Start planning your trip to Italy
You can see a lot of Italy in just one trip. Where else can you start the day admiring the Tuscan countryside and end it by sampling the best dishes Bologna, the country’s food capital, has to offer? A few of Italy’s destinations get the lion’s share of visitors, yet much of the country is made up of undiscovered villages and coastal towns where the locals spend their summers. It’s easy to get off the beaten path on Italy vacations, whether on hikes amid the rolling hills of Umbria or road-tripping through Calabria. Our local heroes can help you throughout the booking process. Whether you want a local to give you the in-depth history of Rome’s most ancient sights or get off the tourist trail in Sicily, our experts are your on-the-ground support. A local agent is a sure-fire way to pinpoint your travel needs, in the event you need a translator, want to indulge in a food and wine tasting, travel from the north to the capital as a family, or run into an issue.
The best things to see and do in Italy
What to see in Italy
- Renowned sites: start in Rome and marvel at the incredible Colosseum, which offers a glimpse of the capital’s dramatic past, before making your way to the Trevi Fountain to toss in a coin and make a wish. Then, travel north to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an emblem that defies the laws of physics.
- City lights: many Italian cities have little changed for centuries, and perhaps the most traditional of all is the Vatican City, a country in its own right found within Rome. After touring the Vatican, admire the Pantheon and learn all about its history. If you’re visiting Italy for its picturesque architecture and busy streets, visit Piazza San Marco in Venice, hailed one of the world’s most beautiful squares.
- Unparalleled beaches: Italian beaches are known for their warm waters and natural beauty. Cinque Terre offers a multitude of coves, bays, and stretches of coastline. Head to the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside to scope out these beaches from a bird's-eye-view vantage point. Or, visit Capri to see its famous Blue Grotto, as well as its beaches, renowned for being among Italy's most glitzy.
- Historic attractions: the country’s historic sites are unusually well-preserved. Visit the Doge’s Palace in Venice to tour its prison before heading to Milan to see the Duomo di Milano. This incredible building took nearly 600 years to complete and has soaked up nearly a century of Italy’s past. Finally, Rome’s Castel Sant'Angelo is a popular choice for castle lovers as it dates back to the 2nd century.
- Hidden treasures: the Aeolian Islands are the perfect place to escape the crowds, and while they’re by no means a secret, they’re certainly the insider’s equivalent of the Amalfi Coast. Next, with its white-washed hillside towns and mile after mile of picturesque farmland, the still relatively unknown (but not for long) Puglia is one of the most romantic places in Italy. Complete with fortress-style city walls, traditional cuisine, and typical streets, historic Perugia may not be the top of everyone’s list of places to visit, but it’s definitely worth the jaunt.
What to do in Italy
- Adventure: make your way to the Roman Forum to travel back in time and explore its ruined temples before visiting Lake Garda to swim or boat in the shadow of Monte Baldo. Then, why not explore craters and a lava cave on Italy’s ancient volcano, Mount Etna? Family vacations in Italy can be full of adventure as well, thanks to activities focused on history, food, and nature to be found around every corner. Impress the kids with a private fishing tour in Puglia or at Murano’s glass-blowing factory in the Venetian Lagoon.
- Hiking and trekking: with scenic views just about everywhere, Italy is a hikers’ paradise. Scale Mount Vesuvius to look out over the Bay of Naples from over 4,000 feet. Stromboli is another volcano you can hike, with beaches to relax on below as a reward. For beginners, Campidoglio is a great choice, with a relatively easy climb and a charming square designed by Michelangelo waiting at the top.
- Cycling: hopping on a bicycle is a great way to immerse yourself in Italy’s countryside and smaller towns. Sightseeing on two wheels in Tuscany is a cyclist’s dream, with smooth winding roads nearly everywhere you look. Liguria offers routes that run along the coast: a great choice for those looking for great views rather than challenging climbs. Finally, the Via Francigena may be known as a walking path, but it has recently become a popular cycling route.
- Cuisine: one week in Italy provides just enough time to sample its delicious dishes. Savor some of the country’s top delicacies, like truffles in Emilia-Romagna, or if you’re craving traditional recipes, be sure to try Naples’ famous pizza. Learning to cookis another great way to get to know Italian food and bring the taste of Italy back home with you.
- Vineyards: two weeks in Italy gives you more than enough time to try the country’s cuisine, as well as its wine. Wine tastings or vineyard tours will take you behind the scenes at some of the country’s most scenic estates. Travel to Sicily for vineyards complete with hotels and spas, or to Umbria to get hands-on experience in winemaking. The prize for Italy’s most beautiful vineyard goes to Marchesi di Barolo, with its rustic buildings and sweeping views out over the vines.
Best time to visit Italy
Deciding the best time to go to Italy is not an easy feat. Thanks to its mostly Mediterranean climate, much of the country is enjoyable to visit year-round. For many, the ideal time coincides with the spring/summer vacation period, withApril, June, and July being among the most popular times to visit. Beat the crowds by opting to visit Italy in September or other shoulder-season months like May or August. Finally, why not make this winter one to remember by spending Christmas in Italy? December brings a range of festivities, including Christmas markets and shows.
Travel tips and advice for traveling to Italy
Traveling around Italy
Traveling the Italian peninsula is easy thanks to the country’s good rail and bus links. On the other hand, a road trip through Italy is a great option if you’re looking to travel at your own pace and with the freedom to tailor your trip as you go.
Visa requirements for Italy
It’s usually straightforward for US citizens to visit Italy. You don’t need a visa for stays of less than 90 days. For the latest advice and any specific questions about entry requirements, we recommend checking your government's website.