If you are looking for things to do in Italy, look no further. This expansive list has everything from taking a gondola in Venice to hiking the Cinque Terre. Get ready, here is everything you need to do while you visit the boot of Europe.
Italy is way larger than you’d think. Home to 20 regions, you’ll find things to do in Italy that will fit your vacation perfectly. Whether you are hoping to enjoy a beach vacation or an intense and bustling city, Italy has it. Want to go on a rigorous hike? Say no more. Hoping to eat your weight in carbs? Sure! In the mood to check out some famous art? Why not. You will not get bored here, I promise you that.
Some of my favorite travel bloggers from around the world have gotten together to share their favorite things to do in Italy with you! You could basically build an itinerary off of this list (paired with my Italy travel guide of course), and run out of time before you got through seeing what Italy has to offer.
What Is Italy Known For?
Italy leaks history through their world famous architecture and art found throughout the country. The Colosseum, The Last Supper, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Statue of David are all famous pieces you can see for yourself in the big boot!
Italy is certainly known for its food as well. Food in Italy is held up on a pedestal, which I am definitely not complaining about. You will find food everywhere you go, so stuff your face while you visit. I won’t judge!
Italians are proud. They’re proud of their history, culture, and who they are as a society. Respect that, and you won’t have any problems. People in Italy also focus on quality and value. You will see this throughout the entire country, be it fine wine, cheese, pasta, or clothing.
Italy is a country that is known for its beautiful beaches, vast wine regions, rich culture, and people. It doesn’t really compare to anywhere else in the world; where else is it socially acceptable to spend the day eating gelato, pizza, and drinking wine?
The 13 Best Things To Do In Italy
Without further ado, here is our list of the best things to do in Italy. Make sure you add these to your Italy itinerary!
1. Wander the Streets of Rome
One of Andra from Our World To Wander‘s favorite things to do in Italy is to wander the streets of Rome. Rome has a special vibe, a romantic charm that gets all over you. And the best way to feel this ancient city is by simply wandering around, going from street to street and just immersing yourself in its authentic atmosphere. What I love most about roaming around the streets in Rome is the fact that each one of them leads to an iconic place, be it a statue, a building hiding unique architectural details, a museum, or simply a delicious pizzeria. Forget about maps, about wanting to go to a specific place. Just follow your instinct and for sure you will be spoiled with wonderful surprises. Also, don’t be afraid to get lost. The narrow cobbled streets of Rome are the best place to get lost in! Keep in mind that eventually, all roads lead to Rome.
2. See Davini’s ‘The Last Supper’ In Milan
Katy from Untold Morsels can’t miss seeing The Last Supper while she is staying in Milan. Are you an art lover? Then don’t miss viewing one of the world’s greatest paintings in Milan. The Last Supper is a giant piece by Leonardo da Vinci on the walls of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan. Da Vinci painted this masterpiece continuously between 1495 and 1498 for his patron Ludovica Sforza, ruler of the city. The painting depicts Jesus last dinner with the 12 apostles. Often thought to be a fresco, the scene was painted on dry wall. This is how Leonardo achieved the intensity and luminosity of colour and pigment. Even if you are not religious, you are likely to be moved by the characters in the painting that were based on real people Da Vinci knew in Milan. Viewing The Last Supper is one of her favorite things to do in Italy. If you want to see it for yourself, make sure to book tickets in advance.
3. Walk Through The Villages Of The Cinque Terre
Her favorite thing to do in Italy is to walk between the villages of the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre consists of five small seaside villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) on the Italian Riviera coastline. The colorful fishing villages are connected to each other and to other nearby towns by train, boat and hiking trails.
While she enjoyed spending time relaxing and exploring the picture perfect villages, she especially loved walking on the trails that connect the villages. Hiking is the best way to capture breathtaking views of villages, the coastline and the surrounding vineyards. Make sure to bring a GoPro or a camera to capture those Instagram worthy photos!
4. Spend A Day At Lake Como
Sally from Luxurious Lifestyles says you can’t miss visiting Lake Como while you are in Italy!
Lake Como is a great place to visit year-round. During the summer months, it is hot and packed with tourists from all over the world. During the winter months, it is very quiet and can be cold. Many of the luxury hotels are closed during this time.
For Sally, the best time to visit is the Spring and Fall. The temperatures are mild and there are not as many tourists. During her stay, she stayed at the 4-star Hotel Metropole Suisse in Como. It is located near the train station and directly across the street from the lake. Her favorite restaurant there is Breeze Inn. There are many boat companies offering lake tours which is a great way to see the area!
She opted to take a scenic drive to Cadenabbia and take the Ferry across the lake to Bellagio. While in Bellagio go for a great light lunch and wine at Enoteca Cava Turacciolo. It’s an 18th Century cellar, completely restored, and stocked with more than 300 labels of local and national wines!
5. Enjoy A Spritz in Venice
Natasha from The World Pursuit can’t go to Italy without stopping for a spritz or three in Venice.
She has been to Italy six times, and her absolute favorite thing to do is go to Venice and enjoy a Spritz. A Spritz Veneziano is a wine-based cocktail served as an aperitif in Northeast Italy. There is no way you can miss the endless signs for them around Venice.
Spritz is typically made with prosecco (or champagne) wine, a dash Campari, and topped off with some sparkling water. It’s best enjoyed outside on a patio overlooking the canals and watching life pass by.
The best part about the Spritz is that it’s completely affordable! They found some establishments serving the cocktail for less than two euro! Their favorite Spritz was located at Bacareto Da Lele for a mere €1.50.
6. Check Out The Markets in Palermo
One of Talek from Travels of Talek‘s favorite things to do in Italy is to wander the streets of Palermo. Don’t forget to stop by the food markets!
Palermo, the capital of Sicily is awash in UNESCO heritage sites (more than any other city in Italy), beautifully renovated plazas, and graceful fountains. But as impressive as Palermo’s architectural gems may be, the true city, the guts of Palermo are experienced in its markets, streets, and food.
When we visited Palermo, the street our hotel was on was closed for an ice-cream festival so people could wander, sample the ice cream and other street food.The pedestrianized streets made strolling around the vendor’s stalls easy and pleasant. Palermo has many plazas which operate like the city’s living rooms filled with little cafes, music venues, art exhibits and strolling citizens.
Another great place to wander to soak up the culture is the city’s open-air food markets. There are three principal pones but Ballaro is the biggest and, many say, the best. Besides selling fruit and vegetables, these markets also sell tasty little snacks for about €1 – €2. It’s fun to try as many as you can, especially the “arancini” little fried rice balls.
7. Explore The Food Scene In Bologna
Kate from Our Escape Clause brings you one of her favorite things to do in Italy, eat! More specifically, check out the food in Bologna.
Italy is easily one of the foodie capitals of the world–and Bologna (plus the Emilia-Romagna region in general) is the foodie capital of Italy.
With a reputation like that, you know the food has to be truly incredible!
From delicacies like truffles to the original versions of incredible foods that have been watered down outside the local area (ever eaten bologna or spaghetti bolognese? You need to try mortadella and tagliatelle al ragu!), eating in Bologna is an event unto itself.
Whether you head out on a food tour (ever wanted to check out a true parmigiano-reggiano factory? This is the place!), try your hand at a cooking class, check out the food markets or simply sit down at a restaurant and go wild with the ordering, experiencing the food in Bologna is a travel experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
8. Explore The Churches, Cathedrals, and Basilicas in Rome
It is pretty easy for Sherrie from Travel With A Sherrie Affair to pick her favorite thing to do in Italy – to explore the churches, cathedrals and basilicas. And there is no better [place then to do this than of course…Rome!
From the very first time she went to Italy and stepped in the Vatican, she became obsessed. Yes, she is Catholic, so this fascination makes it a little more understandable.
It is hard to put in words on what you see when you go to Italy in regard to their churches. To have somewhat a visual on size, their churches are like our cathedrals in the United States. The basilicas are so large you could fit several cathedrals in them!
The intricate details, stain glass windows, mosaics, sculptures, paintings, artifacts and relics are just so stunning you will be in awe. You may hear some people use the comment “If you have been in one church in Italy you have seen them all”.
I disagree! If you believe this, then you have not experienced or taken the time think otherwise. Whether it be a church, cathedral or basilica each is very distinctive in its looks and history.
9. Eat Pizza in Naples
Christopher from Rudderless Travel is taking one of the most important things to do in Italy: eat pizza. Let’s talk food. If you’re in Italy, eat everything in sight; breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The chances of having a bad meal are slim because you’re in a country where their entire foundation is centred around food. When it comes to pizza, well that’s a hot button topic in Italy. Pizza is a heavily debated topic that crosses towns, neighbourhoods, cities and regions. This isn’t just happening in Italy; pizza is even debated in other countries around the world. In New York City, for example, debates about where to find the best pizza are going on right now!
If you’re going to get into an argument over the best pizza, it’s best to start in the city where it was born. However, during his 96 hour Naples itinerary, he learned that most pizzerias only sell two kinds of pizza. Christopher’s favourite is the Pizza Margherita, invented in honour of the Queen of Italy Margherita of Savoy and the Italian unification.
Margherita pizza toppings are symbolic of the Italian flag; tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green). This pizza is made with simple local ingredients; sauce, cheese, basil, olive oil, salt and thin pita. 10 minutes in a wood oven and bada-boom, bada-bing – delicious!
10. Ride A Gondola In Venice
Greta from Greta’s Travels says you seriously can’t miss taking a gondola ride while you are planning your list of things to do in Italy.
One of her favourite things to do in Italy, which is also one of the most traditional activities, is going for a gondola ride in Venice. Venice is famous for its vast network of canals, which act as the streets of the city. Gondola tours have become one of the main tourist attractions in Venice and can be pretty pricey, with prices for a private gondola starting at around 80 EUR for 25 / 30 minutes and 120 EUR for 45 minutes.
There is no need to book beforehand, as you wander the streets of Venice you will find the local gondoliers at almost every corner and you can pick the one you prefer when you’re there! I recommend starting your gondola tour close to Rialto Bridge, as the water is more still than around Piazza San Marco and the view just as scenic.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Italy, this traditional Venice activity can’t miss from your bucket list!
11. Stroll Through Towns Like Bellagio in Lake Como
Arzo from Arzo travels says that strolling through towns like Bellagio in the Lake Como region are a necessary thing to do in Italy. Italy is full of wonderful places and there is no shortage on great things to do. One of my several trips to Italy has been strolling the beautiful town of Bellagio in the region of Lake Como. Bellagio is, and I hate to say it, way prettier and more colorful than its more famous neighbor Como. Strolling the narrow streets and walking the old and famous, cobble stone staircase, where many cute shops and stores are lined up, is one of the highlights. But there is more to do in Italy. Walk the beautiful water promenade, and enjoy an espresso at Lake Como – that’s probably the perfect definition of La Dolce Vita. Another highlight is to enjoy a great dinner in the mountains – the views of Bellagio and Lake Como from there are one of a kind. One day in Bellagio is probably not enough to discover all of its beauty – but it is enough to do all of the above mentioned activities. And I am pretty sure that this will be a day that you will always remember – this one perfect day in Bellagio, which was one of the highlights of your Italy trip.
12. Visit the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua
Gábor from Surfing The Planet reccommends adding the Basilica of Saint Anthony to your list of things to do in Italy. Here’s why:
Padua is a small town in the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, but it possesses far larger cultural and religious heritage than you would expect from its size. This is where one of the most antique and most prestigious universities have educated some of the greatest intellects of European history, but the most famous personality connected to this city is Saint Anthony.
Therefore the Basilica of Saint Anthony is naturally the number one on the list of the most important places to visit in Padua. The basilica was built in the 13th and 14th century with a striking brick façade from the Romanesque era, but it also has elements from the Gothic and later periods.
Many pilgrims visit the church to see this Basilica to remember Saint Anthony whose body is found in a small chapel on the Northern end of the Basilica. Part of our family comes from a village near Padua, and therefore we consider Saint Anthony as our saint, too. For us visiting this church is embracing the cultural and religious background of Padua and the Veneto Region.
13. Hike The Dolomites of Trentino
Claudia from My Adventures Across The World can’t miss this hike while she traverses Italy!
One of the nicest things to do in in Italy is hiking in the Dolomites of Trentino. This mountain range, part of the Alps, is spread across the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto. The Dolomites are so unique that they have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO protected sites.
The Dolomites of Trentino are packed with excellent hiking trails, of various levels of difficulty: from short and sweet, yet rewarding hikes like the Alta Via dei Monzoni, in Val di Fassa, or Corno Bianco in Val di Fiemme, to more difficult via ferrata in other parts of the region. Either way, this is hiking paradise. The best time to visit to enjoy all the hikes is in the summer, up until October – when the temperatures are warm, yet not hot, and there’s less chances of rain (or snow).