Complete packing list for Rome to be comfortable and stylish in all seasons. Tips from a local to be ready for the weather, stay comfortable, stylish and get the Rome dress code right!
One of the most common questions I get about planning a trip to Rome and one I love helping people with is about what to wear in Rome.
What should pack for your trip to Rome: is it true Italians don’t wear sneakers (Quick answer: no)? And that you need a special dress code to enter the Vatican (yes)? Can I be comfortable and yet not stand out for all the wrong reasons?
This Rome packing list is my answer to all your questions. What to know more? Get in touch on Facebook and I will be happy to help more!
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What to pack for Rome: travel essentials
Before we dive into our full packing list, this is my pick of the top things you need to pack for a trip to Rome.
Excellent, broken in walking shoes
In Rome, you are going to do a lot of walking and having proper shoes that support your feet is paramount.
The best type of shoes to use in Rome are good sneakers or walking shoes with arch support: I personally find excellent Adidas or Sneakers shoes which I find give a good bounce and protect the arch of your foot and your ankle from Rome’s cobblestone streets.
Please, please, please, do not believe those who tell you Italians don’t wear sneakers, it is simply not true! Italians do not wear running shoes to go to work in an office (although this is also changing) but we do wear them to walk around the city. Opt for fashion sneakers to blend in the most.
A cross body bag
This is the most comfortable type of travel bag for Rome and one that will allow you to enter museums (big backpacks are not allowed) and to keep your belongings safe at all times.
Cash and credit cards
You should not walk around Rome with a lot of cash however, always have some of you, on top of your ATM cards / credit cards. In Rome, you cannot make small purchases with a credit card and cash will go a long way. Carry it inside a wallet in an internal pocket of your cross body bag for maximum safety (you do not usually need a money belt)
Rome uses 2 and 3 hole sockets and, for those, you need a travel adapter. The best investment is a world travel one that you can use again on your upcoming trips.
You don’t need to speak Italian to travel to Rome but having a few sentences to order a meal or express gratitude will go a long way.
I love the lonely planet pocket guides which are small enough to fit in your handbag but packed with useful tips
A shawl / pashmina for church visits
Rome churches and more precisely Rome main basilicas have a dress code and not abiding it may result in being turned away.
The Vatican is the place with strictest rules but smaller churches will also request that you cover bare shoulders and cleavage and, sometimes, cover legs if wearing shorts or very short skirts.
For the unexpected visit to a church, the best solution in hot weather is to carry a shawl: this is usually enough to cover shoulders on a hot day.
Reusable water bottle
Rome has delicious, free drinkable water flowing straight from its drinking fountains. Bring a reusable water bottle with you at all times to save money and help reduce the rubbish problem in the city!
Apps and maps
Apps and paper maps can be a lifesaver in Rome. Some I recommend when sightseeing in the Eternal City are:
- Google maps
- Google translate
- Free Now (taxi app)
- Atac (bus and public transportation app)
- GetYourGuide (tour bookings)
- Booking.com (hotel bookings)
the types of clothes to wear in Rome depend largely on the season of your visit (see below). In general, it is handy to know that Romans prefer somewhat modest attire and are above all practical: good walking shoes and sensible clothing are the way to go!
In terms of style, we can generalize and say that Italians wear on a daily basis what can be called ‘smart casual’ – think jeans rather than tracksuit bottoms and leggings (those are for the gym) and fashion sneakers rather than runners.
Sorts are not a popular choice especially for women and men over 30 although honestly, no one will pay any attention so don’t stress over it if that’s your style!
Other things to pack for a trip to Rome
- Flip flops / house socks for hotel rooms
- Swimming costume for hotel spa/swimming pool or day trips from the city
- Nicer outfit for an evening out (black or neutral color work well)
- Extra battery pack for your mobile or camera
- Packing cubes
- Essential toiletries
- Sun screen
- Essential medications and prescriptions if needed
- An extra pair of shoes should yours get wet/become uncomfortable while sightseeing in Rome
Important tips for Vatican visits and Vatican dress code
The Vatican has a very strict dress code and visitors not abiding by it are regularly refused entrance, even with a valid ticket.
To avoid bad surprises, on the day you are visiting the Vatican I recommend you dress specifically for the occasion and in particular:
- Cover shoulders: avoid strapless tops, spaghetti straps tops and vests (both men and women)
- Avoid above the knee skirts and shorts (men and women)
- Avoid exposing excessive cleavage, a waist/belly or back
- Do not wear slogans or prints that may be perceived as offensive
If in doubt, go for the most conservative option: St Peter basilica and museums enforce this dress code (the Sistine chapel inside the museums is consecrated and as such a sacred space) and while you hear the occasional exception being made, that’s just what it is, an exception. The risk of being turned away is high and very much not worth it.
Rome packing list for each season
Rome has 4 different seasons with different weather patterns. This is what to pack for each.
I hope you found our Rome packing list useful and it helps you stay stylish and comfortable at all times: safe Rome travels and happy packing!