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10 Best Places to Visit in Italy: Top Destinations

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From the sparkling waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the fairytale setting of the Italian Alps and everything in between, there is something in Italy to entice every kind of traveler. Italy is a beautiful country, bursting with history, great food and great wine. Foodies and adventurers, and art or history aficionados will all fall in love with the experiences this country has to offer. No matter what you travel for, if you’re looking for the best places to visit in Italy, then we have got you covered!

1. Rome

Rome is unarguably one of the best places to visit in Italy.
Toss a coin and make a wish in the beautiful Trevi fountain in Rome

From the Colosseum to St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome is an incredible city to explore. It’s a vibrant cultural hub with something new to discover around every corner. The ancient Romans called it the “Eternal City” because they believed that it would always stand, and it has! A walk through Rome is like walking into history.

Highlights:

  • Visit the Vatican, where you can see some of Rome’s most iconic sights, like the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Walk through history on a Colosseum tour. Since you’ll be in the neighborhood, we recommend stopping over at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, some of Rome’s oldest and most important historical sites.
  • Snap some drool-worthy photos before tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. There are over 1300 fountains in Rome, but the Trevi fountain is easily the most beautiful.

2. Venice

Venice is famous for its beautiful canals filled with picturesque gondolas that can take you through the city.
Grab a mask and join the carnival celebration in Venice
 Ride on the picturesque gondolas that can take you through the city.
Take a gondola ride on the sparkling waters of the Grand Canal

Venice is famous for its beautiful canals filled with picturesque gondolas that can take you through the city. It’s also small enough to explore by foot over a few hours, a trip that will take you through the city’s beautiful streets and give you some incredible views of ornate marble buildings juxtaposed against glistening lagoons.

Highlights:

  • Visit the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, and check out one of the city’s most memorable (and opulent) landmarks.
  • Snack on some gelato from a local café as you take in the sights of the Grand Canal before hopping on a gondola to explore Venice’s winding canals.
  • Experience the Carnevale di Venezia (the Carnival of Venice) in February, where three million people dress up in masquerade costumes and dance all through the night. Join in the celebration!

Our tip: Cafes in Venice can get a little pricey if you want to sit down and enjoy your coffee. You can get a cheaper drink in true Venetian style by going to a coffee al banco. Instead of chairs, these cafes are standing room only. Save a few euro and get a real Italian experience!

3. Florence

You can see the Duomo with its incredible domed roof and enjoy some breathtaking artwork in the cradle of the Renaissance.
Be awe-struck by the beauty of Florence's city-scape at night

Florence is unarguably one of the best cities to visit in Italy if you’re interested in the artistic heritage of the country. You can see the duomo with its incredible domed roof and enjoy some breathtaking artwork in the cradle of the Renaissance. It’s an easy city to explore on foot and you’ll have no trouble navigating. 

Highlights:

  • The Uffizi Gallery features a collection of some of the best artistic masterpieces in the world and no visit to Florence is complete without exploring this gallery.
  • Walk across one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Ponte Vecchio, and browse the picturesque shops along the way.
  • If you’re a meat eater, you can’t leave Florence without trying the bistecca Fiorentina. The Florentine steak is the city’s specialty dish and is mouth-wateringly delicious!

4. Tuscany

Tuscany is Italy’s heartland, where wine, Renaissance art, and picturesque natural vistas go hand in hand.
Admire the beautiful scenery while you sip on wine

Tuscany is Italy’s heartland, where wine, Renaissance art, and picturesque natural vistas go hand in hand. It’s one of the best places to visit in Italy to get a real sense for Italian culture and, of course, food. It is also the birthplace of many famous figures, like Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, and Leonardo da Vinci, among many others. Everywhere you go you will find artistic and architectural masterpieces.

Highlights:

  • Sample wine in some of Tuscany’s famous wineries that will take you to Chianti, Bolgheri, and Montalcino, among others.
  • Snap a photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and then head inside and climb to the top of the tilted tower for some stunning views.
  • Eat like a Tuscan with some classic Italian comfort food that won’t cost you much. Ribolitta is a village-style stew that epitomizes this region.

Our tip: If you head to Tuscany in November, take a trip to San Miniato. It’s one of the most prolific regions in Europe for harvesting truffles, including the elusive white truffle. For 15 days each November the city hosts a truffle fair where you can eat some truly incredible food and pick up all kinds of truffle-based goods to bring home.

5. Milan

If you’re looking for something a little more cosmopolitan, take a trip to this bustling city, home to the 8th largest duomo and also one of the top fashion capitals of the world.
Pay a visit to the majestic Milan Cathedral

If you’re looking for something a little more cosmopolitan, take a trip to this bustling city, home to the 8th largest duomo and also one of the top fashion capitals of the world. Unlike many other Italian cities, life here moves at a fast pace. Do some shopping during the day, visit the opera, then hit the town for some of Italy’s best cocktails.

Highlights:

  • Even if you’re not much of a shopper, take a wander through the absurdly beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall. If you are a shopper, welcome to heaven!
  • You can’t go to Milan and not see the Milan Cathedral; it looks like something straight out of a storybook and is conveniently located in the heart of the city.
  • Spend an evening experiencing the opera at one of the most prestigious opera houses in the entire world: Teatro alla Scala.
  • Marvel at Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic masterpiece, “The Last Supper”. Although a visit to see it will take up less than an hour of your day, tickets can sell out months in advance so book your tickets early to make sure you don’t miss out!

6. Amalfi Coast

If you’re somehow tired of Tuscany’s rolling hills, the Amalfi Coast is the change of scenery you need.
Soak up the sunshine in the beautiful coastal town of Amalfi

As far as Italy destinations go, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. If you’re somehow tired of Tuscany’s rolling hills, the Amalfi Coast is the change of scenery you need. The whole of the coast is dotted with colourful Aegean villages nestled into the cliffs and set against the sparkling blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Even by Italian standards, this area is laid-back and slow moving. It’s the perfect place to relax, in a setting that will constantly delight and surprise you.

Highlights:

  • Make sure to stop in at the town of Amalfi itself. It’s one of the biggest coastal towns and features a gorgeous duomo, not to mention the town’s charming pastel buildings.
  • Visit Ravello for the best sunsets on the Amalfi Coast. This chilled out village is perched on a hillside, with the Villa Rufolo at the top. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunset views.
  • Sip limoncello in Sorrento. This delicious citrus liquor is the perfect aperitif and you won’t find a tastier version anywhere else!
  • Visit the island of Capri, home to the magical Blue Grotto. Inside the cave, the water glows a vibrant shade of blue that will leave you stunned — and makes for a great photo opportunity.

7. Naples

Whether you’re a foodie or an archeological enthusiast, there is something for everyone to do in Naples. 
Explore the ruins of Pompeii, a must-see for history enthusiasts
Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so you’ll never be far from a pizza shop that will change your life.
It's an Italian sin if you don't eat pizza when in Naples

Whether you’re a foodie or an archeological enthusiast, there is something for everyone to do in Naples. This sprawling city sits in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s the birthplace of pizza, so you’ll never be far from a pizza shop that will change your life. It’s also a great hub if you’re interested in visiting the archeological sites of Pompeii or Herculaneum, the cities that were destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

Highlights:

  • Climb Mount Vesuvius for some dizzyingly beautiful views of Naples and the surrounding region.
  • Eat lots of pizza! There are hundreds of pizzerias in Naples serving up some of the best pizza you’ve ever had. Stick to places certified by the Associazione de Pizza Napoletana for the best places in town.
  • Check out Naples’ underground history with a tour of the San Gennaro Catacombs.

Our tip: Naples has a bad reputation as a seedy city controlled by the mafia. While the rates of petty theft are higher than elsewhere, as a tourist, you’re unlikely to run into any trouble and certainly not with the mafia. Keep your wits about you like you would in any city you travel to and you’ll be fine.

8. Italian lake district

Italy’s Lake District combines mountain vistas and crystalline lakes with medieval fortresses and beautiful lakeside towns.
Go island hopping on various islands that the Italian Lake District has to offer

Italy’s Lake District combines mountain vistas and crystalline lakes with medieval fortresses and beautiful lakeside towns. There are five major lakes among the most stunning lakes in this region and each one has its own flair and character to its accompanying cities. This area is popular year-round as you can hit the beach on a sunny day, participate in some exhilarating adventure sports, or come in the winter for a ski trip in the Italian Alps.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy the latest in haute cuisine at the Bellagio Mistral, a Michelin-starred restaurant on the shores of Lake Como.
  • Visit the island of Isola Bella. Take a leisurely walk through the gorgeous cultivated gardens and explore the huge baroque castle!
  • Spend an afternoon relaxing in the shadow of the mountains and playing in the crystalline waters of Lake Garda. It is popular for swimming, with its diverse scenery that ranges from stark cliffs to rolling vineyards and sandy beaches.
  • Head to Lake Ledro for an afternoon. After the construction of the Riva del Garda dam, the remains of a bronze age village emerged from the receding water. Plus, you’ll find some great art installations in the woods around the lake.

9. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is made up of five different seaside towns, which are together a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy the gorgeous view of the sea and the colorful buildings

Cinque Terre is made up of five different seaside towns, which are together a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They’re all gorgeous and offer spectacular views of the sea, but the most picturesque is Riomaggiore, with brightly coloured houses clustered together on the hillside. A staircase above the harbour will lead you to some incredible sunset views. While each village has something different to offer, you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Highlights:

  • Relax on Monterosso al Mer’s sandy beach – the only sandy beach in Cinque Terre – and sip on some of the region’s famously crisp Ligurian white wine, sciacchetrà.
  • Sample some of Cinque Terre’s famous pesto. You can’t leave here without enjoying one of the many pesto dishes on offer.
  • Walk along the coast on the Via dell’Amore, the Path of Love, that connects Riomaggiore and Manarola. If you’re up for it, you can walk the whole 12-kilometer trail from Monterosso to Riomaggiore too — just make sure to check in with the park offices to see if there are trail closures before you set out. Check out our recommended Cinque Terra hikes!
  • Try some of the Cinque Terre’s unique street bread, farinata. It’s made from chickpea flour and has the remarkable effect of helping you stay hydrated on sizzling summer days.

Our tip: If you can help it, don’t go to Cinque Terre in the summer. Air conditioning is scarce in the sweltering summer heat, as is accommodation. During the summer months the population skyrockets. The villages have around 4000 residents between them but receive over 2 million tourists. It’s best visited during the shoulder seasons.

10. Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most culturally diverse parts of Italy, as it has been influenced by the many different cultures
Hike the scenic trails of Mount Etna and check out the view from the top
Pay a visit to the Cathedral of Palermo and be amazed by its beauty

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most culturally diverse parts of Italy, as it has been influenced by the many different cultures that have settled the island throughout history. No trip to the island is complete without spending a couple of days in Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, where you can browse the city’s famous market places or explore the fascinatingly diverse architecture before heading to the coast, where you can find archeological sites, fishing villages, and volcanoes.

Highlights:

  • You’ll be dazzled by the golden mosaics of Monreale Cathedral, outside Palermo. It took over 2100 kg of pure gold to create.
  • Climb up to the crater of the Etna Volcano for some jaw-dropping views of the island!
  • Hike to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily’s most famous archeological site, with eight different temples. The best preserved (and most picturesque) are the Temple of Hera and the Temple of Concorde.

Our tip: If you want to spice up your trip with something unique, visit the Catacombe dei Cappuccini in Palermo. Up until the late 1800s, mummification was a regular practice on the island. You can see thousands of embalmed Sicilians in the catacomb; it’s sure to be one of the most unique activities you do in Italy. 

There’s a reason Italy is such a popular destination. Even if you're confused about which places to visit for the perfect Italy tour, no matter where you end up you’ll find beautiful architecture, delicious Italian food, and warm-hearted people in every corner of the country. You could spend a lifetime exploring the cities and coasts and still have more to discover, but if you don’t have a lifetime, here are the best places to visit in Italy to make the most out of your trip.

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