When is The Best Time to Visit Italy
The best time of year to visit Italy is during spring and autumn. Between March and May and again from September to October, the weather is pleasant, plus there are smaller crowds. June until early September is the hottest, most expensive, and busiest time.
But whatever the time of year, there's always a reason to visit Italy. In winter, while the beach towns are locked up, the ski resorts are doing a roaring trade, and if you don’t mind colder temperatures, as well as shorter opening hours at some attractions, the cities can be quiet and atmospheric.
Weather in Italy across the year
Italy has four climatic seasons: winter (December-February), spring (March-May), summer (June-August), and autumn (September-November).
Winters in the north are cold and damp, with cities including Milan, Turin, and Venice experiencing icy winds and sub-zero night-time temperatures, while snow and fog are not uncommon. In Rome, the far south, and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, winters are much milder, although cold spells can happen.
Across the country, spring can be mild, but expect thunderstorms or short downpours. Summer is hot and dry in the south, and hot and humid in the north, while in the centre, although it can be cooler in the hills, cities like Florence and Siena can be stifling. From October, the summer heat eases, although the rainiest months tend to be October and November. Ski season in the Alps is usually from late November until late April.
Of course, with the sea on three sides, and mountains in the north and along its spine, Italy experiences plenty of regional variations. For example, while it's a warm and rainy summer's day in the Alps, it could be unbearably hot in Sicily.
Italy in January
Unless you like cold, damp, grey conditions, avoid northern Italian cities like Milan and Venice in winter. Night-time temperatures dip to freezing, while daily highs of around 6°C are normal. Head further south, though, and you can enjoy a couple more hours of sunshine in Rome and Florence, where temperatures reach double figures by day and stay above zero at night. In Naples, expect it to rain on one out of three days in January, although temperatures reach the low teens by day, and dip to around 4°C at night — look out for snow on Mount Vesuvius. You'll find even milder weather on Sicily and Sardinia: temperatures in Palermo usually reach 15°C and don't dip far below 10°C at night, while in Cagliari they range from 6-14°C. Expect a mix of sun and rain in these two cities.
Italy in February
In Milan, Turin, and Venice the weather's still damp and grey, although temperatures rise by a couple of degrees in February. It's carnival month in Venice, so prices rise as the city gets busy. In Rome and Florence, expect 4-5 hours' sunshine each day, but this is punctuated by cloud and rain — it tends to rain seven days out of the month. Temperatures reach a maximum of around 13°C, while at night they dip to about 2°C. Naples experiences very similar mild and rainy conditions to January, while Palermo temperatures stay in the 10-15°C range and rainfall is usually a bit lower than the previous month. Temperatures and rainfall in Cagliari differ little from January.
Italy in March
The weather continues to get milder, with temperatures in Milan, Turin, and Venice reaching the mid-teens, and dropping to around 4°C at night, making it a great time to visit. Although sunshine levels are rising, you can expect some showers, too. You’ll find similar conditions if you travel south to Rome, Naples, or Florence, although it's usually a degree or two warmer. In Palermo, temperatures tend to stay above 10°C at night, while they can reach around 16°C by day. You might still experience rain one day out of three. On Sardinia, temperatures in Cagliari range from 7-17°C, while there are usually about six hours of sunshine per day. Expect higher prices — and more people — everywhere during the busy Easter weekend.
Italy in April
All over Italy, the spring wildflowers are coming out, so rural areas are full of colour. Better still, you won't experience the crowds and hot temperatures associated with summer — it's a great time to visit popular places like Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, and the Italian Lakes. Temperatures in Turin, Milan, and Venice dip to around 8°C at night, reaching 17°C in the day, and while sunshine hours increase, there's also more rainfall, usually due to thunderstorms. In Rome and Florence, temperatures reach the high teens and don't fall much below around 8°C at night. There are higher levels of sunshine, although April showers bring more rainfall than March and May. Temperatures in Palermo and Cagliari can reach 20°C, and you can expect 7-8 hours of daily sunshine, while rainfall levels continue to drop from their winter peaks.
Italy in May
Minimum night-time temperatures in the main northern cities tend to be around 12°C, while during the day, the mercury should reach the early 20s. May tends to be Turin's wettest month, while the weather is more stable in Milan and Venice. Temperatures in Rome, Florence, and Naples should range about 12-23°C, and while rainfall decreases on April levels, you can still experience some downpours. Cagliari, one of the driest cities in Italy, gets rain on perhaps four days in May, while temperatures are similar to those in Rome. Palermo also sees low rainfall levels in May, and daily temperatures range from 15-23°C. Sea temperatures around Sicily and Sardinia reach about 17-18°C, so it's not too cold for a dip. Ski season is coming to an end, so Alpine resorts begin to offer other outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and canyoning. In popular destinations like Rome and Florence, hotel prices are on the rise.
Italy in June
Now that summer has arrived, daily temperatures range from 16-25°C in Venice and from 17-27°C in Milan, while both cities get rain on around eight days of the month, and eight hours of sunshine per day. Further south, in Rome, Florence, and Naples, temperatures don't drop below the mid teens at night and rise to the high 20s by day. Rainfall levels continue to drop and you're likely to experience 10 hours of sunshine. May and June are among the best times to visit Sicily and Sardinia, as the busy holiday season hasn't started. In Palermo and Cagliari, rainfall is rare in June, while temperatures range from the high teens to high 20s, and sea temperatures on both islands reach around 21°C.
Italy in July
July is Italy's sunniest month, while high temperatures mean that the country’s holiday hotspots will be teeming with visitors from now until September. Milan has highs of around 30°C, while night-time temperatures don’t fall far below 20°C. It's a couple of degrees cooler in Venice, though both cities receive about 9-10 hours of sunshine a day, as well as rainfall on about six days of the month, with some thunderstorms possible. Rome, Florence, and Naples see temperatures ranging from the high teens to low 30s, while the days tend to be sunny, and rainfall levels are low, save for the occasional thunderstorm. Temperatures range from 22-30°C in Palermo and 19-30°C in Cagliari, while it rarely rains in July in either city. Sea temperatures reach the mid 20s in most of the country.
Italy in August
Temperatures tend to peak in August across Italy, and are usually about a degree warmer than July, so it can get uncomfortably hot for sightseeing. It's peak holiday season, and many Italians take the whole month off, which, added to an influx of international tourists, means busy beaches and mountain resorts, queues at visitor attractions, and high hotel prices. Expect popular destinations like Rome, Venice, Capri, the Cinque Terre, Florence, Rimini, and Lake Garda to be packed. Rainfall remains relatively low, and sea temperatures reach 25-27°C across the country.
Italy in September
Temperatures are pleasant after dropping from their summer peak. It's the best time to visit Venice and Milan, as tourist numbers start to fall, and temperatures reach the mid 20s by day and fall to around 15°C by night. Expect 6-7 hours of sunshine per day, and rain on 5-6 days of the month. In Rome, Florence, and Naples, daily temperatures range from 15-27°C, while rainfall levels begin to rise towards their autumnal peak. There's still a good 7-8 hours of sunshine each day, though. Rainfall is a lot lower in Sicily and Sardinia, where temperatures reach the high 20s. Across the country, it's still a good time to be in the sea, with water temperatures reaching the mid 20s, and beach resorts becoming quieter.
Italy in October
As autumn arrives, rainfall reaches its highest levels in Milan — it can last a few hours, rather than arriving as downpours. Temperatures dip to 10°C at night and hit a daily maximum of around 18°C. The weather is similar in Venice, and both cities can get a touch of mist or fog. Further south, temperatures still reach the low 20s, and although rainfall in cities like Rome, Florence, and Naples are reaching their highest levels, there are still a couple of hours' more sunshine per day than in the north. Sicily and Sardinia are among the warmest, sunniest places in the country. Sea temperatures in Italy reach the low 20s, although the Mediterranean tends to be rougher at this time of year. From late October until Easter, cities are quieter, with many attractions operating shorter hours, and some hotels closing for renovation work, particularly away from the main cities. But with bright days and reasonable temperatures, October is the best time of year to visit Rome.
Italy in November
Temperatures continue to fall in the north, with Turin, Milan, and Venice recording lows of around 4°C and highs around 12°C. It tends to be damp, with only two or three hours of (not particularly strong) sunshine a day. In Rome, Florence, and Naples, temperatures should still reach the mid teens, while evenings are cool. All three cities receive their highest levels of rainfall, with one in three days experiencing precipitation, sometimes very heavy. In Cagliari and Palermo, temperatures will usually reach 18°C by day, and remain in double figures at night, and while both cities do receive rainfall, they are among the driest places in the country in November. The ski season is beginning at alpine resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo, Sestriere, and Courmayeur, while beach destinations have virtually shut down and the seas are rough.
Italy in December
The weather in Italy in December is similar to January, with freezing nights and cold, damp days in the north. Temperatures are warmer in Rome, Florence, and Naples, reaching double figures by day, while rainfall levels have reduced a bit from their November peaks, although sunshine levels are at their lowest. Palermo and Cagliari record daytime maximum temperatures in the mid-teens and receive a little more sunshine than the mainland. The Sardinian capital gets half the December rainfall that Rome does.
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Nick Elvin contributed to this post.