Read our guide to plan your ideal trip! Whatever your interests, you will find plenty of things to do in Italy in winter.
By and large, Italy offers winters that tend to be mild. So, no fear of the extreme cold! Nevertheless, some areas are characterized by whitewashed landscape scenarios worthy of the most beautiful regions of Northern Europe. In Italy, you will find beautiful places where you can admire unique snow-covered landscapes and practice your favourite winter sports. Otherwise, the sea lovers who cannot abandon the beach even in the cold season will be pleasantly surprised by the spectacular Italian coastal cities.
On the other hand, tours in the art cities are an evergreen experience, even though it is advisable to visit some of them during autumn/winter instead of summer. Conversely, if you do not want to give up the heat and relaxation even in winter, thermal baths are the ideal solution for you. Finally, a parenthesis aside must be dedicated to Christmas and the beautiful and typical markets that decorate the Italian cities during these holidays. In brief, there is something to suit everybody's fancy! So, here are some of the must-visit destinations that Italy offers for the winter period.
Winter destinations in the mountains
Undoubtedly, first and foremost, we suggest you visit the places located in the Dolomites, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, that was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2009. Stretching over the Alps from west to east, the Dolomites embrace Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Further to be winter sports paradise, these regions offer majestic and breathtaking landscapes.
In Lombardy, in the central Alps, it is worth paying a visit to Livigno. In the past, Livigno was a poor city that based its economy on agricultural activities, but today it has become a first-rate tourist destination. Of course, Livigno has many ski slopes. The city offers slopes suitable for all needs; even beginners can start by taking private lessons with specialized masters. What is more, Livigno offers many slopes for cross-country skiing, perhaps a less arduous approach to snow.
What to do in Livigno
What most attracts tourists to Livigno is the possibility of choosing between different types of activities. Among the adventures to be experienced at least once in life, we recommend ice climbing. Livigno is known for the abundant presence of ice falls. Ice climbing is not a dangerous activity but must be done safely and accompanied by the help of expert Alpine Guides. The waterfalls have varying difficulties, so - with due caution - even beginners can try this kind of incredible experience.
Bike and ice do not get along at all. Yet, in Livigno, it is possible to ride in the snow! How? Thanks to the Fat bike, a bicycle with oversized tires designed just for those who can not give up a good ride, even on the roads less walkable. A fun activity to do in a group or independently to take a tour of the territory accompanied by expert guides.
Have you always dreamed of taking a romantic sleigh ride in Lapland? Well, you do not have to go that far. In Livigno, you can live this kind of experience! The sledges are drawn by horses and not by reindeer, but the effect is the same! It can be a fun activity recommended for children too.
The spectacular and immense alpine landscapes acquire a unique charm when viewed from above as a whole. If you feel brave enough, in Livigno you can try paragliding in the Alps. By flying in tandem with instructors, you just have to open your eyes and photograph forever in your mind a spectacular and unique vision in the world!
Italy in winter: thermal baths
If sports are not your cup of tea, and you love to relax and enjoy the heat even when it snows outside, thermal baths are the right choice for you. In addition to being a valid alternative to skiing holidays, thermal baths also have therapeutic properties. In fact, since ancient times, it is known that the thermal waters are rich in beneficial and healing properties, including strengthening the immune system and purification of the skin with antibacterial action. In Italy, from North to South, each region has got several thermal baths. You are spoilt for choice!
Among the most famous Italian places housing hot springs, we recommend Ischia. Not surprisingly, the island has earned the title of the island of well-being. Due to its volcanic nature, the largest island of the Gulf of Naples is rich in hot springs and mud baths. Since the ancient Imperial Rome era, Ischia was famous for this characteristic, to the point that the Public Baths were built. Today, the island has modern spas, emblem of the so-called Health Tourism. On the green island, you can regenerate body and mind by combining the benefits of the thermal baths with the climate and the spectacular nature of the territory.
Winter seaside destinations
The mild Italian winters make the idea of spending some days at sea a perfect trip! So, for those who just cannot give up the sea, here are some destinations to visit.
Although it is a typical summer destination, you will be surprised to visit the beautiful Amalfi Coast even in winter. The streets, the landscape and the villages take on a completely different aspect, giving a more relaxed travel experience thanks to the reduced presence of seaside tourists. If you dare, on the hottest sunny days, you can even have a dip in the beautiful crystal clear waters of the place!
If you are visiting Venice, we recommend a day trip to nearby Caorle, a pretty village characterized by colourful houses overlooking the sea. After a pleasant walk or ride to discover the town, you cannot miss a delicious fresh fish lunch, followed by an excursion to the Sanctuary of the Madonna dell'Angelo, where the sunset coloured shades give a fabulous atmosphere.
On a winter trip to the Marches, we advise visiting the Conero Riviera. From the coast to the Colli dell'Infinito, the Conero Riviera offers many hiking opportunities among the green woods, with the spectacular maritime landscape that frames. The most beautiful and wild beaches in the area are more easily accessible in winter due to the lack of seaside tourism. However, in case of adverse weather conditions, you can visit the pretty village of Sirolo, which boasts the name of the pearl of the Adriatic. From its historic centre, you can enjoy a breathtaking view that embraces the weave of alleys of the village and the beaches set in Monte Conero.
Visiting art cities in winter
There is no ideal time to visit the stunning art cities in Italy. However, we can recommend some destinations that you should visit while avoiding the summer heat.
The excavations of the Vesuvian area affected by the volcano eruption in 79 B.C. that buried the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are all open-air. So, planning a trip for a sunny and pleasant winter day could be ideal to fully enjoy a tour that will drag you into the past without risking sunstroke.
If you are a chocolate lover, you cannot miss Turin. The Italian capital of chocolate in Piedmont is rich in historic cafes, where you can enjoy a delicious hot chocolate or the famous Bicerin (a mixture of coffee, chocolate and cream) that will warm you up after a beautiful day visiting the beauties of the city. Indeed, Turin is rich in history, art and culture. You will be fascinated by its museums and art galleries, as well as the ancient palaces, majestic churches and beautiful squares. What is more, as soon as the cold weather arrives, the city is adorned with ice skating rinks: fun is guaranteed!
Like Pompeii, Matera is essentially an open-air museum. So, it is advisable to visit the so-called Città dei Sassi avoiding the hot summer sun rays that beat hard on the magnificent rocks on which the city rises. Moreover, it will be less overcrowded. Good food and good wine from Lucania will accompany you on a tour of this amazing city awarded with the title of European Capital of Culture in 2019.
Visit Christmas markets
It is not winter without Christmas and the typical Christmas markets. Stalls of decorations, typical sweets and tastings of local delicacies: the Christmas markets are a real immersion in the festivities and traditions of the city where they are set up. From North to South, all of the Italian largest cities house a Christmas market. However, you will also find them in the small hidden villages, giving these places a touch of magic.
Anyway, even if it seems not the right time for the Christmas atmosphere, there is a place where the oldest tradition of Christmas knows no seasons. In San Gregorio Armeno in Spaccanapoli, it is always Christmas. If you visit Naples during the Christmas period, San Gregorio Armeno is just a must. It will fascinate you to walk in this alley lined with shops that handed down the ancient art of nativity making. No sheep, shepherd or tuft of grass has not been built, painted and specially placed by expert hands on the cribs. Moreover, you will be overwhelmed by the smells of typical Christmas sweets from the surrounding patisseries while walking. Struffoli, mustaccioli, pastiera and roccocò will delight your taste buds!