Edited by: Juan Ruiz
& Keri Stooksbury
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Known for exquisite food, Renaissance art, ancient cultures, and delicious wines, Italy holds a spot at the top of many travel wish lists. From Milan, Lake Como, and Venice in the north to Florence, Rome, Naples, and Sicily further south, Italy is a diverse country with varying climates and landscapes.
If you’re planning a vacation in Italy, you’re probably wondering when you should go. In this post, we’ll go over the best time to visit Italy by season as well as by region. Let’s get to it!
Italy is instantly recognizable on a map because it’s a peninsula that juts into the Mediterranean Sea in the shape of a boot. Because it’s so spread out, it’s a country with 4 distinct seasons that can vary dramatically between regions. The mountainous north experiences different weather than the sunny, beach-laden south. However, there are some generalizations you can make when choosing the best time to visit Italy.
Let’s take a look at the optimal season for your dream Italian vacation.
Spring can be a fantastic time to visit Italy. Since it’s a shoulder season, you’ll miss peak crowds but will still enjoy mild weather. When traveling to Italy in the spring (especially in March and April), be sure to dress in layers and pack a light jacket for chilly mornings and evenings. Once May hits, summer weather with highs near 76 in some regions, along with more crowds, starts to appear.
The Easter celebration is a big deal in Italy, so if you’re traveling during that time you may see businesses running on limited hours or some closed entirely.
Hot Tip: Whatever season you choose to travel, you can save money by booking your flights to Italy with points and miles.
Summer is the peak travel time in Italy. The crowds and prices both soar to their heights during this season, especially in popular tourist destinations like Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, Rome, and Venice.
Summer in Italy is hot with temperatures often exceeding 90 degrees during the day. Extreme heat is especially prevalent in the southern part of the country during July and August. Northern areas, including Lake Como and the Dolomites, are a bit cooler.
Big cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence can be unbearably hot and humid during the summer, so it’s best to avoid them during this time.
Popular resorts and beach destinations in places like Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast can be mobbed with tourists during the summer. This is especially true during August as this is when many Italians, who are also trying to avoid big cities, take a vacation.
Fall marks the end of peak season and the beginning of shoulder season in Italy and can be a great time for a visit. While September can still be hot and crowded, October and November bring cooler fall temperatures and thinner crowds to much of the country. Average temperatures range from about 47 degrees up to 76 degrees across the country.
Fall is harvest time in Italy and there are lots of food-centric festivals and activities celebrating this time of year in cities and villages all over the country. The annual grape harvest happens in September or October, depending on the vineyard conditions. While it can be a beautiful time to visit, winemakers tend to be busy around harvest, so your chances of snagging a tour could be limited.
Some attractions begin winter hours around mid-October, so be sure to double-check your trip details before you leave.
Winter is the low season in Italy offering lower prices and fewer crowds than the rest of the year. The exception to that rule is around holiday times, where crowds and prices can once again spike.
If you’re into winter sports, you may want to plan a winter trip to the Dolomites or Italian Alps. This region in northern Italy borders Switzerland and offers great skiing and snowboarding along with beautiful snow-covered scenery. Weather in this region can be very cold and wet with temperatures ranging from about 19 degrees to 33 degrees, so be sure to pack warm clothes and a winter coat.
Coastal regions in the southern part of the country, including Sicily and Naples, experience more mild winters with temperatures ranging from 44 degrees to 54 degrees.
Winter is not without festivals, and one of the biggest, Carnival, is held every February in Venice. This celebration happens each year before Lent and includes colorful costumes and masks, parades, and lively parties.
The Amalfi Coast is what Italian dreams are made of. This 34-mile long stretch of rugged coastline dotted with picturesque beaches is a wildly popular part of Italy to visit in the summer. However, if you want to avoid extreme heat and the bulk of the summer tourists, plan to visit the Amalfi Coast in late spring or early fall. May and September are especially ideal since the weather is still pleasant and the crowds aren’t in full swing.
While you might be inclined to visit during the winter to save some money, keep in mind that many shops and restaurants close for the season.
Hot Tip: Whenever you choose to visit the Amalfi Coast, don’t miss Positano, one of the area’s most well-known towns. It’s home to some of the best beaches and most iconic views in the region.
The fall is the rainiest time in Italy, and that’s especially important to remember if you’re planning to visit Venice. This enchanting city is built on more than 100 small islands and features canals instead of roads. It’s one reason Venice is prone to flooding. The especially high tides that the city is famous for are called Aqua Alta.
This phenomenon only occurs a couple of times a year, usually in the fall. When it happens, the lowest lying areas of the city like Piazza San Marco can be covered in a few inches of water. Visitors can be seen wading through the water in tall waterproof boots or traversing the flooded squares on raised walkways.
Hot Tip: For a unique place to stay in Venice, check out these boutique hotels.
Not surprisingly, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are probably your best bet for visiting Rome. May and September offer a nice mix of warm weather and fewer crowds. Summer is a popular time to visit, but with large crowds and temperatures that can reach 87 degrees in July and August, it can be a less-than-pleasant experience.
There are plenty of things to do in Rome all year long, so if you’re on a budget and looking to save some money, plan your trip between October and April when flights and hotel prices tend to be on the lower side.
October and November are Rome’s wettest months with an average monthly rainfall of ~4.5 inches.
Springtime, from late March to early June, is the best time to visit Naples. Temperatures are mild, with highs averaging between 65 and 74 degrees, and rainfall is relatively minimal, averaging 1.5 inches to 3.5 inches each month. While fall also sees pleasant temperatures, the average rainfall increases significantly, peaking at 6 inches in November.
Summer in Naples is hot, crowded, and expensive. January and February are the coldest months in Naples, but don’t expect to see much, if any snow, as the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees.
Hot Tip: Exploring Pompei is a popular activity when visiting Naples. Located just about 15 miles from the city center, this area is famous for the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, which was buried by the volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Capri is an island off the coast of Italy, between Naples and the Amalfi Coast. The main travel season in Capri lasts from April through October. This is when the bulk of tourists descend upon the island. July and August are the busiest months and they are also the warmest, with an average high temperature of around 82 degrees.
Beginning around the end of October, restaurants and businesses start to shut down for the winter, and ferry service becomes less frequent. While temperatures remain rather mild with highs around 54 degrees, Capri is not a popular destination in the winter. Beginning in March, the island starts to open up again, with blooming flowers and businesses gearing up for a busy season ahead.
Picture it, Sicily. Located just off the “toe of the boot” of Italy and just under 90 miles from the African shoreline, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Highlights of this Italian island include the capital city of Palermo and Mount Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano (as well as one of the most active volcanoes in the world).
The peak season in Sicily is June to August. July and August are the hottest, driest months, with highs near 80 degrees and minimal rainfall. September has beautiful weather with highs averaging 75 degrees but it’s also the busiest and most expensive month. Visiting during the shoulder months of April, May, or October offers a good balance between pleasant weather and reasonable crowds. If you’re planning your visit to Sicily in the spring, make note of the timing of Easter since crowds and prices can soar in the week or 2 surrounding the holiday.
Visiting Tuscany is like stepping into a postcard. This area of central Italy spans about 8,900 square miles and includes cities like Pisa, Siena, and Florence, as well as famous wine regions like Chianti. Spring and fall are both excellent times to visit the area. The weather will be pleasant and the crowds will be moderate.
If you’d like your trip to coincide with the wine harvest, plan to visit in the fall as this annual event usually begins in September. Summer in Tuscany is hot, dry, and crowded so it’s best to avoid this time if possible. Winter in Tuscany can be cold and wet. The mountainous parts of Tuscany can see plenty of snow in the winter, which is great if you’re planning a ski vacation.
Hot Tip: If you need some inspiration on where to stay during your time in Tuscany, check out these lovely boutique hotels.
Milan and the Italian Lakes Region, including Lake Como, are geographically close, so many visitors often include both areas in 1 trip. If you dream of spending lazy summer days basking in the sun onboard a yacht floating on Lake Como, then, by all means, plan your visit for the summer (and please send me an invitation)! But expect crowds, because summer is peak travel season for this region. Summer temperatures reach 80 to 85 degrees with very high humidity.
If you’d like to experience smaller crowds along with slightly cooler temperatures, plan to visit Milan and Lake Como in the spring or fall — April, May, September, or October.
If you plan to visit Milan in September or February, be sure to make your hotel reservations early as Fashion Week occurs during these months.
Hot Tip: For a unique place to stay in Milan, check out these boutique hotels.
While there’s never a wrong time to visit Italy, some seasons are better than others. Generally, spring and fall offer the best mix of pleasant weather and manageable crowds. Summer is the high season in Italy, with many tourists flocking to the country’s beaches. If you visit Italy in the summer, expect high temperatures, large crowds, and inflated prices. Winter is a great time to visit if you’d like to avoid crowds or are on a budget. However, many tourist spots, especially in the south, close down for much of the season, so be sure to do your research before you book a winter trip to Italy.
Even though temperatures vary throughout the country, the hottest months in Italy are July and August. In the capital city of Rome, high temperatures can reach 89 degrees during these months.
Plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures make the summer the most popular time to visit the beaches in Italy. Unfortunately, the beaches can be very crowded during this time. To enjoy slightly fewer tourists and milder weather, shoot for the shoulder months of May and September. However, if you want the warmest weather and water, head to the Italian beaches in July or August.
Generally speaking, the winter months are the cheapest months to travel to Italy. February tends to be the least expensive time to visit, with January and November not far behind.
Many Italians take their vacation in August and therefore you’ll see many small and family-owned businesses totally closed during that month. These same Italians, just like tourists, flock to Italy’s beach and resort towns, causing them to be very crowded in August.
While you might think the best time to visit Italian wine country is during the harvest in September, you’d be wrong. While the vineyards are beautiful during this time and the weather is lovely, winemakers are very busy, so tours and experiences may not be available. If you plan your visit during January or February, you’ll have a better chance to meet winemakers that have time for a chat and a tour.
Another great time to visit an Italian winery is in May during Canine Aperte. During this wine festival, many small and boutique wineries open their doors to visitors, offering tours and, of course, plenty of wine tasting.
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