Perfect 10 day Italy itinerary for first-time visitors: a classic itinerary through Italy’s most famous and iconic cities and landscapes.
If you are planning your first trip to Italy, chances are you want to see all those beautiful cities, monuments and landscapes that made the country famous.
The magical canals of Venice, the mesmerizing tiles of Florence’s duomo, the Cinque Terre the Amalfi coast are all fighting for your attention: but how much of Italy can you see in 10 days?
I am a born and bred Italian and over the course of the years, I have traveled the length and width of the country many many times, falling in love over and over again for pretty much every inch of the Italian boot.
On the basis of this experience, I have put together this 10 day Italy itinerary, perfect for timers.
It gives detailed information on how to see Italy’s must-see sites and brings you to the places I believe to be the most beautiful in Italy for a great first trip!
Looking for some lesser-known alternatives? Then check our Italy vacation ideas for returning visitors instead!
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Who is this 10 day Italy itinerary for
This itinerary is best for first-time visitors and it is a good way to see Italy if you want to see as much as possible and make this a trip of a lifetime.
It is written with independent travelers in mind and has all the info you might need to make all your bookings yourself, so you are in complete control of your trip, but can count on trusted advice.
This 10 day Italy Itinerary starts in Venice and assumes you will be traveling mostly by train but it can be easily adapted and turned into a road trip.
Whenever relevant, I have included suggestions for organized day trips that will make certain visits easier.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you
10 day Italy itinerary: classic Italy
Italy itinerary day 1 and 2: Venice
Venice is unique in the world and a great first stop in an Italy trip itinerary.
It has an excellent international airport, it is rich with hospitality structures and while it gets very crowded it is overall a great first place to explore in Italy.
Here, you can take your time strolling leisurely among its many streets, slowly get over jet lag and still have a wonderful experience.
I recommend you spend here a couple of days, during which you will be able to see St Marks Square, the Doges’ Palace, the Rialto bridge and many other known and lesser-known parts of the city, including wonderful Burano.
Need to know: Venice gets very crowded, especially in the area of St Mark’s. I do recommend you book tickets in advance to visit the basilica and the doge’s palace and I also invite you to explore other areas and not just stick to these two famous ones. Cannaregio, Castello and La Salute are wonderful and will make you see what the magic of Venice truly means (it is all very near, escaping the crowds in Venice is easier than you may think!)
Italy day 3: Florence
On day 3 you can catch the train to Florence (it is a short train ride: about 2 hours from Venice on the fast train).
The ride from Venezia Santa Lucia to Santa Maria Novella is short and easy and your arrival station is right in the heart of Florence.
This means you can easily then get to your hotel on foot or by taxi (official ones stop outside of the station)
Once you are settled into your accommodation in Firenze, you can spend the day simply walking around the city and taking in its beautiful streets and churches.
Unlike other cities, Florence is compact in size and very easy to enjoy even with a short time available.
You can find our recommended itinerary in Florence here: it includes Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio and many more must-see sites such the famous Florence Duomo and Santa Maria Novella.
With one day only in Florence, you are unlikely to have a lot of time to see both the city and the Uffizi (wonderful, but very big!).
If want to visit, I recommend you either prioritize the museum over other sightseeing or take an extra day in the city
Italy day 4: Florence and Tuscany
Florence is surrounded by beautiful countryside and is a perfect base to visit and enjoy those landscapes of hilltop villages and vineyard you that are so quintessentially Italian: the area of Chianti and Val D’Orcia.
This is a part of Italy best visited by car so I recommend you rent a car for the day or, should you not want to drive, book an organized tour.
This last option is the best if you want to go wine tasting as it takes away the problem of finding a designated driver (as well as dangerous, drinking and driving is illegal).
Some beautiful day trips are to Chianti, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni and the area of Val d’orcia.
They usually bring you back to Florence in time for one more stroll in the center and dinner in town.
Cinque Terre alternative
Le Cinque Terre is one of the most photographed and iconic sites in the whole of Italy and with good reasons.
The ‘terre’ (lit. earths or lands) are 5 small towns along the coast of Liguria connected by train but more importantly by scenic path offering stunning views over this peculiar part of the Italian coastline.
To fully enjoy the Cinque Terre you need a couple of days (see my recommended itineraries here).
However, if you only have 10 days in Italy and you want to maximize your time, you can visit the Cinque Terre with a day tour from Florence.
They will bring you to some or all the five towns of Cinque Terre: Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia and Riomaggiore, so you can get a taste for each.
This is a wonderful day trip especially in spring and early autumn.
If you want to go by yourself, the easiest way is by train: the best way is Florence to La Spezia and then the local Cinque Terre train. Just be warned: however you want to tackle it, this is a very long day!
Italy Day 5: Florence to Rome
On day 5, I recommend you have a leisurely morning in Florence to recover from the previous day’s long trip and then make your way to Rome.
A fast train connects the two cities and getting from one to the other doesn’t take more than a couple of hours.
To make sure not to be under pressure, if the museum of your choice is the Uffizi or Accademia, I strongly recommend you book skip the line tickets
Rome main train station, Termini, is in the city center: I recommend you choose a city center location for your accommodation in Rome so you can already start exploring the city on this day.
For the most scenic welcome to Rome, head to Campo de’ Fiori for aperitivo before indulging in dinner near Piazza Navona.
Day 6: Rome
At the end of this itinerary, you will have spent 3 days in Rome but this is my favorite of the 3.
On this day, I recommend you take your time to leisurely stroll around the city center.
My favorite way to see Rome is to start from Colosseum and the Roman Forum and walk down towards the area with the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.
This is the very heart of Rome city center and you will quickly find yourself in front of the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and many other must-see sites, as well as hidden gems
If you find tickets for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums for this day, I recommend you plan your whole itinerary around that visit, so you don’t feel rushed.
Day 7-8: Amalfi Coast / Capri
The Amalfi coast is one of the most popular destinations in the whole of Italy and with good reason.
Its famous high coastline is stunning and if you want to indulge in elegant aperitivo and a fashionable scene, this is the place for you!
The Amalfi coast if far from Rome and I don’t recommend to go on a day trip but rather, you should spend a night here.
Some wonderful places to consider are Sorrento, the easiest to reach by train from Rome, Vietri, Ravello and world-famous Positano.
Our recommended accommodation in Sorrento is the Hotel La Solara but be advised that accommodation in this area tends to book out fast.
Should it be full, you can check all the offers in the area on booking.com
Once on the coast, the best way to explore the area is by car in the low season and by bus or even better ferry in the high season.
I also recommend you make time to go to wonderful Capri.
The island is known as a honeymoon destination and a paradise for luxury shopping but it is a lot more than that.
The small towns of Capri and Anacapri, in particular, are a delight to visit and the sea rivals the most azure waters you have in exotic locations half the way across the world.
Two nights in this area will give you the opportunity to slow down and enjoy these wonderful locations
Day 9 and 10: Rome
The last 2 days of my 10 day Italy itinerary have you slow down in Rome.
After so much traveling I believe it is good to have a couple of days when you can just relax, sight-see and go shopping!
Rome will have plenty to keep you busy with.
A great way to spend two days in Rome is as follow:
On the first day, focus on the area of the Colosseum and the Roman forum and enjoy ancient Rome.
Then, take your time exploring Rome city center, see the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain plus Via del Corso, wonderful for shopping
On your last day, visit the Vatican and then head back to the area around the Pantheon to enjoy Rome’s famous city center.
End your vacation with a wonderful dinner in Trastevere, the foodie neighborhood of Rome and of the most scenic.
Please note: if you want to visit the Vatican or as al alternative the Borghese gallery, booking tickets in advance is a must. You can find tips on how to skip the lines in Rome here.
Tips for a 10 day Italy itinerary: need to know
The best time of the year for a trip to Italy
Italy can be visited all year round but your experience will be very different depending on the season of your travels and exact destinations.
At a glance, when planning your trip to Italy, this is what you can expect weather-wise:
Summer: Summer in Italy is a hot and sticky season. This is a great time for the mountains and seaside location but it can be tiring for city exploring and traditional sightseeing.
Summer is very high season in Italy for tourism and early booking for hotel, transport and attractions is mandatory.
Spring and autumn: spring and fall are usually the most pleasant times to visit Italy.
Both these seasons are popular with tourists so advance booking is mandatory and crowds must be expected
The winter is low season in Italy and it is the best time to visit if you want to avoid excessive crowds.
There is a significant exception to this rule, however: Christmas is high season in Italy (Rome and Florence especially) and Venice hosts its famous carnival in February, a time when prices and the number of visitors soar
Transport: the best way to travel around Italy
Moving around Italy is easy and you can either drive or use the train.
I find driving is better avoided in large cities and overall unnecessary to follow the itinerary outlined above.
If you are thinking of traveling around Italy by train, you can find the exact schedule and tickets here
When renting a car, make sure you familiarize yourself with the specific driving rules and limited access areas in cities/towns
If you prefer to drive in Italy, have a look at our observations here.
Within cities, I suggest you do not drive and use public transportation instead.
The busiest and hardest city to navigate is Rome, but you can find our easy Rome public transport guide here
Necessary documents for your Italy vacation
Depending on your nationality, you might need a visa to enter Italy.
Please contact your nearest Italian Embassy to make sure of requirements and waiting times, should this be the case.
If you are traveling alone with children with a different surname as your own, make sure you have with you their full birth certificate to prove their relationship with you.
You can find our tips for planning a family trip to Italy here.
Be advised that it is compulsory in Italy to have ID on you at all times.
Italy risks and annoyances
Italy sees a large number of tourists every year and this sadly means some locations do see pick-pocketing happening.
My best advice is to be aware that this may be the case but not let fear ruin your trip.
Always keep a photocopy of your passport ready and never keep your phone, wallet or valuables in your back pocket or in a backpack unless you can securely close it.
To women, I always recommend crossbody bags and, if you want extra safety, you can buy one of the slim money belts for your documents.
I never fund this to be necessary in Italy but in very crowded places, this may be a good solution to set your mind at ease.
Italy packing list
What to pack for 10 days in Italy will largely depend on the season of your travel.
For the summer, you can find a full packing list here, while for the winter you will need a good winter coat, scarf, woolen jumpers and most of all good walking shoes.
Favor shoes with a rubber sole to minimize the impact of the hard surfaces on your joints and tendons. You can find a list of my favorite shoes for Italy here
Travel resources for your Italy vacation
- Omio – Handy website for Train and Bus connections across Europe
- Booking.com – My go-to resource for accommodation (hotels, apartments and specialty lodging) with good deals and excellent cancellation policies
- LuggageHero – Large selection of luggage storage options for bags-free day trips
- GetYourGuide: booking platform for attraction tickets and day tours
- Lonely Planet: my one and only go-to travel guide provider
- AutoEurope: handy comparison website for the best car rental deals
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