All you need to know to plan a trip to Italy in January. The weather, best places to go in Italy in winter, what to pack, what to book in advance, practical travel tips
January is the heart of winter in Italy, a month of grey sky, rain and cold temperatures, in many parts of Italy accompanied by at least a dusting of snow.
How cold Italy gets in January surprises many: the country is, after all, famous for mild weather and for being a year-round destination, Italian fashion being associated more with summer dresses than heavy coats.
Indeed, if compared with the rigid arctic winter of let’s say Canada or parts of the US, Italy is indeed mild, even in the middle of January.
However, don’t let this comparison fool you.
In January in Italy, you will need a warm coat, scarves, hats and gloves and, depending on your destination, you may get snow: a dusting or even a lot!
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.
I hope this will help you plan your winter trip to Italy at best!
Disclaimer: this is a seasonal travel guide about Italy in January, meant to help you decide the best time of the year for your visit. It does not address the current state of travel. For official information please always refer to official info before making any plans.
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Is January a good time to visit Italy? Overview
January is a peculiar time to visit Italy and how good or bad it is, varies widely on what you are expecting and hoping to get from your Italy trip.
January is a great month to visit Italy if you are interested in city breaks, museum visits and indoor attractions.
It is also a good month for traveling to Italy on a budget.
Aside from the first week of the month, January is low season in Italy and this means smaller crowds and lower prices.
January is not a good month to visit Italy if you are hoping for dinners out, time on the coast, cycling trips or if you want to visit Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast.
Need to know: The first week of January, up to the 6th included, is the holidays in Italy. At this time, crowds can be really intense and prices are up. After the 6th, low seasons starts and prices and availability improve.
Here is more detailed information about Italy’s most popular destinations in winter.
What is January like in Italy’s most popular destinations?
Is January a good time to visit Rome?
January is the coldest month of the year in Rome and very much a winter one, but not an unpleasant one to visit the Eternal City.
The first week of the month is still a festive period in Rome, with big crowds and Christmas decorations in the shops, while the following weeks are quieter and a nice time to see Rome at its quietest.
January is a good time for museum visits, shopping and food however, not a great one for outdoor dining (way too cold) and for prolonged time outside.
You can find my full guide to Rome in January here.
What is Venice in January like?
Venice is January is cold and humid however, it is also immensely romantic, quiet and charming.
The weather is hit and miss at this time and you will need warm coats, boots, scarves and a hat.
While rain and clouds are frequent, Venice in January can also treat you to glorious sunny days, when the city properly shines
Personally, I love Venice in January.
You will need to plan your day to accommodate rather short daylight hours however, thinner crowds mean you will be able to pack quite a lot in a short time.
During our last winter trip to Venice, we stayed for 3 days: you can see our favorite Venice itinerary here.
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.
Is Cinque Terre in January 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 is Florence like in January? How cold is Tuscany in winter?
January is not a bad time to visit Florence.
The city can get cold and you will need to wrap up well.
However, January is Florence is relatively quiet and this means museums and church visits are easier, the lines diminishing massively especially after the festivities are over.
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.
What is Lake Como like in January?
Honest answer? Not great!
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, the view of the lake only entertaining anyone for so long.
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.
What is the Amalfi Coast in January like?
The Amalfi Coast is not at its best in January. Actually, it is pretty far from it!
While the area is always beautiful, the Amalfi Coast is very much a good weather destination, one you want to enjoy when the sun hits the water and when you can sit outside for dinner.
January doesn’t really allow you to do that. At this time, the weather is not very cold rainy and grey and tourism services operate at minimum capacity, many being closed altogether.
You cannot swim or go boating on the Amalfi Coast in winter.
If this is the only time you have to visit, your best bet is to stay in Sorrento, which is lovely, and go during the Christmas festivities, celebrated here with lovely displays and nativity scenes.
Italy in January, need to know dates
January in Italy sees some festivities that can impact on your travels.
6th of January: 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.
Good to know! January is usually the season for sales and it is one of the best month to visit Italy for end of season shopping!
What to pack for Italy in January
Italy is cold in January so you will need to pack a coat, scarf, gloves, woolen sweaters and winter shoes.
You can find my packing list for Italy in winter here however, these are your must have:
- All your travel documents (passport, Visa, Insurance, etc)
- Broken in walking shoes (find my shoe recommendations here
- Clothing essentials
- Jeans / long trousers / pants
- Long sleeve tops (short sleeves for layering only)
- Warm sweater
- Coat, scarf, gloves, winter
- Power bank
- Travel adapter
- Italian phrasebook
- Portable travel umbrella
What to book in advance in 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.
The best things to do in Italy in January
These are some of my favorite places to visit in Italy in January and things to do.
- Enjoy Venice without the crowds
- Explore Florence’s many museums
- See Rome’s city center without the crowds
- Explore Abruzzo and its snow-dusted mountain villages
- Taste all the glorious Emilia Romagna food with local food tours (tortellini, parma ham, parmigiano are perfect winter foods!
- Defrost in stunning Sicily
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.
Itis 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 Milan
- Explore child-friendly Venice
- Find out why we love Florence with kids
- Discover why we think Rome with kids is simply the best
- Warm-up taking a pizza-making class for kids
- Have fun taking a 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!
About the author: Marta Correale is an Italian mama of 2, born and bred in Rome. Avid traveler, Marta graduated in Classics at the University of Rome and married her love for history and travel in a career as a travel writer. She is the writer and editor behind Learning Escapes, a successful travel blog about cultural travel with kids, the creator of the successful Mama Loves Rome, an in-depth travel site about her native city of Rome and co-editor of the global family travel site Little City Trips.