You’re thinking about taking an Italy vacation, but where should you go first? How will you decide which city to start with? Which region to explore next? And how much time do you have? Well, don’t worry too much because our Italy trip planner has all the answers.
We know what you want a long list of must-see locations, tips on getting around, suggestions for things to see and do, and even insider information from locals. We’ve done the work for you! All you need now is a plane ticket or train timetable.
So, without further ado, let’s get started exploring the best of Italy. Wherever your heart leads you, wherever your wallet allows, whatever your mood dictates, these 7 ideas for trips out of the main Italian cities will help make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice, Sicily, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lake Como
When most people think of Italy they immediately think of Florence. This Tuscan city was once home to Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, and Galileo Galilei. It also played an important role during World War II when it became the center of resistance against fascism. Today, it remains one of Europe’s cultural capitals and boasts an impressive number of museums, galleries, and monuments.
Forget soggy pizza slices and smelly trattorias you’ll be spending more time in museums and galleries in Florence than anywhere else. Start off by visiting the Duomo Cathedral (the largest cathedral in Tuscany) and climb up the steeple for breath-taking views over the rooftops. Then walk past the Baptistery and into the
Duomo Museum, where you can admire works such as Ghiberti’s “Last Judgment”.
From there, stroll down Via Degli Accademic and along the River Arno to the Uffizi Gallery, where you can spend hours admiring Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. If you feel inspired enough, you could even sketch yourself while standing outside the gallery.
With so many activities to choose from, you might not have enough time to fit everything into your itinerary. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of free things to do in Florence if you’re short on cash.
The Eternal City is another Italian city worth visiting whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure. With 2 million inhabitants, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the size of Rome. But don’t worry, just follow our Rome itinerary and you won’t miss anything.
Begin your day with a visit to the Vatican Museums, where you can view hundreds of masterpieces including Raphael’s frescoed ceiling and Bernini sculptures, before moving onto St Peter’s Basilica. When you reach the end of your morning sightseeing session, catch a tram towards Termini Station. Once there, check out the shops in nearby Via Nazionale before heading back to your hotel.
As for evening entertainment, you’ll probably want to reserve tickets for a performance at one of the theaters close to your hotel. Alternatively, head to Trastevere, a vibrant neighborhood located near downtown Rome. Here you can stop off for dinner and drinks at a local bar before catching a concert, opera, or play.
After Rome, you may want to continue your travels southwards across Italy to other famous towns such as Siena, San Marino, and Capri. Or maybe you’d prefer to cross north towards Milan or Turin.
Whatever route you choose, be sure to use a good map app to plan your journey. Our Rome trip planner covers public transport, walking routes and tourist attractions.
If you thought Florence was big, wait until you see Naples. Located on the southern coast of Italy, Naples is the fifth biggest city in Italy. Its population is estimated to be 1.4 million, making it slightly bigger than Barcelona.
In addition to being one of the world’s oldest cities, Naples is renowned for its nightlife and food scene. In fact, it has been nicknamed the capital of culinary excellence. Make sure you try fresh seafood dishes prepared using only the finest ingredients. And after dining, enjoy the lively atmosphere of cafes and bars where live music and dancing often occur.
Away from restaurants and clubs, you’ll also find numerous archaeological sites in Naples. Some include Roman ruins, Greek statues and mosaics, and medieval churches.
To get around the city, you’ll want to purchase a bus pass. They cost between € 8 (about $10 USD) and € 13 ($15 USD). One useful website is Bussetto.com.
Venice is known worldwide as the jewel of the Venetian lagoon. Inhabitants call their city Il Doge, meaning The Dogate. Visitors often wonder why anyone would ever leave Venice. After all, it’s a floating city on water. So why does anyone live there?
Well, the answer lies partly in its location. Because of its strategic importance, Venice has had to deal with invaders throughout its history. As such, the city has grown up around fortified walls built to protect itself from attack. Nowadays, however, Venice doesn’t pose any threat to travelers. Instead, visitors marvel at its maze of tiny streets, picturesque waterways, and historic architecture.
It’s hard to believe that the entire city used to sit on the land. During high tide, parts of the city were actually submerged underwater. To compensate, new pontoons were constructed to support the weight of the buildings.
The best way to tour Venice is on foot, especially if you’re staying within the old part of town.
Walking through narrow alleys lined with quaint boutiques and coffeehouses gives you a chance to soak up the atmosphere of the city. Even if you don’t speak Italian, you shouldn’t have trouble communicating with shopkeepers. Simply smile and point at items you wish to buy. And if you’d rather not walk, hop aboard a Vaporetto boat for a leisurely ride along the Grand Canal. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Sicily is one of the smallest regions in Italy, yet it offers tourists plenty of sights. Many consider it to be the birthplace of Western civilization thanks to the island’s unique historical legacy. On the east side lies Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe. At nearly 3,000 feet, it towers above the surrounding landscape.
On the west side of the mountain, you’ll find the coastal resort of Catania. Here, you can explore the city’s rich Greco-Roman heritage, sample delicious cuisine, and attend performances at the Teatro Massimo. A little farther away, Messina features the largest seaport in Sicily. It’s also the gateway to the fabled Valley of Temples.
While in Sicily, be sure to pick up a copy of the Sicilian Travel Guidebook [No Longer Available]. It has maps, directions, and descriptions of popular landmarks.
The Amalfi Coast stretches for miles along the coastline of Southern Italy. Along the way, you’ll discover villages perched atop cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, dramatic scenery, and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of these is the town of Positano, a popular tourist destination frequented by celebrities such as Richard Gere and Catherine Deneuve. Other highlights along the coast include Ravello, Salerno, and Maiorca Island.
Most hotels offer transportation from the nearest airport, located approximately 30 minutes away. Public buses run frequently, although prices vary depending on the distance traveled. If you’re interested, keep reading for more details about our favorite budget airlines flying to Italy.
Located halfway between Genoa and La Spezia, five small fishing villages called Cinqueterre to lie along the rugged coastline of Northern Italy. Each village is connected by a scenic hiking trail, dubbed the Path of Five Lands. Together, they form the stunning Cinque Terre National Park.
Although the trails aren’t particularly difficult, hikers should allow 6–12 days for the trek. Fortunately, guided tours are available to ensure safe passage. Another option is renting a car and driving at your own pace. However, be aware that roads leading to the park are quite winding. Once you arrive, you can relax beside lakes or visit local markets. Most villagers sell locally produced wine and olive oil.