15 of the best places to visit in Italy: most beautiful places in Italy and Italy must see sites for first time visitors.
Italy has so many stunning places the question is never whether it is worth going to Italy or not but rather, what places to see first.
Everyone has a favorite Italian spot and this list is inevitable at least partially personal. However, I believe it is a great place to start if you are planning a first trip to Italy and you are wondering what are the best places to visit in Italy for that full on WOW factor and unforgettable Italian experience.
Here is my selection of the most beautiful places in Italy and the resources to visit them.
The best places to visit in Italy: our top 15
Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and no trip to Italy would be complete without at least one day here.
The city is simply stunning.
In the city center alone, you have ancient sites, medieval buildings, baroque masterpieces and modern landmarks.
Several parts of the city have stunning museums and there is a plethora of options when it comes to restaurants and shopping opportunities.
Rome is also a great place for kids (find my guide to Rome with kids here) and a big European city with a unique atmosphere worth experiencing.
What to see in Rome – Among the many things to see in Rome I recommend:
- The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill complex
- Piazza Navona and surrounding area, with its famous cobbled streets
- A visit to the Pantheon, The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain
- A visit to the Vatican City and St Peter.
Best place to visit in Italy for – city lovers, history lovers, romantic holiday, family city break
I am from Rome and I have a full site devoted to it. You can find my Rome Travel Blog and Rome travel guides here.
Venice is unique in the world.
The first impression most visitors get as they step out of the station into this water city is to have suddenly walked into a painting and indeed Venice it is so magical, you do feel like you just stepped into a parallel work of beauty and charm!
Best things to see in Venice. There is plenty to see in Venice. Some of the things not to be misses are:
- Venice canals and Grand Canal
- Rialto Bridge
- St Mark’s square, Doges’ Palace and bridge of sights
- Acqua Alta bookshop
- Santa Maria della Salute
- I Frari church
Venice is one of the best places to visit in Italy for: romantic holiday, honeymoon, art and museum lovers
Not far from Venice you also find the lovely town of Verona and Lake Garda and the area is a good starting point for a northern Italy itinerary like this one.
With Rome and Venice Florence makes up the triad of the most popular and most visited places in Italy and with good reason.
Florence is known as a city of art and an open air museum and indeed, it is that and more.
The city lived a long period of glory in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and it is now a sort of living monument when stunning landmarks from that time mix with the dynamism of a modern city.
The city is known as the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ and it is a unique place to experience the beauty and the aesthetic ideals of those times, masterfully brought to life by artists such as Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, just to name a couple.
Florence however is more than its history: dynamic and fun, this is also a great place for a city break and a shoppers paradise.
Florence is one of the best places in Italy to buy leather and artisan paper and fashion shops abound.
The best things to see in Florence are:
- Piazza Santa Maria Novella
- Piazza del Duomo
- Piazza dell Signoria
- The Uffizi Gallery
- The Accademia museum
- The Medici chapels
- Ponte Vecchio
- Piazzale Michelangelo just to name the most popular landmarks of all
Florence is the best place in Italy for art lovers, history lovers, a romantic weekend, shopping
Florence travel resources: visiting Florence with kids
Amalfi Coast, Campania
The Amalfi Coast is a stunning stretch of Coast in the South of Italy and precisely in the region of Campania.
This area is a promontory stretching into the Mediterranean famous for high cliffs, pretty towns, some of the best sea views you can ever imagine and a breathtaking coastal drive.
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most visited places in Italy and it is impossible to overstate how beautiful it is as the way nature and towns mix here is just perfect.
The beast places to see on the Amalfi Coast are the Amalfi Coast towns and the stunning island in the area such:
The Amalfi coast is also a great starting point to visit the stunning island of Capri, famous for stunning views, sparing blue sea and a upscale vibe.
The Amalfi Coast is one of the best places to visit in Italy for coastal scenery, a romantic weekend / honeymoon, glamour (Positano and Capri in particular) and food.
Dolomites – best place in Italy for outdoor lovers Trentino and Alto Adige Regions
If you love the outdoors, then there is not better place to vising in Italy than the wonderful Italian Dolomites.
Perches in the North-Easteast of the country, the Dolomites are part of the Alps and a part of Italy of outstanding natural beauty.
They are so pristine and so beautiful UNESCO declared them World Heritage Site and indeed, they are special
The Dolomites have stunning peaks, beautiful lawn, pretty towns and a very peculiar cultural identity that mixes Italian and Austrian influences, resulting in a unique and welcoming atmosphere.
The best places to visit on the Dolomites are:
- Alta Pusteria
- Val Gardena
- Val di Fassa
- Val Badia
- Alpe di Siusi although the whole area is stunning!
The Dolomites are one of the best places to visit in Italy for: outdoor lovers (summer), snow sport enthusiasts (winter), families with kids
Tuscany and Val d’Orcia
Tuscany is a large region in the center of Italy and one of the most beautiful area in Italy, as well as one of the most visited.
There is a lot to see and do in Tuscany and the region is pretty varied however, what usually attracts tourists is the unique combination of historical towns (Florence, Siena etc), rolling hills, beautiful coastline and out of this world food.
The area most people associate with Tuscany is Val d’Orcia.
Val D’Orcia is a stunning valley in the South of Tuscany, and it is the part of Tuscany you have most likely seen in photos: the stunning area with rolling hills and cypress trees.
It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy and a landscape that is so unique, Unesco recognised it as area of outstanding natural beauty.
The best places to visit in Val d’Orcia are:
- San Quirico d’Orcia
- Bagno Vignoni
- Monticchiello plus the scenic drives in between them.
The best places to visit in Tuscany outside of Val d’Orcia are:
Tuscany is one of the best places to visit in Italy for slow tourism, food lovers, families and cultural tourism
Cinque Terre, Liguria
Cinque Terre is another very popular Italian destination: this is a stretch of land in the region of Liguria, in the North West of Italy, famous for a beautiful high coastline dotted by 5 pretty villages, connected by scenic hiking trails.
Cinque terre are now a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the peculiarity and beauty of theig geography and they are a wonderful place to visit if you like hiking, want to take in the relaxed atmospheres of small fishing villages and want to swim in beautiful waters.
The best places to see in Cinque Terre are the five towns that give the arae their name: Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore.
Cinque Terre are one of the best places to visit in Italy for: people who like hikes, small village charm, relaxed atmosphere.
Puglia is the heel of the Italian boot and one of the most beautiful regions n the whole it Italy.
Puglia is a magical mix of stunning coast and beaches, beautiful towns, Unesco sites and delicious food and it is perfect at all ages, from small kids to grandparents and everyone in between.
Puglia is getting increasinly popular however, it is still largely ignored by international tourism and especially some localities have huge local charm and a slow pace that is a delight to experience
The best places to visit in Puglia are:
- Gargano peninsula
- Martina Franca
- Polignano al Mare
- Santa Maria di Leuca
Puglia is one of the best places to visit in Italy for art lovers, families, UNESCO lovers and people looking for a sea and sun vacation in Italy.
Puglia travel rerources: as well as guides to individual places, linked above, you can fnd our recommended Puglia itinerary here.
Matera is a very special place, a town like no other in Italy and, in many ways, in the world.
Located in the South of Italy, in the otherwise little visited region of Basilicata, Matera is one of the most ancient cities in the world and has it spmehtin special: it is entirely carved into rocks!
Matera has a very peculiar history and has is recently being recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and indeed, it is an interesting place to visit as well as a breathtakingly beautiful one.
The city has a distinctive honey color due to the rocks is emerges from and has stunning rupestrian churches that are incredible evocative and unique.
Matera is the best place to visit in Italy for otherwordly landscapes, off the beaten track travels, cultural tourists
You can find our travel guide to Matera here
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful areas in Italy: natural and manmade landmarks abound and out of this world food and beautiful weather make it even more pleasurable to visit.
Inhabited since ancient Greek times, Sicily has been home to many civilizations that gave it the unique architecture it still now enjoys: the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and the Normans most of all.
Among the best paces to visit in Sicily there are:
- Palermo and Monreale
- Val di Noto
- Valley of the temples
- Zingaro Reserve and Scopello
- Smaller Sicilian islands (Lipari and the Aeolian islands, Egadi and Pelagian islands)
Sicily is the perfect Italian destination for a road trip and and for visitors interested in beautiful cities, archaeological sites, small villages, coastal landscapes and food.
Sicily is the best place in Italy for: cultural tourists, road tripper, families, slow travelers, UNESCO lovers, food lovers.
Lake Garda, Veneto, Trentino and Lombardy regions
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and lies in a wonderful position between the Alps and the cities of Venice and Verona.
It it a stunning place: in the northern part, tall peaks plunge into the water while the South you find a less dramatic landscapes, both area being perfect for tranquil days on the water or outdoor pursuits.
Lake Garda is a great place for families especially.
The lake is pretty and well equipped for kids and there are several theme parks that are great for children.
Visitors without kids can also enjoy the area and make the most of the scenery following the beautiful bike path or taking advantage of the hikes available: the proximity of the mountains male this a good place for outdoor lovers.
The area towards Milan and Lombardy has lovely localities such as Sirmione, famous for the Scaligero castle, that are sure to make an impression
Lake Garda is one of the best places in Italy for families with kids and people who want a relaxing lakeside vacation
Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and the Italian lake district Lombardy and Piedmont regions
The northwest of Italy has several beautiful lakes namely Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta and Lake Iseo, making up Italy’s ‘lake district’ (distretto dei laghi)
This is a beautiful area, perfect for anyone looking for quiet days, relaxing drinks along the lake side and a slow pace of life.
Th best places to see n this are area:
- Orta San Giulio (Lake Orta)
- Isole Borromee / Borromean Islands (Lake Maggiore),
- Stresa, Lake Maggiore
- On lake Como: Bellagio, Varenna, and Como itself
You can find our guide to the most beautiful lakes in Northern Italy here.
Milan, Lombadia / Lombardy Region
Milan is a wonderful city often overlooked by tourists as associated with business more than pleasure however, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and with some landmarks definitely worth seeing.
It is also one of the world’s fashion capitals and a unique place for style and shopping opportunities (especially designer shops)
Milan has a historical and elegant city center and it is most suited to visitors interests in art and fashion.
The best things to see in Milan are:
- Milan cathedral
- Milan Galleria
- Last Supper
- Milan’s Castle
- Piazza Gae Aulenti
- Milan’s fashion district
Milan is the best place in Italy for fashion lovers and for an elegant city break
You can find our travel guide to Milan here.
Bologna and the region of Emilia Romagna in general are the ‘food valley’ of Italy and they are usually mentioned as one of the best places in Italy for foodies.
Indeed, the food here is out of this world and the many food tours available will allow you to taste tortellini, parmigiano and parma ham in their place of origin.
You can read all about Italian regional foods here.
However, there is more to Bologna and surrounding area than food. The region also has stunning art and gems like the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, the beautiful city of Parma and Ferrara and of course Bologna, a wonderful and historical university town.
I close this list of the best places to visit in Italy with a place that I adore but is outside of the most popular Italian itineraries and may not be on your radar quite yet: Paestum.
Paestum is an archaeological site dating back to Greek and Roman times with incredibly well preserved Greek temples, now in the middle of beautiful lawns.
Paestum is a treat for art and archaeology lovers: the site has three different temples, one of them known for being the best-preserved Greek temples in the world, and it also has a beautiful museum with invaluable remains of funerary paintings from roman times (the tomb of the diver)
It is one of the most evocative places you can find in Italy and the lack of crowds make it feel like a special gem. It is also one of the best archaeological sites to visit in Italy with kids.
Paestum is one of the best places to visit in Italy for archaeology lovers. You can find our guide to Paestum here.
I hope you enjoyed this selection of our favorite places to visit in Italy and it helped you plan your trip. Don’t forget to also check out our Italy travel tips here. Safe travel planning!