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15 of the Best Places to Visit in Italy

Julie Italy, Travel Inspiration 36 Comments

Are you planning a trip to Italy? If so, be prepared to fall in love with an extraordinary country. The food, the wine, the history, the art and architecture, the quaint, hillside towns in Tuscany, and the underrated Dolomites…there is something here for everyone.

The list of places to visit in Italy is long. So long, in fact, that it would take months to see all of them. Most people have just a week or two to explore this amazing country. Here is a list of some of Italy’s best destinations, a good starting point for having the best holiday here.

Best Places to Visit in Italy

Rome

There is so much history, so much art, and so many amazing sites to visit that Rome cannot be missed.

Rome

Top Experiences:  The Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, and the Borghese Museum.

How Long: You can hit the main sites in a rushed, one day tour of the city. Three to five days is ideal to see most of what Rome has to offer, as wells as exploring its nooks and crannies.

See more of Rome: 2 Days in Rome: The Perfect Itinerary for Your First Visit

Florence

Florence is the art capital of the world. It is also a gorgeous city best seen by climbing its numerous towers.

Florence

Top Experiences: See Michelangelo’s David, climb the Duomo, tour the Uffizi Gallery, stroll across Ponte Vecchio, eat lots of gelato, and watch the sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.

How Long: You can race through the best of Florence in one day, however, two to three days allows you to slow down and visit some worthwhile off-the-beaten-path spots.

Read more:  10 Things to do on Your First Visit to Florence

Tuscany

Oh, Tuscany, how we fell in love with you. With scenic, picturesque hillside towns rising up amidst vineyards and rolling hills, Tuscany is gorgeous and a joy to explore. You could easily spend one week in Tuscany, settling down in a Tuscan villa, with day trips out to the surrounding towns.

The view over San Gimignano

Tuscany Italy

Best Experiences: Tour the hill towns, like San Gimignano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Pienza.

How Long: Give yourself at least two to three days, longer if you can.

Read more: Touring the Hill Towns of Tuscany

Siena

Technically, Siena is a hill town in Tuscany. But it is such a great place to visit that it deserves its own mention. Siena is similar to Florence, but quieter and smaller. We actually liked Siena more than Florence. There’s just something about this town that we fell in love with. You may fall in love with it too.

Siena

Best Experiences: Wander the cobblestoned streets, overlook Siena from Torre del Mangia, visit the Siena Cathedral, and spend time in Il Campo.

How Long: It’s easy to visit Siena as a day trip from Florence or Tuscany. If you have more time, spend at least one night here to really experience  Siena.

Read More:  One Perfect Day in Siena

Milan

Milan is home to the Duomo, world-class museums, trendy shopping areas, and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” This city is undergoing an architectural Renaissance and it is worth even a few hours on the fastest of itineraries.

Milan

Best Experiences: Walk of the roof of the Duomo, see Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” go shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

How Long: One day or more. Milan makes a nice day trip if you are traveling between cities such as Florence, Venice, Lake Como, and the Cinque Terre.

Read more:  How to Spend One Perfect Day in Milan

Lake Como

Nestled at the foot of the Alps, Lake Como is one of Italy’s most romantic spots. Leave the hustle and bustle of Italy’s cities behind on a visit here.

Bellagio Lake Como

Best Experiences: Explore the town of Varenna, visit classy Bellagio, tour the gardens, and ride Funicolare Como-Brunate for unforgettable views of Lake Como.

How Long:  Lake Como is a very easy day trip from Milan. With more time, spend the night in Bellagio and have fun wandering the picturesque streets once all the day trippers leave for the day.

Read More:  8 Amazing Things to do in Bellagio

Venice

Venice is one of our favorite spots in Italy. Why? It is small and compact, perfect to be explored with just a few days time. Venice is romantic, historic, and gorgeous. The canals, the gondolas, the architecture, the colorful towns of Murano and Burano…what is not to love?

Venice

Best Experiences:  Wander along the canals, take a gondola ride through the city, see St. Mark’s Square, walk across the Rialto Bridge, and visit the Doges’ Palace and Saint Mark’s Basilica.

How Long: At least one day to see the best of Venice. Two to three days is ideal.

Read more: 9 Must-Have Experiences in Venice

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most scenic spots. It is here that five colorful, gorgeous towns precariously sit on the hills that tumble into the Mediterranean Sea. Hike it or hop from town to town by train…this is a gorgeous spot to explore in Italy.

Riomaggiore

Cinque Terre

Best Experiences: Exploring the five towns…Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola, and Corniglia.

How long: In one day you can hike or take the train, connecting all five towns. With more time, pick one town and make this your home base. As the sun begins to set, many tourists leave, making the towns quieter and more interesting to explore.

Read more: The Cinque Terre for Budget Travelers or Hiking the Cinque Terre

Verona

Verona is the famed city where Romeo and Juliette takes place. It is also an overlooked destination on many itineraries. Verona is a gorgeous spot and well worth a visit.

Verona Italy

Best Experiences: Walk across Ponte Scaligero, visit Piazza delle Erbe, visit the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, overlook Verona from Piazzale Castel San Pietro, and stroll through the town in the evening (the passieggiata).

How Long: One day to see the best of Verona and stay overnight if you can.

Read more: Falling in Love with Verona

Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is world famous. But is it really worth the visit? We say yes, but only if you already have plans to be in the area. Pisa is worth a quick stop if you are traveling from Florence to the Cinque Terre. Take two hours to pose for photos (along with tons of other travelers) and maybe even climb the tower.

Pisa

Best Experiences: Climb the tower if heights and vertigo is not an issue for you.

How Long: You can visit Pisa in two hours if you are traveling between cities like Florence and the Cinque Terre.

Read how to do it here: Day Trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Dolomites

The Dolomites are often an overlooked spot for travelers to Italy. But what if I told you that the Dolomites are unbelievably gorgeous and you could have this view without hiking? Would you want to go?

Dolomites

This photo was taken from a spot that was just a short walk from a cable car at the start of the Puez-Odle Altopiano hike. You do not need to be a hiker to appreciate the Dolomites. But if you are a hiker, the Dolomites are world-class. Expect to see some jaw-dropping scenery here.

Best Experiences: There are hikes in the Dolomites for all ages and ability levels. In the summer, cable cars whisk riders to viewpoints like these.

How Long: Two to three days for scenic drives, rides up in the cable cars, and enough time for some hiking. If you enjoy mountain scenery and want to experience Italy with a dash of Austria, you could easily spend a week here. We spent four days in the Dolomites and cannot wait to go back. This is our favorite spot in Italy.

Read more: Hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano or Hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop

Pompeii

At the foot of Mt. Vesuvius sits the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii. This is your chance to walk through a preserved, ancient city and get one of Italy’s best history lessons.

Pompeii

How Long: A visit here takes most visitors about half of a day.

Read More:  How to Visit Pompeii when Traveling between Rome and Sorrento

The Amalfi Coast

The drive along the Amalfi Coast is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the world. Yes, it’s another pretty spot in Italy, but beware, if you are here in summer, these roads get clogged with drivers and tourists. The Amalfi Coast is worth a visit, but if you have to make a choice, the Cinque Terre is a better option (in our opinion).

Amalfi Coast

Best Experiences: Visit the towns on the Amalfi Coast such as Positano, Amalfi, and Salerno. You can get around using public transportation (the SITA buses) but in our experience, we were left stranded on multiple occasions, making bus travel in Italy a nightmare. After our experience, we would recommend paying the extra money and hiring a driver.

How Long: You can drive the entire Amalfi Coast in one day. However, if you enjoy coastal towns, several nights in Positano would be a great experience.

Read more:  Positano, Our Favorite Town on the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento

Sorrento is a great home base for exploring the island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and the historic ruins of Pompeii.

Sorrento

Best Experiences: Stroll along the Corso Italia, explore the lagoon at Bagni della Regina Giovanna, taste Limoncello, and see Marina Grande.

How Long: With three days you can take day trips to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and Capri.

Read more: Three Days in Sorrento

The Island of Capri

Capri is a small, mountainous island that sits off of the coast of Italy. To get here, hire a boat in Sorrento. You can visit Capri as a day trip or linger several days (or longer if your heart desires).

Capri

Best Experiences: Take a boat ride around the circumference of the entire island, visit the Blue Grotto, or take the chairlift up to Mount Solaro for views like this photo.

How Long: A visit to Capri can easily be done as a day trip from Sorrento. Stay overnight or longer to really get to know the island.

Read more: Is the Blue Grotto Really Worth It?


Planning a trip to Italy? Read all of our articles in our Italy Travel Guide.

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Italy and the best places to visit

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Comments 36

  1. Italy is one of my favorite place to visit. Truly It is incredible the way you have explained all these things, it is beneficial for a traveler like me. Actually I was planning my trip to Italy with my family then I came across your article and found it very useful. I must appreciate the way you have shared these pictures. Thank you for letting us know. Your content is very informative. After reaching there once again I would like to go through your which is extremely beneficial for me.

  2. thats amazing list… i was planning for a family trip there, and luckily found this amazing informational guide…
    thanks a lot as this guide will help me for my family travel trip… briefly explained travel guide…!!

  3. Hi, I am planning a 12-14 day trip to Italy for next year (April 2020), for 4 adults. We originally wanted to rent a car and drive everywhere so we could take in the sights and smaller towns but the most I talk to people, the more it seems that the train is the better way. What do you think? I am also looking at Air BnB’s opposed to Hotels. Do you have any recommendations on where to stay?

    Last thing, what is the average cost of meals?

    Thank you for your help, I have spent the last 2 hours reading articles on this website!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Brielle. We agree with the other people you have been talking to…the train is a great way to get around Italy. 🙂 It economically and quickly connects major cities. Once you are in the cities, parking can be a hassle and expensive. And there will be no need for a car once in town (most sites are within walking distance or easy to get using public transportation). There are a few instances where we recommend renting a car, just for a day or two, to explore smaller towns (Tuscany is a good place for a car; and the Amalfi Coast but not during the summer months). We have not stayed in Air BnB’s in Italy, mostly hotels and apartments booked through Booking.com. For hotels, I give our recommendations at the end of the city articles, so you’ll have to check those for specific recommendations. If I remember correctly, for dinner, the average cost can range from $10 – $30 USD per dish, depending on the restaurant and the location in Italy. Sorry, that’s very vague, but prices can vary widely. Have fun planning your trip and let us know if you have any more questions. Cheers, Julie

    2. That really depends what you want. If you want to visit a few of the cities for a couple of days each like Milan, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples, take the train. They are fast connections, comfortable and punctual. I would suggest B&B outside the city centres and you have a more authentic experience.
      I have done a Trip around Italy for several weeks, visiting big cities by Intercity trains and small towns and villages by regional trains and busses. It was Phantastic. I am living now in Italy in the lesser known but very beautiful north west area of Tuscany, the Lunigiana

  4. I will have about 14 days and just wondering if many of these things can be seen in that amount of time..Should I rent a car or use the trains? North to South?? I am big on parking myself in a centralize area and day tripping to explore other areas, is this even possible in Italy?? This will be my one a possible only trip there , what do you think??
    Thanks in advance for sharing any thoughts..This website is amazing thank you for sharing it.
    Michele

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Michele. I’m glad you like our website! 🙂 We have a 14 day itinerary through Italy that will cover most of these sites. It covers transportation (for most places we recommend the train). Day tripping from one location is difficult because Italy is relatively large. Let us know if you have any more questions. Cheers, Julie

  5. Hey amazing list!
    I just noted that you did not mention Lake Garda which really surprised me. Lake Garda belongs to my top 5 places in Europe in general I absolutely adore this place. Last time I visited we lived aside the cities and enjoyes breathtaking view during the Ferratas hikes.https://www.outdoorvisit.com/lake-garda/ Absolutely recommend!!

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for the tip! Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more wonderful things about Lake Garda. Haven’t been there yet but it’s now on our travel to-do list. Cheers, Julie

  6. Wow! Great site!! Thank you for so much for the useful information (and personal experiences). Last November was our “art and architecture” trip with a week each in Amsterdam, Florence, and Rome. Not great weather, but we were mostly indoors so whatever. This year we are trying to avoid crowds in October but hopefully have some decent weather to experience the outdoors with three weeks in Italy alone. Really appreciate your take on hiking the Cinque Terre as that is top on our list. Did you by chance do any hiking by the Amalfi Coast? Pathway to the Gods? Any other hiking you could recommend around Siena?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Cassandra. Three weeks in Italy…that sounds wonderful! The only places we hiked in Italy (so far) are the Cinque Terre and the Dolomites. If you are looking for a great hiking spot, it’s hard to beat the Dolomites. If you like this idea, I recommend looking into the weather conditions in October to see if it is worth going. It was great during the summer (when we were there) but I don’t know if they get more rainfall in the fall. But sorry, I don’t know much about hiking the Amalfi Coast or Tuscany. Cheers, Julie

    2. Top three in Italy are the Dolomites, Cinque Terre and Pathway to the Gods. As the other post stated, not sure of the weather in the Dolomites in October. The island of Capri is also very interesting. We are hiking addicts and Switzerland and these spots in Italy are our world favorites! That said, this includes outdoor hiking and not the historic sites.

  7. Amazing article and really loved the guides you provided the links in between really very helpful. Great list and very informative, I came across the article when I was doing research on the places to visit in Italy. In fact, I am working with a hospitality company which provides affordable ticket booking and hotel stays. This article of yours helped me a lot in my research.

    Thanks a lot.

    Looking forward to more articles.

  8. HI I AM PLANING TO GO TO ITALY ON MARCH 29 FOR 8 DAYS PLEASE CAN YOU HELP ME TO CREATE AN ITERINARY FOR THESE DAYS I AM PLANING ON RENTING A CAR.
    ARRIVING IN MILAN MXP.

    THANK YOU

    1. Post
      Author

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