Sometimes, the time of year you travel can make a big difference in how you experience a place. Learn here when the best time to go to Italy is.
Italy is the fourth most popular travel destination for Americans, with just over two million visiting the country each year. With so many tourists descending upon the country of beauty and romance, you may be wondering when is the best time to visit. There is actually no easy answer. It all depends on what is most important to you as a traveler, whether it’s to save money, avoid crowds, or enjoy outdoor activities. With that in mind, here are some pointers to help you determine the best time to go to Italy.
Summer May Not Be the Best Time to Go to Italy
Italy’s “high season” usually runs from mid-to-late May into early September. This is when school is out and the tourist crowds can be as high as the scorching temperatures, hotel rates, and airfare. Unless you absolutely have to visit during the summer, it’s best to avoid traveling to Italy during this time. The one exception may be August, but only if you’re visiting Rome or another major city. That’s because many Italians themselves go on holiday during this month, flocking out of urban areas to seek relief on the Mediterranean coastline and islands. As a result, you may see a dip in hotel prices, but the trade-off is many small business owners shut down operation so they can vacation as well. The temperatures are also at their hottest in August, with southern Italy experiencing the worst of it. Despite the summer heat and humidity, not every hotel and business provides air conditioning. The reasoning is the hottest time of the year is also a short one. If you do plan on traveling to Italy during this time you may want to double check to make sure the hotel you’ve booked has A/C. The heat can also make it downright miserable for visiting outdoor attractions such as the Colosseum, which has no shade. Opt instead to visit the country just before or after its most sweltering months. We list the pros and cons of the other travel seasons below.
Shoulder Season: A Comfortable Compromise
April through mid-June and mid-September through October are two sweet spots that should please any visitor to Italy. Referred to as the shoulder season, these two periods are when you can get a break on hotel and airfare rates, experience smaller crowds, and find the weather to be relatively comfortable. And if you love Italian cuisine including wine, olives, mushrooms, truffles, and more, autumn is the perfect time to visit. This is harvest season for these items, and you can partake in many Italian food festivals to sample the goods. Love to hike, bike, and explore the outdoors? The spring and fall are the perfect times of the year to enjoy outdoor activities in the Italian countryside without dripping in sweat. There is one period to pass on during shoulder season and that is when Easter comes around. Vacationing in Rome during this time can be tricky as crowds come to Vatican City, so you may want to avoid visiting during the week leading up to the holiday.
Low Season: Great for Low Crowds and Prices
As expected, Italy typically sees the least amount of visitors over the winter or low season, which is November through March. If you’re into winter sports you’ll have plenty of company, however. The Italian Alps are a popular playground for skiers and snowboarders. If you want to visit a major city without other tourists around, then winter is certainly the best time for that unless you visit during Carnevale or the country’s winter carnival. This celebration usually takes place just before Lent (just like Mardi Gras in the States) and is the country’s way of saying arrivederci to winter. It’s a very popular Italian event, especially in Venice, so expect to see a bump in crowds. Some travelers claim you also get more of a true Italian experience coming to Italy in winter as you’ll mostly see locals. This is also the time of the year where you can score the best hotel rates and airfare. The only real drawback to visiting Italy during the winter is the colder weather and more overcast days. Rome rarely gets cold enough for snow during the winter, however, with temperatures as cold as the high 30s. Some outdoor sites will have shorter visiting hours because of the dip in natural daylight. But winter is a great time of the year for visiting the Colosseum (which is now lighted at night) and other attractions because crowds are much smaller. Christmas and New Year’s are popular holidays in Italy and you can expect to see more people if you go during the holiday season.
Additional Italy Travel Tips
No matter what time of the year you visit Italy, there are some general tips you can follow to save money and make the most of your trip. Book Early–Book hotels and airfare at least 3-4 months in advance for the best availability and rates. Bring Layers and Comfortable Shoes–No matter what time of year, the weather can change. Pack layers of clothing and walking shoes for those long sightseeing days. Book a Tour–Booking a luxury guided tour of a notable site, city, or a bundle that includes several attractions can save you money than booking them separately. It’s also a great opportunity to socialize and meet fellow travelers. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle–You’ll find public drinking fountains in the major cities that provide fresh, clean, and free water. No need to waste money on buying bottled water. You should also buy tickets for museums and historical sites in advance to avoid waiting in line. Keep in mind the Italian government recently discontinued its free admission on the first Sunday of each month for museums.
Book Our Services for Your Trip to Italy
Regardless of what time of year you feel is the best time to go to Italy, we can help. Whether you need transportation to and from the airport or hotel, the best hotel rate or a custom tour made just for you, our global concierge services take care of the details for you. Contact us today and we’ll assist you with your personal or business travel needs.