My 9 favorite locations to visit in Italy on a first trip

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Italy is one of my favorite places to visit in Europe. There is so much to love about Italy, from the food to the sights to the history. And there is something for everyone in Italy.

There is something for everyone, from exploring the Colosseum in Rome to cursing through the canals of Venice or taking photos in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

But choosing which locations in Italy to visit, whether it is your first or even tenth visit, can be difficult. There are so many great places to visit.

This is the list of 9 of my favorite locations to visit in Italy, especially for first-time visitors and those who love to explore.

1 – Rome (Roma)

Rome, the Eternal City
Rome, the Eternal City

No visit to Italy is complete without a visit to Rome or Roma, the eternal city. You could spend a lifetime wandering the streets of Rome and never see every sight, but those on a schedule should plan at least three full days.

Rome is one of the world’s most amazing and beautifully chaotic cities, thanks to its thousands of years of history, delicious food, local markets, cats, and blockbuster ancient sights. Today, Rome is modern and vibrant, but it is also a tangled mess filled with some 2.7 million people and endless tourists.

One of my favorite spots in all of Rome is the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). Legend says that if you throw a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder, you shall return to the fountain one day.

Don’t miss: Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Campo de’ Fiori Market, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, pizza, gelato.

2 – Florence (Firenze)

The famous  Ponte Vecchio in Florence
The famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence

The bustling city of Florence (Firenze) is a dream for art lovers. It was here where the Renaissance began in the 14th century.

One of the most significant art masterpieces, Michelangelo’s original statue of David, is at the Galleria dell’Accademia. If you don’t have reservations, be prepared for long lines. Either way, the wait is worth it.

Another great activity in Florence is climbing the 463 steps up to the top of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo). Those who reach the top will find stunning panoramic views of Florence below.

Don’t miss: Ponte Vecchio, Statue of David at Galleria dell’Accademia, Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery, climbing to the top of the cathedral (Duomo).

3 – Venice (Venezia)

Venice grand canal
Venice grand canal

I’ve never met a person who did not want to visit Venice (Venezia) in their lifetime. I was one of these people before I made the journey myself.

Venice is a unique destination like no other on Earth. It is a magical city built on hundreds of islands, famous for exotic palaces lining sun-soaked canals.

One of the best ways to enjoy Venice is by wandering and getting lost. From Piazza San Marco, the central square, walk and get lost in the maze of narrow alleyways and bridges crossing small canals.

Many people decide to take day trips to Venice and miss its charm. During the day, the city is beautiful but crowded with tourists in nearly every alleyway. Those who spend a night here experience the real side of Venice, its quiet side.

Don’t miss St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, and Rialto Bridge.

4 – Sorrento

Stunning cliffs of Sorrento
Stunning cliffs of Sorrento

Rome is great, but Italy only gets better the further south you explore.

Sorrento is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to Naples, the Amalfi Coast, the island of Capri, and Pompeii.

The small town sits atop famous steep sea cliffs, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Capri in the distance.

Sorrento may not have the famous sights that Rome is well known for, but that makes it great. Visitors come to this coastal gem for ocean fishing, swimming, beach activities, ocean diving, boat cruises, orange and lemon groves, hiking trails, and seafood and Mediterranean fare restaurants. It doesn’t get much better.

Don’t miss the scenic town square, restaurants serving pizzas and seafood, sea cliff views, and beautiful architecture.

5 – Capri

The island of Capri
The island of Capri

The island of Capri is one of the most magical and romantic islands in the world. The beautiful island that rises from the blue waters of the Bay of Naples is a perfect mix of piazzas, Roman ruins, fantastic ocean views, and cool cafes.

Like other destinations in Italy, Capri is full of tourists during the day. Those who stay overnight are lucky to experience a different side of the island, one that is more magical and quiet.

For the best views of the island and the surrounding area, hop on the chairlift and head up Monte Solaro, the highest point of Capri at 1,932 feet (589 meters). On a clear day, you can see the Amalfi Coast.

Don’t miss: Anacapri, Blue Grotto, Faraglioni Rocks, chairlift up Monte Solaro, and snorkeling at Marina Piccola beach.

6 – Positano and the Amalfi Coast

Positano and the Amalfi Coast
Positano and the Amalfi Coast

Undoubtedly, the Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

The bus drive from Sorrento along the Amalfi Coast is simply stunning. You will be amazed how a bus can traverse the many hairpin turns of the narrow road that somehow clings to the side of steep ocean cliffs. If you make the journey, be sure to bring your camera. You will be taking photo after photo.

Those who want a picturesque, chic town should head to Positano. This town jewel features pastel-colored houses that rise from the ocean to the cliffs above. Another great place to visit is Ravello. The town perched high above the Amalfi Coast offers sweeping views of the surrounding area.

If you are based in Sorrento, consider taking the bus to the Amalfi Coast and returning by boat from the dock in Positano.

Don’t miss: Amalfi Town and Amalfi Cathedral, Positano, Ravello, Paestum

7 – Assisi

The hill town of Assisi
The hill town of Assisi

Assisi is a beautiful medieval hill town located in the Umbria region.

The town is best known for being the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. Not surprisingly, the most famous site is the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, the final resting spot of St. Francis. He is one of the most famous and beloved saints in Italy.

Medieval houses line the cobbled stone streets that lead up to Rocca Maggiore, an imperial fortress that keeps watch over the city below.

Assisi makes a great day trip by train if staying in Rome or Florence.

Don’t miss: Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, Rocca Maggiore, Basilica of Santa Chiara, sweeping views of the countryside below.

8 – Vernazza and Cinque Terre

Vernazza, one of the towns of Cinque Terre
Vernazza, one of the towns of Cinque Terre as viewed on the way to Monterosso

Vernazza, the jewel of Cinque Terre, is one of my favorite places to visit, partly because Rick Steves let the secret out.

Head to the harbor to find the best action, outdoor restaurants, and even a bar hanging at the castle’s edge. To get the best view of the town, head in either direction up the steep terraced hills surrounding the harbor.

Vernazza is a village in Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. The other villages, built on steep landscapes directly on the ocean, are Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail) is an excellent walking trail connecting the five villages.

Don’t miss : Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail), classic town views from the terraced hills, Vernazza, town harbor, strolling down Vernazza’s main street, other Cinque Terre towns.

9 – Siena

Rooftops of Siena
Rooftops of Siena

Siena is a famous medieval Tuscan town a few hours north of Rome by train.

The town’s historic center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, is in the center of the town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you are lucky enough to be in Siena on July 2 and August 16, you can watch Palio di Siena or Il Palio, a competitive and exciting horse race that draws thousands of people. Ten riders, one from each city ward, circle the piazza three times, taking up to 90 seconds.

Don’t miss: Piazza del Campo, Mangia Tower, Siena Cathedral, medieval architecture.


When visiting Italy for the first time, you must make big decisions. If you can’t fit all these places in on your first visit, remember that you will probably be planning your next trip back by the time you get home.

Last Updated on April 17, 2024

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My name is Anthony and I am addicted to traveling all around the world experiencing new people, cultures, and foods. These are some of my stories.

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