It is no secret that Italy is an amazing place. It has so much so that it is now on most people’s bucket list. Italian cuisine, ancient historical sites, highly regarded art, beautiful small towns, enchanting countrysides, and stunning coastlines are unsurpassed.
Italy has a population: 60.36 million in 2021
The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Sistine Chapel are iconic sights of Italian history. A trip to Italy would be incomplete without a trip to them all.
Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. According to The World Bank, the country received nearly 95 million tourists last year, the third-most in Europe behind France and Spain and the sixth most globally behind the United States, China and Mexico.
For help deciding where to go in Italy, we compiled a list of the top locations based on affordability, season, sights and crowds. What’s your favourite destination in Italy?
Best Places to Visit in Italy
Rome, Italy, Population: 2.873 million
Rome, with its seven hills, had a mythical beginning.
According to legend, twin brothers Romulus and Remus – nursed by a she-wolf and fathered by a war god – founded the Eternal City. Even though historians tend to doubt the significance of Rome’s entry into the world, most travellers agree that Rome has something special to offer. Roma is sure to captivate you, whether a trip to Holy sees or the haunted Colosseum, an afternoon caffè in Piazza Navona, or a delicious plate of pasta at a trattoria.
Rome, Italy’s capital city, boasts a rich history with Octavian, Julius Caesar, and Hadrian. Other historic gems include the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and dozens of churches. Foodies will be delighted with the superb Italian fare at the Vatican Museums, not to mention the gelato. Despite its momentous past, the city is also popular for its fast-paced lifestyle, sleek hotels, and cutting-edge restaurants.
Venice, Italy, Population: 261,905
If you’ve never been to Venice, you won’t believe how enthralling it really is. It may sound cliché, but once you set foot on its water, you’ll understand why. The Grand Canal can be found simply steps from the Santa Lucia train station.
Water taxis are coasting by with their passengers under the Ponte Degli Scalzi. It is possible to hear a violin serenading you, but it might not just be your imagination.
Gondola drivers sing and dance in the waterways of Venice at the perfect moment, as smitten couples glide along in their gondolas. A series of narrow passageways meander past Old World homes and storefronts and over bridges.
Get used to getting lost as maps aren’t beneficial here – join one of the best Venice tours to embrace the disorientation.
The magical atmosphere of this canal-clad city is its main attraction, but you’ll also find plenty of diversions.
There are great tours of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, works by Titian, Veronese, and other Venetian artists hang in the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Operas are performed at the Teatro La Fenice. Lido, Murano and Burano are nearby islands known for their beaches, glass, and lace.
Amalfi Coast, Italy, Population 70,000 to 80,000
You may think that the Amalfi Coast is heaven on earth after taking one look at it. Those are the kind of spellbinding effects this stretch of coastline has on the 5 million visitors it gets each year.
There is nothing more majestic than Mount Etna; it’s a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Campania region of Italy. The towering cliffs of the cape display vibrant vegetation, and multi-coloured islands are dotted with colourful seaside towns.
13 seaside towns are connected by the SS163 highway, one of the most scenic drives in the world. All Amalfi towns have their own distinctive characteristics, as well as a signature topography.
In Positano, famous for its cliff-side resorts and fine dining, the rich and famous flock, while Amalfi is the oldest maritime republic in Europe and once served as an important centre for commerce and trade in the Mediterranean.
If you aren’t afraid of climbing a few mountains, Ravello’s ancient villas will linger in your memory for years to come. In Praiano, you’ll find secluded beaches, while in Minori, you’ll find the world’s oldest pasta.
You can also stop at Cetara’s ancient Norman tower, which Hercules allegedly built. Regardless of how you choose to explore the Amalfi Coast, its beauty will have you giddy for weeks to come.
Florence, Italy, Population: 382,258
Located in the Tuscan hills, this little city casts a long shadow through history. Florence, a cradle of the Renaissance, offered refuge to the powerful Medici family and inspired artists such as Michelangelo (David) and Brunelleschi (the Duomo).
It would have been easy to think you’d travelled back in time to the 14th century if it weren’t for the fashionable Italians and chic boutiques that line Via Tornabuoni.
It is not just Renaissance art that attracts tourists to Florence: the city’s gorgeous sunsets, Italian food, and romantic atmosphere are also amazing.
Cinque Terre, Italy, Population: 1700 people
There are five towns along Northwest Italy’s Ligurian Coast known as Cinque Terre, also known as 5 Terre.
Cinque Terre is pronounced chin-weh-ter-eh and is also known as 5 Terre. It is now possible to travel by train to Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore, previously remote fishing villages. Their laid-back vibe, delicious cuisine, trails that weave through towns, and the beautiful coastline have led the rest of the world to take note.
UNESCO has designated the entire region a world heritage site and a national park.
Cinque Terre is worth visiting your Italian vacation, even if you only have a few days to spare. It’s not unusual for visitors to stay in Cinque Terre for a few days after touring buzzy Rome and art-filled Florence.
Tuscany, Italy, Population: 3.73 million
Since the 2003 release of Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the idea of Tuscany has been deeply ingrained in our minds: it is a place of romance, chianti wine, olives, aromatic cooking, and, of course, sunshine.
Thousands of tourists visit this magnificent region in northwest Italy each year to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome or Milan and instead enjoy the countryside.
There’s something heavenly about the combination of medieval castles, wineries, cascading hills, and sprawling vineyards.
There is a certain tranquillity to it in this effortlessly picturesque region, where enjoying a glass of wine or eating gnocchi is the perfect way to unwind.
Capri, Italy, Population: 12,200
You can find rugged cliffs and crystal clear waters straight out of mythology and dreams on the island of Capri. Capri’s lush greenery and picturesque marinas and squares make it a paradisiacal destination as depicted in the artwork.
Its beach and vacation resorts are filled with designer shops, five-star restaurants, scenic hikes, and five-star hotels since Roman times. Capri will capture your heart whether you’re visiting for a day trip or spending a month there.
This southern Italian island is popular with tourists for its natural wonders, which can be seen by boat. Some of the island’s best attractions, including the Blue Grotto, Green Grotto and the Faraglioni, can be seen while circumnavigating the island.
Shops, historic attractions and restaurants line the streets in Capri and Anacapri, two attractive, walkable towns. The marinas Grande and Piccola sit on either side of the island and feature picturesque beaches.
Visit numerous museum complexes highlighting Capri’s storied past if you’re a history buff.
Sicily, Italy, Population: 5 million
Imagine a tropical island with white sand beaches, glistening sun, and volcanoes spouting steam far in the distance. Imagine rolling hills capped by ancient ruins, such as those in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.
You’ll have to imagine then the taste of fresh seafood, indulgent pasta, and delicious desserts. This is Sicily – a balmy, Italian-minded island with a wonderful, laidback atmosphere.
It’s located at the toe of Italy’s boot, surrounded by the Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian seas and is the largest triangular island in the Mediterranean.
Sardinia, Italy, Population: 1.64 million
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia, a 9,301-square-mile area, situated just west of Italy, attracts travellers with a unique blend of Ancient Roman and Moorish cultures.
Sardinia’s white beaches and crystal-clear ocean allow you to relax on the beach and enjoy a leisurely lunch that features pasta and wine.
Sardinia’s most beautiful coves offer opportunities for snorkelling among colourful fish, but the island’s inland traditional villages will allow you to witness shepherds tending their flocks.
It would be easy to think that the Emerald Coast of Sardinia is solely characterized by glamorous hotels and restaurants and beautiful pristine beaches. But that would be wrong. You can also find humble farms, mountainous areas, and friendly but reserved locals here.
Genoa, Italy, Population: 583,601
Genova is one of Italy’s largest cities and has one of the best-preserved medieval centers in Europe. In addition to its museums, forts, churches, and palaces, this port city has 13 funicular lines and an aquarium with roughly 12,000 aquatic animals. Additionally, Genoa is a popular destination for foodies thanks to its pesto, focaccia, seafood, and filled pasta.
Portofino, Italy, Population: 366
The small crescent-shaped village of Portofino offers a getaway for celebrities and the wealthy. It is prevalent to swim and dive in the waters around Portofino, which are often full of yachts. Aside from the natural beauty of the area, it also offers a relaxing atmosphere. Visitors looking for a break from relaxing can visit historic sites like Castello Brown and Abbazia di San Fruttuoso just outside of Portofino.
Sorrento, Italy, Population: 16,609
Greece’s mythology tells us that Sorrento was the land of the sirens. Today, people continue to be attracted to it by its beautiful views and charm.
Here, visitors can hike along the water or relax near the cliffs before watching the sunset. Also, lemons are a big deal in Sorrento – both in size and popularity – and the region is known for producing some of the best limoncellos in the world.
In addition, the hotel is a great base from which to explore Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and other popular Italian cities.
Pompeii, Italy, Population: 25,196
It’s chilling and impressive at the same time, this ancient Roman city in the south of Italy.
Almost all of Pompeii was preserved after Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, burying it in ash.
The archaeological remains provide present-day visitors with a glimpse of what life used to be like in ancient times.
It’s also worth visiting Herculaneum, a nearby city that was also preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius, while adventurous hikers can climb up Mount Vesuvius to see breathtaking panoramic views.
Verona, Italy, Population: 257,353
Shakespearean-linked Verona attracts “Romeo and Juliet” fans with themed tours of its landmarks.
It has more to offer than just its literary connections. Verona offers several interesting attractions.
A visit to the Verona Arena—a newly restored Roman amphitheatre—and the Giardino Giusti, a stunning Renaissance garden, won’t disappoint.
Are tourists safe in Italy?
Italians can, in general, feel safe while travelling throughout the country. These days, violent crime in Italy is low, and it consistently ranks higher in global safety rankings than both England and the United States.
Discover Italy’s Best Undiscovered Tourist Spots
- Via Krupp, Capri. Black Tomato.
- San Cassiano. Black Tomato.
- San Gimignano, Tuscany. Courtesy.
- Isola Bella, Sicily. Black Tomato.
- Praiano. Black Tomato.
- Campo de’Fiori, Rome. Black Tomato.
- Bologna, Emilia-Romagna. Black Tomato.
- Ostuni, Puglia. Black Tomato.
What is the best time to visit Italy?
April to June and mid-September to October are the best months to visit most of Italy: the weather is typically comfortable, the countryside is colourful, and crowds are mild (except around Easter).
Holiday spots throughout the country are bustling from July through early September.
Italian fashion in March: What NOT to wear
- White tennis shoes. Unless they are Converse!
- Classic Fanny packs. Instead, opt for a trendy leather one.
- Bright colours.
- Printed Souvenir T-shirts. Stay away from wearing any “I Love XYZ” t-shirts.
- Baseball hats.
- Sports/Camping Backpacks.
- Light coloured jeans or white pants.
Italy / Italian Holidays — Offices, government buildings (though not usually tourist offices), and shops in Italy are generally closed on: January 1 (Capodanno, or New Year); January 6 (La Befana, or Epiphany); Easter Sunday (Pasqua); Easter Monday (Pasquetta); April 25 (Liberation Day); May 1 (Festa del Lavoro, or Labor Day); June 2 (Festa Della Repubblica, or Republic Day); August 15 (Ferragosto, or the Assumption of the Virgin); November 1 (All Saints’ Day); De 8 (L’Immacolata, or the Immaculate Conception); December 25 (Natale, Christmas Day); Dec 26 (Santo Stefano, or St. Stephen’s Day). You’ll also often find businesses closed for the annual daylong celebration dedicated to the local saint (for example, January 31 in San Gimignano, Tuscany).
Italy is a country rich in art, architecture, and history. Rome’s ruins can be explored, Renaissance art can be enjoyed, small medieval towns can be explored in the Alps, and Venice’s canals can be explored.