Home to pasta, pizzas, espresso, tiramisu, and cannolis, Italy is one of Europe’s most sought-after travel destinations. But there’s more to this Bel Paese than just food. Italy is filled with wondrous cities that embody the country’s rich culture, beautiful art, scenic landscapes, fashion, and luxury brands.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an activity in Italy. Whether you decide to ski down one of Italy’s iconic mountains or test your fashion sense at carnevale, you will surely make magical memories.
You’re probably wondering: what is the best time to journey through Italy? Our answer is simple: winter. From December through March, you will have an unforgettable experience with abundant activities and the best cities to travel to.
Each Italian city offers spectacular winter theatricals, majestic mountains for skiing, bustling Christmas markets, and intriguing museums, creating a vibrant atmosphere all winter long.
To help you jaunt through the lands of Italy in the winter, we have compiled a concise guide with the top activities and cities to explore.
Next Read: Check out this guide if you’re looking for fairytale-like small towns in Italy.
Winter in Italy
In Italy, winter is the most mesmerizing time of the year. Not only is it an affordable period to travel, but the cold climate also deters people from making the trip. This makes it easier to experience the country to your heart’s content without having to worry about overcrowding.
There are many regional differences and even micro-climates in the country. This is due to its diverse natural landscapes, ranging from high mountains to more than four thousand miles of coastline.
During winter in Italy, temperatures vary across regions. Winter in the Dolomites and Northern Italy begins in December and lasts until March (sometimes April). You can expect snow, below-freezing temperatures, and plenty of sunshine.
In central Italy, winter is often between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with a lot of rain and the rare sprinkling of snow. Winter in Southern Italy is typically moderate and rainy. However, throughout the different parts of the country, sunlight always seems to break through for most of the cold season.
Top Activities in Italy in Winter
Although it does get cold in Italy, there are several indoor activities, like visiting museums, attending operas, and going shopping, for you to do. Here are some of our favorite winter activities:
Ski Down Mont Blanc in Courmayeur
With its gentle slopes and quaint, reasonably priced mountain cafés, the Italian ski area of Courmayeur offers a laid-back atmosphere.
The ski area spans approximately 6562 feet, and a well-connected lift system runs from two points on the valley level at about 4016 feet. The main ski area features 31 slopes with a combination of wide, enjoyable routes, tree skiing, and challenging off-course routes.
Because of the number of snow cannons maintaining the slopes, skiing is guaranteed from December to mid-April. The ski area also has an assortment of charming mountain eateries, many of which serve delicious coffee and traditional home-cooked Italian food in a cozy setting.
Feel the Magic at Carnevale During Italy Winter
Carnevale in Italy is a large, over-the-top celebration that begins in January, a month before Ash Wednesday, and ends just before Lent in February. The festival infuses the chilly, bland winter weather in Italy with a flash of color and light.
You can join in and watch the several weekends’ worth of grand parades, spectacular masks, and copious amounts of colorful confetti. Local bakeries provide traditional carnevale treats, and lots of tricks and mischief can be found at the carnevale celebrations in Venice.
Next Read: Check out some more fabulously unique things to do in Venice.
Discover Fascinating History at Colosseum
The Colosseum is a large amphitheater constructed during the Roman Empire’s reign. It is one of Rome’s main attractions that draws in around 6 million tourists annually.
This majestic building has about 2,000 years of history and was marked one of the seven wonders of the world in 2007. You can travel back in time to learn about the Roman Empire by visiting this majestic building.
Since most travelers return home during winter, there are fewer crowds and admission costs are much cheaper. This makes it a perfect and convenient time for you to visit the amphitheater and discover its fascinating history.
Climb the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna is the place to be if you’re visiting Italy in December. It is located in Rome and connected to the Church of Trinità dei Monti by the famous Spanish Steps.
The festive season starts around the second week of December, and the streets surrounding the steps are decorated with lights and nativity scenes. You can stroll along the street and visit many chapels and churches to join in the festivity spirit.
Visit a Theater or Watch an Amazing Opera Performance
The best thing to do in Italy when it is chilly outside is to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture and history. You can get tickets to an opera house to watch the fantastic performances.
Teatro alla Scala and Teatro La Fenice are the most renowned opera houses in Italy. Both offer magnificent opera performances and ballets, and even have an intriguing history dating back to the 18th century.
Top Places to Visit in Italy in Winter
Not only is Rome the capital city of Italy, but it is also one of the most famous cities in the world. Rome reflects the country’s history and culture through many captivating museums and landmarks.
Winter is the perfect time to visit Rome because crowds are much smaller at tourist sites than in the summer and spring.
During winter in Rome, you can:
- Head over to St. Peter’s Square to view nativity scenes
- Check out the Christmas markets at the Piazza Navona
- Get pampered at a Roman spa
Built on over 100 small islands, Venice captures the hearts of its visitors with its gorgeous canals that span the city.
Winter is a great time to visit the city because there are lower accommodation prices, fewer tourists, and some of the best things to do and see during this time of year.
During winter in Venice, you can:
- Go ice skating at Campo San Polo Square
- Show off your fashion sense at the Venice Carnevale
- Treat yourself to a ‘cioccolato caldo’ at Cafe Florian in St. Mark’s Square
- Get into the Christmas spirit at Natale di Vetro on Murano Island
Naples is the third largest city in Italy and is home to the inventor of pizza. Most tourists visit Naples in the summer and spring to enjoy its picturesque beaches and islands. The winter weather in Italy is the best time to visit the city because you can focus on its other stunning features.
During winter in Naples, you can:
- Visit Pompeii to view the ruins from its historical volcanic eruption
- Embrace royalty at Castel Nuovo—and don’t forget to take selfies!
- Venture out to the house of the God of Fire, Volcan
Turin is a place that every history enthusiast will adore. Even in Italy’s winter weather, the city gets about 9 hours of daylight. As a result, this is the ideal time to enjoy the city’s many indoor activities.
During winter in Turin, you can:
- Head over to Piazza San Carlo to view the iconic Christmas tree
- Wander through the Luci D’Artista event to view beautiful Christmas lights by contemporary artists
- Grab yourself a ‘bicerin’ at Baratti & Milano
The Amalfi Coast
Although many people love to visit the Amalfi Coast for a swim at its scenic beaches, the city is also well known for its variety of cuisines, enchanting scenery, cute shops and streets, and rich history. The city also hosts a bunch of Christmas events and concerts throughout December.
During winter on the Amalfi Coast, you can:
- Enjoy a scenic view of the Vulcan at Sorrento
- Take a peek at the history of Positano at the MAR Museum
- Get mesmerized by magnificent sunsets at the tourist port of Amalfi
FAQs – Winter in Italy
1. What to Wear in Italy in Winter
Make sure to pack socks, scarves, long-sleeve tops, coats, and sweaters for your Italian winter holiday. For those visiting the mountains, grab a pair of comfortable boots.
2. When is Winter in Italy?
Winter in Italy begins in December and ends around March or mid-April.
3. Does it Snow in Italy?
Yes, it does snow in Italy. But it occurs more frequently in mountainous areas and at higher altitudes. Venice has the most picturesque snow landscape when snow is at sea level.
4. Is It Worth Visiting Italy in Winter?
Yes. Italy is one country that can be enjoyed to the fullest at any time of the year. However, winter is more spectacular because it highlights the country’s natural splendor throughout the gloomy, chilly months. When snow hits its scenic landscapes, it sure is a breathtaking view.
Table of Contents
- Winter in Italy
- Top Activities in Italy in Winter
- Top Places to Visit in Italy in Winter
- FAQs – Winter in Italy