Best Places to Visit in Italy
Vacation travel in Italy is about as good as it gets and the best places to
visit in Italy are spectacular. For the art buff Italy is the home to the major
works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and other notables; for the
architecture aficionado there’s the Colosseum in Rome, St. Mark's Square in
Venice and the Duomo in Florence; and for those of you who like chic, it's
shopping in Milan. Those looking for the countryside will revel in Tuscany,
Umbria, Liguria, Campania or Sicily. We cover the all of the below, but
recommend you see our detailed travel guides for the cities and regions of
Italy for details on what to see and do, as well as some stunning photos of your
"Eternal City" is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Once the capital of western civilization, Rome has an incredible number of
world-class attractions, including the Colosseum, the Forums of the Roman
Empire, gorgeous piazzas, stunning fountains, and fabulous museums.
The saying "All roads lead to Rome" was a truism during the Roman
Empire and the city displays its heritage in a spectacular fashion. Rome
is a fantastic destination; you will run out of time before you run out
of worthwhile things to see and do. Rome is a tourist friendly city -
see our recommendations on the best places to visit in Rome and, then,
book your vacation.
Be sure the see Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum, the
Capitoline Hill, the Roman and Imperial Forums, the Pantheon,
and Castel Sant'Angelo.
The city's many piazzas (Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna (and the
Spanish Steps), Piazza Venezia) and the city's fabulous fountains
(the Trevi Fountain, the Fountain of the Four Rivers and
others) are popular places for good reason. In addition to the
masterpieces they contain, these areas usually are surrounded by
good quality restaurants, fine shopping, and gelato shops
(gelaterias) are usually easy to find.
Museums are the city's strong suite, but the museums dedicated to
the history of Ancient Rome, as well as to the arts are the most
You might want to spend an afternoon visiting a few of Rome's
many churches, as they often are incredibly beautiful and endowed
with stunning art and architecture.
- For detailed descriptions and numerous photographs of the Eternal
City's many famous attractions, see our expanded travel guide to
Best Places to Visit in Rome.
- Anyone who visits Rome should reserve time to experience the
Best Places to Visit in the
Vatican, which we cover in our destination guide for the Holy
- Take time to see the Vatican Museums, as they contain
unimaginable treasures of civilization, as well those of the
Catholic faith. In addition, be sure to see St. Peter's
Basilica and its famous Square.
- Although surrounded by Rome, the Vatican is an independent state
that was established under the Lateran Treaties of 1929 (see our
section on country
facts on the Vatican for more information).
in Venice oozes romance and history. Canals, beautiful buildings, world
famous landmarks - Venice is an experience unique in the world of travel.
Whether taking a gondola down the Grand Canal or gazing at this romantic
city's unique setting and architecture, Venice is a vision that you will
Be sure to see the Piazza San Marco, including the Basilica (St.
Mark's) and the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale). The Grand Canal is
another must, as are its palazzos, bridges and gondolas.
Venice has delightful art museums such as the Guggenheim, the
Galleria dell'Academia and the Museo Corer, incredibly beautiful
churches, and if that were not enough, you can take a boat trip the
colorful islands of Murano (center for glassmaking) and Burano (center
the point of view of art and architecture, Florence rivals Rome. During the
renaissance, Florence was the art center of western civilization. A list of
past residents of the city represents the "Who's Who" of the Masters,
including: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, among
Culture is the strong suite of Florence; perhaps that is why its
museums are so popular. However, this is not a one-stop town, as
shopping and restaurants in Florence tend to be incredibly
attractive to tourists. If you have an interest in cooking, this may be
the place to find a cooking school.
Be sure to see the Duomo (cathedral) and its impressive Piazza
and the adjacent Piazza San Giovanni, containing the famous
Baptistery, the Museo of the Duomo and the famous Bell Tower by
For art, it is the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria
Dell'Accademia, which contains Michelangelo's world-famous sculpture
While museums abound, you may find yourself lured to the Ponte
Vecchio, the famous shop-lined bridge across the Arno River.
Click this link for detailed descriptions and photos of the
Best Places to Visit in Florence, Italy.
Florence is the crown jewel of Tuscany (Toscana), although the region
is known for its scenic, rural hill towns, agricultural
setting interesting culture and unique architecture.
While the region's quaint hill towns are popular with all
travelers, Tuscany and its people are the main attraction. The
countryside is beautiful and varied, including coastal plains and
mountains. In turn, the magic of Tuscany's landscapes has been used
to establish the setting of many wonderful works of literature.
Tuscany is a region to be savored and it has become the region of
Italy most favored for lengthy vacations by visitors. Its hill towns
are known for their scenic settings, interesting history, good food
and pleasant quality of life. An increasing number of vacationers
who visit Tuscany do so in hopes of savoring the pace and quality of
Tuscan life, rather than flitting from one eye-popping attraction to
the next, as is common when visiting Rome, Venice, or Tuscany’s own
Leading destinations in Tuscany include Florence, Siena, Pisa
and these famous hill towns: San Gimignano, Cortona, and
the Chianti Hills between Florence and Siena.
Click for our detailed guide to the attractions listed above as
well as other of the
Best Places to Visit in Tuscany
Liguria and the Cinque Terre (Ligurian
The Ligurian Coast is home to the Italian Riviera, one of the most
scenic and appealing sections of the Italian coast, although the Amalfi
in Campania is preferred by some. There are three sections
to the Ligurian Coast and each has a distinctly different flavor.
The Riviera di Ponente is to the west of Genoa and includes the
wonderful, popular, and pricey resorts towns as San Remo and
The central section of the Italian Riviera includes and surrounds
Genoa, a working port that celebrates its
history of navigation and its amazing explorers.
The Riviera Levante to the east of Genoa includes the five scenic
villages nestled within dramatic craggy hillsides and coastline of the
Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is an area
that invites you to hike between the towns and visiting is a treat,
although the villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and
Riomaggiore) can be quite crowded at the peak of summer.
Note that Vernazza and Monterosso were seriously damaged during mud
slides during the floods of October 2011. Rehabilitation continues
in some outlying areas surrounding these towns.
Further north on the Riviera Levante, you will find the storied
resort towns of Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo that are
a popular spots for yachting, luxury vacations and fun in the sun.
For photographs and more detail on the locations mentioned above,
click here for our travel guide to the
best places to visit in Liguria and the Cinque Terre.
Be sure to see the Cathedral (Duomo) and its museum, as well as La Scala
(the world-famous opera house), the impressive Castello Sforzesco and
the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II for fine shopping and dramatic
architecture.. Budget time to see the city's many interesting art
museums, such as the Brera Art Museum and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
If you plan on seeing DaVinci's famous painting The Last
Supper at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you will need to
reserve tickets several weeks in advance to guarantee admission.
Milan is the perfect place to begin on a tour of the majestic
and charming Italian Lakes..
Naples and the Amalfi Coast (Campania)
is one of the most popular regions of Italy, and its attractiveness is largely
manifested along its spectacular scenic coast. If you like hairpin turns, this
is a great coast to drive (unless you are stuck behind a string of tour buses).
For mariners there are numerous boating adventures that let you view this
elegant coastline from the sea, where its beauty is close to overwhelming,
especially near dusk.
- Campania is on most traveler's wish list due to the magnetic attraction
of the picturesque towns of the Amalfi Coast (Amalfi, Ravello, Positano) and
nearby Sorrento. These colorful resort towns, all with winding, narrow
streets, colorful buildings, and fine restaurants crawl from the waters edge
up and into the nearby imposing mountains.
- Campania is, also, famous as the site of Pompeii, the Roman town that
was encapsulated by lava and gases from an eruption of nearby Mount
Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
- Now excavated and in remarkable condition, Pompeii is one of Italy's
most popular attractions.
- If you have want to get away from it all for a relaxing vacation,
consider the lure of the scenic Isle of Capri and its luxury resorts and
spas. Most visitors are day trippers, but the lure of staying on this
enchanting island appeals to many.
- Of course, there are other attractions to fill your time, such as the
wonderful museums in Naples (where you will find most of the treasures from
Pompeii), the well-preserved Greek Temple at Paestum and the island of
Ischia, a lower cost alternative to Capri, although it is somewhat less
Italy's scenic border with the Swiss Alps are several large glacial lakes
nestled into the rolling hills leading to the mountains. The landscape is
beautiful, the shoreline serene and the combination creates an area that is pure
delight. The Italian Lakes are a place to savor. Driving through the
area and slowing for a view will allow you to see a lot, yet miss the best parts
of this peaceful, serene and amazing corner of Italy.
Lake Como is considered by many to have the most beautiful
setting of all the lakes, although Lake Maggiori attracts many visitors to
its Borromean Islands and the gardens of Isola Bella.
Lake Garda is a recreation center and the most popular of the lakes with
Although most of the shoreline of Lake Lugano is in Switzerland, it can
easily be accessed from Italy and benefits from the mix of cultures.
- Often thought of as an alternative to Tuscany, Umbria, which is graced
with beautiful countryside and interesting, fortified hill towns, represents
some of the best travel in Italy. While each town has its artistic and
architectural treasure, the beauty of Umbria is in its simplicity and its
residents leisurely approach to life.
- Popular towns include Perugia, Assisi, Spello and Orvieto. These
are smallish hill towns with interesting architecture, mysterious winding
streets, amazing town halls, wonderful piazzas and amazing churches.
However, the attractions are limited, as are the museums, although we find
them delightful to visit.
- Perhaps it is the pace life, the beauty of the countryside or the
marvelous food, but the ambiance of Umbria will grow on you, if you give it
- Note that the area can be very crowded during the high travel season and
for that reason, we recommend you consider spending a night or two in
one of the hill towns to understand the lure of Umbria.
- Click here for our detailed guide
the best places to visit in Umbria
- Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and was long
considered a strategic stepping stone for those interested in invading
southern Europe. The earliest colonization of the island was by the
Phoenicians, followed by invasions by almost every empire that developed
along the shores of the Mediterranean. The Greeks, Romans, Muslims and
Normans had the greatest historical influence, although modern Sicily is a
mix of numerous cultures.
- Visit Palermo for its spectacular mix of architectures inspired by
the Muslim and Norman conquests.
- Segesta is another must-see location that is known for its large
collection of well-preserved Greek temples.
- More temples and excavations can be found at Selinunte,
although Agrigento (known as the Valley of the Temples) is
world-famous for its unusual collection of excavated Greek Temples.
- Visit the Roman Villa at Casale to view some of the finest
mosaics to be found anywhere in the Mediterranean.
- For a little variety plan on touring the active volcano Mount Etna,
although this is usually a side-visit from the nearby Taormina, a
beautiful town that is one of the most popular resort areas of Sicily.
- If you need more reasons to visit Sicily, then plan to
exploring Siracusa, once the largest city in the Greek Empire, to see
its impressive collection of Greek ruins.
- Those wanting a water adventure and willing to travel a little
further afield might find the scenic Aeolian Isles, just the place
for a summer vacation.
- For photos and details on the locations described above, see our
travel guide to the
best places to visit in Sicily.
Our Highway Map tab above can be used to view Italy as seen from detailed
satellite imagery. It is a great way to "see" the countryside - kind of
like taking a ride in a hot air balloon. We also provide detailed maps of
Milan. In these larger towns you can zoom in on the satellite images
to examine details of the major monuments (which, of course, are marked on our
maps of Italy's major cities).
We have added a Google search bar along the bottom edge of our maps of Italy,
as shown in figure below.
You can enter a term in the search box (for example, hotels, gelato, pizza,
pasta, restaurants or whatever you choose) and Google will search the area
currently shown on the map and return a list of places meeting your
specification, as well as show their location on the map. Try it, as
it is a great way to find your favorite things in the towns you will be
Thinking about a vacation in Italy?
If you need help with itineraries, we suggest
several that might float your
Can you guess which of the best places to visit in
Italy are shown below? Mouse the photo to see the caption and then
Click the photo to see our detailed guide describing it.