First time visitors.

10 Days in Italy

Key areas in Italy


Northern Italy

  • Venice - a city built on water and known as the city of canals
  • Milan - larger city known to be the capital of fashion and design in Italy
  • Lake Como - classy, high-end area with numerous villages along the lake with stunning scenery as it is surrounded by mountains
  • Liguria coast - northwest coastline of Italy with stunning views and gorgeous scenery as it sits within the mountains while being along the sea. Cinque Terre and Portofino are located in this region.
  • Dolomites - Italian alps running through the NE part of Italy, great for the outdoor adventurer looking for hiking, cycling, skiing, and more including adrenaline sports like paragliding and via ferrata.

Central Italy

  • Florence -beautiful city, but it is more busy with tourists than it used to be; incredible food, great history, and good size smaller city to explore
  • Siena / San Gimignano / Montalcino - small, charming towns found in Tuscany 
  • Pisa - skip it, you’ll spend more time transporting to and from than in Pisa. Only thing to see here is the leaning tower, as the town is not very nice
  • Rome - larger city, lots of history and key destination point. 2-3 days is enough to see the main sights, enjoy good food and take in the city life 

Southern Italy

  • Amalfi Coast - stunning coastline of Italy with nice hillside towns, small beaches, and islands to visit
  • Puglia - great location at the heel of the boot, but best for a second or third visit to Italy r
The countryside, the Southern coast, and the city

4 days Tuscany

4 days Amalfi Coast

2 days Rome

The highlights
a little bit of it all

2 days Venice

3 days Tuscany

4 days Amalfi Coast

1 day Rome

Northern lakes, the countryside, and the city

1 day Milan

3 days Lake Como

4 days Tuscany

2 days Rome

Northern coast, the countryside, and the city

1 day Milan

3 days Italian Riviera

4 days Tuscany

2 days Rome

Regardless of options, check tips for locations to stay when picking accommodations


Florence

Stay in the area between or near the Duomo, Santa Croce, or Ponte Vecchio (if within a 10 min walk of any of these, you are walkable to most things. I would avoid staying right around the train station (but it is only about 10 minutes from train to Duomo so between is okay).

Note that the side of the river (Arno river) where the Duomo, Santa Croce and Uffizi gallery are located is the more touristy side. Staying on this side makes it everything very walkable, but will be a bit busier. Staying on the other side of the river (i.e. on the same of the river when Santo Spirito is will provide a more "local" feel)


Rome

Option 1: Trastevere

For the nicest area to walk around in with an assortment of restaurants making it a great area for dinner. The restaurants provide good and affordable local Italian options. Unfortunately this area is not located near a metro so you likely will need a taxi to get here or need to head there on foot.

Option 2: Historic city center

For the most convenient location, stay in the historic city center which includes commonly visited sights like the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. This area will be busier with tourists, but allows you to access many places easily on foot


Venice

Staying in the San Marco area will put you within close proximity to many of the main areas in Venice.

Other neighborhoods to consider as options include Cannaregio, Santa Croce, San Polo, Dorsoduro, and Castello.


Amalfi Coast

Positano

First town on the Amalfi Coast and a very picturesque cliff-side town. Also likely one of the most expensive options

Best for the picturesque views and the typical Amalfi Coast travel experience 

Praiano

This is a smaller, much less touristy town about 20 minutes from Positano. This is where we stayed and I would stay here again in a heartbeat. Despite being there in busy season, the town did not feel over crowded at all and had a very local feel. Our airbnb hosts were phenomenal and we stayed up the hill a bit with a gorgeous view over the water and coast. It is a very convenient location as it sits between Positano and Amalfi, making it possible to take a bus, ferry or taxi around. It was also much more affordable than Positano.

Best for a less touristy feel, more affordable option and easily accessible to the main Amalfi Coast towns  

Grand Hotel Tritone - Beautiful hotel in Praiano with exceptional service and views. The hotel is definitely on the expensive side, but worth looking into if you are splurging or visiting in off-season.

Sorrento

Located just off the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is the largest town and one that many people use as a hub to visit different towns. Its location and access to buses and ferries make it a default location for many when visiting the Amalfi Coast. It lacks the charm other towns have, but provides ease and convenience and is often the most affordable with more options.

Best for easily accessing all of the Amalfi Coast towns

Lake Como

For most visitors, the best area to stay will be in one of the towns in the middle of the lake: VarennaMenaggioBellagio, or Tremezzo. These towns are all quite small and charming. They are well-connected to each other, making it easy to access different parts of the Lake in one visit. With any of these options, you cannot go wrong, but they do each have their advantages so consider the below when picking. Como is the biggest city along the lake, located at the far edge. Although the lake is named after this town, unless you prefer a bigger town feel, I would not recommend staying here. It lacks charm and feels busy compared to other towns along the Lake.

Varenna

With its own train station, Varenna is a very convenient town to stay in as you can arrive and depart from the town and be in Milan within an hour. This is especially helpful on travel days as other towns would require you to catch a ferry to Varenna (or Como) first where you catch a train back to Milan. The town is on the East side of the lake, meaning there is afternoon sun over the town and into the evening until the sunset. It is quite a cute town and is more peaceful than Bellagio.

Bellagio

Probably the biggest, and most well-known of the towns, Bellagio seems to be the town most people default to stay in when unsure. Try to stay in walking distance of the water as this is where you will go for ferries and the majority of shops and restaurants are closer to the Lake itself. Bellagio has some fancy hotels available if looking for more luxurious accommodations. It is also on the East side of the lake, giving it afternoon and evening sun.


Mennagio

Opposite from Varenna and Bellagio, Menaggio is on the West side of the lake. This means it is a lovely spot to be up early and enjoying the sun. However, it gets shaded late in the afternoon and into the evening so you will not get a sunset here. Menaggio feels the most authentic and is bigger than Varenna but smaller than Bellagio. Another perk about Menaggio is its accessibility to other lakes. This is a great spot to rent e-bikes from and venture away from Lake Como to see the surrounding hillside towns and other lakes like Lake Lugano.

Tremezzo

Not as conveniently connected as Varenna, Bellagio and Menaggio, which easily make the points of a triangle, Tremezzo is still a suitable option. One of the nicest hotels, Grand Hotel Tremezzo, can be found here, with a swimming pool built into the lake. Tremezzo is also on the West side of the lake, meaning no sunsets, but there is a nice walk that can be done along the water towards Lenno from Tremezzo.

Italian Riviera

The Italian Riviera is known for having a beautiful coastline where colorful houses with stunning architecture are built on the hillsides overlooking the sea. As the Liguria region is a crescent shape, many of the towns sit directly on the seaside. Rather than trying to move from location to location while visiting, pick a convenient home base and plan to take day trips to other towns. This allows for a flexible itinerary and helps prevent too much moving around while still getting to experience and explore different towns in the area

Santa Margherita Ligure

Easily my top recommended spot to stay, Santa Margherita is a hidden gem. With its location sitting between key towns we hoped to visit on our trip, this was the main reason we selected it, but it greatly surpassed our expectations. The town itself provides lots of dining options from restaurants to wine bars to cafes with nice terraces and gelato shops. It sits along the seaside and has the typical Italian Riviera architecture with colourful buildings lining the coast and spread all throughout the town. It is easy to get to from Milan, with 2 hour direct trains available. It’s location makes it the most accessible town to the beautiful and upscale town of Portofino, and it is also just an hour train ride to the commonly visited Cinque Terre towns. For folks with more time, Genoa, Camogli, and Rapallo are all also easy to reach from Santa Margherita with train durations all less than 20 minutes.

The town does not feel overrun by tourists and has a great personality to it with the added benefit of more affordable accommodation options compared to the expensive options available in Portofino.

More information here

Option 1

The countryside, the Southern coast, and the city