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Italy in January

Want to take the family to Italy in January. Was thinking Venice, Rome and Sicily.
Is it a good time of year for that and can we do it on the cheap?


Posted by
7728 posts

Venice will be a bit dull in January, but that might be pleasant. Rome is a year round destination, crowds will be more manageable then, not a bad thing, still plenty of tourists, but navigating will be much easier. Sicily, January? I can't say, it is possible some tourist destinations will be "off-season". Some places do take vacations about that time, but I think there will be enough to keep you interested. My general advice in January-February is to stick to larger working cities, since they never seem to shut down, and are always vibrant.

Posted by
27451 posts

How much time do you have? Sicily is a very large island. We usually recommend at least 2 weeks there--a bit longer if you don't plan to rent a car for part of the itinerary.

I have never been to Europe between mid-October and the beginning of April, so I have no idea what conditions would be like in Venice (chilly and damp?) or Sicily (maybe quiet outside the major cities?). I'd choose mostly Rome at that time of year, myself.

Posted by
525 posts

I was in Rome, Florence, and Venice in December-January 2021/2022 and found all three pleasant, although cold, as you might expect. Crowds were much lighter than in the spring and summer, so that was nice. Public transportation (except for the vaporetti in Venice) wasn't crowded at all.

Posted by
547 posts

Weather will be cold and wet, the more South you go the warmer it'll be. The crowds won't be as 'intense' that time of year as they would be during the warmer months but, they'll be there. Winter time is when Italians can get out and visit other parts of their country (and family too) before they get inundated with tourists later in the calendar. Things will be cheaper but, you'll also have less options, as hotels, shops and restaurants will close for the holidays and some will take the time for refurbishing, same also for museums and attractions. Rome will be open (its a country's capitol after all) but, other places you'll notice seasonal closures...which also means those staying open can take advantage.

You're looking at a big geographical spread, how much time do you have and how were you planning on getting around? With just those three locations, you're looking at a fair amount of time sliced out of each day when traveling between destinations. Maybe focus the itinerary on a specific region: Rome and North or, Rome and South? Maximize your enjoyment time, and reduce the transit time; you're on vacation and I'm assuming treating the family...don't want the trip to be remembered as a death march.

Posted by
585 posts

Rome is delightful in January. After January 6 the crowds thin out and the city seems to relax. This past winter it didn't rain at all, we had bright blue skies every day. It's jacket weather but never bitter cold. And a heaping bowl of pasta really hits the spot, unlike in summer.

Posted by
3812 posts

Ponygirl said it all: Is "January" before or after January 6?

Before the 6th it's still Xmas holyday season all over Italy. Including the small seaside Sicilian villages. Those are quite deserted in winter, but between December 24 and January 6 there will be Italian tourists and locals living somewhere else who are spending some time with their families.

Posted by
512 posts

While in Rome in mid-January we noticed many groups of university students arriving for their Study Abroad programs (including on our flight from LHR-Rome). We enjoyed seeing these students getting their first "taste" of Italy (usually during aperitivo or gelato time!); we saw more student groups out and about in the late afternoon/early evening.

Posted by
146 posts

Totally get wanting or needing to do it on the cheap. Especially when you have a family I can understand how quickly the costs can add up.

My first trip to Italy was in late January, early 2000’s. It was short, 6-7 nights total, split between Rome and Florence. I found it a great time to visit on the cheap being off season. It was cold, with some rain but so nice there weren’t big crowds.

This trip I purchased a package deal through gate1travel that included air (from LAX), hotel and rail. I think the total package was around $1,000 for one person.

So yeah you can do it on the cheap :-)

A few years ago we spent 2 weeks in Rome during January. We were greeted with unexpected warm, sunny shirt sleeve weather the entire time! And there were no crowds. We went everywhere without crowds. Now, that being said, you cannot be guaranteed nice weather…..but it can happen! So much to see and do in Rome, that even if the weather is not great, there is much to enjoy. At the same time, friends of ours went to Sicily and they commented that so many restaurants and places were closed. So…..although you may run a better chance of better weather, the downside is that there is less to do. And I agree with Crystal (I think) that you can find some good deals with Gate 1.

Posted by
11500 posts

Venice and Rome are, IMO, great in winter. Museums are not so crowded, weather can be great, and it is never as cold as in my native Minnesota. More like Portland, where I live now, in terms of temps but not as wet. When it is sunny in January it is delightful! You will spend a fair amount of time outdoors, especially in Venice, so a warm and rain resistant coat plus hat, scarf, gloves, and boots essential.

Hotel rates are excellent in January, too. We once stayed in Florence at a highly rated hotel, the Pendini, for half the normal high season rate.

Sicily is an outlier for you. It can be miserable. We were there one March when it should have been spring-like but we had snow outside of Palermo! If you only have a few days for it, skip it this trip and concentrate on Rome, Venice, and maybe add Florence. Cities are the best choice in case of bad weather and you will not need a car.

Posted by
130 posts

FYI Italy is fairly far north...gets dark early in January. Before 5pm, and sun doesn't rise til almost 8.

Posted by
16142 posts

Just a mention that your cost savings may only apply to accommodations and possibly airfare. Prices of everything else, such as food, public transport and attraction tickets, won't change much if at all. As mentioned above, the bigger benefit is avoiding high-season crowds and heat.

I'd also agree with sticking to mainland Italy and saving Sicily for a future trip. How many days are you lookin at for this trip, and what is your family comprised of, as in how many + their ages? What are your family's interests?

Posted by
556 posts

I'm having sort of an unusual idea where to go in January.

When I was a kid I had to go to Lake Garda every year and I got bored about it. I thought never ever I will go there again.
And then shortly before the pandemic my husband came up with the idea to visit Lake Garda in January. I really thought that this is a crazy idea.

Well at the end we did and spent some wonderfull days at the southern side of the lake.

Only a few hotels open but mostly the expensive ones with a spa. The room was so so much cheaper what it would have been during the season. Same with the restaurants. Only a view open but the ones the locals going to.

We were visiting many places I found overcrowded when I was a kid - Sirmione, Desenzano, Salò, Lazise, Garda and so on and it was amazing. I stood in Sirmione with my mouth wide open becasue hardly any other tourists. And first time that I've enjoyed the big market in Desenzano becasue only locals.
But our most favored experience we've had in Salò. Sitting at the lake front at the only open coffee bar enyoing the silence. Walking to the dome and being the only visitors. Suddenly somebody was asking us in Italien if we might be able to help. Yes sure and at the end we were finding ourselfs helping the sexton to carry a heavy chair to the altar.

To make a long story short we were so impressed that the plan is to do it again. But be aware this is only for people who want to see the lake like the locals. As well you must accept that there isn't a restaurant open on every corner. Also many tourist sights are closed. And I guess better to go with a car which we did.

Posted by
538 posts

Mignon, the way you describe your January trip sounds heavenly and has my mind already spinning about future trips. One of my favorite memories from Italy is of a little town somewhere between Florence and Bologna many years ago. My ex had a way with navigation, so we took off with just a folded paper map to guide us, stopping anywhere something looked interesting. This little town was clearly not a tourist spot, but it was lovely nonetheless. We bought a loaf of bread at an open air market and sat in what appeared to be the main part of town, sharing the bread and just watching the locals living their lives. Sometimes less is more. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Edit to add: Sorry I went off topic. Mignon's post just stuck a chord with me. I hope you get all the info you need to have a lovely January trip with family!

Posted by
556 posts

"Mignon, the way you describe your January trip sounds heavenly and has my mind already spinning about future trips."

Oh I like that :-)