What to wear in Rome in May: complete packing list to be comfortable, stylish and get the dress code right

by marta

Packing list for Rome in May: learn what to wear in Rome in May to be comfortable, stylish and get the dress code right.

May is one of the best months to visit Rome and one of my personal favorite.

The weather, the atmosphere, the number of tourists… I see May in Rome as little as the Goldilocks Zone: everything is just right!

I love May in Rome so much I chose it as my wedding month and now I take particular pleasure in sharing tips on how to make the most of my city at this very special time.

In a different article, I shared the best things to do. Today, I share the best things to pack for Rome in May, so you can stay comfortable, stylish an appropriate while you explore my wonderful city.  

View of Rome from Pincio Terrace sunny day spring/summer

In this packing list for Rome in May, I detail what you need and what you don’t, so you can minimize luggage size without compromising on comfort and style. 

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates, we earn commission on qualifying purchases. 

How hot is Rome in May

May is a mild, beautiful month in Rome with temperatures usually ranging between pleasant and warm. 

May sees slowly but steadily increasing temperatures and how hot you will be will partially depend on the temperature but part on what you are used to. 

Born and raised in Rome, I find May pleasant rather than hot but my Irish husband and friends do find the average temperature in Rome rather warm and summery!

In objective terms, you are unlikely to be very hot in Rome in May, and bringing light clothes and light layers will be a good way to be ready to anything the weather may throw at you.  

Good to know! A few years ago, Rome was under a crazy cold front in May and people had to take out coats and scarves. It was an exceptional event and made national news: usually, it is not necessary to pack winter clothes for Rome in May but, of course, check the weather forecast last minute, in case the planet throws some crazy temperatures at us again!

May in Rome Max Temp.May in Rome Min. Temp.Avg. rainy days 
24C / 75F13C/ 55F5

Packing for Rome in May: style guide

Like the rest of Italy, Rome is known for being stylish, but you don’t need to splash out on the latest designer clothes to feel like a local. 

Romans, and I know because I am one of them, are first and foremost practical.

Our city is stunning but it has cobbles, impossible parking and occasionally pouring rain, so we like to be prepared!

I will go into more details later in the post, but when packing for Rome in May:

  • Opt for good walking shoes with rubber soles. They will keep you comfortable while sightseeing (see below for tips on good models)
  • Leave heels at home unless you need them for a special event you will be drive to. If you like a big of height, wedges work better than thin heels in
  • Pack good quality basics and dress them up with accessories. Choose well fitting jeans or trousers, tailored skirts, wrap around dresses, chinos or polo shirts. A good quality basic is more Italian than a fancy brand 
  • Opt for a nice top / short for fancier dinners out and dress it up with a necklace or blazer. You don’t need your best Sunday dress, unless you are heading to a wedding or a special ceremony. 
  • Make you Rome in May packing list full of light and bright colors: light pink, blush, cream, mustard yellow, red, navy all work well. Black for the evening is always a good option too.

What to pack for Rome in May: my essentials 

Here are the staples of my Rome in May wardrobe

Good quality jeans / pants

Jeans are very common in Rome and worn by people of almost any age.

While there is no real cut off, they are most common in very young people and people up to fifty years of age or so.

People above this age usually opt for different types of trousers such as chinos (men) or cotton pants (women), as they give a more refined, classy look. However, if jeans are more your style these are acceptable in all but the most upscale places.

Jeans and chinos are perfect for men too.

Kids can wear jeans, tracksuit bottoms and legging: tracksuits are not ideal for evenings out, but no one will bat an eyelid in most places. Especially in the last few years, sweats/tracksuits are fashionable among the very young so if your children / teens want their sportswear on, this is no problem at all, they’ll actually fit right in! 

In the hottest hours of the day, kids may be able to wear shorts. 

Good to know! Athletic wear is not common for adults outside of the gym and usually the giveaway of the American Tourist. There is nothing wrong with it though! We have so many overseas visitors in Rome, you won’t stand out so if this is your style, go for it! The only places where athletic wear may not be appropriate are upper scale restaurants but in the vast majority of places, nobody will have an issue with what you are wearing.

Set with fashionable women’s clothing, shirt, jeans, and bag with accessories. on a light fabric background. Top view. Trendy hipster look. Flat lay.

Short sleeved tops 

These will be your staple tops for the day.  My favorite travel item is a nice top that can go from day to night. 

This can be as simple as a black, navy or taupe top, a sparkly one or a god shirt or polo shirt for men.

In Rome, you don’t need very fancy clothing but you won’t be overdress easily either so anything that falls under ‘business casual’ style will work pretty much everywhere.  

A casual dress

I love wearing dresses when travelling.

My favourite types are simple dresses I can dress up or down with flats or wedges. I find simple jersey dresses the most versatile of all as you can easily add a blazer, cute cardigan, or necklace and the go from relaxed to cute evening attire.

In May in Rome, you may not be able to wear sandals yet but you are usually ok with bare legs. 

A good crossbody bag

The best bag for Rome is a medium size crossbody bag. 

Opt for one that is big enough for daily essentials but not so big to be excessively heavy and a hindrance when visiting museums.

Make sure it is big enough for your travel wallet, documents, phone and camera charger and ideally a reusable water bottle and guide book.

I do not find an anti-theft bag a necessity in Rome, especially if you are used to big cities. Make sure, however, you bag does close properly and keep it close to you at all times: in shoulder to shoulder crowds situation like the Trevi Fountain, make sure the zip is closed, move the opening to your front and your hand on top. No need for locks or expensive devices to stay safe.

A light jacket 

At the beginning of May, you may still need a light jacket. I recommend this especially to people used to very hot weather. If you come from cold-ish climate, chances are you will be ok without!

Italian women at this time often sport pretty spring jackets, often as an alternative to cardigans. I have a yellow soft leather one that works amazing in May evenings and early mornings, especially at the start of the month.

My daughter and I in Rome in spring.

A cardigan

Cardigans are great for May in Rome. I usually only bring one that I use as top layer


Scarves are maybe the most widely used fashion items in Italy. 

In spring especially,  women use them extensively to keep warm and as a fashion accessory. 

In May, you won’t need very warm ones but I recommend you opt for a large enough scarf you can double up on itself in case of a temperature drop. 


Italians love sunglasses as a fashion statement but they are also a must have item in Rome in May’s lovely sun.


This might sound funny but necklaces can change up a look and are a good way to make a simple outfit look dressier for a nigh out. 

Also they are a very ‘Italian’ thing to wear if you fancy feeling a little like a local: bold, colourful ones are popular in spring.

The best Shoes for Rome in May 

Rome best discovered on foot and a good pair of walking shoes is essential. 


I have here >>> a full guide to the best shoes for Rome but, at a glance, I recommend the following:

Opt for closed toe shoes – May in Rome is may / many not be sandals time yet. Unless you know you tend to run ho, I recommend closed shoes if only bringing one pair. If you opt for sandals for the warmer days, I love Teva sandals which are super comfy and, in some models, versatile for looks/

Go for rubber soles – they will cushion you from the hard steps on cobbles and prevent slipping in case of rain

Choose fashion runners or city walking shoes rather than full on hiking shoes (to heavy and off-key for the city). Runners/sneakers are wonderful to walk around Rome and especially in recent years super fashionable.

You may have heard Italians don’t wear runners but this is a myth! First of all, we do! With all the walking we do, those are the best shoes of all! What you may notice is that for the office or casual evening gatherings, the type of sneakers we wear are more the fashion type than the full on gym style (Veja, Adidas Stan Smith or Gazelle, New Balance shoes are popular) but even this is changing now: unless you need two dress up for an event, any type of sneaker works well.

Unless you are very fond of heels or you have a special event, there is on need to pack heels for Rome or Italy in general – flats are universal. 

What to wear to visit the Colosseum in May 

The Colosseum and Roman Forum are archaeological outdoor sites with uneven terrain in most parts.

There is no dress code to access them but good shoes are a must.

Avoid heels or shoes that may cause blisters or slipping: most of the area is essentially a park – dress accordingly and make sure you have sunglasses, sunscreen and sunhat in the hottest hours of the day.

Read here >>> tips for visiting the Colosseum

What to wear to visit the Vatican in May

The Vatican has a strict dress code that you can find here >>> Vatican dress code need to know

To be in on safe side and respectful, avoid short skirts (even with tights), shorts, revealing tops etc. 

Rome in May travel essentials

As well as the above of course I had my basics, my travel document, handbag, camera, prescriptions (if needed) etc. 

Please always remember that you should always have your ID in Italy, so make sure you have a day bag that can keep it safe!

• Underwear, socks and nightwear

• Toiletries

• Sunscreen

• Phone charger

• Portable Power Bank

• Travel adapter

• Passport + travel documents + visa if relevant

• Travel insurance

• Some cash + bank cards 

• International driving licence if relevant

• Phone/ Camera

• Swimwear and wet bags for hot days on the beach if planning on a day trip 

• Reusable water bottle

• Basic first aid kit 

• Medication and prescriptions, if relevant

• Travel stroller suitable for cobbled streets if traveling with a toddler 

• Baby carrier if traveling with a baby

• A good diaper bag that can double up as day bag 

• Italian phrasebook and dictionary

Rome with kids ebook travel guide if you have children

The best luggage for Rome in May

The best luggage for Rome is spacious enough to keep safe your clothes and shoes yet light and resistant enough for you to safely manoeuvre it in airports and, if walking, on bumpy cobbled streets.

In terms of larger bags, I recommend:

Handy Toiletries list for Rome

You can buy all this in Rome pharmacy shops or supermarket. Read here >>> grocery shops in Rome. If packing toiletries for a short trip, you may want to add to your luggage:

  • 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

Accessories and nice to have

The best accessories I recommend for Rome are:

  • Sunglasses – May can bright and lovely, make sure you protect your eyes
  • Necklaces to dress an outfit up or down: Italian women love necklaces!
  • Sun hat – yet, you will look like a tourist but it will save you from sunstroke!
  • Earrings, again a popular Italian fashion statement
  • Scarf – for warmth and look
  • Eye mask for the plane
  • Travel pillow for the plane

What not to add to your packing list for Rome in May

In most cases, your packing list for Rome in May may exclude:

  • Flip flops and swimsuits, unless staying in hotel with indoor pool. May in Rome is not outdoor pool weather usually
  • Heels
  • Coats, gloves, hats
  • Very fancy clothes (unless you know you have a special event)

I hope this packing list for May in Rome came handy. Safe travels!

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Photo credits: this post contains photos purchased from Canva Pro and Depositphotos as well as our own images. 

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