23 Best Places to Visit in Italy (+Map)

Located in Southern Europe, this boot-shaped country is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a number of reasons that include art treasures, charming towns, passionate people and top-class cuisine. It’s a place where you can see some of the most iconic sites in the world – the leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few.

There’s the chance to see renowned Renaissance masterpieces and shop for high-end fashion too. Italy offers a magnificently rich array of sumptuous natural scenery and numerous opportunities to get out into nature. Cinque Terre, Sardinia, and the Dolomites all boast incredible landscapes and fantastic hiking routes.

You could spend your time in this culturally rich land learning about the lives of the Romans, discovering the destruction caused by Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii, or simply lazing alongside one of the many Italian lakes and languishing in the opulence of the Amalfi coast. Italy offers so much to see and do that it would take a lifetime to explore. Plan your trip to this wonderful Mediterranean travel destination with our list of the best places to visit in Italy.

Map of Italy

23. Portofino


One of the most picturesque towns along the Italian Riviera, Portofino lies just a 45 minute drive southeast of Genoa. For centuries, it has been a popular day-trip destination due to all the pretty pastel-colored houses clustered about its small, scenic harbor.

Backed by gorgeous green hills, the tiny fishing village has a very relaxed feel with many of the world’s elite often heading here on holiday. As well as admiring all the impressive yachts bobbing about the bay, you can enjoy its fine views and fantastic seafood restaurants. Loads of high-end boutiques also line its small, cobbled square.

While most come to take in its ambience and aesthetic, there are some interesting sights to see. Aside from the historical Church of San Giorgio, there is the sixteenth-century Castello Brown and all its old antiquities and art exhibitions to explore. From its lovely, lush gardens, there are yet more fabulous panoramas over the stunning town and sparkling Ligurian Sea.

22. Bologna


Famed for not just its phenomenal food and prestigious university but its countless covered porticos too, Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Although it is often overlooked in favor of Florence, Rome and Venice, all its amazing medieval towers and atmospheric piazze make it well worth a visit.

Due to its strategic location in the northeast of Italy, the city slowly developed into a center of culture, trade and learning. As such, elegant palazzi and churches popped up everywhere with its important university having been founded in 1088. The oldest in the Western world, its sizeable student population creates a vibrant, youthful feel around town.

While many of its old buildings are, unfortunately, coated in graffiti, its large historic center is well-preserved for the most part. Due to the distinctive ruddy hue of its porticos, houses and churches, the city is often called ‘La Rossa’. Besides strolling about Piazza Maggiore and staring up at its two iconic leaning towers, you just have to try some of Bologna’s delicious cuisine before continuing with your trip around the country.

21. The Dolomites


With their soaring, jagged peaks and ginormous, sweeping valleys, the Dolomites are surely one of the most spectacular natural sites in Europe. Offering up all kinds of exciting outdoor activities, the majestic mountain range covers a massive part of northeastern Italy.

Formed over the course of many millennia, the ‘Pale Mountains’ are so named due to their dramatic dolomite rock formations. Beneath their striking silhouettes are idyllic alpine lakes and meadows with historic towns also dotted about. These include the charming Castelrotto and chic Cortina d’Ampezzo – the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’. In summer, many come to hike, bike or rock climb with the snowy winter months instead enticing skiers and snowboarders.

Among its most spellbinding sights are the famous outlines of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the six rocky spires of the Vajolet Towers. Cable cars can also transport you up to the 3,343 meter summit of Marmolada – the region’s tallest peak. From high up above the clouds, you can bask in breathtaking views over all the Dolomites’ awe-inspiring scenery.

20. Genoa


While Genoa has a reputation for being a bit gritty and grimy, its huge historic center is also home to plenty of grand palaces and gorgeous churches. Getting lost amidst all its caruggi – narrow, claustrophobic alleyways – is lots of fun as architectural gems appear around every corner. The city also has a world-class aquarium and maritime museum to check out too.

Long an important seaport, the city was one of the Mediterranean’s most powerful maritime republics from the eleventh century up until its fall in 1797. Due to its considerable wealth, elaborate palaces and art-filled churches were erected all around its piazze. Must-see sights include its Palazzo Reale and Cathedral of San Lorenzo, both of which boast lavish interiors.

Other than admiring the immense riches on show, you can amble along Corso Italia, taking in its delightful views and architecture. At its Old Port, historic-old ships and museums teach you more about its seafaring past. Not to be missed is the enormous Aquarium Genoa which displays everything from seals and sea cows to dolphins, penguins and jellyfish.

19. Verona


Best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” Verona is a picturesque city filled with Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces and medieval buildings. Located between Milan and Venice in Northern Italy, the city receives a bit less attention from travelers than its more celebrated neighbors but not for lack of attractions. Verona offers visitors the chance to enjoy all of the charms of an ancient Italian city without constantly battling crowds.

Although the first stop for many visitors is “Juliet’s House” with its recently added balcony, it’s important to remember that Romeo and Juliet were characters from fiction, not reality. Nevertheless, the house and its courtyard attract lovers from all over the world who come to reenact the balcony scene in person.

Of the city’s historical sites, the grand Roman amphitheater is the most famous. The third largest Roman arena in the world, the 1st-century amphitheater is remarkably well preserved. Plays are still performed in the 25,000-seat arena. Among the best representations of the Renaissance period is the Duomo, with its recently restored frescoes and marble interiors.

At dusk, Verona’s star attraction is the Via Mazzini, a broad thoroughfare where locals take their evening stroll, or “la passeggiata.” The parade ends in the Piazza delle Erbe where visitors can relax at a sidewalk café to enjoy an aperitivo or shop for mementos of their trip to city of star-crossed lovers.

18. Matera


Home to some of the most famous cave dwellings in the world, the fascinating city of Matera is perched atop a rocky outcrop right in the south of Italy. Each year, thousands of tourists come to explore all the enchanting old sassi that are carved into the mountainside.

Believed to be among the very first human settlements in the country, its captivating caves have been used since around 7,000 BC. Remarkably well-preserved, its innumerable houses and churches are hewn out of large, limestone cliffs bordering its old town. Connecting them all together are steep staircases and narrow, winding streets.

Wandering about its extensive system of caves is an unforgettable experience with fantastic viewpoints and photo stops popping up all the time. While some dwellings still house cafes, businesses and even families, most are now abandoned. One of Southern Italy’s top tourist attractions, Matera and its many sassi really are unique to explore.

17. Sardinia


Renowned for its marvelous mountains and long, lovely coastline, the scenic, unspoiled island of Sardinia lies just south of Corsica. Aside from sunbathing and swimming at the beautiful beaches, it has some interesting historic cities and archaeological sites to see.

The second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, it is delightfully under visited in comparison with mainland Italy’s other regions. Due to its remote location and Sardinians’ strong sense of identity, it also looks and feels quite unlike the rest of the country. You can explore its unique history and culture in its capital Cagliari or at the ancient Su Nuraxi ruins.

Most people come though to enjoy its rugged hinterlands and romantic coastline with hiking, camping and watersports all being particularly popular pastimes. Countless little coves and hidden beaches stud its shores which lie alongside twinkling turquoise waters. In addition to trying tasty local dishes, colourful celebrations help shine a light on Sardinia’s rich heritage.

16. Alberobello


Appearing as if out of a fairytale are all of Alberobello’s adorable little trulli. These traditional dry-stone buildings with their cute conical roofs are the small town’s main sight with people visiting from all around to see them. Set right down south in Puglia, it can easily be reached from Bari, Brindisi or Taranto.

Actually meaning ‘beautiful tree’ in Italian, it has around 1,500 of the unusual-looking houses. While the eye-catching buildings originated in the fifteenth century, most ‘only’ date to the 1800s. Ingeniously enough, they are impressively assembled without any mortar being used. This was so the ruling counts could always have them dismantled if they wanted.

Ambling around the tiny town is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours with some of the small stone structures also containing cozy cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. You can also take some great photos by their bright white-washed walls and grey, conical roofs.

15. Assisi


Most known for being the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi has an attractive old town to stroll about alongside the ginormous basilica of the patron saint. Perched atop a hulking great hill in Umbria, not far from Perugia, the small medieval city makes for a wonderful day trip from either Florence or Rome.

Very easily explored on foot, its historic heart is centered around the picturesque Piazza del Comune. After taking in its fantastic fountain and clock tower, you can see all the Cathedral of San Rufino’s ornate friezes and fine facade. Plenty of other charming churches are dotted about with there also being an excellent Roman archaeological museum to visit.

The highlight though, is, of course, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi itself which sprawls across a massive part of the hilltop. Completed in 1253, it contains the tomb of the revered saint with exquisite frescoes and artworks decorating the important pilgrimage site.

14. Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Long a popular holiday destination, Lake Garda lies in the north of Italy surrounded by little colourful towns and incredible craggy mountains. A must-visit for many, its relaxing shores, superb restaurants and romantic villas offer a tantalizing taste of la dolce vita.

The largest lake in the country, its reflective waters are overlooked by the Alps to the north while its southern reaches are bordered by the flat plains of the Po Valley. As well as pretty olive groves, orchards and gardens, you’ll also find cute towns like Sirmione and Desenzano del Garda lining it.

Other than seeing their ancient hot springs, castles and Roman ruins, they have tons of top restaurants to try. You can also go kayaking, windsurfing and sailing or take boat trips about the lake to its islands. As Limone sul Garda, Malcesine and Torbole also have lovely lakefront promenades and views, you really can’t go wrong wherever you go.

13. Lecce


Located in the center of Puglia’s Salentine Peninsula, right down in the heel of Italy, is the stunning city of Lecce. Most known for its beautiful Baroque buildings and historic churches, it is often called the ‘Florence of the South’.

Mostly made out of the light-colored Lecce stone, its atmospheric-old streets were founded over 2,000 years ago. While dozens of ornately decorated churches like Lecce Cathedral and the Basilica di Santa Croce are dotted about, the amazing Roman amphitheater at its heart has to be the city’s standout sight. All of these highlight how Lecce thrived as an important trading town and political center.

Besides strolling about taking in all its outstanding architecture, you can check out the fine artworks in its churches. Alberobello also makes for a nice day trip as do the idyllic beaches hugging its nearby coastline. With lots of tasty dishes to try and cool archaeological sites to explore, it is no wonder the lively yet laidback Lecce is one the best cities to visit in Italy.

12. Milan

Milan© Spongecake / Dreamstime

Nearly destroyed from heavy bombing during WWII, Milan has since reconstructed and now shines as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Widely regarded as a mega fashion center teeming in designer shops, Milan also attracts many to its surviving world famous treasures like Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, the La Scala Opera House, the Castello Sforzesco and one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral.

See also: Where to Stay in Milan

Located in Italy’s northwestern region of Lombardy near the Alps and the scenic Lake District, Milan is a fast-paced city excelling in business, shopping and football. More of a glamorous city with modern architecture and attractions, Milan appears less Italian compared to the country’s predominantly historic cities.

11. Naples


One of the busiest metropolitan cities in the country, Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy. As it is nearby famous sites like the Bay of Naples and Pompeii, Naples presents an ideal base to stay while exploring the area.

Naples itself features one of the world’s largest historic city centers with one of the highest concentrations of historical monuments, Baroque churches and Roman ruins, offering an endless feast for lovers of history and art.


Extending beyond the city center, tourists will find scenic landscapes, picturesque villas, stylish hotels and castles in addition to ancient Roman baths and volcanic craters. Top attractions in Naples include the grand Piazza del Plebiscito, the royal palace of the Capodimonte Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, which showcases a marvelous collection of artistic works and artifacts excavated from the ruins of Pompeii.

Many favorite Italian foods originated in Naples and its surrounding area such as pizza, spaghetti and parmigiana. These dishes are taken seriously in Naples and usually feature fresh, locally grown ingredients. Other Naples food specialties include fresh seafood, mozzarella cheese and pastries such as baba, zeppole and sfogliatella.

10. Pisa


Located along the Arno River in the northwestern region of Tuscany, the city of Pisa still bears the striking remnants of its former golden days as a commercial empire during the Middle Ages. While the Leaning Tower is a must see, visiting this city only to take a photograph of it’s most popular landmark is like looking at one tree and missing the whole forest. Pisa is so much more than just the Leaning Tower.

Surrounding the famous landmark is one of Italy’s most beautiful squares, the Campo dei Miracoli, or Field of Miracles. This remarkable plaza contains magnificent examples of Italian Renaissance that include the Duomo Cathedral, Baptistry and Camposanto Monument, all of which contain marble features, sculptures, frescoes and historic relics. Sprinkled throughout the plaza are various shops selling souvenirs and bakeries offering tasty biscotti.

Beyond the Field of Miracles, the beauty of the Arno River is what often leaves a lasting impression on many tourists. Because Pisa is divided by the river, there are several charming bridges connecting one side to the other such as the Ponte di Mezzo. The riverbanks on each side present a picturesque setting of residential houses, impressive buildings and greenery.

With 60,000 students, the University of Pisa provides the city with an atmosphere of youth and animation. The streets and waterways of Pisa often play host to lively cultural events such as the Luminara Festival, the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics boat race, and the Game of Bridge, a friendly, medieval contest between the city’s two sections.

Lake Como

Lake Como

Nestled in the heart of Italy’s Lombardy region, Lake Como is a very popular destination for those seeking a blend of natural beauty, Italian charm, and a touch of luxury. Picture yourself cruising on the shimmering waters, surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that seem to dive right into the lake. The scenery is straight out of a postcard, with colorful villas and sleepy villages dotting the shoreline.

When you’re not gazing at the stunning views, you can explore the quaint streets of lakeside towns like Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of the Lake,” or Varenna, with its romantic promenade. Indulge in some Italian gelato, grab a slice of authentic pizza, or sit down for a leisurely meal at a lakeside restaurant to sample local specialties with a glass of wine.

For the adventurous, there’s plenty to do: hiking trails offer panoramic vistas, and the lake itself is perfect for water sports. And if history’s your thing, you’ll find historic villas and gardens that tell the tales of Como’s glamorous past.

8. Sicily


The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily lies just across from the southern tip of Italy, on the narrow Strait of Messina. Due to its location, it has long acted as a crossroads, so is very distinct from the rest of the country in terms of its history, culture, and cuisine.

This is best exemplified by Palermo, Sicily’s capital and largest city, which was remarkably founded more than 2,700 years ago. Since then, it has been ruled by everyone from the Phoenicians and Romans to the Arabs and Normans, with each civilization leaving behind artistic and architectural treasures and culinary influences.


In addition, a wealth of important archaeological sites lie scattered around the island; these now make for some of Sicily’s most popular tourist attractions. The impressive ruins of the Ancient Theater of Taormina and the age-old edifices in the Valley of the Temples date to the Ancient Greeks; others, such as the mountaintop castles of Erice, were built in medieval times.

Renowned for its rugged beauty, Sicily’s rugged cliffs and secluded beaches are lined by sparkling waters, while fertile farmland and mountains dot its interior. Towering over everything is Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.

7. Siena


Established upon three hills in the heart of Tuscany, Siena offers tourists a step back into the Middle Ages with its well-preserved historic center and medieval horse racing tradition, famously known as Il Palio. Formerly a wealthy city, the historic center of Siena is one of the most popular places to go in Italy as it still retains many of its stunning works of art and architecture from that time period.

Siena’s Piazza del Campo is regarded as one of the finest Medieval squares in Europe. This fan-shaped plaza is noted for its architectural treasures such as the Fountain of Joy, the Palazzio Pubblico and the Mangia Tower.

Campo Square

Another of Siena’s architectural gems is its Duomo, a stunning black and white cathedral of Italian Romanesque design with exquisite features like marble floors, stained glass, sculptures, paintings and carvings. The piazza is also a good place to relax, watch people and enjoy the local delights of wine, coffee, pizza, focaccia and gelato.

Hosted twice every summer in the Piazza del Campo, the Palio horse race draws huge annual crowds. This 700-year old tradition involves representatives from 17 different districts racing bareback on the cobblestone plaza. Siena is also home to one of Italy’s oldest public universities, the University of Siena, widely recognized for its Schools of Medicine and Law.

6. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre© Muststr / Dreamstime

Five quaint fishing villages awash with colors of blue, yellow and pink all hug cliff sides that slope down to the sea. These villages and the surrounding green hills make up the Cinque Terre National Park, one of Italy’s popular tourist destinations. Located in Italy’s northwestern coastal region of Liguria, the villages of Cinque Terre feature some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes that include wine terraces dating back to hundreds of years.

Meaning “Five Lands,” Cinque Terre comprises the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso and Corniglia. Riomaggiore boasts a medieval castle and the bustling main street of Via Colombo while Manarola is filled with colorful boats, swimming holes and caves.

Surrounded by olive groves, Vernazza offers a lively nightlife scene. The beautiful beach of Monterossa is lined with resorts while sloping vineyards adorn Corniglia. Rich in agriculture and fishing, the Cinque Terre villages are teeming in cafes and trattorias, which serve locally grown wine, olives, cheeses, pasta, seafood and homemade breads.

Among its many gems, Cinque Terre boasts a centuries-old complex of hiking paths that offer some of Italy’s most stunning coastal views. The Blue Trail, also known as Trail No. 2, is a paved trail connecting all five of the villages and is suitable for all ages.

There are very few cars in Cinque Terre as the villages are all small and easy to get around in by foot. However, all the villages are linked by a rail system that runs regularly from Genoa and La Spezia. Serving all five villages.

5. Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Situated in Italy’s southwestern region of Campania, the Amalfi Coast is known for its extraordinary beauty that makes it one of Italy’s top tourist destinations. Stretching 30 miles along the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast is prized for its picturesque coastline that features shimmering bays, craggy cliffs, lemon tree gardens, multicolored villas and ritzy resorts.

One of the most romantic and posh towns along the Amalfi Coast, Positano‘s many calling cards include beautiful pebbled beaches, pastel houses, scenic mountains, waterfalls and a 13th century Black Madonna.


One of the larger towns, Amalfi, features lovely plazas lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. Perched on a hill overlooking Amalfi, the town of Ravello is favored for its beautiful villas of gardens and art works as well as its lively art and music festival. Often called the Painted Town because of its many mural-painted houses, Furore also features an enchanting bay.

4. Pompeii


One of Italy’s most visited tourist destinations, Pompeii is a famous Roman city which was buried under several feet of volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Excavation of Pompeii began in 1748, and the site is yet to be totally unearthed. The site is located near the modern city of Naples.

A tour of Pompeii offers a fascinating insight into the everyday life of the ancient Roman world. Visitors can walk along the ancient streets to see the remains of shops, bars, bakeries, brothels, baths and residential homes as well as buildings that served as commercial and religious centers.


Some of the most significant structures include the Amphitheatre, the Forum, the Temple of Apollo, the Basilica and the Granary Market, which contains a large number of artifacts and plaster casts of people and dogs that died during the catastrophe. Within the architecture of Pompeii’s ancient buildings, there is a large number of art works and frescoes depicting erotica, mythological characters and hunting scenes.

Near the entrance of the Pompeii site, visitors will find several souvenir shops as well as food vendors selling snacks and beverages. While there are only a few dining options within the site itself, there are several cafes and restaurants located around the nearby train station.

3. Venice


One of Italy’s top travel destinations, Venice is a unique city in that is built upon a lagoon surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Located in northeastern Italy, Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands all connected by hundreds of beautiful bridges and scenic canals. Of the canals, the Grand Canal is most famous and divides the city into two sections. Picturesque waterways and historic architecture make Venice one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Venice is often crowded and expensive but well worth visiting to see its magnificent landmarks like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. One of the most popular things to do in Venice is to take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal. However, it is just as equally enjoyable to ride a vaporetti along the quiet back canals.

San Marco Square

Every year, Venice hosts one of Italy’s liveliest Carnival festivals where the streets are filled with people dressed in colorful costumes and masks, and the Grand Canal is packed with fleets of decorated boats and gondolas. A popular souvenir to purchase in Venice is one of the beautifully crafted carnival masks.

See also: Where to Stay in Venice

There are no cars in Venice, so people either walk or ride the water taxis along the canal system. Travelers should note that Venice frequently experiences high water in the spring and fall.

2. Florence


The capital of Tuscany, Florence is often described as a colossal outdoor museum because of its mass of art and architectural treasures. Internationally renowned as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance, Florence is also credited with propagating many artists, inventors, writers, scientists and explorers as well as inventing opera and the florin currency, which lifted Europe from the Dark Ages.

Additionally, Florence is known as the home of the wealthy and powerful Medici dynasty that produced several kings and popes, impacting the entire world in a number of ways culturally, economically and politically.

Florence’s hoard of art masterpieces are found all over the city, contained within the large numbers of museums, stunning churches, like the domed Santa Maria del Fiore, and internationally esteemed art galleries like the Ufizzi and Pitti Palace.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Piazza della Signoria, the main square, is home to beautiful buildings and world famous sculptures like Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa, Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune and Michelangelo’s Statue of David.

Walking is the best way to see the major sites in the city center. Some of the best places to walk include the Ponte Vecchio, a beautiful bridge spanning the Arno River and featuring a number of jewelry shops. Florence’s markets are another good place to spend some time before heading back to your accommodation. The San Lorenzo markets are among the most popular where tourists can find an array of locally grown foods and handcrafted goods.

1. Rome


Formerly the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome today is the government seat and capital city of Italy. Located in the country’s central region of Lazio, Rome is a vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time.

Best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City, Rome has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important center for culture, power and religion.

The Spanish Steps

Rome is divided into several districts with its center, the Colosseo district, containing the most ancient attractions like the Colosseum, the Forum of Augustus, Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum. On the outskirts of the center is Old Rome, featuring the Pantheon, stunning cathedrals, plazas and Renaissance architecture. The Vatican is well known for St. Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace and Sistine Chapel.

There is so much to see and do in Rome, that it could take months to see it all. However, one way for tourists to experience the best of the city is by taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. This bus tour stops at major places of interest and top museums, and tourists are free to get off and on as they wish.

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