What to see in Italy
What to see in Italy - With its many beautiful cities , its rich history , breathtaking landscapes , some of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean and of course its delicious cuisine
THE TOP 20 THINGS TO DO AND SEE
What to see in Italy: the best places to visit and things to do
You are planning to visit Italy for your next trip and are you looking for the best places to visit?
Great choice, there are so many beautiful things to see in this country, you will really love it!
With its many beautiful cities , its rich history , breathtaking landscapes , some of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean and of course its delicious cuisine , I can say without a doubt that Italy is one of my favorite destinations in Europe.
To help you plan your holidays in Italy , I have prepared this list of the 20 best things to do in Italy , with all the most interesting points and attractions not to be missed. It will surely give you an idea of your next travel destination.
So, what are the most beautiful Italian cities to visit? Let's go to the discovery of Rome , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sicily and much more!
1. Rome: the capital
I will start this guide on the beautiful places to visit in Italy with the capital, Rome. The Eternal City attracts millions of tourists every year but, despite what one might think, it is not the most touristic city in the country. Florence and Venice in fact attract a greater number of international visitors!
Rome is a beautiful city, with the added advantage of being very easy to visit on foot. It is full of ancient monuments, beautiful squares and museums. Here's what to visit in Rome:
- The Colosseum
- The Roman Forum
- The Pantheon
- The Trevi Fountain
- Piazza Navona
If you are traveling to Rome, you should also go to visit the Vatican City. Here are the things not to miss:
- St. Peter's Square
- St. Peter's Basilica , the largest basilica in the world
- The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's main work: The Last Judgment
- And all the Vatican museums
For more details on the city, you should read my article: The 25 Best Things to Do in Rome .
- Florence: the city of art
Florence , undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Tuscany, is home to numerous museums and Renaissance palaces. The cultural heritage in its possession is immense: half of the Italian works of art are found in Florence. No wonder why it is one of the most visited cities in Italy along with Venice!
So, will you be among the 15 million tourists to visit the city this year?
Here's what to see in Florence:
- The dome
- The Uffizi Gallery and its famous paintings
- The basilica of San Miniato al Monte , from which it is possible to enjoy a panoramic view of Florence. A tip: go there during sunset
- Piazza della Signoria: a true open-air museum
- Brunelleschi's Dome: climb the 400 steps for a 360 degree view of Florence. Remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.
And don't forget to visit the Tuscan countryside , famous for being the most beautiful in Italy!
When you hear about Pisa , the first thing that comes to mind is probably the famous leaning tower, the symbol of the city. However, there are also other places to visit in Pisa, so you can easily spend a whole day in the city. Here's what to see in Pisa:
- The Piazza dei Miracoli is the tourist heart of the city: all the most famous monuments of Pisa are located here!
- The tower of Pisa , with its admission price of € 20 (it can be a surprising price!)
- The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
- The Baptistery of San Giovanni in Pisa
- The Monumental Cemetery
- The Piazza dei Cavalieri , a small and typical Italian square but less touristy
- Borgo Stretto: perfect place for shopping and ideal place to eat or have a drink at one of its many restaurants.
Pisa is the perfect day trip from Florence, in fact a train connects the 2 cities in an hour for less than 10 €.
4. Venice: the romantic city
I cannot write an article on the most beautiful Italian cities to visit without mentioning the famous City of Venice!
Venice is one of the most touristic cities in Europe, an excellent choice if you want to spend a weekend or a few more days during your holidays in Italy. With its many canals and famous gondola rides, it is also the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. The Venice Carnival takes place every year in February and attracts many tourists from all over the world. If the crowds don't bother you, it can be the ideal opportunity to visit Venice!
Here's what to see in Venice:
- Piazza San Marco : the heart of the city and pigeon area
- The Basilica of San Marco and its golden mosaics
- The Doge's Palace
- The Bridge of Sighs: the famous bridge in Venice
- The islands of Murano (famous all over the world for the production of glass) and Burano with its typical colored houses.
5. The Cinque Terre
This guide on the most beautiful cities to visit in Italy would not be complete if you did not mention the Cinque Terre , 5 beautiful villages on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. You have almost certainly already seen some of their photos around, in fact these spectacular and colorful cities are among the most famous places to visit in Italy!
The Cinque Terre villages are located close to each other. To visit them, you have 3 choices:
- Take the hike through the paths that connect them (but be careful, depending on the season, some of these may be closed). The route between each village is from half an hour to 2 hours.
- Take the train that connects all the villages: the Cinque Terre Express.
- By boat , with a breathtaking view over the villages.
The Cinque Terre villages are as follows:
- Monterosso al mare : located in the northernmost part, it is the largest of the villages and the only one with a large sandy beach.
- Vernazza with its colorful houses and the small port.
- Corniglia , the only one that is not connected to the sea, can be reached via a flight of over 350 steps.
- Manorala : the oldest village.
- Riomaggiore , located in the far east, at the "end" of the Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre
6. Lecce: the baroque city
Much less known than previous cities, it is still worth a visit during your trip to Italy. Lecce , located at the base of the "Italian boot" in Puglia, is a beautiful Baroque city. There are churches, museums and palaces everywhere, all sharing the same architectural style.
Here's what to see in Lecce:
- The Basilica of Santa Croce
- The historical center
- The dome of Lecce
- Sant'Oronzo square
- Faggiano Museum
7. Verona: the Shakespearean city
Verona is the city of love and the tragic destiny of Romeo and Juliet. Everyone has already heard of it, but do you know what are the best things to do and visit in Verona?
Here's what to see in Verona:
- Juliet's house: you will have the opportunity to admire the famous balcony and take a photo with your loved one
- Piazza Bra , where the Verona arena is located
- Piazza delle Erbe with its market, bars and restaurant terraces
- The basilica of San Zeno Maggiore , the oldest church in Verona
- Castelvecchio , a 14th century castle converted into a museum
8. Genoa: The port city
Genoa is, and historically has always been, a port city. Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous adventurers of all time was born here!
The city is also full of monuments and beautiful sites to admire. Not many people come on vacation to this city, but it's a real shame, because there are some beautiful places to visit in Genoa.
Here's what to see in Genoa:
- The port of Genoa where it is possible to visit the aquarium and see a replica of a pirate ship. Don't forget to take the glass elevator to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
- The historic center with the Ferrari square and its beautiful fountain
- Stroll down Via Garibaldi and visit one or more palaces such as the royal palace, the white palace or the red palace.
- Stroll along the Lungomare , a 3 km long promenade
- Go to Boccadasse , an old fishing village with colorful houses
If you go to Genoa, don't miss Portofino , a beautiful coastal village located about 35km south of the city.
9. Naples: a historic city
Naples is the European city with the largest historical center, so you can be sure that you will find many churches and monuments to visit during your trip to Naples! Naples is also famous all over the world for its gastronomy: pizza (created in 1600 as street food for the poorest Neapolitans) and the famous Neapolitan sauce.
What to see in Naples:
- Start with the historic center and its Cathedral
- Piazza del Plebiscito , a huge and very photogenic square with beautiful monuments surrounding it
- The Vigiliano Park and its magnificent view over the bay
- Visit the archaeological museum which houses objects from the archaeological site of Pompeii
- Go to Pompeii , which is about 40 minutes by bus or train from Naples, which testifies to the damage caused by the devastating eruption of Vesuvius.
10. Capri: the magnificent island
From Naples you can easily take the ferry and go to the island of Capri for a day trip.
You will start your visit of one of the most beautiful places in Italy from the port of Marina Grande . You should then take the funicular: it will take you directly to the famous Piazzetta in the center of Capri. With its café terraces and magnificent views over the bay, it is a magical place!
Other places to visit in Capri are the Natural Arch , a large rocky arch of 20 meters and the Tragara viewpoint , which also offers magnificent views. And of course the unmissable attraction of Capri: the Blue Grotto , which takes its name from the unique color of the water inside.
11. Turin: the city of cinema and chocolate
You may not know it, but Turin is THE city of chocolate. Exactly, there is not only Swiss or Belgian chocolate! In fact, the Italian one is also very famous. Your favorite dessert was invented by a Turin master pastry chef! Every year, in this city, the chocolate festival is held, with many events and tastings.
But Turin is also the city of cinema. Located inside the most emblematic monument of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana , the Cinema Museum is one of the best in the world. You will learn more about the history of cinema and can even see the masks of Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings! Don't forget to take the panoramic lift to the upper terrace so you can enjoy a 360 ° view over the whole city.
Here's what to see in Turin:
- The Egyptian museum: the 2nd largest after the one in Cairo as well as the oldest Egyptian museum in the world
- The automobile museum, with its impressive collection of vehicles
- The Royal Palace, former residence of the Dukes of Savoy
To plan your holidays in Turin, you can take a look at my definitive guide to the city: The 20 best things to do in Turin.
12. Milan: the capital of fashion
Milan is the capital of fashion and design, with many luxury boutiques and showrooms of renowned designers. In addition, there are also many historic buildings to visit in the city!
Here are the places to visit in Milan not to be missed:
- The Piazza del Duomo and its magnificent Cathedral: the Duomo of Milan. Don't hesitate to get the entrance ticket with access to the roof terrace, it's really worth it!
- The Sforzesco Castle and the Sempione Park , just nearby
- The Vittorio Emanuele II gallery and its huge glass roof, a luxurious shopping area
- The Pinacoteca di Brera and its rich collection of paintings by the most famous Italian masters such as Raphael, Bellini or Caravaggio.
- The monumental cemetery: the burial place of celebrities, with some very unusual tombstones.
If you are planning to take a trip to Milan, you should check out my detailed article, with all my top tips for visiting the city in 1, 2 or 3 days: The 15 best things to do in Milan
During your trip to Italy, it would be a wise idea to group visits to the cities of Milan and Turin, as both cities are less than an hour away by train from each other.
13. Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands
Lake Maggiore , together with Lake Como and Lake Garda, is one of the 3 largest (and most beautiful) Italian lakes. If you are planning to spend some holidays in Milan during your trip to Italy, it might be a good idea to spend a day or two near Lake Maggiore, as it is only an hour and a half away by car. And if you don't have a car, there are tons of tour operators offering day trips from Milan.
Lake Maggiore is particularly known for the Borromean Islands : the great news is that it is possible to visit all 3 in one day with one of the many boat tours available.
The 3 islands
- Isola Madre , where you can admire its famous exotic garden with freely roaming peacocks.
- Isola Bella , with the Borromini palace, its garden and the shell cave
- Isola Superiore , an island of fishermen.
14. Lake Como
Located only 1 hour from Milan, Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy. This lake is a popular tourist destination for jet setters, and is very famous around the world for its numerous majestic villas and lush gardens.
It is also a place where some very famous scenes were filmed - for example, you may have already seen it in Star Wars Episode II! A part of the film was in fact shot in the Balbianello villa , on one of the shores of the lake. But Lake Como is more than all this: around the lake you can in fact visit splendid fishing villages and enjoy the numerous hiking trails. A must visit if you are in Northern Italy!
Here are the best places to visit in Lake Como and its surroundings:
- The city of Como and its pedestrian center
- Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta with its sumptuous botanical garden
- Bellagio and Villa Melzi , a source of inspiration for Stendhal himself
- Varenne and the villa Monastero with its promenade on the water's edge
- Vezio Castle and its panoramic view of the lake
- And, of course, if you are a Star Wars fan, the Villa del Balbianello.
If you are planning to spend a week in northern Italy, your perfect itinerary could be: Turin, Milan, Lake Maggiore, Lake Como.
15. Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest and one of the most touristic lakes in Italy. It is only 1h30 by train from Milan.
In addition to the lake itself, you can also visit some of the towns near the lake:
- Sirmione: the most famous town on Lake Garda. Its medieval castle marks the entrance to the city, and it is really pleasant to walk through its small and typical alleys. The archaeological site of the Grottoes of Catullus is also worth a visit for its ruins of Roman temples and villas.
- Malcesine: in the city, it is possible to visit the Scaligero Castle and the Palazzo dei Capitani. Then take the cable car to Monte Baldo and enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Garda.
- Torri del Benaco: with its small fishing port and the Scaligero castle, it is also worth a visit.
16. The Dolomites
If you love hiking and Italy, then the Dolomites are the perfect place for you! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area includes 18 peaks, some of which are more than 3,000 meters high.
Famous for their very particular shape, sculpted by the elements, they are even more beautiful during sunrise and sunset.
To fully enjoy the landscape, you can drive the Dolomites road from Bolzano to Cortina. There are about 130 km of road and this offers breathtaking views of the mountains.
Do not hesitate to stop in the villages or at Lake Carezza. Cortina is one of the best starting points for the many hiking trails in the region. If you love outdoor activities, the Dolomites are the places you should visit on your next trip to Italy!
17. The Amalfi Coast
Are you looking for the best places to visit in Italy? Then the Amalfi Coast is a great choice for your next trip to Italy!
Located south of Naples, the Amalfi coast is famous for being one of the most beautiful coasts in Italy. With its wild coastline and incredible clifftop villages, you will love it without a doubt!
Here is an overview of the best places to see on the Amalfi coast:
- Sorrento , which stands on a cliff overlooking the bay and the island of Capri.
- Positano , a picturesque clifftop village. It is a popular destination for jet-setters for its fashion boutiques and luxury cafes.
- Nocelle : if you visit Positano, you should really do the Path of the Gods, which starts from Nocelle, a little above Positano.
- Amalfi and its splendid Cathedral
- Ravello and the villa Cimbrone: with its 6 hectares of garden overlooking the sea, it is a must in Ravello.
18. Gargano National Park
Located in Puglia, the Gargano Natural Park is the largest natural park in Italy. The coast is famous for the limestone rocks that the sea has carved over the course of time. Here you will see numerous caves, wild bays and stacks .
The center of the Gargano is an ideal place for quiet excursions, especially in the Umbra forest , literally "the forest of shadows". You can walk under the centenary trees and enjoy the flora and fauna.
Even the small town of Vieste is a place not to be missed in this location!
Among the most beautiful places to visit in Italy there is undoubtedly Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, it is the ideal place to visit if you want to combine relaxation on the beach with the discovery of incredible world-class archaeological sites. Add delicious Italian cuisine to the mix and the result will be the perfect combination for unforgettable holidays!
What to see in eastern Sicily:
- Catania and its Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Agata
- Syracuse and the island of Ortigia : take a nice walk through the alleys of the historic center, admire the grandiose Piazza del Duomo and enjoy the view from the Maniace Castle
- The baroque cities: Noto, Modica and Ragusa
- Taormina : For the famous Greek theater, the view of Mount Etna and its magnificent pebble beach: “Isola Bella”.
- Etna , the most active volcano in Europe.
What to see in western Sicily:
- Palermo , with the splendid palatine chapel , the Norman Palace and the unusual catacombs of the Capuchins
- Cefalù , a small and traditional fishing village
- Agrigento and the valley of the temples
- The beaches of "Scala dei Turchi" and Eraclea Minoa
- The Egadi Islands , a paradise on earth.
Discover all my articles on Sicily .
If you decide to spend a week in Sicily, the best way to plan your trip is to visit the eastern or western part in two separate shifts. Come back a second time to visit one or the other.
Isola Bella, Treasure of Taormina
Do you love beautiful beaches and are you wondering what will be the next of the places of interest in Italy ?
Sardinia, the second largest Italian island, is world famous for its beautiful beaches. It is the perfect destination if you want to enjoy a holiday in the sun.
The best places to visit in Sardinia:
- Cagliari , the capital of Sardinia which extends over several hills. Visit the Castello district , most of the tourist attractions are located there.
- The Maddalena Islands , with splendid wild beaches.
- The Costa Smeralda : the perfect jet set destination for a luxury vacation. The road, all along the coast, offers spectacular views.
- The Gulf of Orosei : Huge and imposing limestone cliffs, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia.
Are you planning to visit Sardinia during your next trip to Italy? Check out my article on the best things to do: the 20 best places to visit in Sardinia.
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