What to wear in Rome in October: packing list and tips from a local

by marta
view of Rome with domes

Full packing list for Rome in October. What to wear in Rome in October, Rome travel essentials, how to dress for a Vatican visit, sightseeing and dinners out.  

October is a lovely month to visit Rome, one of the best!

Very much a fall month, October doesn’t get anymore the roasting hot temperatures of the Roman summer.

However, it is still mild enough and dry enough to allow for pleasant sightseeing and the odd lunch outside (dinner is less likely, it gets colder once the sun goes down).

View Over Rome
Rome overview with monument and several domes

It is also a special month in Rome as it tends to have exceptionally bright days, especially towards the end of the month.

Romans have a name for them, ‘Ottobrate Romane’.

These are a sort of Indian summer in the city and they are a last hurrah of summer before the weather starts to take a turn towards winter.

Overall, in October in Rome, you will find mixed weather, which will require layers and some variety in the types of clothes you will need.

This is my packing list to help you decide what to wear in Rome in October and pack sensibly and efficiently for your fall trip to the Eternal City.

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The weather in Rome in October at a glance

The official weather info for October in Rome are:

  • Max temperature: 23C/73F
  • Low temperature: 12C/54F
  • Rainy days: about 7

But what does the weather actually feels like, if visiting at this time?

In October, you can expect Rome to have mild temperatures and a mix of sunny days and rainy ones, and to be wearing an overcoat on and off: usually, the middle of the day can see you taking it off entirely but the evening will demand a jacket and possibly a scarf.

When packing for Rome in October therefore I recommend you look at two things: layers and a change of shoes. 

Layers will be handy on those long days out when you are not going back to your hotel between sightseeing and dinner and a change of shoes will be invaluable when Rome’s rain soaks you to the bone.

In Rome, it doesn’t rain very often but when it does, it pours! So having an extra pair of shoes at your accommodation to wear while the first one dries off will be invaluable. 

When you decide what to wear in Rome in October, it is good to know:

Is it cold in Rome in October? No, October in Rome is a fall month with mild temperatures. You will need a jacket and a light scarf especially for the evening but overall you are unlikely to feel cold, especially on a dry day.

Is it hot in Rome in October? No, October is not a summer month and you will not be able to wear shorts or summer clothing. You may however be able to wear short sleeve tops, at least on the better, warmer days

What to wear in Rome in October: clothing essentials

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

  • Face mask
  • Underwear and socks
  • Short-sleeve tops (you are unlikely to go around in short sleeves but they work well under a cardigan and you may get lucky and get warm sunny lunchtime hours with warm enough temperatures)
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Cardigan
  • Mid-season jacket, ideally waterproof
  • Tights if planning on wearing a dress/skirt
  • Knee-length skirt/dress 
  • Jeans / long pants (cotton or chinos work well)
  • Long sleeve shirt for men
  • Polo neck for men
  • Long pants for men
  • Nightwear (Pajama, 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)
  • A light scarf – Italian women and men love scarves! I myself wear one all the time. In October, you don’t yet need a very warm woolen one but you will want a lighter one both to protect yourself from the weather and as a fashion statement! When looking at what to pack for Rome in October, this is a must-have!

Style tip for women: a popular look for women in Rome in the fall 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: if you choose cute long sleeves this can make you comfortable and dressy at the same time. 

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

Style tip for men: Rome men are fond of polo neck shirts for downtime and blazers for dressier occasions, on chinos or similar type of pant. Unless you are going to a very elegant restaurant, you usually do not need a tie in Rome. 

Mid season jacket and light scarf for Rome in fall and no jacket at all for the hottest hours of the day usually does the trick for us.

Outerwear: best coats and jackets for October in Rome

October is very tricky when it comes to choosing a coat as the temperature and the rain seem to demand different items. 

In terms of temperature, the best type of coat for October in Rome is a lather jacket or a mid season puffy jacket. 

In terms of rain, you will need some form of poncho (too cold on its own) or a proper winter rainproof jacket (too warm for the weather).

The easiest way I have found to strike a balance between temperature and rain when packing for Rome in the fall is layers.

I usually wear a leather jacket or puffy jacket, both excellent for travel as easy to fold small, and then I carry a mac that I can wear on occasion when the rain strikes

The best shoes for autumn in Rome

You don’t want to weight down your luggage with too many pairs of shoes but I have more than pair on this packing list for Rome in October 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 walking shoes should the first one get soaked in the rain
  • 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. Find here >>> my list of recommended styles of shoes for Rome

Good idea: for women, I really like foldable ballerinas. They are super easy to carry and perfect to dress up an outfit for a night out, but they take up hardly any space in your luggage. They are very flat and not great for prolonged walking but they are also amazing to change into if you find your sneakers are making you too hot.

What to pack for October in Rome: essentials, gadgets and tech

Accessories, toiletries 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 I recommend for Rome are:

  • Sunglasses – October can still be really bright and lovely, plus they are an Italian must-have accessory!
  • Light scarf – for fashion and those chillier hours of the day
  • Hair ties
  • Necklaces to dress an outfit up or down: Italian women love necklaces!
  • Easy to fold rain mac
  • Headphones
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, body/hair wash and conditioner / deodorant / tweezers / comb and brush / face and body moisturizers / sunscreen / women sanitary supplies / perfume / make up / shaving cream, blades and accessories etc)

What to pack for Rome in October with kids

  • Baby carrier
  • Cobbled-street ready stroller
  • Rain cover for the stroller/ pushchair
  • A change of shoes for rainy days
  • Well stocked baby changing bag
  • Nightwear
  • Daywear: babygro, long sleeve/full leg onesies, long pants/trousers, long sleeve top, sweater
  • Mid-season jacket (you don’t need a full winter bodysuit)
  • Hat (for the sun as well as the cold)
  • Sippy cup
  • Soother 
  • Teether
  • Travel-ready toys (stacking cups, sticker books, magic boards etc)
  • Cuddly toy/ teddy 

You do not usually need particularly warm clothing for kids at this time but I do find a warm sleeping bag for the stroller can be useful, especially in the later hours of the day or early in the morning. 

What to wear to visit the Vatican in October

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 (the dress code applies to the museums too) or having queued a long time.

Find here >>> the Vatican Dress code and tips on what to wear to visit.

This can be very stressful and I know it does cause anxiety as it may feel the decision is random.

Thankfully, it isn’t but I do find that the official dress code is not as precise as it could be and there are some extra things to consider than those on their website.

Dressing for the Vatican in October, however, is not hard as the season is on your side.

To make sure you are let in, choose long pants or below the knee skirt with tights, avoid plunging necklines and any item of clothing that can be considered offensive.

Be careful with slogans on clothing and tattoos as they also can be a reason to be turned back, depending on the message they deliver.

Aside from this, being respectful in the Vatican in October is much easier than in summer when the weather makes it tempting to wear much more revealing clothing!  

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

Updated September 2021

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