Italy, Italy, Italy! With outstanding cuisine, rich culture, stunning landscapes, and passionate people, the country truly can’t be compared to anywhere else. No matter what your Italy travel itinerary looks like, you’re bound to stumble upon hidden gem after hidden gem and some of the world’s most fascinating attractions. So, for those of you who don’t want to miss out on the must-see places, we’ve got you covered!
Get ready because we’re checking out the nine best places to visit in Italy. Our list doesn’t just include the obvious locations that are well-known–no, no, no! We also made sure to highlight the destinations that don’t always get the attention they deserve. So, let’s head to Italy and have the trip of a lifetime!
But before we go, make sure to review how to make the perfect travel itinerary to ensure you have the most well-planned journey possible!
Sardinia is one of the “blue zones” of the world, having one of the highest concentrated populations of centenarians across the globe, and it’s gorgeous. Stretching 30 kilometers along the eastern coast of Sardinia, the Gulf of Orosei stuns with its crystal-clear waters, sugary white sand, and idyllic beaches.
It’s the perfect spot to get away from the crowds, escape onto one of the many hiking trails, or take a walk to different rocky coves accessible only on foot. The beaches are a nature-lover’s paradise, perfect for snorkeling, climbing, and relaxing. A boat ride offers an incredible vista only possible in a beautifully secluded nook of the Mediterranean Sea. Sardinia is easily one of the best places to visit in Italy!
Nestled at the foot of the Swiss Alps, Lake Como will take your breath away. You can lose yourself among the mesmerizing gardens and historic villas found in Bellagio and the small villages scattered along the Y-shaped coastline. The hills surrounding the lake have hundreds of trails; take a 30-minute hike on the Val Sanagra trail to La Vecchia Chioderia Farmhouse for a one-of-a-kind romantic meal prepared with locally raised and sourced ingredients.
A variety of boat rides are also available. You can take the ferry from one town to the next or schedule a private experience to soak up all of the sights from the center of the third largest lake in Italy.
Whether you’ve been to Italy or not, you’ve likely heard of Florence. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and simply cannot be ignored! Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance period–yes, the Renaissance. The city was home to some of the most influential people to ever walk Earth, like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo (just to name a few).
Today, you can walk down the historic streets and get lost in an endless supply of culture from the past and the modern world. From art galleries to science museums (Museo Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci Museum are must-visit places), you will have no issue filling up your itinerary.
Foodies will be in heaven, as Florence is also known for having some of the best food in the country. Not to mention, the city comes alive during the winter; it very well could be put on the list of best places to spend Christmas in Europe!
Distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, Cinque Terre translates to “Five Lands”–a fitting name for the five towns lining the coast of the Ligurian Sea. There is one coastal walking trail connecting all five villages. Only 11 kilometers long, it is easily walkable in several hours. However, to truly experience the area, you can spread out the journey over several days, spending time in each of the unique five towns.
Relax on the beach in Monterosso before gazing at the opulent architecture in the fishing village of Vernazza. Relax in the vineyards of Corniglia, and finish the walk between the towns on the romantic Via dell’Amore, known as “Love’s Trail” between Manarola and Riomaggiore–towns dripping in 13th and 14th-century history.
A town drenched in white, Ostuni sits proudly 8 kilometers from the eastern coastline. Meander down the narrow labyrinth of whitewashed alleyways and take in the history surrounding you. The Puglia region has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and Ostuni has roots at least as far back as 600 years BCE. The ancient walls still fortifying Old Town make you feel as though you have stepped back in time. The Centro Storico is an excellent area to walk and explore, as only limited vehicles are allowed to drive here.
The Saturday market attracts vendors from all over the region–make sure to pick up some local olive oil or seasonal fruit and vegetables, all at non-tourist prices. Don’t miss the 15-minute walk up to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, where you can soak in the best view of the city, a perfect spot to end the day with an incredible sunset.
Just 30 kilometers northeast of Rome, Tivoli is an enchanting city full of historical architecture. It’s a great spot to escape from chaotic crowds and experience authentic Italy. The city boasts two UNESCO sites and some of the loveliest gardens in the country–the Via Delle Cascatelle (a pathway) has cascading waterfalls and ancient architecture straight from a dream. Make planning a trip to Tivoli easy with Passero!
The Park of Villa Gregoriana is a lesser-known spot that is absolutely worth a visit–a trip in the morning only accentuates its beauty. Home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, the food scene in Tivoli is not to be taken lightly. At the foot of an ancient Roman temple, La Sibilla Restaurant has an excellent view with even better food, perfect for a romantic evening surrounded by history.
Although many people overlook Tivoli because of nearby Rome, it’s without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Italy.
Situated at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano, the cosmopolitan city of Catania is rich in culture, nightlife, and incredible food. Take a day trip to Noto for a visit to a still off-the-beaten-path town stuffed with Baroque influence, or hike up one of the many trails on Mt. Etna. The Piazza del Duomo in the historical center is a great place to stay to be in the center of the action; a short walk away, Il Gambero Pazzo is a must for some of the best seafood in all of Sicily.
Decidedly different from the rest of Italy, Sicily essentially missed the Renaissance period, and it instead was majorly influenced by Greek, Roman, Arab-Norman, and Baroque cultures. There is an incredible amount of history, ruins, and architecture, but you won’t find the art or museums that you might find in the rest of the country. Read up on the differences between northern and southern Italy here.
Over in Tuscany, San Gimignano does not disappoint. The town thrived in the 12th and 13th centuries, and it’s now one of the best locations in Italy to get a look at well-preserved medieval architecture. As you drive into San Gimignano, the first thing you’ll see are the thirteen towers reaching toward the sky. During San Gimignano’s heyday, there were more than 70 of these tower houses built by wealthy families–they were a sign of power and affluence.
Once you make it inside the town, it’s a haven for history buffs. There are several museums that tell the story of what life was like hundreds of years ago. Places like the Santa Chiara Museum, the Historic Center, Palazzo Comunale, and any of the town’s churches should be high on your to-do list. If you’re taking a trip through Greece and Italy, check out our premade itinerary that includes San Gimignano!
Oh, and in classic Italian fashion, you will find excellent wine-tasting tours that will put you right in the beauty of the landscape!
From the Trevi Fountain to the Vatican City to the Colosseum to gelato, Rome is just one of those essential places to visit in Europe! A city built upon a city, it’s safe to say not many places helped to shape the world into what it is today quite like Rome did. Meandering through the streets and alleys, you’ll see neighborhoods come alive throughout the charming squares.
History buffs will have an absolute field day in Rome, but you don’t need to be a fanatic to appreciate the city’s ancient remains! If Rome is a part of your travel plans, check out our 10-day Italy itinerary that’ll take you to the best spots in the city and then off to the country’s other top destinations!
Italy is one of the most visited countries for good reasons! Its cities are teeming with history and culture that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Choosing the best places to visit in Italy is no easy task when nearly every nook and cranny has something special to offer. So, although it may be impossible to create the perfect list, you can’t go wrong with any of the destinations covered in this article. But before you buy a plane ticket, make sure you know how to plan a trip to Italy, including visa, transportation, and other tips!
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