Ultimate Italy bucket list! The best places to visit in Italy and Italy bucket list experiences for your next Italian vacation
Italy has a very special place in my heart.
It is the place where I was born and raised (I am from Rome) but it is also a country so beautiful, interesting and varied, I love it as a tourist too.
I started exploring Italy when I was a child, thanks to my parent’s relentless love for travel.
We used to mix time in a specific location with long road trips and this meant we saw an incredible number of places all over Italy.
The Dolomites and Tuscany became a second home to me and I don’t think I will ever forget the clear waters of Capitana, in Sardinia, where my auntie used to live.
They were so clean, my 5-year olf self called them ‘mirror waters’ (acqua a specchio) and almost 40 years later, I still remember them!
Now that I have children of my own, I love to explore Italy again and share all of Italy’s most amazing places with them.
Today, I started writing down those I love the most and I got to over 100 of them, effectively creating my very own Italy bucket list!
This is my list of the best places to go in Italy.
The best places to visit in Italy by region: what to see where
To help you make practical use of this list, I have organized this what to see in Italy section by region and followed a somewhat North to South order.
Valle d’Aosta is a gorgeous mountain region in the Northeast of the country.
Famous for skiing in winter and hiking in summer, it is home to the Gran Paradiso, ‘The Great Paradise’, one of the most beautiful national parks in Italy.
This is one of the best places in Italy to ski in the winter and for hiking in summer.
Places not to be missed are Courmayeur and Cervina, perfect for ski lovers, and the whole area of Gran Paradiso, absolutely wonderful in summer.
Piemonte – Piedmont
Looking for the beauty of the Italians lake region but fearing the crowds?
Then head to Piedmont and allows its small towns and delicious food to lull you into the relaxed pace of one of the most underrated areas in Italy.
Head to Orta San Giulio, a small town on Lake Orta that was a favorite of many writers (Lord Byron among others), enjoy the area of Stresa and the Borromean islands, perfect for garden lovers and don’t miss Turin, Italy’s old capital and city of great charm.
Do not miss the local chocolate, gianduia, truffle and make sure you also have an aperitivo in one of Turin’s elegant cafes.
While now associated more with Milan, the tradition of aperitivo was born here!
The region of Milan is home to many pretty historical towns that can be easily visited as a day trip from Milan itself or make up the stops of a special Italian road trip.
Not to be missed are the city of Bergamo, with stunning medieval walls and town center, Pavia, the ancient capital of the Longobard kingdom and now a thriving university town and of course Milan, famous lake Como and Sirmione, home to one of the most beautiful castles in Italy!
Trentino Alto Adige
Trentino Alto Adige has some of the most beautiful places in Italy for mountain views.
Here is where you can experience the stunning Dolomites, Unesco work heritage site and hikers paradise.
Not to be missed are the lovely city of Bolzano, which mixes Italian and Austrian influences in the architecture, food and culture, Brunico, Innichen/San Candido, one of the prettiest mountain towns in Italy, stunning lake Misurina and the now Instagram famous Braies lake.
This is also a wonderful area if you are visiting Italy in December: it is the one with the best Christmas markets!
Veneto is one of the powerhouses of Italian tourism and sees some of the most beautiful places to see Italy.
Here you find unique Venice, Verona, home to Juliet’s Balcony and a stunning ancient Roman arena, pretty Lake Garda and also the architectural marvels of the Palladian Villas, a series of beautiful villas by architect Palladio, dotting the Venetian countryside.
Veneto also has one of the prettiest and most colorful towns in Italy, Burano: picture perfect!
Seeing all of this is easy and there are several ways to get from Verona to Lake Garda here.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
The beautiful town of Trieste is often overlooked by Italian itineraries but not because not worthy of a visit but rather for its position in the easternmost corner of Italy.
If you are not shy of a little detour from nearby Venice however, Trieste is worth a visit.
The city is tunning and has an important literary past and cultural tradition worth knowing.
This is one of the best places in Italy for getting away from the crowds.
Liguria is home to some of the most beautiful places in Italy and a very popular one with visitors from near and far.
Here is where you find the picture-perfect villages of Cinque Terre, (Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore), but also many more places worth seeing for their colorful homes, stunning coastal, views and amazing food.
Head to Porto Venere, San Fruttuoso, Portofino or Varigotti and make sure you explore Genova’s city center to see the best of Liguria (and taste the best pesto!)
Sardinia – Sardegna
Sardinia is one of the most beautiful places in Italy for a sea and sun vacation and it also has some interesting and beautiful towns worth seeing.
Do not miss Alghero, a city with a lovely historical center with a distinctive character and peculiar Catalan influence and, for time on the beach, the stunning Maddalena, San Teodoro and Stintino, some of the most beautiful sea destinations in the Mediterranean.
For a holiday in Italy with kids, consider also family-friendly Orosei, perfect with little children.
Toscana – Tuscany
Tuscany is one of those places so full of beauty, it would almost be easier to say what not to see, than narrow down the best places to visit!
However, this is my shortlist.
If you want to experience hilltop villages, then you want to seek out Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, San Quirico d’Orcia or Pienza, medieval gems perched on hilltops overlooking the Tuscan countryside.
For thermal springs and wine, you want to head to Bagno Vignoni or Saturnia where you can bathe in natural thermal springs and taste some of the most delicious wine in Italy.
Looking for wineries and wine tasting? Then plan a day trip from Florence to the Chianti area for a wine-filled Italy bucket list experience.
Good to know: you can see all these places following our a well planned Tuscany itinerary ideas.
Emilia Romagna is mostly associated with food and wine but has more than delicious food to offer!
As well as beautiful Bologna and Parma, great places to mix sightseeing and food tours, make sure you also visit Ravenna, home to stunning Byzantine mosaics.
One of the best places to see in Italy for art lovers and those interested in seeking out off the beaten path Italy destinations.
The region of Rome is often overlooked by tourism who tends to leave the city and head to Tuscany rather than exploring locally.
If you are looking for something truly unique, then you must head to Civita of Bagnoregio, a ‘dying city’ perched on a crumbling hilltop.
Walking the windy bridge leading to it is a once in a lifetime experience and must-have item for your Italy bucket list.
To relax away from the busy Rome streets, I recommend you seek out the quiet lakeside village of Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia (so pretty I chose it as my wedding venue!)
For a taste of Pompeii without heading all the way there, you should visit stunning Ostia Antica, one of the most beautiful archaeological sits in Italy, just outside Rome.
For some and sun, you should also explore Lazio’s stunning beaches and the pretty towns overlooking them.
Not to be missed are Sperlonga, with its whitewashed houses overlooking a sparkling blue sea, Gaeta, and the islands of Ponza and Ventotene, secret holiday hideaways for Italians, not yet fully known to international visitors.
Last but not least, Lazio is the home of two incredible Villas: villa Adriana, dating back to ancient Roman times and Villa D’Este, a marvel of Italian style manicured gardens.
Each an Italy must-see place in their own kind.
Umbria is often considered the little sister of Tuscany but has amazing locations that make it stand out on its own.
Dotted with historical towns of unparalleled beauty, here you can visit Assisi, the birthplace of St Frances, many hilltop villages and Medieval and Reinassaince towns such as Orvieto, Citta’ di Castello, Spello and Perugia.
If you are looking for relaxation and getting away from it all, you can also in one of the best hotels in Umbria or a local agriturismo and enjoy the stunning olive groves of the region in one of the many local agriturismo.
Something special: If you come to Italy in Italy in June, you can experience the stunning blooming in Castelluccio, a place that seems out of a painting!
Vastly undiscovered by international tourisms, le Marche has some hidden gems that will allow you to experience the most local side of Italy while still experiencing some of the most beautiful destinations.
For a relaxing sea and sun vacation away from the crowds, visit Riviera del Conero and its stunning beaches, so white you won’t believe you are in Europe!
For sightseeing, head to the historical town of Urbino and enjoy its dynamic university vibe and marvel at its unique castle
Abruzzo, a little bit like nearby Marche and Molise, is one of those regions that gets little attention but packs a punch in terms of natural beauty.
Come here in winter to see the picture perfect mountain villages that look like nativity scenes or in spring and summer to enjoy the views of the Gran Sasso, the highest peak of the Appennines.
Make sure you also taste arrosticini, the meat specialty of the region!
History lovers will find a corner of heaven in Campania, where you can find 3 of the most beautiful and important historical sites in the whole of Italy.
Famous Pompeii, smaller yet wonderful Hercolaneum with and also the lesser-known sire of Paestum.
Three sites with perfectly preserved Greek and Roman ruins unique in Italy and the world.
If you love royal palaces, you cannot miss the stunning one hosted in Caserta.
Now UNESCO world heritage site, the palace (reggia) has beautiful gardens, glorious interiors and hosts the famous Palatina library, decorated with stunning decorated with reliefs and frescoes
For amazing views, a mix of glamorous cafes and local feel streets and some of the most beautiful sea views you will ever get make sure you take the time to visit Capri and take a boat tour around the island before mixing with the beautiful people for aperitivo in piazzetta.
If you prefer a quieter pace, then head to Ischia instead, a small island with stunning views, amazing spa opportunities and a more local feel.
In Campania, you also find the most famous and the most glamorous coastline in Italy, the Amalfi Coast is the quintessential Italy bucket list item.
Visit glamorous Positano, beautiful Amalfi, stunning Ravello, and enjoy the family-friendly side of the Amalfi Coast in Sorrento and Minori: everywhere, you will find stunning views, breathtaking drives, glimmering sea and food to die for.
Ignored by international tourism and, let’s be honest, often by Italians too, Molise is where you find the true off the beaten track Italy
The only region in this article I myself have not visited properly, I believe it belongs in this list as the best place in Italy to escape from it all (plus, Campobasso, Isernia and Termoli look amazing!)
Basilicata has a gem: Matera. Capital of culture 2019, Matera is a very special place in Italy.
Built in very peculiar geographic conditions, the town is famous for its sassi, cave dwellings inhabited since Paleolithic times, it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in Italy and one not to be missed
Italy bucket list experience: Choose a hotel in the ‘sassi‘ to experience the dwellings at best!
Puglia – Apulia
The heel of the Italian boot has been a secret Italians have kept for themselves for the longest time and is a real gem, with stunning Unesco heritage site, beautiful sea and gorgeous towns (and food!)
Places not to be missed are Alberobello and its peculiar trulli, the city of Lecce, with churches and art so beautiful to be dubbed the Florence of the south.
Italy bucket list experience: Sleep in a restored trullo for a truly unique experience!
You can find all the best places to see in Puglia in this guide to the region.
For one of the most famous views in the area, don’t forget to also go to Instagram famous Polignano al mare, stunning and with one of the best beaches in Bari and the surrounding area.
The point of the Italian boot is one of the most overlooked destinations in the whole of Italy but has some corners of unparalleled beauty.
Make sure you visit pretty Scilla and Tropea at least, both little coastal gems.
Sicily has so much to offer its visitors it may alone take up all the 100 spots in this Italy must-see list!
However, these are some of the highlights you should include in a Sicily itinerary.
Lovers of architecture should not miss Catania, Palermo, Monreale, Modica and Val di Noto, land of Montalbano.
Fun fact about Sicily: as well as famous for cultural tourism, it is a wonderful producer of chocolate!
History lovers will get the breath knocked out of their lungs by the beauty of Siracusa, Taormina and the Valley of the temples and all visitors will fall in love with small villages and beautiful nature in Erice, Riserva dello Zingaro (Scopellois so pretty!) and the wonderful smaller Sicilian islands.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of some of the best places to visit in Italy and gave you inspiration for your Italy bucket list!