What to wear in Rome in December: full packing list and style guide by a local

by marta

Learn what to wear in Rome in December with our complete packing list for Rome during the holiday season. Travel essentials to pack + how to dress for a Vatican visit, sightseeing and dinners out.

December is a fun month to visit Rome but it comes with cold days and festivities that can prove tricky when making your bag.

In December, you can expect Rome to have bright yet cold days: the sky is likely to be a fantastic clear blue color but the sun is not quite high enough in the sky to provide real warmth.

Vatican Rome on December evening with lit up Christmas tree

This is a time for big winter coats, scarves, possibly even hats and it is also a time for umbrellas since rain is not rare in Rome in winter.

December is also the time of Christmas celebrations, which may impact your Rome packing list.

While Rome is not an overly dressy city, if you have a nice dinner out planned for Christmas, a new year celebration to attend or maybe a festive night at the opera, it will be suitably dressed to have more elegant clothes.

Of course, you also want to make sure you are appropriate for visiting the Vatican, whether for the museums or something special like midnight mass or Christmas Day celebrations.

I have already given essential info on what to pack for Rome in my guide to Rome in December.

In this article, I will go further and share my complete packing list for Rome in December: we will look at what to pack for Rome at Christmas, must-haves and nice to have items to add to your suitcase.

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The weather in Rome in December at a glance

December is winter in Italy and the weather tends to be dry yet cold.

Max TemperatureMin TemperatureAverage rainy days
13C/55.4F5C/41F8 days

How cold is December in Rome?

Rome gets pretty chilly in December.

This is down to temperature but also to humidity, which is intense in Rome and makes the city feel much colder than the thermometer may suggest

In terms of official temperatures, Rome usually stays above 0C : this means that if you come from frigid climates, you may find the city very mild.

However, thermometers can be deceiving.

While Rome doesn’t get frigid winter temperatures, it is so humid it is hard to protect yourself from the chill entering your bones: I recommend not underestimate the weather!

A good winter jacket, a scarf and proper winter shoes (boots or waterproof runners – see my tips below) are a must

What to wear in Rome in December: clothing essentials

Great sweater and accessories
Women fashion clothes and accessories on white background. Flat lay female styled look. Top view.

From your bottom layer to the outer one, when packing for Rome in December, I recommend you bring:

  • Underwear and socks (you don’t need a thermal layer)
  • Tights if wearing skirts/dresses
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Short sleeve tops for layering
  • Warm Cardigan
  • Warm sweater – merino wool is probably enough if you are used to freezing weather. Otherwise, I recommend thicker / warmer wool types
  • Short sleeve woolen tops – these are common for women, worn over long sleeve tops
  • Winter jacket, ideally waterproof – parkas are common in Rome; for a more dressy look, you may want to opt for a woolen coat, black/ camel and red all work well in this season
  • Knee-length skirt/dress – suitable for the Vatican and church visits
  • Jeans / long pants
  • Button down shirts for men
  • Nightwear (Pijama, nightgown: cotton or similar works well, no need for fleece but no summer pajamas either)
  • A blazer for men (for a smart casual look during the day or for dinner)
  • Proper winter jacket, rain resistant
  • Scarf – Italian women and men love scarves! I wear one all the time. In December, you want your scarf to be pretty but also protect you from the elements: large, woolen ones are popular with Italian women. Men also wear scarves: darker colors such as wine are popular. When looking at what to pack for Rome in December, this is a must-have!

Style tips for Rome

Style tip for women: a popular look for women in Rome in December and one that can be comfortable and stylish for travel is to pair pants with a long sleeve top and a short sleeve sweater on top.

This is a popular day-to-night kind of look and it works well if you dress it up with a big necklace.

Italian women are fond of necklaces: paired with a simple black top, they can make an evening outfit out of a simple top, hugely simplifying your Rome packing list!

Heels are not a must in Rome but, for dinner out, you may want to opt for ankle boots, boots or not overly sporty fashion sneakers. Sneakers may not be accepted on dressier occasions such as Christmas dinner.

Style tip for men: Rome men are fond of blazers for dressier occasions, often worn on good quality denim (younger men only), chinos or similar types of pants.

Unless you are going to a very elegant restaurant, you usually do not need a tie in Rome.

For Christmas occasions, however, a button-down shirt, tie and blazer and best as they will help you pass dress codes often enforced on these occasions.


Good to know: you can find more style tips in our article about how to dress in Rome to blend in with the locals!

Outerwear: the best coats and jackets for Rome in December

December is rather cold in Rome so I recommend bringing a proper winter coat.

Leather jackets and mid-season puffy coats are likely to leave you freezing: I recommend you go for a proper winter coat with a waterproof outside.

Parkas are common in Rome and so are warm jackets such as Canada Goose, Barbour or Patagonia (or non-brand alternatives replicating these styles).

In terms of style, to fit in best if you avoid overly sporty items: longer jackets in dark colors will make you blend in with the locals.

For dressier occasions, woolen coats work well for men and women but be careful with the rain: in Rome, when it rains, it buckets down!

The best shoes for Rome in December

I have talked extensively here >>> about the best shoes for Rome and these are my top tips for packing shoes for December in Rome.

You don’t want to weigh down your luggage with too many pairs of shoes but I have more than one pair on this packing list for Rome in December as I believe you will be happy to change from one pair to another.

In particular, I recommend you pack:

  • One pair of good, broken-in walking shoes like sneakers or ankle boots
  • A second pair of shoes should the first one get soaked
  • A third pair of nicer shoes, such as ballerinas, for a night out
  • For men, I recommend fashions sneakers or camper style walking shoes for walking
  • A nicer pair of shoes for dinners out
  • I also recommend you bring a pair of flip flops or anyway indoor shoes for the hotel.

Good to know! For men, a pair of camper-style shoes may be sufficient to bring you day to night, depending on the exact style you go for. For women, folding ballerina shoes can be an easy addition to your Rome packing list and will allow for easy evening outfits.

What to pack December in Rome: essentials, gadgets and tech

  • Travel documents (Passport, visa if needed)
  • Vaccination cert / negative test result
  • Travel insurance
  • Essential medications and prescriptions (translated or with the name of the generic active principle – Commercial names in Italy tend to be different for abroad)
  • Copy of all your reservations/tours
  • A crossbody bag
  • Purse with money and cards
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Your phone and charger
  • Italy travel adaptor
  • Portable power bank/battery pack
  • Camera, if different from your phone + extra photo cards
  • Italian phrasebook
  • Portable travel umbrella
  • Wet/dry bags

Good to know! The best type of day bag to carry with you in Rome is a crossbody bag. Opt for one that is not so big to cause strain on your shoulders but that is big enough to have your essentials, including phone and water bottle. You do not need an anti-theft bag, unless it gives you extra peace of mind to know you have one: a bag with a proper closure, carried in front of your body, is enough to keep your things safe.

Accessories and nice to have


Accessories are the easiest way to dress an outfit up or down and to make you feel together even if living out of a suitcase.

The best accessories I recommend for Rome are:

  • Sunglasses – December can still be really bright and lovely.
  • Necklaces to dress an outfit up or down: Italian women love necklaces!
  • Earrings, again a popular Italian fashion statemens
  • Scarf – for warmth and look
  • Eye mask for the plane
  • Travel pillow for the plane
Flat lay of winter clothes including a warm yellow sweater and large green necklace
Set of stylish winter female garment. Flat lay, top view. Grey wooden surface background.

Technology and electronics to pack for Rome

Toiletries

I like to keep all my toiletries in a travel toiletry bag that I can hang in my hotel bathroom.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  • Shower gel / soap (I recommend solid soap for travel)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Tweezers
  • Comb and brush
  • Face and body moisturizers
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Women sanitary supplies
  • Perfume / skin scent
  • Make up
  • Shaving cream, blades and accessories
  • Hair ties

What to pack for Rome in December with kids

If traveling to Tome with kids, I recommend you check out our family guides:

>>> Tips for visiting Rome with a toddler

>>> Complete family guide to planning a trip to Rome with kids

  • Baby carrier
  • Cobbled-street ready stroller
  • Rain cover for the stroller/ pushchair
  • Winter suit/warm pants and jacket
  • Blanket
  • A change of shoes for rainy days
  • Well stocked baby changing bag
  • Baby Nightwear
  • Baby Daywear
  • Hat
  • Sippy cup
  • Soother
  • Teether
  • Travel-ready toys (stacking cups, sticker books, magic boards etc.)
  • Cuddly toy/ teddy

What to wear to visit the Vatican in December

One of the biggest worries when deciding what to wear in Rome comes with a visit to the Vatican.

The Vatican does indeed have a dress code and it is enforced: people who do not abide by it do get sent back, regardless of them having tickets or having queued a long time.

Please note that this applies also to the museums, since they include the Sistine Chapel, which is consecrated.

Dressing for the Vatican in December, however, is not hard as the season is on your side!

To make sure you are allowed in choose long pants or below-the-knee skirt with tights.

Avoid plunging necklines and any item of clothing that can be considered offensive – this may include see though and revealing items but also sweater with certain slogans, etc.

Visible tattoos they also can be a reason to be turned back, should the message they send may be deemed inappropriate by the Church.

You can find here >>> my practical guide to understanding the Vatican Dress Code

What to wear to visit the Colosseum and Ancient Rome in December

The Colosseum and ancient Rome (aka the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) are outdoors and this requires appropriate clothing if visiting in winter.

To stay warm and comfortable, I recommend you wear a good coat, a scarf and good walking shoes with a good sole for the uneven terrain of this area. Avoid high heels.

There is no dress code for the Colosseum as such: comfort is king here!

You can find here >>> my practical tips for visiting the Colosseum.

Style tips for Christmas in Rome

Christmas is Rome is not very dressy however, you want to wear nicer clothes if you are invited to a Christmas dinner / lunch or you want to go to a nice restaurant to celebrate.

For dressier occasions, you want to stay away from runners /sneakers and sport shoes: women do not need to wear heels but pretty shoes such as ballerina flats or décolleté are appreciated.

Italian women do not usually wear sandals in winter, not even as a dressy choice.

Men are not usually required to wear a tie however, in dressier restaurants a button down shirt and a blazer may be required.

You can read here >>> more about Rome at Christmas

I hope you found this packing list with what to pack for Rome in December useful: safe travel planning!

What to pack for Rome in December – pin this

Christmas tree in front of Rome Colosseum with text: packing list, what to pack for Rome in December


I hope you found this packing list helpful and it helped you get clarity about what to wear in Rome in December. Happy Rome travel planning!

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