20 Best Things to Do in Italy For Ultimate Experience

Italy is a land that breathes history. This statement rings true, as there are few places on Earth with as much history and culture packed into such a small area. From the grandiose architecture of Rome and Florence to the stunning coastal villages of the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, there is no shortage of things to see in Italy. And to help you narrow down your options, I’ve compiled a list of the 20 top attractions and things to do in Italy that you should consider adding to your travel itinerary.

Things to Do in Italy

1. Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum is one of the most famous attractions in the world, let alone Italy. This massive structure was built between A.D. 70 and 72 and could seat up to 50,000 people. It was used for a variety of entertainment purposes, including gladiator fights, animal hunts, and public executions.

Today, the Colosseum is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions. You can explore the interior of the structure, including the underground chambers where animals and gladiators were held before their fights and the upper levels from which spectators watched the action.

Take your time walking around the exterior of the Colosseum as well. This is a great opportunity to get some good photos and to learn more about the history of this incredible structure.

Pro Tip: Avoid the long lines at the Colosseum by purchasing your tickets online in advance. This will let you go straight to the entrance and avoid spending hours waiting in line.

Address; Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

2. Vatican City, Rome

Ask anyone about the famous Italy attraction, and you’ll likely hear Vatican City mentioned. Home to the Pope and the headquarters of the Catholic Church, Vatican City is an independent city-state located within Rome.

This “country-within-a-city” is the smallest in the world, measuring just 49 hectares (121 acres). But despite its size, Vatican City is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, as well as the world.

And as you might expect, Vatican City is home to some of the most incredible art and architecture in the world, much of which is housed in the Vatican Museums. This massive complex of museums contains works by some of the most famous artists in history, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael.

One of the most iconic attractions in Vatican City is St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church. This incredible piece of architecture was completed in the early 1600s and is one of the most impressive buildings in the world. Also of interest is the Sistine Chapel, famous for its Michelangelo-painted ceiling. I highly recommend taking a tour of the Vatican if you want to learn more about the history and culture of this fascinating place.

Pro Tip: If visiting the Sistine Chapel, be aware that modest dress is required. This means no bare shoulders or knees.

3. Pompeii

Pompeii is a city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. The city was buried under volcanic ash, which preserved it for thousands of years. And in the 18th century, excavations began to uncover this ancient city.

Pompeii is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When visiting, you can explore the ruins of this ancient city, including houses, public baths, and even a brothel.

One of the most interesting things about Pompeii is that it provides a window into what life was like in ancient times. And because it was so well preserved, it’s one of the fascinating things to see in Italy.

Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Pompeii, make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Address; Via Villa dei Misteri, 2, 80045 Pompeii, Naples.

4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

Who doesn’t want to take a picture of themselves “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa? This iconic tower is one of the most popular attractions in Italy, and it’s definitely a must-see if you’re visiting the country.

The tower was built over 800 years ago and began to lean shortly after construction started due to the soft ground on which it was built. And while this was originally seen as a flaw, it has since become one of the most iconic features of the tower. Today, after years of stabilization work, it now leans just over four degrees.

It is possible to climb to the top of the tower and enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding area. But if you’re not up for it, simply admiring the tower from the ground is an experience in itself.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the city of Pisa, which is about an hour’s drive from Florence. In addition to the tower, the city also has a beautiful cathedral and baptistery, both of which are worth a visit.

Address; Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy

5. Roman Forum, Rome

You’ve probably heard of the Roman Forum, even if you don’t know exactly what it is. Simply put, the Roman Forum was the center of life in ancient Rome. It was a large, open area that served as a marketplace, meeting place, and site of public executions.

The Roman Forum is located in the heart of Rome, and a visit here is one of the best things to do in Italy. Today, it is a beautiful archaeological site where you can wander among the ruins of ancient temples, basilicas, and other buildings.

As you walk around the Roman Forum, it’s easy to imagine what life was like in this once-bustling center of activity. It’s also a great place to get a feel for the scale of ancient Rome. I strongly recommend looking for a good tour guide if you want to learn more about the history of this fascinating place.

Address; Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

6. The Amalfi Coast

Are you looking for a paradisiacal destination in Italy? If so, you’ll want to head to the Amalfi Coast. This stretch of coastline along the Tyrrhenian Sea is one of the most beautiful places in Italy and possibly even the world.

This coast is known for its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and colorful towns that seem to cling to the rocky landscape. And while here, you can enjoy plenty of activities like swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and hiking. In addition, this coastline is also a popular spot for licensed boat tours, which give visitors the opportunity to see the Amalfi Coast from the water.

The Amalfi Coast is also home to some of the best restaurants in Italy, serving up fresh seafood caught right from the Tyrrhenian Sea. And, of course, no visit to the Amalfi Coast would be complete without enjoying some limoncello, a refreshing lemon-flavored liqueur that is produced in the region.

Address; 84011 Amalfi, SA, Italy

7. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a group of five picturesque villages located on the Italian Riviera. The villages (Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, and Manarola) are all connected by a scenic hiking trail and are accessible by train.

The best way to explore Cinque Terre is by hiking the trail that connects the villages. Along the way, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the villages, the coastline, and the Mediterranean Sea. And of course, once you reach the villages, you can explore them at your leisure. Each village has its unique charm, and you’ll want to take some time to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.

And being one of the most famous places to visit in Italy, Cinque Terre is also a popular spot for foodies. There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, and you’ll definitely want to try the region’s famous pesto sauce.

Pro Tip: If you plan on hiking the trail, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.

8. Verona’s Roman Arena and Historic Center

As the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona is one of the most romantic cities in Italy. And while the tragic love story may have been fictional, the city’s historic center is very much real and is one of the top attractions in Italy.

The Roman Arena is the main attraction in Verona. This well-preserved amphitheater was built in 30 A.D. and could seat up to 30,000 people. Today, the arena is still used for performances and events, making it one of the oldest in continuous use.

Take a stroll through the lovely historic center, which is full of beautiful medieval buildings and cobbled streets. This is the perfect place to explore on foot, popping into shops and cafes along the way.

And if you’re a fan of Romeo and Juliet, you can visit the house where Juliet supposedly lived. You’ll find her balcony, which has become an iconic symbol of love. There’s also a statue of Juliet in the courtyard below. So while you’re there, be sure to rub Juliet’s right breast for good luck in love!

In addition to being home to some of the top Italy attractions, Verona is also a great place to enjoy some of the country’s best food and wine. Be sure to try the city’s famous Amarone wine and its delicious gelato.

Address; P.za Bra, 1, 37121 Verona VR, Italy

9. Grand Canal, Venice

Venice is a city like no other. Built on more than 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea, this city is famous for its canals and gondolas. It’s also one of the most romantic places in the world, making it a popular destination for honeymoons and anniversaries.

The best way to see Venice is by boat, and the best way to do that is by taking a ride down the Grand Canal. This 3.8-kilometer (2.3 miles) waterway is the main thoroughfare in Venice and is lined with impressive palaces and churches.

Of particular interest is the Palazzo Ducale, which is a Gothic palace that once served as the seat of government for the Republic of Venice. You can also see the Rialto Bridge, which is one of the oldest bridges in Venice and spans the Grand Canal.

If you’re looking for a unique way to see Venice, I recommend taking a gondola ride. These traditional boats have been used in Venice for centuries and are still the primary mode of transportation for many locals.

10. The Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world and is a top attraction in Italy. What makes this incredible art museum so special is the vast collection of paintings and sculptures that it houses. In addition, it showcases the evolution of art from the 14th century all the way up to the 16th century.

Some of the most famous paintings in the world are housed inside the Uffizi Gallery, including the “Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli and the “Annunciation” by Leonardo da Vinci.

In addition to being home to some of the most famous paintings in the world, the Uffizi Gallery is also an incredibly beautiful building. I suggest going early in the morning to avoid the crowds and to take your time exploring this incredible museum.

Address; Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

11. Capri

Another one of the most famous places to visit in Italy is the island of Capri. This popular tourist destination is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of southern Italy and is known for its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious hotels.

One of the most popular things to do in Capri is to visit the Blue Grotto, a sea cave illuminated by an underwater light, making the water glow blue. The best way to experience the Blue Grotto is by taking a boat tour and marveling at the beauty of this natural wonder.

Other attractions in Capri include the Villa Jovis, a ruined Roman palace that was once the home of Emperor Tiberius, and the Gardens of Augustus, a series of terraced gardens that offer stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Active travelers will also enjoy hiking the many trails that crisscross the island. And, of course, no trip to Capri would be complete without spending some time relaxing on one of the island’s many beaches.

12. Take a Food Tour in Bologna

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a foodie, so it should be no surprise that one of my favorite things to do in Italy was a food tour in Bologna.

Bologna is known as the “food capital of Italy” for a good reason. This city is home to some of the best cuisines in the country, including dishes like mortadella (a type of cured pork), tagliatelle al ragu (a type of pasta dish), and tortellini (a type of stuffed pasta). There are also a number of excellent gelato shops in Bologna, as the city is said to be the birthplace of this popular Italian dessert.

I took the food tour with a company called “Delicious Bologna,” and it did not disappoint. Our tour guide, Debora, took us to six different food stops, all of which were incredible. We started with tasting mortadella and other cured meats, followed by tagliatelle al ragu and tortellini at two different restaurants. We then stopped at a gelato shop for dessert (which was amazing) and ended with a wine tasting.

The tour lasted about four hours, and it was an incredible way to experience the food culture of Bologna. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city, especially if you’re a foodie like me!

13. Lake Como, Lombardy Region

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to relax and take in some stunning scenery, then Lake Como is the perfect destination for you. Located in the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

This gorgeous lake is surrounded by the foothills of the Alps and is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and hiking. The lake itself is quite large, measuring 145 square kilometers (56 square miles). And it’s quite deep too, with a maximum depth of 410 meters (1,345 feet).

In addition to its natural beauty, Lake Como is also home to several luxurious villas, including Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello. These villas are open to the public and make for a great activity if you’re interested in learning about the history and culture of this region.

14. Trevi Fountain, Rome

Who hasn’t heard of the Trevi Fountain? This legendary fountain is one of the most popular attractions in Italy for a good reason. This is the largest Baroque fountain in the world and is a true work of art. Built in 1762, the fountain features an incredible statue of Neptune atop a chariot being pulled by sea horses.

The fountain is a popular spot for tourists and locals, who often gather around it to admire its beauty or make a wish. According to legend, if you throw a coin into the fountain over your left shoulder, you are guaranteed to return to Rome someday.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for things to do at night in Italy, the Trevi Fountain is illuminated after sunset and makes for a romantic spot to stroll with a loved one.

Address; Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

15. The Valley of Temples, Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Agrigento on the southern coast of Sicily. This ancient archaeological site is home to a number of well-preserved Greek temples, making it one of the most popular attractions in Sicily.

The Valley of the Temples was once the site of the ancient city of Akragas, which was founded in 580 BC. At its peak, Akragas was one of the richest and most powerful cities in all of Greece. And while much of the city has since been destroyed, eight incredible temples remain. These temple ruins are some of the best-preserved examples of ancient Greek architecture and make for a fascinating visit.

I toured the Valley of the Temples on a hot day in August and was blown away by the size and scale of the temples. I also found the history of the site to be really interesting. So if you’re interested in ancient history or architecture, I think this is one of the must-see Italy attractions you’ll want to add to your list.

Address; 92100 Agrigento, AG, Italy

16. Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon is one of Rome’s most well-preserved ancient buildings and was completed around 125 AD. This former Roman temple is now a Catholic church and the final resting place of several Italian kings and artists, including Raphael.

The Pantheon is most famous for its massive dome, which is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The design of the Pantheon was so ahead of its time that it has served as inspiration for many modern buildings, including the U.S. Capitol Building.

When visiting the Pantheon, take a moment to look up at the oculus, or hole in the center of the dome. This hole measures 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter and is the only source of natural light in the building.

Address; Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

17. San Gimignano

San Gimignano is a small, picturesque town in Italy’s Tuscan region. It’s most famous for its medieval towers, of which there are 14 remaining. These towers were built to show off the wealth and power of the town’s noble families during medieval times, and they are now one of the top attractions in Italy.

Some of the towers are open to the public and can be climbed for incredible views of the Tuscan countryside. The town is also lovely to explore, with narrow streets lined with medieval buildings and a number of churches and museums to visit.

San Gimignano is the perfect day trip from Florence, which is just a short drive away. And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, there are a number of excellent hotels and Airbnbs in the area.

18. Gran Paradiso National Park, Turin

Nature lovers will definitely want to add Gran Paradiso National Park to their Italy itinerary. This beautiful park is located in the country’s northwestern region and is home to several impressive sights, including the Gran Paradiso mountain (hence the name of the park).

The park was initially created to protect the Alpine ibex, a type of wild goat that was close to extinction in the early 1900s. Today, the park is home to a number of different animal species, including wolves, ermine, chamois, lynx, and, of course, the Alpine ibex. Birdwatchers will also be happy to know that there are over 100 different species of birds in the park.

In addition to being a haven for wildlife, Gran Paradiso National Park is also home to a number of beautiful glaciers, alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in the park, and there are a number of well-marked trails to follow. All this makes this park one of the best places in Italy that should not be missed during your visit.

19. Dolomites, Bolzano/Bozen

The Dolomites are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy, near the border with Austria. This area is renowned for its incredible natural beauty and is a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and skiers.

One of the most popular attractions in the Dolomites is the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a group of three towering peaks that offer stunning views of the surrounding area. This is a popular spot for hiking and rock climbing, and there are a number of different trails that wind through the area.

Another popular attraction in the Dolomites is Lago di Braies, a beautiful alpine lake that is surrounded by towering mountains. And being one of the most popular places in Italy, this lake can get quite crowded during the summer months. But if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, there are a number of smaller lakes and towns located throughout the Dolomites that offer a more authentic Italian experience.

20. Enjoy Italy’s Nightlife in Milan

There’s no denying that Italians know how to party. From aperitivo (pre-dinner drinks) to late-night clubbing, there’s no shortage of things to do in Italy when the sun goes down. And if you’re looking for a city with a lively nightlife scene, Milan is the place to be. This world’s fashion capital is home to chic bars, trendy nightclubs, and stylish restaurants.

One of the best things about Milan’s nightlife is that it caters to a wide range of tastes. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back bar scene or a wild night out on the town, you’ll find it in Milan. And if you’re looking to rub elbows with the rich and famous, this is definitely the city for you. Other towns worth visiting for their nightlife include Florence, Rome, and Verona.

In Summary

There are countless other Italy tourist attractions that are worth visiting. However, these 20 attractions are some of the most popular and iconic. So whether you’re interested in history, art, food or just want to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, be sure to add these attractions to your Italy travel itinerary. Ciao for now!