Ciao! Rome is a bustling metropolis in the heart of Italy. It’s an art history mecca, and one of the most popular European tourist destinations.
As Italy’s legendary food and culture capital, and historical landmark, packing for Rome requires bringing items that are simultaneously stylish and comfortable. This list has you covered!
What to bring to Rome:
1) Casual but Cute Outfits – The dress code in Rome is stylish, but practical. The most efficient way to pack for a trip to Rome is by only bringing clothing that fit within a particular color scheme. It’s a good idea to pack neutral clothing (gray, black, cream, pale blues) that can mix and match, so that you don’t overpack. Here is a loose, basic tee. It’s neutral, and you can wear it with a cute pair of jeans and a bright necklace.
2) Dark Jeans – Jeans are a good staple item to have in your suitcase. In Italy, you can wear them for night out or for a day of wandering around museums. They can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Go for black or dark wash jeans so that they won’t show stains!
3) Light Dress – Rome in the Spring and Summer can be seriously hot. There’s no better way to beat the heat (and look cute doing it) than by wearing a casual sundress during the day. This one is perfect for wandering around the ancient ruins, and bopping around to all the best aperitivo spots for happy hour.
4) Cardigan or Light Jacket – Rome may get warm in the summer months, but its museums, transport systems, and restaurants are very well-air conditioned, meaning you absolutely must bring a cardigan with you on day trips. Throw it in your daypack or tie it around your waist when you’re not wearing it.
5) Cross-body Bag – Keep your hands free and your stuff safe by using a cross-body-style purse. This type of bag is extra helpful to use during everything from cafe hopping to a night out. This one is simple and versatile.
6) Comfortable Walking Shoes – Rome is full of cobblestone streets and winding alleyways. Go easy on your feet (and fit in with the locals) by bringing some comfortable but cute sneakers to wear while you roam through Rome!
8) Light Scarf – A light scarf is a must-have multipurpose travel item. It can your blanket on the plane ride, an accessory during the day, or a shawl when you go out at night. Also useful for when you need to cover up a bit during cathedral hunting!
9) Sunhat – Whether you’re trying to step up your European fashion game, or you just want some extra sun protection, bringing a sunhat is never a bad idea. This one is perfect for your trip to Rome, and would definitely come in handy during hot summer days.
10) Universal Adaptor – The outlets in Italy may be different from the ones where you are from. Bring a universal adaptor that you can take to literally any country, so that if you want to hop over to Switzerland or Spain, you’re all set.
11) Compact Picnic Blanket – This little compact picnic blanket is a total game changer. There are many outdoor spaces in Rome that you can visit to soak in the amazing views and have a picnic. Pop this compact picnic blanket in your purse or daypack, and you’ll be ready to spend a spontaneous afternoon people watching on a hill overlooking the colosseum.
12) City Guidebook – My favorite thing to do in any Italian city is to find a cafe, order a cappuccino, and browse through my new city’s guidebook. It will help you get acquainted with your surroundings, get your travel plans sorted, and prepare you for what lies ahead. Lonely Planet is my ultimate favorite!
13) First Aid Kit – Anything can happen while you’re traveling, and a first aid kit filled with bandaids, Advil and neosporin will definitely come in handy at some point. Don’t waste your precious vacation time trying to navigate an Italian pharmacy!
14) Toiletries in a Waterproof Bag – Rome is a big city, so it will probably not be a problem to locate your favorite shampoo. Just bring the basics, but make sure you put all liquids in a waterproof plastic bag so that you can breeze through TSA!
15) Packing Cubes – If there is one thing I can’t travel without, its a set of packing cubes. I use them in suitcases, backpacks, and even duffel bags. Stay organized, and keep your clean laundry separate from your dirty laundry. Grab a set like these ones, and get ready for your Rome trip.
16) DSLR Camera – You simply cannot go to Rome without a good camera. Between the epic Italian food scene, amazing architecture, and historical sites, you’ll want to capture everything to show your friends back home. This one is easy to get the hang of, even if you’re not a bona fide photographer.
Rome is a casual but definitely fashion-forward city, so pack stylish but comfortable clothing. Comfortable sneakers to walk around in are a must. If you’re going in the summer, expect it to be very hot! Wear sundresses and comfortable sandals. It can get chilly and wet in the winter, so bring appropriate rain gear and warmer clothing if you’re headed to Rome after October.
What NOT to bring to Rome:
1) Short shorts or short skirts – Many Italian cathedrals require that you cover your knees and shoulders. Besides that, Italians generally tend to dress more conservatively. You will definitely stand out if you wear clothing that is too revealing – I learned that the hard way when I went jogging in short athletic shorts! 2) Stilettos – High heels and cobblestone streets do not mix!
3) A full suitcase – Remember to leave space so that you can bring home lots of souvenirs from Rome’s quirky outdoor markets! 4) Too many clothes/ shoes – My motto is “pack lighter, go further”. Try to bring multi-purpose, neutral-colored items only. 5) Books – A Kindle will save you some serious weight. Not to mention, Lonely Planet guidebooks are free on Kindle Unlimited!
FAQs about packing for Rome:
1) Is Rome expensive?
Unfortunately, everything in Rome is pretty expensive. For example, hotel rooms cost more in Rome than in smaller Italian cities. A small cappuccino can cost upwards of 4 Euro (US$ 5.50) at a street cafe!
2) How can I do Rome on a budget?
Definitely! Rome is a must-see bucket list destination, and a tight budget shouldn’t stop you from going. Stay in hostels, eat street food instead of at restaurants, and go easy on the alcohol. Get to know the city through free (donation-based) walking tours, and take public transportation instead of cabs!
3) When is the best time to visit Rome?
April to June, and late September to October are the best months for traveling in Italy because the temperatures are usually mild, and the crowds aren’t too bad. Peak tourist season starts in mid-June, and continues through mid-September.
4) Where should I stay in Rome?
If you want to be in the real heart of the city, stay near or in one of these areas:
The Pantheon (the epicenter of Rome’s historic area, filled with hotels and restaurants)
The Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)
5) Do people tip in Rome? What is Rome’s tipping culture?
Only tip as you see fit. As in most of Europe, tips are truly extra – servers don’t rely on them to fill out a full living wage as they do in the US. Tip a little bit extra if you feel any service was above and beyond, even if it means just leaving your change. Certainly try to tip hotel staff if they do a lot to help – it may ensure that you get prompt and positive service throughout your stay.