14 Bucket List Activities for the Ultimate Italy Trip

Italy is full of unmissable sights and attractions. Here are 14 of the very best things to do there!

49.8 million people visit Italy every year. And, when planning a trip to this beautiful European country, it can feel like there are almost as many things to do there! Ancient monuments, iconic cities, beaches, food, fashion, mountains, wineries…the list is endless.

So, how do you pick? What should you prioritize? Read on to discover 14 top activities and attractions that belong on anyone’s Italy itinerary.

1. Visit Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Things to do in Italy
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Cinque Terre is a network of five ancient fishing villages perched on the northwest coast. And yes, it’s as beautiful as it sounds! Expect colorful buildings, cobbled streets, and boutique stores stacked with charm.

Trails that boast stunning views connect each village, so I highly recommend walking here. However, a useful Express train zips between them throughout the day, increasing accessibility and how much of Cinque Terre you can see when strapped for time.

Like most of Italy’s famous tourist attractions, Cinque Terre gets extremely busy. But don’t let that put you off. Whether you visit for an afternoon or have a few days here, it’ll be a highlight of your trip.

2. Laze at a Lake

Lake Garda in Northern Italy
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Northern Italy is home to several world-famous lakes. Lake Como, just North of Milan, and Lake Garda, by Verona, are the most popular. However, they all boast sparkling waters, mountain views, and picture-perfect villages, so don’t feel bad if you skip the best-known ones.

For example, fewer tourists visit Lake Iseo, between Como and Garda. Yet there’s no shortage of beauty, charm, and attractions there. Wherever you go, a day or two at the lake will provide a wonderful, relaxing counterpoint to the busy sightseeing you’ll be doing elsewhere.

3. Visit Verona

Verona in Italy panoramic view
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Verona is famous for its connection to Romeo and Juliet, but that’s not all. It has a giant amphitheater, a colorful historic center laden with character, the mighty Adige River running through it, and, yes, Juliet’s House. Looking back, it felt like visiting Rome’s younger sibling.

There’s lots to see in Verona. Lots of great places to eat, too. And lots of bars and cafes where you can sit, rest your legs, and sip coffee or beer as you soak up the sights. Verona’s also well-located. It’s a gateway to the Dolomites in the north or Venice to the east. You could spend a day or two there on your way through.

4. Hike in the Dolomites

Hiking in Dolomites, Italy
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Located in the northeast, this mountain range is renowned for its iconic pale, jagged peaks that rise vertically from the surrounding terrain. If you love hiking, nature, fresh air, and the great outdoors, don’t miss the chance to visit the Dolomites. They are sublime.

The entire region is breathtaking, but the most famous bit is Tre Cime di Lavaredo (or the Three Peaks of Lavaredo). Hike to it/them along the eponymous loop trail. You’ll share it with many other hikers/visitors, but for good reason. The views of this unique geological feature and the surrounding area are second to none.

5. Explore Venice

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Visiting Venice is like stepping into a fairytale. It’s as unique as European destinations get – a medieval city built on islands.

There are no roads or cars here, just canals, boats, and bridges. Distinctive Gothic buildings emerge seemingly from the water. Front doors open onto wharves. Narrow cobbled streets ooze a sense of history and intrigue. The place attacks the senses and feels totally magical.

For these reasons and many others – not least the long list of attractions, such as getting a gondola ride down the Grand Canal or visiting the Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, and St. Mark’s Square – it’s always packed. However, you can’t blame people for wanting to visit. Venice is special.

6. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning tower of Pisa, Italy
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Like the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain in Rome, you’ve probably seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa a thousand times before on travel ads, postcards, Instagram, etc. So, if you’re traveling to Italy, it makes sense to see it in person, too!

That said, you don’t need to spend a lot of time in Pisa itself. It’s a fabulous city with history, shops, bars, restaurants, and a youthful atmosphere. Plus, the Arno River runs through the middle, and old European cities built around rivers all have something about them.

Here’s the “but” though. Other Italian cities offer the same attractions and many more. In my opinion, you get better bang for your buck by spending more of your limited time elsewhere.

7. Explore Florence

Florence cathedral in Italy
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The birthplace of the Renaissance has everything you could want in an Italian city. Food, wine, history, art, striking architecture, memorable activities, iconic attractions…it’s all here.

A few highlights include Michelangelo’s statue, David, in the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Uffizi Gallery, the medieval Ponte Vecchio (an incredible covered bridge), and Florence Cathedral with its famous dome. Like other cities in Bel Paese, Florence transports you into the past. Walk around, take in the sights, stop for gelato, do some shopping – simple pleasures hold extra appeal.

8. Travel around Tuscany

small village in Tuscany in Italy
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Although visiting Florence and/or Pisa technically means you’re already in Tuscany, this popular region in Italy deserves and invites further exploration.

Tuscany’s reputation precedes it. Get ready for rolling green hills lined with vineyards, charming hilltop towns, seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and fresh produce, food, and wine to die for.

9. Witness History in Rome

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From the Colosseum and Roman Forum to the Pantheon, Vatican City, and countless other historic sights, Rome is as close as you can get to stepping back in time.

And it impresses in other ways, too. As you’d expect from Italy’s capital city, the food scene is fantastic. Bars, cafes, and restaurants of all varieties are everywhere – most only a stone’s throw from one attraction or another.

The atmosphere is electric here as well. With 4.3 million people, it’s constantly abuzz with energy and life. I’d encourage anyone to spend at least three days in Rome to experience as much as possible.

10. Explore Pompeii

Pompeii ruins in italy
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Located just south of Naples, Pompeii was once a thriving city popular among wealthy Romans. Yet that changed in 79 A.D. when Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that towers above it, erupted. Ash and rocks buried the city, killing thousands of people and leaving the city frozen in time. Pompeii remained in that buried state until its rediscovery almost 1700 years later.

It’s hard not to be captivated by Pompeii. It lifts the curtain on ancient life and the people who lived there in a way that no other historical site can. You can see actual men, women, and children who lived there at the time – plaster casts of their bodies reveal the exact positions they were in when they died. Anyone fascinated by history should go.

11. Visit the Amalfi Coast and Capri

Amalfi Coast in Italy
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Just south of Pompeii is the inimitable Amalfi Coast. Another place that needs little introduction, this heavenly stretch of coastline is one of Italy’s most popular – and luxurious – destinations.

People adore the Amalfi Coast for its history, natural beauty, and exclusive vibe. It’s striking, too. Age-old towns cling to cliffs that rise steeply above gorgeous blue waters. Roads wind between them, with each twist and turn revealing a more impressive view than the last.

Wherever you go, you can hike, swim, sunbathe, and explore cute cobbled streets lined with bright white houses. You can also dine on fantastic food, splash some cash in boutique stores, and much more. Consider taking the ferry to Capri, too. Located just off the coast, this beautiful island is full of history and 100% worth exploring, even if only for a day trip.

12. Visit Castelmezzano

View of Castelmezzano in Italy
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Want to escape the crowds? Turn your back on the Amalfi Coast and venture inland to the small hilltop town of Castelmezzano.

This picturesque place is said to be popular with Italians, but it’s definitely off the main tourist track. As a result, it should offer a more authentic look into local Italian life. That’s definitely not the only reason to visit. Nestled high among the Dolomiti Lucane Mountains, Castelmezzano is a hidden gem with amazing views, hikes, and even a Via Ferrata.

There’s also a novel way to explore another hilltop town in the area. A zipline called Volo dell’Angelo, or the Angel’s Flight, connects Castelmezzano to nearby Pietrapertosa. If you want to visit both places, it’d certainly be a memorable way to travel between them.

13. Sassi di Matera

Sassi di Matera in Italy
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Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that appeared in the 2021 James Bond movie No Time to Die. Yet that fun fact isn’t the only reason to feature it on a list of the best things to do in Italy!

Old stone buildings sit atop a rocky plateau with spectacular views. Stone streets meander through pretty little piazzas. Staircases zigzag up hillsides. And there’s also an aged elegance to the place; it’s yet another Italian destination that oozes charm.

But all that’s only surface-level. Literally. The real magic of Matera lies underneath. It’s infamous for its intricate cave dwellings that have been lived in and built up over thousands of years. A sizeable chunk of Matera seems built into the actual cliffs. If you have time, book a night or two here to explore everything on offer.

14. Go to Sicily

Ruins of the Ancient Greek Theater in Sicily, Southern Italy
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If Italy’s a boot, Sicily is the large island off the coast of its “toe.” And it looks like paradise. Expect clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, verdant hills, and dramatic cliffs with towns on top.

Sicily also has a tremendous amount of history. It sounds like every empire that’s ever existed has conquered it at some point. As a result, ancient temples, palaces, and cathedrals litter the landscape.


Ultimate Guide to Where to Stay In Cinque Terre, Italy

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Planning a trip to Cinque Terre and wondering where to book accommodation? Check out this guide to where to stay in Cinque Terre, Italy.


Map of Italy Collection for Planning Your Bel Paese Adventures

Tour in Rome
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Are you looking for a map of Italy to help plan your trip or display at home? This Italy map collection should help.


Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.