Best Italy tours with departures in 2020 and beyond

best tours of italy florence

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If you’re like us, then taking a tour of Italy is something you’ve dreamed about forever. From the history and grandeur of Rome to the sparkling Amalfi Coast, Italy is a dream destination for many. But how do you choose the right trip?

The best Italy tours will show you the highlights as well as hidden treasures. And balance sightseeing with free time to explore. They will meet your timing and budget but have extras included to ensure your trip is special. Whether you choose a large operator or boutique tour company, you want to make sure your trip exceeds your expectations.

Summary: Best Italy tours

italy guided tour packages

We reviewed the market and major operators to bring you this breakdown of the best tours of Italy available in the coming months and years. This article includes highlights journeys, itineraries by region and interest and those suitable for families.

Tour nameTour operatorDuration
Availability
Major stopsGroup Size
Age group
More info
Best of ItalyTrafalgar12 days
April - October
Rome - Sorrento - Venice - Lake Maggiore - Florence40 - 45 people
Aged 50+
Click for departures and prices
Best of ItalyIntrepid14 days
April - October
Rome - Florence - Lucca - Cinque Terre - Lake Como - Venice10 - 12 people
30+ female travelers
Click for departures and prices
Simply ItalyContiki12 days
Year round
Rome - Sorrento - Florence - Venice - Milan - Cinque Terre50 people
Young adults aged 18-30
Click for departures and pricing
Italian SceneCostsaver10 days
Year round
Rome - Sorrento - Assisi - Venice - Florence50 people
Aged 40 - 60
Click for departures and pricing
Highlights of ItalyIntrepid8 days
April - October
Venice - Cinque Terre - Florence - RomeNo more than 16
30+ female travelers
Click for departures and pricing

If you want to compare tour prices and itineraries yourself, have a browse of Tourradar  and Stride Travel. These sites are where tour operators list their upcoming trips until 2021. You can read reviews by people who have experienced the tour and they often have great deals on early bookings and late departures.

Our pick and reviews of the tour we think offer the best value in terms of inclusions, accommodation and itineraries are below.

Best highlights of Italy tours

Most first time visitors to Italy want to see the tried and true highlights – Rome, Venice, and Florence, so you’ll find  many tours catering to that wish. Here are some of the top tours on the market and what to expect

Trafalgar’s Best of Italy

rome italy tour packages

Best for: first time visitors to Italy on a moderate budget

This classic and very popular tour of Italy covers all the highlights and contrasts of the country over 12 days. From the historic grandeur of Rome to coastal Sorrento, the lakes, Venice and Florence, this is a great introduction to Italy for first time visitors.

The tour price includes all breakfasts, dinner for 7 nights and complimentary airport transfers. Accommodation is mostly 4* hotels, plus the unique experience of sleeping in a converted Franciscan convent.  Expect VIP entry and to the major attractions and detailed briefings of the history and significance of the major sights.

Most passengers who choose Trafalgar are in the 50+ age group who enjoy cultural activities over fast paced adventure. Solo travelers are welcome however a supplement may apply.

With plenty of free time built in and the opportunity to choose optional extras, this trip is one that will give you a perfect taste of Italy and have you planning your next visit as soon as you arrive home.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Sorrento – Venice – Lake Maggiore – Florence
  • Tour length: 12 days
  • Departs: April to October
  • Group Size: 40 – 45
  • Average age: 50+
  • Accommodation: 3-4 star hotels
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

If you like the look of this itinerary but absolutely must see the Cinque Terre as well, check out Globus tours Italian Treasures with Sorrento

Intrepid’s Best of Italy 

italy travel packages with cinque terre

Best for: Solo female travelers with wanting a small group experience

Join Intrepid on their Italy highlights trip for adventure across several regions, taking in some of the most celebrated places in the country. Over 14 days you’ll explore the best of the center and north of Italy from Rome to Venice with stops in Florence, the Cinque Terre, northern lakes and Venice.

This small group tour will have a maximum of 12 participants so you are guaranteed a more personal experience. Included in the tour price are all transportation, tourist level (2-3 star) hotels, and some meals. As with all Intrepid tours, included activities such as a bike tour in Lucca and winery visits in Piedmont, are sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Intrepid’s itineraries attract travelers aged over 30 who are interested in traveling as part of a group but appreciate free time to explore on your own. The company is dedicated to responsible travel and hires local tour leaders with in depth personal knowledge of each destination. Solo travelers are warmly welcomed however supplements may apply.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Florence – Lucca – Cinque Terre – Lake Como – Venice
  • Tour length: 14 days
  • Departs: April to October
  • Group Size: 10 – 12
  • Average age: 30+
  • Accommodation: 2-3 star hotels
  • Travel method: Train plus private transportation
Click for details, prices and availability

Contiki’s Simply Italy 

best italy vacation packages

Best for: Younger travelers (18 – 30) wanting an action packed itinerary

Contiki’s Simply Italy tour takes you on a whistle-stop tour of all the highlights from Rome to Capri, Pompeii and the Cinque Terre. This 12 day itinerary will give you the perfect taste of bella Italia and have you planning more adventures in pasta and gelato before you can say that’s amore!

This large group tour of up to 50 people is bound to be social. Hotels are around 2 star, breakfasts and some meals are included plus 20 activities making the trip a great value option for younger travelers on a budget. Optional activities such as the Burano island cruise with dinner in Venice are reasonably priced and fun.

Contiki is the tour company of choice for younger travelers, so expect a fast paced itinerary stopping at all the best Instagram friendly spots, wifi on board your coach, late nights and early starts.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Sorrento – Florence – Venice – Milan – Cinque Terre
  • Tour length: 12 days
  • Departs: Year round
  • Group Size: around 50
  • Average age: 18 – 30
  • Accommodation: 1-2 star hotels
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

Affordable Italy Tours

Looking for value on a small budget? These Italy tour packages offer some of the best value trips on the market. With great value inclusions and action packed itineraries, your dream of visiting Italy is possible on a modest budget.

Costsaver’s Italian Scene

best italy trip packages

Best for: Value conscious travellers wanting a full highlights of Italy package

Offering a north to south overview of the best Italy has to offer at a wallet friendly price, Costsaver’s Italian Scene tour is a great choice for those looking for a tour packed with value. Stopping in the iconic cities plus smaller towns like Verona and Pisa, this tour will give you a true taste of the country without breaking the bank.

With a full itinerary covering many of the highlights of Italy, generous inclusions such as full buffet breakfasts and several 3 course dinners, the Italian Scene tour offers lots of value. You can add optional activities or choose to spend your free time at leisure. Popular with travellers aged 40 – 60, you’ll find the tour group social and interested in culture and history.

Costsaver is owned by Trafalgar so you get all the benefit of their itinerary planning and infrastructure at a price well below the tours offered by their parent company. The main point of difference is the location and standard of hotels. Costsaver accommodation is usually a little out of town and will not have the same level of amenities.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Sorrento – Assisi – Venice – Florence
  • Tour length: 10 days
  • Departs: Year round
  • Group Size: around 50
  • Average age: 40 – 60
  • Accommodation: 2-3 star hotels outside the city center
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

Intrepid’s Highlights of Italy 

guided italy tours

Best for: The best budget small group tour of Italy

If you want the small group experience with lots of free time built into your itinerary, Intrepid’s Highlights of Italy tour will suit you perfectly. This itinerary is part of Intrepid’s Basix range which delivers great value budget tours without sacrificing experience. You’ll see Venice, Rome, Florence and the stunning villages of the Cinque Terre on this journey with a group of no more than 16 other travelers.

Your tour leader will ensure you are familiar with the places you visit and conduct orientation walking tours. You can then explore on your own or take advantage of the well priced optional activities offered. Some breakfasts are included and you can expect basic accommodation at 1-2 star hotels or hostels.

Intrepid’s itineraries attract mainly female travelers aged over 30 who are interested in traveling as part of a group but appreciate free time to explore on your own. The company is dedicated to responsible travel and hires local tour leaders with in depth personal knowledge of each destination. Solo travelers are warmly welcomed however to keep costs down, you will share a room with a person of the same gender.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Venice – Cinque Terre – Florence – Rome
  • Tour length: 8 days
  • Departs: April to October
  • Group Size: No more than 16
  • Average age: 30+
  • Accommodation: Budget hotels / hostels
  • Travel method: Train plus some private transportation
Click for details, prices and availability

Best Southern Italy tours

If you’re dreaming of a summer vacation and la dolce vita on the Italian coast, head to Southern Italy and explore the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Sicily and the legendary isle of Capri.

Trafalgar’s Southern Italy and Sicily

italy package tours

Best for: exploring the magical Sorrento, Capri and Sicily in style

Southern Italy will capture your heart on this 10 day tour stopping at Pompeii, Sorrento, and towns in Sicily. The heady combination of incredible scenery, hundreds of years of history and of course delicious food and wine is irresistible. Trafalgar’s Southern Italy and Sicily itinerary covers all the highlights of this beautiful part of the world and includes local experiences that you’ll cherish forever.

Your tour price includes all breakfasts, dinner for 5 nights and complimentary airport transfers at set departure times. You’ll stay in mostly 4* hotels and enjoy VIP entry and to major attractions. Your tour director will provide detailed briefings of the history and significance of the major sights. Optional excursions include visits to some of the quaint fishing villages of Sicily and a boat cruise around Capri.

Most passengers who choose Trafalgar are in the 50+ age group who enjoy cultural activities over fast paced adventure. Solo travelers are welcome however a supplement may apply.

This trip covers all the highlights of Southern Italy and uncovers hidden gems you’ll be talking about for years to come.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Sorrento – Taormina – Palermo
  • Tour length: 10 days
  • Departs: April to October
  • Group Size: 40 – 45
  • Average age: 50+
  • Accommodation: 4 star hotels
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

Busabout’s Italian Adventure (on Tourradar)

italy vacation tours

Best for: The younger backpacking crowd on a super tight budget and schedule

Short on time and budget but want to see the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Capri? Join Busabout’s quick trip to the south of Italy and cover off the major highlights in affordable style with a fun young crowd.

The Italian Advenuture packs a lot into three days and most activities – including a boat cruise to Capri, the views from Ravello and exploring Pompeii – are included in the trip cost. You would be hard pressed to achieve this on your own and it is made more fun in a group. With up to 50 people on the tour, you’re bound to make some new friends.

Busabout is known for their flexible approach to independent travel and touring. They appeal to the under 30s and are known for a party atmosphere. Accommodations are basic but sleep and relaxation are not the priority on these trips, they are more about maximum fun.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Sorrento
  • Tour length: 3 days
  • Departs: May to September
  • Group Size: around 50
  • Average age: 18 – 28
  • Accommodation: Campsite
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

Highly recommended

south italy tours

Interested in visiting the up and coming Puglia region? Insight’s trip to Puglia and the Neapolitan Riviera visits all the highlights including Alberobello, Matera, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and the famed isle of Capri!

Best familY tours of Italy

Want to take your children to Italy but want the convenience of a tour with assistance on hand when you need it? These tours are specifically designed with families in mind. You can expect fun activities aimed at engaging your kids in the culture and beauty of the Italian cities and countryside. Relax and enjoy your travels as the logistics and bookings are taken care of.

Trafalgar’s Gladiators, Gondolas and Gold family tour of Italy

italy tours for families

Best for: Families wanting a first fun taste of Italy

Make history and culture come alive for your family on this fun tour of Italy’s major cities with Trafalgar. This well thought out itinerary has inclusions to keep the whole family entertained. From pizza making in Rome to taking photos with the famous leaning tower in Pisa, this will be a trip to remember.

Your tour price includes hot breakfasts, dinners on 4 nights and complimentary airport transfers. Accommodation is mostly 4 star hotels. This itinerary includes plenty of fun experiences however it is designed so you can set your own pace too. Perhaps some members of your group would like to explore the fountains of Rome while others take a nap. It’s up to you.

Trafalgar have designed an itinerary that works for the whole family with plenty of free time built in. The only question is, will your kids favorite moment be their ride on a gondola down Venice’s Grand Canal or the gladiator school in Rome.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Rome – Florence – Venice
  • Tour length: 10 days
  • Departs: May to September
  • Group Size: 40 – 45
  • Average age: 50+
  • Accommodation: 3-4 star hotels
  • Travel method: Coach
Click for details, prices and availability

Intrepid’s Northern Italy Family Holiday 

family italy tours

Best for: Exploring Venice to Rome as a family with like minded travelers

Intrepid’s family tour of Northern Italy is full of adventure and fun experiences for the whole family. Starting in Venice and visiting the Cinque Terre and Pisa before finishing in Rome, this tour gives the perfect taste of Italy. You’ll wonder at the beauty of the Venetian canals, swim in the Ligurian Sea and go on an art safari in Rome!

Your group of no more than 16 other travelers is led by an expert guide who knows how to keep the kids entertained. Intrepid have also included lots of exciting activities along the way such as mask making in Venice and gladiator school in Rome. Of course there will be plenty of time for gelato stops at each destination.

Breakfasts are included on most days as well as some dinners. You can take advantage of well priced optional extras such as a Cinque Terre cruise. Expect 3 – 4 star hotels and train transportation.

Intrepid’s itineraries are well though out and are ideal for those wanting a guided experience appreciate free time to explore on your own. Responsible travel is an important value held by Intrepid. They hire local tour leaders with in depth personal knowledge of each destination, use mainly public transportation and support local businesses.

At a glance:

  • Major stops: Venice – Cinque Terre – Pisa – Rome
  • Tour length: 8 days
  • Departs: June to September
  • Group Size: No more than 16
  • Average age: kids from 5 – 18 years of age plus accompanying adults
  • Accommodation: 3 – 4 star hotels
  • Travel method: Train plus some private transportation
Click for details, prices and availability

Last minute trips to Italy

best escorted tours italy

Did the stars align and you suddenly find yourself with time to spare for a trip to Italy? If you’re thinking of joining a tour we recommend browsing Tourradar and Stride Travel. These sites are marketplaces for multi-day tours where you can find great last minute bargains as the tour companies strive to fill their last remaining seats.

They are authorized tour resellers with direct relationships with the tour companies and strive to assist clients to make the best choice of tour for their travel style.

Tourradar has great deals on tours by Trafalgar, Globus, Intrepid and many other smaller tour companies. You can access their online travel experts dedicated to finding a tour that suits your timing, budget and interests 24-hours a day, 7-days a week – click here to browse tours of Italy on Tourradar

Stride Travel has the best deals for Perillo tours as well as some of the most popular luxury tours of Italy including Abercrombie and Kent and Tauck Tours. You can compare the inclusions, price and itineraries of different tour companies and enlist the services of their travel experts to find the right tour for you – click here to browse Italy tours on Stride

5 Reasons to choose a guided tour of Italy

italy sightseeing tours

  1. Get your bearings and build confidence for traveling on your own – this is a great approach for first time visitors to Italy who can use their tour as a launchpad for further adventures
  2. See many sights within a short timeframe without worrying about logistics or finding and booking your hotels – guided tours of Italy have this all planned out so you can relax and enjoy your vacation
  3. Access in depth knowledge and local experiences – your tour guides are there to make sure you enjoy the best Italy has to offer. Many companies now add special local elements such as farm dinners and special stays to ensure your tour is packed with special memories
  4. Meet likeminded travelers and form lasting friendships – tours are a great way to expand your social circle and meet people from all over the world
  5. Manage your costs – often if you tried to do all the things included in the tour on your own, you would find the costs are much higher

How to choose your Italy tour

italy tours from rome

Firstly, decide when you want to go and how long to stay in Italy. Deciding when to go to Italy is often a challenge so read our guide to the best time to visit Italy to help you make your plans. It includes the best months for sightseeing and visiting the beaches and popular cities. Spoiler alert – we like late May and early October!

The length of your trip is also a consideration. Most tours run for between 7 and 10 days. Don’t forget to factor in transit time to and from your home country into your plans. You might also like to add a few days on your own to explore a little at your leisure.

Next determine your budget. Most tours include land transportation only (not flights). So you’ll need to add the cost of your flights to Italy into your budget.

Tip: click to search flight deals on skyscanner

As a general rule, large tour groups generally involving travel by bus are the most cost effective. Smaller groups will attract higher prices but you will get more personalized service. Private and customized tours attract the highest rates.

Most importantly, know your travel style and how much assistance you want from a tour guide. There are fully guided tours and independent package tours for Italy to suit your preferences.

Things to look for

  • early morning starts and packed agendas – are you happy to be starting your days at 07:30am or do you prefer a more relaxed pace with lots of time to explore on your own
  • hotel standard – are you prepared to save some money on hotels or do you like some luxuries
  • hotel location – if you’re hoping to explore, a hotel out of town may not be a great option
  • group meals or free time to organize your own dinners
  • inclusions vs optional extras – would you like to choose additional activities or be led the entire way

Best sites to look for deals

Keep an eye on the tour company sites and sign up for their news. Offers are released regularly throughout the year. If you are trying to decide between a few tour companies and itineraries you can compare tour prices and trips on Tourradar  and Stride Travel. These sites have trip listings for departures up to 2021. You can read reviews by people who have experienced the tour and they often have great deals on early bookings and late departures.

Best Italy tour companies reviewed

seniors tours of italy

When you’re planning the trip of a lifetime, make sure you choose a reputable company for your tour of Italy. Here are some of the best and trusted tour operators

Trafalgar – with over 70 years’ experience worldwide, Trafalgar is a popular choice for good reason. The company is expert at designing itineraries that visit the highlights of Italy in the most efficient way in terms of cost and covering a lot of ground. The company makes sure that you can enjoy local experiences as well as sightseeing.  For example you can take advantage of their Be My Guest program, and dine with local families in their homes. Expect group sizes of around 40-45 and travel by coach.

Insight Vacations – with a more leisurely pace and clientele in the 60-70 age bracket, Insight Vacations are more upmarket than Trafalgar. Hotels are 4.5* and their buses have been designed to allow much more legroom than on standard coaches.

Intrepid – the world’s largest small group tour company, Intrepid are one of our favorite providers. With group sizes averaging only 10 people you can expect more personalized service and the ability to get off the beaten path. Intrepid have been recognized for their commitment to responsible travel and offer inclusive tours for all ages. They have over 50 itineraries for Italy with three different tour styles – Basic, Standard and Comfort.

Monograms – if you want to travel independently and plan your own spare time but want a set basic itinerary then Monograms is for you. They provide ground transportation, hotels and a brief tour at each place you visit. This unique service also includes a brief city tour and destination concierge who can help with dinner suggestions and other on the ground questions. With a variety of packages throughout Italy, this is a great solution if you’re finding researching your own trip overwhelming.

Contiki – aimed at the youth market aged between 18-35, Contiki tours generally attract under 30s making their first trip abroad without their parents. Fast paced and intense with early starts and late nights, these trips are definitely made with a young party crowd in mind. Contiki offers a great budget alternative to DIY travel but if partying is not part of your your travel style then think twice about joining a Contiki tour.

Rick Steves – if you’re a fan of America’s favorite Europhile, his company also offers group tours of Italy. With mid-sized tour groups of fewer than 30 travelers, they are a more intimate experience than the larger group tours. The price range reflects this midpoint. People traveling on these tours are usually American, aged 50+ and are interested in history and culture.

Onwards through Italy

affordable italy tours

We hope you have found a tour of Italy to suit your travel style, timing and budget. If you can spare a few extra days, why not add some additional time to the end of your trip to explore at your leisure. Your tour will give you the confidence to discover treasures of your own.

Buon viaggio!

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