Best Time To Visit Italy

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No one should underestimate the contribution that Italy has made to the world. Its capital, Rome, was at the heart of an empire that stretched throughout Europe and beyond. Today’s United Kingdom was its furthest point in the north while it covered the shores of North Africa, Egypt, Turkey and parts of the Middle East. Roman Catholicism’s home is Vatican City within Rome, while the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th Centuries found a home in Italy.

Each of these aspects of Italy provides compelling reasons to take a vacation there, and ideally, more than one. Add the quality of Italian cuisine, and you can see why this Mediterranean country welcomes so many visitors each year.

It descends from the Alps in the north through the main industrial region of Italy to Rome and a series of beautiful cities with stunning architecture and outstanding museums. The south, and the island of Sicily, are more rural and also well worth a visit. When’s the best time to visit Italy?

Best Time To Visit Italy

Italy in Summer

what is the best time to visit italy Back view of beautiful fashion girl enjoying view of Atrani village on Amalfi Coast.
Summer or spring are the best times to visit Italy if you’re planning on spending time on the Amalfi Coast.

Italy has an extensive coastline, with its eastern shores facing the Adriatic, so not surprisingly, given the warm summer temperatures, the resorts on Italy’s coast are popular with visitors seeking the sun.

It does get cooler at night as summer begins, and showers are possible, but these are the weeks of the high season when its beaches are the top destination, especially during the school holidays.

The seas are warm, and hours of sunshine are guaranteed while it’s cooler at altitude and the Alps in the north are pleasant for hiking as the snow has long gone.

Cities can be hot by day, and locals often delight in heading out to the beaches or the countryside.

If you’re interested in Italy’s history and culture and have no option but to visit during the high season, you’ll find crowds in Vatican City, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Likewise, cities like Florence, with its incredible architecture, museums and art, attract significant crowds in the high season.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • June (Sunrise 0530, Sunset 2050, Average Low Temperature 16C (60F), Average High Temperature Average High 26C (79F))
  • July (Sunrise 0545, Sunset 2045, Average Low Temperature 18C (64F), Average High Temperature 29C (84F)
  • August (Sunrise 0615, Sunset 2010, Average Low Temperature 18C (64F), Average High Temperature 29C (84F)

Five Things to Do in Italy in Summer

1- Enjoy The Beach
best time to visit italy beaches a beautiful summer day with coastline and boats
The best time to visit Italy for a cruising vacation is in summer. Pictured here is Capri Island.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to lovely beaches in Italy because it has an extensive coastline facing west, south or east.

There are several beaches in Sardinia and Sicily and beaches in the northeast, close to Venice, on the Adriatic.

If you want somewhere quieter, the “heel” of Italy in the extreme southeast is worth investigating.

2- Explore The Amalfi Coast
best time to visit italy 2017 people walking up the steps to the cathedral
If you’re keen on exploring the sights and are not worried about the crowds, summer is the best time to visit Italy. Pictured here is the Amalfi Cathedral on the Amalfi Coast.

The Amalfi Coast on the west, south of Rome, is popular with families even though its beaches are limited.

Its beauty is difficult to rival, and its nickname “Divine Coast” is an accurate description.

Its popularity extends to the “rich and famous” so don’t expect this region to be cheap, especially in the high season.

3- Explore Rome
best time to visit italy rome summer st peters
Summer in Italy is a fun time to visit Rome and explore the sights, such as St Peters.

Rome is the top attraction in Italy in all seasons.

The ancient city was small in modern-day terms, so it is possible to walk around and see the main landmarks on hot days.

Check on temperatures and perhaps look for an early start?

It will be quieter than later in the day. That said, walking is more comfortable in the late afternoon.

4- Hike The Alps

The Alps are beautiful and green in the summer, and altitude means that temperatures are lower than at sea level.

There are several well-defined trails to follow whether you walk or cycle.

You can easily camp in this stunning setting as well, and there are plenty of small towns for cafes, supplies and more.

5- Visit Lake Garda
best time to visit italy back view of beautiful fashion girl in summer
Summer is the best time to visit Italy and wander around Lake Garda.

There are some lovely lakes in northern Italy.

Lake Garda is beautiful, and several small towns connect by ferry around the Lake.

You can book a trip to visit a number of them, Malcesine, Salo, Garda itself and River del Garda.

The ferry zig zags back and forth, providing stunning views as you go.

Top tips:

what is the best time of year to visit italy
You can drink Italian wine at any time of the year but January and February are the best time to visit Italy if you want to spend time with winemakers as, during the harvest, the winemakers are focusing on the process of winemaking and are often too busy to talk to visitors.
  • The sun’s rays are intense in the summer so you should always wear something on your head and carry plenty of water. If you are planning to go walking, make sure you have suitable footwear.
  • Get advice on sun protection and follow that advice. Don’t spend too much time sunbathing. Don’t worry; your sun tan will be ready long before you head home.
  • Be cautious when approached by strangers in cities like Rome and be sceptical of both offers of help and “sob stories.”

Italy in Autumn

best time to visit italy autumn alps
One of the best times to visit Italy for hiking the Alps is in autumn.

Temperatures slowly fall in the autumn until they can be distinctly chilly at night.

The crowds of the school holiday weeks disappear in September, meaning that lines at the main city landmarks diminish significantly.

Not only are the lines smaller, but some prices start to fall as well.

The seas in September are still warm, and there is more space on the beach.

Autumn is a season known for its colour throughout Italy.

Although the odd shower can greet you in September, and rain does increase as autumn proceeds, it is nothing that a showerproof jacket and umbrella cannot handle.

Walkers can enjoy the mountains as temperatures fall, but by the end of November, skiing is possible in some of the higher parts of the Alps.

This is harvest time, and the produce grown in Italy that fills the market stalls is truly impressive.

Olives and grapes in Tuscany or Umbria produce wonderful oils and begin the process of producing Italy’s fine range of wines.

Broccoli, truffles, zucchini, chestnuts and almonds are all available on market stalls.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • September (Sunrise 0650, Sunset 1920, Average Low Temperature 15C (59F), Average High Temperature Average High 26C (79F))
  • October (Sunrise 0720, Sunset 1830, Average Low Temperature 11C (52F), Average High Temperature 22C (71F)
  • November (Sunrise 0700, Sunset 1650, Average Low Temperature 7C (45F), Average High Temperature 17C (62F)

Five Things to do in Italy in Autumn

1- Celebrate The Season At A Wine Festival

There are festivals throughout the country in the autumn.

You may like to head to a grape-growing area to watch the activity and enjoy tasting the wine made from a previous harvest.

Italy has many famous wines, red, rose and white.

2- Enjoy A Beach In Italy’s South

The beaches of Italy quieten in September, and for a few weeks, you can enjoy the sun, sea and sand with fewer crowds.

The further to the south you go, the warmer it is likely to be.

The heel of Italy in the extreme southeast may be a good choice as this is a quieter region than most.

3- Discover Venice
best time to visit venice italy
Autumn is the best time to enjoy walking the streets of Venice without the crowds. Pictured here is a view of San Giorgio Maggiore.

The crowds in Venice can make a visit quite uncomfortable, but once the high season departs, Venice becomes a far more attractive proposition, although prices close to St. Mark’s Square are likely to remain high.

4- Enjoy The Colours Of Rome
best time to visit rome italy roman forum
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Italy if you’re planning on seeing the sights of Rome.

Rome in the autumn offers great colours in its parks, the Colosseum and Vatican City, without the queues that abound through July and August.

It is far more comfortable exploring Rome in the autumn with plenty of museums on a rainy day which is possible in October and November.

5- Visit Mount Vesuvius
best time to visit naples italy blue sky and water with Mount Vesuvius in the background
One of the best times to go to Italy’s Mount Vesuvius is in the fall.

Mount Vesuvius, Naples and Pompeii on the southwest coast of Italy are good destinations in autumn.

Further south, the Isle of Capri is offshore in the Bay from Sorrento.

There are ferries between Naples and Sorrento and day trips out to Capri.

In autumn, you will see the citrus fruits for which Sorrento is famous.

Top tips:

  • Be prepared for a shower and cooler evenings, but enjoy the more comfortable daytime temperatures.
  • If you have limited time, plan your days to maximise the landmarks or museums you can visit.
  • Visit local markets and then enjoy the cuisine.

Italy in Winter

best time to visit southern italy village in a valley covered in snow
Winter is one of the best times to visit Italy for a fairytale landscape, such as this one in Selva di Val Gardena in the Dolomites in South Tyrol.

The southern coasts of Italy remain relatively mild in mid-winter, in contrast to the north, especially the Italian Alps.

Snow in the Alps lasts throughout winter, and even in inland Italy, snow is a regular occurrence.

If you decide to head to Italy in the winter, research the region you intend to visit and pack accordingly.

Rome is a city with major attractions, indoors and out.

You will not find huge crowds at any of the main landmarks, and there are plenty of museums to visit on a bad-weather day.

Shopping is a good reason for visiting Rome in the winter while Milan in the north is one of the world’s fashion capitals and there can be some real bargains available in the sales post-Christmas.

Italy is a country where Christmas is very important, so weeks on either side are enjoyable if you wrap up well, whether it is for shopping or attending festivals that are annual events throughout the country.

Italians love their sport, with the Milan “giants” and Juventus in Turin among the most decorated soccer sides in Europe. And tickets will be available for visitors in the majority of cases.

In the extreme north, skiing is very popular if you want to do more than just spectate.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • December (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1640, Average Low Temperature 5C (41F), Average High Temperature Average High 13C (56F))
  • January (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1705, Average Low Temperature 3C (38F), Average High Temperature 12C (54F)
  • February (Sunrise 0705, Sunset 1745, Average Low Temperature 4C (40F), Average High Temperature 13C (55F)

Five Things to do in Italy in Winter

1- Attend Carnival In Venice
italy best time to visit colourful masks on a wall
Winter is the best time to visit Italy if you’re keen on going to Venice as it’s the time of year to experience the magic of the Carnival.

Catholic countries worldwide celebrate “Carnival” just before Lent each year, usually in February.

While Venice Carnival has many ticket-only events, there are a few days of street celebrations and sheer fun.

As this is a busy time in Venice, book your accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment, but it is certainly something to brighten winter.

2- Enjoy Rome Minus The Crowds

Rome, in common with many of Europe’s top cities, has plenty to occupy visitors all year round.

In the case of Rome, it is the chance to avoid the crowds at places like the Colosseum, Vatican City and the Spanish Steps.

On really poor days, you may prefer shopping and museums.

In winter, prices are certainly lower than at other times.

3- Soak Up The Winter Sun

You can expect winter sun in the resorts of the south.

While some places close in mid-winter to take a rest after a busy year, there are plenty of places open.

It will get a little chilly as the sun sets, so dining outside may not be a good idea, but Italian cuisine tastes just as good inside.

4- Go Skiing In The Dolomites
best time to visit italy for weather soaring mountain backdrop and a handful of skiers are dots in the distance
As you can see, one of the best times to visit Italy for stunning picture-book scenery is in winter. Here are some skiers on the slopes of Sella Ronda.

Skiing in the Dolomites is extremely popular, but there are other activities in this northern region as well.

There are a few options to travel there by air. The larger airports, Munich in Germany and Venice, are a little distant but offer more choice than the small regional options like Treviso and Verona. On balance, look at Venice, about 160 km (100 miles) away.

5- Eat Italian Comfort Food
best time of the year to visit italy Bolognese pasta. Fusilli with tomato sauce, ground minced beef. Traditional italian cuisine. White wooden table.
One of the best times of the year to visit Italy for the food is in winter, when hearty Italian meals seem to taste more delicious.

Occasionally, Italy’s winter cuisine is called “comfort food”.

Pasta bake, risotto, a variety of warming soups, roast vegetables and cabbage rolls are popular dishes on winter menus.

You can see a good range of seasonal vegetables in local markets and enjoy these dishes when you sit down for dinner.

Top tips:

best time to visit italy weather snowboarders standing in the snow
Winter is the best time to visit Italy for an active family vacation.
  • Watch the weather forecast for the regions you plan on visiting and pack more winter clothes than you think you might need. Temperatures do fall quickly as the sun sets, so be prepared.
  • Look for discounted accommodation and lower prices in winter at many of its landmarks.
    Book well in advance if you’re visiting the Italian Alps for skiing because resorts fill up quickly.

Italy in Spring

best time to visit rome italy in spring purple flowers at the roman forum
There’s no best time of the year to visit Italy’s capital as each season has it’s positives. Here’s what spring looks like at the Roman Forum.

Skiing continues in the Dolomites in March and often April, but temperatures generally rise elsewhere in Italy.

Hikers and cyclists may find that they can pursue their hobbies in the Italian Alps before summer arrives, and it is a colourful time to see the higher-altitude vegetation come alive.

By May, you can expect summer temperatures at times, and prices have begun to rise as a result.

You will still need a jacket for the evening, even after a warm May day.

As ever, Rome is a place to see, and each April, the Rome Marathon attracts plenty of competitors and spectators.

It starts and finishes close to arguably Rome’s most famous landmark, the Colosseum.

There is a short fun run at the same time if you want some exercise.

Here are some guideline stats but remember there are regional variations:

  • March (Sunrise 0620, Sunset 1820, Average Low Temperature 6C (42F), Average High Temperature Average High 15C (59F))
  • April (Sunrise 0630, Sunset 1950, Average Low Temperature 8C (46F), Average High Temperature 18C (64F)
  • May (Sunrise 0550, Sunset 2025, Average Low Temperature 12C (53F), Average High Temperature 22C (72F)

Five Things to do in Italy in Spring

1- Visit Sicily
best time to visit italy sicily in spring
One of the best times to visit Sicily in Italy is in spring.

Think about Sicily in the spring because its southern latitude means the weather should be good and the Almond Festival in Agrigento is something to enjoy.

It is usually in March, based on when the blossoms appear and lasts 10 days.

If Sicily does not appeal to you, head to Verona in April for a similar event.

2- Dine Outdoors
when is the best time to visit italy Young stylish girl in red dress looking the bay in Portofino
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Italy to enjoy sunny days and temperate weather, spring is the season and Portofino is a top spot.

Daylight saving at the end of March means an extra hour of daylight in April.

If you do not mind dining early, you may even be able to dine outside, albeit wearing a jacket as temperatures fall.

3- Get A Sun Tan

While sea temperatures only climb slowly, the beaches, especially in the south, are attractive on sunny days.

If you are lucky, you will manage a sun tan in a few days and return home with a healthy glow when your friends may still be pale after a long winter.

4- Explore Florence
best time to visit florence italy Woman in yellow dress and hat looks at stunning panoramic view of Florence, Italy.
One of the best times to visit Florence, Italy, is in spring.

Cities such as Florence, with its many gems, museums, art and architecture, are great to explore before days get hot and crowds appear.

If it rains, head inside because museums in Italy, in general, are wonderful.

5- Explore Naples
best time to visit italy 2016 people walking across the bridge to the castle
The best time to visit Naples is spring or summer. Don’t miss Egg Castle (Castel dell Ovo), which is a fascinating medieval fortress.

Naples and the immediate region have much to offer.

It can include time on the Mediterranean, visiting Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and enjoying Naples’ Capodimonte Park, which also has its own museum.

Top tips:

best time to visit italy 2022 boats moored Lake Garda
Peschiera del Garda’s colourful harbour is beautiful in spring, when the boats moored on Lake Garda look very inviting.
  • Be prepared for variable weather by carrying a small pack with water, an umbrella, hat and jacket.
  • Look for special offers, which are often seasonal, and discount city cards for transport and entry into city highlights.
  • Visit a local market. Colours abound. Expect to see asparagus, peas, artichokes, zucchini, strawberries, and cherries towards the end of spring and plenty of flowers.

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.