A view of the famous Corniglia Village in Cinque Terre National Park in Italy.

Things to do in  Italy

La dolce vita, indeed

Home to cultural masterpieces, treasured cuisine, and a relaxed “la dolce vita” vibe, Italy is the land of inspiration and aspiration. The country holds the world's most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but there are endless things to do in Italy beyond exploring the Colosseum and marveling at Michelangelo’s David. Sip bold red wines in Chianti’s cellars, mingle with celebrities on the Amalfi Coast, feast on authentic pizza napolitana in Naples, and switch up your look in Milan’s boutiques—everything is possible in la bella Italia.

Top 15 attractions in Italy

Colosseum

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The Colosseum has been a symbol of Rome since 80 AD, and today it’s a top monument in Italy. Some 50,000 spectators once gathered in the amphitheater’s tiered seats to watch gladiator games. Though parts of the original marble facade were pilfered over the years to build the likes of St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum remains remarkably intact 2,000 years later.More

St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

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The crown jewel of Venice, St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is an ornate cathedral that blends elements of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance architecture. Topped by soaring domes and replete with astonishing golden mosaics, the church is so opulent it is known as the Chiesa d’Oro, or the Golden Church.More

Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia)

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Once one of Europe’s oldest drawing schools, Florence’s Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) is now one of the city’s most visited museums, home to Michelangelo’s 17-foot-tall (5.2-meter-tall) David. Other treasures on display include Renaissance paintings by artists such as Botticelli and Lippi, unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, and a collection of rare musical instruments.More

Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)

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No matter where you are in Florence, chances are you'll spot this famous Duomo, a defining element of the city’s history, geography, and identity. Beneath its red-tiled dome lies Florence’s largest church, officially called the Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori. The Duomo complex, which houses the Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo), the Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni), and Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto) is the city’s most famous landmark.More

Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

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A sprawling mass of ruins, the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was once the center of the ancient Roman Empire, with temples, courts, markets, and government buildings in full swing until the 4th century AD. All that remains of the Forum Romanum today is an array of ancient Roman ruins and triumphal arches, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy. More

Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)

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Home to some of Italy’s most important art collections—from paintings and sculptures to tapestries and classical antiquities—the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) are among the country’s top attractions. Explore the Pinacoteca, Egyptian Museum, Gallery of Tapestries, Pius-Clementine Museum, and Gallery of Maps, before admiring the crown jewels in the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), famed for Michelangelo’s ceiling and The Last Judgment.More

Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)

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The Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi) house one of the world’s most significant collections of art, drawing in more than a million annual visitors who wish to cast their eyes upon its many masterpieces. Set in the heart of Florence, the museum contains the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Giotto, among others. It is the premier place to view Italian Renaissance art and is the most-visited museum in Italy.More

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

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Michaelangelo's spectacular 16th-century ceiling frescoes are the biggest draw to the Sistine Chapel, one of the most celebrated and visited sights in Italy. The monumental The Last Judgment, which covers the apse wall, is the artist’s best-known work and one of the most influential masterpieces in art history. The chapel also holds works by Sandro Botticelli and Pinturicchio, Michalangelo's predecessors, and serves as a glorious homage to Renaissance art.More

Milan Duomo

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Offering the most exuberant example of Northern Gothic architecture in Italy, the spiky spires and towers of Milan's Duomo (Duomo di Milano) dominate Piazza del Duomo, the city's beating heart. One of the highlights of a visit to the cathedral is the view from the roof, where you can scope out Milan from the highest terrace surrounded by statues. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the Italian Alps.More

Palatine Hill (Palatino)

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Of Rome’s seven legendary hills, Palatine Hill (Palatino) figures most importantly in the capital’s history and lore. It is said that Romulus founded Rome on this hilltop, and many of the city’s most important archaeological sites dating from ancient times are located here.More

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

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The powerful Doges ruled the Venetian Empire from the Gothic fantasy palace that is Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) until 1797. The site was one of the first things those arriving in Venice saw as their ships sailed through the lagoon and landed at St. Mark's Square, and the doges ruled with an iron fist—justice was often meted out here. Today, the site is one of the most well-known attractions in Italy.More

Da Vinci's Last Supper (Il Cenacolo)

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Each day, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) draws hundreds of art-loving visitors to the unassuming refectory of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie for just 15 minutes with the painting. Arguably Milan's most famous 15th-century wall mural, the artwork can only be seen by booking entrance tickets in advance or signing up for a guided city tour.More

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

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The enormous St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) dominates Vatican City, and its dome can be seen from all over Rome. Built on the site of St. Peter's crucifixion, it's the epicenter of the Catholic Church and sits atop many papal tombs. The lavishly adorned basilica is the largest church in Italy, and it's also a museum full of priceless works of art—including Michelangelo's sublime Pietà and Bernini's bronze baldachin on the high altar.More

Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)

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Towering above Florence, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi) is an important engineering and architectural feat. Completed in 1436, the fact that this symbol of the city still stands tall over the Duomo more than 600 years later is testament to Brunelleschi’s mastery. Climb to the top for some of the best views over Florence.More

Ponte Vecchio

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The historic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The three lower arches of this 14th-century bridge span the Arno River at its narrowest point between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, and a stretch of the famous Vasari Corridor runs along its top. Situated on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with pocket-sized jewelry shops and packed with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colorful palazzi lining the river bank.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Italy

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour
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Expert Guided Tour of Colosseum Underground, Arena and Forum
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Expert Guided Tour of Colosseum Underground, Arena and Forum

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Pompeii, Amalfi Coast and Positano Day Trip from Rome
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Skip the Line: Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Guided Tour
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Skip-the-Line Tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's | Small Group
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Colosseum VIP Access with Arena and Ancient Rome Tour
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Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence
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Small-Group Wine Tasting Experience in the Tuscan Countryside
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Skip the line: Uffizi and Accademia Small Group Hidden Highlights Walking Tour
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Skip the Line Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St Peter Small Group Tour
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Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence with Optional Hiking
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Rome in a Day Small Group Tour with Vatican and Colosseum
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All about Italy

When to visit

It’s always a good time to visit Italy. Still, there are some things to keep in mind. The Italian summer high season is punishingly hot and crowded, but it brings magical events like outdoor operas and seasonal festivals. To hit the sweet spot of warm weather and fewer tourists, visit in spring from late May through June and early fall from mid-September through October. In August, most Italians hit the beaches, and traveling gets particularly hectic.

Getting around

The busiest airports are in Rome and Milan—from these cities, you can reach nearly all of Italy via train, the most convenient travel option. High-speed Trenitalia lines like the Frecciarossa connect major urban centers, InterCity (IC) trains zip between them and mid-sized cities, and regional trains link small villages via slow, affordable routes. Euro budget and national airlines are options, while ferries from Civitavecchia, Genoa, Naples, and elsewhere service the Mediterranean from Sicily to Sardinia.

Traveler tips

Here are some general rules for a smooth Italian sojourn. Ordering a cappuccino after midday is a faux pas and best avoided. Purchase bus tickets from train stations, newspaper stands, cafes, bars, or tabacchi shops—but not on the bus itself. Most Italian cities have fountains with potable water, so there’s no need to buy plastic bottles. Cover your shoulders and ankles when entering churches. When visiting someone’s home, bring a small gift—flowers, wine, or pastries.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code
+39
Language(s)
Italian
Attractions
842
Tours
26,630
Reviews
826,938
EN
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People Also Ask

Why is Italy so famous?

Known as il bel paese, or the beautiful country, Italy stands out for its wealth of art and architecture, ancient ruins, pretty landscapes and seascapes, unparalleled cuisine, and relaxed “la dolce vita” lifestyle. The country’s world-class fashion and design seal the deal for Italy’s top spot as a travel destination.

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What should you not miss on a trip to Italy?

The “Big Three”—Rome, Florence, and Venice—are must-see Italy destinations for their concentration of ancient sites, artistic masterpieces, and unique cityscapes. While marveling at the Roman Colosseum, Michelangelo’s David, and the Venetian canals, be sure to also try Italy’s food and wine and browse the country’s traditional artisan workshops.

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How many days in Italy is enough?

You could spend a year exploring Italy and still not cover all of its treasures, so consider that you’ll need at least seven to 10 days to visit the top three cities (Rome, Florence, and Venice) plus pop into a smaller town or two to experience Italy’s quieter side.

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What are the three most popular tourist attractions in Italy?

The ancient Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa near Florence, and Venice’s Grand Canal are the three most iconic sights in Italy. Other top contenders include the Roman ruins of Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, Liguria’s Cinque Terre, and the northern Lake Como.

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What is the most beautiful part of Italy?

Italy has more UNESCO-listed cities and landscapes than any other country in the world, so choosing the most beautiful is a challenge. The northern Dolomites, Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia, the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre coastlines, and rolling vineyards in Piedmont vie for the title of Italy’s most picturesque spot.

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Is Italy safe to visit?

Yes, Italy is safe to visit. It has very little violent crime, especially involving tourists. Pickpocketing and other petty theft are common in larger cities and tourist towns, so always keep your documents, valuables, and smartphone safely tucked away while exploring and avoid walking alone late at night.

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Frequently Asked Questions