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23 Most Beautiful Places in Italy (Not Big Cities!)

Are you planning your first visit to Italy? No doubt you’re wondering where to go.

There are so many beautiful places in Italy that it can be hard to choose!

Not to worry. We believe we can help. We’ve traveled to Italy several times – the Amalfi Coast, the Puglia area, Sicily and hidden gems in Italy like Matera.

Below, you’ll find our list of the most beautiful and best places to visit in Italy.

This list isn’t about glorious Italian cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, Palermo and Pisa, though. It’s about some of the prettiest small towns in Italy (famous ones and less touristy ones), scenic countryside regions and other picturesque destinations (both popular and under-the-radar ones).

You’re in for a treat. From the magnificent lakes in Lombardy to the idyllic Tuscan countryside – not to mention all the picturesque little towns in between – the beauty of Italy never ceases to amaze us.

This country knows how to celebrate la dolce vita!

23 most beautiful places in Italy

Beautiful Lake Como, Italy
The Cinque Terre, the Siena countryside, the oh-so-beautiful Italian Lakes – there are oodles of gorgeous places to vacation in Italy!

Most beautiful places in Italy by the sea

Italy has miles of coastline sprinkled with postcard-perfect coastal villages and towns. The following are some of the most enchanting coastal towns in Italy.

1) Positano

Pizza overlooking the turquoise sea of Positano
Positano is a fashionable seaside town on the Amalfi Coast, with colorful houses that look as if they might tumble down to the sea

Yes, it’s crowded in the high summer months. And yes, hotels are stratospherically expensive.

But the village of Positano on the famed Amalfi Coast is so ravishing that it’s still worth visiting at least once. It’s simply one of the most beautiful spots in Italy!

Brimming with colorful buildings, cute boutiques and excellent restaurants, Positano clings to the side of a cliff overlooking a pebble beach and the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea.

If you’re an art buff, you’ll love all the galleries around Positano.

A fun way to explore Positano is via scooter. But that’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

We preferred walking up and down the narrow streets – which involved a lot of stairs. Great for toning those legs! (And then we ruined all that calorie-busting work by eating huge slices of chocolate cake, paired with limoncello.)

Amalfi Coast sightseeing boat tours from Positano are also popular.

Must-do Positano

You can follow the Path of the Gods, literally. “Sentiero Degli Dei” is an easyish five-mile walking trail that offers breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri in the distance.

2) Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is made up of five old fishing villages
The Cinque Terre is one of the most magical stretches of coastline in Italy

Strung along a six-mile stretch of the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre consists of five old fishing villages (the “Five Lands” in Italian), protected by the Cinque Terre National Park.

Among the most beautiful towns in Italy, they’re known for their rainbow-hued houses clinging to steep limestone cliffs, glittering sea views and fresh succulent seafood.

While we’d recommend staying here if you can, it’s possible to see the best of the Cinque Terre on a day tour from Florence.

Riomaggiore

If you’re coming by train from the port town of La Spezia (the “gateway to the Cinque Terre”), the first village you arrive at is Riomaggiore.

Take in the view from Castello di Riomaggiore. The castle was constructed in the 13th century to protect the town from pirates.

Also stroll down the main street of Via Colombo, lined with shops, restaurants and bars.

Manarola

Perched on rocky cliffs washed by the waves, Manarola is the oldest village of the Cinque Terre. And it’s one of the most romantic places in Italy!

Manarola is the second smallest of the unique Cinque Terre villages.
Manarola is the second smallest of the unique Cinque Terre villages

An especially lovely stretch of coastline is the Via dell’Amore (“Love’s Trail”) between Manarola and Riomaggiore. The paved, relatively flat footpath (just over ½ a mile long) offers spectacular views of the Ligurian Sea.

Also explore the vineyards. The Manarola Vineyard Walk is a 20-minute stroll that takes you along the terraced grape vineyards surrounding Manarola.

You’ll want to taste the local sweet Sciacchetra wine too.

Corniglia

Corniglia is an ideal base for exploring the Cinque Terre, as it’s located in the center. It’s the “quiet” heart, more laid-back than the other towns.

Vernazza

You’ll never be short of things to do in Vernazza – possibly the pearl of the Cinque Terre.

Vernazza is one of five centuries-old villages that make up the stunning Cinque Terre
Vernazza is one of five centuries-old villages that make up the stunning Cinque Terre

Visit the 15th century Castle Doria for jaw-dropping views of the village’s beautiful harbor. If the weather is good, you can enjoy a boat tour along the coast.

Monterosso

Monterosso is the largest of the Cinque Terre villages.

Stroll through the colorful narrow lanes of the Old Town, admire the Aurora Tower and relax on Monterosso Beach. Also gorge on Italy’s best pesto dishes at Gastronomia San Martino (a very simple eatery – but, oh, the pasta is amazing!) or the sea-facing Ristorante Belvedeer.

If wine is your thing, like it is for us, take some time for wine tasting in Cinque Terre.

Learn all about winemaking as you sip Monterosso’s specialty, Cinque Terre DOC. The Cinque Terre Wine School in Monterosso is a popular option.

Must-do Cinque Terre

The best way to take it all in is to hike along the sinuous paths connecting the five Cinque Terre towns.

Also dine on fresh seafood at Belforte, a romantic restaurant in Vernazza. It’s often acclaimed as Cinque Terre’s best restaurant – in part because of its clifftop perch and fantastic sea views.

3) Sorrento

People sun and swim in Sorrento from platforms and docks built out from the cliffs

Along with Positano (#1), the small Italian city of Sorrento is one of the loveliest and best places to visit on the Amalfi Coast.

It’s easy to visit on a day trip from Naples. (Sorrento is about an hour’s drive, a 40-minute ferry ride or a 70-minute train ride away from Naples.)

Dripping with citrus trees, this vacation spot is famous for its colorful buildings lining the harbor, streets flanked by noble houses and laid-back holiday atmosphere.

Stroll about the delightful Piazza Tasso in the Old Town of Sorrento. Savor a scoop (or three!) of authentic Italian gelato and take in the surrounding Baroque architecture.

Janice kissing a sculpture in Sorrento
We love Sorrento! (Janice hamming it up with this Sorrento sculpture)

Must do Sorrento

Visit Villa Communale Park. Perched on a cliff in the center of Sorrento, the small garden offers sweeping views of the Bay of Naples and boats gently bobbing in the marina below.

4) Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is one of the prettiest places in Italy.
Perched atop 65-foot-high cliffs, Polignano a Mare overlooks the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea

One of the prettiest towns in Italy, Polignano a Mare is on its way to becoming a tourist hot spot.

This little coastal town is tucked away in Puglia, the southern region that forms the heel of Italy’s “boot.” And after kicking around Polignano a Mare for several days, we can tell you it’s totally awesome!

Explore one of its beautiful beaches. And look around for poetry inscribed on staircases, walls and doorways around the town.

For an adrenaline pump, go cliff diving into the Adriatic Sea.

Must-do Polignano a Mare

Go for a swim at Lama Monachile (Cala Porto). This free beach cove in the center of town is flanked by two magnificent rocky cliffs. And the water is some of the clearest anywhere!

(Do as we did and buy water shoes in town. They protected our tender tootsies from the pebbles and rocky seabed.)

5) Portofino

Portofino looks like an Italian fairytale
Portofino looks like an Italian fairytale

A half-moon-shaped harbor, pastel houses and cypress-clad slopes combine to make Portofino one of the most scenic places in Italy.

Luxury shopping is a Portofino thing. That’s no surprise, given that Portofino is a magnet for celebrities. (Celebrity spotting, anyone?)

If you enjoy hiking, check out the 10½ mile route along the rugged coastline from Portofino to Camogli.

Must-do Portofino

Splurge on a stay at one of the world’s top hotels – Portofino’s luxurious Belmond Splendido Mare.

6) Ortigia (Siracusa)

Ortigia island, part of Siracusa
You could spend days enjoying the lovely island of Ortigia (part of Siracusa)

When it comes to beautiful Italian coastal towns on the island of Sicily, Siracusa (Syracuse in English) may take the crown – although there’s a lot of competition!

More than 2,000 years ago, the Roman statesman Cicero called Siracusa (which was founded by the Greeks) “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all.”

The small island of Ortigia is the oldest part of Siracusa, connected to it by a couple of small bridges. It’s a charming labyrinth of ancient temples, medieval streets, piazzas, churches and fountains.

See the Temple of Apollo, tour the imposing Castello Maniace (a 13th century fortress), watch a puppet show at the Pupi Theater, pop inside the cathedral and check out the cafés and shops hidden around every corner.

People enjoying sundowners on the waterfront Lungomare Alfeo in Ortigia at sunset
At sunset, we’d sit down at one of the spritz bars on the Lungomare Alfeo for sundowners

Must-do Ortigia

Sip an Aperol Spritz (or two!) at sunset on the west-facing Lungomare Alfeo. Lined by outdoor bars, this seaside promenade strip was our go-to spot at the golden hour for watching the sky change colors.

Best Italian lakes to visit

On the south side of the Alps, the Italian Lakes region is one of the places you must visit in Italy at some point in your life.

Flanked by craggy mountainous peaks, pine forests, a Mediterranean vibe (in summer) and pretty towns packed with historic architecture, Italy’s lakes are incredibly photogenic.

Castles and villas are sprinkled all along the shoreline of these achingly beautiful lakes.

7) Lake Como

Gorgeous white buildings around Lake Como
Green peaks, neoclassical villas and deep blue lake waters make Lake Como one of the most beautiful Italian places to visit

Lake Como is the third largest of the Italian Lakes – and the glamorous one.

Many people think it’s the most beautiful place in Italy. Hollywood actor George Clooney, for one, was so enchanted that he bought a villa in Laglio (known as Villa Oleandra) on Lake Como.

In Como, the principal town, stroll the lakeside promenade and take the funicular up to the village of Brunate for spectacular views of the lake.

Lakeside promenade at Como on Lake Como
It’s delightful to stroll the lakeside promenade in Como – and then relax at a café or restaurant for some eats

When you tire of exploring, seat yourself at a lakeside café or resto and make like an Italian.

Must-do Lake Como

Sip wine. Eat. And relish the views.

8) Lake Maggiore

Borromeo Palace on the island of Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore
Borromeo Palace on the island of Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is an 82-square mile body of water, snaking through the Alps and across the Italian-Swiss border.

Uninterrupted views of the blue water with snow-capped mountains looming in the background – together with historic villas in charming towns like Verbania and Stresa – make this lake a favorite Italian vacation destination, both in the summer and winter.

Must-do Lake Maggiore

Take a taxi boat to the island of Isola Bella (meaning “beautiful island”) on Lake Maggiore to visit the lavish Baroque palace and gardens owned by the aristocratic Borromeo family.

9) Lake Garda

A white sailboat glides by the tulip-lined shore of Lake Garda.
Sailing, windsurfing and swimming are just some of the watersports you can do at Lake Garda

Another one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake.

With charming villages, great beaches and lots of water sports opportunities, it’s a popular holiday destination in Italy.

Wine tasting is popular around Lake Garda. Try some of its Valpolicella, Soave and Bardolino wines.

On the southern shore of Lake Garda, the beautiful old town of Sirmione is found at the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the lake.

Visit the 13th century Scaliger Castle there, surrounded by a turquoise moat. And check out the Roman ruins of a large villa known as Grotte di Catullo, believed to have been the country house of the poet Catullus.

Blue waters surrounding the pretty village of Sirmione on Lake Garda
Wouldn’t you agree that Sirmione is one of the prettiest villages on Lake Garda?

For a unique perspective, enjoy a fun trike or Ryker ride around Lake Garda. Also take a sunset boat cruise (with wine, of course!) around the Sirmione Peninsular.

One of Italy’s best rock climbing destinations is also found on the lake’s north shore – at the town of Arco.

Aside from rock climbing, you can hike up from the town to explore the ruins of the 1,000-year-old Arco Castle.

Must-do Lake Garda

Enjoy panoramic views of the lake from above by riding up with the Malcesine Monte Baldo Cable Car. This 30-minute ride takes you through part of the Italian Alps. You can access many hiking trails at the top too.

10) Lake Orta

Isola San Giulio is a jewel of an island set in the middle of Lake Orta.
Isola San Giulio is a jewel of an island set in the middle of Lake Orta

Lake Orta is Lake Maggiore’s little sister.

At just seven square miles, it’s much smaller than Lake Maggiore.

Separated from its larger counterpart by the Mottarone mountain range, it’s also one of the most beautiful places in Italy to visit.

Its crystal-clear waters are some of the best for swimming in Europe.

You’ll also want to want to take a 5-minute boat ride to San Giulio Island to stroll around the peaceful island.

Must-do Lake Orta

Above the town of Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacro Monte di San Francesco.

Walk up the hill (about 20 minutes) to see this beautiful Roman Catholic complex of 20 fresco-emblazoned chapels. Set in the woods, it’s one of the nine UNESCO-listed sacred groups of mountain chapels in northern Italy.

Lovely smaller inland cities and towns

Italy’s small towns and cities are where you can enjoy everything good about the country’s big cities, but on a smaller scale.

Here’s where pastel palazzi and cathedrals crown hilltops like icing on a cake – and where you can (usually) roam cobbled streets without the crowds.

11) Siena

Golden-hued buildings of Siena, Italy
With a UNESCO-listed historic center, Siena is a gorgeous Tuscan hill town

Surrounded by a 1,000-year-old wall, Siena (population about 55,000) is stuffed with stunning Gothic churches, pretty piazzas and terracotta-colored buildings.

Cradled in the heart of Tuscany, it’s easily one of the most picturesque medieval towns in Italy.

You’ll want to see the gorgeous Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di Siena).

Adorned with beautifully detailed sculptures, Venetian mosaics, artistic marble floors and a rose window, this grand 13th century construction is bound to take your breath away, both inside and out.

Part of the cathedral complex is the wonder that is the Piccolomini Library.

Along with housing a priceless collection of hand-made books and music manuscripts, it’s famous for some of the most impressive frescoes in Italy.

Painted by the Renaissance artist Pinturicchio, they’re probably based on designs by Raphael.

Colorful fresco at the Piccolomini Library in Siena
Inside Siena’s cathedral, the Piccolomini Library is frescoed throughout with scenes depicting the life of Pope Pius II

Siena is an easy day trip from Florence. But if you can swing it, you won’t regret staying for a night or two in this beautiful town, especially if you book into a former palazzo like the Grand Hotel Continental Siena.

And when the day is done, Ristorante Tar Tufo is the perfect place to gorge on antipasti, lamb, pasta and seafood, while sipping house wines. (Or maybe go for the 5-course truffle dinner!)

Must-do Siena

Feeling energetic? Climb the almost 335-foot-high Torre Del Mangia for unrivalled views of Siena and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

It’s a climb of over 200 steps, but the view is worth the effort.

12) San Gimignano

Medieval skyline of San Gimignano
San Gimignano’s medieval skyline fascinates all its visitors

Known as the “Town of Fine Towers,” San Gimignano is famous for its unforgettable skyline of medieval towers.

At one time, this small hilltop town in Tuscany was home to 72 tower-houses – symbols of the wealth of its patrician family owners.

Today, only 14 towers remain. But the town still oozes a romantic medieval ambience.

Must-do San Gimignano

Simply strolling through San Gimignano, soaking up its historic atmosphere and admiring the beautiful architecture, is a delight.

13) Matera

Matera, Italy, at dusk
The ancient city of Matera is found in the instep of Italy’s boot

Matera is located in the southern Basilicata region of Italy. And of all the pretty places in Italy, it’s one of the most fascinating. (You may recall it was featured in the James Bond flick No Time to Die.)

Until we visited, we didn’t know that Matera is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.

People have lived here in caves for millennia. In fact, we recommend staying in a cave hotel in Matera. Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita is highly rated.

With a poignant and rich history, this troglodyte settlement became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. In 2019, it basked under the banner of European Cultural Capital.

You can take a guided walking tour or even a tuk-tuk tour of Matera’s cave houses, historical grottos, hermitages and rock-hewn churches.

For a glimpse of what life was like back in the 1950s for the locals who lived in Matera’s caves, visit the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario.

If you want to visit Italy off the beaten path, Matera is still, surprisingly, not on the tourist radar.

Mind you, we found it a bit difficult to get here.

There are no direct trains to Matera from any main hubs. Many people rent a car to get here, like we did. We drove from Bari – and what with the traffic and Italian drivers, we found the driving stressful, especially when it hailed (!) and we had to take refuge under a bridge.

You might want to do a guided small-group all-day tour from Bari by mini-van – and leave the driving to someone else.

The fact that Matera isn’t as accessible as other places in Italy probably accounts for why it’s still not touristy.

Whatever, Matera is one of the most unique places to visit in Italy – and hauntingly beautiful.

Must-do Matera

MUSMA, the Matera Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, is not to be missed.

14) Orvieto

Gold-colored buildings and cathedral of Orvieto, Italy
With an underground city plus a marvelous cathedral, Orvieto is an Umbrian hilltop gem

A popular day trip from Rome, Orvieto is perched on top of a 1,000-foot-high tufa hill.

With medieval cobblestone streets lined by beautiful buildings, it’s a great place for photography and simply delighting in its gold-hued charms.

No doubt you’ll visit Orvieto’s main attraction – its celebrated Gothic duomo. The 14th-century cathedral is the town’s masterpiece landmark. Few buildings in the world are as ornate as its intricately carved exterior.

Must-do

Don’t miss climbing down Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well). It leads to an ancient underground city of caves and tunnels, dug by the Etruscans in the soft tufa rock below!

15) Alberobello

White cone-roofed houses (called trulli) in Alberobello, Italy
The small town of Alberello is famous for its white cone-roofed houses, called trulli

The cute white conical-shaped trulli of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a sight to see. They make this fairytale town one of the prettiest places in Italy!

Visit the Sant’Antonio Church, with its cone-shaped roof. It’s the only trullo church in the world.

Here’s a good two-hour historical walking tour for learning about Alberobello and the architecture of the trulli buildings from a guide.

Hungry? You’ll want to try a Pasqualino sandwich at Gusto. Traditionally layered with tuna fish, capers, salami and cheese, this sandwich is unique to Alberobello.

For a sweet treat, indulge in an ice cream cone from Arte Fredda Gelateria. Operating since 1994, the family-run ice cream parlor in the center of town makes hand-crafted ice cream and granita, using natural ingredients and fresh fruits.

Must-do Alberobello

Head over to the less commercialized Rione Aia Piccola district. It’s quieter, less crowded and more picturesque than Alberobello’s main Rione Monti district.

In this neighborhood, local residents still live in most of the 500 or so trulli here.

You won’t be able to go inside, as they’re private homes. But you’ll get a feel for how people live, as you pass trulli with lace curtains covering the windows and see elderly gents going for a stroll.

16) Montepulciano

View of terracotta-hued buildings of Montepulciano at sunset
View from the walls of Montepulciano at sunset

The medieval village of Montepulciano sits on top of a hill overlooking Tuscany, with incredible views over vineyards in the Val d’Orcia.

The terracotta-hued town is brimming with historic churches and Renaissance palaces.

Are you a Twilight fan?

If so, you may have already heard of Montepulciano. One of the top places to visit in Italy for movie fans, parts of the saga’s New Moon were filmed here.

Must-do Montepulciano

Go wine tasting!

You can taste Vino Nobile di Montepulciano on your own at the wine shop inside the Medici Fortress at the south end of town.

Or for an intimate tour of a beautiful classic wine cellar with a guide, enjoy this top-rated small-group wine tasting tour. Try three to six local wines (including Nobiles), while learning about local wine making traditions.

17) Lecce

Creamy white Baroque buildings of Lecce, Italy
Around every corner, Lecce’s creamy limestone buildings dazzle with joyous Baroque embellishments

Sometimes referred to as the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is located in the Puglia region of southern Italy.

This small beautiful Italian city of about 100,000 is jam-packed with gorgeous Baroque architecture and works of archaeological significance.

See the famous Roman amphitheater in the middle of the city, which could seat 15,000 to 25,000 people. Live performances still take place here.

And the Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most heavenly cathedrals! Boasting 17 ornately decorated altars and ceilings with painted centers, it took two centuries to build.

Must-do Lecce

You won’t want to miss the Museo Faggiano.

When the owner bought the property, he intended to turn it into a restaurant.

But when he started digging under the building in 2001 to repair a toilet, he discovered underground tombs, a Roman granary, medieval rooms and artifacts, a Franciscan chapel, etchings from the Knights Templar and escape routes.

More than 5,000 archaeological exhibits are now on display in this incredible private archaeological museum.

Beautiful Italian regions

Some of the nicest parts of Italy are actually whole regions.

So don’t just think Italy’s cities and towns when considering vacation destinations in Italy.

Here’s where you can find beautiful Italian landscapes.

18) Tuscany

Village in Tuscany
All of Tuscany is drop-dead beautiful

The towns of Siena (#11), San Gimignano (#12) and Montepulciano (#16) in Tuscany are already on our list of the best places to go in Italy.

But the whole Tuscan countryside is one of the most beautiful parts of Italy – and deserves its own recognition.

For a rural retreat where you can soak up the Italian lifestyle, why not rent a private villa and a car to help you make the most of your escape?

Tuck yourself away in a remote corner of Tuscany and enjoy the luxury of a farmhouse cottage or a modern villa, with your own private pool. (You can find these on Vrbo.)

Spend your days touring the beautiful countryside, covered with cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards.

Explore lovely small villages and towns in Tuscany like Montefioralle (originally a walled castle, now ringed by cobblestone streets) and Poppi (dominated by the 13th century Castle of the Guidi Counts).

And don’t miss Montalcino, a medieval hilltop town, where the food and wine is some of the tastiest in Italy!

Meats and cheeses taste better in Tuscany.
Food, delicious food! Even simple meats and cheeses taste better in Tuscany

Of course, you’ll want to stop for lunch on your outings.

Maybe nosh on cured meats, cheeses, olives, handmade pasta and sausages with white beans, washed down with local wine – before heading back to soak up the last few rays of sunshine on your poolside terrace.

Heaven!

Must-do Tuscany

Enjoy road-tripping through Val d’Orcia. With cypress trees and gentle hills, this is Tuscany’s dreamland.

Be sure to stop at the quaint village of San Quirico d’Orcia to admire the Horti Leonini Italian Renaissance gardens.

19) Le Marche

Le Marche, Italy, has lovely medieval hilltop towns.
Like Tuscany, Le Marche has lovely medieval hilltop towns

Have you heard of Le Marche (The Marches)? Maybe not, because it’s one of those somewhat under-rated places in Italy that doesn’t get tons of hype.

But that’s good!

Sometimes touted as “the next Tuscany,” this small eastern Italian region runs along the Adriatic Coast. It borders the rolling hills of Tuscany to the northwest.

With lavender and sunflower fields, it’s another one of the most beautiful Italian places to visit, with hill towns rivaling Tuscany’s.

Urbino

The steep hill town of Urbino is the birthplace of the Renaissance painter Raphael. You can visit the family house, now a museum (Casa Natale di Raffaello).

One of Italy’s most spectacular palaces, the Palazzo Ducale, is found in Urbino too.

Check out the exquisite inlaid images in the wood-paneled study and Raphael’s Portrait of a Gentlewoman, which hangs in the palace.

Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, one of the most beautiful places in Italy to see
In the Marche region of Italy, the small walled city of Urbino is home to one of the largest medieval palaces in Italy

Ascoli Piceno

Medieval Ascoli Piceno, population 60,000, is known as the “city of travertine.”

Most of the buildings in the old town, even door frames and floors, are made from solid blocks of travertine stone. Don’t miss the intricately-carved entry portals to the gothic-style Church of St. Francis.

Must-do

Go underground in the Frasassi Caves, Italy’s largest karst cave system. (You need a ticket, which includes a guided tour.)

Wander through the Great Cave of the Wind, comprised of an 8-mile network of connected passageways. See the large bat colony in the Cave of the Bats. And marvel at the stalagmite-filled Room of the Candles.

Also don’t miss the White Room’s radiant calcite formations and the Room of Infinity, where you almost feel lost in an endless space.

20) Dolomites

The Dolomites are home to beautiful ski resorts.
You’ll find beautiful ski resorts in the Dolomites

Do you love winter sports? Then you’ll love the Dolomite Mountain Range, located in the northeast corner of the Italian Alps.

The Dolomite winter resorts are among the best vacation spots in Italy for a winter getaway.

Think skiing and snowboarding down snow-packed pistes. And ski resorts that promise plenty of après-ski fun and stacks of local amenities.

Take the unspoiled alpine village of Campitello in the heart of the Dolomites.

It boasts a modern 125-person cable car to whisk you to the famous Sella Ronda circular ski route. You’ll find several lively bars too for warming up after schussing down Campitello’s wide intermediate ski runs.

Indeed, all the Italian ski resorts are quite stunning – with majestic mountains and pretty little towns offering traditional charm and the chance to become immersed in Italian culture.

In between snowfalls, it’s quite common to enjoy crisp sunny days during the winter – perfect for excursions across the peaks or long lazy picnics several thousand feet up.

Must-do Dolomites

In summer, lace up your hiking boots and go for a hike! The Dolomites are home to some of the best hiking trails in the world.

The must-do hike is Tre Cime di Lavaredo (the Three Peaks of Lavaredo). It’s a six-mile moderate loop around three dramatic jagged monoliths

Beautiful islands in Italy

Did you know Italy has more than 80 picturesque islands?

21) Sardinia

A beautiful beach in Porto Cervo on Sardinia's Emerald Coast
A beautiful beach in Porto Cervo on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast

One such island is Sardinia – it’s on our Italy bucket list!

Nestled in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea, 116 miles away from the Italian mainland, Sardinia boasts around 1,200 miles of golden coastline, craggy cliffs and, in the interior, soaring mountains.

The Costa Smeralda, otherwise known as the Emerald Coast, is another one of the best places to vacation in Italy, with turquoise waters and ravishing white sandy beaches.

Inland, hiking is popular in Sardinia, with long-distance hiking trails like Sentiero Sardegna traversing the rugged mountains and serving up incredible panoramic views.

Also visit its dynamic capital, Cagliari, populated since Neolithic times. Skip the modern part, and stroll the historical city center.

Must-do Sardinia

Explore beautiful caves and coves that can only be accessed by sea on a dinghy tour of the south coast.

Along with stops for swimming and snorkeling, you’ll also get to see Porto Flavia. Built right into a sea-facing cliff in 1924, this unique port was connected to a mine via two tunnels, allowing ore to be loaded directly onto boats.

22) Sicily

Blue and white fishing boats in the water beside the bridge from Syracuse to Ortigia
You see lots of fishing boats as you cross the bridge from Syracuse to Ortigia

Imagine basking in the sun on an island where the Mediterranean sparkles against a backdrop of rugged mountains and smoking volcanoes. That’s Sicily.

This beautiful Italian island is set just off the toe of Italy’s iconic “boot.”

We already mentioned the charms of Ortigia in #6. Yet the entire island of Sicily stole our hearts – with its sun-soaked scenery stretching from dazzling beaches and verdant vineyards to medieval towns.

One of the most beautiful places to see in Italy is the Cathedral of Syracuse in Ortigia, Sicily.
The Cathedral of Syracuse in Ortigia

The country’s largest island, it’s one of our favorite places in Italy to visit – it has a bit of everything for every type of traveler.

In the Archaeological Area of Agrigento (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), you’ll find some of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples in the world.

Taormina (where Season 2 of the hit TV series White Lotus was filmed) offers seductive beaches and views as intoxicating as limoncello.

You can hike and go wine tasting around Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.

And let’s not forget the spirited capital of Palermo with its vibrant street life, Norman palaces, Byzantine mosaics and bustling markets!

Must-do Sicily

Visit the beautiful Baroque towns of Noto and Ragusa, two UNESCO-recognized towns in southeastern Sicily.

Marvel at the honey-hued Noto Cathedral and soak up the magical atmosphere in Ragusa, packed with palaces and churches.

23) Capri

The island Capri, Italy
Capri is famous for its jaw-dropping beauty

Just off the Amalfi Coast, the dreamy island of Capri is another of the most gorgeous places in Italy – if you visit outside of the high summer season.

Of course, it’s still beautiful in July and August. But we found it hard to enjoy Capri when we last visited at the end of August because of the crowds. Unfortunately, Capri may just be too beautiful for its own good!

Nestled toward the top of the island are the colorful Gardens of Augustus, offering wonderful sea views.

One of Italy’s most famous attractions – the Blue Grotto – is also found on Capri. You can take a boat trip to the Blue Grotto to see the surreal blue glow of reflected sunlight within this wondrous sea cave.

If you seek quiet contemplation, make your way to Capri Philosophical Park. Even if you’re not philosophically inclined, just head there for the breathtaking views.

For a day trip to Capri from Sorrento, we highly recommend this stylish Capri and Blue Grotto tour. It’s limited to 8 guests.

Must-do Capri

Up 500 steps from the town of Capri, or via road by bus, lies the small town of Anacapri.

From Anacapri, take a 12-minute chairlift to Monte Solaro, the highest peak on Capri. Or for some exercise, you can walk for an hour to Monte Solaro along a footpath.

At the summit, you can view all of Capri, the Amalfi Coast and the Bay of Naples. You’ll also see a statue of Emperor Augustus Caesar, watching over the island. (He visited the island in 29 BC.)

That’s a wrap for the prettiest and best places in Italy to visit!

There are so many beautiful places to visit in Italy!
With so many beautiful towns and places, Italy is one of the most popular countries to visit in Europe

Whether you crave the iconic or less touristy places in Italy, the country offers a wealth of picturesque towns and areas.

We’ve tried to shine a spotlight on some of them.

Hopefully this tiny glimpse helps you figure out where to go in Italy on your trip (aside from the major cities).

We can’t wait for our next trip – we’ve got a Rome, Florence and Siena vacay in the works!

Ciao!


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Most Beautiful Places in Italy
Prettiest Places in Italy

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!


Photo credits: 11, 15, 42, 43 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Jennifer

Wednesday 16th of October 2013

Good round up! You'll love the lakes. Maggiore is my favorite.

Janice and George

Wednesday 16th of October 2013

Yes, we'd love to see the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore, especially the beautiful baroque palace everyone talks about on Isola Bella.

Irene S. Levine

Sunday 6th of October 2013

One of these Italian places sound perfect for a holiday getaway!