If you’re planning to visit Italy in winter, I have great news for you! You’ll have a truly fantastic trip filled with delicious food, Christmas markets, and pure joy. All you need to do is pick up the destination. So, here is the list of the very best places to visit in Italy in December for your next winter trip.
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Best Places to Visit in Italy in December
Is it worth going to Italy in December, you may ask hesitantly. And I’ll reply without any doubt – absolutely yes!
When I spent my first winter in Italy, I realized one thing. Italy is gorgeous all year round. Even when the day gets shorter and you have to wear a winter coat, there are so many things to do and see there.
Just imagine. Fairy lights, the smell of chestnuts and Vin Brulé, and locals wandering through the Christmas market.
The best part of visiting Italy in December is that the Christmas spirit will always follow wherever you go. And that’s what I like about the first winter month in Italy the most.
The question is, how can you choose where to go when literally every town turns into a little gingerbread house?
The answer is in this article. These are absolutely the best places to visit in Italy in December.
In addition to the list of places, I also included things to do in Italy in December 2023.
So, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and let’s take a look!
1. Trentino Alto Adige
If you plan an active winter holiday, head to Trentino Alto Adige. Located on the border with Switzerland and Austria, this northern region must definitely be under your radar, and here is why.
What makes this place so unique is its fantastic location and cultural diversity. With an abundance of dense forests and the jaw-dropping Dolomites covered in snow, the region is highly appealing for winter sports lovers.
So, whether you are into skiing, snowboarding, or ski mountaineering, Trentino Alto Adige is your place to go.
Proximity to neighboring countries makes Trentino Alto Adige stand out from other Italian regions. You’ll see a lot of German influences in everything: traditional cuisine, architecture, and even the language.
Trentino Alto Adige is beautiful throughout the year, but it becomes especially magical in the winter, offering visitors endless leisure time opportunities.
Things to Do in Trentino Alto Adige in December
In December, Trentino Alto Adige is famous for its world-class ski resorts, Christmas markets, and spa.
Val Gardena in South Tyrol is a superb destination for active sports lovers. Located in the heart of the Dolomites, it has 500 km of slopes and 30 km of winter hiking trails. So, if you’re there, don’t miss a chance to go skiing in this winter paradise.
Christmas markets are another important tradition in the region that actually originates from… Germany! Remember, I told you that there is a lot of German influence?
Today, Trentino Alto Adige hosts the best Christmas markets in Italy! And even though every city turns into an enchanted fairytale, Bolzano, Trento, Merano, Borgo Valsugana, and Bressanone are especially magnificent.
And last but not least is the spa experience that I highly recommend including in your Italy in winter itinerary. Head to Passirio, Terme di Merano or Alta Val Pusteria to enjoy it to the fullest.
The second place you could visit in Italy in December is its capital Rome. For several reasons, the first winter month is a beautiful time to explore the Eternal city with your family or beloved ones.
First, it’s enjoyable to be there! The historic center turns into a Christmas mecca with beautifully-decorated buildings, lights, and great Christmas markets.
Besides, December is officially the low season when you can spend a stress-free holiday and save some budget. There will be no long queues at the entrance of the museums and the main sights anymore. And accommodation prices will also drop.
Let’s also not forget that the weather in December in Rome is just… splendid!
I still remember being amazed when I came to Rome in the winter for the first time. The temperature was around +16, and I was sitting in the park of the Vatican Museums, sipping my coffee and soaking up the sun.
Things to Do in Rome in December
If you’re wondering what to do in Rome in December, there are many options to choose from.
Go to the most famous Christmas markets in Rome on Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna to try seasonal delicacies and stop by vendors selling artisanal handcrafts.
Head to Piazza Venezia and St. Peter’s Square to see the magnificent Christmas tree.
If you’re traveling with kids, spend a day in the amusement park Cinecittà World or Castello di Lunghezza. In December, both places transform into a Christmas village where your little ones can tell a short poem to Babbo Natale (Santa Claus).
You can also join thousands of people at Papal Mass or General Audience on St. Peter’s Square or go ice skating to Castel Sant’Angelo.
Venice is one of the best places in Italy that remains charming even in December when the lagoon is lurking in winter fog.
If you’ve been to Venice in spring or summer, you’ll notice a fantastic city transformation in December. There are no crowds, the usual buzz is ousted by tranquility, and fog turns the town into a picturesque and even mysterious place.
December will offer you a truly unique chance to explore tourist spots without a rush, yet it’s not the only reason why you should add Venice to your Italy in winter itinerary.
Venice in winter goes beyond St. Mark’s Basilica and Rialto Bridge, hosting various events that take place only in December.
So, you’ll have an incredible opportunity to take a peek at the life of locals and discover how diverse the culture of Venice actually is.
Things to Do in Venice in December
If you go to Venice in December, fill your spare time with Christmas markets, classical concerts, and Murano glassmaking.
Campo Santo Stefano is an excellent place for trying regional specialties and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.
This Christmas market is the biggest in town, where you can purchase everything from worldwide famous Murano glass to handmade nativity scenes.
Chilly December is a wonderful time for cultural enrichment. And as glass blowing is an integral part of Venetian culture, it’s worth learning more about it during your trip.
You can go to Le Stanze del Vetro to admire the Venini glasswork.
For those who want to make their trip to Venice even more unique, I would recommend attending a classical concert or opera in Teatro La Fenice. But don’t forget to book your tickets in advance!
If you’ve heard of Romeo and Juliet, you also know that Verona is where their love story was born.
Romantic, charming, and incredibly picturesque, Verona deserves to be on your Italy in winter itinerary because, in December, it becomes more magical than ever.
Found in the 1st century BC, Verona is an ancient but well-preserved city where time had stopped.
Known among Italians as Little Rome, Verona has everything to impress its visitors: magnificent Centro Storico (old town), gorgeous squares, and even the amphitheater Arena di Verona. The latter is older than the Colosseum!
Proximity to lake Garda makes Verona foggy in the winter. But don’t worry, red-tiled rooftops and frequent sunny days will brighten up your trip!
Things to Do in Verona in December
If you decide to visit Verona in December, here is how you can spend your vacation.
Centro Storico should be your number one destination because that’s where all the Christmas markets are located.
Walk right to Piazza dei Signori, Cortile Mercato Vecchio, Via della Costa or Cortile del Tribunale to try sausage sandwiches with traditional sauce pearà and immerse yourself in the magical Christmas atmosphere.
Verona has a rich history, and the most preserved Roman remains in northern Italy, so I would highly recommend dedicating your time to glimpse the city’s ancient side.
Joining a guided tour is a wonderful opportunity to explore Verona’s famous cities.
And don’t miss a chance to visit the Basilica of San Zeno. This basilica is so impressive that I would even dare to compare it to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Another winter destination that you should have on your radar is Tuscany.
You probably won’t see everlasting Tuscan hills in full glory, but instead, you’ll have a chance to discover a more authentic side of this exceptional region.
In December, Tuscany transforms into the mecca of food and handicraft fairs. Add to that fewer crowds, amazing seasonal meals, and cheaper prices. Sounds like a great combo, isn’t it?
Things to Do in Tuscany in December
Tuscany in winter is absolutely stunning, and I would suggest you explore not only Florence and Siena but also hidden gems like Lucca, Montepulciano, San Gimignano, and Pienza.
Just wandering around those cities in December is magic on its own!
To taste local specialties, go to the castagne (chestnuts) festival in Castelnuovo Garfagnana, the olive oil festival in San Quirico d’Orcia, and the polenta festival in Faltona.
And to relish your trip to Tuscany completely, visit Saturnia hot springs.
6. Emilia Romagna
If you want to try the best food in Italy (without exaggeration!), Emilia Romagna should be your number one destination.
This region has often been overshadowed by neighboring Tuscany, but I can assure you that there is an infinite amount of things to do and especially food to try! Even in December.
I have a special connection with Emilia Romagna because that’s where I studied in the past and that’s where I live now.
If love at first sight exists, I had it with this region. And if you decide to spend your winter vacation there, you’ll have it, too.
Breathtaking hills, delicious regional food, and an incredible hospitality level – that’s what you can expect from Emilia Romagna.
Things to Do in Emilia-Romagna in December
Usually, northern Italy is the common skiing destination that attracts both foreigners and locals. But what if I tell you that Emilia Romagna has great potential too?
As a hilly area, Emilia Romagna has 15 ski resorts where you can enjoy winter sports and marvel at the white blanket of snow covering the hills.
If it’s your first time in Emilia Romagna, it will make sense first to get acquainted with its capital Bologna, which is also the capital of food in Italy. Therefore, once you get there, make sure to try traditional Tagliatelle al Ragù, Lasagne, and Tigelle.
However, Bologna isn’t the only jewel of the region. Ravenna, Modena, Ferrara, Forli, Parma, Cesena, and Cesenatico are other cities that are absolutely worth a visit.
7. San Marino
If you decide to visit Emilia Romagna in December, don’t miss a chance to stop by San Marino.
Yes, technically, San Marino isn’t part of Italy, but it’s located in the Emilia Romagna region.
So, once you’re already there, why don’t you discover another independent state that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Things to Do in San Marino in December
Located on the top of the hill, San Marino is one of the best places to visit in Italy in December, and here is why.
First, the magic of lights, Christmas trees decorated with snow, and the smell of Vin Brulé transform the old town of San Marino into a real winter wonderland.
There is nothing better to do than just indulging yourself in this Christmas atmosphere and enjoying the delicious meals that food stalls offer.
The second reason why visiting San Marino in December is a must is its stunning scenery and unbelievable sunsets. In December, you can admire the sky’s explosion of purple, red, lavender, and blue colors.
And let’s not forget that San Marino is a duty-free country! The perfect destination for finding Christmas gifts for your family members.
Alright, we’ve talked about northern and central parts of Italy, but now let’s head to the south.
The last place I would like to include in the list of the best places to visit in Italy in December is Sicily.
I know people are used to thinking that Sicily is a summer destination only, but they are badly mistaken. This Mediterranean island is great for a winter vacation, too.
There are several benefits of traveling to Sicily in December.
As Sicily has four airports in different parts of the island makes, it is logistically convenient to go there. With Wizz Air and Ryanair operating, you can find cheap flights for less than 20€.
Sicily in December has an amazingly mild climate and fewer tourists. With an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites and fantastic places to explore, it’s a real win to travel off-season.
Things to Do in Sicily in December
If you’re planning to visit Sicily in winter, here is how you can spend your vacation.
For cultural enrichment, visit these UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.
- Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale on the northern coast.
- The Baroque towns of the Val di Noto.
If you prefer to do some physical activities and the weather allows it, climb mount Etna!
By the way, the mountain is also available for winter sports lovers. Piano Provenzana and Piano Battaglia are the most popular ski resorts.
And what is a trip without food, right? Stroll through Palermo markets to try traditional street food like arancine, crocché, sfincione, and a world-famous cannolo.
Is it Worth Visiting Italy in the Winter?
If you’re wondering whether it’s a good idea to go to Italy in December, my answer is yes.
Italy has fewer tourists in the off-season, but an abundance of Christmas festivities and soft weather make it an excellent winter destination.
There are multiple places to visit in Italy in December, and regardless of your trip preferences, Italy will surely amaze you.
Do you want to go skiing? Excellent, go to Trentino Alto Adige!
Planning to have a gastronomic vacation? Say no more! Emilia Romagna and Tuscany are your destinations.
Want to learn more about the history of Italy and discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Head to Sicily!
How Cold Is It in Italy in December?
Well, generally, Italy has soft winter, but the weather in December varies depending on the region.
In northern Italy, you can expect foggy and chilly weather, with temperatures dropping to 5°C.
The weather is usually sunny and relatively warm in central and southern Italy. During the daytime, you can enjoy the sun with the temperature going up to 16°C.
What Do People Wear in Italy in the Winter?
The main secret of feeling warm in Italy in the winter is to dress up in layers. Give preference to a winter coat, scarf, gloves, boots, sweater, and t-shirt.
As the temperature in Italy greatly varies depending on the region, check the weather forecast before your trip.
Remember that the weather in Italy changes throughout the day, and even though it may get warm during the daytime, the temperature drops in the evening.
Therefore, having layers is helpful to make sure that you’re feeling comfortable all day long.
To Sum Up
December is a wonderful time to explore Italian regions, stroll through the best Christmas markets in Italy, and see a more authentic side of this gorgeous country.
What I like the most about the first winter month is that you can go to big cities like Rome or Venice or get lost in the little towns of Emilia Romagna, but the Christmas magic will always be around you.
I hope that this list of the best places to visit in Italy in December will help you to organize your winter holiday. But if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below, and I’ll be happy to help!
Have a beautiful trip, and let’s chase Italy together!