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 best 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 Italy’s best destinations, a good starting point for having the best holiday here. At the end of this guide, we list multiple itineraries in Italy, so you can link several of these places together into one very memorable trip.
Have fun picking out the places you want to visit!
Best Places to Visit in Italy
Rome. Just hearing the name conjures up some of the most famous landmarks in the world…the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican. The history here spans 28 centuries, making Rome one of the oldest inhabited cites in Europe (and one of the best places to visit in Italy).
This city is a wonderful blend of historical sites, charming piazzas and neighborhoods, world-class museums, and iconic sites. For the first-time visitor, Rome belongs at or near the top of your list. It’s a big, bustling city but the main sites are clustered around the historic city center.
The view of Rome from the Altar of the Fatherland | Best places to visit in Italy
Piazza Navona | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: The Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, and the Borghese Museum. Walk through the historic heart of Rome, explore Piazza Navona and Campo de’Fiori, and have dinner in Trastevere.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Rent bikes and bike the Appian Way. It’s a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon and it’s the perfect sightseeing break for kids.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Rome? You can hit the main sites in a rushed one-day tour of the city. With two busy days you can visit the highlights, what we list above under top experiences. With even more time, you can explore Rome’s nooks and crannies, take a food tour, and venture off-the-beaten-path.
SEE MORE OF ROME: Rome Bucket List: Best Things to Do in Rome
Without a doubt, Florence (Firenze) is one of the best places to visit in Italy.
This city was the birthplace of the Renaissance and the art museums here are a testament to that. Michelangelo’s David, the amazing Uffizi Gallery, the frescoes on the dome of the Duomo, and the statues that are on display in the historic city center are spectacular sights to see. But there are enough towers to climb, gelato to eat, and shops to visit that you don’t have to feel like you are on museum overload on a visit to Florence.
Florence | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: See Michelangelo’s David, climb the Duomo, tour the Uffizi Gallery, stroll across Ponte Vecchio, eat lots of gelato, visit the rooftop bars and restaurants, and watch the sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Florence can feel like museum overload for kids. In between museum visits, climb the towers and treat them to gelato. Tyler and Kara loved seeing Michelangelo’s David, climbing the Duomo, and walking through Boboli Gardens. They also enjoyed the Galileo Museum.
How Much Time Do You Need in Florence? 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. Florence also makes a great home base for day trips into Tuscany.
LEARN MORE: 10 Things to do on Your First Visit to Florence
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.
San Gimignano | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Tour the hill towns of Tuscany. Siena (see below) is one of the larger towns and, like Florence, makes a great home base for exploring this region. Top hill towns include San Gimignano, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Volterra.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Tuscany is a nice break from Italy’s bigger cities. It’s possible to rent bikes and take a cycling tour of the wineries. The kids can’t taste the wine, of course, but they might enjoy biking between the wineries, depending on their age. We did this with Tyler and Kara in other wine regions in the world and they really enjoyed it.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Tuscany? With one day you can day trip into Tuscany from Florence, visiting a few of the smaller towns. But more time, ideally three to five days, allows you to relax and soak up this region. Stay in Siena or one of the smaller hill towns and explore Tuscany and its wineries.
LEARN MORE: Best Day Trips from Florence
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 places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Wander the cobblestoned streets, overlook Siena from Torre del Mangia, visit the Siena Cathedral, and spend time in Il Campo.
How Long Do You Need in Siena? 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.
LEARN MORE: Top 10 Things to Do in Siena
#5 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 | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Exploring the five towns…Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola, and Corniglia. If you like hiking, you can hike between all five towns in one day. The more you hike the more gelato you get to eat. End in Monterosso and cool off with a quick swim in the Mediterranean.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Hiking from town to town can be fun for older kids. Spend some time at one of the beaches. Our top pick is Monterosso al Mare. Rent a paddleboat with a slide…hours of fun for kids and the adults get to enjoy beautiful views along the coastline.
How Long Should You Spend in the Cinque Terre? It is possible to visit the Cinque Terre on a long day trip from Florence. However, for the best experience, plan on spending at least one night (two or three nights is ideal) in one of the five towns. With one full day, hike or take the train to connect all five towns. With more time, relax on one of the beaches or day trip to Portofino.
LEARN MORE: The Cinque Terre for Budget Travelers or Hiking the Cinque Terre
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.
Leaning Tower of Pisa | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Climb the tower if heights and vertigo is not an issue for you.
How Long Do You Need in Pisa? You can visit Pisa in two hours if you are traveling between cities such as Florence and the Cinque Terre.
LEARN MORE HERE: Day Trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa
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.
Duomo in Milan | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Walk on the roof of the Duomo, see Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” go shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Climb to the roof of the Duomo for a bird’s eye view over the city.
How Long Do You Need in Milan? 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. From Milan, you can easily day trip to Lake Como (see below).
LEARN MORE: How to Spend One Perfect Day in Milan
#8 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 | Best places to visit in Italy
Bellagio and Lake Como | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Visit classy Bellagio, explore the town of Varenna, cruise past the villas on Lake Como, and visit Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Rent a boat and cruise past the villas (this is fun for kids and adults). Kids will also like the riding Funicolare Como-Brunate for amazing views over Lake Como.
How Much Time Do You Need in Lake Como? 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.
#9 Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta)
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Italy is a fantastic landscape of snowcapped mountains, quaint towns, and even a few castles. The Alps run through this section of Italy, and sitting on the border of France and Switzerland are two very famous mountains, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
Our time in this area has been limited so far. We drove through the Aosta Valley and what a gorgeous drive!
One of the most unique things to do is to ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car that runs from Pointe Hellbronner, Italy to Aiguille du Midi, France. This is a 5 km one-way journey that is filled with views of glaciers and incredible views of the Alps.
The Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car
Aosta Valley | shutterstock.com/leoks
Top Experiences: Tour the castles in Aosta Valley, ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car, and go hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Aosta Valley is a great place to take older kids, with its hiking trails, castles to explore, and the unforgettable views from the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car and the chance to see Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.
How Much Time Do You Need in the Aosta Valley? You will need at least 4 or 5 days if you want to visit a few castles and go hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park.
LEARN MORE: Aiguille du Midi & Panoramic Mont Blanc
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 is one of the best places to visit in Italy and makes it to the top of the list for many first-time visitors.
Venice | Best places in Italy
Top 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.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Tyler and Kara loved the gondola ride. We also really enjoyed renting bikes and cycling around Lido island.
How Long Should You Spend in Venice? Plan on spending at least one busy day to see the highlights of Venice. Two to three days gives you more time to visit Murano, Burano, and Lido and to explore the quieter neighborhoods away from the main touristic area.
#11 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?
The Dolomites gets our vote as one of the best places to visit in Italy, not only because it is a hiking paradise, but also because the scenery is stunning.
Puez-Odle Altopiano hike | Best places to visit in Italy
Lago di Braies | Best places in Italy
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.
Top Experiences: There are hikes in the Dolomites for all ages and ability levels. In the summer, cable cars whisk riders to viewpoints like these.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Depending on the age of your kids, take your pick from short to long hikes. The Cinque Torri is one of the easier hikes in the region. The hike from Lagazuoi to the Falzarego Pass is mostly downhill, since a cable car whisks you up to the highest point, so this is also great for kids over the age of five (and the views are incredible!). And Tre Cime di Lavaredo, with its iconic views, is great for kids 8 or older.
How Long Should You Spend in the Dolomites? 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 a total of 12 days in the Dolomites so far and cannot wait to go back. This is our favorite spot in Italy. Check out our Dolomites Itinerary for ideas on how to plan your time.
#12 Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. With brightly colored towns, castles and Roman ruins, beaches and vineyards, amusement parks and historical sites, there is plenty here to keep you busy for days.
Lake Garda is located in northern Italy, in between Milan and Venice, and a very short drive from lovely Verona.
Explore the small towns that sit along the lake, go hiking, take a boat tour, visit a few castles, and ride the cable car to Monte Baldo for spectacular views of the area.
Lake Garda | Best Places in Italy
Top Experiences: Visit Sirmione, explore Scaligero Castle, take a boat trip to Isola del Garda, spend the afternoon in Riva del Garda, and visit the lakeside towns of Malcesine and Limone sul Garda.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Take your kids to Scaligero Castle in Sirmione, ride the cable car to Monte Baldo, travel by boat across the lake, and sitting beside Lake Garda is Gardaland Theme Park.
How Much Time Do You Need in Lake Garda? If you want to thoroughly explore Lake Garda, plan on spending three days here. It’s a large lake with a lot to do so if you want to see all of it, it will take a few days of your time.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: 25 Things to Do in Lake Garda
Verona is the famed city where Romeo and Juliette took place.
This small city is gorgeous, similar to Venice but without the canals, the decay, and the huge numbers of tourists. It is also an underrated Italian destination and is worth the visit, even if you just have a few hours.
I have a hunch that if you include Verona in your travel plans, you will be thrilled you did so.
Verona | Best places to visit in Italy
Top 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). The busiest spot is Juliette’s house, but expect big crowds here.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Climb to the top of Torre dei Lamberti for one of the best views of the city.
How Much Time Do You Need in Verona? It’s possible to visit the highlights of Verona in just a few hours. However, for the best experience, spend one night here and stroll the city streets at night after the day trippers leave.
LEARN MORE: 12 Best Things to do in Verona
#14 Emilia Romagna & Bologna
Emilia Romagna is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy. It is located in northeast Italy and it is one of the wealthiest regions in Europe. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati are all located here.
But you can find much more here than luxury cars. Visit the popular coastal resorts that line the Adriatic Sea, explore the eleven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visit the former Roman Empire capital city of Ravenna, and visit the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world. Emilia Romagna is also home to Ironman Italy, a full distance triathlon.
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia Romagna and it is world renowned for its cuisine. This is where Bolognese sauce originated. Other local specialties include mortadella, the original Bologna sausage, as well as lasagna, tortellini, and tagliatelle. If you are a foodie, Bologna is one of the best places to visit in Italy.
In 2018, Lonely Planet listed Emilia Romagna as the best place to visit in Europe.
Castelcanafurone | leoks/shutterstock.com
Top Experiences: Eat all of the food in Bologna, visit the coastal resorts, visit Ravenna, take a food tour in Parma.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Take kids to the coastal resort towns of Cervia, Rimini, and Cesenatico.
How Much Time Do You Need in Emilia Romagna? It really depends on your interests. With one day you can visit Bologna and take a food tour. With more time, relax on the beaches at one of the coastal resorts. To thoroughly explore this region, you need 5 to 7 days.
#15 The Amalfi Coast
The drive along the Amalfi Coast is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the world. And with its colorful sunsets, romantic coastal towns, beautiful beaches, and restaurants with a view, this is one of Italy’s most popular destinations.
Positano | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Visit the towns on the Amalfi Coast such as Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Take a boat tour along the coast, go shopping, hike the Path of the Gods, dine with a view of the sunset, relax on the beach, and go wine tasting on the Amalfi Coast Wine Road.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Rent kayaks in Positano. Kids will love this and the views of the town are amazing from the water.
How Long Should You Spend on the Amalfi Coast? 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.
LEARN MORE: 17 Beautiful Towns to Visit on the Amalfi Coast
#16 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 places to visit in Italy
Via Krupp, Capri | Best places in Italy
Top Experiences: Take a boat ride around the circumference of the entire island, visit the Blue Grotto, or take the chairlift up to Monte Solaro for views like this photo.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Tyler and Kara loved the Blue Grotto and the chairlift on Mount Solaro.
How Long Do You Need in Capri? 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.
LEARN MORE: Best Things to do in Capri
Sorrento is a great home base for exploring the island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and the historic ruins of Pompeii.
Sorrento | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Stroll along the Corso Italia, explore the lagoon at Bagni della Regina Giovanna, taste Limoncello, and see Marina Grande.
How Much Time Do You Need in Sorrento? Seeing the main sights in Sorrento only takes about half of a day. But since this makes such a great home base, we recommend at least three days here. That gives you enough time to day trip to Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast.
LEARN MORE: Three Days in Sorrento
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 | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: You can explore Pompeii on your own. But for the best experience, consider hiring a guide or joining a tour to get the most out of your visit.
How Much Time Do You Need in Pompeii? Two hours is the average amount of time spent in Pompeii. You can visit Pompeii on a day trip from Rome, from Naples, or from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. For the ultimate experience, consider adding on the hike up to the summit of Mt. Vesuvius.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. It is home to Mt. Etna, the second most active volcano in the world, along with several smaller active volcanoes. It is also home to ancient Greek and Roman ruins, gorgeous beaches, picturesque towns, and hundreds of castles. Come for the beaches, the culture, the ancient historical sites, the cuisine, and the beautiful cities and towns.
K. Roy Zerloch/shutterstock.com
Top Experiences: Visit the Greek Theatre of Taormina, climb Mt. Etna, visit the Aeolian Islands, see Temple of Concordia at Valley of the Temples, visit Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and relax on the beaches.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Kids will love playing in the crystal-clear water of the beaches. With younger kids, take the cable car/bus combo to the top of Mt. Etna. Older kids might enjoy the hike up Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.
How Much Time Do You Need in Sicily? You need a bare minimum of three days. This gives you a tiny taste of what Sicily has to offer. With three days, you can visit the historical highlights, relax on the beach, and visit Mt. Etna. However, more time is better. There is enough to do here that you could easily spend 7 or 10 days on the island.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It sits just to the south of Corsica and to the north of Tunisia.
This rugged island is home to long, sandy beaches, prehistoric sites, and colorful coastal towns. The mountainous interior of the island is a hiking paradise, where you can visit one of the deepest gorges in Europe and the highest sand dunes in Europe.
If you are looking for a destination that combines beautiful beaches, historical sites, and outdoor adventures, Sardinia is one of the best places in Italy to put on your bucket list.
Top Experiences: Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast); Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia; visit Su Nuraghe of Barumini, an archaeological site that dates back to 1900 to 730 BCE; relax on the beaches; cruise around the island.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: The beautiful beaches will keep young kids happy. There are lots of options for adventurous and older kids. Go stand up paddle boarding, rock climbing, hike to Gorropu Canyon, one of the deepest gorges in Europe, and Sardinia is a great place to go kite surfing and windsurfing.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Sardinia?With two to three days you can visit the highlights. More time lets you lounge longer on the beautiful beaches, go hiking, or spend more time at the historical sites.
Matera is one of the most photogenic cities in Italy, with its cave dwellings, stone buildings, and churches perched along the rolling hillsides. It is located in southern Italy, in Basilicata.
This is one of our favorite cities in Italy. It’s a beautiful place day and night, the food is fantastic, there is a wonderful mix of historical sites and unique walking trails, and it’s not quite as crowded as other places in Italy (not yet).
Strolling the picturesque streets, sleeping in a cave hotel, trying traditional foods, and getting a history lesson top the list of the best things to do in Matera.
Matera | Best Places to Visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Sleep in a cave, stroll the streets of the old town, visit Murgia Materana Park, visit the Rock Church, take photos from the viewpoints throughout town, watch the sunset, and dine in Matera’s fantastic restaurants.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Kids will love hiking across the ravine to Murgia Materana Park and exploring the caves. They can also venture underground into the largest cistern in the city and learn what it was like to live in a cave, at one of many small cave houses throughout town.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Matera? Plan on spending at least one day in Matera. This will give you enough time to stroll through town, visit a few of the top sights, including the cave churches and grottoes, explore Murgia Materana Park, and have lunch and dinner in town.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: 25 Amazing Things to Do in Matera
Castelmezzano is a small, colorful, hilltop town in Basilicata, Italy. It has been called one of the prettiest villages in Italy and we have to agree. The town’s hilltop setting and backdrop of Dolomite spires make this one of the most unique towns to visit in Italy.
What makes it even more exciting is that you can zipline from Castelmezzano to the nearby town of Pietrapertosa. It’s one of southern Italy’s most thrilling experiences.
Castelmezzano | Best Places to Visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Zipline from Castelmezzano to Pietrapertosa on Volo dell’Angelo (the Angel’s Flight), stroll the picturesque streets, and do the Gradinata Normanna via ferrata
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Older kids will love the Volo dell’Angelo zipline, but the youngest age is 12 years
How Much Time Do You Need in Castelmezzano? For the best experience, plan on spending one day here, which gives you enough time for the zipline and to explore both Castelmezzano and the neighboring town of Pietrapertosa.
LEARN MORE: How to Visit Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa
Puglia, also called Apulia, geographically is the “heel” of Italy. Its long coastline sits on the Adriatic Sea. Bari is the largest city in the region and from here you can take a ferry across the Adriatic Sea to the Balkan Peninsula.
Alberobello, with its white-washed conical huts, is one of the most popular towns to visit in Puglia. But you can also visit colorful coastal towns, national parks, and stunning coastal cliffs.
Alberobello | Best places to visit in Italy
Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: See the trulli houses in Alberobello, go swimming or take a boat tour of the coastal cliffs at Torre Sant’Andrea, visit Polignano a Mare, and visit Gargano National Park.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Spend a day or two at Gargano National Park. Visit the small towns, relax on the beach, or take a boat trip to see the rocky coastal cliffs and sea caves.
How Much Time Do You Need in Puglia? With one day, you can visit the town of Alberobello. You will need three days, or longer, to visit the highlights along the coast and Gargano National Park.
LEARN MORE: 15 Beautiful Places to Visit in Puglia
Located in Umbria, sitting on the slopes of Monte Subasio, is the beautiful city of Assisi. This city, which is the birthplace of St. Francis, is filled with spiritual treasures and works of art.
Assisi is a delight to explore. In some ways, Assisi resembles the hill towns of Tuscany, with stone buildings, narrow cobblestoned streets, and wide piazzas.
Many of the buildings are constructed with the local limestone, giving the city an almost white appearance from afar. In the evening, this city sparkles, as the light from the street lamps reflect off of the light colored stone buildings.
Strolling the streets and exploring the narrow, flower-lined alleyways was one of our favorite things to do in Assisi, but we also loved learning about the history of the town and the life of St. Francis. And Assisi is filled with some of the most beautiful churches we have seen in Italy.
Assisi | Best Places to Visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Visit the St. Francis Basilica, enjoy the view from Rocca Maggiore, stroll through the historic city center, visit the Basilica of Santa Chiara and Chiesa di Santo Stefano, and tour the Carceri Hermitage.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Walk up to Rocca Maggiore for views over Assisi and kids will love climbing to the top of Torre del Popolo for a bird’s eye view of the city.
How Much Time Do You Need in Assisi? For the best experience, plan on spending one day in Assisi. This gives you enough time to visit all of the sights in the historic city center, stroll the streets, and have lunch and maybe even dinner. Those with an interest in St. Francis can spend the second half of the day visiting the religious sites that sit just outside of the city center.
PLAN YOUR VISIT: 16 Wonderful Things to Do in Assisi
#25 San Marino
San Marino is a tiny, independent nation completely surrounded by Italy. It has a spectacular location, nestled in the mountains near the Adriatic Sea. The capital city, also called San Marino, is a maze of hilly, medieval streets, dotted with cafes and small shops. From the guard towers and the piazzas, the views over the surrounding countryside are gorgeous.
San Marino is a country that exceeded our expectations. It’s gorgeous, it’s fun to explore, the views over the vineyards of nearby Italy are breathtaking, and the food is delicious.
San Marino | Best places to visit in Italy
Top Experiences: Wander the city streets, visit Piazza della Liberta, climb Guaita and Cesta towers, watch the crossbow demonstration at Cava dei Balestrieri, and visit the weird museums.
Ideas for Traveling with Kids: Kids will love climbing the towers and exploring the medieval walls. The Torture Museum, Museum of Curiosity, and the World of Leonardo might interest older kids.
How Much Time Do You Need in San Marino? You can visit San Marino on a day trip from Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region or Tuscany. For the best experience, spend one night here. Have a leisurely dinner, watch the sunset, and enjoy the quiet streets after the day trippers go home.
Best Places in Italy: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Places in Italy: Itinerary Suggestions
Here are several itineraries that link together the best places in Italy.
Our article 10 Days in Italy 4 Sample Itineraries has an overview of four different ways to plan a 10-day trip to Italy.
If you have 10 days in Italy and want to visit the top locations such as Rome, Florence, Venice and the Cinque Terre, you’ll love this 10 day Italy Itinerary.
If you have more time (lucky you!), check out our 14 Day Italy itinerary, which includes Rome, Florence, Venice, the Cinque Terre, and the Amalfi Coast.
This 10 day Northern Italy Itinerary starts in Venice, spends a nice chunk of time in the Dolomites, and ends with Verona, Milan, and Lake Como.
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I go on my first visit to Italy?
Rome, Florence, and Venice are the three most popular cities to visit on a first trip to Italy. These are filled with some of Italy’s most famous places and it is easy to get around using public transportation. The Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and/or Milan can easily be added on to this trip.
Is 7 days enough for Italy?
With 7 days, you have just enough time to visit Rome, Florence, and Venice, but it will be a whirlwind of a trip. For the best experience, plan on spending 10 days in Italy, which allows you to slow down a little bit, which makes the trip an overall more enjoyable experience.
What is the most beautiful part of Italy?
That’s a tough one to answer. For coastal scenery, visit the colorful towns of the Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast, or explore the seaside towns and coastal cliffs of Puglia. Sicily and Sardinia are two beautiful islands to visit. If you like mountain scenery, it’s hard to beat the spectacular Dolomites in northern Italy.
What do you think are the best places to visit in Italy? Let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy:
VENICE: Learn more about what to do in Venice in our Venice Bucket List. To help you plan your time, we have a detailed one day Venice itinerary and a 2 day Venice itinerary.
FLORENCE & TUSCANY: If this is your first visit to Florence, read our guide to the Best Things to Do in Florence. If you plan to visit Tuscany, learn how to spend one day in Siena, how to plan a visit to Pienza, and the best things to do in San Gimignano.
ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary, where to eat in our Rome Restaurant Guide, how to visit the Colosseum, and where to stay in our Rome Hotel Guide.
LAKE GARDA: Plan your visit with our article Best Things to Do in Lake Garda. We also have information about things to do in Sirmione and Riva del Garda.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our One Week in Europe itinerary guide, which has lots of sample itineraries for your next trip to Europe.
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Great article, I always wanted to go to Italy but being from the states I really was not sure what to do but after reading this article I feel like I have my whole trip planned out. Thank you, I was planning to go on a trip in the next 3 months and I think Italy will be the place I go to.
Awesome this is a place I want to visit as well.
Where would you recommend staying in Bologna? I’m having a hard time figuring out where is the safest to stay.
We have not been to Bologna yet but yes, I would stay there. We haven’t had any issues with safety anywhere we have visited in Italy. Pickpocketing can occur in some cities and at some tourist sites, but that happens in many places in Europe. Cheers, Julie
hello! I’m thrilled to have found your site while searching for great places to explore in Italy. My friend and I will be going next Sept or Oct. this is one question…which would be better? In one of the searches, you stated that it rains and there have been rockslides(Cinque Terra). we are torn when to go. Since we will be traveling to Venice this is also a concern as my hope is to go on a Gondalo.
Also, I’ve been checking into hotels and a lot of them charge for taking you to the train station. is this normal or should I look into a different hotel? Also, if they don’t “say” does this mean that its included?
And one more question for now lol where do we get the cash. I read where cash is king in Italy so where should I use it vs where should I use the card? trains, non planned excursions ? I’m not used to carrying cash, so it does make me a bit nervous.
Hello Nancy. Those are all great questions. It does get rainier the later you go into fall (so October can be wetter than September). But also as you move into October, the temperatures get cooler and crowds get lower, which is nice. Tim and I will be in Italy this fall (end of September through mid October) so you could follow us on Facebook and see what kind of weather we are getting (we will also have lots more info to help you plan your trip). The Cinque Terre always seems to be dealing with some sort of rock slide so you just have to keep getting updates on conditions before you go. We mostly use credit cards in Italy and have a little cash “just in case” but rarely ever use cash (we were just in Venice and the Dolomites one month ago). We use credit cards for shopping, restaurants, paying museum fees, etc. Have cash for the gondola (80 to 100 euros) and water taxi. Yes, you will be charged to travel to/from your hotel in Venice. Most likely, you will take a water taxi or the vaporetto and water taxis aren’t cheap but can drop you off right at or near your hotel (or from your hotel to the train station). I would assume that every hotel has a fee for this because it is actually charged by the taxi boat driver. In July, we took a water taxi from our hotel to Piazzale Roma (the train and bus station area) and paid 60 euros cash for the four of us. The fee will depend on the number of people and the distance you need to go. The hotel should know what this cost is. Cheers, Julie
What is the best way to travel between Rome to Siena? I want to hire a car to drive around the hillsides of Tuscany. Is it better to hire a car from Rome or Siena? or is public transport a better option?
I would rent a car in Rome and drive to Siena and use the car to drive around Tuscany like you said. You could probably drop the car in Siena or Florence and then continue by train to your next destination, depending on where you are going. Cheers, Julie
Dear Julie and family,
I was back to check your recommendations about Italy and would like to post couple of tips for your other readers. We live in Germany and luckily some parts of Italy are “only” 3 hour drive.
Obviously Italy is a dream destination and there are so many lovely and famous places to visit, but it is a big country as well (clearly smaller distances than in USA). So my advice would be to decide on whether you would like to see as many places as possible or take it slowly and enjoy the lifestyle more. It is similar to coming to the USA for 2 weeks and trying to see New England and Florida and throw Arizona in as well. It is possible, but…
It is also a question of what you enjoy more – culture, museums, famous sights, cathedrals or nature. Thankfully food and wine are glorious everywhere:-)
When hiring a car, please be aware that some trips involve lots of winding roads (Julie had written about her family’s experience in Tuscany, but the mountains and islands could be worse) and around lakes there is literally only one main road. The quality varies and when passing through small town traffic slows significantly. In my opinion it is better to hire a small /compact car. There is a reason why most Italians have tiny vehicles. Some lanes are really narrow and parking could be interesting. In addition to that it is 2022 and gas prices are high. A gallon is 3, 8 l (1 l is 2 $ so a gallon is around 8$ – prices change of course). Also the highways are toll roads, you need to pull a ticket when you enter the toll road and pay when you exit. The amounts add up, for example Milan to Rom (around 550 km) is around 45 $ only for the toll roads.
We always drive in Italy, so nothing scary, but hopefully these are facts that will help you with your trips.
Hello Mira. Thank you so much for writing in with these tips! Cheers, Julie
Never been to Italy, but reading about these amazing places. I would love to plan a vacation to Italy. Have heard only about the most famous places like Venice, Rome, and Milan but feel they will be a bit crowdly. So planning to explore other places that are not chaotic.
Most helpfull information thank you very much.
Looks to me like this list excludes italian Parco Nazionali and includes relatively few non-urban places, may I ask why? I mean: are National Parks like Cilento (south of Amalfi coast), Aspromonte (near Reggio de Messina), Gargano (northern Puglia) or Gran Sasso (2 hours NE of Rome) out of your radar because you haven’t explored or researched about them or did they not make the the cut for a top 20 list?
Hello and thanks for writing in. Several of the parks that you mention we are aware of (they look amazing!) and are planning a visit here later this year. However, to keep this list at 20 places, I don’t know what I would take off in order to include these parks. Cheers, Julie
IMHO, you could include a note of Gargano and of Matera in the Puglia bullet (Matera is only a few km outside Puglia yet very near to Alberobelo), another of Gran Sasso as a day trip from Rome or Cilento as a day from from Amalfi. Also combine Amalfi and Capri or Tuscany and Siena into one section.
My opinion, and only aplicable if you found those destinations as fabulous as I did of course.
Thanks for all of this helpful info. We are planning a return visit to Italy later this year and several of the parks you mention are on our list. Your suggestions are great and I will keep them in mind when we update this article in a few months. Cheers, Julie