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From sun-bathed beaches to ancient ruins and rustic eateries to sprawling vineyards, our rundown of some of the best places to visit in Italy proves that there really is something for everyone in this truly magical country.
Whether you’re looking to grace some of the country’s most renowned landmarks, or looking for an underrated coastal gem to sip red wine and watch the sunset, we’ve got you covered, and then some, with a range of beautiful places situated across the country.
Are you ready to ignite that wanderlust from within and start planning an unforgettable Italian adventure? Let’s hope so because it’s time to dive right in and start exploring!
Places to Visit in Italy
Top Tourist Spots
1 – Rome
Italy’s capital city should be at the top of your list of places to visit. With its millennia-long history, amazing landscapes, stunning museums, great restaurants, and lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Rome.
Visit the symbol of the city, the Colosseum, wander around the Roman Forum, check out the famous Trevi Fountain, and visit some of the most beautiful churches in the world.
Castel Sant’Angelo, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps are other must-see landmarks. If you’re interested in art, check out the impressive collections at Galleria Borghese and Musei Capitolini, along with plenty of other amazing things to do in Rome.
You should also enjoy traditional Roman pasta and many other delicious Roman foods while enjoying a drink in the likes of the lively neighborhoods of Trastevere and Campo de Fiori.
Read more: Where to Stay in Rome
2 – Venice
Spread across a multitude of small islands separated by narrow canals, Venice is a city like no other in the world. Whether you want to wander around lovely squares and across beautiful bridges, take a gondola ride along the canals, or visit beautiful museums, Venice has all this and more.
Some of the must-see spots in Venice are Saint Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Doge’s Palace. If you have extra time, visit the colorful island of Burano.
3 – Florence
The Italian city of art, Florence is home to some of the best museums in Italy, beautiful churches, and magnificent panoramic views. Visit the stunning Duomo and climb to the top of Giotto’s Tower, walk on the Ponte Vecchio, check out the impressive art collection at the Uffizi Gallery, and pay a visit to the Academia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David.
For the best panoramic view in town, head to Piazzale Michelangelo. When the weather is nice, enjoy a pleasant stroll in the Boboli Gardens.
4 – Vatican City
Located in the heart of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest state in the world, covering an area of just 0.19 square miles and with a population of only 453 people, mainly the clergy, Swiss Guards, and other religious members.
Despite being such a small state, the Vatican is home to one of the biggest museums and the largest basilica in the world. The Vatican Museums house an impressive art collection and the renowned Sistine Chapel. Saint Peter’s Basilica is free to visit, but there’s a fee for climbing to the top of the dome.
5 – Pisa
Despite being famous mainly for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Tuscan city has much more to offer, including beautiful churches, museums, and medieval palaces.
The top sight is obviously Piazza dei Miracoli, with the city cathedral and the famous leaning bell tower offering a gorgeous panoramic view. Other sights worth seeing are Knights Square, Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri Church, and the Borgo Stretto medieval neighborhood along the Arno River.
6 – Milan
Known as the global capital of fashion and design, Milan is the most stylish city in Italy. If you’re planning on going shopping, check out the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the most popular shopping streets, Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga.
When in Milan, you should also check the main landmarks, including the famous Duomo, the Sforzesco Castle, Arco della Pace, and Piazza dei Mercanti. Milan is also home to one of the most famous paintings in the world, The Last Supper, housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie convent. For more amazing artwork, pay a visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera.
7 – Naples
If what you’re looking for is indulging in delicious Italian food, Naples is the place to go. Try some of the best pizzas in Italy at popular spots like Gino e Toto Sorbillo or Da Michele, and don’t forget to sample delicious Italian desserts like the baba and sfogliatelle.
But there’s more to Naples than just amazing food. Visit the impressive Castel Sant’Elmo for amazing panoramic views, stroll along the Lungomare, visit Castel dell’Ovo, and check out the main square Piazza del Plebiscito. For a unique side of the city, go on a tour of Naples Underground.
Save an extra day to visit the archaeological sites of Pompei and Herculaneum, less than one hour from the city center, or hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius.
Related: Best Italian Cheeses to Try
Beautiful Vacation Spots
8 – Amalfi Coast
For a seaside holiday in a postcard location, head to the Amalfi Coast, just south of Naples. The coast is lined with picturesque villages, from the most famous locations of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello to hidden gems like Furore, Maiori, and Cetara.
The Amalfi Coast is great for swimming in beautiful waters, enjoying a walk around the villages, eating delicious seafood, and sampling gelato and lemon granita. A great way to move between the main towns is by boat, which allows you to enjoy a view of the coast from a different perspective.
9 – Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre is a section of the coast of Liguria that includes five picturesque villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The villages are famous for the colorful buildings perched on the tall cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea.
The villages are part of the Cinque Terre National Park. Aside from relaxing at the beach and exploring the villages, you can hike the many paths in the park and be rewarded with impressive coastal views.
10 – Lake Como
One of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, Lake Como is a popular vacation destination drawing thousands of tourists and even celebrities every year. The lake is known for the luxurious residences on its shores, many of them belonging to celebrities like George Clooney or Sir Richard Branson.
Lake Como has much to offer for either a relaxing vacation or an adventurous one. You can explore some of the lovely towns on the lake, such as Como, Bellagio, Lecco, or Varenna, just to mention a few, and visit some of the beautiful villas, like Villa del Balbianello, Villa Melzi D’Eril, Villa Monastero, and Villa Carlotta.
If you’re up for a more adventurous vacation, try some water sports like water skiing, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding. Alternatively, go on a relaxing sailing tour around the lake.
11 – Sanremo
Set on the so-called Riviera dei Fiori or Flower Riviera, Sanremo is a popular resort town, known for the Italian Song Festival that takes place in February and the impressive Art Nouveau Casino. Many beaches are lined on the long seaside promenade, making this a perfect location to spend your days sunbathing and evenings exploring the city and enjoying its nightlife.
Don’t forget to add to your itinerary a visit to Santuario della Madonna della Costa and the impressive Russian Orthodox Church. The charming neighborhood of La Pigna is the historical center of Sanremo, on the top of a hill offering gorgeous views of the city.
12 – Rimini
If you’re looking for a summer party spot, Rimini is of the best places to visit in Italy. Famous for its long sandy beaches and nightclubs, the Adriatic city is the place to go in summer. If you want to enjoy the nightlife, check out the popular clubs Carnaby, Baia Imperiale, and Coconuts, to mention a few.
But Rimini has more to offer than beaches and parties. In the small but charming historical center, visit the 15th century Castel Sismondo, walk the Ancient Roman Bridge Ponte di Tiberio, check out the Malatestiano Temple, and wander around the colorful Borgo San Giuliano.
13 – Sicily
The largest Mediterranean island, Sicily is home to beautiful coastal cities like Siracusa and Taormina, amazing beaches, the impressive archaeological sites Valley of the Temples, and the awe-inspiring Etna volcano. The largest cities are Palermo, the capital of the island, and the port city of Catania, at the foot of Mount Etna.
A trip to Sicily requires at least one week to see the main sights. You can visit its most important cities, enjoy the beaches, discover quaint fishing villages, hike the Etna, and eat delicious Sicilian food. Don’t forget to try the arancini, the caponata, and of course, the traditional cannoli.
14 – Capri
In front of the Sorrentine Peninsula, the small island of Capri is one of the most popular Italian summer destinations. Boasting beautiful beaches with crystalline waters, grottoes, impressive cliffs, and stunning rock formations, the island is perfect for boat trips, swimming, and enjoying great food at some of the best restaurants overlooking the sea.
The beauty of Capri attracts many tourists every summer so you can expect a crowd. Furthermore, the island is a celebrity hotspot, meaning it can get quite expensive. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth visiting.
15 – Sardinia
The second-largest island of Italy, Sardinia is known for having some of the best beaches in Italy and for its ancient ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. The north of the island is also a popular nightlife spot, with some of the most exclusive clubs in Italy.
There is plenty to do in Sardinia, from discovering its ancient history by visiting the Nuraghe to exploring the main cities of Cagliari, Sassari, Alghero, and Olbia. But the most scenic spots in Sardinia are the smaller towns like La Maddalena, Bosa, Castelsardo, and Orgosolo. For some of the best beaches, check out Cala Goloritzè, Porto Istana, La Pelosa, and the entire Costa Smeralda in the northeast.
16 – Elba
Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, which includes six smaller islands. The island of Elba is better known for being the site of Napoleon’s exile from 1814 to 1815. In the island’s capital, Portoferraio, you can visit one of his residences, Napoleonic Mills House, now a museum.
Elba is a great spot for beautiful beaches and hiking trails. A must-do on the island is hiking around Mount Capanne and taking the cable car to its impressive summit. If you enjoy diving or snorkeling, check out Punta Fetovaia or the shipwreck off Pomonte Beach.
17 – Ischia
One hour by ferry from Naples, the island of Ischia is slightly less popular than Capri but also more affordable. Boasting amazing natural landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and charming little seaside towns, Ischia is a great island to spend a weekend or even an entire week.
Aside from exploring the beaches and going on boat trips, don’t forget to visit the impressive Aragonese Castel next to the port of Ischia and the picturesque town of Sant’Angelo.
18 – Tremiti Islands
Off the coast of the Molise region, the Tremiti Islands are a small archipelago of five islands: San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Cretaccio, and Pianosa. The Islands belong to the Apulia region and are a true gem in the Adriatic, with crystal clear waters that will make you feel like you’ve landed in the Caribbean.
Take a ferry from Termoli and enjoy a little corner of paradise, hopping from one island to the other and swimming in the turquoise waters.
19 – Ponza
The small island of Ponza is one of the lesser-known islands of Italy, hence a good reason to visit it. Ponza is just off the Tyrrhenian coast, halfway between Rome and Naples. The island boasts amazing natural pools, crystalline waters, and gorgeous beaches enclosed within picturesque coves.
Explore the small town of Ponza, where you’ll find most hotels and restaurants, and go on a boat tour around the island. Ponza is the biggest island of the Pontine Islands, the smaller ones being Palmarola, Zannone, Gavi, Ventotene, and Santo Stefano.
20 – Bologna
Bologna is known as a student city, home to the oldest university in continuous operation in the world, founded in 1088. However, the city is also a beautiful tourist destination, which is often overlooked.
Some of the main sights are the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, the Fountain of Neptune, and Saint Peter Cathedral. The city is also famous for its many towers, mainly the Two Towers in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. Another tower offering stunning views of the city is Torre dei Prendiparte.
When in Bologna, you must also try delicious traditional food, like tagliatelle with ragu (also known as alla Bolognese), green lasagna, and mortadella.
21 – Siena
Often overlooked in favor of nearby Florence and Pisa, Siena is an underrated gem in Tuscany. The city is better known for the Palio di Siena, a horse race held twice a year in the main city square, Piazza del Campo. If you want to check the Palio, head to Siena on the 2nd of July or the 16th of August.
Aside from witnessing the Palio, explore the beautiful medieval center of Siena, the unique Duomo with its black and white marble stripes, and the Medici Fortress offering a panoramic view of the city. For another impressive view, climb to the top of the Tower of Mangia in Piazza del Campo.
22 – Genoa
The port city of Genoa in northwest Italy is another underrated place worth visiting. Once a major maritime center, Genoa boasts an impressive harbor, a magnificent maritime museum housing a moored submarine, and a huge aquarium.
In the historical center, visit the San Lorenzo Cathedral, Christopher Columbus’ House, and the vast Piazza de Ferrari. For a local feel, check out the restaurants in the so-called caruggi, the narrow alleys in the historical center. Since you’re in its birthplace, you must try the pesto alla Genovese, ideally with trofie, the traditional fresh pasta in Genoa.
23 – Matera
A city in the Basilicata region in the south of Italy, Matera was an overlooked destination for many years. Recently, the historical center known as Sassi di Matera has seen huge promotion as a tourist destination, drawing more and more visitors.
The Sassi di Matera date back to the Paleolithic, when the area was filled with cave dwellings. In 1993, the Sassi became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2019, the city was the European Capital of Culture.
You can still see the old Paleolithic dwellings, climb up and down the many stairways to enjoy the view, and visit the beautiful churches and interesting museums.
24 – Alberobello
Alberobello is a true fairytale village in the Apulia region. Not far from Bari, the small town is famous for its traditional buildings called trulli. A trullo is a small white stone house, generally with only one floor and with a conical roof. The streets in the center of Alberobello are filled with trulli, most of which are now shops selling local products and souvenirs or restaurants.
The town of Alberobello is a unique little gem worth visiting if you want to see something other than the big cities. However, it has become quite popular in recent years, so be conscious of larger crowds during the tourist season.
25 – Verona
The beautiful city of Verona is better known for Juliet’s House, with the famous balcony inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. However, there is much to see in this romantic city.
The medieval old town extends along the shore of the Adige River and is filled with beautiful landmarks, such as the Roman Amphitheater simply known as Verona Arena, the scenic Piazza delle Erbe, and the beautiful cathedral Santa Maria Matricolare. To enjoy a panoramic view from the top, climb to the top of Verona’s tallest tower, Torre dei Lamberti.
26 – Orvieto
A small city in the Umbria region, Orvieto is famous for its gorgeous medieval Duomo, with the façade covered in mosaics with golden details glittering in the sun. The Orvieto Duomo is considered one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval cathedrals.
Orvieto has ancient origins and is home to a subterranean cave system dating up to three millennia ago, an Etruscan necropolis, and the Etruscan Museum Claudio Faina. The fortress Rocca Albornoziana offers beautiful panoramic views of Orvieto and its surroundings.
27 – Tivoli
Less than one hour from Rome, the town of Tivoli is home to some amazing historical buildings, including the magnificent Villa d’Este with its fountains and beautiful gardens, and the medieval fortress of Rocca Pia. Not far from the city center, you can also see a series of gorgeous waterfalls.
Outside Tivoli, Villa Adriana is a magnificent complex built for emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD as a villa for his retreats. In the archaeological site, you can still see the remains of thermal baths, the Maritime Theater, and the Cryptoporch with Mosaic Vault, among other impressive landmarks.
28 – Salerno
Salerno is a seaside city south of Naples, in the Campania region, with a beautiful historical center, a lovely seaside promenade, and magnificent gardens. Salerno is also famous for the lights festival, Luci d’Artista, which takes place during the Christmas period.
In the historical center, visit the beautiful cathedral, wander around the little alleys, and check out the main shopping street, Via Mercanti. For a peaceful afternoon, head to the beautiful Minerva botanical garden or the Villa Comunale di Salerno.
29 – Perugia
The capital of the Umbria region, Perugia is yet another underrated gem, formerly an important Etruscan city. A great part of the Etruscan walls are still well-preserved and enclose the historical center of Perugia.
The main landmarks in the historical center are the 15th-century Perugia Cathedral, the medieval Palazzo dei Priori, and the picturesque Piazza IV Novembre. To learn more about the city, visit the Rocca Paolina fortress.
Perugia is also renowned for chocolate-making and is the birthplace of the famous chocolate Baci Perugina. You can visit the museum Casa del Cioccolaaaaato Perugina just outside the city center. If you like chocolate, visit Perugia in October, when the city hosts the Eurochocolate Festival.
Related: 10 Best Travel Destinations for Chocolate Lovers
30 – Ostuni
A small city in the Salento area of Apulia, Ostuni is also called “the white city” because of the whitewashed houses of the historical center. With the narrow alleys, small squares, and flowers decorating every corner, Ostuni resembles a Greek city.
The best thing to do in Ostuni is to simply wander around the charming old town and discover its unique historical landmarks like the New Gate and bastion, Arco Scoppa, Porta San Demetrio, and the gothic cathedral Santa Maria Assunta.
Places to Visit in Italy Summary
From grand Roman architecture to picturesque ports hidden behind the hills, our trip through Italy together I’m sure you can agree has been action-packed, beautiful, and utterly breathtaking.
Italy is such a great place for a much-needed getaway from the bustle of everyday life. Whatever you’re looking for, you can no doubt find it in Italy, pretty much always accompanied by delicious food, great ambiance, and a glorious view.
We hope these thirty wonderful places, which really are only the tip of the iceberg, give you plenty of inspiration to book a trip of a lifetime to this vast, beautiful, and historic country.
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Author: Roxana Fanaru is a Rome-based journalist and writer, who has lived in Italy for two decades. Passionate about Italian travel and culture, she has a wealth of experience writing in the travel and lifestyle spaces.