Which are the best places to see in Italy? If you’re going to travel this great country located just in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, you should know which are the must see places in Italy.
That’s why we’ve drawn up a list of 18 best places to visit in Italy, so you can check it and choose your destination for your next trip to Italy. Beware: this would probably be a very hard task to decide your must-see places in this country… there is so much to visit that you finally plan out more than one trip to Italy, I’m sure!
Doing a ranking of the best places to see in Italy is not an easy job, considering the huge Italian artistic heritage, a large number of great seaside locations, the breathtaking mountain landscapes… but in the end we got it!
In this post you'll read...
- 18 must see places in Italy
- San Gimignano
- Cinque Terre
- Breuil- Cervinia
- 15. Gran Sasso National Park
- Como Lake
- Garda Lake
18 must see places in Italy
We had to make a choice: what to add to this list? Cities? Beaches? Small Villages? Mountain resorts? Famous places of not well none one? So, in the end, we just made a mix of everything and put in the must see places in Italy list my favourites, according to my likes. We hope this will match your likes too!
Mantua is in the region of Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, and is out of classical tour around Italy, even for Italians! This great city offers a vast artistic and cultural heritage, as well as exceptional natural sites. Mantua is a small town which can be visited in just one /two days and looks like as you can imagine a typical Italian town: cobbled streets, magnificent monuments, delicious food, friendly people.
3 reasons to visit Mantua
- Pearl of the Renaissance: due to the power and influence of the Gonzaga dynasty, which dominated the territory for more than 400 years, Mantua was one of the most important cultural cities of Italian Renaissance, still visible in a large number of buildings built in that period.
- The grand palaces: Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo del Te, are two of the most beautiful noble palaces in Italy, built at the behest of the Gonzaga family
- Surrounded by the wild landscape: Mantua is surrounded by a beautiful wilderness, in a lovely natural area with paddies and a big river.
Milan and Paris compete for the title European fashion capital. This fact makes Milan the most important city in Italy regarding the economy. However, Milan is not only industry and work: especially after the Universal Exhibition of 2015 the capital of Lombardy has been the protagonist of an incredible and very profound transformation.
3 reasons to visit Milan
- The capital of Fashion: The biggest attraction if you are a fashion victim is the Milan Fashion Week, an annual event that fills the city with renowned designers, models, photographers and celebrities from the world of entertainment. Furthermore, this is a great excuse to go shopping and stay up-to-date in fashion. Another great event of Milan is Design week, which every year fill the city of design pieces scattered all around the city.
- Artistic-cultural marvels: From the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, through the La Scala theatre and Sforzesco Castle, Duomo, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world, and much more to see.
- A dynamic and restless city: Milan is a great metropolis, vibrant and full of opportunities. A city that never goes to sleep, in which the things that can be done are endless.
One of the biggest cities of southern Italy whose long and complex history is reflected in its monuments and its streets: the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the axis of the ancient Cassaro, is the first ancient road where the development of the city originated.
3 reasons to visit Palermo
- Meltin’pot of cultures: Elegant and contradictory, Palermo embodies Arabic and Norman culture, with a touch of Gothic-Catalan and drops of baroque opulence.
- A unique character: It is a noisy and colourful city with a unique character; Its character is reflected 100% in the market of the Vucciria, the historic market that spreads in the narrow streets of the old town. Palermo hides its secrets very well, being generous and kind to those who visit it, but keeping its mystery! If you want to experience a typical Italian stay with all the clichés, you should head to Palermo.
- Wow Gastronomy: Arancine, panelle, cannoli and cassata. Capponata, Pasta with le sarde, Croissant with Gelato and Sfinciuni. Palermo is a city full of aromas and flavours that smell on the street, a city where to savour the best of Italian gastronomy. You don not find here an excellent cuisine, you’ll find a WOW gastronomy!
Perugia is a small gem that slowly unfolds in front of the visitors’ eyes. This Umbrian town located in the heart of Italy, houses artistic and monumental treasures that testify its rich past and make justice to the cultural primacy of this country. Although it retains the appearance and rhythm of a small fortified medieval village, Perugia has a very intense city life, mainly linked to the presence of one of the oldest University of the Peninsula (founded in 1308), as well as the major University for Foreigners in Italy. It’s not a museum city full of tourists during the day and empty at night, but a town which worth more than short visit to the most important monuments.
3 reasons to visit Perugia
- Monumental city: walking around Perugia will bring you back to middle age, where this town was great and powerful. Hundreds of monuments scattered around the small town, from the Cathedral to Rocca Paolina, from the Main Fountain to the National Galley, will show you how great was Perugia and how powerful was its government. Furthermore, the location of the town, on the top of a hill dominating the surrounding valley, will allow you to enjoy great views.
- Jazz and Chocolate Town: Perugia is Italian capital of jazz music and chocolate. Every year the town organize Umbira Jazz a great jazz festival which used to take place in July and brings here the best jazz players from all around the world. Moreover, Perugia is the home of Perugina factory, the main chocolate company of Italy, which is located just outside the historic centre. You can visit it by discovering the company’s history and, above all, watching the production of famous Baci Perugina (something like “Kisses of Perugia”) the most famous chocolate candy of the company which includes an inspirational sentence in addition to the chocolates.
- Holy Nearby: Just a few km out of Perugia you can visit the holy town of Assisi, which was born place of Saint Francis of Assisi and spreads a sacred atmosphere, also if you’re not a believer. Other lovely villages of the surroundings are Norcia, Gubbio, Cittá di Castello or Castiglione del Lago, located on the shore of Trasimeno Lake.
Capri, the blue island lying like a mermaid in the Gulf of Naples, has always been a famous holiday location, since the roman emperors choose it to set their summer palace. From the legendary Faraglioni to the Blue Grotto, from the famous Piazzetta to the Emperor Tiberius Villa, you will discover the beauty of Capri.
3 reasons to visit Capri
- Sea Landscapes: the most famous picture of Capri is the one of its Faraglioni, which are one of Capri’s symbols. These are three large rocky boulders that are just off the coast of Capri, immersed in the blue sea, to be reached by boat. The highest is 109 meters high, while the one in the middle is crossed by a natural cave that can be sailed by boat. The name “Faraglioni” comes from Greek Pharos, and it is since there were great fires here to signal the route to sailors. Another great landscape is The Blue Grotto of Capri, known since the time of Emperor Tiberius, who built a passage from his villa to the Grotto for bathing. Fame and name comes from the unbelievable blue waters of the cave: the sea seems to be illuminated by an underwater light.
- History: Villa Jovis, the Villa dedicated to Jupiter by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the Mediterranean. It is not the only Emperor’s residence that he built in Capri but surely represents one of the most magnificent: it is a building that stretches for 7 km square on the far east promontory of Capri.
- Dolce Vita: Piazza Umberto I, the mundane heart of Capri, is known as the “Piazzetta”. Here is the meeting point to have a coffee, to chat, to enjoy the panorama from the terrace and maybe to have a bit of VIP watching. Until last century, Capri’s square was home to market stalls, while today it is the symbol of Capri’s Dolce.
One step beyond in the list of best places to see in Italy we suggest San Gimignano, a small town in the middle of Tuscany, in the heart of the Val d’Elsa; more than a town San Gimignano is a village!
3 reasons to visit San Gimignano
- Medieval character: Crossing the wall of San Gimignano, it will be like heading back four or five hundred years ago, to the Middle Age. Nothing has changed here since then: one of the best examples of medieval urban architecture in Europe. The title of World Heritage by UNESCO of San Gimignano is entirely justified.
- Grand architecture: You cannot miss a visit to the Collegiate church, the Baptistery Loggia and the Ardinghelli towers: Did you know that the richness and power of a family was reflected by the height of the towers of their houses? If you wanted to hurt the pride of someone it was enough to collapse, during the night, the family tower.
- Excellent Location: The village has an ideal location: between Chianti, Valdesa, Florence and Siena; In the heart of Tuscany.
The biggest and most visited among the cities in southern Italy: Naples. There is a saying in Italian which sounds like “Once you visit Naples, you can die” because you cannot leave this earth without having been at least once in Naples.
3 reasons to visit Naples
- Secret charm: Naples is full of contradictions, mainly due to its reputation, but nevertheless it is a fact that has a secret charm, to be discovered, which is reflected in the very cheerful character of its inhabitants.
- What you cannot miss: Naples really owes much of its fame to its Gulf, to the Vesuvius volcano, the beautiful ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, to the music, but above all … to the pizza! Naples is the capital of pizza, the city in which it was invented: you will not eat better pizza than the one you will taste in Naples. Nowhere else in Italy, nor in the world.
- Unusual places: Apart from the usual destinations, the Maschio Angioino, Piazza del Plebiscito etc … Naples is a magical place that can impress more, thanks to the huge number of things to do and see. We recommend a visit to the underground city, to really discover the most intimate soul of Naples!
The capital of Tuscany use to be one of the stops of typical Italian tours; however not every tour stops here (most common stops are Rome and Venice), that’s why we put this city on the list of must see places in Italy.
3 reasons to visit Florence
- Cradle of the Renaissance: Florence is a concentration of monuments and pieces of art, the cradle of Renaissance culture, loved by tourists of all kinds. Here is the most visited Italian museum: The Uffizi Gallery.
- Home of artists and poets: Florence was the birthplace of the greatest Italian artists and poets, from Dante Alighieri to Petraca, from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci; The famous dome of the cathedral, the gardens of the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio and its goldsmiths … it offers a lot to see and it is such a beautiful city that is indescribable: you must visit it.
- Breathless panorama: To see a breathless panorama just take a look from Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city … a must see! Only this stop worth the trip.
A small portion of land in the region of Liguria near the border with Tuscany. Five small villages (Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola) perched on the slopes of mountains falling to the sea: these are Cinque Terre (literally: 5 lands), a special place with a unique charm, where you can enjoy the sea, tour the small towns of hike from one village to another walking along vineyards and Mediterranean forests overlooking the sea.
3 reasons to visit Cinque Terre
- Great Landscapes: not so many places around the world can show off such panoramas and landscapes like Cinque Terre.
- Great wine: with so many vineyards all around here, in the mountains, nearby the sea and almost in the central square of the villages, the quality of wine you can taste here is unique. You should savour local Vermentino wine: excellent.
- 3 kind of tourism just in one location: Cinque Terre allow you to enjoy hiking, sea bathing and cultural visits, all in one place.
Just on the heel of the boot is located this tourist area of Puglia region, one of the most visited by Italians during the summer season. Great cities, such as Lecce, Taranto or Otranto and breathless beaches: that’s what can offer you Salento.
3 reasons to visit Salento
- Cultural Heritage: Lecce is Italy’s best baroque heritage town, full of great monuments and with a special atmosphere. The other big city of Salento is Taranto, with a great castle and a deeply italian festival, La Notte della taranta, when all the whole town head to the main square to enjoy to popular dances.
- Great beaches: Punta Prosciutto, Baia Dei Turchi, San Foca Beach just to name a few. If you love sunbathing, clear water sea and diving this southern beach of Italy are a great place.
- Great gastronomy: all around Italy food is very good. But in Salento food become legendary, part of the culture of people, which cook with such love and expertise like if they’re make the most important of their lives. Taste the typical panzerotti of orecchiette (a kind of pasta) with turnip peaks or municeddha, small grilled snails.
Everyone known it as Cervinia, in Aosta Valley, a ski resort famous for the beauty of its landscapes and the variety of its ski slopes; however, Cervinia is not just a small village and a ski resort. The whole area known as Breuil-Cervinia covers an area that goes from the municipality of Valtournenche located at 1,524 meters, up to 3,408 meters ofPlateau Rosà, and reaches almost 4,000 meters with the Piccolo Cervino. It also includes the 4,478 meters of the imposing Matterhorn (named Cervino in italian), the mountain which is the emblem of the area.
3 reasons to visit Breuil-Cervinia
- Ski Slopes: best ski slopes in Italy are located in Breuil-Cervinia. Thousands of ski lovers come here every week-end to enjoy best descents. In this place, you can enjoy ski all around here, if you head to Plateaus Rosá, a great glacier located at almost 3.500.
- Wild Nature: if you don’t like ski maybe you like hiking. Hundreds of different trails to enjoy both by foot of with mountain bike, some of them only for well trained and brave athletes, are waiting for you. In this valley, there are also a lot of lakes and rivers: especially beautiful is Lago Blu, just a few meters away from Cervinia town, which compose a great pic together with Matterhorn mountains which stands as the guardian of the valley.
- Quietness and golf: if you’re a golf lover here you’ll find the highest golf camp of the world, located at 2050 meters. You can play your favorite sport with marmot as your supporters.
15. Gran Sasso National Park
Gran Sasso is the tallest massif of Central Italy. It offers scenic beauty, but you must conquer it! Are you ready with comfortable shoes, packed lunch and canteen? Let’s go visit Gran Sasso!
Pantelleria is a small island south of Sicily which is nearer to Africa than Europe. This is a volcanic island with great landscapes, rich-of-life sea beds and a great and wild nature.
3 reasons to visit Pantelleria
- The sea: This small island is strictly linked to the sea. The sea beds all around the island are great and if you like diving this will be a paradise for you. If you prefer to keep your head out of water do not worry: places like the natural ark of Arco dell’Elefante or Laghette delle Ondine, a small natural lake connected with sea are the right place for you. In Pantelleria there almost are no sandy beaches: all the island is scattered by “cale”, rocky creeks of bays.
- Wild Nature: the landscaped are great and nature is wild, especially in the earth of the island, at the top of Montagna Grande, the main relief of the island from where to enjoy a great panorama. Do not miss also a visit to lago Specchio di Venere (Venus’ mirror lake), a lake located in a volcano crater with great color palette and thermal mud, of to Beniikulá Cave, a special place where to enjoy a natural sauna (Sauna of Sibá), due to the water vapor coming from the earth at 40ºC.
- Quietness: Quietness is perhaps one of the features that characterizes most of all Pantelleria. Those who come from the unbridled rhythms of the city know well how important it is to be able to pull the plug for a while and Pantelleria is the right place to do so.
This region is located at north-east of wonderful Sardinia, one of the Italian pearls of Mediterranean Sea. The main touristic spot of Gallura is world renewed Costa Smeralda, a part of the coast whit great beaches and bays, where main Italian and international jet set use to spend their summer holidays. But there’s much more than beaches!
3 reasons to visit Gallura
- Beaches: Surely the best and main attraction of Gallura are its great beaches and marine landscapes. We recommend a visit to La Maddalena Archipielago, that you can reach by boat from Palau and the beaches of La Marmorata. Spiaggia del Principe, Piccolo Pevero, Liscia Ruja, Golfi Aranci and much more great beaches. Furthermore, a great panorama can be seen from Capo Testa, the northernmost point on the east coast of Sardinia, from where you can see the white cliffs of Corsica.
- Ancient Nature: the inland of Gallura hides wild nature tanned by millennia of climatic rigors, with a sun that breaks the stones and a wind that molds the rocks. A great place to visit is Olivastri di Luras, where on the hills you’ll find thousands of olive trees more than 3000 years old (the oldest olive tree in Europe lives here, the Grande Patriarca which has been dates back of almost 4000 years ago) and up to 14 meters high. Limbara mount is a great location to have trekking, birdwatching or simply enjoy nature.
- Shadowy past: Sardinia has a long and ancient history, sometimes shadowy. Examples are the ancients Nuraghes, houses and small villages from a disappeared civilization who dominate the island. Then the Museum of Banditry of Aggius where is preserved the history of Sardinian brigandage with important finds of Spanish domination era. Finally, the impressive Museum of Femina Agabbadòra of Luras (from the Sardinian: Museum of the woman which puts an end), where the history of what we actually call euthanasia is explained. Femina Agabbadòra was a somewhat controversial and mysterious figure: she was a woman who, with an olive wood hammer, put an end to the sufferings of sick people.
Ravenna, a city of Emilia Romagna, is a city on human scale to be visited on a relaxing weekend. It is renowned all over the world for the variety of Byzantine Mosaics of the 5th and 6th centuries scattered everywhere and for the art that it offers in all its churches and historic palaces.
3 reasons to visit Ravenna
- Enjoy ancient art: Ravenna was the capital of Eastern Roman Empire and this high category of the ancient city is well testified by the hundreds of churches, mosaics and monuments all around the town, from the Neoniano Baptistery to the Duomo, from the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo to the Galla Placidia Mausolea. If you love art this is your city.
- Pine forests and medieval villages: UNESCO sites, mosaics and churches tells stories that have been lived in these places still conserved like hundreds of years ago, such as the historic pine forest of San Vitale and Classe, which are protected areas of the Po River Delta Park and divide the town area by the sea, and fascinate great artists such as Dante, Botticelli, Boccaccio, Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde. Not to mention the medieval villages of Brisighella, Riolo Terme or Rocca Estense of Lugo and all the sight towers that are part of a landscape where history and nature blend.
- Great for kids: just a few kilometres out of Ravenna you’ll find a great attraction if you travel with the whole family. Mirabilandia theme park is main stop for families during weekend, and your kids will enjoy Ravenna too.
The landscape of many Hollywood’s movies and home of international stars such as George Cloney of Madonna, Come Lake has become very famous and visited in recent years thanks to its incredible landscape with rolling mountains peaking over the waters of the deep and dark lake.
2 reasons to visit Como Lake
- Panoramas: best panoramas merging mountain and lake landscapes. Great and historical villas located on lake shores, thick and leafy forests, lonely and small islands in the middle of the lake.
- Cute villages: this enormous lake host many kind of towns and villages on its shores. From big towns such as Como or Lecco to tiny and cute villages such as Menaggio or Bellaggio. You can take a ferry which will quietly bring you all around the lake, ping-ponging from one side to another and discovering your special places, great panoramas and cute villages.
3 reasons to visit Gran Sasso National Park
- Wild Nature: This is one of the main Italian wildlife reserves. Nature and landscapes are stunning with great views and panoramas, fantastic hiking routes and good ski slopes. If you’re so lucky to be here on a sunny and clear day maybe, you can see a great panorama of Adriatic Sea, from the top of a glacier.
- Wild Animals: this park is one of the last redoubts of nature in Italy where wolves and bears still survive. If you love nature this is the right place: the animal species of the Gran Sasso National Park and the Laga Mountains are so many. From large mammals to colourful birds, to small amphibians and insects that populate forests, waterways and prairies of the Park. The main animals are the apennine chamois, the deer and the golden eagle.
- Art and history: the park is full of small towns and historic villages, such as Amiternum, an ancient city settled by Sabini, a pre-ancient Roman civilization, or Civitella del tronto with a great fortress, Arqueta del Tronto with stunning castle, Rocca Calascio a small village perched on the mountain dominating the valley since more than 1000 years.
The biggest lake of Italy, located in the north across three regions (Lombary, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige), is more than 50 km in length and 16 in width. This is a great place to enjoy the sun, great weather and history spots.
3 reasons to visit Garda Lake
- Enjoy sun: weather is mild here, also is it’s located in the north of Italian peninsula. This lake is chosen every year by thousands of families to spend their summer holidays lying on its beaches.
- Charming towns: scattered all around the lakes shores there are pretty and charming towns to be visited. The best example is Sirmione, located at the extreme southern tip of Garda lake: the old town is attached to the peninsula by only two bridges; here you can visit Rocca Scaligera castle, surrounded by the waters of the Garda. Other great villages within a visit are Riva del Garda, located at the opposite side of the Lake, Limone Garda, Desenzano sul Garda or Saló. Furthermore, you can make a stop a Verona to visit the arena and the house of Juliet, from Shakspeare famous novel Romeo and Juliet, which is located just 30 km away from the lake.
- Great for kids: Garda lake is perfect for a family holiday since there are a lot of attractions suitable for children, especially in the nearby of Desenzano del Garda. Two examples are the theme park Gardaland and the aquatic and water park of Caneva.
Located in the north of the Adriatic Sea and almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia, Trieste is a city that historically and geographically has been isolated from the rest of the Italian peninsula. A unique town in Italy between two cultures.
3 reasons to visit Trieste
- The heart of Europe: It is a historical place, an important commercial port, which for centuries served as a link between the Mediterranean and the Slavic and Germanic peoples, a crossroads of cultures reflected in the city and its people.
- Architecture: Trieste is rich in religious, civil and military architecture. Examples are the Castle of Miramare, the Lighthouse of Victory or the Cathedral of San Giusto, not to mention the beautiful Piazza Unità d’Italia.
- Magical atmosphere: It is a very charming city, with a quiet atmosphere of an Eastern European city, full of cafes and bars and with a beautiful sea view.
Do you need more reasons for visiting the boot-shaped country? We invite you to take a look at these travel tips to Italy.