Best Things to Do in Italy: 12 Italy Attractions

by Flora
Best things to do in Italy
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Are you considering visiting Italy this year? Here are some of the most exciting, fun, and unique things to do in Italy. These historical sights, bustling cities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable Italian vacation.

Italy, a country that’s as diverse as it is beautiful. The country boasts a wide range of landscapes, from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the sun-kissed beaches of the Mediterranean. Italy caters to diverse travel preferences, providing romantic escapes for couples. And also offers exciting adventures for families, and tranquil retreats for solo travelers.

While traveling through the country, you’ll find yourself enchanted by the captivating charm of Italy’s picturesque towns. Italy’s cities, steeped in history and culture, are home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. The Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the canals of Venice – the list is endless.

And let’s not forget about the food. From the pizza in Naples to the pasta in Bologna, Italy is a gastronomic paradise.

But Italy is more than just its famous cities and delicious cuisine. It’s about the lesser-known gems that offer an authentic Italian experience. It’s about the tranquil countryside of Tuscany and the rugged cliffs of Cinque Terre. The pristine beaches of Sardinia, and the quaint trulli houses of Alberobello. It’s about the warmth of the Italian people, their passion for life, and their love for their country.

If you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable journey, here are the best places to visit in Italy. Each destination is unique, offering a slice of Italy that’s sure to make your trip memorable. Let’s dive in!

The top places to visit in Italy right now
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Best Places to Visit in Italy

Ready to jump into all the best things to do in Italy? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this underrated vacation spot. Keep reading to discover all these unique places to visit in Italy.

Are you looking to discover crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches? Or would you prefer a true gastronomic experience, sampling all the best food Italy has to offer? Whatever you’re planning, Italy can accommodate your needs. Here are all the best things to do in Italy that you should know about for your next vacation.

1. Rome: The Eternal City

Stepping into Rome is like stepping into a time machine. The city, with its millennia-old ruins and timeless art, transports you back to the era of gladiators, emperors, and artists. Start your journey at the Colosseum, an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. Where you can almost hear the roar of the crowd and the clash of the gladiators.

Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome
Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome

Just a stone’s throw away is the Roman Forum, the political, economic, and religious center of the ancient city. Wander through the ruins and imagine the hustle and bustle of Roman life. Don’t forget to visit the Pantheon. This is a marvel of ancient architecture, with its massive dome and oculus pouring in a beam of light.

Contrary to popular belief, Rome isn’t just about ancient ruins. It’s also about vibrant piazzas like Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna. Where you can sip on an Aperol Spritz and watch the world go by. It’s about the historic Vatican City, home to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, showcasing Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

And when the sun sets, head to Trastevere, a charming neighborhood with narrow cobblestone streets. Where you can enjoy a hearty Italian meal and a glass of local wine. Rome, with its blend of history, culture, and la dolce vita, is a must-visit on any Italian itinerary. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to visit in Italy and serves as an excellent introduction to the country.

2. Venice: The City of Canals

Venice, a city built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, is a place like no other. With no roads, just canals, it’s a city that captivates at every turn.

Being one of the best things to do in Italy, begin your Venetian adventure with a gondola ride through the Grand Canal, the city’s main waterway. As you glide through the water, you’ll pass by Gothic palaces, bustling markets, and charming bridges, each one a testament to Venice’s rich history.

Venice is one of the top places to visit in Italy, hands down
Venice: The City of Canals

Step off your gondola and lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and winding canals. You’ll stumble upon hidden gems like the Rialto Market, where locals shop for fresh produce and seafood, or the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, home to a collection of Tintoretto paintings.

No visit to Venice would be complete without a visit to St. Mark’s Square, the city’s social, religious, and political center. Here, you’ll find St. Mark’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, and the Doge’s Palace, a symbol of Venice’s maritime power.

But Venice isn’t just about its landmarks. It’s about the magical moments – the sound of the water lapping against the buildings, the soft glow of the lanterns reflecting on the canals, and the taste of gelato on a hot summer day.

Venice, with its unique charm and romantic allure, is a place that will leave you longing for more. It’s one of the best places in Italy for couples, its elegant streets, and romantic restaurants a haven for traditional lovers.

3. Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance

Whilst there are endless incredible destinations in the country, Florence is undoubtedly one of the most interesting destinations to visit in Italy, and it’s clear to see why. The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a city that’s a feast for the eyes. With its stunning architecture, world-class art, and picturesque landscapes, it’s a destination that inspires at every corner.

Start your journey at the Duomo, Florence’s most iconic landmark. Climb to the top of the dome for a panoramic view of the city, with the Tuscan hills stretching out in the distance.

Duomo is one of Florence's most iconic landmark
Duomo is one of Florence’s most iconic landmark

Just a short walk away is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s most important art museums. Here, you’ll find works by masters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Don’t miss the chance to see Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Take a stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge lined with jewelry shops. Make sure to try locally produced gelato in Piazza della Signoria, a lively square filled with statues and cafes. In the evening, watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo, a hilltop square with stunning views of the city. If you’re craving some tranquillity amidst the bustling streets of Florence, head to the beautiful Bolboli Gardens, a historical open-air museum with a plethora of sculptures, singing birds, and Italian fountains.

And when it comes to food, Florence doesn’t disappoint. From the hearty ribollita soup to the succulent bistecca alla fiorentina, Florentine cuisine is a celebration of simple ingredients and robust flavors. Florence, with its blend of art, culture, and gastronomy, is a city that will touch your soul.

4. Amalfi Coast: A Mediterranean Paradise

Coined by many as the most beautiful place to visit in Italy, The Amalfi Coast, a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, is a destination that dazzles with its extraordinary charm. Here, cliffs adorned with colorful villages plunge into the sparkling blue sea, creating a landscape that’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Begin your journey in Positano, a cliffside village that’s a cascade of pastel-colored houses. Wander through its narrow streets, browse its boutiques, and enjoy freshly caught fish at a waterfront restaurant. Don’t forget to visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, known for its majolica-tiled dome.

The Amalfi Coast is truly a slice of Mediterranean paradise
The Amalfi Coast is truly a slice of Mediterranean paradise

Next, head to Amalfi, the town that gives the coast its name. Visit the Amalfi Cathedral, a stunning structure that combines various architectural styles, and explore the Cloister of Paradise, an enchanting garden filled with Arabian-style arches.

The, you’ll find Ravello, a town perched high above the sea. Visit the Villa Rufolo, known for its beautiful gardens and spectacular views, and the Villa Cimbrone, a historic building with stunning panoramas of the coastline.

Like other destinations in Italy, the Amalfi Coast is a true delight for the palate. Indulge in delicious seafood, fresh pasta, and limoncello, a sweet lemon liqueur that’s a regional specialty. The Amalfi Coast, with its stunning scenery and delectable cuisine, is truly a slice of Mediterranean paradise, which I recommend as a destination to visit in Italy to everyone I meet.

5. Cinque Terre: A Colorful Coastal Gem

Cinque Terre, a string of five fishing villages perched on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline, is a destination that excites with its vibrant colors and rustic charm. The villages — Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore — are connected by a network of trails that offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Exploring the villages of Cinque Terre and discovering their hidden treasures is one of the best things to do in Italy this summer.

Start your journey in Monterosso, the largest of the five villages, known for its beautiful beaches and the medieval San Giovanni Battista church. Next, take the coastal path to Vernazza, a village that’s a swirl of colorful houses around a small marina. Don’t miss the chance to climb the Doria Castle for panoramic views of the village and the sea.

Explore the villages of Cinque Terre to see why it's among the most unique things to do in Italy
Explore the villages of Cinque Terre and discover their hidden treasures.

Next, head to Corniglia, the only village of Cinque Terre that’s not directly on the sea. Perched on top of a promontory, it offers panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea. Continue your journey to Manarola, a village famous for its sweet Sciacchetrà win. Finally to Riomaggiore, known for its picturesque harbor lined with brightly colored houses.

Cinque Terre is not just a visual delight, it’s also a culinary delight. Enjoy a meal of fresh seafood, accompanied by a glass of local white wine, and end with a scoop of homemade gelato.

Cinque Terre, with its postcard-perfect scenery and mouth-watering cuisine, is the perfect place to visit in Italy for couples, families, and solo travelers alike, that will leave you with memories to cherish.

6. Naples: A City of Vibrant Chaos and Culinary Delights

Are you looking for the best place to visit in Italy for pizza? Naples is the third-largest city in Italy. It’s chaotic yet charming, gritty yet beautiful, and it’s this unique blend that gives Naples its character. The city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a maze of narrow streets, ancient churches, and underground catacombs waiting to be explored.

Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples.
Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples.

Begin your exploration at the Naples Cathedral, a stunning example of Italian Gothic architecture. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Cappella Sansevero, home to the remarkable sculpture “The Veiled Christ”. For art lovers, the Museo di Capodimonte houses an impressive collection of Italian and European art.

But Naples is perhaps best known for its food, particularly its pizza. Visit the historic pizzerias in the city and savor a Neapolitan pizza, with its thin, soft, and chewy crust, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil. It’s a culinary experience that’s hard to beat.

Beyond its city limits, Naples serves as a gateway to some of Italy’s most famous sites. The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, offer a glimpse into life in ancient Rome. And if you’re looking for fun things to do in Italy for couples, the islands of Capri and Ischia, with their stunning landscapes and crystal-clear waters, are perfect for a day trip.

Naples, with its rich history, vibrant street life, and delectable cuisine, is a city that’s full of surprises.

7. Sardinia: An Island of Pristine Beaches and Ancient Traditions

If you’re searching for the best beach destination in Italy, then look no further. Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, is a world unto itself. With its pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and ancient traditions, it’s an exciting destination that offers a unique Italian experience. It’s also a Blue Zone with one of the highest quality of life measurements in the world!

Start your journey on the Costa Smeralda, a stretch of coastline known for its crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches. Here, you can relax under the Mediterranean sun, take a dip in the turquoise sea, or enjoy a variety of water sports.

Exploring Sardinia is among the coolest things to do in Italy for adventurers
Sardinia is also a home to distinctive traditions and a rich culinary scene.

Whilst in abundance, Sardinia is not just about its beaches. Venture inland and you’ll find a landscape dotted with nuraghi, mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins that are unique to the island. Visit the Nuraghe Su Nuraxi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to get a glimpse into Sardinia’s ancient past.

Sardinia is a home to distinctive traditions and a rich culinary scene. Experience the island’s vibrant festivals, like the Cavalcata Sarda, a grand parade showcasing traditional Sardinian costumes and folk dances. Savor local dishes like porceddu, roasted suckling pig, and seadas, a sweet cheese-filled pastry.

For nature lovers, the Gennargentu National Park offers hiking trails through rugged mountains and forests. La Maddalena Archipelago is a haven for marine life. Sardinia, with its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality, is an island that promises an unforgettable Italian adventure – there’s something for everyone.

8. Bologna: The Culinary Heart of Italy

Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is a city that delights the senses. Known as “La Grassa” (The Fat One), it’s the culinary heart of Italy, famous for its rich and hearty cuisine. Here, you can savor unique local specialties like tortellini, ragù alla bolognese, and mortadella, accompanied by a glass of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the region.

Delicious as it is, Bologna is not just about food. It’s also a city of beautiful porticoes and red-brick buildings, earning it the nickname “La Rossa” (The Red One). Start your exploration at Piazza Maggiore, the city’s main square, home to the Basilica of San Petronio and the Fountain of Neptune. Don’t miss the chance to climb the Asinelli Tower, one of the two leaning towers of Bologna, for a panoramic view of the city.

Bologna is a city that offers a taste of authentic Italy.
Bologna is a city that offers a taste of authentic Italy.

Bologna is also a city of culture and learning. It’s home to the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world, giving it a vibrant student atmosphere. Visit the Archiginnasio, the university’s first permanent seat, and marvel at its richly decorated lecture halls.

Just outside the city, you’ll find the rolling hills of the Emilia-Romagna countryside, dotted with vineyards and medieval castles. Bologna, with its gastronomic delights, historic charm, and lively atmosphere, is a city that offers a taste of authentic Italy.

The abundance of delicious food and picturesque nearby landscapes makes Bologna a city I recommend everyone to visit in Italy.

Read next: Coolest Day Trips from Bologna

9. Sicily: A Melting Pot of Cultures

For the best things to do in Italy right now, look no further! Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is a melting pot of cultures. Over the centuries, it has been influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spaniards, each leaving their mark on the island’s architecture, culture, and cuisine. History lovers, Sicily is a must-visit in Italy for you.

Start your journey in Palermo, the island’s capital, known for its vibrant markets and rich history. Visit the Palermo Cathedral, a stunning example of Sicilian Norman architecture, and the Palatine Chapel, with its dazzling Byzantine mosaics. Don’t miss the chance to explore the city’s markets, like the Ballarò and the Vucciria, where you can sample delicious local street food.

Next, head to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to some of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. Continue your journey to Syracuse, once the largest city in the ancient world, where you can explore the Greek Theatre and the Roman Amphitheater.

Visiting Sicily is one of the best things to do in Italy
Roman theater of Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Sicily is also known for its natural beauty. From the stunning beaches of the Aeolian Islands to the dramatic landscapes of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, Sicily offers a variety of outdoor adventures.

Like the rest of Italy, Sicily doesn’t disappoint when it comes to food. From the sweet cannoli to the savory arancini, Sicilian cuisine is a testament to the island’s cultural diversity.

Sicily, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and delectable cuisine, is an island that offers a unique Italian experience, making it a destination you should shortlist for your vacation in Italy.

10. Milan: A City of Fashion and Design

Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, is a global capital of fashion and design. Known for its high-end restaurants and shops, it’s a city that exudes style and elegance. Start your journey in the fashion district, Quadrilatero della Moda, where you can browse boutiques of world-renowned Italian designers like Prada, Versace, and Armani.

Milan, Italy's second-largest city, is a global capital of fashion and design.
Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, is a global capital of fashion and design.

Milan is also a city of art and culture. Visit the Milan Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture, and climb to the rooftop for a panoramic view of the city. Don’t miss the chance to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” one of the most famous works of art in the world, housed in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Known for its vibrant nightlife, visit Milan’s Navigli district in the evening. With its canals and lively bars, it’s a popular spot for aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink accompanied by snacks. For opera lovers, a visit to La Scala, one of the world’s most famous opera houses, is a must.

Just outside the city, you’ll find Lake Como, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and dotted with charming villages. Its vibrant nightlife, rich culture, and fashion heritage make Milan a perfect place to visit in Italy for couples, and one I’d personally recommend for a long weekend.

11. Lake Como: A Haven of Tranquillity and Elegance

Arguably the best place to visit in Italy, Lake Como, nestled in the foothills of the Alps and just a short drive from Milan, is a destination that exudes tranquillity and elegance. Known for its dramatic scenery, azure waters, and palatial villas, it’s a place that has attracted artists, celebrities, and travelers for centuries.

Start your journey in Como, the lake’s main town, known for its Gothic Como Cathedral and the funicular that takes you up to the mountain town of Brunate, offering panoramic views of the lake. Enjoy a stroll along the lakefront promenade, lined with gelato shops and cafes.

Lake Como is nestled in the foothills of the Alps.
Lake Como is nestled in the foothills of the Alps.

Next, take a relaxing boat ride to Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Lake”. This charming village, with its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, is perfect for exploration on foot. Visit the Villa Melzi, known for its beautiful gardens that offer stunning views of the lake.

Continue your journey to Varenna, a picturesque village known for Villa Monastero, a historic home with beautiful gardens that stretch along the lake. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Castello di Vezio, a castle offering panoramic views of the lake.

After a day of exploration, enjoy a meal of fresh lake fish, accompanied by a glass of local wine, at a lakeside restaurant. Watch the local fisherman master their craft in the evening, catching fresh pike, perch, and carp. Lake Como, with its serene beauty, historic charm, and delectable cuisine, is a haven that promises a truly Italian experience.

12. Verona: A City of Romance and Drama

The final city I’d recommend as a place to visit in Italy is a must for couples. Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” is a city that’s synonymous with romance and drama. With its well-preserved Roman amphitheater, medieval palaces, and charming piazzas, it’s a city that captivates with its historic charm.

Begin your journey at the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater that’s one of the best-preserved of its kind. Today, it serves as a venue for concerts and opera performances, offering a unique blend of ancient history and modern entertainment.

Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater
Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater

Next, visit Juliet’s House, a 14th-century house that’s said to have inspired Shakespeare’s tragic love story. Don’t miss the chance to see Juliet’s balcony and leave a love note on the wall, a tradition followed by many visitors.

Continue your exploration to Piazza delle Erbe, a lively square filled with market stalls, cafes, and historic buildings. Climb the Lamberti Tower, located in the square, for a panoramic view of the city.

Verona is also known for its culinary scene. From the traditional pastissada de caval, a horse meat stew, to the sweet pandoro, a star-shaped cake, Veronese cuisine is a delight for the palate.

Just outside the city, you’ll find the Valpolicella wine region, known for its Amarone wine. Verona, with its romantic allure, historic charm, and gastronomic delights, is a city that promises a memorable Italian experience. It’s no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Italy for travelers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about things to do in Italy

Looking to dive deeper into the coolest Italy things to do? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get about Italian attractions:

What kind of activities can you do in Italy?

Italy, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture, offers unique activities for travelers. Here are some of the activities you can indulge in while visiting Italy:

  1. Historical exploration: Visit iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Pantheon, and the Duomo di Milano.
  2. Art and museums: Explore world-renowned museums like the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
  3. Culinary adventures: Savor authentic Italian cuisine, from pizzas in Naples to gelato in Sicily. Participate in wine tasting tours, especially in regions like Tuscany.
  4. Gondola rides: Experience the romantic canals of Venice with a traditional gondola ride.
  5. Beach relaxation: Lounge on the beautiful beaches of the Amalfi Coast or Sardinia.
  6. Hiking: Trek the scenic trails of the Cinque Terre or the Dolomites.
  7. Skiing: Hit the ski slopes in regions like Valle d’Aosta during the winter months.
  8. Exploring small towns: Discover the charm of Tuscan hill towns or the picturesque villages of Lake Como.
  9. Thermal baths: Relax in natural thermal baths, especially in regions like Tuscany.
  10. Festivals and events: Participate in local festivals, carnivals, and events that showcase Italy’s rich traditions and culture.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, Italy offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to all kinds of travelers.

What is the #1 tourist attraction in Italy?

The #1 tourist attraction in Italy is the Colosseum in Rome. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Ancient Roman grandeur and engineering. It’s renowned worldwide for its historical significance and architectural marvel. As the largest amphitheater ever built, it once hosted gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and other events. Today, millions of tourists visit the Colosseum each year, making it one of the most popular and recognized landmarks in the world.

What is Italy best known for?

Italy is best known for its rich history and iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s also cherished for its world-class art and museums, renowned cuisine including pizza and pasta, fashion capitals like Milan, picturesque landscapes from the Amalfi Coast to the Tuscan countryside, and its contributions to music, particularly opera.

What is the best time to visit Italy?

The best time to visit Italy is during the shoulder seasons in the spring (April to June) and fall (September and October) when the weather is comfortable, and the tourist crowds are smaller. If you’re a fan of hot weather, consider visiting Italy in the summer months of July and August, but keep in mind that beaches and cities are often busy at this time.

Best places to visit in Italy
Best places to visit in Italy

How many days do I need in Italy?

While you can get a taste of Italy’s major cities in about a week, a 10–14-day trip will allow you to explore more regions and smaller towns.

Do I need to know Italian to travel to Italy?

While it’s not necessary to know Italian to travel to Italy, learning a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your travel experience.

What is the food like in Italy?

Italian food is diverse and region-specific. From pizza in Naples to seafood in Venice, each region has its own specialties and traditional dishes.

What are the must-see sights in Italy?

Italy is full of must-see sights, and it’s hard to narrow down which ones are the most impressive. However, the Colosseum in Rome, the canals of Venice, the Duomo in Florence, and the Amalfi Coast are perhaps Italy’s most famous destinations. Drive along the Amalfi Coast or the Dolomites in Northern Italy, and you’ll see why these are a must in Italy.

Ciao, Italia! Final thoughts on this journey through Italy

Italy, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and delectable cuisine, is a country that captivates the heart and soul. Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins of Rome, cruising the canals of Venice, savoring a pizza in Naples, or basking in the sun on the Amalfi Coast, Italy offers a truly unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags, bring your appetite, and get ready to fall in love with Italy!

the top things to do in Italy for all types of travelers
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