The Best Time to Visit Italy
Let’s be honest, there never really is a bad time to visit Italy as each season offers its unique perks. With that being said, planning a dream ski trip to the Italian Alps requires very different weather conditions than a trip to the Amalfi Coast- thus it is important to at least consider the average temperatures for each month before you go. However, it is also possible to plan your trip to Italy strategically so that you can save money, avoid crowds, or even attend special events that only occur during certain months or weeks of the year!
This guide to the best times to visit Italy will tell you what you can expect to find in the country throughout the four seasons and holidays. Furthermore, we will share with you our travel tips and tricks to save money, avoid crowds, and bear witness to the age old events and festivities that are celebrated in Italy throughout the year. So just when is the best time to visit Italy? Read on to find out and start planning your trip!
Best Times Overall For the Weather to Crowds Balance
While there is no universally “correct” answer to this question, I personally think the best time to visit Italy is in early to mid fall. During this time of year, the summer crowds of the high season slowly depart and the streets begin to clear allowing new travelers to see the sights with less chaos surrounding them. Besides offering shorter wait times and less people blocking your view with their selfie sticks, the temperatures during September and October are extremely pleasant making this the perfect time to travel on family vacations. Towards the beginning of fall, shorts, t-shirts and dresses are the usual fashion as sunshine is commonly in the forecast. As November approaches, you may need a sweater, jacket, and an umbrella on occasion, but the cooler temperatures are worth it to watch the leaves change color on the trees!
Likewise, you can expect to find similarly delightful circumstances during mid to late spring during the months of April and May. Though weather is unpredictable and there may be a few rainy days at the start, the latter end of the spring season brings warm weather, sunny skies and beautiful flower blooms. Both fall and spring combine to make what is known as the shoulder season in Italy. While there are still more tourists during this time than in the low winter months, there are certainly fewer crowds than there are in the high summer season. Thus, the ratio of crowds to weather really makes fall and spring the prime seasons to travel to Italy.
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When to Expect the Least Amount of Crowds
If you really want to feel like you have the place all to yourself, consider visiting Italy during its low season in November, January, February, or March. During these colder months, most of Italy sees a steep decline in tourism. While the lively beach towns that are packed during summer months are practically deserted, larger cities such as Rome, Florence, and Milan see fewer tourists which translates to less crowds at the most popular attractions. For example, you may find a three-hour-long line at the Vatican Museums during the peak of summer, but during January or February you’ll most likely be able to get in much sooner.
Of course, this “low season” trend is the opposite when it comes to ski villages in the Dolomites for example, that attract snow sport lovers from around the world. However, in most cases tourists are far fewer and far between during the winter months of January and February in Italy. So what about December you ask? Just because December lies within the winter season doesn’t mean it is less crowded. In fact, there is a spike in tourism during this season as many people decide to spend their holidays abroad. Though December gets quite busy around the holidays in most of the bigger cities in Italy, it should not be a turn-off. Keep reading because we will touch more on trip ideas regarding Italy during the holidays later in this post!
The Cheapest & Most Expensive Times to Visit Italy
So, just when is the cheapest time to visit Italy you ask? The answer actually correlates to what we mentioned above, the low season. Typically, you can find much cheaper deals on airline tickets during the low months of November, January, February, and March with the exception of times surrounding holidays. Similarly, you can also find much cheaper deals on accommodation during the off-season in Italy simply because hotels and B&B’s want to fill up their rooms at whatever costs possible. Thus, you can easily save a few hundred bucks or more by opting to plan your vacation during these less popular months of the year. On the contrary, the most expensive times of the year to visit Italy are during the summer months of the high season and around the holidays in December.
Visiting Italy During the Winter
Now that we have gone over the basics, let’s dig into what each season is like in Italy. First up, winter. If you are traveling in Italy during the month of December, you’ll see the country transform into a magical winter wonderland complete with Christmas markets, dazzling decorations, and even snow on occasion! The cold weather is surely made up for by the amount of holiday spirit. Just be sure to plan in advance because plane tickets and accommodation prices are known to soar.
As the Christmas crowds begin to depart, January in Italy becomes a calm and relatively quiet place. Following the madness of holiday shopping, major sales take place throughout Italy in January / February that offer amazing discounts on clothing, shoes, and even home goods! In terms of weather, this month is known to get very cold and rainy, especially in northern Italy. While this may not be the ideal time for a trip to the beach, it sure is an amazing month to ski, snowboard, or sled in the gorgeous mountain ranges of Italy. If you rather plan to visit one of Italy’s larger cities, you’ll be fine as long as you bundle up and prepare for whatever weather comes your way!
February is another cold month in Italy but that is no reason to stay away! As said before, you can generally find very cheap prices for flights and accommodations during this month since it isn’t a very popular travel time for tourists. This also translates to shorter wait times at restaurants and museums- if there is even a line to begin with at all! So, if you are willing to brace up for the cold, this time of year may be a great time to see what Italy has to offer. Romantic Valentine’s Day vacation anyone?
What to Expect in Italy During the Spring
March in Italy signifies the slow but hopeful start to spring. During this period, rain and snowfall slowly begin to decrease and the temperatures begin to rise. While you still need to pack winter clothes, you may be able to leave your scarf and gloves at home towards the end of the month. However, along with the warm weather comes the new travelers waiting to discover the quaint villages, historical monuments, and bustling cities that this fantastic country has to offer.
Unzip those heavy winter jackets because April in Italy brings the much anticipated warmer weather. With minimal crowds and nice temperatures, this month is a great time to visit Italy’s top tourist attractions and even enjoy an aperitif outside on the picturesque cobblestone streets. Don’t put away your umbrellas just yet however, because there is likely to be a couple showers here and there. Most cities in Italy celebrate Easter in a big way, so consider taking part in one of the many cultural celebrations if you choose to visit Italy during April!
Alas, the country starts to heat up in May, making it the perfect time for beach lovers to start hitting the sand! This is also your last chance to visit top tourist destinations such as Positano, Capri, and Cinque Terre before the boatloads of people start to arrive in June. During May, there are still a pretty decent number of vacationers in Italy though so don’t expect to have the place completely to yourself. With that being said, the ratio of pleasant weather to tourists during this period makes it a terrific time to visit the country!
The Summer High Season in Italy & What Comes With It
June signifies the official start of summer in Italy. This means long days, short nights, high temperatures, and plenty of sunshine to get you that summer glow. Sounds amazing, right? It sure is, but these are the exact reasons why so many people choose to visit Italy during this month making it the tipping point of “high season.” Sadly, this comes at a cost as prices tend to rise during this time period and wait times get longer.
Italy gets HOT in July to say the very least. I’m talking pure misery under the afternoon sun. Of course this depends on where you choose to visit as mountain areas tend to be cooler, but in travel destinations like Rome, Sicily, or Florence, expect to sweat. If you do decide to bear the heat, make sure to pack lots of sunscreen and stop to refill your water bottles often in order to stay refreshed throughout the day. You may also want to schedule early morning visits to monuments to avoid heat exhaustion or consider taking an Early Access Tour of the Vatican Museums or even a Night Time Tour of the Colosseum in Rome. July also marks the start of the major summer sales in Italy which lasts through August, so it could be the perfect time to update your wardrobe with items from one of the world’s Italian fashion capitals!
Surprisingly, the streets of Italy empty out in August, but not because there are way fewer tourists. Ferragosto is an Italian holiday that takes place annually on August 15. Originating during the reign of the Emperor Augustus in ancient Rome, Ferragosto now celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Around this time, Italians get off work and go on vacation with their families for a much needed break. So, it is not uncommon for shop owners to close down their business for two to three weeks at a time during this period of August. To sum it up, August is very hot, still pretty expensive, and you may also experience closures during your trip.
Why Traveling to Italy During the Fall is a Good Idea
Fall in Italy is a beautiful sight to see. Towards the beginning of September, it is still very hot but the majority of tourists have already begun to make their way back home. Thus, this is the perfect opportunity for you to take a trip to the beach or walk around the city to enjoy the weather without running into too much chaos. The weather still feels like summer however, so don’t unpack your swimsuits just yet!
Besides offering pretty amazing weather with moderate temperatures, October in Italy is when you really start to see the prices drop. Plane tickets and hotels become more affordable while you’ll also notice much shorter lines at the country’s top museums and attractions. At the start of October, you can still get away with wearing a dress, shorts, or sandals here and there, but at the end you’ll definitely need a jacket and pants. Regardless of the dress code, this is a great time to travel anywhere in the country (even the beach) to enjoy the views before the weather gets too cold.
Finally we have made it to the last month on our list- November. Now you’ll really see the streets clear in terms of tourists. For this reason, hotel costs are reduced and you can usually find amazing deals on flights. If you are one of the few travelers who choose to visit Italy during November, you will also be lucky enough to see amazing views of the gorgeous Italian landscapes changing colors!
Spending the Holidays in Italy
Italy goes big when it comes to holidays. We are talking tons of decorations, celebrations, festivals, and more all throughout the country! Being a dominantly Catholic country, Christmas and Easter are the two of the biggest holidays in Italy. Around Christmas time, you can expect to find spectacular light displays lining the streets, enormous Christmas trees, traditional holiday foods, and detailed nativity scenes decorating nearly every church and family home. There are also plenty of parties and events held in Italy to ring in the New Year shortly after.
Easter and holy week in Italy are celebrated with bountiful religious services, parades, and processions, the largest being held by the pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and Rome. Around this time, Italians celebrate with large family gatherings complete with sit down meals with courses that never seem to end. Other national holidays that may cause closures due to festivities include All Saints Day on November 1, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, St. Stephen’s Day on December 26, Epiphany on January 6, Liberation Day on April 25, Labour Day on May 1, and Republic Day on June 2.
Special Events & Festivals in Italy / When They Take Place
If attending a special event or festival during your trip is important to you, you may want to consider planning your vacation around one of Italy’s annual traditions. One of the most famous festivities that takes place in Italy is the Palio di Siena. This annual series of bareback horse races that takes place in August and September brings life to the city’s main square, Piazza del Campo. Watching the various districts of Siena compete against each other is thrilling in itself, but the lively open air feasting, dancing, and medieval reenactments make this an event you’ll want to witness at least once in your life. Alternatively, you can check out La Giostra in Sulmona, a similar medieval style horseback jousting event that takes place in Abruzzo each July.
Another huge celebration loved by Italy travel enthusiasts everywhere is Carnival, also known as Carnevale in Italian. Founded in the 13th century, this festival that usually falls into the month of February calls for city goers to masquerade themselves with decorative masks and costumes. While Italian towns such as Viareggio, Ivrea, and Acireale have large celebrations for Carnival, the floating city Venice is well known for having the biggest celebration of them all complete with elaborate balls and even a mesmerizing parade of gondolas. The same city also hosts the annual Venice International Film Festival in September which brings celebrities, writers, and directors alike to this magical city built on water.
Food and drink festivals are also a common and tasty trend throughout Italy. One of the biggest celebrations include Perugia’s huge 10-day Eurochocolate festival in October which features hundreds of chocolate vendors, cooking demonstrations, and even ginormous chocolate sculptures. Another festival in October worth mentioning is the Alba White Truffle festival that showcases the region’s prized truffles and local cuisine. Sounds delicious, am I right? The last drink-related celebration I will mention is the VinItaly wine festival held every April in Verona, the historic city that is famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This enormous gathering is considered to be one of the largest wine festivals in the world complete with 4,000+ exhibitors each with their own varieties of wine from around the world.
There are plenty more festivals in Italy where that came from too! Italy has a boatload of other unique celebrations, feast day parades, and even historical reenactments to observe throughout the year. If you do choose to attend one of these traditional Italian festivals, be sure to cherish every second as the memories you make will last a lifetime!
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