In this guide, you’ll find a list of non-obvious tips to beat the heat in Rome.
We all know to drink lots of water, wear breathable, loose fitting clothes, and to eat gelato whenever possible.
But what about some of the lesser known things you can do to stay comfortable in the heat?
For somebody that is well prepared, staying cool in Rome is easy! First, learn what the Romans have done for centuries to beat the sweltering heat. Go crazy tasting all the cold drinks and treats, which were thoughtfully designed for the Roman summer. Plan sightseeing at the optimal time of day, choose the right type of transportation and know where you’ll be when the sun is at its peak. If it becomes unbearable, you can always head to one of the many beaches near Rome, or seek respite on a chic rooftop pool.
Here are 25 things you need to know to beat the heat in Rome:
Stay Cool Like a Roman
Romans are used to the heat of the summer, after all they’ve been living in it for thousands of years. So what’s their secret? Find something indoors to do from around noon to 3, with a big chunk of this time spent eating lunch.
Think about it, have you ever noticed how Italians love to sit and eat lunch for long periods of time? Its the smart way to beat the heat, with the least amount of effort! They also tend to avoid having lunch outside when possible.
Save dining outside for dinner. A seat in the restaurant may even provide air conditioning, and at the very least protection from the sun.
Food and Drinks
There are literally dozens of drinks, cocktails and sweets in Rome that are perfectly engineered to deliver you a sweet escape from the heat:
– Real Gelato
Not all gelato is treated equally! A giant pile of huge, billowy gelato is the industrially made stuff, probably from a powder. In all honesty, its still pretty tasty but it absolutely pales in comparison to the real thing.
Made by slowly freezing finely chopped fruit, then adding sugar and water to create a kind of chunky, spoonable gelato. Our absolute favorite summer mix is mandorla, fragola and limone (almond, strawberry and lemon), but don’t be afraid to experiment with your own.
Rome’s very own slushee. Made with shaved ice and your choice of flavored syrup, its the ultimate drinkable street food. Look for little pop-up stands everywhere in the summer.
While you can find iced coffee in every bar, our favorite is the caffè lecesse which includes a bit of almond syrup.
-Crema di caffe
A mix of espresso, milk, cream and sugar served in a small cup with a spoon. The texture is exactly that of a Wendy’s Frosty, just much better and coffee flavored!
Technically, alcohol doesn’t hydrate you at all, but try telling that to someone on vacation!
Aperol spritz is a famous Italian cocktail, perfect and light for summer drinking. The slightly bitter Campari mixes with a refreshing Prosecco on ice to give you a bubbly, sweet drink.
For something a little stronger than an Aperol spritz, but just as refreshing try a “Negroni”. Gin, Aperol and a bit of red Vermouth make this Roman classic.
Most Italians will go for a glass of white wine when its hot outside because its always served cold. You can get cheap glasses or vino bianco della casa (house white wine) everywhere.
Look around for the guys (Cocomerari) selling watermelon or cocomero in Italian. Cheap, fresh and delicious.
In many parts of the world, drinking fountains are looked at with a certain level of disgust, but this is not the case in Rome! The water is super cold and fresh all year round, so don’t be afraid to fill up your water bottle whenever you see one of the 2500 nasoni around the city.
If you don’t have a water bottle, just plug the bottom of the spout with your hand to make the water shoot up through the little hole in the top.
Timing is everything
Early Bird? There are plenty of things you can see if you get up super early in the morning, between 6-9 am. The only drawback is most places are going to be closed. Most major attractions open 8:00 at the earliest, so if there’s something you can see from the outside try waking up early.
This being said, do yourself a favor and DON’T GO TO THE VATICAN EARLY! For some reason, everyone says to go first thing in the morning, but that is ridiculous.
It will be packed to the brim with people. Try going for the last tour at 3 or 4 pm, there will be 1/3rd of the amount of people compared to the morning.
Go at night There are hundreds of night tours that you can try, believe us when we say that Rome is even more incredible at night. Some things like the Trevi Fountain, Baths of the Caracalla, and even the Colosseum are infinitely better experienced when lit up at night.
Be sure to check out an opera organized by Teatro dell’Opera di Roma only at night in Terme di Caracalla from June through early August. You won’t forget it!
Choose the right way to get around
If you are by yourself or with one other person, the best way to get around the city is by renting a scooter. You won’t have to look for (or pay) for parking, you cut traffic by more than half and the breeze created while driving keeps you significantly cooler in the summer months.
Parts of Rome are very walkable, but you will feel the effects after just a few hours in the sun if you’re not careful!
Stay Cool in the City
By planning visits during the hottest part of the day, you’ll end up saving yourself some sweat without a doubt.
Go to museums
Many museums have air conditioning, or are at least very well ventilated. Going to a museum a couple hours before lunch is a great way to start your day!
Go to churches
If you are starting to get overheated, duck into any of the hundreds of churches that Rome has to offer. Typically they are closed for a few hours around lunchtime, so plan accordingly.
There wont be aircon, but the natural height and ventilation of the church will keep it cooler than most buildings.
Go to the catacombs
More than half of Rome is actually underground, so make sure you visit the many catacombs it has to offer. Naturally it will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than outside, and there are some of the coolest and oldest things to see.
Go to a park
If all else fails, simply find a park with some shade and take a little nap. Maybe not as refreshing as some of the other options, but you’ll see many people with the same idea.
One of many park options is Villa Borghese: the park contains a small artificial lake, known as laghetto, where you can rent little row boats for only three euros. They are open every day from 09.30 until dusk.
Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) summer festival Along the banks of the Tiber, many little shops, restaurants and bars open up just for the summer. As you can expect, these places are a bit touristy but a stroll along the river never hurt anybody.
Go shopping in the AC The beacon of hope for any tourist looking for relief in a hot country is the shopping mall! There are many smaller ones located throughout the city, and most high end stores will have aircon as well.
At the very least its a good excuse to buy some well-made Italian products. Galleria Alberto Sordiis one of the places close to Trevi Fountain, and it contains the next place to look for… Feltrinelli Feltrinelli is a book store chain that you will find all over the place, very well stocked and with an English section. If you see one and its hot out, make sure to duck inside to get blasted with cool air–they are always air conditioned!
Have you gotten your fill of sightseeing? Sometimes the only way to really beat the heat is to escape to the water. Luckily, you have plenty of options for a day trip near Rome. So where are the best beaches?
Go to the beach
In as little as 45 minutes, you could be relaxing on the sands of the Mediterranean sea! Each area has their own unique reason to visit in addition to the sea. Here are three of the most popular and closest to Rome:
– Santa Marinella
If you really want to be wowed with crystal clear water and pristine shoreline, make a day of it and travel a bit further to one of the Blue Flag beaches; about an hour and a half away:
For a fully detailed guide, check out our article: The Beaches of Rome: Ultimate Guide
Go to the pool
There are loads of pools in Rome when you know where to find them! Many upscale hotels offer the use of their rooftop or garden pools for an entrance fee. For the best value try to go during the weekday as weekends prices go up significantly.
Read our guide for the full list: 15 Best Pools in Rome
Go to the lakes You are making a big mistake if you sleep on the beautiful surrounding lakes of Rome. They are a little bit off the beaten path, but if you go, you will be rewarded with some of the best pictures of your entire trip.
Check back for our Lakes of Rome Guide for the whole list.
Escape to the countryside
Not that into the beach? Maybe a day surrounded by lush farmland and sweeping hills is more your style.
Day trip to the hills
You can also take a trip to the quaint villages around Rome. For these trips, hiring a scooter is the perfect way to experience the amazing views, letting you stop and admire wherever you want. Try Tivoli, Frascati or Castel Gandolfo for an easy trip.
Check back to see our Castelli Romani Guide for a full list.
There you have it, now you are armed with all the best ways to beat the heat in Rome!