Italy has many beautiful cities so it’s hard to narrow down your choices. Each of these cities has historic sights, museums, good places to shop, great food, cultural activities, and nightlife. For first time visitors, these are the 5 most popular places to go in Italy:
Rome is a huge city packed with interesting things to see and do. Rome is known for its Roman Colosseum and other ancient Roman sites, beautiful squares with lavish Renaissance fountains, and its many churches. People usually visit the nearby Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica while in Rome too. See Rome’s Top Monuments for more about the city’s sights.
- Buy tickets for these Rome museums in advance.
- Find a Hotel in Rome.
- Explore Rome Walking and Food Tours
Florence is a Renaissance city with top art museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, a huge Gothic duomo that’s one of Italy’s top cathedrals, the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River, and gorgeous squares and monuments. The center of Florence is often called a living museum. See Florence’s Top Monuments for more about the city’s top sights.
- Buy advance tickets for these Florence museums.
- Find a Hotel in Florence.
- Explore Florence Walking and Food Tours
Venice is one of Italy’s most unique and romantic cities with its winding canals and small walking streets. Saint Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice with the Doge’s Palace and stunning cathedral, Basilica San Marco, a blend of east and west.
If you plan to visit several monuments, a Venice Museums pass may save you time and money.
Milan and has a faster pace of life than most of Italy. Its stunning Gothic duomo is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral; be sure to go to the rooftop for a close-up look at the many gargoyles and statues. Milan is also famous for La Scala Opera House and da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting.
Tickets to see The Last Supper sell out quickly – buy tickets for The Last Supper that include an audio tour.
Naples, southern Italy’s largest city, is a vibrant city on the coast with a top archaeological museum, interesting historic center, two castles, and a nice seafront area. Via San Gregorio Armeno, in the historic center, is known as the street of nativity workshops and there are several underground places to see remains of the ancient Roman city. Cable railways take you up the hills to visit other museums and monasteries.
How to Travel Between Italian CitiesTrain travel is the best way to visit Italy’s cities. Driving in the city centers is restricted and parking can be difficult and expensive so if you’re planning to visit big cities, we don’t recommend traveling by car. Current approximate train travel time between cities on the fast (freccia) train, south to north:
- Naples to Rome – 1:10
- Rome to Florence – 1:16 to 1:30
- Florence to Milan – 1:39
- Florence to Venice – 2:05
- Venice to Milan – 2:35
Each of these cities has an airport (Rome and Milan have 2) so consider flying into one city and leaving from a different airport. For example, fly into Rome or Naples and out of Venice or Milan in the north (or reverse).
Italy Guide Books
- Rick Steves Italy
- Frommer’s Italy
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Italy
- Rome Books – Food and Unusual Guides
Day Trips and Places to Go in BetweenThere are good day trips that can easily be taken by train for each of these cities, too, as well as good places to stop in between if you’d like to explore some smaller places.
- Rome Day Trips
- Florence Day Trips
- MIlan Day Trips
- 5 Hill Towns to Visit Between Rome and Florence
- 5 Places to Go Between Florence and Venice
- 5 Places to Go Between Venice and Milan
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