When is the best time to visit Italy?
The best time to visit Italy is during the spring (April-May) or early fall (September-October) when the weather is pleasant, the prices are low and the crowds are thin. Italy is fortunate to have a temperate climate most of the year, with the summer months (June, July, and August) being the hottest. Although popular tourist spots get very busy during European summer, don't let that deter your travel plans! From the major cities to the Dolomites to the Amalfi Coast, there's something to satisfy an itinerary for every month of the year.
When to visit to avoid crowds
Like most of Europe, Italy is a tourist mecca in the summertime (June-August), so if crowds aren't your thing, it's probably best to avoid the major cities during this time. While Italy does get high numbers of tourists year-round, October through April tend to be the quietest times (despite a small spike during the holidays), and many of the major attractions will have minimal crowds and be yours for exploring. Keep in mind some hotels and sights might close during the colder months, especially in smaller villages or along the coast, so make sure to plan ahead.
When to visit to cruise the Mediterranean
You may be dreaming of cruising the Med during the summer when temps are high and skies are clear, but you may have to compromise by paying the price for peak periods. Consider a sailing trip just before or after the summer months (April-May or September-October), where daytime temps are less intense, mainland prices are more manageable, and you won't have to battle huge crowds to get the best photos on Capri.
When to visit Italy's wineries
If you're a wine lover, choosing to visit during the grape harvest season (September-October) is ideal. Italian wine producers typically harvest in the fall, so these months are the perfect time to explore the different wine regions, see vineyards in full fruit and watch the rolling hills transition from verdant greens to reds and browns. Exact harvest dates vary per year, so it's always wise to book a wine tasting in advance to make sure you can participate.
When to visit to appreciate Renaissance art
If you're an art or history buff and have come to Italy to museum hop, consider an off-season trip in the early spring, fall, or winter. There's nothing worse than arriving at the Vatican museums in Rome or the Uffizi in Florence in the sweltering summer heat just to be told there's a three-hour wait to get inside. Trust us, this happens a lot! During the off-season, crowds are much lighter, and lines to get into attractions are often non-existent. Plus, flights and accommodation are usually cheaper and you won't have to fight for a reservation at the best restaurants. Win, win, win!
When to visit Italy – a monthly guide:
Best for: skiing, snowshoeing and spa-ing in the Dolomites
In January, frosty temperatures can make northern Italy a skier's paradise, one that's often more cost-effective than the resorts in neighboring France or Switzerland. Although snow-capped peaks and fresh powder aren't typically what come to mind when you think of a trip to Italy, resorts in the Dolomites have become premier destinations for winter sports and relaxation. From skiing to snowshoeing to sitting by a fire in the lodge, January is the month for you if you're looking for alpine activities.
Best for: celebrating Carnavale and enjoying the perks of the low season
While February is typically the low season for Italy's tourism, the Carnavale festival brings an explosion of life to an ordinarily sleepy month. A mischievous last hurrah before Lent isn't just for those in New Orleans; in cities across Italy, you can expect weeks-long celebrations filled with elaborate masks, boisterous parades, and special sweet treats. Expect the largest, most famous parades to take place in Venice, Milan, and Puglia, but the exact festival dates vary by year and location.
Best for: Flexible itineraries, museum hopping and sweet, sweet savings
March weather in Italy can be unpredictable so this is the best time to visit if you have a flexible itinerary. Wandering through sleepy villages, taking a seat at an outdoor cafe if the sun is shining, or ducking into the Accademia for some art appreciation without the masses will have you feeling like a local. Bonus: fewer tourists mean March can be one of the most inexpensive times to visit.
Best for: Visiting outdoor archaeological sites
If you visit Italy in April you'll be trading high-season crowds and blazing summer temps for light breezes and manageable walkways in sites like Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. These sites typically have little to no shade for relief during the hotter months. Although you might need an umbrella, it's a small price to pay for the freedom to explore without a flood of tourists.
Best for: Nature photography, outdoor dining and festivals
May is one of the best months to visit Italy to appreciate the scenery before the summer explodes with tourists. Temperatures tick up, outdoor cafes and rooftop terraces will be bustling with activity, and the hillsides are alive with wildflowers. From north to south check out festivals that celebrate the warmer weather like the Flower Festival in Sicily and the Lemon Festival in Cinque Terre.
Best for: beach vacations and cooling cocktails
If you have your heart set on an Italian beach vacation, June is the best of the summer months to visit Italy. Head to Sardinia, Sicily, or Puglia (before the locals arrive for their summer holidays in August) to enjoy beautiful sunny days before the temperatures become stifling. Add an Aperol spritz, an icy granita, or a crisp glass of white wine and your vacation is complete.
Best for: Getting out of the city and exploring the mountains
Next to August, July is Italy's hottest and most crowded month, which makes it a perfect time to get out of the city and head north to the Italian Alps. Join a hiking trip and marvel at the dramatic peaks, emerald-green meadows, and crystal-clear lakes of the Dolomites. Temps in the mountains will be cooler at night, a welcome reprieve from the often air-conditioner-less accommodations in the major cities.
Best for: Sailing, swimming and slowing down
In August, Italy's beaches and accommodations become extremely crowded. Solution: book a sailing trip! You won't be competing with locals when you're sleeping on a boat, plus, a cool dip is just outside your bedroom door. The best views of the candy-colored houses stacked on the hillsides of the Amalfi Coast are often from the water. While you might experience some high-season woes on land, at the end of the day, your sailing vessel will be a welcome sight.
Best for: Shoulder season sweetness on the coast
If you visit Italy in September, you'll hit that shoulder season sweet spot: pleasant temps, fewer crowds, and more reasonable prices. Most of the locals will be back to business as usual, so you'll have some breathing room to live out your Italian summer fantasy on the coast. Cone of lemon gelato in hand, of course.
Best for: Vino tasting and vineyard hopping
Whether you're a total expert or just a casual sipper, October is the best month to indulge in Italy’s amazing wines. Though it varies per year, grape harvest in Tuscany typically happens between late September and mid-October, which means vineyards are bustling with fruit pickers and you may be able to witness the early stages of wine production while doing some sampling.
Best for: Cozy cafes and mouthwatering meals
November in Italy brings colder weather and seasonal delights (like truffles), which makes it the perfect time to let your stomach lead the way. Head to a cozy restaurant and warm your bones with rich pastas, hearty soups, and warm mulled wines. Join a food tour to get insights on how to navigate Italy's giant gastronomic scene like a local.
Best for: Holiday cheer and souvenir shopping
If you're looking to have a picture-perfect holiday season, the twinkling lights and festive decorations donning Italy's Christmas markets will surely bring some cheer. Wander through the stalls to purchase traditional holiday gifts, crafts, and festive foods. Traveling with kiddos? Christmas markets typically have activities for all ages, and often times you can catch a glimpse of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) himself.
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