Italian Winter

In this article

Although Italy is a popular summer tourist destination for Europeans, the country has several winter attractions that make winter in Italy worth experiencing. While you won’t get the picture-perfect summer experience, you’ll enjoy other perks like fewer tourists and lower prices.
Whether you want to visit the big Italian cities, islands, or small towns, there’s plenty for you to do in Italy in winter. From enjoying winter sports in the North to sightseeing in the warmer south to shopping at the winter sales, winter is a great time to visit Italy.

Winter in Italy: Yes or No?

It’s a yes. Italy is an incredible place to visit in winter. Winter temperatures in Italy are considerably warmer than in many European countries, and the far south is a great winter sun destination. Plus, there’s no better place to enjoy the Christmas holiday than Italy - the home of catholicism.
Winter allows you to see Italy’s main attractions and hidden destinations without the crowds. Streets are less crowded, and accommodations are more affordable in winter. You can decide to go skiing in the beautiful mountain ranges up north, visit the Christmas markets, enjoy the holiday lights, and feast on Italy’s world-renowned foods. All without the noise and bustle of too many tourists.

Winter Weather in Italy

If you’re visiting Italy in winter for the first time, you will be amazed at the weather variations across the country. The weather changes as you move from north to south and from the center to the coast. You could go from skiing in the Italian Alps to enjoying the winter sun in Naples or Sicily.
Northern Italy sees significant snow and rainfall in winter; much of the snow is within the Italian Alps and Dolomites. As you journey to the south, snow cover begins to thin. Southern cities like Naples and Sicily rarely experience snowfall.
Generally, the weather in winter in Italy is quite unpredictable, so you must pack right. The average high temperature in the North is between 0oC to 7oC, while in the south, temperatures can go as high as 15oC. Temperatures in the south drop in January and February, the rainiest months.

Italian Winter Celebrations

Several festivals and celebrations are held annually in winter in Italy, most revolving around the Christmas holiday season. The holiday starts on December 8 and runs through January 6. Christmas trees are lit in major cities like Rome and Milan on December 8, and everywhere is aglow with festive Christmas markets and nativity scenes. Nationally celebrated holidays include:
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8 with masses in Churches, feasts, parades, music, and even bonfires in some regions.
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • St. Stephen’s Day - December 26
  • New Year's Eve
  • Epiphany Day - January 6

Several other festivals and celebrations are celebrated in towns and regions in honor of saints, wine, and olive oil. The Carnival of Venice is one of Italy's most popular winter celebrations. The Carnival runs throughout February and ends on Shrove Tuesday (late February or early March). It is famous for the elaborate masks worn by Venetians.

Best Places to Visit in Italy in the Winter: Our Top 9 Picks

Italy is home to some of the most visited tourist locations in the world and is worth visiting any time of the year. However, some locations' beauty and local life are better experienced in winter. If you’re looking to engage in winter sports and visit the holiday markets, then northern Italy is your best bet. But if you want to chase the winter sun, you should head south. Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Italy in winter.

1. Sicily - Warmest Place in Italy in Winter

Located in southern Italy, Sicily is one of the best places to visit in Italy in winter, especially if you’re chasing the winter sun. It is warmer than most European cities in winter, with average temperatures of 16oC high and 5oC low.
But the winter sun is just one among many wonders of Sicily. Like much of Italy, the city is a historical wonderland. You’ll find ancient sites like Motya, first occupied over 2,000 years ago. The Baroque towns of Val di Noto are home to the finest existing Baroque architecture in Europe. They were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2002.
Winter is perfect for enjoying Sicily’s architecture, historical sites, and fantastic food (and fresh winter oranges) without tourist crowds.

2. The Dolomites - A Relaxing Retreat With Slopes & Ski Chalets

If you’re big on winter sports, then the Dolomites is a must-visit location in winter in Italy. Even if you’re not, the amazing view of the beautiful mountain ranges is mesmerizing. The steep mountains and wooden houses are covered in snow, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. Winter is ski season, so there might be more crowds here than other attractions.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is the main town in the region. You’ll get reasonable accommodations there, and you can spend your days skiing in the best ski resorts. While Faloria, Pocol, and Tufana are the most popular ski resorts, the Dolomites ski pass gives you access to all 80 pistes. When you tire of skiing or if you’re not a sports person, you can board a cable car to enjoy the view of the snow capped mountains.

3. Tuscany - Definitely Worth Visiting in Winter

Tuscany has many sights and experiences that will make your winter memorable. There’s so much to do and see in this region, from small scenic villages to its most famous city, Florence. Plus, the weather is warm, yet you’re barely one hour away from snow if you want to ski during your trip. The average high temperature in the area is 13oC and 5oC low.
Florence is a must-stop while visiting Tuscany. You’ll enjoy tours around the historical museums, beautiful nativity scenes, and Christmas markets, especially the ones at Basilica di Santa Croce with lesser crowds.
Whether you’re taking a road trip around the Tuscan countryside, wine tasting at the Vineyards, truffle hunting, or visiting the iconic cities of Florence, Pisa, and Siena, a winter trip to Tuscany is always memorable. Plus, accommodations are cheaper in winter.

4. Trentino & the Alps - Popular Winter Sports Destination

Trentino and the Alps as a whole are the perfect winter destination whether you are interested in winter sports or you want to enjoy the beauty of nature. The region lies within the same mountain ranges as the Dolomites and is a well-known destination for winter sports. Its capital city, Trento, is a hub of history and culture with many museums of art.
Most ski resorts offer ski and snowboarding lessons for visitors who don’t know how to ski or snowboard. And if you’re not interested in winter sports, you can visit the numerous lakes, canyons, and nature parks all over the region. You can also visit the many thermal baths, spas, monasteries, and castles around the mountain range.

5. Sardinia - Sunny & Warm Coast + Ski Resorts

While popularly known as a summer getaway location, Sardinia is also a charming place to visit in winter. The weather remains warm all through winter with an average high temperature of 15oC and 5oC low. Here, you can still visit the beach, even in winter.
There are many historical sites to explore in the region’s capital city, Cagliari. You can start by visiting the museum of archeology in the Castello neighborhood and move on to the famous Santa Maria Cathedral. Visit San Benedetto market and try out local foods like fregulla or malloredus for a taste of the local life. And if you want to explore Roman-era amphitheaters and ruins, head to Stampace.

6. Puglia, Amalfi Coast & Matera - Perfect for a Winter Retreat With Sunshine

Puglia, Amalfi Coast & Matera are less-known winter vacation sports in southern Italy. The weather is warm but not too hot all through the winter season. The average temperature of the region is 15oC high and 4oC low. They are the perfect locations for sunbathing in the winter sun.
Puglia
Puglia is a popular summer tourist destination, but few people know how charming this area can be in winter. It is famous for its beautiful beaches, fantastic food, and historical sites. Unlike summer, when the beaches are crowded, Puglia’s beaches are empty in winter, and the water is still warm enough for a short swim.
Puglia’s towns are unique and worth exploring. From the Borghi Streets in Bari to the cone-shaped, snow-capped Trulli homes in Alberobello. Try the local delicacies, especially Castel de Mento Cheeses, fresh seafood, and delicious wine from Negroamaro grapes or Primitivo di Manduria.
Amalfi Coast
While the area looks like a movie scene in summer, hoards of tourists can make a summer visit stressful. However, the area is one of Italy’s hidden winter gems. You get to visit the historical sites and towns with fewer or no crowds in winter, and you’ll get cheaper accommodations too.
Amalfi hosts large Christmas and New Year celebrations. The entire area is aglow with holiday lights and decorations. Ferries don’t run in winter, so you’ll have to take a bus trip to explore the coast.
Matera
Located in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy, Matera is the oldest Italian city. It is home to the historical and popular Sassi area - an intricate network of cave dwellings. The 13th-century churches that litter the area are must-visits for history enthusiasts. The weather here is a mix of sunny days, occasional snowfall, and rainfall.
The Sassi caves are packed with tourists in summer, but you can explore the cave all by yourself in winter. The area is also known for large holiday celebrations at its Piazzas.

7. Venice in Winter - The Right Choice

Venice is a popular tourist destination all year round. There are far fewer tourists in winter, the canals and bridges are all but empty, and you won’t have to wait in long queues to visit popular attractions. The weather in Venice in winter is cold; its average temperatures are 8oC high and 1oC low.
You can grab a coffee or hot chocolate from any of the small shops that dot the city and take a gondola ride around the city while sipping the warm beverage. Take a walk from Piazza San Marco and see other iconic sites, or you could watch the sunset from the Rialto bridge. If you’re big on parties, February is an excellent time to visit the city and participate in its month-long carnival.

8. Rome - See the Most Famous Attractions & Skipp the Crowds

Rome is easily one of the most visited cities in the world, and your Italian winter trip is incomplete if you’ve not seen the ancient city. Located in southern Italy, Rome is very hot in summer and attracts lots of crowds making winter a perfect time to visit for a more temperate climate and fewer crowds.
There’s so much to see in Rome. The city is home to historical museums, ancient cathedrals, famous piazzas, and the majestic Vatican City. You won’t have to wait in long queues when visiting iconic sites like the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum in winter. Even if you’re not religious, you’ll enjoy seeing the Vatican’s museums and the Sistine Chapel.
Christmas is celebrated grandly in Rome. The city is alight with Christmas decorations and tree lighting. Plus, the Pope holds a parade on the streets annually in early December. Rome’s Piazza Navona hosts the largest Christmas market in Italy.

9. Umbria - The Hidden Gem of Italy

Umbria is a less-known tourist location in Italy. This region gives you a taste of Italian village life. Umbria comprises beautiful valleys, forests, rivers, waterfalls, and mountains of lesser height than those in the Alps. It is an ideal location for an Italian winter vacation. And not being a popular tourist destination makes it even better.
Visit the city of Perugia for the sweetest chocolate you’ll ever taste. The city also houses several historic churches, cultural centers, and squares. You’ll enjoy plenty of delicious local food and cultural festivals.

What to Pack for the Italian Winter?

Packing right can determine how well you enjoy your winter visit to Italy. It’s essential to pack warm clothing for the cold weather you’re visiting the cold north or the warmer south. You’ll need layers of warm clothes and raincoat for the rain. Other essentials you need to come with are:
  • Coat
  • Sweaters
  • Scarf
  • Boots
  • Warm socks
  • Umbrella

Visa Requirements for Italy

If you’re thinking about exploring this amazing country during the winter months, obtaining a visa for Italy will be one of the first things to do. Italy belongs to the Schengen zone, so citizens of other countries in this zone don’t need a visa to travel to Italy. Some non-Europeans don’t have to provide a visa before entering the Schengen zone either. However, as of 2023, citizens of these countries will need to provide an ETIAS visa waiver before entering Italy.

The Takeaway: Is Visiting Italy In Winter Worth It?

Italy is worth visiting in winter. It’s an opportunity to explore the country’s rich historical and cultural heritages while avoiding tourist crowds. Because it is Italy’s low tourist season, you will find cheaper accommodations, and the cost of seeing the paid attractions are lesser.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the northern regions like the Dolomites, Trentino, and the Alps are perfect Italian winter break locations. For a warmer winter, southern regions like Sicily and Tuscany are your go-to locations.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

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