Amazing & Epic to do in the Dolomites, Italy

Best things to do in the Dolomites, Italy

PLACES TO VISIT IN THE DOLOMITES IN 7 DAYS – WHERE TO & WHAT TO DO

Headed to Dolomites in Italy? I am jealous. The Dolomites are amazing.

And even though, I envy you, I am sharing some tips with you, on the best things to do in the Dolomites. While Northern Italy has a lot of beautiful places to visit, the Dolomites are one of the most interesting.

When I finally visited the Dolomites – mainly because I wanted to see a few lakes #ChasingLakes – I was in love. But the Dolomites are not only abut the lakes. I mean, look at those mountains… And let’s not to forget the towns and cities in the region. In a few words: The Dolomites are breathtaking.

The Dolomite mountain range in Italy is one of the most beautiful outdoor destinations in Europe. In 2009, they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

They are located in the northeastern part of Italy, within the provinces of Belluno, South Tyrol, and Trentino. Known as the “Pale Mountains,” they are famous for skiing in the winter, and mountain climbing, hiking, BASE jumping, and cycling in the warmer seasons.

In this post, you will find out about the best things to do in the Dolomites, the best places to visit and top activities. There will also be travel tips, whether you arrive by car or public transportation. You can also use this post as a Dolomites itinerary for up to 7 days.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

MAP OF PLACES TO SEE IN THE DOLOMITES

TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE YOUR DOLOMITES ITINERARY

Here are some main travel tips for your trip to the Dolomites – incl. tips on how to get around in the Dolomites, where to stay and more!

Where to Stay

I visited this region twice; once for 5 days (then going to Lake Garda, Venice, and Verona) and came back afterwards and spent 4 days then.

My advice is to plan very carefully where you stay. It doesn’t matter if you drive or use public transportation, it takes a long time to get from one place to another – driving 40km takes about 2 hours because the roads are narrow and winding.

It can be really time-consuming to travel in this area, so stay at two different locations if you are visiting for 3 or more nights.

I suggest staying in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Toblach (both are close together and you could stay in just one, but it helps to have two separate places to stay on a longer trip) or Misurina.

Hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo/ Toblach / Misurina 

Cristallo Hotel is the best luxury hotel in the town – it is part of the Luxury Collections Resort and located close to the town center of Cortina. Click here to find out about rates for the luxury hotel.

Hotel Montana – I changed hotels spontaneously and booked a night in Cortina at this hotel. My arrival was a bit disappointing but once the receptionist and I solved the issues, I really liked it. The breakfast was quite good and I liked the location (and it is great value for money). Click here to find out rates for Hotel Montana.

Hotel Sorapiss is a well-rated medium-priced hotel near Lake Sorapis (and so a good base). Find out more about prices and availability here.

Hotel Lago di Braies – If you want to stay near Lago Braies (also a good choice) then Hotel Lago di Braies is perfect if you like staying next to the lake (with all the perks that come with it, like enjoying the lake early in the morning when no one else is around). Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Hotel Lago di Braies

How to Get Around

During the high seasons, public transportation is best.

You can usually get a hotel card/guest card that you can use to get around on public transportation, and it doesn’t cost extra. I actually get motion sickness when riding on a bus in the mountains, so I drove myself from Germany to Italy with my little dog. 

Best places to visit in the Dolomites

Keep in mind that in Northern Italy, the streets are better than many other places in the country, but the mountain roads are very narrow. Drivers go fast and often cut you off. Driving is challenging, though not as much as in southern Italy. I did not like driving here as much as in Switzerland, even though it is also very mountainous. It just didn’t feel as safe. 

There are also tolls. Most streets are free, but at times on the highways, you will have to pay a toll. It’s about 9€ per 100 km. 

Unfortunately, gas in Italy is some of the most expensive in Europe. You’ll see prices that are at least 1.50-1.60 euros per liter. I even saw 1.85€ per liter! Not even Switzerland is that expensive.

So, whether you decide on road tripping the Dolomites or using public transportation – in this case, none is something I 100% recommend but I think, after all, it is better to road trip the Dolomites.

Best Time to Visit

I think, the best not to visit in the summer months because it is hot and also the peak season, particularly in July and August. I visited in September and totally loved it. It was not crowded, the weather was warm, and the hotel prices were not too high. May, June, September, and October are the best months to visit. Restaurants/activities run during that time and you can do all the top things which you might not be able to do in the colder months.

I wouldn’t advise visiting any later than October because shops and roads may be closed as it gets closer to winter. 

More Travel Tips for the Dolomites

In the Dolomites, there are actually three different languages spoken: German, Italian, and Ladin (the local dialect). Many places have two, or even three, names. But you should be able to get by on basic English, too. 

Personally, I think the Dolomites offer good value for the money compared to other European countries, like Switzerland and Austria. You get to see a lot for your money, the food isn’t as expensive, and the accommodations are not as pricey as in other parts of central Europe.

THINGS TO DO IN THE DOLOMITES IN 7 DAYS

Okay, let´s get started with the of the most beautiful places and the best things to do in the Dolomites. As you can see, you can easily exchange the days and activities and aren’t stuck to a certain route. 

Day 1 in the Dolomites

Okay, if you arrive in the Dolomites you can head to your first place – depending on your base, it might take a while to get there but it will be worth it.

Lago di Carezza 

To start out your trip in the Dolomites, visit the tiny, yet stunning, Val d’Ega Valley. Full of charming villages and colorful Lake Carezza, this is the perfect place to begin and one of my top tips for things to do in the Dolomites.

Dolomites mountain lakes, Lago di Carezzza

While I adore Lake Carezza for its unique beauty, it can be time-consuming to reach. It is a mountain lake, so it takes a while, and there are multiple speed cams, so watch out for them. 

But once you are there, it will not take long to walk around, about 10-15 minutes. There are a lot of benches and fast food shops if you want to picnic and relax.

You can also hike in the Rose Garden. Legend has it that the Dwarf king kidnapped a princess, and when her rescuer arrived and trampled the rose garden, the king cursed it, turning it to stone. There are numerous hikes available for you to choose from.

This will probably take about 2-8 hours in total (without the hiking in the Rose Garden but getting there if you stay in the Dolomites).  

P.S: One of my readers told me she was a bit disappointed because it seemed trees around the lake were cut back and it does not look as it does in my pictures. My pictures are not photoshopped, so this is how I experienced this beautiful lake area.However, I did some research and apparently, there was a wild storm that had a negative impact on the trees and surroundings, so keep that in mind.

The lake is surely no hidden gem (unlike Lake Pianozes) but it is just so pretty…. Find my detailed guide for Lake Carezzo here.

Day 2 in the Dolomites

For the second day, you can plan to visit this incredible lake and do some “town sightseeing”.

Lago di Braies

Seeing South Tyrol in one week wouldn’t be complete without spending some time at Lago di Braies. Depending on how much time you have on day 1, I suggest visiting this stunning lake on the same day as Lake Carezza if you arrive early that day.

Lago di Braies, best mountain lkae in South Tyrol

Lago di Braies is one of the most famous spots in the Dolomites, and is considered the most beautiful lake in the region.

You can get here by bus or car. There is a parking area right in front. Hiking around the lake only takes about two hours, which is why you can easily fit it in on the same day as Lake Carezza. If you like, you can plan in some more time for a picnic meal. This stunning lake will definitely be a highlight of your trip.

Here is my detailed Lago di Braies guide.

Cortina d’Ampezzo

If you are looking to take one of the best tours of the Dolomites, staying in Cortina d’Ampezzo will give you plenty to see and also serve as a base when visiting other locations. It is known as one of Italy’s most famous and fashionable ski resorts. It’s also quite expensive.

When I visited, I stayed overnight in the city center, but did not have time to do much sightseeing. But if I had a full day, I would spend it wandering the streets and taking in the pretty buildings and the town’s unique personality.

If you’re interested in some history, you can take a guided tour up to a rebuilt encampment that the Italians held during the First World War. They attempted to overtake Cortina, but met with local resistance that held them back for three years.

This is a great base for visiting Lago di Sorapis and Drei Zinnen/Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Day 3 in the Dolomites

For the third day, you can plan to visit this incredible lake.

Lago di Sorapis

This lake is one of the most unique in all of Europe. It reminded me of the gorgeous lakes in Canada (though I have not seen those lakes in real life).

Lago di Sorapis, best things to see in the Dolomites

For Lago di Sorapis, I would suggest planning to spend the whole day. The lake is located in a remote area of the mountains and requires a hike. But it is worth the trouble as one of the most beautiful places in the Dolomites. 

There are two hiking paths that you can choose from, one easy and one difficult. I chose the difficult one on accident and it was very strenuous. So, I would suggest taking the easier one and saving your energy for enjoying the lake.

You should bring your own drinks and food, as there are not many places there for you to buy some. Also, the refuges/restrooms might not be open. even with my own negative experiences (I was not prepared for such a difficult hike with a little dog), I consider hiking here as one of the best things to do.

Find out more about my hike to Lago Sorapis here.

Day 4 in the Dolomites

One of the most beautiful surprises was this place – so, I also suggest it for your Dolomites itinerary.

Ortisei / Sankt Ulrich

If this is part of a Dolomites road trip, make sure you stop in Ortisei. Located within Val Gardena, this small village is extremely beautiful and colorful and I must say, it is one of the most beautiful places in the Dolomites.

Northern Italy what to visit, Urtisei

I loved it! It is known for its craftsmanship and wooden sculptures, but also as a great holiday destination. However, I loved the colorful houses and a peaceful atmosphere. Awww, maybe I was just lucky with the perfect weather but I seriously liked it for a day!

Wherever you are in Ortisei, you have a view of the mountains and despite being a small town, I advise spending a full day here.

Take a hike to St. Jacob’s Church and enjoy the great views (you can also take a bus almost all the way up and do a minimum of hiking). Though not the most famous place, I think, it is a must for any Dolomites itinerary.

Day 5 in the Dolomites

This hike is a highlight for many Dolomites visitors – and whether you enjoy hiking or not, visiting this national park is a must-see. If you have only 5 days in the Dolomites you are then probably well set with all the tips.

Drei Zinnen/ Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Visiting the Drei Zinnen should be a priority.  Drei Zinnen, a.k.a.Tre Cime di Lavaredo will also require a full day as it is time-consuming to reach.

Northern Italy best places to see

Tre Cime di Lavaredo is made up of three mountains that reach almost 300 meter high. When the Dolomites were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, these three peaks became its symbol.

I didn’t do the entire hike because I was with my dog, who was too tired.

Tip: I didn’t notice any water fountains, so make sure you bring your own food and water. Also, the refugios and restrooms were not that clean, despite having to pay for them.

Downside: If you get here by your own car, you have to pay a 30€ entry fee/toll. So, when you travel solo to the Dolomites, as I did, I was a bit annoyed (also, because all posts actually said it “only” costs 25€). But the mountains, the views, and the scenery were gorgeous and well worth it.

Day 6 in the Dolomites

If you have more than 5 days in the Dolomites, one of your days could be wonderfully spent in the capital of South Tyrol.

Bolzano

As the capital of South Tyrol, Bolzano is one of the best places to visit in the Dolomites. With tons of cultural, historic, and natural sights, you won’t want to pass this city up.

Best places to visit in the Dolomites, Bolzano

There are so many interesting things to see here that you will definitely need a full day. In the city center, you will find the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which has an exhibit for the oldest skeleton ever found, a Neolithic mummy called Ötzi the Iceman. I didn’t have a chance to visit this, but it would have been interesting.

The Mareccio Castle is not very imposing but really beautiful. You should definitely make a stop there. Or you could stroll around the Duomo di Bolzano, which is a cathedral that was done in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles.

If you prefer shopping, there is a daily market at the Piazza della Erbe. There were lots of spices, vegetables, and fruits being sold and it was a lively scene. You can also visit the old town, take a stroll by the rover, or take the funiculars up to the mountain peaks for some hiking.

Read more: The most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites

Day 7 in the Dolomites

I have to say, that even though I stayed in the Dolomites for more than 7 days, I did not manage to visit the last tip – however, I think, it is a good place to visit and I wish I had done so because I do think, that visiting is one of the best things to do in the Dolomites.

Alp Seis/Alpe di Siusi

I did not actually have a chance to visit Alp Seis when I was in the Dolomites, but from what I’ve seen in pictures, it is surely one of the best day trips in the Dolomites.

You’ll want to plan in one full day for this destination.

This high-altitude alpine pasture is popular year round. Skiers love it in the winter, but summer and even spring and autumn are ideal for hiking. Located in the Castelrotto municipality, this picturesque plain is full of history, and you can explore castles, ruins, and churches while here.

If you have a day left or decide to skip of my awesome suggestions 🙂 then you could do a day trip to one of these gorgeous places (though more driving included).

Lake Garda – here are the best towns to visit at Lake Garda (and it is not far from the Dolomites).

CONCLUSION: A FUN ITINERARY WITH TOP THINGS TO DO IN THE DOLOMITES

The Dolomites Mountains are a unique and stunning destination in northern Italy and I hope this post has given you a good idea about the best things do in the Dolomites. Driving in the Dolomites wasn’t always fun (these narrow mountain streets just not my favorite streets) but I enjoyed my Dolomites itinerary and all the beautiful places. You won’t be disappointed when you see the beautiful scenery, culture, and history that make up this Italian jewel.

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Things to do in Dolomites, itinerary, Arzo Travels

Safe Travels, Arzo

MOST EPIC THINGS TO DO IN CINQUE TERRE IN 2 DAYS – ITINERARY

Italy, Cinque Terre what to do and see in one day or two days

MOST EPIC CINQUE TERRE ITINERARY FOR 2 DAYS

Cinque Terre could not be more photogenic – its beautiful towns are just picture perfect and so it doesn’t surprise it is a popular place to visit. 

So, are you planning your Cinque Terre itinerary and wondering how to spend your 2 days in Cinque Terre?

Then this post hopefully comes to the right time as I am sharing my travel tips for Cinque Terre. Find out about what to do, where to go and more travel tips.

Cinque Terre has taken over Instagram – and truth be told, this pretty locale in Italy looks as beautiful in real life as it does in the pictures.

It is extremely picturesque, of course, but you can do more than just look at pretty houses sitting on a hill here. Sounds good? Then keep reading and find out more about this extraordinary, beautiful place.

PIN ME FOR LATER – THINGS TO DO IN CINQUE TERRE

Cinque Terre itinerary and travel tips. things to do and see in only one day or two days. Italy

Travel Tips for Your 2 Days in Cinque Terre Trip 

Cinque Terre has surely some of the most beautiful towns in Liguria – the Italian Riviera and though Cinque Terre had been on my bucket list forever, it took a while before I finally visited myself.

Here is what I have found out and what I think, is worth to share with you for your 2-day trip.

WHAT OR WHERE IS CINQUE TERRE?

Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five different villages make up Cinque Terre – okay, if you speak French or Italian, you could have guessed that from the name.

This string of five towns on the Italian Riviera in Liguria is famous for its colorful seaside houses (people would call it Instagrammable these days) and a great combination of relaxed Italian village life and some outdoor activities, like swimming and hiking.

Many compare it to the Amalfi Coast in Italy (which I haven’t visited yet), and what many people agree on is that Cinque Terre is the better choice if you want to hike.

Each of the five villages is perched along the Ligurian Coast, in the northwestern part of Italy. And thanks to Instagram lately, this area, with its rocky beaches, hiking trails, olive trees, and vineyards, has become extremely popular and is one of Italy´s main tourist destinations.

The Cinque Terre is a National Park and Protected Marine Area that was recognized in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, allowing for some beautiful hikes along the coast and inland.

HOW LONG TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE?

Honestly, as pretty as it is,Cinque Terre in 2 days is actually enough. Actually, 1,5 days is fine, too. I wanted to stay three full days but left early on my third day.

Though I am normally the first to say, “embrace the place and stay an extra day,“ half of the second day of the itinerary is actually a half day trip.

This itinerary will give you tips on what to see in 1 or 2 days. You can, of course, adjust it to your own needs, but the info should help you get a better idea of what is actually doable and – to me – especially worth visiting and doing.

Cinque Terre, the best and beautiful places to visit in Corniglia (1 von 1)

HOW TO GET TO CINQUE TERRE?

Cinque Terre is easy to reach from cities like Milan, Florence, Turin, Pisa, and Genoa, all of which have international airports.

From there, you can take a train (Italian public transportation is surprisingly good) to La Spezia, a major port in Liguria, which is located just before the first village of Cinque Terre.

You cannot really drive in Cinque Terre (if you see accommodations offering free parking in Cinque Terre, you should know it is quite far from the villages) and need to take a train (or hike).

So, you take the train from La Spezia to Levanto. 

Trains run regularly (2-3 an hour), and in less than 10 minutes, you will have reached the first village of Cinque Terre.

Coming from La Spezia, you will reach the most southern village first. You will arrive at them in this order:

1) Riomaggiore 

2) Manarola

3) Corniglia

4) Vernazza 

5) Monterossa 

Prices: A train ticket is about 4€ – regardless to which of the five villages you travel to. However, you cannot get in and out with one ticket. If you want to get out once, you will need a new ticket if you continue on your journey.

You can buy the Cinque Terre Card that includes unlimited train rides (and bus rides, which is an alternative to the train) and also some other perks (like using the toilet at the train stations for free and a hiking pass). 

It is about 16€ for one day, 2 days is 29€.

The Cinque Terre Card for 7,50€ is only for hiking and some other services, like using the toilets at the stations for free.

There are discounts for families, kids, etc.

Where to buy train tickets: You need to buy your tickets at the station or online. However, I would buy them at the station. There is staff there to help you with questions. You can either pay by card or cash at the vending machine (different main languages are available, including English, Arabic, and German) or pay cash when buying tickets at the cashier.

Validate: ALWAYS validate your ticket, even if you have just bought your ticket with a time period from the cashier or the machine. Put your ticket into the machine (even if the slot is bigger than your ticket, just put it in until you hear it being stamped and see it on the ticket).

Getting from La Spezia to Riomaggiore takes just 8 minutes, and to Monterossa, it just takes 20 minutes total. As you can see, the villages are really close to each other.  Here is more information on traveling to and within Cinque Terre by train.

Where to Park if Coming With a Car:  So, if you arrive by car, you will need to park your car somewhere in La Spezia. Unless you stay inland, you will not be able to use your car (and believe me, you don’t want that).

There is some free parking. I parked near the Museo Navale (if you stand in front of it, there is some free parking to the left) for two nights and then for two nights in 500 meters from the train station and it was fine. However, there is also paid parking, so please double-check if there is a parking machine or any signs that tell you to pay).

There are also parking houses, but really, if you can park for free, then do that. Just don’t leave any valuables on display in your car, and your car should be safe.

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HOW TO GET AROUND

Getting from town to town is very easy and there are three ways to do it: foot, train, and ferry.

ON FOOT – When I travel, this is my favorite way to get around (except for boats… I love getting around via boats). 

So, there are four hikes, from one village to the next.

However, when I visited, three out of the four coastal hiking routes (BLUE  PATH) were closed. There are other hiking trails open, but they are less scenic and take (apparently) longer. So, instead of a 5-hour hike, you can expect to hike for 8 or 9 hours (all hikes combined).

Cinque Terre what to do in 1 day, Monterosso (1 von 1)

I hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza and it was the only trail that was open. It included scenic views of the ocean and a lot of steps – a lot! 

Normally, if two or more trails are open, you will need to buy a Cinque Terre Card, which is a hiking pass that gives you access to the trails for 7.50€. There are checkpoints, so you cannot get around these passes. Ask at the train station and purchase them there (for 16€, you can also use the trains for one day).

Also, the easiest and most popular hiking trail (from Riomaggiore to Maranola) is closed for another two or three years according to a staff member, but no one really knows. Trails can close without advance notice due to weather conditions or maintenance.

The trails, which are not along the coast, can be an alternative for those who still want to hike. I was very upset that I could not hike all the way, but also could not be bothered with the less scenic hikes that were more inland.

Cinque Terre hiking in 1 day Monterosso

Duration will vary depending on fitness level, but here is what is said:

The whole Blue Path hike, if all trails are open from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, is about 11km and should take about 5 hours.

  • Monterosso – Vernazza: 2 hours (3.6 km)
  • Vernazza – Corniglia: 1.5 hours (3.4 km)
  • Corniglia – Manarola: 1.25 hours (2.9 km)
  • Manarola – Riomaggiore (“Lover’s lane”) – 30 minutes (1.1 km),  this easy Cinque Terre walk is closed for longer

If needed, you could hike all of the trails in one day, but if you have the time, I would recommend splitting them up so that you have time to explore the towns between trails.

I have read very different opinions about which one is supposed to be the most beautiful. In the end, it just comes down to your personal taste. Here is some info on all five villages and you can decide for yourself which ones to visit and which one is your favorite.

BY TRAIN – The Cinque Terre train stops in each Cinque Terre town, runs 2-3 times per hour, and is the quickest way to get between towns (4-6 minutes between each one).

If you plan on both hiking AND taking the train, purchase the Cinque Terre Train Card, which is the same as above except that it also allows for unlimited train travel within Cinque Terre. You can check the timetable here.

BY FERRY – If you visit between the end of March and the beginning of November, another option is to take the ferry, which offers coastal views of the towns! 

Only Corniglia (which is in the middle of all five villages) is not accessible by ferry.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE?

Vernazza is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, in my humble opinion. It was my favorite of the five towns: it is the best village in Cinque Terre, is mid-sized (smaller than Monterosso, but busier and livelier than the other three), and is somewhat centrally located (second from the north). Click here to get the rates for hotels in Vernazza.

I stayed in Riomaggiore for two nights and was a bit disappointed. Everyone has a different opinion, but it was not my favorite village, most likely because it seemed that many areas were closed to visitors (probably due to the time of my visit – more on that below).

I wanted to book a place in Vernazza, but I booked my accommodation two days in advance and all hotels that allowed dogs and were not too expensive were fully booked by then (even though it was low season!).

Here is the hotel I stayed at – check out rates and prices here. The location was okay, it did not come with any great views, but it was easy to reach from the train station and the room was quite big Italian standards. Coffee, juices, and sweets were free.

My hotel in Riomaggiore was fine, however, I would choose differently if visiting Cinque Terre again. So, I would stay probably in Vernazza or Maranola.

If you are on a budget, I actually recommend staying in La Spezia. After two nights in Cinque Terre, I booked a hotel in La Spezia for two nights and used it as a base to get around and see other places in Cinque Terre (like Porto Verene). Click here to find the best hotel in La Spezia.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore best things to do

BEST TIME TO VISIT CINQUE TERRE?

I visited at the end of March. It was great on the one hand and not so great on the other. Let me explain that a bit more.

Italy is one of the most popular places for tourists worldwide. It is always busy, but summertime is really crazy. 

Never visit Italy between July and August. Ideally, do not visit between June and late September. There will be crowds – crazy crowds, like really crazy crowds. Also, it will be hot and most people complain about the heat. 

Plus, it is more expensive.

If you can, visit Cinque Terre in late March, April, early May, late September, or October. It is hard to predict the weather, but the climate is mild throughout the year. 

March is a little warmer, but it might be too cold to take a dip in the water. Also, keep in mind that March is off-season and there is a lot of construction work going on in the villages and on the trails.

If the preparations don’t bother you and you are not looking for a beach vacation, then March and April would be my tips. Otherwise, May would probably be okay, though it gets busy by then, too. But really, try to avoid June, July, and August.

MORE TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR CINQUE TERRE ITINERARY

Water: You can drink the tap water in Cinque Terre, so make sure to bring your reusable water bottle to refill while you’re there. You will also see a few water fountains here and there with drinkable water (if it isn’t drinkable, it says so).

Bring cash: There are ATMs and many shops and restaurants accept cards, but not all, so have some euros with you. 

What to Wear: Bring comfortable shoes. Even if you don’t plan to hike, comfortable shoes are essential. 

Also, pack light. Carrying luggage in those hilly villages is a pain in the butt, so make your life easy by traveling light.

WHAT TO DO IN 2 DAYS IN CINQUE TERRE

Okay, Cinque Terre in one day is absolutely doable, and if you have many other places you would like to see, you can do this whirlwind of a itinerary. However, I – normally – recommend staying at a place at least for one night, so you can experience a place without the crowds. Especially in Cinque Terre this is essential as it will be crowded during the day.

Day 1 in Cinque Terre

So, for this 2-day itinerary, I recommend visiting all five towns and then spend most of day 2 in another – even more – gorgeous place near Cinque Terre.

1. Stop: Monterosso al Mare

Start your itinerary with the largest of the villages – Monterosso.

Cinque Terre, Monterosso beach

Cinque Terre itinerary, Monterosso

It is known as the village with the biggest beach, and many come here just to spend some time there. However, if you want to have a beach vacation, then Cinque Terre is not the best choice in Italy.

There is also the 14th-century Loggia del Podesta and the San Giovanni Battista church, as well as the Torre Aurore, to see.

Monterosso itself is not very interesting, so you can head from the train station straight to the trail and do an hour‘s hike (ask in advance if the trail is open).

If you have 48 hours in Cinque Terre and it is warm you can spend a few hours at the beach (which normally is crowded though – at least in the summer months). It is probably a good way to start your itinerary.

Approaching Vernazza from Monterosso after about 1.5-2 hours is priceless.

If you do not want to hike at all, then start your day in Vernazza and skip Monterosso completely.

2. Stop: Vernazza

Vernazza is the second most northern village.

Cinque Terre most beautiful town Varnazza Marina

This traffic-free village is so picturesque and often named the prettiest village. It was also my favorite, but I liked four out of the five villages a lot.

It is snuggled in a cleft between rocky cliffs and looking at it from above made me fall in love with Vernazza.

It is lively, busy (in summertime probably too busy), and, well, colorful, but that is something all of the villages have in common. So, I cannot really pinpoint what intrigued me.

However, the best way to enjoy Vernazza is to view it from above. Even if you don’t hike any trail, take your time to get to one of the viewing points to enjoy the views (I promise, it is worth it!). 

Cinque Terre 24 hours in Varnazza

You can stroll the streets (though there are not many) and enjoy the piazza or the Doria Castle.

From there, hop on the train and go to the second or third village: Corniglia.

If you want to hike, you can see if the coastal hiking trail is open. The alternative path is, according to hear-say, less scenic and takes longer, but it is at least another option for the hikers among you (the alternative hike takes about 2.5-3 hours).

3. Stop: Corniglia

Often overlooked and left out, this was another of my favorites. It doesn’t have direct beach access, and you will have to climb more than 300 steps to reach the hilltop village that is located 182 meters above sea level.

Cinque Terre best places to visit in Corniglia

Cinque Terre what is the most beautiful places to visit in Corniglia

For those of you who really prefer not to climb stairs, you can take a little shuttle bus that starts directly at the train station.

But I suggest making the extra effort and climbing the stairs. Either way, don’t leave Corniglia out. It felt the most authentic and special. 

The center of the village was actually my favorite. Ah, and don’t forget to enjoy the views (there are great views everywhere, such as from the church of San Pietro).

Cinque Terre, the best hamlets to visit in Corniglia

If you have climbed the 300+ stairs, this job will be easy. Climb down again and hop on the train to get to Riomaggiore.

From there, you can either hike (coastal hike is about 1.5 hours, the alternative path is about 2.5 hours) or take the train to Manarola.

4. Stop: Manarola

Manarola is another very photogenic village that is the favorite of many people I have asked. The rocky cliffs and “beach“ area make it popular among visitors. And let’s not forget the pretty houses, of course.

Cinque Terre, what to do in 1 day, Manorola (1 von 1)

Cinque Terre, what to see in 1 day, Manorola

It is a great place to watch the sunset, but the views of the village are also one of a kind. There are easy and well-marked paths to follow up (with cafes at the top), so you can enjoy the views. And I promise you, the views are always worth it, even if you are tired.

Cinque Terre, what to see in 24 hours Manorola

I also enjoyed, strolling the streets and checking out what laundry the locals hanging out to dry :).

Day 2 in Cinque Terre

If you stay in Cinque Terre for 2 days, I suggest visiting four villages the first day. Take your time and jus stroll aimlessly in each town. For day two, I suggest, visiting one more village and then do a half day trip.

1. Stop: Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is one of the bigger and most photographed villages – the small, narrow, tall houses are indeed very photogenic and it is a great place to watch the sunset. This is a good place for your second day in Cinque Terre. You don’t have to do much hiking but can visit a few sights that the town has and just enjoy the views.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore Harbor (1 von 1)

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore where to go in Cinque Terre (1 von 1)

However, as I said in the beginning, I was a bit disappointed. It seemed that every place I wanted to see – every angle from which I had seen Instagram images – was closed due to maintenance. Hopefully, this might be different in the busier season and you might not be as disappointed as I was.

Sitting at the Marina and enjoying the colorful houses is priceless though!

Cinque Terre most beautiful places to visit in Corniglia

This 2-day Cinque Terre itinerary allows you to enjoy the villages more and take breaks that last more than 20 minutes.

For the rest of the day, you can head out of Cinque Terre – and to one of the prettiest places in all of Liguria… I mean, in all of Italy!

2. Stop: Porto Venere

I recommend not spend 2 days in Cinque Terre itself – and instead spend some time in this beautiful town as well.

From Riomaggiore take a Porto Venere – my personal favorite place. It will take less than one hour, but it is soooo worth it. Check out the schedule (alternatively, take a train and then a bus).

Cinque Terre, half day trip to Porto Venere

Train and boat tickets are quite cheap. To Porto Venere, a return ticket from La Spezia is around 5€. Make sure to buy the tickets at the tobacco shop and not from the bus driver, as it will cost more.

Porto Venere is a little port that is less famous, less popular, and not a part of Cinque Terre but believe me, it is as pretty (if not even more so) than its famous neighbors.

Like its neighbors, it is small – you will need no more than 2-4 hours for strolling the village. Add in the travel time and you will find that it is a perfect way to end your second day in Cinque Terre – even if it isn’t in Cinque Terre.

FINAL THOUGHTS OF SPENDING 2 DAYS IN CINQUE TERRE

While I enjoy off-the-beaten-path locales and discovering places on a slower path sometimes, I can honestly say that I did not feel the urge to stay in Cinque Terre for more than two days.

I initially planned to stay three full days (two nights), but I left early on my third day and spent that day in Porto Venere instead. Cinque Terre is without a doubt pretty, but its activities and attractions are not overwhelming in number.

So, this 2-day Cinque Terre itinerary, with tips for the best things to do and see, will hopefully help you plan your own itinerary properly. It might seem a bit messy at first (as it really depends on where you stay), but after visiting myself,  I am pretty confident that this is a good itinerary and you will have a great time at the Ligurian Coast.

If you want to visit beautiful places near Cinque Terre get inspired my post about the best day trips from Cinque Terre.

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

ULTIMATE LIST: WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

What to pack for Europe in winter

If you are want to find out what to pack for Europe in winter, then this post is for you.

While you might have to think about which places to visit in Europe in winter, you will also need to plan what to pack for the cold winter months in Europe.

PACKING LIST FOR A EUROPE WINTER TRIP

While Europe might not be the biggest continent, weather conditions strongly vary. So, it does make a big difference whether you visit North countries like Iceland or Norway, Central Europe like Switzerland or France or Southern Europe with places like Valencia in Spain.

If you head to Southern Spain you will not need all the super warm winter clothes – and you will be happy with some warm pullovers and jeans. In the Nordic countries you will definitely need to pack differently.

In this post, you will find one general part of what to pack in Europe for winter. Then you will find out about what to pack for warmer countries like Spain or Malta, but you will also find out what to pack if you visit countries like Switzerland, Estonia or Iceland in winter.

First ski experience in Verbier, Switzerland what to pack in winter

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Winter Weather in Europe

Before talking about what to bring to Europe in winter, we should talk weather in Europe in winter. Because your packing list depends on where you visit.

Southern Europe is much milder and warmer than Eastern Europe or Northern Europe. While you could wear a light jacket in Southern Spain in the winter months, you surely have to dress very warm in countries like Norway or Iceland.

If you come to Europe in winter – come prepared. 

Be advised that the average temperature can reach as low as -10° degree Celsius in countries like Iceland and Norway and while it gets up to 15° degree Celsius in other countries.

Climate change has lead to much warmer climate in many countries – I remember the years – as a little child – where we had many days with freezing temperatures in Germany. And a lot of snow – but nowadays, snow is no longer the rule for many parts in Europe. But it can be.

What to do in Alicante, Costa Blanca

What to Bring to Europe in Winter – General Items

So, the first part of the post is a general packing ist. Then you will find an additional packing list for winter.

Luggage for Europe

Here is what luggage/bags you might need for your winter Europe trip.

  • Suitcase: Though it depends, where exactly and for how long you travel, I recommend taking a good, light, and quality suitcase with you where all your clothes and most of your toiletries fit in.
  • Carry-On: If you visit for longer and aren’t a minimalist, then you might need an extra carry-on luggage.
  • Laundry bags: They are great if you travel for longer and don’t want your dirty and clean clothes to mix up. I prefer them over plastic bags.
  • Packing Cubes: They are the new must-items when it comes to traveling, they are very handy and they also come in cool colors. I recommend using packing cubes because it makes packing and organizing easier.
  • For my handbag, I choose a cross-body handbag with a zipper (just to be safe) and several extra pockets. My tip: The size of the handbag is important: do you carry a camera with your? A water bottle? Keep that in mind when you decide on one handbag.
  • Passport Holder, since I have become more minimalistic, I prefer not using a passport holder but if you need a passport (and an ID is not enough) you might want to have one.
  • For a day at the hotel pool or for some shopping, I recommend a beach bag or a cotton bag. Plastic bags – fortunately – do costs money in many parts of Europe…and plastic you use only once, sucks anyway, so with a cotton bag you use for years, you do the environment a favour (and it looks much better than to carry your shoppings in a plastic or paper bag).

Toiletries to Pack for Europe in Winter

Lately, I have reduced the care products. Less is better if you ask me. However, in winter our skin is also subject to stress. Here you will find a detailed list – even if I do not use all products below throughout the year, you might use more products.

If I travel for 10 days or shorter I take travel sizes toiletries which I refill with my natural and organic beauty products from home. To pack light, shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, cleaning water and cleansing milk is all in small bottles.

Of course, you could buy toiletries in Europe as well, but if you do not want to waste your time in drug stores or supermarkets, use this checklist for Europe.

  • (TSA Approved Clear) Travel Toiletry Bag (if you fly)
  • Sunscreen (even in winter – depending on where you travel to. If you go for a ski trip, then take it but you most likely will not need it for most other winter trips).
  • Travel bottles to refill – I refill them with my own organic products that I normally use (I do not use shampoo & conditioner provided by hotels)
  • Electric Hair Removal Epilator (only if you stay longer than a week or if you remove your bidy hair with it) – otherwise a razor or whatever you prefer
  • Face cream – (which I also use as a hand cream, so I do not have to take another cream).
  • Refillable Travel Size Perfume Bottle
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash plus Dental floss
  • Tissues
  • Deodorant
  • Magnifying make-up mirror
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover + glass nail file
  • My favorite hairbrush (especially for longer hair) – or if you have less space take a comb
  • Hair ties
  • A small cosmetic bag with the following items: Mascara / Rouge / Eyebrow powder (Taming & Shaping Kit For Brows) / Tweezer / Eyeliner and Eye Shadow / Make-up brushes/ Cotton swabs

Here are a few more items which I personally do hardly use but which might be important to you, so I added them here:

hair spray, hand cream, foundation, powder, lipstick, sanitiser

Tech Stuff to Pack for Europe

  • I have my laptop with me whenever I fly – however, I do work online while traveling and I also watch Netflix on it.
  • My phone is without a doubt one of my most useful and important (travel) items.
  • My camera is a must – because Europe has so many great spots that need to be photographed.
  • I have to admit, that I still don’t have a kindle, so a “real” book is often an essential
  • Power Charger – how long does your phone battery last? Not long? Neither does mine, so this  is an essential
  • Do you need an adapter? It depends on where you travel to in Europe, so please check if you need one for your destination.

Random Things to Pack for Europe

  • Umbrella (in many countries, like Germany, Switzerland, or England is can still rain quite a lot in the winter)
  • Guides
  • Medicine (headache pills etc.)
Cycling in London in winter

Clothes to Pack for Europe in Winter

The key is dressing in layers for Europe in winter. The temperature can reach freezing levels, and yet the sun can be deceptively strong. Dressing in layers allows you to keep warm without compromising on comfort. 

Also, it really depends on where exactly you travel – as I mentioned before, Southern Europe has mild weather in winter where you will not need a super warm jacket and gloves plus a hat.

Depending on where you travel, the wind might make you feel much colder than the temperature actually says.

In worst case scenario, hypothermia and frostbite will be a result if If you’re wet and not appropriately dressed.

Your items should be versatile in function. For example, pack a jacket that is both waterproof and warm. In addition, comfortable walking shoes are essential.

December in Iceland, Golden Circle with Arzo Travels

Everyday Attire Essentials For Europe In Winter

At the top of your Europe winter packing list should be the following versatile, essential items. Using these items to dress in layers will keep you both stylish and warm. 

  • Coat – Warm And Waterproof: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the very first items that you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight, trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 
  • Hat: Science tells us that we lose up to 10% of our body heat through our heads, meaning that it’s essential to keep this area warm. A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out.  A hat will keep you toasty warm whether you’re on the slopes, sipping coffee, or exploring the sights. 
  • Gloves: Have you ever tried to use your phone with frozen fingers? It’s a nearly impossible task. A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. This makes it one of the most important items on your Switzerland packing list. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
  • Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. Not only do these items keep you warm, but they also prevent you from getting ill (and thereby ruining the fun). A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 
  • Leggings: There’s a reason that almost every woman owns a pair of leggings. They are both comfortable and snug. Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denims as an extra layer of warmth. 
  • Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker the better. Chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. If you plan on hitting the slopes at any stage, then you’ll want your socks to be extra-thick or padded for increased comfort. 
  • Thermals: A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Switzerland. They provide the extra layer of heat that will allow you to spend an extra hour on the slopes, or to pack fewer items on your road trip instead of excess clothing.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, then make sure that they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry. 
Verbier in Switzerland in the winter

WInter Sport Clothes to Pack

One of the best top reasons to visit e.g. Switzerland during the winter months is winter sports opportunities. While most ski resorts will offer rental equipment, there are a few essentials to pack for yourself. 

  • Ski Jacket: When choosing the perfect ski jacket, you need to consider warmth, level of waterproofing, and freedom of movement. A jacket that is adjustable in fit, seals effectively, and dries quickly is the perfect apparel for snowboarding, skiing, and other winter outdoor sports.
  • Ski Pants: A trusty pair of insulated ski pants are the next essential item for all winter sports fans. Make sure that your choice of pants is breathable, warm, and waterproof. These details will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable on the slopes.  
  • Winter Protection: There are a few items that will make your winter vacation all the more comfortable. The last thing that you want is to be soaked on your first day, or get a migraine from snow blindness
  • Umbrella: Regardless of what time of year you visit Switzerland, it’s always a smart move to pack a foldable umbrella. The nifty item doesn’t take up too much space. It can be the difference between a leisurely stroll in the city streets and getting caught in a flu-inspired downpour. 
  • Chapstick: Visiting Switzerland in winter will most likely find you spending hours of fun on the snow-covered slopes. This can quickly dry out your lips and burn your skin. In this instance, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve packed your moisturizing stick of Chapstick. 
  • Sunglasses: The best days on the slopes are the ones accompanied by clear, sunny skies and good conditions. These circumstances also increase the glare of the sun on the white snow, making it close to unbearable on your eyes. A pair of polarized sunglasses or ski goggles can protect your eyes from the wind and bright light.

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

Europe in winter is a fantastic travel destination. Whether you come for a ski trip in Switzerland, explore the Christmas markets in London or want to have a weekend trip to a warmer place like Valencia – Europe is so diverse and has something for every taste.

Just be aware of what to pack for Europe in winter and you can enjoy some fantastic time in Europe.

Stay safe and enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo

STUNNING AND BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SOUTHERN ITALY

Best places to visit in South Italy

Italy surely is one of the most stunning, most unique and most interesting countries to visit. It is so rich in sights and natural attractions that it is probably on the bucket list of any traveler.

And whether you visit Northern Italy, Central Italy or the south – there are so many places to visit that it can be overwhelming. So, this post is only about the absolutely best places to visit in South Italy.

MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN SOUTHERN ITALY – WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE

Some of my fellow travel bloggers share their tips on where to go in Southern Italy – here are the places to visit for your Southern Italy trip (btw, here is a post with amazing destinations in all of Italy).

Naples

Katy from Untold Italy
 

Naples is crazy, chaotic and cool – and a must-see in South Italy.

@shutterstock

Often missed by people who bypass it en route to the Amalfi Coast, it’s a city with a fascinating past, fun street culture and of course, incredible food. Naples doesn’t have the dreamy, ethereal qualities you find in the cities of the north of Italy. Rather, it is a vibrant, living city of contrasts with a racing pulse.

Your first stop in Naples should be the wonderful Museo Archeologico with its collection of Roman and Greek artefacts and remnant of the disaster at Pompeii.

For Renaissance and baroque splendour, head to the Cathedral where the soaring vaulted ceilings and altar masterpieces are sure to impress.

Next, go underground and discover the San Gennaro catacombs – a spooky network of tunnels and passageways lined with graves and crypts dating back hundreds of years. At street level just walk with the crowds and stop at a cafe or bar and admire the people, street art and life of the city.

Sitting in the shadow of Vesuvius, the people of Naples make each day count and you should too. You can easily spend three unforgettable days in wonderful Napoli.

Lecce

Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

Often dubbed “the Florence of the South”, Lecce is indeed just as beautiful as the famous capital of Tuscany and yet sees only a fraction of the tourists.

@The Nomadic Vegan

Don’t expect a carbon copy of Florence, though; the two cities are built in very different styles. Whereas Florence embodies the Renaissance, the streets of Lecce are lined with ornate buildings from the Baroque period.

Already known as a rather flamboyant style of architecture, in Lecce the Baroque style has been given even more embellishments in the form of wrought-iron balconies and twisting columns.

In fact, the style here is so distinctive that it has its own name, barocco leccese (Lecce Baroque).

Sights not to miss include the Church of Santa Croce with its beautiful rose window and the ancient Roman theater and amphitheater.

But just wandering down one of the main streets, such as Via Palmieri, is equally enjoyable. Take it slowly so you can admire all the ornate details on the façades. And you’ll definitely want to linger over a few multi-course meals in the local restaurants!

The region of Puglia has a very distinctive cuisine, and you’ll come across many dishes that you’ve never seen before in any Italian restaurant. Using lots of local vegetables, grains and legumes, Puglian cuisine is also one of the most vegan-friendly cuisines in Italy.

Noto

Veronika from Travel Geekery

Noto is a small picturesque town in the Southeast of Sicily renowned for its Baroque architecture. You should visit Noto if you love exploring churches and cathedrals and if you have a sweet tooth!

Noto Sicily a must-see in Southern Italy. Veronika TravelGeekeryPinterest
@Travel Geekery

In Noto, you can find one of the highest concentrations of churches, palaces and other religious buildings. They are everywhere and they’re all amazing. The Noto Cathedral is the most grandiose one and together with Noto’s historical center have been listed in UNESCO since 2002.

The best thing to do in Noto is just to stroll through the narrow streets clad in white tiles, popping into any church you feel like. Most are free to enter, with a few palaces charging for entrance.

Noto’s famous Café Sicilia is no lesser motivation to visit Noto. The Netflix-featured café makes possibly the best granita (=an ice-cream like dessert) in Sicily. The best and most original is the Almond Granita made from Sicilian almonds.

Café Sicilia has actually worked with local farmers and contributed to revive the traditional almond growing in Sicily! Granitas should be vegan, but check with the waiter to make sure there’s no dairy.

If you come to Sicily and spend at least a week, you definitely should not leave out Noto! Gain inspiration from this weeklong Sicily itinerary.

Santa Maria di Leuca

Michele of A Taste for Travel 

One of the best places to visit in southern Italy is Santa Maria di Leuca, located at the very tip of the heel of the boot of Italy.

Beautiful scenic seascape at Ciolo Bridge, near Santa Maria di Leuca, Salento, Apulia, Italy
@A Taste for Travel

Flanked by both the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, this picturesque town is small but famous in many respects from a religious, strategic and tourism perspective.

Some of the things to do in Santa Maria di Leuca  include kayaking or taking a guided boat tour of the grottos and sea caves carved into the rocky coastline, basking on the beach at a nearby lido or beach club and marvelling at the ancient watchtowers dating to the 15th and 16th centuries and originally intended to warn of attacks from the water by foreign armies, smugglers and pirates.

The lighthouse at Santa Maria di Leuca also happens to be the second most important lighthouse in Italy, after Genoa and is a popular landmark for photography buffs.

But the biggest draw for religious pilgrims is the Sanctuary or Basilica devoted to Saint Mary and constructed in 1720-1755  to commemorate the arrival of St. Peter during his travel to Italy.

The lighthouse itself is built on top of a Greek temple dedicated to Athena. A scenic promenade along the seafront connects the town with the lighthouse via a set of stairs flanking Mussolini’s Waterfall ( a monument celebrating the construction of the Apulian Aqueduct).

Nearby, within the Capo di Leuca region are the famous sights such as the pilgrim’s stop of Santa Maria di Leuca de Belvedere, Ciolo Bridge and several hiking trails and footpaths, dating back centuries.

Ischia

Helen from Helen on her Holidays

Ischia is a small island in the Bay of Naples, just across the water from the more famous island of Capri.

Ischia in Italy
@Helen on her Holidays

Ischia is already very popular as a holiday destination for Italian families, but is a little overlooked by travellers from other countries. It shouldn’t be; Ischia is a beautiful island with stunning landscapes, amazing food and loads of things to do.

Some of the best things to do in Ischia include: Enjoying a relaxing bath in Ischia’s natural thermal waters. Ischia is a volcanic island and blessed with over 100 thermal springs. Many hotels on the island have their own thermal spas and you can even visit a thermal bath used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

If you love gorgeous gardens, you should visit Ischia’s two world-famous gardens. The La Mortella gardens are set in a deep rocky valley and mix lush planting in the lower areas with fragrant Mediterranean foliage as you walk up the valley side. Nearby, Giardini Ravino is a leading (and very Instagrammable) collection of cacti and succulents.

Visiting Castello Aragonese. Ischia’s medieval castle is located majestically on a rocky islet, connected to the larger island by a long causeway bridge. Taking a 20-minute ferry across to neighbouring Procida, a tiny island with one of the most incredible views in Italy.

Amalfi Coast 

Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

If you are planning a trip to Southern Italy, you will want to put the Amalfi Coast drive on your itinerary. Considered one of the most beautiful drives on the planet, this drive will take you past some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Italy.

@shutterstock

You can do this iconic drive in one day or take a few days and really enjoy the Amalfi Coast. If you do the entire stretch, you will drive from Sorrento to Salerno, or vice versa.

The distance is not very long, at about 56 km, but the road is narrow and winding, and you will want to stop often to take photos.

Some folks drive from Sorrento to Ravello and back, and that is doable in one day if you are based in Sorrento and want to visit the coast as a day trip.

The towns of the Amalfi Coast are super picturesque. Positano’s beauty is legendary, but the towns of Amalfi, Praiano, and Ravello are also gorgeous.

Stop for lunch at a restaurant with a water view, and enjoy a taste of limoncello, the liqueur made with local sweet lemons. Wander the little towns, browse the shops, and take in the views. If you are looking for souvenirs, the ceramics of Vietri sul Mar are famous.

With so much to enjoy, a drive along the Amalfi Coast definitely deserves a spot in your itinerary for southern Italy!

Alberobello

Nicky from Above Us Only Skies

Travel through Puglia, southern Italy’s heel, and you can’t fail to notice quaint, white-washed dry stone huts with conical roofs dotted around the countryside.

Puglia is one of the best places to visit in South Italy
@Above Us Only Skies

And if you visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello you’ll discover a whole village full of them.

They’re called trulli (singular, trullo) and are the main draw of Alberobello, attracting busloads of passengers every year to gaze at these splendid hobbit-like dwellings.

Many of them are used as shops. Indeed, in the main tourist area of Rione Monti, there are many trulli converted into hotels, restaurants and artisanal shops selling everything from trullo-shaped key rings to fine Italian wines. Of course, a peek inside the shops offers a closer look at the impressive vaulted conical roofs.

If you want to learn more about their fascinating history, including how they were allegedly developed as a tax dodge from feudal landowners, then pay a visit to the Museo Del Territorio. It’s a wondrous construction of ten linked trulli housing informative descriptions of how the dwellings were made and the history of the region at that time.

And don’t miss the opportunity to stay overnight in one of these tiny pieces of history if you’re going to be touring in this area of Puglia.

Positano

Samantha from Sam Sees World 

Talking about Positano – since it is such an incredible town, this deserves some more space in this post.

@shutterstock

It is located on Southern Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast and is built into the cliffside of the surrounding mountains.

Positano is a very popular travel destination due to the village’s iconic views and sights to see. Here you will find a pebbly beach with vivid blue waters, pastel-colored houses built vertically into the cliffside, boutique shops, and luxurious restaurants. It truly is a travelers dream.

Although it is a small village, there are a plethora of things to see in Positano. One of the best things to do in Positano is to visit the main beach. The beach is full of colorful umbrellas and is the perfect place to view the city from a lower angle and take a swim in the beautiful waters.

More so, Positano has a hike called the Path of Gods that stretches along the Amalfi Coast and offers stunning views of the coast and surrounding mountians, this is a must-do while visiting Positano.

After a day of adventures it is always nice to sit down for a delicious pizza in a restaurant with a view overlooking the city at night.

Positano is a great tourist destination year-round. In the summer months everything is open and alive; however, there are more tourists! If you prefer less tourist I suggest heading here in the shoulder seasons.

Palermo

Ivan from Mind the Travel

Italy’s largest island, Sicily, has an incredible capital, Palermo. The city holds an important place in the history of this southern archipelago which makes it – without a doubt – one of the best places to visit in Southern Italy.

Famous fountain of shame on baroque Piazza Pretoria, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
@shutterstock

Palermo has been a flourishing cultural, and trading center throughout  history, and scores of invading armies have left their mark everywhere.  

Think cultural and economic influences from the Carthaginians, Greeks,  Romans, Normans, French, and Spanish Bourbons. Palermo itself is like a cultural amusement park with its winding alleyways, street markets with the most delicious veggies and fruit, cathedrals with distinctive architecture, religious street processions.  

It’s all a little weird and surreal. That’s why some of the best things to do in Palermo include engaging with culture and absorbing the architecture. The events in the city’s social calendar are endless – scope them out before you go.

The real Palermo is experienced in its streets, markets, and through its food.  No trip to Palermo is complete without a visit to Vucciria, Ballarò, and Borgo Vecchio open-air markets. These offer some unbeatable experience.

The pedestrian-friendly streets made it easy to wander around the impressive palaces some of which have been turned into museums.Palermo’s cozy squares are filled with little cafes, music venues, art exhibits, and strolling visitors.

Street food in Palermo can be found all over town in little stalls selling yummy snacks like sfincione and arancini for about 1 – 2 Euros.

Another highlight on a list of places to visit in Palermo is Monreale Cathedral and its thousands of square meters of golden mosaics. Even if you are not into arts, this place is gorgeous so try to squeeze a visit  during your stay in Palermo.

The Aeolian Islands

Emily by Wander-Lush

The Aeolian Islands off the coast of north-western Sicily offer some of the most stunning landscapes in the country.

Aeolian Islands in Sicily by Emily Lush
@Wander-Lush

If you love island-hopping, lounging on black-sand beaches and exploring sweet Sicilian towns, this off-beat gem should definitely feature on your Southern Italy bucket list.

The Aeolian archipelago is made up of seven islands – Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Stromboli.

Because they’re volcanic islands (most are now extinct but Stromboli is still famously active), the soil is rich and perfect for growing grapes, capers, figs and other local produce.

Each of the islands has its own unique landscape and local culture. An ideal Aeolian Islands itinerary involves basing yourself on one of the quieter villages (I prefer Malfa in Salina) and visiting the other islands on day trips by boat. Highlights include swimming and snorkelling, and exploring the quaint towns on foot.

Other must-dos include hiring a jeep and driving to some of the viewpoints around Vulcano, visiting the world-class Archaeological Museum on Lipari, and hiking to the summit of Stromboli to see the crater up close.

To get to the Aeolian Islands, take a hydrofoil from Sicily (Messina or Milazzo).

Sorrento

Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life

For a great mix of everything that makes up the culture of Southern Italy, Sorrento is one of the best places to visit.

Sorronto in South Italy
@My Wanderlusty Life

Sorrento is in the perfect location to serve as a base for your travels around Southern Italy. It’s within a short drive of the enchanting Amalfi Coast, the wineries of Mt. Vesuvius, the lively metropolis of Naples, and just a short boat ride to Capri and more of Southern Italy’s incredible and indulgent islands.

While in Sorrento, you can enjoy some of Southern Italy’s best food on specially curated food tours for all dietary preferences. You can tour olive oil production factories, organic wineries, and limoncello groves to learn all about Sorrento’s lemon-centered culture and history.

You can stroll the streets of downtown Sorrento with a gelato in hand during the bustling passegiatta before watching the sun set from your cliff-side balcony. Shop for locally made items and listen to old Italian classics streaming from the underground eateries.

Then you can spend the entirety of the next day swimming in the warm, emerald waters of the Mediterranean.

Southern Italy is truly a gem and you can see the best of it all from Sorrento.

Taormina

Rai from A Rai of Light

Taormina, often described as the most beautiful town in Sicily, is an old hilltop village that is filled with history, culture and charm.

@shutterstock

With its dramatic coastline, pretty beaches and enticing shops, the town offers a number of possibilities for a good time. It is well known for its archaeology, architecture, heritage, and history, with a whole lot to do. Don’t miss a visit to the Greek Theatre, Piazza IX Aprile, and the public garden.

The ancient theatre, a historical monument built way back in the third century BC, offers a glimpse into a primeval world.

For photo lovers it also offers the opportunity to get some great shots of the surrounding region. The main street, Corso Umberto crosses the whole center of the town and provides for some awesome shopping.

Taormina is somewhat touristy and it can also get really busy, especially during the holiday season, so a little planning is advised. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to get here and if pressed for time, it is possible to visit for just a day from anywhere in Sicily or Malta.

Capri

Lori from TravlInMad

The island of Capri off the Sorrentine peninsula in southern Italy is one of the most unique places to visit.

Capri-Travlinmad

Capri is idyllic and reachable only by boat, and ferries from Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast can whisk you away to the island several times a day.

While many tourists visit Capri for a day trip, it’s worth so much more time for those seeking a relaxing and luxurious Italian holiday.  Once the crowds go home at the end of the day, the island takes on a magical quality. It’s as if the tourists have been let in on all the local island secrets.

Capri was once home to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and later his misguided nephew Emperor Caligula, and visiting the ruins of their Villa is one of the most interesting things to do in Capri.

Hiking to Villa Jovis on the top of the island is an excellent day hike, along narrow streets accessible only by single motor carts and on foot, and you’ll be treated to some of the most amazing views over the Amalfi Coast. 

The island is also home to stunning rock formations and grottoes, so a boat trip is a must-do when you’re here. After exploring the famous Blue Grotto and a swim in the crystal clear waters, enjoy a late afternoon Aperitivo in the Piazza Umberto, then head for dinner at one of Capri’s incredible restaurants. Whatever you choose to do in Capri, it’ll capture your heart forever.

Gallipoli

Nadine from Le Long Weekend

With it’s crumbling façades and colourful port, Gallipoli epitomises the old-world charm of southern Italy. 

Gallipoli, Italy is one the most beautiful places in South ITaly

It’s the place to go to experience the real Italy, the one where the art of making pasta is passed down through the generations, and where groups of elderly men congregate on café terraces, coppola caps firmly in place.

It’s worthy of a few days’ exploration, even if all you really want to do is laze on the picturesque beaches that surround the town. The old Gallipoli is an island attached to the mainland via a bridge and is where you’ll want to head first. 

Walk the perimeter to get your bearings and take note of which bar you want to come back to later to enjoy uninterrupted sunset views.

Visit the Castello Angioino di Gallipoli, a historic building on the waterfront once used to ward off enemies that now houses a cultural centre, before wandering down one of the cobbled lanes that lead into the old town.

Admire the architecture on display and pop your head into one, or many, of the old churches to take in the differing styles. Then browse the small selection of boutiques and shops selling local wares, before heading back to that seaside spot for sunset!

Pompeii and Vesuvius

Coni from Experiencing the Globe

No visit to Italy is complete without the archeological site of Pompeii. These ruins have inspired songs, movies, books and more, and with great reason.

Pompeii - Experiencing the Globe

An entire city with houses, temples, baths, public buildings and shops was buried, giving you a fantastic opportunity to see how daily life looked like in a Roman city.

Pompeii was founded around the 8th century BC, and completely covered in lava and ashes in 79 AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The excavation of began in 1748, and it is still an ongoing process!

Don’t miss the forum, the brothel, the baths, the villa of the mysteries, the garden of the fugitives, the house of Venus in the Shell, the theater and the amphitheater.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not start the day on top of Mt. Vesuvius? It’s still an active volcano, but it’s safe to visit. A bus will drop you at the beginning of a well-marked path, where you’ll have a comfortable walk with about 200 meters of altitude change to the crater. After walking around it, you’ll get to try wine grown on the slope of the volcano!

You can easily visit Pompeii and Vesuvius in one day from Naples independently. Just take the train from Napoli Centrale, and enjoy these amazing sights!

Matera

Talek from Travels With Talek

Matera is a town in southern Italy, towards the end of the Italian boot shaped peninsula.

matera in South Italy

It is a magical, otherworldly place with rock formations creating caves above ground and underground tunnels and caves running the length of the city.

The city‘s caves are called the Sassi di Matera and the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Matera has been inhabited since paleolithic times. Throughout the centuries people have lived in the caves. Today some caves are still used as living quarters. A city tour will take you through some large caves used as homes. They look quite cozy and habitable with all the comforts of a regular home.

The city has made excellent use of its caves turning them into a major tourist attraction. You can stay in a cave hotel, eat in a cave restaurant and best of all, see magnificent artistic structures in an underground museum.  The statues are artistically lit and represent tango dancers, acrobats and other forms.

Matera is so distinctive that it has been used as a movie set for films such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ and the most recent Ben Hur.

Tropea

Annabel from Smudged Postcard

The town of Tropea is located in the southern Italian region of Calabria midway between Lamezia and Reggio di Calabria.

Tropea is a particularly pretty seaside town. It is perched on a clifftop overlooking the Mediterranean. Beneath the town is a popular sandy beach and a small rocky island crowned by the medieval church Santa Maria dell’Isola.  

Tropea’s central Piazza Ercole is the perfect place for a morning coffee and a spot of people watching. The town is famed for its delicious sweet red onions which are delicious in salads. Fiery chillies are also grown and widely used in food in this part of Italy.

Evenings are a lovely time to visit Tropea as the streets fill with people taking an evening passeggiata.

The beaches around Tropea and the nearby coastline of Capo Vaticano are the reason so many Italians flock to the town in summertime. Snorkelling is good here and there are boat trips available to the Aeolian islands including the active volcanic isles of Vulcano and Stromboli.

Many of them are used as shops. Indeed, in the main tourist area of Rione Monti, there are many trulli converted into hotels, restaurants and artisanal shops selling everything from trullo-shaped key rings to fine Italian wines. Of course, a peek inside the shops offers a closer look at the impressive vaulted conical roofs.

If you want to learn more about their fascinating history, including how they were allegedly developed as a tax dodge from feudal landowners, then pay a visit to the Museo Del Territorio.

It’s a wondrous construction of ten linked trulli housing informative descriptions of how the dwellings were made and the history of the region at that time.

And don’t miss the opportunity to stay overnight in one of these tiny pieces of history if you’re going to be touring in this area of Puglia. I am sure you will agree it is one of the places to visit in southern Italy.

CONCLUSION: MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN SOUTHERN ITALY

As you can see, the south of Italy is full of stunning places – and hopefully this list with the best places to visit will help you create your itinerary. For more Italy travel tips click here!

best places to visit in South ItalyPinterest

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SIENA IN ONE DAY, ITALY

Siena in 1 day, Italy

HOW TO SPEND 1 DAY IN SIENA – THINGS TO DO AND SEE

If you visit Tuscany, there are some must-see places like Florence and Pisa – but of course, Siena is another famous and popular city. Today, I share my tips on the best things to do in Siena in one day.

Siena is a perfectly-preserved medieval town and a shrine to Gothic architecture that should not be missed on any Tuscany itinerary with a historical center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As lovely as Siena is, most of us only have a limited amount of time to spend in Tuscany, and one day in Siena is good enough to see the main attractions and stroll the city. You will still have enough time to sit down and enjoy La Dolce Vita. 

view of the historic city of Siena, Italy _
@shutterstock

TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN SIENA

Because of its location, Siena can be easily reached from other places in Tuscany by car, train, or bus. 

Like most of the town centers in the region, Siena is traffic-free. You cannot drive into the town, but you can park your car just outside the city center and walk or get there by bus/train, and walk from the train station to the old town or take a bus.

The old town of Siena is the place where we will spend most of our time. So, whether you do a day trip to Siena or stay overnight, these tis should help you planning your Siena trip.

I stayed at a very lovely, small hotel with amazing views close to the old town – the design is quite unique and it is located just outside of the city walls. But I could not have asked for more value for my money (and dogs were allowed, so it was the perfect choice for me and my puppy). Find out more about Hotel Santa Caterina in Siena here. I could walk to the old town from my hotel within a few minutes.

WHAT TO DO IN SIENA – ITINERARY

Let´s get started.

Piazza del Campo

As mentioned in previous posts, I often judge cities and towns based on their market squares. And Siena has a lovely market square, so you can imagine it is a lovely town.

Piazza del Campo a must-see in 1 day in Siena
@shutterstock

Start your day in Siena at the Piazza del Campo. The huge Piazza del Campo is the heart of the city and it is a unique, shell-shaped piazza with many interesting buildings and restaurants and shops.

Twice a year, July 2 and August 16, a famous horse race – Palio di Siena – takes place. But most of the time, it is a nice and lively square where you can do a lot of “normal sightseeing.“

There is also the Fonte Gaia, the largest fountain in the city, originally decorated with sculptures by Jacopo della Quercia. Here you’ll find some of the most interesting buildings in Siena – including the Palazzo Comunale (or Palazzo Pubblico) and the Torre del Mangia.

The Palazzo Comunale is a palace and the town hall, but it also houses the Civic Museum that is a popular place to see.

Torre del Mangia

If you are about views – or some more physical exercise – then it is time to climb the Torre del Mangia. It stands at 87 meters and apparently offers some of the best views of Tuscany and with one day, you surely have enough time to do so.

Siena tower, looking up

Unfortunately, the tower was closed during the time of my visit – otherwise, I would have loved to climb more than 400 steps – even though they are narrow and climbing towers in Italy can be tiring.  The 360-degree views are surely worth it. The tower should be open again, so make sure to plan in some time for the 400 stairs.

Civic Museum

Tip: If you want to visit the Civic Museum and the Torre del Mangia, you can buy a combined ticket for 13€ (available only at the ticket office of the Tower). Depending on the time, you can then have an espresso or drink at the piazza before continuing your journey to the next main place in Siena.

Piazza del Duomo

Now it is time to head to the next piazza: Piazza del Duomo.

View of Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) and Piazza del Duomo in Siena. Siena, UNESCO a World Heritage Site
@shutterstock

You’ll have several attractions here – the Cathedral, the Crypt, and the Piccolomini Library – so you will probably spend a few hours here, too. 

Buy the fast pass entrance ticket for the Siena Duomo, Baptistery, Crypt, Libreria Piccolomini, Museo dell’Opera, and Facciatone.  The new guided tour, “Gate/Door of Heaven,“ is not included in this pass.

Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta

Let’s start with the Cathedral. I am not sure, but the cathedral looks pinkish to me. But since I have not seen this pinkish color highlighted in other blog posts, it might not be the case.

Piazza del Duomo Siena Cathedral, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Siena cathedral

Either way, the Cathedral is stunning. It is a beautiful example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture and one of the main tourist spots.

The current Cathedral was built atop an ancient church around the 9th century, and was consecrated in 1179. While it looks pretty from the outside, it also looks great from the inside.

Interior in Siena Duomo, martinho Smart, Shutterstock.com
Martinho Smart, Shutterstock

The interior is decorated with white and dark green marble, which reminded me a lot of the Cathedral in Genoa – one of my favorite places in Italy, by the way.

Inside, you can also see works of art by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello – which makes it more like a museum. I have not done a tour, but apparently, there is a new guided tour that you can take called “The Door/Gate of Heaven” that allows you to see the Cathedral from the top, enjoying the great view which makes it one of the best things to do in Siena in 1 day.

Facciatone

With the Fast Pass ticket, you can then head to the Panorama dal Facciatone and climb the spiral staircase for great views of the Duomo.

Siena,view of the Del Mangia tower from the Cathedral's Facciatone belvedere
@shutterstock

The time at the top is limited, so enjoy the views and take pictures before heading back down.

Piccolini Library

The next stop is the Piccolomini Library, which was built in the early 16th century and dedicated to Pope Pius II. The library is inside the Duomo and is mostly known for Pinturicchio frescoes.

Crypt

The Crypt is located underneath the Cathedral and worth a visit.

Interior of crypt of Basilica of San Domenico or Basilica Cateriniana in Siena. John_Silver, Shutterstock.com
John Silver, Shutterstock

The Crypt is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent years – it was just discovered in 1999.  You’ll find many 13th-century frescoes that are worth visiting all on their own.

Then, it is time for the next stop.

Baptistery

The Baptistery of San Giovanni is dedicated to San Giovanni (St. John) and was built in the early 14th century when it was decided to enlarge the Duomo, but the facade has never really been finished.

Baptistery of Saint John ceiling interior in Siena Cathedral complex.Hani Santosa, Shutterstock.com
Hani Santosa, Shutterstock

Inside, you will find many beautiful frescoes and it is included in the Fast Pass ticket for the Cathedral – so don’t miss out on that one. Though it is connected to the Cathedral, you enter through a different entrance.

Opera del Duomo Museum

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is one of the oldest private art museums in Italy, and you’ll find it on the south side of the Cathedral.

Stained Glass in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Vjacheslav Shishlov, Shutterstock.com
Vjacheslav Shishlov, Shutterstock

You can find many of the original works from the Duomo here, from Giovanni Pisano, Duccio da Buoninsegna, and Donatello.

Santa Maria della Scala

If you then have time and energy left (visiting all these places can be exhausting), then visit the complex of Santa Maria della Scala. It is one of Europe´s first hospitals and one of the world’s oldest still-surviving hospitals, where pilgrims, as well as the poor and abandoned children, were welcomed. Now, it is a museum that is open to visitors.

Wander the Streets

One of my favorite activities in towns and cities is: to get lost.

Streets of Siena in 24 hours

Shops in Siena

Stroll the pretty streets of Siena and enjoy the (almost completely) car-free town center with its many side streets and numerous little shops and cafes. 

I am not into drinking wine, but if you are, pick one of restaurants on the side streets, order a glass, and enjoy La Dolce Vita. Or as I would do, order a lot of gelato and end your day this way.

Are you in Italy for two weeks? Then check out my Italy itinerary.

MAP OF PLACES TO VISIT IN SIENA IN ONE DAY

1 day in Siena will allow you to see the main sights – the city is one of the biggest in Tuscany and you could probably spend much more time here. But after I had spent a bit more than one day in the town, I was ready to explore other areas in Tuscany.

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Top things to do in Siena, Italy, Arzo Travels

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

How to Have an Epic 2-Week Italy Itinerary

First-time in Italy_ An itinerary for Italy in 10-14 days

There are not many countries that are so rich in natural sights, as well as beautiful architecture and history! Italy plays in a different league and you could never spend too much time here.

EPIC 2 WEEKS IN ITALY – WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE

While I have many favorite places in Italy, some quite unknown to tourists, I understand that the main tourist destinations like Rome, Venice, and Florence are on everyone’s bucket list!

For your first trip to Italy, these destinations are probably very high on your list, so I have created this itinerary to help you discover the main tourist hotspots with this itinerary.

And I can assure you: Each destination is impressive and worth a visit. 

And if you are planning your 2-week Italy itinerary this post is for you, as I will share my ideas on how to create an itinerary where you can see some of the most beautiful places.

In two weeks you will experience some city life and, but you will also see a different side of Italy. But more on that later.

Trevi Fountain in Rome and more things to go in Rome

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 WEEKS IN ITALY

So, before talking about the perfect 14 days in Italy, here are some travel tips for your first-time trip, so you know how to get around, where to stay, and more.

HOW TO GET AROUND

I suggest flying into Rome and ending your trip in Venice (or the other way around). From there, you can get around easily by train.

I have done both: road-tripping and rail travel. I suggest using the train, because, to be honest, in Italy, the best way is to get around via train. You might have less freedom but will gain so much more …particularly, because it is less nerve-wracking and way cheaper.

Petrol is sooooo expensive in Italy (it has some of the highest petrol prices in Europe, even more expensive than in Switzerland), and tolls are also pricey. Plus, the streets are narrow and Italians rush when it comes to driving!

Luckily, public transportation is a very good alternative: quite cheap, reliable, and very efficient. Trains might run late a few minutes (basically, all my trains were 5-10 minutes late but that is still tolerable in my eyes).

So, go with that!

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY

The places mentioned in this two week Italy itinerary can all be visited throughout the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter. However, I recommend NOT visiting in the summer months. It is hot and sticky, expensive, and worst of all, every place is full of tourists. 

Understandably, tourists are here all year round, but in the summer months, be prepared to fight your way through the crowds.

There will also be no way to visit the attractions without “skip-the-lines tickets.“ Even during shoulder seasons, these tickets are highly recommended. In the summer months, there is no way around it if you don’t want to waste your time standing in lines for hours.

Check out more Italy travel tips here.

PLACES TO STAY

Since I suggest rail travel for you, I also suggest not changing hotels too many times as it makes the trip more stressful.

If you stay 14 days in Italy, my tip is to have a base near/in Rome for exploring Rome and Vatican City, and then have a base near/in Florence. The same goes for having a base in Venice.

These places are, without a doubt, quite expensive and it might be easier to stay a bit further out of the city. If you do so, just make sure the train station is close by so that you can easily get to the places you want to visit.

If you visit Cinque Terre and its surroundings, I actually recommend staying in La Spezia, which is a city directly in front of Cinque Terre.

Disclaimer: This post might contain affiliate links which mean I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

So, here are my recommendations for places to visit for your Italy itinerary, and I suggest arriving in either Rome or Venice.

For this itinerary, we will start with Rome and Venice will be the ending point of your trip. You can, of course, do the trip the other way around and start with Venice. I wouldn’t change the stops in between though, as they make sense looking at Italy’s geography.

MAP FOR YOUR ITALY ITINERARY

DAY 1-3 IN ITALY: ROME AND VATICAN CITY

Day 1: Arrive in Rome

If you fly to Italy, I suggest heading to Rome. Rome has two airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino.

Both airports are well connected to the city center. The cheapest way to get to the city center is via a shuttle bus, and the most expensive is via taxi or private transfer and start your two week trip with in one of the stunning cities.

Rome (2 Days)

Start by visiting Rome. I suggest not wasting too much time in the hotel – head out and explore this ancient and special city. You will not only be visiting Rome but also Vatican City, which is the smallest country in the world and located within Rome.

View from Castello del Angelo  - best viewpoints in Rome with Arzo Travels
@shutterstock

I’d say that the minimum amount of time for Rome and Vatican City would be 2.5 days. Three full days would be even better.

Here are the Best Things to Do and See in Rome:

  • Colosseum
  • Roman Hills & Palatine Hills
  • Spanish Steps
  • Monumento Nazionale a Vittoria Emanuele 
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Castello del Angelo

Here are my travel tips for Rome.

Where to Stay in Rome

Rome is one of the busiest cities in Italy. Accommodation can be pricey though you will not find many of the typical 5-star hotel chains that you might know from other parts of the world (tip: stay close to the main attractions).

Luxury Hotels in Rome: St. Regis is one of the few hotel chains that also have a property in Rome. The hotel is popular because of its central location (it is within walking distance to Rome attractions like the Spanish Steps, etc.). Click here to find out more and get the best rates.

Mid-Range Hotels in Rome: This 3-star hotel is also popular – find out more about the Suites Farness Design Hotel.

Budget Hotels: Looking for a budget hotel in Rome? This might be the perfect choice for you:

We were a group of three and were looking for a big room with three beds. And we were really, really happy with our hotel. It was not spectacular but the location was good and so was the value for money: Find out more about the St. Peter Bed in Rome here.

If you prefer staying at an Airbnb, first-time users can save money using my link.

Vatican City (1 Day)

Half a day – full day

With two weeks in Italy, you will have time to visit another country as well. Crossing borders has never been easier than crossing the Italian border and entering a new country – Vatican City. I must admit, the trip to Vatican City, and to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, were the highlights of my Rome trip, so I highly recommend a day trip (or at least half a day in Vatican City).

That view....Places to see in Vatican City

Here are the best things to do and see in Vatican City:

  • Sistine Chapel
  • Spiral Staircase
  • Raphael‘s Rooms
  • St. Peter’s Basilica 

Check out this Vatican City 1-day itinerary with important travel tips.

DAY 4-7 IN ITALY: FLORENCE AND TUSCANY

From Rome to Florence

From Rome’s Termini Station, you can take the train to Florence, which only takes about 90 minutes. They say that the earlier you book, the better and cheaper it will be. However, I haven’t noticed that prices go up within a few days for train tickets but please double-check with tickets.

Florence (2 Days)

Florence in one day is possible, but not fun – this city is bursting with attractions and sights. There is so much to do and see that less than 2 days.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock

Even if you aren’t into art – believe me, I am not – art in Florence is a different matter and totally amazing – you will love the city. You might skip a few museums and “finish“ within 1.5 days.

Things to do and see in Florence:

  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
  • Uffizi Gallery
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Basilica of Santa Croce 
  • Piazalle Michaelangelo
  • Piazza della Signoria

Either way, after Florence, it is time to do one or two-day trips (you can also do them in between the days you are in Florence). You can do San Gimignano and Siena Chianti together, or see Lucca and Pisa.

Where to Stay in Florence:

I did not stay overnight in Florence but took a train from my accommodation nearby. However, based on recommendations, these are my tips for places to stay in Florence:

Luxury Hotels in Florence: For the ultimate luxury hotel, check out rates at Florence’s Four Season. This hotel chain knows how to impress and it seems that it does a great job in Florence, too. Click here to get more information on the rates.

Mid-Range Hotels in FlorenceThis mid-range hotel is located close to the Boboli Gardens and the Piazzale Michelangelo. It offers free parking. Check out the rates for the Park Palace in Florence.

Budget Hotels in FlorenceHotel Bavaria is a 1-star hotel but it comes with a great location and decent ratings.  Click here to find out more about the hotel and the rates.

Lucca and Pisa (1 Day)

Full day

As mentioned, the main places in Italy are easily accessible by train. While I road tripped Tuscany, I often left my car at the hotel and used trains to get around, so I also suggest doing day trips this way.

Day trip to Pisa, The leaning tower of Pisa

So, when planning your two-week Italy itinerary, you should plan in one full day for Pisa and Lucca.

Lucca and Pisa can be done in one day from Florence. Pisa is well known for its Leaning Tower, but there is actually more to see. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this itinerary.

How to get to Pisa from Florence

By train, it is easy to get to Pisa from Florence (in Italian Florence is Firenze). It takes about one hour and the cheapest tickets are less than 9€ one way.

Things to do and see in Pisa:

  • Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Cattedrale di Pisa
  • Piazza del Duomo
  • Camposanto Monumentale
  • Palazzo Blu

On your way back, stop in Lucca – a lovely charming medieval town.

Lucca and Pisa can be done in one day from Florence. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this itinerary.

Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

Things to do and see in Lucca:

  • Guinigi Tower
  • Basilica of San Frediano
  • St. Martin Cathedral
  • Piazza dell ́Anfiteatro

Siena (1 Day)

Half-Day – Full Day

Siena is known as one of the best medieval cities in all of Italy and a must-see in Tuscany. It takes about 70-90 minutes to get from Florence to Siena by public transportation.

So, add it to your itinerary as a day trip from Florence. The city sits over three hills, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Sienna tower, looking up

Things to do and see in Siena:

  • Piazza del Campo 
  • Duomo di Siena
  • Publico Palace
  • Tower of Mangia
  • Basilica of Caterniana
  • Foto Gala

Personally, I would try to add another town/place on this day, though some might also be interested in visiting San Gimignano, which is a famous village about two hours from Lucca. 

With Florence or Rome as your base, you have spent about six days in Italy so far – it is time for some beach time and a different side of Italy.

DAY 8-10 IN ITALY: CINQUE TERRE AND PORTO VENERE

Depending on how many days you stay in Italy, I would add another 2 days in Cinque Terre and Porto Venere. It is quite easy to get to Cinque Terre and Porto Venere from Florence. 

From Florence, you take a train to La Spezia (you cannot get to Cinque Terre by car  – it is almost impossible and will make your hard day harder, so park your car at La Spezia). From there, you will hop on the Cinque Terre Train, which will take you to Cinque Terre within minutes.

Cinque Terre (2 Days)

This string of five towns on the Italian Riviera is famous for its colorful, seaside houses and a great combination of relaxed Italian village life and some outdoor activities, like swimming and hiking. While I enjoyed my time in Cinque Terre, I would suggest not spending more than 2 days there. Italy has so much to offer and two weeks in Italy actually isn’t that much – and Cinque Terre is quite small.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore Harbor (1 von 1)

Things to do and see in Cinque Terre:

  • Riomaggiore
  • Manarola
  • Corniglia
  • Vernazza
  • Monterosso 

Porto Venere (1 Day)

This place is not a typical stop on most Italy itineraries but I loved it. Porto Venere is a small and lesser-known, but equally stunning (or probably even more stunning), little fishing village near Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre, half day trip to Porto Venere

Cinque Terre is quite small and you can do it in one day – 1.5 days max. Definitely add Porto Venere to your itinerary. I know, places like Portofino are more famous and popular with visitors, but after having visited both, I urge you to visit one of the prettiest places in Italy, which is… Porto Venere.

Things to do and see in Porto Venere:

  • Doria Castle
  • Promenade
  • San Pietro Church
  • Byron’s Grotto
  • San Lorenzo Church
  • Cemetery

Here is my Portovenere travel guide (with more pictures and info) and here is my Cinque Terre travel guide (also with more images and plenty of travel tips):

So, with these two days, spend 1 full day in Cinque Terre and half a day in Porto Venere. I would leave half a day for the onward journey.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore is a popular place to stay in Cinque Terre. Here is the hotel I stayed at – check out rates and prices here. The location was okay, it did not come with any great views, but it was easy to reach from the train station and the room was quite big fir Italian standards. Coffee, juices, and sweets were free, so it was definitely not a bad place to stay at.

However, I would choose differently if visiting Cinque Terre again and it would probably be in Vernazza or Maranola.

If you are on a budget, I actually recommend staying in La Spezia. After two nights in Cinque Terre, I booked a hotel in La Spezia for two nights and used it as a base to get around and see other places in Cinque Terre (like Porto Verene and it is easier to take a train if heading to your next destination on your Italy itinerary). Click here to find the best hotel in La Spezia.

DAY 11-14 IN ITALY: VENICE, BURANO AND VERONA

From Cinque Terre to Venice

So, while the two weeks in Italy are almost up, you still have a few highlights on your itinerary. I recommend that you now head to Venezia Santa Lucia and that you most definitely book early.

The whole journey will take about 2 hours.

Venice (2 Days)

Venice is a city like no other – I have never seen or experienced such a city before. Even those who didn’t like Venice, can‘t disagree on that.

Venice Itinerary 2 days

Seeing all the gondolas and ferries, and no cars around, makes this city quite surreal. So, you have to see and experience the city, the Grand Canal, gondolas, and everything else to really believe it.

However, the city itself is quite small. Venice is one of those Italy vacation ideas that you simply have to try. While there is definitely way more to see and do in Rome or Florence, Venice also has some attractions.

Things to do and see in Venice:

  • Grand Canale
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Saint Mark‘s Basilica
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Campanile Tower

But after one full day in the city, you will have seen all the main attractions and might even have time to visit a museum or two. So, check out my two-day Venice itinerary for a few more Italy tours.

Where to Stay in Venice

Venice itself has some great 5* hotels like the Gritti Palace with a lovely view of the Grand Canal. You can check the prices for the Gritti Palace here.

Click here for more hotel rates in Venice here.

Definitely make sure to plan a half-day for your trip to Burano – the most colorful place in the world.

Burano and Murano (1 Day)

It is very easy to get from Venice to Burano and Murano. You can buy a 24-hour (or 48-hour) pass, which allows you to use unlimited water taxis. Within 90 minutes, you are in colorful Burano. Spending 2-5 hours on the island is totally enough.

Best Instagram pictures for Burano

Things to do and see in Burano:

  • Get lost in its colorful streets (seriously, there is not that much more to do but this is actually a wonderful activity).

If you like, you can also visit Murano, which is on the way to Burano. See if you still have time left to discover this little island that is known for its glassworks. However, I would make Burano a priority. Find more travel tips for this small island here.

Verona (1 Day)

One of the best, most pleasant surprises in Italy was the beautiful city of Verona. Though it was bursting with tourists, I have the feeling that it is somewhat underrated.

Verona in one day, the best Verona travel travel tips and best 1 day Verona itinerary
@shutterstock

And when I went through my own images, I understand what the problem is: taking great pictures is a bit challenging because it is so full of statues and attractions that something is always “in the way“ and it is hard to find a good angle. Thus, I hardly saw great photos that convinced me to go. Luckily, I still went and was happy I did because it is just the most charming city in Italy.

So, on the way to Venice, make sure to stop in pretty Verona and enjoy a full day there. 

It takes a bit more than one hour to get to Verona from Venice.

Things to do and see in Verona:

  • Casa di Giulietta
  • Piazza del Signori
  • Torre dei Lamberti
  • Piazza delle Erbe
  • Castelvecchio Bridge
  • Arena di Verona
  • Piazza Bra

Here is a detailed guide with more info about this gorgeous city.

Where to Stay in Verona

Verona is great for a day trip from Venice but of course you can stay there overnight, too. I highly suggest, picking a hotel directly in the city center and I would choose this hotel for my next Verona trip.

CONCLUSION: HOW TO SPEND 2 WEEKS IN ITALY

Wait, where is Milan? As you can see, some top places, like Lake Como and Milan, or the Dolomites are not on the list. They surely are lovely and have their charm, but with limited time (meaning less than three or even four weeks in Italy) for the first time, I suggest the places mentioned above.

If you are a traveler who is restless and wants to add even more places to the itinerary, I have more tips here. However, this itinerary is busy already, though it should not stress you out.

If you plan a trip to Italy, you’re sure to broaden your horizon and experience a variety of unique adventures. I can highly recommend that you travel to Italy for a guaranteed great trip.

You will be able to see quite a lot – and with this 2-week Italy itinerary you get a very good idea of the best places to visit.

However, you can never spend enough time in the country and 2 weeks is surely not enough, so it will just whet your appetite for the country and you can see more of it on your next trip.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Most Fun Things to do in Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy

Best things to do in Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy. Where to go and what to visit #sirmione

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SIRMIONE AND MORE TRAVEL TIPS

Planning your trip to Lake Garda and to Sirmione? Then find out about the best things to do in Sirmione – the best attractions and places to visit.

Sirmione is probably the busiest town in the Lake Garda area. It is a real hotspot, and though I think I liked Limone just a little bit better, this was pretty cool as well.

Known as “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas,” Sirmione’s fame comes from its thermal waters that offer healing properties, and writers like Catullo and Goethe that hailed its beauty. 

Sitting on the south bank of Lake Garda, Sirmione has a population of almost 7,800 inhabitants and some of the best attractions around. If you’re wondering about Sirmione, what to do and what to see, this lively and fun town has a lot to offer.

Best tourist attractions in Sirmione, Lake Grada

SIRMIONE TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some travel tips to help you get to Sirmione on Lake Garda and get around the town itself. 

How to Get to Sirmione

By plane: Bergamo (Milan) and Verona/Brescia or Verona Airport are popular airports close by. From there, you either head to Sirmione by car or bus. 

By car: Sirmione is reachable by car from the A4 Turin/Venice motorway. 

By train: You can take the train to the Desenzano station, which is the most popular junction in Lake Garda, where all trains stop.

How to Get Around Sirmione

There are many places that you can walk to in Sirmione. But you are not allowed to drive in the old town. So, if you are driving, make use of one of the (paid) car parks. They do get more crowded the closer you get to town though and it might be impossible to find a parking slot – we had to do some driving until we found a spot.

If you plan to take a day trip and see other nearby cities in Lake Garda, there are boat and ferry services – and, of course, you can get around by bus.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

Where to Stay in Sirmione

I stayed in Limone (a town I totally adored) – however, Sirmione is also a great place to stay in Lake Garda.

The most luxurious hotel in Sirmione is the Grand Hotel Terme – the 5-star hotel has thermal pools, and is located close at the lake and very close to most main attractions in Sirmione. You can check out rates and availibility here.

Degli Oleandri looks like a beautiful mid-range hotel perfectly located and with good reviews – check out rates here.

I you are looking for budget-friendly accommodations, Sirmione will make it hard for you but it is not impossible – check out all accommodations in Sirmione here.

Find my Lake Garda accommodation guide.

More Sirmione Travel Tips

Check out the following posts for more detailed information:

Lake Garda itineraries: 1-7 days in Lake Garda

Here are the most beautiful places in Lake Garda

Here are the most beautiful places in Northern Italy – for a perfect Northern Italy itinerary click here.

WHAT TO DO IN SIRMIONE

Sirmione is full of lovely attractions and also close enough for some delightful day trips. Here are some of the best things to do and places to visit in Sirmione at Lake Garda.

Stroll the Streets 

Wondering what to do in Sirmione first? Take a walk through the old town. Lined with restaurants, small boutiques, and colorful houses, the winding streets have plenty for your eyes to see. 

What to visit in Sirmione best things to do in Lake Grada

Best places to go in Sirmione best things to do in Lake Grada

I thought the old town was really nice, and the beautiful flowers that were everywhere I looked were so charming. I’m still a bigger fan of Limone’s old town, but this one was definitely worth a visit.

If you are looking for a bite to eat, there are pizzerias and gelaterias along the walkways. Rest, enjoy the colorful and lively city center, and get a taste of Sirmione.

Visit Scaliger Castle

One of the best places to visit in Sirmione is Scaliger Castle. Built in the 13th century, this is one of Italy’s best-preserved castles.

Best towns at Lake Garda Sirmione, Lake Grada

Where to go Sirmione, Lake Grada

It is located on the narrow part of the peninsula and surrounded by Lake Garda. There are three towers and the main tower that reaches 47 meters high.

Travel tips Sirmione, Lake Grada

These days, the only way to get to the castle is by crossing a drawbridge and climbing 146 steps. There are stunning views overlooking Sirmione and Lake Garda. 

While the views from inside are nice, the cost is about 6€, so if you are on a budget, skip this and just see it from the outside. These views are lovely as well.

Take a Boat Tour 

I love boats, and the sunset boat tour on Lake Garda is wonderful. You get some fantastic views from the water, so I highly recommend it. Make sure you book ahead.

Boat tour in Sirmonie

In front of Scaliger Castle, before you enter the old town, you will find the boat station where you can hop on. The tour takes you around the peninsula, which takes about 25-30 minutes. This is definitely one of the best activities in Sirmione.

During the off-season, you might be able to just hop on a boat without a prior reservation but in the busy months, I recommend to book your Sirmione boat trip in advance.

Spend Time at the Beach Behind the Castle 

There is a cute little beach behind Scaliger Castle, so once you are finished touring the inside and outside, and enjoying the views of Sirmione and the lake, head over here.

Where to go in Sirmione best things to do in Lake Grada

While you could swim in the water, I don’t suggest it. But it was a nice place to just relax and get some fresh air. There are some nice views over the water and I saw swans when I was there.

Sirmione can be busy even during the low season, so this is the perfect place to escape some of the bustle and crowds.

Swim at Jamaica Beach

Another one of the tourist attractions in Sirmione is Jamaica Beach. I did not actually visit it because I only saw it while on the boat tour. But apparently, it is a special place.

This beach is very popular and offers clear waters, great views, and warm waves to dip your toes into. This is not a sandy beach though. 

There is a tram that runs to the top if you don’t feel like walking. There, you’ll get the best views over Lake Garda.

To get to Jamaica Beach, come in through the old town.

TIP: Don’t have enough time? Then do a guided tour and discover the best of Lake Garda in one day.

Discover the Grotte di Catullo

The Grotte di Catullo is another point of interest in Sirmione, though I did not have a chance to visit it. This ancient Roman villa dates back to the first century, and its ruins are a very well-known and visited landmark.

Best tourist attractions in Sirmione, Lake Grada

The villa was reported to be the home of Catullo and his family, a Latin poet who died in 54 B.C. Because of sloping rocks, the building has sunk to different levels, with the main building in the northern part.

If you have the chance, visit the Grotte di Catullo. It is a lovely piece of Italian history and is even older than the Colosseum in Rome.

Visit GardaLand

GardaLand is one of the best things to see in Sirmione if you have kids – and even if you do not. I did not get to see it when I was in Sirmione, but it is extremely popular and a lot of fun.

The park has about 18 different rides to choose from, and there are also activities and other attractions. 

If you can, book your tickets at least 7 days in advance – then your tickets will be just 18€ each. 

In 2019, GardaLand will be launching a magical theme, including all new attractions. 

Take a Day Trip to Verona

If you are still wondering about Sirmione, what to do while here, a day trip to Verona would be a great idea.

Lamberti Tower view in Verona

Famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, Verona is the biggest city in the area. You can drive from Sirmione and it will only take about 1-1 ½ hours.

Once you arrive in this beautiful city, enjoy the lively and colorful piazzas. Stroll along the side streets and discover the heart of Verona.

If you are looking for a little more history, check out the Ponte Pietra, which is an arch bridge over the Aldige River from Roman times.

You can get to Verona by car or bus but there are also guided tours available. Check them out here.

Boat Tour to Limone  

When it comes to Sirmione, Lake Garda things to do, nothing beats a boat tour. Take the boat tour to Limone and enjoy a lovely day trip to one of the cutest villages I have ever seen.

Limone what to see and do in Lake Garda, Promenade

Going to Limone by boat takes some time – 3 hours to be exact – but it is full of picturesque scenery and worth the effort. The cost is 30 € for a round-trip ticket. You can also drive, or take the bus (but it is rather time-consuming). 

In Limone, you can explore the harbor and see tons of colorful houses overflowing with beautiful flowers. Find more pictures of this gorgeous town and get some Limone travel tips.

Venice

While I totally loved the area of Lake Garda, I suggest a day trip to Venice as well if you are in the area for more than 5-6 days. It takes about 2 hours to get to Venice by car/bus it Venice is probably the most unique destination in the world. No other place is like Venice.

Venice Itinerary 2 days

While 2 days in Venice and Burano would be a perfect time to spend there, you can see quite a bit in one day only. If you start your day early and book certain activities in advance, you will be able to get a very good glimpse of Venice.

Find my tips for the best Venice attractions.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING SIRMIONE, LAKE GARDA

As you can see, there are so many things to do in Sirmione –  you might may have trouble fitting them all in. Hopefully, this list of Sirmione attractions has helped you narrow down where to go in Sirmione and what to see. 

It is a beautiful town in Northern Italy and you should not miss out on it.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Italy or Croatia? Which Place is Better to Visit?

Italy or Croatia, which is the better country to visit?

Italy or Croatia? Which Place is Better to Visit?

Which place to visit in Europe? Which country is the better travel destination – Croatia or Italy? 

While finding the perfect travel destination depends a lot on personal choices, there are a few parameters that might help you to find out if you should travel to Italy or Croatia.

Comparing countries is difficult and personal – this is supposed to be a post helping you to find the better destination to travel to. But it is not based on facts, but more based on my experiences and my impressions – so, you might disagree and have a different opinion, but this is for the readers who need some help when they are totally unsure about what to expect.

Spoiler: I think both countries are great and eventually you should visit Croatia and Italy. 

But of course, it is not always possible to visit both countries in a short period of time and so I have compiled a list. This list should help you in your decision-making process and finding out whether Croatia or Italy is the best to visit for you at the moment.

Maybe you agree, or maybe you disagree – however, these are not facts but just my opinion.

So, without further ado, here are the arguments for or against Italy/Croatia.

History

Italy and Croatia both have a long history and buildings that tell a lot about the past. Both countries impress with medieval towns and sights. 

Dubrovnik views from the city wall

In Croatia, we have Dubrovnik with its medieval walls (that are still very-well maintained), Split, Sibenik, Pula, and more places that are perfect for anyone – not just the history geeks. 

However, Italy takes the cake here. Rome alone has so much to offer for history fans – hardly any other city in Europe can compete. Just think of the Colosseum!

Florence Michelangelo David Statue

Then we have the birthplace of the Renaissance – Florence. And let’s not forget all the small old towns that you can find in almost any town and city in Italy. 

Italy does not only win against Croatia, but would win this category against most countries, so the winner is clear here!

Road Trip

Which country is better to road trip? Italy or Croatia? My winner is clear: Croatia is the better place to road trip. At least, it is the more relaxed place to road trip. You may know that I drive regularly in Italy, but I am always anxious as heck – driving in Italy stresses me out (and also other non-Italians I have spoken to).

Best places to visit in the Dolomites

The thing with driving in Italy is: The views are often scenic – depending, of course, on where you drive, but especially in the mountainous northern part of Italy, where the window views are amazing.

However, if you use the highways in Italy, you have to pay. A lot. The tolls are extremely high. But if you use the side streets, it will take you forever to get from one place to the other.

Then, you have the crazy Italian driving style. I‘ll try to say it nicely – drivers in Italy are not very considerate. They tailgate (but somehow often don’t want to overtake), honk their horns whenever they feel like it, speed down narrow streets, and and so on. 

Yes, I love Italy and Italians, but driving in Italy has been – so far – not a thing I truly enjoy. In addition to this, cars without a special permit often cannot drive into town centers.

However, many people regularly report that the GPS does not warn them and it can easily happen that you drive there and receive a high fine (ask me, Bergamo charged me 70€).  Of course, it was my fault, but with all the stress that alreadys comes with driving in Italy, this is an unnecessary extra problem.

Driving in Croatia, on the other hand, is like a dream come true – although yes, tolls on the highways are extremely high. 

D8 street in Croatia when road tripping

Even higher than in Italy, BUT there are many, even more scenic routes that you can drive for free. You can avoid paying toll highways most of the time – even if you drive from Rovinj to Dubrovnik, you can basically – and easily – drive without using highways. And I promise, the roads and views are amazing.

Streets are mostly not narrow, but mostly wide enough – even the mountain roads. And streets, apart from cities and busy towns, are not busy, which makes driving in Croatia a lot of fun. 

In addition, the drivers in Croatia are completely different from the drivers in Italy.

They are much more considerate and patient. Yes, I love driving in Croatia – actually, the Croatia road trip has been one of my favorite trips so far (probably even better than driving in Switzerland with its amazing mountain roads).

Budget

Croatia and Italy are both NOT budget-friendly destinations, in general. 

Croatia is no longer a hidden gem with great prices – but most countries aren’t the most expensive travel destinations in Europe either.

If you visit in the summer months, both places will be expensive – you have pricey Dubrovnik (very pricey Dubrovnik actually) and Hvar in Croatia, and then many, many expensive places in Italy like Florence, Lake Como, Rome… (I could go on forever.)

So, in general, visiting either of the countries in July or August is not the best idea for your budget – but even though Croatia is not a cheap destination, overall, I would definitely say it is still cheaper than Italy in terms of accommodations, food, and activities.

So, if you are budget-conscious, then Croatia is probably the better place to visit, though prices are increasing with the more visitors the country gets.

Dog

If you are a dog owner, you might be wondering about whether Italy or Croatia is more dog-friendly.

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites

We have a clear winner: Italy is probably the most dog-friendly country in Europe (along with San Marino). 

This comes from two things: my dog loves Italy and the people in Italy love my dog. It is such a tight bond that they have created in the last few years.

So, why is Italy so dog-friendly? First of all, quite a lot of accommodations allow dogs.  Sure, not all do, but compared to many other countries in Europe, dogs are often welcomed – and many times, without an extra charge.

Second, Italians show a lot of affection to dogs (at least to smaller dogs). My dog, Puppy, makes friends daily (and he normally is not the friendliest dog) because Italians talk to him in such a beautiful voice (and Italian is such a sweet language that dogs like it in general, I assume).

Next, you can take dogs (smaller and medium-sized at least) into many indoor places. Taking dogs into restaurants is quite common in many countries, but in Italy I was allowed to take my dog into some museums, grocery stores, churches (yes, you have read that right), and other indoor buildings. 

Of course, sometimes dogs were not allowed and sometimes dogs were only allowed if carried in bags. In popular places like Pisa and Florence, dogs were not allowed at the main attractions at all. But in the end, no other country has been as dog-friendly as Italy.

What about Croatia? Well, Croatia is not really dog-unfriendly, but it is also not really dog-friendly. If you filter accommodations on Booking that allow dogs, you will realize that a lower percentage than in Italy allows dogs. And thus, that leaves you with a smaller choice of accommodations.

Traveling in Croatia with a dog

Also, dogs are not allowed in most buildings – I was even kicked out of a bus in Dubrovnik because of my dog.

I did not even check if dogs were allowed because I just assumed it would be fine (especially because he was carried in a little bag).

On the other hand, he was allowed on boats in Dubrovnik and Rovinj.

So, I would not say Croatia is very dog-unfriendly, but Italy is the best place to visit in Italy with a dog.

People

There is no clear winner and it is a close call, though I would probably say that Italians might win by a hair. 

So far, my experiences with Italians have been pretty positive – despite the fact that Italians often vote for right-wing parties. And I have heard from some other visitors, especially colored people, that they experienced some blunt racism even when they visited for only a few days.

Luckily, I haven’t experienced anything like that. Yes, I do look Italian, but people quickly realize I am a foreigner – due to my lack of language skills. But I love how friendly the people are – yes, Italian men are very flirty, but even the women are very friendly.

What about Croatians? Croatians are friendly, too – but somehow, they seem more reserved, and younger women in particular were not as friendly.

As for language, Croatians often speak better English (and many even speak some German,) but even communicating with Italians wasn’t a big issue. So, for me, Italians are the friendlier ones – but I sometimes wonder if the people are so overly friendly in Italy just because they really like my dog?! 

I don’t know and I have heard other opinions, so my tip is to be open-minded in this category.

Mountains and Lakes

The Dolomites in northern Italy, South Tyrol to be more precise, is one of the most stunning  outdoor places in Europe, if not the world.

Best lakes to visit in the Dolomites, Italy

With stunning lakes, like Lago di Braies and Lago di Carezza or Lago di Sorapis, and the uniquely-shaped mountain range of the Dolomites, it is one of the most distinctive and unique areas in the world.  This alone is reason enough to declare Italy the winner for mountain and lake lovers. 

Yes, Croatia is mountainous, too. Driving in the mountains in Croatia is fun and the views are beautiful, too.

Dubrovnik old town view Srd Hill

But the Dolomites win the race and bring the trophy home for all of Italy.

Weather

Both countries have a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and colder (and wetter) winter months. So, both are great for beach vacations in summer, and perfect for sightseeing in spring and fall. And in winter, you can do some winter sports – at least in some areas of both countries.

In northern Italy, it gets really cold though in the winter months, and it is a perfect place for winter sports – but you can do winter sports in Croatia, too.

Waterfalls

Italy is known for many things, and though there are some waterfalls in Italy, it surely is not the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Italy.

Plitvice Lake in Croatia

One of the first attractions that comes to mind when talking about Croatia though is the Plitvice National Park with its many, many waterfalls.

Then there is the Krka National Park with even more waterfalls – so, if you chase amazing waterfalls, then Croatia is the place to go.

Fashion 

Are you a shopping addict? Then head to Italy – Italy is the fashion capital of Europe.  Especially around Milan, people are just extremely beautifully dressed, and in general, Italians are the best dressed people. 

It does not surprise that many famous fashion designers, like Armani, are Italian.

So, if you are a shopping addict, and especially into fashion, then Italy is the better place to visit.

Party

This is another category that I personally cannot really judge first-hand, but given the many big cities, I assume Italians have a lot of parties taking place. However, it seems that visitors love Croatia as a party destination. Think about the Yacht Weeks and Hvar – the party island. Younger people who like to party tend to flock to Croatia!

Beaches

Are you looking for a relaxed and still fun beach holiday? Okay, I am not the expert here as I am not the biggest beach person – but both Italy and Croatia have beautiful beaches.

Due to their locations, both countries have many beaches and it will never take too long to find a beach. You can even combine a city trip with some days at the beach. But there are differences. 

Beach in Croatia, road trip in Croatia

Many of Croatia‘s beaches are rocky or pebbly beaches – which is not to everyone’s taste. The water is clear and stunning, but it really comes down to whether you like sandy beaches or not.

There are definitely enough beaches to choose from, and if you really want to find a sandy beach, you can find those ones, too. Beaches in Italy are also stunning – not all beaches are sandy here, either, but you can find more of them.

So, both places are great for a beach vacation and I cannot really name a winner.

Food

If asked for one of the best foods in the world, many would probably name Italy in their top 3.

Vegetarian food in Italy-2

And Italy does have some amazing food – pizza and pasta are just some of the delicious food options. Let’s not forget about antipasto and gelato.

Yes, food in Italy is great and I don’t know anyone who seriously dislikes Italian food. There are, however, some big differences between southern and northern Italian food (I am more into southern Italian food, with its vegetables).

BUT Croatia is actually also known for good food – seafood and meat lovers especially are in heaven in Croatia. Food here is heavier though not bad. Yes, you can find international dishes (like the Indian food in the picture), too but that is not typical Croatian food.

Vegan food in Dubrovnik

Though I do not eat any seafood or meat, I did have some great dinners there and Croatia for sure did not disappoint.

However, given the overall reputation of food in both countries, Italy wins here.

Wine

So, for many, this might be another important aspect. Where do you get better wine? This is another category I am no expert in, but think of Tuscany!

Wine tasting at Ruffinio Relais Tuscany estate

Besides the green rolling hills, it is all about wine – what wine lover does not dream of visiting Italy and trying all the different wines? The biggest wine producer in Italy has also opened its own relais – perfect for anyone who wants to combine a vacation with wine tasting!

Yes, Croatia also has a long history of wine production, and if you drive through Croatia, you will find many vineyards along the way – but when competing against Italy, Croatia gets the short end of the stick.

Where to Go? Croatia or Italy?

This comparison is totally based on my own judgement – of course, I tried to back it up here and there with facts, BUT please do not take it too personally. 

It should help you find the perfect destination – we are all different and are all looking for different things when traveling. Both share a lot of similarities, but also some differences.

I do like both countries and have enjoyed my times there. But of course, it is not only we humans that are different, but also our countries. Maybe you agree, or maybe you disagree and have had different experiences. Either way, don’t take my opinion for fact, though I try to be as honest as I can be!

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

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