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Best time to travel to avoid crowds

Guernsey, Wyoming
Level Contributor
13 posts
5 reviews
Best time to travel to avoid crowds

Hello! Looking at traveling to Italy in the next year, from what I've gathered off season begins after Septmeber... We're probably doing Rome, Florence, Cinque Terra, possibly Venice... Want to avoid big crowds (as much as possible, I know they'll probably be some at every season!), and travel a little cheaper... Weather isn't a huge factor, we can make do with anything and still enjoy it! So mostly just looking for advice on when the best month is for avoiding crowds and finding cheaper accommodations, but still when everything is open and accessible! (do shops close seasonally?) this will be our first trip outside of the United States so any and all advice is welcome and appreciated-thanks!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
45,698 posts
1. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

High season ends October 31 but some of the most well-visited destinations (not the seaside) stay quite busy well past Oct 31 and well into the off season - If I had to guess based on personal experience - I would say January and February are the least busy months - but, much less so in November, part of December (holidays can be quite busy) March and April are the second batch of months with less visitors.

While places at the seaside tend to begin to dwindle usually around mid-October it is still busy until the end of that month if weather is good -

September is extremely (very!) popular month to go - You can get less pricey hotels rooms in August in Rome, for example, than you can in September.

People live in all these places - yes, some shops/restaurants/accommodations do close up in many seaside areas but there is usually a few spots open for the locals and some hotels will stay open for the few wayward off season guests (again, after Oct) who aren't there for swimming in the sea, laying on the beach or boat rides - hiking is great in off season as it not crowded and not too hot -

But in the other cities you mention - these are cities in which people live so everything remains open unless it is something weather dependent -

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
33,934 posts
17 reviews
2. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

Europeans make good use of cheap airfares, and travel throughout the year.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
62,279 posts
171 reviews
3. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

Late October to early November are relatively good times to visit if you want generally fine weather and a reasonable amount of daylight hours still. Major sights at major cities will still be crowded but not impossibly packed.

Level Contributor
9,114 posts
1,191 reviews
4. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

I had lived in Rome for 3 months in the summer...crowds and heat were really bad... Luckily, I was way younger and survived. Returned to Italy for five long trips after that - always in early May or late October and it was all good, except for Venice. I love Venice too much to share her with the crowds, so next time I will go in March or April there (after Easter).

Late October is fabulous; especially, for the South of Italy.

Edited: 11:59 pm, June 09, 2016
Level Contributor
9,243 posts
5. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

The crowds tend to be at the major sites. You'll see shorter lines off season but even then the major sites won't be empty. OTOH during peak season those same sites are sardine cans. The question is what do you intend to see?

Start by looking at the Italian holiday calendar. Long weekends will have Italians traveling. This is worse if the holiday is Friday or Monday. But if the day lands on a Wed you risk some people visiting before others after the holiday.

Then check UK bank holidays. This is less of a problem then the local holidays but you will see an influx from the UK during bank and school holidays.

If weather isn't an issue for you I'd think second week of November.

IIRC easter next year is earlier. So carnival is earlier. More of a problem for Venice .

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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74,594 posts
478 reviews
6. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

I've been to Rome and Venice in both October and July/August, and there's no comparison between them in my mind.

The summer was incredibly hot, crowded and not so pleasant as autumn. During October there were far fewer people about, but still enough for a good atmosphere, the weather was still sunny and warm but not unbearably hot, and the overall enjoyment of both cities was much higher as a result,

Level Contributor
3,106 posts
29 reviews
7. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

I've been recently to Venice and Rome in December, just before the Christmas holidays and it was the perfect time to visit museums and churches. Even for places like the Vatican Museums and St.Mark's Cathedral there were no queues at all in the morning.

The downside is that it gets dark very early and, for Venice in particular, that it was bitterly cold, nothing I've ever experienced before. And very foggy, but that makes for interesting photos :)

@momcat not sure why you say "places at the seaside tend to begin to dwindle usually around mid-October it is still busy until the end of that month". From my experience most seaside towns starts getting very quiet from mid September. I've never been to the CT at that time of the year so I can't comment on those in particular.

Edited: 4:45 am, June 10, 2016
St Paul, MN
Level Contributor
21,433 posts
7 reviews
8. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

I have been to Rome and Florence in late Feb early March and they are not crowded then. Crowds in Rome over the years in early March have been increasing. In the big cities nothing closed down for the winter. Rome and Flroence are moderate in the winter. It hardly gets down to the freezing point of water even at night.

It is not problem getting dark at 5-6 pm. The Rome national Museums are open unitl 8 pm. (like the Capitoline Museum.


The Forum is opne until sunset


The Pantheon closed at 6 pm



\Most of the churched also closed at 6pm




Restaruatns open for dinner at 7-7:30 pm so you can rest at the lodging unitl then. Dinner is lesiurely and take smore of the eveing

Level of People in Roman Forum in early March 2015




I have never been to CT. I went to venice in April.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
10,181 posts
141 reviews
9. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

You asked for "best time" in my opinion it would be 3 or 4 AM......

Saskatchewan, Canada
Destination Expert
for Istria, Croatia
Level Contributor
10,252 posts
17 reviews
10. Re: Best time to travel to avoid crowds

The Cinque Terre are absolutely swamped in September and well into October (haven't been there in November). I'll never go there again in autumn.