The Highs and Lows of travel to Italy & Europe

November 19, 2014

When is the best time to travel to Italy and Europe?

The weather in Italy, for example, varies considerably from north to south and generally ranges from cold winters and hot summers in the north (Milan: - 2 in January to 29 degrees in July), milder winters and summers in central Italy (Rome: 3 in January to 30 degrees in July/August ) and in the south (Palermo in Sicily; 9 degrees in Jan/Feb to 30 degrees in July/August.)

France, Spain, Germany, England, Greece and eastern European countries all vary depending on their geographical location but the following ‘highs and lows’ can generally be appreciated across ‘the continent’.  

Italy in Winter

Low season – October to March

Highs
 No heat/cooler weather (with a chance of snow!) – visit outdoor attractions like Roman Forum, Colosseum & Eiffel Tower in the cooler months for more enjoyment and less heat- induced fatigue.

 No crowds/queues – visit Vatican city, galleries (Louvre & Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Uffizi and Accademia in Florence) and other popular attractions without the crowds and enjoy at your own pace. Aah…what a pleasure...TIP: pre-booking some attractions e.g. tours to see ‘Last Supper’ fresco in Milan is recommended year round due to limited daily access.

 Cosy European bars, cafes and restaurants with fireplaces & heating. European cities – Vienna, Paris, Venice – offer a traditional northern hemisphere “winter wonderland” experience (hopefully with snow!) that could be all your dreams come true! This leads to…

 Winter European foods (hearty pasta & slow cooked dishes in Italy, fondue in Switzerland and cassolet in France) plus (mulled) wine and lots of Christmas/New Year treats?

 Christmas markets & traditions (with the chance of a magical white Christmas!) & festivals eg. Carnival in Venice (Carnevale di Venezia 31 January – 17 February  2015)

 Winter Sales – in Italy, traditionally 30% off + in 2nd week of January.

 Low season travel deals & savings – check out CIT’s 10% off low season travel*

 Head for the hills (or Swiss & Italian alps) to enjoy fresh alpine air & activities. Or snuggle up and roast chestnuts on an open fire...
 
 Did we mention, there might be snow?!!

Lows

 • It’s a bit chilly out (but a great time to wear those snuggly winter woolies) and with higher rainfall during  low season, don’t forget a travel umbrella or plastic poncho to keep warm and dry

 Limited hours - some museums & activities are closed or have limited hours – check ahead and plan around.

 Due to festive season holidays, lower demand & locate, some shops and accommodation options such as villas and apartments may be closed during low season and coastal destinations (seaside villages, Amalfi Coast, Liguria, south of France ) may resemble ghost towns.

An Italian Summer

High Season – April to September

Highs
 It’s summertime in Europe so expect warm weather, particularly in July & August. Enjoy long daytime hours, head to the seaside and dine alfresco on a balmy summer evening...who doesn't love summer?!

 Open for business - all villas/apartments/walking tracks and tourist attractions are open for peak season. 

 Gelato! Gelato…and more gelato ?

 Italian summer cuisine - think caprese salad, antipasti, fresh mozzarella di bufala, fresh seafood & seasonal produce plus relaxing aperitifs and wines…

 Italian summer style - swimming in the sparkling Mediterranean ocean & relaxing Italian style

 Summer Sales (in Italy, traditionally mid July)

 Summer Festivals (open air movies in Rome and music & opera performances across Italy) & exhibitions (Milan Expo 2015) abound and museums & galleries often have extended summer hours for the benefit of tourists and locals.

 Earlybird Europe sales (air & land deals) are out from September – grab a hot deal to Europe for next year!

Lows
 The heat. It gets hot in the middle of summer (July/August) in Italy (& Europe) – strolling around ruins & outdoor tourist attractions in the midday heat does not always make for an enjoyable holiday experience.  TIP: to keep cool, visit museums, cathedrals/duomos and underground/inside attractions during the day. Ensure your accommodation has air-con, fans or a swimming pool and bring a hat - extreme sunburn/sunstroke could be a major high season low!

 The crowds. You will find queues and lots of tourists at all major monuments and tourist attractions across Italy & Europe. TIP: Plan ahead, dress for the heat, drinks lots of water and take a deep breath. 

 Higher peak season (tourist) prices. Before you go, when in Italy and including food & bottled water. TIP: Enjoy Rome’s free spring water from fountains on just about every street corner. 

 School/public holiday shutdowns. In July/August, many Italians packup and head to the coast, islands or south, making these places extra busy. Many small businesses (shops/ restaurants) in major cities and towns close (chiuso in Italian) at random times during this period. TIP: be warned and see Italian Summers & Ferragosto blog post for more info.

 Limited availability. If you don’t pre-book (accommodation, city tours, transport) you might miss out…or queue for a long time (eg. Last Supper in Milan, Vatican, major galleries and museums) – so book early for high season travel.


Whether you travel in high or low season, Italy & Europe has something for everyone.  So relax and enjoy the experience…despite the weather!


For more information on travel in Italy & Europe, speak to your local travel agent or a CIT travel specialist.


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