12 Must-visit Destinations in Italy: Plan Your Dream Vacation

January 4, 2024

Italy is forever. Rome, Venice, Parma, the Dolomites. These places are forever present in our travel bucket lists, and the only problem is that once we go, we don’t want to cross them out but add more new places we want to experience. 

Whether influenced by films, TV shows, glamorous events, or celebrities savoring the summer or celebrating an extraordinary wedding in Tuscany, each year brings an anticipation to explore undiscovered corners of Italy. 

Here are 12 must-visit destinations in Italy for you to plan your next trip, add to your bucket list or gloat about the ones you have already visited with friends and family.

Duino window with forest and body of water blue sky

Visiting these Italian destinations only once is never enough. Photo credit: Jacob Morch


Choosing where to travel in Italy

So, how does one go about finding the perfect Italian vacation spot?

Whether you’re traveling to Italy alone, as a couple, as newly-weds, with kids or as part of a larger group, there are countless stunning places to include in your travel plans.

Read along to learn about the must-see regions and specific destinations that shouldn’t be missed on the trip of your dreams. Andiamo!

Amalfi Coast landscape

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular tourist spots in Italy. Photo credit: Silvia Trigo

The Dolomites mountain range

A mountain range located in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites’s 18 peaks span an impressive 350,000 acres and act as a backdrop for stunning locations like Lake Garda and Cortina d’Ampezzo, among others.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in August 2009, the Dolomites are an absolute must-see, and considering the number of incredible destinations nestled amongst them, it can be a difficult task to choose the top three must-visit destinations of the Dolomites, so we have decided to share our top three Dolomites picks.

Lake Garda

As the largest lake in the country, Lake Garda (Lago di Garda or Benaco in Italian) has always been a firm favorite among visitors to Italy. The idyllic surroundings of the lake are bettered only by the spectacular views which await you at the Dolomites.

You can enter the mountain range from the northern half of the lake, spend summer days pottering around the picturesque villages dotted along the water, and capture photos not even the greatest filter could compete with.

lago di garda body of water mountains blue sky

No picture can do justice to the peace and joy you’ll feel strolling around Lake Garda on a beautiful summer day. Photo credit: Julia Boiun

The town of Cortina d’Ampezzo

Decided that this will be the year you finally hit the slopes? Or maybe skiing holidays have always been your forte? Either way, it’s high-time you make your way to Cortina d’Ampezzo, a stunning town nestled in the province of Belluno, and just 30 minutes from the stunning Passo Giau, or Giau Pass.

Located in the heart of the Dolomites, the town is a veritable paradise in winter; ideal for anyone interested in snow sports, eager to visit the locations featured in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, or keen to simply relax in a setting just made for a little cozy R&R.

Small town Cortina d'Ampezzo mountains and blue sky

For a white winter of skiing, or for extraordinary hiking routes, or for delightful recreation and relaxation, Cortina d’Ampezzo will be a town to remember. Photo credit: Zairon

The town of Bressanone

As idyllic in winter as it is in summer, this town is the perfect choice for anyone who appreciates the traditional fairytale aesthetic.

Narrow streets, proud steeples and enough cultural and historical touchstones to keep any tourist interested, Bressanone is a must-visit if you plan to experience the Dolomites.

mountains and green field with blue sky bressanone brixen

The oldest town in Tyrol, Bressanone (also known as Brixen) is an all-year round resort. Photo credit: Andreas Felske

The region of Emilia-Romagna

The region of Emilia-Romagna is located in northern Italy, and it boasts a staggering 13 UNESCO Heritage Sites.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also home to Parma, Bologna and Modena, cities that we’re certain you’ve heard of before, for various delicious reasons. So, Emilia-Romagna is certainly worth devoting time to when drawing up your travel plans!

The city of Parma

Lauded for its architecture and art history, Parma guarantees its visitors a multi-sensorial experience. Famed for its rich gastronomy scene, it was named UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in 2015. In addition, this friendly university city was Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2020. 

Of course, you must try the Parmigiano (Parmesan) cheese which has its own PDO, and is the adjective for Parma.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Parma’s rich gastronomy scene and famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese make it a must-visit destination in Italy. Photo credit: Udo Schröter

The city of Bologna

If Parma has piqued your interest, you’ll definitely want to look at Bologna with us. It’s one of our top must-visit destinations in Italy.

The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe, boasts more than 50 museums and, like Parma, is certainly worth a visit if food features highly on your list of holiday indulgences.

Architecture and sign with man walking in Bologna Italy

Bologna’s charming architecture, delightful porticos and extraordinary food alternatives characteristics of the Emilia-Romagna region will make you fall in love with the city. Photo credit: Maria Laura Catalogna

The city of Modena

The third destination in the Emilia-Romagna region worth considering is the picturesque city of Modena. The birthplace of the late operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, Modena is nestled between Parma and Bologna, and less than an hour’s drive from both.

Famed for its culture, cuisine and cars—Ferrari named one of their models after the Italian city—Modena is also home to UNESCO World Heritage sites. Have a delightful coffee the Italian way at the Piazza Grande, marvel at the fantastic Duomo of San Gimignano and climb the Torre della Ghirlandina (Ghirlandina tower).

Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss getting your hands on some Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO.

woman eating balsamic vinegar and Italian oil

The quality of the ingredients, from Parmesan to Balsamic Vinegar, make Emilia-Romagna a must-visit destination for foodies. Photo credit: Ron Lach

The region of Lazio

Traveling south through the country from Emilia-Romagna, you’ll arrive in Italy’s Lazio region. Lazio is divided into four distinct provinces, and is also home to the country’s capital, Rome.

One of the most popular cities among travelers to Italy, it’s easy to assume you know what to expect from the capital, but that’s not always the case! There is, after all, a reason why Rome is known as La città eterna, or “The eternal city.”

houses near trees

Beyond Rome, Lazio offers picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, lakes, and coastline. Photo credit: Robert Anitei

The city of Rome

Rome offers something different to visitors on any and all seasons. The poet Tibullus is credited to be the first person to call the city Urbs aeterna, we’re talking a few years BC here. 

Since then, almost anyone that has visited the city has eventually said it’s “The Eternal City,” and how could it not be, when you’ll find yourself discovering something new every single time you visit.

Not to mention, you’ll certainly throw a coin at the Fontana di Trevi wishing for a certain return to La città eterna. Rome is, without a doubt, the must-visit destination in Italy.

If you’re looking for a way to approach the eternal city in a different way, look no further, from a Premium Colosseum Tour that will take you to places you haven’t had access before, to an Underground Tour of Rome, literally. And how about visiting the Colosseum, but at night? Rome is, indeed, an eternal city.

Colosseum at night, Rome

Views of the Colosseum at night in Rome. Photo credit: Matteo Basile

The region of Marche

The Marche region borders the aforementioned Emilia-Romagna region. Often overlooked in favor of Tuscany, Marche is equally as picturesque, and most definitely worthy of inclusion in any travel plan! Made up of five provinces, we’re about to focus our attention on the Pesaro and Urbino region, more specifically, the city of Urbino.

The city of Urbino

Set on a hillside, this medieval walled city is an absolute must-visit destination for fans of Renaissance history and artwork.

Home to the Palazzo Ducale, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the palace boasts one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance art in the world.

Every August, Urbino celebrates the Festa del Ducathe Duke’s Festival–which pays homage to the city’s medieval history, and gives locals and tourists alike an opportunity to immerse themselves in the spirit of the city.

Views of Urbino with people having a picnic

You’ll be charmed by Urbino’s architecture, history and art, by their streets and people, their celebrations and gastronomy. What’s not to love? Photo credit: Marche Tourism

The region of Tuscany

One of the most popular destinations in Italy, it’s no real surprise that Tuscany features on our must-visit destinations in Italy.

Home to the beautiful cities of Florence, Pisa, and Lucca, among others, it’s likely you may feel overwhelmed by the number of incredible destinations at its core, so let us guide you a little and offer some other Tuscan destinations that you must visit.


Tuscany is in a league of its own.

The city of Siena

If immersing yourself in the history and architecture of a city by slowly meandering its narrow streets strikes you as the perfect way to spend time in Italy, Siena should feature highly on your must-visit destinations list.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, the Tuscan city is as postcard-perfect a destination as you are likely to find in Italy.

Awash with awe-inspiring churches, idyllic piazzas and peppered with a host of restaurants to pique even the most casual foodie’s interest, Siena is a must-see for anyone eager to lose themselves in the sights and sounds of a much-loved medieval city.

If you’re wondering what to do in Siena, you have plenty of options.

Siena is definitely one of the must-visit destinations in Italy

Siena is the perfect postcard town that will make you feel like in a fairytale. Photo credit: Alessandro Rossi

The region of Veneto

Less than two hours north of Emilia-Romagna, the Veneto region is home to one of the most iconic cities in Italy, if not the world.

And yes, you guessed it, that city is Venice!

While it’s a city definitely worth visiting all year round, if you’re planning a trip to Italy in February, here’s why you need to make sure the Veneto capital is at the top of your list.

The city of Venice

The Venice Carnival is among the most famous festivals in the world, so why not get involved and tick it off the bucket list? With that said, the city will definitely be busier than usual during these days. Every year, visitors travel from all over the world to watch parades, attend balls, celebrate street parties, and marvel at the distinctive masks which feature predominantly throughout the Italian city for two weeks.

The Venice Carnival is a truly magical interlude in the lives of Venetians, and all those who travel far and wide to take part in the celebrations.

If you decide to include Venice in your visit, make sure to check out our tours in the city to make the best out of the city in a unique and special way.

While the city is certainly a favorite for tourists, there’s still plenty of non-touristy things to do and see in Venice.

Venice gondolas and architecture

Think Venice; think canals, think gondolas, think carnivals! Photo credit: Soroush Karimi

The region of Basilicata

Basilicata, which is home to two provinces, Potenza and Matera, is steadily gaining in popularity among visitors to Italy. Matera was even awarded the European Capital of Culture in 2019, and here’s what you can expect from it…

The city of Matera

Matera is home to Sassi di Matera–an ancient city which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1993–and has direct links to a considerable number of Hollywood productions.

The Italian city has featured in The Passion of the Christ, Wonder Woman and the remake of Ben Hur, among others!

Matera Italy Church of Saint Mary of Idris

You’ll feel like you’ve time traveled, or at least are in your own movie, walking around the città vecchia of Matera. Photo credit: David Pryke

The region of Sicily

“Long-legged Italy kicked poor Sicily into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea…”

For many of us, an early introduction to Italian geography came in the form of this schoolyard rhyme, so while we might be able to visualize Sicily in our minds, how many of us have treated ourselves to a trip there? Either way, you may have seen sights of Sicily in movies, TV shows and documentaries, especially if you like food.

Sicily is quite a big island, so you’ll definitely need time, or many visits, to explore it fully, but let’s see Agrigento, a destination you just must visit if you’re still choosing places to visit in Italy for your next trip.

aerial photography of brown town near ocean

Sicily’s charm is spreading far and wide, fueled by its increasing popularity as a favored location for film and television productions. Photo credit: Jacek Dylag

The city of Agrigento

On Sicily’s southern coast lies the city of Agrigento; one of the main must-visit destinations in Italy for anyone interested in archaeology and ancient history.

It’s in Agrigento that you will find the archaeological site, Valley of the Temples, or Valle dei Templi in Italian, which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997.

As the name suggests, the area is host to a number of temples–seven, to be specific–all in various stages of preservation, and undoubtedly worth your time during any trip to Sicily.

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Italy

One of the Agrigento temples that you can visit in Sicily. Photo credit: cattan2021

Update Notice: This post was updated on November 25, 2023.

by Niamh McClelland

View more by Niamh ›

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