The ultimate Italy travel guide
The art and the architecture; the food and the wine; the history, the romance, and the views. Culturally speaking, there may not be a richer destination than Italy, which is why it’s on the top of many traveler’s list. Of course, there are a lot of moving parts which must be set into place before you’re sipping wine on rolling Tuscan hills. With so much to see, narrowing down your list can be overwhelming. From what to do to where to stay, here’s a breakdown to make planning your dream Italian vacation as seamless as possible.
When to Go to Italy
You should set aside at least two weeks for a trip to Italy. If you have a flexible schedule, consider the pros and cons of traveling during each season. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but the heat and excess tourism is a turnoff for some. However, summer can be ideal if you’re spending time in coastal regions. Opt for June or July instead of August, as this is when many Italians go on vacation and close down local shops and restaurants. If you really want to avoid the crowds, plan your trip during the winter and enjoy winter sports and shorter lines at major attractions. Do keep in mind that hours often change during this off-season. Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit Italy with mild, comfortable weather and less tourism than summer.
Where to Stay in Italy
Chances are, Rome is high on your Italian bucket list. The Eternal City makes for a great place to visit and a great place to stay. Rome has a fairly central location, so trips to Florence, Tuscany, and the coastline are a breeze. A wide range of accommodations are available in city center and surrounding neighborhoods with enough variety to fit any traveler’s taste. Tuscany is easily accessible from Florence, which takes a little over an hour by train from Rome. Assisi and Orvieto, two fairytale-like hill towns, can also be reached directly by train. Venice is a three to four hour train ride from Rome, and the Amalfi Coast is only around a two hour journey.
How to Get There
Transportation often brings hidden costs, but strategizing and planning ahead can save you a lot of money and stress. Skyscanner is a great tool to find affordable flights. Fly into Fiumicino Airport in Rome and then travel throughout Italy by train. You can save money by booking trains ahead of time on Italiarail. The app Free Now is also a great tool which works similar to Uber but is slightly more affordable and allows you to pay with cash or card. Renting a car is also a popular mode of transportation, especially for exploring Tuscany. If you really want to immerse yourself, you can even purchase a 48 or 72 hour RomaPass, which allows you to use the public transportation systems in Rome.
Where to Go
The must-visit cities during your trip to Italy:
Try to spend at least three days in the eternal city. Book a tour for your first day to experience iconic sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Spend your second day in the Vatican City touring through St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. You should set aside an additional day to explore Rome’s neighborhoods. Enjoy aperitivo in the vine-draped streets of Trastevere or check out cafes and vintage shops Monti, Rome’s hipster district.
Florence is perfect for a two day trip. Spend one day exploring the Duomo and then strolling through the leather markets and major squares. Spend another day walking through museums like Uffizi Gallery and Galleria Dell ‘Academia.
Tuscany and Umbria
Enjoy wine tastings as you explore the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany. While you’re in the region, be sure to check out the the villages of Cortona and St. Gimignano. You can spend as little as a day or as long as a week in Tuscany, which many people confuse with its neighbor Umbria. The Umbria region also attracts visitors for its wine and its hill towns. Ideally you would want to see both regions, but if you’re short on time, choose to visit one or the other.
Spend one day and one night in Venice. Take a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal and then check out St. Mark’s Basilica. You can also take ferries to the Venetian lagoon islands of Murano, Burano, or Torcello.
Spend an unforgettable weekend in the Amalfi Coast exploring Italy’s seaside crown jewels. Base yourself in Sorrento and then take short ferry rides for day trips. Sign up for a boat tour of Capri and its otherworldly Blue Grotto. Go swimming or relax on the beach in Positano as you admire its pastel architecture from down below. Journey back to 79 AD in Pompeii, a city frozen in time. Pompeii is also a great day trip from the Amalfi Coast and easily accessible from Sorrento.
Cinque Terre is a destination which has garnered a lot of attention over the past several years. Located on the Italian Riviera, the five colorful fishing villages which make up the Cinque Terre offer stunning views and cliffside hikes. If you want time to explore each village, stay for at least three days.
Custom Travel Planning
We know that planning a trip to Italy can be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Sit back, relax and let us organize your dream trip to the Belpaese. We offer custom travel planning services and can tailor to your every need, preference and budget.