Where to go in Italy: know the country from north to south with the best 20 places to visit
Your ultimate guide for where to go in Italy! From destinations in the sunny south, to the alps in the north, to the best cities and towns in the center, there are so many stunning destinations in beautiful Italy.
Italy is easily one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. It is also one of the top tourist destinations in the world! So many travelers have Italy on their bucket lists, and for good reason.
Italy has iconic cuisine, delicious wine, vast history, warm local culture, beautiful landscapes, cosmopolitan cities, charming towns, and so much more.
Whether you’re a foodie who wants to eat and drink to your heart’s content, or you’re an active traveler who wants outdoor adventures, or you’re a history buff who wants to go on walking tours and see monuments, Italy has it all.
Because Italy has so many amazing locations, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go in Italy.
This article will serve as a rough guide for some of the best places to visit in this European nation. This is just an overview, as there is an abundance of beautiful places to go in Italy.
But if it’s your first time, you’re new to travel, or you’re just wondering where to go in Italy, here are some top recommendations.
Here are 20 epic destinations for those wondering where to go in Italy!
Where to go in northern Italy
One of the most beautiful Italy destinations is Cinque Terre. Famed for its colorful, clifftop villages and magical beaches, this is a touristy yet charming corner of Northern Italy.
Take the train or hike in between the five villages that sit next to the dramatic cliffs, and be sure to go for a dip in the chilly but refreshing ocean!
If you want to try a work exchange in northern Italy, there is an eco-village that accepts volunteers up in Savona. This region is about 2 hours west of Cinque Terre. So you can work help out with gardening and maintenance in exchange for free accommodation and then visit Cinque Terre on your free days!
Venice is one of the most unique and touristy parts of Italy. Located in the northeast, Venice is the capital of the Veneto region and is one of the oldest port cities in the world.
The city is built on over 100 small islands which are connected by canals. There are no roads, just gondola boats and ancient bridges holding the city together. It is a truly fascinating place to visit for those wondering where to go in Italy!
Any travelers who love fashion will have to make a stop in Milan! This is the second most populous city in Italy after Rome, and it is one of the world’s fashion capitals.
In addition to designer shops and fashion shows, Milan is also home to impressive architecture and history, and thriving nightlife. The Duomo di Milano is an incredible display of Gothic artistry, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall in the world!
Located in Lombardy in the north of Italy, Lake Como is another one of the best places to visit in Italy. Anyone wondering, “What is the prettiest place in Italy?”, Lake Como is definitely a contender.
Surrounded by charming villages and the dramatic peaks of the Alps, this glassy lake is ideal for water sports, hiking, and sightseeing.
A very special work exchange in Italy is this 500-year-old house and garden. It is located 2 hours from Lake Como in the north near the Swiss border. Help renovate this local treasure and explore the purity of northern Italy in your free time!
If you’re wondering where to go in Italy in July, Lake Maggiore is well worth a visit! In the heat of summer, Italy’s north boasts pleasant temperatures that aren’t too hot. The fresh, clean, cool waters of Lake Maggiore make the perfect place to relax, sightsee, and enjoy nature during an Italian summer.
For a spiritual experience in this gorgeous location, you can volunteer at a holistic center! Located right near the shores of Lake Maggiore, this work exchange involves gardening, cleaning, and housekeeping in exchange for a free stay in this magical area.
A city packed with history, Verona is another lovely destination in northern Italy.
Verona’s claim to fame is that Shakespeare used the charming city as the setting for “Romeo and Juliet”. Though it’s a fictional story, a stone balcony attached to a 12th Century house has been dubbed “Juliet’s Balcony” and tourists come to write letters about love and attach them to the wall.
Other highlights of Verona include the Verona Arena, an impressive Roman Amphitheatre that dates back to the 1st Century. Verona also has plenty of scenic squares and alleyways, as well as authentic restaurants, cafes, and bars. Verona isn’t nearly as touristy as other popular cities like Rome, Florence, or Venice, so it’s a great place to feel the real Italian culture.
Genoa is the capital of Italy’s Liguria region. This sprawling city has played an important role in maritime trade in the Mediterranean throughout history, and you can explore the port and various museums to learn about Genoa’s significance.
Check out the historic monuments, and incredible architecture, and sample some fresh seafood and delicious wine.
Just over an hour from Genoa, you can head out to the Italian countryside and do a work exchange! Help with gardening at a stunning guest house in Savona and explore northwest Italy on your days off!
Where to go in central Italy
As the capital city of Italy, Rome is maybe the most famous destination in the country. As the birthplace of Ancient Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, this city has seen more history and innovation than many other places on Earth.
Travelers visit Rome to see all the iconic ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. You can also visit the magnificent Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and more. Visit the neighborhood of Trastevere for nightlife, or the area of Testaccio for authentic local food.
Many people wondering where to go in Italy may start in Florence. The capital city of Tuscany is bursting with things to do.
Check out the iconic Duomo and climb the Bell Tower for a panoramic view of the city. Also, head up to Piazza Michelangelo for the best sunset spot.
There are also many world-class art museums in Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery where you can see Michelangelo’s David. Be sure to stroll across Ponte Vecchio and taste some local food at the Central Market!
Located in Tuscany, Pisa is a popular day trip from Florence. Most travelers head here to see the world-famous, 14th Century Leaning Tower of Pisa and snap some comedic photos. But Pisa offers so much more!
There are ancient landmarks and palaces, magnificent churches, classic Italian public squares and cobblestone streets, charming gardens, and of course, delicious food.
This charming city on the Adriatic Coast is a great option for those wondering where to go in Italy in July!
When it gets hot in the summer, people flock to the coast to swim in the ocean and soak up the Italian sun. While most tourists head to places like Amalfi and Sicily, Rimini remains a hidden gem on the east coast of Central Italy.
Rimini has bustling waterfront promenades lined with resorts, nightclubs, villas, and pools. The city is also home to over 100 beaches! The town center also has historic landmarks and an abundance of art galleries and museums to check out!
For history, culture, and incredible cuisine, Bologna is a top destination for those wondering where to go in Italy.
Bologna is the capital and largest city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which is more towards the north of the country. Piazza Maggiore is the heart of the city where you can explore winding alleyways, medieval monuments, Renaissance architecture, and local eateries.
The best way to experience the region is by living with a local Italian family! Just under an hour from Bologna is this work exchange. You can live and work with a family and immerse yourself in the culture! Help with permaculture tasks and dive into the real Italy.
The majestic medieval town of Siena is another lovely spot to visit in Central Italy. The historic center of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists can meander through the towering brick walls, climb the 14th Century tower for panoramic views, and check out the historic monuments in the main square, Piazza del Campo.
Siena is also home to the famous Palio Horse Race which takes place two times a year! The Palio is a cherished local tradition, though the city can get very crowded at that time!
Siena is a popular day trip from Florence, though there are also some authentic local accommodations in the city if you want to spend the night.
This charming hilltop town is known for its mysterious, winding cobblestone alleyways and its panoramic views of Tuscany. Many people visit Cortona as a day trip from Florence, but you’d be wise to spend a night in this magical village.
Get lost in the narrow alleyways, visit a local bakery and sip a coffee outside on the terrace, and walk along the city walls that offer sweeping views of the rolling green hills and vineyards nearby.
The capital of the Umbria Region, Perugia is another excellent place to visit in Central Italy.
Surrounded by medieval city walls, this scenic city in Italy is known for its history and impressive monuments. Another thing Perugia is known for is its annual Eurochocolate festival, so this is another great spot for foodies! If you’re wondering where to go in Italy in October, head to Perugia for the festival!
Where to go in southern Italy
Those wondering where to go in southern Italy should begin their journey in Sicily, one of the top destinations in the country.
As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily makes up an entire region of Italy. The island is rich in culture, history, and cuisine. While exploring Sicily, you can find ruins and landmarks of ancient Greece and the Byzantine era.
There are also stunning beaches, countless local eateries, and natural wonders like Mount Etna, the active volcano.
Though Sardinia is off the coast of western Italy and is further north, I’ve grouped it in with Southern Italy because it has a similar climate and charm to that of the South.
Sardinia is an exquisite island destination where you can lounge on beaches, go for coastal walks, and soak in the beauty of the Mediterranean.
Caligari is the capital city of the island, and here you can sightsee, visit museums and galleries, and find lots of accommodations. But most people visit Sardinia for the beaches, and for boat trips to the surrounding islands.
Capital of the Puglia region in southern Italy, Bari is a fascinating port city to visit. Full of beaches, religious and historic landmarks, and stunning coastal views, Bari is an excellent place to add to your southern Italy itinerary.
Get lost in the Old Town, admire the impressive architecture of the Murat Quarter, or eat fresh seafood in the harbor or on the waterfront promenade!
Known as the birthplace of the Pizza Margherita, foodies wondering where to go in Italy have to make a stop in Naples!
This bustling city on the west coast of Southern Italy is a lovely place to visit. After indulging in a few unbelievable pizzas, go sightseeing around the city.
Naples is also the capital city of the Campania region of Italy. The city has many historic landmarks, vibrant piazzas, and authentic local restaurants. Travelers often make a day trip from Naples to the nearby Mount Vesuvius and the ancient city of Pompeii.
If you’re wondering, “What is the prettiest place in Italy?”, many would argue that the Amalfi Coast is it! This stunning strip of coastline in Southern Italy is home to charming towns, black sand beaches, and rugged cliffs and caves.
Most people begin their journey to the Amalfi Coast in Capri. This majestic island is surrounded by bright blue waters, dramatic sea cliffs, and the mysterious cave known as the Blue Grotto.
Ride the cable car to the top of Anacapri for sweeping views of the coast! Also be sure to visit Positano, a postcard-worthy beach surrounded by mountains and colorful clifftop villages!
Hello! I am a 25 year old from the USA with a knack for traveling on a budget. I fell in love with traveling while studying in Europe, and that love grew even more when I started volunteering abroad in South America. Since then, I've worked odd jobs and volunteered all over the globe while cultivating passions for hiking, wildlife photography, food, wine, animals, permaculture, and more!