The 20 Best Things to Do in Italy (Bucket List)
You’re planning to visit Italy for your next trip and you’re looking for the best places to visit?
Great choice, there are many beautiful things to see in the country, you will love it!
With many beautiful cities, a rich history, stunning landscapes, some of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands and of course delicious food, I can say without a doubt that Italy is one of my favourite destination in Europe.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this list of the 20 best things to do in Italy, with all the highlights and must-see attractions. It will for sure give you an idea of your next travel destination.
- The 20 Best Things to Do in Italy (Bucket List)
- Visit Italy: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
- 1. Rome : the capital
- 2. Florence: the art city
- 3. Pisa
- 4. Venice: the romantic city
- 5. The Cinque Terre
- 6. Lecce: the baroque city
- 7. Verona: the Shakespearean city
- 8. Genoa: port city
- 9. Naples : historic city
- 10. Capri: magnificent island
- 11. Turin: the city of cinematography and chocolate
- 12. Milan: the capital of fashion
- 13. Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands
- 14. Lake Como
- 15. Garda lake
- 16. The Dolomites
- 17. The Amalfi Coast
- 18. Gargano National Park
- 19. Sicily
- 20. Sardinia
- Flight prices to Italy
- You’re traveling in Italy? These articles will help you!
- Visit Italy: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
Visit Italy: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
1. Rome : the capital
I will start this guide of the best things to do in Italy with the capital, Rome. The Eternal City city attracts millions of tourists every year but, despite what you might think, it isn’t the most touristic city of the country. Florence and Venice both attracts more international visitors!
Rome is a beautiful city, with the added advantage of being very easy to visit on foot. It’s full of ancient monuments, beautiful squares and museums. Here are the must-see:
- The Coliseum
- The Roman forum
- The Pantheon
- Trevi Fountain
- Piazza Navona
If you are visiting Rome, you should also go to the Vatican City. Don’t miss the following:
- Saint Peter’s Square
- Saint Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest basilica
- The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s major work: The Last Judgement
- And all Vatican museums
For more details about the city, you should read my article: The 25 best things to do in Rome.
2. Florence: the art city
Florence, undoubtedly the most beautiful city of Tuscany, is home to numerous museums and Renaissance palaces. The Cultural Heritage is immense: Half Italian works of art are located in Florence. No wonder why it’s one of the most visited city in Italy along with Venice!
So will you be one of the 15 million tourists that will visit the city this year?
Must-see places in Florence:
- The Duomo
- The Uffizi gallery and its famous paintings
- The basilica San Miniato al Monte, from which you will have a panoramic view over Florence. A tip: go there for sunset
- Piazza della Signoria: a real open-air museum
- Cupola del Brunelleschi: climb 400 steps for a 360 degree view of Florence. Remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.
And don’t forget to visit the Tuscan countryside, famous for being the most beautiful in Italy!
When you hear about Pisa, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the famous leaning tower, the symbol of the city. However, there are also other things to see in the city, so you can easily spend a full day in town.
- The Piazza dei Miracoli, is the touristic heart of the city: all the famous monuments of Pisa are located there!
- The tower of Pisa, with it’s 20€ entrance fee (it can be a surprising price!)
- The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
- The Baptistery of Saint John of Pisa
- The Monumental Cemetery Camposanto
- La Piazza dei Cavalieri, a small typical Italian square with fewer tourists
- Borgo Stretto: shopping hotspot and ideal place to eat or have a drink in one of the numerous restaurants.
4. Venice: the romantic city
I can’t write an article about the Best of Italy without mentioning the famous City of Venice!
Venice is one of the most touristic cities in Europe, a great choice if you want to spend a weekend or more in Italy. With its numerous canals and its famous gondola rides, it’s also the perfect destination for a romantic stay. The Venice Carnaval takes place every year in February and attracts tourists from all over the world. If you don’t mind the crowds, it can be a good time to visit the city!
The places to visit in Venice:
- Saint Mark’s Square: heart of the city and pigeons’ area
- Saint Mark’s Basilica and its golden mosaics
- The Ducale Palace
- The Bridge of Sighs: Venice’s famous bridge
- The islands of Murano (world famous for glassmaking) and Burano with its typical colorful houses.
5. The Cinque Terre
This guide of the best places to visit in Italy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Cinque Terre, 5 stunning cliff-side villages overlooking the Mediterranean sea. You have probably already seen pictures of them, these spectacular colourful towns are amongst the most famous sights of Italy!
Cinque Terre villages are located close to each other. To visit them, you have 3 choices:
- Do the hiking trail that connects them (but be careful, depending on the season, some of them might be closed). The routes between each village can go from ½ hour to 2 hours.
- Take the train that connects all the villages: The Cinque Terre Express.
- By boat, with amazing views over the villages.
The Cinque Terre villages are the following:
- Monterosso al mare: located in the northernmost part, it is the largest of the villages and the only one with a large sandy beach.
- Vernazza with its colourful houses and small port.
- Corniglia, the only one that isn’t connected to the sea, can be reached by a staircase of more than 350 steps.
- Manorala: the oldest village.
- Riomaggiore, situated in the very East, at “the end” of the Cinque Terre.
6. Lecce: the baroque city
Much less known than the previous cities, it’s however definitely worth a visit during your trip to Italy. Lecce, located at the base of the “Italian boot” in Puglia region, is a very beautiful baroque town. There are churches, museums and palaces everywhere, all sharing the same architectural style.
- La Basilique santa Croce
- The Basilica of the Holy Cross
- The historic center
- The dome of Lecce
- Sant’Oronzo Square
- Faggiano Museum
7. Verona: the Shakespearean city
Verona is the city of love and of the tragic destiny of Romeo and Juliet. Everyone has already heard about it, but do you know what are the best things to do in town?
Here are the best places to visit in Verona:
- Juliette’s house: the opportunity to admire the famous balcony and take a picture with your lover
- The piazza Bra, where Verona arena is located
- Piazza delle Erbe with its market, bars and restaurant terraces
- The basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, the oldest church in Verona
- The Castelvecchio, a 14th century castle turned into a museum
8. Genoa: port city
Genoa is and have historically always been a port city. Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous adventurers of all time was born here!
The city is also full of monuments and beautiful sites to admire. Not many people visit it but it’s a shame, because there are very nice things to see in Genoa.
Things to do:
- The port of Genoa where you can visit the aquarium and see a replica of a pirate ship. Don’t forget to take the glass elevator to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
- The historical center with the piazza dei Ferrari and its beautiful fountain
- Walk along Via Garibaldi and visit one or more palaces such as the palazzo reale, the palazzo bianco or the palazzo Rosso.
- Stroll along the Lungomare, a 3 km seaside promenade
- Go to Boccadasse, an old fisherman’s village with colourful houses
9. Naples : historic city
Naples is the European city with the largest historical centre, so you can be sure there are a lot of churches and monuments to visit in the city! Naples is also very famous around the world for its gastronomy: the pizza (created in the 1600s as a street food for the poorest Neapolitans) as well as the famous Neapolitan sauce.
Naples must-see attractions:
- Start with the historic centre and its Duomo
- The Piazza del Plebiscito, a huge and very photogenic square with beautiful monuments surrounding it
- The Vigiliano Park and its magnificent view over the bay
- Visit the archaeological museum which houses objects from Pompeii archaeological site
- Go to Pompeii, located about 40 minutes by bus or train from Naples and witness the damage caused by the murderous eruption of the Vesuvius.
10. Capri: magnificent island
From Naples you can easily take the ferry and go to Capri island for a day trip.
You will start your visit of one of the most beautiful places in Italy in Marina Grande port. You should then take the funicular: it will take you directly to the famous Piazzetta, in Capri town center. With its café terraces and magnificent view over the bay, the place is magical!
Other things you shouldn’t miss in Capri are the Arco Naturale, a large 20m height rocky arch and the viewpoint of Tragara, which also offers a magnificent view. And of course the must-see attraction of Capri: the blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra in Italian), named after the unique water color inside.
11. Turin: the city of cinematography and chocolate
You may not know it, but Turin is THE chocolate city. Yes, there is not only Swiss or Belgian chocolate! Italian one is also very famous. Your favourite sweet thing has even been invented by a master pastry chef from Turin! Every year, the chocolate festival takes place in town, with many events and tasting.
But Turin is also the city of cinema. Located in Turin’s emblematic monument, the Mole Antonelliana, the Cinema Museum is one of the best in the world. You will learn more about the history of cinema and you can even see masks of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings! Don’t forget to take the panoramic lift to the upper terrace, you will enjoy a 360° view over the entire city.
Also worth seeing during your trip to Turin:
- The Egyptian museum: the 2nd largest after the one in Cairo and the oldest Egyptian museum in the world
- The automobile museum, with its impressive collection of vehicles
- The Palazzo Reale, former residence of the Dukes of Savoy
To plan your visit to Turin, you can read my definitive guide about the city: The 20 best things to do in Turin
12. Milan: the capital of fashion
Milan is the capital of fashion and design, with many renowned designer’s luxury boutiques and showrooms. In addition, there is also many historic buildings to visit in the city!
The tourist attraction you shouldn’t miss in Milan:
- The Piazza del Duomo and its magnificent Cathedral: the Duomo di Milano. Don’t hesitate to take the entrance ticket with rooftop terrace access, it’s worth it!
- The Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione, just nearby
- The Vittorio Emmanuel II gallery and its huge glass roof, a luxury shopping spot
- The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera art gallery) and its rich collection of paintings by Italian masters such as Raphael, Bellini or Caravaggio.
- The monumental cemetery: The burial place of celebrities, featuring some very unusual tombstones.
If you have planned to go to Milan, you should my detailed article, with all my best tips to visit the city in 1, 2 or 3 days: The 15 best things to do in Milan
13. Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands
The Lake Maggiore, along with Lake Como and Lake Garda is one of the 3 biggest (and most beautiful) Italian lakes. If you plan to visit Milan during your stay in Italy, it can be a great idea to spend a day or 2 around Lake Maggiore, as it’s only at 1h30 by car. And if you don’t have a car, many tour companies offer day trips from Milan.
Lake Maggiore is especially known for the Borromean Islands: the great new is that you can perfectly visit all 3 of them in 1 day with one of the many boat tours available.
The 3 islands
- The Isola Madre, where you will be able to admire its famous exotic garden with freely wandering peacocks.
- The Isola Bella, with the Borromean palace, its garden and the shell grotto
- The Isola Superieure, an island of fishermen.
14. Lake Como
Located at only 1 hours from Milan, Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy. The lake is a very popular jet set holiday destination and is famous around the world for its many majestic villas and lush gardens.
It’s also a very popular shooting location: for example, you might have seen in it in Star Wars episode II! A part of the movie was shot at the Balbianello villa, one the lake shore. But Lake Como is more than this: around the lake you can visit beautiful fishing villages and enjoy many hiking trails. A must visit in Northern Italy!
Best Places to see:
- Como city and its pedestrian center
- Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta with its sumptuous botanical garden
- Bellagio and villa Melzi, a source of inspiration for Stendhal himself
- Varenne and the villa Monastero with its promenade at the edge of the water
- Castello Di Vezio and its panoramic view of the lake below
- And of course, if you’re Star Wars fan, the Villa Balbianello.
15. Garda lake
Lake Garda is the largest and one of the most touristic lake in Italy. It’s located at only 1h30 by train from Milan.
Besides the lake itself, you can visit some of the nearby towns:
- Sirmione: the most famous town on Lake Garda. Its medieval castle marks the entrance to the city, and it’s vert pleasant to stroll in the small typical alleys. Catullo caves archaeological site is also worth seeing for its ruins of Roman temples and villas.
- Malcesine: in the city, you can visit Scaliger Castle and the Palazzo dei Capitani. Then take the cable car to Monte Baldo and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Garda.
- Torri del Benaco: with its small fishing port and Scaligero castle, it also deserves a stop.
16. The Dolomites
If you love hiking and Italy, then the Dolomites are made for you! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area has 18 mountain peaks, some of them being more than 3,000 meters height.
Famous for their very particular shape, sculpted by the elements, they are even more beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
To fully enjoy the landscape, you can drive along the Dolomites road from Bolzano to Cortina. There is around 130km and the road offer breathtaking views on the mountains.
Don’t hesitate to stop in the villages or at the lago di Carezza. Cortina is one of the best starting point for the numerous hiking trails in the region. If you love outdoors activities, the Dolomites is the region you should see during your next trip to Italy!
17. The Amalfi Coast
You are looking for the top sights in Italy? Then the Amalfi coast is a great choice for your next trip!
Located South of Naples, the Amalfi coast is famous for being one of the most beautiful coasts of Italy. With its wild coast and amazing cliff-side villages, no doubt you will love it!
Overview of the best places to visit:
- Sorrento, standing on a cliff with a view over the bay and the island of Capri.
- Positano, a colorful cliffside village. It’s popular jet-set destination for its fashion boutiques and trendy cafes.
- Nocelle: if you go to Positano, you should really do the Path Of Gods Trail, it start from Nocelle, a bit above Positano.
- Amalfi and its magnificent Duomo
- Ravello and the villa Cimbrone: with its 6 hectares garden overlooking the sea, it’s a must-do in Ravello.
18. Gargano National Park
Located in Puglia region, Gargano Natural Park is the largest natural park in Italy. The coast is famous for the limestone rocks the sea has carved over time. You will be able to see numerous caves, wild coves and faraglioni.
The center of the Gargano is a great place for peaceful hikes, especially in the Umbra forest, literally “the forest of shadows”. Stroll under the hundred years old trees and enjoy the flora and fauna.
The small town of Vieste is also a must in the region!
Sicily, the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea, is the ideal place to visit if you want to mix relaxation at the beach and discovery of world class archaeological sites. Add the delicious Italian cuisine to the mix and the result is a perfect combination for unforgeable holidays!
Best places to see in Eastern Sicily:
- Catania and the Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Agatha
- Syracuse and the island of Ortigia: Take a walk the small alleys of the historical center, admire the grandiose Piazza del Duomo and enjoy the view of Castello Maniace
- Baroque towns: Noto, Modica and Ragusa
- Taormina: For the famous Greek theatre, the view over the Etna and its magnificent pebble beach: “Isola Bella”.
- Etna, the most active volcano in Europe.
Places to visit in Western Sicily:
- Palermo, with the beautiful palatine chapel, the Norman palace and the unusual Capuchin Catacombs
- Cefalu, a small traditional fishing village
- Agrigento and the valley of the temples
- The beaches of “Scala dei Turchi” and Eraclea Minoa
- The Egadi Islands, a paradise on earth.
Discover all of my articles about Sicily.
You love beautiful beaches and you’re wondering where to go in Italy?
Sardinia, the 2nd biggest Italian island, is famous around the world for its stunning beaches. It’s the perfect destination if you want to enjoy holiday in the sun.
Best places to visit in Sardinia:
- Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia which stretches over several hills. Visit the Castello district, most of the tourist attractions are located there.
- Maddalena Islands, with beautiful wild beaches.
- Costa Smeralda: the perfect jet-set destination for a luxury holiday. The road, all along the coast, offers a spectacular view.
- The Gulf of Orosei: Huge and impressive limestone cliffs, hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia.
You’re planning to visit Sardinia during your next trip? Have a look at my article about the best things to do: The 20 best places to visit in Sardinia.
And you, what do you plan to visit in Italy? What are your favorite places?
Flight prices to Italy
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Once on the results page, feel free to compare several sites, to make sure that no fees are added to the final rates.
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Italy travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Italy guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Rick Steves Italy guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
You’re traveling in Italy? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Italy: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Italy are listed there.
- Rome: The 25 best places to visit in the eternal city
- Milan: The Top 15 things to do in the city and around
- Turin: The 20 must-see attractions
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