24 best things to do in Italy

updated 1/7/2022
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What are the best things to in Italy? From browsing Renaissance art to visiting beaches, the variety is huge. Discover which Italian mountain ranges are best for hiking and what cities to see with our pick of 24 top things to do in Italy year round. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your travel guide for Italy .

1. Wander the centro storico in Rome

Rome has so much to see you can just aimlessly wander around and be constantly surprised. But don't miss the Colosseum and the Forum Romanum, keep your eyes peeled for ancient statuary and legendary Baroque fountains.

When you need to take a breath, find yourself a bustling piazza, there are plenty to choose from. And if you like a more structured plan to your day, think about taking a Colosseum tour with local guides.

Wandering Rome is one of the best things to do in Italy © Belenos/Shutterstock

2. See the 'white city' of Lecce in Puglia

The white city of Lecce in Puglia might be off the tourist track, but it's an exuberant place you should definitely make time for on a tour of Italy. Visit for the Baroque architecture and opulent churches in particular.

Taking in Lecce is also the best excuse to explore the entire incredible south eastern region of Puglia . A favourite holiday destination with Italians, Puglia is also one of Rough Guides' most beautiful places in Italy .

Explore the city of Lecce and make time for Puglia region too © Mi.Ti./Shutterstock

3. Admire Ancient Greek ruins on Sicily

Sicily is proud of its Ancient Greek roots and has some magnificent ruins to prove it. Pay homage to the history at Siracusa and Taormina theatre, they're glorious monuments in their own right and as an added bonus both still stage Greek dramas.

To be really amazed by Sicily's Greek heritage, discover Agrigento, considered to be one of the best archaeological sites outside Greece. And if you want to explore more, think about staying at UNAHOTELS Capotaormina.

Sicily has some of the finest Ancient Greek ruins outside of Greece © IgorZh/Shutterstock

4. Drinking local wine is one of the best things to do in Italy

When in Italy make a point of drinking in local wine bars known as enoteca. They're authentic and by far the best places to try the country's incredible variety of regional wines, not to mention excellent antipasti .

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Italy or Italy Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Italy expert.

Drink local wine in local bars with plates of antipasti on the side © Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

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5. Head to Urbino in Le Marche

Make time for the remarkable provincial city of Urbino in Le Marche . Once described as the 'ideal city' and known as a Renaissance art capital, it was originally created by Federico da Montefeltro in the 15th century.

The lengthy and complex history of the Renaissance is endlessly fascinating and occasionally bewildering. Sort out fact from fiction and get under the skin of Urbino on a private walking tour of the city with local guides.

The grand provincial city of Urbino in Le Marche © Stefano_Valeri/Shutterstock

6. Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna, Emilia Romagna

Ravenna was Europe's capital 1500 years ago and is one of the best places in the world to see Byzantine mosaics. Unmissable examples are to be found at Sant'Apollinare Basilica and also in San Vitale.

While you're here make time to explore the rest of the lovely Emilia-Romagna region. Ravenna makes an excellent base for touring around and Casa Masoli near San Vitale is a great place to stay.

The remarkable Byzantine mosaics seen in Ravenna © Jaunting Jen/Shutterstock

7. The Amalfi Coast, Campania

Go south west in Italy to Campania and see the Amalfi Coast . It is spectacularly beautiful, despite the heavy tourist numbers in summer - spring and autumn are quieter. And whenever you visit, stay at Alcione Residence in Positano.

Positano on the Amalfi Coast in south west Italy © iacomino FRiMAGES/Shutterstock

8. Walk across Piazza San Marco in Venice

Piazza San Marco is always crowded but it's the most famous square in Venice , one of Europe’s great urban spaces and a cultural icon you simply cannot afford to miss in Italy.

Home to St Mark's Basilica and the legendary Campanile, the square is so famous it's mostly just known as La Piazza. Once you've visited Venice, you may want to avoid tourists for a while, so try some of the lesser known places to see in Italy instead.

Strolling Piazza San Marco is one of the best things to do in Venice © Shutterstock

9. Gaze on the frescoes at Duomo of Orvieto

Duomo of Orvieto in Umbria is one of Italy's finest cathedrals and you'll find it between Florence and Rome. Discover the stunning Luca Signorelli frescoes and much more on an in-depth cathedral tour in Orvieto.

The magnificent Duomo of Orvieto in Umbria © Yasochka/Shutterstock

10. See the Duomo of Florence in Tuscany

The most iconic Duomo in Italy dominates Florence and every step to the top is worth it for the spectacular views of the city and beyond. To avoid queues, book a guided tour and then discover more unforgettable Tuscany experiences .

The instantly recognisable Duomo in the heart of Florence © artem evdokimov/Shutterstock

11. Try the real Neapolitan pizza

Pizza is ubiquitous all over Italy. But Naples lays claim to the original and best, something that's hard to argue with in the city's legendary pizzeria. If you want to put it to the test, stay at Le Corti del Re in Naples.

Eat real Neapolitan pizza in Naples © V. Matthiesen/Shutterstock

12. Find a quiet spot on the Italian Lakes

Go north in Italy for the country's most famous lakes and one of its most stunning regions. Apart from admiring the scenery there are plenty of other activities to enjoy here, so start with a Lake Como cruise from Milan.

Lake Orta one of the lesser known of Italy's famous lakes © Restuccia Giancarlo/Shutterstock

13. Hike the island of Elba in Tuscany

Find the mountainous island of Elba in Tuscany and visit for beautiful beaches, great hiking and rich history. If you want to stay awhile think about booking Cota Quinta in Rio nell'Elba for your island break.

View of Portoferraio on Elba Island, Italy © Shutterstock

14. Escape to Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo

The majestic Abruzzo mountains are set in Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Italy’s third-largest national park. Untamed and refreshingly wild, they're wonderful for hiking trips and an excellent place to spot wildlife.

The Abruzzo Mountains in one of Italy's largest national parks © ValerioMei/Shutterstock

15. Browse the Uffizi in Florence

The Uffizi is one of the finest art galleries in the world and one of the most famous in Italy. It's in the historic heart of Florence and if you are wise, you'll skip the queue and book a small group tour with local guides.

The incomparable Uffizi in Florence one of Italy's best art collections © Shutterstock

16. Explore Agriturismi on a farm stay

Try a farm stay in Italy and not only do you support local Agriturismi, you get to discover the countryside in some spectacular locations. Book a two day farm stay in Sardinia and you can even learn how to make cheese.

Discover rural Italy on peaceful and productive farm stays © Dmytro Balkhovitin/Shutterstock

17. Compare Pompeii and Herculaneum

Visit Pompeii first and then go on to see Herculaneum. Both settlements were destroyed by Vesuvius in 79AD and today they are considered to be Italy's best preserved archaeological sites.

You'll find these World Heritage legends just outside Naples , but don't try to do both in one day. Give each one plenty of time, or alternatively book a small group tour of the sites with archaeologists

The poignantly preserved remains of Pompeii from 79AD © BlackMac/Shutterstock

18. Find Italy's best beaches in Sardinia

Italy has incredible beaches ranging from glamorous lido and chic coves to deserted island beaches with nothing but sand and sea. Most experts agree the loveliest are on Sardinia . Make up your own mind with a look at the best beaches in Italy .

The stunning coast of Sardinia has some the best beaches in Italy © Luca Moi/Shutterstock

20. See The Last Supper in Milan

When you visit Milan don't miss Santa Maria delle Grazie. This unassuming convent in the historic centre, is home to Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. You need a time slot to see the fresco, so think about booking The Last Supper guided tour.

The rooftop of the Duomo in Milan © Shutterstock

21. Visit Giotto’s frescoes in Padua

Head to Padua and visit Cappella degli Scrovegni, the small chapel which contains the world famous frescoes by Giotto. Then get to know the rest of this fascinating city on a walking tour with expert local guides.

See Giotto's famous frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua © vvoe/Shutterstock

22. Go hiking in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are hiking territory and whether you take short walks or long distance trails, dramatic views are guaranteed every step of the way. If you're short on time book a best of the Dolomites day tour.

Or when you have longer to explore, think about getting to know the local Alpe di Siusi region better. Hiking not your thing? The Dolomites are also famous for fairly extreme mountain biking routes.

Hiking in the Dolomites is a popular outdoor activity in Italy © Creative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

23. Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi, Umbria

The Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi is one of Italy’s greatest churches, the burial place of St. Francis and home to astonishing frescoes by Giotto and Simone Martini. Hotel Sorella Luna close to the Basilica is a great base for exploring.

Assisi, the most famous of all Italy's medieval hill towns © Shutterstock

24. Do the Vatican Museums in Rome

The Vatican is an autonomous state in Rome and also the world's smallest country, yet it has the largest art collection on earth. Unsurprisingly, it's always crowded, so skip the line and book an official guided tour in advance.

Touring the Sistine Chapel is one of the best things to do in Rome © byggarn.se/Shutterstock

Ready to travel to Italy ? Find out about the best time to go and the best places in Italy as well as the best things to do in Italy . For inspiration use the Italy itineraries from our Italy Travel Guides and our local travel agents in Italy . A bit more hands on, learn about getting there , getting around the country and where to stay in Italy once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

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Travel advice for Italy

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updated 1/7/2022
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