Gorgeous countryside, cities with ancient lineage, incredible art and architecture, fabulous food and wine, all make Italy one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations. With plenty of fun activities for family holidays, and sun-soaked Tuscan villas, coastal beaches, and relaxing spas for luxury escapes, Italy is a great option for any kind of holiday.
Where to Go in Italy
Italy is home to some truly incredible cities—Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice—each of which is a fantastic holiday destination. Rome is unique for its integration of historic sites such as the Parthenon and the Colosseum into the city’s design and way of life, while Milan, as one of the world’s fashion capitals, is a trendy, sophisticated and modern urban centre. Venice, with the sheer romance of its canals and its stunning architecture, is simply magical. And Florence, where the Italian Renaissance was born and flourished, is full of beauty.
Valle d’Aosta, located near Mont Blanc, is a fantastic alpine destination, popular with skiers in the winter, and hikers in the summer. The valley is somewhat out-of-the-way, but is accessible by air, train, and bus from Milan and other cities.
As the heel of the country’s boot, Puglia is in the perfect location in Italy’s glorious south, with endless stretches of sweet-smelling olive groves, rolling hills topped with tiny towns, spectacular coastline, and gorgeous beaches. Puglia isn’t well-frequented by tourists, which makes it a great destination for independent travellers who enjoy getting off the beaten track.
What to See and Do in Italy
- The Colosseum and The Pantheon are two of Italy’s most well-known historic sites, and both are incredibly awe-inspiring and even moving. Each is more than two thousand years old, and both are deeply evocative of the city’s ancient history.
- Another must-see historical site of interest in Rome is The Vatican Museums, which houses the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, an absolutely glorious example of a Renaissance-era church.
- In Puglia, the limestone caves at Grotte di Castellana are well worth a visit. These comprise Italy’s largest network of subterranean caves, and can be viewed via a guided tour of one to two hours.
- Also in Puglia is the historic site of Alberobello, with its unique conical trulli homes, built centuries ago from limestone. The coastal town of Trani was also built predominantly from limestone, which has earned it the nickname of the Pearl of Puglia.
- Ride the Mont Blanc cable car, which starts in the village of La Palud, and ends in the town of Charmonix in France.
- Visit Italian castles in the Valle d’Aosta region, including Gamba castle at Chatillon, the castle of Issogne, and Sarriod de la Tour at Saint-Pierre.
- In Venice, see the Piazza San Marco and St. Mark’s Basilica, two gorgeous examples of the city’s unique architecture.
- The Dolomites in the Veneto region of Italy are full of beautiful landscapes, and small towns and villages, each with at least one or two sites of interest. Perhaps the most impressive sight in this region is the Visdende Valley, which in English means “the valley worth seeing”, and it definitely is.
- Tour Tuscany’s vineyards, either by taking a self-guided tour, or by touring with a guide or sommelier. If you decide on a self-guided tour, note that it’s typically necessary to make reservations at the vineyards you want to visit.
- Visit the Galleria dell’Accademia diFirenze in Florence to see Michelangelo’s David, as well as many other fantastic works of sculpture and art.
- Another must-see museum in Florence is the Palazzo Vecchio, which features stunning frescoes, paintings, and sculpture, and a spectacular view from the top of the museum’s tower.
- See the Ruins of Pompeii in the Campania region in the south, considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
- The Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci’s master work, can be viewed at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan; however, it’s recommended to make a booking for this well in advance of your trip, as only small groups of 20 to 25 can view the painting at once.
- Milan is home to many of Italy’s oldest churches, including the Duomo, and Saint Mary of the Graces. Some are ornate and richly decorated while others are very simply designed, but all are simply beautiful.
Need to Know Info
The official currency of Italy is the Euro. The official language is Italian, and while this language is spoken by the vast majority of residents, there are distinct dialects that can be heard in various different parts of the country.
Across most of Italy the climate is Mediterranean in nature, with hot dry summers and cool wet winters. The climate is highly variable, however: the weather tends to be drier on the east coast, and slightly colder in the winter months. The south in general is warmer, with temperatures in the mid to high 30s not uncommon during the peak of summer, but typically several degrees cooler in the north. Similarly, while wintertime temperatures often reach lows of -20 degrees in the Alps, across most of the country’s cities, temperatures range from -10 to 10 degrees in the coldest months.
Travellers entering Italy by air typically land in Rome, Milan, or Naples. Overland travellers can also enter the country by car, train, and bus. Several ferry services are also in operation, travelling between Italy and neighbouring coastal countries, including Corsica in France, Greece, Albania, Croatia, and Montenegro. Ferries also travel between Scicily and Naples, and from these locations to harbours in North Africa.
As Italy is a member of the Schengen Agreement, travellers from many European countries don’t require a visa to enter the country. All other travellers must declare their visit within eight days of arriving in the country, and a visa is not required for a visit of less than 90 days. Note that Italy’s borders with Austria, France, Slovenia, and Switzerland are open, without customs or passport checks, but people entering the country must still declare their visit within eight days of arrival. The border between Italy and Switzerland is not open, and customs and passport checks can occur.