Are you planning a trip to Europe and looking for memorable things to do in Italy? If so, then you need to look no further than right here! Traveling abroad can be overwhelming when deciding where to go and what activities to pursue. Let this be your guide to find the hidden gems, plan a road trip when deciding what to do in Italy. These seventeen memorable places in Italy will take the worry out of your planning and make it easy to build the perfect travel plan.
It doesn’t matter where in the country you are traveling, there are many places to see in Italy. This country is a timeless place with a lot of visual stimulation and historical curiosities. From the top of the boot to the heel and toe, there are a depth of wonders to behold and enjoy when planning your itinerary. Let us take you on a journey to see the best landscapes, beaches, villas, and activities that are sure to make your trip the most memorable. This list will explore the most magical aspects of things to do in Italy and be sure to make your trip the most memorable!
Whether you are planning your 10 days in Italy, have a bit more time and are spending 2 weeks in Italy, or renting a car and doing an Italy road trip, our customized and free planning itineraries will help you choose the best that Italy has to offer! Many of these top things to do in Italy are included!
17 Memorable Things To Do In Italy
Tour the Colosseum
Italy is a country rich in history and tradition, the Colosseum is no exception to both of those. When looking for things to do in Italy, the Coliseum should be on the top of your list. The Colosseum is located in Rome, in the very center of the city. The Colosseum was built from travertine, volcanic rock, and brick faced concrete. It is the largest amphitheater ever built, designed to hold 50,000 spectators. This architectural marvel was built to host re-enactments of hunts, battles, and the very well know gladiatorial events! Roman architecture was ahead of its time using underground tunneling systems (hypogeum) to transport its animals, competitors, and actors, which would then be elevated above ground through a shaft. Very little of the main arena floor exists now, but you can still see the hypogeum.
When visiting the Colosseum, for the best and least crowded experience visit during the tourist off-season, typically November to February and during its first or last hour of being open; be aware that there is no visiting this beauty and Wonder of the World on Christmas or New Year’s Day. There are many tours that will take you through this ancient destination, be sure to pick the one that’s right for you and your time. The Colosseum is guaranteed to start or end your travels the right way when looking for a memorable holiday.
Explore Boboli Gardens
Next on your list of things to do in Italy is explore the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Another great destination of Italy that is also founded in history and intrigue. These gardens were built in 1594 and are located adjacent to Palazzo Pitti. Boboli Gardens are known as a beautiful open aired museum and the largest green space in Florence. The Boboli Gardens are open every day and offer never-ending visual and sensory stimulation for the most casual to the most engaged of visitors. When exploring the gardens, make sure to see the famous Fountain of Neptune, the Viottolone, the Boboli Gardens Amphitheater, the Fountain of Ocean with the Isolotto, and Grotta Grande. These multiple attractions make the Boboli Gardens one of the top things to do in Italy.
Italy offers many activities that can appeal to everyone. The Boboli Gardens are there perfect destination and getaway to cater to everyone. Boboli Gardens offer beauty and history and is sure to engage all aspects of the intellect. This wonderful pit stop on your journey is well worth your time and schedule. If you have time for only activity or destination when in Florence, this is the place to see. As museums go, Boboli Gardens is top of the list and will definitely be one of the most memorable things to do in Italy.
Visit the Island of Capri
The Island of Capri, located in the Bay of Naples is a must see on your things to do in Italy list. If you are looking for the beautiful jewel tones of the Mediterranean, Capri is the perfect spot. This island is one of the most well known islands in Italy and one visit here you can see why. Known for its rugged landscapes and incredible cliffs, this small getaway off the coasts of Sorrento and Naples offers the perfect escape. This small island is a playground for the fun-loving adult with a taste for the finer things. Capri is full of boutique shops and hotels and is not short of fine dining. If you’re not staying for the night, even a day trip is necessary when you plan your schedule.
Once on the island, take a dip in the warm waters of the royal blue Mediterranean and if you’re interested enough, ride in a rowboat to explore the famed Blue Grotto, which in of itself should be on your list of things to do in Italy. This absolutely stunning grotto is resplendent with crystalline blue waters. If a boat ride isn’t your thing, check out all the boutique and kitschy shops throughout the island. Or stop and grab gelato at one of the many gelato shops dotted along the island. This small but gorgeous island deserves to be in the top of your tour of Italy to do list.
Go on a Gondola Ride in Venice
Are you planning a honeymoon or romantic getaway and looking for memorable things to do in Italy? Or just something to do with some friends to explore the city with waterways for streets? If you answered yes to either of these questions, a gondola ride in Venice is an absolute must. Venice was built in 450 A.D, on a city of upside down trees. The trees were used in combination and rock to solidify the ground to allow for the building on top. With this unique structure, the only way to travel is by boat or on foot. Cars are not able to access the city and must be parked. Traveling through the canals by boat at a low set speed is the only way to reach many destinations. The sheer amount of planning that went into this city over 15 centuries ago, make it a pure marvel and worth seeing when looking for things to do.
With this unique infrastructure, gondola rides make for a very easy going or romantic way to travel through the city. This easygoing way to travel allows you to see the city without the noise of a boat motor behind you. If you’re feeling swept up in the atmosphere of one of the oldest cities in Italy, ask for your gondolier to sing for you. One of the best things to do in Italy, gondola rides can vary in price, distance, and offerings. The city does have set rates, but during peak times are considered a polite suggestion and not guaranteed. Make sure you fine tune the price and length with the gondolier before you begin your trip.
The Ruins of Pompeii
If history is your thing, the ruins of Pompeii is definitely a destination on your things to do in Italy. Located at the base of Mount Vesuvius, this once coastal and ancient city was buried under lava and ash in 79 A.D. The eruption and lava happened so fast that many citizens were buried in the instance of whatever activity they were doing. This lead to the ability for excavators to see Roman life in real time, so to speak.
You can tour Pompeii on your own or with a guided group. See the remarkable casts of the Pompeii citizens; or view the amazing frescoes that are throughout the city. If you happen to notice graffiti, rest assured it is from the original citizens of Pompeii. If touring on your own, allow for three to four hours of exploring. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear and respect the area, no littering or other actions that can harm this preserved city. Pompeii ruins are definitely unique, as no other location exists like it anywhere in the world, which is why it makes the list of things to do in Italy.
Visit Volterra for Authentic Italy
Just south of Florence, located in the Tuscany region, is the walled town of Volterra. This city is guessed to be an inhabited location since 8 B.C. and became part of Rome at the end of 3 B.C. Volterra remained part of the Florence region and rule until the 15 A.D. century. At that time, it was taken control by the Medici’s, which ruled the house of Tuscany. It has a long rich history and contains beautiful structures from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods; this allows for a historically and architecturally unique city.
When creating your memorable list of things to do in Italy, make sure to stop at this ancient city. While there, explore the Piazza dei Priori, is a Tuscan medieval town square. This Piazza hosts the Palazzo dei Priori, which is the oldest town hall in Tuscany, built in 1257 A.D., this fine building is where the citizens went to handle city business and disputes. Next, tour the Volterra Cathedral, which was enlarged in the 13th century after being damaged by an earthquake. This cathedral houses amazing frescos and works of arts that are a must see. If you have time for only one more activity, make sure you look at the Etruscan Walls of Volterra. These ancient walls, which house the entire city of Volterra are preserved and worth a study as you walk the perimeter of the city.
Stay on the Cliffside in Positano
When you think of things to do in Italy and look for images, few things are more iconic than Positano. This colorful city was built in the 13th century on the side of a cliff along the Amalfi coast. This city is lined with narrow streets that trail down to the pebble covered beach. When traveling up and down this cliff, there are many little boutique hotels and shops for you to admire and appreciate.
When finding a place to stay, pick a hotel or vacation home that offers the panoramic view of the coast. The beautiful sapphire waters will give you a definite memorable sunset on your vacation. If you pick a higher location on the cliff, you will be sure to see over the other buildings and have that amazing view of the Mediterranean and that famous Amalfi coast. While there, make sure to explore the warm waters of the beach or visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. This church was built during the Byzantine Empire, it is a very welcoming church with a lot of architectural interest.
See How the Other Half Live in Positano
While in Positano and scratching this stunning seaside destination off of your things to do in Italy list, take a step back and observe how the other half life and experience the luxurious life. After picking your luxe cliffside hotel, explore like only the rich and famous do. From seaside fine dining to sunning yourself on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, there are many things you can do to experience this glamorous life.
Start your day with a nice cafe and breakfast by the shore. After that explore and shop in the little boutiques; purchase handmade leather shoes. After a light lunch, hop on a boat and sun yourself on the deck, then jump into the warm sapphire waters. After a nice day on the water, head in for dinner and sunset at a posh sea-view restaurant, followed by a fun filled evening where you can kick off your shoes and dance the night away at a local disco. Finish your long and luxurious day, by heading back to your panoramic hotel room and enjoy the plush bedding. Wrapping up your time in Positano as unforgettable.
Discover the Vatican
The Vatican is located in Vatican City. Vatican City, is a city-state, is an independent territory surrounded by Rome. The Vatican is sovereign and under the exclusive dominion of the Holy See. Vatican City, founded in 1929, covers just 109 acres and an approximate population of 1000. Vatican City houses museums, sculptures, and the infamous Sistine Chapel. This city is ripe with history and architectural interest; making this one of the most culturally dense places in Italy.
When thinking of the best things to do in Italy, Vatican City is worth the effort. Within the city, you can must see the Sistine Chapel. This Holy place is filled with amazing art and frescoes, including Michelangelo’s, “The Creation of Adam.” After being awestruck in the chapel, head over to St. Peter’s Basilica. Located in the Piazza San Pietro, St. Peter’s Basilica was built in 1506 during the Italian Renaissance. The sculpture and architectural design will definitely enflame your historical intrigue. After that, take the time to explore the Vatican Museums. These museums house an immense collection of art and sculptures, all collected throughout history by the various Popes. This is just a small taste of all there is to see in Vatican City and it is recommended to stay more than one day to explore what this medieval city has to offer.
See the Fairytale Castles in Tuscany
There are eighteen total castles in Tuscany and there are two that are right out of fairytales that you need to see! These two castles will definitely be happy editions to your best things to do in Italy list.
Castello di Malaspina, located in Fosdinovo, was built in 1340. This castle sits on top of a rocky hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian Coast. Once a military vantage point became a prison until 1946. Castello di Malaspina is a beautiful fortress with amazing gardens and very well preserved brick structure. You can explore this castle and it is well maintained. From the top turret, be swept away into the world of imagination and think of how Rapunzel might have viewed the coast.
Castello del Boccale, established in the 16th century by the Medici family is one of the most visually stunning castles. Located on the edge of a rocky cliff, you are most sure to see mermaids swimming in the waters around it. This castle is amazing to view from the shoreline or the water, unfortunately, you cannot go inside, as it now hosts private residents.
Click Here to see more Tuscan fairytale castles.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
If you have never heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, consider this your introduction to sheer magnificence. This experience is one of the things to do in Italy that cannot be skipped. The City of Pisa is located in Tuscany and was established in 1372. This city is specifically known for the Leaning Tower of Pisa and its no wonder why. This architectural anomaly has inspired many photographs of visitors creating the illusion that they are holding this tower up.
Completed in 1372 this 186′ bell tower is located next to the Piazza del Duomo, which is also worth a visit. The tower took 199 years to complete, due to various issues with stability, ownership, and squabbles over who should complete it. The tower currently has a four percent tilt due to soft ground not able to hold the weight of the structure during its construction. The tower has survived four substantial earthquakes, due to its very stiff building and the soft subsoil, it absorbed the vibrations and kept it still standing. Shockingly, the soft sand that almost caused it to fall, is what allowed it to stay standing.
Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
In the northeastern region of Italy lies the mountain range known as the Dolomites. Part of the souther region of the Alps, they reach an overall elevation of 10,968 feet. While this range is a vision amongst itself, it also houses the Lago di Braies. Lago di Braies is a glacial lake and has the most beautiful turquoise waters.
Since this is a glacial lake, in the winter it is covered in ice and snow, but in the summer has the most breathtaking blue and green water. This lake is located at 1500m above sea level. Part of Pragser Wildsee, Lago di Braies attracts all adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. If you are willing to make the hike around the lake, you will not be disappointed by the stunning nature that surrounds you and the lake. And while the lake is considered to be a bathing lake, be aware that that water is cold, even in the summer.
Soak in the Tuscan Hot Springs
After braving a jump into the Lago di Braies, now it’s time to enjoy the warmth of the hot springs in Tuscany. There are four hot springs that are free to access and provide amazing thermal bathing. One of the best things to do in Italy, is allow yourself time to relax and enjoy the hot baths that Mother Nature offers.
The hot springs in Bagni di San Filippo are not only a nice warm soak, but also interesting natural views. These spring are easy to find and access. Exploring them you can find waterfalls and pockets of cool water mixing with the warm, creating beautiful blue waters. Saturina Hot Springs are another location worth visiting. These hot springs are warm year round and worth visiting. Make sure to come early to avoid the crowds. The other two that are free and worth visiting are Bagno Vignoni and Petriolo, both are also stunning to visit and definitely worth the stop on your hot spring tour. For more about the springs please see our article here. Remember, these are natural environments, so please respect the surroundings and leave nothing behind.
Shop in Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
If exploring the countryside and ruins are not for you, there is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, but you won’t be shorted on spectacular visual excitement. The Galleria is the oldest active shopping mall in the country. Designed and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in 1867, this Galleria was named after the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. This shopping mall is more than just a place to shop, but a place to marvel and the architectural ingenuity and feats. It features two four story glass domes, This structure covers a pedestrian street and connects The Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scalla.
Walking under this majestic overhang, you are surrounded by shopping, cafes, restaurants, and a hotel. A visitor or local could easily spend a whole day here and never run out of things to do our see. Most of the shopping and amenities are luxury company’s and brands, but don’t let your pocketbook stop you from visiting this place and it is one of the most intriguing things to in Italy.
Taste the Wines of Val d’Orcia
If traveling along the hills of Siena to Monte Amiata, you will be passing right through Val d’Orcia. This area has inspired everything from Renaissance art to modern day photography. These hilly nation is broken up by quaint and picturesque little villages. These breathtaking green hills are filled with sunflowers and vineyards and encompasses the Orcia river, of which its name was derived.
Once you get to this peaceful and seemingly untouched valley, visit Pienza, “the Ideal City.” This majestic locale hosts the Pienza cathedral and the Piccolomini Palace. After checking out these historical sites, head to a wine tour and tasting. With many wines coming from this valley, you will be sure to enjoy the flavors or Tuscany while soaking in the awe-inspiring scenery, making this one of the most memorable things to do in Italy.
Relax on a Sicilian Beach
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, located at the edge of the “toe” you can get to Sicily by car over a large bridge connecting the mainland to island, by ferry, by train, and by plane. There is really no reason you shouldn’t visit this amazing island and no excuse to miss it. Sicily is surrounded by the most beautiful and clean beaches. The Sicilians are friendly and the food is amazing. Once you’re there, visit the town, but really just be ready to relax on the beaches of this island.
There are many beaches to visit on Sicily, but let’s focus on the three best ones. If you are traveling with your family, all the beaches are great, but one stands out as the best. Cefalu, is located in Palermo, and the beaches here are soft and sandy with a clear blue water meeting its shoreline. This beach offers the scenic background of the city of Cefalu. There is also Scala dei Turchi, this location is off a rocky cliff of Realmonte. The white cliffs surround an endless crystalline blue water. The water is so perfect, you won’t hardly be able to believe you are on the planet Earth. And last, Torre Salsa, just south on Montallegro, you are transported to another time. Virtually unmarked, this beach has sandy shoreline as far as the eye can see and is surrounded by amazing seacliffs and sand dunes. As the deep turquoise water laps at your feet, you will not regret your decision to visit this location, marking it as one of the best things to do in Italy.
Explore the Cinque Terre Villages
Cinque Terre is another beautiful location carved out of the rugged seaside of northwestern coast of Italy. Located along the famous Riviera, the Cinque Terre consists of five separate villages. These villages are not reachable by car from the outside and can only be accessed by walking paths, trains, and boats.
Start by exploring Doria Castle, located in Vernazza it is guessed to have been built during the 13th century, this castle is surrounded and built into rock edifices and worthy of your time. After this exploration, head to Via Fegina beach in Monterosso al Mare. This beach is beautiful, surrounded by warm blue waters, the village of Monterosso creates the perfect backdrop to a relaxing day. When in Manarola, walk along the Via dell’Amore street. This street runs about a kilometer long and overlooks the sea, we suggest you do this at sunset and take in the majestic sunset this coast has to offer.
Riomaggiore is the largest of the five villages and has a boasting nightlife. This village has a plethora of places to eat and drink. With the abundance of locations to go, getting a table at a restaurant last minute is usually no issue. The oldest of the five villages is Corniglia. Located in between all the villages, this location sits on top of a hill and has a 370 step staircase leading from the bottom to the top, or the top to the bottom depending on how you look at it. This small little village is often overlooked due to its location, but don’t let that fool you. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will be rewarded with less crowded streets and sites as tourism is less here than the other five villages.
This little collection of villages will captivate you with their quaint mountainside establishments, hillside vineyards, docks full of boats and spectacular seafood; putting this on your list of memorable things to do in Italy.
As you can see, there are limitless activities and things to do in Italy, that truly make this a destination country. Whether you want to rub elbows with the elite, take a scenic ride and see the vistas, engage in activities like hiking, shopping, exploring, whatever you want to do, Italy has it all.
Remember to plan ahead to make the most of your trip and be kind to the natural environments. Leave them just as you found them and help protect all these beautiful places for future generations.