Travel tips to visit Italy in January: Weather overview, the best places to visit, what to book in advance, pros and cons of spending January in Italy
January is the heart of winter in Italy.
The first month of the year is one of the coldest in Italy and traveling at this time means you are most likely to find cold temperatures, some rainy days and, in many parts of Italy, at least a dusting of snow.
However, this doesn’t mean January is a bad month to visit Italy.
There are actually several advantages to traveling at this time and it is also possible for the weather to surprise you and treat to you some beautiful bright days.
The pros of traveling to Italy in January are:
- Smaller crowds, especially towards the middle and the end of the month
- Lower prices (low season)
- Great shopping – January is sales season
The cons of traveling in January in Italy are:
- Cold weather, with possible rain and snow
- Low season tourism closures
- Some activities are off limits – hiking in Cinque Terre, boating on Amalfi Coast etc
Overall, I believe January is not the best month to visit Italy for all types of travelers but can be a lovely one if you don’t mind wrapping up and want to savor the slow atmospheres of the low season.
In this guide to Italy in January, I will go through what to expect during the first month of the year in various Italian destinations.
Disclaimer: this is a seasonal guide to Italy. For travel advisory and restrictions that may apply to the time of your visit, please check official channels. Check here for official info if traveling from US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
January in Italy: weather overview
Weather conditions in Italy in January depend on where you are. At glance:
- Bolzano (getaway to the Dolomites): 7C / -4C
- Milan: 7/2C – 44 / 35F – average 6 days of Rain
- Rome: 12/3C – 53/37F – average 7 days of Rain
- Palermo: 15/10C – 59/50F – average 8 days of Rain
January in Italy: festivities and celebrations you need to know
January in Italy sees some festivities that can impact on your travels.
The first week of the month is still part of the Christmas festive period and some attractions are closed on specific days. In particular:
6th of January: The Epiphany, a national holiday.
This marks the end of the Christmas festivities (it is the last day for most Christmas markets), some attractions may close.
The best places to visit in Italy in January
If you are looking for a ski vacation in Italy, then you may love January on the Dolomites!
The exact snow conditions will vary from year to year and from locality to locality however, the options are so many you are sure to find one for you.
If you do not sky, consider carefully is this is a good time to go: you will not be able to hike at this time so if you want to go sightseeing, then the summer is a better option.
January is the coldest month of the year in Rome and very much a winter one, however, it is not an unpleasant one to visit the Eternal City.
The city is busy and buzzing with Christmas cheer until the 6th of January and then enters a quiet, lovely time of low crowds and local atmosphere.
This is a wonderful time to see Rome for the real city as it is!
January is a good time for museum visits, shopping and warming meals in local trattorie. However, it is not a good time for prolonged time outside and days are short, so you may have to take it slower than at other times.
You can find my full guide to Rome in January here.
Venice in January
I love Venice is January, I find it exceptionally romantic, however, it is not a month everyone will love here.
The weather is hit and miss at this time and you will need warm coats, boots, scarves and a hat.
As you can imagine, Venice gets pretty humid in the winter and this will impact on how long you will be able to stay outside.
However, the city has so many wonderful museums, shops and restaurants, you are never far from a warm cozy interior, and Venice does warm and cozy really well!
Need to know: Venice in winter sometimes sees the phenomenon of acqua alta (high tide, this is when Venice floods). This can be a nuisance or a dramatic event for the city, depending on intensity. If going to Venice in winter, keeping an eye on the weather and water forecast is useful.
Florence and Tuscany
Florence gets pretty cold in winter but if you are happy to wrap up, this is when the city is at its quietest and this can go a long way to make you enjoy its otherwise very busy streets.
This is a good time to visit many of Florence’s famous museums and, if you get here durins the weeks with the sales, it can be a shoppers’ paradise.
January is also a wonderful time to sample Tuscan food, which warming, filling, and perfect with a glass of local red!
The Tuscan countryside gets chilly in January and you can also get snow at higher altitudes.
You can still visit hilltop villages, however, January is a time for museums more than outdoor pursuits so I would stick as close to Florence and to Tuscany’s main cities (Siena, Lucca, Pisa) as possible.
Sicily can get pretty cold in January however, overall the winter here is mild and you can also get the occasional properly pleasant sunny day that will make you feel it is the spring, rather than the heart of winter!
This is a quiet time in Sicily and while you will not be able to have a sea and sun vacation here in winter, you will be able to visit all Sicily’s main attractions without the scorching sun that makes it so hard in summer.
Puglia is one of my favorite destinations in Italy in January and not just! Blessed with gorgeous beaches, it is often associated with summer trips and indeed, you can visit Puglia all year round however, I find the low season in its pretty towns one of the most pleasant of all.
You can find out recommended itinerary in Puglia here.
Other places to consider for January in Italy
Amalfi Coast in January
The Amalfi Coast is so beautiful I will never tell you not to go however, if you are in the area in January you need to know what to expect as the experience will be significantly different than in summer.
In January here, you will be able to enjoy the towns at their quietest, which is surely a plus, however, you will not be able to go boating or even get around by ferry, which means you will miss out on seeing the Costiera from the water which is, I believe, one of the best ways to enjoy it.
If this is the only time you have to visit, I recommend you stay in Sorrento, which is lovely and has enough to keep you entertained for quite a while!
Lake Como is a lovely area, with lovely views and pleasant towns, but it is not a place with much to do and, in January, this can be a problem especially if you are hoping for an active holiday or you are visiting with kids.
If you only have January to go to Lake Como, your best bet is the first week of the month: during the Christmas festivities, the town of Como itself is lovely and you also have a nice Christmas market that can make the day there worth it.
January is not a good time to visit Cinque Terre.
In January, Cinque Terre paths tend to be closed, rain is frequent and many hotels and tourism services shut, the season starting again later in the year, towards mid-March.
If visiting Cinque Terre in January, the best time to go is early in the month.
During the Christmas festivities, the towns have lovely nature scenes and they themselves look like one, Manarola being home to the biggest Nativity scene in the world!
This is not a time for hiking or the sea but the nativity scene can be nice if visiting Cinque Terre with kids.
What to book in advance if visiting Italy in January
Italy is relatively quiet in January however, some of its most famous attractions stay crowded and advance booking is recommended.
I recommend you book as soon as your trip is confirmed and you opt for tours and tickets with good cancellations options like the ones I recommend below via GetYourGuide
Colosseum, Rome: the official site gets booked out months in advance (although you may be in luck if only looking for one or two tickets). However, guided tours are usually available on GetYourGuide here
Vatican, Vatican City, Rome: tickets sell out fast and operate on a time slot system. You can get them on the official site of the museums or choose a guided tour via GetYourGuide here: I highly recommend them as the museums are vast and easily overwhelming, without a guide.
Visiting Italy in January with kids
January is a tricky time to visit Italy with kids as you be limited in the number of outdoor activities you can do and even afternoons at the playground will have to fight with the possible rain.
It is however possible to enjoy Italy in winter as a family.
These are some of my favorite family activities in Italy for kids:
- Discover the family friendly side of Venice – book a family friendly hotel and a treasure hunt for kids to make the most of this quiet time in the city
- Plan a few days to discover the many things to do in Florence with kids: cooking classes, museums, treasure hunts… there are quite a few that are perfect for the winter
- Discover Rome with kids and make the most of the many indoor activities available such as pizza-making class for kids and kid-friendly mosaic class in Rome
- Discover the magic of Italy’s Christmas Witch, la befana!
I hope you found this guide to Italy in January useful. Happy travel planning!