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Best places to visit in italy.

Tourists and travel experts have long agreed that Italy is a special place, so much so that the country has become a de facto bucket list destination for just about everyone. Famous for its incredible food, rich historical sites, highly regarded art, charming small towns and picturesque cities, countrysides and coastlines, it's safe to say Italy's offerings are unmatched. U.S. News rounded up the best places to visit in Italy considering a number of factors, from affordability and seasonality to sights and crowds, to help you decide exactly where to go. Have a favorite destination in Italy? Cast your vote below to influence next year's ranking.

Amalfi Coast

Cinque terre, tuscany, italy.

the places to visit in italy

A standard stop on many European vacation itineraries , Rome is not to be missed. Italy’s capital city is a globally renowned cultural and historical powerhouse, boasting everything from ancient ruins and tranquil parks to Michelin-starred restaurants. Here, you'll find the most important relic from the Roman Empire (the Colosseum), some of Michelangelo's greatest works (in the Sistine Chapel), an 18th century Baroque-style fountain (the Trevi Fountain) and, of course, the center of Catholicism (Vatican City). Other can’t-miss tourist attractions in the Eternal City include the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church.

the places to visit in italy

Situated in the scenic Tuscan valley, Florence woos travelers with old-world avenues leading to picturesque piazzas big and small. While you're soaking up the city's splendor, make sure to stop by the Piazza del Duomo, where the breathtaking Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is located, and the romantic Ponte Vecchio, a 14th century bridge overlooking the Arno River. Once central to the Renaissance movement, Florence also offers art aficionados the opportunity to see famous pieces by Michelangelo and other iconic artists of that period. As an added bonus, Florence is ideal for a daytrip to the Chianti wine region.

the places to visit in italy

The journey to the cliff-side Amalfi Coast involves heart-stopping, hairpin turns on narrow roads, but travelers agree this is part of the fun. The region covers more than 30 miles of coastline and is home to 13 colorful seaside towns, each with its own story. Positano and Amalfi are the most popular, housing numerous hotels and sights. While here, hike, relax on the beach and eat to your heart's content (there are multiple Michelin-starred restaurants along the Amalfi Coast). For something more off-the-beaten-path, set your sights on Atrani. This humble fishing village boasts medieval whitewashed architecture, winding alleys and authentic Italian charm.

the places to visit in italy

There are few destinations in the world that are quite like Venice. Its uniqueness can largely be attributed to the canals that run through this northern Italian city like roads, carrying water taxis and buses in addition to its fleet of famous gondolas. As such, there is a palpable bustle here that may surprise some first-timers. For a relaxing Venice vacation, seek out the smaller streets and canals away from the busy Grand Canal and St. Mark's Square. Just be sure to stroll across Rialto Bridge and tour the grand St. Mark’s Basilica at least once.

the places to visit in italy

Cinque Terre, located on Italy's northern Ligurian coast, is made up of five picturesque towns – Manarola, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore. Manarola, the region’s oldest town, boasts scenic vineyards, olive groves and a centuries-old bell tower. Meanwhile, Vernazza, often considered one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, is well-known for its picture-perfect houses and grand medieval castle. The Cinque Terre offers an abundance of exciting activities, from boat tours and hiking to cooking classes and wine tastings. While here, don’t forget to save time for exploring the cliff-side Footpath Monterosso trail, a beautiful hiking path connecting Vernazza and Monterosso.

the places to visit in italy

For centuries, this small island off the coast of southern Italy has attracted plenty of famous faces, from emperors to movie stars, due to its gorgeous scenery. Some of Capri's most amazing sights are best seen by boat, including the Faraglioni rock formations and the Blue Grotto, where sunlight turns the water into an unbelievably vivid shade of blue. On land, the Gardens of Augustus and Villa Jovis, an imperial palace, also provide spectacular views. Meanwhile, in the town center, visitors will find high-end shops and restaurants where they can relax after a long day of sightseeing.

the places to visit in italy

Considered the land of the sirens in Greek mythology, Sorrento continues to lure people with its charm and stunning views. Here, vacationers can explore enchanting piazzas or relax near the water before watching the sun set behind the cliffs. Plus, lemons are big in Sorrento – both in size and in popularity – and the area is known as one of the best places in the world to taste authentic limoncello, a lemon-flavored liquor. It's also the perfect base for daytrips and boat tours to nearby Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and other popular Italian locales.

the places to visit in italy

Italy's second-largest city is best known for its high fashion, playing host to Milan Fashion Week each winter and home to iconic fashion houses including Giorgio Armani, Prada and Versace. Visitors can peruse such high-end brands at the dazzling Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade. But Milan's architecture (including the Gothic Milan Cathedral and grand Teatro alla Scala opera house) and sites like Castello Sforzesco (which holds nearly 10 museums and exhibitions) are worth a visit on their own. What's more, the city is incredibly walkable, so feel free to explore on foot – with or without designer stilettos.   

the places to visit in italy

Located about 30 miles from Verona, Lake Garda tends to be more approachable and wallet-friendly (if a bit more touristy) than Lake Como. Activities in this recreational hot spot include swimming and windsurfing, as well as hiking and taking a funicular to Mount Baldo. Lake Garda also attracts families with Gardaland Resort, which includes themed hotels as well as an amusement park, water park and aquarium. If you're looking to get away from the crowds, go beyond the main tourist sites to the quieter northern side of the lake, where you'll find the highest mountains and tucked-away towns.

the places to visit in italy

If you're looking for Italy without the crowds, Tuscany is really all it's cracked up to be. Italy's famous countryside offers travelers spectacular landscapes dotted with romantic villas and castles equipped with wineries and superb restaurants. Don’t miss out on a visit to the walled city of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its medieval towers. What's more, Tuscan locales like Pisa (which offers much more than its leaning tower) and Siena are an easy drive from top destinations such as Bologna and Cinque Terre, perfect for daytrippers who don't want to stay in one place for too long.

the places to visit in italy

Assisi, a medieval town with religious connections, sits on a hilltop in the lush landscapes of Umbria, just more than 100 miles north of Rome. This peaceful town's biggest draws are its sights dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, one of Italy's patron saints, including the Basilica of San Francesco, which houses his tomb as well as colorful frescos, and The Woods of San Francesco. Beyond its religious heritage, Assisi is worth a visit for its picturesque streets and sweeping views, while its location also makes it ideal for a truffle hunting excursion or wine tasting tour.

the places to visit in italy

As the location of several ancient Greek legends, Sicily has an almost mythical quality. Once you visit for yourself, you'll see why so many writers were inspired by this island, which happens to be the largest in the Mediterranean. Be enchanted by Sicily's crystal-clear waters and golden beaches. Marvel at Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, or try hiking up it in summer or skiing down it in winter. Also save time for taking in the many cultures that have called this island home at its various cathedrals and archaeological sites.

the places to visit in italy

This former Roman city in southern Italy is equal parts chilling and impressive. Pompeii was left almost completely intact after it was buried in ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Its astonishingly well-preserved ruins now provide present-day visitors a glimpse into what life was like during ancient times. True history buffs might also enjoy a trip to nearby Herculaneum, another city that was preserved by the same eruption, while more adventurous explorers should consider hiking to the top of Mount Vesuvius for jaw-dropping panoramas of the Bay of Naples and the Sorrento Peninsula.

the places to visit in italy

Best known for its Shakespeare ties, Verona appeals to fans of "Romeo and Juliet" with themed tours of the sights that allegedly inspired the play. But there is more to this city than its literary link. Verona, located about 15 miles east of Lake Garda, is also home to several impressive attractions and historic buildings (the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after all). Travelers won't want to miss the Arena di Verona, a first-century Roman amphitheater that is still in use, and Giardino Giusti, a beautifully sculpted Renaissance garden.

the places to visit in italy

Sardinia provides the best of both worlds. Costa Smeralda is all about luxury, with its lush beaches and coves overlooking yacht-filled waters. And away from all of the glitz and glamour of Costa Smeralda, you'll find a more laid-back side of the island, including small medieval towns where Sardinians still practice sheepherding and wear traditional clothing. What's more, Sardinia features several ancient ruins, such as UNESCO World Heritage-listed Su Nuraxi di Barumini.

the places to visit in italy

If you really want to treat yourself on your next vacation, Lake Como is where you want to be. Here, opulent villas and hotels line the shores and sandy beaches beckon to sun seekers. You'll see sleek sailboats and speedboats coasting in the middle of the lake, which is the perfect place to admire the region's surrounding hills. Meanwhile, for a lesson in luxury, tour one of the region’s grand villas; top picks among travelers include Villa Melzi d’Eril, Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello. Later, check out the Como Cathedral, a magnificent structure boasting Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles.

the places to visit in italy

The small, crescent-shaped village of Portofino is known as a vacation hot spot for the rich and famous. The water surrounding Portofino is often filled with yachts and is great for swimming and diving. Plus, the area's beauty and tranquil atmosphere make it an excellent place to unwind. When travelers need a break from relaxing, they can venture just outside of Portofino to check out historical sites like Castello Brown, an ancient military fortress with incredible views of the Marina di Portofino, and Abbazia di San Fruttuoso, a 10th century monastery that can only be reached by foot or ferry.

the places to visit in italy

Thought to have been inhabited 12,000 years ago, Matera is one of the world's oldest continually occupied towns. Located in the Basilicata region in southern Italy, just west of Puglia, Matera's distinguishing features are its sassi (cave dwellings), which were inhabited until the 1950s. While here, look out for the many viewpoints, called belvederes, for a glimpse of the breathtaking cliffside. Visit Sasso Caveoso for the Casa Grotta cave house (inhabited until 1957) and the Santa Maria de Idris, a rupestrian church carved from the rocky landscape. Meanwhile, in Sasso Barisano – the oldest part of the city – you'll find modern comforts like hotels, restaurants and shops.

the places to visit in italy

There are several reasons why Bologna, the capital of northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, is often called "la dotta, la grassa e la rossa" ("the learned, the fat and the red"). For one, it's home to the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna. The city is also a food lover's dream thanks to its world-renowned cuisine, which includes Italian staples like tortellini and lasagna Bolognese. Bologna even features a gelato university and the food-themed amusement park, FICO Eataly World. Plus, the city boasts an array of terra cotta-roofed medieval buildings, including a pair of leaning towers.

the places to visit in italy

Located in the northwest corner of Italy, Turin is the perfect city break brimming with grand architecture, museums and delightful cuisine. Must-visit attractions include Mole Antonelliana (a former synagogue turned into a cinema museum), the 16th-century Royal Palace of Turin and the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum). Once you've toured the top sights, settle into local life by enjoying the city's riverside parks, street markets, football games and historic cafes. At the latter, you'll find unique coffee blends and decadent chocolate, as well as elaborate aperitif hours. On the long list of things Turin does right, you can find these three items at the top.   

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24 Best Places to Visit in Italy

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Oct 6, 2023

Few places rank as high on travelers' bucket lists as Italy. Whatever your taste in travel, you'll satisfy it in this country that is at once exotic and familiar. History, art, food, music, architecture, culture, sacred sites, charming villages, and stunning scenery are all around, and in an atmosphere that only the most confirmed curmudgeon could fail to enjoy.

From the soaring Dolomite mountains in the north to the beaches of Puglia and the ancient temples of Sicily, Italy is filled with outstanding places to see. These range from magnificent natural and scenic wonders to some of the greatest masterpieces of art and architecture the world has known. No matter where you choose, you can't go wrong.

Plan your trip to Italy with our list of the best places to visit in Italy.

2. Florence

4. tuscan hill towns, 6. lake como, 7. amalfi coast, 8. capri & sorrento, 9. the cinque terre, 10. pisa and lucca, 12. pompeii and herculaneum, 13. lake garda, 15. bologna, 16. the dolomites, 21. sardinia, 22. ravenna, map of places to visit in italy.

The Colosseum

Both for its history as the capital of much of ancient Europe and for its present-day role as one of Europe's most vibrant cities, for most tourists traveling to Italy, Rome heads the list of places to visit. Relics of its ancient glories—the Colosseum , the Forum , the Pantheon , the Appian Way, and the Palatine Hill —vie with the vast riches of the Vatican as the top attractions.

But between the important sights like the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's Pieta, take time to enjoy the city itself. Relax in the Borghese gardens ; eat gelato on the Spanish Steps ; explore the narrow streets of Trastevere ; sip morning cappuccino in cafés; window-shop on the Via Veneto; and toss a coin in Trevi Fountain , so you can return again and again. It will take several trips to see it all.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rome


The showcase of the Italian Renaissance, Florence can at times seem like one giant art museum. The Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore , is a landmark of world architecture , topped by its gravity-defying massive dome.

Together with its marble-inlaid bell tower by Giotto and the octagonal Baptistery with its incomparable bronze doors by Ghiberti, this is one of the world's finest ensembles of Renaissance art.

Half a dozen art museums brim with paintings and sculptures, while more masterpieces decorate its churches and palaces. Before you overdose on art in the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace , stroll through the Boboli Gardens and explore the artisans' studios and workshops of the Oltrarno, or shop for leather in Santa Croce.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Florence


Who could fail to love a city whose streets are made of water, whose buses are boats, and where the songs of gondoliers linger in the air? It is a magic city, and its major attraction to tourists is the city itself.

The hub of the city is the broad Piazza San Marco, St. Mark's Square , surrounded by several of its top tourist attractions. The great Basilica of St. Mark stands beside the Doge's Palace , and overlooking both is the tall Campanile.

Taking a gondola ride is one of the most romantic things to do in Italy . Gondolas congregate at the end of the plaza in the Grand Canal . In the other direction, a gate under the clock tower leads into a warren of narrow, winding passageways, where you're sure to get lost on the way to Rialto Bridge. But getting lost is one of the greatest pleasures of Venice, where a postcard scene awaits around each corner.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Venice

Tuscan Hill Town

The undulating landscape of Tuscany is crowned by stone towns whose foundations go back to the Etruscans. Each sits atop a hill, and many still have the castles and towers that once defended their commanding positions.

It's difficult to choose one above the others, as each has its own architecture, art, character, and story to tell. Fairly bristling with towers and enclosed in walls that are largely intact, San Gimignano looks much as it did in the Middle Ages, when it was an important stop on the pilgrims' route to Rome.

Volterra was an important Etruscan center before the Romans came and still has remains of both civilizations today. The tourist attractions of Arezzo are the legacy of the many artists, architects, and poets who lived there.

Like Volterra, walled Cortona was an Etruscan settlement and later a Roman one, but adds reminders of its Florentine past as well. Cortona is one of Italy's oldest towns. The proximity of these hill towns to the cities of Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Luca fills Tuscany with a concentration of many of the best places to visit in Italy.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Italy

Milan Cathedral

Although Milan is a major entry point for tourists because of its airport, it's often overlooked as a destination of its own. That's a shame, because Milan has one of the highest concentrations of artistic and architectural attractions in all Italy, and for those interested in design and fashion (not to mention shopping), it's a must.

Milan has been the home and workplace for luminaries in all these fields: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verdi, Enrico Caruso, Toscanini, and designer Giorgio Armani.

Il Duomo, Milan's massive cathedral, is among the world's most magnificent churches, and finest example of the Flamboyant Gothic style. La Scala is the world's most prestigious opera house, Da Vinci's The Last Supper fills the wall at a monastery, and throughout the city are museums and palaces filled with some of the world's finest art. And no fashionista can resist a stroll through the famed Quadrilatero.

Lake Como

Italy's most beautiful lake, Como has been the favorite summer retreat of the rich and famous since ancient Romans fled Milan's summer heat to cool off in villas along its steep shores. Later villas decorate its tightly clustered towns, especially pretty Bellagio , artfully set on a point where the three narrow arms of the lake meet.

A microclimate makes the western shore of Lake Como temperate even in winter, so the white peaks of the Alps just to the north can be viewed between palm trees and camellias. Don't overlook the town of Como, on the southern shore, well worth a stop before boarding a steamer to explore the lake.

Just to the west of Lake Como is Lake Maggiore, with its own attractions ; to the east is Lake Garda , a summer playground filled with water sports and other things to do.

Read More: Visiting Lake Como: Top Attractions, Hotels & Tours

Amalfi Coast and Capri

The high, precipitous Amalfi Peninsula juts sharply into the Mediterranean just south of Naples, forming the southern rim of Naples Bay. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful – or unlikely – setting for the towns that spill down its steep slopes.

Streets in most of these picturesque towns are stairways, and houses seem glued to the cliffs behind them. Flowers bloom everywhere, and below the towns are enticing beaches caught in coves of emerald water. High above the coast is the town of Ravello , where luxuriant gardens frame some of the coast's finest views.

The Amalfi Drive , along the southern coast, is one of the world's great scenic routes, or you can see the coast from the water by taking a 45-minute ferry ride from Sorrento to Positano. You have several options for getting to Positano from Rome .

Read More: Top Attractions & Places to Visit on the Amalfi Coast


The fabled Isle of Capri rises in steep cliffs from the Tyrrhenian Sea, only 20 kilometers from Sorrento. It was the bolt-hole for the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius and today attracts a steady stream of tourists arriving on the frequent ferries and hydrofoils from Sorrento and Naples.

Although very small – it is barely six kilometers at its longest – it has two towns, Capri and high above it, Anacapri. The lower town is where to find smart shops and cafés full of people-watchers hoping to spot a celebrity. Anacapri is the site of the lovely Villa San Michele and its gardens.

One of the top things to do on Capri is a trip to the Blue Grotto, a large flooded cave where reflected sunlight makes the water look as though it were lit from inside. At the other side of the island is the beautiful Marina Piccola, a tiny beach at the foot of the cliffs guarded by the craggy Faraglioni sea stacks.

Like Capri, the charming town of Sorrento seems to have been created for pleasure. The views, framed by candy-colored buildings and lemon trees, take in Naples and its bay, Mt. Vesuvius, and Capri. It's a town for strolling, sitting in cafés, and taking day trips to Capri, the Amalfi Coast, or Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Read More: From Rome to Capri: Best Ways to Get There

The Cinque Terre

The five towns that cling to the steep, rocky Mediterranean coast north of La Spezia were almost impossible to reach by land until the railway connected them by tunneling through the headlands that separate them.

Today, the trail along the cliffs that locals once used to travel from town to town is one of Europe's greatest hikes; the shortest and widest of its sections, between Manarola and Riomaggiore is known as the Via dell'Amore, and has finally reopened after several years' closure due to a landslide.

Although hiking the trail is the goal of most tourists, don't overlook the pleasures of lingering in these little villages . Riomaggiore and Vernazza , with their narrow streets dropping down to tiny rock-bound harbors are the most filled with character, and despite its recent popularity with tourists, the Cinque Terre remains one of Italy's most appealing attractions.


The nearby towns of Pisa and Lucca are worth visiting while you're in Tuscany, the first for the exceptional Campo dei Miracoli complex and the other for its endearing charms.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa , actually the campanile for the adjacent cathedral, is a well-known Italian icon, and forms the centerpiece of a UNESCO World Heritage site that also includes the cathedral, baptistery, and Campo Santo.

The highlight of the impressive baptistery is Nicola Pisano's intricately carved free-standing pulpit, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture. Completing the ensemble is a museum displaying some of the most beautiful gold and silver work of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Nearby, Lucca is one of Europe's most charming towns to explore and enjoy, surrounded by wide walls whose top is a tree-lined park. Inside the walls are beautiful Romanesque and Tuscan Gothic churches, tower houses (one of which you can climb to the top), and a Roman arena that has been "fossilized" into an oval piazza.


The compact historic center of this former Roman stronghold is embraced by a deep curve in the Adige River. Dominating its heart is the remarkable well-preserved first-century Roman arena , scene of the world-renowned summer opera festival.

Several Roman arches are mixed among the medieval and Renaissance buildings, many of which show Verona's long history as part of the Venetian empire. Alongside the river stands the large Castelvecchio , a castle built in the 14th century, guarding a brick arched bridge, Ponte Scaligero.

For all its rich treasury of architecture and art, Verona's biggest claim to tourist fame is based on pure fiction. Verona was the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet , and over the past century, locals have obliged by creating homes, a balcony, and even a tomb for the fictional characters. These are some of the top things to see and do in Verona


In AD 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted violently and suddenly, engulfing the thriving Roman city of Pompeii and encasing it for more than a millennium in six meters of ash and pumice-stone. The city remained frozen in time until excavations that began in the 18th century uncovered more than half of its buildings and public spaces.

The same eruption also engulfed the city of Herculaneum , but this time in molten lava, not ash. So instead of raining down and crushing buildings with its weight, the lava flowed in and filled the city from the ground up, supporting walls and ceilings as it rose, and preserving them in place.

Also preserved in this airtight seal were organic materials, such as wood, textiles, and food, giving a more complete picture of life in the first century. Details such as eating vessels and even food have been preserved as they were when the disaster struck.

Read More: Visiting Pompeii: Top Attractions, Tips & Tours

Lake Garda and surrounding mountains

Combining dramatic mountain scenery with a wide choice of water sports and holiday amusements, Lake Garda is the most family-friendly of the Italian Lakes . Near Verona, Lake Garda is easy to reach by train, and close enough to be a day trip from Milan .

A favorite place to visit for families , Lake Garda is well supplied with low-key resorts and campgrounds, and at the southern end, the popular theme parks of Gardaland, Gardaland Sea-Life, and the movie-themed Caneva World are magnets for kids. The busiest area is along the southern shore, where there are several beaches with shallow water for young swimmers.

You can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and equipment for water sports at various places along the eastern and southern shores. Winds sweeping down from the mountains that rise sharply at the northern end of the lake make sailing popular there, and at Torbole you'll find some of Europe's best windsurfing and kitesurfing .

Lake Garda is not without tourist attractions to visit. The small town of Sirmione , almost an island at the end of a long peninsula on the southern shore, is approached through the gates of a small castle, which you can tour. Follow the only street past chic boutiques and souvenir stores (Sirmione is a popular place to go shopping) to the beautifully preserved ruins of a Roman villa and spa.

Farther north, Malcesine's castle clings to a rocky promontory above the lake, reached via narrow Medieval streets. For more mountain and lake views, ride the rotating cable car from Malcesine to the summit of Monte Baldo.


At its height in the 13th and 14th centuries, Siena rivaled Florence for its arts and culture, and it still has a wealth of art and architectural treasures. The highlight is the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta , whose inlaid marble facade and striped bell tower stand dramatically among Siena's mostly red brick buildings. The cathedral interior is a museum of works by great artists and sculptors, including Donatello, Giovanni Pisano, Bernini, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

But art treasures are just some of Siena's attractions . The winding medieval streets and broad plazas are inviting places to wander. Piazza del Campo is considered one of Europe's finest medieval public squares. Twice each summer, this gigantic, sloping main square is the scene of a chaotic horse race known as the Palio.

Basilica of Santo Stefano, also known as Sette Chiese (Seven Churches) in Bologna

Renowned for its culinary skills and cuisine, as well as for its historic university (Europe's oldest), Bologna is the most appealing city to visit. The elegant arcades shelter the streets from the sun or rain, and beneath them are shops with their original century-old interiors. Follow Via Galleria to admire its old aristocratic mansions.

Life centers around the adjoining Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno, where you'll find the magnificent 16 th -century Neptune Fountain and the still unfinished façade of the Basilica of San Petronius.

The other church to see is the atmospheric Santo Stefano, a complex of seven religious buildings built by the Benedictines from the 10th to 13th century. Its two leaning towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, are tall thin pillars of brick and stone, taller than the more famous one at Pisa. These are remnants of medieval times, when families had their own defensive towers attached to their homes.

Read More: Top Attractions & Places to Visit in Bologna

The Dolomites and the village of Santa Maddalena

Home to six of Italy's top ski resorts , the jagged peaks of the Dolomites are spectacular at any season, whether the mountains are white with snow and ice, or rising dramatically above lush green Alpine meadows. The most famous town is Cortina d'Ampezzo , one of the top ski resorts in the world .

Other villages of wooden chalets are ski centers, too, and hidden deep in the valleys are more hamlets that curious tourists can discover by following the mountain roads that radiate from the Strada delle Dolomiti, the Dolomite Road .

This year-round route stretching from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo, is a continuing series of mountain views as it crosses the Passo Pordoi and passes the peaks of the Gruppo del Sella to reveal the Cinque Torri, five peaks overlooking Cortina.

Although the road snakes up and down the mountainsides in switchbacks, it is wide, well-paved, and free of the alarming drop-offs that make so many Alpine roads teeth-clenching experiences. You can pause the drive at several points to take gondola rides for even more breathtaking views of mountains in every direction.

Highlights are the forest-surrounded Lake Carezza, the waterfall in Canazei, and the tree-framed views from Passo di Costalunga. In inscribing the Dolomites as a World Heritage Site, UNESCO called the Dolomites "among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world."

View over Naples

As the canals characterize Venice, and the Renaissance is the essence of Florence, in Naples, it's the sheer exuberance that will hold you spellbound. It's a boisterous place, its narrow streets filled with color, noise, and life.

You'll find plenty to see and do in Naples , in its treasure-filled churches, its magnificent palaces lavished in the riches of European royalty, and its premier archaeological museum displaying the finds from nearby Pompeii.

Join locals and stroll by the waterfront to savor views of Mt. Vesuvius across the bay, hop a ferry to the island of Capri or magical Sorrento, shop in the glass-domed Galleria Umberto I, and by all means, sample the pizza—Neapolitans claim to have invented it.

Valley of Temples

The island of Sicily has earned seven places on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, three for its ancient sites, two for natural wonders, and two for architectural treasures. Some of the finest remaining examples of ancient structures are in Sicily: at Selinunte is one of the largest Greek temples; in Agrigento , at the Valley of Temples, is one of the three most perfect Greek temples anywhere; and the 3,500 square meters of mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale in Enna decorate one of the best-preserved villas in the entire Roman Empire.

Sicily's landscapes, crowned by Mt. Etna, and its spectacular golden-sand beaches match its world-class attractions.

The capital of Palermo is a vibrant city full of color and fine buildings. Nearby Monreale Cathedral is a masterpiece of Norman architecture, its walls covered by 6,340 square meters of the interior walls with intricate mosaics by artists from Constantinople and Sicily. Monreale stands today almost exactly as it was built in the 1100s, and is one of Sicily's top tourist attractions .

View over Assisi

Most tourists visit Assisi as the home of St. Francis, and for the Franciscan sites that rose here to memorialize him. The Basilica di San Francesco was constructed over the saint's tomb in the early 13th century and is one of the world's most visited pilgrimage destinations.

Along with the Basilica, a pilgrimage includes other sites closely associated with the saint. The Renaissance church of Santa Maria degli Angeli was over St. Francis' oratory (Porziuàncola ) and the cell in which he died.

St Francis preached and prayed at the 12 th -century Cathedral of San Rufino , and the Gothic Basilica of Santa Chiara is dedicated to St. Clare, the disciple of St. Francis who founded the order of Poor Clares.

Religion is not the only draw for tourists to Assisi. The building and decoration of all these holy sites drew the finest artists of their day, making Assisi a center for the arts and leaving works by great artists that include Giotto and Cimabue. Assisi is a popular day trip from Florence , and there are several ways of getting to Assisi from Rome .


One of the great industrial cities of the north, Turin, unlike Milan, is relatively small and compact, and it's highlights are easy to explore on foot. There is a grandeur to its architecture and its formal layout, designed by the Savoys to show that they were as regal as any of Europe's royal families and could surround themselves with splendor that rivaled Paris.

Its arcaded squares and avenues and royal palaces right in the center set the tone, but that is not all of Turin's charm. A small medieval quarter, Roman sites, and entire neighborhoods of Art Nouveau lend variety, and a riverside park with a complete faux-medieval village prove that Turin doesn't take itself too seriously.

Don't miss the extraordinary Museum of Cinema in a skyscraper that was once a synagogue. Turin's contrasts will charm you—as will its coffee houses and grand cafés.

Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Turin

Cala Domestica Beach,Sardinia

This enigmatic Mediterranean island seems worlds apart from Italy, and is itself a land of stark contrasts. Best known for its glamorous Costa Smeralda, the jet-set paradise of luxury enclaves set against the emerald waters of the northeast coast, Sardinia has a lot more to offer adventurous tourists or even the sun-loving beach seeker.

The entire south is ringed with mile after mile of white-sand beaches , and the rugged interior is prime territory for hikers and climbers. Sardinia is a place for travelers who want to explore remote mountain villages, where old traditions not only survive but are a way of life.

The most enigmatic and fascinating attractions are the hundreds of mysterious round stone towers, known as Nuraghe, which dot the entire island and make Sardinia high on the list of unique places to visit in Italy. Prehistoric sites are everywhere and include these towers, sacred wells, "giants tombs," and other ancient structures. Entire Phoenician and Roman cities wait to be explored.

Read More: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Sardinia


This ancient city on the Adriatic is truly unique in Italy. Unlike any other, Ravenna's artistic origins are almost entirely Byzantine, and here you'll find Western Europe's finest collection of Byzantine mosaics , all in nearly pristine condition.

In the sixth century, Ravenna was the seat of the king Theodoric the Great, who was raised in Constantinople, and it became a center for mosaic artistry that reached its zenith here.

Seven buildings decorated with some of the finest examples of mosaic art are included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See all of them, but above all don't miss the early 5th-century Neonian Baptistery; the impressive interior of San Vitale; and the jewel-like Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which UNESCO calls "one of the most artistically perfect" and best preserved of all mosaic monuments.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ravenna

Trulli houses in Alberobello, Puglia

If Puglia were less remote, it would be one of the country's best-known tourist destinations. Picturing Italy as a boot, Puglia forms the heel — a long stiletto heel reaching southeast into the Adriatic Sea.

The capital city of Lecce is filled with Baroque architecture, magnificent churches with facades intricately carved in local golden limestone. At the very tip of the heel is the Salento, a largely pristine coast of rocky cliffs, soaring headlands, and beaches in the deep coves between them. On the Salento's western shore, some of Italy's most beautiful beaches stretch in kilometers of golden sand.

The eastern shore is protected by the Parco Naturale Regionale Costa Otranto. Its picturesque village of Otranto (see the mosaics in its 12th-century church) is the gateway to the pristine blue-flag beaches on Baia dei Turchi . From the 15th-century castle, you can see across the Adriatic to the mountains of Albania.

At Alberobello, you can see the picturesque villages of trulli, little conical-roofed houses that now constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site . You can make one of these little houses your home while you tour the region.

View of Genoa

Riches from its maritime past have left the port city of Genoa with a rich legacy of Italy's most splendid noble palaces. Dating from the 16 th and 17th centuries, these marble showcases of Italian art and architecture are Genoa's prime tourist attractions and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But don't overlook the steep, atmospheric streets of the old sailors' quarter above the Old Harbor, or the Aquarium and the Maritime Museum , both overlooking the harbor. One of Europe's best aquariums, it holds more than 10,000 aquatic animals in a state-of-the-art facility that replicates their natural environments; the Maritime Museum is also a draw for families, as it brings the age of sail to life for children.

Take advantage of the numerous funiculars to navigate the city's steep terrain, and don't miss the chance to sample some of Italy's finest cuisine.

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Where to Go from Rome: For a break from the bustle of Rome, you can easily spend a day exploring gardens and attractions in Tivoli , and even farther with the help of our page From Rome to Capri: 5 Best Ways to Get There . For even more suggestions, refer to our page on the Top-Rated Day Trips from Rome .


Where to Go near Florence: You don't have to travel far to find many of the top tourist attractions in Tuscany . Travel west to the lovely walled city of Lucca , and only a little farther to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, with its cathedral and baptistery. South of Florence is Siena, where our Visitor's Guide to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta will lead you to its greatest treasures.


Where to Go from Venice: The Veneto region is filled with exciting places to visit, such as nearby Padua . The villas of Andrea Palladio are the top tourist attractions in Vicenza , and not far beyond are historic Verona and beautiful Lake Garda .

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View of the Amalfi Coast with the sea to the right and a village on the left. The beautiful Amalfi Coast is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

25 Best Places to Visit in Italy (+ Map to Find Them!)

Brainstorming the best places to visit in Italy before planning a big trip?

We have you covered: despite our temptation to list a hundred places to go in Italy on this list, we’ve narrowed it down to the top Italy travel destinations… plus thrown in just a few curveballs for good measure.

Italy has long been one of our absolute favorite places to travel, and despite cumulatively spending months exploring, we’ll be returning to enjoy the most beautiful places in Italy again and again for the rest of our lives.

Here are the best places to visit in Italy, from iconic cities to charming small towns to colorful islands!

Table of Contents

How to Choose Where to Go in Italy

The best cities to visit in italy, incredible small towns to visit in italy, nature-focused beautiful places in italy, map of the best places to visit in italy.

Kate Storm in a red dress overlooking the Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy

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It’s downright impossible to visit all the best places to visit in Italy on one trip–so once you’ve compiled your personal bucket list, you’ll need to narrow it down!

We have almost 100 blog posts about Italy here on Our Escape Clause, covering everything from detailed breakdowns of what to do in certain cities, to the best day trips, to food guides for cities like Rome and Florence .

I’ll link many of our Italy blog posts throughout this guide to the most beautiful places in Italy, but to find additional posts on a specific place (some places, like Rome, have over a dozen), use the search bar in the top-right corner of the screen (or if you’re browsing on mobile, on the pop-out menu).

You can use these posts to help put the backbone of your Italy trip together, as well as plan the more detailed aspects of your vacation.

After reading this guide to where to go in Italy, we recommend reading our suggested 2-week Italy itinerary (with classic suggestions for first-time visitors), our guide to spending a week in Italy that provides several options for structuring your trip, and our step-by-step-guide to planning an Italy trip .

You may also want to check out our Italy road trip guide , our 101 top Italy travel tips , and our suggested Italy packing list .

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm on a balcony overlooking Positano

Nicknamed the Eternal City, Rome is a sprawling, complex city dotted with 2,000+ years of ruins, relics, and memories–and in our opinion, it’s one of the most captivating places to visit in Italy… and also in the world overall.

No trip to Rome is complete without visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum, strolling up the Spanish Steps, stopping by Vatican City , eating a plate (or several) of carbonara, and tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure you return to Rome.

We also highly recommend exploring a couple of Rome’s magnificent art museums, whether that’s the iconic Borghese Gallery or quieter options like Palazzo Spada .

Couple in front of Colosseum: Visiting Rome in Winter

Beautiful, walkable Florence is known primarily for two things: its art, and its food.

As both the Cradle of the Renaissance and the capital of Tuscany, neither of these is surprising!

Touring the famous Uffizi Gallery and visiting Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia is a must-do for art lovers in Florence. 

Be sure to also stop by the Duomo, stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo, and eat plenty of delicious Tuscan food ! 

Florence's Duomo as seen from the side at the Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the best places to visit in Italy

Of all the best places to go in Italy, Venice is arguably the most unique: there is simply nowhere else on the planet like the regal city of canals, with its iconic gondolas and architecture hinting at the history of the wealthy empire that once ruled from it.

The best things to do in Venice include visiting Piazza San Marco, marveling at St. Mark’s Basilica, taking a classic Venetian gondola ride, and wandering aimlessly through the less-crowded (but still stunning) corners of the city.

View of Venice's Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge--this iconic spot is definitely home to one of the best views of Venice!

When looking for the best places to visit in Lombardy , you can’t start with anywhere except Milan.

The fashion and business capital of Italy is known for its luxury brands, beautiful architecture, and more modern vibe as compared to many Italian cities–but it still has plenty of history behind it, too, and belongs on any list detailing where to go in Italy.

Visiting Milan’s incredible Duomo (and especially its epic rooftop) belongs at the top of any list of things to do in Milan, followed by getting a peek at Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Other sights include the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Castello Sforzesco, and of course Milan’s famous La Scala Opera House.

One Day in Milan Itinerary: Rooftop of Duomo

The capital of Emilia-Romagna is known, above all else, for its food, which just might be the best in Italy. 

Its charms don’t end there, though. Bologna boasts 3 nicknames: la dotta (the educated, for its history university), la rossa (the red, for its unique architecture), and la grassa (the fat, for the aforementioned epic food). It lives up to all of them.

While in Bologna, be sure to climb the Asinelli Tower for incredible views of the city, hunt down the city’s hidden canals, and visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

Plus, of course, enjoy plenty of food: tagliatelle al ragu, mortadella, and traditional balsamic vinegar are just a few of the delicacies that the region is known for.

View from San Petronio's Terrace in Bologna, one of the most beautiful places in Italy

The bustling port city of Naples isn’t everyone’s cup of tea–some would even argue that it doesn’t belong on a list of where to go in Italy. We disagree, though.

Naples has a very, very different vibe than Italian cities located further north, but its unique history, interesting things to do, and of course, pizza, make it well worth a visit.

In Naples, be sure to visit the Piazza del Plebiscito, get underground at the Bourbon Tunnel, San Gennaro Catacombs, or Naples Underground, and visit the magnificent archaeological museum, which is one of the best in Italy and where many of the most impressive artifacts from Pompeii ended up!

Plus, of course, visiting Naples means eating at least a couple of classic Napoli-style pizzas –they truly are better there than anywhere else.

Trip to Italy Cost: View of Mount Vesuvius from Naples

Sicily’s stunning capital city is certainly a bit rougher around the edges than many of the best places to visit in Italy, but that’s no reason to stay away.

With a long and storied history impacted by half a dozen empires or so, plenty of palm trees, and even catacombs filled with mummies, Palermo is an unforgettable place, and utterly captivating if you give it the chance to be.

A trip to Palermo should definitely include a visit to the Palermo Cathedral, a food tour through the city ( Sicilian food is distinctly different from what many foreigners associate with Italian food–plus, you get to eat cannoli), and a stop to check out the Quattro Canti.

Mosaics on the ceiling of the Church of Martorana, Things to See in Palermo Sicily

The city of Romeo and Juliet is located along the Adige River in Veneto and is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

Packed with gorgeous views, colorful architecture, and interesting sights, Verona gets far fewer international visitors than, say, Venice or Florence–but it is easy to add onto a typical Italy vacation and well worth the effort!

While in Verona, be sure to enjoy the view from Castel San Pietro, visit Juliet’s House, and walk across the Ponte Pietra.

Best Things to Do in Verona: Castel San Pietro

Tuscany’s second city was once the military rival of Florence–today, it is better known for its oval-shaped central piazza, its excellent food, and the Palio di Siena, a bi-annual horse race that takes place in the Piazza del Campo, and is a tradition that dates back around 800 years!

Visiting Siena’s Duomo (considered by some to be even more beautiful than Florence’s!) is a must-do when visiting the city, as is strolling around the oval-shaped Piazza del Campo and enjoying the view from the top of the Opera della Metropolitana.

Piazza del Campo of Siena as seen from above. Siena is one of the best places to go in Italy.

Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, the beautiful city of Siracusa is home to beautiful views and history that dates back to the ancient Greeks (fun fact: the famous Greek mathematician Archimedes was from Siracusa!).

The best things to do in Siracusa include wandering the island of Ortigia (home to Siracusa’s old town), stopping by the many baroque churches (especially the Duomo), visiting the ancient Greek and Roman ruins scattered around, and seeing the Fort of San Giovannello.

Ortigia of Siracusa Sicily as seen from the beach with the bright water in the foreground. Syracuse is one of the most beautiful places in Italy


With its distinct white-washed trulli (round buildings with cone-shaped roofs), Alberobello is one of the most unique places to visit in Italy and Puglia’s most famous inland sight.

The trulli are absolutely the biggest draw of Alberobello, so the most important thing to do in town is stroll through the Rione Monti, where you will find the biggest concentration of them! However, the quieter part of town, Aia Piccola, also has plenty of trulli and is well worth a visit.

Small street in Alberobello Italy lined with trulli, one of the best travel destinations in Italy

Cinque Terre

Technically, I could list each of the five villages of Cinque Terre separately here (in order: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore), but even though they are technically separate places, Cinque Terre as a whole is one of the best travel destinations in Italy.

These five traditional fishing villages are known for their colorful buildings, their location right on the sea, and of course, their seafood.

When in Cinque Terre, hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza (if you have limited time for hiking, this is the one to do!), enjoy a meal featuring seafood and/or pesto, and watch the sunset over Manarola.

If you have time, consider making it a point to visit all five villages and choose your favorite–ours are Vernazza and Riomaggiore, but ask me again tomorrow. It’s nearly impossible to choose!

View of Vernazza Harbor from Above: One Day in Cinque Terre Itinerary

Located in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, Matera is known for its ancient “sassi” cave dwellings, which were forcibly emptied by Mussolini in 1952.

Today, the city has reopened and been given new life, and its remarkable beauty has made it one of the most unique places on this guide of where to go in Italy.

In Matera, be sure to visit the Church of Saint Peter and its incredible viewpoint, see the city’s rock churches, and take a walking tour through the maze-like city center in order to learn about complex history dating back 10,000 years while also seeking out incredible views along the way!

View of Matera at sunset from outside the city, one of the best Italy travel destinations

Polignano a Mare

As one of the most picturesque beach towns in Italy , Polignano a Mare is primarily known for its visually stunning Cala Porto beach–but like other places in Puglia, the whitewashed architecture, historical buildings, and seafood also shine.

Visiting Cala Porto is at the top of everyone’s Polignano al Mare bucket list–be sure to also enjoy the view of it from above at Balconata sul Mare!

Polignano al Mare Beach in Puglia Italy


Truthfully, there are many hilltop towns in Tuscany that are worthy of being considered among the most beautiful places in Italy, but I chose Montepulciano to include here because it is such a delightful example of an idyllic Tuscan town.

With its winding cobblestone streets, beautiful churches, fantastic views of the countryside, and excellent local wine, Montepulciano is not to be missed!

When in Montepulciano, sample the delicious Vino di Montepulciano (ideally at the wine cellar in the center of town), seek out views of the beautiful Church of San Biagio and snap photos at Piazza Grande.

View of the countryside from the edge of Montepulciano, an excellent stop on any Tuscany itinerary!

Val di Noto’s Baroque Towns

The Baroque towns of Sicily’s Val di Noto are known for their remarkable architecture, excellent food (especially Modica’s chocolate), and incredible natural setting. They’re also, collectively, a UNESCO World Heritage site!

Siracusa, also included in this guide to beautiful spots in Italy, is technically among these towns, as is the city of Catania. However, the grouping of Ragusa (home to stunning views), Scilici, and Modica (home to incredibly unique chocolate) are a popular and worthy collection of villages to visit in their own right!

Ragusa Ilba as seen from above in the Val di Noto, a must-see place during a Sicily road trip itinerary

Pompeii isn’t exactly a small town, of course, but this incredibly famous archaeological site doesn’t quite fit into any of our categories on this guide to the best places to see in Italy, so I’ll include it here.

In 79 AD, Pompeii (as well as other nearby cities like Herculaneum) was buried by an enormous volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius… and it wasn’t seen again until the 18th century.

For this reason, Pompeii offers a positively incredible look into daily life in the ancient Roman empire.

Tour the city on foot (we highly recommend a guided tour), see the haunting plaster casts of victims who were buried alive, and marvel at the small details of life 2,000 years ago that are on display in Pompeii.

Photo of a square in Pompeii Italy with ruins of columns and several statues in it

Glamorous Lake Como has long been considered one of the most beautiful places in Italy, and the resort-style feel of the gorgeous villas and villages that dot the lake is a testament to its overwhelming beauty.

While visiting Lake Como, be sure to sample a few of the different villages on the lake ( Bellagio , Varenna, and Como are all popular), tour a villa or two, take a hike above the lake for stunning views, and hit the water in a boat!

lake como with a sailboat on it with the village of varenna visible to the right side of the photo

The stunning island of Capri has been captivating visitors with its gorgeous vistas and otherworldly grottos since the time of Roman Emperors–and 2,000 or so years later, it’s still just as captivating.

When visiting Capri, be sure to take a boat tour around the island, admire the views from the Garden of Augustus (don’t miss the view of Via Krupp looking straight down), ride the chairlift up Monte Solaro, and if you have enough time, tour the magical Blue Grotto.

Photo of Via Krupp and the sea seen from above on a Day Trip to Capri

The magnificent Dolomites are arguably one of the most dramatically beautiful mountain ranges in all of Europe, and whether you’d like to visit for a summer hike or a winter ski session, they are absolutely among the best places to visit in Italy.

The best things to do in the Dolomites include visiting the charming small cities of Bolzano and Cortina d’Ampezzo, hiking to stunning mountain lakes, taking funicular rides to small mountainside towns, and road-tripping the Great Dolomites Road.

View of the Italian Dolomites on a clear day with a village visible below it.

Lago di Braies

Instagram-famous Lago di Braies is known as one of the most beautiful places in Italy. 

Framed by the Dolomites and populated by picturesque wooden rowboats, it’s truly a sight to behold.

Renting a rowboat to admire the lake from the water and hiking the circumference of the lake (it takes about 1.5 hours) are among the best things to do at Lago di Braies.

Lago di Braies in the early morning with a line of boats tied to the dock at the boathouse. Lago di braies is at the top of any list of italy beautiful places

Tuscan Countryside

Known for its rolling hills, golden light, beautiful vineyards, charming villages, and even its hot springs, Tuscany has long been one of the most popular places to visit in Italy–for a very good reason.

In addition to touring its cities and small towns (Florence, Siena, and Montepulciano are also included on this list and are in Tuscany), consider visiting a hot spring, taking a cooking class, going for a hike, and of course enjoying several wine tastings while in the Tuscan countryside.

Kate Storm in the Tuscan countryside at sunset, with a sun flare on the right side of the photo.

The Amalfi Coast

Of course, no list of the most beautiful places in Italy would be complete without mentioning the utterly magical Amalfi Coast, which is home to quite possibly some of the best coastal views on the planet.

When visiting the Amalfi Coast, be sure to village-hop a bit–Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello are among the most popular–enjoy views of the coast from the water with a boat tour or rental, and for some of the best views of all, hike the aptly-named Path of the Gods.

View of Positano with its beach in the foreground and the sea to the left. Postiano is one of the best places to visit in Italy

The gorgeous island of Sardinia gets far fewer non-Italian–and especially non-European–visitors than coastal retreats like the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, or even Sicily, but that’s too bad… because it is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Italy.

Sardinia’s beaches are known for being some of the best in Italy (and in Europe overall) , so be sure to add several to your list of things to do on the island! 

Visiting ancient ruins, sailing around the island (either yourself or on a tour), visiting the charming city of Cagliari, and checking out the many unique castles and caves all also belong on your list of what to do in Sardinia.

White sailboat in the clear blue sea surrounding Sardinia as seen from above--Sardinia is one of the most romantic places in Italy

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius, primarily known for the 79 AD eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, is the most famous volcano in Italy and an incredible place to visit.

Visit the crater of Mount Vesuvius (it’s about a 25-minute walk up, you can drive most of the way) to marvel at the smoldering volcano crater and to soak in magnificent views of the Bay of Naples.

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

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4 photos of Italy: amalfi coast, tuscan countryside, dolomites, venice grand canal. black and pink text on a white background reads "25 most beautiful places in italy"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

6 thoughts on “25 Best Places to Visit in Italy (+ Map to Find Them!)”

Kind of glad you didn’t mention my favorite place in Italy, Luca. Let’s keep it under the radar.?

Ah, if I included everywhere amazing in Tuscany, the post would never end! Lucca is my grandmother’s favorite too, we’ve spent some lovely trips there. 🙂

You’re welcome! 🙂

I will be visiting Italy in Sept 2023 for 8 days. Is it reasonable to spend time in Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre in that time period? If so, how would you recommend I break up the trip?

It’s a tight squeeze, but doable, especially if you visit Cinque Terre on an organized day trip from Florence.

Assuming the 2 days on either end of the trip are travel days, I’d recommend 3 full days in Rome, 1 day in Cinque Terre, and 2 days in Florence.

We talk a lot more about planning a week in Italy here:

And we talk about visiting Cinque Terre from Florence here:

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The best places to visit in Italy and where to stay

Continentale - one of the best places to visit in italy

Is there any country on earth that wears its history as lightly as Italy? Roman ruins sit cheek by jowl with Renaissance palazzos, while modern skycrapers cast their long shadows over neoclassical cathedrals. But there are many more reasons why this is the fifth most visited country in the world – the rolling landscapes of Tuscany, the sandy beaches of Sardinia, the fashion credentials of Milan, and the delectable cuisine of just about everywhere from the Alps down.

So, from the ancient streets of Rome to the lapping waterways of Venice, the serene beauty of the Italian Lakes to the dazzling glamour of the Amalfi Coast, here's our pick of the best places to visit in Italy, including where to go in Italy's top cities and beautiful holiday destinations.

Firenze, the cradle of the Renaissance, is one of Europe’s great art cities. With frescoes by Giotto and Ghirlandaio, canvases by Botticelli and Bronzino, and sculptures by Michelangelo and Giambologna, there is so much exquisite art and architecture within its ancient walls that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But, there is more to handsome Florence than just museums and monuments. It is bursting with quirky shops and quality crafts; a living city with an eclectic cultural life that embraces opera, classical music and contemporary art.

florence, italy

The restaurant and nightlife scene is also very much thriving, and escaping for some downtime is rather convenient, given the city's proximity to the vine-covered hills of Chianti, as well as other Tuscan art towns such as Arezzo, Siena and Lucca. Florence's diminutive size means everything is very accessible, with most of the main sights lying within walking distance of one another. All in all, this is one of the best places to go in Italy for a city break; indeed it's Europe’s most civilised long weekend destinations.

There are days when visitors to this exquisite jewel box of a city outnumber locals two-to-one, and when getting from the station to St Mark's square is a battle. But despite this, Venice never loses its capacity to enchant: stepping out of the station to be greeted by a glittering canal with the dome of San Simeon Piccolo beyond remains heart-stopping, whether you're doing it for the first time or the 100th. And even at peak visitor periods, you're never more than a bridge away from quiet  campi  (squares), churches concealing luminous Madonnas, or handsome Gothic palazzi.

venice, italy

There are plenty of bustling neighbourhood hangouts too, which goes to show there is more to Venice than peerless artistic riches from centuries past: it's also a hive of contemporary activity. Beyond the alternating Art and Architecture Biennale shows which showcase all that's cutting edge internationally, the city's dwindling population works hard to keep contemporary Venice creative, productive and very vibrant.

Rome has been around for almost three thosuand years and yet carries all that weight of history with a  dolce vita  lightness of heart. It’s a city that combines the intimacy and human scale of a village with the cultural draws of a historic, art-laden European metropolis. Classical ruins and early Christian places of worship stand next to – or sometimes lie beneath – Renaissance palazzos and Baroque fountains. But there are also great neighbourhood trattorias, quirky shops and a buzzing aperitivo scene.

rome, italy

• The  best hotels in Rome

The golden rule for visitors? Don’t try to cram too much in. Rome moves at a slower pace than many northern cities, and to enjoy it you should take time out in pavement cafés as well as ticking off all the big cultural draws. The city’s mild Mediterranean climate is another persuasive draw for visitors from the cool north, but the main draw will always be the pulsating energy of a place which lives life as a form of theatre. For more advice on where to stay, read our guide to the best areas in Rome .

• The best hotels in Rome city centre

Milan can come as something of a surprise to those who are familiar with Rome and Florence and are expecting more of the same from Lombardy's metropolitan hub, for this is a more northern European city in look and feel. Italy’s fashion and design capital, it has an international cosmopolitan outlook, a vibrant food and drink scene and scores of hotels to suit all budgets. Historical edifices sit cheek-by-jowl with modern skyscrapers, while a number of the city’s buildings have spectacular interior courtyards that remain largely undiscovered.

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• The  best hotels in Milan

But what largely draws visitors is the city’s excellent shopping – designer stores line the Quadrilatero D’Oro district, while outlets, high street shops and boutiques are found in all corners of the city. Then there are the cultural attractions, notably the Duomo, the Scala opera house and the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery and, at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous mural of the Last Supper.

In so many other parts of the world, culture is an optional extra, something you do in your spare time. In Tuscany , it’s at the root of everything – though not in an elitist way. A Piero della Francesca fresco exudes the spirit of a region that has long spent its money on beauty and quality. But so does a bowl of ribollita soup, made with seasonal cavolo nero and served with a spiral of just-pressed olive oil. Tuscany also combines fierce pride and care for detail with unpretentious, down-to-earth manners.

tuscany, italy

It has a collection of handsome art-filled, historic towns with more than enough to see, do, eat and drink to fill a long weekend. In the past, each Tuscan comune would conspire to outdo the rest, and the result is an embarrassment of riches. In addition to Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca and Arezzo are all worth at least a day, with smaller hilltowns like San Gimignano, Cortona and Volterra also vying for attention. But don’t let art distract you from landscape: the vineyards of Chianti and Montalcino, the Carrara marble quarries north of Lucca, or the wild Maremma coastal strip are all must-see places in italy.

Amalfi Coast

The legendary Amalfi Coast has been seducing visitors since ancient times with its magnificent scenery and sophisticated yet laid-back lifestyle that was ‘discovered’ by the jet-set in the 1960s. Until the Strada Statale 163 was blasted out of the base of the Lattari mountains in 1852, there was no road linking the small communities along the coast. Maybe it is for this reason that beyond the five-star hotels and super-yachts, another much simpler, rural lifestyle still exists; up in the hills, farmers cultivate plots of steeply terraced land while down on the coast, fishermen make a modest living from the sea.

amalfi coast, italy

With its pretty towns and villages and endless glorious views, a visit to the  costiera  needs to be taken slowly, even if you want to fit in some culture, schedule visits to churches, museums and gardens around lazy lunches, dips in the shimmering sea, sunset aperitivi or simply hanging out and basking in those extraordinary vistas. Don't miss the drive from Positano to Vietri sul Mare: along its narrow, twisting length, the 'Road of a 1,000 Bends' passes some of the most beautiful places in Italy for dramatic stretches of coastal scenery.

Italian Lakes

The Romans were first to see the potential of the lakes as some of the best holiday destinations in Italy. They built their sumptuous villas in some of the prime positions around Como and Garda , where the southern foothills of the Alps sweep down towards the Mediterranean and the fertile plains of northern Italy, forming some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. Modern tourism has transformed the towns, but the lakes, mountains and views are as beautiful as they were 2,000 years ago, and the villages, Baroque gardens and lakeside hotels are still wonderful places to enjoy a holiday, especially during the long, warm autumn.

lake maggiore, italy

The westernmost, Lake Orta, is a gorgeous little slice of deep-blue water harbouring one of the country’s prettiest medieval villages, Orta San Giulio. A short drive away is the longest, Lake Maggiore, which extends north across the Swiss border. East lies modish Lake Como, lined with opulent villas and glitzy hotels. Farther east still is Lake Iseo, the least well-known of the five, while the largest of all, Lake Garda, is one of the country’s most popular and arguably best places in Italy for a quintessential lake break.

Sicily has long been a crossroads and crucible of Mediterranean culture, and the island today is a fascinating palimpsest in which Greek temples, Norman churches and Baroque palazzos emerge from the rich fabric. But it also has natural wonders aplenty, from the smoking craters of Mount Etna to the still relatively undiscovered beaches of the southern coast. And, with parts of the island on the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily has a mild climate that makes it an attractive destination for much of the year. Spring and autumn are sheer delight and through high summer temperatures really soar.

sicily, italy

When it comes to things to see and do, you’re spoiled for choice: the historic cities of Palermo, Catania and Siracusa, the Etna region with its volcanic landscapes, fertile wine country and picture-perfect Taormina; Ragusa, Modica and the other honey-hued Baroque towns of the south; the Greek temples of Agrigento, Selinunte and Segesta; Roman sites like Piazza Armerina, miles of sandy beaches and secret rocky coves. And then there is the food – from the couscous of Trapani to the pastries of Noto, it’s a destination to delight gastronomes.

With Puglia's ancient sites and unfussy charms, this is where to go in Italy for a secluded coastal alternative to the tourist-laden north. To look at its olive trees, whitewashed, hilltop towns, scorched earth and unforgiving heat, one might deem the region to be closer in look and feel to the melting pot of Greece than it is to the grandeur of Rome, although look carefully and you'll find the landscape is stamped with many footprints – Byzantine, Arab, Balkan and Romanesque included. It’s not that the Renaissance bypassed southern Italy, but it certainly left fewer calling cards.

puglia, italy

Don’t come looking for picture-perfect art towns, formal gardens or trophy villas: the draw of Apulia, as it is known in English, is in the unexpected. Trulli country is like nowhere else in Italy – clusters of hobbit-like, whitewashed, dome-roofed houses, whose origins are anyone’s guess. One version holds that they were a means of avoiding a primitive form of housing tax. Then there are the many caves, which provide welcome relief from the heat. The Castellana Grotte, glistening with vast canopies of stalactites, is a notably spectacular sight.

A few years ago, Umbria was known, if at all, as Tuscany’s less alluring sister. Not any more: these days Italy’s 'green heart' is every bit as celebrated as its more famous neighbour. The reasons are simple: the region has all Tuscany’s attributes – and a few more. True, it doesn’t have the big set pieces of Florence and Siena, but it does has a coronet of far more intimate and easily visited hill-towns – Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto, Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto and Norcia. Each has enough to keep you busy for a day or more, and none is more than a few miles from the next, making Umbria manageable and straightforward to explore.

perugia, umbria, italy

There’s also the same glorious pastoral scenery as Tuscany – the olive groves, vineyards and cypress-topped hills, the high mountain landscapes – and the food, wine, art, culture and architecture are the equal of any in Italy. Norcia, with its truffles, hams and cheeses, for example, is a gastronomic centre par excellence; Orvieto’s duomo is one of the country’s finest cathedrals; Spoleto’s summer festival is one of Europe’s major cultural events; and Assisi’s majestic Basilica di San Francesco contains frescoes by Giotto.

Balmy, maritime Liguria is generally best known for the Cinque Terre, the string of five historic and colourful villages spaced along the region's spectacular cliff-edged coast. There are also lesser known quaint coastal towns such as Portovenere and Sestri Levante, and of course there’s Portofino, pretty as a paintbox with its tall pastel houses cradling a harbour lined with bars and restaurants, and presided over by a pine-shaded castle. It still preserves the atmosphere of the fishing village it once was, and you can buy into its chic charm for an afternoon for the price of a bus ticket and a glass of wine.

portofino, liguria, italy

Nestling into the bay where the Portofino promotory joins the main coastal sweep, Santa Margherita Ligure – known to afficionados simply as ‘Santa’ – is one of Liguria’s most attractive resort towns, all Belle Epoque grand hotels and upmarket bathing establishments – but with a handsome old town that’s full of quirky little shops and tempting bars and restaurants. There's also Genoa: it's a working port city, but beyond the associated bawdiness, it's up there with Italy’s other big hitters. The largely pedestrianised centre, with its maze of alleys unfurling behind the port, is said to be the largest in Europe.

Sardinia has some of the Mediterranean’s most seductive beaches, yet within tootling distance of some great restaurants, agreeable bars and the soothing evening ritual of the passeggiata. When you’ve had your fill of beaches, there’s plenty more to divert you: the magnificent rugged landscape of the granite interior, the fabulous seafood and, for history buffs, the strange and evocative remnants of Sardinia’s ancient nuraghic culture, not to mention a scattering of Carthaginian and Roman ruins, Pisan churches and Spanish Baroque.

sardinia, italy

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12 of the best cities to visit in Italy

By Jaclyn DeGiorgio

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Paring Italy down to 12 cities isn’t easy. There are hundreds, and each is as distinctive as it is enthralling, embodying its singular sense of place through its territory, history, architecture, culture, surroundings, cuisine and wine. This list of the best cities in Italy combines some classics with under-appreciated gems. It shouldn’t be considered exhaustive; it’s more of a starting point for the uninitiated, a helpful guidance for anyone looking to expand their Italian horizons.

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Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

Bologna isn’t nicknamed “the red, the fat and the learned” for nothing. With red-brick medieval architecture, the soaring Due Torri (two towers), 60 kilometres of 13th-century porticos, the world’s oldest university and sprawling piazzas, the capital of Emilia-Romagna doesn’t need to do much else to impress you – but it delivers. Take in sweeping city views from Piazza Maggiore’s 87-metre-high clock tower, then duck into the Quadrilatero medieval market tucked into the piazza’s side streets. The Pinacoteca Nazionale’s collection includes works by Raphael, Giotto and Titian, while MamBO, the modern art museum, has a wing dedicated to 20th-century Bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi. Italy’s Motor Valley stretches from Bologna to Modena, so automotive diehards can race off to the Ducati and Lamborghini museums. The local cuisine is a strong contender for Italy’s best – enjoy classics at old-timers Diana and Trattoria Serghei, contemporary riffs at Ahimè and Oltre or a meal that couples both at CasaMerlò.

Where to stay in Bologna : Check into one of the modern eclectic suites at  Casa Conoscenti , a revamped 14th-century noble residence with a restaurant and cocktail bar.

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Genoa, Liguria

Genoa is a city that everyone seems to know of, but nobody actually knows. It’s true – at first glance, the Ligurian capital’s Mediterranean seafront isn’t as postcard-perfect as the coast’s typical candy-hued villages like Portofino, Cinque Terre and Camogli. But what Genoa seemingly lacks in visual allure, it more than makes up for in substance. Laundry dangles over the timeworn medieval Carruggi district, a dense, twisty-turny warren of narrow, stone-paved viccole crammed with cafes, restaurants and shops. Its quintessential Italian charm is juxtaposed with stately landmarks from the city’s maritime trade heyday, like the sumptuous 17th-century Royal Palace Museum and the  UNESCO-listed Palazzi di Rolli , a single street of 42 noble palaces built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Beach seekers can flit over to Boccadasse, a colourful town on Genoa’s outskirts. On the food front, focaccia from Teobaldo and Al Forno di Albaro is always a good idea and La Forchetta Curiousa and Trattoria dell’Acciughetta prepare delicious local fare.

Where to stay in Genoa:  The glorious  Hotel Bristol Palace  preserves the integrity of its past by fusing 20th-century glamour with just the right amount of modernity.

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Naples, Campania

Once you’ve had a taste of the gleefully infectious, beautiful chaos of  Naples , you’re hooked: the buzzing traffic, grand architectural heritage, a lived-in historic centre, enthralling culture and the guileless warmth of its people. Obligatory sights include Caravaggio’s whimsical  Seven Acts of Mercy  at the Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia, Giuseppe Sanmartino’s ethereal  Veiled Christ  at Cappella Sansevero Giuseppe and the extensive Archaeological Museum. Naples’ contemporary art profile is rising at a steady clip. Recent years have seen Gallerie d’Italia open with a dedicated wing and the arrival of an outpost of London’s Thomas Dane Gallery, both joining the ranks of decades-old mainstays like Pan and Madre. Mount Vesuvius rises dramatically over the gulf–hike to its crater or take part in a tasting of Lacryma Christi (Christ’s tears), a wine from grapes cultivated on its slopes. The Pompeii and Herculaneum archaeological sites are south of the city, but if you want to venture further afoot, hop on a ferry to Capri, Ischia or Procida. When you’re in town, digging into a Neapolitan pie at (at least) one of these pizzerias is compulsory: Concettina ai Tre Santi, anything by Gino Sorbillo, 50 Kalò, Diego Vitagliano and La Notizia. If you’re pining for more, two of the world’s best pizzerias can be found in Caserta, just under an hour by car: I Masanielli and Pepe in Grani. Locanda Gesù Vecchio Vesuvius serves excellent traditional Neapolitan cuisine back in the city.

Where to stay in Naples : The artsy  Atelier Inès  is a six-room B&B in the Rione Sanità neighbourhood with an onsite showroom and gallery.

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Milan, Lombardy

Italy’s most international city is arguably its most misunderstood. Milan doesn’t fit the standard “Italy mould”, but it’s just as fetching as its more in-your-face counterparts. The Duomo, Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, La Scala, Brera, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and Leonardo da Vinci’s  The Last Supper  are all musts, but there’s more to the Lombard capital. Take in the local energy by strolling Porta Venezia, a district buzzing with boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries and Art Nouveau facades, or Isola, a regenerated working-class neighbourhood that’s a stomping ground for hipsters and three-piecers alike. Fashion meets art at Fondazione Prada, Armani Silos and Palazzo Morando, whose permanent collection rotates 17th-21st century Milanese costumes, clothes, and accessories, and design devotees will relish Villa Necchi Campiglio and Triennale di Milano museum. An aperitivo at Bar Basso is a must, as is imbibing at one of the innovative mixology hubs that have shaken up the local cocktail scene, like Rita, Carico, Tripstillery, Unseen Bar and Drinc.

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Where to stay in Milan : The stupendous  Portrait Milano  occupies a converted 16th-century monastery that hides in plain sight.

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Ravenna, Emilia-Romanga

The sublime UNESCO-protected Byzantine mosaics decorating the walls and ceilings of eight churches and baptistries in Ravenna should be on everyone’s bucket list, but the city remains curiously under wraps. After just a few hours in this former Roman and Byzantine capital, it’s easy to see why Dante Alighieri hightailed it there when he was banished from his native Florence. It’s no longer the 14th century, but the appeal of this city by the Adriatic endures. A sea breeze sweeps delicately through the city centre, a pastel pedestrian zone that’s at once tranquil and lively and even a bit romantic – though not cloyingly so. Drop into the refurbished covered market to observe the sfogline, or pasta makers, crafting typical shapes like cappelletti, tagliatelle, strozzapreti and maltagliati by hand. Browse the stalls, then head to Ca’ de Vèn to sip local Sangiovese and Albana wines alongside Romagnola specialities. If you’d like to pay your respects to the father of the Italian language, Dante’s tomb is less than a minute away.

Where to stay in Ravenna : With a rooftop solarium and quiet interior garden,  Palazzo Bezzi  is a pleasant respite in the heart of Ravenna’s historic centre. For more Milan hotels , see our guide to the city's very best places to stay.

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Rome, Lazio

Rome  never gets old, but it’s having a moment. Treading the classic route that covers the historic centre, Colosseum, Forum, Vatican, Borghese Gallery, Trastevere and the recently opened Largo di Torre Argentina ruins will keep you busy. Still, the crowds can stifle the Italian capital’s newfangled energy. Head outside the Aurelian walls to the San Lorenzo quarter–an open-air street mural museum to soak it up. New and long-standing galleries, like Materia, Monitor and MLA, have thrust San Lorenzo’s contemporary art scene into the global spotlight–Soho House even chose the district for its first Italy outpost. It is Rome, after all, so you can temper all the modernity with a dose of nostalgia at San Lorenzo’s old-school institutions like Tram Tram osteria and Bar Merani. For a transportive change of scenery, the ornate Art Nouveau buildings of the Coppedè quarter are adorned with Gaudi-esque embellishments. As for eating, Al Moro, Armando al Pantheon and Da Cesare never fail to serve up stellar Roman staples.

Where to stay in Rome : Wellness stands front and centre at the spectacular  Six Senses Rome , which opened in a 15th-century palazzo last year. See our guide to the best hotels in Rome for more inspiration.

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Turin, Piedmont

With stately Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture and elegant piazzas, it’s no surprise that Turin draws comparisons to Paris. The splendour of its past as the seat of the House of Savoy lives on in the UNESCO-protected Royal Palace and the loggia framing Piazza Castello. The panoramic terrace at the Mole Antonelliana, the landmark with the unusual square-shaped spired dome, is a must for a gorgeous view of the city’s sienna rooftops sprawling to the foot of snow-capped Alps. The Museo Egizio features one of the world’s largest collections of Egyptian artefacts, and Museo Casa Mollino is the former home of 20th-century architect and designer Carlo Mollino. Lodged in a former Fiat factory, Pinacoteca Agnelli displays the automotive family’s art collection, which includes works by Renoir, Matisse and Picasso, and incorporates the Pista 500, Fiat’s historic rooftop test track turned garden, into the experience. The Piedmontese capital is also the city of coffee and chocolate, two guilty pleasures that come together in the Bicerin, a hot drink born at the same-named café. Just 50 kilometres from Alba, Turin is an ideal jumping-off point for wine pilgrims and truffle hunters headed to Le Lange.

Where to stay in Turin:  The warm, modern, minimalist interior of the  Turin Palace Hotel  is enhanced with pops of colour and complete with a rooftop bar and spa.

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Tropea, Calabria

Nothing prepares you for seeing Tropea for the first time. The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea rests on one of Italy’s most mesmerising though little-known stretches of shoreline: Calabria’s Coast of the Gods. Weathered mediaeval facades soar over sandstone cliffs that drop onto white sand lapped by translucent turquoise water. In Tropea’s tangle of narrow streets, garlands of hot chilli peppers hang alongside batches of stringed oval-shaped sweet Tropea red onions–try a scoop of it in gelato form at Gelateria Tonini. The Norman cathedral is home to local treasures, including a 13th-century painting of Madonna di Romania, the city’s patron saint, and a rare 15th-century black wood crucifix. If you’re up for a challenge, ascend 33 metres of stone-hewn steps to the Santa Santa Maria dell’Isola promontory that punctuates the beach. For a change of scenery, explore the vineyards, oil mills, dairies and farms of the unspoiled hinterland or jaunt off to Sicily’s Aeolian islands by boat.

Where to stay in Tropea:  A converted 16th-century convent,  Villa Paola  has 12 elegant rooms and a vast terrace that looks over Tropea’s old town and the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea.

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Florence, Tuscany

There’s no question that  Florence  lives up to its nickname: the cradle of the Renaissance. The Tuscan capital’s dense pedestrian historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, packs plenty to keep your days full: the Duomo Cathedral, the Uffizi Galleries, Piazza della Signoria, the Medici Chapels and Santa Croce. Michelangelo’s David broods confidently in the Accademia, while Donatello’s lesser-known bronze version of the Old Testament hero stands with one foot on Goliath’s severed head in the Museo Ormero. If the dozens of footwear shops don’t keep the whims of shoe lovers at bay, the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo celebrates the work of its pioneering namesake. Cross the Ponte Vecchio to reach the Oltrarno, literally “beyond the Arno”, home to Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens and Piazzale Michelangelo. The artisan boutiques and shops of the vibrant Santo Spirito quarter include leather specialist Quoio and Giulio Giannino e Figlio, one of the city’s oldest stationery shops. Visible from just about anywhere in town, the encircling, cypress-tree-topped hills tease the undulating Tuscan landscape that extends outwards from the confines of the city.

Where to stay in Florence : In the city centre, just a short walk from the crowded cluster, the  St. Regis  is an ornate oasis on the Lungarno with frescoes, marble and gilding.

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Venice, Veneto

There’s no place like  Venice . The compact floating city packs one unforgettable moving image after another: gondolas gliding over smooth, murky green canals, water gently lapping the stately Venetian gothic facades in shades of pink and orange, the boisterous Rialto fish market vendors peddling the lagoon’s finest and traversing the bridges as you drift from one sinuous  calla  to another. Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the Gallerie dell’Accademia all warrant a visit, as do the galleries that have established Venice as a contemporary art mecca, like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Pinault Collection, and an outpost of Milan’s Fondazione Prada. If the crowds overwhelm, sail off to one of the outer  islands . There’s a chance Murano, world-famous for its glass blowing, will be just as congested as the central hub. Burano might not be as under the radar as it used to be, but the jumbles of rainbow-hued homes and the risotto di gò, made from goby fish, are worth the 40-minute vaporetto ride. If you’re in that neck of the lagoon, dart off to Torcello for the exquisite byzantine mosaics at the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta. Back on the central islands, start your evening with a Venetian-style aperitivo: couple your cicchetti with an  ombra  (shadow) of wine at one of the beloved bacari like Cantinone già Schiavi or All’Arco.

Where to stay in Venice:  The  Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel , is an unrivalled timeless treasure with Murano chandeliers, plush fabrics, and splendid views of the Grand Canal.

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Catania, Sicily

Selecting one city in  Sicily  is difficult as the entire island’s whimsical fantasia of art, culture and architecture reflects its tumultuous history and conquerings. But travellers tend to backburner Catania, setting out for Taormina immediately after descending on the island. Anchored in the shadows of Mount Etna on Sicily’s east coast, the city, equal parts gritty and elegant, has been obliterated and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Kick off the day local-style, with a  brioscia  (brioche) stuffed with lemon, almond, coffee and chocolate granita at a beloved mainstay like Bar Musumeci and Gran Cafe Salaire, then observe Catania dwellers in action at the historic fish market where glossy red shrimp, gleaming swordfish, and prickly sea urchin chill on beds of ice. The city is one of the UNESCO-listed eight late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto–its most notable architecture is on and around Via Croficeri. Mount Etna’s wines are among the world’s most respected, so look out for them at restaurants or sample some straight from the source at one of the wineries.

Where to stay in Catania :  Palazzo Sangiorgio  opened in a refurbished 17th-century building last fall. The decor incorporates pieces from Gio Ponti, Philippe Starck, and Flos lighting.

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Merano, Trentino-Alto Adige

Mereno, the former capital of  South Tyrol , didn’t officially become part of Italy until 1919. The fairy-tale-like city exemplifies Italian charm without neglecting its Austrian roots. Cradled by the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites, this historic spa town’s unusually mild climate keeps its indoor and outdoor natural therapeutic baths open year-round. The city centre is an assortment of architectural styles: Via dei Portici, a picture-perfect portico-lined street topped with mediaeval pastel facades, stands among the Gothic Duomo and neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings. Outside the city, the plush gardens of Castello Trauttmansdorff flaunt flora from all over the world, and three tranquil promenades thread the city’s periphery–retreating to one of them might be just as healing as the baths. Austrian influences prevail in the atypically Italian cuisine. Expect assorted sweet and savoury canederli (bread dumplings), Schlutzkrapfen (half-moon-shaped stuffed pasta), and apple strudel. Six Michelin-starred restaurants are in the vicinity, including Ristorante Sissi and Ristorante Prezioso Fragsburg in the city itself.

Where to stay in Merano:  Soaring over the landscape at 1,230 metres, the exquisite  Miramonti  Boutique Hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows so guests can enjoy the view.

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Home » Europe » 20+ BEST Places To Visit in Italy (Map, Pics & Things to do!)

20+ BEST Places To Visit in Italy (Map, Pics & Things to do!)

Mountains, Lakes, Cities, Coastlines, Culture – and so much more(!) these are the BEST places to visit in Italy ft. a map, photos & things to do!

From the majestic alps and great lakes of the far north, through renaissance cities and cultural heartlands, and right down to the Mediterranian coastlines and islands of the south – the great geographical boot of the Italian nation is a mosaic of rich diversity.

The combination of its ancient Roman history, its world-famous cuisine and its reputation for fashion, art and culture, Italy has risen to be one of the most desired destinations to visit in Europe.

With such a tapestry of choice, it is often hard to choose that perfect Italian destination. With our list of best places to visit in Italy, we aim to make that choice all the easier and have included things to see and do in each area, photos of the best places to visit in Italy (to get you inspired) a map of the best places to visit in Italy (to help you get your bearings as to where everything is in case you want to include a few in the same itinerary!)

Photo of the Grand Canal in Venice - one of the Best Places to Visit in Italy

In This Post

  • 2 The Vatican
  • 7 Amalfi Coast (Amalfi, Positano & Ravello)
  • 10 Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore)
  • 15 Sardinia
  • 16 The Italian Lakes: Lake Garda, Lake Como & Lake Maggiore
  • 17 The Mountains: Dolomites / Italian Alps

Map of the Best Places to Visit in Italy

Map of the Best Places to Visit in Italy

The modern-day Italian capital reflects much of this past grandeur and is a must when visiting Italy. From its ancient architecture, catholic icons and Roman ruins to its bustling modern metropolitan heartland, Rome has something for every visitor – and our complete guide to the best things to do in Rome is perfect for first time visitors .

Things to see in Rome:

  • Visit the Colosseum – no trip to the Italian capital is complete without a visit to the world-famous Colosseum. Built between 70-80 AD and holding up to 80,000 spectators, this ancient amphitheater is a sight to behold.
  • Gaze at the Trevi Fountain
  • Climb the Spanish Steps
  • See the Pantheon – One of the best-preserved temples of ancient Rome in the entire world. The pantheon lies in the center of Rome along the Piazza Della Rotonda.  

The Vatican

Double Helix Bramante Staircase from above in the Vatican Museums

Things to see and do in The Vatican

  • Walk around St Peters Square – Technically circular; St Peters Square is located in front of the Vatican City, the heart of the Catholic church. Marvel at the impressive statues of religious figures and former popes that surround the square.  
  • Visit St Peter’s Basilica – One of the most recognized religious buildings in the world, St Peter’s Basilica is full of beautiful frescos and divine detailed architecture.
  • Explore the hugely impressive Vatican Museum, experience the incredible Sistine Chapel and exit via the stunning double helix staircase.

Aerial view of the rooftops in Florence Italy

Things to see in Florence:

  • See Florence Cathedral – a stunning example of medieval designed and one of the most iconic domed cathedrals in the world, a sight that can be seen towering over the city. 
  • View Michelangelo’s David – this famous renaissance sculpture can be seen alongside many more at the city’s Galleria dell’Accademia art museum.
  • Walkthrough the Boboli Gardens – these lush green gardens make for the perfect afternoon stroll.
  • Cross the Ponte Vecchio – the city is full of historical constructions, and the Vecchio bridge is one of Florences oldest. Cross the River Arno using the bridge and view the plethora of shops that adorn it.
  • Take a day trip to visit the enchanting Tuscan Hill Towns of San Gimignano, Volterra or Cortona ; or to Siena to see the Piazza del Campo – one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares.

Duomo in Milan with people standing in front of it

Things to see in Milan:

  • Milan Cathedral – like many Italian cities Milan has a breathtaking cathedral at its heart. Taking 600 years to finally complete, the intricate architectural design is truly spectacular and is considered one of Milan’s top tourist attractions.
  • Shop in style at Milan’s Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a shopping center with the grandeur of a palace.
  • Get to know the work of Italy’s most beloved son Leonardo da Vinci at the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology.
  • Grab a coffee in the Piazza del Duomo – this grand open public space is a great place to start you Milan explorations and with its many cafes and restaurants its also an ideal stop for fresh Italian cup of coffee. 

Grand Canal in Venice

Things to see in Venice:

  • Start your Venice experience in the impressive St Mark’s Square and Doges Palace, not only is it the most famous Piazza in the city but also the location of many of its main sights. 
  • Take a Gondola ride along the grand canal – this is seen as the thing to do in Venice and is a great way to see the city
  • Escape the crowds on Venice Lido – this separate picturesque island is the perfect place to relax and escape the hordes of tourists 
  • Stand on the Rialto Bridge (one of the most famous landmarks in Italy )
  • Visit St Mark’s Basilica – by far the grandest and most famous building in Venice. Completed in the late 11the century, this beautiful Byzantine designed church is awe-inspiring inside and out.
  • Read our Ultimate Weekend in Venice Guide (featuring a full list of things to do, plus where to stay, where to eat how to get around, and day trip ideas including Burano & Murano )

Looking out over the port of Sorrento with boats in the harbour and land in the distance

Things to do in Sorrento

  • Soak in the atmosphere of the Piazza Tasso, the cities main hub of activity (but not located at the center).
  • Take in the sights of the Corso Italia, the main thoroughfare in the heart of Sorrento which include the Duomo (Cathedral)
  • Watch the sunset from the terrace at Bellevue Sirine.
  • Take a day trip to Capri to see the beautiful Blue Grotto or spend a couple of days along the Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi Coast (Amalfi, Positano & Ravello)

Hillside city of Positano on the Amalfi Coast

There are 13 small cities and hilltop towns located on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Many of these are centered around tourism and the main coastal towns that most tourists visit are the historic centers of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. (And we’ve got the perfect Amalfi Coast itinerary to help you see them all!)

Things to see & do on the Amalfi Coast

  • Take in the gorgeous views from Praiano
  • Watch the fishing fleets at Cetara.
  • Take a boat tour into the Grotta dello Smeraldo Cave.
  • Walk the Path of the Gods

Vast metropolis of Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Things to see in Naples:

  • Climb Mount Vesuvius – Vesuvius is one of the only volcanos to erupt in Europe in the past hundred years, and you can hike to the top!
  • Visit the ruins of Pompeii – Take a tour of this famous Roman city destroyed and covered by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius.       
  • Visit the Piazza del Plebiscito – this is Naples’ main square and is a great place to start your exploration of the city. It is home to the Royal Palace and Royal Basilica, both must-see buildings when in Naples.
  • Soak up the sea air in Naples Harbour – defined by its port city reputation, Naples Harbour is the perfect spot to watch the hugely busy port come to life.  

Things to do in Verona Day Trips

Things to see in Verona:

  • Visit the ‘Arena di Verona’ – Verona’s Roman amphitheater is more than a match for the famous one in Rome. Constructed in 30 AD, the building is miraculously well preserved.
  • Relax on the shores of Lake Garda – only a short distance for Verona is one of Italy’s largest and most stunning lakes, Lake Garda.
  • Step into a Shakespeare play – The Casa di Giulietta is supposed to be the building where the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet takes place. Step inside and learn more about the play and building.

Cinque Terre ( Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore )

Colourful houses in Cinque Terre at Sunset

If you’re planning a trip to Cinque Terre we think that you need at least 3 days to really do it justice. But of course, you could easily spend longer exploring all the little streets, shops and hikes that are on offer in the region.

The 5 famous colorful villages cut into the side of the cliffs are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore and we’ve put together 15 Top Cinque Terre travel tips (perfect for first-time visitors!) to help you get the most from your stay.

Things to see & do in Cinque Terre

  • Get your hiking boots on hit the trails between the five towns
  • Watch the sunset from the viewpoint at Maranola
  • Cinque Terre is known for it’s Pesto (and seafood), so be sure to try a local dish called ‘trofie al pesto’ – a pasta dish that looks similar to chopped up bits of slightly twisted spaghetti.

Historical sand coloured building with a green domed roof at the centre and a clocktower at the edge of the building on the right

What to see in Palermo:

  • See the Palatine Chapel – this is one of the best-preserved examples of Byzantine architecture and artwork in all of Europe.
  • Sample divine food at Palermo’s markets – The Palermo markets are some of the most vibrant markets in all Italy and provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community.
  • Relax on Mondello Beach – Only 15 minutes north of Palermo is the stunning Mondello Beach, great for catching some rays and cooling off in the crystal clear waters.
  • Take a day trip to the island of Ustica – boats run from Palermo to the beautiful tiny island of Ustica which is well known for being a fantastic spot for scuba diving.

Piazza Grande in Bologna

Things to see in Bologna:

  • Try the local dish ‘Tortellini’ – now world-famous, tortellini is one of Bologna’s most celebrated dishes and is a must-try for serious foodies.
  • Visit the Piazza Maggiore – as the city’s historical center, the Piazza Maggiore is a great starting point to explore Bologna’s fantastic architecture.
  • Climb to the top of Monte Della Guardia – this local forested hill provides breath-taking views of the entire city below.
  • Pursue the stalls at La Piazzola Market – one of the oldest markets in Bologna, La Piazzola is a treasure trove of stalls popular with both locals and tourists alike.

Stunning building of Palazzo Mincuzzi in Bari

Things to see in Bari:

  • Take a tour of the old town – wander the maze-like cobbled streets of Bari’s old town and transport yourself back through the centuries.
  • Relax along the San Francesco shoreline – this picturesque beach is the perfect place to swim in the turquoise Adriatic waters.
  • Visit the ancient ruins of Egnazia – this preserved ancient city foundations stand as a monument to the prehistoric peoples that lived here from the 9th century BCE.
  • Take a day trip to see the whitewashed dome roofed ‘trullo’ huts in the famous town of Alberobello

Leaning Tower of Pisa at Sunset

Things to see in Pisa

  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa ( obviously …)
  • The other sights in the Piazza Del Duomo/Piazza Dei Miracoli including The Cathedral, The Baptistry, the Camposanto Monumentale and the Bell Tower.
  • Shop along Corso Italia
  • Grab a snap of the Arno River from the Ponte di Mezzo (Bridge)

Clear blue waters of Sardina with a hilly island in the distance

Things to see and do in Sardinia

  • Uncover the mysterious nuraghi of Sardinia (ancient beehive-shaped stone fortresses) – there are over 7000 dotted around the island.
  • Wander around the capital Cagliari’s hilltop Castello neighborhood.
  • Luxe it up in Costa Smeralda, where Europe’s rich and famous come to play in their mega-yachts and waterfront villas.
  • Explore Neptune’s Grotto, tucked away in the stunning cliffside of Capo Caccia.

The Italian Lakes: Lake Garda, Lake Como & Lake Maggiore

Things to do in Verona Day Trips

The Mountains: Dolomites / Italian Alps

Italian lake and mountain compbination with a wooden hut in the foreground standing on stilts in the lake

Whether you want to ski down them in winter, or hike up or around them in summer – the mountains are a perfect playground for outdoor lovers – and offer some of the most amazing views in the world at every turn. It’s no wonder they are one of the best places to visit in Italy.

And if you are trying to decide which one to choose – the Dolomites are loved for their superior ski slopes but the the Valle d’Aosta is known for its breathtaking views on its hiking and biking trails. It is also  generally quieter, a little less expensive and has more off the beaten path villages to explore than it’s counterpart.

And that’s a wrap folks, we hope this guide to 20+ BEST Places to Visit in Italy has been a huge help planning your trip to Italy.

If you know of anyone else that needs a little bit of inspiration for visiting Italy or assistance in planning their Italy vacation (or even how to explore the country while they are there!), please be sure to share this post on social media: Facebook, Flipboard, Twitter or grab one of the images from below for Pinterest. And remember – sharing is charing (and we thank you in advance!)

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Compass & Pine

Compass & Pine

The Ultimate Travel Guide

San Quirico d'Orcia, Italy at Sunset

The 25 Best Places to Visit in Italy

Italy is a country that is rich in history and culture. There are so many places to visit it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we will provide a guide for travelers on the 20 best places to visit in Italy. From bustling cities to stunning coastal towns, there is something for everyone. Plus, we’ll give you tips on traveling with kids and how long you should spend in each city. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Italian vacation today!

Cinque Terre

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Florence's Duomo and Tower

Florence is the capital city of Tuscany that is brimming with art and history. It was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and there are plenty of places to learn about this period of time.

It is home to some of the world’s most famous museums, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. Both of which hold works from the most impressive masters of the western world:

  • Michelangelo

Be sure to visit and climb the impressive Duomo at the heart of the city. The views atop the dome are some of the best in Italy, and the dome’s interior is decorated with Giorgio Vasari’s elaborate portrayal of heaven and hell .

Michelangelo's David in galleria dell'accademia

What Should I See in Florence? Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, Duomo, Baptistery, Ponte Vecchio, and the Boboli Gardens.

When Should I Visit Florence? Spring or fall. The summer gets hot and is packed with other tourists.

Traveling to Florence with kids: Florence is a great place to travel with kids. In between climbing towers and the duomo, be sure to stop by and grab some delicious gelato and walk through the Boboli Gardens.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Florence? While you could see the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery in a single day, we recommend a minimum of three or four days. This will give you enough time to visit the highlights and take your time around this amazing city. Honestly, though, I could spend a lifetime in Florence. It is my favorite Italian city!

Roman Colosseum

There is no doubt that Rome is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. Over 10 million people make the trek to the Eternal City each year!

This ancient city is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican. The best part is Rome acts as one large open-air museum. You could see most of the top sights without paying a dime (except for flying and staying there, of course).

You can see the exterior of the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the Vatican just by walking around the city center. Some of the most important sites in Rome, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, are free to visit:

  • Piazza Navona
  • Spanish Steps
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Roman Forum
  • Altar of the Fatherland
  • Palatine Hill
  • Campo de’ Fiori
  • Arch of Constantine

For the foodies out there, Rome has some of Italy’s best food. Make sure to try traditional dishes like carbonara and amatriciana. Trust us; it’s just as good as you’re envisioning.

Castel Sant'Angelo

Do You Love Art?

Heading to Rome but unsure which of the 60-plus museums to visit? Here’s our pick of the top 10 museums in Rome.

What Should I See in Rome? Colosseum, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and Borghese Museum. Walk around the city and see stunning cathedrals, places, and Renaissance architecture.

Heading to the Vatican? Find out who painted the Sistine Chapel ?

When Should I Visit Rome? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Traveling to Rome with kids: Rome is a great place to travel with kids. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities, such as visiting the Vatican Museums, exploring the Roman Forum, or taking an underground tour of the Colosseum. If you’re looking for something a little more active, try biking one of Rome’s oldest roadways: the Appian Way.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Rome? While you could spend weeks exploring Rome, we recommend staying at least 3-5 days to see the highlights and taste the local culture. If you’re pressed for time, tourism companies offer jam-packed city tours that can be done in 4-6 hours but feel too rushed in our experience.

Grand canal views from Ponte dell’Accademia

There is no place quite like Venice. This unique city is built on canals and is full of charming bridges and beautiful architecture.

For those that like to see a lot in a short amount of time, Venice should be at the top of your list of places to see in Italy. You can practically explore all of the top sights in just one day. Be sure to visit St. Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Rialto Bridge .

Interested in churches or architecture? We wrote a guide on the top 15 Venice cathedrals and churches you should see on your next visit.

Oh, and while you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy a ride in a gondola amongst the oldest buildings in Venice .

St. Mark's Tower at day

What Should I See in Venice? St. Mark’s Basilica, Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and the Venetian Ghetto.

When Should I Visit Venice? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Traveling to Venice with kids: Venice can be a great place to travel with kids, regardless of age. Take a gondola ride, visit the dungeons of Doge’s Palace, and explore the unique creative art held in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Venice? While you can see the major highlights in just 24 hours, we recommend a minimum of two days in Venice. This will give you enough time to explore the city, see all the highlights at a leisurely pace, and visit the neighboring islands of Murano , Burano , and Torcello .

Santa Maria della Salute exterior at sunset

Heading to Venice?

No Venetian trip is complete without visiting these top sights.

Milan's Duomo

Milan is a fashion-forward city known for its high-end shopping. But there is more to Milan than just designer clothes and luxury brands.

Milan is home to some of the world’s best art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper . Other highlights include the Duomo (shown above), the Sforza Castle, and the La Scala Opera House.

If you go to Milan expecting Rome or Florence, you’ll be let down. Milan takes some effort to experience and appreciate. It’s more industrial than other cities on our list and doesn’t feature as many “must-see” highlights. That said, Milan is still one of the best places to visit in Italy.

What Should I See in Milan? Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (located in Santa Maria delle Grazie church), Duomo, Sforza Castle, La Scala Opera House, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

When Should I Visit Milan? Spring is the best time to visit Milan. Summer receives the most visitors, while Fall and Winter get fairly cold.

Traveling to Milan with kids: Of all the places on our list, Milan might be the least kid-friendly. While there are fun activities like climbing to the top of the Duomo, it’s more geared towards adults.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Milan? We recommend one or two days. This will give you enough time to see the highlights and do some shopping. We feel like Milan is a great place to see in between other cities, but maybe not a place you’d prioritize on your first visit to Italy.

Beautiful villa in Tuscany

Tuscany is a picturesque region of central Italy that is known for its rolling hills, cypress trees, and vineyards. This is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some of Italy’s best food and wine. If you’re already visiting Siena, Florence, or Pisa, it’s well worth taking a day trip to the Tuscany countryside.

What Should I See in Tuscany? Go to neighboring hill towns like San Gimignano, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Volterra and visit a vineyard. Be sure to try Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti wines!

When Should I Visit Tuscany? Tuscany is beautiful year-round, but late Summer and Early Autumn are recommended since that is wine harvest season.

Traveling to Tuscany with kids: Tuscany isn’t the best spot for children. While it’s a nice break from the big cities on our list, the main highlight is exploring smaller towns and drinking wine.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Tuscany? Tuscany is a day-trip type of location. Rent a car or book a tour that leaves from Florence, and you’ll have a great time. If you’re really into trying a variety of wines from the region, then you could easily spend three-to-five days in the area.

Sienna, Italy at sundown.

Sienna is a hill town in central Italy known for its distinctive brick buildings and medieval architecture.

It gets compared to neighboring Florence regularly, but the comparison isn’t fair. If you’re heading to Sienna expecting Florence, then you’ll be let down.

Siena is a beautiful and quaint place for more leisurely activities, such as wandering the cobblestone streets and watching the sunset. If you’re more interested in relaxing and drinking wine than you are urban exploration, Sienna is one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Fiat 500 in Rome

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What Should I See in Sienna? The Duomo, the Piazza del Campo, Torre del Mangia, and the Palazzo Pubblico.

When Should I Visit Sienna? Like most of Tuscany, it’s beautiful year-round.

Traveling to Sienna with kids: Sienna is a great place to travel with kids, as there are plenty of kid-friendly activities. Kids will love visiting the Duomo, exploring the Piazza del Campo, and learning about the city’s history.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Sienna? Sienna is a great city to visit if you are already spending time in other parts of central Italy. It’s fantastic for a day trip or overnight.

Villa on the water at Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como is a stunning lake in northern Italy known for its scenic beauty, celebrity villas, and romantic charms.

It’s nestled at the foot of the Alps, just near the border with Switzerland. While not as large as Lake Garda (also on our list), it’s just as beautiful and offers some fantastic hiking if you’re up for the challenge.

The only downside to Lake Como is that it’s a bit of a tourist trap. Just as many people flock to Lake Como for its natural beauty as they do for the celebrities that have summer retreats here.

If you’re looking to experience the Italian Lake District and want to avoid large crowds, opt for Lake Garda instead.

What Should I See at Lake Como? The lakeside towns of Como, Bellagio, and Varenna.

When Should I Visit Lake Como? Lake Como is perfect year-round. It’s close enough to the mountains to offer some great skiing during the winter but is picture-perfect during the summer, spring, and autumn.

Traveling to Lake Como with kids: If you and your family is really into outdoor adventures, Lake Como is a great place to be. Go hiking nearby, rent a boat to explore the lakes, and take adventures to the local waterfalls in Orrido di Bellano.

How Much Time Should You Spend at Lake Como? It depends on what you want to do. If you’re just visiting the lakeside towns, a few days is enough. However, if you’re planning on doing some hiking or other activities, we recommend at least a week.

Cinque Terre, Italy at night

Chances are, if you picture a coastal Italian town in your head, it’s either Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast.

Cinque Terre is a group of five small villages on the Italian Riviera that offer dramatic coastlines, colorful houses, and tasty vineyards. Each town is beautiful, but the highlight is Manarola (pictured in the photo above). Manarola is so beautiful that it was a highlight in Italy’s tourism campaign.

What Should I See in Cinque Terre? All five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

When Should I Visit Cinque Terre? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Traveling to Cinque Terre with kids: Kids will love visiting the five villages, exploring the coastline, and hiking between all five villages (the trail is perfect for a day trip).

How Much Time Should You Spend in Cinque Terre? If you don’t think hiking or wine tasting is up your alley, you can make a long day trip from Florence (the train ride is about two and a half hours). If you want to hike or relax on the beach, it’s best to stay for a night or two.

Overlooking Verona, Italy at sunset.

Verona is a large city in northern Italy best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But there’s much more to see in Verona than just the balcony where Romeo professed his love. This city contains a first-century Roman amphitheater, medieval castles, and lovely gardens. It’s extremely underrated, and we didn’t see many other tourists while visiting.

Stroll around town, grab some gelato, and experience an Italian town not often visited by tourists.

Busy street in Verona, Italy

What Should I See in Verona? The balcony of Juliet’s House, Ponte Scaligero, the Roman Arena, and the Castelvecchio Museum.

When Should I Visit Verona? Northern Italy can be fairly cold during the winter, so keep that in mind while planning your trip. Otherwise, Verona is beautiful year-round.

Traveling to Verona with kids: Kids love exploring the Roman Arena, visiting Juliet’s House, and seeing the medieval castle. Our niece liked climbing to the top of Torre dei Lamberti as well.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Verona? If you’re quick about it, you could see Verona’s highlights in just a few hours. That said, it’s well worth spending the night and enjoying local pasta.

Turin skyline

Turin is a capital city in northwestern Italy that is sometimes overshadowed by its more famous neighbors (Florence, Milan, and Venice). But Turin has plenty of sights and activities to keep visitors entertained, including the Egyptian Museum, the Royal Palace, and the Cathedral of San Giovanni.

What Should I See in Turin? The Egyptian Museum, La Venaria Reale, the Royal Palace, Palazzo Madama, Basilica of Superga, and the Mole Antonelliana.

When Should I Visit Turin? September and October are the best months to visit. The autumn colors are in bloom, and the weather is pleasant.

Traveling to Turin with kids: Kids love visiting the Egyptian Museum, exploring the Public Pellerina Park, and the Planetarium of Turin.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Turin? We recommend two or three days. This gives you enough time to see all of the key sights and explore the area in a leisurely place.

Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Pisa is a small city in central Italy known for its iconic leaning tower and is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy.

I’m sure native Pisans would disagree, but Pisa is so small that you can see everything in the city within two or three hours.

If you’re already in the area or traveling between Cinque Terre and Florence, it’s worth a quick stop for photos.

What Should I See in Pisa? The Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, and the Baptistery.

When Should I Visit Pisa? Since you’ll be there for such a short amount of time, it doesn’t matter too much when you visit. Peak tourist season is from June – September.

Traveling to Pisa with kids: Our niece loved climbing the tower. It offers a fantastic view of the city and the neighboring Cathedral.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Pisa? Two or three hours. Maybe a little more if you plan to climb the tower.

Overhead views of Bergamo, Italy

Bergamo is a city in northern Italy that likely won’t be many itineraries, and that’s partially the reason it makes ours. While locally, it’s known for its well-preserved Old Town, which is surrounded by medieval walls, it has gone under the radar of tourists.

Bergamo locals are more than happy to chat about their beloved city and give you recommendations on where to get drinks and authentic food.

If your idea of traveling is exploring off-the-beaten-path options, Bergamo should make your list of places to visit in Italy.

What Should I See in Bergamo? The Citta Alta, Colleoni Chapel, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and Piazza Vecchia.

When Should I Visit Bergamo? It’s busiest in May and June, so we’d avoid those months. Even then though, there aren’t many tourists making their way to Bergamo.

Traveling to Bergamo with kids: The Citta Alta is a great place to visit with kids. They’ll love exploring this ancient city and learning about Italian history.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Bergamo? You can explore the main sights and Old Town in a day, but it’s worth spending the night as it’s more affordable than most cities.

Sunset in Positano, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. It’s a 50 km stretch of coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea, dotted with dramatic cliffs, picturesque colorful towns, and crystal clear waters.

It’s also home to some of the scariest roads we’ve come across thus far in our travels. Seriously, taking a bus to the Amalfi Coast is like a close brush with death.

Trenitalia arriving at Roma Termini

The Perfect Day Trip to Amalfi

Planning on visiting Amalfi? You have a couple of options if you’re leaving from Rome. Click here to learn more.

What Should I See on the Amalfi Coast? The towns of Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello.

When Should I Visit the Amalfi Coast? Head to the Amalfi Coast in May or September. They’re just outside the peak tourist season, but the weather is still enjoyable.

Traveling to the Amalfi Coast with kids: Go swimming for beautiful views of the cliffs and towns, hike Path of the Gods for one of the best coastal trails we’ve experienced, and rent kayaks to paddle around the coastline.

How Much Time Should You Spend on the Amalfi Coast? If you’re going to the Amalfi Coast for a beach vacation, we recommend three or four days. This will give you enough time to explore the towns and do some swimming and hiking. You could also take a long day trip from Naples and see the highlights.

Pompeii Archaeological Park

Pompeii is a small town near Naples that was destroyed by a volcano in 79 AD. The entire town was covered in ash, preserving it for thousands of years. Today, it’s a popular archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage site where you can see the town’s ruins.

Want to learn more about Mount Vesuvius and how it destroyed Pompeii? We wrote the guide on it.

What Should I See in Pompeii? The ruins of the town, including the Forum, the amphitheater, and the Villa of Mysteries.

When Should I Visit Pompeii? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Traveling to Pompeii with kids: There’s only one thing to do here, but booking a tour guide made it more enjoyable. Our guide helped paint a picture of life before the eruption and made seeing the ruins more exciting.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Pompeii? You can see the whole site in about two or three hours. We recommend you take a day trip from Rome.

Pompeii Fountain with Woman Statue

How to Visit Pompeii From Rome

Pompeii is one of Italy’s best history lessons. Explore the ancient ruins with our guide.

Italian Dolomites and Forest

The Dolomites are a mountain range in northern Italy known for their dramatic peaks, alpine forests, and lovely meadows. They’re extraordinarily beautiful and popular destinations for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.

The scenery offered by the Dolomites is on par with the best mountain ranges I’ve seen in the United States, Western Canada, Iceland, and Switzerland. Seriously, as soon as you arrive, you’ll wish you had visited sooner.

Vajolet Towers in the Italian Dolomites

What Should I See in the Dolomites? The peaks of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Val di Fassa valley, and the Marmolada glacier.

When Should I Visit the Dolomites? Spring, summer, or fall. Avoid the winter if you’re not interested in skiing.

Traveling to the Dolomites with kids: The Dolomites are a great place to visit with kids. The hiking and mountain biking offers some incredible views. We recommend the Cinque Torri and Tre Cime di Lavaredo hikes.

How Much Time Should You Spend in the Dolomites? We recommend three days. This will give you enough time for scenic drives, hiking, biking, and soaking up views you won’t get elsewhere.

Boats in the ocean of Capri Island

Capri is an island off the coast of Sorrento and is known for its mountainous coastlines, luxury hotels, and designer shops.

While not a large island by any means, there are some great hiking and swimming holes. Plus, it’s fun to watch all of the boats and yachts drive by. Somehow there’s always a bigger yacht.

If you’re looking for a beach town, Capri is a must see place in Italy.

What Should I See in Capri? The Blue Grotto, Villa Jovis, Faraglioni rocks, and Capri town.

When Should I Visit Capri? Avoid the summer heat and explore Capri during the other three seasons.

Traveling to Capri with kids: Like most of the other beach towns and cities, some of your best options are to go swimming. Head to the Blue Grotto and explore an underwater cave and the most bright blue water I’ve ever seen.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Capri? Catch a boat from Sorrento and have a fantastic day trip filled with outdoor activities.

Bologna skyline during the day

I admit the first time I visited Bologna, I didn’t get the appeal. I was looking in the wrong areas. Bologna has a beautiful historic center, but the heart of Bologna is its people.

Visit one of the many excellent restaurants, and the locals will gladly tell you about their city. Explore the University of Bologna for a history lesson in the world’s oldest university. Go walk through the streets and be amongst the people. That’s how you should enjoy Bologna.

Now, when I am helping friends decide on where to visit in Italy, Bologna makes the list.

What Should I See in Bologna? The Basilica di San Petronio, the Palazzo Re Enzo, the Fountain of Neptune, and the University of Bologna.

When Should I Visit Bologna? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Traveling to Bologna with kids: If your children are interested in cars, Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini is a fascinating museum with a lot of classic Italian cars.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Bologna? We recommend spending a night or two in Bologna.

Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy

Mount Etna is an active volcano on the island of Sicily. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions on Italy’s largest island, and for a good reason. You can take a cable car to the top, hike around the crater, or even go skiing in the winter.

I’ve never hiked on an active volcano before Mount Etna, and the experience is very surreal. The dried lava and red coloration made me feel like I was walking on Mars.

Make sure you bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty because you’re pants and sneakers are going to be covered in soot.

If you’re looking for a place to visit in Italy that is a little out of the norm, Mount Etna is must-see.

When Should I Visit Mount Etna? Spring or fall. Sicily in summer is brutal, so we advise skipping it. Winter is beautiful, and you can ski on the mountain.

How Much Time Should You Spend on Mount Etna? A day trip from Catania is enough time to see the highlights.

Taormina, Italy skyline

Taormina is a small town on the east coast of Sicily that sits atop a mountain. It’s known for its dramatic setting, with views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea.

Taormina is also home to some of Sicily’s best beaches, as well as an ancient Greco-Roman amphitheater that is still in use today. Be sure to walk around the city at sunset for some of the most beautiful views in Italy.

Taormina holds a special place in my heart because I proposed to my wife right down the road from where this photo was taken.

No matter how many times I visit the country, Taormina always has a place on my list of must see places in Italy.

What Should I See in Taormina? The Greek Theater, the Piazza IX Aprile, and the beaches.

When Should I Visit Taormina? Avoid the summer heat and opt for spring or autumn.

Traveling to Taormina with kids: The Greek Theater is a great place to visit for a history lesson and fantastic views. Take a cable car down to the beach and enjoy the ocean.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Taormina? Taormina is best for a day trip to see the highlights. While you could spend a night or two there, it’s very expensive, and it would be more for relaxation than exploration.

Lake Garda boats in front of a mountain

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is a personal favorite of ours. Due to its proximity to Milan and Venice (it’s about halfway between both), it’s a great location to add to your Northern Italy itinerary.

The lake is surrounded by mountains and several picturesque towns along its shores. We recommend taking the 150 km (93 miles) scenic drive around the lake. Another cool option is to take the ferry between towns. Each town is beautiful in its own right, but Sirmione, at the south end of the lake, is our favorite and most popular with tourists.

You can’t go wrong with any of the towns in the Italian Lake District, as they’re all UNESCO World Heritage sites and worthy of adding to your list of places to visit in Italy.

the places to visit in italy

What Should I See at Lake Garda? The lake towns of Sirmione, Malcesine, Limone Sul Garda, and Riva del Garda.

When Should I Visit Lake Garda? It’s beautiful all year round, but Lake Garda is best explored during the summer so you can take advantage of the crystal-clear water.

Traveling to Lake Garda with kids: All of the towns along the lake offer a variety of activities for children. but Sirmione is your best option. Go kayaking in Lake Garda, hike the nearby forests, explore Castle Scaligero, and visit Gardaland Theme Park.

How Much Time Should You Spend at Lake Garda? While you could visit the lake as a pit stop on your way to Venice or Milan, we think you should spend at least one night in a lakefront town. It’s a very romantic destination.

Naples Skyline with Mountain

Naples is the third-largest Italian city and is known for its chaotic streets, passionate people, and of course, pizza. The pizza here is some of the best in the world, and you can’t visit Naples without trying it. Just be warned that it’s not like the pizza you’re used to in the United States. It’s thinner, has a slightly charred crust, and is often only topped with fresh mozzarella and basil.

Maybe more than any other city on the list, Naples feels the most lived-in. For whatever reason, we saw more people going about their day than elsewhere in the country. It was charming and offered a different atmosphere than Rome, Florence, and Milan.

Naples street with passerbys

What Should I See in Naples? Eat pizza (trust us, it’s amazing), visit the Naples National Archaeological Museum, and explore the historic city center. If time permits, take a day trip to Pompeii or Herculaneum.

When Should I Visit Naples? The best time to visit Naples is between March and May. Daytime temperatures hover in the 80s — making it perfect weather for the beach.

Traveling to Naples with kids: The Naples National Archaeological Museum is a great place to visit with kids. The museum has some cool ancient Roman artifacts. Also, did I mention that Naples has amazing pizza? Yeah, children will love that.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Naples? We recommend spending at least two days in Naples and southern Italy. Pompeii and Herculaneum are worth visiting, and you’ll need at least one day to eat your way through the city.

Titan Castle in San Marino

San Marino is one of the world’s oldest republics and also one of Europe’s smallest countries (see map below). It’s located on the east coast of Italy and is completely landlocked by the country. San Marino is known for its medieval architecture, stunning mountain views, and tax-free status.

I know it’s cheating since San Marino is its own country, but it still makes our list of places to visit in Italy.

the places to visit in italy

What Should I See in San Marino? The Three Towers of San Marino, the Guaita Tower, the Cesta Tower, and Mount Titano.

When Should I Visit San Marino? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and winter cold.

Traveling to San Marino with kids: The Three Towers of San Marino are a great place to visit with kids. They’ll love exploring the towers and learning about the country.

How Much Time Should You Spend in San Marino? We recommend visiting San Marino on a day trip from Florence or Bologna. It’s so small that you’ll easily see everything this country offers.

Apulia, Italy Faraglioni di torre Sant Andrea

Apulia is a region in southern Italy that tourists often overlook due to how far it is from Rome and Naples. But this region has so much to offer, from its beautiful coastline to its centuries-old villages. Apulia is a great place to relax and enjoy the slow pace of life.

Cliff divers in Polignano a mare, Italy

What Should I See in Apulia? The trulli houses, Alberobello, Ostuni, and Lecce.

When Should I Visit Apulia? Visit during the summer months so you can enjoy the crystal clear waters and do some cliff diving!

Traveling to Apulia with kids: The real highlight for kids is swimming in the warm Adriatic Sea. Some places offer kayaks for you to paddle along the coastline.

How Much Time Should You Should You Spend in Apulia? It takes a little over 2.5 hours to get from Naples to Bari and even longer to get to the smaller towns. If you plan on enjoying the beaches and sea, it’s best to spend at least one or two nights in Polignano a Mare or an equally beautiful beachtown.

Beach on Sardinia Italy

Sardinia might not be as well known as Italy’s most famous island, Sicily, but this large island has equally compelling white-sand beaches, clear water, rugged coastlines, and unique culture.

Sardinia is a great place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more active vacation, there are plenty of hiking trails and sightseeing options.

Beaches of Cala dei Gabbiani

What Should I See in Sardinia? The beautiful beaches, Costa Smeralda (and La Madalena Archipelago), Porto Cervo, and the 1,500 BC Nuraghe (stone building).

When Should I Visit Sardinia? Avoid the summer months as they get very hot. Otherwise, spring, autumn, and winter are beautiful.

Traveling to Sardinia with kids: The beaches are a great place to visit with kids. The white-sand and azure-blue waters are fun and relaxing. Go hiking in La Maddalena and explore this beautiful island.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Sardinia? We recommend spending at least one week in Sardinia. This will give you enough time to relax on the beaches and explore the island.

An overhead view of Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Palermo is the capital of Sicily and is located on the island’s north coast. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, Mediterranean cuisine, and friendly people.

Palermo is a great place to explore Sicilain culture (note, it’s fairly different than Italian culture) and see some of the country’s most impressive buildings.

For history afficianados, Palermo is a great place to tour due to it’s role in Sicilian warfare and the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II.

If you’re looking for a vacation spot that doesn’t include the mainland, Palermo should be on your list of places to visit in Italy.

Piazza Pretoria in Palermo

What Should I See in Palermo? The Norman Palace, the Cathedral of Palermo, Monreale Abbey, and Capuchin Catacombs.

When Should I Visit Palermo? Spring or fall. Avoid the summer heat and winter cold.

Traveling to Palermo with kids: The Norman Palace is a great place to visit with kids. They’ll love exploring this ancient palace and learning about Sicilian history.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Palermo? We recommend spending at least two days in Palermo. This will give you enough time to see all of the highlights and start your travels to other Sicilian cities, Syracuse, Catania, and Taramino.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on what type of beauty you are searching for.

Are you looking for natural beauty, or are you searching for architecturally beautiful places? If the former some places stand out for their natural beauty, including the beautiful beaches of the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Lake Como, and Venice.

7 days is a short time to visit Italy, but it is possible to see some of the country’s highlights in this time frame. If you are pressed for time, we recommend focusing your trip on one specific region, such as Tuscany, Umbria, or Veneto. This will allow you to experience the area and not feel rushed. Unfortunately, this means you likely won’t be able to see any of the charming villages spread throughout Italy.

Oh, man. This answer is going to be different for everyone.

If you’re interested in art, you’ll want to stop by Rome, Florence, and Venice.

If you’re interested in architecture, you really can’t go wrong anywhere. Italy is a very old nation, so you’re bound to see really interesting buildings in any city or town.

Looking for natural beauty? The Amalfi Coast has some of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy, while the Dolomites offer some of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world.

Regardless of where you decide to go, you won’t regret visiting Italy.

The best time to visit Italy depends on what you want to do while there.

If you’re interested in outdoor activities, the spring and fall are ideal as the weather is milder.

If you’re interested in beach holidays, you’ll want to visit during the summer.

And if you’re interested in skiing, winter is the best time to go.

That being said, any time of year is a great time to visit Italy, as there is always something to see and do.

With over 10 million people visiting each year, Rome is the most visited city in Italy, followed by Florence and Venice.

Rome is a must-see for any traveler as it is home to some of the world’s most famous historical sites, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican.

Florence is a beautiful city located in Tuscany and is known for its art and architecture.

Venice is a unique city built on canals and is one of the most romantic places in the world.

Italy is a relatively expensive country to visit, but there are ways to save money.

If you’re interested in saving money on accommodation, we recommend staying in hostels.

Eating out can also be expensive, but there are ways to save money here. Look for places that have a “menu del giorno” which is a set lunch menu that is usually a fraction of the cost of ordering à la carte.

And finally, try to avoid tourist traps. These are places that are aimed at tourists and tend to be overpriced. Do some research before you go and visit places that are off the beaten path.

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on what you want to see and do while you’re in Italy.

If you’re interested in seeing the main tourist attractions, we recommend spending at least a week in the country.

If you’re interested in exploring Italy’s smaller towns and villages, we recommend spending at least two to three weeks in the country.

And if you’re interested in getting to know Italy and its culture, we recommend spending at least a month in the country.

Of course, the more time you spend in Italy, the more you’ll be able to see and do. But even a short trip to Italy will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Recommended Booking Resources

The companies I’ve listed here are my top picks when it comes to travel. Their offerings consistently outshine the competition in terms of value for money, quality of service, and exceptional customer service. These companies form the foundation of my search for travel deals, given their reliability and excellence that I have personally experienced numerous times.

Kayak for Flights, Hotels, and Cars makes it simple to plan your stay in Italy. All on one website, you can book your flights, hotels, and cars. The platform provides detailed descriptions, reviews, and ratings to help you choose the right place for your next stay in Italy.

Varied Accommodation Options with provides a wide variety of accommodation options in Venice. From budget hostels to luxury hotels, you can find something that suits your budget and preferences.

Cheap Flights with searches for cheap and rare flights and will notify you when one matches your home airport and a destination of your choice. We scored a non-stop, roundtrip flight from Newark (EWR) to Milan-Malpensa (MXP) for $359 in 2021 and then again from Philadelphia (PHL) to Marco Polo Airport (VCE) for $475 in 2023.

Hostelpass for Budget-Friendly Stays

HostelPass can help you save money on your accommodation. With a single flat fee, you can stay in hostels in Venice and other European cities.

Plan Your Excursions with Get Your Guide

Get Your Guide offers a range of guided tours and activities in Venice. Whether you want a guided tour of St. Mark’s Basilica or a cooking class, you can find it here.

Efficient Train Travel in Italy with Trainline

Trainline can help you navigate Italy’s extensive train system and get you to Venice’s Santa Lucia train and bus station. It’s an efficient way to travel between cities if you’re planning to visit more of Italy during your trip.

Pocket-Sized Wisdom: Venice Travel Guide 2023 Book

For an in-depth guide to Venice, consider purchasing the Venice Travel Guide 2023 . It’s packed with useful information, tips, and maps to help you make the most of your visit.

Sustainable Tourism: LifeStraw for Reusable Water Bottles

Help keep Venice beautiful by practicing sustainable tourism. Consider investing in a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter like LifeStraw . It’s eco-friendly and ensures you have safe drinking water wherever you go.

Walks of Italy for Culturally Rich Walking Tours

For a deep dive into Venice’s rich history and culture, consider booking a walking tour with Walks of Italy . The guides are knowledgeable, and the tours offer a great way to explore the city on foot while visiting the main sites and top attractions.

There you have it, the best places to visit in Italy. As I’m sure you realize by now, Italy is a country with much to offer! No matter what kind of vacation you are looking for, there is sure to be a city in Italy that suits your needs. From the art paradise of Florence to the stunning beaches of Sardinia, you cannot go wrong when planning a trip to this beautiful country. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream Italian vacation today! Where are some of your must-see places in Italy? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Todd O'Rourke

Todd is an award-winning writer and filmmaker who co-founded Compass and Pine with his dog Leg. Together, they have traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe, with their base of operations in Philadelphia.

He started Compass and Pine after living in Vicenza, Italy for three years and falling deeply in love with the country, the people, and, of course, the food.

His favorite city is Florence, Italy, and his favorite National Park is Olympic in Washington.

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November 25, 2022 at 11:42 pm

You and your dog are super cute! I’m excited to follow your next adventures (:

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November 27, 2022 at 10:37 am

Hi Kathryn,

Thank you so much for the compliment. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you 🙂

Best, Todd & Leg

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Visit Italy: Top 20 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions

The 20 best things to do in italy (bucket list).

You’re planning to visit Italy for your next trip and you’re looking for the best places to visit?

Great choice, there are many beautiful things to see in the country, you will love it!

With many beautiful cities , a rich history , stunning landscapes , some of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands and of course delicious food , I can say without a doubt that Italy is one of my favourite destination in Europe.

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this list of the 20 best things to do in Italy , with all the highlights and must-see attractions. It will for sure give you an idea of your next travel destination.

So, what are the best points of interest in Italy? Discover Rome , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sicily and much more now!

1. Rome : the capital

2. florence: the art city, 4. venice: the romantic city, 5. the cinque terre, 6. lecce: the baroque city, 7. verona: the shakespearean city, 8. genoa: port city, 9. naples : historic city, 10. capri: magnificent island, 11. turin: the city of cinematography and chocolate, 12. milan: the capital of fashion, 13. lake maggiore and the borromean islands, 14. lake como, 15. garda lake, 16. the dolomites, 17. the amalfi coast, 18. gargano national park, 20. sardinia, flight prices to italy, you’re traveling in italy these articles will help you, visit italy: the 20 best places to visit and must-see attractions.

I will start this guide of the best things to do in Italy with the capital, Rome. The Eternal City city attracts millions of tourists every year but, despite what you might think, it isn’t the most touristic city of the country. Florence and Venice both attracts more international visitors!

Rome is a beautiful city, with the added advantage of being very easy to visit on foot. It’s full of ancient monuments, beautiful squares and museums. Here are the must-see:

  • The Coliseum
  • The Roman forum
  • The Pantheon
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Piazza Navona

If you are visiting Rome, you should also go to the Vatican City. Don’t miss the following:

  • Saint Peter’s Square
  • Saint Peter’s Basilica , the world’s largest basilica
  • The Sistine Chape l and Michelangelo’s major work: The Last Judgement
  • And all Vatican museums

For more details about the city, you should read my article: The 25 best things to do in Rome .

rome Italy

Florence, undoubtedly the most beautiful city of Tuscany, is home to numerous museums and Renaissance palaces. The Cultural Heritage is immense : Half Italian works of art are located in Florence. No wonder why it’s one of the most visited city in Italy along with Venice!

So will you be one of the 15 million tourists that will visit the city this year?

Must-see places in Florence:

  • The Uffizi gallery and its famous paintings
  • The basilica San Miniato al Monte , from which you will have a panoramic view over Florence. A tip: go there for sunset
  • Piazza della Signoria: a real open-air museum
  • Cupola del Brunelleschi: climb 400 steps for a 360 degree view of Florence. Remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.

And don’t forget to visit the Tuscan countryside , famous for being the most beautiful in Italy!

To learn more about the best places to visit in Florence, you should read my dedicated article: The 27 Best Things to do in Florence.

Florence, one of the most visited city in Italy

When you hear about Pisa, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the famous leaning tower, the symbol of the city. However, there are also other things to see in the city, so you can easily spend a full day in town.

  • The Piazza dei Miracoli , is the touristic heart of the city: all the famous monuments of Pisa are located there!
  • The tower of Pisa , with it’s 20€ entrance fee (it can be a surprising price!)
  • The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
  • The Baptistery of Saint John of Pisa
  • The Monumental Cemetery Camposanto
  • La Piazza dei Cavalieri , a small typical Italian square with fewer tourists
  • Borgo Stretto: shopping hotspot and ideal place to eat or have a drink in one of the numerous restaurants.

You will find every information you need to visit Pisa in my article: The 10 best things to do in Pisa.


I can’t write an article about the Best of Italy without mentioning the famous City of Venice!

Venice is one of the most touristic cities in Europe, a great choice if you want to spend a weekend or more in Italy. With its numerous canals and its famous gondola rides, it’s also the perfect destination for a romantic stay. The Venice Carnaval takes place every year in February and attracts tourists from all over the world. If you don’t mind the crowds, it can be a good time to visit the city!

The places to visit in Venice:

  • Saint Mark’s Square: heart of the city and pigeons’ area
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica and its golden mosaics
  • The Ducale Palace
  • The Bridge of Sighs: Venice’s famous bridge
  • The islands of Murano (world famous for glassmaking) and Burano with its typical colorful houses.

You can find more info about the best places to visit in Venice in my article: The 31 best things to do in Venice .


This guide of the best places to visit in Italy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Cinque Terre , 5 stunning cliff-side villages overlooking the Mediterranean sea. You have probably already seen pictures of them, these spectacular colourful towns are amongst the most famous sights of Italy!

Cinque Terre villages are located close to each other. To visit them, you have 3 choices:

  • Do the hiking trail that connects them (but be careful, depending on the season, some of them might be closed). The routes between each village can go from ½ hour to 2 hours.
  • Take the train that connects all the villages: The Cinque Terre Express.
  • By boat, with amazing views over the villages.

The Cinque Terre villages are the following:

  • Monterosso al mare: located in the northernmost part, it is the largest of the villages and the only one with a large sandy beach.
  • Vernazza with its colourful houses and small port.
  • Corniglia, the only one that isn’t connected to the sea, can be reached by a staircase of more than 350 steps.
  • Manorala: the oldest village.
  • Riomaggiore, situated in the very East, at “the end” of the Cinque Terre.

If you want more information about Cinque Terre, you should read my detailed article: How to visit Cinque Terre?

Cinqueterre italie

Much less known than the previous cities, it’s however definitely worth a visit during your trip to Italy. Lecce, located at the base of the “Italian boot” in Puglia region, is a very beautiful baroque town. There are churches, museums and palaces everywhere, all sharing the same architectural style.

  • La Basilique santa Croce
  • The Basilica of the Holy Cross
  • The historic center
  • The dome of Lecce
  • Sant’Oronzo Square
  • Faggiano Museum

Lecce, Italie

Verona is the city of love and of the tragic destiny of Romeo and Juliet. Everyone has already heard about it, but do you know what are the best things to do in town?

Here are the best places to visit in Verona:

  • Juliette’s house: the opportunity to admire the famous balcony and take a picture with your lover
  • The piazza Bra, where Verona arena is located
  • Piazza delle Erbe with its market, bars and restaurant terraces
  • The basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, the oldest church in Verona
  • The Castelvecchio, a 14th century castle turned into a museum

Verone, en Italie

Genoa is and have historically always been a port city. Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous adventurers of all time was born here!

The city is also full of monuments and beautiful sites to admire. Not many people visit it but it’s a shame, because there are very nice things to see in Genoa.

Things to do:

  • The port of Genoa where you can visit the aquarium and see a replica of a pirate ship. Don’t forget to take the glass elevator to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
  • The historical center with the piazza dei Ferrari and its beautiful fountain
  • Walk along Via Garibaldi and visit one or more palaces such as the palazzo reale, the palazzo bianco or the palazzo Rosso.
  • Stroll along the Lungomare, a 3 km seaside promenade
  • Go to Boccadasse, an old fisherman’s village with colourful houses

Que faire en Italie: visiter Gênes

Naples is the European city with the largest historical centre, so you can be sure there are a lot of churches and monuments to visit in the city! Naples is also very famous around the world for its gastronomy: the pizza (created in the 1600s as a street food for the poorest Neapolitans) as well as the famous Neapolitan sauce.

Naples must-see attractions:

  • Start with the historic centre and its Duomo
  • The Piazza del Plebiscito, a huge and very photogenic square with beautiful monuments surrounding it
  • The Vigiliano Park and its magnificent view over the bay
  • Visit the archaeological museum which houses objects from Pompeii archaeological site
  • Go to Pompeii,  located about 40 minutes by bus or train from Naples and witness the damage caused by the murderous eruption of the Vesuvius.

Visiter l'Italie: Naples

From Naples you can easily take the ferry and go to Capri island for a day trip.

You will start your visit of one of the most beautiful places in Italy in Marina Grande port. You should then take the funicular: it will take you directly to the famous Piazzetta, in Capri town center. With its café terraces and magnificent view over the bay, the place is magical!

Other things you shouldn’t miss in Capri are the Arco Naturale , a large 20m height rocky arch and the viewpoint of Tragara , which also offers a magnificent view. And of course the must-see attraction of Capri: the blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra in Italian), named after the unique water color inside.

Capri - Italie

You may not know it, but Turin is THE chocolate city. Yes, there is not only Swiss or Belgian chocolate! Italian one is also very famous. Your favourite sweet thing has even been invented by a master pastry chef from Turin! Every year, the chocolate festival takes place in town, with many events and tasting.

But Turin is also the city of cinema. Located in Turin’s emblematic monument, the Mole Antonelliana, the Cinema Museum is one of the best in the world. You will learn more about the history of cinema and you can even see masks of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings! Don’t forget to take the panoramic lift to the upper terrace, you will enjoy a 360° view over the entire city.

Also worth seeing during your trip to Turin:

  • The Egyptian museum : the 2nd largest after the one in Cairo and the oldest Egyptian museum in the world
  • The automobile museum, with its impressive collection of vehicles
  • The Palazzo Reale, former residence of the Dukes of Savoy

To plan your visit to Turin, you can read my definitive guide about the city: The 20 best things to do in Turin

turin en italie

Milan is the capital of fashion and design, with many renowned designer’s luxury boutiques and showrooms. In addition, there is also many historic buildings to visit in the city!

The tourist attraction you shouldn’t miss in Milan:

  • The Piazza del Duomo and its magnificent Cathedral: the Duomo di Milano . Don’t hesitate to take the entrance ticket with rooftop terrace access, it’s worth it!
  • The Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione, just nearby
  • The Vittorio Emmanuel II gallery and its huge glass roof, a luxury shopping spot
  • The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera art gallery) and its rich collection of paintings by Italian masters such as Raphael, Bellini or Caravaggio.
  • The monumental cemetery: The burial place of celebrities, featuring some very unusual tombstones.

If you have planned to go to Milan, you should my detailed article, with all my best tips to visit the city in 1, 2 or 3 days: The 15 best things to do in Milan


The Lake Maggiore , along with  Lake Como and Lake Garda is one of the 3 biggest (and most beautiful) Italian lakes. If you plan to visit Milan during your stay in Italy, it can be a great idea to spend a day or 2 around Lake Maggiore, as it’s only at 1h30 by car. And if you don’t have a car, many tour companies offer day trips from Milan.

Lake Maggiore is especially known for the Borromean Islands: the great new is that you can perfectly visit all 3 of them in 1 day with one of the many boat tours available.

The 3 islands

  • The Isola Madre, where you will be able to admire its famous exotic garden with freely wandering peacocks.
  • The Isola Bella, with the Borromean palace, its garden and the shell grotto
  • The Isola Superieure, an island of fishermen.

lac majeur Italie

Located at only 1 hours from Milan, Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy. The lake is a very popular jet set holiday destination and is famous around the world for its many majestic villas and lush gardens.

It’s also a very popular shooting location: for example, you might have seen in it in Star Wars episode II! A part of the movie was shot at the Balbianello villa , one the lake shore. But Lake Como is more than this: around the lake you can visit beautiful fishing villages and enjoy many hiking trails. A must visit in Northern Italy!

Best Places to see:

  • Como city and its pedestrian center
  • Tremezzo  and Villa Carlotta with its sumptuous botanical garden
  • Bellagio and villa Melzi , a source of inspiration for Stendhal himself
  • Varenne and the villa Monastero with its promenade at the edge of the water
  • Castello Di Vezio and its panoramic view of the lake below
  • And of course, if you’re Star Wars fan, the Villa Balbianello.

Lac de Côme

Lake Garda is the largest and one of the most touristic lake in Italy. It’s located at only 1h30 by train from Milan.

Besides the lake itself, you can visit some of the nearby towns:

  • Sirmione: the most famous town on Lake Garda. Its medieval castle marks the entrance to the city, and it’s vert pleasant to stroll in the small typical alleys. Catullo caves archaeological site is also worth seeing for its ruins of Roman temples and villas.
  • Malcesine : in the city, you can visit Scaliger Castle and the Palazzo dei Capitani. Then take the cable car to Monte Baldo and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Garda.
  • Torri del Benaco: with its small fishing port and Scaligero castle, it also deserves a stop.

Lac de Garde

If you love hiking and Italy, then the Dolomites are made for you! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area has 18 mountain peaks, some of them being more than 3,000 meters height.

Famous for their very particular shape, sculpted by the elements, they are even more beautiful at sunrise and sunset.

To fully enjoy the landscape, you can drive along the Dolomites road from Bolzano to Cortina . There is around 130km and the road offer breathtaking views on the mountains.

Don’t hesitate to stop in the villages or at the lago di Carezza. Cortina is one of the best starting point for the numerous hiking trails in the region. If you love outdoors activities, the Dolomites is the region you should see during your next trip to Italy!

Les dolomites

You are looking for the top sights in Italy? Then the Amalfi coast is a great choice for your next trip!

Located South of Naples, the Amalfi coast is famous for being one of the most beautiful coasts of Italy. With its wild coast and amazing cliff-side villages, no doubt you will love it!

Overview of the best places to visit:

  • Sorrento , standing on a cliff with a view over the bay and the island of Capri.
  • Positano, a colorful cliffside village. It’s popular jet-set destination for its fashion boutiques and trendy cafes.
  • Nocelle: if you go to Positano, you should really do the Path Of Gods Trail, it start from Nocelle, a bit above Positano.
  • Amalfi and its magnificent Duomo
  • Ravello and the villa Cimbrone: with its 6 hectares garden overlooking the sea, it’s a must-do in Ravello.

La cote amalfitaine, en Italie

Located in Puglia region, Gargano Natural Park is the largest natural park in Italy. The coast is famous for the limestone rocks the sea has carved over time. You will be able to see numerous caves, wild coves and faraglioni .

The center of the Gargano is a great place for peaceful hikes, especially in the Umbra forest, literally “the forest of shadows”. Stroll under the hundred years old trees and enjoy the flora and fauna.

The small town of   Vieste is also a must in the region!

Vieste, parc naturel de Gargano, en Italie

Sicily, the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea, is the ideal place to visit if you want to mix relaxation at the beach and discovery of world class archaeological sites. Add the delicious Italian cuisine to the mix and the result is a perfect combination for unforgeable holidays!

Best places to see in Eastern Sicily:

  • Catania and the Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Agatha
  • Syracuse and the island of Ortigia : Take a walk the small alleys of the historical center, admire the grandiose Piazza del Duomo and enjoy the view of Castello Maniace
  • Baroque towns: Noto, Modica and Ragusa
  • Taormina : For the famous Greek theatre, the view over the Etna and its magnificent pebble beach: “Isola Bella”.
  • Etna, the most active volcano in Europe.

Places to visit in Western Sicily: 

  • Palermo , with the beautiful palatine chapel , the Norman palace and the unusual Capuchin Catacombs
  • Cefalu, a small traditional fishing village
  • Agrigento and the valley of the temples
  • The beaches of “Scala dei Turchi” and Eraclea Minoa
  • The Egadi Islands , a paradise on earth.

Discover all of my articles about Sicily .


You love beautiful beaches and you’re wondering where to go in Italy?

Sardinia , the 2nd biggest Italian island, is famous around the world for its stunning beaches. It’s the perfect destination if you want to enjoy holiday in the sun.

Best places to visit in Sardinia:

  • Cagliari , the capital of Sardinia which stretches over several hills. Visit the Castello district , most of the tourist attractions are located there.
  • Maddalena Islands , with beautiful wild beaches.
  • Costa Smeralda : the perfect jet-set destination for a luxury holiday. The road, all along the coast, offers a spectacular view.
  • The Gulf of Orosei : Huge and impressive limestone cliffs, hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia.

You’re planning to visit Sardinia during your next trip? Have a look at my article about the best things to do: The 20 best places to visit in Sardinia.


And you, what do you plan to visit in Italy? What are your favorite places?

So, you want to go to Italy? In order to get the best price, I highly recommand you to check flight prices now. It’s quick and easy, just use our flight comparator below!

Once on the results page, feel free to compare several sites, to make sure that no fees are added to the final rates.

Italy travel Guides

  • Buy the Lonely Planet Italy guide on or on
  • Buy the Rick Steves Italy guide on or on

Discover all my articles about Italy : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Italy are listed there.

  • The 20 Best Things to do in Italy – All the must-see places!
  • Cinque Terre: The definitive guide to plan your visit
  • Florence: The 27 best things to do and must-see attractions
  • Milan: The Top 15 things to do in the city and around
  • Pisa: Top 21 must-see attractions + Tips
  • Rome: The 25 best things to do and see
  • Siena: Top 20 best places to visit
  • Turin: The 20 must-see attractions
  • Venice: The 31 best things to do (+ Tips)
  • 2 days in Florence
  • 3 days in Florence
  • 4 days in Florence
  • 5 days in Florence
  • 2 days in Milan
  • 3 days in Milan
  • 4 days in Milan
  • 2 Days in Rome – How to visit Rome in 48h
  • 3 Days in Rome – The best itinerary to visit Rome in 72h
  • 4 Days in Rome – The best places to visit in 4 days
  • 5 Days in Rome – How to spend 5 days in Rome
  • 6 Days in Rome – The ultimate Itinerary + Where to stay
  • One week in Rome – The perfect 7-day itinerary
  • 2 Days in Venice – An Epic 48h itinerary
  • 3 Days in Venice – The perfect 72h itinerary
  • 4 Days in Venice – Itinerary + Best Things to do + Tips
  • Where to stay in Milan? My guide to the best areas and hotels for a perfect stay
  • Where to stay in Rome? – The definitive guide of the best areas!
  • Where to stay in Venice? My selection of the best hotels and districts for an epic stay
  • Omnia Card: The definitive guide
  • Colosseum: The 7 best skip the line tickets
  • Trevi Fountain: History, Secrets and Facts
  • Rome’s Hidden Gems : The Definitive Guide with 17 secret spots!
  • The 20 Best museums in Rome – With all my best tips!
  • Rome in May: The definitive guide to plan your visit: weather, things to do, itineraries and more!
  • Rome in June: Guide + All my best tips

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Visit Italy

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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Full Suitcase Travel Blog

18 Absolute Best Places to Visit in Italy (+ Map & Planning Tips)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: February 4, 2024

18 Absolute Best Places to Visit in Italy (+ Map & Planning Tips)

Planning your first trip to Italy and wondering what are the best places to visit ? This article should help you decide what to see and where to go in Italy, even though the choice might look overwhelming at first.

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and one of our favorite places that we return to again and again. History, architecture, bustling cities, charming villages, beaches, islands, mountains… Not even to mention the food, wine, and friendly people… This country is incredibly diverse and has so much more to offer than you’d ever be able to do in one trip…

Even after so many trips to Italy , we feel like we just scratched the surface of this incredible country. There is just so much to see and do!

In this article, we share the very best places to see in Italy. This list is not just about the best Italian cities . As beautiful as they are, there is so much more to Italy than its major cities! In this guide, you’ll also find the most stunning Italian regions and islands, coastal areas and picturesque little towns, but also the most beautiful nature and jaw-dropping sceneries.

These are one by one amazing destinations that are each worth a trip from the other side of the world. You cannot go wrong with any of these places! But combine a couple of them together and you’re in for a real treat – one of the best trips you can ever make. Find out!

READ ALSO: 2-Weeks Italy Itinerary

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

Here are the best places to visit in Italy:

The Eternal City is an absolute must when visiting Italy for the first time! Without any doubt, Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I often refer to Rome as the city-museum. And it sure feels like the entire place is one huge open-air museum! Every street, every building, every town square, every park, every church, and every monument breathes centuries-old history.

It’s an incredible experience to see all that art, architecture, and history that you previously only saw in books or in the movies.

No matter how much time you have planned in Italy, you really have to include Rome in your Italy itinerary !

Not to be missed: Colosseum , Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, the Vatican with St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel, St. Angelo Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo, Capitoline Hill.

Nice to see: Campo de’ Fiori market, Trastevere district, Circus Maximus, Baths of Caracalla (and many other Ancient Rome landmarks ), Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo, Borghese Gallery, the Appian Way, Aventine Hill, Belvedere del Gianicolo, and many many more.

TIP: Try to also visit at least a few of the nicest viewpoints in Rome . Many of them are located just next to the most popular sights, and so it’s quite easy to add a few of these to your itinerary.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Rome

How much time do you need: One full day is an absolute minimum in Rome and – if you plan your 1-day Rome itinerary well – you can get a glimpse of all the main sights. If you want to see all the best places in the city and not just take a picture of the exteriors and rush through everything, plan at least 2-3 days . If you want to explore deeper and get off the beaten path in Rome, you can easily spend 5-7 days in the city.

TIP: Take a look at our suggested 4 days Rome itinerary – it covers all the main landmarks and lots of amazing lesser-known places that will make your trip so much more memorable. See also our guide to the best neighborhood to stay in Rome .

Best time to visit: Rome is a year-round destination, but the best time weather-wise is April-May and September-October. It’s really hot in July and August making it difficult to appreciate the sights. For fewer crowds and cooler weather, consider the shoulder months such as March or November. Read also what it’s like to visit Rome in November .

LEARN MORE: Tips for Planning a Trip to Rome

Best places to visit in Italy - Rome

There are few places in the world that speak to one’s imagination as Venice does. Without any doubt, Venice is one of the must-see places in Italy!

The entire city of Venice and its lagoon with 118 small islands is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And when you see it, you’ll understand why. The whole town is an architectural masterpiece!

The best way to explore Venice is on foot, so prepare to walk. A lot. Stroll the narrow streets, cross hundreds of bridges, and take the time to admire the details of medieval buildings and stunning gothic palazzi (palaces). You should also take a gondola ride! Not only does it give a very different perspective of the city, but it’s also a real bucket list experience.

Not to be missed: Venice canals and Venetian gondola ride , St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace , Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Sighs , and the pedestrian waterfront promenade Riva degli Schiavoni.

Nice to see: Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and an excursion to the nearby islands of Burano and Murano . Libreria Acqua Alta, Campo San Polo, Jewish Ghetto, San Giorgio Maggiore Island, and many churches of Venice. Also La Fenice opera house.

How much time do you need: One day is enough to see the main landmarks of Venice (here’s how to see the best of Venice in one day) . If you make it a very long day, you can even take a short excursion to the nearby islands Murano, Burano, and Torcello. For a more relaxed experience, plan at least two days for all the sights in Venice and the nearby islands. If you want to explore the city deeper, plan 3-4 days. See here a suggested itinerary for 3 days in Venice with tips from a local.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Venice

Best places to see in Italy - Venice

3. Florence

A trip to Italy, especially for those visiting for the first time, involves visiting lots of cities and towns. And even if you’re not a big fan of city trips, there is one more city that you absolutely should see in Italy, and that’s Florence ( Firenze ).

Florence, the capital city of the Tuscany region, is considered the cradle of the Renaissance. It’s here that you’ll find works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many others. The old city center is quite compact, but it’s packed with incredible masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.

Not to be missed: Duomo (Florence Cathedral), Baptistery of St. John, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, and the view from Piazzale Michelangelo. Michelangelo’s ‘David’ at the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Nice to see: Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, Basilica di San Lorenzo and San Lorenzo Market, Piazza Santo Spirito, Basilica of Santa Croce, and the views from the best rooftops in Florence .

How much time do you need: One day is enough to quickly see the ‘musts’ of Florence (see 1 day Florence itinerary ). If you want to visit more museums and explore deeper, then you’ll definitely want to spend at least two days here. Plan an extra day for a tour to the Tuscan countryside (more info below).

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Florence

Florence - one of the most beautiful cities in Italy

Italy has 20 regions and, in all honesty, they are all worth a visit. However, if you are traveling to Italy for the very first time, Tuscany is one of the nicest regions to visit. Not only because it’s conveniently located between Rome, Venice, and Milan, but also because it has so much to offer.

Tuscany is home to some of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Prato, Arezzo – all these towns are worth a visit! And there are many, many more…

Tuscany is also known for its picturesque landscapes with rolling hills and winding roads lined with cypress trees. It’s also a great destination for foodies and wine lovers. Some of the best Italian wines are produced in Tuscany! Even if you are not visiting the wineries, make sure to try Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti wines at the local restaurants.

Not to be missed: Florence (see above), Siena (and the impressive Siena Cathedral ), Pisa (see further below), and the stunning landscapes of Val d’Orcia. See also our guide to the best towns in Tuscany .

Nice to see: Lucca, San Gimignano, Montepulciano , Volterra, Pienza, Prato, Arezzo, and the wineries.

How much time do you need: You need at least 2 days for Tuscany – one day in Florence, and one (very packed) day for Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, and Chianti. If you want to see so much in such a short time, consider this tour that visits all the main highlights in one day.

Ideally, you spend at least 3-4 days in Tuscany as that will give you more time to enjoy all the main sights in a more relaxed way. If you have enough time, I recommend a week in Tuscany. There’s just so much to see and do!

LEARN MORE: Best Towns in Tuscany & Tuscany Itinerary

Tuscany is one of the best destinations in Italy

5. Cinque Terre

No list of the best places to visit in Italy would be complete without mentioning Cinque Terre . This coastal area is so scenic that it’s hard to believe that it’s real!

Cinque Terre is the collective name of five picturesque hillside towns along the coast of the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region. The 5 Cinque Terre towns are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

These colorful towns are perched between the azure-blue sea on one side and the steep hills dotted with vineyards on the other side. This means that you can’t easily get to Cinque Terre by car and the best way to visit is by boat, by train, or by hiking the Cinque Terre trail between the villages. For more practical information, please check our travel tips for visiting Cinque Terre .

Not to be missed: Manarola, Vernazza, and Riomaggiore.

Nice to see: Corniglia and Monterosso al Mare. Also, the nearby Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets are well worth your time!

How much time do you need: You can see the best of Cinque Terre in one day (also as a day tour from Florence ). If you want to explore deeper and also see some of the stunning coastal areas nearby, plan 2-3 days here.

LEARN MORE: One Day in Cinque Terre & Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

What to see in Italy - Cinque Terre is a must

6. Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast in the Campania region is another popular tourist destination in Italy. This area stretches between Sorrento and Salermo and has some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in Italy. The rugged coastline is dotted with colorful fishing villages and small beaches. It looks like a real-life painting. The Amalfi Coast is also a very popular vacation destination.

The main attractions of this area are the coastal towns of Positano , Amalfi , and Ravello . But also Sorrento and Naples are must-see, just like the famous Mount Vesuvius volcano .

The nearby Capri Island with the famous Blue Grotto and charming Anacapri should also be on your list! Nature and outdoor enthusiasts will love the coastal hike Path of the Gods .

Nearby, you’ll also find the ruins of Pompeii , the ancient city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It’s one of the most interesting places to visit for those who would like to learn more about Roman times.

Not to be missed: Scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast and its three main towns Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello (can also be visited with a day tour ). Also Pompeii is among the top sights in Italy. Capri Island and the Blue Grotto.

Nice to see: Sorrento, Herculaneum, Mt Vesuvius, and the Path of the Gods hike.

How much time do you need: One day is enough to get a taste of what the Amalfi Coast is about. If you have two days, you can also visit Capri. Or you can also spend a week or two here and never get bored… If you want to explore all the main highlights of the Amalfi Coast at a leisurely pace, we recommend at least 3-5 days in the area. Here you can find our guide on where to stay on the Amalfi Coast and here is our guide to the best areas to stay in Naples .

LEARN MORE: Amalfi Coast Itinerary & Amalfi Coast Travel Tips

TIP: You can visit Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast on a day trip from Rome with an organized tour . It will be rushed, but well worth it!

READ ALSO: Amalfi Coast vs. Cinque Terre: which is nicer?

Amalfi Coast is one of the best places in Italy

7. Lake Garda

Lake Garda is one of our personal favorite places in Italy. Lake Garda is located in northern Italy, about halfway between Venice and Milan, and can easily be incorporated in your Italy itinerary. It is one of the most scenic lakes in the world and absolutely worth a visit!

Lake Garda is a very big lake. If you want to drive all the way around it, it’s a 150 km (93 miles) drive that would take at least 3-4 hours without any stops or traffic. The best way to explore the lake is by taking a ferry between various towns, but driving the scenic road all the way around the lakes is also an unforgettable experience.

Along the shores of Lake Garda, you’ll find some stunning towns and picturesque little villages. Most famous is the town of Sirmione at the south end of the lake. Malcesine , Limone Sul Garda , and Riva del Garda are also very much worth a visit, even if just to see the northern side of the lake. And there are many more places to explore, but that requires a lot more of your time.

Not to be missed: Sirmione (Castello di Sirmione, Grotte di Catullo, and a boat tour around the peninsula), Malcesine, and a boat ride on the northern end of the lake.

Nice to see: Limone Sul Garda, Riva del Garda, Desenzano del Garda, Garda, Peschiera del Garda, Salo, Bardolino, Torbole, Isola del Garda.

How much time do you need: You can see the main highlights of Lake Garda in one day (by car and/or boat or with a tour ). But you’ll need at least 2-3 days to explore this area a bit deeper. You can find more details in our Lake Garda itinerary suggestions for 1 to 3 days .

LEARN MORE: What to See at Lake Garda

Where to go in Italy - Lake Garda

8. Lake Como

Lake Como , just north of Milan, is another stunning lake that also deserves to be on any list of the best of Italy. It’s a place loved by the rich and the famous and you’ll find some grand villas dotting the shores of this lake.

Lake Como is set at the foot of the Alps, just near the border with Switzerland. Many places here have been used as filming locations for countless Hollywood movies. When you’ll see the scenery, you’ll understand why.

Como Lake is not as big as Lake Garda, but it’s quite long and has a very unique shape that looks like an upside-down letter Y. The roads around the lake aren’t very wide and it would take you a good part of the day to drive all around it. Instead, you can take a boat and easily explore the most interesting places in a day or two. There are also car ferries around the middle point of the lake, so you can easily explore the best places by car. Just beware that parking is very problematic.

The main town in this area is Como , located at the south end of the lake. Here you can also take a funicular to the mountain town of Brunate for stunning views of the surroundings. Other nice towns to visit are Bellagio (a must-see), Varenna , and Cernobbio . But the main attraction of Lake Como are its gardens and villas and especially Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello .

Not to be missed: Como town , a boat ride on the lake, Bellagio , Varenna , Villa Carlotta, and Villa Balbianello. Take a look at our guide to the best things to do in Lake Como for more info.

Nice to see: Brunate, Menaggio, Villa Olmo, Cernobbio, Lecco, Pescallo, and Ghisallo Pass… Take a look at our guide to the best towns of Lake Como for more details.

How much time do you need: You can see the best of Lake Como in one day, also with a day tour from Milan . You’ll need at least 2 full days if you also want to visit the two most beautiful villas. Count 3-4 days if you want to explore a bit deeper.

LEARN MORE: Info & Tips for Visiting Lake Como

Italy best places - Lake Como

9. Italian Dolomites

With so many incredible towns to visit in Italy, the country’s most beautiful natural attractions often get overlooked by first-time visitors. Don’t make this mistake! The Italian Dolomite Mountains are worth a trip from the other side of the world! The scenery here is simply phenomenal and I don’t say this lightly.

We’ve seen a lot of the world and some of the most incredible mountain scenery in Switzerland , Western Canada, New Zealand, or Norway to mention just a few. Yet, it took us years to get to the Italian mountains… After spending almost a month in this region over several different trips, I can say that it’s as beautiful as it gets.

No matter which mountain pass you drive, which gondola ride you choose, or which hike you make, you’ll find the most remarkable landscapes in the Dolomites!

Not to be missed: Hard to say because every place is so beautiful. The most popular areas for first-time visitors are Val Gardena and Cortina d’Ampezzo with the iconic 3 peaks Tre Cime di Lavaredo . Also the lakes Pragser Wildsee (Lake Braies) and Lake Sorapis are stunning. Marmolada , the highest mountain range of the Dolomites, is also considered a must.

READ ALSO: Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites in Italy

Nice to see: Everything! Check out the Cinque Torri area that offers stunning mountain views and easy access to some incredible Great War sites. Also the mountains of the nearby Trentino region are really beautiful. Check out Val di Fumo , a spectacular place that’s still under the radar of most international tourists.

READ ALSO: Most Beautiful Lakes in the Italian Dolomites

How much time do you need: You can get a glimpse of the Dolomites in a day if you take a guided tour with a local guide. There are day tours from Bolzano, from Venice, or from Lake Garda. But if you are traveling in summer and love hiking, plan at least 5-6 days in the area. Stay in Val Gardena for a few days and be sure to spend several days in the Cortina d’Ampezzo area as well (see our guide to the best places to stay in the Dolomites ).

We’ve been to the Dolomites several times and will definitely go back again. There is just so much to see that you could spend many vacations here!

LEARN MORE: Dolomites Itinerary

Good to know: In winter, you can ski in the Dolomites. There are countless ski resorts in the South Tyrol and Trentino regions. And in summer, it’s a paradise for hiking and other outdoor activities!

READ ALSO: Best Hikes in the Dolomites

Italian Dolomites - one of the most beautiful regions to visit in Italy

One more beautiful town that I feel deserves a mention on this list of the very best places to see in Italy is Verona . World-famous as being the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Verona is known as Italy’s most romantic city. But there is so much more to it than just Juliet’s tiny balcony!

Verona is a very old town with a rich history and beautiful architecture. Its most famous attraction is the 1st-century Roman amphitheater. You can visit it inside during the day or get tickets for one of the many concerts and performances in the evening. There is always something happening here!

The town is compact and you can see a lot in a short time. Stroll around the old town, get just a bit off the beaten tourist path, and you’ll find a great atmosphere of a real Italian town that’s often hard to find in many other most popular towns and cities in Italy.

Not to be missed: Verona Arena, Piazza delle Erbe, Torre dei Lamberti, and Juliet’s House & Balcony.

Nice to see: Castelvecchio, Ponte Scaligero, Piazza dei Signori, Arche Scaligere, and the views from Castel San Pietro.

How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main highlights of Verona. If you have one full day in the city, you can cover most of its best attractions. In two days, you can see the best of Verona plus take a tour of the nearby vineyards .

TIP: You can visit Verona as well as Lake Garda as a day trip from Milan . There are also tours from Venice .

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Verona

Verona - one of the best cities to visit in Italy

For many years, I was convinced that Milan was not as beautiful or worth a visit as most other Italian cities. However, my recent visit proved me wrong. Milan is a fascinating city and one of the very few places in Italy where history and modern-day life go so well together. I can’t compare it to any other Italian city as none of them have the same vibe as you’ll find in Milan.

Milan is a bit of a rough diamond and you have to make some effort to explore deeper in order to truly appreciate it. But even if you just visit for a day and focus on the main tourist attractions, it’s still well worth a visit!

Not to be missed: Duomo and Duomo Terraces, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci (book months in advance or take a tour !).

Nice to see: Sforzesco Castle, La Scala, Milan canals, Brera & Braidense National Library, Porta Nuova district.

How much time do you need: One day is enough for the main landmarks of Milan (see this guide for more info: one day in Milan ). If you have more time, I suggest taking a day tour to Lake Como .

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Milan

Best cities in Italy - Milan

12. Italian Riviera

Italian Riviera is a beautiful coastal area of the Liguria region in western Italy. It’s best known for the picturesque coastal villages of Cinque Terre (mentioned above) and the luxury holiday resort for the rich and the famous – Portofino. But also here, there is so much more to see and do!

This part of Italy is just as beautiful as, say the Amalfi Coast, but you won’t find many tourist groups here. It’s more a place for a repeat trip to Italy than for those visiting the country for the first time and so many tourists never get to see more of this region beyond Cinque Terre. Yet, I think it surely deserves a visit if you can squeeze another day or two in your Italian itinerary.

The biggest city in this area is Genoa, but if you have to choose one or the other, I find that the coastal towns are worth your time more.

Not to be missed: Portofino, Cinque Terre, Camogli (featured image on top of this article).

Nice to see: Genoa, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portovenere.

How much time do you need: You need at least one day for Cinque Terre (see #5 above) and at least one day for Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, and Camogli. If you also want to visit Portovenere and Genoa, you’ll need at least 4 days in this region and it will be rushed.

LEARN MORE: Most Beautiful Towns of the Italian Riviera

Portofino in the Italian Riviera

One of the most unique cities in Italy, Naples , is totally different from any other place in Italy! It’s noisy and crowded, but it’s also home to some of the most interesting historical sights and landmarks. Not even to mention that Naples is the birthplace of pizza. So a visit here is your chance to try the original Italian pizza, as it’s supposed to be.

No matter what you might have heard of Naples, don’t doubt for a second – the city is absolutely worth a visit! Ideally, you combine a trip here with that to the earlier-mentioned Amalfi Coast. But Naples is a fascinating destination in itself!

There is so much to see and do in and near Naples that you’ll have to be really selective about where to go, especially if your time in the area is limited.

Not to be missed: Historic city center (the area around Spaccanapoli and Via dei Tribunali), the Veiled Christ at Sansevero Chapel, National Archaeological Museum, Santa Chiara Monastery, Gesu Nuovo Church, and the views from Castel Sant’Elmo.

Nice to see: Naples Underground, Naples Catacombs, Piazza del Plebiscito, Royal Palace of Naples, Cathedral, Castel Nuovo, Ovo Castle, Via San Gregorio Armeno, Spanish Quarter.

How much time do you need: You need at least one day in Naples in order to see some of the musts. Ideally, you plan at least 2-3 days for the city, plus a few days for its surroundings including a visit to places like Pompeii, Herculaneum, Mt Vesuvius, or the Royal Palace of Caserta. See our guide to the best day trips from Naples for more information about all these places.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Naples & Naples – Amalfi Coast Itinerary for 10 Days

Bay of Naples - one of the most beautiful areas to visit in Italy

The centuries-old rival town of Florence, Pisa is another place that most people consider a must-see in Italy. And it’s well worth a trip, even if just to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa!

It seems that everyone in the world has seen the famous Pisa Tower (even if just on a pizza box of a local pizzeria in your hometown). But not many people know that there is so much more to see in Pisa than its tower.

Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) certainly does its name justice! The architecture here is stunning. Most buildings here date from the 11th and 12th centuries. Don’t miss the Duomo, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Baptistery, and the graveyard.

After a visit here, make sure to also visit the city center of Pisa. You’ll find a very pleasant Italian town with more locals than tourists, trendy cafes, restaurants, and nice little shops. When you come here from the busy Piazza dei Miracoli, you won’t believe this is the same town.

Not to be missed: Piazza dei Miracoli with the leaning tower of Pizza.

Nice to see: Pisa town center.

How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main highlights and a visit to the city center. You can take a guided tour that covers all the main places in about 2 hours .

TIP: Because it doesn’t require that much time, Pisa is often visited as a half-day trip from Florence or in combination with other places nearby. For example, you can take a day tour from Florence that combines Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano or a day tour that visits Pisa and Cinque Terre from Florence .

There are also day tours from Rome that visit Pisa and Florence in a day and many other options. In other words, it’s really easy to include Pisa in your itinerary when planning a trip to Italy.

Pisa - one of the best places to see in Italy

15. Emilia Romagna

Probably one of the most underrated regions in northern Italy, Emilia Romagna is a true hidden gem just waiting to be discovered!

If this place was anywhere else in the world, it would be overrun by tourists. But surrounded by such grand neighbors as Venice, Milan, and Italian Lakes in the north, coastal areas of the Italian Riviera in the west, and Tuscany in the south, Emilia Romagna is often overlooked by most first-time visitors.

However, if you are looking to discover the more authentic side of Italy, you should really consider visiting at least a couple of places in this region. Emilia Romagna is like the best of Italy in one, but without as many tourists. It truly has it all: rich history, stunning architecture, art, beautiful beaches, lively towns, and lovely landscapes. Furthermore, Emilia Romagna offers some of the very best food in the whole of Italy.

Not to be missed: Ravenna , Bologna .

Nice to see: Rimini , Parma, Ferrara, Modena.

How much time do you need: You’ll need at least one day for Bologna (you can easily visit Bologna from Florence for a day too) and at least half a day for Ravenna. If you have more time, you can easily fill 4-5 days in this region.

LEARN MORE: Emilia Romagna Itinerary & Best Things to Do in Bologna

Emilia Romagna Italy - Travel Guide and Trip Itinerary including Rimini, Ravenna, Forlimpopoli, and Santarcangelo di Romagna

TIP: If you find yourself planning a trip to this part of Italy, make sure to also plan a day for San Marino . While technically not part of Italy, it definitely deserves a mention and a visit!

San Marino is a tiny Republic surrounded by the Emilia Romagna region in Italy. It’s a real fairytale-like destination and well worth your time.

Pro tip: Plan to stay at least one night in one of the San Marino hotels so that you can explore this magical place without the crowds of day-trippers.

LEARN MORE: San Marino

San Marino

Puglia (Apulia) is a beautiful region in southern Italy, right at the ‘heel’ of this boot-shaped country. Apulia is probably best known internationally for its trulli houses. Trulli are dry stone huts with a conical roof only found in this part of Italy and mostly in Alberobello town and the Itria Valley. These houses are typically painted white, while the roofs are left grey.

If you are looking for more authentic places to visit in Italy, then you should definitely consider this lesser-known region. It has some incredibly beautiful areas and just a fraction of the number of tourists compared to the surrounding regions.

A visit here is about the colors, the smells, the tastes that somehow feel stronger than anywhere else. It feels as if time passes slower here and so this is a wonderful part of Italy for those who like to travel deeper and are looking for more local experiences.

Not to be missed: Trulli houses in Alberobello, Promontorio del Gargano (a scenic drive along the coast following the ‘heel’ between Peschici and Manfredonia).

Nice to see: the 13th century octagonal-shaped Castel del Monte, Lecce that’s often called ‘Florence of the South’, Bari, Cathedral of Trani, Cathedral of Otranto, Taranto, Grotte di Castellana.

How much time do you need: You’ll need a day to explore the Terra dei Trulli and at least half a day for the scenic drive at the Gargano NP. The rest really depends on what you’re planning to visit.

Trulli houses in Puglia region in Italy

Sicily is not only the largest island of Italy but also of the whole Mediterranean region. The island has nice beaches and breathtaking scenery, and it’s also very rich in history. You can even find ancient temples dating to the 5th-6th centuries BC (don’t miss Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples!).

One of the main attractions of the island is Mount Etna, Europe’s largest and most active volcano. You can visit the volcano with various tours – by jeep, hiking, etc.

Sicily is also a great region for foodies as it has its own distinct cuisine. Sicilian food has been influenced a lot by its history and you’ll find dishes influenced by French, Greek, Arabic, and North African cuisines. Different regions within Sicily can have very different food as well.

TIP: If you’d like to get to know more about Sicilian food and taste a big variety of it, you may want to consider a local food tour . There are some really good tours in all the bigger towns.

Not to be missed: Mount Etna, Valley of the Temples, Taormina (and the nearby villages where The Godfather was filmed), Syracuse (Siracusa), and Palermo.

Nice to see: Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Catania, Monreale, and Erice and Segesta.

How much time do you need: You can see the highlights of Sicily in 3-5 days, but you can easily spend a week or two here as well.

Best destinations in Italy - Sicily

18. Sardinia

Just a little bit smaller than Sicily, Sardinia is also a big island that is a good vacation destination in itself. It has some nice places for sightseeing, but it’s also a popular vacation island with azure-blue waters, rugged coastlines, and dreamy white-sand beaches. It’s a great place to experience the Italian dolce far niente , the sweetness of doing nothing!

If you are looking for a more active holiday, you’ll find plenty to see and do as well. The island interior is mountainous and there are some nice hiking trails here. There are also nice little towns, archeological sites, and little islands to visit…

Sardinia is very different from the rest of Italy, with its own unique culture and food. It offers a lot of diversity in activities, sights, and sceneries and so it’s a great vacation destination for those who want to combine a beach holiday with some sightseeing.

Not to be missed: Costa Smeralda and its La Madalena Archipelago. Nuraghi, fortress-like tower ruins shaped like beehives. One of the oldest nuraghi (1500 BC) is Su Nuraxi in Barumini.

Nice to see: Cagliari, Alghero, and countless beaches.

How much time do you need: You can see some of the main highlights of Sardinia in 2-3 days, but it would be a pity to fly to this island just to tick the box on your Italy bucket list… If you are looking for a more relaxing vacation and want to enjoy the beautiful beaches, you can easily spend a few weeks here.

TIP: If you are thinking of visiting Sardinia, but are not sure where to start, take a look at Strictly Sardinia , a website by my Italian friend Claudia. Sardinia local, she shares all the top tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip.

READ ALSO: Tips & Useful Info for Traveling to Europe

Sardinia - one of the most beautiful islands in Italy

So, this is my list of the absolute best places in Italy. As you can see, many of these destinations can be like a trip in itself, while some others can be visited in just a day or even less.

I hope that these suggestions will help you plan a dream trip to Italy! No matter where you go and how much time you spend, one thing you can be sure of – you’ll want to come back!

For more detailed destination guides and practical tips for your trip to Italy, please check our other articles on the blog via this link: Italy itinerary for 2 weeks . This itinerary covers many of the very best places in Italy in the most efficient way.

READ ALSO: How to Plan a Trip to Europe (+Top Tips)

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The very best places to see in Italy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Sunday 30th of July 2023

Good afternoon, I was wondering if you have 3 - 4 wks itineraries for Italy? I have already visited the touristy places and would love to visit other regions. Thank you!

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Hi Carmen, no, we don't have any sample itineraries for a longer duration as the possibilities would be endless. As you say, you already visited many popular places, so you'll never find an itinerary that's perfect for you because most itineraries will most definitely include some of the most popular areas. I also can't imagine you have visited all the 'touristy places' in Italy either ;). We have been to Italy dozens of times and still just scratched the surface of all there is to see... You can spend 3-4 weeks in the Dolomites alone and still not see everything... The best way to plan a trip is pick a few areas that interest you the most and then spend a few days in each exploring it deeper. Good luck with the planning.

Bruce Ogilvie

Wednesday 14th of June 2023

We are travelling to Italy this September. Thanks for your Italy article. Very helpful. Please inform us of where to stay in Florence. $$ and $$$ please. 3 or 4 stars. What area or neighborhood?

Hi Bruce, you can find some information on the best area to stay and our hotel recommendations for Florence in this article. If you are traveling any time soon, book ASAP! Have a great trip!

Tammy Hamilton

Friday 3rd of March 2023

What if you want to do it in three weeks? What do you recommend and how to travel and where to stay

Hi Tammy, take a look at our Italy itinerary for 2 weeks. It has so many additional recommendations that you can easily make it 3 weeks or more. You could start with Naples/Amalfi Coast for 3-4 days, then Rome for 3 days, then Florence (+Tuscan countryside/Cinque Terre/Pisa) for another 3-4 days, Bologna for a day or two, Venice for 2-3 days, Verona for a day, Lake Garda for 2-3 days, Lake Como for 1-4 days, and end with a day or two in Milan. It's just one of the gazillion ways to do it. Once again, take a look at the itinerary I linked to above. It has all the details and suggestions. If I ever find the time, I might publish some more recommendations, but there are so many possibilities that it's really difficult to recommend 'the best' itinerary. Good luck with the planning!

Tuesday 21st of February 2023

What is the best spot/address to take cypress tress picture in Tuscany. The one you have in this post. Thanks.

Sunday 26th of February 2023

Hi Ramesh, there are quite a few places in Tuscany where you will find similar views. The problem is that what you see in reality is often much further away than in the pictures. So if you are looking to take pictures like that - and depending on the place - you'll need a good telephoto lens. Anyway, this picture is from Crete Senesi not far from Siena. There are a few places indicated with this name on Google Maps and they are all quite scenic. If you are looking for this exact spot, you can find it here. Be aware though that it's usually full of people taking pictures, especially at sunset, so it's not as idyllic as it may look in the photos.

Thursday 2nd of February 2023

Hi we plan to have ten days to venice dolomite como and portofino . Where should we start first and how long for every place.any recommendations for the best transportation through this journey. Do you have any recommendations for hotel and restaurant too thank you

Friday 3rd of February 2023

Hi Miley, what you are asking are detailed suggestions for an entire trip itinerary. Unfortunately, I really have no time to offer this service to our readers. Creating a good itinerary for a trip like this takes many hours and everyone has different interests, flies to different airports, travels in different seasons, etc. etc. You might find some inspiration in our 2-week Italy itinerary that has all the details. But it doesn't cover all the areas that you want to see. We do, however, have plenty of articles on our blog that covers all the areas that you want to see in great detail. You can find a lot of them linked in this article, and otherwise, take a look at the overview on our Italy travel page. Good luck with the planning and have a great trip!

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The 10 most beautiful places in Italy

Italy's list of stunning destinations is seemingly endless. The most beautiful places in Italy? Look no further

Livia Hengel

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Italy is full of beautiful places to visit. With its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes and long-standing traditions, there’s a lot to uncover on a trip to Il Bel Paese.

The enduring popularity of Italy means many areas of the country suffer from over-tourism. We’ve done our best to cover the most beautiful places in Italy while highlighting some of the unique destinations you can visit within them to avoid (some of) the crowds. Next time you visit Italy, don’t miss these unique attractions showcasing the best of its nature, culture and history.

RECOMMENDED: 🏝️ The best  Italian islands 🏖️ The best places to visit in Italy 🇮🇹 Italy's most beautiful villages and towns 🍝 The best restaurants in Italy

Livia Hengel  is a travel writer based in Rome. At Time Out, all of our  travel guides  are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our  editorial guidelines . This guide includes affiliate links, which have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our  affiliate guidelines . 

An email you’ll actually love

Most beautiful places in Italy

Val d’Orcia

1.  Val d’Orcia

Tuscany needs little introduction. A region beloved for its picturesque landscapes, vast vineyards and curving roads lined with cypress trees, it’s a destination everyone dreams of visiting once in a lifetime. The Val d’Orcia, located south of Siena, is one of our favourite parts of Tuscany to explore, with its charming hilltop towns and numerous wine estates. Don’t miss visiting the thermal village of Bagno Vignoni, with a large pool in its central piazza, wineries around Montalcino, which produce the area’s fabled Brunello red wine, and La Foce, a 15th-century estate with one of Italy’s most beautiful, manicured gardens.


2.  Burano

Venice is more than Saint Mark’s Square. This beautiful, floating city comprises 118 islands scattered throughout the Venetian Lagoon. Hop on a vaporetto and head north in the lagoon to Burano, a small fisherman’s island with candy-coloured houses, lace workshops and tiny alleyways. Don’t miss seeing the leaning tower in the central piazza and enjoying lunch at one of Burano’s trattorias, serving local specialties, including sardines, fish risotto and bussolai (traditional cookies). You can also cross over a footbridge to reach Mazzorbo, a sleepy agricultural island where artichokes and grapes grow in a small vineyard.

📍 Check out more of the best day trips from Venice


3.  Tuscia

The glory of Rome tends to overshadow the Lazio region, which is full of fascinating places that are well worth a day trip. Tuscia, an old Etruscan stronghold located a couple of hours’ drive north, is the perfect region to escape the crowds while enjoying cultural and natural sights. Villa Farnese a Caprarola, a pentagonal 16th-century villa, houses incredible Renaissance frescoes, while the nearby Villa Lante in Bagnaia has exquisite gardens known for their water features. From Viterbo’s thermal waters to Lago di Bolsena’s lakeside towns, there’s a lot to see in the area. Don’t miss the Civita di Bagnoregio, a fairytale village sitting atop a tufa rock foundation, seemingly suspended above a vast valley.

📍 Discover the best things to do in nearby Rome

Costa degli Dei

4.  Costa degli Dei

If you’re looking for an alternative to the crowded streets of Positano, head further south to the Costa degli Dei – the Coast of the Gods – in Calabria. As its name suggests, this pristine coastline is an otherworldly marvel with crystal-clear turquoise water and soft, sandy beaches. The uncontested ‘pearl’ of the coastline is Tropea, a hilltop town overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, which offers mesmerizing views, Slim Aarons-style. Adventurous travellers will enjoy the Marina di Zambrone (which requires a hike to reach the beach), while Capo Vaticano has beach clubs with loungers for rent.

📍 Find more of the best beaches in Italy

Alta Murgia

5.  Alta Murgia

Once regarded as the ‘shame of Italy’ for its troglodyte caves and underdeveloped infrastructure, Matera’s lunar landscapes are quickly becoming one of southern Italy’s leading attractions. It’s worth spending a couple of nights in the city before venturing across the vast Murgia park to explore smaller towns like Altamura, famed for its local bread production, and Gravina in Puglia, with its verdant canyons. The park is ideal for nature enthusiasts who will enjoy hiking, cycling and birdwatching across its limestone plateaus, while culture hunters should pay a visit to Castel del Monte, a 13th-century octagonal castle with towering views over the surrounding landscape.

📍 Discover more of the best things to do in Italy

Sorrentine Peninsula

6.  Sorrentine Peninsula

One of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations, the Sorrentine Peninsula is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of Italy – if not the world. This scenic stretch of coastline, which includes the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Coast, is filled with dozens of famous seaside towns, cliffside villages, rocky bays and sandy coves that capture the essence of  la dolce vita . It’s hard to beat the crowds, but you’ll find more space – and locals – if you head to towns like Cetara, known for its anchovy production, and Vietri sul Mare, famed for its ceramics.

📍 Check out more of the most romantic places in the world

Villa Romana del Casale

7.  Villa Romana del Casale

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is a true microcosm of Italy – one which has seen empires rise and fall over millennia. As such, it is filled with ancient Greek and Roman relics, from temples and theatres to ornamental estates. Villa Romana del Casale, located in Piazza Armerina (a small town in central Sicily), is one of these. This large, 4th-century villa is best known for its well-preserved mosaics, the ‘Bikini Girl’, featuring young women playing sports and exercising —an extremely rare depiction that challenges gender roles and stereotypes of the time.

La Strada del Sagrantino

8.  La Strada del Sagrantino

As one of the biggest global producers and consumers of wine, Italy is filled with vineyards up and down the boot. Instead of heading to more famous regions, why not explore Umbria’s rich wine heritage on your next trip? A full-bodied red wine made near Montefalco, Sagrantino pairs well with the region’s flavourful cuisine, which includes wild boar, black truffles and gingerbread with candied fruits. And with its rolling hills and fall foliage, the Sagrantino Wine Trail is every bit as beautiful as Chianti or Le Langhe. Nearby, you can visit charming medieval towns, including Todi, Spoleto and Assisi.

Riviera del Conero

9.  Riviera del Conero

Situated on the eastern shore of Italy, Le Marche is blessed with a long and picturesque coastline along the Adriatic Sea – and fewer crowds. Its highlight is the Conero National Park, a nature reserve that covers 18km of nature trails and cliffs overlooking secluded beaches where you can swim in crystalline water. La Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle (‘Beach of the Two Sisters’) is the prettiest bay in the park and is named for two large rock formations that emerge from the sea. You can reach it by sea with ferries from the port of Numana.

📍 Find more of the best hikes in the world

Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

10.  Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

A collection of 22 palaces and castles built by the House of Savoy in Piedmont, these castles in Turin are some of the most lavish residences ever built on Italian soil. The House of Savoy was a European royal dynasty that ruled from the 11th century until the monarchy was abolished in 1946. An enormously wealthy and influential family, the Savoy built several estates to house its members, enjoy recreational activities and host governmental functions. The 17th-century Venaria Reale, often referred to as the ‘Versailles of Italy’, is the most famous venue thanks to its grand hall with intricate stucco features and checkered floors.

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Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled

22 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Italy

Italy is a truly special, incredibly diverse and magical country where I think you are just as likely to find beauty in a quiet, cobbled backstreet or traditional trattoria as in its stunning beaches or extraordinary countryside.

I’ve lived in Italy for many years and love to share my favourite destinations. Some are well-known, and others are less so…

1. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre’s rugged, rustic, but breathtaking beauty perfectly sums up why Italy is so revered as a travel destination!

Located on the stunning Italian Riviera coastline, five brightly coloured medieval villages cling jaggedly – and almost impossibly – to the inhospitable coastal rocks.

It’s such an important place; it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1997. I suggest meandering around the narrow streets, wandering the ancient vineyards clinging to steep terraces, and heading for a pesto pasta lunch (a regional speciality) at one of the local trattorias! Pure bliss! 

My highlights…

  • Enjoying a hike along the Blue Trail which overlooked the ocean and took me to five Insta-worthy villages! 
  • Spending a day at Cinque Terre’s only sandy beach, Monterosso al Mare.
  • Going on a boat sunset tour and exploring the coastline whilst watching the sun go down.

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2. Lake Como

Lake Como Italy

Famously home to George Clooney’s Italian villa, Lake Como is the third largest lake in the country and a hot spot for tourists and locals alike.

Traditionally, Lake Como has been known as a place for wealthy people and political entities to retreat occasionally, but I would still recommend a visit to anyone!

Lake Como is home to several castles and luxurious accommodations. If you need to get around the lake, its state-of-the-art water transport ferry system has been an important part of the lake since its induction in 1826.

  • Visiting one of the most iconic cathedrals in Italy, The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which also offers breathtaking panoramic views.
  • Exploring the museums and learning about the history of Lake Como.
  • Having a fun day out at Lake Como Adventure Park in the mountains surrounded by nature.
  • Going boating on the stunning lake, it’s seriously beautiful! 

3. Tuscany Countryside

Tuscany Countryside

I honestly think there is no other place like the Tuscan countryside on earth. I highly recommend driving away from the cities and heading into some of the most extraordinary scenery in the world! 

This is a truly magical place where you’ll find impossibly picturesque rolling hills and scenic drives where the odd roaming wild hog or two will suddenly come into view.  

Also, expect breathtaking sunflower fields, olive groves that have been here for hundreds of years, medieval ruins and some of the most incredible vineyards in the world.

  • Taking a trip to the natural hot springs in Bagno Vignoni and bathing in the gorgeous waters.
  • Exploring the romantic vineyards in Chianti and going wine tasting.
  • Booking a hot air balloon tour in Lucca and enjoying the breathtaking views of the gorgeous landscapes.
  • Visiting the leaning tower of Pisa and capturing an Insta-worthy shot next to the famous landmark.

My hotel choice for Tuscan Countryside – Il Castro Luxury Apartments San Gimignano

Il Castro Luxury Apartments San Gimignano

  • To book, check prices or dates for Il Castro Luxury Apartments San Gimignano

4. Camogli, Liguria

Camogli, Liguria Italy

In the northern portion of the country, the peninsula of Portofino houses small fishing villages. Among the most notable and famous villages is Camogli in Liguria.

This small port maintains a modest population of around 5,500 people and remains protected within the Portofino Marine Protected Area .

Strolling through the marketplace or basking in the sun on Comogli’s coast is a welcomed activity for tourists and locals alike.

I recommend bringing your camera and taking many pictures of every nook and cranny of this endearing and picturesque part of the coast! 

My favourite highlights

  • Tasting delicious Italian dishes at Ostaia da ö Sigu.
  • Relaxing on the Camogli’s rocky beach and enjoying the glistening sun.
  • Renting a speedboat with a skipper and exploring the beautiful gems only reachable by water (the Natural Park of Portofino and Paradiso Gulf).
  • Taking an E-bike tour along the stunning coastline and discovering churches and castles.

5. Calabria


Located in the country’s south, Calabria is part of the land separating the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Ionian Sea and the sun-baked toe of Italy’s boot!

Some attractions in this country can seem like a dressed-up show put in place for tourists’ enjoyment, but that is not something you will find in Calabria.

This portion of the country is quintessentially Italian, and I’m always charmed by it. Calabria has lovingly escaped the tourist game to provide an unspoiled and seemingly untouched view of classic Italy.

If you want to see Italians as they are rather than a scripted rendition, I personally think Calabria is the place to go! 

My must-do highlights…

  • Exploring the Pollino National Park, discovering the magnificent Raganello Canyon, and walking along streams, bridges and gorges.
  • Visiting one of the most prestigious monuments in Calabria, the ancient Aragonese fortress of Le Castella.
  • Enjoying the clear blue waters at Tropea. 

6. Lake Garda

Lake Garda - most beautiful lakes in Europe

I think this is one of the most jaw-dropping places in the world; this is a large and impossibly picturesque lake nestled in Northern Italy surrounded by the pretty fortress town of Sirmione, the resort town of Riva del Garda, and many charming and laid-back villages in between.

Head further North and get to the famous Dolomites Mountain range.  

I highly recommend boating, wind-surfing, eating at the many charming and cosmopolitan restaurants, and generally taking in the wonderful vibe and jaw-dropping scenery.

My personal highlights…

  • Bathing in thermal springs in Garda Thermal Park. 
  • Enjoying a family day at Gardaland Park, which features over 30 exciting rides, show-stopping musical performances and spectacular light shows.
  • Exploring the charming and picturesque town of Sirmione home to a unique drawbridge entrance.
  • Cycling around the lake and taking in the breathtaking views on a path suspended 50 metres above the water.

7. The Dolomites

Dolomites Italy

If you head further north from Lake Garda, you’ll find some of Europe’s most spectacular mountain scenery. Located in northeastern Italy, with gorgeous scenery and beautiful resorts aside, there is also plenty to do.

Head there in winter and find well-coordinated ski networks, the legendary circuit Sella Ronda, and plenty of people who cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Visit in summer and go hiking amongst stunning views and fresh mountain air.  

  • Taking a hike around the impressive Tre Cime di Lavaredo, famous for its three magnificent and distinctive peaks.
  • Capturing an Instagrammable shot at Lago di Carezza where the panoramic backdrop of the Latemar mountains reflects onto the lake.
  • Enjoying the culture and history that the Dolomites have to offer with a visit to Bolzano.

8. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

I love this area! The most famous area is the resort town of Sorrento, where you’ll find the addictive liqueur limoncello and, of course, plenty of great wine.

The city can also be used as a base to visit Pompeii, which was buried by Mount Vesuvius’ volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

Further along the ruggedly beautiful coast, you will find the impossibly picturesque and affluent town of Positano and the small, pretty town of Amalfi. The area offers one of the world’s greatest coastal drives, so be sure to hire a car if you can; Fiat 500s are always an apt choice!

I would also recommend taking a boat from Sorrento to the romantic island of Capri, where you can see the gorgeous Blue Grotto, a sea cave flooded with brilliant blue or emerald light.

  • Exploring the picturesque Old Town of Sorrento with its beautiful pastel-coloured houses.
  • Taking a trip along the Amalfi Coast, which is well-known for being one of the most stunning coastlines in the world and overlooking crystal clear turquoise waters.
  • Hiking the four-mile stretch of the Path of Gods which provides you with the most breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coastline.
  • Enjoying watching a sunset over the bay of Naples whilst listening to the musical delights of a busker in Villa Communale Park.

My hotel choice for Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast – La Casa di Peppe Guest House & Villa

La Casa di Peppe Guest House & Villa

  • To book, check prices or dates for La Casa di Peppe Guest House & Villa


Puglia is located in the southern region of Italy , at the heel of Italy’s boot. Initially ignored by tourists for decades, it has become quite the fashionable place to take a vacation in recent years! 

Here, you can expect hill towns filled with pretty white ‘Trulli’ houses, centuries-old farmland and a spectacular Mediterranean coastline.

This region is perfect for those wishing to taste real Italy and the fabulous blue sea and glorious sandy beaches.

Aside from the varied Italian experience, you’ll have other reasons to visit this region, including the excellent regional cuisine, picturesque olive groves, and lush green orchards.

  • Wandering around the historic city of Leece and admiring the gorgeous Baroque architecture made from unique stone.
  • Dining at the Masseria Il Frantoio and sampling its ever-evolving menu of authentic Italian dishes.
  • Visiting the iconic landmark of Sant at Torre Sant’Andrea and enjoying a swim through the archway in picturesque waters.
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride overlooking the natural landscape of Gravina, which was filled with canyons, hills and stone houses.

10. Verona City

Verona Italy

Verona is a lovely, relaxed city famous for Shakespeare’s story of Romeo and Juliet. It has the third-largest Roman Arena in Italy, and I highly recommend catching an opera during your visit.

UNESCO has awarded the city a World Heritage site status because of its urban structure and architecture, which include Roman remains and ancient castles.

As you can imagine, Verona is a very romantic city, so if you take a partner, you never know, they might end up proposing! The Italian lakes are accessible from Verona, Lake Garda, Lake Como, and Lake Maggiore, some of the most well-known.

The mountain lakes offer classically beautiful images of this country and are flanked by sleepy cobblestone villages and secluded gardens.

  • Climbing up to the top of Torre dei Lamberti and seeing stunning views across the city.
  • Enjoying a shopping trip at Piazza Delle Erbe which is also a perfect outdoor dining spot on a sunny day.
  • Taking a stroll along the stunning Ponte Pietra bridge which connects the city to Teatro Romano and Castel San Pietro.
  • Wandering around the magical Giardino Gusti Gardens located in the grounds of the historic palace.

11. Venice 

Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the most famous cities in Italy, and it’s built on water. It’s also often cited as one of the world’s most romantic travel destinations. In the middle of the city, you’ll find the grand square ‘Piazza San Marco,’ where the even more impressive basilica resides.

If you’re a culture seeker, you’ll be spoilt for choice here; Venice has the world’s most artistic masterpieces per square kilometre, and numerous churches, museums, and palaces are worth visiting.

Another highlight is the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), an enclosed bridge that crosses the Rio di Palazzo.

If you’re a romantic and want to ride in a gondola, remember to take plenty of money—you will be charged a small fortune for the privilege.

  • Experiencing a unique way of getting around by taking one of the famous gondola rides through the city.
  • Tasting an array of fresh flavours at the Mercati di Rialto and see how the local Italians create their signature dishes.
  • Climbing the spiral staircase of Scala Contarini Del Bovolo which has a viewpoint at the top overlooking the city.

12. Bologna

Bologna in Italy

Bologna is a stunning city known for its beauty, left-wing politics, wealth, and, most importantly, cuisine. It is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy. If you arrive by train, move swiftly away from the station to take in the city’s most beautiful sites.

Many arcades allow you to explore the city even if it’s raining. I recommend wandering around the backstreets until you stumble upon one of the many beautiful squares where you can stop for a cafe or gelato.

Bologna also boasts the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088. Most people visit the city to discover its renowned culinary delights, which include tagliatelle al ragù, lasagne, tortellini served in broth, and fried gnocchi.

  • Viewing the spectacular art at Bologna National Gallery which featured paintings dating back as far as the 13th century.
  • Haggling for an eclectic range of items in a lively atmosphere at the historic markets at La Piazzola.
  • Indulging in a homemade tortellini in broth at Trattoria da Me.
  • Exploring one of the coolest places in the city, Ghetto Ebraico which was filled with shopping, bars and restaurants.

13. Florence

Florence capital of Tuscany in Italy

Florence is a magnificent and fascinating place and an art lover’s dream. A popular city nestled in the rolling hills of the Tuscany region, Florence has plenty to offer its many visitors.

For starters, there are numerous museums filled with famous paintings and sculptures and two places I recommend are the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi.

The latter hosts works by Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo and receives approximately 1.6 million tourists a year (you should book before you go, or you will unfortunately face a long wait).

Also, take your time to explore the rest of Tuscany. Known as the Renaissance country, the region offers some of the world’s most beautiful and romantic natural scenery.

The extraordinary countryside and coastline keep the relaxed vacationers happy, and the ever-flowing supply of fine wine and cuisine will certainly please the food connoisseurs.

  • Climbing 414 steps to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower and photographing the magnificent views overlooking the city.
  • Enjoying a day of shopping at San Lorenzo outdoor market which was filled with unique goods and souvenirs.
  • Finishing off a day of exploring by watching the sunset cast a sensational light across the city at Piazzale Michelangelo.

My hotel choice for Florence – 25hours Hotel

Best hotels in Florence

  • To book, check prices or dates for 25hours Hotel Florence Piazza San Paolino

Rome Italy

It’s impossible to tour Italy without visiting its famous capital, Rome. This truly incredible city is full of history spanning over twenty centuries—you could say Rome is the world’s best open-air museum.

As you wander the streets, the architecture will leave you in awe, so pack your camera.

There are many sites to discover, the most famous being the Coliseum, the Vatican, St. Peter’s, the Trevi Fountain and my personal favourite, the Pantheon.

You probably won’t get to see them all in a weekend but it will give you a reason to go back! Rome’s cafe culture is also world-famous, and for a real Rome experience, choose from one of many piazzas and watch the world go by with (an expensive) expresso. 

My personal highlights

  • Admiring the structural architecture at the historic Colosseum, one of Italy’s most iconic landmarks.
  • Walking up the 135 Spanish Steps and capturing an Insta-worthy shot between the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti.
  • Making a wish at the most famous fountain in the Europe, Trevi Fountain.

15. Sardinia

Sardinia Beach Italy

This large island off the coast of Italy is a favourite holiday spot for Italians and rich footballers. Most of the time, it’s a quiet and relaxing island, but popular areas can get very busy in the summer, so you must book early to stay at the best places. To reach Sardinia, you can sail or fly into Alghero, Cagliari, or the port town of Olbia.

The island is beautiful, and compared to many holiday island resorts in Europe, it remains relatively unspoiled.

No high-rise concrete hotels are here; even the resort areas are surprisingly tasteful. I would personally recommend Sant’antioco and San Pietro, as these are the most remote and traditional areas.

Sardinia’s coastline is world-renowned, so you won’t have to search far for amazing beaches and clear water wherever you stay.

  • Taking a boat tour which was a gorgeous way to explore the stunning coastline.
  • Visiting the petite town of Bosa which was filled with attractive colorful architecture.
  • Spending the day relaxing on a Sardinia beach and exploring the hidden coves.


The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea makes an excellent holiday destination. Like Sardinia, it has excellent beaches and wonderful cuisine, only far cheaper.

You will also have the luxury of going island-hopping—the Aegadian Islands, Aeolian Islands, and Pantelleria Lampedusa are all nearby and accessible. Sicily is a traditional and rustic island with a rich culture and a potent mix of architecture, arts, cuisine, literature, and music.

Here, you can sit on beaches, visit archaeological sites, or sample the locally caught fish. Make sure you include a visit to the Selinunte, an ancient building containing five temples centred on an acropolis.

The east coast of Sicily is more developed and tourist-friendly, and the west coast is more untouched.

As you travel down the ladder, you’ll be amazed at how friendly the Sicilian people are and how pleased they are that you chose to visit Sicily.

My favorite highlights…

  • Visiting the petite fishing town of Cefalù, which was filled with vibrant boats, and taking a dip in the picturesque turquoise waters.
  • Discovering Mount Etna volcano on an organised tour was an incredible experience! 
  • Watching the sunset by the white limestone cliff of Scala dei Turchi which is famous for its unique shape.

Capri Italy

A favourite with honeymooners and well-heeled tourists, this resort island has attracted visitors since the Roman Times and has maintained its stunning beauty.

It’s a small island in Italy’s Bay of Naples and is home to rugged landscapes, yacht-filled coves, upscale hotels and plenty of boutique shops stocking everything, from Italian wine to designer fashion.

You can’t leave without visiting the Blue Grotto, one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It’s a natural dark cavern where the sea is a stunning electric blue (actually sunlight passing through an underwater cave).

  • Taking a chairlift to the peak of Mount Solaro and capturing the breathtaking views that reach as far as the Calabria mountains.
  • Having a romantic dinner at the traditional Italian restaurant La Capannina.
  • Visiting the Grotta Azzurra, where the sun reflects an unusual blue glow throughout the cave.
  • Exploring the spectacular sea cliffs surrounding the island by boat.

18. Portofino 

Portofino - Italy

Portofino is one of my favourite under-the-radar gems! This picturesque fishing village is one of the most famous holiday resorts on the Italian Riviera. This destination is ideal for a romantic escape with your loved one! 

Portofino offers tranquillity, charming architecture, and true nature. This beautiful village has been a top spot for the rich and famous since the 1950s.

  • Window shopping at the luxurious boutiques on the marina front and hidden down narrow alleys.
  • Taking a bike tour and soaking up the panoramic views of the Gulf.
  • Visiting the open-air museum and admiring the contemporary artwork and the Mediterranean Sea at the same time.
  • Experiencing the famous diving spot near San Fruttuoso Beach and discovering the unique bronze statue underwater.

Milan City Italy

This is the Italian city to head to for shopping, fashion, and beautiful (and very well-dressed) people!. It’s a cosmopolitan, fast-paced city that attracts designers, artists, photographers, and models worldwide. There are also many other reasons to visit.

People aside, Milan is also famous for its extraordinary architecture, art, history, and food and for its love of football—its two main clubs have made the city one of the most football-loving places in Europe.

There is also great architecture, including the Duomo di Milano, excellent art galleries (Milan is home to one of the most famous Renaissance paintings in history—Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper), and incredible shops, operas, bars, and restaurants.

Milan is quite the foodie city and is famous for its typical Italian dishes like Risotto, minestrone and polenta, and I would suggest trying them all! 

  • Watching a football match at San Siro Stadium, one of the largest in Europe, and be part of the roaring atmosphere.
  • Exploring the Sforzesco Castle which featured several museums and a beautiful courtyard.
  • Spending a day shopping in the fashion capital of the world at the Golden Triangle which is filled with luxury brands.
  • Wandering through the creative street art in Isola and capturing shots for my Instagram.

20. Elba Island

Elba Island

Just north of the Tuscan Archipelago sits Elba Island, it’s remained a fairly under-the-radar destination in Italy but it’s an increasingly trendy place to holiday.

Around 30,000 people populate the gorgeous Italian island, but that number significantly increases during its tourist-filled summer months.

Elba Island is located in Italy’s Archipelago Toscano National Park and is known as the country’s third-largest island. Sardinia and Sicily are the only larger islands in Italy. Cavo Beach and Spiaggia Delle Tombe are among the most popular and picturesque beaches on Elba Island.

Like most islands, snorkelling and diving are popular tourist activities.

  • Exploring one of the most ancient buildings located on Elba Island, the Fortress of Volterraio where I saw breathtaking views of the Gulf of Portoferraio.
  • Experiencing a sunset boat tour around the island whilst taking in the magnificent scenery and enjoying an aperitif created from locally grown lemons.
  • Hiking up to the Capanne Mount, the highest peak of the island and capturing the panaromanic views.
  • Kayaking around beautiful island and taking a swim in the crystal-clear waters.

21. Lake Orta 

Lake Orta

Lake Garda and Como are the most famous lakes in Italy, but if you want more relaxation than a tourist-ridden destination, Lake Orta is the place to go! 

Locals tend to gravitate to Lake Orta when they need to recharge. At the centre of Lake Orta is a small island, Isola San Giulio, home to a century-old monastery and basilica.

Take a ferry to the island and soak up the wonderful and tranquil atmosphere!

  • Slowing down and enjoying a stroll around the lake which is surrounded by a collection of Insta-worthy photo spots! 
  • Enjoying the beach clubs located along the sandy shores and swimming in one of the cleanest lakes in Europe!
  • Exploring the famous Villa Taranto gardens and admiring the vibrant colours of the spectacular flower beds.

22. Ischia Island

Ischia Island

Located on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ischia Island is one of the many volcanically formed islands. Located about 30 km from Naples, tourists travel to this unbelievably beautiful island as it is the largest of the Phlegreen Islands in Italy. To get out to Ischia Island, visitors must take a ferry.

Two ferries bring people to the island. One takes 1.5 hours while the other is just one hour travel time, so choose the right one for your needs.

Once there, I recommend just kicking back and enjoying the beauty of this island while watching the daring cliff jumpers!

  • Taking a boat tour around the island and discovering hidden coves and admiring the pretty villages located along the cliffs.
  • Tasting the iconic arugula liquor as a digestive after enjoying a traditional dinner.
  • Visiting one of Ischia Island’s top attractions, the Aragonese Castle which offered some seriously Insta-worthy views.
  • Spending a day at the family-friendly Ischia Adventure Park and trying the fun zipline!

the places to visit in italy

Scott Balaam - writer and photographer Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin , Instagram , or Twitter . Hotel Reviewing Experience –Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Visit Sweden ,  OET (Spanish Tourism Office) , Sultanate of Oman and  Travel Alberta . Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos . Also mentioned as a top UK travel journalist .

57 thoughts on “22 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Italy”

Absolutely fantastic Blog to read. The few places which are there to visit are Milan known for city structure, Venice for its wonderful scene outlook and Rome for its outstanding landscape. Thanks for the wonderful Information we have addressed a Great Blog.

Italy has some of the most spectacular old cities in the world. It’s not just the countryside that’s beautiful – so many of the cities! Not only are they stunning, but cities are also incredibly fascinating, full of art, history, ancient ruins, and more. Some of the important sights in Rome are Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s Pieta.

Want to visit Venice one day, this country is the most beautiful country in the world thank u for sharing!

I truly admire you explorers, we only get to sit in an office behind the desk and read about the beauty of the world. Thanks Scott

Everyone should try and camp in Sicily, near the volcano! I can’t recommend this enough

The only places I was able to visit while in Italy were Rome and Venice! Loved them, but I would love to visit Tuscany and places like that. Take me outside of the city!

Really Italy is one of the most beautiful places to visit and I really love the Venice place. Initially, I was having difficulties to communicate with the loving people of Italy. However, one of my friends suggested me to take basic Italian courses from Easy Spoken Italian and now “Mi Manchi Italy!”

Great list. My only question is why aren’t there any stops in the Dolomites in Italy? I’ve heard that mountain region is incredibly beautiful and very different than any on the list.

I love Italy I went there few years ago and it was fascinating. Bologna is beautiful!

There sure are a lot of lovely places in Italy, I hope to have time to see more of them 🙂

It’s impossible to make a list of top ten in Italy. This country is the most beautiful country in the world and has hundreds of the most beautiful places! 🙂

I adore Italy and have visited twice. No matter where you are, it’s quite charming, especially Florence. It is so full of antiquities, ancient architecture, and lovely people. Everywhere you look, there is a sight to behold! I especially appreciated walking everywhere…and a coffee bar on every corner to sit and reflect the Italian way of life. I could get use to living there too!!!

While the food in Italy is reason enough to visit, the country is filled with famous works of art, exceptionally beautiful cities, and gorgeous lakes and mountains. A very romantic place.

They all look beautiful!

Love Italy – such a beautiful place!

love this list – have been to rome and venice and venice is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am going at the end of the year and will visit milan as well. I can not wait, however, i do want to visit a bit more of the country side.

i’ve only made it to rome, would love to see the rest of the country and eat and drink!

Love to see these places…….you people have described the beauty of italy……Amazing country to visit…….I would love to highlight about the place for my local audiences on my blog

I must say this article is very well written and very helpful. I will be travelling in Sept. Hope I get to see everything mentioned…….

This is a beautifully written and enticing article. The combination of eloquent descriptions and stunning photos makes me what to visit all 10 destinations immediately! Thanks Scott for sharing your appreciation and knowledge of Italy.

Where in the Milan is that canal from pictures? I was there and I doesn’t see it.

Florence!!! I NEED TO BE THERE!!

Beautiful places.I want visit Venice in near future.

Wow! Thanks for this woderful post. I live in Italy and love all the places you mentioned. This country is fabulous (but leaded by awful people…)

Great places..I’d like to visit Venice the most!

I live in Sardinia and I think that our beaches are among the finest in the world. I’m glad to see that they are in the list.

Thanks for featuring this! Exploring Italy is my dream and to read something like this helps in picturing my holiday!

I’m so glad to see Bologna on this list as I feel it is often overlooked. I loved it there 🙂

My husband and I are planing to go to Italy for our 30th anniversary. I would like to visit Venice, but I’ve heard that it has a bad smell because of the water in the canals. Is it true? I would hate to go there and not being able to enjoy my trip because of the smell.

We visited ourselves last July and on our visit it wasn’t smelly in the slightest. However it can get very, very crowded during the summer months and very humid. Spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit. Hope this helps!

We will be in Italy later this year so thank you for all the fantastic information.

Really looking forward to the Florence and the Tuscany region.

u must av mentioned ‘Poveglia’ too.. Lolz

Love the Sicily shot! Amazing!

My friends went here last January and they had a great time.Next time also I will in italy

Great article! adam

Oh.. wow! will be there in May.. I want to see it all! but won’t have enough time.. only 2 weeks

This post makes me want to go back to Italy! Someday I’m going to spend several months there I know it… and I want to jump into your photo of Sicily too lol!

I agree with some commentators here, Cinque Terre should be definitely included. I would suggest to replace it with Milan.

Italy iz da best place i eva visited…… Love it.<3

I have never seen the kind of beautiful Italy places. Really it’s looking like a dream places. Thanks.

There are far more prettier towns than the ones in Cinque Terre. It’s amazing how they managed to make such a big deal out of it for tourists.

The list is great, but I certainly would have put Amalfi coat and Capri as the number one. I agree to exchange Cinqu Terre with Milan. Yes, so many beautiful spots in Italy….very difficult!

And great photos! Really enjoyable to look at.


how romantic this place, how I wish I could find my true love & perfect partner whom I can say he is my God’s Gift for my entire life 🙂 this is a LOVE place for me!

The one that I like most from your list is Sardinia for the blue incontaminated sea and for the people that are particolary friendly there. Venice instead for me is by far the most original city in the world.. Ciao from Italy 🙂

Great post and amazing pictures!!! Really, Italy is the beautiful country. Go on to explore the world and be careful!

OMG…. What a beautiful place. I just love that. Thanks for sharing it with us,

The photos are awesome! I am planning to spend 10 days in Italy and will visit Venice/Milan/Rome/ Florence. Not sure if I can cover all the ten places your recommended.

My parents went here last January and they had a great time. They will have another trip this October and I hope I can go with them. I will have this post handy. Thanks!

Why isn’t Cinque Terre mentioned? Sorry, I think it should replace Milan. The pictures are great by the way!

Want to visit Venice one day, it’s just so romantic!

Florence was a big disappointment. The bridge was just a flea market for jewels and such. But the Amalfi Coast was beautiful. Sicily was nice, Venice was cool as well as Verona, but give me the Amalfi Coast any day. Rome, of course, was large and bustling.

Looks like I have to consider Florence in my next visit to Italy, the photo looks like a shot from fairytale land.

Florence is a beautiful place full of history, it gets very busy but well worth visiting.

I hope to get back either this summer or next year.

All the best

What was your favorite thing to do in Sicily? Great post!

Hi Stephania,

I’m glad you liked the article.

We spent 16 days driving around the West Coast.

We really liked Trapani, Selinunte and Eraclea Minoa beach.

But our favourite was Sciacca, we loved the place. The people were so friendly, we started in an excellent hotel outside town and then got a flat in the centre.

By the time we left we were considering living there!!!

Glad to hear you liked the article, what are you doing in Florence?

Sadly, I agree it’s hard to get everywhere.

Where are you planning to go in Sicily?

I spent a year in Latina (didn’t make my list!!!), then two years in Rome where I was teaching English and then I went to Sicily for our honeymoon.

Once again, glad to hear you liked the article.

This makes me want to live in Italy. Oh wait, I do! Beautiful photos and great pics for where to visit. I’m based in Florence but making my way around. Crossed off the list: Florence, Rome, Sardegnia, Amalfi, Venice… next up Easter weekend in Varese by the lakes, Sicily in May, Puglia after that… Too many places, too little time.

As you said about Florence, there are often long waits for the museums. But if people need help, I suggest contacting the agency I use Apartments Florence ( for apartment rentals and help reserving museum tickets. You definitely want a reservation in the summer months.

Great article!

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23 Best Places to Visit in Italy

By Becky Griswold · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Located in Southern Europe, this boot-shaped country is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a number of reasons that include art treasures, charming towns, passionate people and top-class cuisine. It’s a place where you can see some of the most iconic sites in the world – the leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few.

There’s the chance to see renowned Renaissance masterpieces and shop for high-end fashion too. Italy offers a magnificently rich array of sumptuous natural scenery and numerous opportunities to get out into nature. Cinque Terre, Sardinia, and the Dolomites all boast incredible landscapes and fantastic hiking routes.

Cinque Terre

You could spend your time in this culturally rich land learning about the lives of the Romans, discovering the destruction caused by Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii, or simply lazing alongside one of the many Italian lakes and languishing in the opulence of the Amalfi coast. Italy offers so much to see and do that it would take a lifetime to explore. Plan your trip to this wonderful Mediterranean travel destination with our list of the best places to visit in Italy.

Map of Italy

Map of Italy

23. Portofino


One of the most picturesque towns along the Italian Riviera , Portofino lies just a 45 minute drive southeast of Genoa. For centuries, it has been a popular day-trip destination due to all the pretty pastel-colored houses clustered about its small, scenic harbor.

Backed by gorgeous green hills, the tiny fishing village has a very relaxed feel with many of the world’s elite often heading here on holiday. As well as admiring all the impressive yachts bobbing about the bay, you can enjoy its fine views and fantastic seafood restaurants. Loads of high-end boutiques also line its small, cobbled square.

While most come to take in its ambience and aesthetic, there are some interesting sights to see. Aside from the historical Church of San Giorgio, there is the sixteenth-century Castello Brown and all its old antiquities and art exhibitions to explore. From its lovely, lush gardens, there are yet more fabulous panoramas over the stunning town and sparkling Ligurian Sea .

22. Bologna


Famed for not just its phenomenal food and prestigious university but its countless covered porticos too, Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region . Although it is often overlooked in favor of Florence, Rome and Venice, all its amazing medieval towers and atmospheric piazze make it well worth a visit.

Due to its strategic location in the northeast of Italy, the city slowly developed into a center of culture, trade and learning. As such, elegant palazzi and churches popped up everywhere with its important university having been founded in 1088. The oldest in the Western world, its sizeable student population creates a vibrant, youthful feel around town.

While many of its old buildings are, unfortunately, coated in graffiti, its large historic center is well-preserved for the most part. Due to the distinctive ruddy hue of its porticos, houses and churches, the city is often called ‘ La Rossa ’. Besides strolling about Piazza Maggiore and staring up at its two iconic leaning towers, you just have to try some of Bologna’s delicious cuisine before continuing with your trip around the country.

21. The Dolomites


With their soaring, jagged peaks and ginormous, sweeping valleys, the Dolomites are surely one of the most spectacular natural sites in Europe. Offering up all kinds of exciting outdoor activities, the majestic mountain range covers a massive part of northeastern Italy.

Formed over the course of many millennia, the ‘ Pale Mountains ’ are so named due to their dramatic dolomite rock formations. Beneath their striking silhouettes are idyllic alpine lakes and meadows with historic towns also dotted about. These include the charming Castelrotto and chic Cortina d’Ampezzo – the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’. In summer, many come to hike, bike or rock climb with the snowy winter months instead enticing skiers and snowboarders.

Among its most spellbinding sights are the famous outlines of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the six rocky spires of the Vajolet Towers . Cable cars can also transport you up to the 3,343 meter summit of Marmolada – the region’s tallest peak. From high up above the clouds, you can bask in breathtaking views over all the Dolomites’ awe-inspiring scenery.


While Genoa has a reputation for being a bit gritty and grimy, its huge historic center is also home to plenty of grand palaces and gorgeous churches. Getting lost amidst all its caruggi – narrow, claustrophobic alleyways – is lots of fun as architectural gems appear around every corner. The city also has a world-class aquarium and maritime museum to check out too.

Long an important seaport, the city was one of the Mediterranean’s most powerful maritime republics from the eleventh century up until its fall in 1797. Due to its considerable wealth, elaborate palaces and art-filled churches were erected all around its piazze. Must-see sights include its Palazzo Reale and Cathedral of San Lorenzo, both of which boast lavish interiors.

Other than admiring the immense riches on show, you can amble along Corso Italia, taking in its delightful views and architecture. At its Old Port, historic-old ships and museums teach you more about its seafaring past. Not to be missed is the enormous Aquarium Genoa which displays everything from seals and sea cows to dolphins, penguins and jellyfish.


Best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s play “ Romeo and Juliet ,” Verona is a picturesque city filled with Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces and medieval buildings. Located between Milan and Venice in Northern Italy, the city receives a bit less attention from travelers than its more celebrated neighbors but not for lack of attractions . Verona offers visitors the chance to enjoy all of the charms of an ancient Italian city without constantly battling crowds.

Although the first stop for many visitors is “Juliet’s House” with its recently added balcony , it’s important to remember that Romeo and Juliet were characters from fiction, not reality. Nevertheless, the house and its courtyard attract lovers from all over the world who come to reenact the balcony scene in person.

Of the city’s historical sites, the grand Roman amphitheater is the most famous. The third largest Roman arena in the world, the 1st-century amphitheater is remarkably well preserved. Plays are still performed in the 25,000-seat arena. Among the best representations of the Renaissance period is the Duomo, with its recently restored frescoes and marble interiors.

At dusk, Verona’s star attraction is the Via Mazzini, a broad thoroughfare where locals take their evening stroll, or “ la passeggiata .” The parade ends in the Piazza delle Erbe where visitors can relax at a sidewalk café to enjoy an aperitivo or shop for mementos of their trip to city of star-crossed lovers.


Home to some of the most famous cave dwellings in the world, the fascinating city of Matera is perched atop a rocky outcrop right in the south of Italy. Each year, thousands of tourists come to explore all the enchanting old sassi that are carved into the mountainside.

Believed to be among the very first human settlements in the country, its captivating caves have been used since around 7,000 BC. Remarkably well-preserved, its innumerable houses and churches are hewn out of large, limestone cliffs bordering its old town. Connecting them all together are steep staircases and narrow, winding streets.

Wandering about its extensive system of caves is an unforgettable experience with fantastic viewpoints and photo stops popping up all the time. While some dwellings still house cafes, businesses and even families, most are now abandoned. One of Southern Italy’s top tourist attractions, Matera and its many sassi really are unique to explore.

17. Sardinia


Renowned for its marvelous mountains and long, lovely coastline, the scenic, unspoiled island of Sardinia lies just south of Corsica . Aside from sunbathing and swimming at the beautiful beaches, it has some interesting historic cities and archaeological sites to see.

The second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, it is delightfully under visited in comparison with mainland Italy’s other regions. Due to its remote location and Sardinians’ strong sense of identity, it also looks and feels quite unlike the rest of the country. You can explore its unique history and culture in its capital Cagliari or at the ancient Su Nuraxi ruins.

Most people come though to enjoy its rugged hinterlands and romantic coastline with hiking, camping and watersports all being particularly popular pastimes. Countless little coves and hidden beaches stud its shores which lie alongside twinkling turquoise waters. In addition to trying tasty local dishes, colourful celebrations help shine a light on Sardinia’s rich heritage.

16. Alberobello


Appearing as if out of a fairytale are all of Alberobello’s adorable little trulli. These traditional dry-stone buildings with their cute conical roofs are the small town’s main sight with people visiting from all around to see them. Set right down south in Puglia , it can easily be reached from Bari, Brindisi or Taranto.

Actually meaning ‘ beautiful tree ’ in Italian, it has around 1,500 of the unusual-looking houses. While the eye-catching buildings originated in the fifteenth century, most ‘only’ date to the 1800s. Ingeniously enough, they are impressively assembled without any mortar being used. This was so the ruling counts could always have them dismantled if they wanted.

Ambling around the tiny town is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours with some of the small stone structures also containing cozy cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. You can also take some great photos by their bright white-washed walls and grey, conical roofs.


Most known for being the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi has an attractive old town to stroll about alongside the ginormous basilica of the patron saint. Perched atop a hulking great hill in Umbria , not far from Perugia , the small medieval city makes for a wonderful day trip from either Florence or Rome.

Very easily explored on foot, its historic heart is centered around the picturesque Piazza del Comune . After taking in its fantastic fountain and clock tower, you can see all the Cathedral of San Rufino’s ornate friezes and fine facade. Plenty of other charming churches are dotted about with there also being an excellent Roman archaeological museum to visit.

The highlight though, is, of course, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi itself which sprawls across a massive part of the hilltop. Completed in 1253, it contains the tomb of the revered saint with exquisite frescoes and artworks decorating the important pilgrimage site.

14. Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Long a popular holiday destination, Lake Garda lies in the north of Italy surrounded by little colourful towns and incredible craggy mountains. A must-visit for many, its relaxing shores, superb restaurants and romantic villas offer a tantalizing taste of la dolce vita .

The largest lake in the country, its reflective waters are overlooked by the Alps to the north while its southern reaches are bordered by the flat plains of the Po Valley. As well as pretty olive groves, orchards and gardens, you’ll also find cute towns like Sirmione and Desenzano del Garda lining it.

Other than seeing their ancient hot springs, castles and Roman ruins, they have tons of top restaurants to try. You can also go kayaking, windsurfing and sailing or take boat trips about the lake to its islands. As Limone sul Garda , Malcesine and Torbole also have lovely lakefront promenades and views, you really can’t go wrong wherever you go.


Located in the center of Puglia’s Salentine Peninsula, right down in the heel of Italy, is the stunning city of Lecce . Most known for its beautiful Baroque buildings and historic churches, it is often called the ‘Florence of the South’.

Mostly made out of the light-colored Lecce stone, its atmospheric-old streets were founded over 2,000 years ago. While dozens of ornately decorated churches like Lecce Cathedral and the Basilica di Santa Croce are dotted about, the amazing Roman amphitheater at its heart has to be the city’s standout sight. All of these highlight how Lecce thrived as an important trading town and political center.

Besides strolling about taking in all its outstanding architecture, you can check out the fine artworks in its churches. Alberobello also makes for a nice day trip as do the idyllic beaches hugging its nearby coastline. With lots of tasty dishes to try and cool archaeological sites to explore, it is no wonder the lively yet laidback Lecce is one the best cities to visit in Italy.


Nearly destroyed from heavy bombing during WWII, Milan has since reconstructed and now shines as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Widely regarded as a mega fashion center teeming in designer shops, Milan also attracts many to its surviving world famous treasures like Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper , the La Scala Opera House, the Castello Sforzesco and one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral .

See also: Where to Stay in Milan

Located in Italy’s northwestern region of Lombardy near the Alps and the scenic Lake District, Milan is a fast-paced city excelling in business, shopping and football. More of a glamorous city with modern architecture and attractions , Milan appears less Italian compared to the country’s predominantly historic cities.


One of the busiest metropolitan cities in the country, Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy . As it is nearby famous sites like the Bay of Naples and Pompeii, Naples presents an ideal base to stay while exploring the area.

Naples itself features one of the world’s largest historic city centers with one of the highest concentrations of historical monuments, Baroque churches and Roman ruins, offering an endless feast for lovers of history and art.


Extending beyond the city center, tourists will find scenic landscapes, picturesque villas, stylish hotels and castles in addition to ancient Roman baths and volcanic craters. Top attractions in Naples include the grand Piazza del Plebiscito, the royal palace of the Capodimonte Museum and the National Archaeological Museum , which showcases a marvelous collection of artistic works and artifacts excavated from the ruins of Pompeii .

Many favorite Italian foods originated in Naples and its surrounding area such as pizza , spaghetti and parmigiana. These dishes are taken seriously in Naples and usually feature fresh, locally grown ingredients. Other Naples food specialties include fresh seafood, mozzarella cheese and pastries such as baba, zeppole and sfogliatella.


Located along the Arno River in the northwestern region of Tuscany , the city of Pisa still bears the striking remnants of its former golden days as a commercial empire during the Middle Ages. While the Leaning Tower is a must see, visiting this city only to take a photograph of it’s most popular landmark is like looking at one tree and missing the whole forest. Pisa is so much more than just the Leaning Tower.

Surrounding the famous landmark is one of Italy’s most beautiful squares, the Campo dei Miracoli, or Field of Miracles . This remarkable plaza contains magnificent examples of Italian Renaissance that include the Duomo Cathedral, Baptistry and Camposanto Monument, all of which contain marble features, sculptures, frescoes and historic relics. Sprinkled throughout the plaza are various shops selling souvenirs and bakeries offering tasty biscotti.

Beyond the Field of Miracles, the beauty of the Arno River is what often leaves a lasting impression on many tourists. Because Pisa is divided by the river, there are several charming bridges connecting one side to the other such as the Ponte di Mezzo. The riverbanks on each side present a picturesque setting of residential houses, impressive buildings and greenery.

With 60,000 students, the University of Pisa provides the city with an atmosphere of youth and animation. The streets and waterways of Pisa often play host to lively cultural events such as the Luminara Festival, the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics boat race, and the Game of Bridge, a friendly, medieval contest between the city’s two sections.

9. Lake Como

Lake Como

Nestled in the heart of Italy’s Lombardy region, Lake Como is a very popular destination for those seeking a blend of natural beauty, Italian charm, and a touch of luxury. Picture yourself cruising on the shimmering waters, surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that seem to dive right into the lake. The scenery is straight out of a postcard, with colorful villas and sleepy villages dotting the shoreline.

When you’re not gazing at the stunning views, you can explore the quaint streets of lakeside towns like Bellagio , known as the “Pearl of the Lake,” or Varenna , with its romantic promenade. Indulge in some Italian gelato, grab a slice of authentic pizza, or sit down for a leisurely meal at a lakeside restaurant to sample local specialties with a glass of wine.

For the adventurous, there’s plenty to do: hiking trails offer panoramic vistas, and the lake itself is perfect for water sports. And if history’s your thing, you’ll find historic villas and gardens that tell the tales of Como’s glamorous past.


The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily lies just across from the southern tip of Italy, on the narrow Strait of Messina. Due to its location, it has long acted as a crossroads, so is very distinct from the rest of the country in terms of its history, culture, and cuisine.

This is best exemplified by Palermo , Sicily’s capital and largest city, which was remarkably founded more than 2,700 years ago. Since then, it has been ruled by everyone from the Phoenicians and Romans to the Arabs and Normans, with each civilization leaving behind artistic and architectural treasures and culinary influences.


In addition, a wealth of important archaeological sites lie scattered around the island; these now make for some of Sicily’s most popular tourist attractions . The impressive ruins of the Ancient Theater of Taormina and the age-old edifices in the Valley of the Temples date to the Ancient Greeks; others, such as the mountaintop castles of Erice , were built in medieval times.

Renowned for its rugged beauty, Sicily’s rugged cliffs and secluded beaches are lined by sparkling waters, while fertile farmland and mountains dot its interior. Towering over everything is Mount Etna , one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.


Established upon three hills in the heart of Tuscany , Siena offers tourists a step back into the Middle Ages with its well-preserved historic center and medieval horse racing tradition, famously known as Il Palio . Formerly a wealthy city, the historic center of Siena is one of the most popular places to go in Italy as it still retains many of its stunning works of art and architecture from that time period.

Siena’s Piazza del Campo is regarded as one of the finest Medieval squares in Europe. This fan-shaped plaza is noted for its architectural treasures such as the Fountain of Joy, the Palazzio Pubblico and the Mangia Tower.

Campo Square

Another of Siena’s architectural gems is its Duomo, a stunning black and white cathedral of Italian Romanesque design with exquisite features like marble floors, stained glass, sculptures, paintings and carvings. The piazza is also a good place to relax, watch people and enjoy the local delights of wine, coffee, pizza, focaccia and gelato.

Hosted twice every summer in the Piazza del Campo, the Palio horse race draws huge annual crowds. This 700-year old tradition involves representatives from 17 different districts racing bareback on the cobblestone plaza. Siena is also home to one of Italy’s oldest public universities, the University of Siena, widely recognized for its Schools of Medicine and Law.

6. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Five quaint fishing villages awash with colors of blue, yellow and pink all hug cliff sides that slope down to the sea. These villages and the surrounding green hills make up the Cinque Terre National Park, one of Italy’s popular tourist destinations. Located in Italy’s northwestern coastal region of Liguria , the villages of Cinque Terre feature some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes that include wine terraces dating back to hundreds of years.

Meaning “Five Lands,” Cinque Terre comprises the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso and Corniglia. Riomaggiore boasts a medieval castle and the bustling main street of Via Colombo while Manarola is filled with colorful boats, swimming holes and caves.

Surrounded by olive groves, Vernazza offers a lively nightlife scene. The beautiful beach of Monterossa is lined with resorts while sloping vineyards adorn Corniglia . Rich in agriculture and fishing, the Cinque Terre villages are teeming in cafes and trattorias, which serve locally grown wine, olives, cheeses, pasta, seafood and homemade breads.

Among its many gems, Cinque Terre boasts a centuries-old complex of hiking paths that offer some of Italy’s most stunning coastal views. The Blue Trail, also known as Trail No. 2, is a paved trail connecting all five of the villages and is suitable for all ages.

There are very few cars in Cinque Terre as the villages are all small and easy to get around in by foot. However, all the villages are linked by a rail system that runs regularly from Genoa and La Spezia. Serving all five villages.

5. Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Situated in Italy’s southwestern region of Campania , the Amalfi Coast is known for its extraordinary beauty that makes it one of Italy’s top tourist destinations . Stretching 30 miles along the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast is prized for its picturesque coastline that features shimmering bays, craggy cliffs, lemon tree gardens, multicolored villas and ritzy resorts.

One of the most romantic and posh towns along the Amalfi Coast, Positano ‘s many calling cards include beautiful pebbled beaches, pastel houses, scenic mountains, waterfalls and a 13th century Black Madonna.


One of the larger towns, Amalfi , features lovely plazas lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. Perched on a hill overlooking Amalfi, the town of Ravello is favored for its beautiful villas of gardens and art works as well as its lively art and music festival. Often called the Painted Town because of its many mural-painted houses, Furore also features an enchanting bay.


One of Italy’s most visited tourist destinations, Pompeii is a famous Roman city which was buried under several feet of volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius . Excavation of Pompeii began in 1748, and the site is yet to be totally unearthed. The site is located near the modern city of Naples .

A tour of Pompeii offers a fascinating insight into the everyday life of the ancient Roman world. Visitors can walk along the ancient streets to see the remains of shops, bars, bakeries, brothels, baths and residential homes as well as buildings that served as commercial and religious centers.


Some of the most significant structures include the Amphitheatre , the Forum, the Temple of Apollo, the Basilica and the Granary Market, which contains a large number of artifacts and plaster casts of people and dogs that died during the catastrophe. Within the architecture of Pompeii’s ancient buildings, there is a large number of art works and frescoes depicting erotica, mythological characters and hunting scenes.

Near the entrance of the Pompeii site, visitors will find several souvenir shops as well as food vendors selling snacks and beverages. While there are only a few dining options within the site itself, there are several cafes and restaurants located around the nearby train station.


One of Italy’s top travel destinations, Venice is a unique city in that is built upon a lagoon surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Located in northeastern Italy, Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands all connected by hundreds of beautiful bridges and scenic canals. Of the canals, the Grand Canal is most famous and divides the city into two sections. Picturesque waterways and historic architecture make Venice one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Venice is often crowded and expensive but well worth visiting to see its magnificent landmarks like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge . One of the most popular things to do in Venice is to take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal. However, it is just as equally enjoyable to ride a vaporetti along the quiet back canals.

San Marco Square

Every year, Venice hosts one of Italy’s liveliest Carnival festivals where the streets are filled with people dressed in colorful costumes and masks, and the Grand Canal is packed with fleets of decorated boats and gondolas. A popular souvenir to purchase in Venice is one of the beautifully crafted carnival masks.

See also: Where to Stay in Venice

There are no cars in Venice, so people either walk or ride the water taxis along the canal system. Travelers should note that Venice frequently experiences high water in the spring and fall.

2. Florence


The capital of Tuscany , Florence is often described as a colossal outdoor museum because of its mass of art and architectural treasures. Internationally renowned as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance, Florence is also credited with propagating many artists, inventors, writers, scientists and explorers as well as inventing opera and the florin currency, which lifted Europe from the Dark Ages.

Additionally, Florence is known as the home of the wealthy and powerful Medici dynasty that produced several kings and popes, impacting the entire world in a number of ways culturally, economically and politically.

Florence’s hoard of art masterpieces are found all over the city, contained within the large numbers of museums, stunning churches, like the domed Santa Maria del Fiore , and internationally esteemed art galleries like the Ufizzi and Pitti Palace.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Piazza della Signoria , the main square, is home to beautiful buildings and world famous sculptures like Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa, Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune and Michelangelo’s Statue of David.

Walking is the best way to see the major sites in the city center. Some of the best places to walk include the Ponte Vecchio , a beautiful bridge spanning the Arno River and featuring a number of jewelry shops. Florence’s markets are another good place to spend some time before heading back to your accommodation . The San Lorenzo markets are among the most popular where tourists can find an array of locally grown foods and handcrafted goods.


Formerly the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome today is the government seat and capital city of Italy. Located in the country’s central region of Lazio, Rome is a vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time.

Best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City , Rome has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important center for culture, power and religion.

The Spanish Steps

Rome is divided into several districts with its center, the Colosseo district, containing the most ancient attractions like the Colosseum , the Forum of Augustus, Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum. On the outskirts of the center is Old Rome, featuring the Pantheon, stunning cathedrals, plazas and Renaissance architecture. The Vatican is well known for St. Peter’s Basilica , the Apostolic Palace and Sistine Chapel.

There is so much to see and do in Rome , that it could take months to see it all. However, one way for tourists to experience the best of the city is by taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. This bus tour stops at major places of interest and top museums , and tourists are free to get off and on as they wish.

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Reader interactions.

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May 12, 2017 at 9:28 am

I have only been to Rome and absolutely love it! we are going to be in Croatia for 3 weeks and I would like to go to Venice or Naples for a couple days, but can’t decide, which one would you go to?

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July 13, 2016 at 1:02 am

The best place to visit in Italy is Naples. Its the real Italy and its built right on the water, so the water views are spectacular and since the tourists have not found it the prices are still reasonable. From Naples, it also seems like there are more day trips than the other tourist destinations. From Naples, you can hit Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast very easily, the island of Capri is straight out from Naples, which is a great day trip, but I prefer the Islands of Ischia and Procida. You can hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius, check out Herculaneum, which I like just as much as Pompeii and it is better with kids than Pompeii. Also, if you like shopping, I find that Naples has the best shopping I have found. Much better than Milan. The shops are more reasonably priced than any other city and there are lots of leather or fabric factories right in Naples that you can buy from shops on Via Toledo and other shopping districts and I almost forgot to mention Christmas alley and Spaccanapoli. Probably one of my favorite neighborhoods in Naples. If you are in Rome and you miss the Naples area, you probably made a big mistake. It is too close and there is too much to miss out on this beautiful area.

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September 16, 2015 at 12:58 am

every place in Italy I’ve been to is very unique. I love the character of each city. however, having to choose from, yet the best is RomanTIC Venice.

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August 24, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I recently visited Italy. I would say that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I visited it as part of an overall Europe trip and wanted to stay longer. We visited Rome first. Next we visited Cinque Terra staying in Manarola but completing many of the available walks to the other towns. Absolute bliss. Anyways I believe that cinque Terra should definitely be on your list if you are planning to visit and should definitely be further up this list. I loved Rome and believe that it deserves to be equal with Cinque Terra as they were both divine for their own reasons.

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May 7, 2015 at 9:10 am

I absolutely adore Italy. Been to a few both on cruise and by plane ( and Eurostar too ). How I LOVE Sicily ( becos of Godfather ) ; Venice ; Bologna ; Lake Como ; Sardinia ; Milan ; Rome ; Verona ; Naples ; Florence ; Pisa, Livorno….beautiful food, wine, people, scenery. I used to love the UK esp London but now it has to be Italy and everything about it. France comes a close third although it is getting rather tired and shabby.

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December 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

Nice Article, if you can not go for longer, the best places have been mentioned. If I could add something, as I am Italian from Venice I could suggest to visit the close places around like Treviso, Castelfranco and the beautiful Bassano del Grappa, the gorgeous Asolo.

Happy travel, Chris

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August 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Just spent 3 weeks in Italy. travelling through Rome, Florence, Bologna, Amalfi, Sorrento, Pompeii, Venice, MIlan, and went to Pisa on a day trip. MY ORDER of these: 1. Amalfi – Amafli and the Amafli coast is absolutely unbelievable. The most beautiful place I travelled to on this trip. The beach, food and atmosphere is to die for. 2. Venice – what can I say, everyone knows Venice. I found it was a massive tourist trap and over crowded but, the city is beautiful and would go back. 3. Florence. Close to everything, a day trip to Bologna or Pisa is so close, and with attractions like academia (david) and uffizi museums plus much more it is a must do. 4. Rome – Colosseum is amazing, a true wonder and vatican is a must see. So as the city will keep you busy with history and attractions. Didn’t like the atmosphere. BUT is a must 5. Pompeii. Stayed in the actual town of Pompeii as I heard naples was dirty, and all you want to do there is see the ruins. But trust me they were awesome. A must do and could have found itself higher on the list = 6. sorrento and milan – would go to see Capri (Sorrento) and last supper (milan) 8. Bologna – Nice but it was nothing exciting. would just go from Florence if you had half a day to spare

Hope this helps Travellers

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August 6, 2014 at 7:09 am

I have been to Rome, and the Amalfi Coast…..both deserve to be there. I think Salerno in the Campania region deserved to be there too.

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July 27, 2014 at 1:29 am

You have totally forgotten places in the southern Italy such as Bari, Otranto, Gallipoli, Lecce…. And I think that Dolomites are beautiful too ;).

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June 29, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I spent only 5 days in Sicilia. NOT ENOUGH. It’s such a lovely place to visit. Food and people are equally our favorite in Italia. What such an unique experience to climb and walk onto the dark land of Etna at 10000 feet and admire the mediteraneen sea almost smaller than you. I don’t know about Gene and Milan but I will return back to the south for sure. Pompei should replace Pisae. No kidding.

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April 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

you guys sure hit South Italy too, it’s beautiful at well at North Italy.

Grazie Ci Vidiamo Presto!

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April 18, 2014 at 2:13 am

Hi guys. I’m Italian, and I’m from Milan. Many people, most of all are Italians, think that Milan is a poor cultural city. That isn’t the truth: Milan has got many treasures that nobody knows.

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March 17, 2014 at 4:43 am

I’m Italian and I don’t agree with this list. First of all, Naples is one of the poorest, dirties cities in Italy, second of all, in Milan there are just few things worth visiting (duomo, scala, galleria, castello and Leonardo’s “last supper”) but, of course it’s the city of shopping. Then, Genoa is really dirty too (less than Naples) Finally, In Pisa besides the field of miracles there’s nothing else! I don’t mean that there are the worst cities but they shouldn’t be in the top 10 best Italian cities! I would rather suggest you to visit: Turin, Ferrara, Urbino and Siracusa. But I mean, there are so many beautiful places that it’s hard to tell you which one is the best!!

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March 10, 2014 at 5:44 am

This place seems awesome & I can’t wait to go out there in the summer!

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September 19, 2013 at 2:45 am

Nothing to say against Genoa but honestly maybe another city from south will be better on that ranking. I mean Palermo. Unfortunaly is knows as the city of the mafia, but it’s so charming and extremely beautiful or Val Di Noto in Sicily there are the most beautiful baroccan churches in Italy and the look-out of the Etna. Sicily have 6 world heritage sites is the second region in Italy after Tuscany that have 7. And deserve to stay in the ranking. No way! From a not Sicilian Guy. I’m from Apulia

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August 16, 2013 at 8:53 am

Beautiful Italy!! Fantastic world-known attractions, but also its less frequented areas can also offer an authentic experience, idyllic landscapes and lots of culture, history, enogastronomy. For example, the Maremma in southern Tuscany.. or the Salento in Apulia.. or the Tuscia in Latium

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July 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

Verona is a beautiful city. I went there this summer and it was amazing! Lake Garda is also a beautiful place with lots of small villages and towns nearby for shopping!

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May 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I totally agree that Rome is the best, although I much love Norther Italy, Rome is the best place ever!

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May 6, 2013 at 6:18 am

For me, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is truly magnificent how the place is surrounded by waterways that made the city more unique than other cities.

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The 9 Best Places to Visit in Italy—According to You, Our Readers

By Maresa Manara

The 9 Best Places to Visit in Italy—according to You Our Readers

The announcement of our annual Readers' Choice Awards is always a very exciting time of the year. It's a time when you, our readers, get to speak up and tell us about your favorite travel experiences, from hotels and airlines to cruises and islands , but also about your favorite cities and countries. Over 244,000 of you took part in our 2022 Reader’s Choice Awards survey, and you didn’t hold back, telling us everything—from where to eat to what to see, and when to go. It's been loud and clear this year that you love traveling to Italy . Whether you're on the lookout for beautiful beaches, eye-catching ancient monuments, or imaginative new restaurants in the city center, Italy’s one of your top spots.

Read on for the best places to visit in Italy as voted by you in this year's Readers' Choice Awards.

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. View our full list of the 2022 Readers' Choice Award winners here .

Piedmontes capital city of Turin is known for being Italys most elegant city. A mixture of baroque buildings and grand...

Piedmonte’s capital city of Turin is known for being Italy’s most elegant city. A mixture of baroque buildings and grand old coffee shops make up the city center, with views of the Alps nearly every which way you look. While Turin was once a little down on its heel, the 2006 Winter Olympics helped kick start a city-wide regeneration and it now boasts first-rate museums, including the National Museum of Cinema and the National Automobile Museum (Fiat, famously, came from here.)

Most people tend to stick around the city center, with its cafés and eateries around Piazza San Carlo, but the coolest offerings lie a bit outside. Try Scannabue , located in the San Salvario district, for bowls of pasta tossed in rabbit ragu or head to Ristorante Consorzio in Quadrilatero Romano for offal-based plates and organic wines.

Insider Tip:  Some of the world’s best chocolate comes from Turin, so head to chocolatier Odilla for chocolates made from cocoa sourced from small-scale producers and hazelnuts from the nearby Langhe region.  

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As one of the most visited spots in Italy, Siena sure has kept its style. Get your bearings at the central square, Piazza del Campo, where you can admire its gothic town hall and the Torre del Mangia, a 14-century tower where 400 steps will take you to the very top. Be sure to stop by the Duomo di Siena to marvel at its mosaic-covered floor. 

Other activities worth doing on a Siena day-trip include browsing the local market (weekly on a Wednesday) or whiling the day away in one of the many hole-in-the-wall wine bars ( Trefilari Wine Bar , a 2-minute walk from the Torre del Mangia, gets our pick).

Insider Tip:  Look out for the Piccolomini Altarpiece in Siena’s cathedral, which Michelangelo worked on in the 1500s.

Piazza Maggiore Bologna Emilia Romagna Italy. Crowd and blue sky

Bologna may be a small Italian city , but it punches well above its weight. It's easy to spend a whole day wandering the covered sidewalks of its city center or discovering street art along the character-filled university quarter of Via Zamboni. Take a break with a coffee or cocktail at Le Stanze , an atmospheric chapel-turned cocktail bar, or stop by Sorbetteria Castiglione for a warm, gelato-filled brioche, made fresh that day. Visit the main square, Piazza Maggiore and ask a local to show you the whispering walls—rumor says this is where lepers confessed their sins in the Middle Ages. Then keep walking until you reach Via Clavature, home to a daily fruit and vegetable market alongside family-run delicatessens and cosy wine bars. Stop by Bologna’s own little Venice on Via Piella, where a tiny window opens onto a stream. Book a table for dinner at Osteria Broccaindosso —a simple trattoria where there’s no menu—just plates of local charcuterie, grilled meats, and bowls of tortellini pasta.

Insider Tip:  Walk through town from the city center to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, in the hills of Bologna. There are unforgettable views of the city from there. 

Palermo is southern Italys hottest destination right now. The city has worked hard to shed its reputation of corruption...

Palermo is southern Italy’s hottest destination right now. The city has worked hard to shed its reputation of corruption and crime, replacing it with smart public art campaigns like the new ‘Spazi Capaci’—a series of anti-mafia contemporary artworks installed in Palermo ’s most important buildings.

See Palermo through a different lens with a ‘Through my Eyes’ tour, run by recently-arrived migrants and organized by non-for-profit community hub, Moltivolti . Then have lunch at the upscale Osteria dei Vespri which does mostly fish-based dishes, with a separate menu for vegetarians and vegans. Later, check-in at Palazzo SantaMarina , an ancient aristocratic house in Palermo’s historic center that was a brothel, a bomb shelter, and a school before being restored into one of the city’s smartest new hotels (ask manager Gennaro if you can head to the downstairs spa for a tour of Palermo’s ancient ruins from 4 th century B.C.—plus some of the best spa treatments in town).

Insider Tip:  Palermo has mild weather almost all year round, so when the sun’s out make like the locals and drive 20 minutes to the white-sand, turquoise waters of Mondello beach , just outside the Capo Gallo Natural Park.

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Rome may be the capital but Milan is the Italys fashion and design epicentre. Stay at one of the citys design hotels...

Rome may be the capital but Milan is the Italy’s fashion and design epicentre. Stay at one of the city’s design hotels, including  Vmaison Brera Milano or Hotel Vico , and make a dinner reservation at 28 Posti in the hip Navigli district, where the seafood-based menu also includes rigatoni with miso sauce and desserts with bee pollen.

When it comes to sightseeing, the Duomo offers a fascinating look at religion and art across six centuries, and you can climb to the rooftop for all-encompassing views over Milan and the Alps. Nearby, the Santa Maria delle Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, but it gets busy so you’ll need to buy tickets well in advance.

Spend an afternoon at Villa Necchi Campiglio, the art deco architectural icon that was featured in Luca Guadagnino’s I am Love . Or visit Fondazione Prada, the contemporary art museum run by the eponymous fashion house, to see an ever-rotating collection of art and architecture. Later, stop by N'Ombra de Vin in the Brera district for Milan’s famed aperitivo, a cocktail, and a (free) food buffet.

Insider Tip:  Milan is surprisingly close to Lake Como , making it the perfect place for a day trip. The train goes to Como from Milan Centrale and takes around 40 minutes.

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Italy’s southern city is fast, chaotic, wild, and gritty—and that’s all part of its charm. Start with an espresso and a ricotta-filled pastry at Pasticceria Di Costanzo . Not far away is Naples’ Archeological Museum, through you’ll need to buy tickets in advance to see the Roman and Pompeii ruins.

Take time away from the museum to stop for lunch. You’ll have likely heard of L'antica Pizzeria da Michele Taverna and Cafe , where queues last more than two hours. But, if you want to skip a line, it’s worth checking out Gino e Toto Sorbillo or trying one of the city’s fried pizza pies at family-run Pizzeria De' Figliole .

Visit the Chiesa dei Girolamini, home to a library with 15 th and 16 th century books before heading to the San Gennaro Catacombs, where a complex network of tunnels takes you past ancient crypts.

Insider Tip:   Catch a 45-minute ferry to Capri from Naples port and book a foraging tour with local nature enthusiast Luigi Esposito . He’ll take you to see the famed blue grotto sea cave up close, away from the crowds.

It may feel like the whole world descends on Venice daily but theres still a surprising amount of hidden magic to this...

It may feel like the whole world descends on Venice daily, but there’s still a surprising amount of hidden magic to this water-logged city. To miss the crowds, start your day at St Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco (an 8:30 am arrival will mean you get ahead of the crowds). If you’re short on time, pay the extra 2 euros to see the Pala d’Oro, a gold altarpiece decorated with more than 2000 emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.

While Venice’s male-dominated gondola scene is well-known, it’s worth asking your hotel to book you a gondola ride down the grand canal with the world’s first female gondolier, Giorgia Boscolo.

Venice’s food scene is robust. The most welcoming cicchetti (tapas) bars are in the district of Canareggio, off the tourist path. Head for Mezzopieno, where the buffet is always accompanied by a drink (their all-natural orange wine is particularly good).  \

Insider Tip:  Try the Venetian version of street food—fresh, hot, fried fish wrapped in paper, at Frito Inn, in Campo San Leonardo.

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2. Florence 

Florence is undoubtedly Italy’s creative capital. Michaelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, and Gucci’s founder, Guccio Gucci, came from here, and there are masterpieces everywhere you look. Cultural fiends should head to the Uffizi, which is positively brimming with art—300,000 pieces, to be exact—including paintings and sculptures by Botticelli, Raphael, Da Vinci and Caravaggio.

Take a break with lunch at Trattoria La Mescita , a two-minute walk from Michangelo’s David statue. It’s the kind of hole-in-the-wall spot that serves wild boar pasta, hearty stews, and minestrone soup on marble-topped tables, plus 2-euro glasses of wine to wash it all down. Later, cross the Ponte Vecchio and head towards the Oltrano neighbourhood, home to bars, boutiques and smaller, more intimate art galleries run by up-and-coming Florentine artists.

Insider Tip:  Visit the Santa Maria del Fiore church to experience the splendor of its pink and white frescoes and 14th century bell tower, then climb to the top for awe-inspiring views over Florence.

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Think of Rome and the first image that comes to mind may be the Trevi Fountain or the Sistine Chapel . And while a visit to Rome without seeing the ancient city’s archaeological sites would be remiss, it’s worth checking out the lesser-known spots as well to get full-picture view of one of the best places to visit in Italy.

Stop by MAXXI, Rome’s museum of contemporary art, home to work by Europe’s coolest creators. A walk along the Tiber River at dusk is a must-do—in the summer months, stallholders set up shop along the water selling everything from clothes and shoes to locally-made pottery.

Rome’s vibrant food scene means there’s no shortage of dining options. Casual eatery SantoPalato in the San Giovanni neighborhood is our pick. It’s just a 25-minute walk from the Colosseum, and takes you past some of Rome’s most verdant parklands including Villa Celimontana and Parco del Celio.

Insider Tip:  Escape the city with a day trip to Ostia Antica where you can see near-perfectly preserved Roman ruins and chat to the friendly archaeologists who are always puttering around. Or head out onto Isola Tiburtina, the world’s tiniest island, accessible from Ponte Cestio bridge.


Nolinski Venezia

Nolinski Venezia

La Roqqa

Italy Travel Guide

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9 tips for beginners visiting Italy for the first time

Lori Zaino

Planning your first vacation to Italy ? Not only is this beautiful country one of the top culinary destinations in the world, but it's also home to some seriously iconic tourist attractions to boot. With over 55 UNESCO World Heritage sites, three active volcanoes and over 1,500 lakes, you'll never get bored. And if you are, well, there's always pizza!

the places to visit in italy

When organizing a vacation to Italy, there are a few things you should know in order to have a safe and enjoyable getaway. First-time travelers take note: these are some of the things you consider for your Italian adventure.

1. Figure out what kind of trip you want to have

Italy's got it all: 4,600 miles of coastline lined with hundreds of gorgeous beaches , numerous tourist attractions, lively cities, charming villages and sprawling vineyards. From low-cost to luxury, Italy has accommodation, restaurants and activities to fit every budget, whether it's renting a yacht off the coast of Capri, staying in an affordable hostel in Rome or enjoying a Sicilian farmhouse getaway.

the places to visit in italy

Consider your interests, as well as some of the things Italy is famous for, like gastronomy (you could build a trip around dining out or cooking classes), art (Italy has some of the top museums in the world) or exploring a wine region (drive through the hills of Prosecco or Tuscany's wine country).

Related: How to have a budget vacation in Italy

Or, think about destinations. For each week you have of vacation , you can comfortably squeeze in two destinations (maybe more if you're a very active traveler).

  • If you love art and tourist attractions, consider Rome and Florence.
  • If you love fashion but also want to relax, consider Milan and one of the northern lakes.
  • If you want pizza, cityscape and coastal charm, consider Nap les and the Amalfi coast.
  • If you want to dig into Italy's food and wine scene, consider a road trip through Tuscany or Piedmont.
  • If you love skiing , consider a visit to Milan and the Italian Alps.
  • If you're looking for romance, consider exploring Verona and Venice.
  • If you need a beach vacation, consider exploring an island like Sardinia or Sicily.
  • If you have 10 days or more and want to enjoy the most typical tourist circuit, consider a trip to the big three: Rome, Florence and Venice -- some of the country's most popular spots for visitors.

the places to visit in italy

Note that while you can find various price points around the country for lodging, dining and activities, typically, costs are lower in southern Italy than in northern Italy.

Related: Northern or southern Italy: Which is right for your vacation?

2. Pick the right season

In general, Italy has wonderful weather. Many areas of the country see lots of sunshine and temperatures are mild even in winter, though summers can be steamy. Depending on what you plan to do, make sure to consider the season. Beach visits are best in the summer, though months like May and September see fewer crowds and still have great weather.

Related: These are the best times to visit Italy

Avoid larger, crowded cities like Rome in the heart of summer, unless you're prepared for extreme heat. Harvest season/autumn is the ideal time to visit the wine region, and southern Italy can be mild throughout the winter. Many deals can be found in the low season, but know that winter in the north can be cold and rainy.

If you do go to Italy between March and October, bring sunblock and a hat -- don't underestimate those Mediterranean rays.

3. Do your research when it comes to tourism

Although Covid-19 has put a dampener on tourism, during busier times, attractions like the Vatican may see up to 30,000 visitors per day. That means you may have to wait a long time in line to buy a ticket and enter. Add Rome's scorching sunshine to the mix and you may end up sunburned, exhausted from queuing all day and never get the chance to step foot in the Sistine Chapel.

If visiting big-name tourist attractions is important to you, buy tickets online. Skip-the-line tickets or guided tours may also be worth the price: evaluate your options and decide.

the places to visit in italy

City passes are another alternative. The Milan city pass offers things like discounts on popular attractions, free Milan public transport and a free drink at a local Milanese bar. The Rome tourist card has fast-track entry benefits and free access to the Vatican and the Colosseum. Florence's city pass includes skip-the-line entry to Galleria degli Uffizi and Galleria dell'Accademia, plus tickets for the hop-on, hop-off bus tour.

So, think about what you want to do and see, do the maths and purchase ahead.

4. But don't forget about local spots too

Visiting Italy's most famous attractions should hold a firm spot on your bucket list. That being said, plan to take some time to get off the tourist track a bit. Consider exploring more local neighborhoods or visiting a small village or a less-popular spot like Lake Maggiore instead of Lake Como. Seeing all the big-name hotspots is a must, but experiencing the beauty of true Italian culture and cuisine may be even better.

the places to visit in italy

Related: 5 of Italy's best-hidden gem cities

5. Take the train

The Freeciarossa runs between some of Italy's best destinations. These high-speed trains from company Trenitalia are affordable, fast and comfortable. Traveling up to about 180 miles per hour, trains are one of the best and quickest ways to get from A to B. And, you won't have to deal with learning the Italian rules of the road or the hassle of car rental agencies. Taking the train is easy: You can purchase tickets easily online ahead of time or last minute depending on your travel style. You can visit spots like Milan, Rome , Florence, Venice, Turin and Naples on the Frecciarossa trains.

6. Don't discount the islands

Italy's island culture goes beyond just the beach. And, there are over 450 of them! Sicily has a whole sub-culture of its own, and far-flung spots like the Tremiti islands or the Aeolian islands will ensure you get sufficiently off-the-beaten-path . If it's luxury you desire, Sardinia's Costa Smeralda is a hotspot and nothing looks sexier on an Instagram feed than Capri.

the places to visit in italy

Related: Which of the Italian islands is best for your vacation ?

7. Familiarize yourself with the language and culture

You might get lucky when it comes to a larger city like Rome, where many locals speak English.

Southern Italy or smaller villages are a different story. Luckily, Italians are a friendly bunch and will do their best to communicate with you despite any language barriers. Come prepared with a few key phrases and your favorite translation app downloaded.

the places to visit in italy

Italy is old, and so are its streets. Many are made of cobblestone. While locals (Milan, here's looking at you) may jog by in designer stilettos, you should wear comfortable footwear. Make sure to dress modesty, especially when visiting churches. You won't be allowed into spots like Vatican City if your knees and shoulders aren't covered.

While mealtimes aren't quite as late as Spain's, Italians tend to eat slightly later. Expect lunch around 1:00 p.m., and dinners around 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.

8. Money-saving tips

While it's normal to make a tourist faux pas or two (especially on your first trip), here are some things you should avoid:

  • Tipping at restaurants if it's already included on your bill (many spots add in a 10% service charge).
  • Heavily tipping taxi drivers (rounding up to the nearest euro is normal).

the places to visit in italy

Save even more money with the following:

  • Take advantage of apertivo hours in northern Italy. These are happy hours that offer free buffet food for a few hours pre-dinner time in the early evening. Order a drink or two to gain access to the snacks.
  • Stand at the bar to drink your espresso. Table seating at breakfast has an additional charge, and even more if you want to eat outside.
  • Beware of the "coperto." This is a service charge for simply eating at the restaurant , usually a euro or two per person.
  • Don't eat or drink in the main city square. These spots are usually overpriced tourist traps.

Related: 7 underrated regions in Italy for food and wine

9. Be alert for travel scams

Watch out for those trying to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists with scams :

  • Pickpockets;
  • Gladiators: If you take a photo of or with them, they'll expect a tip;
  • Taxi scams: Insist the meter be turned on, or make sure you're aware of any flat-rate pricing;
  • Unauthorized tour guides or ticket helpers at train stations; and
  • Anyone who approaches you with lavender, flowers or a pizza box. Just walk the other way.

Bottom line

the places to visit in italy

Armed with these tips and tricks, planning a trip to Italy will be easy. You can sit back, relax and enjoy all the delights Italy has to offer, knowing that you've picked the right destinations, will skip the line to see those bucket-list tourist attractions, avoid scams and save a little money on meals.

Northern Italy’s Enchanting Escapes: 12 Unmissable Vacation Destinations

Northern Italy is known for its mountain ranges, beautiful coastlines, rich cuisine, deep history, and gorgeous architecture. Northern Italy cities are simply breathtaking.

Each major region of Italy (northern, central , and southern ) is quite unique. Northern Italy is made up of 8 different sub-regions, which include Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Liguria, Aosta Vally, Veneto, Fruili-Venezia, and Trentina-Alto.

From hiking the Italian Alps and Lake Como boat tours to handmade pasta and vineyards, the northern region of Italy is a diverse vacation destination you shouldn’t miss! Check out our favorite places to visit in Northern Italy– with things to do!

[This article contains affiliate links to trusted partners.]

Cinque Terre, Liguria

Cinque Terre, Italy

Recommended by Pafoua of Her Wanderful World

Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands,” is a charming, must-see UNESCO destination located in Liguria’s capital city, La Spezia, off the Mediterranean coast in Northern Italy. Listed north to south, these beautiful coastal towns are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Each town has its own unique beauty to explore, but all of them offer scenic views of colorful houses that line the hills. The ambiance, culture, and people in the Cinque Terre make a stop here unforgettable even though there aren’t traditional tourist sites such as churches or museums to visit.

Monterosso is the largest of the five and is known for its long stretch of sandy beach. Vernazza is the most beautiful of all the towns, with a smaller beach to swim in and a piazza to view the harbor below.

Sitting as the highest of all five villages, visitors will need to climb over 300 steps to reach the town center of Corniglia. Visit Gelateria Corniglia to find the best gelato. A popular activity in Manarola is sunbathing on the rocks or swimming in the sea since it doesn’t have a beach.

Riomaggiore is known for being the first town introduced to tourism, and nightlife is more lively. There is also delicious fried seafood found here.

A well-maintained train system connects the towns so visitors can easily travel between towns by hopping on and off. To take the scenic route, you can hike the trails and receive even more picturesque views, although keep in mind that some of the trails may be challenging.

Vehicles are discouraged in the Cinque Terre, so the easiest way to arrive is by train. Visitors can also arrive by boat, but schedules can change depending on the weather. The busiest times in the Cinque Terre are June and July, which also offer the sunniest, longest days.

To miss the crowds, visit during September or October to get cooler weather and still enjoy this beautiful area. Whenever you decide to visit the Cinque Terre and Northern Italy, you will not be disappointed!

Genoa, Liguria

Genoa Italy

Recommended by Sarah of A Social Nomad

Genoa, located in Northern Italy, is really easy to travel to – some buses and trains make it easy to reach this city on the Mediterranean, which is also a major cruise port, which means that a lot of visitors spend one day in Genoa . Genoa has one of the largest harbors in the Mediterranean, which means it sees a lot of yachting traffic too.

Genoa’s most famous son is Christopher Columbus, who spent much of his childhood here, and it is still possible to visit his home in the city. The maze of tiny, narrow streets makes the historic center of Genoa a delight to wander around in, safe from traffic, and the series of UNESCO World Heritage-listed palaces will delight all who visit.

Foodies, too, will love Genoa. The region is the birthplace of pesto and focaccia bread, and it’s also a city where street food is awesome – a paper cone of freshly fried seafood is absolutely not to be missed. To learn more, consider a Genoa food tour .

There are walking tours and open-topped Hop on Hop off bus tours to explore, but this is also a city where it’s easy to wander and discover hidden areas. Endless pavement cafes, bars, and restaurants suit all budgets and rest from the day’s heat. Genoa also caters well with accommodation options from five-star hotels to hostels and apartment rentals – all types and budgets of travelers are catered for.

Portofino, Liguria

Portofino, Italy

Recommended by Alex and Leah on Tour

Portofino is an absolutely beautiful village on the Italian Riviera coastline in northern Italy. It’s extremely popular with celebrities worldwide, and once you visit, you’ll know why!

The best way to get to Portofino is by taking the train from Genoa to Saint Magherita before hopping on a direct bus to the village. The bus trip is an experience; snaking along the cliffside, you’ll see magnificent views across the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Despite being a small fishing village, there is much more to do than meets the eye. Firstly, if you have the budget or just fancy a nose, you definitely need to pop into all the designer shops that line the cobbled street.

We’d then recommend going for a wander around the harbor before settling down for an alcoholic beverage, coffee, or even some food. Whilst (obviously) expensive, the food is fantastic, and you MUST have an Aperol Spritz!

If you’re more of an adventurer, you definitely need to hike up to Castelletto or Faro di Portofino, as the views are unbelievable.

Don’t worry if that doesn’t appeal to you; you can always sit on the edge of the Marina di Portofino pier, look back at Portofino’s beautiful, multi-colored buildings, and watch the world go by.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (1)

Recommended by Morgan of Crave the Planet

You don’t have to be a mountaineer and eat dried food to experience out-of-this-world hiking with breathtaking views– even with your kids or mobility-impaired friends and family. Everyone should travel to Italy to experience the magnificent cities, but it’s a hustle and touristic bustle that can leave you or your family well-fed but drained. Cortina d’Ampezzo, nestled high in the Dolomites in northern Italy, is a must-see for people who love nature with a dose of good food and wine.

Fortunately, it’s only a 2-hour drive or bus ride from the international airport in Venice to the stunning mountain village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, filled with history, great food, and luxury spas. The incredible thing about Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Italian Dolomites is the chance to walk easily at high elevations with minimal effort and no special training.

Gondolas and chair lifts run in summer for those not inclined to hike to the top so that everyone can experience some of the most spectacular views in the world, like the Cinque Torri Rock formation.

Directly on these trails sit mountain huts called “rifugios,” like Rifugio Lagazuoi. These huts serve delicious cuisine, great local wines, and views that make you think you’re on top of the world.

Best things to do: Rent bikes, people watch in the village center, do an exciting Via Ferrata, do a day hike around Lago di Braies, or do a hut-to-hut hike and feel like a mountaineer without having to rough it by staying in gorgeous huts each night.

Cortina merges Italian and outdoor culture like no other place. It’s a great winter and summer destination for skiing, hiking, or doing a spa on the top of a mountain. Stay at Cristallo’s luxury spa overlooking Cortina d’Ampezzo, which has no details left out. It’s pure luxury.

Venice, Veneto

Venice, Italy

Recommended by Angela of Where Angie Wanders

Venice is a must-visit destination in northern Italy; once you have experienced its history and beauty, you will want to return time and time again. Italy’s floating city is the only place in the world fully pedestrianized, and the only traffic jams you will find here are caused by boats.

Getting around Venice by water can seem complicated on a first visit; however, with waterbuses, water taxis, and gondolas, you can be sure to get around the city easily and quickly. Arriving in the city center from the airport by water taxi is a fantastic experience reminiscent of a James Bond movie! Looking for somewhere to stay? Click here for places to stay while in Venice .

St. Mark’s Square is the main tourist area in Venice, and visitors arrive to admire the centuries-old Venetian/Roman architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica. In the square, you will also find the Bell Tower and Doges Palace. This area is always busy, but walk away from it, and within 10 minutes, you will find yourself in quiet backstreets where you can wander freely without the crowds.

Finding good Italian cuisine should definitely be on your Venice itinerary . Don’t buy food and drink in St. Mark’s Square – the prices are extortionate – instead, find one of the numerous cafes that sell cicchetti. This is the traditional food of Venice – similar to tapas – and can be accompanied by local wine. It is a cheap and tasty way of eating in Venice, with dishes usually costing no more than €2 each. Here’s a

If you have time, make a day trip from Venice to Burano, the Italian island famous for its incredible rainbow-colored houses, freshly caught fish, and lace-making.

Alba, Piedmont

Alba, Italy

Recommended by Denise of Chef Denise

Alba in the Piemonte region should be on your must-visit list when traveling to northern Italy. Just an hour and a half south of Turin, you will find some of the best wines of Italy and, of course, their world-famous white truffles. This picturesque village is easily walkable in an hour or two. This is definitely a foodie town with quaint squares, a pink church, and many restaurants.

The traditional dishes in Alba are not usually marinara sauce based. Think mushrooms, truffles, olive oil, and cream. You should not leave Alba without ordering a mouthwatering truffle dish unless you are allergic.

If truffles make you swoon, visiting the International White Truffle Fair from mid-October to mid-November is like a trip to heaven. Special dinners and tastings of these culinary diamonds abound.

But even if you cannot make it to the festival, truffles will be on offer at any time of year. Make sure to purchase some truffle oil and truffle paste to take home. They make great souvenirs and gifts and will last longer than any you buy at home.

Also, try one of the most famous dishes of Alba and the Piemonte region, Brasato al Barolo—tender beef marinated in Barolo wine with vegetables and herbs. If you think the wine can’t be good if they’re cooking with it, think again!

Alba is a great hub for visiting local wineries and enotecas (wine bars or shops). Barolo is not just a wine varietal; it’s a village and a short drive from Alba. You can easily visit Barolo and Barbaresco, where Nebbiolo grapes are grown in one day. Enjoy a beautiful ride through rolling hills and vineyards. Enjoy sipping the local wine, then stroll through the charming villages.

Val di Susa, Piedmont

Sacra di San Michele in Val di Susa Italy

Recommended by Linda of

Being the symbol of the Piedmont region, you will have to visit the impressive Sacra di San Michele when traveling in northern Italy. It is also known as Saint Michael’s Abbey. Sound familiar? That is because author Umberto Eco was inspired by the powerful abbey for his bestselling book “The Name of the Rose.” 

Located only 40km from Piedmont’s capital, Turin, the massive Sacra di San Michele is high above Susa Valley. At 962 meters above sea level, it is not only rich in history but also offers fantastic views of the Italian, Swiss, and French Alps—and even Turin. 

Built between 983 and 987, the ancient abbey had its best years in the 13 th century. During that time, there were about 1000 monks living in it permanently, plus pilgrims from the north traveling to Rome. 

Via the QR code on the self-guided tour, you will get all the essential and interesting information on the abbey’s history directly to your cell phone. This will allow you to discover the gigantic building at your own pace. 

You will pass the “stairways of the dead” to reach the main church from the 12 th century. Several members of the Savoy, one of the oldest royal families in the world, are buried in it.  

The Sacra di San Michele area offers some fantastic hiking trails and a via Ferrata for climbers. You will have outstanding views of the abbey, the valley, and the Alps.  

Turin, Piedmont

Turin, Italy

Recommended by Teresa

The first capital of the Kingdom of Italy was built between 1861 and 1865. Today, Turin is a fantastic city. Turin, located in Northern Italy, is a combination of various European styles and modernity that must be added to your bucket list. In the past, Turin was famous as the house of the Italian monarchy; today, it is famous for industries such as FIAT and many others.

The Chapel of the Holy Shroud is a really important cathedral famous for housing the Holy Shroud. The Pope decides when to expose the Holy Shroud, and the expositions usually last 45 days.

The most critical and principal square of Turin is San Carlo Square. The square is very nice and elegant, with two twin churches at the end, the Equestrian monument wanted by the leader of the Savoy dynasty in the middle and beautiful arcades with historical and chic cafes all around.

If you are looking for a breathtaking view and a splendid church, visit the Basilica of Superga.

The Egyptian Museum houses the most extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities. It was founded in 1894 by King Carlo Felice di Savoia and has grown.

The symbol of Turin is the Mole Antoneliana. From the top, you can have a 360-degree view, and inside, there is a stunning and exciting museum of cinema.

The Reggia di Venaria, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautiful day trip not too far away from Turin. You can spend a whole day wandering through rooms and the palace’s beautiful gardens.

Like all of Italy, Turin is known for its delicious food. Find a traditional restaurant and try the Agnolotti or the Vitello Tonnato, all accompanied by wine.

Val Chisone, Piedmont

Val Chisone Italy

Recommended by Linda of

When traveling in northern Italy, you will see several fascinating medieval forts and castles, but none is as impressive as the Forte di Fenestrelle. 

Located in the middle of beautiful Val Chisone, 85km west of Piedmont’s capital, Turin, the powerful fort can be admired from afar. It is the largest Alpine fortress in Europe! 

The fortified complex, covering an area of about 1.3 million square meters, consists of three different forts. They are joined by a tunnel inside the massive fortress wall, which runs the longest covered staircase in Europe. You will have to climb 4000 steps, 3km from Fort San Carlo in the valley to Fort delle Valli at 1800 meters above sea level, and overcome a 635-meter height difference. 

The mighty fortification, which was built starting in 1728, took 122 years to complete. It was intended to defend against foreign invasions, but it was mainly used as a garrison and prison. 

Abandoned after the Second World War, that outstanding construction can be visited today. There are full-day guided tours (only in Italian) or a short self-guided option. To experience and appreciate the dimension of that stunning building, you should combine an inside tour with a fantastic hike to Usseaux , one of the most beautiful villages in Piedmont. 

Lake Como, Lombardy

Lake Como Italy

Recommended by Krisztina of

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Northern Italy, don’t miss out on Lake Como! This beautiful destination is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. With its stunning scenery and lovely towns, Lake Como will surely please everyone.

It’s one of the biggest lakes in Italy, and since it’s located only a one-hour train ride away from Milan, it’s a great day trip opportunity. However, if you want to explore the area properly, it’s worth spending at least 2-3 days at Lake Como.

Bellagio is one of the most popular towns on Lake Como, and it’s easy to see why. With its beautiful buildings and stunning views, Bellagio is a must-see when you’re in the area, and it’s also one of the best places for first-timers to stay in Lake Como. Be sure to walk around the town center to admire the architecture, and don’t forget to take a boat ride on the lake for some truly breathtaking views.

If you’re looking for a more low-key town, Tremezzo might be the place for you. This town is known for its pretty gardens, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery. There are also some great restaurants here if you want to try some local cuisines.

Milan, Lombardy

Milan Cathedral Italy

Recommended by Greta of Greta’s Travels

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Northern Italy, add Milano. Milano is known as the City of Fashion; it’s the economic capital of Italy and the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy.

Milan is an iconic destination, both for its historical and cultural aspects and the modern pull of fashion and innovation. From the new trendy skyscrapers of Piazza Gae Aulenti to the cobbled streets of Brera, Milan has something to offer every type of traveler.

You could live in Milan and still not see it all. However, most travelers consider one day in Milan a good amount. In one day, you’ll be able to see all the highlights of the city, starting from Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, going on to Brera neighborhood, Castello Sforzesco, Arco della Pace, and then ending your day with a Milanese aperitivo at Navigli.

The best time to visit Milan is in late spring or early summer when the weather is good, the days are long, and you can easily get around the city on foot. You can still visit at other times of the year, but in summer, it gets very hot, and the weather in winter won’t make for a fun experience.

You can’t miss visiting the rooftop of the Duomo Cathedral . From here, you will get stunning views over the Piazza del Duomo and the rooftops of Milan. Head there at sunset for the most gorgeous golden light!

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

Bologna Italy

Recommended by Lori of Italy Foodies

Bologna, in northern Italy, is known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and the magnificent UNESCO porticoes stretching across the city. But for all that, Bologna is also known as the “culinary capital of Italy” for producing some of the country’s most unique foods, including prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar, all found locally on every menu.

The city is not as flashy as its neighbors, Florence and Venice, and therefore is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most under-visited cities. But there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a week or more.

A favorite activity is strolling the Piazza Maggiore in the heart of Bologna. Centuries-old medieval buildings, including the main cathedral, Basilica di San Petronio, surround the huge piazza. Here, you’ll find coffee shops and outdoor cafes serving pastries, sandwiches, and, of course, excellent regional wines.

If you’re a foodie, next door to the Piazza Maggiore is the oldest market in Bologna, the Quadrilatero, where you can walk the narrow cobblestone streets and shop for local Italian bread , meats, and cheeses or dine at some of the city’s best eateries.

Bologna once boasted 125 medieval towers, but only about 25 remain. One of the tallest is the Asinelli Tower, the only one you can climb—and you should! The panoramic views over Bologna are worth the climb.

Bologna is also home to fast-performance cars; a day trip to the “Motor Valley” should be on your list. The world headquarters of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati are fascinating places to visit for car buffs or anyone looking for a true Bolognese experience.

Visiting Northern Italy

Cinque Terre Italy

When planning a trip to northern Italy, there are many different cities and attractions that you must not miss. Milan, of course, is at the top of the list, with its beautiful architecture and buzzing cultural scene. There are also many lovely small towns in this region to explore.

And just outside of Milan is Lake Como, one of the most breathtaking destinations in the region. With its deep blue waters and snow-capped mountains in the distance, it is truly a sight to behold. Whether looking for great food and wine or incredible natural beauty, northern Italy is truly amazing!

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex .


Northern Italy's Enchanting Escapes: 12 Unmissable Vacation Destinations

Alexandrea Sumuel is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.

the places to visit in italy

The Best Places To Visit In Italy And Why

t aly is a treasure trove of captivating destinations, each offering unique experiences and attractions. Here are some of the best places to visit in Italy and the reasons why they are so special:

  • Rome: As the capital city and a cradle of Western civilization, Rome is a must-visit destination. The city is home to iconic historical sites such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon, which offer glimpses into the grandeur of the ancient Roman Empire. St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, located within the independent Vatican City, house some of the world's most significant art and religious treasures.
  • Florence: Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is an art lover's dream. Visitors can admire masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci at the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. The city's beautiful architecture, including the Florence Cathedral and the Ponte Vecchio, adds to its timeless charm.
  • Venice: Famous for its picturesque canals and romantic ambiance, Venice is a unique and enchanting city. Visitors can explore the labyrinthine streets, take a gondola ride through the canals, and visit world-renowned landmarks like St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace.
  • Amalfi Coast: The Amalfi Coast is a stunning stretch of coastline in southern Italy, dotted with charming towns like Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. The dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and colorful buildings make it a popular destination for travelers seeking relaxation and natural beauty.
  • Cinque Terre: Translated as “Five Lands,” Cinque Terre is a collection of five fishing villages perched on the rugged cliffs of the Italian Riviera. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers stunning coastal hiking trails, delicious seafood, and picturesque panoramas.
  • Tuscany: Tuscany's rolling hills, vineyards, and medieval towns have captured the hearts of travelers for centuries. Cities like Siena and Lucca boast historic charm, while the city of Pisa is famous for its iconic Leaning Tower.
  • Milan: A global fashion and design capital, Milan is known for its chic style and modern architecture. The city's artistic and cultural scene, exemplified by the magnificent La Scala Opera House and Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper,” adds to its allure.
  • Naples and Pompeii: Naples is a vibrant and chaotic city known for its delicious Neapolitan pizza and rich history. Nearby, the ancient city of Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, provides a fascinating glimpse into Roman life.
  • Sicily: The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily offers a captivating mix of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. From the ancient Greek ruins of Agrigento to the charming town of Taormina with its views of Mount Etna, Sicily's diversity is a treat for travelers.
  • Sardinia: Known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, Sardinia is a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. The island's unique culture and traditional festivals add to its allure.

Each of these destinations in Italy has its own distinct charm, history, and attractions, making the country a top choice for travelers seeking an unforgettable and enriching experience. Whether you're interested in art, history, gastronomy, or simply savoring the beauty of nature, Italy has something to offer everyone

The post The Best Places To Visit In Italy And Why appeared first on Things That Make People Go Aww .

taly is a treasure trove of captivating destinations, each offering unique experiences and attractions. Here are some of the best places to visit in Italy and the reasons why they are so special: Each of these destinations in Italy has its own distinct charm, history, and attractions, making the country a top choice for travelers...

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Venice is one of the best places to visit in Italy, per travel experts.

5 Must-See Places To Visit In Italy, According To Travel Experts

Italy is a country that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Here, you will find yourself drowning in pasta and pizza, surrounded by the most beautiful architecture in the world, and dazzled by ancient art at every corner. Nothing compares to Italia! But where should you spend your vacation? From the coast to the charming cityscapes, we’ve broken down exactly what to see when you visit.

There are so many reasons travelers head to the country — the vibrant culture, ancient architecture, stunning landscapes, rich history, and, of course, mouth-watering food. Pizza. Pasta. Parmesan. Enough said, right? According to nine travel guides, the spots on our list are the five best places to visit in Italy. So, fasten your figurative seatbelts, and let’s explore the best of Italy. If we missed one, let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Places To See In Italy  

Colosseum in Rome.

When it comes to a trip to Italy, Rome is always a must-see. That’s why it tops the list of most travel websites. Rome. Just the name conjures images of the iconic Trevi Fountain and the awe-inspiring Colosseum . And while these landmarks are undoubtedly must-sees, there’s a whole other side to the Eternal City waiting to be explored by adventurous travelers.

Condé Nast Traveler urges you to venture beyond the typical tourist path. A hidden gem awaits just a day trip away: Ostia Antica . This remarkably well-preserved archaeological site offers a glimpse into ancient Roman life, with ruins that seem frozen in time. Imagine strolling cobbled streets and chatting with friendly archaeologists – a chance to learn about the city’s rich history directly from the experts.

U.S. News reinforces the allure of Rome, calling it a “globally renowned cultural and historical powerhouse.” Wandering through Rome is like stepping into a living museum . From the mighty Colosseum, a testament to the city’s gladiatorial past, to the Sistine Chapel adorned with Michelangelo’s masterpieces , Rome’s history unfolds around every corner. No matter your interests, Rome has something to offer everyone – ancient ruins, artistic treasures, world-class food, and of course, the Vatican City , the heart of Catholicism. So, pack your walking shoes, embrace your sense of adventure, and get ready to be dazzled by the Eternal City.

2. Florence

Florence, Italy

No big deal. Florence is just the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance . says this means this city is the breeding ground for artistic giants, inventors, and explorers who shaped the course of history. Here, opera was born, and the florin currency, a financial innovation that helped pull Europe out of the Dark Ages, was minted.

Art history buffs, rejoice! Earth Trekkers confirms that Florence is a must-visit. Michelangelo’s iconic David sculpture , the treasure trove of Renaissance masterpieces within the Uffizi Gallery , and the breathtaking dome frescoes by Brunelleschi adorning the Duomo – these are just a few of the artistic wonders that await you.

But Florence is more than just museums. Earth Trekkers playfully reminds us that there are enough towers to conquer (think panoramic city views from the top of Giotto’s Campanile!), enough gelato flavors to tempt your taste buds (because, let’s face it, is there anything better?), and enough charming shops to keep your credit card company happy. So, whether you’re an art aficionado or simply seeking a city that tantalizes your senses, Florence promises an unforgettable experience.

StudyFinds Associate Editor Sophia Naughton had the pleasure of living and interning for a travel agency in Florence for a summer during college:

“There is simply too much to say about Florence. I didn’t even understand how important it would be to my life while I was there. It’s a whirlwind of art, incredibly delicious food, kind people, and this not-so-subtle magic that you feel the moment you arrive. I’ll leave you with three recommendations for a day of food: banana bread for breakfast at Melaleuca, Caffe Ricasoli’s pesciaiolo panino for lunch, Trattoria Marione (anything on the menu) for dinner, and black cherry and peanut butter gelato at Cantina del Gelato for dessert! It’s like peanut butter and jelly in gelato form. Plus, it sits right next to the Arno. Enjoy your sweet treat with a view of the river. Ciao!”

Venice, Italy

Venice isn’t your typical city. Full Suitcase says to prepare for a lot of walking. Picture yourself meandering along narrow streets, sunlight dappling through canals, and every corner revealing a hidden gem – a charming medieval building or a stunning Gothic palace whispering stories of a bygone era. And of course, no trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride . Glide down the canals, taking in the city from a completely different perspective. This quintessential Venetian experience is a must-do for any bucket list.

Art and architecture enthusiasts will find themselves captivated by Venice’s grandeur. As PlanetWare points out, St. Mark’s Square serves as the heart of the city, a piazza brimming with iconic landmarks. The majestic Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica) stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Doge’s Palace , both dwarfed by the soaring Campanile bell tower . These architectural marvels are just a taste of the artistic treasures that await you in this floating city. So, lace up your walking shoes , hop on a gondola, and prepare to be enchanted by the timeless beauty of Venice.

The Pompeii Excavation Site

Take a step back in time in Pompeii. Lonely Planet describes Pompeii as your portal to the past. Here, the ruins whisper tales of a vibrant Roman city tragically frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius . Stroll along chariot-marked streets, marvel at the frescoes adorning lavish villas, and peek into the remnants of bathhouses, shops, and even an ancient brothel.

The haunting silence is a stark contrast to the bustling life Pompeii once knew. As you stand in the shadow of the ever-present Mount Vesuvius, ponder the chilling words of Pliny the Younger, who described the city’s final hours in a letter: “Darkness came on again, again ashes, thick and heavy. We got up repeatedly to shake these off; otherwise we would have been buried and crushed by the weight” ( Lonely Planet ).

The weight of history hangs heavy in Pompeii. Walking through Pompeii is a humbling experience, a reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of life. But it’s also a testament to human resilience , showcasing the remarkable civilization that thrived here for centuries.

Milan, Italy

Commonly known as The Fashion Capital of the World , this city offers a fashionably good time, which is always in style. The city conjures images of high fashion and luxury brands . But Travellers Worldwide assures us this vibrant city offers something for everyone, even those with zero interest in the latest trends.

Imagine yourself cheering alongside passionate fans at a thrilling Serie A soccer match , or getting lost in the beauty of Milan’s architectural marvels. The Duomo , a magnificent Gothic cathedral , is just one of the many treasures waiting to be explored. And when hunger strikes, Milan promises a feast for the senses. Cozy cafes beckon with steaming cups of espresso, while bustling trattorias offer delectable Italian fare – there’s something to satisfy every craving. Of course, if you do find yourself bitten by the fashion bug, Milan welcomes you with open arms. Whether you choose to experience the electrifying energy of Milan Fashion Week or simply browse the designer boutiques at your own pace, the city caters to every fashionista’s desires.

Our Escape Clause reinforces Milan’s multifaceted appeal. They acknowledge its status as a fashion and business hub, but also highlight its architectural wonders and surprisingly modern vibe compared to other Italian cities. This doesn’t negate its rich history, though. Milan boasts a captivating past that’s woven into the very fabric of the city.

Been to Italy? Planning to go? Drop us a comment with your travel tips. 

  • Condé Nast Traveler
  • Earth Trekkers
  • Full Suitcase
  • Lonely Planet
  • Hand Luggage Only
  • Travellers Worldwide
  • Our Escape Clause

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

Go in the off season. No lines and much cheaper.

If you go to Pompeii then you would be well-advised to also visit Herculaneum. They are very close to each other and conveniently located near the train.

The town of Lucca (near Pisa) has a charming old town with an intact medieval wall with a path/road around the top. Rent a bike, explore the old town and take a loop around the top of the wall. May be the best way to spend an afternoon in Italy.

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Travel to italy like an insider with the best local experts.

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A trip to Italy is too special to get wrong. Here's how to do it right. (San Gimignano, Tuscany)

I absolutely love Italy, for many different reasons. But I hate the way in which many Americans go about planning trips there. Survey after survey shows it is the number one dream destination for U.S. leisure travelers, but the way those travelers get their information and advice gives me nightmares.

Throughout the years I’ve heard people say over and over that “I was told to do this in Italy,” or “I was told not to do this in Italy.” By who? “A friend.” I have close friends who recently planned their entire 12-day trip on the basis of another couple they knew who gave them advice—after their first visit. I’ve heard of many people who skipped Rome because “we heard it was too busy, just another big city.” Or passed on Venice, one of the world’s most magical destinations, because, “I heard it was touristy.”

There are American tourists who say you should skip Venice. They are wrong.

It goes on and on, but suffice to say, I have been to Italy in the neighborhood of two dozen times, summer and winter, for food, wine, skiing, golf, hiking, cycling and more food, from north to south and east to west and islands too, and I know a lot about Italian cuisine, but I still ask real experts for advice every time I go. I specifically ask for advice on where to eat, what to see, and who to choose as guides. And by experts, I mean people how live in Italy, specialize in particular areas of travel, and know their subject matter.

“We get multiple guests a year who want to wing it,” says Cherrye Moore, owner of My Bella Vita travel. Moore moved to Calabria two decades ago after falling in love with the region on a visit, and opened a bed and breakfast, learning about what her visitors were looking for. Her company now specializes in planning trips—especially foodie and ancestry trips—to the area in Southern Italy where many Italian Americans trace their heritage. “They say, ‘My neighbor just showed up in their family’s hometown and it went great for them,’ or, ‘Our friends went to Italy last year and said we don't need a driver.’ It’s true that you can rent a car and drive to your family’s hometown, but that experience is vastly different from having a dedicated driver and a heritage specialist who has done research on your family’s history, who has already identified the home your grandfather was born in, and who has arranged meetings with locals upon your arrival.”

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Anyone can tour the Vatican, but only the right guides can get you a private visit.

I just got back from an exploration of Turin followed by a weeklong hiking trip in surrounding Piemonte, Italy’s most prestigious wine region, which included multiple winery visits. For restaurants and guides and sightseeing in Turin I used an Italian-based travel specialist that is the choice of many of the best luxury travel agents/advisors in this country (the best travel agents are savvy enough to know what they do not know and regularly rely on local experts). For the hiking trip, I used an Italy-based active travel specialist that does nothing else, and does it with a food-centric spin. It was another fantastic Italy trip, one amazing day after another, featuring many meals, wineries and experiences I never would have found by myself, especially by asking random friends or watching You Tube influencer videos by people with far less Italy experience than myself.

“We don’t focus on stars or diamonds, we focus on really special one-of-a-kind experiences and lodging that lets you discover our Italy,” said Heather Dowd, who lives in Turin and along with her Italian husband Beppe Salerno. They run Tourissimo , the active travel company we used. We had several friends hiking with us who were on either their very first or second trip to Italy, and when we reviewed our experiences at the end for the trip, one place we stayed, an 18 th century castle turned boutique hotel, was the overwhelming favorite. It did not have whirlpool tubs or Frette linens, it did not have a concierge or room service, but it had excellent food and beautiful gardens in which we had an epic dinner. It had cooking classes, a great location, a fun aperitivo evening cocktail session, and most of all, incredible charm..

Everyone wants the perfect meal in Italy, but not everyone knows where the locals go to find it.

It was exactly what my first timers dreamed Italy would be like, and it was a place we never would have found online. It was perfect, and even in Italy not every place is, but the reality is that Heather and Beppe and their guides spend a lot of time behind the scenes visiting small hotels and vetting them, way more time than the people who rate their stays on booking websites. One of my friends was so impressed he is already planning an extended family hiking trip to Sicily with Tourissimo next year.

If you want to have an insider experience in Italy, and see the places locals go, you need a local insider to help you out.

“Our goal is for guests to experience Calabria like we do, so we’ve built experiences that aren’t available online,” said My Bella Vita’s Moore. “Nowhere else can you find a multi-course lunch hosted at Zia Pina’s or a picnic prepared and delivered by Signora Francesca. Lunch in the home of our friend, Chef Massimo, isn’t available on Google. When creating or reviewing experiences I always think of my sister in Texas. If she were visiting, would I take her here? If that answer is yes, I know we have a winner.” That is exactly the standard by which I’d like my Italy travels to be judged.

A trip to Italy is a beautiful, special, and almost sacred experience, so don’t screw it up by taking bad advice. I do not know every local specialist—and I hope to keep finding more—but I know several experts I would recommend for different kinds of travel. Or use a good travel advisor, something I recommend for all travel (Read my article Why You Need A Travel Agent More Than Ever here at Forbes ), and communicate with them to ensure they are on the same page in terms of sourcing these kinds of local experts. If they are good, they will already be familiar with several of these companies.

Active Travel

All of Tourissimo's cycling and hiking trips in Italy emphasize food and wine, which is how it ... [+] should be.

Italy has long been the dream destination of cyclists, with Tuscany atop the Bucket List for global road riding destinations. But for the past few years the fastest growing sector of cycling has been “gravel grinding,” and with hundreds of miles of its stunning unpaved “white roads,” Tuscany has also emerged as the world’s top travel spot for gravel lovers. There are also plenty of other amazing places to ride in Italy, including Piemonte, Sardinia, Puglia, the Lakes region, and many other areas. World class hiking abounds, especially the stunning Dolomites—a UNESCO World Heritage Site of beauty unmatched by most other mountain regions on earth. Beyond this there are the Alps in the east, the Cinque Terre, Sardinia, and many other great options.

Italy is so well known for cycling and hiking that every major active travel company in the world runs trips there. But for my last two active trips, one hiking and one biking, I chose a tour operator that is actually based there, founded by an Italian with a passion for cycling and food. Tourissimo may be Italian, but they cater to the American market, and founder Beppe Salerno worked for am American cycling company as a guide before realizing he could do the real Italy better himself—to me, the perfect startup rationale. Over the years since, Tourissimo has grown its library of offerings, with both with an array of scheduled group trips and private custom options. While they do mostly road riding, they are notably one of the only tour operators scheduling gravel trips, and can also arrange custom mountain biking itineraries, with years of expertise in cycling and hiking.

Superstar Chef Mary Sue Milliken has led about galf a dozen Chef's Cycling Tours in Italy for ... [+] Tourissimo.

In addition, Tourissimo has also been a pioneer in “Active Culinary Travel,” a hot new category I have written about here at Forbes (and for other magazines and newspapers). They offer an annual series of six group rides (and a hike) each hosted by an acclaimed chef like Mary Sue Milliken, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author (five!) and co-host of the popular PBS cooking show Two Hot Tamales . She is also an avid cyclist and has led the Tourissimo Chef Bike Tours for several years, along with other big names. These trips are a unique option for serious foodies who also ride, while the other trips cater to just about anyone. Otherwise they offer several styles of trips, from Bici Basics for new riders to Ambitious Tours for the more hard core.

Tourissimo puts a focus on local, choosing small and often historic hotels that they have curated and vetted (like the castle I just stayed at in Piemonte), places that you would never be able to distinguish from hundreds of other non-chain options online. Same for restaurants, wineries, and all the other ways they take you behind the scenes and into their real Italy. Their Mission Statement? “We don't want to be the biggest adventure travel company. We want to design and run the best tours in Italy. We strive to be the most authentic and the most beneficial to local communities.” Fantastico!

Bellagio on Lake Como is one of the most famous destinations in Italy — and the perfect place for a ... [+] food-centric bike tour!

Bike It! Bellagio offers another insider biking experience on a much different scale, providing a great one-day experience for visitors to Italy’s most famous lake town. This bike shop on Lake Como is run by a former pro racer and his wife. They rent bikes (road, mountain and e-bikes) out, but also offer one-day guided tours with multiple food and drink stops. Given that the owner grew up here and knows everyone, it’s not surprising that the food and drink spots are insider picks. The shop sits near the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo climb, the most famous in the Giro di Lombardia, a race more than a century old, and several days a week the shop offers guided group rides with a climb of the pass, on road or e-bikes—Bianchi bikes of course!

There are scheduled tours Monday through Saturday, as well as wide range of customizable private tours. These are often taken by families with mixed ages, but for more aggressive riders they offer longer road tours, mountain biking and gravel riding, along with a wide range of less demanding e-bike tours, including some even more focused on food and wine. They also offer a handful of multi-day tours and can put these together as custom on demand, usually for groups, including an iconic coast to coast traverse of Italy. If you are a guest of one of the many stunning (and pricey) ultra-luxury hotels around Bellagio, and ask the concierge to arrange a bike tour, they are likely going to call this shop anyway (and mark it up) so just do it yourself.

Luxury Travel in Italy

From planning your entire itinerary with flights, hotels, and transfers to just booking the best tours, guides and VIP access (often to non-public highlights), it pays to use a top local specialist.

Last year I attended the annual Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, which has been called “the Oscars of the travel industry.” Virtuoso is the leading global luxury travel consortium, and many of the best travel advisors on earth belong, So does just about every top hotel, resort, safari lodge, cruise line, and luxury tour operator. Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch was explaining the many advantages of using a travel advisor (I wholeheartedly agree) and something he said really stuck with me. He explained that with all of the new online tour booking companies, it was easier than ever to book a tour or guide in just about any destination on earth, but harder than ever to judge the quality. The caveat was that, “you can book a guide, but you can’t book my guide.”

One of Italy's greatest hidden gems, Turin was the nation's first capital and a Winter Olympic host. ... [+] It's worth getting a good guide if you visit.

The Vatican is the Vatican and the Colosseum is the Colosseum, so when you opt for a guided tour, what really matters and makes it a good, bad or great experience is the guide—and their special access, like a tour of the Vatican when no one else is there.

For my recent trip to Turin, I called Imago Artis Travel , an Italy-based luxury travel specialist. They are what is known in the travel industry as a destination management company or DMC, the same companies luxury travel agents call to arrange local details for their clients. There are great DMCs all over the world, and local knowledge is valuable everywhere, but many of them do not deal directly with travelers, while in Italy the best ones do.

I wanted a private day tour of Turin and its surrounding attractions for my wife and I, most importantly the Reggia di Venaria Reale, aka the “Italian Versailles” (one of two places in Italy with this lofty but accurate nickname). The guide they got for me was a licensed guide, and lifelong resident of Turin, and spoke excellent English, which was all good, but she was also an architect, which was great in a city where so much is driven by architecture. That’s not so easy to find on global tour aggregator website. Imago Artis also gave me a list of their favorite restaurant recommendations, which were spot on, then made my reservations for me. At a minimum this eliminates the language barrier of calling or the technology barrier of booking through often tricky (or non-functional) Italian restaurant reservation websites, but in many cases it also gets you a better table and instant VIP treatment—which definitely does not happen when I book myself.

Italy is rich in world-class crafts, and companies like Imago Artis can take you behind the scenes ... [+] to meet the makers.

Imago Artis Travel is a Virtuoso member, which means when you book through them, if you book your luxury hotel, you get extras like room upgrades, late checkout, spa credits etc., one of the big advantages of working with Virtuoso travel advisors. If you have a bigger budget than I do, they can handle all sorts of luxury transport, private jets, helicopters, boat charters, and also offer VIP Meet and Greet services at just about every airport in Italy. They can even arrange private security details. On a more accessible luxury level, they specialize in exclusive experiences, unlocking historic buildings and art collections not open to the public, and taking you behind the scenes with many artisans of Italy, from custom shoemakers to sculptors to jewelry designers. They know food, they know the guides, and I especially like their mission statement, “Our mission is simple: Getting You to the Heart of Italy.” That’s what it is all about.

Another top luxury DMC that is also a member of Virtuoso that I have used in the past with great success is IC Bellagio . They offer a similar array of luxury services and are very well connected, but they also specialize in Villa rentals as well as 5-Star hotels. Differentiating villas in Italy may be the single biggest challenge, more so than restaurants, with so many options and so few valid reviews. IC Bellagio has also boldly acknowledged the overtourism problems some of the most popular parts of Italy face, and are pushing “Slow Season Travel,” which varies in each of the country’s 20 regions but is something they are expert in. Last winter I went to Venice in the off-season, and it was spectacular, and I just traveled in a slow season to Piemonte. It was much, much better than fighting the crowds.

Skiing in Italy is awesome, and it's the best place in the world to stay in mountain rifugios — but ... [+] you need help for the perfect trip.

Skiing in Italy remains a bit under the radar for Europe, especially compared to France and Switzerland. Well, let the crowds go to other countries, because Italy has two different major ski regions, both of which have hosted the Winter Olympics, and the Games are returning to Milan and Cortina in 2026. The interconnected Dolomiti SuperSki lift and trail network in the Dolomites is arguably the largest “ski resort” in the world, and inarguably one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes on the planet. The towns are charming, the food is great, there are spectacular hotels from non-chain independent hidden gems to world-class luxury (Aman, Mandarin Oriental, Relais & Chateaux, etc.) and it’s cheaper than much of the rest of Europe. Did I mention the food?

I first went to the Dolomites to go hiking, and was so wowed I thought, “I have to come back and ski here.” I came back the next winter and skied, and the following year I got a group of friends together and went back. I have skied all over the U.S., and all over the world and never had the same compulsion to return to the same place immediately. That’s how good skiing in Italy is ( read much more in my Italy skiing piece here at Forbes ).

I’ve only used one company for ski travel in Italy and see no reason to switch gears, especially since the local logistics (a great guide/instructor, transfers, the best on-mountain meals and staying a couple of nights in the region’s unique on-mountain rifugios) is very hard to organize on your own. The company is Dolomite Mountains , a specialist in both resort ski vacations and backcountry touring trips (using skins and alpine touring or AT gear). They too are a U.S. facing company with mainly American clientele.

Like many active travel companies, they offer both group trip scheduled departure options and private custom trips to fit whatever you want. The group option is called the Dolomites Ski Safari and is a 7-day trip mixing stays in amazing rifugios with in-town hotels (4 and 5-stars on the Italian system) and includes all breakfasts and dinners, a full-time guide, ski pass, luggage transfers and more. Custom options include the same kind of trip for your own group, or anything you want, and while its name suggests local expertise—quite true—Dolomite Mountains also handles ski trips in the rest of Italy, like Courmayeur, and connected border regions of France, Switzerland and Austria, as many lift systems here know no national boundaries (ski with your passport!). They are also a Virtuoso member.

Calabria & Southern Italy

Many Italian Americans trace their ancestry to Southern Italy's Calabria, and if you want to visit, ... [+] make sure you do it right.

My Bella Vita travel focuses on this area, including both small group trips and custom privates. Their specialties include “Heritage Tours” for those interested in their ancestry, and a food focus for the rest of us. For instance, Taste of the South is a 12-day gastronomic journey through Calabria, Basilicata and Naples—the birthplace of pizza! Food & Wine of Calabria is an 11-daty trip and just what it sounds like.

These are some of the scheduled small group tours offered, but the rest of their business is private trip planning and custom options.

“Italy is deceivingly large, and travelers think two weeks is enough time to see everything. It isn’t,” insists Moore. “You can’t even experience all of Calabria in two weeks. Our team collectively spends about six months a year scouting new hotels, restaurants, and experiences in Calabria and we are constantly re-evaluating and tweaking our recommendations.”

There are some other Italy specialists I have not personally experienced, but that come highly recommended by some of my other experts:

My Bella Vita’s Cherrye Moore says, “ In Sicily, I recommend Lucia Davies of Sicily Tour , one of a trio of British expats who have lived in Siracusa, Sicily for decades.” A family-owned tour-guiding company based in Siracusa, they have nearly 40 years of experience on the island and create trips fostering cultural exchange between Italy and English-speaking visitors, specializing in small group and custom tours.

Food & Wine

Life is too short to go to Italy and not eat well.

Beppe and Heather Dowd of Tourissimo recommend Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures , a company that has also earned kudos from other travel industry folks I know. Owner Francesca Montillo grew up in Southern Italy where her father was greengrocer. An Italian-American cookbook author, she launched the company a decade ago, and she personally leads the tours. She does numerous scheduled tours to different regions each year, and also offers custom private itineraries.

Larry Olmsted

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2024/25 UEFA Champions League: Italy and Germany secure next season's European Performance Spots

Friday, May 3, 2024

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Italy and Germany will both earn an extra league phase place for next season having secured the two new European Performance Spots.

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‘My Place Is Here’ Directors Talk Women’s Rights, Poverty in Post-War Italy as Trailer Debuts (EXCLUSIVE)

By Leo Barraclough

Leo Barraclough

International Features Editor

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My Place Is Here

Italian period drama “My Place Is Here” is being released in Italy by Adler Ent. on May 9, and is being sold at Cannes by Beta Cinema . Variety speaks to the film’s directors, Daniela Porto and Cristiano Bortone , and debuts its trailer (below).

“My Place Is Here” is set in the years following the end of World War II. Women have just been given the vote in Italy, but in Calabria, a conservative rural region in Southern Italy, men still rule the roost.

Popular on Variety

The film is based on the novel by Porto, who adapted it for cinema with Bortone. The film’s release in Italy comes in the wake of the massive success of “ There Is Still Tomorrow ,” which has grossed $39 million. That film also deals with the topic of patriarchy in post-war Italy.

Porto tells Variety that both her parents came from Calabria, and she used to go there every summer as a child. The idea for the story sprung from when her mother spoke about an openly gay man in her village who helped women organize their weddings. She imagined what the relationship between one of these women and this guy would be like and from there the story started to unfold.

The film is particularly relevant now, Porto says, because of the rise of the right-wing in Italy, as well as other countries, which is threatening to force back women’s rights, in particular their access to abortion.

This depiction of life as it was then is in contrast with the “sweetened image” of the South of Italy often seen in TV drama, Bortone says, in which it is portrayed as “romantic” and “beautiful.” He adds: “Life was really bad.”

Italians need to be reminded of how tough life was in Southern Italy and how that led to migration to the north of the country and to other countries, like the U.S., Bortone says. This is particularly relevant today when immigration is such a toxic issue in Italian politics. “We have forgotten that part of our past. It’s important to keep that emotion alive when we approach the present,” Bortone says.

Despite the negative image of the Communist Party that has come to the fore in recent decades, in the film it is seen to have attempted to “improve conditions” for the poor in Italy, Porto says. However, in terms of its treatment of women, it is shown to be little better than the right-wing parties, in that it didn’t want women to escape their oppression. Their attitude was “you can vote but remember that your position is in the family,” she says. “1946 in Italy [the year after women’s suffrage], for me, was a very important year, because there were great expectations, but many of them were not realized.”

Bortone says they tried to avoid using stereotypes in the film. In the depiction of gay characters, for example, they avoided showing gay men as being funny or flamboyant. The inspiration for the film’s depiction of Lorenzo was Marcello Mastroianni in “Una giornata particolare” by Ettore Scola, where he plays a gay man as “elegant, decent and full of dignity,” Bortone says.

One striking part of the film is that although Marta is helped by others, ultimately it is she who frees herself. “It needs to be Marta’s decision to take a position and say, ‘Okay, I cannot count on the Communist Party, the church or Lorenzo. If I want this, I have to take it by myself,'” Porto says.

The production design and costumes in the film help to underscore the poverty of the people, Bortone says. “The film is shot in a little town in Calabria called Gerace, which really is quite untouched and we were fascinated by the tonalities there, and we tried to create this world in which there was not a lot of color, and somehow everything was into the mud and earth and stone kind of tonality, including the clothes, because if you look at the pictures of the time, you don’t see these sparkling happy flowery colors that come later. Then everything was very brownish. The people were farmers; they were workers.

The only time that color enters the film is with Lorenzo’s flowers and the scarf given to Marta by her boyfriend, as well as the flowers that bloom in spring. “When I’m making a movie, I try to use color in a narrative way,” Bortone says. “So, basically, in the beginning everything is kind of bleak and dark, and also the color grading is a little bit cold – like blueish, and slowly when she thinks she’s improving her life and maybe falling in love again with a new boy then all of a sudden the flowers come out, spring comes, and then again it goes back into its kind of dark motif.”

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  29. 2024/25 UEFA Champions League: Italy and Germany secure next season's

    Italy and Germany are now guaranteed to finish in the top two of the 2023/24 association club coefficients and will therefore each earn a European Performance Spot. 2023/24 association club ...

  30. 'My Place Is Here' Directors on Women's Rights in Post-War Italy

    Italian period drama "My Place Is Here" is being released in Italy by Adler Ent. on May 9, and is being sold at Cannes by Beta Cinema. Variety speaks to the film's directors, Daniela Porto ...