When to Visit Italy: Regions & Seasons
From the snowy Alps and the romantic canals of Venice to white-sand beaches and world-class wine regions, Italy has it all. Thanks to the sheer diversity of its landscapes, it's a wonderful destination at any time of year.
Generally speaking, summer brings very warm temperatures—especially in the south—along with plenty of tourists in pursuit of sun, sand, and la dolce vita. If you’re looking to hit the coast, you're better off visiting in the late spring, in early summer, or in September, when temperatures are warm, but crowds are smaller. Autumn brings moderate temperatures, making it a pleasant time to explore cities like Rome and Florence. In the northern part of the country, autumn also brings gorgeous foliage to the picture-perfect hills and vineyards of Tuscany and Piedmont.
In the colder months of the year, skiers and snowboarders head to the excellent ski resorts in the north. Elsewhere in the country, you'll have relative peace and quiet at museums, theatres, and cultural attractions, as fewer international tourists are in town. Spring is a wonderful time to visit, too: flowers are in bloom around the Italian Lakes, and all along the coastlines, towns and villages start awakening from their winter sleep. Take a look at this article for some suggested itineraries.
Italy in Summer
With over 4,500 miles of coastline, Italy has a lot of beautiful beaches. But they're hardly well-kept secrets. In summer, Italians and international tourists alike flock to the seaside in droves. Note that temperatures around the country soar in July and August: it's stiflingly hot in cities like Turin and Milan, and local residents seek respite from the heat along the coast, heading to the beaches of nearby Liguria. If you can, try to avoid visiting in August, when many Italians plan their holidays. You'll be better off planning your beach stay early or late in the summer season. Even then, you'll have to plan ahead. Hotels fill up fast along the coast, where scores of beach umbrellas and serried sunbeds line the sand.
If you’re after more rugged stretches of coastline, head to Sardinia, home to gorgeous white-sand beaches dotted with beguiling coves. With lovely azure waters, Puglia is a popular summer destination with a number of traditional villages where you can spend the night and dine on freshly caught seafood.
Prefer the mountains to the beach? In summer, outdoor enthusiasts thoroughly enjoy hiking in the Alps and Dolomites, both home to spectacular mountain scenery and superb treks to suit all levels. Temperatures up in the mountains are pleasant, too, with hot sunny days and cool nights.
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Italy in Autumn
Autumn is an ideal time to visit Italy. Temperatures have cooled down after summer, and major tourist destinations such as Florence, Rome, and Venice have partly emptied of tourists, making them easier to visit. In the rolling hills of Tuscany, fiery reds, yellows, and oranges create hillsides of dazzling colors, with charming villages surrounded by the colors of autumn. In the south of the country, temperatures in autumn are still warm, making it a great time to sightsee and to enjoy a quiet swim in the sea. (Note that coastal resorts often close for the winter around the end of October.)
In October, with some advance planning, cyclists can take part in the famed L'Eroica bike rice in Chianti. For more information on the event, take a look at this article. Travelers interested in cuisine shouldn’t visit a trip to the White Truffle Fair in Piedmont. It's a rare chance to sample the regional specialty paired with the area’s excellent Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
Italy in Winter
Fringed by the Alps and the Dolomites in the north, Italy offers superb skiing. Up in the Western Alps, Valle d’Aosta is home to the iconic Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. It's one of the best destinations for winter sports on the entire continent. Neighboring Piedmont also offers excellent skiing, along with Lombardy and Trentino Alto Adige, home to the jagged Dolomites.
There’s plenty for non-skiers too, including ice-skating and sledding. Scattered throughout these mountainous areas, charming Alpine villages are a joy to walk around: you'll find family-run shops selling local produce and welcoming restaurants where you can taste local specialties. If you’re after some holiday festivity, don’t miss the many Christmas markets that take place around the country. The markets in Trentino Alto Adige are particularly appealing: the towns of Bolzano, Trento, and Rovereto host magical winter fairs.
Italy in Spring
Many travelers agree that spring is the best time to visit Italy. Around the Italian Lakes, flowers are in bloom, with azaleas, rhododendrons, and magnolias tumbling down the gardens of grand lakefront villas. In April, hotels along the coast start opening their doors again. By May, temperatures are particularly agreeable, making it ideal to sightsee and enjoy outdoor activities.
Destinations you might consider visiting in spring include the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, which are both relatively quiet before the crowds descend for the summer. Up in the Alps and in the Dolomites, waterfalls have started melting, and there are excellent white-water rafting opportunities, as well as hiking and mountain biking. Spring is also the perfect time to visit Trentino Alto Adige's spectacular mountain lakes; they're breathtakingly beautiful at this time of year, with crystal-clear emerald waters surrounded by jagged peaks.
Wondering where to go and what to see in Italy? This 14-day tour touches all of the country's top highlights.