Italy is the country of wine and pizza. It is also famous for its benefaction of art and architecture, fashion, literature, etc.
Not every country can give you the full experience of everything but Italy; she gives you all she can. It is not just the best in architecture and history with its beautiful Duomos (cathedral). The country also has the best delicacies in the world.
Not to forget about the fashion city of Milan and Italian ice creams called ‘Gelatos.’ On top, it is the country that gave birth to so many saints, artists, and poets that the whole world admires. You will never get over walking the cobblestone streets and the warm weather of Italy.
Mind me when I write ‘beautiful’ a lot more times than I intended. It is a beautiful country, and I have listed the ten best places to go to, when to go, and where to stay.
#1 Popular cities in Italy: Milan
Milan is a fashion capital. Here, everything is high-end. It is the best place for shopping and is also a place of unique historical sites. It is a place where travelers go shopping and sightseeing.
Milan isn’t big of a city; if you don’t want to spend unnecessarily, then you can roam around the city on foot or use the tram. It is a perfect opportunity for you to admire the town entirely too.
The best seasons to go to Milan are from April to May, then September to October. These are when there isn’t a peak in tourism, and the prices aren’t skyrocketing.
If you’re a fashion enthusiast and want to celebrate fashion week, you can visit Milan near autumn/winter and spring/summer. However, you have to book everything in advance.
So what’s more to see in Milan:
Duomo is an iconic cathedral that took 500 years to complete. It has over 3,500 statues, 135 spires, and five bronze doors. Besides, you should also consider the elevator to the rooftop and look at the city’s view.
Entry Fee: It costs USD 14.50, and if you want to use the elevator, it requires an extra USD 17.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
First opened in 1877, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is one of the world’s most beautiful shopping centers. It consists of luxury brands like Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Armani. It is a feast for fashionholics.
Navigli is the best place for you to lay back and have a drink overlooking the sunset by the canals in Milan.
- Santa Maria Delle Grazie
It is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Santa Maria Delle Grazie has excellent wall paintings. This place is famous for the masterpiece of Leonardo Da Vinci, “The Last Supper.”
Entry Fee: USD 11.15
- Watch a football match
Milan has two of the world’s best football clubs: AC Milan and Inter Milan. If you’re here in the season, watch a match on Milan’s home ground.
Seats cost USD 31.50 near the top.
If you’re on a budget, then there are plenty of hostels in Milan with free wifi. Some even have free breakfasts. Price ranges from USD 28 to USD 33.65 per night according to the number of persons in a dorm.
A two-star hotel will cost around USD 56. The prices rise in high season like Fashion Week, hosted twice a year. For luxurious hotels, fees range from USD 65.
#2 Popular cities in Italy: Venice
Venice is the city of romance, historic canals, and the city of Romeo and Juliet. It echoes with the sound of men singing on Gondolas.
You can find people sipping wine beside the canals during the sunset. Tourists flood the streets here.
Getting around Venice is better by walking than taking a water taxi or a water bus. It is unless you have heavy bags acting like a burden.
Other than that, you must experience a Gondola ride at least once in your lifetime. It costs you USD 115 for 30 minutes so I wouldn’t suggest you to make it a travel medium.
So what’s more to do in Venice:
- Piazza San Marco
Also known as St. Mark’s square, Piazza San Marco is Venice’s main attraction. It has the beautiful Basilica San Marco with the statues and walls covered in marbles.
Entry Fee: USD 3.35 per person.
- Grand Canal
Venice’s main motive is to take a Gondola and see the city’s two sides while floating on the Grand Canal.
Burano is a go-to-place for all the Instagramoholics. This city with colorful buildings and art galleries. They act as a perfect background for your photos.
When in Burano, watching artists make glass sculptures is a must.
- Attend Carnivals
Attend Carnivals or watch the Voga Longa (rowing marathon held on May 23rd annually).
- Eat Seafood in Ghetto
The ghetto is home to Venetian Jews, famous for its excellent seafood dishes. Osteria Al Bacco is a renowned spot to eat seafood in the Venetian Ghetto. I recommend you try the squid ink pasta, mixed fried seafood, and black-ink cuttlefish.
Besides this restaurant, you can find other eateries around the area specializing in fish dishes too.
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum
Visiting the National Archaeological Museum when you are in Venice is a must. It is a great spot for history buffs.
You will see a great collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Romanian antiquities. There are sculptures, ceramics, coins, and stones that date back to the 1st century.
- Palazzo Ducale
Palazzo Ducale, also known as Doge’s Palace, is an important symbol of Venetian architecture. It is a hybrid of Byzantine, Islamic, and Gothic culture.
The beauty of the Palazzo Ducale offers visitors one of the best impressions of the city. A tour to Palazzo Ducale takes about 90 minutes. It will show you beautiful artworks by Gian Battista Ponchino, Hieronymus Bosch, etc.
The island has very few hostel dorms. However, you can find dorms around USD 11-17 just outside the city. Yet, if you want to stay in the city, you have to pay about USD 34-56.
You can also find hotels on a budget outside the city for USD 56. But if you plan to stay on the main island, you’ll have to pay USD 113 per night for bed and breakfast.
#3 Popular cities in Italy: Florence
If I have to describe Florence, I’d call it ‘aesthetically pleasing.’ Florence is a beautiful city in Tuscany’s heart, where the buildings are white, and the roofs are red. Here, the Great Duomo’s view manifests the feeling of living in the period of the renaissance.
Florence is an excellent place to wander into the beautiful art galleries, eateries, and wineries. It has fantastic nightlife.
Apart from walking, you can also rent a bicycle for USD 2.80 per hour. Not only will it take you to places faster, but it’ll also work as a photo prop.
Places to visit in Florence:
- Piazza del Duomo
The Duomo is one of the most famous sites in Florence. Make sure to climb to the top and see the panoramic view of the city.
Entry Fee: USD 20
- Galleria dell ‘Accademia
The primary purpose of visiting this museum is to see the majestic sculpture of David by Michelangelo.
Entry Fee: Tickets for adults cost USD 2,258. However, you can go to Piazza Della Signoria to see its replica.
- Gardens of Boboli
Imagine yourself as a noble merchant or a lady. And then, walk around Boboli’s lavish garden with embellished statues and fountains. You should also soak in the scent of the citrus trees and the water springs that flow through the alleys of Boboli.
Entry Fee: The entry fee is USD 6.70-11.15. It includes admission to Museo Degli Argenti, Museo delle porcellane, and Galleria del Costume.
- Ponte Vecchio
Window shop the historic gold and silvers on your way through Ponte Vecchio. It is the first bridge across the Arno river.
- Piazzale Michelangelo
From Ponte Vecchio, you’ll have to walk for 30 minutes to reach Piazzale Michelangelo. From here, you can watch the beautiful sunset hitting the Tuscan landscapes.
Entry Fee: Free!
These are only some of the places I’ve mentioned. There is so much more to see in Florence. You can walk all around Florence and still can’t get enough.
Private hostel dorms cost between USD 45-56 for two people per night. Larger dorms charge around USD 13.40. A two-star hotel costs USD 45 per night for two while the three-star hotel charges USD 56.
If you want to stay at a luxurious hotel, then it costs around USD 100 per night.
#4 Popular cities in Italy: Verona
Verona is also known as the ‘city of lovers.’ William Shakespeare’s novel ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was based on this city. It is a place where you’ll fall in love.
Though it may not be as famous as Florence and Venice, this gorgeous city has so much more to offer. Verona is also known as ‘Little Rome’ for its Roman culture in every detail. It is also an influential city due to the several roads converging along the Adige river.
You can travel to Verona from Venice or Milan on a regular train. Or, you can take a flight to Verona too. Since this is also a small city, I recommend sightseeing on foot.
Places to visit in the City of Love:
- Museo Di Castelvecchio
Museo Di Castelvecchio used to be a fortress built to protect the Palace of Cangrande II of the Scaliger family. It has a beautiful bridge on its entrance, which itself is an attraction. It is home to sculptures, frescoes, jewelry, and medieval artifacts by renaissance Veronese and Venetian painters.
You can also see the views of the river and the city from the rampant of the castle.
Entry Fee: USD 6.76 per adult
- Roman Arena
Also known as the Verona Arena, Roman Arena is the city’s legendary open-air opera house. It seats 30,000 people. You can stroll through the arena’s ancient corridors, which takes you out to the sunlit stone area.
Entry Fee: USD 11.26
- Piazza Dei Signori
This place is full of fabulous architecture. It has the statue of Dante Alighieri: a famous Italian poet.
You should check out the two medieval courtyards leading off the Piazza. They are the Mercato Vecchio and Palazzo del Capitanio.
There are five Scaliger tombs placed high above the ground in an ornate gothic style. It is a must-see at Piazza Dei Signori.
- Casa di Giulietta
I’m sure everyone has read the infamous Shakesperian novel. And, everyone wants to experience a place of love and tragedy. Casa di Giulietta is Juliet’s home (now more like a museum).
Even though this place has many tourists, you need to experience the Gothic rooms and take a balcony photo. However, you have to pay for a ticket and wait in line.
You can also take a picture of the statue of Juliet. People say that if you kiss it, you’ll find luck with love.
- Raft at the Adige
Get yourself a rafting boat for USD 28.16. You can paddle your way from one end of the city to the other while you pass under several bridges.
You can stop off at the Castelvecchio, and any other food stops too. Take a dip in the river if you want. Rafting is also one of the best ways to sightsee and take an adventure in this city of love.
Apart from that, you should also:
i. Watch an opera show at the Roman theater.
ii. Visit the Basilica of St. Anastasia
iii. Head to the top of Torre Dei Lamber tower and watch Verona’s 360 views for USD 9.01
You should stay near the Verona Historic Center if you want to be near all the sites you want to visit. Hotel rooms start from USD 37 to USD 200.
Hotels like Locazione Turistica Cittadella and Alloggio Amelie have rooms for USD 37 per night with a shared bathroom. If you want to stay at a boutique hotel, there’s Hotel Trieste, which provides bed and breakfast for USD 101.36.
Five-star hotels like Hotel Colomba D’Oro and Gabbia D’Oro have prices ranging from USD 118.25 and USD 225.25. It is worth the price.
It provides an excellent bed and breakfast and has a stunning décor. It is a brilliant location in the historic center.
#5 Popular cities in Italy: Pisa
One of the things that come to mind while you hear “Pisa” is the historic “Leaning tower of Pisa.” Located in the Tuscany region, Pisa has many historic churches. It also offers tons of outdoor activities for tourists.
Since Pisa is a tourist hot spot, you should avoid visiting this place in the summertime. It gets crowded and is expensive. April to May are the best months to visit.
You can walk around the city as everything is within walking distance. Buses and Taxis are available too.
Places to visit in Pisa:
- Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pisa Duomo
Well obviously! The main motive for most of us to visit Pisa is for the Leaning Tower. Go and take a picture in front of the leaning tower as well as climb to the top.
Entry Fee: USD 19.54
After the tour to the leaning tower, walk to the Pisa Duomo. You can view and appreciate its Romanesque architecture. The entry is free.
Luca is a beautiful small city, which is a 25-minute train ride from Pisa. After you reach Luca, I suggest you walk or ride a bicycle around this medieval city. You can absorb the air of the renaissance here.
Apart from these, while you’re at Pisa:
i. Visit the Baptistery of St. John
ii. Attend the local cultural events
iii. Visit the Palazzo Blue (the Blue palace)
A night for a 4-6 bed dorm will cost you USD 22, whereas it may cost USD 28-40 in high season. A two-star hotel room costs around USD 40, while luxurious hotels cost USD 70 per night.
#6 Popular cities in Italy: Rome
Also known as the Eternal City, Rome is one of the 55 Italian cities listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list. Rome is one of the most traveled destinations in Europe.
History, food, architecture – this city has it all. Rome is a bit chaotic in terms of traffic. You should take the public bus, trams, trolleys, metro, or simply wander around on foot if you want to save money.
The best way is to get the ‘Roma Pass’ for 38 Euros: USD 42.8. It gives you full access to public transportation, an entry into two museums, and discounts on tickets.
Where to roam around in Rome:
I know, I know, it is the most cliché thing to do, but why not? The Colosseum is nearly 2,000 years old and was the amphitheater in the Roman Empire. You would want to witness the vast stage people used to conduct events and shows in ancient times.
Entry Fee: USD 13.50
- The Forum & Palatine Hill
After visiting the Colosseum, make your way to explore ancient Rome at the forum. Palestine Hill is where the great aristocrats lived. This place is going to be the best historic trip for you.
Entry Fee: $13.50 USD
- Gianicolo Hill
Trek your way up to the Gianicolo Hill and watch the panoramic view of the city. Don’t worry. There are plenty of benches and cafes along the way.
- Vatican City
You’ve come to Rome then might as well go to Vatican city. You can experience the Pope’s home, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the museums. There is so much wealth of art and history to see here.
Entry Fee: USD 19
- Trevi Fountain
Go to the beautiful Trevi Fountain and throw two coins over your left shoulder—one for love, one to return to Rome.
Apart from these, while you’re in Rome:
i. Join a culinary-themed tour and try delicious Italian food. AND make your pizza.
ii. Talk a walk around Trastevere and feel the air of authentic Rome.
A night in a two-star hotel for two people costs around USD 43. In Airbnb, prices range from USD 14.50 per night for shared bedrooms.
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay, then rooms for two will cost you USD 50 per night.
#7 Popular cities in Italy: Umbria
Take a trip to Umbria from Rome. Umbria has a different side of Italy, which is rural and full of hills and green fields. Here, you can indulge in the country food, visit vineyards, feast on cheap gelatos, go on a hike, etc.
Places to visit in Umbria:
Assisi is a medieval town among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This place is full of churches and monuments and is so beautifully Italian.
This town is the birthplace of many patron saints, including St. Francis of Assisi. Apart from the churches, you should see the temple of Minerva. You should also walk the narrow streets that lead to the central Piazza del Comune.
Perugia is the capital city of Umbria and is famous for Perugian chocolate. This place has fantastic Etruscan architecture. Etruscans are the ancient people of Etruria.
Montefalco is famous for its wineries. You should visit Terre di Sagrantino every Easter. Here, you will be able to try delicious wines and the area’s local honey and olive oil.
- Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy. It is where Saint Francis was born and died. The view of the Tiber valley from San Francesco is something you would want to see while you’re up there.
- Cascate Delle Marmore Waterfalls
After roaming around the chapels and the wineries, head to Cascate Delle Marmore Waterfalls. You can look at the beauty of the hidden gorges and waterfalls polished more by the greenery.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can go rafting and canoeing with a professional’s help.
You can find cheap hotels ranging from USD 28, like La Galleria and Maxi Comfort Villa. Five-star hotels range from USD 68-100 and above per night.
#8 Popular cities in Italy: Naples
Naples is one of the densely populated cities of Europe and the birthplace of pizza.
This chaotic yet alive place with over 2000 years of history has many archaeological sites. It also has history tours. Do not forget to find the best pizza in town.
Places to go when in Naples:
- Santa Chiara Convent
You can do sightseeing all you want in Centro Storico but do not miss the Santa Chiara Convent. Here, every tile has paintings of the scenes from the surrounding area. The colorful pillars and the whole courtyard is a blessing to the human eyes.
- National Archaeological Museum
If you’re looking forward to going on a historical drive, this museum has one of the world’s best Greek and Roman artifacts. There are collections from Pompeii. It also has the casts of bodies found at Pompeii.
Entry fee: USD 90
- Pompeii and Herculaneum
Pompeii and Herculaneum are the best-preserved Roman ruins. An eruption of Vesuvius buried these cities in 79 A.D.
You should take a guided tour to get more information on the buildings and their remains. Guided tours start from USD 37.
- Naples Underground
It lies in the center of Naples. Take a tour of Naples underground to know about how the city was built. You can also see the ruins of the town and the ancient reservoirs.
Entry Fee: USD 90 and above
- L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele
If you’ve watched “Eat, Pray, Love” or if you’re a fan of Julia Roberts, this is the restaurant you need to check out. It is a tourist hub due to the movie and the actress, but it is also a decent place to have delicious pizza.
Besides L’Antica, Sorbillo’s has excellent gluten-free pizza. Also, you can eat it with the ocean view. 50 Kalo is a superb pizza hub too.
You should also try new foods like Cuoppo, Genovese, and Tarallo while in Naples.
The price of a 4-6 bed hostel dorm room ranges from USD 17-19 per night. It costs USD 45 for a private room. A two-star hotel costs USD 35 and includes a bathroom, free wifi, and breakfast.
If you’re on a luxurious vacation, then you can find hotel rooms for USD 55.
#9 Popular cities in Italy: Dolomite Mountains
Dolomite is more of Italy’s natural side. It has the most beautiful sceneries and is also the best place to hike. You will have to plan for at least a week’s trip to get this countryside’s complete experience.
The best time to visit the Dolomite is from June-end to September-end. However, if your aim is to ski, then the skiing season begins in December and ends in April.
In terms of transportation, it is better to rent a car to drive through the Dolomites. It gives you flexibility. You have to pay USD 338.89 for nine days.
However, you can also explore the Dolomites by bus or train.
Places to visit while in the Dolomites:
- Lake Como
Walk around the Victorian garden and eat at the lakeshore of Lake Como. You should also hike to Castello di Vezio to get a panoramic view of the lake.
- Santa Maddalena
It is a small quiet village, with peaceful vibes, in the Dolomites. You will hear nothing but the cattle grazing afar.
Santa Maddalena is also the right picnic spot. On your way, you should visit Chiusa Klausen to see the panoramic views of the Dolomites.
- Lago di Braies
Also called Pragser Wildsee in German, Lago di Braies is a beautiful glacier lake. It has an easy hiking trail. It is an Instagram-worthy place, and you don’t even have to photoshop the turquoise blue water.
If you don’t want to hike, you can rent a boat and row your way around the Dolomites. Hotels are hard to find and are very expensive here, but it is worth every penny.
Take a cable car up to the Seceda viewpoint instead of hiking. This way, you will be able to experience the beautiful views of the Dolomites even more. Plus, you will also get a snack and a Radler(beer mixed with lemonade) at the destination with your cable car tour.
A return ticket costs USD 33.88, and parking costs USD 9.04.
Hotels at the Dolomites are quite expensive. There are hardly any budget-friendly hotels. Price ranges from USD 80 to USD 135.54 per night.
Try to stay at hiking cabins while you’re in the mountains to get the best mountain experience.
#10 Popular cities in Italy: Sicily
The breathtaking island of Sicily is home to the famous volcanic mountain, Etna. Sicily is the place to visit for its laid-back lifestyle and because it is very inexpensive.
The best way to travel from east to Sicily’s west side is by renting a car. However, if you’re on a budget, there is access to public transportation as well.
Places to visit in Sicily:
Syracuse is a small city on Sicily’s eastern side, which feels like a romantic Italian movie. With a lot of history from the Greek and Roman sides, you have plenty of activities to do in Syracuse like:
- Cycling your way around Syracuse
Go to Ortigia Island. If you want to stay in Ortigia, hotel rooms start from USD 56.48.
- Visit the Archaeological Park of Syracuse
Visit the Roman Amphitheater, the altar of Hieron II, and the Ear of Dionysius.
Taormina lies an hour’s drive away from Catania. Here, Piazza IX Aprile is an excellent place for you to discover the valley’s views, the sea, and Mount Etna. You can also see the beautiful sunset from the Piazza.
You should also visit the ancient monument. You can enjoy lunch at the Villa Comunale public garden and head to the old Greek theater.
If you’re a beach person, go to Isola Bella for swimming and boat trips. However, this small city has sky-high accommodation prices, so it is better to stay at Catania.
- Mount Etna
After Taormina, your next stop is the lava fields of Mount Etna. You can choose to walk or take the cable car to reach the top of the mountain.
The cable car ride is expensive, so I suggest you hike up the mountain. It would add fitness to your travel. Hire a guide to take you to the volcano peaks and experience the crates’ astounding shades.
Trapani is a small island off the coasts of West Sicily. It is a thriving town with great restaurants and beautiful architecture.
Visit Erice, a small village a few miles away from Trapani. Also, visit Gelateria Meno Tredici for the unique and classic flavors of Gelatos.
This place is famous for its’ Valley of Temples.’ They are some of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples in the world.
The history behind these temples is something to behold for the rest of your life. The best timing to visit this place is around the afternoon.
When in Agrigento, visit Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Staircase) and watch the sunset view. Visit the Agrigento market held every Friday. You can shop for some fresh fruits, clothes, or kitchen accessories at a reasonable price.
You can take a stroll at the Capo Rosso beach. Or, you can just walk around in Agrigento old town with its beautiful churches.
Palermo – the capital city of Sicily, is a place of Aristocrats and Mafias. The food markets, cathedrals, and the Royal Palace are the places that would be of interest to any tourist.
Finally, Cefalu is also a beautiful town having beaches with rocky cliffs. You can hike up the La Rocca and later calm yourself on the beach.
While in Sicily, try the famous dishes like Arancini, Pasta alla Norma, Cannoli, Caponata, and Frutta martorana. Also, visit Modica for the best Sicilian chocolates.
So until now, I believe you have already selected the places you want to visit on your trip to Italy. I’ve curated this list for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventure seekers. Let me know if you want to add something I’ve missed on the list.