22 fantastic things to do in Rome when it rains: how to enjoy Rome on a rainy day

by marta

Unexpected rainy day in Rome? Don’t worry! This guide has all the best things to do in Rome when it rains, including museums, shops and indoor activities for all seasons.

A day in Rome conjures up ideas of aperitivo in a piazza and gelato-filled strolls.

In Rome it rains more often than many realize but there are several things to do in Rome even in bad weather

However, in Rome it sometimes rains and when it does, it pours!

If in Paris it sizzles, in Rome it buckets down and the city is shockingly ill-equipped to deal with the torrential rains it gets.

Traffic comes at a standstill, big puddles appear on the streets and open-air attractions become unpleasant to visit – rain is not great for sightseeing anywhere but in Rome, it is a bigger pain than elsewhere.

Despite this, it is possible to spend a nice day in Rome when it rains, if you are ready to compromise (a little) on your original plans.

In this article, we share the best things to do in Rome when it rains and our best tips to make the most of rainy days in Rome.

It will be useful if you are planning a visit to Rome in winter or early spring, which are the rainiest times in Rome.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission.

23 best things to do in Rome when it rains

Head to the Pantheon to see if it rains inside

What better way to put to rest the debate ‘does it rain inside the Pantheon’ than to go and have a look yourself?

The roof of the Pantheon in Rome, with the round opening that allows light, air and rain in
The roof of Rome’s Pantheon from inside, with the oculus, the famous opening that lets rain in

While other historical sites such as the Colosseum and Roman Forum can be truly unpleasant on a wet day, the Pantheon comes to life in the rain.

Its famous oculos, the hole at the top of its dome, lets the rain in (sorry, spoiler!) and seeing it fall is quite a sight.

Also, learning how that gets drained away is fascinating!

Get just under the oculos and look at the floor to see this marvel of Rome engineering: cool for kids and adults.

When it rains, the area of the floor that gets the rain usually gets cordoned off to minimize the risk of slipping but do pay attention as they floor is very smooth and can be tricky when wet.

You can find my tips for visiting the Pantheon and some fun facts about this wonderful monument here.

Visit Centrale Montemartini

Rome is full of museums and galleries to suit all types of interests and tastes.

Very famous ones, such as the Vatican museum or the Borghese gallery, need advance booking and are unlikely to accommodate you at the last minute but others are outside of the main tourist track and make for an excellent last-minute option.

Some great museums you can visit without prior booking (at least, usually!):

Centrale Montemartini, a peculiar museum with ancient Roman statues and mosaics hosted in an old power plant. This is a museum I highly recommend to anyone and especially to history lovers and architects. It is also a great place for families!

You can find our guide to Centrale Montemartini Museum and tips for visiting here.

statues in Centrale Montemartini Rome

Explore the interesting Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi

Museo di Roma (Museum of Rome) at Palazzo Braschi, a wonderful Renaissance palazzo overlooking Piazza Navona, with an interesting collection documenting the history of the city and stunning views over the piazza.

Find the museum official site here.

Visit Rome’s beautiful Gallery of Modern Art

GNAM, The National Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery which has the biggest collection of Italian contemporary art in the country.

You can find their full site here

Marvel at beautiful Maxxi

Maxxi is the beautiful contemporary art museum of Rome.

Worth visiting for its beautiful architecture, as well as its interesting exhibits, Maxxi is a little outside the more start Rome circuits but it is a real hidden gem for art lovers.

It also has a delicious restaurant, Mediterraneo, with lovely poke’!

Visit the fun and immersive Ikono Roma experience

A fun place for a break form the rain is the newly opened, colorful and fun Ikono Roma.

Built to be an immersive space to interact and play, Ikono is develops as a series of rooms with installations you can interact with: here, you find a pool of balls (yes, you can enter it and take photos!), a maze of light panels, a rooms where it ‘snows’ paper and a lot more.

Located beside the Pantheon, the space is idea for kids, teens and young adults who want a break from sightseeing and fun instagram photos and TikTok videos!

Find info and tickets here

Mom and daughter in ball pool in Ikono Rome

Visit the outstanding Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums are among the most famous and beautiful in Rome but they are often overlooked as they are so big, they can fill a whole afternoon!

In the Capitoline Museums, you find the Roman She-wolf, the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius towering above Piazza del Campidoglio and many of the most famous sculptures in Rome.

A perfect activity for a rainy day in Rome!

Find here >>> my guide to the Capitoline Museums.

rome she wolf statue with twins
Statue of the Capitoline Wolf showing Remus and Romulus as suckling infants.

Visit the newly opened Museum of Illusions – awesome indoor activity for kids and teens

The Museum of Illusion is a newly opened, fun and interactive museum for kids and adults, devoted to perception.

The museum develops over several rooms and has many installations and rooms that trick your eye and challenge your perfection of reality – size, color, motion and space all come together to give you a unique and mind-bending experience.

Here, you can take photos of yourself on a ceiling spider-man style, you can serve your head on a plate, dive into a bottomless pit and more!

This is a fantastic place for kids and teens especially. Bring a phone for photos!

The museum is located on Via Merulana, close to Santa Maria Maggiore and the Colosseum

Suitable for adults and kids alike, the exhibition is a great thing to do in Rome city center when it rains: as well as peculiar installations, you will able to admire Bramante’s Cloister and warm up in the museum’s cafeteria.

You can find tickets and info here

Museum of Illusions, Rome

Learn about the city with the ‘Welcome to Rome’ exhibition

Welcome to Rome is a permanent exhibition where the history of Rome is explained via interactive tools such as 3 D reconstructions of the city’s main monuments.

Each monument comes to life in front of your eyes thanks to computerized light games and you learn how each of them changed over time, their purpose, and also their original and current look.

The exhibition also has a movie theater and shows a short film about the history of Rome that makes for an easy to follow yet interesting introduction to Rome.

You can find info on their official site here

Admire Da Vinci’s genius in ‘Mostra di Leonardo’

Engineering lovers and Leonardo da Vinci’s admirers should not miss the beautiful exhibitions of Leonardo’s machines hosted in palazzo della Cancelleria, in Rome city center.

The exhibition shows Leonardo’s versatility and genius when it came to figuring out what mechanics can do for us and it hosts exact replicas of its flying machines, many of his war machines and some incredible creations such as a tool to walk on waters!

You can find info on this permanent exhibition here

Interior of church with overlay text what to do in Rome when it rains

Go shopping in La Rinascente

Rome has some wonderful shopping opportunities and when it rains, the easiest way to make the most of them all is to head to La Rinascente (department store).

La Rinascente is in several locations in Rome but its flagship store is on Via del Tritone and it is really worth a stop and not just for its retail therapy potential.

As well as several shopping floors (designer brands and not) La Rinascente also has a top floor bar and restaurant with a beautiful view over Rome.

Part of it is indoor and part is a rooftop terrace, worth checking it out should the rain break even just for a little while.

Update 2020: please be advised that, in the current situation, access to La Rinascente is subject to temperature checks. Wearing a mask indoors is compulsory.

Find refuge in Galleria Alberto Sordi

Right in the center of Rome lies Galleria Alberto Sordi, an elegant covered gallery with shops and cafes.

This is a great place to find refuge from the rain and go window shopping right in the center of Rome and a good opportunity to see this peculiar architectural space, uncommon in Rome

Have afternoon tea in Babingtons

The abundance of coffee in Rome may lead you to overlook the lovely tea rooms Rome has to offer!

The most famous of all is Baningtons, in Piazza di Spagna, where you can experience a traditional English Afternoon tea but there are several others worth checking out and perfect for a warming cuppa on a rainy day in the Eternal City.

Find here >>> my guide to tea in Rome

Have aperitivo in an enoteca (wine bar)

While aperitivo al fresco may not be on the cards n a rainy day, you can still have a nice pre-dinner experience going to an enoteca (wine bar).

Enoteche are ubiquitous in Rome and they usually have a long list of good wines, earthy meals and/or platters with cured meats and olives.

One I love in the city center is Cul de Sac on piazza Pasquino but you’ll find many all over the city.

You can find more addresses of food joints I like here (all family friendly too).

Chiostro del Bramante (Bramante's Cloister) in Rome

Go for chocolate – the best things to do on a rainy day in Rome for chocolate lovers (but not just!)

You prefer sweet and alcohol-free to standard aperitivo fare, then you might love SAID, Rome’s chocolate factory.

Tucked away in San Lorenzo Neighborhood, this is a chocolate theme cafe and restaurants with amazing creations and a hip atmosphere.

You can sit at a table or lounge on one of their comfortable sofas, have a hot chocolate, a chocolate cake, crepe and much more, while surrounded by chocolate moulds, used as decor!

This is also a lovely place to get a special gift or bring home chocolatey treats as it operates as a shop too.

Details of offering in Rome's chocolate factory

Head underground visiting Rome’s catacombs

Rome has many layers of history and this is not just a figure of speech.

Under the city as we see it now, a whole world exists, made of tunnels, crypts and ancient buildings now hidden from view.

I recommend you check out in particular Catacombe di San Callisto – among the biggest catacombs in Rome, they are a spectacular network of early Cristian cemeteries with incredible art. Get tickets here.

Access is by guided tour only and the quality of the guides outstanding.

Visit Nero’s Domus Aurea

The most famous of Rome’s underground monuments are Rome’s catacombs however, there is quite a selection of places that are guaranteed to keep you our of the rain while filling your eyes with incredible sights and stories.

One of the most impressive is Nero’s Domus Aurea.

The Domus Aurea used to be the lavishly decorated residence of Emperor Nero but a series of events meant it is now entirely underground!

The palace is an archaeological dig and while it is only a pale remains of what used to be the most elegant and extravagant house of Roman times, you can still appreciate its magnitude and design.

You can read what to expect when visiting the Domus Aurea and how to get tickets here

Taste a Tiramisu… or 100!

If you love tiramisu, a rainy day can be a perfect excuse to cozy up in Mr 100 Tiramisu near Piazza Navona and indulge in creamy deliciousness.

Like the name suggests, the place has not one style of tiramisu but 100! And you can watch them as they assemble them, on demand, a surprisingly soothing and entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon in Rome

Visit Stunning Palazzo Massimo

Rome has wonderful museum, some of which you can visit without advance booking.

One of them is the stunning Palazzo Massimo, which hosts, among other things, the stunning frescoes from Livia’s House on the Palatine.

The museum can easily be combined with a visit to the stunning Baths of Diocletian just in front, one of the most beautiful examples of ancient thermal baths in Rome.

Go Church hopping

Rain in Rome is unpredictable however, usually, it comes in showers more than solid hours of constant rain.

In this case, a great way to stay wet is to quickly find refuge in one of Rome’s many churches: some are very famous and you may plan a trip there specifically (Santa Maria in Trastevere, San Pietro) out many others may just happen to be on your way.

Some I love and highly recommend you seek out are Santa Prassede and San Pietro in Vincoli, both in the Monti neighborhood, which is perfect for a walk when the rain breaks.

If you love art, then you should also see Santa Maria della Vittoria, which has the famous Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by Bernini, San Luigi dei Francesi, near Piazza Navona, home to a stunning Caravaggio and Santa Maria del Popolo with works by Caravaggio and more.

If you are near a church when it starts to rain, head in: you may even find yourself in front of an unexpected Caravaggio!

You can find here >>> my top 10 list of the best churches in Rome.

Explore layers of history in San Clemente’s Basilica

One of the most peculiar churches in Rome is Basilica di San Clemente.

As well as one of the best places in Rome to see mosaics, the basilica is famous for developing over three different floors, each from a different time in history!

This is one of the best places in Rome to appreciate Rome stratigraphy and how new layers of city and culture interacted with those from before.

Find info and tickets here

Take a cooking class

If you are expecting the weather to be poor, you can fight it booking a cooking class in the city.

I took several classes over the course of the years (one even with the kids) and they are always a great way to make friends and have a good meal as well as learning recipes to impress your friends once back home.

A good class in Rome i recommend is the one by Cooking Classes in Rome or you can find several options on GetYourGuide (search for ‘cooking class Rome’)

Linger in a bookshop

I love bookshops and Rome has some excellent ones.

While not all of them will have titles in English, some do: check our Feltrinelli in Viale Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, near Termini, or head off the beaten track to Quartiere Coppede to explore the little bookshop called ‘Tra Le Righe’ which has some English titles and a lovely in house cafe.

Indoor activities for kids in Rome when it rains

If you are looking for things to do in Rome with kids, we can also help!

Rome is not very well equipped when it comes to indoors activities’ for kids for rainy days; however, there are some spaces you may enjoy.

Kid-friendly things to do in Rome when it rains include:

Explora, Rome’s children museum: a great space to plan and learn, suitable for children of all ages

Rome’s Museum of Illusions, perfect for kids of all ages but especially suitable for primary school kids and teens (toddlers welcome but they’ll make less of it)

Ikono Roma – an interactive space with fun installations and immersive games, suitable for teens especially (younger kids welcome)

Rome’s children bookshops, often equipped with areas for kids to read and play and even, often, spaces for children worskshops.

Family friendly museum: even if not for kids as such, several museums in Rome are easy to visit with kids and can prove a fantastic family activity for a rainy day.

I hope you get good weather in Rome!

However, should it not be the case, I hope this list will come in handy and helped you answer the questions: what are the best things to do in Rome when it rains?

This post was originally written in 2019 and has now been updated with current offerings.

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