This post covers things to do in January in Rome, updated for 2024.
We include free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime events and activities. We even have a post on the weather.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Night Activities
- Tourist Discount Passes
- Free Tours by Foot
The following section will cover our top 10 things to do in Rome during the month of January.
To get an idea of the most popular activities in Rome, check out our other popular posts:
Don’t forget that several of the activities below are either cheaper or free with the help of a Rome discount pass.
1. Attend a Concert
Rome is a passionate city and one with a long history of music. You can find just about any genre you're looking for including, of course, classical music and opera.
- Vivaldi/Bach at St. Paul's Within the Walls | Mondays
- Rooftop Bar Opera Show: The Great Beauty in Rome | Wednesdays
- Capuchin’s Crypt: Sacred Music in the Heart of Rome | Thursdays
- Open Air Opera Concert: Best Arias and Love Duets | Fridays
- Open Air Opera Concert at Terrazza Borromini | Fridays
- La Traviata at St. Paul's Within the Walls | Fridays
- The Three Tenors in Rome | Saturdays
- Die Zauberflöte | January 13th-21st
- Pink Floyd Legend Week | January 23rd-27th
2. Enjoy Free Museum Days
Most museums and historic landmarks in Rome offer at least 20 free days per year.
You'll find many free the first Sunday in January, which is January 7th in 2024.
If you’re interested in visiting the following locations, this is a great way to save money on tickets.
TIP: If you want to avoid the possibility of large crowds altogether, consider using a discount pass, such as the Rome Go City Explorer Pass, to visit each of these locations on a less popular day without paying full price.
3. Enjoy a Live Football (Soccer) Game
If you enjoy football, Rome has two teams you can support. This is a great activity for families with sports fans.
If you'd like a tour of the field both teams play on, visit Rome's Olympic Stadium.
For more great activities you can enjoy after dark, check our things to do at night section.
4. Take a Walking Tour
January is typically a slow month for tourism in Rome, which means you shouldn’t have much trouble signing up for a walking tour.
There are a variety of professionally guided tours and pay-what-you-wish walking tours in this city, but we recommend the following options for visitors who want to learn more about the history of Rome:
In addition to these options, there are also audio tours and self-guided tours you can take on your own.
If you’re not interested in a public tour, these are great and affordable alternatives.
5. Save Money With a Tourist Pass
If you’re planning on visiting a lot of attractions while in Rome, you may want to consider getting a tourist pass to save a few euros off general admission prices.
There are currently two different types of passes available in this ancient city, and depending on how you use them, you could save between 20% - 50% off tickets.
An all-inclusive pass includes dozens of activities that you can enjoy during a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 days).
The easiest way to save money with this service is to use it for as many attractions as possible.
If you’d rather take it easy and enjoy a few specific tours, museums and more, a prepackaged pass should do the trick.
This typically includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour, one or two tickets to popular attractions, and an additional 20% discount on other activities.
Here are just a few of the more notable attractions you can visit using a Rome tourist pass:
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
- Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
- Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- Leonardo da Vinci Museum
- Capitoline Museums
- The Baths of Caracalla
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Gladiator Museum
- Borghese Gallery
- And more!
In addition to the discounts, most passes include skip-the-line access at some of the most popular museums and historical sites in the city!
For more details, please read our full post covering Rome tourist passes.
6. Celebrate New Year’s Day
There are a lot of fun things to do in Rome on New Year’s Day, and most of the interesting events will be taking place near St. Peter’s Basilica.
The most significant activity is the Angelus address, or Sunday blessing, which you can experience for free by showing up at St. Peter’s Square on January 1st.
Make sure to arrive early if you want to get a good spot!
The pope will appear in the window of the Papal Apartments and deliver an address to the crowd. Visit the Papal Audience Schedule for the time.
In addition to the Angelus, there will also be a Papal Mass held in honor of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Tickets can be obtained for free beforehand by simply requesting them from the Vatican.
NOTE: The pope makes an appearance at least twice a week, so you don’t necessarily need to be in Rome on New Year’s Day to see him in person. Check our post covering how to see the pope for more information.
7. Celebrate La Befana
In addition to the Epiphany/Day of the Kings, January 6th is also known as La Befana, in honor of a legend about an old woman who decided not to join the three wise men on their journey.
La Befana is depicted as a witch who regrets choosing not to give gifts to baby Jesus and – much like Santa Claus – leaves gifts for children on the night of January 5th.
For Roman children, La Befana is arguably bigger than Christmas when it comes to getting gifts/presents.
While kids in many cultures look forward to the morning of December 25th, young Italians get much more excited about the morning of January 6th.
In the days leading up to this holiday, you’ll find witch dolls and toys at many Christmas markets such as the one at Piazza Navona and other locations in the city.
This is a great opportunity to enjoy a local tradition while visiting Rome! Needless to say, it’s also a wonderful activity for the whole family.
For more things to do with the kids, check our family-friendly section.
8. Visit St. Peter’s Tomb
Since there won’t be as many tourists in Rome this month, this could be a pretty good time to go and see St. Peter’s Tomb.
Although you must request access to see what is now considered to be the actual site of his tomb, St. Peter’s Basilica still has the chapel of St. Peter in the Vatican Grottoes.
A lot of people avoid coming here in the winter because they are afraid it will be too cold.
This site is free to visit, and there are a lot of historic artifacts to see while you’re here.
That being said, it’s worth noting that you are required to dress modestly to enter the Vatican Grottoes.
Don’t miss this golden opportunity to avoid the crowds and see one of the most historic sites in Rome.
TIP: While you’re in the area, you may also want to check out the Vatican Museums!
Note that if you are interested in having a guide, you can find that here: Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
9. Enjoy the Works of Michelangelo
See the legendary work of Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel.
Alternatively, you can head over to St. Peter’s Basilica to see his take on the Pieta, which is unquestionably one of his finest works.
After that, you might want to visit the Campidoglio outside of the Capitoline Museums.
This public square was designed by Michelangelo with stairs that lead in the direction of the Vatican.
For a guided tour of the Capitoline Museums, you can find that here.
Some of these attractions are entirely free to enjoy!
For more activities that won’t cost you anything, make sure to read our free things to do section.
10. Observe the Epiphany/Day of the Kings
Taking place on January 6th, the Epiphany (also known as Day of the Kings) is a Catholic/Christian feast day.
In honor of the holiday, a small parade of people in costume will walk along the street leading to St. Peter’s Square.
This activity is meant to represent the three wise men visiting baby Jesus.
In addition to the parade, there will also be a Papal Mass held at St. Peter’s Basilica.
You can receive tickets to attend this mass for free by simply requesting them from the Vatican.
Expect some businesses, schools, and government offices to be closed on the Monday following this holiday, as Italian citizens are typically given a day off in honor of the Day of the Kings.
In this section, we will cover a selection of fun and interesting activities you can enjoy for free in Rome during the month of January.
If you’re looking for even more activities that won’t cost you a thing, read our post about free things to do in Rome.
See the Pantheon in the Rain or Snow
There’s a reason that this is one of the most popular attractions in all of Rome, and January is actually a very good month to visit the historic site.
During this time of year, the weather is usually a bit colder and a little more wet than usual.
Thanks to the open dome at the Pantheon, any rain or snow will literally fall into the structure from above.
According to some visitors, it almost looks as if the raindrops or snowflakes are falling from heaven.
This is an interesting and somewhat rare sight that you may not experience if you were to visit during the summer. It’s also worth noting that there usually aren’t as many tourists here in January.
Celebrate the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul
This feast day honors the conversion of St. Paul, an individual who once persecuted Christians, but was converted after witnessing an apparition of the Lord.
The Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul is celebrated on January 25th each year with an appearance by the pope.
This time around, Pope Francis will be at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
As with most papal audiences, tickets for this event are free, but you must request them directly from the Vatican.
TIP: Even if you miss out on seeing the Pope at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, you can still see him every week at St. Peter’s Basilica on either Wednesday or Sunday. For more details, read our guide about how to see the Pope for free.
Enjoy One Last Look at Christmas Decorations
Since Christmas is typically celebrated until at least the Epiphany on January 6th, during the first week of January you will likely see some of the more notable holiday lighting displays throughout the city.
Here are a few locations you may want to visit in search of some great Christmas decorations:
Each of these historic sites will have either a Christmas market, a Christmas tree, or a Nativity Scene.
Some of the decorations might get packed up before January, but you should definitely keep an eye out for any witches or other displays related to La Befana.
NOTE: Some of these landmarks are included as stops on our self-guided tour of Rome. Many guided tours of Rome also provide a stop at some of these locations. If you want to learn more about this ancient city while enjoying the holiday decorations, consider taking a tour.
For more activities that won't cost anything, read our post about free things to do in Rome.
The following section will provide information about some of the more interesting things you can do after dark in Rome during the month of January.
If you’re looking for even more fun activities after dark, make sure to read our post about things to do at night in Rome.
Search the City for Caravaggio Paintings
Michelangelo Mersi da Caravaggio is one of the most famous Italian painters in the history of the country, and many of his works can be found in various churches throughout Rome.
If you’re looking for a fun and free activity, consider going on a scavenger hunt to find his paintings and appreciate his fantastic artwork.
We’ll get you started with a few locations to check below:
- Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
- Church of Santa Maria del Popolo
- Church Sant’Agostino
Each of these locations is within a 5-15 minute walk of a hop-on, hop-off bus stop. Keep this in mind if you plan on taking a Roman bus tour.
TIP: You’ll find even more Carvaggio paintings in museums and buildings such as the Borghese Gallery, Capitoline Museums, the Vatican Museums, and other locations that offer free admission on certain days of the month.
Consider combining this activity with Domenica al Museo for an even more interesting experience. Alternatively, it’s also worth noting that many of these sites are included with Roman tourist passes.
Have an Aperitivo
If you want to have an authentic Italian meal while you’re in Rome, there’s nothing better than Aperitivo.
This is a traditional experience that a buffet-style dinner with the purchase of a drink.
These meals can last for 3 hours or more and they usually start at about 19:00 (7:00 pm).
Although some restaurants will offer a form of Aperitivo, we recommend seeking the help of a local guide to learn more about this tradition and experience the real thing.
Thankfully, there are many different guided tours you can take which will provide more information about how Romans enjoy their dinner.
Visit the Trevi Fountain
This is one of the best nighttime activities in all of Rome, and it’s entirely free to enjoy.
The Trevi Fountain is well-lit after dark, and several visitors suggest that it looks even more beautiful at night.
You may want to bring a few euros so that you can partake in some of the traditions of the Trevi Fountain.
One custom is to use your right hand to toss a coin into the fountain over your left shoulder.
Another popular practice is to throw three coins in at once. The first coin is for your return to Rome, the second is for a new romance, and the third ensures a marriage.
For more information about the legends and traditions tied to this historic site, make sure to read our post about the Trevi Fountain.
Make sure to read our full post about things to do at night in Rome.
The following section will give you a few excellent ideas for fun activities you can enjoy with your family in Rome throughout January.
If you're looking for more kid-friendly activities in Rome, read our post about things to do with the whole family.
Take Your Kids to the Theatre
January is actually a great month to take your kids to see a theatrical performance in Rome.
This is the time of year when some theatres begin to open their doors to children for free, so you could actually save some money on this activity.
Teatro Trastevere often has a few children's shows scheduled per month.
Furio Camillo Theatre will have shows for children every Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
You can also take your kids to the San Carlino theatre in Villa Borghese. They specialize in entertainment for children, providing puppet shows and other theatrical performances throughout the year.
Make Authentic Italian Pizza With Your Family
If you or anyone in your family has ever wanted to try real Italian pizza, you’ll be happy to hear there is a course you can take to learn how to make this popular dish like a professional!
Take a class with an Italian chef who will teach you how to make a pizza from scratch.
During the process, you’ll get to make your own pizza and add whatever toppings you’d like. Participants also receive a free drink and dessert.
At the end of the class, you’ll receive the gift of a rolling pin for participating.
TIP: This restaurant is very close to Trevi Fountain!
Celebrate Sant’Antonio Abate
On January 17th, the feast day of Sant’Antonio Abate will be celebrated throughout Italy and in Rome.
There’s plenty to see and do, and many of these activities are perfect for families with young children. During this event, you can expect a variety of processions, music, and other activities.
One of the most common sights is a bonfire, as legend has it he went to hell to steal the devil’s fire.
Among other things, Sant’Antonio Abate is known as the patron saint of domestic animals. In honor of this, a cardinal will hold a special event outside St. Peter’s Square where he will say a prayer and bless the animals.
NOTE: If you’re looking for another way to celebrate, consider spending some time at the Roman Cat Sanctuary. Also known as Largo di Torre Argentina, it's just down the street from the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, so it’s easy to include.
If you're looking for more kid-friendly activities in Rome, read our post about things to do with the whole family.