If you’re planning on traveling this Christmas, then what better place to enjoy the festivities than the Eternal City. Not only do you have a couple of millennia’s worth of history to explore, but Roman’s know how to celebrate the Natale in style, with great food, drink, music, and much more filling the city with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. So, get your stockings at the ready and read our list on the best way to spend Christmas in Rome—it’ll surely be a vacation worth remembering!
Hit the Rink
When it’s cold outside you may as well make the most of the ice. Rome has a few options when it comes to ice skating, and there’s nothing quite like the romance of taking your partner around the rink a few times as those cozy Christmas tunes set the scene. Luckily, even if the sun is shining, these rinks will still be open. Check out the Auditorium Parco della Musica and maybe catch a show afterwards or, alternatively, try the rink at the Euroma2 mall and check out a few luxury stores while you’re there.
Check Out the Vatican Christmas Tree
The Vatican is a must see for any visitor in Rome, but it’s extra special during the holidays. Featuring a 26m Italian spruce, plus a life-size nativity scene, nowhere has quite the sense of reverence for tradition as St Peter’s square in the capital of Catholicism. The tree and crib remain in the square until January 12th so there’s plenty of time to visit and explore everything the Vatican has to offer over the festive period.
Shop at Traditional Christmas Markets
No festive vacation would be complete without a few hours spent perusing a Christmas market—and Rome is bursting with them. For a fix of vintage charm, then Mercato Monti is your best bet, with special Christmas editions running until the 29th. For something a little more crafty, try the Piazza Mazzini Christmas Fair Market and, for the best Christmas atmosphere in Rome, the Piazza Navona is a must see.
Remember the True Meaning of Christmas at Midnight Mass
The 24th of December is actually the traditional day of celebration for Italians, and nowhere is the spirit of holidays more evident than at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. You’ll find mass held at numerous churches throughout Rome (often not actually at midnight), however heading back to the Vatican on the 25th for the Pope’s blessing is perhaps the most memorable of occasions.
Ring in the New Year on the Streets of Rome
The streets of Rome burst into life on New Year’s Eve, offering 24 jam packed hours of free cultural entertainment by more than 1000 artists. Most of the events are held around the Bocca della Verità and the Circus Maximus, however, you’ll find plenty of satellite events if those areas get a little too crowded. A huge fireworks show will take place after the clock turns midnight, and the streets will be buzzing until 9am on New Years Day.
Swim in the Tiber
Whether you managed to last the entire night or not, you have to catch the annual Tiber dive on New Year’s Day. Only the bravest souls take the 17-meter plunge, known as the Tuffo nel Tevere, meeting the icy waters of the river after leaping from the Ponte Cavour. The tradition goes back to the end of the WWII and is not of the faint of heart.
Watch the Parade
To round off your holiday festivities, the annual New Year’s Day parade is a must-see. Featuring marching bands from the US, alongside traditional Italian folk music groups and plenty of colorful floats, the parade lasts a full two and a half hours. Starting at the Piazza del Popolo at 15.30 and finishing at Via di Ripetta, it’s also a great opportunity to explore the streets of Rome.