The right region at the right time: Weather and tourist seasons in Italy

Adam Jones | 17/04/2019
Aosta Valley in the Italian alps.
A sunny day in Aosta Valley.

While not a large country, Italy offers everything from snowy mountain peaks to sandy beaches. North to south, the country has remarkably varied weather that must be taken into consideration when you are planning your trip.

Deciding when and where to go in Italy depends on what you plan to do during your vacation, your tolerance for heat, and of course your budget. 

Read on for essential information on what to expect for weather, crowds and available activities during Italy’s three tourist seasons.

Low season

November to March

If you want to avoid some of the country’s biggest crowds, you’ll want to visit during Italy’s low season. Fewer tourists means shorter to non-existent lines, lower hotel prices… and more varied temperatures.

Visiting in low season does mean a toss of the dice when it comes to the weather. Italy in winter varies from somewhat cold and rainy to pleasant and dry, depending on your luck and which part of the country you’re visiting. If you’re there for winter activities, this is definitely the best time to head up to the Alps and Dolomites, which will be getting a lot of snow.

Italy’s major tourist cities will be cool, but temperatures rarely drop below freezing. You shouldn’t be too worried about Florence or Rome’s weather in the winter; they don’t generally freeze and you won’t be seeing snow.

Shoulder season

April to mid-June and September to October

When it comes to shoulder season in Italy, you have the best of both worlds. Weather in Italy is reasonably pleasant, and you still have much smaller crowds compared to during the peak season. Spring can provide blooming flowers, making it a great time to see much of Italy’s gardens and natural beauty. The fall season will bring the grape harvest, an excellent time to visit for sampling wine.

Weather in southern Italy will still be quite warm during the shoulder season. You can even make it to the beach to enjoy some sunny and warm temperatures. Late spring and summer will be the busiest beach times, as Italians flock to the sea to get a break from winter. For less crowded beaches, the fall shoulder season is a better bet.

Venice’s weather is also delightful in the spring shoulder season. The city begins to come alive, but it’s still warm enough for strolling or taking a vaporetto across the Grand Canal.

Peak season

June to August

Summer in Italy is sweltering. If you’re heading to Italy during peak season, prepare for sun and packed travel destinations. This is when the majority of international and Italian travellers visit the big cities. Bring a hat, water bottle, and your patience as you’re likely to be sweaty and busy. 

Keep in mind that many lodgings in Italy don’t have air conditioning, so at times you may genuinely have to beat the summer heat. Places in southern Italy, for example Sicily, will be particularly toasty. But if you want sea and sunshine, this is the best time of the year to visit Italy. Just be aware that prices will be higher and it’s advisable to book as far in advance as possible.

If you prefer to stay cool, weather in northern Italy may be more to your liking during the high season. Florence weather can have that proper summer heat, but if you go to the mountains, you’ll find that the temperatures won’t get too high. The valleys of the Dolomites and the Alps will rarely get above 78°F in the summer, and if you climb above 5,000 feet, it will rarely get above 68°F. 

A beautiful destination, year round

The best choice of time to visit will depend a lot on you. What temperatures do you feel most comfortable in? Where do you want to go? What’s your tolerance towards crowds? Keep these three factors in mind when you’re planning your trip so that you can find yourself in your sweet spot as much as possible. Fortunately for all, the country is beautiful all year round.