A trip to Rome is undoubtably one of the most enriching city breaks you can take in Europe. Thousands of years of fascinating history, a vibrant cafe and bar scene, the tastiest Italian food and local wines – it’s really one of my favourites.
But having visited in both winter and summer, I have to say I found visiting in summer quite hard work. In winter, there were no crowds, it was easy to walk from place to place, and hangovers didn’t kick my arse the next day. I’m not sure if it’s the heat of the summer or the fact that ten years had passed between visits, but in any case, the Roman hangovers were awful!
So I thought it might help others to put together a few suggestions for surviving the heat in Rome. Stay cool!
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1. Book a room with AC
No matter what, if you do nothing else on this list. Please, please make sure that if you’re visiting between June and September that your hotel has decent air conditioning. The daytime temperatures can soar past 40 degrees, so having a cool sanctuary to retire to is a must (and isn’t it just the worst when you get out of the shower after a day of exploring and find that you STILL can’t stop sweating)?
Most mid-range hotels in Rome offer AC, but do take the time to check reviews and see if any previous guests have had issues, or if in doubt, call the hotel ahead to check. Trust me. You don’t want to be melting in a Roman sweat box all weekend!
2. Keep hydrated
Aside from making sure you always carry a bottle of water around with you (a couple of litres shouldn’t cost you more than 30 cents in a supermarket, so avoid buying your water from tourist hotspots), take time to stop and have a cold drink every few hours.
Also I know I’m not one to preach on this, but try to go easy on the (admittedly delicious) wine and Prosecco during the day.
3. Plan your travel options
Trains, trams and buses can be a great way to get around the city, as are the Hop On Hop Off (‘HoHo’) bus passes, which take you to most of the tourist spots in a loop, and you can choose to hop on and off wherever you like within a 24 or 48 hour time period.
If you’re going to use a ‘HoHo’ bus, then choose wisely. I bought a ticket to ‘City Sightseeing’ which is the biggest company in the city, thinking that if it’s the largest, it must have the most capacity. This decision left me waiting for 2, sometimes 3 buses to pass before finding a seat available.
Try one of the other bus companies like Big Bus Tours or Grayline Panoramic Tours if travelling at the height of the season, or if you have the time, try to spot a few buses passing to see how full they seem before buying your ticket.
4. The early bird catches the juicy worm
As always, getting up early means you’ll be first in line for the big attractions, but you’ll also avoid the worst heat of the day. Aim to be up and out by 7.30am ideally, but do check the opening times of your chosen attraction before you set off. There’s nothing worse than being forced to wait in the stinking heat for the gates to open!
5. Embrace your inner cat
The hottest part of the day is between 12 and 4, so aim to tick off the sights in the morning and then have a long, lazy lunch before heading back to your hotel for a cat nap. There’s no shame in the siesta, and it’ll refresh you for the evening ahead – Romans don’t start eating until at least 8.30pm and bars are open late, so you know what they say… When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
6. Become a night owl
Speaking of getting out at night, it doesn’t have to be all restaurants and bars. Rome by night is enchanting. The Colosseum all lit up is a sight to behold, and the Trevi Fountain is arguably more stunning than in the day (I said arguably – the daytime is also incredible).
There are also a number of attractions which have special openings in the evenings or at night. The Vatican opens until 11pm on selected Fridays throughout the summer, and of course there’s always the famous opera!
7. Pack comfy shoes
Plasticky Primark pumps are not your best friend in the hot Roman sun – believe me! Make sure you pack some comfy and cool shoes, like trainers (or if you’re American ‘sneakers’ – have always loved that word, as if Americans are all sneaking around – haha).
Pack a couple of pairs of flip flops, all with different straps so if you get blisters from all the walking you can switch it up.
8. In fact, dress appropriately in general
Choose cool fabrics and go for layers which you can peel off when you get warm and add when the sun goes down. Don’t forget to pack a long sleeved top or shawl and either a long skirt or light trousers (as long as they cover your knees you’ll be fine) if you’re planning a trip to the Sistine Chapel or any other religious building. You must cover up when inside to show respect.
9. Eat ALL of the Gelato
Rome has some of the best gelato (ice cream) on the planet and you can find it all over the city, so it would actually be a crime to not eat it ALL of the time. Chocolate, pistachio, lemon sorbet, white chocolate and raspberry: It’s cold and it’s sweet and it’s the perfect pick-me-up for long hot summer days. And obviously you can tell everyone it’s medicinal… After all it’s the only way to keep cool, right?
10. Head to the coast
If all else fails, Rome is within easy distance of a number of (fairly average) beaches so if you have a free day and really want to escape the heat then make a beeline for the coast. Ostia is the easiest beach to reach from the city, or Fregene to the north.
Whatever the weather, a summer trip to Rome is going to be amazing – just take it slow, keep fresh and enjoy!
This post forms part of a collaboration with Expedia. All views, opinions and awesome recommendations remain my own.