When is the best time to travel to Italy? As much as the tempting answer is: “Any season is perfect to get to know Italy”, choose whether in the low or high season or in the hottest weather or in the cold winter months!
Italy has something to offer the visitor year-round, but there are considerations to weigh, such as weather, budget, cultural events, seasonal atmosphere and crowds.
The concept of the high or low season depends very much on what the purpose and destination of the trip will be. For example, to get acquainted with the hubbub of seaside towns, it may be better in the summer or, if it is to dazzle with the white snowy scenery, certainly in winter! Some general rules can help in your choice, let’s go to them:
Spring (May) – Summer End (September) – Early Fall (early October)
When should I travel to Italy?
When you’re planning your trip to Italy, it’s easy to forget one of the most important factors: the best time to travel to Italy! None of Italy’s top destinations are the same year-round — and there are significant benefits to coming at certain times of year over others. There’s no single “best time” to travel, it will depend on what you want to see and what you want to do in Italy.
If you have a little flexibility in your trip planning, here are the upsides and downsides of the different times of year to visit Italy. (As an aside: We know many parents don’t want to visit Italy outside of their childrens’ school vacations because they don’t want them to miss any school! Not only does this limit them to some of the most crowded and expensive times to visit Italy, but at least for our part, we can’t think of a better education for a child than learning about ancient Rome, or Renaissance art, by actually experiencing the sites. What better classroom could there be?).
Note: Remember that, in general, when we talk about a month being “crowded” or not, we’re talking about the big destinations, including Florence, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, the Amalfi coast, Cinque Terre, and major towns in Tuscany. We’re also talking in relative terms. Year-round, there’s always a line at the Colosseum and always a crowd at the Trevi Fountain. But some times of the year, the line into the Vatican museums takes 3 hours; other times, it’s 10 minutes.
A garden on the Amalfi coast in the spring
These are the most sought after periods by tourists, mainly due to the pleasant weather. In May, the cold of winter is already behind, the days become brighter, sunny and with less rain. The average temperature in May and September is 20 and is around 18 at the beginning of October. The landscapes are also more exuberant in those times. In the spring (May) the meadows, the trees, and the woods are filled with flowers.
The interior of Tuscany during the spring
In turn, in early autumn (October), these same fields turn into shades of red, yellow and brown. A walk through the Tuscan countryside surprises us; Nature exposes all its exuberance to each of the seasons and puts us in real postcards!
Airline fares are lower from mid-September to March, but increase around Christmas. Peak tourist season begins in late May and lasts through the end of July — hotels and holiday rentals should be booked well in advance for this period. Hotel, villa and apartment rates are lower in spring and fall, the so-called shoulder seasons, but the best deals are in winter, except during the Christmas holidays.
With more affordable hotel rates and ideal weather, spring and fall might be the best time to visit Italy — from April to June and September to October, according to Frommers’ travel guide. The climate is generally benign, with sunny skies and comfortable daytime temperatures, making it ideal for sightseeing. Popular attractions are not as crowded. A jacket is likely to be necessary at night, but outdoor dining is still enjoyable. In the countryside, wildflowers cover the hills in spring, and in the fall the land is painted in golds and browns that are warm and welcoming.
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The colorful Alpine woods in autumn
Art cities such as Rome, Firenze, Venice, Verona and Milan are buzzing with foreign tourists as well as Italians as well as the most sought after tourist destinations such as the Amalfi Coast and the Tuscan countryside. The hotels are overcrowded and it is difficult to get a booking except for reservations well in advance.
Hosting prices can cost up to double compared to the low season! In this sense, it is much more convenient and advantageous to travel through tour operators, who get preferential rates through allotment reservations.
The green lung of Italy: Umbria
If you are looking for a secluded, yet breathtaking view in Italy, the ancient village of Castelluccio di Norcia is truly one not to be missed. Located in the heart of Sibillini National Park, and rising atop a hill, you have views that go on for kilometres in every direction. From the incredible mountain range to fields of wild flowers, when all you desire is a place of peace and tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, this is where you need to go.
Visiting the region during the springtime is something not to be missed, and as soon as you set your eyes onto the natural beauty while everything blooms to life, you are never going to want to leave. The terrain bursts with colour from the flowers while your nose fills with the sweet aromas of the budding plants as the occasional bee flies through to land on the tip of these bobbing flower heads.
High summer (July and August)
These months are the peak of European summer. It is the period of school holidays in Italy (late June to early September), so the month of August equals our summer vacation in Brazil and like us Italians love the warm weather and flee to the beaches and mountains – And make no mistake, Italy has a vast coastline, full of wonderful corners, with much excitement and that are absolutely crowded in this period! Hotels in the hottest destinations often prefer schedules for longer periods (over three days) and made well in advance.
Already in art cities, high summer is considered the average season. With that, values for lodging decrease, however, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees, facing queues in museums or exploring ruins may not be so inviting! So if your intention is not to spend two weeks in the sea regions, but rather explore art cities, the months of July and August are not the most indicated.
Winter (December, January, and February) – Winter (excluding Christmas and New Year holidays)
Except for Christmas and New Year holidays, when Italian schools have 15-day vacations and domestic tourism intensifies, winter is the off-season for coastal and art cities. The number of tourists falls sharply as well as the prices of lodging.
For tourist coming to Italy, January and February are excellent months to see villages and snow-capped mountains in the Alps and Apennines – it has an accumulation of up to one meter of snow, with stunning landscapes! The ski resorts are crowded and busy, especially on weekends. For these locations, winter is high season, of course! Reservations need to be made in advance and hotels give preference to packages of at least three nights.
One aspect to be remembered is that winter temperatures are quite low . The Italian winter can reach 0 degrees, but the average is 8 (maximum of 13-14 and minimum of 2-3 degrees), except in the regions of the mountain, that are much cooler. However, in hotels, restaurants, shops and museums it is heated and the true cold occurs only outdoors. They are also months of few precipitations. The days are more “short” because of dusk comes sooner than in the other seasons and because of Daylight saving time.
Low season months (March, April, and November)
The months of March, April, and November (except for the Easter and All Souls festivities) are considered the low season. The influx of domestic and foreign tourists greatly reduces, as do hotel prices. The temperatures are cool, but not as extreme as in winter, with averages between 12 and -15 degrees in the North, and around 20 in the South, but these are months of more abundant rainfall and less sunny days.
Some Italian cities or regions are considered “seasonal” and practically only work in specific periods – for example, the Alp skiing resorts in the winter and beaches of the Northeast in the summer. In this way, many Italian tourist attractions on beaches are closed during the winter, as well as ski resorts that do not work in the warmer months. To know these regions, it is interesting to inquire well before scheduling your trip.
To See the Festivals
Next to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Siena’s early July Palio remains as one of the most well-known animal-centric European festivals. Lodging in Siena is hard to come by at this time, but Florence, only a short train ride away, makes a great base from which to enjoy this and other Tuscan summer festivals. In the Piazza di Santa Croce in mid- or late June, the city’s ancient quartieri, districts, compete in costume in an ancient version of soccer, akin to rugby. From mid-June through the end of summer, Florence and neighboring Fiesole fill with concerts, art shows and theater performances as part of the Estate Fiesolana festival.
When Absolutely Not to Go
August. It’s summer and an easy time for travelers to take vacation, but it’s also when all of Italy goes on holiday. Most of Italy shuts down in mid-August for a holiday known as Ferragosto, August holiday, with only some museums and other tourist attractions remaining open. Vivoli, the renowned gelato shop hidden in the streets near Santa Croce, closes for the entire month of August. Furthermore, Italian flee the cities en masse in August for good reason: the weather becomes swelteringly, disgustingly hot and humid.
In summary, Italy can be explored at any time of year; it depends only on you and your expectations!