Ready to experience the beauty and wonders of Italy while creating lifelong memories? Then you’re in luck! From the glimmering blue waters of the sea to cobblestoned streets filled with culture, cuisine, art, history, fashion, and more – there is something unique in every destination waiting to be explored. If you’ve been searching for an unforgettable vacation that has it all, then a trip to this breathtaking country needs to be added to your bucket list ASAP!
With so many extraordinary attractions – both indoors & outdoors – ranging from iconic landmarks like The Colosseum & The Leaning Tower of Pisa; marvelous adventures such as navigating through incredible natural landscapes and taking tours at wineries; delicious journey’s around world-famous markets and culinary experiences found throughout Italian cities; or just relaxing at local beaches enjoying powerful sunsets – deciding what brilliant activities should make up your Italian itinerary can be a daunting task.
But don’t worry…We’ll show you some essential things to do in Italy. Remember that this is a big list and really can’t be done in one trip. The good news is that you’ll just have to plan some return trips to get through this bucket list! Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Italy!
Planning Your Trip to Italy
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The Essential Things to do in Italy Bucket List
Enjoy this awesome list of things to do in Italy. Remember, that these can’t all be done in one trip, so don’t even try! Instead, think of this as a list to get ideas for your trip. You’ll have to save some of this for another trip to Italy!
Tour the Colosseum
Touring the Colosseum in Rome is one of the most popular things to do in Italy. The ancient Roman amphitheater, which was built around 70-80 AD, is the largest of its kind and a symbol of the might and grandeur of the Roman Empire.
A visit to the Colosseum is like stepping back in time to the days when gladiators fought and spectators cheered. When you take a tour of the Colosseum, you’ll have the chance to explore its various levels and learn about its fascinating history. You can also take a walk around the exterior of the Colosseum and admire its impressive architecture.
The Colosseum is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions, so it’s important to plan your visit in advance to avoid long queues and overcrowding. There are plenty of things to do in the area, including visiting the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a guided tour of the Colosseum. You’ll get so much out of having a local’s knowledge and expertise while learning the history. Be sure to book a guided skip-the-line tour. There are many options when choosing a Colosseum tour, but pick one that is a small group tour with good ratings. Here are our favorite Colosseum Tours in Rome.
Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome
Although it seems rather cliche, tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain is a must on your Italy bucket list. For one, it means that you’ll return to Rome someday. Also, your donation of coins goes to charity when the fountain gets cleaned out.
Visit the Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon, a 2,000-year-old edifice located in the historic center of Rome, has been used as both temple and a church over the centuries, and is one of Rome’s most renowned and well-sustained buildings. In fact, it’s one of the most famous sights not just in Italy, but in the world. And it’s actually the most visited site in Rome and stands as an iconic symbol among locals and tourists alike who appreciate its history and architectural grandeur. As such, it remains a highly sought-after destination for those eager to gain insight into Roman culture. Visiting the Pantheon is one of the best free things to do in Italy. It’s also full of some amazing famous paintings and sculptures.
Ride a Vespa Through Rome
Exploring Rome on a Vespa is an unforgettable experience! Everywhere you look, the bustling city streets are filled with scooters zipping around the historic monuments. Make sure to take a ride on one of these iconic Italian vehicles while visiting Rome – it’ll make your trip even more memorable! There are several great Vespa tours to take through the city.
Book a Photoshoot in Italy
Italy is one of the most photogenic countries in the world. Every corner you turn offers a new and beautiful view, making it the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot. If you’re planning a trip to Italy with your family or significant other, be sure to book a shoot with Flytographer.
Go on a Food Tour
Going on a food tour in any city should definitely be on your ultimate Italy bucket list. It’s an opportunity to try so many different foods you may not know about and learn about the history of regional foods from local artisans and chefs. The 10 Tastings Tours are a great way to start your time in any Italian city while trying all the delicious food. Here are some of our favorite food tours in Rome.
Climb the Duomo in Florence
On your Italian travels, make sure to visit the Duomo in the historic center of Florence. This magnificent landmark is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Italy and is popularly referred to as “The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore” or more simply – The Florence Duomo.
From its unusual shape that creates an iconic silhouette over the city skyline, to its impressive height of 114 meters (374 feet), the structure is not only beautiful but also historically significant representing several Italian religious architecture styles including Renaissance and Gothic.
But what really makes this site special is the opportunity it presents visitors with –climbing up to the top of The Dome! Although be warned, there are nearly 400 steps, so get ready for a bit of a workout.
You should book the Duomo climb as soon as possible as it does book out. Going up during sunset is especially spectacular.
Stare at Michelangelo’s David in Florence
No list of things to do in Italy would be complete without a visit to see the world-famous Michelangelo’s David. Located in Florence, this iconic sculpture is one of the most famous works of art in the world and it’s certainly worth seeing with your own eyes. As you stand there admiring this amazing artwork, you’ll see why it’s been inspiring travelers for centuries.
When you’re done admiring David, be sure to explore the rest of Florence. With its stunning architecture and vibrant culture, this city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. From sightseeing to shopping, there are lots of things to do in Florence.
Be sure to book your tickets to see Michelangelo’s David at the Museum of Accademia as soon as possible. The tickets are timed and do sell out. I highly recommend taking a guided skip the line tour if you can. You’ll get so much more out of your visit. Check out our Florence museum guide.
Walk through the Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens are one of Florence’s gems. This sprawling park is full of lush green space and it’s filled with fountains, grottoes, statues, and classical sculptures. It’s like an outdoor museum. It’s a great place to stroll around on a sunny day in Florence, especially if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Grab a gelato and walk to the gardens.
Take a Gondola Ride in Venice
Riding a gondola in Venice is an experience unlike any other. It’s the perfect way to explore the city and its winding canals, all while enjoying the beauty and romance of this enchanting destination. A gondola ride is one of the most memorable things to do in Italy, and it’s easy to understand why.
Gondolas are an integral part of Venice’s history and culture, with a long tradition stretching back to the Middle Ages. The distinctive flat-bottomed boats were once used by Venetian fishermen as well as for transport around the city’s many canals; now they remain primarily for tourists, but still provide a unique way to explore this iconic destination. Gondolas have also become synonymous with romance and luxury, making them one of the most sought-after experiences in all of Italy.
As you glide through the canals on your own private gondola ride, you’ll be able to take in some of the most stunning views that Venice has to offer while learning about its fascinating history from your knowledgeable guide. Or you may just be serenaded during your gondola ride. So if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience during your trip, a gondola ride is one of the most iconic things to do in Italy. Here’s our guide to taking a gondola ride in Venice.
Get Lost in the Narrow Alleyways of Venice
If you really want to get off the beaten path and experience a side of Venice that not many tourists see, take some time to explore its maze-like alleyways. This is one of the most unique things to do in Italy, as it allows travelers to step away from the tourist crowds and uncover some of the city’s hidden gems.
Strolling through Venice’s narrow alleys is like stepping back in time – you’ll find yourself surrounded by centuries-old buildings, quaint cobblestone streets, and picturesque canals. Along your journey, you may stumble upon small shops selling handmade souvenirs or locals enjoying an aperativo in a piazza. Experiences like these make your visit more authentic. Learn about the most romantic things to do in Venice.
Visit a Glass Factory in Murano
Murano is an island located just a short ferry ride from Venice. It’s home to some of the most renowned glass-making factories in Italy, and visiting one is an absolute must for all travelers! Glass blowing has been an important craft in Murano since the 13th century, and its artisans are highly respected throughout Europe.
Visiting a local glass factory is one of the most interesting things to do in Italy. Here you can witness firsthand how skilled masters bring beautiful glass creations to life using ancient techniques that have been passed down through generations. You’ll also have the chance to purchase unique hand-crafted pieces as souvenirs or gifts. So if you’re looking for something truly special during your trip, then visiting
Visit Juliet’s Balcony in Verona
Verona is home to one of the most romantic sites in all of Italy – Juliet’s Balcony. This iconic landmark has inspired tourists since the time of Shakespeare and it’s now an important part of Italian culture. Romeo and Juliet may have been fictional characters, but their tragic love story still resonates today.
The balcony can be found at Casa di Giulietta, a 14th-century house which was supposedly once owned by the family belonging to Romeo’s beloved. Here you’ll find a statue of Juliet, ready for visitors to give her a gentle touch (on the right breast) which is said to bring good luck.
You can also explore the rest of Verona, which is a gorgeous ancient city. Be sure to check out the Verona Arena and Ponte Pietra.
Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular things to do in Italy, and for good reason. This iconic landmark is an architectural marvel that has delighted visitors for centuries. Located in the stunning Italian city of Pisa, this tower has become a globally recognized symbol of Italy’s rich history and culture. It’s not often that landmarks are famous for being imperfect.
This one is a true beauty and it doesn’t take long to visit. In fact, it can even be done as a day trip from Florence. Be sure to book your tickets or tours ahead as this can sell out.
Ride Bikes on the Walls of Lucca
Lucca is a walled city in the province of Tuscany, and it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy. The whole city has been surrounded by thick walls for centuries and the tops of these walls were turned into a huge circular park where visitors can walk, play at the playgrounds, or bike around the walls.
The walls are over 4 km long, surrounding the entire city, and provide great views of Lucca’s historic buildings and monuments as you ride along them. It’s a fun way to explore this ancient city while taking in its stunning medieval architecture. You can also take your bike off the walls and into the narrow streets of Lucca itself. It may not be an iconic activity, but its one of the most unique things to do in Italy and Lucca is definitely worth visiting.
Go Wine Tasting at Local Wineries – Veneto, Lombardy, & Tuscany Regions
Italy is home to some of the world’s best wines, and what better way to sample them than by visiting local wineries in the Veneto, Tuscany, and Lombardy regions? Italy has a rich history of wine production, with many regions producing their own unique varietals. Whether you’re looking for fruity reds or crisp whites, a visit to a local winery is sure to be one of the tastiest things to do in Italy.
Many wineries offer tours and tastings so you can learn more about their production process and sample some of their delicious wines. You’ll also get an up-close look at the stunning vineyards in these regions, which often offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. So if you’re looking for a unique way to experience the flavors of Italy, then wine tasting is one of the best things to do in this country!
Visit Naples and Explore its Rich History and Culture
Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and it’s packed with history and culture. This bustling city is renowned for its unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, making it a must-see destination when visiting Italy. Whether you’re looking to explore ancient ruins, sample local cuisine, or shop in one of the city’s famous markets, there is something for everyone in Naples.
One of the most popular things to do in Naples is to eat its famous pizza. The city is home to some of the best pizzerias in the world, with many claiming that pizza was invented here. Be sure to sample some of the local specialties such as Margherita, Marinara, and Capricciosa.
Naples was featured in the movie Eat, Pray Love, when Julia Roberts takes a trip there just to try the pizza. Just like Julia, I think it’s definitely worth the trip!
Check out other movies that are set in Italy.
Take a Cooking Class in Italy
If you really want to get a taste of Italy, then taking a cooking class is one of the best things to do. You’ll learn some of the nation’s most iconic dishes and get hands-on experience in preparing them yourself. And since food is such an important part of Italian culture, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in it than by taking a cooking class.
Most classes are held in charming local restaurants, local homes, or villas in the countryside, so you’ll be able to enjoy the delicious results of your hard work after the lesson is done. Plus, you’ll get some great recipe ideas to bring home with you and recreate the flavors of Italy back at home.
Visit the Island of Capri
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, then the island of Capri is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy. Located off the coast of Sorrento, this stunning island offers breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and some incredible beaches. It’s also home to many quaint villages and is known for its luxurious lifestyle and vibrant nightlife.
Although it’s a popular day trip from the mainland, I recommend spending at least two days exploring Capri. You’ll have plenty of time to visit its stunning beaches, hike along coastal trails, explore the villages of the island and sample some of the delicious local cuisine.
Visit DaVinci’s Last Supper in Milan
See the Last Supper, one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous works of art at the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church in Milan. This painting is an absolute masterpiece and something that should not be missed when you’re visiting Italy. As you gaze upon this incredible artwork and marvel at its stunning detail, you can almost feel the emotion of the scene. It’s truly awe-inspiring and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, even if you aren’t Christian or religious.
Climb to the top of the Milan Duomo in Milan
Climb to the top of Milan’s Duomo, one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy. This magnificent cathedral is the fifth largest church in the world and its spires offer some truly spectacular views over the city of Milan.
The climb itself can be quite challenging, but it’s definitely worth it for those incredible panoramic views of the city. Be sure to bring your camera as you won’t want to miss this experience.
This is another activity I recommend booking tickets for in advance. Be sure you select a ticket that includes the top!
Ferry to the Island of Sardinia (Blue Zone)
Take a ferry to the island of Sardinia, the second largest Island in Italy and the location of one of the five “Blue Zones” in the world. Blue Zones are areas where people live longer than average due to both their lifestyle and diet. The local food is among some of the best in Italy and you’ll certainly want to sample the local cuisine while you’re there.
The island of Sardinia is also home to some stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and ancient ruins. Spend time exploring its rugged coastline and check out the remains of its Nuraghi, an ancient form of fortification that was built around 1500 BC.
You can fly or take a ferry to Sardinia. We took the overnight ferry as a family and it was so much fun!
Visit the Island of Sicily
The Island of Sicily is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy and it’s easy to see why. From its beautiful beaches and stunning views, to its rich culture and delicious cuisine, this island has something for everyone.
Be sure to explore Palermo’s Arab-Norman architecture, take a walk through the Valley of the Temples, and sample some of the local food. Be sure to try arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese and other fillings), pasta alla Norma, and cannoli while you’re there as they are incredibly delicious!
In Sicily, you can also see Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, which is a truly incredible experience.
Sicily is an entire vacation in itself, so don’t try to pack it all in to just a few days. Stay a week or more if possible.
Explore the Ruins of Pompeii
Travel back in time and explore the ruins of Pompeii, an ancient Roman city that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best things to do in Italy for anyone interested in history. It’s truly like walking into a well-preserved ancient Rome village.
When you visit Pompeii, walk along the cobbled streets and check out some of the amazingly preserved buildings, including the Forum and the Temple of Apollo. You can also visit some of the ancient villas, such as the Villa of Mysteries, which are incredibly fascinating.
Be sure to book any tours or tickets in advance as it can get quite busy during peak times. Pompeii can even be done as a day trip from Rome if you’re short on time. I highly recommend this tour if you’re going with that option. Pompeii is a great day trip from Rome.
Drive Along the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful stretches of coastline in Europe, if not the world. It’s one of the top things to do in Italy and exploring by car is the best way to experience the rugged coastline and hill towns of the Amalfi Coast.
Start in Salerno and drive along the coast for about 60 miles taking in stunning views of rugged cliffs, dramatic bays, colorful fishing villages, and gorgeous blue waters. If you can, stay at least overnight so that you can explore some of these quaint towns and enjoy the vibrant nightlife as well.
Be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible photo opportunities as this stretch of coast has many iconic scenes that will take your breath away. The breathtakingly beautiful Amalfi Coast should be at the top of your list when visiting Italy.
Getting to the Amalfi Coast can be a little tricky, here’s a guide on how to get there.
Rent a Fiat500 in Italy
Renting a Fiat500 is a fun way to explore any area and gives you more freedom than relying on public transportation. It’s also the perfect way to explore the winding roads of Italy and get off the beaten track.
You can rent one for your road trip from any major city, such as Rome or Florence, for an affordable price. You’ll be given a map and recommended routes, so you can make the most out of your adventure.
Driving a Fiat500 is one of the most fun things to do in Italy and it’s such an iconic Italian car that will make your vacation even more special.
Visit the Vatican City and Gaze Upon the Sistine Chapel in Rome
Rome is a must-visit when traveling to Italy, and one of the top things to do here is to visit the Vatican. It’s home to some of the world’s most incredible works of art, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting.
Be sure to book your tickets in advance as Vatican City and Vatican museums can get quite busy during peak times and it’s not open every day. A guided tour will give you an in-depth look at this amazing place. And don’t forget to check out St Peter’s Basilica and its dome. It’s a must see in Italy.
You can discover our favorite Vatican tours here.
Stay at a Villa or Agriturismo in the Tuscan Countryside
Experience true Italian hospitality and stay in a traditional Tuscan villa. This is one of the most luxurious ways to experience Italy and it will feel like you’re living in a fairytale while surrounded by the Italian countryside, full of rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, and meadows full of wildflowers.
Various regions across Tuscany offer these types of stays. You can also opt for an agriturismo which is a working farm that offers accommodation as well as some delicious local food. It’s a real authentic experience that will be a highlight of your Italian vacation.
Bathe in Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany
If you’re looking to relax and unwind, then head to the small village of Saturnia in Tuscany. Here you’ll find natural hot springs with thermal water cascading down terraces into various pools. It’s a great place to spend the day soaking up the sun and enjoying the naturally warm waters filled with minerals that are said to be beneficial for your skin and health. Saturnia hot springs is one of the most fun things to do in Italy if you’re looking for something off the beaten path. This is a great little escape, but you’ll need to have a car or take a taxi to get here. Read our guide to visiting Saturnia Hot Springs.
Visit All the Villages in the Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a stunning stretch of coast located west coast of Italy with stunning landscapes. It’s made up of five villages perched on steep cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea, each with its own unique charm. Cinque Terre is translated to “Five Lands” and all five towns (or lands) should definitely be seen when you visit Italy!
Rent a boat or take a train to get from one village to the next and explore all five. You can also hike and there are some spectacular trails that connect all five villages together, offering breathtaking views along the way. Wander around each town, sampling focaccia (a local specialty) and gelato. You can read our guide to Cinque Terre to help you plan your visit.
Rent a Boat on Lake Como
Lake Como is one of the most iconic lakes in Europe, and renting a boat here is one of the best things to do in Italy. You’ll be able to take in some incredible views from the water as you drift past luxurious villas, quaint fishing villages, and spectacular mountains. Keep an eye out for George Clooney’s house. You can rent boats with or without captains depending on your budget and preferences. This boat ride is definitely one of those experiences that you won’t forget!
Italy is home to some incredible theme parks, and they’re great fun whether you’re traveling with family or friends. Gardaland is located near Verona in the north of Italy and it’s one of the best amusement parks in Europe for kids. It has a plethora of white-knuckle rides as well as an aquarium and plenty of entertainment.
Row a Boat on Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
One of the most picturesque places to visit in Italy is Lago di Braies in the Dolomites. This stunning lake with its crystal clear turquoise water surrounded by mountains and forests will take your breath away. The best way to appreciate this beauty is to row a boat out on the lake.
You can rent a boat for an hour or more if you’d like and just enjoy being out on the peaceful waters surrounded by incredible scenery. Keep an eye out for some gorgeous photo opportunities as you’ll certainly want to take a million pictures here! I recommend arriving around 7:00 am to beat the crowds. Bring cash for the boat.
Go Skiing in the Dolomites
The Dolomite Mountains (or Dolomite Alps) are a mountain range in Northern Italy. You have to see them in person to really understand their beauty. There are towering spires, intimidating cliff faces, snow-covered plateaus, and pale-blue glaciers. You’ll also find turquoise mountain lakes, thick forests, and picturesque valleys!
Such a well-preserved area both for nature and history, the Dolomites were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The Dolomites are an impressive place with 18 prominent peaks and over 2,000 mountains.
Because of the dramatic landscape, the Dolomites are popular with adventure travelers all year round, but if you love skiing, you’ll find some of the best snow in the world here.
From the north to the south, there’s no shortage of things to do in Italy. Hopefully, you can make time for all of these awesome Italian bucket list activities in this amazing country. Be sure to schedule some time for just relaxing and letting fate take the wheel! You never know what might happen.
If you need help planning your Italy trip, be sure to download our Italy Travel Planner to help you brainstorm and get organized.