What to see and where to go in Italy? Where will you have an unforgettable holiday? 26 tips on the most beautiful places and cities in Italy that will keep you entertained.
It’s like a seesaw with the Italian landscape. Vineyard meadows with sweeping views, dramatic peaks of the Alps and Apennines rising from behind them, then cut off by long, beautiful beaches.
One day you’ll be sunbathing with gelato on the beach, the next day you’ll be working up a sweat in the mountains, and the third day you’ll finish with a glass of wine overlooking the Tuscan hills. Italy is a country of endless possibilities.
Things to see and do in Italy – Map
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Italy. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the Italy guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.
What to see in Italy and tips for the most beautiful places
Where to go in Italy: the Dolomites
The Dolomites are, according to many the most beautiful mountain ranges, which is mainly due to their distinctive landscape character. Spectacular peaks and towers contrast with horizontal surfaces such as ledges, crevices and plateaus.
Thanks to the limestone light-coloured rocks combined with extensive green meadows and forests. Some rock formations form a perfect panorama, some stand out suddenly and distinctly from the landscape.
Visit the iconic peaks of Tre Cime, the beautiful lakes of Lago di Braies, Lago di Sorapiss or Lago di Carezza, the Val Gardena valley or the mountain passes of Passo Sella, Passo Pordoi, Passo Giau or Passo Falzarego with their numerous wartime remains.
Find out all about the Dolomites in our detailed Dolomites guide.
Where to go in Italy: Milan – Lago di Como – Lago di Maggiore
If you want to experience the true Italian atmosphere, don’t go to Milan. On the other hand, you can feel the Swiss influence, which means that unlike Rome, you can count on the bus to arrive at the right time.
But if you want to see a cathedral that will make your chin drop, shop for original pieces in local boutiques or flea markets, or take a trip to the most beautiful lakes in the Alps, Milan is the perfect holiday destination for you.
Read the previous article on what to visit in Milan.
Lago di Como
Lago di Como is a beautiful alpine lake that’s home to many opulent villas (including George Clooney’s). Its shape resembles an inverted letter Y and at its heart lies the famous town of Bellagio, known as the pearl of Lago di Como.
The town of Bellagio is definitely worth seeing, but I personally recommend visiting Varenna, a town of Roman origin. It has a quieter atmosphere, and it’s sure to totally charm you like it did us.
Read the previous article on what to visit at Lago di Como.
Lago di Maggiore
Lake Maggiore is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. You can find it an hour northwest of Milan.
Visit the Borromean Islands, which consist of 3 islands – Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori. The island of Isola Bella is famous for its garden with rare exotic plants and beautiful flowers. In front of the garden is an ancient Baroque palace with works of art, tapestries, statues and mosaic grottoes.
Madre Island is the largest of the Borromean Islands. Its area is covered by a botanical park in the English style, which consists of plants brought from distant countries and acclimatized to the local conditions.
Isola dei Pescatori is the only permanently inhabited island with a population of 50 people. It’s a small fishing island, which you can tell by the houses – they have large balconies just for drying the fish they catch. The village consists of narrow, winding streets that lead to a promenade with many restaurants overlooking the lake.
Where to go in Italy: Verona – Lago di Garda
Verona is a city in northern Italy famous for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s similar to Venice, but without the canals and the onslaught of tourists. On your visit, you can’t miss the Ponte Pietra Bridge, Piazza delle Erbe, the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore and Juliet’s house with its balcony, where most tourists flock.
Verona is an ideal day trip tip if you’re holidaying at Lago di Garda, which is just half an hour away.
Check out the best places to visit in Verona (including useful information on entrance fees and opening times). Also included is a guide with additional tips (transport, accommodation, food, Verona Card). The Verona in a day itinerary will help you plan your route.
Lago di Garda
Lago di Garda is Italy’s largest lake. It has it all – promenades ideal for easy walks, clear water with beaches, breathtaking mountain scenery, traces of history, hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails (especially in the west in the Garda bresciano park) and a cycle path along the coast.
The southern coast is lined with beaches and towards the north the cliffs are steeper and the hills higher.
Worth seeing are the town of Sirmione, the ruins of the Roman villa Grotte di Catullo, the village of Malcesine with its Castello scaligero church, and Riva del Garda and Castello di Arco a short distance away.
With children, don’t miss the famous Gargaland Park in the southeast of the lake.
Where to go in Italy: Padua – Venice
Padua and Venice are cities in northern Italy, less than half an hour apart. Venice is often literally crammed with tourists and Padua lives in seclusion thanks to them.
Padua is a city that lives in the shadow of the more famous Verona and especially Venice. But this has an advantage – it’s not a headache and you can explore the historic part of the city in peace. If you are planning a holiday in Venice, at least make a trip to Padua. You’ll be thrilled.
Padua was founded even earlier than Rome. Moreover, at the end of the First World War it was the second richest city in Italy after Rome. It has a rich artistic and historical heritage with numerous preserved monuments.
Enjoy the Basilica of St. Anthony, the San Giusticia Cathedral, the Palazzo della Ragione with its magnificent medieval town hall, the Scrovegni Chapel with its frescoes (said to be the first masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance), the botanical garden of the University of Badua, the oldest in the world.
Venice is an ancient city built in a lagoon, full of historical monuments, art, small shops and restaurants. It’s also one of those towns that you’ll enjoy more in the off-season, as tourists abound.
Between the 13th and 18th centuries, Venice was one of the richest commercial centres in Europe, which is why most of its buildings date from this period. The city has so much strict laws on historical monuments that its appearance has remained almost unchanged for centuries.
Venice is literally through a labyrinth of narrow alleys and shortcuts that even the best map apps can’t take. Just wander around and enjoy the hidden corners of the city. The town is not big, you can always ask the locals for directions.
Take a ride along the Grand Canal and cross the Rialto Bridge. Admire one of the most famous squares in Italy, Piazza San Marco, which Napoleon himself called the reception room of Europe. Soak up the art in the magnificent basilicas or take a trip to the glass island of Murano or the small island of Burano with its iconic colourful houses.
In the article What to see in Venice, we give you tips on the most beautiful places and other useful tips.
Where to go in Italy: the Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre features five fishing villages wedged into steeply terraced cliffs along stretches of rocky coastline. Monterosso with its beautiful beach, the rich nightlife of Verznazza, the slopes of the vineyards of Corniglia, the colourful boats and caves of Manarola and the medieval castle of Riomaggiore.
All the villages have houses in pastel colours and harbours full of fishing boats. It is an area full of dramatic views, vineyards and olive groves, criss-crossed by hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails. Cinque Terre is rightly one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
The villages are rich in agriculture and fishing, so you can enjoy local wine, olives, cheese, pasta, seafood and homemade bread.
Even those who are into hiking like us will enjoy it. The most famous hiking trail is the 12 km long Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail, Route 2), which connects all 5 villages. The trail is charged at a price of 5-7 € (you get additional benefits with it – see link).
The Sentiero Alto (High Route, Route 1) is also well known, with a total length of 35 km. The route is not difficult and unlike the Blue Trail, you will meet fewer tourists.
Where to go in Italy: the Emilia-Romagna region and Bologna
The region of Emilia-Romagna surrounds the city of Bologna. It is one of the richest regions in Europe. This is where car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati and Lamborghini are located.
There’s something for everyone – hiking in the Apennines, the Langhirano vineyards, swimming by the Adriatic Sea or the culture and delicious food of Bologna. In 2018, Lonely Planet named the Emilia-Romagna region the best place to visit in Europe.
The capital of the region is Bologna, famous for its towers and 38 km of arcades, where you can cool off on hot days. Due to the predominance of red and orange brick buildings it’s nicknamed Red Bologna.
During your visit, don’t miss the University of Bologna, the oldest in the world, the Gothic Basilica of San Petronio and Piazza Maggiore, or the canal of La Piccola Venezia (Little Venice). In Bologna you must try the Bolognese spaghetti, Mortadella salami, lasagne, tortellini or tagliatelle.
Where to go in Italy: to San Marino
San Marino is a small landlocked country in Italy. Just a short drive from the famous Italian resort of Rimini, San Marino is ideal for a day trip.
It has a great location in the mountains near the Adriatic Sea. The capital of San Marino is a maze of hilly medieval streets with lots of cafes and small shops.
The entire capital of San Marino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is dominated by Monte Titano, from which you will have a magnificent view of Italy.
There are no direct flights to San Marino. You can fly to Rimini. There are buses to San Mario from Rimini. You can buy a ticket to San Marino on the bus for a few euros. You can find the Rimini – San Marino timetable here.
Where to go in Italy: to Tuscany – Florence – Pisa
Tuscany. One of the most famous areas in Italy. A region stretching from the dominant peaks of the Apuan Alps, through the gentle hills of the Chianti wine region to the coastal beaches, sea and islands.
Tuscany is the perfect interplay between the city and the medieval villages. Olive groves, avenues of cypresses and endless vineyards. The eye is caressed by its artistic and architectural heritage. The taste buds are again delighted with the local wine and great food.
Florence is the “capital” of Tuscany. A Renaissance town with a famous cathedral where you can wander the old streets for hours. And be charmed.
Because Florence will enchant you. The sights, the atmosphere, the art. Florence is also known for its rich nightlife and great shopping opportunities.
Pisa, a beautiful historic city where you will see the Square of Miracles, the world famous Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, the largest Baptistery in Italy and other beautiful places to visit in Pisa.
You’ll only need one day to visit Pisa, but it will be a day full of walking through the winding streets, delicious gelato and views of the city from the Leaning Tower.
A car is a great way to explore the whole of Tuscany. In the Tuscany guide you will find a map that you can download to your mobile phone and link the different places to see.
By air, you can very easily get to Pisa (from there it’s less than an hour by train to Florence) or to Florence, where there are fewer flights and tickets are more expensive.
Where to go in Italy: region Umbria
If I were to make a subjective ranking for the most beautiful places in Italy, Umbria would be at the top. Umbria is adjacent to Tuscany, so far fewer tourists come here than to Florence or Pisa. And yet Umbria is beautiful.
One of the region’s most beautiful cities is the capital of Perugia and its medieval historical centre built on a rock. You can learn more about the art here in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, the Palazzo dei Priori. Take a stroll through Piazza IV Novembre or admire San Lorenzo Cathedral.
Most people to the region come to the historic city of Assisi. It is the birthplace of Saint Francis and has become an important pilgrimage site. The dominant feature of the city is the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other beautiful towns include Spello, Todi, Orvieto, Gubbio and Spoleto. In Umbria you will also find the Marmore Falls, which at 165 m high are the highest in Italy.
Mountain and nature lovers will also enjoy the Monti Sibillnini National Park with its highest mountain, Monte Vettore (2476 m). There are plenty of marked hiking trails. You can enjoy a wonderful spectacle from May to July, when the meadows are full of poppies.
Where to go in Italy: Rome – Vatican City
Visiting Rome is almost a must in Italy. A city where history oozes from every corner. Oh, no. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Castle of the Angels and other places that are among the most beautiful in Italy.
- What to see in Rome, including entrance fees and opening times
- Rome in 3 days + MAP
- Usefultips on how to save on transport and entrance fees in Rome
- 35+ Tips to Enjoy Rome and Travel to Rome | GUIDE
- The best museums in Rome
- Monuments of ancient Rome
- Vatican Museums
- Sistine Chapel
Where to go in Italy: Naples – Pompeii – Vesuvius
Naples is considered the gateway to the south of Italy. It is a city that will enchant you with its historical treasures and, above all, its food. Naples is the birthplace of pizza. You definitely have to try it here.
V Naples is home to one of the largest museums of Roman and Greek artefacts, Naples Cathedral, Castel Nuovo in front of Piazza Municipio or Castel dell’Ovo, and the historic underground, where you can learn how the city has been built and changed over the years.
Read in the previous article what to visit in Naples.
The ancient city of Pompeii can be found at the foot of the Mt Vesuvius volcano, which caused its destruction in 79 AD. l. Thanks to its preservation, Pompeii will give you one of the best lessons on the history of Italy.
Pompeii is an ideal day trip from Naples. You can walk through it on your own in 2 hours. Or plan a hike to Mt. Vesuvius. It’s a steeper climb, but it’s short – you’re at the top in half an hour.
Between Naples and Pompeii lies another ancient city, which was also destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius – Herculaneum.
Naples is easily and cheaply accessible by air. There are regular trains from Naples to Pompeii.
Where to go in Italy: the Amalfi Coast
Many consider the Amalfi Coast to be one of the most beautiful natural scenes in the world. Rocky cliffs, green forests and dramatic seascapes. This contrasts with the pastel houses falling to the sea in Positano. You can also explore the towns of Sorrento or Amalfi with its magnificent cathedral.
One of the main attractions is the 50 km long scenic road SS 163 Amalfitana, which lines the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Amalfi. But it’s so popular that it’s best to avoid it from June to mid-September or you’ll be stuck in a line of other cars and buses.
If you want to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast, my tip is the Way of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei in Italian). It is a 6.5 km long, moderately difficult route that leads from Nocelle to Bomerano. The views from here are breathtaking.
The best way to get to the Amalfi Coast is by car, so you can drive all the way from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast itself.
Sorrento is also easily accessible from Naples, where you can fly in. From Naples there are buses (journey 1 h 20 min) or boats (journey 1 h). You can then travel along the Amalfi Coast by local buses. The journey from Sorrento to Positano takes just over half an hour.
Where to go in Italy: the island of Capri
Capri is a small, mountainous island, easily reached by boat from Sorrento. You can take a day trip to the island or spend the whole holiday exploring the beautiful places.
What to see on the island of Capri? The Phoenician Steps with a magnificent view, the Sentiero dei Fortini Borbonici trail, the Grotta Verde cave, the Belvedere Tragara viewpoint, the Arco Naturale rock formation, the Grotta Bianca cave or the Blue Grotto with its turquoise-green water, accessible only by boat. For a beautiful view of the whole island, take the cable car to the highest peak of the island – Monte Solaro.
The easiest way to reach Capri is by air via Naples and then by boat to the island. Ferries to the island leave directly from Naples at regular intervals. You will reach the finish line in less than an hour. The price is around 20 €.
Where to go in Italy: calabria
In the very south of Italy you will find the region of Calabria. A place famous for its beaches around the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west coast and the beaches of the Ionian Sea on the east coast, dramatic cliffs, coves and interesting rock formations.
What to visit in Calabria? For example, the church of Cattolica di Stilo, the church of Piedigrotta, the town on the rock of Tropea, the southernmost coast of Europe, Lungomare Falcomata, the national parks of Apromonte or Sila, the Capo Vaticano or the beautiful beach of Spiaggia dell’arcomagno with its rock arch.
Where to go in Italy: region Apulia (Puglia)
The Apulia region forms the “heel” of Italy. The long coastline lining the Adriatic Sea. A place with sandy beaches, rich history and untouched nature. The largest resort is Bari, from which you can take a boat trip to the Balkan Peninsula.
The region includes the Gargano National Park, which covers almost the entire Gargano peninsula. Karst formations, caves and quarries are typical for the whole area. There are beautiful beaches and cliffs. The smaller historic towns of Vieste and Peschici are worth a visit.
What else to see in the Apulia region? For example, the town of Alberobello with its iconic houses. Other towns in the region worth seeing include Polignano, Monopoli and the beautiful rock formations of Torre Sant’Andrea.
Where to go in Italy: Sicily
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. It is home to Etna volcano and other smaller and still active volcanoes. Here you will find ancient Greek and Roman ruins, hundreds of castles, picturesque towns and beautiful beaches.
What to visit in Sicily? The cities of Siracusa, Cefalù, Catania or Palermo, the Tempio di Concordio in the Valley of the Temples, the volcano of Mt Etna, the ancient theatre of Taormina or the Aeolian Islands.
The easiest way to get to Sicily is by air to Palermo or Catania. In Sicily, you can rent a car directly at the airport or get around the island by train and bus.
Where to go in Italy: Sardinia
Sardinia is the second largest Italian island. A place that manages to retain its traditional character. No tall concrete hotels. The island is very popular with Italians, who take Sardinia by storm during their August siestas.
Sardinia is the perfect combination of long sandy beaches, historic sites and colourful coastal towns. Thanks to its mountainous surface, it is also a paradise for hiking. Here you can discover the largest sand dunes and one of the deepest gorges in Europe.
An interesting feature of Sardinia are the nuraghe, rock structures from the Bronze Age and the Nuragic civilization.
Practical information before travelling to Italy
By car to Italy
If you are travelling by car to Italy, you will be charged the following fees:
- German motorways are still toll-free. You pay for Austrian motorways. A motorway vignette for Austria costs €9.90 for 10 days (motorbikes €5.80). I recommend you don’t take the motorways in Austria. You’ll spend a lot more time on the road, and compared to the price you’ll pay for the stamp, it’s not worth it in the end with regard to petrol/diesel.
- Payment for the Brenner Pass – €11 (depending on where you are going; usually you don’t pay if you are coming from Vienna)
- The toll in Italy will cost you about 8 – 9 € per 100 km. You can pay the toll in cash or by card. Each payment gateway has a symbol at the top showing how you can pay.
- Petrol and diesel prices vary from country to country. For current fuel prices, please follow this link.
You can easily pay your Austrian vignette and the Brenner Pass toll in one place online. This link will give you up-to-date information on traffic in Italy (tolls, closures, etc.), but Google maps will also give you enough information.
The maximum speed limit on Austrian motorways is 130 km/h, 100 km/h on roads and 50 km/h in a municipality like ours. The maximum speed on Italian motorways is 130 km/h and in wet weather 110 km/h, on roads 90 km/h and in the village 50 km/h.
For example, if you are going to Lago di Como (northwest Italy), the route will also go through Switzerland. Here you have to buy a Swiss vignette for 40 CHF (you save money on the Brenner Pass). However, the route through Switzerland is rather an exception.
By air to Italy
Italy is served by low-cost airlines (Ryanair, Volotea, Wizzair, easyJet), but also by classic airlines such as Smartwings.
If you haven’t flown with a low-cost airline before, be prepared for service levels that are not as good as traditional airlines. The price often includes a smaller backpack (e.g. Ryanair) or hand luggage (larger suitcase or smaller suitcase 7-10 kg). Checked baggage (large suitcase 20-23 kg) is subject to extra charges.
Each airline has different weight and size limits – always check the airline’s website for information. I always recommend checking directly on the official website where the information is really up to date.
Traditional airlines used to have checked baggage included in the price.
You can buy tickets directly on the carrier’s website. I recommend it especially for low-cost flights. On the other hand, tickets from traditional airlines (Lufthansa, Smartwings, etc.) can be cheaper through airline search engines (Skyscanner, Kiwi, etc.).
The advantage of search engines is that they allow you to combine low-cost and classic airlines. You set the parameters and within seconds you get a huge number of combinations. Of course, it’s a bit more expensive than if you were folding the flights yourself, but that’s worth the time saved.
On the other hand, you will face more complications in case of cancellations and other changes than if you book directly.
By train in Italy
Italy has great, cheap and dense train connections. You can find individual routes and prices on the Trenitalia website. Where you can’t get to by train, you can get to by bus.
The best booking resources for visiting Italy
Via Booking.com we search for all accommodation. It is the largest accommodation portal in the world and you will find everything from modern hotels, cosy guesthouses to seaside villas.
Get Your Guide is a huge booking system for buying tickets, guided tours and all sorts of activities. In one place you can read other travellers’ experiences and book tickets to the Vatican Museums, a cruise on the Danube or a desert safari in Dubai.
If you are planning to rent a car in Italy, the best experience we have with Rentalcars.com which has the widest range at good prices. Insurance and free cancellation is a matter of course.
Reducer for sockets
In Italy, the electrical sockets used are types C, F and L. Types C and F are compatible with most sockets in Europe. Hotels and other tourist places have them too. Type L sockets are mainly found in older houses.
It’s better to pack a reducer, but you can buy it in almost any store for a few tens of crowns if needed. Generally we never needed it in the north of Italy, but towards the south we sometimes did.
If you have a question about this guide to what to see and visit in Italy, let us know in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More information about Italy
ROME: Rome is one of the most popular cities in Europe. Here’s a list of the best things to see in Rome. Build your 3-day Rome itinerary and see how to save in Rome. Find out all about the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum.
VENICE: In the article What to visit in Venice we bring you tips on the most beautiful places and other useful tips.
NEAPOL: Find out what to see in Naples in a separate guide.
Pisa is another wonderful city to see in Tuscany.
DOLOMITES: One of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world can be found in northern Italy. What to see in the Dolomites is in a separate article. In the Dolomites guide we share useful tips on how to plan your trip to the Dolomites.
Read even more tips on travelling in Italy.