BEST TRAVEL TIPS FOR ITALY

What to know as American before traveling to Italy, travel tips for Italy

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO ITALY

Are you planning your first trip to this gorgeous country and are now wondering about the best travel tips for Italy? Then this post is for you – here are the most essential Italy travel tips for your Italy itinerary

Visiting Italy is always a great idea. There is a lot to love about Italy, and many reasons that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Understandably, it gets lots of visitors. Here is what you need to know before going to Italy and important Italy travel tips if this is your first time.

Rome tourists points with Arzo Travels
Rome with a view of Vatican City and Rome, Italy

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TRAVEL TIP FOR ITALY: LANGUAGE

The main language of Italy is Italian. English is not spoken very well in many parts of the country, but the locals try their best to understand you when you use it. However, don’t worry, most of the hospitality and tourism staff speak English well.

Don’t be surprised if you hear many people speaking German in the northern part of the country or French in Valle d’Aosta region.

It’s best to try to master some basic Italian words to make your visit easier, such as

  • grazie (thank you)
  • ciao (informal hello)
  • buongiorno (good morning)
  • scusi (polite excuse me and sorry)
  • bello (beautiful)
  • buono (tasty)

TIP FOR VISITING ITALY: PEOPLE

Before starting your Italy trip, you should know that the people here are incredibly open and warm-hearted. Don’t be surprised if people come up to you to touch and compliment your children or pets (if you’re traveling with some). Italians are also loud, passionate, and exuberant people, much more so than others (like German or French people in my opinion. Personally, I love it, but some might have to get used to that.

As a woman, you are often approached by men – it seems Italian men just love and appreciate women. So, I don’t read too much into it and you should not do either but don’t be surprised if it happens.

TIPS FOR THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY

If you’re traveling to Italy, you should know that summers can get really hot and crowded. I suggest not visiting in July or August. While Italy is busy all year round, those months are the absolute craziest.

In particular, beware of August 15th and the days around that date: it is a national holiday when most Italian companies close for one or two weeks. Thousands of Italians travel from the cities to the seaside, and even to the mountains and lakes, to escape the heat and enjoy their holidays. This means traffic, high prices, and crowds. You may actually get to enjoy really hot, but relatively empty cities.

Fall and spring are a little less crowded, but the weather is also less predictable.Venice Itinerary 2 days

Personally, if you are totally flexible, I suggest visiting in April and May, or in September or early October. Of course, it depends where you want to visit and what you want to do, but this is generally a good rule.

If you enjoy winter sports, then you might want to consider December (it always gets busier around Christmas and New Years Eve), January, or even February. The skiing season usually ends around Easter, especially if it comes early in the year. Hotels, restaurants, and even shops in ski resorts may be closed during the spring and the fall.

TIPS ON WEATHER IN ITALY

If you are going to Italy in the winter, be aware that the temperatures can differ by as much as 20ºC (about 40ºF) from the north to the south. Furthermore, northern Italy is wetter than southern Italy; all the cities in the Pianura Padana plain, like Turin, Milan, Bologna, can have some snow and most definitely some fog. Venice in the winter feels really cold because of the humidity. In the south instead, like in Naples or in Sicily, the winter still feels somewhat like spring.

Milano Duomo, Lombardy itinerary
Milan in summer – hot, hot, hot, and sticky

Summer is hot, but there is less weather variation, especially in the cities or on the coast. However, if you plan to travel to the mountains in the summer – for example, to the Dolomites or to Lake Garda – you will still need a jacket in the evenings.

Personally, I never enjoyed the summer times in Italy. July and August are really hot, sticky, and unpleasant – even in Northern Italy. I cannot even imagine how Southern Italy will be like at that time when the temperatures can stay above 30ºC (about 86ºF) even in the evenings!

For a beach vacation, June or September can still be fine. In June the seawater will still be somewhat chilly, while in September it will feel warmer after receiving months of the summer sun. Especially in southern Italy and in the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, it’s pleasant to swim even in early October.

TIPS FOR GETTING AROUND ITALY

Walking is big here, despite the cobblestone streets. After all, this is what you came here for! The medieval atmosphere in the small towns, the grand buildings in the large cities, the long promenades by the sea. The best way to enjoy Italy is by walking.

Limone sul Garda, ItalyWhile Italians will still wear high heels while walking on these roads, I don’t recommend it. A lot of your Italy trip will require walking, especially in the city centers and old towns, so good shoes are necessary. My tip for your trip is to bring along stylish yet comfortable shoes that you can walk around in all day. You want to avoid thin soles (like ballerinas or sandals): you may feel like you’re in a movie, but your feet will make you regret that choice very quickly.

Tip: pack some plasters in your handbag, in case you get a blister.

TIPS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN ITALY

One of the things you should know when visiting Italy is that public transportation is excellent. Okay, not everywhere in Italy but in many areas. It is reliable and a great way to get around – much better than in Germany.

The two main railway networks in Italy are Trenitalia and Italotreno; furthermore, there are small local companies that run on specific routes. If you want to travel by train on a longer route with the fast “Freccia” trains, consider booking in advance.

There are a lot of bus companies running up and down the country; in the highly touristic areas, extra lines are activated in the high season. A large and international bus company is FlixBus.

So, take advantage of the buses and trains to save money and the hassle of driving. Just make sure you get to the right station in the cities where there are multiple main stations (e.g. Venice Santa Lucia Train Station is really in Venice, while Venice Mestre Train Station is in the town of Mestre, the last city on the ground before the Venice lagoon).

Tip: If you buy a paper ticket, remember to validate your ticket BEFORE you get on a train, at the machines in the underground tunnels, or on the tracks. You must do this before riding, otherwise, the ticket inspector may fine you.

Driving in Italy

If you are visiting Italy and plan to drive, be aware that this can be a real challenge. You are often not allowed to drive in certain areas called ZTL (like city and town centers), even if your GPS sends you there. Unfortunately, the signs aren’t always super clear, or the areas are off-limits only on specific days or at specific times. If you do drive somewhere you shouldn’t, you will receive a fine at home. Not a nice souvenir of your trip to Italy.

Best places to visit in the Dolomites
Road mountains in the Dolomites

Driving can be fun in Italy, but it can also be a horrible experience. Parking is a pain. Gas is expensive. Traffic can slow you down significantly.

And just the act of driving in Italy can be frustrating and a little nerve-wracking. For instance, in the north, you have to contend with narrow mountain roads where people pass you at high speeds. Fender benders are not uncommon. In the summer, there are often road works, while in the winter the snow makes the roads even more narrow and dangerous.

Also, driving in Southern Italy can be challenging, as the locals seem to be following a different set of rules – I have only driven in Northern Italy, and believe me, that was time-wracking at times.

Before you decide to road trip Italy, you should know that gas/petrol is costly, as well as parking in main tourist attractions.

Also, there is a toll for many highways, which can get quite expensive. You pay around $8-10 for 100 km (prices vary a bit). You get a ticket when you access the highway (sometimes there are queues at the toll booths) and you pay your fee when you exit, by cash or card. Of course, you can use toll-free roads, but those usually cross lots of towns, so it might take much longer to get to your destination.

These are all great reasons to use public transportation whenever you can. However, I will drive in Italy again because it is still worth it to me. I love the freedom that comes with driving, the possibility to stop when you want or need to (very useful when I travel with my dog), and the scenery is just gorgeous.

Style/Fashion in Italy

Italians are the most beautiful people in the world… in my opinion.

They are incredibly fashionable, especially in northern and central Italy. Even if you think you are dressed up, you may still feel frumpy when standing next to an Italian.  Before you pack for your trip to Italy, consider bringing some dressier clothes to fit in with the locals, especially if you plan dinners in nice restaurants or drinks in the evening. If you are looking to have a more casual holiday, this may not be the best location.

Skip the Lines in Italy

Italy is one of the busiest countries in the world when it comes to visitors and attractions – off-season or on. There are always lines and crowds, even under the sun or in the rain – as you can expect in such a beautiful and popular country. Because of this, skipping the line makes the most sense here.

Venice 2-day Itinerary , best places to see in a weekend
Lines in Venice

When I buy tickets in advance, I mostly use GetYourGuide. I love that I can cancel up to 24 hours without any costs if something else comes up. And if I want to avoid the lines… Just choose skip-the-line tickets for Venice, Rome, and Florence. You will find most tours and tickets here.

With that said, Italians are not very reasonable or logical when it comes to queueing. They don’t really form a line when waiting for the train or the bus: they will all rush to the doors when they open. Be patient and try to follow the flow. Also, stay safe by keeping your valuables in closed pockets.

Electricity in Italy

Electricity in Italy is generally reliable throughout the country. In Italy, the standard voltage is 230 V – you can use your electric appliances if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V, so you shouldn’t have any trouble plugging in your chargers and curling irons. 

Remember that if you are an American traveling to Italy, you will need to have an adapter since the voltage is different and could fry your electronics. Italy also has some two-pronged outlets (though they are mostly three-pronged these days), so to be on the safe side, buy the adapters with only two prongs.

In general, if you travel with lots of electronics that need charging every night, you may want to bring a multi-plug or power strip. Some hotels, especially old ones, may have just a couple of outlets in their rooms, and sometimes they are behind cabinets or far away from the bedside table.

Water in Italy

Water in Italy is free from the various drinking fountains found throughout the cities and towns. This water is safe and delicious. To save money on your Italy trip, bring along a reusable water bottle to fill wherever you go.

In many restaurants, you can ask for a jar of tap water, which is usually free.

Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy

These two parts of Italy are significantly different, despite being part of the same country. But they are both charming in their own right.

Before you make your Italy itinerary, you should know that Italy’s northern part is renowned for its spectacular mountains and lakes. Southern Italy is famous for its luxurious beaches (and even better food). But each is stunning and worth visiting. Things to know before visiting ItalyFurthermore, art and history are present in all cities, from the Alps to the tip of Sicily. While you can certainly visit the most famous Italian cities like Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples, it is just as wonderful to choose a smaller area, in order to discover one major city and lots of hidden gems.

More contained areas are Florence and the medieval towns in Tuscany; Milan, Turin and the excellent vineyards; the marvelous coast from Naples to Capri; the clear sea waters in Puglia; or the Greek heritage sites in Sicily.

Here are my favorite places in Northern Italy – find out which places blew me away!

Siesta in Italy

If you’re planning your Italy vacation, make sure to account for the daily practice of siesta. Italians take a siesta every day from approximately 1 – 4 pm. Many restaurants and shops, especially in small towns or in the south, may be closed during this time, so plan to either take a siesta yourself or pack a picnic to enjoy while you wait for things to open up again.

During the hot summer months, it’s very pleasant to relax at the hotel during these hours. It can be really exhausting to visit a city in such hot temperatures.

However, if you visit major cities like Milan, Florence, and Rome, most establishments are open all day long.

Public Restrooms in Italy

Another piece of important Italy travel info is to always have some change on you in Italy. The public restrooms here charge about 1 euro, so always have some cash on hand for when you need it.

Usually, you can access the restroom of a café or restaurant for free when you make a consumption. It is considered rude to walk in and make your way to the restroom without ordering anything.

Credit Cards / Cash in Italy

Speaking of money, an important thing to know when going to Italy is whether credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, although American Express is less frequently taken than Visa and MasterCard. 

Now, cards in Italy are accepted often, but not always. Sometimes, shops or restaurants will refuse your card if you spend less than 5-10 euros; street food kiosks or establishments in remote places may not accept card payments altogether. For these reasons, I do suggest always having cash on you. It will save you a lot of trouble if you have cash on hand.

The currency in Italy is the euro. Before you travel, make sure you check the fees and commissions for withdrawing euros and for making purchases in euros with your card.

Religious Sites in Italy

Italians take religion very seriously (somehow). With the Vatican located within Rome, there is a heavy Catholic influence on the country and people. 
Churches to visit in Bergamo, ItalyWhen visiting religious sites and churches, make sure to show the proper respect by wearing appropriate clothing: cover your shoulders if you wear a tank top, and cover your legs if you wear shorts or a miniskirt. Keeping a scarf in your handbag may come in handy. Men should wear suitable clothing too.

Observe any rules and customs, and you will have a great time visiting these stunning cultural and historical sights.

Restaurants in Italy

Restaurants in Italy have many names. A ristorante is a generic restaurant; a pizzeria is dedicated to pizza; an osteria and a trattoria are usually family-managed and offer traditional local food; a taverna will offer more wine than food.

Limone best activities
Limone sul Garda restaurant

When dining out at a restaurant in Italy, you will most likely encounter a fee called a “coperto”. This fee literally “covers” the cost of the tablecloth and napkins, plates and cutlery, and usually some bread. It will depend on where you are dining, but usually, it is between 1 and 3 euros per person. If this is included on your bill, then you don’t need to leave a tip. Sometimes, a service fee is also charged.

When it comes to opening hours, restaurants in touristy areas will be open almost all day. The peak hour for Italians in the North is approximately 1 PM for lunch and 8 PM for dinner; in the South, it’s usually a bit later. Avoid the crowd by having lunch and dinner a little earlier than that.

If you behave particularly nicely, or if your total bill is particularly high, the waiters may decide to offer you some grappa or limoncello, the local liqueurs, as a goodbye drink.

Food in Italy

What more do you need to know about Italy? Well, about the food, of course! Vegetarian food in Italy-2There is a big difference between food in the north and the south of Italy. The south has, overall, a healthier fare, which is more my kind of food. There is more emphasis on meats and cheeses in the north – so not vegetarian-friendly, let alone vegan-friendly. 

As for pizza, I have heard that it is best in Naples, located in Italy’s southern part. But I have had good pizza in the north, too. For your own safety, do not try to order pizza with pineapple!

Some people consider breakfast the most important meal of the day – but not in Italy. Breakfast is not a big deal here: Italians like their breakfast sweet, which usually means coffee and a croissant or a similar pastry. If you decide to have breakfast at the cute café around the corner from your flat, this is what you will find.

Even if you go to a restaurant (unless it is a big chain), you will only have a few small cakes and sweets for breakfast. Only hotels with international clients will offer something more, like eggs, ham, and vegetables. If this is very important for you, make sure you check before you book your accommodation.

Wine in Italy

Although I don’t drink, Italy is the perfect place to visit if you love wine. Wine tasting at Ruffinio Relais Tuscany estate

As the largest producer of wine globally, there are tons of vineyards for you to visit during your Italian holiday. Some of the best and oldest wines come out of Italy, especially reds. You are absolutely in wine heaven here.

Even without visiting vineyards, you can discover many unique wines during an aperitivo at a nice wine bar. After work and before dinner, from 6 or 7 pm, Italians like to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with olives and snacks; in large towns, bars offer large buffets for aperitivo, at a fixed price. This is the perfect occasion to taste local wines and experience a very Italian tradition.

P.s. I recently stayed at a wine relais in Tuscanycheck out my review here.

Gelato in Italy

Bad gelato supposedly exists in Italy – but I have never had any. My Italy travel advice for you is to try this sweet and indulgent treat while you are exploring this fun and colorful country. 

A famous brand of gelato in Italy is Grom: they source very unique and local ingredients to make delicious gelato. Their gelateria, ice-cream parlors, are usually located in the centers of large towns.

Some traditional Italian gelato flavors that you should try are Sicily pistachio and Piedmont hazelnuts; each region boasts local ingredients and unusual combinations. 

If you are lactose-intolerant or vegan, you should still be able to taste fruit-based gelato, made with water instead of milk.

Coffee in Italy

Good news if you are a coffee drinker – Italians love coffee! It’s a ritual, just like aperitivo.

First of all, coffee is meant to be a quick stop. Many Italians take a short break from work, head to the closest café, order an espresso at the counter, drink it in 2 sips, and that’s it! Espresso is really small and energetic. Of course, you can also sit at a table and rest, but once during your trip to Italy, you should try this Italian coffee ritual.

Eat and drink your way through Italy

On the other hand, if you want to take a longer break, just order a longer coffee: a foamy cappuccino! Cappuccinos are rather cheap in Italy, about 1.50  to 2.50 euros. But it’s important to know that in Italy, they only drink it until 11 am. This is because it contains milk, and milk is considered a morning-only drink. They will look at you weirdly if you order a cappuccino after lunch.

So, my tip is to have a vegan cappuccino – have a plant-based drink alternative and you can still enjoy a great drink without being weirdly looked at.

Hotels and Accommodations in Italy

You should know before staying in Italy that many hotels charge a city tax. The fee is usually 1-3 euros for each room or a small percentage of the room price, on top of the hotel price. This city tax may not be included in the price of the room when you book, however. It is usually written in small letters, and it has to be paid at Reception instead of online.

Room at Ruffino Relais in Tuscany estate with Arzo Travels

Personally, I almost always book with Booking.com. I prefer them because they allow me to cancel last minute, most of the time without penalty (yes, flexibility is crucial to me). Click here to check out prices via Booking here.

One very important thing to remember if you travel to Italy in the summer is to check if your accommodation has air conditioning. While it is very common right now to have air conditioning in hotel rooms, some historical buildings may not have it. If it’s very important to you, check in advance.

Another thing to coordinate if you plan to rent a car in Italy is to check the parking availability at your accommodation (and in the cities, you plan to visit). You don’t want to rent a giant SUV which won’t fit in the narrow alley leading to your cute hotel in a medieval town.

If you travel during the winter, 4×4 and snow tires are a must.

Hidden Gems in Italy

While Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe (or probably worldwide), there are a few hidden gems that tourists do not overrun.

Where to go in Trento, Italy and what to do.
Beautiful Trento

One of them is Trento – another one is Bergamo, but no worries, there are many more places that are still underrated and less busy. Check out my favorite hidden gems here

Especially if you plan to visit very popular and crowded cities, consider taking a break with a day trip or a night in a peaceful Italian town.

Traveling With a Dog in Italy

One of the best news for dog lovers is that Italy loves dogs, so my best Italy travel tips include this tip: Traveling with a dog in Italy is great – at least if you have a smaller dog.

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
Puppygal in Italy, Dolomites

First of all, Italians love dogs and show their affection. My dog is not always a fan of it (sometimes he is), but I am happy people react so friendly to my dog as a proud dog mommy.

Second, most hotels do not charge extra if you bring a dog. A big, big plus (unlike many other countries where you have to pay up to 20 or even 30€ A NIGHT for bringing your dog).

Third, you can bring your little dog even into some castles or museums – this might not always be the case, but at least quite many places allow it when you have your dog in a bag or if you carry him (this is not common in Switzerland or Germany, etc.). Also, most supermarkets and restaurants will allow small dogs in.

Usually, you can take your dog on boats and cable cars, but you need to bring a muzzle (even the smallest ones need a muzzle in closed places, but this is somehow understandable since the smallest are often the most dangerous).

Just like anywhere else, it is required to clean up after your dog.

Solo Female Travel in Italy

I have visited Italy many times – sometimes with friends but also with my parents. But I also often visit Italy solo (okay, my doggy is sometimes with me), and I love it. Yes, men are sometimes very flirty, but I never felt uncomfortable and harassed. 

Vineyeards from Ruffinio in Tuscany estate with Arzo Travels
Solo female travel in Italy

People are amiable, and it is easy to have conversations with locals. There are a few aspects to keep in mind when traveling solo, but in general, I think Italy is a GOOD country for solo (female) travelers. 

READ MORE: 

Italy is an interesting and diverse country. There is so much to see, taste, and try here. Hopefully, this post has helped you learn what you’ll need to know before visiting Italy, offering valuable tourist tips and important information to make your trip the best it can be.

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST HIDDEN GEMS IN ITALY TO VISIT

Italy, most underrated places in Italy. off the beaten path

ITALY´S HIDDEN PLACES – UNDERRATED PLACES TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST

Are you looking for a hidden gem in Italy t? Without a doubt, Italy is rich in AMAZING places to visit.  Everyone knows destinations like Rome, Milan, Venice, the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Florence in Italy. They are incredible, no doubt about it, but they are also popular and crowded – not just in the summer but also all year round. But Italy is so much more than just these areas, and if you are looking for some hidden gems, you will find some tips here. 

Italy is full of exciting & fun cities, amazing architecture, delicious food, beautiful art, incredible religious hamlets, cute streets, and stunning coastal towns. There are so many places that should be on your Italy radar because they are just as beautiful as their more popular counterparts, if not more so. These hidden gems tend to be cheaper to visit, less crowded, and have a more authentic feel since you will meet more Italians and fewer tourists.

Experience the wonderful hospitality of friendly locals at these off-the-beaten-path travel destinations. 

At the moment, this post focuses on underrated places in Northern and Central Italy as I haven’t visited Southern Italy yet – I know, what a shame. I am sure this will change soon. Also, I know that “hidden gem posts” can be controversial as none of the places are deserted. To me, hidden gems mean they can be well-known amongst locals, but the big crowds – especially from abroad – have not discovered the place yet, and it is not the main travel destination.

Bergamo

Located in the northern part of Italy, Bergamo is most known for its airport and proximity to Milan. In my opinion, it is the best place to visit in Lombardy. And I say this, even though I have just received a 72€ fine for driving my car in the old town of the city, which is not allowed – I still love Bergamo.Churches to visit in Bergamo, Italy

Best things to visit in BergamoBergamo is a great place to spend a day or two. There is an upper and lower area, but the upper place is the place to visit. You’ll find the 18th-century Cappella Colleoni, a gorgeous church that is even lovelier inside, where you can view frescoes by Tiepolo.

There are also the Venetian walls, Piazza Vecchia, Duomo di Bergamo (the city cathedral), and some lovely little squares and cobblestone streets you can get lost in. Here is my detailed Bergamo post for more information on this beautiful hidden gem in Italy.

Genoa

Not to raise your expectations too high, but this may be my favorite city in Italy. The capital of Liguria, Genoa, is a fairly large city with about 600,000 inhabitants. And even though it’s not small or without people, you won’t find many international tourists.  Best secret places in Italy, Genoa or Genova

Best hidden gems in Italy, GenoaThis is surprising because Genoa is such an incredible place. Full of attractions, you can see the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo, visit the fun harbor, wander the interesting, narrow streets, and enjoy beautiful views of the city accessible by the funicular. And then there is the waterfall in Villetta di Negro. Be sure to visit Via Garibaldi, a breathtaking historic street populated by palatial residences.

Genoa is one of the most underrated places in Italy, but it’s also the best. I mean…a waterfall in the city says everything!

Trento

Another hidden gem to add to your list is Trento. With a population of 120,000 people, this is a much smaller city than Genoa and is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in the northern part of the country. Where to go in Trento, Italy and what to do.

Best view in TrentoTrento is one of the most authentic places in the country. It is very lively and colorful, with lots of sights and attractions for you to enjoy. See the Trento Cathedral with its rose window, Piazza del Duomo, and Buonconsiglio Castle, known for its medieval frescos and amazing views and scenery. 

It is just a few minutes away from the mountains and Lake Garda. The best way to enjoy Trento is by staying for two nights because you will receive the Trentino Card, giving you free access to almost all the sights and attractions.

  • Check out more Trento travel tips here and find more information on this jewel of Northern Italy.

Lucca

Lucca is a beautiful town located in Italy’s Tuscany region. I thought it would be rather famous since I had heard about it several times before visiting, but there were not many tourists when I went at the beginning of April. In fact, considering its 90,000 inhabitants, there were still not a lot of people to see while I was there.Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

Most underrated places in Italy, Lucca in TuscanyWhile in Lucca, you will find a lot of towers and churches – a lot. You can walk along the Lucca walls built during the Renaissance and enjoy the view. But you should climb at least one tower while you’re here.

The most popular of the towers is the medieval Guinigi Tower. After you climb about 270 steps, you can enjoy some amazing views of the city. While Lucca is not exactly a hidden place in Italy, it is neither overrun, especially compared to other places in Tuscany.

Lerici

Lerici is also in the region of Liguria on the Italian Riviera. It’s conveniently located close to La Spezia and Cinque Terre. This is a local´s place even as it is gaining popularity as a travel destination, but I still consider it a hidden gem in Italy – and what a hidden gem!  Underrated places in Italy, Lerici in Liguria

Best hidden gems in Italy, LericiLerici is a small fishing village with only about 10,000 inhabitants. But despite its size, there are many beautiful things to see. If you take a walk on the promenade, you’ll be wowed by the breathtaking views – everything makes this place look lovely and adorable.

This village is a great alternative to Cinque Terre and a good place to get lost for a few hours or even a day. It gets busier nowadays, but the crowds you have in Cinque Terre are no fun. So, Lerici became one of my personal Cinque Terre highlights and is one of Italy´s top hidden gems.

Tellaro

While you’re in Lerici, you should also visit Tellaro, just a few kilometers away. It was described by a local as being like a village in Cinque Terre but without the crowds.Most underrated places in Italy, Tellaro Liguria

Underrated places in Italy, Tellaro LiguriaPerched on a cliff overlooking the Italian Riviera, Tellaro is one of the prettiest places in Liguria, maybe even Italy and was even voted as one of the most beautiful hamlets.

You can combine it with a trip to Lerici as it is small and you can discover the main attractions quite fast. While I surely liked Lerici more (it is bigger), it is a place that deserves a place on this list of hidden gems in Italy.

Lake Sorapis

This is perhaps the most beautiful lake in northern Italy. Located in the province of Belluno, in the Dolomites region, Lake Sorapis is one of the most distinctive lakes because of its color – it reminds me of Canada’s lakes. Lago di Sorapis, best things to see in the Dolomites.Must see place

Lago di Sorapis in the Dolomites, ItalyYou also have Lake di Braies, which is close by and extremely popular. But Lake Sorapis is not as popular because you have to hike for a bit to reach it, which can be quite challenging. This mountain lake is about 2,000 meters above sea level, so you will have to follow one of the two hiking paths – easy or difficult – to get here.

If you prefer the easier path, there will be more people on it with you. The harder one is a little more off-the-beaten path, and you will see very few people along the way. But whichever trail you choose, it will be worth it. One of the best places to visit in the Dolomites is Lake Sorapis – a beautiful hidden gem of Italy.

  • Please find out more about my hike to Lake Sorapis here. 

Pistoia

This small city in Tuscany is another travel destination that you must see if you like veering off the beaten path. Pistoia is surely one of the most hidden gems in Italy. With 90,000 inhabitants, I would have expected it to be busier, like other cities of its size. But when I visited on a sunny April afternoon, there were not many people around. Secret places places in Italy, Pistoia in Tuscany

Most secret places places in Italy, Pistoia in TuscanyBut there were lots of places to see. Check out the Piazza del Duomo, Pistoia Cathedral, and the Palazzo del Vescovi (an 11th-century palace that holds several museums now). There are also many beautiful churches that you can visit.

You can combine your trip to Pistoia with a visit to nearby Pescia, located between Lucca and Florence – you can easily do both towns in one day. 

With a population of just 20,000, Pescia isn’t very large but has some lovely attractions. Visit the Pescia River, see the Santi Stefano church, some interesting bridges, and the Pescia Cathedral. 

Porto Venere

If you ask me about my favorite town in Italy, it would be Porto Venere. It is one of the best secret places in Italy, yet also one of the most beautiful. Located on the Ligurian coast, it is only about half an hour from La Spezia in northwestern Italy.Best hidden gems in Italy, Porto Venere

Best hidden gems in Italy, PortoVenereThe town is known for the Porto Venere Regional Natural Park, where you can hike and dive. But even if you are not a hiker or diver, you will love the colorful seaside promenade that can easily compete with the villages of Cinque Terre. Castello Doria, once a fortress, sits on top of a cliff and has some of the best views you can get. 

This is a small place, but there are lots of things to see and do. It will probably only take you a few hours to stroll through this lovely town and take in the sights. Porto Venere is great for anyone who wants to escape the Cinque Terre crowds but still experience the famous colorful beauty of the Ligurian coast and access the beach. Here is my more detailed guide on Portovenere.

It is THE best day trip to take from Cinque Terre, and actually, I think it should be even on your Cinque Terre itinerary.

Santa Margherita

Since I had never heard of it before I stayed there, Santa Margherita is quite a busy place. I just booked a hotel there because it was close to Portofino. It is also close to Genoa, and you can get there in minutes. Best hidden gems in Italy, Santa Margeherita

Santa Margherita in Liguria, hidden secrets in ItalyI was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. It is the prettiest bigger town in all of Liguria, in my opinion. What sets the city apart is that it doesn’t have the typical charm of the other towns. A lot of Italy looks aged and faded, which is what makes it so charming. But Santa Margherita is picture-perfect and clean. It reminded me of the Venetian hotel in Macau or Las Vegas. 

It’s a stunning place to wander the streets. There’s a really nice harbor, a 17th-century palazzo called the Villa Durazzo. You can enjoy the gardens and a view of the town, and stunning churches like the Chiesa di Santa Margherita d’Antiochia. Make sure you visit the insides of the churches, as they are gorgeous – some of the fanciest I have ever seen. 

You can easily get from here to Portofino and Genoa, but it would be a pity to use it as a base. Santa Margherita is a unique and lovely hidden gem that you should definitely see while visiting Italy.

Perugia

Another hidden gem I have encountered on my Italy travel is Perugia. The city, the Umbria region’s capital, has defensive walls around the historic center and holds some interesting places to visit, like Rocco Paolina, an old city beneath the city. Sound weird? It is.Perugia piazza, one of the best secret places in Italy

Perugia view, one of the best of the beaten places in ItalyThen, the Fontana Maggiore, the Perugia Cathedral (it looks less impressive on the outside than the inside), and the National Gallery. I cannot say I wanted to move here, but it was fun to visit and experience another off-the-beaten-path city of Italy, and it was different from the other places I have seen and visited in Italy.

Padua

One of the bigger cities that I really enjoyed was Padua – wow, what a beauty! However, due to its location – being only around 40 km from Venice – it is often overshadowed by its very famous neighbor. But Padua is the perfect place for a day trip from Venice.Padua, where to go in Italy to see secret places?

Padua church, one of the hidden places in ItalyIt has the biggest square in Italy – and Italian cities were created with some amazing squares at their centers – where many statues are on display! Then, there is the Basilica of St. Anthony – a stunning church that is one of the prettiest in all of the country.

Padua is quite small, and you could see it within one day, but if you want to stroll the streets and enjoy a lesser-known place in Italy, which is still lively and full of attractions, then Padua is your best option.

CONCLUSION: HIDDEN PLACES IN ITALY

If you visit Italy for the first time, make sure to check out the best travel tips for Italy. Italy is a gorgeous country with so much to offer, so skip the crowds and see its beauty off the beaten path.

I hope this list of the most beautiful hidden gems in Italy will help you plan out your own itinerary and see more than just the typical, popular locations. Safe Travels, Arzo

ULTIMATE PACKING LIST FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

What to pack for Europe in winter

WHAT TO PACK FOR WINTER IN EUROPE

If you 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.

Europe might not be the biggest continent, but weather conditions strongly vary. It does make a big difference whether you visit Northern 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 – some warm pullovers and jeans might be the warmest clothes you will need. In 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. You will find out what to pack for warmer countries like Spain or Malta, but also what to pack if you visit “cold” 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 about the weather in Europe in winter. 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 warmly 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 led to a much warmer climate in many countries. I remember the years – as a little child – when 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 of 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 list. 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 on 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 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 convenient, and they also come in cool colors. I recommend using packing cubes because it makes packing and organizing easier.
  • I choose a cross-body handbag with a zipper (to be safe) and several extra pockets for my handbag. My tip: The size of the handbag is important: do you carry a camera with you? A water bottle? Keep that in mind when you decide on one handbag.
  • Passport Holder: since I have become more minimalistic, I prefer not to use a passport holder, but if you need a passport (and an ID is not enough), you might want to have one.
  • I recommend a beach bag or a cotton bag for a day at the hotel pool or some shopping. Plastic bags – fortunately – do cost money in many parts of Europe…and plastic sucks anyway, so with a cotton bag you use for years, you do the environment a favor. And it looks much better than carrying your shopping 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. 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-sized 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 are 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 body 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 that I personally do hardly use but which might be important to you, so I added them here: hair spray, hand cream, foundation, powder, lipstick, sanitizer

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 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 the worst-case scenario, hypothermia and frostbite will result 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. Also, 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 Sports 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 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 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 sun’s glare on the white snow, making it close to unbearable for 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 a fantastic time in Europe.

Stay safe and enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ROME IN 2 DAYS

Rome in 2 days - best places to visit and places to see

AMAZING 2-DAY ROME ITINERARY

Are you planning your 2-day in Rome itinerary and wondering what and how much you can see in Rome in 2 days? Then read on as I share my tips for an amazing trip to this unique city! 

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 DAYS IN ROME

Rome is like no other city – full of history and culture, beautiful people, stunning architecture, and great food. Before starting with the best places to see in 2 days in Rome, you´ll find a quick guide with the most important travel information.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This 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.

Rome itinerary, Italy, Arzo Travels

How to Get Around 2 Days in Rome 

  • Rome can be wonderfully explored on foot. Most of the main attractions are quite close to each other, and if you are used to walking, you can enjoy these places as a pedestrian.
  • I had tickets for hop-on and hop-off sightseeing buses. We (this was not a solo trip) stayed in Rome for more than two days and walked each day at least 15-20 km and used the buses when we were tired or to save time. I admit that I love those sightseeing buses and regularly use them to get a good overview of the city.
  • Rome’s public transportation is apparently good, and you can use buses to get around easily and cheaply.
  • In my experience, there is no real need to use taxis or rent a car.

Where to Stay in Rome for 2 Days

Rome is one of the busiest cities in Italy – full of tourists at any time of the year. Accommodation can be pricey though you will not find many of the typical 5-star hotel chains you see everywhere else where you have crowds of visitors.

  • Luxury Hotels: St. Regis is one of the few hotel chains with a property in Rome. The hotel is popular because of its central location. It is within walking distance of Rome attractions like the Spanish Steps. Click here to find out more and get the best rates.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Here is a popular 3-star hotel – find out more about the Suites Farnese Design Hotel.
  • Budget Hotels in Rome: This might be the perfect choice for you: We were a group of three 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.
  • I had coffee at Atlante Star Hotel. The view from the rooftop is amazing and reason enough to stay there overnight. Check out their prices here.
  • If you prefer staying at an Airbnb, check out that post.

2-Day Rome Itinerary – Best Time to Visit 

We visited Rome in the winter – and had a blast. I definitely don’t recommend visiting in the summer. From June to September it is warm too hot and generally dry, and tourists from all around the world flock to Rome, so it gets extremely crowded and hotel prices are high.

The best time for a 2-day Rome trip – in my opinion – is from October to April. It can get coldish in the winter months but it hardly dips below freezing point.  Wintertime has the least crowds, which results in shorter lines (standing in lines might play a big role when visiting Rome). The weather in January, during my trip, was mild, and crowds were gone though it was still busy and lively, while accommodation costs are lower. 

The activities mentioned in this itinerary can all be done at any time of the year – but I guess winter, fall, or spring might be the best time to visit.

Money Issues in Rome

  • The currency is Euro (€).
  • Shops often advertise that EC/Credit Card payment is possible.
  • But the reality is that once we wanted to buy something (including tickets for the hop-on and hop-off buses), it did not work because of a “broken card machine.“ This happened regularly, and it was a bit frustrating and disappointing. I don’t want to assume too much, but we figured that credit card payments were not welcomed to avoid paying taxes to the government – that is just my guess though. 
  • I might be wrong, but definitely withdraw money and have cash on you to avoid problems, or book tickets in advance and pay online.

WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN ROME IN 2 DAYS

Visiting Rome means being transplanted back to ancient times. The Roman Empire used to be the most powerful in its time – and you can still visit many of these gorgeous places. So, let’s dive into your Rome itinerary.

DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN ROME

Start your day with a trip to the Colosseum…

Learn About Rome´s History at the Colosseum – Around 9 am

The Colosseum is one of the main tourist attractions. It is even a great place if you visit Rome with kids. Officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater it is almost 2,000 years old. It was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. Willian West 355103 unsplash Rome tourist attractions

However, there is a cruel and tragic history behind it, as the Colosseum used to be a venue for gladiator and wild animal fights for about 4 centuries. In the 6th century, it was abandoned and actually used as a quarry for numerous building projects. Restoration efforts only began in the 1990s. 

Despite its bloody history, it is an awe-inspiring place to see in Rome. The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built – it could hold up to 50,000 visitors. It is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today, though about two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time. It is made of stone, concrete, and tuff, and it stands 4 stories tall at its highest point. 

The architecture is one of the most distinctive in any European capital. While looking at it from a distance is nice (and free), you should get a ticket and explore the inside. Keep in mind that it is one of the main attractions, so there will be tons of other tourists visiting as well. Rome places to go in 2 days best sights

  • So, buying an online ticket in advance is a good option to avoid the line (as this includes “skip the lines” already). We got extra audioguides (and my cousin answered all my additional questions) and learned about its history in a nutshell. 
  • If you don’t have such an awesome cousin, you could book guided tours in advance.
  • Come here early to avoid the crowds 
  • Regular tickets are € 16.00 and include entrance to the Colosseum plus entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine archaeological area – but they do not include “skip the lines”.
  • Reduced tickets are available (bring your ID) 
  • There are tickets (not always available, though) that also allow you to visit the arena for a higher price
  • Opening hours: 10.30 am – 7.15 pm (last entry at 6.15 pm), closed January 1 and December 25
  • It takes about 1-3 hours to visit the Colosseum
  • There is no dress code but wear comfy shoes
  • HOW TO GET THERE: Roma, Piazza del Colosseo
    Metro: Line B stop Colosseo
    Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118
    Tram: n. 3

From the Colosseum, it is time to head to the next attractions, which are just a stone‘s throw away: the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Stroll the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – Around 11 am

If you have a ticket for the Colosseum, it normally includes the entry fees for these sights as well, which are other places to add to your 2 days in Rome itinerary. The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is located just to the west of the Colosseum and is the ancient city of Rome, whereas Palatine Hill rises above the Forum and it is the place where the emperors built their palaces. Rome best places to visit in 2 daysThe Roman Forum and Palatine Hill used to be the center of public life during the Roman Empire and included many of Ancient Rome´s most important structures. The remains paint a picture of how important this place used to be.

To be honest, I wish I had an audio guide or a tour guide. Even though I have a lively imagination, it was not enough to really grasp the importance of the place, and I felt a bit lost without a guide. 

You´ll also have great views of the Colosseum, and it is not as crowded as other Rome attractions, or maybe because of its size it felt less busy. Tourists places in Rome in two days

  • Combine it with a trip to the Colosseum
  • Regular tickets are € 16.00 and include entrance to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine archaeological area
  • Opening hours: 10.30 am – 7.15 pm (last entry at 6.15 pm), closed January 1 and December 25
  • Plan in 1-2 hours for these two attractions
  • HOW TO GET TO PALATINEVia di San Gregorio 30. From the Colosseum you can easily walk, otherwise: Metro: Line B stop Colosseo, Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118 Tram: n. 3
  • HOW TO GET TO ROMAN FORUM: Largo della Salara Vecchia 5/6, Metro: Line B stop Colosseo, Bus: n. 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 118

From there, you could take public transportation, a taxi, or walk to the next famous landmark.

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II – Around 2 pm

This building has become one of my favorite sights and is Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele. Though I haven’t seen it in many top 10 lists for Rome, it has made it on my list. Its symmetry is just astonishing. Monumento Nazionale a Vittoria Emanuele II  _ The wedding cake Rome points of interestIt is 135 meters wide and 70 meters high – and the top is crowned with an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel cast in bronze and two chariots driven by the goddess Victoria. Apparently, the building – also known as the Alter of the Fatherland – was considered very ugly by the Romans and is often compared to a wedding cake because of its structure.

It was created as a monument for the first king of united Italy (completed in 1925) and is probably one of Rome’s most modern-looking buildings. Yes, I seriously did not see many new buildings, so I perceived this 100-year-old building as modern! Rome where to go in 2 daysWe did not visit the museum inside but instead climbed some of the stairs and enjoyed the great views from there.

  • There is also a flag museum (free of charge) you can visit.
  • Climbing the first stairs to the lower terrace (with the view in the picture) is free
  • Using the lift to the panoramic terrace (the only way to get to the top) cost about 7€ 
  • HOW TO GET THERE: From Palatine Hill, you can either walk (about 2 km) or take a bus, e.g., line 81, hop-on and hop-off buses also take you there.

From there, you could take a taxi, or walk for about 10 minutes to the next famous landmark.

Check out Pantheon – Around 4 pm

The Pantheon is one of the main landmarks in Rome. Honestly, I was not too impressed. Maybe, I was in a bad mood when I entered because just a few seconds before, my ice cream had fallen, and I was sad over the waste of my valuable, delicious Italian gelato.Adam Wood 432049 Unsplash Places to see in Rome

It was built between 25 and 27 BC as a temple dedicated to the twelve Gods and to the living Sovran. It was most likely reconstructed between 118 and 125 AD and is thus almost 2000 years old. It is the only ancient Roman building that has remained more or less intact through the centuries (remember the Colosseum that has largely been destroyed). In the 7th century, the temple was officially converted to Christianity and named Basilica of Saint Mary and Martyres.

  • The Pantheon is free to visit
  • You do not need to book any ticket in advance. Lines might be long though
  • The Basilica is open all days from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm (last entry 6.30 pm), closed on 1st of January, 15th of August, and the 25th of December, times may vary in accordance with special religious celebrations.
  • You can book audio guides for about 7€
  • Guided tours are also available at the church (take about 45 minutes and cost about 20€)
  • Mobile App is available: Pantheon Rome
  • It is a church, so dress moderately

From there, you could take public transportation, a taxi, or walk to the next famous landmark which is about 1 km away.

Relax at Piazza di Spagna – the Spanish Steps – Around 6 pm

The Spanish Steps are another tourist magnet. The Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti in Italian) was built in the 18th century and has its name from the Spanish Embassy at the Piazza di Spagna.

They are 135 steps climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.Rome in 2 days itinerary. Arzo Travels

Though we visited in January, it was so busy. We even had issues finding our way to climb down! Since spring 2019 it is not allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps anymore.  

Okay, one great way to end the day is to head to the nearby Trevi Fountain.

Make a Wish at Trevi Fountain – Around 7.30 pm

I mentioned that I didn‘t like the Spanish Steps that much because it was crowded. But I cannot recall any place that was as crowded as the Trevi Fountain. Come early to Trevi Fountain in RomeThat place is jammed with people from all over the world. It gets even busier in the evenings. Yes, in the picture, it does not look busy. But it is. We went back there again early in the morning when it was still quiet to see it without the crowds.

There had been another fountain on that site that was demolished in the 17th century, and then Trevi Fountain was designed and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in the 18th century. It is about 26 meters high and about 49 meters wide. In the center of the fountain, you will see a statue of Oceanus, the Sea God in Greek mythology.

  • There are many cafes and restaurants close by, too, so you´ll find something to your fancy.
  • Have your drink on a bench in front of the fountains instead of in a cafe.
  • Don’t forget to throw in a coin if you want to revisit Rome. The myth says that throwing a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures you´ll visit Rome again.
  • While the water from the fountain was long known as the best in Rome, it is now not drinkable!

This will probably be a busy day, but sticking to a tight schedule will allow you to see many of Rome´s sights within two days. Check out ideas on how to spend your evenings in Rome.

  • Tip: With 2 days in the city you might be able to visit Trevi Fountain twice. Early in the morning, it tends to be less busy, and you can manage to take a picture without other people in it.

DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN ROME

Yes, Rome in 2 days is quite busy, but it is worth it. So, here are my suggestions for your second day.

Enjoy Castel Sant’Angelo – Around 9 am

Castel Sant’Angelo is located close to the Tiber River. It is a popular place to find musicians and small stalls selling souvenirs. You can also visit the museum inside and enjoy great views of the city.Best attractions in Rome where to visit with arzo Travels

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself (around 2000 years ago!) and his family. It has been used for different purposes, from defense fortress to prison and dungeon and more. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became a museum and venue for cultural and social events.

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

Inside you will now find the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo with many pieces on display, including a grand collection of paintings, sculptures, military memorabilia, and medieval firearms. The museum is divided into several sections, with elegant Renaissance interiors, including the Sala Paolina with frescoes depicting episodes from the life of Alexander the Great on the castle’s upper floors. There is also a terrace offering unforgettable views over Rome and Vatican City with a little cafe.

  • Open daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm (last entrance 6:30 pm), closed: 25th December and 1st January 
  • Ticket prices are around 14€ for adults
  • You cannot bring backpacks, suitcases, or large bags to the sites
  • You have to go through security checks
  • Plan in between 1-3 hours

Okay, one great way to end the day is to head to a nearby rooftop bar.

Enjoy an Espresso at a Rooftop Bar – Around 12 pm

When in Rome, make sure to head to some of the great rooftop bars here.Visit a rooftop bar in Rome with Arzo Travels

If you plan to visit Castel Sant’Angelo and its terrace you will have great views already, but why not enjoy some more fantastic panorama? For amazing views of St. Peter‘s Basilica in Vatican City, we went for an espresso at Atlante Star. It is a four-star hotel with a lovely view of Vatican City and Rome. I guess there aren’t many rooftop bars that can claim to offer views of two countries.

Stroll the Tiber River – Around 2 pm

If you have some energy left, invest time exploring an UNCROWDED place in Rome (well, kind of).

When you stroll the Tiber River, you will have the place almost to yourself – a rarity. I am into strolling rivers. It may sound weird, but I have fallen in love with places where I basically just strolled along the rivers. The river is not as dominant (nor as pretty) as in other cities, but you could stroll, have a drink, picnic, etc.

Read more: Visit Appia Antica – A day trip from Rome.

End the Day in Travestere – Around 5 pm

For the second night, I definitely recommend dining in the Trastevere neighborhood. This area is probably one of my favorite areas in Rome. The cobblestoned streets with their many shops, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes are really charming. 

Rome itinerary Arzo Travels

If you want to enjoy a hip, easy-going vibe, plan some time to stroll through Travestere and pick one of the numerous restaurants to dine in. There are also some that are quite affordable.

If you spend your last evening here, you will probably have a great last memory of Rome!

DAY TRIP FROM ROME

Vatican City is a must-see in, well, I would say Rome though it is not part of Rome. However, it was one of the highlights of my Rome trip. And so I highly suggest staying 3 days in Rome, so you can add a day trip to your itinerary. But you could also add it to your 2-day itinerary and visit Vatican City in half a day/ 1 day.

Explore Vatican City

This tiny country (the smallest in the world, to be more precise) lies within Rome, and crossing countries is made easy. Vatican City seen from RomeThe Pope’s home is probably one of the most extreme places I have visited so far. There is so much “bling-bling“ and pomposity that it felt unreal.

  • I strongly recommend getting tickets for the museum as well and planning in at least half a day for this place, including the Sistine Chapel. 
  • Have I mentioned that it gets bustling and crowded? So make sure you book your tickets in advance because even in January, there were long lines for those without “Skip the Line“ tickets.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A WEEKEND TRIP TO ROME

Rome is a great winter destination but probably is amazing to visit at any time of the year. 2 days in Rome (plus one day in Vatican City) is the minimum time to spend because it will allow you to see some of the best sights in Rome. Hopefully, this guide has helped you plan your 2-day Rome itinerary.

Safe Travels, Arzo

How to Have an Epic 2-Week Italy Itinerary

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

AMAZING ITINERARY FOR ITALY IN 14 DAYS

If you are planning your 2-week Italy itinerary, this post is for you! This Italy itinerary helps you to see some of the most beautiful places in Italy in 14 days (or a little less).

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

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

Italy itinerary, Arzo Travels

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 trip. Find out how to get around, where to stay, and more tips for your trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND ITALY IN 14 DAYS 

There are two main ways to get around in Italy. I have done both: road-tripping and rail travel.

I suggest using the train to discover Italy in two weeks. You might have less freedom by using public transportation only but will gain so much more. Particularly, because it is less nerve-wracking compared to driving in Italy and it is way cheaper (at least if you travel alone or in a group of 2 or where you can share the costs of a rental car).

ROAD TRIPPING

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

TRAIL TRAVEL

Luckily, public transportation is an excellent alternative.

  • Trains are 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.
  • Check out prices and schedules here.

So, go by public transportation for this Italy trip.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY FOR 14 DAYS

You can visit all the places mentioned in this two-week Italy itinerary throughout the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

However, I recommend NOT visiting Italy in the summer months. It is hot and sticky, expensive, and worst of all, every place is full of touristsUnderstandably, tourists are here all year round, but in the summer months, be prepared to fight your way through the crowds. If you plan to visit attractions during the summer months, you will need to buy the more expensive “skip-the-lines tickets.“ Otherwise, you will spend a big portion of your day, waiting in lines. 

Even during shoulder seasons, I highly recommend those tickets because it gets busy – but in summer, it is a must!

Disclaimer: This post might contain affiliate links. This means 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.

PLACES TO STAY IN ITALY FOR 2 WEEKS

Since I suggest rail travel for you, I recommend not changing hotels too often 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. Then have a base near/in Florence and a base in Venice. If you visit Cinque Terre and its surroundings, I recommend staying in La Spezia, a city directly in front of Cinque Terre.

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

I suggest arriving in Rome and ending your trip in Venice. 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.

PLACES TO VISIT IN 10-14 DAYS IN ITALY

Okay, let’s talk about all the beautiful places you can visit in up to 14 days in Italy.

ROME AND VATICAN CITY FOR 3-3,5 DAYS

Arrival in Rome + Rome + Vatican City 

  • 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. The most expensive is via taxi or private transfer!

ROME (2 DAYS)

I suggest not wasting too much time in the hotel – head out and explore Rome! What a unique ancient and special city it is.

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. Also, plan in a few hours to get to the next destination.

Rome places to go in 2 days best sights

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN ROME

  • Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built
  • Roman Hills & Palatine Hills is the centremost of the Seven Hills of the city is one of the most ancient parts of Rome
  • Spanish Steps are a set of steps, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti
  • Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele is a national monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy
  • Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city 
  • Castel Sant’Angelo was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Later, it was used by the popes as a fortress and castle and is now a museum.
  • 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.

  • Luxury Hotels in Rome: St. Regis is popular because of its central location (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 in Rome: Looking for a budget hotel in Rome? This might be the perfect choice for you: We were a group of three and needed 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.

VATICAN CITY (1 DAY)

Crossing borders has never been easier than crossing the Italian border and entering a new country – Vatican City. I must admit, the excursion to Vatican City was one of the highlights of my Rome trip. I highly recommend a day trip (or at least half a day in Vatican City) and seeing the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

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

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VATICAN CITY

  • Sistine Chapel is a chapel in Vatican City and the official residence of the pope
  • Spiral Staircase was designed to link the Belvedere Palace to the streets of Rome. This also allowed Pope Julius II to travel directly to his private residence by carriage
  • Raphael’s Rooms form a suite of reception rooms and are now part of the Vatican Museums. They are famous for their frescoes
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is a church built in the Renaissance style
  • Check out skip-the-line tickets for Vatican City (yes, lines there for the Sistine Chapel and the museums can be crazy).
  • Check out this Vatican City 1-day itinerary with important travel tips

FLORENCE AND TUSCANY FOR 3 OR 4 DAYS

Then it is time to visit Tuscany and its capital – Florence.

From Rome to Florence

  • From Rome’s Termini Station, you can take the train to Florence. It 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. So, I always bought them more or less last minute. But please do not take my word for granted and double-check because I might be wrong.

FLORENCE (2 DAYS)

Florence is bursting with attractions and sights. There is so much to do and see that you should stay 1,5-2 days in Florence.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock View from Piazzale Michelangelo

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 PLACES TO VISIT IN FLORENCE

  • Florence Cathedral helped set the tone of the Italian Renaissance – now, is the third-largest church in the world
  • Uffizi Gallery is a famous art museum housing impressive collections of ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period
  • Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River
  • Piazzale Michelangelo is on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River and offers a stunning panorama of the city
  • Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence
  • Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city.
  • Check out my Florence trip for more tips.

After your 2 days in Florence, it is time to do 1 or 2 day trips and explore the area around Florence. 

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:

LUCCA AND PISA (1 DAY)

So, when planning your two-week Italy itinerary, you should plan one full day for Pisa and Lucca. These two places are located close to each other which makes it a perfect day trip from Florence.

PISA

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.

Day trip to Pisa, The leaning tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower in Pisa

How to get to Pisa from Florence

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.

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

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN PISA

  • Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of Pisa, most known worldwide for its nearly four-degree lean
  • Cattedrale di Pisa is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
  • Camposanto Monumentale is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square
  • Palazzo Blu is the center for temporary exhibitions and cultural activities
  • Check out my travel guide on Pisa for more information

LUCCA

On your way back, stop in Lucca – a lovely, charming medieval town. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least crowded places on this Italy itinerary.

Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN LUCCA

  • Guinigi Tower
  • Basilica of San Frediano
  • St. Martin Cathedral
  • Plaza del Anfiteatro (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro)

SIENA + SAN GIMIGNANO (1 DAY)

Another day trip from Florence could be a trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Both are wonderful places to visit – you could rush a bit and add both places to your itinerary or decide on one of the places.

SIENA

Siena is known as one of Italy’s best medieval cities. The city sits over three hills, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Sienna tower, looking up

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN SIENA

  • Piazza del Campo 
  • Duomo di Siena
  • Pubblico Palace
  • Tower of Mangia
  • Basilica of Caterina
  • Foto Gala
  • Check out my Siena travel guide for more tips

It takes about 70-90 minutes to get from Florence to Siena by public transportation.

SAN GIMIGNANO 

Siena is beautiful and you might need one full day for visiting it. However, I would try to add another town/place on this day. Some might also be interested in visiting San Gimignano, a famous village about an hour from Siena. 

It is a small hilltop village encircled by 13th-century walls. It looks pretty to look at but also the village itself is impressive.

landscapes of Italy. medieval San Gimignano - Tuscany cutest towns in Italy
@shutterstock

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN SAN GIMIGNANO

  • Piazza della Cisterna
  • Torre Grossa
  • Duomo di San Gimignano
  • Palazzo del Popolo
  • Torre e Casa Campatelli

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

CINQUE TERRE AND PORTO VENERE FOR 2 DAYS

CINQUE TERRE + PORTO VENERE (2 DAYS)

It is time to head to Liguria – a beautiful region northeast of Italy. You can get easily 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, so park your car at La Spezia.
  • Then, hop on the Cinque Terre Train, which will take you to Cinque Terre within minutes.

CINQUE TERRE 

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 outdoor activities, like swimming and hiking.

While I enjoyed my time in Cinque Terre, I would suggest not spending more than 1,5 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)

It is easy to visit the five villages. Either hike or hop on the train that connects all 5 villages. It does not take much time.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore
  • Manarola
  • Corniglia
  • Vernazza
  • Monterosso
  • Here is my Cinque Terre travel guide (also with more images and plenty of travel tips)

PORTO VENERE

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

I know places like Portofino, which is also in this area, are more famous and popular with visitors, but after having visited both, I can say, that I liked Portovenere better.  

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT 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)

Spend 1-1,5 days in Cinque Terre and half a day – 1 day in Porto Venere. I would leave half a day for the onward journey. If you want to find out more about the area, check out my post with the most beautiful places in Liguria.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore is a popular place to stay in Cinque Terre. I stayed there, too. Check out rates and prices here for the hotel I stayed at. 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 by Italian standards. 
  • However, I would choose differently if revisiting Cinque Terre, and it would probably be in Vernazza or Manarola because they were the prettiest towns in my eyes.
  • 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. I used it as a base to get around and see other places in Cinque Terre, like Porto Venere, and it is easier to take a train if heading to your next destination on your Italy itinerary. Click here to find the best hotels in La Spezia.

VENICE, BURANO, AND VERONA FOR 3-4 DAYS

So, while the two weeks in Italy are almost up, you still have a few highlights on your itinerary.

From Cinque Terre to Venice

  • I recommend that you now head to Venezia Santa Lucia.
  • The whole journey will take about 2 hours.

Venice (1 Day)

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 places you have to see once in your lifetime. While there is definitely way more to see and do in Rome or Florence, Venice also has some attractions.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VENICE

  • Grand Canale
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Campanile Tower
  • Check out my Venice guide for more info.

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.

WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE

  • Luxury Hotels in Venice: Venice 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.
  • Mid-range Hotels in Venice: Travel back in time to the 18th century at Antica Locanda Sturion Residenza d’Epoca: antique furniture, silk wallpaper, and views of Rialto and Grand Canal. Check out the prices for this hotel here. 
  • Budget Hotels in Venice: The family-run Hotel Locanda Ca’ Foscari offers some hotel rooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms, at a good location close to a Vaporetto ferry stop. Check out prices here.
  • If you plan to travel to Verona by train or need even cheaper accommodation, consider staying in Mestre, the first large city on the mainland. The ao Hotel Venezia Mestre is conveniently located near the train station. Recently built, it provides comfortable rooms as well as dorms, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Check out the prices here.

BURANO AND MURANO (1 DAY)

Visit Burano and Murano in a day. However, if you have less than one full day, make sure to visit Burano – the most colorful place in the world. Burano is a small little island near Venice and it is easy to get from Venice to Burano and Murano. Spending 2-5 hours on the island is totally enough because it really is tiny!

Best Instagram pictures for Burano

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BURANO

Take the water taxi from Venice to Burano (90 minutes).

If you like, you can also visit Murano, which is on the way to Burano. If you have a 24-hour ticket for the water taxis, you can just get out in Murano and take another taxi later to head to Burano.

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. You can do a day tour from Venice to Verona to discover this pretty city!

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 the problem: taking great pictures is a bit challenging because it is so full of statues and attractions that something is always “in the way.“ 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 because it is just the most charming city in Italy.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VERONA

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

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.

DEPARTURE

Now, there is some bad news. It is time to leave! Your two weeks in Italy are up! There are many other gorgeous places to visit – I do not want to confuse you but I want to give you more options in case you are looking for alternatives.

  • Check out this guide on the Dolomites – this area in Northern Italy is perfect if you are an outdoor person who likes hiking. 
  • If you want to spend time in and around Lake Como and Milan, you can check out this Lombardy itinerary.
  • Lake Garda is also a top destination that might be a good destination for you.
  • If you want to avoid long train rides and rather focus on one part of Italy, you can check out this Northern Italy itinerary or find out about the best places in Southern Italy.

CONCLUSION: ITALY IN 14 DAYS

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 restless traveler and want 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. You will be able to see quite a lot – and with this 2-week Italy itinerary, you get a perfect idea of the best places to visit.

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

Safe Travels, Arzo

ULTIMATE LAKE GARDA ITINERARY FOR 1-10 DAYS

Best things to do in Lake Garda itinerary

LAKE GARDA ITINERARY – THINGS TO DO IN 1-10 DAYS

If you are planning your Lake Garda itinerary, this post will help you. Whether you stay 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, or 7 days in Lake Garda- here are tips for your trip.

Visiting Lаkе Garda iѕ a treat for уоurѕеlf. The incredible nаturаl beauty, gorgeous scenery, and great Italian food are well worth experiencing. You can сhооѕе from a whole hоѕt оf energetic аnd rеlаxing асtivitiеѕ thаt will уоu entertain you for sure.  And you cаn еnjоу аll оf these perks for a much lower price than in Lake Como. There are so many fun things to do – which makes the area one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.

Limone sul Garda best places to visit

IS LAKE GARDA WORTH VISITING?

Yes, Lake Garda is worth visiting.

The area аrоund Lake Garda оffеrѕ tons of орроrtunitiеѕ for fun, rеlаxаtiоn, and recreation. There is something to do in Lake Garda for kids, teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. You will find some of the cutest little villages and towns along the shores, making it perfect for those who enjoy shopping in boutique stores and marveling at pretty houses landscaped with flowers.

LAKE GARDA TIPS FOR YOUR ITINERARY

Before talking about your Lake Garda itinerary, here are some travel tips.

Best Time to Visit Lake Garda

  • With the beaches and the options of water sports activities, many people flock to Lake Garda in the summer! Then it gets busy! If you really like busy and also hot weather, then visit in July and August.
  • If you prefer warm (or hottish) weather, June and September might be the better options. It will still be busy but not that crowded.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in April and May or October (but avoid the Easter holidays, etc.)
  • In the winter months, it gets quieter but also restaurants and hotels might be closed. This is really the time if you want to experience Lake Garda without many people. There are Christmas Markets and events – plus you might even see some snow.

If you visit during the shoulder season (always my preferred time of traveling), you should only keep in mind that some restaurants might be closed, and you might not be able to do all the activities. However, prices will drop during shoulder season.

Lake Garda itinerary, Arzo Travels

Getting Around Lake Garda 

Lake Garda is Italy´s biggest lake, with a shore length of almost 160 kilometers. This means getting around can be time-consuming.

  • Public transportation is not fast and buses do not run frequently. 
  • Driving can be nerve-wracking around Lake Garda. Also, petrol is ridiculously expensive. Italy has one of the highest petrol prices in all of Europe. On the other hand, there is no toll when driving Lake Garda’s shores, but getting to other cities or attractions, like Verona, costs extra when you use the motorways (about 9 € for 100 km).
  • So, there is no great way to get around Lake Garda. However, driving might be the better option to get around
  • Hop on a boat several times to see as much as possible of this gorgeous place

BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAKE GARDA IN 1-10 DAYS

Whether you stay in Lake Garde for one day, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, or even 10 days – you will find enough activities to fill your days.

1 Day in Lake Garda

Most people probably head to Sirmione if they have only one day in Lake Garda. There are many reasons to do so.

Sirmione

Famous as “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas,” Sirmione is a popular tourist hotspot. It is a great place to visit on the first day of your trip.Instagramplaces in Lake Garda

Located on the lake’s southern shores, it is also close to many other places, like Verona. It is on a long and narrow peninsula that divides the gulfs of Desenzano and Peschiera’s towns. However, this small town has a lot to offer, so you can plan a full day for Sirmione.

View from Sirmione Tower

You can get wonderfully lost and visit many of Sirmione’s highlights in one day.

THINGS TO DO IN SIRMIONE

  • Castello Scaligero – For an entrance fee of about 8€, you can enjoy great views of the town and lake and walk the fortress walls. You cannot miss the fortress, as it is just at the “beginning” of the old town. You can buy tickets at the ticket center.
  • Villa Romana “Grotte di Catullo – Find the Villa Romana in the archeological park at the northernmost end of the peninsula of Sirmione. The entrance fee is about 3€.
  • Old town – Get lost in the old town with its wonderful buildings full of flowers. 
  • Boat tour – Spoil yourself with a (short) boat tour around Sirmione (you can book tours in advance or go to the boat station before entering the old town). For a different tour, including some wine tasting click here.
  • Find more pictures of Sirmione and travel tips.

WHERE TO STAY IN SIRMIONE

  • Luxury: For a luxurious experience, stay at the Grand Hotel Terme, which offers great amenities and a full English buffet.
  • Mid-Range: If you are looking for a mid-range option, the Champagne Rooms would be a great choice, with helpful staff and a nice location. They also offer family suites, perfect if you’re traveling with your family.
  • Budget-friendly: Located right by Lake Garda’s shore, the lovely Hotel Porto Azzurro makes a good budget option.

2 Days in Lake Garda

If you have two days in Lake Garda, head to the most beautiful village/town on your second day.

Limone sul Garda

Visit Limone sul Garda – which is actually my favorite place in Lake Garda. It is small and absolutely adorable. If you don’t mind overloading on cuteness, this is a great place for your Lake Garda itinerary.

Limone best places to visit

Limone is located on the western shores and has a tradition of fishing and olive and lemon production. The lemon portion of their history is still visible throughout the town – you can even visit the Lemon Museum in Limone. But there is more to do!

What makes this place so great are the cute houses full of flowers; the small, windy, cobblestone streets; the promenade; the harbor; and more. If you stay in Riva del Garda or Malcesine, you can get here easily by boat.

Limone places to see

BEST THINGS TO DO IN LIMONE SUL GARDA

  • Walk (or bike) the newly-opened cyclopath. It is a one-kilometer-long cyclopath built just at the base of the mountains and offers incredible views), and I am sure it will become one of the main tourist attractions in and around Lake Garda.
  • Wander through the old town. Plan in enough time to stroll the beautiful streets – you´ll quickly find out why Limone is THAT cute).
  • Have lunch/dinner in the “harbor” area. The views are …priceless.
  • Visit the Lemon Museum.
  • Stroll the promenade and admire the scenery.
  • For more Limone travel tips, click here and also see more pictures.

WHERE TO STAY IN LIMONE

My personal favorite place in Lake Garda was Limone. The place is tiny but yet my favorite place in the region.

  • Luxury: Hotel Splendid Palace is a lovely accommodation that offers many amenities and beautiful views from its rooftop pool.
  • Mid-Range: Garni Gianmartin provides a savory buffet and lovely lake views. A favorite among solo travelers.
  • Budget-friendly: Hotel Cristina has a nice location and offers lake views, a pool, and friendly staff.

3 Days in Lake Garda 

Okay, if you have 3 days at Lake Garda, you can do a day trip to a beautiful city – Verona.

Fall in Love With Verona

Though Verona is not directly located on the lake´s shores, I suggest visiting Verona for a day. Even if you stay in Lake Garda for only three days, make sure to add the city to your Lake Garda itinerary.

Lamberti Tower view in VeronaIt is a perfect day trip from Sirmione because it is located southeast of Lake Garda. The city is so much more than just the setting for Shakespeare´s Romeo and Juliet. It is also one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.Verona where to visit -Piazza Bra - the mian market square

TOP THINGS TO DO IN VERONA

  • Spend time at the colorful piazzas. Verona has some of the most colorful and beautiful market squares – Piazza Bra, Piazza Della Erbe, and the cute Piazza Dei Signori.
  • Visit Juliet´s Balcony. Be prepared to experience a wild crowd in front of it). You can see the balcony for free, but there is an entrance fee if you want to stand on the balcony or visit Juliet´s house.
  • Enjoy the views from Lamberti Tower. For an entrance fee of 8€, you can climb 365 steps and see Verona from above; or you can take the lift up.

Here are more detailed tips for the best things to do in Verona.

WHERE TO STAY IN VERONA

  • Vista Palazzo is one of the best-rated hotels in Verona. This 5-star hotel seems to offer a lot. Check out the rates here.
  • The Best Western Hotel Firenze is a good choice if you are looking for a mid-range priced hotel. Located close to some major attractions in Verona, it is a good base. Find out more about the hotel and the rates here.
  • If you want to stay in a hostel, you check out The Hostello. This budget-friendly hostel has good reviews and there are even family rooms available.

4 Days in Lake Garda

With four days in Lake Garda, you could spend it in the mountains and Malcesine.

Explore Malcesine and Mount Baldo

I suggest spending one full day in Malcesine and Mount Baldo if you have 4 days at Lake Garda.Malcesine Gardesee Reisen

Malcesine is on the western shores of Lake Garda. It is easily reachable via boat from Riva del Garda or Limone. By the way, traveling by boat to Malcesine is also the most scenic way to arrive.

The old town is as pretty as most other Lake Garda towns and villages. It is fun to stroll with its harbor, colorful old houses, and cobblestone streets for a while.

One of the best views you can enjoy is from Scaliger Castle. Wander through the pretty castles and enjoy the picturesque views. But Malcesine is not only about the old town. It is also a watersport lover´s dream.Malcesine and things to do in Lake Garda

Mount Baldo view of Lake Garda

And what makes Malcesine even more special is Mount Baldo, which you can visit easily from Malcesine. This mountain has an elevation of 2,218 meters above sea level and belongs to the Italian Alps – which basically guarantees great views.

THINGS TO DO IN MALCESINE

  • Head to Mount Baldo. You can either hike up or take the cable car; a return ticket is about 22€. 
  • Stroll the old town and explore the pretty buildings and walk the narrow streets.
  • Enjoy a drink at the “harbor” – you can choose from one of the numerous cafes.
  • Visit Scaliger Castle for the views. The entrance fee of 6€ is worth it.
  • Check out my detailed Malcesine travel guide

WHERE TO STAY IN MALCESINE

  • The Hotel Castello Lake Front hotel looks great. The 4-star property is centrally located, and you have free parking. Check out the rates for the hotel.
  • A more budget-friendly hotel is the Hotel Garni Selene. It is not directly in the town center but might be a perfect choice if you do not want to be where the crowds are. Check out rates here.

5 Days in Lake Garda

If you stay 5 days in Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is a good place to visit.

Discover Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda, located on the very northern shores, is another of the most popular places in Lake Garda. It is especially popular among watersport lovers, as there is a strong wind that is just perfect for windsurfers. But it is also a good destination for those who aren’t into windsurfing. View from the tower in Riva del Garda, Lake Garda

The colorful promenade and the numerous shops and restaurants (Riva del Garda is one of the biggest cities around the lake) make it a perfect place for those who enjoy a lively location. It is a perfect Italian town to visit with its lemon trees, palms, olive trees, and laurels.

Riva del Garda belongs to Trentino – a fun province with many other sightseeing destinations.Urlaub am Gardasee, die schönsten Plätze am Gardasee

THINGS TO DO IN RIVA DEL GARDA

  • Windsurf or any watersports (If you are into watersports, you probably will spend more than one day doing that.)
  • Enjoy the views from Torre Apponale – this time, you only have to climb about 165 steps, but there is no lift.
  • Relax at the lively piazza, Piazza III Novembre 

WHERE TO STAY IN RIVA DEL GARDA

  • The Rivacentro is a popular, luxurious apartment hotel with helpful staff, modern rooms, and great amenities.
  • For a mid-range hotel, you could stay at the Parc Hotel Flora, which offers spa access, views, and breakfast.

6 Days in Lake Garda

If you want to take a rest, but prefer something more hidden and unique (for a day at the beach, I actually recommend Limone), then rent a car and explore a more off-the-beaten-path area in Lake Garda.

For the last two days, I have several ideas for you. See which one fits your idea of a great way to end your Lake Garda trip best.

If you prefer some nice relaxing days (without the driving around and booking of tours), I suggest staying in Limone where you have a great little beach.

Tenno & Lake Tenno

North of Lake Garda is another lake. It is much smaller, less crowded, and a real hidden gem – Tenno and Lake Tenno. Lake Tenno is a mountain lake, and though the distance to Riva del Garda is only about 10 kilometers, you have to drive narrow and really windy mountain roads. The drive is not for everyone, but the lake is well worth it.

Lake Tenno in Lake Garda

If you enjoy taking a dip, then Lake Tenno is probably a better choice than Lake Garda.  If you want to be a little more active, head to the village of Tenno (a well-preserved village dating back to the Bronze Age) before or afterward.

  • Getting from Riva del Garda to Lake Tenno takes about 30 minutes by car. 

7 Days in Lake Garda

Lake Garda has many more cute towns to explore, like Desenzano del Garda, but with one week in Lake Garda, I suggest doing another trip away from the lake.

Dolomites

If you ask me, I would do whatever it takes to head to two more stunning lakes in the Dolomites, namely Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) and Lago di Carezza (Karersee).Lago di Braies in the Dolomites

Getting there from Riva del Garda or Malcesine takes some time – I admit, it is not around the corner. But once you are in the Dolomites, both lakes are quite close to each other. So you can visit both in one day if you have your own car.

While driving there is time-consuming, there are parking spots just in front of them, and there is not much hiking needed to get to either. 

  • You can read my more detailed post on the Dolomites here.
  • If you want to do a guided tour, check out this excursion here. The itinerary is less flexible but includes some very pretty places in the Dolomites.

10 Days in Lake Garda

Okay, these places are a bit further away but consider adding these places to your Lake Garda itinerary if you have 10 days in the area.

Venice

Venice is another trip you can take from Lake Garda. I would not necessarily recommend driving to Venice if you stay in Limone – that is too far. But if you stay near Sirmione, you can book a tour or get there by train or car. Venice Itinerary 2 daysVenice is an experience in itself. The canals, the bridges, the gondolas, the colorful houses, the Piazza San Marco… there are many reasons why Venice should be on your bucket list. Though spending two days in Venice would be better, you can do a day trip from Lake Garda if you start your day early.

GardaLand

Gardaland is one of the most popular amusement parks in Italy. If you are traveling with kids, this might be the perfect way to spend a day.

With more than 30 rides, musical performances, and more, it is a great place for a family trip. Personally, I haven’t visited yet, but I would do so with children. This is a place where you will spend a day.

Trento & Trentino

If you stay in the beautiful region of Trentino (e.g., in Riva del Garda), I highly suggest a trip to Trento.Best view in Trento

Trento is one of the most authentic and beautiful towns I have come across in Italy.

If you stay in one of the hotels in Riva del Garda (or Trentino), you will also get a Trentino Guest Card, which allows you to use public transportation for free in the region. In this case, you don’t even have to get there by car. With your Trentino Guest Card, you can also get access to museums and castles for free – they are pretty and reason enough to visit this colorful town.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON LAKE GARDA ITINERARY

As you can see, staying one week in Lake Garda (or even longer) is not boring at all. With a great Lake Garda itinerary, it is just the perfect amount of time to see and experience the many fun activities and places Lake Garda has to offer.

Hopefully, this post has helped you find out about the best places to visit- whether you have 1 day or more time to spend here, it definitely is worth a trip.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Things to Do in Bergamo, Italy

The best things to do and see in Bergamo, Italy. Where to go and what to do

WHAT TO DO IN BERGAMO IN ONE DAY

Are you planning your Bergamo itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Bergamo in one day? Then read on and find out about what to do and more travel tips in cute Bergamo.

I had never planned on visiting Bergamo in the first place – just because I had not known how lovely this city is. If you are like me, this post will help you find out why you should add it to your Italy bucket list and what to do in Bergamo.

Located close to Milan, many people skip Bergamo – even if they arrive at that popular airport there –  and head straight to the fashion capital instead. This is a big mistake – Bergamo is a real gem.

It is one of Italy´s amazing hidden gems. The city’s uphill old town with its cobblestone streets, small little shops and stores, lovely views, nice scenery, and more are all great reasons for visiting Bergamo.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means 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.

Bergamo attractions, Arzo Travels-2

Bergamo Travel Tips

Before discussing the top things to do in Bergamo, here are some tips so your trip goes smoothly.

How to Get to Bergamo

  • PLANE: Bergamo has its airport, which many use to get to Milan (I repeat myself when mentioning that this is a mistake). It takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the town center (Lower Bergamo), and buses, taxis, and trains transport you there. To get to the old town (Upper Bergamo/Citta Alta), you can take a taxi or get there by bus.
  • TRAIN: Bergamo has a train station, and train connections in Italy are pretty good. So, I would advise getting here by train or plane.
  • CAR: I got to Bergamo by car (after some time in the Dolomites), but driving in Bergamo is not the best way to get around. You cannot drive your car in the old town (Citta Alta), but you can arrive and park your car in the Citta Bassa (Lower Bergamo). I accidentally drove into the old town and got a ticket several months later. But that is the only negative memory I have from Bergamo.

Best Time to Visit Bergamo

  • My answer is in the shoulder season between September to October or April to early June. The weather should be pleasant, crowds are gone, and accommodation prices drop compared to summer.
  • I visited during Green Week and I loved it. It is an event taking place over almost a week and addresses issues related to Green Economy. The time of Green Week changes – at the time of my visit it was in September. In 2021 it is in July according to my research. My Italian is very bad, so I hope, I figured it out correctly. Everything is busier and green – more flower posts, more events. However, I am not a big fan of Italy in summer.
  • Though I haven’t been to Bergamo in the summer, I can only assume (as I have been to Milan and Lake Como at that time) that it gets extremely hot and crowded in the summer months. Accommodation prices rise in the summer months.

Where to Stay in Bergamo

Bergamo does not have the same price tag attached that Milano or Lake Como has.

We stayed in an apartment in Lower Bergamo (I visited with my parents and my dog). It seemed to be a good choice for us because we were looking for an apartment with our own kitchen. If you are looking for a regular hotel room, then I recommend staying in the old town though. 

If you can, choose Citta Alta (Upper Bergamo) over Citta Bassa (Lower Bergamo). It might be more expensive, but you are right in the most interesting district with more attractions and better views.

Also, keep in mind that there is an extra city tax that often isn’t shown when booking a hotel (about 2€ per person a night).

What to Wear in Bergamo

Italians are the best-dressed people in the world (according to me and, now, to my parents). And the people in Bergamo all looked very stylish and classy. I think the proximity to Milan (the fashion capital) is another reason why all people looked beautiful and well-dressed.

However, while Italians might wear high heels in the city center, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes because of all the walking you will do (yes, there is a lot of walking included in this itinerary) and the cobblestone streets.

How to Get Around Bergamo in One Day

By foot. Walking is the best means of transportation. Though you can use a funicular or public transportation to get from Upper Bergamo to Lower Bergamo, other than that, you will most likely walk.

Miscellaneous

  • Take your water bottle to refill on the go. There are plenty of water fountains that provide fresh, cold water for free.
  • Dogs need a muzzle if they use the funicular/cable car (for all of Italy).
  • For more general travel tips, check out my post on travel tips for Italy.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN BERGAMO

With one day in Bergamo, we will focus on Citta Alta which is the old town of the city located on a hill. Thus, you will be able to spot it from far away, and it is as charming as it looks from down below.

How to get to the Upper Town of Bergamo

  • By funicular: Buy a ticket for the uphill ride. You can buy it directly at the station.
  • By bus: Some buses can take you to the old town of the city.
  • By foot: You can also hike up there. Since there will be a lot of walking in the city, later on, it depends on you, whether you want to hike up, too. I definitely suggest hiking down, though; it is worth it.

Piazza Vecchia

The old square, Piazza Vecchia, was built back in the 15th century and is now the market square and heart of Citta Alta. Best things to visit in Bergamo

Market square, the best places to visit in Bergamo

During Green Week (an event that takes place for a week once a year where the focus is on sustainability), it was even busier than usual, and the pictures you see here don’t really represent the usual look. However, this place is absolutely charming with restaurants, shops, and medieval buildings worldwide, and it’s a popular hotspot all year round. It is also home to one of Italy’s most ancient libraries – Palazzo Nuovo.

  • INFO: The flower posts are normally not there. I visited during Green Week.

Campanone Tower 

The civic tower, Campanone Tower, was built in the 12th century and offers panoramic views. 

The best places in Bergamo to visit

You can either climb up the 230 steps or take a lift to enjoy the view of the piazza (and also see the biggest bells in Lombardy) from Campanone Tower’s 52-meter height.  If you stay in the old town, you might hear the tower’s 100 bells ring at 10 pm. The ringing was originally used to show that the gates were closed and is still done today.

  • The entry fee is about 5€ for adults.

Rocca di Bergamo

More great views are from this castle in Citta Alta. It is popular amongst tourists and locals alike. When it was built in the 14th century, it was used as a fortress, and it now serves as a museum. It also offers good views of the park in the front, which is perfect for relaxing.

  • It seems to be a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, so if you stay overnight, you have your sunset spot.

Piazza Duomo

Just behind Piazza Vecchia is Piazza Duomo. Before Piazza Vecchia, this was the city square. Here, you will find two beautiful buildings – one of them is probably the most beautiful in all of Bergamo. Let´s talk about this pretty building.

Bergamo most beautiful places

Piazza Duomo in Bergamo, Italy. One of the best places to visit

Colleoni Chapel – Cappella Colleoni

Colleoni Chapel, located on Piazza Duomo, was built in the 15th century and is now a main church in the city and a mausoleum. This is probably one of the highlights of any Bergamo trip. Churches to visit in Bergamo, Italy

Stunning Cappella Colleoni and more places to visit in Bergamo

Bergamo free things to do

The chapel looks pretty from the outside, made of white and red marble in the Italian Renaissance style, but it is even more stunning from the inside.  The ceiling, the frescos… this is pure art and eye-candy.

  • It is closed on Monday
  • Free to enter.

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica 

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was founded in the 12th century, so it is older than the Colleoni Chapel and is now a major church in Bergamo. Before visiting the Colleoni Chapel, I suggest visiting the basilica first. The basilica is beautiful and can be visited on any day. However, the chapel is even more fascinating, which is why I recommend visiting them in this order.

  • Open every day
  • Free to enter.

Venetian Walls and Gates

Walking at least some parts of the 6km-long Venetian Walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must. There are benches to sit on and enjoy the views, so with this in mind, six kilometers isn’t all that much, even after a busy day with a lot of walking already.

Venetian Walls in Bergamo, CItta Alta

Bergamo points of interest

Bergamo attractions Citta Alta

Its construction began in the 16th century, and to this day, the walls are still intact! As we had our apartment in Lower Bergamo, we decided to walk down and passed one of the four gates on the way back. With a lovely view of Citta Bassa, we walked back to the more modern part of the city.

Stroll the Streets

Bergamo’s narrow and winding streets make it perfect for getting lost. If you aren’t in a rush, you should aimlessly walk around, enjoy the pretty buildings everywhere, and soak in the views.

Best things to do in Bergamo, walk the street

Wine Tasting

Are you a wine lover? Then you can also do a wine tasting tour in Bergamo. I am not into wine, so I cannot vouch for it, but it seems that it is a great day activity from Bergamo. It would be quite a busy day in Bergamo, but wine lovers probably will manage to squeeze in that activity.

However, even without the wine tasting, it will be a day full of fun in Bergamo.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BERGAMO ACTIVITIES

So, if you plan your Northern Italy itinerary, add this gem to your list and enjoy the beauty of Bergamo. I am sure you will not regret it! It might not be as famous as other places in the area, but it is full of charm and lovely people all around.

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE GARDA, ITALY

Lake Garda tourist attractions, best places to visit and best things to do

MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE GARDA

Lake Garda in Italy is a beautiful lake with many gorgeous towns and villages along its shores and in this post, you will find out about the best places to visit in Lake Garda As a German, I had heard of Lake Garda many, many times. Located “close“ to the German border, it is a popular place to visit in Italy. Given its popularity as a travel destination, I decided to take my parents on a trip – so we can all see what the fuss is about.

I was stunned by the beautiful places in Lake Garda and the numerous activities you can do there. Though Lake Garda is nice, it is more the beautiful towns and villages at Lake Garda and the diversity of activities to do there that appeal.

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

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE GARDA

Here are the most beautiful places in and around Lake Garda and the top things to do and see.

Limone Sul Garda

Limone is probably one of the prettiest and most picturesque towns/villages I have visited. It is so adorable that it is quite busy, though it is tiny with only around 1,000 inhabitants.

Limone best places to visit

Lake Garda Instagrammability

Located on the western shores, up in the northern part, it has become trendy amongst tourists, especially from Germany. Hardly any other place at Lake Garda had so many picturesque houses – and flowers.

The flowers, Bougainville, made this place perfect for photo lovers – but the little harbor, cute cafes and restaurants, the promenade, and the illuminated globe at night (outside of the town center, just 500 meters from the beach section) made Limone the best place in Lake Garda.

Have I mentioned the free beach access? While I prefer sandy beaches over pebbly beaches, water addicts will love it here.

Limone places to see

Last but not least, the cyclopath that opened in the summer of 2018 is another reason to visit. Get there early in the morning and walk the kilometer-long path, with great views over the lake. 

Despite its size, it is not only great to stay here, but this is also one of the best places to stay in Lake Garda. Click here to find the best rates for accommodation in Limone

Sirmione

It is probably one of the best places to visit in Lake Garda – and a tourist hotspot – in Sirmione on Lake Garda’s southern shores. The peninsula is also a perfect base for those who like to visit Milano or Verona.

View from Sirmione Tower

Instagramplaces in Lake Garda

Instagram places in Lake Garda

There are many reasons to visit Sirmione, and here are a few:

Stroll the old town of Sirmione and enjoy the flower power here. The old town is charming, and the flowers add so much beauty to it. It is definitely bigger than Limone and has more shops, restaurants, and crowds(!).

You can also get to the Scaligeri Castle (which you will see just at the beginning of Sirmione) to enjoy lovely views. The entry fee is about 8€, and while it was pretty, you could skip it if you are on a budget and still have a great day in Sirmione.

Behind the castle, you have a little beach section. While we did not swim there, it was nice to put our feet in the water for a minute.

Boat tour in Sirmonie

Sirmione is also great if you like to take romantic (or not too romantic) boat tours for half an hour around the peninsula. While we booked it spontaneously at the harbor at the end of the day (salespeople are on the water shores, next to the tower), it might be better to make a reservation if you visit during the high season. The boat tour costs around 10€ per person (a bit more for sunset cruises).

Click here to find the best rates for your accommodation in Sirmione

Mount Baldo

Fancying a gorgeous mountain view? Then, head to Mount Baldo on Lake Garda’s east shore and enjoy the Italian Alps’ mountain ranges.

Mount Baldo view of Lake Garda

It is easy to get up (at least when you use the cable car) and you have the best views of Lake Garda. However, you should know a few things.

When taking the cable car, it will most likely include some waiting in lines, so arrive there before 9 am to avoid standing in line for too long. 

Hikers could hike up to about 2,200 meters – this would also mean saving 22€ for the cable car (tickets are sold in many shops all around Lake Garda, or just at the cable car station shop).

When using the cable car, I suggest planning in half a day before heading to the next town, just around the corner.

Malcesine

“Malcesine is like Limone – just bigger”. That’s how a local described it to me. I am not sure that it is true, though Malcesine is surely bigger. But it is not as beautiful as Limone (at least this is my honest opinion).

Malcesine and things to do in Lake Garda

Things to do in Malcesine

Malcesine in Lake GardaI got to Malcesine from Limone by boat (which is probably the most scenic arrival you can have, about 10€ for a round-trip ticket) and first headed to Mount Baldo before spending the afternoon here in Malcesine. The narrow and winding streets, the old buildings, the numerous (souvenir) shops, and the harbor make it a great place to spend one day.

It is also a good place to stay for water sports lovers – but the view of the Scaliger Castle was probably my favorite place/activity in Malcesine, though. For 6€, you get a better view than from the tower in Sirmione. Check out my detailed post on Malcesine.

Find the best rates for your stay in Malcesine here 

Riva del Garda

The colorful promenade, the shops, and the busy market on Thursday. This bustling town was my mom’s favorite place in Lake Garda. As someone who likes window shopping, she felt most at home here (but she seriously liked all the places in the area).

Lake Garda points of interests

View from the tower in Riva del Garda, Lake Garda

Pretty houses and buildings, the opportunity for water sports, and a view from the Apponale Tower, also known as the Clock Tower (you can climb up the 165 steps for 2€) – these are just some of the reasons to visit this pretty area.  You can visit museums and do water sports. Riva del Garda is probably one of Lake Garda’s best places because it offers something for everyone.

Here are the best accommodations in Riva del Garda

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano del Garda is a resort town on the southern shore of the lake. It wasn’t my favorite place it is pretty – this lively town is especially popular among tourists that travel here by train, as it has its own train station.

Desenzano del Garda, Lake Garda where to stay

But of course, there is more to do and see than just arriving at the station. The town is the biggest at Lake Garda – so, there are quite some attractions and places to visit. 

There is also a lovely water promenade, and many shops and stores. The little harbor, with its colorful buildings, makes it also pretty picturesque.

Also, visit the vibrant Piazza Matteotti and Piazza Malvezzi or Desenzano’s Castle. This is the town where you can party the best. So if you are a party person or a night owl, this is the best town to visit in Lake Garda.

Strada Della Forra

If you want the best views of Lake Garda, you need to get high. And the best place to get high is on the west side of the lake. Several roads lead up into the hills, and they all have spectacular viewpoints for you to enjoy. However, if you’re in a car or moped, you need to drive the Strada Della Forra- the gorge road.

strada-della-forra-gorge-road

Strada Della Forra is a road that has been literally carved into a gorge. The road climbs steeply up using hairpin bends, tunnels through the cliff, and some of Lake Garda’s best views. The tunnels through the gorge are so low that you couldn’t drive through in anything bigger than a large car- I think even a 4×4 might be too big! 

You can find the start of Strada Della Forra about halfway down on the west side of Lake Garda. Traffic lights allow only one direction to go at once, so it’s not 2-way. It’s free to drive- so feel free to drive up, turn around and come back again! 

Having said that, there are plenty of things to enjoy once you’re up. There’s a restaurant near the top with delicious food and plenty of great hikes to viewpoints for you to enjoy. 

More Places to Visit Around Lake Garda

I actually visited a few more places around Lake Garda, but the above-mentioned places were my favorites. However, here are some more places I recommend visiting in the area, though they are not directly located at the lake, so if you are wondering about the best places to see around Lake Garda, here are the answers.

Tenno Lake

Lake Tenno is a little gem north of Lake Garda. Getting there by car was somehow fun, but driving the serpentines can be challenging, too.

Lake Tenno in Lake Garda

The lovely lake color and the absence of crowds make it a great place to visit.

GardaLand Amusement Park

Though I didn’t visit the amusement park, if you are traveling with kids or love amusement parks, this could be a fun day trip. 35 rides (including 6 rollercoasters) make this a popular tourist place in the area. It is located close to popular places like Sirmione and Peschiera del Garda, and with Skip the Line Tickets, you can skip waiting for lines (which are probably crazy in high season).

Verona

Verona was probably one of the most positive surprises – it is as pretty as heck! From the southern shores, like Sirmione, it takes about 50 minutes to get there (buses and organized tours are available), and it is a fun day trip from Lake Garda.

Verona Day Trip from Lake Garda

No blog post had prepared me for its beauty. While I believe you should stay longer than a few hours (probably two days), it is a must-see place if you are in the area.  Just keep in mind that Juliet´s balcony is overrated, but there are many beautiful spots. Find out about the best places to see Verona in one day – click here to read my post. Verona was just stunning!

Dolomites

If you stay in the northern part of Lake Garda, I suggest a day trip to the Dolomites.

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites

The Dolomites, a mountain range in Italy’s very northern part, are perfect if you are interested in visiting unique and stunning lakes. For example, Lake Carezza and Lago di Braies, or if you are into hiking. A more detailed post with my favorite activities from my one-week stay will be online soon. But until then, you can find out about the most lakes in the Dolomites by clicking here to read my post.

Venice

I do think that Venice is a great place to visit and deserves two days of your life. However, if you cannot plan in that time, you could join a guided tour (or do an independent tour, of course) and enjoy one of the most iconic cities in the world. Click are my travel tips for Venice.

Venice Itinerary 2 days

Lake Garda Travel Tips

Before listing my favorite activities there, here are some important travel tips for Lake Garda.

Lake Garda Facts

  • Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, with a shore length of about 160 km. The average depth is about 136 meters.
  • There are 28 cities, towns, and villages in Lake Garda, and it belongs to the regions of Trentino-South Tyrol, Veneto, and Lombardy.

How to Get to Lake Garda / How to Get Around Lake Garda

  • By Plane: Popular airports close by Bergamo/Milano Airport, Verona Airport, and Brescia Airport. Venice Airport is about 100 km away.
  • By Train: The bigger cities are served by trains; however, the bus service to get from one place to another is limited and not optimal.
  • By Car: By car is probably the best way to get around. While tolls are high in Italy (and so are gas and diesel), it is the most convenient transportation mode. I never paid tolls around Lake Garda, though (but heading to other places might include toll costs). The narrow streets in the mountains (serpentines) are not my favorite places to drive – Italians tend to drive faster and always use a bit of the opposite lane. However, if you are careful and don’t mind a bit of adrenaline, then driving yourself is the best way to get around (if you want to see all the beautiful places in Lake Garda, a car is your best chance of seeing them all).
  • By Boat: Boat tours are fun and a must when in the region. However, given the lake’s size, it is time-consuming getting from the northern to the southern shores of the lake. You can surely do it once or twice, but even I did not want to spend all day on a boat. (From Limone to Sirmione, a trip takes about three hours – one way!)

Best Time to Visit Lake Garda

We visited Lake Garda in mid-September – and it was still busy. Like really busy, though the crowds had thinned. 

The weather is still great in September (sunny and warm, but not hot), and if you can avoid the months from June until August, I would definitely do it. Besides September, I suggest early October or March (if you don’t need holidays for getting a real tan), April, May, or early June.

Language

Italian is the official language, though most people in the tourism sector speak German and basic English.

More Things to Know

Mosquitos! There are a lot of them. So, bring whatever you have that keeps them away from you (and tell us your secret!).

Best Places to Stay

There are many good places to stay in and around Lake Garda. Surely, Limone or Sirmione are great picks as Riva del Garda is. I have written a more detailed post about the best places to stay in and around Lake Garda.

Check out the hotels for Sirmione here:

  • Luxury – For a luxurious experience, stay at the Grand Hotel Terme, which offers great amenities.
  • Mid-Range – If you are looking for a mid-range option, the Champagne Rooms would be a great choice, with a nice location. They also offer family suites, perfect if you’re traveling with your family.
  • Budget-friendly – Located right by Lake Garda’s shore, the lovely Hotel Porto Azzurro makes a good budget option.
  • CampingCamping Tiglio is a great place for lakeside camping, offering clean facilities and nice amenities.

Check out the hotels for Riva del Garda here:

  • Luxury – The Rivacentro is a popular, luxurious apartment hotel with modern rooms and great amenities.
  • Mid-Range – For a mid-range hotel, you could stay at the Parc Hotel Flora, which offers spa access and nice views.

Check out hotels for Limone here:

My personal favorite place in Lake Garda was Limone, where I stayed. The place is tiny but yet my favorite place in the region.

  • Luxury Hotel Splendid Palace is a lovely accommodation that offers many amenities and beautiful views from its rooftop pool.
  • Mid-RangeGarni Gianmartin provides a savory buffet and lovely lake views. A favorite among solo travelers.
  • Budget-friendlyHotel Cristina has a nice location and offers lake views and a pool.

As you can see, Lake Garda is the perfect place to visit in Northern Italy. Whether you visit with your family, and friends, solo, or choose it as a honeymoon destination – there are so many beautiful places to visit in Lake Garda. Just choose the perfect time to visit (so avoid July and August) and then experience all the fun things to do in Lake Garda. 

Stay safe and enjoy!
Safe Travels, Arzo

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