Offering rich history, culture, and exquisite architecture in addition to a fabulous cuisine, Italy definitely ranks high among the world’s top countries to visit. The country is easy to travel in, with an extensive railway system that will easily get you to day trip destinations from major cities, giving you myriad travel experiences.
No matter what your interests are, you will encounter a mindboggling number of treasures and hidden gems during your trip to Italy. Here are 16 awesome destinations to visit for a perfect holiday.
Considered one of the world’s greatest and most atmospheric cities, Rome is packed with fabulous sights and priceless art. There is beauty everywhere you look, from the Colosseum, to the Sistine Chapel, and the city’s ancient catacombs.
Milan may be known all over the world as one of the greatest fashion capitals, but the city is not limited to the famous fashion brands it produces. It is recognised internationally as a cultural destination with attractions like the Duomo, Teatro alla Scala, Sforza Castle, and the Brera Art Gallery.
Florence is another city you can’t miss while vacationing in Italy. The birthplace of the Renaissance, it is a haven for art and architecture lovers and is packed with tons of amazing art spaces and heritage buildings in addition to scenic landscapes. While in the city, explore the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia – arguably two of the best museums in the world – as well as the marvelous Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio, and the Palazzo della Signoria. Furthermore, don’t forget to take a stroll along the historical Arno River and enjoy a hefty serving of one of the city’s greatest exports, the gelato.
A short train journey from Florence, Pisa is home to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the world’s most photographed structures. But the leaning tower is just one of the numerous sights to see in Pisa. Other must-see attractions include the Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistry, Piazza dei Miracoli, and the Knights’ Square.
Also a relatively short train ride from Florence, Siena is one of the most popular day trip destinations in Italy. The city, perched on one of Tuscany’s picturesque hills, is famous for its fine art, medieval architecture, delectable local cuisine, unspoilt small-town ambiance, and exciting events like the Palio horse race.
Considered one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations, Venice is a fascinating city in northeastern Italy. Boasting spectacular scenery, priceless art, rich history, and cultural heritage, it receives more than 20 million tourists annually. The city is built on a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea and for centuries, the locals have been getting around the city through its complex network of canals.
When in Venice, don’t forget to hop on a vaporetto to visit the islands of Murano and Burano in the Veneto Lagoon. Murano is famous for its glassmaking industry that dates back to the early 13th century. Burano, on the other hand, is known as the island of lace; its artisan lace makers produce the most beautiful hand-tatted lace in Italy.
Cinque Terre is a region that possesses one of the most stunning coastlines in Italy, if not the whole world. It is a destination where you can spend a fun-filled day exploring pastel-coloured fishing villages, taking in stunning views of the Italian Riviera, enjoying fabulous seafood meals, in addition to swimming in the inviting waters of the Mediterranean.
Set in the Bay of Naples, Capri is an island that’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful locations in Campania – the ultimate holiday destination. Featuring ruggedly beautiful landscapes, spectacular attractions, and varied experiences, it is every tourist’s temptation island. In addition, the island also makes for a great starting point to the other islands in the Bay of Naples.
There are to main towns in the island – Capri and Anacapri. Anacapri stands on the slopes of Mount Solaro and is perched on a plateau above Capri town. To reach Anacapri from Capri town, you must travel through a zigzag road up the cliffs. While both towns are located in Capri island, they have different atmospheres. Capri town is, in all aspects, a resort town filled with luxury hotels and streets lined with upscale shops and boutiques while Anacapri is peaceful, laidback, and more affordable.
A 20-minute ferry ride from the island of Capri, Sorrento is a town on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula, providing the best views of the Bay of Naples. Sorrento is also known for its lemons and limoncello, the refreshing liqueur made from the zest of Sorrento lemons. Must-visit attractions in Sorrento include the Cathedral of Sorrento, the old town centre, Piazza Tasso, Marina Grande, Marina Piccola, and the 14th century Church of San Francesco, to name a few.
Located in the Umbria region, Assisi is a postcard-pretty medieval hill town that is inscribed in the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. St. Francis is the Italian patron saint who founded the Franciscan religious order. St. Clare, on the other hand, founded the Order of Poor Clares (formerly Poor Sisters).
The whole of Assisi is a World Heritage site showcasing a number of historically important buildings such as the Piazza del Comune, Basilica di San Francesco, Basilica di Santa Chiara, and Rocca Maggiore, among others. The Basilica di San Francesco is home to vibrant frescoes and paintings by Giotto, Cimabue, Lorenzetti, and Simone Martini.
One of the most popular cities in the Tuscany region, Lucca is located at the base of Apuan Alps, easily reachable from Florence and Pisa. The city is famous for its Renaissance walls and cobblestone streets and attractions like the Piazza of San Michele, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, Church of San Michele in Foro, the Clock Tower, and Guinigi Tower. The well-maintained Renaissance walls were converted into a tree-lined pedestrian promenade where you can enjoy magnificent views over Lucca.
San Gimignano is another walled medieval town to visit in Italy. Set on the hills of Tuscany, it is known as the Town of Fine Towers, owing to its well-preserved collection of 14 tower houses of varying heights. Aside from the towers, the town also has a number of attractions, from the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Cisterna, as well as the churches Collegiata and the chiesa di Sant’Agostino.
Sitting on the Bay of Naples, Naples is one of Italy’s oldest and largest cities. It is widely popular as a destination brimming with artistic masterpieces, culture, history, and architecture, not to mention that it is the birthplace of the world-famous, mouthwatering Neapolitan pizza.
A trip to Naples isn’t complete without visiting Pompeii, an ancient Roman city destroyed and buried under tons of volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Just like the archaeological site of Herculaneum, a trip to Pompeii is equal parts astounding, disconcerting, and enlightening. Explore Pompeii and its surrounding sites to gain insight on how the Ancient Romans once lived. Pompeii is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Italy, receiving approximately 2.5 million visitors annually.
Located on the Amalfi Coast, the charming town of Amalfi is home to a historic centre packed with heritage buildings. The town was once the seat of power during the formidable maritime republic between 839 and 1200. Due to its breathtaking scenery, Amalfi was a popular holiday destination for the British rich and famous in the 1920s to 1930s. The main sights in Amalfi include the St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Chiostro del Paradiso, and the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic. Just like Sorrento, Amalfi is famous for its limoncello. The town is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located on the island of Sicily, Messina is a harbour city that serves as the transport hub in the island. Other than being a gateway to other destinations in Sicily, Messina offers a range of attractions like the Messina Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, Neptune Fountain, and of course, its 60-metre high bell tower that’s fitted with a spectacular astronomical clock, all begging to be explored.
Preparing for your great Italian adventure? Here are the top destinations to visit.