Italian cities are among the most beautiful and most visited in Europe. And rightly so! With a fascinating history, centuries-old architecture, a unique mix of old and new, and a lively, chaotic atmosphere, Italian towns and cities are just like nowhere else in the world!
But with so many beautiful cities, towns, and landmarks to choose from, it might be overwhelming to decide which Italian cities are worth visiting the most. Especially if this is your first trip and you want to make the best use of your time.
So to help you plan your trip, we selected only the most beautiful, the very best cities to visit in Italy.
My first intention was to make a list of just the top 10 cities in Italy. Because – in all honesty – you probably won’t have the time to properly see even ten of them in one trip… So I wanted to feature the very best ones only.
However, it was really hard to decide which cities to include and which ones to leave out. There are just so many beautiful places to see in Italy and the competition is fierce! In the end, some major cities in Italy like Turin or Genoa didn’t make this list. Still, we ended up with 11. I just couldn’t leave any of these out or make the list any shorter anymore because each of these cities is truly worth a visit!
To help you plan your trip and get a better idea of where all these places are located, we also created this map of the best cities to visit in Italy.
Further below, you can find our list of the Italian cities that we think are worth visiting the most. For each city, we included a short intro, the very best things to do, and some useful tips for your visit. Find out!
How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse to zoom in or out. Click on the icons on the map to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.
These are the best cities to see in Italy:
Rome (Roma) is without a doubt the most beautiful city in Italy! The Eternal City is like one huge living museum where you’ll find ancient history and fascinating places behind every corner. It’s also a very lively city with lots of restaurants, cafés, and local markets that are heaving with activity.
If you visit just one city in Italy, make it Rome! Not because it’s the largest city with the biggest population or because it’s the capital city, but because of its history and architecture that has no equals in the entire world!
No matter which street or town square you turn into, which church or museum you visit, you’ll be fascinated by the incredibly rich history of Rome and awed by its impressive landmarks.
What to See & Do
Must-see: Colosseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Also the Vatican with St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel, St. Angelo Bridge, and Castel Sant’Angelo.
Nice to see: Campo de’ Fiori market, Trastevere district, Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia, view from Belvedere del Gianicolo, Piazza del Popolo, Borghese Gallery, and many more.
How much time do you need: If you want to see the main landmarks, you’ll need at least 2-3 days in Rome. If you want to explore deeper and get off the beaten path in Rome, you can easily spend 5-7 days here.
LEARN MORE: Tips for Visiting Rome
Surrounded by the hilly Tuscan countryside and set on the banks of the Arno River, Florence (Firenze) is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy! Known as the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is world-famous for the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Florence is the city of art where you’re surrounded by stunning Renaissance artworks, monuments, and the most impressive architecture.
It’s also a very lively city with music, dance, cinemas, and theaters. But Florence is also the city of food and wine, with various festivals taking place throughout the year.
What to See & Do
Must-see: Duomo (Florence Cathedral), Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria town square. Michelangelo’s statue ‘David’ at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Also, the view over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo is incredible, especially at around sunset!
Nice to see: Palazzo Pitti, San Lorenzo Market, Piazza Santo Spirito.
How much time do you need: One day is enough to see the best of Florence. Plan two days if you want to visit the museums and explore the city at a more relaxed pace or take a tour to the Tuscan countryside.
LEARN MORE: Best Towns in Tuscany
No trip to Italy would be complete without visiting Venice (Venezia). This ‘floating’ town is not just the most unique among the Italian cities, but it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
The city of Venice and its lagoon consists of 118 islands. Most of these islands are tiny and are connected by small bridges – you can explore them on foot. While some others are a bit further away and require a boat to get to.
What to See & Do
Must-see and do: St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace (and its famous Bridge of Sighs), Rialto Bridge, and the waterfront promenade Riva degli Schiavoni. And, of course, Venice canals including the impressive Grand Canal. Don’t miss the bucket-list experience – a gondola ride in Venice!
Nice to see: Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Libreria Acqua Alta, Campo San Polo, and many churches of Venice. Also an excursion to the nearby islands of Burano and Murano.
How much time do you need: One day is enough to quickly see the main landmarks, but it will be rushed. I suggest staying at least one night so that you can also experience Venice in the evening when most day-trippers have left. Plan at least two days if you also want to visit the nearby islands.
Where to stay: If you are visiting Venice by car or arriving by train, you may want to stay close to Piazzale Roma. Otherwise, stay in the area between St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge. Here are some hotel suggestions for this area:
READ ALSO: One Day in Venice – Things to Do & Itinerary
Bologna, nicknamed as ‘la dotta, la grassa, la rossa’ (the learned, the fat/rich, and the red) is a city that has it all! Bologna University is one of the oldest in Europe.
Bologna is also rich in agriculture and gastronomy and is often considered as the culinary capital of Italy. And the red was originally referring to its architecture – the color of the buildings and the rooftops.
However, because it’s situated between such fine cities as Milan, Venice, and Florence, Bologna often gets overlooked by first-time visitors. Often, there’s simply not enough time to see it all… But if you do have a day to spare, definitely include Bologna in your itinerary!
What to See & Do
Must-see: Piazza Maggiore, the Fountain of Neptune, and Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. The two leaning Towers of Bologna (climb the Asinelli Tower and see Garisenda (cannot be climbed)). Also Basilica di San Petronio, Palazzo Comunale, and Palazzo del Podesta.
Nice to see: Basilica di Santo Stefano, Basilica San Domenico, San Giacomo Maggiore, Strada Magiore, National Gallery, and Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca (situated a bit outside the city and can be reached with a tourist train).
How much time do you need: One full day is enough for the main landmarks.
Milan (Milano) is one of the biggest and richest cities in Italy! It’s also very different from any other town on this list. Its unique blend of old history and modern-day life makes Milan one of the most fascinating cities I have ever visited.
It took many trips to Italy before I finally went to Milan. Somehow I had the impression that it’s a grey industrial city with not much more to offer to tourists than its impressive Duomo Cathedral. But I was so wrong! Milan has so, so much more to offer to any type of traveler!
Whether you are looking for art and history, shopping and dining, world-class museums, or modern architecture, you’ll find it all here! It’s a city of many facets and you’ll discover something new every time. But even if you just come here for a day and only see the main tourist sights, it’s still worth a visit!
What to See & Do
Nice to see: La Scala, Milan canals, Sforzesco Castle, Brera district, Braidense National Library, the modern architecture of the Porta Nuova district.
How much time do you need: One day is enough for the main landmarks. If you have an extra day, we recommend a day tour to Lake Como.
Where to stay: Milan is quite a big city, but if you stay not too dar from the Duomo, you can see most places on foot. For some other areas, use public transport, which is excellent and not too expensive. Here are some of the best centrally-located hotels in Milan:
LEARN MORE: How to See the Best of Milan in One Day
Ravenna is one of the smaller cities in this selection, but nevertheless absolutely worth a visit! Ravenna was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until the empire collapsed in 476. It remained a very influential city in the region for a long period after that.
The main reason to visit Ravenna is to see its world-famous mosaics, some dating to the 5th and the 6th centuries. They are worth a trip even if you are coming from the other side of the world!
But there is more to Ravenna than that! You’ll also find centuries-old architecture, impressive museums, and a very cozy historic town center with colorful buildings and lively streets, but also really nice beaches nearby. And while the main attractions can get busy, the moment you leave the main streets, you find a really cozy city with a great vibe.
What to See & Do
Must see: Basilica di San Vitale and Mausoleo di Galla Placidia. Also Piazza del Popolo.
Nice to see: Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Battistero Neoniano, and Dante’s Tomb. Also National Museum of Ravenna and Teodorico Mausoleum.
How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main highlights of Ravenna, but staying a full day will make your visit more pleasant and more relaxing.
Where to stay: Ravenna has many really nice boutique hotels and B&Bs, but also big hotels. The town center isn’t big and you can walk everywhere; still, it’s nice to stay in the heart of the city. Here are some nice hotels in Ravenna:
Siena is another really nice art city in Tuscany. It’s not as big as nearby Florence, but extremely popular with locals and tourists alike! Situated on three hills and surrounded by the beautiful Tuscan countryside, Siena has a cozy feel of a smaller town.
The entire historic center is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s just a very nice, pleasant city to visit. Also because it’s quite compact you can make a nice relaxing day trip without having to rush from one thing to another like in the bigger cities.
What to See & Do
Must-see: Piazza del Campo and Palazzo Publico. Cathedral – Duomo di Siena (also climb the tower).
Nice to see: Via di Citta, Via Banchi di Sopra, Piazza Salimbeni, Basilica di San Domenico, Pinacoteca Nazionale. Also, take a tour of the Tuscan countryside if you have an extra day!
How much time do you need: Plan at least one full day for Siena: half a day is enough for the main landmarks, and you can also take a half-day tour to the nearby San Gimignano or a dinner tour in the vineyards. If you can, plan two days here – one for a relaxing day exploring the city and one for the countryside.
Where to stay: If you can, stay in the historic city center in Siena! Here are some of the nicest hotels in the city center:
READ ALSO: Tuscany Itinerary
Naples (Napoli), located in the southern part of the country, is a very different city than the ones situated in northern Italy. It’s a chaotic and busy town, but one that also has a rich history, arts, and culture. Dominated by the nearby Vesuvius volcano and surrounded by hills on one side and the sea on the other, Naples is also quite picturesque.
The historic town center is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are so many landmarks in and near that you can easily spend 3 days in Naples alone.
Furthermore, just nearby, is the famous ancient Roman city Pompeii and the stunning coastline of the Amalfi Coast. Also, the islands of Capri and Ischia are well worth visiting!
What to See & Do
Must-see: Spaccanapoli (the famous street that ‘splits’ historic Naples old town in two), Piazza del Plebiscito, National Archeological Museum, Castel Nuovo, Castel Ovo, and Certosa di San Martino (former monastery, now a museum).
Nice to see: Cappella Sansevero, the Royal Palace of Naples, Royal Palace of Caserta, and the neighborhoods of Vomero, Mergellina, and Borgo Santa Lucia.
How much time do you need: You can see some of Naples in a day, but you can easily spend 2-3 days in the city. Add a day extra for the villages of the Amalfi Coast (day tours available), a day for Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius (tours available), and also for Capri Island (boat tours available). If you can, try to plan at least 4-5 days in this area!
Where to stay: One of the most convenient locations to stay in Naples is the historic town center, west of Central Station and north of the Ferry Terminal. Here are some nicest hotels in that area:
If you want to stay close to the sea, the Santa Lucia area has several really nice hotels. Here are the two most popular ones:
World-famous as a setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Verona is probably Italy’s most romantic city. Set on the Adige River, this medieval town in Northern Italy is a bit like a mini version of Rome.
Just as the Colosseum in Rome, the Roman amphitheater Arena di Verona has been built in the 1st century. In a way, it’s even more impressive because it’s better preserved and it’s not as crowded as the Colosseum. Furthermore, they organize incredible concerts here – don’t miss it if you get the chance (see the calendar of performances here)!
What to See & Do
Must-see: Verona Arena and Piazza delle Erbe. Also Juliet’s Statue and a 13th-century house with the famous Juliet’s Balcony that’s believed to have inspired Shakespeare. The views from Torre dei Lamberti.
Nice to see: Castelvecchio, Ponte Scaligero, Piazza delle Erbe, Arche Scaligere.
How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main highlights of Verona. We recommend staying the night and attending a concert at the Arena.
Lucca is one of our own personal favorite towns in Italy. It’s hard to give one reason and say what makes it special. I guess it’s a unique mix of old and new and a really cozy atmosphere that we haven’t found anywhere else. The city feels very ‘local’, has a lot to offer, and it’s also beautifully located in northern Tuscany.
One of the smaller cities in this selection, Lucca old town is best explored on foot or by bike. The historic town is surrounded by the impressive city walls, the origins of which date to 180 BC! The walls are easily accessible and you can walk or even bike on them.
Make sure to also climb at least one of the two towers in Lucca. The Guinigi Tower is famous for having trees on top, but it’s actually from Torre Delle Ore that you have a better view of the Torre Guinigi. If you can, do both – the views of the city and its surroundings are spectacular!
Things to Do & Tips
Must-see: Duomo, San Michele in Foro church, Torre Guinigi (the one with the trees) and Torre Delle Ore (the one with a clock), and the city walls. Also the medieval town square Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.
Nice to see: Walk around the city exploring its many streets and town squares and San Frediano church. Nearby, you can visit several impressive Villas and their gardens – Villa Torrigiani, Villa Reale di Marlia, Villa Grabau, and Villa Mansi.
How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main landmarks of the city of Lucca. If you have a car and extra time to spare, also visit (one or several of) the nearby villas.
Where to stay: If you are traveling without a car, stay in the historic city center, within the city walls. If you have a car, try Hotel San Marco or others nearby. Here are some of the best hotels in the old town:
Pisa town is often overlooked by visitors – everyone flocks to the famous Pisa Tower, completely forgetting about the city itself. The old town isn’t overrun by tourists and has a nice local feel that many other popular cities in Italy often lack.
Of course, the main reason to come here is the famous leaning tower and the incredibly impressive Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) where it stands.
But if you have a few hours to spare, head to the town center as well! It’s just 15-20 minutes walk away but feels like an oasis in the desert after the hustle and the bustle of Miracles Square.
What to See & Tips
Must-see: Piazza dei Miracoli: Duomo, Baptistery the leaning tower of Pisa, and the graveyard.
Nice to see and do: Piazza dei Cavalieri with several impressive buildings including Palazzo della Carovana. Arno Promenade, Ponte di Mezzo, Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina, and a stroll around the city center.
How much time do you need: Half a day is enough for the main highlights of Pisa including a visit to the city center. You can easily combine Pisa with a visit to Lucca town or the nearby Cinque Terre.
Where to stay: Most tourists don’t stay in Pisa and travel either to Cinque Terre (see our guide on where to stay in Cinque Terre) or Lucca, or Florence. But Pisa also has some nice hotels (and more affordable) and it might be magical to stay here the night and see the Miracles Square in the late afternoon when most day tourists have left. Here are some of the best-rated hotels in Pisa:
So, this is our guide to the best, most beautiful cities in Italy. But there’s so much more to Italy than just its cities! If you are looking for more ideas for where to go and what to see, make sure to take a look at our guide to the best places to visit in Italy.
In addition to the most beautiful towns, it also features the best destinations of the Italian lakes, stunning coastal areas like Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, and so much more! Check it out!
For more practical information and tips for a big variety of Italian destinations, take a look at our Italy travel guide.
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