Most beautiful places in Italy

updated 3/21/2022
fb tw mail_outline

What are the most beautiful places in Italy? You voted for the loveliest Italian cities, unmissable towns and lovely regions and we created the definitive list of Italy's top 10 best places to visit. Now take a look at what to see and do and where to stay, according to the Italy experts at Rough Guides. The following information is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy, your travel guide for visiting Italy.

1. Florence or Firenze in Tuscany

Always at the top of the most beautiful places in Italy list, Florence has it all, from world famous museums to glorious architecture. It's the city for the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio and also home to celebrated museums, historic markets and magnificent gardens.

Florence's art collections are part of the reason you find Italy named as one of world's most visited countries in Rough Guides' Fun facts about ItalyAnd if you want to see probably the finest collection in the entire city, book an immersive private tour of the Uffizi, and you won't even have to wait in line.

Where to stay

  • For easy sightseeing: An easy walk from the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio, five-star NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa is a good central choice for sightseeing. But if you want to wake up to views of the Arno choose a riverside room at Pontevecchio Relais in the heart of Florence.
  • For boutique stays: Torre Guelfa Palazzo Acciaiuoli is one of the most charismatic boutique hotels in the city centre. It also happens to be the tallest private building in Florence, so it's another hotel with exceptional views.
  • For family holidays: Family-run Hotel Nizza might be two-star but it doesn't feel like a budget choice. All rooms are cosy, well furnished and en-suite. The staff are helpful and its central Santa Maria Novella location makes for easy city exploring.
  • For indulgent luxury: But for sheer opulence, Helvetia & Bristol in the city centre has few rivals. All rooms at this smart five-star hotel have luxurious marble bathrooms, although it's worth indulging in a superior room or suite if you feel flush.

Find more accommodation options in Florence.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy © Shutterstock

2. San Gimignano in Tuscany

Tuscany is famous for hill towns but few are quite as stunning as San Gimignano. Here a dramatic skyline of medieval towers gazes out over gorgeous, rolling Tuscan countryside and earns it a place in our 15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany guide.

Book a tour of San Gimignano from Florence, discover the town's historic centre with its winding backstreets and honey coloured buildings, as well as frescoed churches and grand gothic palazzi. Then go on to visit Siena and the vineyards of Chianti, two more unforgettable things to do in Tuscany.

Where to stay

  • For easy sightseeing: Stay at romantic 11th century Leon Bianco on Piazza della Cisterna in the heart of San Gimignano. Or enjoy the countryside at Hotel Casolare Le Terre Rosse on the ancient pilgrim route of Via Francigena just outside San Gimignano.
  • For family stays: Heart of the Tuscan countryside is also the theme at Agriturismo Poggiacolle, a short drive from San Gimignano. A choice of comfortable rooms as well as spacious apartments make this a good option for families. Kids will love the free bikes.
  • For local heritage: If immersing yourself in San Gimignano's heritage is the dream, then L'Antico Pozzo in the town centre will suit you perfectly. Here you can look forward to four-poster beds and high ceilings in a tastefully restored Palazzo, parts of which date back to the Middle Ages,
  • For boutique stays: Leon Bianco sits right on the main square so its rooms are ideal for people watching. Originally a 14th century mansion, but now with a lovely roof terrace, it's a good choice for a boutique hotel vibe cut through with historic charm.

Find more accommodation options in San Gimignano.

San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful places in Italy to visit © Vaflya/Shutterstock

3. Lake Garda, one of the most beautiful places in Italy to sail

Lake Garda is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Italy, it's also the country's largest lake, encircled by dramatic mountains and a day trip there is one of the easy things to do in Milan.

Take a private sunset cruise of Lake Garda for optimum enchantment. It's an atmospheric experience, which also lets you admire pretty lakeside towns and provides unbroken views of Garda's famously secluded waterfront hotels and luxurious spa resorts,

Where to stay

  • For indulgent stays: To linger a little on Lake Garda stay at historic Hotel Eden in the heart of pretty Sirmione. Alternatively, go all out and indulge yourself at Du Lac et Du Parc Grand Resort in Riva Del Garda.
  • For family stays: Hotel Villa Florida in Gardone Riviera offers spacious suites with kitchen corners and lake views. A good choice for families or history buffs, as the charming owners are experts on Lake Garda, past and present.
  • For boutique stays: Handsome Villa Sostago is a wonderful boutique hotel in the hills just above Gorgnano. The rooms are lovely, the grounds spacious and there's even a pool and an excellent restaurant. But the remarkable lake views are what really sets Sostago apart.
  • For lakeside views:Almost as well known for its restaurant as its cosy rooms and welcoming atmosphere, Hotel Monte Baldo hugs the lakeside in Limone Sul Garda. All rooms are en-suite and the staff couldn't be more friendly and helpful.

Find more accommodation options around Lake Garda.

Lake Garda is larger and more down-to-earth than Lake Como © travelpeter/Shutterstock

4. Positano on the Amalfi Coast

Positano is the hillside town on the Amalfi Coast that's instantly recognisable for pastel coloured houses tumbling down the hillside and hugging the waterfront. Take a closer look and you discover quaint streets lined with designer shops and smart restaurants, almost all with amazing views on the side.

Of course the Amalfi Coast has some of the best beaches in Italy, and quite a few are in Positano. But if you want something more than sand and sun, a small group snorkelling tour in Amalfi's warm summer seas is also an unforgettable experience.

Where to stay

  • For budget stays: Budget stays on the Amalfi Coast are rare, but Hotel Savoia Positano bucks that trend beautifully.
  • For luxury stays: But if you want to splash out, luxurious Hotel Villa Franca Positano commands incredible views from the top of the town.
  • For beaches: Hotel Pupetto sits on Furnillo Beach and offers direct access to the sands. Book a room with a sea view if you can. But if not, the hotel also has a wonderful, sunny terrace overlooking the Mediterranean.
  • For vintage Positano: For a terrace of your own and views to match, Buca di Bacco is vintage Positano. Set on Spiaggia Grande, the town's main beach, the hotel also offers more modest rooms, still charming, but without private terraces.
  • For great views: Hotel Palazzo Murat is in the heart of Positano, yet only a few minutes from beaches. The hotel pool has great views over the town rooftops and most of the good-sized, well-equipped rooms are in the Palazzo's modern extension.

Find more accommodation options in Positano

The beautiful hillside town of Positano on Italy's Amalfi Coast © iacomino FRiMAGES/Shutterstock

continued below

5. Puglia in sunny southern Italy

When it comes to best things to do in Italy, Italians would recommend a visit to Puglia for its white sand beaches, secret coves, clear seas and quaint architecture. This less-travelled south easterly region of the country is also famous for wonderful olive oil and dazzling historic towns.

You won't find Lecce on many of the most beautiful city in the world lists, but an undiscovered quality is part of what makes it so charming. Affectionately known as 'Florence of the south', it's definitely worth exploring. Or go one better and take a guided walking tour with Lecce locals.

Where to stay

  • For urban stays: If you want a more urban experience of this lovely region, choose Palazzo Calò in Bari.
  • For country stays: Discover Puglia from the coast to its remarkable interior by basing a break at Palazzo Mosco Inn in Gallipoli. Or
  • For family stays: Casa dei Mercanti in Lecce offers a range of well-designed apartments in one of the city's restored townhouses. Each apartment has a full kitchen and daily cleaning is available, making this a good choice for families.
  • For tradition: Masseria Il Frantoio just outside Ostuni, is a traditional farmhouse surrounded by olive groves. Meals are created from the estate produce and room rates include access to several lidos on local beaches.
  • For beaches: Vieste on the Gargano Peninsula has some of Puglia's best beaches. Go one better at stay at Hotel Seggio in the heart of old town Vieste and not only do you get a pool with sea views, the hotel also has a private beach and its own lagoon.

Find more accommodation options in Puglia.

Fairy tale Trulli houses in Italy's Puglia region © Shutterstock

6. The iconic island of Capri

Iconic Capri is both one of the most beautiful places in Italy and one of the country's most famous Mediterranean islands. Once beloved by Emperor Tiberius, today its mix of ancient monuments, pretty towns and beaches inspires a similar passion in the hordes of celebrities who descend here each summer.

But don't let that put you off visiting. Start with wander around Capri Town to soak up the atmosphere, then go exploring round the island's grand Roman villas. And don't miss a trip to Anacapri on a Blue Grotto cruise to see one of Europe's most astonishing natural phenomenon.

Where to stay

  • For sea views: If you want spectacular Mediterranean views and rooms with terraces and balconies stay at historic Capri Tiberio Palace.
  • For peaceful stays: Choose peaceful Villa Silia for its pretty garden and sea views, minutes from Capri Town and the Blue Grotto.
  • For indulgent stays: JK Place Capri is the island's most lavish hotel. Set on a clifftop overlooking Marina Grand, it comes with dazzling views, a great restaurant, chic rooms and high prices.
  • For budget stays: More realistic budgets are well met at Hotel La Tosca in Capri town. This pretty whitewashed house sits on a quiet lane and several of its en-suite double rooms have sea views. Breakfast on the sweet little terrace overlooking Faraglioni is a highlight.
  • For iconic stays: Villa Eva in Anacapri has almost cult status on the island. Stay here for light and spacious rooms, individually designed and scattered around the leafy, green hotel gardens. Another much loved feature is the grand piano shaped swimming pool.

Find more accommodation options in Capri.

Don't miss the atmospheric Mediterranean island of Capri © Shutterstock

7. Venice is one of the best loved cities in Italy

Venice is one of the reasons you voted Italy the second most beautiful country in the world in our recent poll. It's a love at first sight city which demands your close attention and from stately palazzi and grand squares to its world famous lagoon and intriguing islands, it doesn't disappoint.

Go in summer for sun or try a winter trip and explore the legendary canals without the tourists. But whenever you decide to visit, try to fit in an atmospheric walking tour of the ancient Jewish Ghetto, in the company of local guides it's an unforgettable experience.

Where to stay

  • For sightseeing on a budget: Venice offers a vast range of places to stay, but if you want to be central without spending a fortune, choose Hotel Papadopoli Venezia.
  • For boutique stays: Craving a more intimate experience? Try Maison Venezia, one of the city's charming boutique hotels.
  • For city centre stays: Hotel Ai do Mori just a few steps from the square. It's one of the most expensive one-star hotels in Venice, but considerably cheaper than any other hotels in this area, and several rooms have spectacular views.
  • For San Marco: Rosa Salva is a well designed, but not too expensive, hotel in the city centre. Rooms are spacious and decorated in soft metallic tones, natural wood and leather. Sound proofed windows are an added attraction in the busy San Marco area.
  • For affordable charm: Novecento is a charming boutique hotel without a hefty central Venice price tag. Luxurious bathrooms and individually designed bedrooms add to the romance of this little gem, as does the secluded breakfast courtyard - a real find in the city centre.

Find more accommodation options in Venice.

Iconic view of Venice from the lagoon © Shutterstock

8. The legendary villages of Cinque Terre

Discover the five fishing villages which make up Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. A mix of pastel houses, tiny harbours and dramatic seascapes, this iconic area isn't just one of the most beautiful places in Italy, it's also one of the most photographed.

Those in the know tend to avoid driving Cinque Terre's narrow, crowded roads. Walking is the preferred option and you'll find scenic hiking routes networked around each of the villages. Alternatively, avoid tourists altogether and book a sunset boat tour along the Cinque Terre coast.

Where to stay

  • For quiet luxury: Understated luxury is a Cinque Terre signature, so indulge in some of that with a stay at La Torretta Lodge in Manarola.
  • For sea views: Alternatively make your trip all about the sea and book a room with a view at Hotel Due Gemelli in Riomaggiore.
  • For indulgent stays: Hotel Porto Roca is the place to stay in Monterosso, if you aren't on a budget. It's the village's top hotel and overlooks both beaches and hills, offers beautifully decorated rooms with stunning views and also has a gorgeous infinity pool.
  • For family stays: La Scogliera in Riomaggiore offers two well-equipped apartments and sits right on the waterfront and close to the train station. A good choice for families, the apartments face the sea and have views of local cliffs which are popular with divers during summer.

Find more accommodation options in Cinque Terre.

The enchanting fishing villages of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera © Dreamstime

9. Verona is another much loved Italian city

You could easily fall in love with Verona for its Roman ruins and graceful piazza, the entire historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site. But this is a city that wears the past well so the streets are lively and bustling and even the ancient Arena amphitheatre is used for summer concerts.

Some of the best cuisine in the world comes from Italy and Verona plays no small part in that. Don't miss the city's famous gelato or better still take a gelato making class with local experts while you're in town.

Where to stay

  • For romantic stays: Indulge yourself in the sheer romance of Verona with a stay at the evocatively named Lady Capulet Apartments.
  • For indulgent stays: simply go for sheer luxury and book a few nights at opulent Hotel Milano in the historic centre.
  • For budget stays: Three star Hotel Aurora is one of the most attractive mid-range hotels in Verona. Many rooms have a view of Piazza delle Erbe, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and breakfast is served on a pretty terrace overlooking the square.
  • For music lovers: Welcoming Torcolo is a two-star hotel within 100m of the Arena, just off Piazza Brà. It has been run by the same two sisters for more than 30 years and is a firm favourite with music lovers during Verona's opera season.
  • For five-star luxury: Due Torri is Verona's best known five-star hotel. All supremely comfortable bedrooms are lavishly decorated in 19th century Imperial style with opulent, pink Veronese marble bathrooms. And the church of Sant'Anastasia is right next door.

Find more accommodation options in Verona.

View of the city of Verona at sunset in summer © Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock

10. Sorrento on the Bay of Naples

The lovely southern town of Sorrento sits on a clifftop above the Bay of Naples. A vintage seaside resort with a long summer season, it's known for Baroque and Renaissance architecture and truly sensational views.

Where to stay

  • For great views: To make the most of the views in Sorrento, think about staying at clifftop Grand Hotel de la Ville.
  • For indulgent stays: Opt for absolute luxury on the Bay of Naples and book a few nights at the exceptional Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria.
  • For tradition: Hotel Astoria is right in the heart of old Sorrento. Quite a special place, all its rooms are furnished with beautiful tiles and the best overlook a peaceful garden. Room rates include an excellent buffet breakfast.
  • For peaceful stays: Hotel Bristol has remarkable views over the Bay of Naples from its rooftop pool and bar. The hotel's upper rooms are most peaceful and some feature their own private jacuzzi.
  • For boutique stays: Maison La Minervetta is Sorrento's top boutique hotel. Perched on the cliff overlooking Marina Grande it has a lovely lounge terrace with sea views. The rooms are gorgeous and the grounds contain a plunge pool and jacuzzi.

Find more accommodation options in Sorrento.

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.

Sorrento on the clifftops above the Bay of Naples © Dreamstime

We also urge you to check out our guide to the best things to do in Milan to make sure it's as worth visiting as all the other famous Italian cities. Or for a more comprehensive overview of Italy explore our list of the best things to do in Italy.

Ready to travel to Italy? Find out about the best time to go and the best places 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.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Travel advice for Italy

author photo
updated 3/21/2022
fb tw mail_outline

Planning on your own? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Find even more inspiration for Italy here

Ready to travel and discover Italy?
Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels