Italy is a stunning country to explore! Especially, if you’re after a little jaunt to the coast, to gorge on all the Italian food or even looking for the best cities in Italy to stroll around. And for me, that’s what makes Italy so special… the diversity of things to do.
There’s something just so special about Italy and a whole heap of diversity, too. I mean, you can literally go from the north to the south of Italy and feel like you’re in a totally different country. The culture, food, cities are all just so different and totally unique.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to Italy once, twice or fifty times, I’m almost certain you’ll wanna go back and see so much more. Well, this is what always happens to me in Italy at least.
That’s why I wanted to share some of the best cities in Italy you should think of visiting. Yes, some are going to be the big-hitting cities like Rome but I’m hoping you’ll find a few surprises too.
Take a look below at the best cities in Italy to visit this year. You’re going to have an epic trip. 🇮🇹
Perched in northern Italy, Bologna is one of the best cities in Italy to visit, especially if you’re a foodie!
Pretty easy to get to, Bologna is a great stopping point on your trip through Italy and has a shed load of history. Once you arrive, pop over to Piazza Maggiore, which is the main city square and look out for Neptune’s statue. Afterwards, take a stroll to the Basilica of San Petronio which so vast that it is classified as the tenth largest church in the whole world.
Now, Bologna is pretty famous for its pretty tasty meals. Once you’re here, make sure to grab some Tagliere (cold meats) with a glass of wine in the evening. If that doesn’t float your boat, try Zuppa Inglese which is a totally sweet treat and similar to trifle.
For a great restaurant, head straight over to Trattoria di Via Serra who actually make one of the most delicious Zuppa Inglese in the city.
Perched in the gorgeous countryside of southern Italy, Matera is an ancient Roman city that still stands to this day.
Once you’re here, take a wander to Sassi di Matera which has some incredible views over the historic city and the countryside that surrounds it. That being said you can also learn more about the Sassi and the caves once you’re here.
It’s thought that the caves themselves date back around 9,000 years (being some of the first settlers in Italy). The whole area was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status and you’ll easily see why when you visit.
Afterwards, pop into Dedalo for one of the best restaurants in the Sassi of Matera itself. The restaurant is stunning (being built into a cave) and the food is just delicious.
Florence is, for me at least, one of the very best cities in Italy everyone has to visit. Perched right in the heart of Tuscany, it’s a pretty big city that’s spawned the Renaissance and was once the most wealthy cities in the world (back in the Middle Ages).
If you wanna explore some of the art and museums, pop over to Uffizi Gallery, which showcases work from some of the most influential artists of the Renaissance. Though, if you’re not interested in art, you might wanna give this a miss.
Now, I’m going to be mentioning churches quite a bit but Florence Cathedral is a must-see in the city. To be frank, it’ll be hard to miss! Afterwards, make sure to walk along as well as Ponte Vecchio, a medieval-era bridge spanning the Arno River.
Also, make sure to watch the most gorgeous sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo. It’ll take around 25-minutes to stroll up from Ponte Vecchio and is well worth it.
Finally, for a massive (and I mean massive) Florentine steak, pop over to Buca Mario’s. Perched in a 16th Century Buca, I had to roll myself outta here when we visited.
Perched high in the hills of Sicily, Ragusa is one of the best cities in Italy to visit on your trip to this island. Part of the Val di Noto cities, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is just beautiful and totally timeless.
Apparently, people have lived in Ragusa for well over 4,000 years, and it’s easy to see why! Once you’re here, make sure to visit Ragusa Ibla (the historic centre), see the Duomo di San Giorgio and gorge at Duomo that has some of the tastiest food in the city.
If you plan to stay in Ragusa, make sure to also stay in the old town area of the city. It’s so quaint and just too good to miss out on.
Now, Bergamo was a total surprise to me and was actually meant to be a fleeting stop on one of our trips to Italy. What a mistake that was! Bergamo is a beautiful place that’s well worth visiting in its own right.
Only around 50-minutes from Milan, it’s pretty easy to get to, especially for the historic part of Bergamo. Once you arrive, head out to explore La Citta Alta, see the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and stop for an espresso in Piazza Vecchia.
Bergamo is a stunning city to visit and one that certainly can be included on your road trip across Italy.
Nestled within Umbria, Perugia is one of the best cities in Italy to visit that’s a perfect stopping point between Florence and Rome. Once you’re here, make sure to see the 16th Century fortress of Rocca Paolina, visit Piazza IV Novembre and explore the little streets of the Old Town itself (that’s right on top of a hill).
For a really authentic stop for food (and a tipple), pop into Vineria La Fraschetta (on Via Antonio Gramsci). It’s a quaint little restaurant that has some of the best home cooking and charm you’ll ever get in the city. It almost feels as though you’ve stepped back 100 years.
Being the fashion capital, Milan is one of the best cities in Italy to explore that has loads to see.
Once here, make sure to see some of the incredible pieces of art, such as the infamous Last Supper, which is housed at Santa Maria delle Grazie. Obviously, make some time to see the iconic Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Royal Palace. If you’ve got time, during your trip, head inside Castello Sforzesco and also visit one of the museums (I love Museo del Novecento).
After a few days of exploring, you can even pop over to Lake Como which is only around 50-minutes from the centre of Milan itself. I drove here and it was super easy.
Oh, and for somewhere really cool to stay, check into the Armani Hotel that’s right in the heart of Milan.
Sitting south-west of Verona, Mantua is an ancient Italian city that sits on the banks of three lakes.
Once you’re here, make sure to visit the Basilica di Sant’Andrea, see Palazzo Te and explore Ducal Palace. They’re all so stunning and you’ll easily spend a day wandering this relatively small Italian city.
Oh, and for some of the best piadinas in Mantua, head across to La Piadineria. You’re gonna love it!
Naples has something of a reputation about it but don’t let that put you off, it’s a gorgeous place and one of the best cities in Italy that’s south of Rome.
As the capital of the Campania region, Naples is home to loads of great stuff to see and do. Once here, stroll on over to the National Archaeological Museum, which has the largest (in the world) collection of artefacts and trinkets from ancient Rome.
If you’re fancying some music, head into Teatro di San Carlo, which is the oldest opera house in the entire country. Also, make sure to wander to the Catacombe di San Gennaro, Spaccanapoli and the stunning Palazzo Reale.
Oh, and let’s not forget the food! Yeah, you’ll find loads of pasta dishes here but probably one of its most famous exports is pizza! Once you’re here, you’ll just have to gorge on some Neapolitan pizza which is pretty easy to find. Now, the pizza itself is a combination of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, yet in order to be truly Neapolitan (or so I was told), those tomatoes must be of the San Marzano variety, which only grows on the banks of Mount Vesuvius (near Pompeii).
Technically still a city, even though it was heavily destroyed, Pompeii is one spot you have to visit on your trip south from Naples.
Once a thriving city (in Roman times), the city was heavily destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pompeii city can be visited to wander around and see and casts themselves.
Now, what I would say is to arrive early – it gets super busy at peak times and you can be left queuing quite a while before entering. If you want to avoid most of the crowds, arrive about 20-minutes before it opens. It stays relatively quiet for the first 90-minutes and you’ll even have some areas to yourself.
Okay, I just couldn’t forget about mentioning Rome. Yeah, it’s an obvious choice but let’s be frank, it’s a stunning and pretty vast city to explore.
In terms of history and heritage, Rome is easily one of the best cities in Italy to visit. Not only was it the epicentre of the Roman Empire, which once dominated a great deal of modern-day Europe, but it also remains the capital city of Italy even now.
Honestly, there is no shortage of things to do in Rome, With places like the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Saint Peter’s Basilica being incredible spots to see. That being said, the Colosseum is perhaps the star of Rome and a spot you really can’t miss.
Alternatively, pop over to the historic Campo Dei Fiori for its food market which is great around lunch on a sunny day. That being said, make sure to grab a Pizza Bianca (with a sprinkle of sea salt) from Forno di Campo de’ Fiori which is Rome’s oldest bakery. It has been making them for over 500 years!
Known for its stunning medieval brick buildings, Siena is widely considered to be one of the best cities in Italy to visit.
Located in the Tuscany range, the Piazza del Campo is a pretty popular public square which is great to visit for a little relaxing afternoon. Oh, and it’s made even better with a chilled Aperol Spritz in hand! After a little tipple, pop over to the Siena Cathedral and visit Torre del Mangia (an 85-metre tower that was built way back in the 14th Century).
For a tasty dinner, head over to La Taverna di San Giuseppe which has the most amazing cellar too! Just make sure to make a reservation before you go, it’s a pretty small place and can get popular.
The capital city of Piedmont, the view is one of the best cities in Italy in the north of Italy to visit. ,
Once here, make sure to visit the Cathedral which is home to the world-famous Shroud of Turin. It’s an ancient piece of cloth that bears the impression of what many believe to be Jesus Christ himself.
Apparently, according to Christian folklore, this is the actual burial shroud of Jesus, draped over his corpse following his resurrection and being passed down since the time of his resurrection. We will never know for sure! Afterwards, pop over to Palazzo Reale and explore some of the incredible rooms.
For an excellent wine selection (and delicious menu), be sure to pop into Casa Vincina for a gorgeous late lunch or dinner. Just make sure to arrive hungry.
Probably one of Italy’s most famous places, Venice is easily up there as one of the best cities in Italy to spend a few days.
Located in northeastern Italy, the city of Venice is not a solid piece of land, but rather a series of 118 mini islands atop a lagoon. This means that locals (and you when you visit) must get around via gondola, your own two feet or a water bus. Saying that, I only taken a gondola for the experience and never to get from a to b.
Now, one little piece of advice before you arrive, you will get lost when wandering around Venice! Just get used to that idea and it’ll save you a lot of arguing with your travel partner… trust me on this. 😉 That being said, that’s kinda the fun of Venice, isn’t it? Just wandering the little alleys, finding little cafes and just soaking up the city itself.
Once you’re done getting lost, make sure to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, as well as the stunning Venetian staples of Saint Mark’s Basilica.
If you’re feeling hungry, stop by Osteria Boccadoro, which has a number of fresh (and pretty creative) dishes all based off of the ingredients the chefs are able to find at the daily seafood market. You won’t be disappointed.
For me, I feel like Verona is often overlooked in lieu of the bigger cities of Rome or Florence. That being said, I personally think it should be up there as one of the best cities in Italy to explore.
Although the city is pretty well known because of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare is only one small part of what makes this city special.
Once here, make sure to visit Arena di Verona, an amphitheatre that dates way back to the Roman Empire! This is the third largest Roman arena in the entire country, and it remains very active to this day. In the summer months especially, they host some of the most famous opera performers in the world!
That being said, if opera isn’t your cup of tea, head over to Piazza Bra or Castelvecchio instead. It’s a museum that inhabits the hallways of a former medieval castle and has loads of Roman artefacts.
For one of the best sunsets, head up to Piazzale Castel San Pietro around dusk. It’s gorgeous to see the sunset over Verona.
Perched on the Adriatic Sea, Bari is one of the best cities in Italy (on the coast) to visit.
Now, if you want to visit the historic part of Bari, make sure to head up to the north which is just stunning. Oh, and make sure to spend some time wandering the Murat quarter which is the beating heart of modern-day Bari.
As you wander around, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the gorgeous Basilica San Nicola, Piazza Mercantile and San Nicola. Bari has a really historic area that is just incredible to wander around.