Ah, Italy. Known around the world for its incredible food, its delicious wine, its fashionable residents and its fascinating history, it’s an amazing place to visit. You’ll find tourist hotspots scattered around the country, from top to toe – so much so that it can be hard to know where to go! To help you plan a trip, we’ve put together a list of the six best places to visit in Italy. Let’s take a look.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ITALY
Rome is Italy’s capital and is home to one of the best-known tourist sites in the world: the Colosseum. Built as an arena for the gladiatorial games attended by the Ancient Romans, this vast structure is just as impressive almost 2,000 years later. No trip to Italy would be complete without seeing the Colosseum. The queues are huge at peak times, so book ahead to save time.
Other major sites in Rome include the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum and the Vatican City – a separate country within the centre of Rome that’s the global home of the Catholic Church. Make sure you don’t miss the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s famous Creation of Adam. It’s truly breathtaking.
Venice really is like something out of a fairy tale. Over 150 canals and waterways split the city into 120 separate islands, which are connected by bridges and labyrinthine alleyways. It’s easy to get lost in Venice, but that’s part of its charm. Once you’ve checked off the big-hitters – Saint Mark’s Square, the Rialto Market, the Accademia art gallery – spend your time following your feet and see where you end up. You’ll be amazed at what you might discover.
A trip to Venice can be expensive, so plan ahead and do plenty of research before you arrive if you’re travelling on a budget.
Florence was the focal point for the European Renaissance, and there’s plenty of interesting history to keep you entertained here. Visit the Duomo di Firenze, a masterpiece of architecture and engineering whose domed roof continues to amaze visitors from around the world.
While you’re here, make sure to visit the incredible Uffizi Gallery, Italy’s best-known museum. You’ll be able to see such genre-defining works as Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, and Caravaggio’s Medusa. In addition, the gallery houses a huge collection of Ancient Roman sculptures. You’ll have to head to a different gallery, the Accademia, to see Michelangelo’s David statue, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Italy is home to several spectacular lakes, all of which are worth visiting if you have the time. Lake Como attracts big stars like George Clooney, Sting and Richard Branson, all of whom own property around the lake. A stay on Como offers stunning views of the Alps and interesting visits to ancient and modern villas and palaces.
Lake Garda is bigger than Como but a little rougher around the edges – but this just adds to its charm. Stay in Sirmione, a narrow peninsula that juts out into the lake, for beautiful scenery and easy boat access to other tourist sites around the lake.
Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast
Naples is often overlooked in favour of other parts of Italy, but it’s a great jumping off point for trips to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, and it’s an interesting city in its own right. It’s definitely less polished than the other cities on this list, but its grit adds a charm and honesty that you won’t find in Italy’s other tourist hotspots.
Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and it’s easy to find some of the best pizza in the world for less than a few euros. Take the funicular up to the Vomero area for beautiful views over Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, then take a train to Pompeii to wander around well-preserved ruins and learn more about antiquity. It’s haunting and beautiful.
While you’re here, make sure you take a boat trip around the bay to see what the Amalfi Coast has to offer. Sorrento, Ravello, Positano and Amalfi are the main on-land destinations, and we recommend a daytrip to at least one of them. Don’t forget to visit Ischia or Capri for a dose of Italian luxury, too.
A trip to Bologna should be at the top of any foodie’s bucket list. It’s home to some of the best food in Italy, and that’s saying something. While you won’t be able to find a plate of spaghetti bolognese – it’s really not an Italian dish – you can tuck into the more traditional (and more delicious) tagliatelle al ragù, which the anglicised version is based on.
But for the real highlights of Bolognese food, head to the Quadrilatero, a medieval neighbourhood of the city that still contains some of the best eateries in the city. Opt for boards of charcuterie and try a bit of everything.
There’s so much to see and do in Italy, and this list is really just the tip of the iceberg. The country is home to some of the best food, the most beautiful art and the most interesting history in the world. Book a trip today – you’ll love it.
Written by Chloe Lay