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3 Best Italy itinerary ideas to copy for your trip to bella Italia

itinerary of italy ideas

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Dreaming of Italy but not sure how to build your itinerary? We’ve created these Italy itinerary ideas to get you started.Italy is a favorite destination for many travelers wanting to soak up the la dolce vita atmosphere, stunning scenery and of course try all the delicious food and wine. But how do you pull together an itinerary that ensures you see the places that interest you the most and have the experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime?

Top 3 Italy itineraries – adjust for your own trip!

After over 30 amazing trips to Italy traveling independently, we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to craft a travel plan. We know what it takes to make sure interests are met and the logistics needed to make sure the trip runs smoothly. While it may seem like you need to plan every last minute, you also need time to enjoy those gelato moments in the piazza.

Use these 10 day Italy itinerary plans as a guide but above all, make sure you add in the details that will make this trip special for you and your travel companions. This way you’ll have memories to cherish forever.

1. The Classic Trip or Grand Tour

classic itinerary of italy

Since the 19th century, visitors to Italy have followed this tried and true route that takes in the major cities and most popular sights.This itinerary is popular for first trips to Italy and will give you a taste of this magnificent country.Starting in Rome and its ancient treasures you work your way north to cultural Florence, with a quick stop in Milan before finishing in the beautiful lagoon city of Venice. For many people, this trip sparks a lifetime of adventures in Italy.

  • Best for: First time visitors to Italy who want to see the major highlights
  • Places visited: Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice plus day trip to Chianti in Tuscany
  • Start/end in: Rome or Venice. Try to arrange flights into one and out of other
  • Recommended transport: Train

Day 1 – 3: ROME AND THE VATICAN CITY

pantheon rome factsAll roads lead to Rome (or so they say), and the Eternal City is indeed one of world’s great metropolises – for over 2,000 years! When you visit Rome you walk in the steps of great emperors, Renaissance masters, poets and writers. With 3 days in Rome you can cover the highlights and explore its streets, iconic churches and fountains and hills. Visit the major attractions on separate days so you have plenty of time to enjoy them and the city.

  • Must see highlights: The Colosseum and ancient sites, admire the cultural treasures of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps for views of the city, look up in awe in the Pantheon, pose by the fountains in Piazza Navona
  • Where to stay: Read our city accommodation guide for Rome or jump straight to our preferred Airbnbs and hotels near the Pantheon (we think it’s the best area to stay)

Travel by train to Florence Travel time 1.5 hours • Check ticket prices and schedules

Day 4 – 6: FLORENCE & TUSCANY DAY TRIP

where to stay in florence

On the banks of the River Arno, Florence is a small city with a rich and glorious past. The Renaissance city nurtured the talents of Michelangelo and Galileo and influenced the politics and history of Europe for centuries.

Spend two days in Florence visiting its impressive cathedral (many people like to climb over 450 steps to the top of its dome), and soaking up the art at one of the world’s greatest collections at the Uffizi Gallery. Wander in and out of churches and across the iconic Ponte Vecchio and shop for artisan wares.

  • Must see highlights: The Duomo – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Uffizi Gallery, stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, admire Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery, take in the sculptures in Piazza della Signoria and the views from Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Recommended day trip: after all your city exploring, spend a day in the Tuscan countryside visiting the tiny city of Siena and picture perfect village of San Gimignano with a break for lunch at a winery overlooking the hills of Chianti. This Tuscany day trip from Florence will be a highlight of your trip.
  • Where to stay: Central Florence is small however there are some better areas to make your base. Read our Florence accommodation guide for details

Travel by train to Milan Travel time 2 hours • Check ticket prices and schedules

Day 7: Milan

milan travel guide

Italy’s second largest city is a hub of fashion, innovation and design. On this quick stopover you’ll only get a glimpse of this fascinating city where modern life meets history but it’s definitely worth your time. The city’s magnificent gothic Duomo and elegant shopping arcade Galleria Emmanuele II, dominate its historic center but you’ll want to venture further afield to admire Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted on the refectory walls of an unassuming church,

  • Must see highlights: The Duomo – make sure to visit the rooftop; shop, admire the architecture and people watch in the Galleria Emmanuele II, stand in awe of Da Vinci’s Last Supper (Pro tip – must prebook tickets well in advance), La Scala theater, and the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress
  • Tour suggestion: with only a short time in Milan, make sure to see the highlights and have time to shop and take this half day Best of Milan Tour – includes Last Supper tickets and Duomo rooftop
  • Where to stay: For this quick stopover choose a hotel close to Milano Centrale station. Read our Milan accommodation guide for suggestions

Travel by train to Venice Travel time 2.5 hours • Check ticket prices and schedules

Day 8 – 10: Venice

best time to visit venice

There is no city in the world quite like Venice. Built on a lagoon, this city of bridges and mysterious canals once ruled the seas as the world’s mightiest republic. Though hundreds have years have passed since Venetians held significant power, their wealth and influence is on display in the faded palazzi lining the Grand Canal and maginficent treasures of San Marco – the basilica, campinile and Ducal palace. Spend three days in Venice admiring her beauty and getting lost down the side streets and canals.

  • Must see highlights: Stand in wonder in Piazza San Marco, visit the Basilica San Marco adorned with jewels and mosaics, take a romantic gondola ride down the side canals,  enjoy the Grand Canal by private boat or even on the vaporetto water bus
  • Recommended day trip: if you have half a day or more and the weather looks lovely, take the water bus or this tour to the outer islands of the lagoon. Colorful Burano is bound to charm you.
  • Where to stay: Venice is a very small city but you need to choose your accommodation carefully. Go to our Venice accommodation guide for assistance

Extend this tripwhen to visit italy

Traveling for 2 weeks? If you love the idea of colorful houses perched on cliffs overlooking the sea add a side trip to the Cinque Terre for 3 nights (between Florence and Milan) and an extra day to Rome or Venice. You can reach La Spezia for the Cinque Terre easily by train from Florence with a quick stop off to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Do you prefer the countryside and visiting pretty hilltop towns? Use your extra days to spend time in southern Tuscany, Umbria or the undiscovered Le Marche region. For this option, renting a car or joining a tour would be best.

MORE INFO: This itinerary is popular with group tour companies and you can learn about how one of our podcast listeners enjoyed her trip on Untold Italy Ep.88 The Grand Tour

2. Southern Italy and Rome

southern italy itinerary including the amalfi coast
Southern Italy itinerary - visit the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Capri and more

Does the unparalleled beauty of the Amalfi Coast capture your imagination?If you like the smells and sounds of fresh sea breezes, jaw dropping views and delicious seafood and are a romantic at heart then this itinerary is for you.Fly into Naples and spend time on the Amalfi Coast and Capri, taking advantage of their proximity to Pompeii and the vibrant city of Naples. Then head up to Rome to enjoy the very best of the Eternal City to end your vacation.This itinerary can be done in reverse and flying into and out of either airport works too.

  • Best for: Sun seekers, sea lovers and honeymooners
  • Places visited: Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii, Naples, Rome
  • Start/end in: Naples or Rome. Try to arrange flights into one and out of other
  • Recommended transport: Private transfer to Amalfi Coast, local ferries, private driver, train to Rome

Day 1 – 4: Amalfi Coast or Capri

capri island

Choose a base on the Amalfi Coast for enjoying the incredible scenery of this world famous coastline. The major towns of Positano and Amalfi have the most accommodation choices but you may like to try one of the smaller towns such as Praiano for a quieter, more local break. Staying in Capri is also an option. From there you can take the ferry to Positano or Amalfi and avoid the day tripping crowds on the island.

Spend four days on the Amalfi Coast and you’ll be completely rejuvenated. You can swim in the sea, lounge on the beach, hike the famous Path of the Gods, take in jaw dropping views and feast on delicious seafood. Or do very little at all. Taking to the water on a private boat tour is our favorite thing to do.

  • Must see highlights: Sunset aperitifs, long lunches and browsing boutiques in Positano,  visit cliff top Ravello to discover exclusive villas with jaw dropping views, explore Amalfi’s cathedral and small passageways, hike the Path of the Gods, be transfixed by the natural beauty of the isle of Capri (a day trip there is a must do but stay on the island for the best experience).
  • Where to stay: There are advantages to staying in any of the Amalfi Coast town, find out which town will suit you best in our guide to the Amalfi Coast towns
  • Getting to the Amalfi Coast – whether you arrive into Naples or Rome airport, the most effective way to get to the coast is via private transfer. Public transportation will take 3 times as long and you’ll need to manage luggage across awkward terrain. For Capri take the ferry from Naples or Sorrento.

Travel by ferry or private transfer to Sorrento Travel times vary • Recommended transfers

Day 5 – 7: Sorrento

sorrento italy things to do

Perched at the end of the Sorrentine peninsula, Sorrento is perfectly positioned to make the most of the surrounding Campania region including the historic sights of Pompeii and Herculaneum. From Sorrento it is an easy trip into Naples, one of Italy’s most exciting cities. At the end of the day you can retire back in the seaside town, soak up the relaxed atmosphere and dine on the freshest seafood.

  • Must see highlights: Watch the colorful boats bobbing up and down in Marina Grande, visit the fascinating city of Pompeii destroyed by nearby Mount Vesuvius, discover the local cuisine on a food tour, spend at least a day in Naples eating pizza, visiting the Archaeological Museum and soaking up the exciting atmosphere. Or visit Reggia Caserta – a huge royal palace that is bigger than Versailles
  • Where to stay: Sorrento has many accommodation options from family run hotels to chic boutique establishments. Choose your favorite in our Sorrento guide

Transfer to Naples then travel by train to Rome Travel time 1.5 hours • Check ticket prices and schedules

Day 8 – 10: Rome

best neighborhood rome - spagna

Rome is a welcome addition to any Italian itinerary whether it is your first or fifth visit. You could spend months exploring the city and simply scratch the surface. If it’s your first time visiting the Eternal City, no doubt you’ll want to see the Colosseum and ancient sites, St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums plus the treasures of the historic center – Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

Returning visitors can explore deeper into the city and uncover more of its mysteries. Whether you love ancient history, Renaissance art or simply discovering new neighborhoods and browsing boutiques, you’ll find plenty of activities in Rome. The city is also a great base for a day trip or two before heading home.

  • Must see highlights: The Colosseum and ancient sites, admire the cultural treasures of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps for views of the city, look up in awe in the Pantheon, pose by the fountains in Piazza Navona
  • Discover Rome: wander the gardens and admire art at Villa Borghese, imagine Romans bathing at the Baths of Caracalla, stroll along the Tiber to the Jewish Quarter for lunch amid ancient ruins, soak up the panoramic views from the Giardino degli Aranci or Terrazza delle Quadrighe
orvieto umbria
Orvieto in Umbria

Extend this trip

If you have a few more days in your travel budget then you could spend some time in southern Tuscany enjoying the Val D’Orcia. Rent a car from the airport in Rome and drive up to this beautiful region featured in the book and movie of the same name Under the Tuscan Sun.

3. Northern lakes, mountains and Venice

northern italy itinerary 10 days
itinerary for north italy

Do you feel the call of spectacular alpine ranges and shimmering lakes? Then try this northern Italy itinerary that takes you from the serene beauty of Venice to the natural wonders of the Dolomites mountain ranges.

Start in beautiful Venice and enjoy exploring the canals and culture of this most unique city before heading to the mountains and lakes for hiking, village hopping and incredible views. This itinerary can be done in reverse and you could also fly into Milan.

  • Best for: Nature and adventure lovers who like a side of culture
  • When to visit: Avoid March/April/October/November when the mountain towns take a break between seasons
  • Places visited: Venice (or Milan), Lake Garda, Dolomites mountains
  • Start/end in: Venice or Milan
  • Recommended transport: Rent a car to see small towns and picturesque views

Day 1 – 3: Venice

venice travel guide

Arriving in Venice by water taxi is a memory you’ll cherish forever. The palaces of the city look down on you as your boat weaves its way through the traffic on the Grand Canal, presided over by grand palaces and domed churches. Venice is a city of wonders to explore on foot and get lost in its labyrinth of bridges and canals.

  • Must see highlights: Stand in wonder in Piazza San Marco, visit the Basilica San Marco adorned with jewels and mosaics, take a romantic gondola ride down the side canals,  enjoy the Grand Canal by private boat or even on the vaporetto water bus, cross the Rialto Bridge and browse the fish market
  • Explore Venice: spend half a day in Cannaregio (the Jewish Quarter), visit the Peggy Guggenheim gallery for a modern art fix, stroll the Giardini della Biennale, take in the views from the belltower of San Giorgio Maggiore
  • Recommended day trip: if you have half a day or more and the weather looks lovely, take the water bus or this tour to the outer islands of the lagoon. Colorful Burano is bound to charm you.
  • Where to stay: Venice is a very small city but you need to choose your accommodation carefully. Go to our Venice accommodation guide for assistance

Rent car and drive to Bolzano Take the Great Dolomites Road scenic route via Belluno (SS241) stopping at fairytale lake Lago di Carezza – driving time 3.5 hours • Recommended car rental

Day 4 – 7: Dolomites – Bolzano (or Cortina d’Ampezzo)

gardena pass dolomites

Recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding natural beauty, the Dolomites mountain ranges are 18 peaks that rise over 3,000 meters above sea level. Between the peaks and passes you’ll find pretty villages, clear mountain lakes and some of the most incredible views in the world. The mountains provide a natural border with Austria and Switzerland but you’ll find their cuisine and culture greatly influence this region.

Make your base in Bolzano, a lovely alpine city from where you can explore the surrounding area easily by car if your goal is touring and sightseeing. If hiking is a priority then choose Cortina D’Ampezzo from where you can walk the famous Croda da Lago circuit and Cinque Torri.

  • Must see highlights: Swoon over magical Lago di Braies (you can rent a boat or walk around it too!), drive the Passo Gardena (Gardena Pass) famous for hairpin bends and stunning scenery, explore pretty alpine villages – Ortisei, San Cassiano, Siusi; be awestruck by the peaks at Tre cime di Lavaredo and meet Ötzi, a 5,000 year old man frozen in snow, in Bolzano
  • Where to stay: Bolzano or Cortina D’Ampezzo – book early to avoid disappointment in peak summer/winter seasons

Drive to Sirmione, Lake Garda Driving time 2 hours with no stops

Day 8 – 10: Lake Garda

malcesine lake garda italy

Head down from the mountains to the crystal clear waters of Lake Garda. Popular with Europeans, the lake stretches 50 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide and is dotted with some of the loveliest villages in Italy. Garda has been a destination to relax since Roman times but you can be as busy as you like, enjoying local hikes, visiting villages by ferry or even venturing into nearby Verona. If you’re interested in wine, the Franciacorta wine region borders the lake. This sparkling variety is Italy’s answer to Champagne!

  • Must see highlights: Sirmione’s Scaliger castle, visit the ruins of an ancient Roman villa – Grotte di Catulo, ferry hop to lakeside towns – Limone, Malcesine, Riva del Garda, Bardolino; take the cable car to the top Monte Baldo for stunning views, visit Verona – one of the most charming cities in Italy, go wine tasting and feasting at Selva Capuzza 
  • Where to stay: Sirmione is a gorgeous town on the lake inside moated fortifications or try an agriturismo like Borgo il Mezzanino

Extend this tripWith two weeks in this region of Italy you can explore the lakes region further. We suggest 3 days in Lake Como staying at the pretty town of Varenna or you could make Como your base for easy access to the train for a day trip to Milan or a drive into nearby Switzerland and Lake Lugano.

What is your dream Italy itinerary?

itinerary to italy

We hope these itineraries have given you some ideas for planning your own trip to Italy. If you are ready to take the next steps and get started on a detailed plan then read our article – planning a trip to Italy.

Planning a trip to Italy?

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