Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world because it has something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, a hiker, an art historian, a beach lover, an island hopper or a wine connoisseur, Italy will have a home for you. But the question is: Where to go in Italy?
I’ve been lucky to visit Italy four times, visiting places all over the country (and some of them, twice). And yet I still want to go back because there’s so much left to discover or enjoy again. One of my bucket list items is to spend a month or more travelling all around Italy and soaking in all of the good food and culture.
If this country has your heart but you’re not sure where to go in Italy, check out my recommendations below! As I said, Italy has something for everyone so it’s all about matching up your interests with what Italy has to offer.
Where to go in Italy…
If you want iconic sightseeing and city life: Rome
Roma! No list of where to go in Italy would be complete without Rome, the Eternal City. Rome is what we think of when we think of classic Italy. It’s pasta and gelato, bustling squares and markets, and heavy hitters like the Colosseum and Vatican City.
Rome is the place to go if you love exploring cities with lots to see and do. If you want to tick a lot of things off your sightseeing bucket list, eat some great food, and mix with locals leading their busy daily lives, then head to Rome.
For really great food: Naples
I’d venture to say that nowhere in Italy is better known for their food than Naples. After all, this is where pizza comes from! You’ll be spoiled for choices of what to eat in Naples and your days will be built around your meals. If travel to you means great food, you need to come to Naples.
To be honest, Naples is not my favourite city in Italy. I don’t love the vibe or grungy streets, and I find the city itself doesn’t have much for visitors to see or do. But I can’t fault the food! And luckily, Herculaneum and Pompeii are nearby for great sightseeing.
If you’re looking for beautiful views: Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places in all of Italy. I was lucky enough to visit Positano in 2014 and totally fell in love with the windy streets, houses built along the cliff sides, and beautiful views of the coast.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one. The Amalfi Coast is also one of the busiest places in Italy, and one of the most expensive. The word is out and people, including some A-list celebrities, are flocking to the Amalfi Coast. If you don’t mind sacrificing your personal space and budget in order to be in a hot destination with beautiful views, head here. But I do recommend waiting for the off-season, so it’s not quite as crowded.
For all the art and culture: Florence
Florence is truly the capital of art and culture in Italy. We only spent one day in Florence, but I was already blown away with what the city had to offer. There’s the magnificent Duomo and the Accademia, home to the famous David statue. There’s also delicious food and a very cool city to check out.
If you’re more cosmopolitan, have a taste for art and enjoy exploring busy cities rich in culture, Florence is the place for you!
If you want stunning scenery and a laidback lifestyle: Tuscany
If you asked me where to go in Italy, I’d say Tuscany in a heartbeat! Tuscany is my favourite place in Italy and I can’t wait to go back and live my Tuscan villa dream life again soon. Tuscany is full of rolling hills covered in vineyards and olive trees, charming historic towns, and really delicious food.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Florence or Rome, head to Tuscany. This is a great place to have a set of wheels so you can go farther off the beaten track and explore at your own pace. If the idea of ending every day with a glass of wine on the porch overlooking vineyards appeals to you, get yourself to Tuscany.
For a quick stop and photo-opp: Pisa
Pisa is kind of like the Mona Lisa of Italy – it’s very popular but a bit of a let-down in person. We visited Pisa very briefly on our way home from Italy and I wouldn’t say it needs much more than an afternoon. Of course, while in Pisa, you have to check out the iconic tower and take the touristy photos. Prepare to be extremely underwhelmed by the tower.
On a happier note, I did enjoy walking the streets of Pisa. Away from the leaning tower, Pisa did seem pretty cool and we found some great gelato. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Italy!
If you enjoy charming little coastal towns: Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is another highlight of Italy, at least as far as Instagram is concerned. Similar to the Amalfi Coast, here you’ll find small towns hugging the coast with beautiful views and colourful homes. While the Amalfi Coast is more ritzy, Cinque Terre is more rustic. But that’s not to say it isn’t popular!
Cinque Terre is another place in Italy that gets absolutely swarmed in high season (and shoulder season too). As the villages are all small, it can feel a bit suffocating. We visited in late September and I’d say that was too close to summer. Friends of mine visited in October and November and it looked like a much nicer experience.
To check something off of your bucket list: Venice
If you’re thinking about where to go in Italy, you’ve likely thought about Venice. Venice is a must on most people’s travel bucket lists. It’s the iconic city of canals and bridges! But the reality isn’t always as picturesque. Many travellers to Venice end up either really loving it or really hating it.
For me, I came down in the middle. There were things I loved about Venice and things I hated. But I went in with very low expectations, so was pleasantly surprised to find the city, while over-crowded and over-priced, still pretty charming. Even if you’re not a big fan of crowds, you still need to make it to Venice at least once (before she sinks!).
If you want to visit a busy, fashion forward city: Milan
If you’re looking for fashion with a side of culture in Northern Italy, consider Milan. Known as a global fashion capital, this is the place to go if you’re into shopping. You’ll also get to see Milan’s impressive Duomo and the Last Supper painting (buy tickets in advance).
I’ll be honest: Milan is my least favourite city in Italy. I’m not into fashion or shopping, so that aspect was lost on me. And besides the few minutes I spent at the Duomo and seeing the Last Supper painting, I found the rest of Milan kind of boring. It was my first taste of Italy back in 2014 and it was a let down.
To relax with the rich and famous: Lake Region
Luckily, my trip to Milan in 2014 wasn’t a total bust. From Milan, we took a day trip to Lake Como in Italy’s Lake Region and I was totally blown away. The Lake Region of Italy is stunning, peaceful and a beautiful place to escape busy city life. We visited on a sunny day in February and totally fell in love (funny enough, it did happen to be Valentine’s Day). There are cute towns and islands to discover and lots of relaxation to be had.
You might know the Lake Region best thanks to George Clooney, who has a home on Lake Como. Keep your eyes peeled for him and other A-listers when you visit!
Where else to go in Italy
Of course, there are so many other amazing places to visit in Italy. Sadly, I haven’t been to them all, so can’t personally recommend them. But I have included some awesome posts by my fellow travel bloggers to give you some more info. Here are some places in Italy I can’t wait to get to and why you might want to visit them too.
- Sicily: Sicily is on the toe of Italy and from what I’ve heard, it really has its own regional culture. Sicily is known for hot weather, great food, beautiful beaches and rich history. Sounds like the perfect place to wait out a cold winter!
- Emilia Romagna: This is an area of Italy I really cannot wait to visit because it’s all about the food. I want to base myself in Bologna, do day trips to cute towns in Emilia Romagna and eat all of the Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto and pasta that I can!
- Puglia: Puglia is a region of Italy I’m not as familiar with but super excited to visit one day. It’s located on the heel of the country and known for charming villages and a beautiful coastline. And since Puglia is not as popular as Rome, Venice or the Amalfi Coast, it’s also not as busy.
- The Dolomites: Did you know Italy has a mountain range where you can hike and even ski? Well, they do! That would be the Dolomites. Now I’m not much of a hiker or skier myself but the scenery in this area looks incredible. I’d love to stay in a cozy mountain cabin in a cool town and take it all in.
- Sardinia: Sardinia is the island off of Italy’s mainland and the place to go if you’re looking for an epic beach vacation. Beach vacations aren’t usually my thing, but I think Sardinia would be super cool to explore in the off-season.
And there you have it! My suggestions on where to go in Italy based on your interests and the type of trip you want to have. So, did I nail it? Let me know what you think of the suggestions above and where you recommend people visit in Italy!
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