An Italian song says: give me a Vespa, and I’ll take you on vacation. With this song in mind, we are going to share with you some tips for a great summer in Italy. If you want to be the protagonist of your own song, all you need to do is follow the itinerary we have designed for you. We will lead you to discover the best summer destinations in Italy. No matter which one you pick, you will have a truly unforgettable experience and enjoy a unique vacation. Let’s get started!
10 Best summer holiday destinations in Italy
Since the Eternal City needs no presentation, we decided to exclude Rome from our gallery. We will explore some Italian regions together, outside Lazio, simply following the alphabetical order, and we will let you discover truly unmissable summer destinations in Italy. If you’re planning a summer holiday to Italy with your family, you might want to check out some of our other articles too, such as the best water parks in Italy, but not only! We’ve got covered almost all the country with the best things to do, places to go, food, restaurants, airports, car rentals, hotels, and more!
1. Campania: Naples, Capri and the Amalfi Coast
If you are wondering where to go to Italy in summer, we suggest Naples. And if you’re wondering why the answer is very simple! This city is like a beating heart. There you can savor the taste of authentic life, feel the warm breath of the Neapolitan people and experience a thousand-year history.
The historical center of Naples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers many incredible attractions to visit, such as the underground city, the Catacombs of San Gennaro, San Severo Chapel, or the Royal Palace. A short boat trip from the port of Naples and you can reach Capri. What makes this island unforgettable are the breathtaking landscapes that surround it. If you’re looking for the most affordable towns in the Amalfi Coast and Sorrentine Peninsula, make sure you check our list of the best Sorrento hotels too!
Capri, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast – Italian summer holiday destination tips
Take a boat ride for an unforgettable view of the iconic Faraglioni, the three massive limestone stacks that emerge from the sea, and the Blue Grotto, so named for the extraordinary optical effect created by the sunlight that bounces off the cave walls and makes the water blue. Visit the town of Anacapri, from where you can take the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro.
But don’t miss the island of Capri either, with its famous attractions such as the Piazzetta, where you can sit at the outdoor café tables for an espresso or an Aperol Spritz and stroll along the surrounding shopping streets. It stretches for just 50 km, but driving along the winding coastal roads will take your breath away. Also, don’t miss out on the best hotels in Capri!
You will be enchanted by Amalfi, the ancient Maritime Republic that gives its name to the coast; in particular by the Arab-Sicilian cathedral of Sant’Andrea Apostolo, with its scenic staircase and the suggestive cloister.
Ravello, which rises 350 meters above sea level, and its panoramic gardens of Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone will be a joy for your eyes. Positano, with its white houses brightened by purple bougainvilleas, which slope gently towards the sea, is absolutely stunning. In short, the Amalfi Coast offers idyllic beauties.
2. Emilia Romagna: the historic cities of Bologna and Ravenna
Some Italian cities have a nickname that recalls their origin or describes their character, such as Rome, the Eternal City. Bologna has three: La Dotta (the learned), La Grassa (the fat), La Rossa (the red). The first is due to its University, the oldest in Europe, founded in 1088. The second refers to its amazing culinary traditions since Bologna is the homeland of fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle or tortellini. The third comes from the color of the terracotta bricks used in the Middle Ages to build its towers and palaces.
The essential starting point for a visit to the historic center of Bologna is the Basilica of San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore, the first stone of which was laid in 1390. After paying homage to the towers Garisenda and Asinelli, get lost in the alleys of the Jewish Ghetto, have a walk under UNESCO heritage-listed porticoes, sit in a tavern to taste the local mortadella, and stop in one of its renowned artisan shops. Bologna is easy, open, informal, is the destination where everyone comes to play their chance and is an endless laboratory of novelties. You will love it!
Ravenna is an easy day trip from Bologna, but be sure to leave early, to have enough time to explore the terrific UNESCO-protected artworks, like Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Basilica of San Vitale, and the Mausoleum of Galla Placida. As soon as you enter, your eyes will be captured by the beautiful mosaics that decorate the ceiling or walls. Dazzling works created between the 5th and 6th centuries, when the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and then an outpost of the Byzantine one.
On top of this, the crowded bars of the city center, the endless flow of bicycles, the fragrant pine forests that line its lagoon, and the long beaches with fully-equipped bathing establishments, make Ravenna one of the best summer destinations in Emilia Romagna and in Italy. In the region of Emilia Romagna, you can also consider a road trip including towns such as Ferrara, Parma, Modena, and Piacenza. Especially as this region is the most famous for its food.
3. Liguria: Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre in Liguria is certainly one of the best summer destinations in Italy for those seeking relaxation by the sea but are also eager to visit enchanting villages, without neglecting art and culture.
Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These five picturesque villages are scattered along a spectacular coastline overlooking the sea. The villages are connected by a small train and also by the Sentiero Azzurro, a path that offers splendid views to hikers.
These places still retain the atmosphere of the old fishing villages. Take a seat in one of the nice bars and typical trattorias in Cinque Terre that line the harbor and savor the local seafood specialties, or the famous Ligurian pesto, while sipping a good glass of white wine. Porto Venere and Portofino are also worth a detour, with their high pastel-colored houses around the harbor. Thanks to their undisputed beauty, the Cinque Terre has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
4. Lombardy: Lake Garda and Sirmione
There aren’t just beaches in Veneto, or Venice. Lake Garda is one of the best summer destinations in Italy. Surrounded by three distinct regions (Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, and Veneto), the lake’s environmental diversity attracts crowds of people. Surrounded by three distinct regions (Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, and Veneto), the lake’s environmental diversity attracts crowds of people. Sailboats, kite surfers, and windsurfers plow the waters of the lake, while a new 140 km cycle path allows cyclists to explore Italy’s largest lake.
On the shores of the lake, you can find numerous enchanting villages. Among them, Sirmione, a small town that enchants its visitors for the breathtaking landscapes and the surprising architecture, deserving the name of “Perla del Garda”. Do not miss a visit to the Scaligero Castle, one of the best-preserved castles in Italy dating back to the 13th century, and to the Grotta di Catullo, a Roman villa built in the 1st century. There are great places for glamping as well!
5. Puglia: Polignano, Lecce and Alberobello
Fine sandy beaches of Puglia and an incredibly turquoise sea with shallow waters. A magnificent unspoiled countryside, dotted with olive groves. Wonderful cities of art and enchanting little villages. Luxury masserias, sophisticated boutique hotels, or cozy bed-and-breakfasts nestled in little whitewashed villages. There is a place in Italy where you can find all this, it is Puglia.
It is really difficult to choose among the numerous wonderful destinations offered by Puglia. But, we want to report at least three! The historic center of Lecce and its Baroque palaces and churches, entirely built with a local white stone. The picturesque village of Alberobello with its typical trullos, the little houses built with dry stone walls and a characteristic conical roof. The ancient village of Polignano a Mare, a small town erected on a rocky spur overlooking the sea, where the tiny white houses lean against each other and stand out against a turquoise sea.
While wandering around Puglia, make a detour to the Baia dei Turchi, a white beach protected by a pine forest on a turquoise sea. The region is also famous for its food in Puglia!
6. Sicily: Syracuse and the Valley of the Temples
The beauty of Sicily is undisputed, and Syracuse is certainly one of its most striking examples. Its ancient Greek ruins, the lush citrus groves that surround it, the tables that follow one another in the splendid Baroque squares, and the stone of its buildings that shines in the sun. Everything in Syracuse exudes beauty and enchants visitors.
The beating heart of Syracuse is the island of Ortigia, connected to the city by a small bridge, which stretches out towards the cobalt blue sea. Its history began in 734 BC when the Greeks founded the first settlement. Almost three millennia later, it is possible to visit the ruins of the “new city” in the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, one of the largest in Sicily. Ortigia the most beautiful corner of Syracuse and offers visitors beautiful views and interesting options for sleeping, eating, and shopping.
If your summer in Italy includes a visit to Syracuse, don’t miss the other gems of the Sicilian southeast, also known as Noto Valley. This region encompasses stunning baroque towns, like Modica, Noto, Ragusa Ibla, and Scicli, and thanks to its undisputed beauty it has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main attraction of the southern coast of Sicily is undoubtedly the wonderful Valley of the Temples. The spectacular archeological site that encompasses the ruined ancient city of Akragas is 13-sq-km wide. A short walk will lead you to three of the most remarkable and best-preserved temples. The Temple of Hera from the 5th century BC, the Temple of Concordia, which has survived almost intact since its construction in 430 BC, and the Temple of Hercules, the oldest, dating from the end of the 6th century BC.
Don’t miss the chance to visit this impressive site at night when the temples are brilliantly floodlit. It is really an unparalleled experience: you will have the feeling of going back through the centuries to the time of the ancient Greeks. If we consider also the beaches in Sicily, this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Italy in summer. Oh, and don’t forget about Sicilian cuisine!
7. Sardinia: archipelago of La Maddalena
Budelli, Caprera, Maddalena, Spargi, Santo Stefano: these are just 6 out of the 63 islands and islets that form the archipelago of La Maddalena, in the north-east of Sardinia, off the Costa Smeralda. Crystal clear waters, whose color ranges from emerald to turquoise, from azure to intense blue. The beaches in Sardinia are just beyond!
Pristine beaches, a myriad of little inlets, and wonderful seabeds make the archipelago of La Maddalena the ideal destination for boat trips and diving. Sardinia offers visitors a unique natural environment. On the coast and inland, vast surfaces have remained intact, covered with lush woods and populated by deer, wild horses, mouflons, and eagles.
Among the Sardinian wonders, you will discover the Nuragic complexes scattered throughout the territory. These huge towers, built with large blocks of stone, are unique monuments in the world and testify to an ancient and still partly mysterious culture. If you want to visit Sardinia, make sure to check out the best hotels, luxury hotels, and beach clubs in Sardinia too!
8. Trentino Alto Adige: Dolomites and Lake Braies
Are you dreaming of a holiday surrounded by nature? Do you love hiking in the woods or along mountain paths? If so, one of the best places to visit in Italy in the summer is the Dolomites, in Trentino Alto Adige. Over there, you will find relaxation, tranquility, pure air, and traditions. If you want to spend more time here, check out the best Dolomites hotels too!
For an intense and authentic experience, choose a malga for your stay. The malgas are cozy huts surrounded by grazing cows and enjoying a wonderful view. You can dine together with malgaro’s listening to the tales of local legends. At night, you will look at the stars, and then very early in the morning, you will start the typical activities: grazing the cows, making cheese, and even milking, before having the typical breakfast prepared by the farmer.
Situated at 1.496 meters above sea level, within the Fanes Senes Braies Natural Park, Lake Braies is a unique place. It looks like an emerald set between the peaks of the Dolomites. Green-turquoise waters, wooden boats that seem to be suspended on the surface of the water, and, all around, fir forests and majestic mountains, this is the scenario that will welcome you when arriving at the lake. One of the best ways to get there is on a bicycle. The Braies Valley is in fact crossed by beautiful cycle paths and a visit to the lake is for sure a splendid detour of a ride on two wheels.
9. Tuscany: Florence and the countryside
Still wondering where to go in Italy for a summer holiday? Well, you cannot really miss Florence and the Tuscan countryside! Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is one of the most important art cities in the world. There is so much fine art and exquisite architecture within its ancient walls that you can feel overwhelmed.
The beating heart of Florence is Piazza del Duomo, with its monumental complex of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, the San Giovanni Baptistery, and the Giotto’s Bell Tower. Piazza della Signoria hosts Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence and one of the most symbolic monuments of the city. Not far away, the eternal wonder of the Uffizi Gallery, which exhibits the masterpieces of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello, and many other masters.
But there are not only museums and monuments. Florence is teeming with artisan shops and excellent restaurants, many of them along the renowned Ponte Vecchio. From Florence you can easily plan a day trip to other Tuscan cities of art such as Arezzo, Siena, Pisa and Lucca.
Known everywhere in the world, the Tuscan countryside offers spectacular landscapes. Its verdant hills are crossed by long rows of vines and dotted with enchanting villages and churches. Among them, you will find Montepulciano, located between Val D’Orcia and Val di Chiana and renowned for its delicious red wine. Besides the nice village or the beaches in Tuscany, we suggest you pay a visit to the underground cellars and take part in one of the many wine tastings. Make sure you don’t get too drunk… too quickly!
10. Veneto: Venice and Verona
Respectively the setting for Shakespeare’s Moor of Venice and Romeo and Juliet, Venice, and Verona is simply stunning.
When stepping out of the Santa Lucia station, the view over the Venice lagoon will take your breath away. In this city, there are no streets but canals, including the Grand Canal, flanked by splendid Renaissance and Gothic palaces.
You just need to turn a corner or cross a bridge to access a quiet campo (square) or find a church to visit. By the way, do not miss the visit to the Basilica of San Marco, fully decorated with Byzantine mosaics, and of the bell tower of San Marco, from where you can admire the red roofs of Venice. And what about the sunset in Piazza San Marco? Simply dreamy! Check out our posts for great restaurants in Venice, and hotel suggestions.
Verona is also a wonderfully fascinating city and makes even a short holiday an unforgettable experience. Enjoy an opera show in its Arena. As you walk the cobbled streets that lead down to the Roman amphitheater, you will feel an authentic Italian atmosphere. Not to be missed!
Did you like our top 10 of the best summer destinations in Italy?
If so, all you need to do is pack your bag and jump on a plane or train, and even on a Vespa if you like, and come to Italy as fast as possible! You will find art cities, medieval villages, mountains, lakes, beaches, islands, and countryside. But also fabulous food, charming people, and a unique lifestyle. Still there! Hurry up… your summer in Italy is waiting for you!