What to wear in Rome in spring / summer? What will the weather be like, can I wear shorts? In this post I share my expert tips on what to pack for Rome in spring and summer, must have gear when packing for Rome and the dress code for vising the Vatican and Rome’s most famous churches.
Deciding what to wear in Rome in spring and summer is less straightforward than many people realise. First, weather changes quickly in Rome over the course of the months and what to wear in Rome in June differs significantly from what you’d wear at the end of March or early April.
Secondly, Rome has some dress codes you need to respect when visiting churches and the Vatican in particular, dress codes that seem to contradict the weather. Here are my top tips on what to wear in Rome in spring and summer to be comfortable and appropriate at all times.
What to wear in Rome in spring/summer: weather patterns
Rome has a Mediterranean weather and usually experiences four seasons: a mild to cold winter (January is usually the coldest month (click here for our Rome packing list for autumn and winter), mild springs and fall and hot, humid summers.
Spring in Rome (March-June): spring is a delight in Rome and you can, usually, expect sunny, bright days. Temperatures climb steadily from an average of 12C (end of March) to about 23C (June). In March and April you sill need a cardigan and a light jacket for at least for part of the day while from May you go steadily towards summer temperatures. Rain is frequent in March and April but tends to subside as summer approaches.
Summer in Rome (June-Sept) Summer in Rome is hot and humid. It is considered high tourism season but these are not good months to visit the city. Rome in summer sees temperature well over 30C and the scorching, relentless sun and Rome’s humidity makes sightseeing in the middle of the day unpleasant if not dangerous because of the risk of sunstroke
Should you visit Rome in spring?
YES! Spring is one of the best time to visit Rome, second only to the early Autumn.
This is the time of the year when Rome truly functions as a ‘locals’ city, when blossoms cover its many trees and when its stunning parks come to life.
Restaurants are in full swing, making the most of the still mild evening, galleries and museums tend to have longer opening hours and the temperature is perfect to visit outdoor sites such as the forum or the colosseum (Rome must sees but to avoid in the summer, when a sun stroke is pretty much guaranteed!
On top of this, the spring is a great time for food in Italy. The city many outdoor terraces serve seasonal produce and if you can taste many of them at a reasonable price embracing the Italian tradition of ‘aperitivo‘, a small pre-meal meal accompanied by soft or low-alcoholic drinks.
Should you visit Rome in summer?
I understand this may be the only time off work aviable to you but if you can, avoid Rome in summer.
June is still pleasant is the city, July starts to be very hot and August is truly uncomfortable.
The weather is only part of the problem: as well as being hot and humid, Rome in August is empty of Romans (this is summer holiday time in Italy), some establishments close and the city is plagued by mosquitoes, which are a right pain!
What to wear in Rome in April, May, June
Rome, as well as the rest of Italy, is known for its style but a lot less dressy than many people expect.
Unless you are planning on going to a very nice restaurant, the best clothes in Rome are the ones that make sightseeing comfortable.
Closed shoes with good, rubber soles, trousers and, for women, not too short skirts (for visiting churches), a selection of short and long sleeve tops, a cardigan and a light jacket are likely to have you ready for all occasions your vacation may throw at you.
For Rome in spring pack:
- Comfortable shoes
- Jeans/long trousers
- Below the knee skirt for visiting the Vatican and Rome basilicas
- Light jacket (waterproof)
- Short and long sleeve tops
- Tights/Socks/Underwear/Pajama etc
- Small umbrella
What to wear in Rome in June, July, August
June feels very much like summer in Rome and light clothing is recommended. I usually pack:
- Not too short skirts
- Shorts (not to be worn when visiting the Vatican or Rome churches)
- Linen/cotton trousers
- Short sleeve tops
- Strappy tops (not to be worn when visiting the Vatican or Rome churches)
- Mosquito repellent
- Sun screen
- Bottle (for water)
- Tights/Socks/Underwear/Pajama etc
Packing list for Rome in the spring and summer: 10 must haves
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Good walking shoes/sandals
Good shoes are essential on any trip, but it is important to have the right ones especially in Rome, where you are sure to be doing a lot of walking.
The best shoes to tackle the eternal city’s cobbled streets are shoes and sandals with good rubber soles: these are best equipped to protect your feel and ankle from otherwise potentially unpleasant hard stepping.
A crossbody bag
Rome is not a dangerous city, but pick pocketing does happen and tourists are among the favourite victims (but don’t feel singled out: I am a Roman and got pick pocketed myself once!).
Avoid carrying rucksacks on your back and do not keep your wallet in your back pocket, especially if you mean to take public transport.
When travelling, I am a fan of cross-body bags as I find them practical and often stylish. Make sure you get one that doesn’t get too ruined in case of rain.
Never leave your bag unattended or out of reach and, in outdoor restaurants, do not hang it on the back of the chair. Keep it on your lap or between your feet instead and always wear it crossbody when walking
I know this might sound strange after the mention of pickpockets, but in Rome, cards are not as widely accepted as in other European cities and never are for small amounts (you can’t pay for ice cream with a credit card for instance).
While it is important to avoid carrying large sums of cash, I do find it handy to have some small notes always on you, for light meals, taxi hops etc.
If you can, avoid ‘big’ notes such as 50 Euro and prefer smaller ones such as 20 or 10.
A wrap/shawl for visiting churches. Dress code for the Vatican and Rome churches
The dress code for visiting churches in Rome is a tricky thing. Some are quite flexible when it comes to dress code and others are very strict so, in doubt, I am going to share the strictest rules so you can be on the safe side.
As a general rule, low-cut or strappy tops, miniskirts and shorts are not deemed appropriate for a visit and this applies to men and women.
The Vatican is the strictest about this dress code and they are serious! Skirts just above the knee have been deemed ‘too revealing’ and there is not tolerance for vests or shorts.
The main Roman basilicas tend to be very strict too while other churches tend to be more flexible. Some will allow you to enter if wearing shorts provided you have a wrap tied around your waist and legs. Some will not.
Despite this strict rule, there is are no provisions made for the unprepared visitor: wraps are not available and you need to have your own.
A sun hat
Sun is relentless in Rome in summer and you need a sunhat for going sightseeing.
Locals do not tend to wear sunhats but this is one of those cases when looking like a local is less important than staying safe: sunstroke is frequent among visitors to Rome so please be careful!
One casual but nice outfit if you plan to go out in the evening.
Rome is not a particularly dressy city so the good news is that, unless you want to, you don’t have to pack your designer dress or your tailored suit to enjoy a night out there.
Anyway, I find that in Italy the best dress code to follow is ‘not too scruffy’: you don’t need special clothes to go out, but a good pair of trousers and shoes other than runners are a good choice for the evening.
In Italian restaurants air conditioning, if available, is never too cold so you tend not to need a shawl for dinners indoors in summer.
I usually pack two pairs of trousers (one jeans, one not) and a not to dressy dress that I can dress up or down with accessories and, if weather requires, leggings.
For women, I find the best way to dress up without packing too many things is to add necklaces and scarves. Italian women love them, they dress up even plain clothes and are an easy way to feel ‘together’ with little effort, feeling very ‘Italian’ in the process.
A map of the city and a guidebook
Probably an obvious one, but still worth mentioning especially if you are used to relying a lot on your mobile phone to get around.
Wi-fi is not always easy to get (and the ‘free city wifi hardly ever works, in my experience) so don’t rely exclusively on technology to find your way.
A paper map of the city and a good guidebook is always a must have for me.
A small dictionary or Italian phrase book
In Rome, especially in the city centre, you will find people with at least a basic understanding of English but this is not the case in all establishments and some familiarity with Italian can be handy.
Even just a book you can show them with the sentence you’d like to say will be a lifesaver. A good Italian phrasebook can go a long way.
The lovely thing about Italy is that we usually speak terrible English so we do appreciate when we see a foreigner making an effort as we know how hard it is to make yourself understood
Rome in summer is full of mosquitoes and they are a pain. The special type you have in Rome is active day and night and while usually not dangerous as such, their bites are really itchy and make create swollen, sore bumps.
Usually you do not need DEET strength repellents and natural repellents tend to work well.
In Italy, you find them in big supermarkets and pharmacies but please note that English is not necessarily spoken so if you have allergies or special products you are used to, it is safer to pack them from home.
When the weather is good, Rome has some amazing light so, after seeing its beautiful skies without filters, it is handy to have something to protect your eyes.
I hope I answered your questions about what to wear in Rome in spring and summer! If you have any doubts or questions about visiting my beautiful city, please get in touch and I will try my best to help
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