9 Things to Do in Ragusa, Sicily: A Baroque Gem

a view of ragusa sicily from above

Picture a gorgeous hilltop city tucked between the smaller foothills, standing out against the Sicilian landscape.

Better yet, it’s close to busier, popular tourist spots on the island like Siracusa (Syracuse) and Catania — yet it’s nice and quiet.

For those reasons (and more), I visited Ragusa on one of my trips around Sicily and never regretted a moment of it.

Quickly, I fell in love with its beautiful Baroque architecture, perhaps the most prominent feature of Ragusa.  

But there’s a tragic back story to Ragusa’s current layout and architecture, with a clear distinction between the historical center and the modern area.

Views of the old baroque town of Ragusa Ibla in Sicily, built in the historical style after an earthquake ruined much of the city

The city as you see it today is the result of a devastating earthquake back in 1693: it destroyed dozens of cities and towns over eastern Sicily, and even more tragically, it wiped out over half of Ragusa’s population.

But like a phoenix from the ashes — the city built itself back in a beautiful late Baroque style as part of its earthquake recovery efforts, and it emerged more beautiful than before.

This unique architectural story that earned Ragusa and other nearby towns one of tourism’s highest distinctions: UNESCO recognition, as a World Heritage Site known as Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. 

When to Visit Ragusa

Narrow scenic street in Ragusa. The tattered facades of old townhouses line the street and you can see a  dome of a church visible at the end of the narrow lane. No one in the shot.

While Ragusa isn’t quite as busy as some Sicilian tourist hotspots, like Taormina and Agrigento, it’s still one of the most recommended spots in Sicily.

True, the crowds aren’t as overwhelming as some of the bigger tourist areas, but you can still expect the peak summer to be busy and pricy, especially as Sicily basks in its post-White Lotus glow.

As with virtually all of Sicily, late spring and early fall are the ideal times to visit.

Winter is, of course, also a possibility.

But frankly, Sicily — and in particular its smaller towns and cities like Ragusa — really shuts down over the winter.

While you’ll save money, it’s not the best time to enjoy the island.

Plus, due to its location being both more inland and at a higher altitude than most of the island, Ragusa tends to have slightly harsher winters than the rest of Sicily.

If you’re hoping to visit between December and February, be sure to pack warm clothes! On the brighter side, you’ll find much smaller crowds.

How Many Days to Spend in Ragusa?

The Baroque Saint George cathedral with its ornate facade in the Duomo Square area of Ragusa Sicily. Small palm and red flowers in foreground.

The city is quite small, but visitors can find many things to do in Ragusa if you want to enjoy it to its fullest.

If you can spend at least one night in Ragusa, you can take it slow and take your time checking out the lesser-known areas nearby.

However, if you’re driving around Sicily and have a packed itinerary, you can visit it in one day or less and still see the main sights.

Best Things to Do in Ragusa

Pink pastel cityscape of Ragusa town with Church of St Mary of the Stairs and belltower and clouds in the distance

First, a quick note to get you oriented.

The city of Ragusa is divided into two main areas: Superiore and Ibla.

Superiore is the modern area with organized streets and shopping areas, while Ibla is the historical core of Ragusa.

While most people tend to explore Ragusa Ibla for its Baroque beauty, the modern area is also lovely and offers spectacular views over the historical center.

Here is what you can do in both areas of charming Ragusa!

Wander around Ragusa Superiore.

View from Ragusa Superiore to Ragusa Ibla on a sunny day where you can see the entire city laid out beautifully on a clear day

Ragusa Superiore is the go-to place for shopping and eating, with a wide variety of restaurants and boutiques to peruse.

It’s also great to find scenic spots to admire the view over Ragusa Ibla. 

Despite being the more modern area, you’ll also find beautiful Baroque churches, palaces, and museums.

You can also stroll through the quaint Villa Margherita, admire ancient Greek and Roman artifacts at the archaeological museum, and enjoy delicious food. 

Stop off at Camiolo for pizza, or La Taverna Del Lupo for delicious Sicilian dishes. 

Stop by the stunning Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista.

Blue sky background behind the lovely Baroque structure called Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista (St. John Cathedral) in the UNESCO listed Baroque town of Ragusa

Located in Ragusa Superiore, the lavish Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is a must-see stop.

Featuring elaborate Baroque architecture and a museum with religious arts and artifacts, this cathedral has a bit of everything you want in an Italian church.

There’s even a bell tower offering sweeping city views!

Explore Ragusa Ibla.

While Ragusa Superiore is worth some of your time, to be honest, you’ll probably want to spend more time exploring the smaller but more picturesque Ragusa Ibla.

The historical center of Ragusa is a compact gathering of houses with picturesque alleys and gorgeous churches.

Take some time to wander around the cobweb of narrow streets and stairways and check out the charming souvenir stores.

Be sure to stop and admire the beautiful Portale di San Giorgio, one of the few landmarks to survive the 1693 earthquake.  

Wander around Giardino Ibleo.

The famous gardens in Ragusa Ibla of Sicily with palm trees, fountain, and hedges

While in the Ibla area, be sure to enjoy a peaceful stroll around Giardino Ibleo.

This lovely public garden that offers a serene setting to escape the crowds, complete with palm trees, fountains, and benches to sit in the shade.

Bonus: you can also visit the beautiful Church of San Giacomo Apostolo in the heart of the garden!

Visit the city’s beautiful Baroque churches.

staircase leading up to baroque church in ragusa sicily on a sunny summer day with flowers and trees

You can visit spectacular Baroque churches in both Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla.

These striking buildings, built after the destructive 1693 earthquake, are the prime reason why Ragusa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with eight other places, including Noto, Catania, Acireale, and Modica.

In addition to the cathedral in Ragusa Superiore which we mentioned above, you can visit many other gorgeous churches.

A few of those include: the stunning Duomo di San Giorgio; the Church of Saint Joseph; Chiesa delle Santissime Anime del Purgatorio; and the Church of St Mary of the Stairs (bonus: it also offers stunning views over Ragusa Ibla!)

Be stunned by the Palazzo Arezzo Di Trifiletti.

Flowers on the baroque balustrade of the Arezzo Palace in the main square of Ragusa Ibla aka the old part of the city

Palazzo Arezzo di Trifiletti is a historic building in Ragusa Ibla that has been in the aristocratic Arezzo family since its construction following the 1693 earthquake.

The beautiful building looks out over the Duomo of San Giorgio and preserves the furniture and decorations of the 1800s following its last renovation.

The coolest thing about this building is that you can join a guided in-person tour with the current owner of the house.

They will show you around and tell you fun facts about the palace and the Arezzo family heritage!

You can book the visit in advance by filling out the contact form on the official website.

Enjoy panoramic city views from its viewpoints.

The beautiful street scenes of Ragusa ibla with pink, white, and pale stone architecture

One of the best things to do in Ragusa is to look for vantage points to admire the stunning view over Ragusa Ibla and the surrounding valley.

You’ll find several incredible viewpoints around Ragusa Superiore as well as outside the city, in the hiking area east of Ragusa Ibla.

Check out the views from Mirador de Ragusa Ibla, the nearby Percorso delle Scale, the Panoramica su Ragusa Ibla on Corso Mazzini, and Panoramica su Ragusa e su Ibla at Ospedale Arezzo.

Of course, the whole area is full of beauty, so keep an eye out for other spots offering sweeping views.

Join a Sicilian cooking class.

sicily sardines with orange and stuffed with delicious filling

If you spend more time in Ragusa, this Private Cooking Class at a Local’s Home is a great way to connect with the locals and take home a special memory (and some recipes to relive those memories any time you want).

Learning from an experienced home cook and eating the delicious fruits of your labor is just one perk: perhaps better yet is that it offers you a unique way to get to know the locals and their way of living.

The activity lasts roughly three hours, during which you’ll prepare a starter, pasta, and dessert, all paired with delicious local Sicilian wines, of course.

You’ll leave with new cooking skills to show off at your next dinner party or date night!

Cross the bridges for beautiful views.

Ragusa is also known in Italy as Città dei Ponti or City of Bridges in English.

This nickname is due to the three main bridges over the Valley of Santa Domenica: Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Nuovo, and Ponte Papa Giovanni XXIII.

Fun fact: the bridge names are quite literal!

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is the oldest, built in 1843 in Roman style. Inversely, Ponte Nuovo (New Bridge) was built in 1937.

Ponte Papa Giovanni XXIII, built in 1964, is also known as Ponte Nuovissimo, which means Brand New Bridge.

11 Best Hikes in Lanzarote (Guided & Independent Options!)

views of the ajaches national monument hike with stunning landscape and coastline with brilliant blue water

What comes to mind when you think of the Canary Islands? I’m guessing laying out on the beach and staying in a nice resort.

It’s true that hiking may not be the first thing that comes up when you think of the Canary Islands, but I’m here to tell you that Lanzarote will change your mind! 

This charming Canary Island, famous for its striking volcanic landscapes, offers many opportunities for hitting the trails and enjoying unspoiled nature and breathtaking views.

I spent over two incredible weeks in Lanzarote on one of my trips around the Canary Islands, and hiking through the arid and almost surreal volcanic landscapes was a truly unforgettable experience. 

While Lanzarote has many other attractions, there’s no better way to explore it than by walking through beautiful trails around ancient calderas and lava fields — some of which house Lanzarote’s lovely vineyards.

Lanzarote winemaking landscape with pits for the Gerias or vine holes

For the most part, you can hike around Lanzarote by yourself pretty easily. Most trails are well-marked and open year-round. 

However, there are still a few areas on the island that aren’t as straightforward to hike through and require a bit of advance planning.

In this guide, I’ll share some of my favorite hiking trails that you can complete in just a few hours, along with some guided hikes for those areas that are a bit harder to reach by yourself. 

So, without any further ado, pack your hiking boots, and let’s discover Lanzarote’s best hiking trails!

Should I Do a Guided or Independent Hike in Lanzarote?

the landscape of timanfaya with volcanic soil and colors

If you’re wondering whether you should do a guided or independent hike in Lanzarote, the short answer is that it depends. 

Helpful, right? Let me get a little more specific.

When making your choice, consider whether or not you have a car, which area you want to hike in, and if you prefer to be alone or meet other people.

Lanzarote has many hiking trails, but the problem is that unlike hiking in Tenerife, not all are easy to reach with public transportation.

Although the island has many bus connections, a few remote areas have close to none, so you’ll end up walking several kilometers just to reach the trailhead.

The good news is if you plan on renting a car in Lanzarote, you can easily reach nearly any trail with just a short drive.

Long empty asphalt road on lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

It only takes just over an hour to drive from one end of Lanzarote to the other (Playa Blanca to Órzola). 

If you base yourself in Arrecife, which I recommend in my Lanzarote itinerary, you can drive nearly anywhere in half an hour or less!

Another factor to consider is whether independent hiking is allowed. For most trails, the answer is yes! 

If you want to hike inside Timanfaya National Park, however, you can only do so with a guide, except for one trail that you’ll find among the independent options below.

Lastly, do you want to socialize and connect with other travelers? If you do, guided tours are your best option. 

While there are a few popular hiking trails in Lanzarote, most of the time you won’t meet many people when hiking… especially outside peak summer months.

So that means if you’re looking for some time alone in nature, you can easily find it!

Best Guided Hikes in Lanzarote

Timanfaya National ParkBook Here

The landscapes of the volcanoes of Timanfaya national park with reddish brown dirt and calderas

I’ll be honest, hiking in Timanfaya National Park isn’t exactly straightforward (which is part of why it’s on the list of guided Lanzarote hikes), but it’s certainly worth the effort. 

The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, only accessible under specific conditions, so you can’t just drive there and hit the trails. This is why joining a guided tour is your best option.

This Timanfaya trekking tour lasts roughly three hours and allows you to admire the impressive volcanic landscape in a straightforward fashion.

An expert guide will share cool facts about the region and the history of Lanzarote as you walk up to some of the craters.

The hike is moderately difficult, and only around 7 kilometers long, but you should bring proper shoes for the uneven terrain. 

the timanfaya volcano hiking area in timanfaya national park part of lanzarote

The Timanfaya hiking tour includes the guide and transportation from the meeting point outside Mancha Blanca, but you can also request hotel pick-up and drop-off.

If you choose to skip the hotel pick-up, you can also reach the meeting point by car or take bus 16 from Arrecife to Mancha Blanca.

The meeting point is roughly a 15-minute walk from there. 

Note that this activity is popular year-round, since it’s the only way to properly visit Timanfaya volcano, so book in advance no matter when you go!

Check availability for Timanfaya hiking tours!

La Geria Vineyard Hike Book Here

View of the landscapes above Lanzarote's winemaking region of La Geria

Unless you rent a car, hiking the unique landscapes of La Geria can be a bit complicated. 

The good news, though, is this La Geria hiking and vineyard tour is a perfect choice if you don’t have a car.

Plus, this activity wouldn’t be complete without the wine tasting, and driving there would complicate things.

La Geria is a unique wine district just outside Los Volcanes Natural Park with distinctive vineyards growing right in the volcanic soil.

The vine is planted inside a conical hollow (called a geria, hence the name of the region) excavated in volcanic gravel and protected from the wind by a small wall made of rocks.

hand holding a glass of wine while looking over the volcanic terrain of lanzarote's vineyards

The 4-hour wine and hiking tour includes a 9-kilometer walk through the spectacular landscape to learn how locals have overcome agricultural challenges through inventiveness.

Needless to say, the wine produced in the area is delicious, and you’ll get to sample the incredible local Malvasia white wine.

The activity includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from many places in Lanzarote, as well as a licensed tour guide, wine tasting, and snacks.

Tip: Note that pick-up from Playa Blanca is not available.

Book a wine tasting and hiking tour of La Geria!

Northern Lanzarote Hiking TourBook Here

Red volcanic soil of volcano Corona with greenery and red dirt and view of the water in the background

This three-hour hike in the north of Lanzarote features both a spectacular volcanic landscape and sweeping coastal views. 

This Northern Lanzarote hiking tour is a great experience if you’re looking to hike in a more remote area of Lanzarote that is harder to reach with public transportation.

The activity includes a hike up La Corona Volcano to see the impressive volcanic crater and another to the cliffs of Famara, where you can admire sweeping views of the northern coast of Lanzarote and La Graciosa Island.

View of the ocean and coast of Lanzarote from the observation deck at Mirador de El Risco de Famara.

Despite the short distance between these two spots, it’s hard to fit both of these hikes into one day if you don’t have a car.

That means that a guided hike is the ideal way to experience these two incredible landscapes in just a few hours.

This Lanzarote hiking tour includes a guide and transportation between the two spots, with the option to request hotel pick-up from certain locations throughout Lanzarote.

The hikes are of moderate difficulty, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

Book this Northern Lanzarote hiking tour!

Best Independent Day Hikes in Lanzarote

Now that we’ve talked about some of the guided tours, it’s time to look at independent hikes for you adventurous types!

Below are my favorite hikes in Lanzarote. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the landscape is pretty consistent throughout the island, except for a few areas.

While each trail has something unique, you’ll experience similar volcanic landscapes on many of these hikes. 

For some people, walking through lava fields for hours gets boring quickly.

If you want a little more variety, I recommend choosing shorter trails in different locations on the island. 

You’ll find the highlights for each hike in the descriptions below! 

Mancha Blanca – Caldera Blanca

The landscape of Caldera Blanca, a white-soil volcanic crater in Lanzarote, with the ocean visible in the background, view of the caldera summit
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 9.3 km (5.8 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 3-4 hours
  • Type: Loop

This is among the most popular hiking trails in Lanzarote, rewarding visitors with spectacular views of the massive Caldera Blanca.

The trail starts just outside the small village of Mancha Blanca, which is connected by bus 16 to Arrecife.

The trail has some complex parts with uneven and slippery terrain, but the biggest challenge is the lack of shade — especially in hot weather!

Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring sufficient water for this unshaded hike.

Ideally, you’ll want to do this hike in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest parts of the day, but remember it can take up to four hours.

The recommended loop is counterclockwise around the caldera.

You should also note that it can get very windy at the top, so pack a windbreaker jacket (yes, even despite the heat and lack of shade!).

Pico Redondo – Monumento Natural de los Ajaches

Rural landscape with multiple beaches carved out into coves of the volcanic landscape, with mountains and rugged desert-looking terrain elsewhere surrounding the beaches
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 13.7 km (8.5 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Loop

Los Ajaches Natural Monument is a volcanic area covering a large part of south Lanzarote.

This loop trail is one of the best ways to experience the incredible volcanic landscape of the island.

The hike starts in Femés, a small village close to Yaiza. If you don’t have a car, you can reach Femés by bus line 5 from Arrecife. 

The trail starts just outside the village, and the hike isn’t too challenging, except for the part along the coast.

The trail even passes by a couple of beaches, so you can bring your swimsuit!

Along the way, you’ll see Playa La Casa, best known for its little Secret Garden with all kinds of plants and objects.

Playa Blanca – Punta de Papagayo 

Sunset at punta papagayo viewpoint with sun sinking into the ocean horizon
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 16.4 km (10.2 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Loop

While this hike is (in my opinion) pretty easy, and it may not be the most spectacular, the endpoint is my favorite place on the island. 

Punta de Papagayo is a promontory in south Lanzarote and the perfect spot to see the sunset.

If you have the chance, I recommend doing this hike in the late afternoon to get there in time for sunset.

The first part is more of a leisurely walk than a hike since it’s in the town of Playa Blanca.

Once you’ve passed the tourist area, the seaside promenade is actually quite pleasant! 

You’ll be passing by a few lovely beaches, like Playa Mujeres, Playa del Pozo, and Playa Papagayo, so pack a swimsuit and take a break to enjoy the sun or cool off with a swim.

Although this is marked as a loop trail, the loop only takes you around the sea cliff.

If the entire hike seems too long, you can always catch bus line 30, which stops at Las Coloradas, at the eastern end of Playa Blanca, to shorten it.

Las Rositas – Playa del Risco

The wild landscapes of Risco Beach in Lanzarote, only accessible by a hike down to its shores
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 5.5 km (3.4 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Out & back

Playa del Risco is among the most beautiful beaches in Lanzarote, but the only way to reach it is by hiking down a pretty demanding trail. 

The hike starts in Las Rositas, just outside the village of Yé. After a steep descent, which is the most challenging part, the trail gets easier.  

Your efforts will be well rewarded once you reach the vast, sandy beach bathed by turquoise waters and look out over the island of La Graciosa.

Here, you can rest or swim before tackling the hike back up.

The entire trail is exposed, so wear sunscreen and bring enough water and food, especially if you plan on spending some time at the beach.

Given the rough terrain, hiking boots are highly recommended — this is not a flip flop hike, despite its end point being a beach!

If you have a car and don’t plan on spending the whole day at the beach, you can pair this hike with a visit to Mirador del Rio.

You have a choice between driving to the parking lot to enjoy the view, or taking this short hike of less than 5 kilometers out and back for even more spectacular views.

Ruta del Mar de Lava 

Volcanic bomb in front of volcano Montana Colorada in Lanzarote with reddish dirt of the volcano behind it and clear blue sky on a day hiking through Lanzarote
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 10.3 km (6.4 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Loop

Ruta del Mar de Lava translates to Trail of the Sea of Lava, so you won’t be surprised to hear that you’ll see more incredible volcanic landscapes and calderas.

The trail is located within Los Volcanes Natural Park, starting south of Mancha Blanca.

The biggest challenge of this trail is the lack of shade. You’ll be walking through endless fields of lava, with some ups and downs but little elevation gain overall. 

You’ll hike around Montaña Colorada, check out a massive volcanic bomb (a huge stone resulting from an eruption), and admire the imposing Santa Catalina Volcano.

The downside of this trail is that it’s not very well connected to public transportation.

The closest bus stop is in Mancha Blanca, roughly 20 minutes from the trailhead, and it’s served by bus 16 from Arrecife.

El Golfo – Playa del Paso – Montaña Quemada

the green waters of charco verde with the black sand of gulfo beach
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7.7 km (4.8 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-2.5 hours
  • Type: Loop

This short trail is the only one within the Timanfaya National Park that you can do without a guided tour.

The hike starts in El Golfo and proceeds along the coast before turning inland toward Caldera de Montaña Quemada.

The trail is only partly within the Timanfaya National Park, which starts just south of Playa del Paso, a lovely volcanic sand beach where you can stop for a break or enjoy a swim. 

As is the case for most of the island, this trail has no shade, so wear sunscreen and bring water.

Like other hiking areas in Lanzarote, this one is also not connected to public transportation, so you can only get there by car unless you’re up for walking roughly two hours to La Hoya or Yaiza. 

If you can’t rent a car, your best option to see Timanfaya National Park is the guided tour I mentioned above.

Haría – Mirador Montaña Ganada

View from high up on the mirador Rincon de Haria with view over the Atlantic Ocean and its turquoise waters on the coast
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.8 km (4.2 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-2.5 hours
  • Type: Loop

If you’re looking for more than just volcanic fields and calderas, this hike is the one for you.

From the small town of Haría, you can hike on Montaña Aganada and enjoy spectacular coastal views from Mirador Rincón de Haría.

The hike is not too challenging, with some elevation gain and loss, but overall should be fairly accessible to most people. As usual, bring sunscreen, hiking boots, and water. 

Since you can start the trail in Haría, this hike is perfect even if you don’t have a car. You can reach Haría by bus 7 or 26 from Arrecife.

The whole town of Haría is delightful, too, so you may want to spend some time there before or after the hike.

You can also make it a full-day trip and visit Casa Museo de César Manrique while you’re there.

Bonus: Isla La Graciosa Hike

view of the Isla la graciosa from the water with white town settlement on the shore
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 28.2 km (17.5 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 6-8 hours
  • Type: Loop

While this guide was originally just going to include hiking trails in Lanzarote, I would be truly remiss if I didn’t at least mention La Graciosa. 

This small island just off the northern tip of Lanzarote is absolutely worth visiting. The island is a hiking paradise with lots of trails and stunning landscapes.

This loop trail is the most extensive, allowing you to explore the entire island, but you can always shorten it.

If you can choose just one part of the island, I recommend heading north to see the delightful Casas de Pedro Barba.

If you’re up for the challenge, the entire hike takes 6 to 8 hours, depending on your pace and how many times you stop.

Catch the ferry early in the morning to have enough time to hike the whole trail. 

If you want to sleep on the island, you can find accommodation in Caleta del Sebo.

10 Best Hikes in Tenerife (Guided & Independent Options!)

Mount Teide cable car viewing point where you can see the cars coming up and down the mountain with clouds in the background and sea in the distance

Tenerife, the largest and most popular of the Canary Islands, is a paradise for nature lovers.

The gorgeous island offers diverse landscapes ranging from black-sand beaches to sky-high mountain peaks and lush forests… all on one single island. 

As you explore these stunning landscapes, travelers can find countless hiking trails, with endless natural beauty around every corner.

I traveled to Tenerife twice, in 2022 and 2023, and spent a total of two months on the island.

View from the Bailedero viewpoint while hiking in the gorgeous landscapes of Tenerife

During my time in Tenerife, my absolute favorite thing to do was discovering new hiking trails. 

Since I was visiting in winter, when the weather is pleasant but not usually warm enough for the beach, I spent a lot of time hiking!

I got to walk dozens of trails across Tenerife, and although it’s hard to choose, I’d say my two favorite areas are the Teide National Park and the vibrant laurel forest of the Anaga Rural Park. 

In this guide, I’ll share some of my favorite hikes in Tenerife, with options for guided and independent day hikes.

Oh, and I also have guides for hiking in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, so check those out if you’re visiting more than one Canary Island and want to hike!

Should I Do a Guided or Independent Hike in Tenerife?

View from the masca valley in the beautiful mirador de masca in tenerife with green lush landscape

When choosing between guided and independent hikes, you’ll want to consider a few factors.

The first thing to consider is how accessible the area you’re looking to explore is. 

Although most hiking areas are easy enough to reach by bus, some places have limited connections or are simply too vast to explore on your own on a day hike.

The other aspect to consider is whether you need a permit to hike an area. This mainly applies to the Teide Summit, which is only accessible with a valid permit. 

While you could obtain an individual permit, these are limited and hard to acquire unless you plan your hike several months in advance.

You’ll also likely want to go with the cable car, which brings you from 2,356 meters from the base station to La Rambleta at a whopping 3,555 meters, skipping a hike of over 1,000 meters of high elevation.

Mount Teide cable car viewing point where you can see the cars coming up and down the mountain with clouds in the background and sea in the distance

It is possible to hike it (starting at Montaña Blanca), but it’s a really long and steep hike only suitable for expert hikers, as the peak of Teide tops out at 3,715 meters / 12,188 — a range where altitude sickness is a definite possibility.

This is where a guided hike comes in handy, as they usually include the permit with the booking, like with Mt. Teide, and sometimes extras like the cable car or additional transportation.

Lastly, consider whether you’re searching for peace and a chance to vibe with nature in solitude, or want to be social and meet other travelers. 

If you’re a somewhat experienced hiker and enjoy hitting the trails alone, you’ll find plenty of chances to do just that all over the island.

Joining an organized group hike, on the other hand, offers a great opportunity to socialize and maybe even make some new friends on the island.

Best Guided Hikes in Tenerife

Mount Teide Hiking Tour with Cable CarBook Here

View of Las candas del Teide in Tenerife

Hiking Mount Teide is one of the best things to do in Tenerife.

The island’s top attraction is also the highest peak in Spain, so skipping this impressive volcano would also mean missing out on a one-of-a-kind experience.

Fun fact: Mt. Teide is the largest volcano by mass after the Big Island of Hawaii‘s two volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa!

Mount Teide towers over the island from its center and is visible from most of the other Canary Islands.

While you can hike Mount Teide individually, this is actually one of the hikes I recommend doing on an organized tour.

This Mount Teide hiking tour is one of the best options for those looking to hike to Mount Teide’s summit.

This small group tour includes everything, so you won’t have to worry about requesting permits and booking the cable car in advance.

You can join this tour from a pick-up point or even arrange a pick-up at your hotel.

Note that the pick-up service is only available at a few hotels in Los Cristianos, Las Americas, and Costa Adeje, all in Tenerife South.

You’ll travel to Teide National Park in a van and catch the cable car up to Mount Teide.

Last, but not least, you’ll hike the final 170 meters to reach the summit, so you’ll feel like you earned it — and since Teide peaks at over 12,000 feet or 3,715 meters, you’ll feel every step of that 170-meter final climb!

Only permit holders can hike to the summit, so the benefit of this tour is that it includes that permit along with the cable car ride.

After resting and enjoying the view from the summit, you’ll descend and catch the cable car back.

On your way back to Tenerife South, you also have another stop at Roques de Garcia to take in the impressive landscape one more time.

Book this Mt. Teide hiking tour with permit here!

Masca Ravine Guided Tour Book Here

view of the masca town from a view point higher up with stunning green landscape elsewhere in the viewpoint

Masca Valley is another popular spot for hiking in Tenerife, and joining a guided tour is the best approach again here.

The Masca Ravine hike is quite difficult, so doing it with a professional guide and other travelers is definitely a good idea.

The meeting point for this tour is directly in the Masca Village, and you’ll have to find your way there on your own.

Since there’s only limited parking options near the village, the best option is going to Masca by bus.

To go by bus, take Line 355: it has departures from Buenavista and Santiago del Teide to Masca.

The hike is just about 10 kilometers (6 miles) out and back — but it’s a challenging one!

You’ll hike downhill in the Masca ravine and back uphill on quite a steep trail with an elevation of roughly 650 meters, so this trail is not for beginners! 

That said, going on a guided tour and having a guide along the way will make you feel a lot more comfortable if this trail is at the edge of your comfort zone.

Of course, you’ll want to be sure to have appropriate shoes, plus pack enough water, snacks, and sunscreen. 

If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular landscapes in Tenerife, hiking through giant forest-covered cliffs and beautiful flora.

Plus, the picturesque village of Masca is a true gem worth discovering! 

From start to finish, the hike takes roughly 7 hours, but it’s absolutely worth it!

Book the Masca Ravine hike here!

Anaga Rural Park TourBook Here

Hiking through the laurel forest in Anaga Rural Park in Tenerife with beautiful pathways and trails

One last hiking area worth exploring with a guided tour is Anaga Rural Park.

This vast, lush laurel forest in the north of Tenerife is the greenest area of the island and provides many hiking trails. 

You could easily hike for days in the Anaga Rural Park and still find unique trails.

This Anaga Rural Park tour is the perfect way to experience the highlights of this area with a skilled guide, learn about the native flora and history of the park, and meet other travelers.

You can even request pick-up from locations in the south of Tenerife, a much easier way to reach the park than by bus if you haven’t rented a car in Tenerife.

During this 8-hour hiking tour, you’ll explore the gorgeous laurel forest, enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the northern Tenerife coastline, and stop by charming little villages.

Your knowledgeable guide will tell you all about the geology of the region and local fauna and flora, making the activity fun and educational.

Book this Anaga Rural Park hiking tour here!

Best Independent Day Hikes in Tenerife

The great thing about Tenerife is that there are buses offering many connections to several hiking areas.

This way, you can reach different hikes of various lengths and difficulty without necessarily needing to join a group tour, even if you don’t have a car.

Here are my favorite day hikes in Tenerife for you to look through — which ones will you add to your trip?

Montaña Chinyero (PR-TF 43)

View of Chinyero Volcano landscape in Tenerife, Canary Islands on a cloudy day
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 8.2 km (5.1 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Loop

This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Tenerife, located just outside Santiago del Teide. 

The loop trail begins in a parking lot on the TF-38 road connecting Santiago del Teide to the Teide National Park.

You’ll also find it marked on Google Maps as Sendero del Chinyero, so it’s easy to know where to start!

This easy-to-moderate trail offers spectacular views of the volcanic landscape around the Chinyero Volcano, one of the island’s youngest volcanoes whose most recent eruption was in 1909. 

The 8-kilometer hike is part of the longer PR-TF 43 trail that begins in Garachico, on the northern coast of Tenerife, covering a total distance of 31 kilometers (over 19 miles).

You can easily complete the trail in about three hours with breaks. 

If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can also take a 26-kilometer loop hike from Santiago del Teide, with stops at Chinyero, Montaña de las Flores, and Montaña Bilma.

However, this trail takes upward of 8 hours, so it’s only for really experienced hikers!

Sendero El Bosque de los Enigmas 

Pathway with light beaming through in Anaga Rural Park in a laurel forest
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 1.5-2 hours
  • Type: Loop

AllTrails marks this as a moderate hike, but if I’m being honest, I found it pretty easy, and it only has an elevation of 200 meters.

The main challenge of this hike is likely the unpredictable weather as you walk through the lush laurel forest!

The Bosque de los Enigmas hike begins and ends at Cruz del Carmen, a popular departure spot for other trails within the Anaga Rural Park.

Here, you can also admire the stunning views from Mirador Cruz del Carmen. 

The hike takes less than two hours with breaks. Roughly halfway through, you can stop to catch your breath and enjoy the view from Mirador de Zapata.

Given how short and easy this hike is, I recommend pairing it with one of the other short hikes that start from Cruz del Carmen.

Sendero de los Sentidos is a short loop trail that takes less than one hour and offers a peaceful walk through the forest with a couple of viewpoints along the way.

You can easily reach Cruz del Carmen by car or by bus 273 from Intercambiador la Laguna.

As an added bonus, this is one of the easiest hiking spots to reach without a car in Tenerife.

Paisaje Lunar (PR-TF 72)

The moon-like landscape along Paisaje Lunar hiking trail in Tenerife with white stones and trees
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 13.4 km (8.3 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-6 hours
  • Type: Loop

This is one of my favorite trails in Tenerife, thanks to its incredible views, which are some of the most spectacular on the island!

The name of this trail, which translates to Lunar Landscape, is surprisingly accurate, as you’ll notice once you reach its highlight.

The lunar landscape is quite a small area, but it’s surreal, especially after walking several kilometers through pine forests and mountain trails.

Once you get there, you’ll see several beige conical shapes emerging from the volcanic slopes, creating fascinating formations.

This trail is marked as hard, but I’d say it’s only moderately challenging, with some ups and downs… but it is long, so depending on your fitness, you may find it tiring.

You should, however, be prepared with layers and sunscreen, as most of the trail provides no shade.

The loop trail begins in the charming town of Vilaflor, which you can reach by bus 482 from Los Cristianos.

Since the hike can take up to six hours, depending on how many times you stop and how long you stay at Paisaje Lunar, I recommend heading to Vilaflor early in the morning to get a head start!

Las Vueltas de Taganana

Palm tree framing the view of Roque de las Animas crag in Anaga park, Tenerife, and the coastline of the water with sea stacks and beautiful coastline on a sunny day with some clouds in the sky in Tenerife.
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 8 km (5 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Loop

The area around Taganana offers a few hiking trails, each more picturesque than the last. 

The town of Taganana is delightful, so I recommend spending some time exploring it while you’re here.

It won’t take more than half an hour to wander around the small gathering of houses overlooking the ocean and the imposing Roque de las Animas.

Las Vueltas de Taganana is quite a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of over 700 meters, so you should take it slow, bring sufficient water and snacks, apply (and re-apply!) sunscreen, and take lots of breaks. 

Although the trail is difficult, you won’t be disappointed by the impressive views over the Anaga Massif!

A word of warning: the weather can change suddenly in this area, from sunny and hot to rainy and windy.

I recommend dressing in layers and having a waterproof jacket and good hiking boots. 

If you’re traveling without a car, you can get to Taganana by bus 946 from Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Montaña Roja

View of the Montana Roja or red mountain from across the sea with beautiful calm ocean water and hiking trail to the summit of the mountain visible even from a far distance
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.7 km (2.9 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 1.5-2 hours
  • Type: Loop

The south of Tenerife isn’t exactly known for its hiking trails, but Montaña Roja is a lovely exception.

The profile of this mountain, sitting on the southern shore of Tenerife, can be seen from many points all over the island.

This short trail is a great activity to combine with a relaxing afternoon at one of the gorgeous nearby beaches, Playa del Médano or Playa de la Tejita (pictured), one on each side of the “Red Mountain.”

Ideally, you’ll want to start your hike either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the hottest hours.

The most challenging aspect of this hike is the heat, since you won’t have any shade the whole way up the mountain.

At the same time, you can experience strong winds when you finally reach the top, so do bring a jacket or sweater. 

At the top, you can enjoy sweeping coastal views that will more than repay your efforts.

The official trail start is La Tejita Beach Parking Lot, but you can also start from Parking Montaña Roja or even from El Médano, as I did.

If you don’t have a car, buses 470, 410, and 483 stop at La Tejita.

Benijo – Cruz del Draguillo (PR-TF 6.3)

Looking at the ocean from up high, with a view on rock in the sea -- the hike of El Draguillo with green hills and dramatic water below
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 5.1 km (3.2 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Loop

If you enjoy trails with stunning panoramic coastal views, consider the Benijo to Cruz del Draguillo trail.

This loop trail begins in Benijo, a small coastal town on the northern coast of Tenerife that you can easily reach by bus 946 from Santa Cruz.

The beaches in this area are some of the most spectacular on the island, in my opinion, boasting spectacular rock formations and black sand.

The hike allows you to admire the dramatic coastline and the lush vegetation of the Anaga Rural Park.

One of the biggest challenges of this hike is the elevation!

As usual for this area, dressing in layers is recommended as it can get windy at higher elevations.

The hike is close to other wonderful places you can visit, like the charming Almáciga, Roque de las Bodegas, and Taganana. 

After the hike, you can stretch out and relax on a nearby beach, like Playa de Benijo, Playa de Almáciga, or Playa del Roque de las Bodegas.

Roques de García

Trail signs on the Roques de García trail with a volcano in the background. Peak of the Mount Teide in the distance with the apparatus for using the cable car to get to the top
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.5 km (2.2 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 1-1.5 hours
  • Type: Loop

Lastly, if you want to explore the Teide National Park on your own instead of with a group, you can reach the area by bus and enjoy some of the many trails around the park. 

One of the most popular and picturesque hiking trails is the loop of Roques de García.

This trail offers stunning views of the peak of the Teide and impressive volcanic rock formations like La Catedral, Roque Chinchado, and Roques Blanco.

This short trail begins close to Parador Las Cañadas del Teide, one of the main parking lots in the Teide National Park.

However, since this is a very accessible trail, you can expect it to be quite crowded, especially right at the start!

However, you can also explore other short nearby trails to admire the gorgeous volcanic landscape, many of which are less crowded.

Head to the Cañada Blanca Visitor Center and check out the trails departing from there to see what feels right to you.

You can reach Parador Las Cañadas del Teide by bus 342 from Costa Adeje or Los Cristianos and 348 from Puerto de la Cruz or La Orotava.

Expert Tip: Note that line 348 was suspended after recent fires in Tenerife (August 2023), so check whether it has resumed service by the time you visit!

12 Best Hikes in Fuerteventura (Guided & Independent Options!)

view from the highest point in the fuerteventura island, pico de zarza, over the Atlantic Ocean and beach coastline

Fuerteventura is the second-largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, best known for being extremely windy and perfect for water sports. 

The island doesn’t have particularly high peaks, but its beautiful volcanic landscape makes it an ideal spot for easy and moderate hikes.

Unlike some of the other islands, such as Tenerife or Gran Canaria, you shouldn’t expect a great variety of hiking trails, as the terrain is a little more flat.

However, each part of the island has its unique features making it well worth your time to visit. 

the beautiful cofete beach of fuerteventura with sand and two colors of water on a sunny day

The central area features beautiful, reddish hills and valleys, the north has iconic calderas, and the south has the highest peaks and most beautiful beaches.

I spent two wonderful weeks in Fuerteventura in 2022, including a few days in a remote area near Tindaya.

During my stay, I got to explore several hiking trails all over the island, and each was unique! 

Panoramic view over the village of Antigua with white washed building as seen from the lovely Mirador of Morro Velosa in Betancuria rural park with mountains in the distance

From sand dunes to volcanic calderas and beautiful coastal trails, the island has a lot to offer!

The following guide contains some of the best hiking trails in Fuerteventura, including guided tours and independent day hikes.

I included as wide a variety as possible of trails and difficulty levels so you can experience different landscapes, challenges, and views — no matter how confident of a hiker you are!

Should I Do a Guided or Independent Hike in Fuerteventura?

Young woman photographing with smart phone beautiful landscape with beach and mountains on the sunset over the Cofete Beach in Fuerteventura Spain

The choice between guided and independent hikes in Fuerteventura comes down to two main factors: whether you have a car and whether you prefer hiking alone or in a group.

Unlike other islands like Tenerife and Lanzarote, Fuerteventura doesn’t have hiking trails that require a permit or a guide.

The biggest obstacle to some hiking areas in Fuerteventura is that they’re remote and inaccessible.

You can’t get there by bus, and in some cases, you may not even be able to drive a rental car to get there! 

rugged dirt road landscape with jeep suitable for off-roading in a more remote part of fuerteventura

The only way to reach these remote areas is by 4×4 or guided tour.

The second thing to consider is if you want to meet new people and hike with a group. 

Guided tours are great for socializing and learning more about the areas you explore.

They usually have expert guides that won’t just show you the way but also share their knowledge about the history and geology of the island, which is generally super fascinating — as most volcanic islands are!

So, before deciding whether you should hike alone or join a guided tour, start by researching the area you want to explore.

Each trail listed in this guide contains information on how to reach the starting point so you can have the hiking adventure of your dreams!

Best Guided Hikes in Fuerteventura

Hiking Tour with Goats in El Cardon Book Here

A person's shadow showing who is taking the photo in a volcanic landscape with barren peaks on a sunny cloudless day in Fuerteventura hiking

What better way to hike in Fuerteventura than to hike with nature’s most silly companion — the goat?

The native Majorero goats of the Canary Islands are one of Fuerteventura’s most distinctive features!

You can see these goats in many places across the island, but this hiking tour in El Cardon is the perfect chance to hike and get closer to these charming animals.

The hike takes place around the mountain of El Cardon in the south of Fuerteventura.

A signpost on a trail leading through the Cardon mountains in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

The whole activity lasts five hours and includes pick-up and drop-off from hotels in the south, a tour guide, and best of all, feeding the feisty little goats!

Joining this tour is the perfect opportunity to explore a lesser-known area of the island that you can’t reach by public transportation. 

Plus, you can sample local goat cheese as part of a light lunch!

It’s also great for intermediate hikers who want a little companionship on the hike.

The hike is moderately challenging and around 8 kilometers (5 miles) long — nothing too crazy, but definitely a workout!

Book this hiking tour of El Cardon with goats here!

Cofete Hiking Tour & Picnic – Book Here

A family of goats on a desert-like barren landscape, grazing in the natural park near Cofete, Fuerteventura hiking area

This Cofete full-day guided tour in the south of Fuerteventura allows you to explore another area many tourists won’t reach: Parque Natural de Jandia.

Parts of this national park are also not good for rental cars because the roads are unpaved.

With rental car rules, that means that if you drive on them, your entire rental insurance can get invalidated (meaning even if you damage the car elsewhere, the GPS will show you’ve driven these roads and the company will blame it on the off-road driving).

Covering the southernmost tip of the island, the natural park is one of the most remote and unspoiled areas in Fuerteventura, with lots of hiking trails offering stunning coastal views.

This guided hiking tour of Cofete and Jandia includes two moderate hikes in Punta Pesebre and Cofete. 

You’ll spend the first half of the day exploring around the southwestern end of Fuerteventura, hiking and checking out stunning beaches like Playa de Ojos.

beautiful natural beach of playa de los dojos in fuerteventura in the national park with jagged landscape and rocks leading into the water

You’ll also see the gorgeous Punta de Jandia lighthouse and stop for lunch in El Puertito.

In the afternoon, you’ll explore the area of Cofete, where you’ll see the Winter House, admire sweeping coastal views, and hike through stunning volcanic landscapes. Lastly, you’ll check out the iconic Roque del Moro.

The guided tour lasts most of the day, clocking in at roughly 9 hours.

The whole experience includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from available locations in southern Fuerteventura, transportation, a licensed guide, insurance, and a few snacks. 

Be sure to book it in advance, especially in summer — this one is rather popular because you can’t bring rental cars into Cofete without invalidating your insurance, since it’s considered ‘off road’ driving!

Book your Cofete hiking tour here!

Caldera de Arrabales Hike – Book Here

Aerial view of a volcanic caldera depression in the landscape, with desert views all around

This Caldera de Arrabales guided tour is the perfect way to combine a hike through the beautiful volcanic landscape with a visit to a traditional farm, complete with tasting local products!

The hiking and tasting activity is located just south of Puerto del Rosario and lasts roughly 6 hours.

You’ll begin by exploring the gorgeous volcanic landscape surrounding the Caldera de Arrabales, located in a protected area of Fuerteventura.

Be aware that the hike is moderately challenging, with portions of gravel and volcanic stones, so be sure to wear proper hiking shoes or you’re in for a tough hike.

two glasses of wine clinking cheers in a volcanic landscape

After exploring and learning all about the volcano on the 5-kilometer loop trail, you’ll visit a local farm where you can try typical products, including goat cheese, wine, and aloe vera products.

The tour includes nearly everything, from hotel pick-up and drop-off to a hiking guide, insurance, and product tasting. 

Just be sure to bring some water for the hikes and extra snacks if you think you’ll need them!

Book your hiking and tasting tour here!

Montaña Escanfraga Volcano Summit Hike – Book Here

volcanic landscape with tumbleweed-like bushes and aloe plant, with the volcano of escanfranga in the distance

This hike to the one of the highest volcanoes in Fuerteventura is an absolute must for all hiking enthusiasts!

Montaña Escanfraga is a volcanic cone just outside the town of Villaverde, in northern Fuerteventura.

As mentioned earlier, Fuerteventura doesn’t have many areas with high peaks for those looking for challenging routes — at 529 meters or 1,735 feet, this is one of few exceptions! 

Aside from Montaña Escanfraga, there is only one other area with higher elevations, Pico de la Zarza in the south.

So you shouldn’t miss the chance to hike to one of the highest points on the island if you’re the fan of a heart-pounding hike!

hiking escanfranga volcano and seeing the view from the summit of the mountain with road, mountains and sea in the distance

This moderately challenging hike lasts roughly five hours. You’ll walk on paths known as “camel routes” to reach the summit of Montaña Escanfraga and check out the spectacular view. 

Along the way, your guide will tell you about the history and geography of the volcano.

This guided hiking tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from several locations in Fuerteventura so it’s great if you’re not renting a car during your stay.

Book your hiking tour of Montaña Escanfraga here!

  

Best Independent Day Hikes in Fuerteventura

Dunas de Corralejo

the corralejo sand dunes with beautiful white sand and blue sky
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 12.2 km (7.6 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 3-4 hours
  • Type: Loop

While this isn’t really a hike, properly speaking, it’s one of the must-see places in Fuerteventura!

The Corralejo Nature Reserve is an extensive dune field just south of Corralejo that will make you feel like you’re in the desert… because you kind of are!

This trail starts next to the Corralejo harbor, so the first part of it runs through town.

You can easily change things up a bit and drive or take a bus to the south of Corralejo and save about 45 minutes each way, which will allow you to spend more time exploring the dunes.

The best things about this trail are its accessibility and the possibility for flexible planning.

yellow sand dunes in corralejo in fuerteventura with a reddish mountain volcano cone in the distance, evoking a unique contrast of landscape

The dunes begin just outside Corralejo, making it easy to explore even if you don’t have a car during your stay (though having a far makes a Fuerteventura road trip and hiking trip a lot more fun!)

Furthermore, while you’ll have a great time just following the recommended trail, you can choose whether to walk along the coast, inland, or a combination of the two.

As in any desert-like area, you won’t find any shade around the Corralejo Nature Preserve. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring layers, as it can get very windy. 

Also, don’t forget to pack some snacks and water — there’s really nothing around here!

El Barranco de los Enamorados

Smooth sandstone walls of Barranco de los Enamorados, a canyon with beautiful pinkish-orange landscape
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 10.8 km (6.7 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2.5-3 hours
  • Type: Out & Back

This moderately challenging hike close to the town of Lajares is among the most popular trails in Fuerteventura.

The name Barranco de los Enamorados is a pretty recent development, since now, many couples enjoy heading to this area to enjoy a romantic evening with a view.  

The trail was originally known as Barranco de los Encantados, a name that comes from an atmospheric phenomenon known as Bayuyo that consists of the formation of small banks of fog.

The locals believed the fog was enchanted or magical in some way, containing the spirits of the ancestors.

A hike in a beautiful desert area of Fuerteventura, in the ravine called barranco de los enamorados around Lajares

It’s still enchanting for its narrow slot canyons and soft sandy pathways — they’ll make you feel transported to the desert landscapes of Utah’s national parks and winding narrow canyons.

There are a few ways to reach the area, as this trail starts outside Lajares.

If you don’t have a car, you can get to Lajares by bus line 8 from Corralejo or line 7 from Puerto del Rosario. 

Admittedly, the first part of the hike can be a bit boring, but you’ll be rewarded with the sight of the beautiful canyon (Barranco) later on in the hike!

You can also start the trail near the roundabout just outside Lajares.

Gran Valle – Degollada del Cofete – Cofete  

High mountains lining the west-south coast of the Atlantic ocean with turquoise water and bright blue sky, hiking in Gran Valle de Cofete
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 12.7 km (7.9 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Out & Back

This out-and-back hike starts just outside Morro Jable, in southern Fuerteventura.

The downside? Nearly all public transportation stops in Morro Jable, making it hard to reach the start point for this hike. 

To get to the trailhead, you’ll pretty much need a car unless you’re up for a one-hour walk along the main dirt road without much to see.

Plus, the single bus line to Cofete only runs a couple of times per day, meaning you’re at the mercy of a pretty limited schedule.

The hike isn’t too difficult but has a moderately challenging ascent right at the start.

But when you reach Cofete, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the northern coast! 

Beautiful beach in Cofete with lonely landscape with no one around on a partly cloudy day in a beautiful hiking weather day

Here, you can also stop at the only restaurant in the area, Restaurante Cofete Pepe El Faro.

Given the length of the hike, starting early in the day is ideal to avoid the heat. 

As always, bring water, sunscreen, and a jacket in case it gets too windy on the higher points.

Bring some food as well unless you plan on stopping for lunch at the restaurant.  

Morro Jable – Pico de la Zarza

Dirt gravel hiking trail that leads up to the summit of pico de la Garza the highest mountain peak in fuerteventura on a hike in the island
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 12.6 km (7.8 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-6 hours
  • Type: Out & Back

If you’re up for a challenging hike with a lot of elevation, Pico de la Zarza is the spot for you.

This is the highest point on the island at roughly 800 meters (2,625 feet), offering stunning sweeping views of the Natural Park of Jandia.

The trail begins in Piedras Caídas, just north of Morro Jable. You can expect a slow but steady (and steep!) ascent until you reach the summit. 

The trail isn’t too technical, but the lack of shade and constant ascent can be challenging for some. The view at the top will pay off your efforts and sweat!

View from the highest point of the island, the jagged peak of Pico de Zarza, looking towards Playa de Barlovento de Jandia and the wild Atlantic Ocean views

As is the case for most trails on the island, you should prepare by bringing sufficient water and wearing sunscreen.

You won’t find anything along the way, so some snacks are also a good idea. 

Aim to start early in the morning to avoid the scorching midday sun.  

Betancuria – Moro de Tegtuno – El Pinar

Fuerteventura landscape of Betancuria as seen on a hike
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 12.4 km (7.7 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Loop

If you ask me, the landscape around Betancuria has to be among the most beautiful on the island!

Think small hills and valleys with occasional villages made of whitewashed houses standing out in the reddish terrain — it’s what postcards are made out of.

Honestly, if you were to dedicate just one day to hiking in Fuerteventura, I’d have to recommend this area.

This loop trail starting in Betancuria is suitable for most people. You can expect some ups and downs but no major elevation gains.

You can pair this hike with a visit to the lovely Betancuria, Fuerteventura’s former capital city.

view of the town of betancuria with white washed architecture and plaza

Here, you can enjoy a delicious lunch at a traditional Canarian restaurant and explore the charming town. 

If you’re traveling by car, you could also do the hike to Arco de las Peñitas (next on the list) on the same day.

Arco de las Peñitas – Presa de las Peñitas

view from the Arco hike in betancuria with an arch in the sandstone that is beautiful
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4 km (2.5 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 1-2 hours
  • Type: Loop

Arco de las Peñitas is one of my favorite spots in Fuerteventura, but reaching this stunning rock formation isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

The trail itself isn’t too difficult… that is, until you realize that you’re right under the arch and need to figure out how to go up!

Unfortunately, there’s no real trail for this part of the hike, but trust me, you can make it! 

The stone arch is located at the top of the mountain, and the last portion of the trail includes some actual rock scrambling.

ermita la pena in betancuria area on the hike to the viewpoint

This hike, though short, may not be for everyone.

If you are moderately fit, you can handle it. Given the poorly marked trail, you may need to follow the existing footsteps to find your way up. 

Despite the area not being overly crowded, you’re likely to find other people going up or down that can help point you in the right direction.

And trust me – once you make it up, you won’t be disappointed by the view.

The starting point for this hike on AllTrails is only reachable by car, and it’s the shortest distance you can manage.

However, you may also start in Vega de Rio Palmas or Betancuria, both connected to Puerto del Rosario by bus line 2, but that’ll make the hike longer.

Tindaya – Vallebrón – Tefía 

Windmill made of stone and wood and iron, called Molino de Tefía, in the landscape of Fuerteventura
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 17.1 km (10.6 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 4-6 hours
  • Type: Loop

The area surrounding Tindaya is another beautiful and remote part of Fuerteventura with stunning landscapes.

The hike is quite long, which may be why AllTrails marks it as hard, but the trail isn’t too technical. 

The most challenging part is the ascent roughly halfway through, but your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding valley.

a remote part of fuerteventura near tindaya volcano

Vallebrón is a stunning protected area and includes some of the highest peaks in Fuerteventura, perfect for gorgeous views. 

This hike is accessible to everyone, even if you don’t plan on renting a car. You can reach Tindaya by line 7 from Puerto del Rosario. 

As I always advise — be sure to wear sunscreen, and pack plenty of food and water for this hike!

Sendero Bayuyo

bayuyo volcano in Fuerteventura on a clear day with the hiking trail ahead of you and the mountain
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 8 km (5 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-2.5 hours
  • Type: Loop

The gorgeous Sendero Bayuyo is a short and moderate loop trail just outside Corralejo.

It’s perfect if you want to enjoy the volcanic landscape of Fuerteventura, but you don’t have a lot of time to spare so you need to make it a quicker one.

The trail takes its name from the iconic Bayuyo Volcano in northern Fuerteventura.

The trail passes through several calderas (volcanic depressions), including Caldera Rebanada, Caldera Encantada, and Calderon Hondo to name just a few.

view over volcanic crater of Calderon Hondo with red and brown streaked volcanic landscape

At the highest parts of the hike, you can admire a beautiful view of Fuerteventura’s coast and even Isla de Lobos off in the distance.

Be aware that this is among the most popular trails in Fuerteventura, given its vicinity to the town of Corralejo — so you definitely won’t be alone.

The hike is accessible even for those who aren’t renting a car in Fuerteventura, which makes it even more popular.

You can reach the trailhead by bus from Corralejo. Most buses going south will stop at Tamaragua.

Bonus: Isla de Lobos

view of Isla lobos in fuerteventura with beautiful aquamarine waters
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 10 km (6.2 miles)
  • Time to Complete: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Loop

One last hiking trail worth considering when visiting Fuerteventura is on Isla de Lobos, which technically isn’t on Fuerteventura but is awfully close!

The small island of Lobos is just off the northern coast of Fuerteventura, facing the town of Corralejo on the other side of the water.

Ferries to the island depart regularly from the Corralejo harbor so it’s easy to come here on a day trip — no major effort required.

This 10-kilometer trail allows you to circle the entire island, passing by several attractions and gorgeous sandy beaches like Faro de Punta Martiño, Las Lagunitas, Playa de la Concha, and Montaña de La Caldera.

view of la concha beach on Isla lobos in fuerteventura area

You can complete the hike in under three hours without stops, but you can also spend some time on one of the beaches and go for a swim. 

Pack a picnic lunch to eat on the beach — it’s the best way to enjoy this trail!

If you don’t want to do a picnic, you’ll have to grab lunch at the only restaurant on the island, so make a reservation as soon as you arrive.

Luckily, Chiringuito Lobos Antoñito El Farero is close to the port, so it’s easy to do so and then swing back around after your hike, before you go back to Fuerteventura.

15 Wonderful Things to Do in Naples in Winter

view of a snow capped volcano mt Vesuvius as seen from a hill in Naples in winter

If you’re looking for a popular winter vacation destination with fewer crowds, Naples is the perfect destination for you!

Located in Southern Italy, Naples has mild winters, making it the ideal city to explore in the off-season.

Over my 15 years living in Italy, I traveled to Naples on multiple occasions and winter may just be my favorite season to visit the city! 

A winter scene with lights in Naples Italy in the gallery

Although some popular areas and attractions may still be slightly busy, you’ll get to enjoy pleasant strolls around the city center, visit stunning museums, enjoy delicious food, and even take a few nice day trips nearby.

In this guide to visiting Naples in winter, you’ll find a bit of everything.

There’s interesting museums, impressive archaeological sites, all the best shopping spots, and even the most festive places to experience the Christmas atmosphere.

Things to Do in Naples in Winter

Check out the Presepe display on Via San Gregorio Armeno.

Pink-toned Bell Tower of the church of San Gregorio Armeno, which is located above Via San Gregorio Armeno. This famous narrow street has colorful displays of Nativity scenes in winter in Naples.

If there is just one thing you absolutely have to do in winter in Naples, it’s taking a beautiful stroll along Via San Gregorio Armeno to admire the Presepe displays.

Presepe is the Italian term for the nativity scene, and it’s a long-standing, cherished tradition in Naples.

You’ll see a Presepe in most Italian squares during Christmas time, but Via San Gregorio Armeno is the go-to place to admire these elaborate and beautiful displays.

A Presepe Christmas nativity scene which you can admire in Naples in winter on the famous streets that are known for them

While Christmas is the time when everyone shops for figurines and decorations to make their Presepe at home, on this particular street in Naples, you can see them year-round.

Of course, the best time to visit the renowned street, also known as Presepe Street, is from early November through mid-December.

It’s probably best to avoid the days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve unless you’re a fan of crowds. 

No matter when you visit Naples, don’t forget to check out this lively street!

Enjoy exploring the city with fewer crowds.

A street scene view in the large Southern Italian city of naples -- staircase, balconies, street scene in the city, with stairs, buildings, etc.

The best part of visiting Naples in winter is being spared the huge crowds that overtake the city during summer.

From November to February (except, of course, for the Christmas holidays!) you can take your time to explore the city with much fewer crowds.

It’s also true that Naples has mild winters, so more and more people are opting to visit during the off-season.

Nevertheless, you can still enjoy a relatively empty city, shorter lines for the biggest attractions, and overall, just a more pleasant visit.

Check out the imposing Piazza del Plebiscito, explore the popular Via Toledo, go window shopping on Via Chiaia, and stroll along the Lungomare di Napoli for beautiful views of the sea and Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

Get festive at the Christmas Markets in Vomero.

Christmas ornaments as seen as a market in Vomero, Naples

Naples isn’t exactly renowned for its Christmas markets, but the tradition has started to gain popularity, so you can now find a few markets, mainly in the Vomero neighborhood.

Vomero is a lively hilltop district around the central square of Piazza Vanvitelli.

The area is best known for the medieval fortress, Castel Sant’Elmo, and the scenic views of the Gulf of Naples.

However, the neighborhood is also the best place in Naples for Christmas decorations and markets.

The Christmas markets in Vomero run from early December until January 6th.

You can find stalls selling Christmas decorations, local food and drinks, and souvenirs around Piazza degli Artisti, Via Enrico Alvino, and Via Angelica Kauffmann.

Visit the hilltop Castel Sant’Elmo.

View of the clocktower of the Castel st Elmo in Vomero Hill in Naples with view of the bay, people viewing the castle in winter clothing.

While in Vomero, you should also pay a visit to the stunning Castel Sant’Elmo.

Perched at the top of the Vomero hill, the medieval fortress stands on the site of a 12th-century fortified residence.

This castle offers spectacular panoramic views of the city, the Gulf of Naples, and of course, a snow-capped Mt. Vesuvius dominating the bay.

In summer, Castel Sant’Elmo is among the most popular tourist attractions in Naples, especially around sunset, when the view of the gulf is even more stunning. In winter, you can enjoy a crowd-free visit. 

However, nearly the entire visit is outdoors, so this might not be the best place on a rainy day — check the weather before planning this part of your Naples winter outing!

If you’re around on a clear winter day, you should head to Castel Sant’Elmo just before sunset. You can pair this with a visit to the nearby Christmas markets!

Even better, the entrance fee is really cheap! Visit on a Tuesday or any other day after 4 PM, and you’ll only pay 2.5€.

Discover Certosa e Museo di San Martino

Beautiful cloister in the Vomero Hill area with ornate arches and doorways in the building

Just below Castel Sant’Elmo, Certosa di San Martino is a former monastery complex overlooking Naples from the Vomero hill.

The monastery was built in the 14th century and expanded several times later before ultimately being turned into its current form as a museum

Today, Certosa di San Martino houses the National Museum of San Martino.

Inside, you can admire several works of art and artifacts from the Spanish and Bourbon eras, from paintings and sculptures to carriages and ships.

If you ask me, the best things to see in the museum are the traditional presepe displays (Nativity scenes), which make this the perfect place to visit in Naples in winter.

However, don’t forget to check out the monumental courtyard with its beautiful cloisters.

Admire the Veiled Christ at Museo Cappella Sansevero

Veiled christ statue in one of the chapels in Naples, the most famous statue in the city
Cristo Velato statue | Photo Credit: David Sivyer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Veiled Christ, Cristo Velato in Italian, is one of the main things to see in Naples.

The sculpture is considered one of the world’s great masterpieces, a white marble sculpture that will leave you in awe of its incredible life-like details.

The sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino sculpted the Veiled Christ from a single marble block, which is impressive enough.

But the detailed rendering of the transparent veil covering Christ’s body and his face is what makes the sculpture awe-inspiring.

The representation is so realistic that many believed it was created through alchemy!

You can admire the stunning sculpture and many others in the Sansevero Chapel, a 16th-century family chapel that is now a museum.

The chapel is among Naples’ most popular tourist attractions, so get your tickets online in advance.  

You can also join a guided tour that includes entry to the Sansevero Chapel along with a tour of downtown Naples with stops at other landmarks like the Naples Cathedral, Santa Chiara Monumental Complex, and Chiesa Del Gesù Nuovo.

Book this Downtown Tour and Veiled Christ Entry a few days before your visit.

Discover the underground side of Naples.

Underground portion of Naples with interesting iconography on a crypt underground

If you happen to be in Naples on a cold and rainy day, the best way to escape the bad weather is to join a tour of Naples Underground.

You’ll head beneath the modern city to discover its history dating back to ancient Greek times!

A whole complex of archaeological discoveries lies beneath the city, unveiling what Naples looked like as far back as 2,400 years ago.

The only way to explore this area of Naples is with a guided tour that will lead you through narrow galleries and remains of Roman buildings.

The most popular experience is this Naples Underground Guided Tour in the heart of the city.

However, other underground tours are available, like this Bourbon Tunnel Guided Tour or the Catacombs of San Gennaro.

Visit the magnificent Castel Nuovo.

Woman in winter weather clothing standing in front of the castle Nuovo in Naples, with an italian flag flying, an indoor and outdoor castle complex great to visit in colder months

Unlike Castel Sant’Elmo, Castel Nuovo has several indoor areas you can explore, including the Civic Museum and the Palatine Chapel.

This helps make it the perfect place to visit on a cold and rainy winter day in Naples!

Castel Nuovo, also known as Maschio Angioino, was built under the reign of Charles I of Anjou in the late 13th century.

The stunning castle is located in a scenic location close to the sea and was named Castel Nuovo (New Castle) to distinguish it from the older Castel dell’Ovo.

Inside Castel Nuovo, you can explore the imposing rooms and halls, visit the Palatine Chapel and the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory, and check out beautiful works of art inside the Civic Museum.

Access to all available areas of the castle is only 6€, which is a great deal for how much you get to see!

Admire Naples’ art museums.

Museo di Capodimonte at museum located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy.

There are lots of art museums in Naples which are the best place to spend a rainy winter day.

One cool such museum is the Museo di Capodimonte, located in a Bourbon-era palazzo called Palace of Capodimonte.

This museum features classical works, such as pieces by Caravaggio and Titian, so it’s more for the fans of the classics.

If you’re an admirer of contemporary art, be sure to check out the Palazzo delle Arti di Napoli, also known as PAN.

The museum is inside a historical 17th-century building and houses various art exhibitions, from paintings and sculptures to photography and visual arts.

The exhibitions at PAN change every few months, so you’ll have to check what’s on when you visit Naples.

Depending on the exhibition, entry may be free or there may be a small fee. 

However, the great thing about PAN is that it stays open until 7:30 PM!

That makes it the perfect place to visit in the late afternoon when it tends to get cold outside.

Check out the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

building entrance to the Naples archaeology museum in a salmon pink ornate building with italian flag on top of it

The Naples Archeological Museum (or MANNMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) is one of the best museums you can visit in Naples.

MANN is home to one of the richest archaeological collections in the world, including many artifacts unearthed during the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum (both of which you can visit from Naples, as well).

The Egyptian collection, the Farnese collection of Roman antiquities, the collection of daily life objects from the Vesuvian area, and the Magna Graecia collection are just a few of the impressive collections you can see in the museum.

Even better, you can admire frescoes from Pompeii and sculptures from the Villa of Papyri in Herculaneum.

The museum is huge, so you should set aside a few hours for your visit.

Aside from the permanent collection, you’ll often find temporary exhibitions, too.

The entry ticket gives you access to the museum for two consecutive days, so you can also split your visit across two days if you really want to see everything!

Take a half-day trip to Pompeii or Herculaneum Archaeological Sites

interesting mosaic work in pompeii on the floor of a building

Visiting the archaeological sites near Naples in winter has two main advantages: avoiding the huge summer crowds, and enjoying a pleasant stroll without the unbearable heat of a southern Italian summer.

I visited Pompeii in February, and it was the best timing, a pleasant sunny day with just under 20°C (68°F) and only a small crowd that immediately spread out around the huge site, leaving me to wander in peace.

With some luck, you can have a similar experience any time from November to February at both Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Herculaneum is much closer to Naples, less than a 20-minute train ride from Naples Central Station.

The site also provides more covered areas and is more compact, so it’s easier to visit if you don’t have much time or if the weather is drizzly and not pleasant.

Pompeii is about half an hour away by train and much larger, so it requires at least half a day to visit.

Not sure which to visit? Check out our guide on Pompei vs. Herculaneum if you need help choosing.

Have delicious pizza at one of the historical restaurants.

A famous Neapolitan style pizza is a must eat in Naples in winter

When in Naples, eating pizza is a must!

Although the dish became widely popular after Italian immigrants brought it to the US, Naples is the birthplace of pizza.

Therefore, you can expect to enjoy phenomenal Neapolitan pizza at a few historical places throughout the city.

My top picks? Gino e Toto Sorbillo, Antica Pizzeria Brandi, and L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele are just three places worth checking out in Naples.

Each of these spots has its own story and reason to try. 

Gino e Toto Sorbillo is often referred to as one of the best pizza places in Naples, but you’ll need to brace yourself for a wait, because the line is long, and they don’t take reservations.

Da Michele is another popular spot, made famous by the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

As you may remember, Julia Roberts is “having a relationship with her pizza” in the movie!

Well, you can try the very same pizza and see if it lives up to that lofty praise. The line can be long here too, so get there early!

Lastly, Brandi is referred to as the birthplace of the Margherita pizza.

Supposedly, pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created the Margherita in this very spot for Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889.

Whether or not the story is true doesn’t matter, since the pizza here is delicious!

Attend a show at Real Teatro di San Carlo

ornate detailing of the exterior of the Naples opera house called Teatro san Carlo on a sunny day

Many people have heard about Teatro alla Scala in Milan or Teatro La Fenice in Venice, but Real Teatro di San Carlo is the world’s oldest continually active opera theater.

Importantly for the art form, it has served as a model and inspiration for many other European opera theaters too!

Founded in 1737, San Carlo Theater features a lush interior in classic 18th-century style and an impressive royal box with the best seats in the theater!

You can attend many events here, including opera, ballet, and symphonies.

If you don’t want to attend a show, the theater also offers guided tours.

The tour lasts half an hour and allows you to admire the main stage hall, the royal box, and the foyer. 

However, I would argue that the best way to see the theater is during a show. Check out the upcoming events; prices start as low as 10€!

Go shopping in Galleria Umberto I

Christmas decorations seen in the Galleria Umberto I in Naples with lit up display

While Via Chiaia is one of the most popular areas to shop in Naples, it’s no fun if the weather isn’t playing nice.

Luckily, on a rainy day, you can simply head to Galleria Umberto I, a stunning covered gallery.

Even if you’re on a budget and can’t do much shopping, it’s still worth visiting the covered arcade simply to admire the beautiful architecture!

The stunning Galleria Umberto I was built in the late 19th century, placed in central location close to Via Toledo and Castel Nuovo.

In designing it, it was meant to be an important and monumental building equal to other nearby landmarks, like the Royal Palace of Naples and Real Teatro di San Carlo.

For its beauty, convenience, and grandeur, Galleria Umberto I immediately became a significant place in Naples — it even housed the first movie theater in the city!

Go on a day trip to Reggia di Caserta.

The pinkish hued exterior of the Caserta royal palace near Naples, a great winter day trip

Lastly, if you’re up for a short day trip, head to Caserta, just a 40-minute train ride from Naples, and visit the magnificent Reggia di Caserta.

Once a 18th-century royal palace, it was actually the largest built in Europe at the time! For that reason, it eventually became part of UNESCO’s list of sites in 1997.

The stunning Palace of Versailles is noted to be its inspiration, and while Reggia di Caserta has a character all its own, it’s just as majestic.

The palace has lovely gardens with fountains and statues if you want to explore the outer areas; meanwhile, the inside has ornately decorated rooms, extraordinary staircases, and stunning art pieces everywhere you look.

Interior of the Reggio caserta with orange marble work and fresco painted ceilings with a mostly white minimalist interior

You can visit the palace on your own or join a guided tour with a local guide who will tell you more about the magnificent palace.

If you decide on the individual visit, book your tickets online

Alternatively, check out this 3-hour Royal Palace of Caserta Tour for all the historical context on this spectacular site.

8 Things to Do in Peschiera del Garda, a Lovely Fortified City

View of the beach at Peschiera del Garda

Peschiera del Garda may just be the most impressive town on Lake Garda — and that’s saying something!

The town itself is developed on a set of small islands located at the River Mincio’s outlet from the lake.

But perhaps even more beautifully, it features incredibly well-preserved Venetian fortifications spread across these islets.

I visited Peschiera del Garda during one of my trips to Milan while living in Italy, since it’s an ideal day trip.

the town of Peschiera del faraday with colorful yellow, red, purple, etc buildings in the town center

The train station just outside the old town makes it easy to reach from several nearby cities, including Milan, Verona, and Venice.

You can easily explore Peschiera del Garda in just a few hours if you’re stopping by on a road trip around Lake Garda.

At the same time, there are plenty of things to do in Peschiera del Garda if you want to spend a couple of days in town.

In this quick guide, you’ll find a variety of attractions and activities to fill one or two days in Peschiera!

Tips for Visiting Peschiera del Garda

cute canal-style view of the lake garda town peschiera del garda with pastel colored architecture on a lakefront waterway

Peschiera del Garda is a popular destination both for Italians and foreigners, especially in the summertime.

People who live in the surrounding Northern Italian cities often head to Peschiera and other towns on Lake Garda to spend the weekend, so you can expect to find it busy almost any time of the year.

While summer is the best season for swimming in the lake, going on boat cruises, and escaping the heat of the bigger cities, it is also when Peschiera is at its most crowded and its most expensive!

Winters on the lake can still be enjoyable despite the cold, and you’ll certainly find fewer people around.

If you want to enjoy nice weather while avoiding the big crowds and saving on accommodation and activities, visit Peschiera in the spring or fall.

If you can only visit one town on Lake Garda on a day trip, Peschiera del Garda is a great choice.

The beautiful moat and bridge of Peschiera del Garda in the towns of Lake Garda

For one, it is one of the two towns served by a train station (alongside Desenzano del Garda).

It takes less than an hour to get there from Milan, under two hours from Venice, and fastest of all, it’s only 15 minutes from Verona!

However, the best thing is to rent a car and spend two or three days driving around the lake and visiting the most important towns.

Regardless of how you visit, here is a list of things to do in Peschiera del Garda to help you plan your stay!

Things to Do in Peschiera del Garda

Peschiera del Garda is small, as in, it takes roughly 10 minutes to walk from one gate to the other of Peschiera del Garda, so don’t expect countless landmarks and attractions!

Nevertheless, the town’s location makes it a perfect base for many activities, from swimming in the lake to visiting one of Italy’s main amusement parks.

Here is how to spend a day (or more) in Peschiera del Garda!

Explore the fortified city.

A serene water channel flanked by tall, fortified stone walls and lined with cypress trees under a clear blue sky. The tranquility of the scene is accentuated by the reflection of the trees in the calm water while visiting Peschiera del Garda town, a UNESCO site.

The fortified region of of Peschiera is basically one big open-air museum that is super cool to visit!

The massive fortified complex is actually part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site, one that includes several Venetian defense structures in the Garda region.

The top thing to do in Peschiera is to walk around and admire the impressive defense system that surrounds the small island that Peschiera is built on.

The fortifications date back to the Roman period in origin; however, they were modified during the 15th century, when the Republic of Venice controlled Peschiera.

It was during this time that the two main city gates, Porta Verona and Porta Brescia, were created — two must-sees while exploring this town!

An image of a historical stone gateway leading to a fortified structure, with a road passing through it, adorned with vibrant flowers along the balustrade next to a waterway under a clear blue sky.

The best spots to check out the city walls are the bridges that connect the islands: Ponte di Porta Brescia and the iconic Ponte dei Voltoni.

Given the size of the town, you can walk around in roughly half an hour, but you could definitely spend more time if you wanted.

Here is where a guide would be helpful, to show you things you would have missed on your own.

To learn more while you explore Peschiera, book a tour with with an expert guide who can share cool facts about the town’s history, like on this Peschiera Walking Tour.

Book this Peschiera walking tour here!

Stroll along the lake.

Lakeside promenade where a row of tall trees lines a paved walkway, following the gentle curve of a clear blue waters of Lake Garda, with a rocky shore.

Peschiera is small (especially the walled-in portion), and as a result, it can get very crowded in summer.

If you want a break from the crowds, you can leave the fortified town and enjoy a peaceful walk along the lakeshore for a breath of fresh air (literally!).

The main area to walk is Lungolago Mazzini.

This peaceful promenade starts from Piazza Maestro Luigi Battistoni and continues for roughly three kilometers along the lake.

Along the way, you’ll pass several beaches, restaurants, and cafés — all perfect spots to stop for a break and enjoy the view.

Check out the Madonna del Frassino Sanctuary.

The front facade of a classic stone church, the Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino, with a large circular window and an arched entrance, flanked by tall, narrow cypress trees against a clear blue sky.

Just outside Peschiera, you can visit the beautiful Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino.

The 16th-century sanctuary has a storied past, as it was said to be the location of apparition of the Virgin Mary.

According to the legend, the farmer was about to be bitten by a snake when he saw the Virgin near an ash tree (frassino in Italian, hence the sanctuary’s name).

A lovely cypress-lined street leads to the peaceful location of the sanctuary — also some great spots to get photos while in Peschiera.

Since it’s a little bit out of town, the best way to get there is by car or taxi. On foot, it takes roughly half an hour from the center of Peschiera, which can be hot in the summer.

The sanctuary features a convent, a series of chapels with decorated altars, and beautiful cloisters.

Best of all, admission is free (and there’s also ample free parking), making it a great addition to your Garda itinerary.

Visit the fishing museum.

Orange and yellow museum with red shutters and vespas in front
The fishing museum | Image Credit: Di Nicola221063 – Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lovely Museo della Pesca e delle Tradizioni Lacustri is actually the only museum in the small town of Peschiera.

That said, it’s still worth a visit; this small but interesting museum dedicated to the fishing tradition on Lake Garda, which is still ongoing despite the lake’s turn towards tourism.

This museum is rather small, so it only takes around half an hour to visit. That said, it’s definitely an interesting way to learn more bout the region.

The exhibit includes photographs and artifacts used in the Garda area, including fishing gear and traditional boats used in regattas.

The museum has free access, but you can make a donation and get an audio guide for a small fee.

Relax at the beach.

Paddle boats available to be rented at Lake Garda in Peschiera

If you visit Peschiera in summer, you definitely want to set aside a few hours for relaxing on a beach and enjoying the view of the beautiful lake!

Some of the most popular beaches are Braccobaldo Beach and Lido Cappuccini on the southern lakeshore.

There’s also Spiaggia Lido ai Pioppi on the eastern one.

You can rent a sunbed to spend a few hours relaxing, swim in the lake, or maybe even rent a paddle boat and go for a ride.

You’ll find boat rental services in several spots along the lakeshore, another great way to enjoy the summer lake scene.

However, you definitely ought to book ahead in the peak summer months, especially for weekend travels.

Have lunch at a traditional restaurant.

pizza on lake garda with a view of the lake in the background while enjoying a lunchtime meal

A trip to Peschiera del Garda wouldn’t be complete without savoring some delicious Italian food… particularly its seafood, if you eat it!

Peschiera may be small, but it has several great restaurants packed into its tight quarters.

You’re spoiled for choices here: I suggest that you head to Raffilù for delicious fish dishes, or try Osteria Rivelin for tasty pasta and meat dishes.

If you’re looking for a quick bite in a laid-back spot, grab a quick plate of pasta or some cold cuts at Pasta Salame — it’s a great choice for an easy meal.

Spend a fun day at Gardaland.

Roller coaster near Lake Garda with beautiful views from the top of the ride which will show you the whole garda area

Many people choose Peschiera del Garda as their base for visiting Gardaland, one of Italy’s largest and most popular amusement parks.

If you can spend at least one night in Peschiera, (given that you like amusement parks), I think it’s worth planning one day at Gardaland.

The amusement park consistently ranks among the best in all of Europe, with dozens of rides, including several roller coasters and water slides and other water features perfect for a hot summer day.

The prices aren’t bad either, starting at just 25€ for a day pass — a true bargain compared to other major amusement parks.

Check availability for Gardaland tickets here

Join a self-guided scooter tour.

view of the Malcesine castle near lake garda one of the sights you can see while scootering around the lake

Another unique and fun way to explore Peschiera and Lake Garda is on a Self-Guided Scooter Tour!

This activity can be booked online before you go, and it includes the scooter rental and a digital guide.

This e-guide will allow you to discover some of the most scenic spots around the lake at your own pace (great if you don’t like to follow the rushed itinerary of typical day trips).

On this scooter tour, you can make the choice to stop by several important spots along the lake, like Torri del Benaco, Pieve di Tremosine, Limone sul Garda, and Malcesine, among others.

The activity also includes a ferry trip, and the digital guide will also help you narrow down the best places to eat and buy local goods while you’re visiting the towns in the area.

Book your Lake Garda scooter tour here

Where to Stay in Peschiera del Garda

Yellow, pink and other pastel colored buildings in the colorful town of Peschiera del Garda

Best Budget Option: SEI Garda Apartments

SEI Garda Apartments offer self-catering apartments with modern contemporary design.

The apartments are compact but have all that you need, including a kitchenette and seating/eating areas.

This is not your typical hotel, but rather a modern and stylish apartment complex you can stay at: somewhere between an Airbnb and a hotel.

The apartments are great for families, with bunk beds for the kids — and it’s also close to Gardaland!

Check availability, prices, and reviews here!

Best Mid-Range Option: Ziba Hotel & Spa

For a spa hotel in Peschiera that won’t drain your entire budget, consider the Ziba Hotel & Spa.

It is located in a 19th-century building just outside the town center, still with its original detailing but updated rooms for a modern touch.

With an outdoor pool and spa that includes a Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, and a hot tub, this hotel is the perfect spot for relaxing in Peschiera without breaking the bank.

Check availability, prices, and reviews here!

Best Luxury Option: Le Ali de Frassino

Le Ali Del Frassino is a luxury hotel: think multiple outdoor pools, including a larger family pool and a peaceful infinity pool overlooking the water.

The sizeable rooms are minimalist and rustic, with exposed beams adding a touch of farm-style charm.

The hotel also has a top-notch spa: it even has its own indoor heated plunge pool and sauna, plus a fantastic fitness center.

Check availability, prices, and reviews here!

17 Cozy & Cool Things to Do in Porto in Winter

ravelo traditional boat in porto

When you think of winter vacation destinations in Europe, Porto may not be the first place that comes to mind, but the second-largest Portuguese city has plenty to offer that will surprise you. 

While Porto may not be the place to go for typical winter activities or the most impressive Christmas markets, it offers quite a few indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy even when the winter weather isn’t great.

Compared to Lisbon in winter, Porto is a bit colder and rainier, but winters are still generally mild, so you can still enjoy a pleasant stroll around town without freezing. 

 Planning your trip to Porto at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Porto Experiences:
1. Douro Valley Wine Tour with Lunch, Tastings & River Cruise
2. Cálem Port Cellar Tour with Wine Tasting & Fado Show
3. Porto Food and Wine Walking Tour
4. 2-Hour Pastel de Nata Baking Class

🏨 Best Porto Hotels:
1. Hospes Infante de Sagres (Small Luxury Hotel of the World member)
2. Laurear Guesthouse (cozy mid-range boutique hotel)
3. Zero Box Lodge (funky budget hotel with capsule concept)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
A tram in Porto in a scenic area of the city with azulejo-like design, advertising the El Corte Ingles department store

When the wind picks up and it starts raining, there are many places to hide away and stay warm while trying fun activities or enjoying beautiful art.

I lived in Lisbon for over two years and took several trips to Porto. I still occasionally travel back to the city, as it’s one of my favorites, so I tried nearly everything in every season. 

Even still, the city never ceases to surprise me. I’m so excited to share this list of cool things you can do in Porto in winter, from the most obvious to a few surprising and new activities and attractions.

The 17 Best Things to Do in Porto in Winter!

Explore the city’s best attractions without the crowds.

View of one of the most prominent places in Porto with a clear sky and no crowds

Winter is the perfect season to explore Porto without the crowds. 

Like most European cities, Porto gets quite crowded during the summer months.

In winter, on the other hand, you can enjoy the most popular spots in the city with fewer people.

To make the most of this chance, enjoy pleasant riverfront strolls in Cais da Ribeira and discover the lively Bolhão and São Bento districts.

Check out the many viewpoints and miradouros of Porto, and cross the upper deck of the Luís I Bridge for stunning panoramic views.

View of Clerigos tower from a distance on a clear day in the winter with not too many people crowding the area

Most of the city’s attractions will be less crowded in the winter, so you can check out places like Clerigos Tower or Livraria Lello without standing in long lines. 

Make sure you also check out the magnificent architecture around Aliados!

For more views, stroll around the Gardens of the Crystal Palace for stunning views of the Douro, and explore the area around the Porto Cathedral.

Check out the Christmas markets.

Red building face with Christmas lights in Porto in the winter with all the Christmas decroations in red and green and and gold

While Porto may not be the top place to go in Europe for Christmas markets, it still has quite a few of them open between December and early January.

In general, Christmas markets have been gaining popularity in Portugal in recent years, so there’s certainly more options than in previous years if you visit Porto in December.

One of the most popular Christmas markets is Mercado da Alegria (‘Market of Happiness’ in English) in Praça da Batalha, close to São Bento train station.

This festive little market boasts dozens of stalls selling arts and crafts, traditional Portuguese food, and hot mulled wine to keep visitors warm on chilly evenings!

If you’re interested in buying handmade souvenirs, you have to check out the Artes e Ofícios Christmas Fair on Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques, also close to São Bento.

Last, but certainly not least, the Praça de Natal em Gaia is just across the bridge from Porto, in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Warm up with Port wine in a historic cellar.

Allison Green visiting Porto and trying a variety of port wines in porto at Quinta do Noval

You simply can’t visit Porto and not try the famed Port wine, no matter the season, whether you visit for one day, a weekend break, or an entire week.

And luckily for you, winter in Porto is the best season to warm up with a glass of Port — it’s all more atmospheric if you do it while hiding away from the rain and wind in a cozy historic wine cellar!

You’ll need to cross over the bridge into Vila Nova de Gaia for Port wine tours and tastings.

Along the river facing the colorful Ribeira of Porto, you’ll find many wine cellars offering different tours and tastings.

one of the port houses in the downtown area of vila nova de gaia, the famous sandeman cellar

Some popular spots you can try are Caves Cálem, Taylor’s Port, Caves Ferreira, and Churchill’s Lodge. While Sandeman is the most famous, it’s also a bit of a tourist trap, so I suggest skipping it.

Tip: The founder and editor’s personal favorite port house is Quinta do Noval!

You can check out the websites for each winery, buy tickets on-site, or book an activity on GetYourGuide.

A couple of cool ones you should check out are the Cockburn’s Cellar Tour and the Cálem Cellar Tour. I took the latter at Cálem and I highly recommend it!

As a bonus, Cálem also offers a tasting with a Fado show so you can pair two must-have Porto experiences into one outing!

Take a day trip to the Douro Valley for more wine.

Two people doing the cheers movement in the Douro River valley while trying local wines

If you’ve gotten a taste of Port and you want more, you can’t miss taking a Douro Valley wine tour like this one, which includes lunch, wine tastings at two local quintas, and even a river cruise on the Douro!

Experiencing a Douro Valley wine tour is a great way to escape the cold of city sightseeing, as you’ll be transported in a minivan straight to the doorsteps of two wineries in the Douro Valley, with gorgeous river views along the way.

You’ll need to dress warmly through your tour through the vineyards, but you’ll warm up quickly once you begin your tasting!

This tour also includes a typical Portuguese lunch, made with local ingredients and recipes.

And even though it’s winter, a river cruise is still a big highlight, as it offers an entirely different vantage point of the breathtaking landscape!

It’s incredible to see the terraced vineyards that rise majestically from the river banks, with historic wineries and quintas nestled among the folds of the landscape.

This is the tour that I recommend, but I also have a post outlining several different Douro wine tours from Porto in case you want a different experience (more tastings, a different focus, etc.)

If you have more time, it might be worth saving a few days for an overnight in the Douro Valley, especially if you can stay in one of the epic wine hotels there, or visit charming towns like Pinhao or Peso da Regua!

Buy a book at Livraria Lello.

bookstore in porto with famous staircase and stained glass ceiling

The famous Livraria Lello is one of those places every visitor should see at least once. Whether you’re a bookworm or not, you’re sure to be enchanted by Livraria Lello. 

In winter, it’s even better, as you can usually avoid the huge line and admire the bookstore’s lovely design without the constant flow of people going up and down the stairs.

In fact, the stairway is among the bookstore’s most prominent features, made famous by rumors that it inspired J.K. Rowling in her description of Hogwarts.

By the time the author denied the rumors, it was already too late; Livraria Lello was already famous and attracting crowds of people from all over the world.

Nowadays, you need to buy a ticket and may even have to stand in line to enter the bookstore. But trust me, it’s so much more than just a regular bookstore!

Plus, you can use the 5€ ticket as a voucher to purchase a book or any other item sold in the bookstore, so it’s not wasted money.

Enjoy early sunsets over Ponte Luís I.

Bridge of Luis I at night over Douro river and Porto cityscape with the lights twinkling on behind it, on a beautiful winter night.

With winters in Porto being generally mild, there’s no reason not to wander around outdoors and enjoy the gorgeous city views!

Vila Nova de Gaia has a few spectacular spots to catch a beautiful sunset over the Douro River. 

One of my favorite places to watch the sunset in Porto is Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, a former 15th-century monastery with a terrace that overlooks Ponte Luís I, the river, and the colorful Porto.

In summer, the terrace gets packed with people at golden hour, but in winter, you’ll likely find it nearly empty. 

Jardim do Morro is another great spot to watch the sunset, right next to the upper deck of Ponte Luís I.

You get a different perspective on the bridge, but the view is almost as beautiful as the one from the monastery. 

Visit Porto Cathedral with fewer crowds.

the facade of the porto cathedral (se do porto) on a sunny day with two towers and a circular stained glass window

Porto’s imposing cathedral, known as Sé do Porto in Portuguese, is among the must-see attractions in the city.

Sitting at the top of the hill, the 12th-century cathedral is best known for its Gothic cloisters decorated with elaborate azulejos depicting religious and literary scenes.

While the cathedral exterior preserved the Romanesque style, the interior has been changed through many phases of renovation and is now mostly Baroque.

Be sure to check out the stunning rose window and the elaborate altarpiece — they’re exquisite!

the beautiful azulejo cloisters of the cathedral in porto

You can enter the cathedral for free, but for a small entry fee, you can also visit the Cloisters and the Museu do Tesouro da Sé do Porto, inside the Casa do Cabido.

Even if you’re not interested in religious art and artifacts, it’s worth paying the entry fee to visit the beautiful cloisters (and see the azulejos there!) and admire the architecture.

Indulge in tasty Francesinha.

a huge francesinha sandwich served in porto in a tomato sauce

The Francesinha is Porto’s typical dish, but it’s only for the brave — or the extremely hungry. 

The dish is quite hearty (and heart-attack-inducing) and consists of several cuts of meat, including steak, ham, and various sausage types.

If that wasn’t enough, it’s all layered between two slices of bread, covered in melted cheese, soaked in a tasty beer-based sauce… and with an optional fried egg on top.

As if that wasn’t enough, all of this usually comes with a side of fries to help sop up all that sauce, because why not?

The francesinha sandwich of porto covered in cheese, a fried egg, and surrounded by fries

If you feel brave enough to try the Francesinha, several places are renowned for this dish.

Santa Francesinha and O Afonso are among the most popular spots for Francesinha. 

Brasão is another nice restaurant with a few locations throughout Porto, where you can even get a vegetarian Francesinha. I tried it myself and loved it!  

Editor Tip: When the editor visited with a vegetarian friend who lives in Porto, we went to Lado B for their veggie Francesinha — she loved hers and my meaty one was also good!

Take a pastel de nata baking class.

Eating a pastel de nata in a bakery in porto, portugal

One of the most unique things to do in Porto in winter is take a baking class to learn to make the signature classic pastry of Portugal, the pastel de nata — the Portuguese custard tart.

Immerse yourself in the warmth of authentic Portuguese culinary tradition with a hands-on pastel de nata baking class in a local Porto residence (10 minutes from the center by Uber — transit is not included).

Here, you’ll delve into the art of making pasteis de nata (tip: pasteis is the plural of pastel in Portuguese), using a cherished family recipe passed down from the host’s own grandmother!

In their home kitchen, you’ll learn how to make this rich, delicate pastries from scratch, all while learning about the history of this dessert (did you know it made it all the way to China, by way of Macao, a former Portuguese colony?)

Best of all? Enjoying the end results at a communal table, eating the freshest pasteis de nata you’ll ever try, paired with coffee, tea, or juice.

Go on a Porto food walking tour.

portuguese codfish with chickpeas, egg, potatoes

One of the best ways to enjoy a winter day in Portugal is on a guided walking tour through the historic Old Town!

This 3-hour tour offers a whirlwind tour of the Portuguese classics, from bifanas (pork sandwiches) to bolinhos de bacalhau (tasty fried codfish cakes) to sweet treats like the famed pastel de nata.

The tour is interspersed with other tastings, including finger foods like sausages, cheeses, and olives.

You’ll enjoy those alongside a tasting of local wines, including three different types of Port and a Douro red wine.

Tour the splendid interiors of the Palácio da Bolsa.

the palacio da bolsa stock exchange, one of the buildings in the praca da ribeira area with a government building next to some grass in a park

The lovely Palácio da Bolsa, or the Stock Exchange Palace, is the headquarters of the Associação Comercial do Porto (Porto’s Commercial Association).

The 19th-century neoclassical building is rather beautiful though, so it’s not as dull as it sounds: the stock exchange is actually a National Monument, featuring spectacular rooms decorated in different styles.

The completion of the palace’s interior took several decades, so each architect and artist decorated it in their own style.

Interesting window feature inside the Palacio da Bolsa with a skylight in ornate glass and molding on the ceiling detail

The Arab Room, inaugurated in 1880, is the most important and impressive in the palace, but each area of the palace is stunning.

You can visit Palácio da Bolsa on a guided tour that lasts roughly half an hour.

Buy your tickets on-site or book this Palácio da Bolsa guided tour online.

Stay warm with drinks in Porto’s liveliest district.

glass of white wine out in the street in porto while enjoying a sunset

A great way to stay warm on a winter evening in Porto is to head to one of the many lively bars around Rua da Galeria de Paris, the city’s most renowned area for nightlife in Porto

The streets around this district are lined with bars, pubs, and clubs of all kinds. Whether you want an all-night party or a chill drink in a laid-back atmosphere, there’s something for every taste.

The Royal Cocktail Club is a great spot for cocktails, while Bonaparte Downtown is the place to go for a beer in a cozy atmosphere.

If you like gin, head to the Gin House for (what else?) a diverse selection of gins and cocktails. 

If you’re still up for more adventures, keep exploring the streets in the surrounding area to find even more cool bars and pubs.

Visit some of Porto’s beautiful churches for its azulejos.

The lovely azulejos of Igreja Do Carmo, which is covered in blue and white tiles on a sunny day

Porto is renowned for its many gorgeous churches — especially those featuring the stunning azulejos for which the city is so loved!

When it comes down to azulejos, Igreja do Carmo is among the most famous, right next to the University of Porto and around the corner from Livraria Lello. 

The twin church is separated from the Igreja dos Carmelitas by a narrow house also known as the Hidden House, now a museum that you can visit for a small entry fee.

the azulejo-covered church of ildefonso in porto with white and blue tiles and stairs leading up to the church

Not far from São Bento train station (itself a worthy site for azulejos — more on that in the next section) check out the beautiful Church of Saint Ildefonso.

This lovely church is known for its façade, covered in white and blue azulejos, which was added on in the early 20th century. 

From here, you can walk down the shopping street, Rua de Santa Catarina, and find the iconic Chapel of Souls, an 18th-century church entirely covered in azulejos!

Allison Green standing in front of azulejos at the Chapel of Souls in Porto

One last church worth checking out is Igreja dos Clérigos!

This particular church is better known for its bell tower that you can climb for a spectacular panoramic view of Porto.

But don’t skip the church itself — it’s worth peeking in to check out its gorgeous Baroque interior.

Though it’s not known for its azulejos like these other churches are, it’s still worth it!

Check out the azulejos in São Bento train station.

Allison Green, the editor of Eternal Arrival, looking up at the azulejos in the sao bento train station

The churches aren’t the only buildings featuring stunning azulejos. Porto’s central station, São Bento, is more than a train station — it’s an open air mosaic gallery, too! 

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Historic Center of Porto, the train station is basically a museum open for everyone to admire.

The station’s main hall is covered in azulejos depicting key moments in Portugal’s history.

Above the classic white and blue azulejos on the walls, multicolored azulejos depict the various transportation means used in Portugal over the course of the centuries.

Given the central location of São Bento, you’ll likely pass by many times, but don’t forget to enter the train station and check out this wonderful work of art completely free!

Attend a concert at Casa da Música.

The casa da musica concert hall with modernist architecture style on a partly cloudy day in porto in winter

If you’re looking for an alternative way to spend a winter evening in Porto, check out the events at Casa da Música.

It’s a gorgeous gem of modern architecture that’s a striking counterpoint to all the historical charm in the rest of the city.

The modernist-design concert hall opened in 2005 and hosts important musical events, ranging from classical music to pop concerts and traditional Portuguese music.

Check out what’s on when you’re in town and buy your tickets in advance. You may even find some free concerts if you’re lucky. 

If you want to learn more about the concert hall, you can also join a guided tour.

You can’t book them online, but you can show up daily at 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM, and tour tickets cost €12.50 per person (free for those under 12) as of October 2023.

Enjoy delicious treats at Mercado do Bolhão.

A cup of ginjinha liquor in a typical chocolate cup, a traditional taste of Portugal

The gorgeous (and recently renovated) Mercado do Bolhão is Porto’s historic market, located in an emblematic 19th-century building close to Porto’s shopping street.

The market is best known for its fresh produce, from fruits and vegetables to meat and fish, but it’s also full of little snacks that make a great taste of Porto.

Don’t miss the chance to try ginjinha (pictured above), a Morello cherry liqueur characteristic of Portugal served in an edible chocolate cup!

The huge market houses dozens of stalls serving many other goods, including Portuguese pastries, wines, sweets, and souvenirs.

canned fish in porto with beautiful can detail

You can’t miss the adorable tinned sardines and other fish — they make the perfect Portugal souvenir!

You’ll also find stalls serving prepared foods, in case you want to enjoy a quick lunch. 

Furthermore, the market occasionally houses events like fado concerts and exhibitions, so be sure to check online and see if there’s any events on during your stay!

Visit the WOW Museums.

porto rose wine tasting with a view of the other side of the river

One of the most recent attractions in Porto, WOW Porto is a cultural district in Vila Nova de Gaia consisting of several museums, restaurants, and event spaces.

There’s a lot to do at WOW, ranging from visiting unique museums to enjoying a delicious meal or learning about wines.

A whopping 7 museums are currently part of WOW… you could easily spend a half-day here!

A few of the most interesting are Pink Palace (with Rosé wine tastings with a view!), The Wine Experience, and Planet Cork (all about cork, as Portugal produces 65% of the world’s supply).

There’s also The Chocolate Story, The Bridge Collection (drinking-related artifacts and history), Porto Region Across the Ages, and Atkinson Museum (housing all kinds of world-class exhibitions).

With so many activities and museums, WOW is the perfect place to go when you’re out of ideas for things to do (as if that could ever happen in Porto…). 

Just a heads up: most activities revolve around wine. After all, WOW stands for World of Wine!

Where to Stay in Porto

View from Clerigos tower over the rest of Porto city center

Budget: Zero Box Lodge

The unique Zero Box Lodge is a great choice combining modern interior design and a social atmosphere, making it a favorite among budget travelers.

If you’ve heard of a capsule hotel, it’s somewhat of a similar concept, as each room is a private “box” with your space and en-suite bathroom. But you’re not limited to your own little pod! 

There’s also a lively bar and restaurant on site, as well as communal lounge spaces to socialize in.

Add in its prime location, and that’s why Zero Box Lodge is one of the best values in Porto.

Mid-Range: Laurear Guesthouse

For those with a bit more budget, Laurear Guesthouse is a great pick.

This guesthouse oozes contemporary coziness, with great design and reasonable prices.

Distinctive interior elements, such as exposed wooden beams and eclectic furniture, make this stand out compared to your standard, impersonal chain hotels.

Located near significant landmarks like Clérigos Tower and Mercado do Bolhão, Laurear Guesthouse is the perfect blend of comfort and location.

Luxury: Hospes Infante Sagres Porto

Opting for luxury in Porto is a great value, as 5-star hotels are far more affordable compared to other European cities.

A great example is the gorgeous Hospes Infante Sagres, part of the esteemed Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.

This historic hotel exudes quintessential Portuguese charm, with its intricate tilework and neo-Baroque flourishes like elegant chandeliers.

Perfectly situated near Aliados, Infante Sagres is in convenient walking distance of Porto’s key attractions.

18 Lovely Things to Do in Lisbon in Winter

photo from lisbon's main square

Lisbon has been a hot destination in Europe for a few years now, and the hype continues to draw more visitors. 

However, while most people visit the city during the summer or shoulder months, visiting Lisbon in winter has several advantages. Most notably, you can avoid the crowds!

If you travel to Lisbon from November to February, you’ll find that the city still has plenty to offer, even if the weather isn’t great.

 Planning your trip to Lisbon at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Lisbon Experiences:
1. Fado Live Show with Port or Portuguese Tapas
2. Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, & Cascais Day Trip
3. Oceanário de Lisboa (Lisbon Aquarium) Ticket

🏨 Best Lisbon Hotels:
1. My Story Hotel Rossio (centrally located boutique hotel)
2. Pousada de Lisboa (Small Luxury Hotel of the World member)
3. Home Lisbon Hostel (mix of dorms and private rooms)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!

A vibrant city square at night featuring a towering illuminated Christmas tree adorned with golden lights and swirling designs. Beside it stands an elegant fountain with water gracefully arching from its tiers, silhouetted against the ambient city lights. People gather and relax in the foreground, while festive decorations and cityscape details in the background.

With a bit of luck, you can still get sunny days even though temperatures are a bit lower. 

Winters in Lisbon tend to be mild, and it rarely stays cold or rainy for more than a couple of days in a row.

I spent two winters in Lisbon while living and working there, and I enjoyed the winter season just as much as the others! 

The city squares are made festive with Christmas markets, the main attractions are less crowded, and the museums offer opportunities to stay warm and enjoy a pleasant couple of hours admiring art or learning about history. 

Read on to discover the best things to do in Lisbon in winter, from visiting popular tourist attractions to discovering hidden gems. 

Also, if you plan to visit Porto in winter too, read this companion guide!

The Best Things to Do in Lisbon in Winter

Explore the remarkable Wonderland Lisboa.

A close-up view of a tray filled with caramelized almonds, labeled "Amêndoa Caramelizada" on a chalkboard sign. Beside it are other trays of assorted treats, a metal scoop, and a clear plastic bag for packaging. The glistening almonds appear crunchy and sweet at a Christmas market.

While Lisbon may not be your typical winter destination, it does offer several wonderful winter activities, including many Christmas markets!

Wonderland Lisboa is the largest market in the city, occupying the massive Parque Eduardo VII near Marques de Pombal Square.

From late November to early January, Wonderland Lisboa offers an array of Christmas activities and countless food and drink stalls.

A luminescent Ferris wheel in motion at nighttime, its radiant blue and white lights creating a dazzling circular blur against a dark sky, with a background of illuminated star-shaped decorations and glowing lampposts at a CHristmas market in Lisbon in December

There’s even an ice-skating rink for people to immerse themselves in the Christmas atmosphere… even when the weather isn’t exactly Christmas-like.

Exploring Wonderland Lisboa is free, so what better way to spend a late afternoon or evening in Lisbon?

Warm up with some mulled wine and a simple (but tasty!) pão com chouriço (bread with sausage), go ice-skating, and maybe hop on the Ferris wheel for a panoramic city view.

Wander through the city without the crowds.

A picturesque urban scene of a grand archway with ornate stone carvings and a clock. Adjacent to the archway are bright yellow-colored buildings with white trims and Christmas decorations visible but not illuminated as it is still the daytime.

Winter is the perfect season to enjoy Lisbon without the usual crowds that flood its streets from April to October, especially during the summer months. 

If you visit any time from November to February, you’ll find mostly locals and expats in Lisbon, so it’s a great time to be there if you’re not a fan of the crowds.

Of course, the weather in winter can vary a lot, so you’ll need a bit of luck. While it doesn’t get too cold (usually above 15°C or 59°F), it can be very windy.

With some luck, you’ll get some pleasant days with clear blue skies so you can enjoy exploring the city. 

Here’s just a few ideas of what to do in this less-than-crowded winter city!

You can stroll along Via Augusta, see Praça do Comércio virtually empty, visit Castelo do São Jorge, get lost through the charming alleys of Alfama, and watch the early sunset from one of the dozens of miradouros

Discover other Christmas markets in Lisbon.

A festive city square at night with a luminous Christmas tree, a prominent statue on a column, bustling market stalls, and people milling about on a patterned pavement. Surrounding buildings emit a warm glow, adding to the ambiance.

Wonderland Lisboa may be the biggest Christmas market in the city (and all of Portugal), but there are many others you can check out!

Smaller Christmas markets pop up all over the city, the most important ones being in Praça do Rossio (pictured above), Campo Pequeno, and Alvalade

However, if you spend some time wandering around, you’ll certainly stumble across other smaller markets.

If you want to go in with a little more advance preparation, you could plan to visit a different Christmas market each evening.

All markets offer food and drink options, so you can try different Portuguese tapas (petiscos) and other delicacies while staying warm with the ever-present mulled wine. 

It simply doesn’t get more Christmassy than this!

Visit the Fado Museum.

Facade of "Museu do Fado" with a green signboard, flanked by the Portuguese national flag and the European Union flag. The entrance features large glass windows and green ornate gates. The building has a pastel pink colored exterior and green sign.

If you’re looking for an indoor activity in Lisbon during the winter months, you absolutely have to visit the Fado Museum.

Fado is a unique music genre born in Lisbon in the early 19th century, right in the historical neighborhood of Alfama

The Fado Museum is one of the most unique museums in Lisbon, and the perfect place to learn more about the city’s cultural heritage.

Fado is just as representative of Lisbon as the historic yellow trams riding through the narrow alleys of Alfama!

This interactive museum allows you to discover the history of fado and listen to some of the most iconic songs. The entry ticket is only 5€. 

Attend a Fado show

After learning all about fado music at the Fado Museum, why not attend a fado show in Alfama, the birthplace of the music genre?

Many restaurants offer dinner with afado show, so you can just walk around Alfama and check out a place that inspires you. 

Alternatively, you can plan ahead by booking a Fado show experience online. You can choose between several combinations, like this fado live show with Port wine or this one with Portuguese tapas

Last but not least, you could simply enjoy a beautiful live show (no dinner or drinks) at Fado in Chiado

Check out impressive art at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Modern concrete building with a large green-tinted window overlooking a serene pond. Lush reeds and grasses grow along the water's edge, and a bird is seen gracefully swimming on the water's surface. Exterior of the museum in Lisbon in winter.

If you’re passionate about art, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is home to some genuinely impressive masterpieces.

The collection belonged to the British-Armenian businessman and philanthropist Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian and is among the most important private art collections. 

The modern museum was built specifically to house the roughly six thousand pieces that Gulbenkian collected throughout his life.

The range of origins and styles is breathtaking, including Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Armenian, and Eastern Islamic art. 

In addition to that, you can also admire paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, Degas, and Renoir and sculptures by Rodin and Pigalle, to name just a few, all in one place!

The museum is open every day except for Tuesdays, and adult tickets are 10€. And even better — the museum offers free admission every Sunday after 2 PM!

In addition to the permanent collection, there’s always some temporary exhibition you can check out. 

Discover exotic plants at Estufa Fria.

Lush indoor botanical garden housed under a large metal-framed glass ceiling. The space is filled with an array of tropical plants, including tall palms, leafy ferns, and broad-leaved plants. A meandering path invites visitors to explore the verdant surroundings, while the transparent ceiling allows natural light to illuminate the vibrant greenery.

The lovely Estufa Fria is a big greenhouse in Parque Eduardo VII, where you can enjoy a walk among exotic plants!

The space is divided into three different environments housing plants from all over the world. 

Unlike most botanical gardens, the Estufa Fria is nearly all indoors, so you can visit it even on a rainy day. 

The cool thing about Estufa Fria, aside from being a gorgeous lush space, is that it’s among the lesser-known spots in Lisbon, with much smaller crowds. 

Even better, the entry fee is only around 3€, so it’s a bargain for a pleasant and informative visit. 

Admire the azulejos at the National Tile Museum.

The staircase at the Museo Dos Azulejos in Lisbon Portugal as seen from the tile-covered walls and view

Azulejos are the gorgeous painted tiles that cover the façade of many buildings and even important monuments in Lisbon and throughout Portugal (especially in Porto!).

Along with canned sardines and cork, tiles are probably the most iconic things about Portugal, so they also make for great gifts!

The National Tile Museum, officially known as the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, is housed inside the 16th-century Madre de Deus Convent and displays a vast collection of decorative azulejos.

Through examples of beautifully decorated tiles, you can learn about the history of azulejos in Portugal from the 16th century until the present day. 

The museum is a bit far from all the main attractions, but you can get there by bus or catch the metro to Santa Apolónia and walk for about 20 minutes. It’s one of the most photogenic places in Lisbon, so it’s worth it!

While you’re there, be sure to check out Monkey, one of the iconic sculptures by Bordalo II, on a building close to the museum. 

Go shopping at Centro Vasco da Gama.

Modern urban plaza under a clear blue sky, featuring a row of neatly planted trees and a paved open space. In the foreground stands a large, abstract metal sculpture with spiky extensions. Behind the plaza, there's a distinctive building with a rounded, dome-like roof

Another way to stay warm in Lisbon in winter is by heading to one of the massive shopping malls for shopping, dining, or even watching a movie.

Lisbon has several shopping malls with dozens of shops, restaurants, and movie theaters, but Centro Vasco da Gama is among the biggest, and certainly one of the most popular. 

Centro Vasco da Gama is in Parque das Nações, the most modern area of Lisbon, located close to the airport.

The district was originally developed for the 1998 Lisbon World Exhibition and later transformed into the modern residential and commercial area you can explore today.

You can combine your shopping mall visit with a stroll along the Tagus River or a cable car ride with a view over the imposing Vasco da Gama Bridge (book online here!).

Escape to the underwater world at the Lisbon Aquarium.

Underwater aquarium tunnel where visitors are silhouetted against the illuminated waters above them. A large shark gracefully swims overhead, casting a shadow amidst the shimmering ripples of light reflected on the water's surface.

If you head over to Parque das Nações, you can also visit the Oceanário de Lisboa, one of Europe’s largest aquariums. 

The aquarium’s main attraction is a massive tank housing roughly 100 marine species.

Four other tanks complete the exhibition, each dedicated to a specific marine habitat.

The aquarium is a popular destination during the peak tourist season, but it’s much less crowded in winter.

Plus, it’s all indoors, which makes it perfect to escape a cold, windy day in Lisbon. 

The only downside is that it’s slightly pricy for Lisbon standards. An adult ticket is 25€, and you can buy it online here.

Head to Sintra and Visit Palacio da Pena with fewer crowds.

Pena Palace in Sintra - Portugal - red and yellow castle with the rolling hills of sintra and the surrounding landscape in the background

The National Palace of Pena is among the most popular attractions in Portugal, so you can rarely expect to find it without crowds. 

However, if you visit in the offseason, between November and February, you’ll likely find it much more manageable with fewer people around.

You should, nonetheless, avoid the holiday season, when Lisbon sees an increase in tourism.

Pena Palace is a spectacular hilltop palace in Sintra, overlooking the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

With its colorful towers and terraces, the palace is among Portugal’s most iconic landmarks and a must for anyone visiting Lisbon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

You can reach Sintra by train in just one hour from Lisbon to do an independent day trip or join one of the many day trips from the Portuguese capital, like this Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, & Cascais Day trip.

Check out the Christmas market in Sintra.

A picturesque nighttime scene of a Sintra square during the holiday season. Illuminated buildings line the streets, A vibrant Christmas tree, adorned with radiant red and white lights, and lights up on the hills above the town.

If you take a day trip to Sintra to visit the gorgeous palaces, you should also stop by the Christmas market!

The Reino do Natal Market takes place between Parque da Liberdade and Sintra’s main square, Terreiro da Rainha Dona Amélia, right by the Sintra National Palace

Like all Christmas markets, it features small wooden huts selling all kinds of foods, drinks, Christmas decorations, and souvenirs.

The area in Parque da Liberdade is particularly charming, immersed in the lush vegetation of the small park.

Both locations are just a short walking distance apart so it’s easy to check out both!

Have brunch at one of the many hip cafés.

A close-up view of a dining table where two people are enjoying a gourmet brunch. In the foreground, there's a plate of French toast garnished with fresh berries and dusted with powdered sugar, accompanied by a side of syrup. Next to it, another plate showcases a vibrant assortment of foods: creamy scrambled eggs sprinkled with herbs, avocado slices garnished with radish and greens, and a slice of toast spread with a green dip

Lisbon has changed a lot in recent years, for better or worse. 

One of the most notable changes is the opening of dozens of specialty coffee and brunch places!

While once you would only find a handful of such places in the entire city, they are now everywhere. 

If you’re a brunch fan, there are many options all over Lisbon’s center.

Try delicious smoothies and pancakes at Fauna & Flora, have an Instagram-worthy brunch at Dear Breakfast, or, if you have the patience, line up for brunch at Nicolau, one of the most popular spots in Lisbon.

Visit the Jerónimos Monastery without the crowds.

A sunlit Gothic courtyard with intricately carved arches and stone columns, overlooking a historic building, at the famed Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, a UNESCO site.

The Jerónimos Monastery is among Lisbon’s must-see landmarks, along with the nearby Belém Tower.

Both attractions are in Belém, a district of Lisbon a bit further away from the city center. 

Not coincidentally, the two monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built in the early 16th century, the Jerónimos Monastery is among Portugal’s most significant examples of Manueline architecture, also known as Portuguese Gothic architecture.

During the busy season, you can stand in line for hours to enter. Visiting in winter means shorter and faster lines, so take advantage of this!

You can get to Belém by train from Cais do Sodré in under 10 minutes, but buses and trams are also available.

Note that while you can buy skip-the-line tickets online, those only allow you to skip the ticket queue.

There are entry limits, so you may still need to stand in line to enter until a spot clears up. 

The same thing goes for the Tower of Bélem entrance tickets; you can skip the on-site ticket booth but there is still often a wait to enter the tower.

Seeing these two sights together (as well as visiting the Museu Nacional dos Coches and getting fresh custard pastries at Pastéis de Belém) is the perfect way to spend a day in Lisbon!

Sample Portuguese and international cuisine at Time Out Market.

Time Out Market in Lisbon as seen from above

The well-known Time Out Market is a big food court close to Cais do Sodré station, with various stalls and small restaurants serving all kinds of Portuguese and international cuisines.

You can sample anything from burgers and pizza to Portuguese tapas and desserts. 

The great thing about Time Out Market is that the food stalls are all around the court while the seats are at the center.

If you’re traveling with a group and everyone wants different things, you can just split up to go pick up your various delicacies before coming back together to enjoy the food!

Plus, it’s indoors, so you can escape the cold. Be sure to stop by the Manteigaria for the best pastéis de nata in Lisbon (in my opinion!). 

Ride the historical yellow trams.

A historical yellow tram in the Chiado area of Lisbon

A fantastic activity to try on a cold winter day in Lisbon is riding one of the yellow historical trams.

Most trams pass through Alfama, the most characteristic neighborhood in Lisbon. 

Trams sometimes pass through streets so narrow that you could put out a hand and touch the buildings. These spots make for some iconic pictures.

The trams can be extremely crowded in the peak season, but you can find them nearly empty in winter, so you can sit and enjoy the ride.

Tram 28 is the most popular one, connecting Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique and passing through the lovely neighborhoods of Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. 

Avoid the 3€ fee by getting a 24-hour ticket or rechargeable Viva Viagem ticket (the same cost as the subway or bus) if you have a few days in Lisbon.

Check out the charming Christmas market in nearby Óbidos.

A picturesque townscape with orange-tiled rooftops, white buildings, and a prominent medieval castle in the background, with a white CHristmas tree like structure being built for the holidays, and some festive decorations.

If you’re up for a short day trip just north of Lisbon, Óbidos is the most charming place you could ever hope to visit in winter!

The walled medieval town is home to one of Portugal’s most delightful Christmas markets, Óbidos Vila Natal

The whole town turns festive, but the main activities are around the Óbidos Castle.

Fairy lights, small, wooden houses, and holiday decorations combined with medieval architecture turn the town into a true fairytale village. 

The best way to get to Obidos is by car, but you can also catch a bus from Campo Grande. 

Stay warm with a drink at a quirky bar.

Man's hand serving an orange drink with crushed ice and mint

Lastly, the perfect way to enjoy a winter evening in Lisbon is to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine in one of the many bars around town.

Lisbon is known for its party scene, so it doesn’t lack bars, and some are truly original.

Two of my favorite spots to enjoy a drink on a cold evening are Pensão Amor and Foxtrot.

Pensão Amor is a former brothel in the Baixa district with quirky décor and several rooms in different styles. 

Foxtrot is a speakeasy close to Principe Real with a 1920s vibe and vintage décor.

Of course, if you look around, you’ll find many other cool places all over the city. 

25 Magical Things to Do in Rome in Winter (Local’s Guide)

christmas tree in front of the monti church at the top of the spanish steps in rome

Rome in winter is full of surprises. There’s no telling if you’ll be freezing at unusually low temperatures at the end of February or sweating under your winter jacket with spring-like weather in early December.

Whether you’re lucky to visit the Italian capital in gorgeous sunny weather or end up spending an entire week with rain and cold, there’s always plenty to do on a winter trip to Rome.

Rome has some of the most beautiful museums in Italy, not to mention that there are countless places to enjoy the local cuisine, have a drink, or go shopping.

 Planning your trip to Rome at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Rome Experiences:
1. Colosseum & Roman Forum Skip-the-Line & Tour
2. 4-Hour Evening Food Tour of Rome with 20 Tastings
3. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Line Entrance Ticket

🏨 Best Rome Hotels:
1. Nerva Boutique Hotel (lovely unique stay near the Colosseum)
2. The St. Regis Rome (ultra-luxury in a palatial setting)
3. Pope’s Suites (budget yet elegant suites near the Vatican)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
sun set in rome as you approach the basilica optical illusion

If you’ve been on the fence about booking a holiday to Rome in winter for fear of not knowing what to do in cold weather, keep reading because the possibilities are endless!

From exploring Rome’s landmarks to its hidden gems, there’s so much to fill up your Rome itinerary even in the winter!

Be it visiting renowned Roman sites or uncovering the city’s lesser-known treasures, there’s an abundance of attractions indoors and out, allowing you to adapt your Roman holiday based on the whims of the weather.

But first, let’s quickly cover what to expect temperature-wise when it comes to traveling during the winter in Rome.

Winter Weather in Rome

bare trees as part of the landscape of the city center of rome in winter with altare della patria visible in the distance

Though Rome shares a similar latitude with Chicago, Illinois, the winter weather experiences in these two cities are worlds apart!

Rome enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, ensuring that temperatures seldom dip below freezing, even on the chilliest days.

In fact, more often, you’ll find yourself appreciating the almost balmy temperatures of 50° to 60° Fahrenheit during the day.

However, those temperatures can quickly feel a lot colder if you’re visiting Rome when it rains, which happens about 25% of the time in winter… so be prepared!

As long as you don’t mind the occasional rain and cooler temperatures, this period marks an ideal time to explore Rome.

Apart from the days surrounding Christmas, the city enters its most quiet phase in winter, allowing you to experience the Eternal City’s charm minus the usual throngs of tourists.

Presented below is a chart detailing the average high and low temperatures that characterize Rome’s winter climate, broken down month by month.

Consider this table a preliminary guide, but make sure to consult a more current weather forecast as your trip approaches to make informed decisions on what to include on your Rome packing list!

MonthAverage HighAverage LowAverage Days of Rain
December55° F / 13° C40° F / 4° C8 days
January54° F / 12° C37° F / 3° C7 days
February57° F / 14° C38° F / 3° C7 days

25 Great Things to Do in Rome in Winter

Explore a nearly crowd-free Colosseum and Roman Forum.

crowd free colosseum with sunburst visible in the early morning

The winter months are the best for visiting Rome’s most famous landmarks without the crowds you’ll usually see during warmer periods.

Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum is no exception!

Unless you’re faced with relentless downpours that make sightseeing nigh impossible, winter in Rome is the perfect time venture to the Colosseum for an almost exclusive experience

A visit to this colossal amphitheater, the largest of its kind in the entire world, is essential when in Rome! (You can read our guide to it here)

Continue your visit with a subsequent stroll through the Roman Forum — you’ll instantly feel transporting you around 2,000 years, right back into the heart of ancient Rome’s “city center”!

Fortune may even grant you a day of sunshine, which is actually still quite a high possibility even on cooler January and February winter days.

Aside from the holiday rush, which sees a surge in visitors, the winter period — Rome’s definitive off-peak season — is unmatched when it comes to seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum as crowd-free as it will ever be.

Don’t forget to go up Palatine Hill for one of the best views over Rome!

Even through it’s winter, it’s still helpful to book skip-the-line tickets to save some time and not have to wait in the cold!

Take a food tour through Rome.

two margherita pizzas flat lay on paper tablecloth with ray ban sunglasses next to pizza

One of my favorite ways to experience traveling Europe in winter is by taking a food tour!

Food tours are great for cold weather because they combine a fun walking tour with plenty of time indoors — and lots of great bites in between that will fill you up!

There are so many options for food tours in Rome. If you’re on a budget, this 2.5-hour street food tour is a great choice!

You’ll get to try supplì (Rome’s spin on arancini), cured meats, Roman pizza, carciofi alla giudìa, and gelato on this tour.

If you are a big foodie, this 4-hour, 20-taste food tour is one of the most generous offerings in town. You’ll get to sample a huge variety of Roman cuisine all in one go!

Plus, it’s nice that this tour is offered in the evening, so you can work up an appetite with a jam-packed day of sightseeing and then stuff yourself silly before crashing for the night!

Check out the Christmas tree in Piazza San Pietro at the Vatican.

christmas tree in front of the st peter basilica in vatican city

Annually, one of Rome’s most spectacular Christmas trees is set up in Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) within Vatican City, transforming this expansive square into a festive wonderland!

Beyond the majestic Christmas tree, you can also see the annual presepe, the Italian tradition of a highly-detailed Nativity scene.

This cherished practice of pairing a Nativity scene alongside the Christmas tree began in 1982, initiated by Pope John Paul II, and has since evolved into an endearing tradition in winter in Rome (and other Italian cities!).

While various Christmas trees and Nativity displays dot the city, those positioned in Piazza San Pietro indisputably steal the show.

Go there in the late afternoon or evening to see it with the lights on.

You can typically see these nativity scenes starting from December 8th (The Feast of the Immaculate Conception) through the end of the Christmas season, which typically ends on January 6th (The Epiphany).

Visit the Vatican Museums without the usual crowds.

sign for the vatican museum with sculpture on a brick building

The Vatican Museums are surely one of the must-see Rome attractions (read our guide to visiting them here!)

From late spring to early autumn, visiting the Vatican can be a challenge, with long lines to buy tickets and enter the museum.

In winter, however, the city empties, and even the Vatican Museums welcome much smaller crowds.

If you happen to visit Rome between November and February, this is the best time to pay a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

You won’t need to book your ticket several weeks (or months) in advance if you visit in winter, though you should still book your ticket as soon as you know when you’ll go.

When you visit, you’ll likely find only a moderate amount of people. Don’t expect the museum to be empty, but it is much easier to move around and admire the beautiful artwork in peace!

The best thing is that most museum areas are indoors, so it’s a great place to spend a cold day in Rome.

Despite the smaller crowds in winter, you should still buy your entry ticket in advance to avoid waiting in line.

We recommend this skip-the-line ticket or this guided tour with skip-the-line access.

Enjoy the view from St. Peter’s Basilica.

view over st peters square with christmas tree, obelisk during the winter months in rome with cloudy dark winter sky

And while we have you visiting Vatican City, don’t miss the chance to seize the opportunity to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

It offers one of the most stunning panoramas across both the Vatican and the broader expanse of Rome!

During winter, the throngs of tourists and lengthy lines characteristic of St. Peter’s Basilica in the summer months give way to a more laidback, enjoyable visit.

Entry into the Basilica itself is free, but accessing the dome requires a separate fee (€8 for the stairs or €10 if you opt for a partial elevator ride).

Alternatively, you can choose a guided tour that encompasses the dome visit, such as this one which also includes a tour of the crypts below, for a comprehensive experience.

Discover beautiful works of art in Galleria Borghese.

sculpture of a statue with his hands raised in a room full of marble, frescoes, etc in an ornate room of the borghese gallery in rome in winter

Part of the largest park in the city, Villa Borghese, visiting the Galleria Borghese is one of the winter must-dos in Rome!

This 17th-century architectural gem is an attraction in its own right, captivating visitors with its ornately adorned rooms and exquisite frescoes — but the art it displays is the real reason to visit!

The museum contains remarkable array of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, and bas-reliefs, featuring works by luminaries such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian, along with sculptures from Venini and Canova.

Among the masterpieces in the Borghese Gallery is Bernini’s “Rape of Proserpina.” The sculpture is famed for its astonishing attention to detail, evident in elements like Pluto’s hand pressing into Proserpina’s skin.

While this sculpture could justify a museum visit on its own, once inside, you’re bound to discover countless other draws that captivate and demand attention!

A visit here is the perfect way to escape the cold and surround yourself with the warmth of art and history on a winter day in Rome!

If it’s rainy or cold out, you likely won’t be the only one with the idea to visit the gallery, so I suggest booking skip-the-line tickets to avoid any lengthy waits.

Check out the Christmas lights in Via del Corso.

white, red, and green christmas lights along the via del corso in the colors of the italian flag at night in winter

Despite the lack of snow and the moderate temperatures, Rome still does a pretty good job at bringing the Christmas spirit to its most picturesque and popular areas!

You’ll see Christmas lights nearly all over the city, but every year the most anticipated ones are those along Via del Corso, the most popular shopping street in the city.

The lights change every year, so even if you’ve already visited Rome during Christmas before, you can still expect to see something new!

Whether you start in Piazza Venezia or Piazza del Popolo, the hanging lights above the long shopping street create a wonderful effect, great for festive photos to commemorate your Rome winter trip!

Wandering down this street is one of the best free things to do in Rome in winter at night!

Visit the Christmas market in Piazza Navona.

Photo Credit: roamingwab via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

If you’re lucky enough, you may be rewarded with one of the prettiest Christmas markets in Rome, which is set in the gorgeous Piazza Navona in the heart of the city.

While Rome’s Christmas markets aren’t quite as impressive compared to those of other European cities like Prague, Vienna, Budapest, etc., it’s still worth the visit!

The Christmas market has been skipped the last few years due to the pandemic restrictions, but hopefully, it will return this year to delight visitors and locals with its lively atmosphere!

What makes the market special is the setting itself, in one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, with its fountains and the gorgeous Baroque church Sant’Agnese in Agone.

The market usually features a carousel, food and drink stands, colorful lights, and stands selling Christmas decorations.

The market usually starts in early December and continues until roughly the 6th of January, when Italy celebrates the Epiphany.

Toss a coin in the less-crowded Trevi Fountain.

The beautiful symmetry of the Trevi fountain with blue water and ornate marble sculpture work

One of the hallmark things to do in Rome is to throw a coin in the beautiful Trevi Fountain, which according to local superstition is supposed to ensure a repeat visit!

While the Trevi Fountain heaves with tourists in the summer months, it’s far quieter during the winter, and you can actually stay a while and truly appreciate the masterful artistry of the sculpture.

Plus, you won’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn in order to get a good, crowd-free photo of the Trevi Fountain at this time of year!

The Spanish Steps are also nearby, and you’ll find far fewer crowds there at this time of year as well.

Head over to the Roman Ghetto to eat artichokes.

fried artichokes served in the traditional roman jewish style

Late winter is when artichokes are in season, one of the main ingredients of Roman cuisine!

You’ll be able to try different artichokes recipes in many Roman trattorias, but no place is renowned for serving this vegetable like the Roman Ghetto (the historic Jewish Ghetto)

A small neighborhood not far from Campo de Fiori, the Roman Ghetto is filled with traditional restaurants famous for their Carciofi alla Giudia.

Not to be mistaken with Carciofi alla Romana, the ones you’ll eat in the Roman Ghetto are fried and served steaming hot and crunchy!

Head over to Via del Portico d’Ottavia, the main street in the Jewish quarter lined with restaurants, all serving this tasty traditional winter dish.

Admire the Pantheon without the crowds.

fountain with cross on the top in front of pantheon in rome with seven columns and roman lettering on front of temple

The Pantheon is a unique Roman temple with roots back to Rome’s pre-Christian days. It was likely built around 27 BCE, making it nearly two millennia old!

One of the most unique things about the Pantheon is its oculus, an open skylight in the dome of the temple. This is one thing you can’t miss on your tour of Rome!

Plus, access to the Pantheon is free, making it a can’t-miss tourist attraction to visit in Rome, especially when you factor in the smaller crowds you’ll find in winter.

Go ice skating at Auditorium Parco della Musica.

Red gloved hands tying an ice skate, white jacket and white skates

Between December and early January, the Auditorium Parco della Musica brings the Christmas spirit to town by setting up a big ice-skating rink in its outdoor theater!

Parco della Musica is a cultural complex in the north of Rome, with indoor and outdoor areas dedicated to concerts, movie screenings, and other events.

This is one of the few places to go ice skating in Rome, since they stopped organizing the ice rink at Castel Sant’Angelo.

The ice-skating rink hasn’t been on for a couple of years due to the pandemic, but it will hopefully make a comeback this year! Keep an eye on it for your next trip to Rome in winter.

Indulge in Rome’s classic pasta dishes.

pasta alla carbonara with guanciale, pecorino cheese and black pepper on a white plate

While you should certainly sample Rome’s classic pastas no matter what time of year you visit, these pastas hit the spot even better on a cold winter day!

Rome is famous for its 4 classic pastas: carbonara, amatriciana, gricia, and cacio e pepe. All are delicious and worth trying during your time in Rome!

Go shopping at Mercato Monti Urban Market Roma.

Monti is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Rome!

Whether in summer or winter, the area is always alive, with its traditional restaurants, lively bars, and cute vintage shops.

One of the most iconic spots in Monti is the Urban Market, right next to the metro station Cavour.

This lively indoor space is open year-round over the weekends, but winter is the best season to visit to escape the cold!

You can shop for handmade jewelry, prints, art pieces, vintage clothes, and much more.

Not only will you find unique pieces that you won’t find in big stores, but you’ll also support local artists and artisans, so it’s a cool place to spend your money or just have a look around.

Warm up with a hot chocolate at SAID.

Nothing beats a nice hot chocolate to warm up on a cold winter afternoon!

Despite winters in Rome being quite temperate, the cold can hit differently when there is high humidity, especially on rainy days.

If you happen to be in Rome during an unusually cold period, why not try one of the best hot chocolate places in town?

SAID is an old chocolate factory turned into a restaurant and shop where you can indulge in delicious varieties of hot chocolate with equally delicious cookies!

The restaurant displays old machines and tools for chocolate-making, creating a cool vintage décor that encourages you to linger and enjoy!

Aside from the classic hot chocolate, you can even try main dishes revisited with the addition of chocolate. Ever tried pasta or roast beef with chocolate? Here you can!

You’ll find SAID in the student neighborhood of San Lorenzo, a much less touristy area than most in Rome… which will be even more calm in winter!

Escape the cold at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Photo Credit: Sailko – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re into modern and contemporary art, you can’t miss the National Gallery of Modern Art, which houses almost 20 thousand Italian and foreign art pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries.

This is the only museum in Italy entirely dedicated to modern and contemporary Italian art — while Italy has other modern art museums, they focus on international artists, such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

In the gallery, you’ll find a permanent exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and art installations from different art movements, from Impressionism to Surrealism and Futurism. Furthermore, there are always temporary exhibitions you can check out!

The gallery is so big that you could easily spend half a day going through all the areas. You can easily reach it from Piazza del Popolo, metro stop Flaminio.

Take a cooking class.

handmade stuffed ravioli on a table in rome while taking a cooking class in rome in winter

One of the most fun things to do in Rome in winter is indulge in the local cuisine, which is hearty and filling and perfect for the cold weather.

Even better is to step things up a notch by learning how to cook it yourself, so you can keep eating like a Roman when you return home!

There are a variety of different cooking classes you can take, depending on what appeals to you the most about cooking like an Italian.

This homemade pasta class is a great choice if you want a more advanced cooking class.

Not quite as much of a chef? You may prefer to keep things a little simpler with a pizza-making class.

Check out the latest art exhibition at Chiostro del Bramante.

Chiostro del Bramante is a small exhibition space in the heart of Rome’s historical center, next to Church Santa Maria della Pace and only a few minutes walking distance from Piazza Navona.

The gallery spans two levels, with a beautiful Renaissance cloister with arches and columns at its center.

The space hosts temporary exhibitions, as well as events like book readings, concerts, and theatrical performances.

If you need to take a break in an indoor place while you’re out and about exploring the historical center of Rome, Chiostro del Bramante is without a doubt a great place to visit!

Admire ancient art in an industrial setting at Centrale Montemartini.

Photo Credit: Sarah E. Bond via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Centrale Montemartini is a one-of-a-kind museum not only in Rome but probably in the world!

This former thermal power station now houses hundreds of ancient sculptures, playing with the contrast between industry and art.

The disused power plant was renovated at the end of the 1990s, and many machines were restored for what was meant to be a temporary exhibition titled Machines and Gods.

The success of the exhibition led to the creation of a permanent museum that has since expanded!

Visiting the Centrale Montemartini is a great way to spend a cold winter afternoon in Rome — and since it’s a bit of a hidden gem, you’ll likely mostly be amongst locals!

Explore the Roman catacombs.

rome crypt underground catacombs in winter
Photo Credit: Dnalor 01, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rome is nearly as busy underground as it is above ground, with a surprisingly sprawling network of Roman catacombs outside the city center.

These catacombs are a unique place to visit on any trip to Rome, but they’re also great to visit during the winter because the temperature in the catacombs remains fairly stable all year round (typically around 60° F/16° C).

They won’t be warm per se like indoor, heated places such as museums, but if it’s rainy or particularly cold outside, they’re a good alternative if you’re feeling museum fatigue.

There are many impressive catacombs in Rome, but definitely the most impressive are the Capuchin crypts, so make sure your tour includes those, such as this tour!

Check out the events at the Mattatoio.

Photo Credit: Flavia via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Mattatoio is a former slaughterhouse renovated in the early 2000s to become an area dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions and events.

This is quite a unique location in Rome, where there’s always something to do!

From exhibitions to live music, theater shows, and much more, the Mattatoio is a great place to visit in summer and winter alike.

Aside from the events, you can also check out the bookstore and have a coffee or drink at the on-site café.

At the Mattatoio, you’ll certainly see a different side of Rome from the far more touristic spots.

If you want to meet the locals and discover something other than the historical center, you ought to check out this place!

It’s also in the cool neighborhood of Testaccio, home to the wonderful Testaccio Market.

Have a glass of wine at an enoteca.

persons hand cradling a glass of red wine on a marble countertop

Winter evenings in Rome are for sipping a glass of wine and eating a cheese board or traditional Italian cold cuts!

Rome is full of wine bars, called enoteca in Italian, where you can choose between a vast variety of wines and order a board of cheese and charcuterie.

Whether you just want to have an aperitivo or prefer to opt for a light dinner, this is a nice way to warm up when the days are short and the weather is at its best.

The best areas with nice wine bars are Trastevere, Campo de Fiori, and Monti — I suggest just wandering into one whose ambiance invites you!

Take advantage of the winter sales.

No trip to Italy would be complete without some shopping! After all, you’re visiting the home of high fashion, where some of the most renowned stylists were born.

If you happen to be in Rome between January and February, leave some space in your suitcase because this is when winter sales are at their best!

Stroll along Via del Corso for a variety of shops with different price ranges, or check out the high-end fashion street Via dei Condotti.

If you’d rather stay indoors, you can check out one of the shopping malls, like Euroma 2 or Porta di Roma.

The actual sales dates can vary slightly, but they usually begin after the 6th of January and continue throughout February.

Go on a wine tasting day trip in Tuscany.

a town in tuscany

Rome is located just about 2 hours away from Tuscany, one of the best places for wine tasting in Italy!

If you’re looking for a winter day trip from Rome, the Tuscany wine region is one of the best options.

What is more cozy than sipping on delicious red wines on a crisp winter day?

This small group day tour will bring you to several wineries in Tuscany, as well as the charming Tuscan towns of Montepulciano and Pienza.

It also includes a 3-course lunch with wine pairings from local produces at a beautiful vineyard’s wine cellar!

Book your wine tour of Tuscany here!

Explore Pompeii without the typical crowds.

more scenes from pompeii including the ancient forum area

Normally, visiting Pompeii can be hectic, chaotic, and crowded — not to mention scorchingly hot if you visit in the summer, as Pompeii’s ruins are mostly uncovered (especially compared to the more-covered Herculaneum).

Note that because Pompeii is largely not covered, it is not the most pleasant day trip option if it is raining.

It’ll be hard to walk around on the slick cobblestone floor — not to mention that you’ll be out in the open quite a bit, getting wet and cold!

However, if the weather looks like it’ll be dry during your visit, Pompeii in winter is a fantastic choice!

This small group, full day tour of Pompeii and Naples (as Mt. Vesuvius is not visited on this tour during the winter) is a great way to spend a day seeing some of the greatest historical places near Rome.

Check itinerary and availability of this Pompeii day tour!

Where to Stay in Rome

Autumn light on the picturesque alley in Jewish neighborhood Ghetto in Rome

Boutique: Nerva Boutique Hotel

For a gorgeous and unique stay in a central part of Rome, right near the Colosseum, look no further than Nerva Boutique Hotel.

With a loft-like feel thanks to its high ceilings with exposed beams and modern, quirky design choices, this is a comfortable and stylish choice that won’t break the bank.

Check availability and prices here!

Luxury: The St. Regis Rome

Do I really need to convince you that the St. Regis is the pinnacle of luxury? The brand is practically synonymous with 5-star hotels.

This gorgeous, refined hotel has everything you’d need in a palatial setting, 15 minutes walking distance from all of Rome’s most epic sights, like the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.

Check availability and prices here!

Budget: Pope’s Suites

This choice feels quite luxurious, but the Pope’s Suites is actually a rather budget-friendly place to stay while in Rome, since the Prati neighborhood is a little removed from sights other than the Vatican.

That said, Rome’s public transportation network is excellent, so it’s really not too inconvenient, and you make up for it by staying in really elegant rooms  fit for papal royalty and plebeians alike!

Check availability and prices here!