What are the most beautiful places in Italy? With wine vineyards and quaint seaside villages, these are Italy’s 20 best places to visit!
Rome might typically take the spotlight as Italy’s token tourist destination, but to really appreciate this beautiful country you need to step outside the walls of the Eternal City. Venture into the countryside for miles of vineyards and olive orchards, or explore seaside villages with clusters of ancient, colorful homes.
Here are the top places to see in Italy; try to make it to one or two, or even all twenty!
Best Places To Visit In Italy
Venice is definitely a place you must visit in Italy! Escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Venice, notorious for its hundreds of canals and complete lack of cars.
Venice seems to be suspended in time with its traditional carnivals and masks, beautiful architecture (don’t miss Piazza San Marco), and markets like Mercati di Rialto that date back to the 11th century!
Be THAT cheesy tourist and take a ride in one of the iconic gondolas, or get lost wandering the narrow cobblestone streets. Oh, and don’t forget your rain boots — high tide commonly causes flooding but makes for beautiful pictures!
Stay in a central district like San Marco, as you’ll be doing most of your commuting on foot; Hotel Duodo and budget-friendly Ca’ Morosini are great choices for accommodation.
If you’re thinking of visiting during Carnival, Luxe Adventure Traveler has an in-depth guide for Carnival in Venice.
Read more: 9 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Venice, Italy
There’s plenty to do in the cities of Tuscany — from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the innumerable museums and cathedrals of Florence — but in the countryside, you can finally live out your Under the Tuscan Sun fantasy in a provincial town with a good bottle of wine.
Cycle the town of Lucca during their mid-afternoon shutdown, stay in a rural luxury spa hotel like Villa la Borghetta, and drink your way through some of the most tastefully (literally) wineries in the region.
Plan to stay in one location, like Chianti or Montalcino, and enjoy everything the area has to offer rather than trying to squeeze multiple towns or cities into a short trip. In the cities mentioned, I’d recommend staying at the Villa Mangiacane or the jaw-dropping Castello Di Velona.
Siena is known to be the “Medieval Heart of Tuscany,” home to more beautiful Gothic cathedrals, towers, and piazzas than you could possibly see in the time of your visit.
The Siena Cathedral and the Torre Del Mangia in Piazza del Campo are sightseeing musts at any time of the year, but if you’re lucky enough to visit during the Il Palio horse race in the summer, make sure to be in attendance! These races date back to the 1500 & 1600’s — a tradition as old as most things in this city.
The Wednesday Market is a great place to buy souvenirs like clothing, housewares, truffle oils and cheeses, so leave plenty of room in your luggage for goodies to bring home. Stay at the luxe Relais degli Angeli Residenza d’Epoca or more budget-friendly Hotel Duomo, both within walking distance to the city centre.
It is no coincidence the city of Bologna shares its name with a meat! Here you’ll find the best meat-inclusive dishes in the country, such as filled pastas, sauces, meatballs and antipasti.
Take a food tour and sample local delicacies, and see the area’s treasured sites like the sacred San Petronio Basilica. It may fall behind other tourism cities in popularity, but this hidden gem of a foodie destination is the real deal when it comes to unparalleled Italian fare!
As for accommodation, check out Hotel Cavour and Hotel Corona d’Oro — or rent your own apartment through AirBnb.
Read more: Solo in Bologna, Italy
5. Italian Lake District
The Italian Lake District is made up of multiple lakes — the top 5 being Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo, and Garda — each of which has their own character and draws. Lake Como is a short hour drive from Milan, while neighboring Lake Maggiore and its dramatic alps backdrop is a great destination for history (the Isola Bella!) and exotic Mediterranean greenery.
My personal favorite, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, with surroundings just as you might imagine — rolling hills, turquoise waters, and attractions like the Sinking Castle and Christ of the Abyss. Shoppers will enjoy Lake Lugano‘s high-end boutiques and palm tree-lined gardens, while the quieter Lake Iseo would be ideal for nature lovers looking to hike, swim, or horseback ride.
Where to stay by region: Albergo Firenze (Como, Lake Como), Grand Hotel Bristol (Stresa, Lake Maggiore), Hotel Flaminia (Sirmione, Lake Garda), Relais I Due Roccoli (Iseo, Lake Iseo)
Read more: Lake Como Travel Guide (Things To Do, Packing, When To Visit) and Where to Stay in Lake Como
6. Amalfi Coast
Along the Amalfi coast — just south of Naples and a short 50 minute flight from Rome — lies a gorgeous stretch of coastal land just waiting to be explored! Rent a car and drive Coast Road through the charming cities and stunning views that the area is known for.
On the list of things to do should be the lush Valle delle Ferriere, Amalfi Cathedral, and Villa Cimbrone Gardens. There’s plenty of cities and towns to stay in (take your pick!), but I’d recommend reserving a room at the Hotel Residence while in the town of Amalfi.
7. Cinque Terre
Even if you can’t pinpoint Cinque Terre on a map, you’ve likely seen photos of this colorful hillside gem and you’re bound to fall head over heels for this quaint cove of fishing villages on the sea! The area is actually a national park, resulting in its beautifully maintained and natural reserve state.
Cinque Terre is known for its walking (*hiking) trails, so work off all those carbs you’ve been eating and reward yourself with a glass of local wine on the beach.
You may find yourself loving a particular town and wanting to stay, but if you plan to book accommodation in advance book a reservation at B&B La Madonetta for a night or two. You can also visit our post on Where to Stay in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Read more: Cinque Terre Travel Tips
The Dolomites towering mountain range in northeast Italy is one you could easily get lost in, both figuratively and literally. Dramatic views of the mountains and hilly countryside will sweep you away, and the German-Austrian influence gives you a total multicultural experience.
Hiking here is the main draw for worldwide travelers, but you can just as easily spend your time holing out in one of the many mountain towns like Bolzano or Castelrotto.
Where it falls behind big-name cities like Rome and Venice in tourist popularity, it makes up for in serene untapped alpine wilderness! Don’t expect to visit until late July or August when the weather is ripe. When you go, be sure to check out Stadt Hotel Città or Hotel Schgaguler.
The allure of Sicily is obvious: clear turquoise waters, ancient Roman mosaics, and natural wonders to explore like the Alcantara. Get some authentic gelato from Ferlito Gelateria in front of the Baroque Palazzo Senatorio, and see the sweeping views from Castello de Venere on the top of Mount Erice.
Stay at Secret B&B in Trapani on the western coast of the island and eat at Cantina Siciliana — a one-stop shop for amazing Italian dishes of any kind.
Trust me when I say this might be your most photogenic vacation destination yet!
Read more: 20 Best Things to Do in Italy
Located in the center of Tuscany wine country and abound with museums, cathedrals, iconic statues and historic monuments, Florence basically sells itself. I could go on about all the jaw-dropping sights to see here, but instead I’ll leave you with a list of places to go or things to do to add to your trip itinerary.
Be sure to try a panino con lampredotto — a local delicacy found only in Florence — while you’re in town!
- Florence Cathedral
- Uffizi Gallery
- Galleria dell’Accademia (home to Michelangelo sculptures, including the iconic statue David!)
- Florence Baptistery
- Boboli Gardens (statue filled gardens; an absolute MUST)
- Medici Chapel
Budget travelers will love Hotel Lombardia (under $200/night) while moderate spenders will appreciate Palazzo Guicciardini.
Read more: 10 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Europe
The country’s capital is a must-see for obvious reasons, especially if history and ancient ruins are your thing.
Rome is home to the Pantheon monument and the Colosseum, not to mention the famous Trevi Fountain. The Roman Forum ruins and picturesque Spanish steps should absolutely be included in your trip, as should a visit to the Villa Borghese park. For the best people-watching, grab a gelato or “aperitivo” (pre-meal beverage) in Piazza Navona — one of the city’s most well-known public squares!
Read more: Where To Stay In Rome (The Best Neighborhoods & Hotels)
Despite being one of the world’s greatest fashion capitals, Milan has much more to offer than designer shopping (although we can’t deny, wandering the shops at the Golden Triangle is an experience)!
Take in the towering gothic cathedral Duomo or city views from the roof, see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the monastery Il Cenacolo, or see a show at the architecturally exquisite La Scala theater. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful castle and grounds at Castello Sforzesco!
Wanting to include a little beach and nature on your trip to Italy? Sardinia is a large Italian island of the Western coast, boasting incredible beaches and sparkling turquoise waters.
Costa Smeralda, or “The Emerald Coast,” has easily some of the most gorgeous beaches in Europe, not to mention the popular Porto Rotondo and upscale yacht town of Porto Cervo. As it’s a short and affordable flight from nearly every major Italian city, Sardinia is an easy add-on to any itinerary!
Naples might be best known for Mount Vesuvius, perhaps one of the world’s most famous and destructive volcanoes that you can now climb!
If Vesuvius isn’t your draw, there’s plenty else to see in this beautiful city — for starters, the Renaissance-era Castel Nuovo or seaside Ovo Castle. Stretch your legs on an underground walking tour of the city — or, if you prefer an aerial view, opt for the historic walking promenade Lungomare Caracciolo instead!
15. Vatican City
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Vatican City is largely known for being a religious site, but you need to be religious to appreciate the beauty of this tiny city-state.
Get the best view of Rome by entering the Vatican and climbing to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, visit the stunning Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museum, and book a tour of the museums in order to access the tranquil Gardens of Vatican City. Don’t leave without seeing Saint Peter’s Square, arguably one of largest and most beautiful squares worldwide.
You’ve likely heard of Capri, a small island just off the coast of Naples and Sorrento — and for good reason! This little escape from the mainland can only be accessed by boat, and has postcard-worthy sights like Grotta Azzurra, or Blue Grotto — a bright blue ocean cave that is easily Capri’s greatest attraction.
Take in stunning views from Giardini di Augusto (“Gardens of Augustus”), or hike to the island’s highest point at Monte Solaro from the town of Anacapri. You may also hike the Sentiero dei Fortini Borbonici, or the Natural Arch — a natural beauty photogenic from all angles!
Apulia, or “Puglia,” is as quintessential as it gets — the waters are bright aquamarine, the towns have old town charm, and architecture is everything you’d expect of coastal southern Italy.
Towns like Bari and Polignano a Mare offer plenty to do for tourists, from beaches to shops to scrumptious Italian dining and cultural sites like basilicas and cathedrals. I’d highly recommend a boat tour, which range from a couple hours to a couple days!
Romantic Verona has been set to many films and legendary love story Romeo and Juliet, to no surprise of anyone who has had the chance to visit — ivy-strewn balconies and charming cafes can be found around every corner, and Juliet’s balcony draws massive crowds on a daily basis.
Walk across the prey Ponte Pietra bridge, see the Verona Arena ancient amphitheater, climb the steps of the Torre dei Lamberti tower to see amazing views, and dine in the historic town plaza Piazza Delle Erbe.
Take in the abundance of lemon trees and sweeping cliffside views of the coast in Sorrento, a town on the southwestern coast of Italy. Sip limoncello at lemon grove I Giardini di Cataldo, dine in the hidden harbor of Marina Grande, and sunbathe at one of the various crystal-clear water beaches!
Portofino is a widely-loved (and high-end) vacation spot, offering everything from snorkeling and private boating excursions to bike riding and stunning grounds like Cervara Abbey and Portofino Regional Park to explore. Only a 2.5 hours drive from Milan, the Northern location of this beautiful city makes it an easy beach destination to add on to any Milan/Lake Como trip!