Nearly 100 million people visit Italy each year, and many keep coming back year after year. The country has enough to offer for a lifetime of exploration.
From mysterious Venice in the north to the sunbaked multicultural cities of Sicily in the south, every region of Italy has something new to offer.
The country has thousands of years of history, including ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces, important destinations for religious tourism, and beautiful nature, but there are some standout cities that we consider to be truly the best places to visit in Italy.
20 of the Best Places to Visit in Italy
We’ll show you our top picks for must-visit Italian cities and destinations, why we love each area, and more. Let’s dive in!
No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Rome, the capital. Nicknamed “the Eternal City,” Rome has thousands of years of history contained in one city. Rome was the center of the ancient Roman Empire, and its traces are everywhere, from the Coliseum to the Forum.
It continued to be an important city into the medieval era and Renaissance thanks to its role as the seat of the Catholic Church. Even non-Christians will be awestruck at the art on exhibit in Vatican City and the imposing St. Peter’s Basilica.
There are so many other sites in Rome, including the famous Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, that it is impossible to list them all — you should just go see them for yourself.
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There is no city quite like Venice. Instead of streets, the city has canals and is made up of a complicated network of interconnected islands.
Tourists flock to the northern Italian city to see famous sites such as the Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge and take a ride on one of the famous gondolas.
However, make sure you budget time in Venice to get lost wandering the canals and explore the different cicchetti, or Venetian tapas bars, for hyperlocal cuisine.
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Glorious Florence is the jewel in Italy’s crown. This city was the center of the Italian Renaissance and often feels like a time capsule. Explore architectural wonders from the era, such as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, which have kept their medieval appearances.
Florence is one of the best places in the world for art lovers.
You can spend an entire day at the Uffizi Gallery, which is stuffed with old masters from Botticelli to Da Vinci. Make sure you save some time for shopping in the city’s famous fashion boutiques.
4. The Amalfi Coast
The gorgeous Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s prime seaside destinations. This stretch of craggy coastline south of Naples contains beautiful villages, relaxing beaches, and the quintessential Mediterranean atmosphere.
To visit the Amalfi Coast, stay in one of the popular fishing villages now turned major tourist destinations such as Positano, Amalfi, or Ravello.
Explore the picturesque streets, walk to nearby villages, or just laze on the beach. Be sure to bring sturdy walking shoes because the streets are steep here.
Tuscany, with its rolling hills, delicious food, and world-class wine, is probably one of Italy’s most famous regions. It’s the perfect destination for travelers looking to unwind with a little rural tourism and enjoy the region’s famous gastronomy.
The best way to see Tuscany is to pick one of the towns as a base and go on day trips to surrounding regions. Try San Gimignano, famous for its several giant medieval towers, or one of the cypress-clad villas of Val d’Orcia.
Siena is a town within Tuscany but so beautiful that it deserves its own mention. Siena has one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The town has many medieval-era landmarks, such as Il Campo, which becomes the site of the famous Palio races.
Even if you don’t time your visit to coincide with the festival, there’s plenty to see, including the Siena Cathedral, Torre del Mangia, and of course, the delicious Tuscan restaurants.
7. Italian Lake District
If you make a beeline for the Italian coast, you’ll miss out on the pretty northern mountain regions, some of the most beautiful parts of Italy. The Italian Lake District starts in northern Italy and stretches into the Alps. It has many lakes, each with its own character.
Lake Como has been a destination for celebrities for decades, so visit here to gawk at glitzy villas and soak in a glamorous town. Lake Garda is a popular family destination, while Lake Maggiore on the Swiss border is home to the popular Isola Bella.
Ancient Roman ruins are dotted across Italy, but Pompeii is the most spectacular and well-preserved site. The town, along with nearby Herculaneum, was buried in an eruption by Mount Vesuvius about 2,000 years ago, perfectly preserving it down to the graffiti on the walls.
Spend a day wandering through the remnants of Roman villas, apartment complexes, baths, and more, really getting a picture for how the ancients used to live.
9. Cinque Terre
Located along the Italian Riviera near Genoa, Cinque Terre is another amazing Italian coastal destination. The region consists of five beautiful towns — Manarola, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore — clinging to the sides of the cliffs.
Hike between the towns on the dizzying Footpath Monterosso trail, or just take the scenic train instead to save your energy. Cinque Terre has many activities for visitors, including cooking classes, boat rentals, and more.
Busy Milan in the northern Lombardy region undermines the stereotype of Italy as a laid-back country. The city is Italy’s banking capital and also a center for the fashion industry.
Half the fun is people-watching on the street as stylish locals pass by. Milan also has plenty of historic sites, such as the world-famous, imposing Duomo. Climb to the top for one of the best views of the city.
“In fair Verona where we lay our scene,” from Romeo and Juliet, is one of the most famous lines from a play ever. Although the young lovers didn’t really exist, the city has many sites related to the play anyway, including Juliet’s House with a statue of the famous girl.
Verona has a lot to offer, even for non-Shakespeare lovers. Explore the medieval core of the city, which is a UNESCO heritage site, and cool off in the Renaissance Giardino Giusti, an oasis of green.
Bustling Naples is not for the faint of heart, but those who are willing to brave its infamous crowds, heat, and dirt are rewarded with a glimpse at authentic, working-class Italy and a vibrant culture.
Be sure to check out the local Archeological Museum, which is home to some of the best artifacts from Pompeii. Other attractions include the promenade along the Bay of Naples, with spectacular views of Mount Vesuvius and gorgeous churches.
Naples claims to be the birthplace of pizza, so don’t leave without sampling a pie or grabbing a bite from one of the city’s famous bakeries.
Palermo is the largest city on Sicily and the perfect base for exploring the picturesque island, which feels like a different country compared to the mainland. The city is cleaning up its act without losing its trademark grit.
Check out the historic mishmash of cultures, from ancient Greeks to Arabs and Normans, at the famous nearby Monreale Cathedral.
Palermo is also home to a thriving modern art scene, so check out some of the many galleries. Be sure to snag some of the delicious street food at one of the many markets.
The Tuscan town of Pisa is mostly famous for one attraction — its leaning tower. It may be a tourist trap, but the glorious off-kilter tower is well worth a photo opportunity.
If you climb the tower, you get beautiful views not just of the medieval town of Pisa but of surrounding Tuscany as well. It does get crowded in the summer, so try to book your ticket ahead of time.
Beautiful Capri is full of wonders, natural and artificial. The island has long been a popular destination for the world’s glitterati, and when you visit, you can see many giant yachts dropping anchor just off the coast.
Don’t let the glamour and shops distract you from Capri’s natural beauty.
Book a tour to visit the famous Blue Grotto, with its water a color unlike anywhere else in the world. If you’re not scared of heights, take a chairlift up to Mount Solaro for gorgeous views of the island.
Bologna is affectionately nicknamed “Bologna La Grassa,” or “Bologna the Fat” by those who love it. The hedonistic city is famous even in food-mad Italy for its gastronomy.
The best thing to do when you visit is to eat the day away, from pasta Bolognese to piadine, sandwiches that are a popular street food among locals.
When you’re ready to stop eating, work off the calories by exploring the University of Bologna, the world’s oldest university, and other sites such as the famous medieval towers.
Wild Sardinia in the Tyrrhenian Sea is still relatively undiscovered compared to the rest of Italy, so go as soon as you can to take advantage of the lack of crowds.
If you just want to relax on the beach, head to the Costa Smeralda on the northern coast, an attraction for the world’s glitterati in the know.
If you prefer a more off-the-beaten-path destination, head inland to the many Sardinian mountain villages, which are dotted with prehistoric sites, ancient Phoenician ruins, and delicious food.
Agrigento is home to the Valley of the Temples, one of the most spectacular archeological sites in Italy. The temples in question aren’t Roman but Greek — Sicily was an important Greek colony in the ancient world.
The site contains many ruins, so get there early to give yourself enough time to explore. The town of Agrigento itself is a great base for exploring other charming places in Sicily, such as the beautiful beaches.
Bustling modern Turin in the north of Italy is nestled in the Alpine region of Piedmont. It feels different from the sunny towns of southern Italy. Its baroque facades and elegant coffee culture feel more Central European.
Piazza San Carlo and the rest of the city center are home to where the cool kids hang out and drink coffee, so check out the locales around there.
Turin is a great destination for lovers of Italy’s modern design and culture, thanks to the National Museum of Cinema and the National Automobile Museum.
Puglia is an off-the-beaten-path tourist destination within Italy, but those who venture to the remote southern region in Italy’s “boot heel” will be rewarded with otherworldly small towns, beautiful beaches, and a rich, almost pagan culture.
The best way to see Puglia is to hop from small town to small town, taking in what makes each one unique.
Visit the beehive-like trulli houses in Alberobello and even stay in one, go to the beach in Salento, or visit the churches in Otranto and try to check out the folk music there.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your tourist itinerary in Italy:
- The country is well-connected with a train system, so getting from place to place should be easy.
- Summers can get very hot and crowded. Try to book your trip for shoulder seasons, when possible, as the weather is still nice enough to explore and even swim. If you visit during the summer, bring plenty of sunscreen and water.
- Pickpockets thrive at Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, so keep an eye on your valuables.
- Many of Italy’s most famous attractions are churches that are still active religious sites. Destinations such as the Vatican have a strict dress code asking for no revealing clothing, including shoulders and knees, for men and women. Bring long, loose clothing or a scarf to cover up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other things you might want to know before visiting Italy:
What is the most beautiful part of Italy?
Tuscany is one of the most beautiful parts of Italy. It has everything — gorgeous landscapes, picturesque small towns, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world in Florence.
What part of Italy is worth visiting?
Every part of Italy is worth visiting because every region has a distinct character. If you have to narrow it down, focus your trip on Tuscany, Rome, and Campania (the region that includes Naples and the Amalfi Coast).
Where should I visit in Italy for the first time?
If you’re in Italy for the first time, you have to visit Rome. That’s the best place to learn more about the culture and history that make Italy so unique. Add another city to your itinerary, such as Florence, Venice, or Naples.
Is seven days enough for Italy?
Seven days is enough for Italy if you’re all right with just getting the highlights reel and the most famous destinations. If you want to get off the beaten path or explore more remote regions such as Sardinia, you will need more time.
Is Milan or Florence better?
Florence is better than Milan if you’re limited in time, especially if it’s your first time visiting Italy. Florence has a better art collection, more attractions, and better opportunities for day trips. However, if you are more interested in fashion, modern art, and nightlife, Milan is the better choice.
So, What’s the Best Place to Visit in Italy?
Italy has many wonderful places to visit, such as Rome, Venice, Naples, and Florence. It also has amazing archaeological sites such as Agrigento and Pompeii.
Be sure to budget time to check out some of its small towns, such as Siena or the towns along Cinque Terre. However, anywhere you go is amazing, so there’s no reason to delay — book your trip today!