Italy is one of the most historic countries in Europe and as a result is full of world-famous cities, towns, and sites to see and explore. Discover the 15 most famous places to visit in Italy below and start planning the journey of a lifetime. In our guide to Italy’s most famous places, we’ve covered the best way to see the top attractions and the major sites.
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15 of the Most Famous Places to Visit in Italy
With centuries of history to explore, amazing cities, and stunning coastlines not to mention glorious landscapes there are some incredible places to visit in Italy – if you’re struggling to narrow it down, here’s our pick of the 15 most famous places to visit in Italy.
Italy’s capital, Rome, is one of the most famous places to visit in Italy. It is so central to what we are as humans that there is a saying that all the roads lead to Rome.
Here you can find not only architectural treasures like the Roman Forum, Pantheon, and the Colosseum, all dating back thousands of years, but also all the way through to its golden age St. Peter’s Basilica with its humongous dome and a great viewing point over Rome among others.
Best Way to See Rome: This one day highlights tour is the top way to see Rome
What is more, Rome has a cultural flare like no other with its delicious cuisine where you can pamper your taste buds and its fragrant wine from bio-wineries like Azienda Biologico De Sanctis. However, you will remain in shape by going hiking and walking all around the city. You’ll want to spend time in some of Rome’s glorious piazzas – here are 10 of the top Rome Piazzas to visit.
Historically known as one of Europe’s most prosperous port cities, its beauty is eternalized in the famous phrase, “See Naples and Die”. Here you can find the world’s best Margarita pizza, great architecture, vibrant locals, and delight in the town’s scenic townscape.
Walk on the Spaccanapoli, an old boulevard crossing the old part of Naples, complete with beautiful palazzos and basilicas; take a tour of Quartieri Spagnoli, a commercial hub skirted by Via Toledo, a must for all fashionistas making a trip to Naples, and the world-famous Neapolitan esplanades, that fringe the sea and where the pleasant, somewhat tangy breeze is lapped by sunset-starved lovers, a place great for both walking and socializing.
Best way to see Naples – This tour of Pompei is the top thing to do in Naples
Also, don’t miss out on visiting medieval castles like Castle Nuovo where Queen Joan II is said to have fed her lovers to crocodiles. Or go to Pompeii, an ancient town in Naples that was buried under ash. Then head to museums like the National Archeological Museum of Naples, in a literary tribute to the pull the city exerts on you; and palaces like the Royal Palace of Naples, one of the city’s signature landmarks.
Keep also in mind that Naples is so suffused in art, its churches and museums featuring prime Italian marble sculpture and unique pieces of Pompeian art that it seeps inexorably into literature.
The birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa, or Genova, is famous also for Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic architecture. The city of Genoa, on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, hosts the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Rolli palaces and has an incredible climate. As its an important cruise post, many people explore Genoa in a day.
The top thing to do in Genoa? Get on a boat and take a tour
I think you’ll need longer! This area is also home to pesto, focaccia bread, and incredible cuisine, the food of Genoa is well worth traveling for.
Known as the economic, fashion, and gastronomical capital of Italy, its name stands for dazzling luxury and high culture, best exemplified in soirées in the city’s grand La Scala opera theatre.
But what makes Milano truly stand out and be named as one of the most famous places in Italy is its Art Deco and rationalist architecture, which seems to suggest that the city leaped all the way from the Renaissance straight into the 20th century and has since bent on looking fearlessly into the future. It is here that you come to relish the futuristic vibe of the city.
While here you must experience the gastronomical bonanza and marvel at the top-notch design of its eateries while munching on mouthwatering Milanese food. Then, head for a shopping spree at Milano’s fashion boutiques, and have dinner at its futuristic sushi bars known for their ambrosial Japanese fare or fusion cuisine locales, where you are reminded once again that Milano is the veritable culinary melting pot of Italy where Italian cooking heritage encounters and blends with that of France and Central Europe.
One of the best and most famous places in Italy is the beautiful Positano. Nestling on the mountainous Amalfi coast, Positano stands for luxury, refined leisure, and charm.
For the perfect way to visit Italy’s most famous coastal place, take a boat trip to Positano
Here you can not just find a super cinematic landscape but also stunning sea panoramas, ambrosial food, and plenty more amazing things to do in Positano. Keep in mind that Positano is one of the world’s most Instagrammable places so expect large crowds and many photos!
Also situated on the Amalfi Coast, but lying further in the hills is Ravello, a scenic town known for its stunning villas, great churches, and breathtaking views. Head here after a weekend at Amalfi or Positano to delight in superlative Italian wine, mouth-watering pizzas, and great musical performances.
The best way to see Italy’s most famous views in Ravello is to take a Cinque Terre and Ravello Tour.
The Cinque Terre, near Genoa, has some particularly stunning views too, and is a popular place to go on a day trip from this famous port city.
Known as the most exquisite jet-setting destination, Capri is renowned for its exquisite stretches of pebble, pellucid azure waters, and great food for all. This is a stunning place to visit, but it’s super, super busy during the summer months (and well most times of the year).
The best way to visit Capri is to take a boat tour – don’t miss the Grottoes – but book well in advance, these tours sell out weeks in advance.
What is more, it is home to some unique landmarks such as the Russian ballet dancer, Rudolph Nureyev’s villa, where the world-famous star once resided.
One of South Italy’s least visited destinations, the scenic Bari hides unique landmarks such as the centuries-old church, Saint Nicholas’ Basilica, whose crypt is home to the relics of Saint Nicholas, its mind-blowingly beautiful old town, and Lungomare e Murat, a great promenade where you can take a serene vespertine stroll by the limpid azure waters of the Mediterranean.
Bari is a fabulous place to tour on foot and this food street tour is the best way to explore.
Founded by the Ismaili mogul, Aga Khan, Porto Cervo is reputed to be the world’s most chic destination, pulling in well-healed individuals to its heaven-evoking beaches, and gelato shops with yummy ice cream and its magnificent hotels, villas, and restaurants. Head to Porto Cervo to treat yourself to a weekend of Dolce Vita.
Get onto the water in Porto Cervo for the most stunning views of the area. This is the best way to see chic Porto Cervo.
One of the top places to head for a holiday is Porto Ottiolu. It is one of the world’s best destinations for a family getaway thanks to its abundance of white sand beaches, pleasant doves with crystal clear waters, and heavenly pizzerias and bars.
What’s more, during the low season accommodation here is quite affordable, setting you back at US$15 per night! Visit Porto Ottiolu for your perfect and let your heart be stirred by the truly idyllic seascape of this destination, much prized by the most blasé of jet-setters.
The capital of Sicily, Palermo is renowned for its scenic townscape with its picture-perfect churches like its Santa Maria dell’ Ammiragliol, known for its beauteous mosaics, and palaces such as Norman Palace. Along with the famous catacombs referred to as Catacombe Dei Capuccin, which make traveling in Palermo is a real boost to your sense of wonder.
The easiest way to see the highlights of Palermo is on the open-topped bus tour. Book skip-the-line tickets here
Crisscrossed by canals lined with magnificent palaces, and plied by Venice-only gondolas, Venice is one of the most famous places in Europe waiting for you.
Here in the most famous of Itay’s waterways, you simply MUST take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal.
To add to its unique romance, it is especially nice to visit Venice in winter when it exudes a unique somewhat melancholic charm and reminds us of the austere beauty of the Laguna fragrant with Algae. Another great time to head to Venice is the end of February when the carnival begins and you can see many unique experiences such as water boat processions, art events, and wonder at the ubiquitous effigies of Befana.
Known for its boulevards that match in elegance avenues of Paris, and art nouveau cafes redolent of Viennese exuberant soirées, Turin, aka Torino, it is a world in itself that has given us hard chocolate, Ferrari, Fiat, and one of the world’s most successful clubs Juventus, whose kinetic performances seem to emphasize its youthful name.
The best (and easiest) way to explore Turin is by open-topped bus – book your tickets and skip the line here.
Head to Torino to sample some of Europe’s best contemporary art pieces, inspiring architecture, and cutting-edge food and wine at its en-vogue establishments. Main landmarks include but are not limited to Basilica di Superga, Museo Nazionale, Piazza Castello, the city’s main square, and gargantuan Molle Antonelliana, housing a one-of-a-kind cinema museum.
Florence is easily one of the most famous places to visit in Italy. Here you will find architectural gems such as its gigantic cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, with a truly humongous dome, built using groundbreaking techniques; Uffizi Gallery, a one-of-a-kind art museum, featuring Renaissance chef d’œuvres.
Ponte Vecchio, a unique close-sided bridge that is one of Europe’s few remaining structures that have preserved authentically medieval settings, and magnificent Palazzo Vecchio among other landmarks.
What is more, it offers amazing eateries such as its elegant Buca Lapi, giving you a glimpse into the high Florentine cuisine and allowing the connoisseurs to sample the region’s best wine, indulging the most sensitive of palates.
Renowned as a youthful student town, Pisa is a great spot to visit on a weekend with your friends, you can find not just great youthful bars and cafes, but also great architecture best exemplified by the somewhat leaning Pisa tower, to add to the splendid vineyards in its environs and super friendly locals, who will always share a glass or two with you.
In the city where the most famous thing to do is explore the tower, you’ll need skip the line tickets. Buy them here.
Travel Tips for Exploring Italy
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. More information here.
- Arriving by air? Book your airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Book the best tours and guides on GetYourGuide and Civitatis
- Book Free Walking Tours in Italy with Civitatis
- Find the right accommodation for you via Booking.com
- Check timetables, and prices and book bus and train tickets in Italy with Omio
- Renting a car in Italy? Check out Discover Cars – great rates and free cancellation – get a quote here.
Final Words on the most famous places to visit in Italy
There is no shortage of stunning places to see and visit in Italy. We hope that this short list of Italy’s most famous places to visit gets you on the way to planning an amazing trip to Italy.
Thanks to Samantha Karen for this article on Italy’s most famous places to visit. Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a twenty-something traveler on a mission to explore the world to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to learn about the world while also searching for her place in it. Check out Sam Sees World for valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and making memories along the way.
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