What to do in Rome when it rains?

You’ve been planning for your Rome trip for so long and when you’re finally here.. it rains! Despite Rome being associated in everyone’s mind as a city with sun-shining all year long, you’ll be surprised to find out that Rome has more rain than London! In fact the average rain Rome gets in a year is 878mm, while London average is 690mm!

This is because the rain in Rome is concentrated in a smaller amount of days throughout the year, while London gets lighter rain and distributed over more days, so it feels like it rains more.

Anyway, do not despair if it rains while you’re here, because there’s actually tons of things to do in Rome on a rainy day. 

Save this list especially if you’re traveling to Rome during rainy months like November or December. So that you’ll be ready with a B-plan in case of sudden weather change!

Here’s some things to do in Rome on a rainy day.

Looking for inspiration on how to plan your Rome trip? Look at this 3-day itinerary we prepared for you!

Watch the rain fall through the Pantheon’s hole

The Pantheon is a great option for Rome on a rainy day
The Pantheon

The Pantheon’s dome is the biggest solid concrete dome in the world. And it still stands today thanks to the hole on top of the dome.

This is because the ancient Romans learned that arches in architecture discharge the weight of the building to the ground. And if you put two arches together.. You have a circle! 

What happens when it rains? Does the rain fall inside the Pantheon, through the hole? Yes, it does!

There are urban legends among the Romans (that have never been inside the Pantheon when it rains) saying that the rain droplets break while entering the hole, but that is not true.

The rain falls in and it drains through some draining holes on the floor, right in the center of the Pantheon.

We had no doubt that the Romans thought of everything!

Explore the Centro Storico (historical center) of Rome in good company! Book an in-person experience with us

Head to a museum

What to do in Rome on a rainy day? Visit Palazzo Massimo and the frescoes of the Villa of Livia
Walk inside the Villa of Livia, in Palazzo Massimo, while it rains outside

There’s so many museums in Rome that it is very hard to choose one! Some museums require advance booking (because they sell out faster) such as Galleria Borghese.

Others give the possibility to either book tickets in advance or on site.

During rainy days we recommend booking tickets in advance when you can, as most of the people will want to be indoors.

One of our favorite museums when it rains is the Capitoline Museums. Not only do they have a super collection of ancient Roman statues, but also an incredible (sheltered) view over the Roman Forum, which you might be curious to see also in rainy situations, without getting wet.

Combine a visit to the Capitoline museums with the Wonders of the Capitoline hill itinerary included in our Video Guide

Other museums we recommend visiting on a rainy day in Rome are the Vatican Museums and the Sistine chapel (make sure you get your tickets in advance online to avoid disappointment). If you are really into a journey through ancient Rome, we also recommend visiting three of the four sites of the National Roman Museum: Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi and Palazzo Altemps. A real journey through Ancient Rome!

Read more: National Roman Museum>>

Visit an underground site

San Clement underground, one of the things to do in Rome when it rains
The underground level of the Basilica of San Clemente, a great idea when it rains in Rome

Whether it’s raining or really hot outside, going underground is always a really good idea! 

Some underground sites will be quite damp and the temperature cooler, so dress accordingly. The Underground site which we recommend visiting are:

Read more: 5 Rome underground hidden gems>>

Are you looking for a private in person experience discovering the secrets of Trastevere? Check out our Hidden Gems of Trastevere, Tiber Island and Jewish district experience

Visit churches

Did you know in Rome there are over 900 churches? This means that wherever you are you’ll find a church where to shelter if a sudden rain catches you.

Churches in Rome are a real treasure chest and here’s some of them we recommend you visit when it rains in Rome:

  • San Luigi dei Francesi and its incredible Caravaggio paintings. There’s three of them and you can find them in the last chapel on the left nave
  • Chiesa del Gesù. Head to this church just before 5:30PM and you’ll witness the incredible show of the Baroque machine. Lights, music, storytelling will frame the painting of St Ignazio while it slides down to reveal a silver statue of the saint
  • Church of St Ignazio. When you enter and look up to the ceiling, you feel disoriented.. is that ceiling open? Which cornice is real and which one is painted? Is the dome a real dome? Andrea Pozzo, who painted the ceiling, would be so proud of your confusion. He put together very sophisticated mathematical calculations in order to fool the human eye through his perspective illusion frescoes on the ceiling. Unmissable!

Go to the cinema.. a special one

YouTube video

There is a cinema in Rome which is called “Welcome to Rome” and it is located between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, so in the historical center of Rome. Inside you will discover what ancient Rome looked like, through an immersive cinema and four different reconstructions. As you enter the site, they give you an audio guide which will synchronize as you enter the different rooms.

Read more: What did Ancient Rome look like?>>

Go shopping

What about if we just treat ourselves to a healthy shopping session? One of the main streets that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking of shopping in Rome is via del Corso (connecting piazza Venezia to piazza del Popolo). Here you’ll find lots of shops opening on the streets, from Zara and H&M to smaller brands. 

You’ll also find the fancy Galleria Alberto Sordi, a small shopping mall right across the Italian Parliament building. If you decide to wander in the little streets around via del Corso you’ll find loads of independent shops.

And if you want to combine shopping with sightseeing, there’s no better place than the Rinascente department store, where you’ll find designer brands for shoes, handbags, clothing and homeware. And if you go down to level -1 you’ll end up sightseeing, because the Rinascente department store is built right on top of the Ancient Roman aqueduct of the Aqua Virgo, the same aqueduct that provides water to the Trevi fountain today!

Go for a coffee or aperitivo in an indoor bar

How cozy is it to sit in a coffee shop and have a coffee, a hot chocolate or an aperitivo while it rains outside? We love it! You can stop by at the cafeteria in the Chiostro del Bramante (near Piazza Navona), or in the fancy bar in Caffè Doria (near the Pantheon), or the classic Caffè Mariani. There’s really a lot of coffee shops around Rome, so it will be hard to go wrong!

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Written by Federica

Creative director of Live Virtual Guide. Her favorite things are gelato, pizza and the hidden gems of Rome.

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