The 17 Best Places to Visit in Italy
Rome – Italy’s number 1 destination, Rome has several lifetimes’ worth of monuments, museums, and art-clad churches. Big sights like the Colosseum and Vatican Museums (home of the Sistine Chapel) draw huge queues so try to pre-book tickets. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit when the best hotels in Rome are often fully booked months in advance.
Florence – Renaissance central, Florence boasts some of Italy’s most celebrated art treasures. You’ll also find hundreds of trattorias, cafes and chic drinking spots, ideal for tasting the local Chianti wine. Book ahead for key sights such as the cathedral, Uffizi Galleries, and Accademia Gallery.
Venice – With its canals, gondolas and flamboyant Gothic palaces, Venice is a one-off. Once you’ve covered St Mark’s Square and the headline monuments, ditch your map and explore the labyrinthine backstreets – you’ll get lost but that’s half the fun. Come in February for Carnevale (carnival) high jinks.
Milan – Italy’s second-largest city, Milan specializes in fashion, finance and cutting-edge design. Shoppers and nightlife lovers are spoiled for choice while sightseers can admire the fairy-tale Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Fly into Malpensa or Linate airports.
Cinque Terre – Soaring cliffs, steeply terraced hillsides and five gorgeous villages – the Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most dramatic coastal stretches. It’s best explored on foot, though you’ll need to buy the Cinque Terre card to access its scenic paths. Get there by train from Genoa or La Spezia.
Siena – A stunning medieval city that can easily be covered on a day trip from Florence, its historic rival. Action is centered on the Gothic cathedral and Piazza del Campo, site of the biannual Palio horse race. Book well to visit around Palio time (2 July and 16 August).
Lucca – Everybody’s idea of a model Tuscan town. Encircled by monumental Renaissance walls, its beautifully preserved historic center is a glorious place to hang out. Pisa (for the Leaning Tower) is a half-hour train ride away.
San Gimignano – Set deep in the Tuscan countryside, San Gimignano is a classic day trip destination. Expect picturesque streets, medieval skyscrapers and plenty of local Vernaccia wine. Buses run direct from Siena or via Poggibonsi from Florence.
Orvieto – A classic Umbrian hill town, Orvieto thrills with its spectacular Gothic cathedral and medieval streets. Sightseeing done, fill up on truffles and earthy Umbrian cuisine at one of its many authentic trattorias. Located midway between Rome and Florence, it’s a prime day trip choice.
Naples – Nowhere does drama and riotous street life better than southern Italy’s great metropolis. And with a Unesco-listed historic center, several amazing museums, views over Mt Vesuvius and the world’s best pizza, there’s plenty to love here. Pompeii is an easy train ride away.
Sicily – Sun-baked Sicily provides the full-on southern Italian experience. Think dreamy beaches, artistic treasures, fiery volcanoes and fantastic food. Palermo and Catania are the main cities but make time for Mt Etna, Syracuse and Taormina.
Capri – The most famous of the islands in the Bay of Naples. Its natural beauty, whitewashed towns, and Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) ensure a constant stream of visitors. You can cover it on a day trip from Naples or Sorrento but stay longer for a more relaxing experience.
Amalfi Coast – Italy’s most celebrated coastline is every bit as beautiful as its reputation suggests. Gorgeous towns like Positano and Amalfi sit wedged between plunging cliffs while elegant Ravello commands breathtaking views from its lofty hillside setting. Buses and summer boats ply the coast from Sorrento and Salerno.
Matera – Set around a deep gorge in the southern region of Basilicata, Matera is a recent European Capital of Culture. Highlights include the ancient sassi (cave houses) that riddle its rocky cityscape. Excellent restaurants and boutique hotels, some in renovated sassi, add to the appeal.
Turin – History and contemporary art go hand in hand with world-class museums, exciting restaurants and art-nouveau cafes in Turin. The Egyptian museum is a must-see as is the Mole Antonelliana, the landmark tower that appears on Italy’s two-cent coin.
Bologna – Famous for its fabulous food and ancient university (one of the world’s oldest), Bologna guarantees a good time. Its medieval red-brick center is a joy to explore while the large student population ensures there’s always something going on its many bars, trattorias, and clubs.
Perugia – With its hilltop medieval center, historic lanes, and lively university atmosphere, Perugia makes a great base for exploring Umbria. To catch the town in party mood come in July for the Umbria Jazz festival.
The Best of Italy
Best beaches in Italy
1. Cala Goloritzé (Baunei, Sardinia)
2. Punta Prosciutto (Porta Cesario, Puglia)
3. San Vito Lo Capo (Trapani, Sicily)
4. Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle (Sirolo, Le Marche)
5. San Fruttuoso (Camogli, Liguria)
6. Tropea (Vibo Valentia, Calabria)
7. Sabaudia (Latina, Lazio)
Best vacation spots in Italy
1. Amalfi Coast (Campania)
2. Taormina (Sicily)
3. Villasimius (Sardinia)
4. Lake Como (Lombardy)
5. Val d’Orcia (Tuscany)
6. Cortina d’Ampezzo (The Dolomites, Veneto)
Best wine regions in Italy
1. Piedmont (Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti Spumante)
2. Veneto (Prosecco, Soave, Valpolicella)
3. Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vin Santo)
4. Umbria (Orvieto Classico, Sagrantino di Montefalco)
Best food areas or cities in Italy
1. Emilia-Romagna (Parma ham, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, mortadella, balsamic vinegar)
2. Naples & Campania (pizza, buffalo mozzarella, sfogliatella pastries)
3. Umbria (black truffles, Norcia cured meats, wild boar, strozzapreti pasta)
4. Puglia (olive oil, orecchiette pasta, burrata cheese, seafood)
5. Piedmont (white truffles, risotto, chocolate)
Best Agriturismo in Italy
1. Tuscany (around Pienza, San Gimignano)
2. Umbria (around Lake Trasimeno, Perugia, Assisi)
3. Puglia (the southern Salento area)
Best small towns in Italy
Best coastal towns in Italy
7. Vernazza (Cinque Terre)
Italy Itinerary – Where To Travel
• One Week in Italy: Rome and Florence. Do a day trip from Florence. Train between the two cities.
• 10 Days in Italy: Rome and Florence, plus Venice or Naples. Do a day trip from Florence. Train between the three. Fly in and out of different cities.
• Two Weeks in Italy: Rome, Florence, Siena, Naples, and Venice. Do 1 or 2 day trips from Florence. Train between all cities. Fly in and out of different cities.
• Three Weeks in Italy: Rome, Florence, Siena, Perugia, Orvieto, Matera, Naples, and Venice. Do 1 or 2 day trips from Florence. Train between all cities. Fly in and out of different cities.
- Italy Travel Guide
- When to Visit Rome
- When to Visit Venice
- When to Visit Naples
- Best Hotels in Rome
- Best Hotels in Florence
- Best Hotels in Naples
- Best Hotels in Venice
- Best Hotels in Milan
- Family Hotels in Rome
- Family Hotels in Florence
- Family Hotels in Venice
- Family Hotels in Milan
- Best Time to Visit Greece & the Greek Islands