BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ITALY – WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO SEE
Wondering about the most beautiful places in Italy and the best places to visit? Then this post is for you! Italy never disappoints – with its stunning sceneries and beautiful little towns and villages, it is one of the most popular countries to visit. If you could visit only one country in Europe… I suggest, it probably should be Italy.
If you are planning your trip and looking for the best places to go then you will find some hidden gems as well as the main tourist places in the country. Travel bloggers share their favorite places in Italy for your bucket list.
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Recommended by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
The five villages of the Cinque Terre are spread across the coastline of the Ligurian Riviera and are often considered one of the best places to visit in Italy.
The easiest way to get around Cinque Terre is by train where each station is only 5 to 10 minutes away. The most scenic one though is either by boat or on foot. There are hiking paths that connect all the villages with dramatic views of the sea.
If you are coming to Cinque Terre from La Spezia, the first village you will see is Riomaggiore. While there don’t forget to check out the Church of San Giovanni Battista, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero, and the castle.
The next village is Manarola – things to see in Manarola are the small port and the church of Saint Lorenzo with the watchtower. From Manarola also starts the most popular trail of the Cinque Terre called Via dell Amore. The next village is Corniglia with cobbled streets, great views over the other villages, and the best gelato shop.
Then comes Vernazza – the most beautiful village of the Cinque Terre. It has a lovely harbor and many narrow streets. One of them leads to the castle from where you can admire breathtaking views. The last and biggest village is Monterosso al Mare. It has a large promenade and a big sandy beach.
A trip to the Cinque Terre is a lifetime experience you should not miss! Find out more travel tips for Cinque Terre here.
Recommended by Tikva from Gezin op Reis
Ravenna (in the northwest of Italy) is one of Italy’s historic cities with 8 buildings inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
It is a small town with lots of charming streets and great food like piada flat bread, sold from hole-in-the-wall shops.
But the main reason to visit is the selection of fantastic mosaics. From 402 to 476 Ravenna, and not Rome, was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and that is one of the reasons why this city is so special. Even before this period, it was always an important and rich harbor town.
One of the best places to visit is the Mausoleum van Galla Placidia and just next to it is the Basilica San Vitale, another one of Ravenna’s gems. Part of the church is also covered in colorful mosaics, with depictions of scenes from the Bible and from life in the Byzantine period.
This is the kind of place where you can just take a seat and look around and continue to find new interesting details.
Known for its airport and its proximity to Milan, Bergamo is actually one of the prettiest cities in Italy.
Whether you spend your time at Citta Alta (Upper Town) or Citta Bassa (Lower Town) – both areas are lovely and beautiful. The upper part might be home to a few more attractions though – whether you visit the Piazza Vecchia with the stunning Piazza Duomo, climb the steps of the Campanone Tower, or walk the Venetian Walls and overlook the pretty city and nice scenery.
Though Bergamo might be small and lesser-known than Milan, it is definitely worth a trip and you can enjoy a hidden gem of Italy.
- Find more pictures of Bergamo and more Bergamo travel tips here.
Recommended by Alana from Family Bites Travel
When in… Florence you must-see art! There are over 60 art galleries and museums in Florence. The most famous gallery is arguably Galleria dell’Accademia. Here you can see Michelangelo’s David and his other works.
Uffizi Gallery is another gallery well worth a visit! Works from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bargello, Giotto, Raphael, Rembrandt (and so on) are housed here. It is a good idea to pre-order your tickets.
The historic center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral square is the most iconic site when you think of this area. The three structures that form the cathedral complex are all beautiful. The real beauty is inside the cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore). The paintings are exquisite and the dome itself is a sight to behold since Florence is so rich in sights and attractions it doesn’t surprise it is one of the best places to visit in Italy.
Recommended by Arzo from Arzo Travels
Lake Como, located in the northern part of Italy, close to Milan and the Swiss border, offers many reasons to visit.
Bellagio, with its famous, cobbled stairway is a must-see place, and you should do a trip to the mountains when at Lake Como. To have a gorgeous mountain view while dining (affordable food), check out Trattoria Baita Belvedere.
More interested in spotting celebrities, or at least houses of celebrities? To see George Clooney´s house, hop on a boat tour on Lake Como – also the best place to chill on a hot summer day at Lake Como. In Como, you can visit Brunate, a small village on the mountain with great views over the lake and Como. Strolling along the lake is another must-do activity for that region.
Check out my Lake Como guide – here is my Bellagio guide and if you are looking for more gorgeous places in and around Lake Como click here.
Recommended by Arzo Travels
There is no place like the Dolomites. The mountain range in the northern part of Italy is one of the most unique places to visit in Italy.
Whether you are looking for breathtaking mountain views, gorgeous lakes, or cute towns – the Dolomites region has it all. The lakes here play in a different league – and while they aren’t big as Lake Garda or Lake Como they are surely just mind-blowing!
Lago di Sorapis, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Carezza are just a few of the stunning lakes and if you think you just need 2-3 days to explore the region I am sorry to disappoint you – this region deserves at least five days of your time. This way you make sure to see the best of the Dolomites!
Recommended by Henriette from Wellness Spots
Many people do not know but in Tuscany, you will find four natural hot springs. One of them, Saturnia’s hot springs, is free of charge to the public.
The water of the thermal baths has a constant temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, so it has a therapeutic and relaxing effect on the body.
Saturnia´s thermal baths originated in the second century BC. According to an ancient legend, the hot springs would originate as a punishment from the god of Saturn. The hot water comes from various sources ranging from Mount Amiata to the hills of Albenga and Fiora to Roselle and Talamone. Well-being in the heart of Tuscany’s pristine nature.
Recommended by Allan from Live Less Ordinary
It can be a coin toss at times between the two northern lakes of Como and Lake Garda, where Como is the quieter while Lake Garda would be the larger and more scenic and dramatic.
There are also umpteen small towns and villages to choose from along the lake’s coastline where I would personally go for the picturesque town of Limone or Sirmione. Sirmione is found on a dividing peninsula on the southern shoreline of Lake Garda, and it is definitely one of the livelier destinations, which can be a bit busy and touristy in the busier months. There is plenty to do in Sirmione which sits snug between the walls of a castle and Roman ruins, and pedestrianized streets are lined with authentic ristorantes, pizzerias, and gelaterias to keep you excited for a long stay.
But it is also convenient to travel to and around Lake Garda, with numerous carparks at the entry of the peninsula, along with boat and ferry services to explore the various towns and villages of the lake.
Lake Garda, with its many little villages and towns along its shores, is a must-see in Italy.
Recommended by Rivka from Radical Traveler
Hidden away in the northern tip of Tuscany is a beautiful green valley that hosts the charming ancient town of Pontremoli.
It is a town of bridges (ponti) that cross the two rivers converging there – the Magra and the Verde. Come into Pontremoli on the train or by car, and you will soon arrive at the ancient piazza in the middle of town. Walk through the narrow lanes and you will find a bridge. As you walk over the bridge, look down at the river, and then up at the castle overlooking the town.
If you are a hiker, take time to hike on the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim road that led from Canterbury all the way to Rome. If you love history, walk up to the castle and check out the museum, which is full of mysterious statues from over 4000 years ago.
And if you love books and writers, check out the annual “Bancarella”, which is a literary festival and book sale that takes place every July. But mostly, come to Pontremoli to breathe. This is a stunningly beautiful town, yet it makes you feel “at home”.
Recommended by Suzanne from Phila Travel Girl
One day on the Amalfi Coast and a day trip to the island of Capri is enough to fall in love with this part of Italy.
That initial “love at first sight” continues nearly twenty years and many visits later. The incredible views of the island are stunning and the serenity of the ride is so very welcome away from the crowds.
Take a local bus along the coastline to the steps leading to the Azure (Blue) Grotto. The uniqueness of this experience is still magic to me with every visit. Shopping is expensive on the island but creating your own perfume is quite the treat and worth the splurge.
Recommended by Arzo from Arzo Travels
Is romantic Venice only for lovebirds? Definitely not. Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and with its colorful houses and many canals, gondolas, and bridges, almost everybody will fall in love with Venice.
Whether you are visiting solo, or with your friends or family, Venice is the perfect destination for a long weekend and a perfect place to go in Italy
The historic buildings and beautiful piazzas make Venice a must-see city, and it is no surprise that it is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Though Venice is not a hidden gem, you can still enjoy quieter days if you do not travel during the peak season in the summer.
Getting lost in the narrow streets of Venice is one of the best things you can do there. Souvenir shopping near Rialto Bridge, or admiring the stunning architecture and buildings, like the Basilica di San Marco, are more fun things to do – and if you like to be a real tourist, definitely enjoy a gondola ride.
- Check out my Venice guide for more information.
Recommended by Arzo Travels
If you are visiting Venice you cannot miss visiting this colorful little island in the Venetian Lagoon north of Venice in Italy.
Burano is a popular tourist destination for its bright candy-colored houses and windows overflowing with colorful flowers which look like they are straight out of a fairytale.
The tradition of coloring houses which started ages ago when fishermen colored their houses to be recognized from the sea has remained the same until this day.
Burano is also famous for lace goods there are numerous shops on the island which sell locally handcrafted lace goods. During the summer you may also find old ladies sitting in front of the house and weaving laces and they may even lend you some lace-making tips.
Also must visit on the island of Burano are the 16th century Church of San Martino with a leaning campanile and Museo del Merletto the museum for the history of lace making in Burano.
- Check out my quick guide on Burano for more tips.
Recommended by Sam from The Sparrow Files
Naples has been relatively immune to the influx of tourists despite its proximity to Pompeii – yet it is worth visiting.
Explore the famous Pompeii ruins, climb Mount Vesuvius and enjoy the coastline of Southern Italy it’s also got plenty of its own things to see and do.
The Naples Archeological Museum is a vast attraction, full of many exhibits that explain life in Italy and Naples. It also holds many of the objects from key archeological sites like Pompeii for their protection, so it’s worth combining with a trip to the ruins. The Cattedrale di San Gennaro rises tall above the tiny side streets filled with mopeds, a wonderful example of gothic architecture and free to enter.
The most fascinating place to visit might be Napoli Sotterranea, an incredible underground tour 40 meters below ground and the foundation of Neopolis from 2400 years ago. See a Greek-Roman aqueduct, WWII bomb shelters, and the remains of a Roman Theatre and get an insight into Naples from an archaeological, historical, anthropological, and geological point of view.
Recommended by Margherita from The Crowded Planet
Milan is often thought to be grey, boring and business-like, and not considered as one of the most beautiful places in Italy. However, nothing could be further from the truth!
There are so many places to see in Milan, and the most interesting ones are away from the center. With so many people recommending the usual Milan places like Duomo, Navigli, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, there are also some unusual Milan destinations!
Visit Isola, not far from Garibaldi station. It still has the ‘Old Milan’ atmosphere, combining it with modernity – you see traditional family-run shops right next to street art pieces and ramen shops, for example.
Not far from Isola, is Chinatown – this area, traditionally home to the Chinese community, is now becoming a vibrant creative, and multicultural hub. Finally, there’s another place in Milan is Cimitero Monumentale. It’s Milan’s most beautiful cemetery, a real open-air museum.
Recommended by Arzo Travels
Looking for another Italian hidden gem? Then head to Northern Italy and visit the stunning and authentic city of Trento.
I had never heard of this town before but the minute I set foot in the old town of Trento I was in love. Hardly any other city feels as authentic as Trento – stroll the pretty old town with the many colorful and pretty buildings, enjoy views from the mountains close by and enjoy La Dolce Vita in Bella Italy.
While you will find a few other visitors, it is still not overrun – a perfect place for people who look for more off-the-beaten paths in Italy.
- Find out about the best places in Trento and Trentino here.
Recommended by Tracey and Rob from The Expat Experiment
Montepulciano is a gorgeous Medieval hilltop town in the Southern Tuscan province of Siena. Only one hour and 30 minutes South of Florence we believe it should be on every traveler’s Italy bucket list.
The best way to see and eat the best of Montepulciano is to stroll its main street, Il Corso. Stunning facades with the most beautiful doors and inviting shops filled with Murano Glass, ceramics, and many other Italian treasures line the cobbled walkway.
Begin your climb pausing regularly to take in the breathtaking vistas. Watch for La Botegga Di Pinocchio– a treasure trove filled with all things Pinocchio! Explore the exquisite selection of art galleries and artisan shops.
You’ll be rewarded when you finally reach the summit, the Piazza Grande. Take the stairs to the top of The Town Hall for sweeping views of the historic town and stunning surrounding area.
Recommended by Divyakshi from the Quirky Wanderer
San Gimignano is that idyllic place that would make you want to rent a villa and stay there for a long, long time.
The lush green vineyards spread over the picturesque countryside landscapes are a photographer’s delight which makes it one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
As you enter the town, you are welcomed with flowers mushrooming out of nowhere on both sides of the cobbled streets and quaint houses with windows adorned with flowerbeds.
Cars aren’t allowed in the main center, so you can walk at ease and see the stone towers built around the Piazza akin to castles! It is like each tower is competing with the other! The walk on the streets reminds you of being in a medieval village straight out of a fairy tale and all the gothic architecture is proof of that! Walk around the main square of the city, the Piazza Della Cisterna: The area is full of lovely shops selling ceramics and hand-made soaps. Visit the Museum San Gimignano 1300: which showcases a brilliant ceramic representation of how the town looked in the medieval ages.
Taste gelato at the famous Gelateria Dondoli (which serves innovative gelato flavors), indulge in a wine tour with the Vernaccia Wine Museum, and sample the local biscotti!
Recommended by Nicola from Nicola Dunkinson
Otranto is on the coast in the region of Puglia – Stroll around the fortified old town, swim in the crystal clear ocean and stop for gelato while watching the world go by.
Visit Grotta Della Poesia, which is a 30-minute drive from Otranto. The beautiful turquoise plunge pool looks so inviting – jump in 15 feet off of the cliff edge or scramble down the steps if you don’t feel so brave. The natural sinkhole is connected to the ocean and is a popular swimming spot with locals and tourists.
Back in Otranto be sure to visit the cathedral in the old town which is beautiful inside and out. Standing since the 10th century the walls are adorned with stunning works of art and the mosaic-tiled floor is incredible. You can also view the bones of Otranto’s 813 martyrs who stood up to the Turkish invasion in the 1400s.
Beach time is a must in Otranto, although a bit on the pricey side, for a treat visit one of the beach Lidos. Views of the old town and harbor make this part of the beach simply blissful and the sparkling, turquoise water is calm and shallow.
Recommended by Wendy from Travel Drink Dine
The little town is filled with colorful abodes, that appear seamless with the hills they nestle up against which makes it one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
There are two beaches in Positano, each providing sun lounges, and a food and drinks service. Spiaggia Grande is the main and very busy beach, with the backdrop of Positano’s village above.
On the other hand, is Fornillo Beach – Fornillo is a cozier spot and has a secret beach feel as its entrance is through a small cave. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta sits right in the center of Positano. The Emerald Grotto is a small cave that gets an amazing iridescent green hue from light filtration. It’s not only famous for its emerald color but for the interesting features of the cave itself due to the stalagmites. Oddly, you can also see just below the water surface, some statues of a nativity scene.
Hiking the path of gods is a great way to take in the scenery whilst enjoying a physical pursuit. The path starts in Nocelle, not far from Positano, and finishes in Bomerano. You will be rewarded for your effort though, with stunning views as you walk along.
Recommended by Angela from Chasing the Unexpected
Beautiful, fascinating, and able to charm the most demanding traveler, Catania is always in high demand in Sicily’s itineraries for its architecture, history, and beautiful natural landscape nestled between the sea and one of Europe’s largest and most active volcanoes, Mount Etna.
So, of course, it is one of the best places to go in Italy. Of Roman origins, the city dates back mainly to 1693. Destroyed nine times by as many earthquakes, it was rebuilt as many times, the latest being in the late 17th century when a terrible earthquake razed it to the ground.
Since then, Catania’s historic center has been glowing with noble palaces and churches gathered in an extraordinary architectural interplay that UNESCO enlisted among the World Heritage Sites. When in Catania, your first step must be Piazza del Duomo with “O Liotru”.
Other than that, visit its colorful open markets, walk through stunning streets like the central Via Etnea, a scenic road that begins from Piazza del Duomo lined with the majestic Baroque buildings of local architects Vaccarini and Battaglia, and go on an excursions to the volcano Etna organized by local guides.
Recommended by Katy from Untold Morsels
Sitting high on a hill in southern Tuscany, Pienza was designed as the ideal Renaissance city by an ambitious pope.
Today Pienza is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage and is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy with cobbled streets and piazzas, an impressive Duomo, and several grand palazzos.
Shuttered windows look down on colorful flower pots lining its streets, many of which have lovelorn names like Via del Bacio (Kiss Street). The town’s strategic position overlooking the Val D’Orcia also means the views from almost every point along the city walls are spectacular.
Palazzo Piccolomini was the home of two popes and is worth a visit to discover more about the town’s history, an impressive garden as well as the best views of the surrounding countryside. You should also take a peek inside the impressive cathedral next door.
If you go to Pienza in the fall you can take part in the town’s annual harvest festivals. The most famous of these is the cheese rolling event in late September.
Recommended by Asher from Asher & Lyric
Costa Smeralda is on Sardinia, which is one of the most beautiful islands in the whole Mediterranean Sea. With pristine white-sand beaches and magical turquoise water, it’s a beach lover’s paradise.
Two of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Smeralda are Spiaggia del Grande Pevero and Spiaggia del Principe. Both beaches will take your breath away and are the ideal place to relax with friends or family (they’re kid-friendly).
If you want more privacy and access to some “secret” beaches then venture over to Baia Sardinia (about 10 mins drive) and try Spiaggia Tre Monti where a short walk via nature trails will lead you to some gorgeous little beaches with fewer people.
Another very interesting attraction is only 20 mins away: the ancient ruins of Nuraghe la Prisgiona. There are about 100 ruined buildings in a small village that date back to around 1000 B.C. It’s a remarkably fascinating place to visit with very nicely presented info.
Lastly, if you enjoy hiking then there are some incredible hikes such as at Monte Pinu which is the highest peak in the area and offers 360-degree views.
Recommended by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
Those who make the effort of going all the way to Cagliari find themselves in a beautiful city that hasn’t been spoiled by a large number of tourists and where there is a wonderful local feel.
Libarium bar and terrace is the perfect place to admire the sunset. Castello is also where Cagliari Cathedral is located, as well as the three watchtowers. Porta di San Pancrazio is open to the public and visitors can go all the way to the top for a spectacular view.
Not far from Castello there is a gorgeous Roman amphitheater where there occasionally are concerts in the summer months. La Marina and Stampace are the most lively areas of the center, as they are packed with restaurants and bars. San Giovanni has seen a lot of renovation in recent years and it is a great area to go for an afternoon walk and to admire the colorful buildings, as well as for shopping.
Cagliari also has a few lovely beaches which are within easy reach via public transportation from the city center.
Recommended by Leah from The Kid BucketList
With the incredible Rocca Antica castle at the top of the hamlet, the village cascades down the hill to the 1700s built Villa Garzoni and its incredible gardens.
Collodi was the home of one of Italy’s most cherished writers, Carlo Lorenzini, who took the pen name Carlo Collodi in honor of the village. He was, of course, the creator of Pinocchio!
If you travel to Collodi you can visit the original Pinocchio Park, a whimsical delight full of mazes, puppet theatres, and an adventure route for the older kids (and adults). It is here that the story of Pinocchio comes to life.
Of course, Collodi also offers more than just nostalgic gestures for its much-loved wooden boy. The Garzoni Garden is reputed to be one of the most beautiful gardens in the entire country and features divine flowerbeds, manicured walkways, and ornamented baroque wonders that will charm you as you wander around. Here are more places to visit in Tuscany.
Recommended by May from Maya Maceka
Trieste is a city unlike any other in Italy. Tucked away on the northeastern coast, this beautiful Italian port city straddles the border of Slovenia and sits only 45 minutes away from Croatia.
With beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Sea and architecture reminiscent of Vienna, Trieste has a lot to offer.
Spend a few hours wandering through the Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia, or snap a few photos of the Castello di Miramare, a beautiful white castle overlooking the sea. And learn more about the history of the area by visiting the Civico Musea Della Risiera di San Sabba.
Not only is the city home to the world-famous Illy brand, but it also houses several literary cafes. As it turns out, Trieste was home to some famous Italian writers.
Locals and visitors alike flock to the Lungomare, a beautiful beach promenade on the Adriatic. It’s the perfect place to swim, have a picnic and join in the party during one of the many summer festivals.
Recommended by Michelle from Intentional Travelers
The Etruscan Coast, between Livorno and Piombino, boasts beautiful rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, and charming villages that you probably associate with Tuscany.
But the sunny, sandy beaches and ocean vistas make it even more spectacular. Though vacationers flock to the beach towns for the summer sun, and bicycle tours cycle through regularly, the area still feels relatively undiscovered and uncrowded.
Top things to do on the Etruscan Coast include cycling from town to town or exploring the hilltop villages on foot.
Recommended by Nathan from Foodie Flashpacker
Everyone knows about the famous must-see Leaning Tower when you visit Pisa. But, there are lots of other great things to see and do.
The grounds of the Piazza dei Miracoli where the Leaning Tower is located are gorgeous. And although it’s not as famous as other Italian duomos the Duomo de Pisa is gorgeous as well.
You should also make sure to admire the impressive architecture of the Battistero. It’s possible during your visit to hear singers on the inside, showing off the impressive acoustics of the building.
As you’re strolling around the city be sure to make your way through Sant’Antonio square and look for the huge mural by Keith Haring known as “Tuttomondo”. It’s one of the hidden gems found in Pisa! Also, make sure to stroll along the Ponte di Mezzo for impressive views of the famous river Arno.
- Tip: Check out my 1-day Pisa itinerary.
Recommended by Arzo from Arzo Travels
If I had to name my favorite city in Italy, the place I would like to live in, then it would be Verona.
For some reason, no blog post and no picture prepared me for the beauty of this city. And so I just planned one day in Verona which I still regret – Verona has it all and deserves more than just a few hours of your time.
Small and easily walkable but still stuffed with amazing attractions and beautiful places…Yes, Verona is a beauty and one of the places to add to every Northern Italy itinerary. Check out the several piazzas, enjoy views from the Torre dei Lamberti, visit Juliet´s balcony, or enjoy the beautiful architecture in Verona.
- For more info, just head to my one-day Verona itinerary.
Recommended by Arzo from Arzo Travels
Last but not least… let’s talk about Rome in this post.
Could a list of “The Best Places to See in Italy” be complete without Rome in it? I highly doubt it. Though I feel that Rome does not need a lot of description, I cannot help but still offer a few words on beautiful Rome.
History combined with charm. Rome does more than just present ancient history – visiting Rome will be fun and exciting.
The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain – these are just some of the amazing sights Rome is home to and which you have to check out. Lovely and lively quarters, like Trastevere, are just some of the reasons to put Rome at the top of your bucket list. Also, in this post. is just a stone’s throw away (well, actually, the mini-state is located in the middle of Rome), and so a day trip to a different country is simple!
- Read about a “Rome 2-day itinerary” in this post.
CONCLUSION: MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN ITALY
Italy is so rich in gorgeous, breathtaking places – I admit, it is not easy to choose just some of the most beautiful places in Italy, However, I hope, this post has inspired you to add some of the places to your Italy bucket list because Italy is truly a unique country to visit.
Looking for some more off-the-beaten-path-places in Italy? Then check out my post with the most underrated places in Italy.