

The best things to do in Rome in February

The best things to see in Rome in February are a mix of sightseeing, shopping and food experiences.

Visit the Colosseum

The Colosseum is fantastic to visit in February (this is when I visited last!).

At this time, you will be almost alone in the arena and while the rain might indeed make your visit wet, the lack of crowds will compensate the discomfort

The best tickets for visiting the Colosseum are here (this is the Colosseum official concession). Should it be sold out, check out alternatives here

February, especially towards the end of the month, is also a good time to visit the Roman Forum and palatine hill.

At this time, the blossoms start returning to the Palatine, making is truly stunning.

Visit Vatican City and the Vatican Museums

Thinner crowds make February a great time to visit the otherwise packed Vatican museums.

Make sure you get tickets in advance and take your time to visit Piazza San Pietro (St Peter square) and the free areas of the Vatican blissfully devoid of crowds.

Explore Rome piazzas

All Rome attractions and main piazzas can be visited at this time. Head to Piazza Navona, Piazza del Pantheon, Campo de’ fiori, the Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps but also allow yourself to explore some hidden gems.

In January, when summer holidays for locals are over, Rome’s local life is in full swing so as soon as you leave the most popular areas you will see the city’s living and breathing heart.

Park in Rome in February with pine trees and blue sky + child with coat

Go shopping

If you like shopping, February in Rome can be a bit of a treat! At this time you usually get the tail end of Rome’s sales and you also can find the first items of new season collections.

Check our guide to Rome’s best shopping streets for the best addresses to score great deals

Go to the opera or a concert

Rome has a good opera and ballet program. Music lovers should also check out the program at Auditorium Parco della Musica, a wonderful music venue in the eternal city

Sample Roman food on a Rome food tour

Rome’s tasty and earthy food goes exceptionally well with cold weather. This is a wonderful time of year to take a food tour and taste it all and also treat your curious taste buds to something special: carnival treats!

These are food tours worth considering:

If in Rome in February, make sure you taste both traditional Rome food in season and carnival sweets that are unique to this time of the year.

In this season I recommend:

  • Carbonara, Gricia, Amatriciana pasta: warming and tasting and perfect for the slightly cooler weather of this season
  • Trippa, warming dish for the adventurous
  • Suppli, fried balls of rice with a melting mozzarella heart
  • Coda alla vaccinara, oxtail
  • Frappe and castagnole, carnival sweets (fried or oven baked batter with sugar)

Go to an exhibition

Rome has many exhibitions going on at any given time and February is a great time for museum going.

You can find here an up to date calendar of Rome events in February

Go church-hopping

Visiting churches is one of the best things to do in Rome any time of the year but it becomes exceptionally pleasurable (and handy!) in winter.

Churches are free to enter, often stunning and a great refuge from the rain. Some I love and recommend seeking out are Santa Prassede, San Luigi dei Francesi, Santa Maria della Vittoria and Santa Sabina but really: when you see a church in Rome, peek in as chances are it is worth a stop!

Churches are one of the best free things to see in Rome!

Inside of Rome basilica

February in Rome with kids

These are my favorite things to do in Rome with children in February.

Dress up for carnival

Carnival is for kids in Rome what Halloween is in other parts of the world: a time to dress up and catch your friends out with practical jokes (Italians say: ‘A carnevale, ogni scherzo vale’ – at carnival, all jokes are fair).

The best way to embrace this tradition is bring with you a costume and allow your children to wander around the city in their favorite outfit.

Most of Rome’s carnival food is usually loved by children: as for ‘frappe’ in particular, sweet fried crispy batter you get in Rome’s pastry shops.

Go to Explora

Explora is Rome’s children’s museum and it is a wonderful place to explore with kids. In February, this is an exceptionally handy place to know for a rainy day or any time the weather doesn’t seem suitable for extended hours in the park

Take an art class

Indoor activities can be a lifesaver in Rome in winter and one we adored was an art class we took with a wonderful people of Arte al Sole. the one we chose was a mosaic making class which was perfect for crafty kids.

Learn to make your own pizza

On a cold February day there is nothing better than staying in a cozy kitchen preparing a warming meal. With kids, we did just that with a local pizza class for families followed, of course, by tucking into our own creation.

Visit ‘Welcome to Rome’

Welcome to Rome is a small, indoor permanent exhibition teaching the history of Rome through 3D- light reconstructions of Rome’s main attractions and a short movie.

This is a fantastic place to visit with kids as it is compact, entertaining and educational – the short movie is also a fantastic occasion to sit and rest for a while! Most suitable for kids age 6 and up.

Go to the I Love Lego Exhibition Rome – special 2020!

Between February and April 2020 Rome hosts the exhibition I love lego, a wonderful one to see with lego loving kids! The official website is in Italian only and hard to navigate but you can find info here

Visit the museum of Leonardo’s machines

If you need to quickly escape the rain or just want some indoor fun on a February afternoon in Rome, head to the Leonardo Museum in palazzo della Cancelleria (address: Piazza della Cancelleria, near Campo de’ Fiori)

This is a small but interesting permanent exhibition with lots of Leonardo’s machines kids can touch and try (not all of them but most), and it has a table where they can try their hand at building Leonardo’s self-supporting bridge.

Really fun and not as easy as it seem! It is a good puzzle to keep them entertained and stimulated!

Fun to know: the museum also has a secret underground lake! Not to be missed.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it helped you plan your winter trip to Rome. Safe travels!

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