Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Italy? We’ve got you covered! This detailed 10 day Italy itinerary is going to help you plan an incredible trip, with options for extending your trip to 14 days, or condensing it into 7.
You’ll cover three amazing cities – Rome, Florence, and Venice – with some stops in between that will get you to some of the smaller, less-visited places that we fell in love with on our last trip, a five week Italian adventure that, somehow, made us fall even more in love with Italy.
Italy is, without a doubt, one of our favorite countries on the planet. It has everything we love about traveling – amazing food (and wine), warm and friendly people, and gorgeous scenery both inside its cities and out in the countryside.
We spent over five weeks exploring the country on our latest trip to Italy, and despite having what seems like tons of time, there were still many, many places that got added to our “next time” list.
One thing that always surprises us about Italy is the diversity that exists between regions in terms of history, scenery, and culture. Even cities that are 30 minutes away from each other have distinct cultures and identities that comes from centuries as independent city states before the unification of Italy (which happened very recently – in the 19th Century – which was a surprise to us).
Being the land of ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life), a visit to Italy shouldn’t be filled with organizational stress.
It should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. We’ve used our experience traveling around Italy to put together this detailed guide to 10 days in Italy in order to take some of the stress of planning out of your trip.
We love Italy, and think you will too.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.
How Many Days Do You Need in Italy?
10 days in Italy is a good starting point for a first-time visitor, but you’re definitely not going to be able to see everything in this time.
Every instinct you have is going to tell you to fit more places in on your trip, and we want to be the first ones to advise you not to go that route.
Italy is a large and diverse country with so many amazing places to visit, yes. Even after spending over a month in Italy we have a list of “I guess we’ll have to do that next time” places that is longer than when we got to Italy!
However, Italy is also a country that needs to be savoured and not rushed. It may be tempting to cram in as many destinations as possible, moving to a new base each day, but this isn’t the way Italy should be experienced.
Italy is somewhere that needs to be experienced slowly. Long alfresco lunches with a few glasses of wine. Slow strolls through beautiful historic streets. Hours spent browsing world-famous art galleries.
In order to fully immerse yourself in ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life) that Italy is so well known for, you’ll need at least 10 days.
The best way to spend 10 days in Italy is to pick three or four main destinations to use as your base (e.g. Rome, Florence, Venice) and split your time between them, adding in a day trip or two from those cities. This is what you’ll find in this itinerary (though we made an exception for our favorite city in Italy, Verona).
With 14 days in Italy, you could choose an extra city as a home base and add in a couple more day trips. Below the main itinerary, we’ve got some 14 day itineraries for you to use if you have more time.
The Route For 10 Days in Italy
We want to be super clear here – there are an endless number of amazing places in Italy, and you can’t possibly fit them all into a 10 day trip. In fact, even after our latest trip to Italy that lasted five weeks, there are still so many places that we want to explore despite having what feels like a lot of time!
So, we’re assuming in the itinerary below that you want to visit Rome, Florence, and Venice – the three most popular cities for tourists in Italy – on your trip.
However, that definitely does not mean those should be the only places you visit. We think Florence in particular makes a fantastic home base for exploring both Tuscany and some of the other regions nearby, so we’ve included two days to use to take day trips from Florence.
Don’t worry – we’ve got a perspective on what the options are, how to get to each of them, and what to do in each place you’re visiting.
After falling in love with it, we’ve also added a stop in Verona to the itinerary. Because we think it’s well worth it, and it’s along the route between Florence and Venice anyway (the high speed train runs right through Verona on its way to Venice).
With that out of the way, here’s the itinerary that you’ll find below:
- Day 1: Arrive and Rome
- Day 2: Rome (Colosseum Tour)
- Day 3: Rome (Vatican)
- Day 4: Florence
- Day 5: Florence Day Trip 1
- Day 6: Florence
- Day 7: Florence Day Trip 2
- Day 8: Verona
- Day 9: Venice
- Day 10: Venice and Fly Home
Within each of the cities, we don’t want to be too prescriptive – obviously, you could do a day trip on the third day in Florence instead of the second. For each city, we’ve included a list of our favorite things to do in each city (rather than an hour-by-hour daily itinerary) to help you piece together your itinerary.
Where Should You Start and End Your 10 Days in Italy?
Being one of the most visited countries in the world, there are international airports in almost every large city in Italy, making it an extremely easy country to get to. Some of the country’s biggest airports can be found in Rome, Milan, Venice and Bologna.
For this particular Italy itinerary, I’d recommend flying into Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport (Leonardo da Vinci) in order to start your trip in Rome.
At the end of the itinerary, you can fly out of Venice Airport (Marco Polo Airport), which is located on the mainland just a few kilometers north of Venice.
If you decide to swap things around and end your trip in Florence instead, there are two options for flying back out; Florence Airport (Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola) or Pisa International Airport (Galileo Galilei Airport). Pisa is the larger of the two airports and serves more international airlines. You can get either a bus or train from Florence to Pisa airport in just an hour and a half.
Getting Around Italy
For this particular itinerary, we’d strongly recommend that you make use of Italy’s extensive train network to get between places. It’s efficient, affordable, and way more convenient than flying. Driving is another option, but if you want to see the main cities in Italy – Rome, Florence, and Venice – then you really don’t need (or want) a car.
Flying within Italy
One way to travel around Italy is by taking internal flights. There’s an impressive 77 international and regional airports connecting the different cities and regions of Italy.
However, internal flights are only really necessary if you’re traveling a long distance from north to south, or over to one of the islands.
In fact, Alitalia, Italy’s main domestic airline, was in the process of transitioning to new ownership and ended up cancelling hundreds of flights while we were in Italy for over a month.
Lucky for us, we had seen the issues coming, so we had avoided flying Alitalia. They’ve since been replaced by ITA.
The point is, we’d highly recommend using Italy’s extensive train network instead of flying internally within Italy. For this itinerary it’ll be much easier to travel by train or car.
Trains in Italy
Getting around Italy by train is simple, easy and relatively cheap, and the method of travel that I would recommend for this itinerary.
While the rail network in the south of the country is a little more limited, central and northern Italy are extremely well connected by train. There are also plenty of high-speed trains that take you between the big cities in no time at all. All of the destinations on this itinerary are served by the rail network.
Train tickets can either be purchased at the stations or online.
For getting between the big cities, it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance to save money and guarantee you get the date and time you want.
Tickets can be booked through the official Italian rail website TrenItalia. I also often book train tickets in Italy through ItaliaRail, which is a little less confusing than the TrenItalia website if you don’t speak Italian (on TrenItalia you need to use the Italian destination names).
A few tips when traveling in Italy by train:
- VALIDATE YOUR TICKET! If you buy your ticket at the station and you have a physical ticket, you must validate your ticket at the machines either in the station or on the platforms. Hold the ticket in the machine until you see a light flash and hear the beep. If you don’t validate your ticket, you could end up with a large fine. Online tickets on your phone do not need to be validated.
- Don’t rely on Google Maps for timetables. I’ve made this mistake more than once. Google Maps doesn’t always have the up to date train timetables in Italy the way it does in other countries. Download the Trenitalia app and check for the correct train times there instead.
- Big cities have multiple main stations. Cities such as Rome have several large stations. Be sure to check that you’re heading to the right station and avoid missing a train because you’ve had to rush to the other side of the city.
Tips for Driving in Italy
Another option is to rent a car for the whole of your 10 day trip to Italy.
For this itinerary, Rome, Florence and Venice themselves are not the most car-friendly cities. However, a car will prove useful for getting between the cities and particularly for the day trips around Florence and the Chianti region.
Renting a car allows you to have more freedom in terms of timing and making any additional stops. You’ll also be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery on Italy’s roads along the way! Whether this outweighs the convenience of jumping on trains is up to you.
You can hire a car from the airport or once you arrive in any of the cities. AutoEurope is my go-to company for pre-booking car rental in Italy.
A few tips for driving in Italy:
- You may need an International Driver’s Permit. Italy used to be much more relaxed over permits, however, these days you will need to prove you have an international driver’s permit if you’re coming from a non-EU country.
- Watch out for ZTL’s. Zona Traffico Limitato (limited traffic zones) can be found in the historic center of most Italian towns and cities and are strictly NO GO areas. If you drive or park in these zones without a permit you will end up with a large fine. Also, keep an eye out for Area Pedonale (pedestrian areas), although these should be pretty easy to spot.
- Parking can be a nightmare. Even outside of the ZTL’s, parking in Italian cities can be pretty difficult and very expensive. Look for either hotels with private parking lots or those on the outskirts of the city where it’ll be easier and cheaper to park on the street. You can then leave your car at the hotel and jump on public transport into the city center.
- Watch out for Italian drivers. Excuse the stereotype, but from my experience, Italian drivers do tend to be slightly erratic. Be cautious of fast drivers overtaking you or cars changing lanes without warning.
Helpful Travel Tips for Visiting Italy
A few more important things you should know before visiting Italy:
- Italian coffee comes with rules. You might already know that Italians love their coffee. But did you know that there are rules surrounding Italian coffee culture? One of the most important being that Italians drink milky coffees such as cappuccinos and lattes in the morning, but after lunch it’s strictly espressos only. Ordering a milky coffee after a meal or mid-afternoon is the number one way to confuse a barista and point yourself out as a tourist.
- Dinner is eaten late. Like in many European countries, Italians eat late. Don’t expect to see locals heading out for dinner until at least 8:00 pm. In the major cities you will still find some restaurants open earlier, but you’ll know these are targeted towards tourists.
- Try to learn at least a bit of Italian. In central and northern Italy, and particularly in the major cities, most people speak some English. However, it’s always good to learn a little Italian to help you get by and to be polite.
- Real Italian food is different from Italian food in America. This tip is obviously specific to Americans traveling to Italy. In America, Italian food is spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread. In Italy, this doesn’t exist. Real Italian food is even better! Italian food varies greatly from region to region, from cacio e pepe and carbonara in Rome to cicchetti in Venice and so much more. Do your research in advance and try as many authentic local dishes as you can in each region.
10 Days in Italy: A Classic 10 Day Italian Itinerary for First Time Visitors
For this ultimate first-timer’s 10 day Italy itinerary, you’ll get to explore three of Italy’s most famous cities – Rome, Florence, and Venice – with a few other exciting stops thrown in along the way.
To help you plan your time as efficiently as possible, we’ve also included the best way to travel between each destination, where to stay in each city, any tours and tickets you should pre-book, and a detailed breakdown of what to do in each place.
We think that everything you need to know to plan an amazing Italy trip is here, and we hope you find it useful.
Days 1-3: Exploring the Ancient City of Rome
Rome is one of our favorite cities in the world, and part of its charm is the fact that anywhere you walk in the city, you’re likely to be passing by a building – or the remains of one – that is literally thousands of years old. Or, in the city’s case, they’re trying to build a metro line and have to stop every few months as they run into a new set of ruins, which is why Rome’s third metro line STILL hasn’t been built (it was under construction when Alysha lived there ten years ago!).
An Italian we met in Barcelona joked that in Rome, the signs that say “metro line under construction” have become a tourist attraction because they’re so old now.
Rome is a great introduction to Italy, but as you’ll learn throughout the course of your trip, it’s definitely not the end-all, be-all of Italy. Each region has a very distinct identity, which we found to be one of the most fascinating parts of exploring Italy.
However, Rome is where it all started (ish, that’s a bit of a generalization), which means it’s a good place for your trip to Italy to start. And, you know, it’s the easiest place to fly into, with the most international routes.
Things to Do in Rome
There’s a nearly endless list of things to do in Rome, but we’ve picked out the ones we think you should focus on with just a few days, and you can save the rest for a return trip down the line.
We have an entire guide dedicated to planning a perfect Rome itinerary – read that for more detail on how to organize your time!
The Colosseum and Roman Forum
Over the course of your time in Rome, you’re obviously going to want to pay a visit to the city’s most recognizable and most visited attraction, the Colosseum.
Dating back to 70 AD, the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater built during the Roman Empire. In ancient times, the almighty structure seated over 50,000 people who came to watch gladiator fights, exotic animal exhibitions, and even live prisoner executions.
The Roman Forum can be found close to the Colosseum and was once the main downtown area of ancient Rome. The Forum was the hub of political and social activity in ancient Rome and was home to open air markets, public meetings, religious ceremonies, and more.
The area is now mainly ruins, but there are still many interesting things to see, such as the main street, Via Sacra, and the excavated remains of grand temples and political buildings.
While the Roman Forum can be visited on your own, the ruins can be difficult to interpret without a guide. This is why it’s a good idea to book a combined tour and have a knowledgeable guide take you through the site. You’ll also get to learn all about the history and people that made up one of the planet’s greatest civilizations.
There’s no doubt in our minds that the best way to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum is on a guided tour. Not only will a tour get you skip-the-line entry to both, but you’ll also be able to learn about the huge structure and its long and fascinating history.
The tour will add so much richness and context to the experience. Many tours also include the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, where we think it’s even more important to do a guided tour because without context, you’re really just looking at a bunch of ruined buildings.
We have personally done (and enjoyed) TakeWalk’s Skip the Line: Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill – you can read about our experience here (spoiler: we loved it!).
It is a great tour option that includes all three attractions as well as exclusive VIP access to the underground tunnels inside of the Colosseum. The tour starts at 10:15 am and lasts for 3.5 hours.
If you want to visit the Colosseum on your own, it’s best to arrive early before it opens at 8:30 am to avoid the huge lines to get inside. I’d highly recommend booking tickets in advance, especially during peak periods when you might otherwise end up standing in line for two to three hours. Get them on the official website here.
The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican is the smallest independent state in the world, situated within Rome, and home to the spiritual leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a must-visit on any trip to Rome.
Visiting the Vatican can be a little overwhelming, with so much to see including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the world-class Vatican Museums (with over 20,000 pieces on display). The lines to get inside can also be up to two or three hours long during peak periods.
Therefore the best way to visit the Vatican is on a guided tour, which is how I (Matt) have done the Vatican twice.
Your two best options for exploring the Vatican are to jump on an afternoon guided tour such as this one, or take the rest of your day at a slower pace then book an exclusive after hours night tour. An evening tour lets you visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel after hours without the crowds.
The most important thing to remember is that the Vatican is a holy place and visitors need to dress accordingly. No bare knees or shoulders allowed, so dress appropriately all day or bring extra layers to cover up once you arrive.
Other Things to Do in Rome
Here are some of our other favorite things to do in the Eternal City once you’ve experienced the Colosseum and Vatican.
An Evening in Trastevere. We love Trastevere at all times of day, but it really comes alive in the evening, when the people enjoying the many bars and restaurants in the area start spilling out into the streets. Find an outdoor spot to plop down and drink a spritz or two and get to people watching – we’d suggest Freni e Frizioni, which we went to AND had recommended to us by the staff at our hotel in Trastevere. In terms of food, we enjoy Mama Eat (one of our favorite gluten free restaurants in Rome) and Fatamorgana Gelato. Add in a walk up behind the bohemian neighborhood to Belvedere del Gianicolo for amazing views over the city, and some important history in the battle for the unification of Italy.
Walk the Centro Storico from Campo de’ Fiori to the Spanish Steps. An important caveat here, this is best done before 9:00 am, when the streets are relatively calm and it’s a significantly more tranquil experience. Start at Campo de’ Fiori, where vendors will be setting up for a day at the market, and walk to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. You’ll see all the highlights of the Centro Storico, which is the most romantic part of Rome. Here’s a map of that walk.
Castel Sant’Angelo. I had never actually been into Castel Sant’Angelo until our latest trip despite walking by it countless times. The building was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, and has been co-opted by various factions in Rome like the Catholic Church ever since (it still has the tomb of Hadrian though). It’s actually well worth the time and money. Possibly even worth it for the view of the Vatican alone from various points on the self-guided tour they have set up. Book tickets in advance here, and try to go either first thing in the morning (when light on the Vatican is best) or last thing in the afternoon (when light on the historic center is best).
The Borghese Gardens (and Gallery). We haven’t actually done the Borghese Gallery, mostly because we’ve preferred spending our time exploring outside and have been museum-ed out. The gardens, however, are well worth your time, and make an excellent addition to the Centro Storico walk we detailed above. Continue from the Spanish Steps up to Piazza del Popolo, then climb up to Terrazza del Pincio and walk through the gardens to the Gallery. If you want to go into the Gallery, you’ll need to book tickets well in advance here as the number of entries per hour is very limited. If they’re sold out, your other option for seeing the Borghese Gallery is a guided tour – we’d suggest this one, which includes the gardens.
Take a Street Food Tour. There’s some excellent food to be had in Rome, though there’s also some very, very mediocre food (especially in the Centro Storico). Take a guided street food tour to taste the best of the best with a local guide, which is almost always our preferred way of exploring a city. This street food tour with a local guide is very, very highly rated, and this guided tour focuses on Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto, two of the best foodie destinations in the city.
Where to Stay in Rome
In our book, there are really only three acceptable answers to the question “where should you stay in Rome?” They are Trastevere – our favorite area in Rome – Monti, and the Centro Storico.
We have an entire guide dedicated to finding the perfect place to stay in Rome, which you should read for more detail around why we think that.
Where We’ve Stayed
In Trastevere, we splurged on the gorgeous Horti 14 Borgo, a lovely boutique hotel just outside the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, tucked away on a very quiet street. The beds are comfortable, the location is great, and there’s a fabulous breakfast included.
In the Centro Storico – Rome’s Historic Center – we opted for an apartment with a kitchen and ended up at Grotta Pinta Apartments, which is three minutes away from both Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori. We were pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was, and it was a great home base for our first stint in Rome before heading to Sicily.
We also stayed at the RomeHello near Termini, which is an excellent budget option. The facilities were very nice, the rooms were affordable, and the location exceeded our expectations.
Staying in Bohemian Trastevere
Trastevere is a cool bohemian neighborhood in Rome, located just to the west of the River Tiber, and definitely one of the best places to base yourself in the city. Popular with locals, the area is known for its colorful cobblestone streets and lively piazzas filled with bougainvillaea-strewn osterias.
Our top picks in Trastevere are:
Staying in Hip Monti
Monti is a central neighborhood conveniently situated between Rome’s main train station (Termini), the Centro Storico, and the Colosseum and Forum, making it an ideal spot for walking to many of the main landmarks included in this itinerary. The trendy area also has plenty of great restaurants and bars to make the most of.
The best places to stay in Monti are:
Days 4-7: Discovering the Renaissance in Florence
Florence will be your second (temporary) home base in Italy, and as soon as you step off the train you’ll start to see that Florence is very, very different from Rome. While Rome’s heyday was in the times of the Roman empire, Florence began to flourish after the fall of the Roman empire, around the time of the Renaissance.
It has a fascinating – sometimes salacious – history as one of the largest independent city states in Italy in the 15th Century, and it was the birthplace of Michelangelo, whose endlessly impressive statue of David still lives in Florence (though it has since moved indoors from its original spot on Piazza della Signoria).
Florence is both a great city in its own right, and also a great home base for exploring the areas surrounding it – namely Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna.
We’ve structured this itinerary to have you moving around as little as possible, opting for day trips over spending one night in each place. We’ve dedicated two days in Florence to day trips, which will take most of the day and leave you with a few hours at the end of the day to explore Florence.
Getting From Rome to Florence by Train
On the afternoon of day 4, it’s time to leave Rome and head to Florence.
There are over 50 trains each day traveling between Rome and Florence, so you can be flexible on when you choose to leave.
TrenItalia’s Le Frecce high speed trains run from Rome Termini station to Florence Santa Maria Novella station (the main train station in Florence, and the one you want) in just one hour and thirty minutes. The high speed trains can cost around €40, however if you book far enough in advance you can find tickets for as little as €20.
Alternatively, you can catch the slower Regionale or Intercity trains which take between three to four hours and cost €20 no matter when you book.
Things to Do in Florence
Putting aside the fact that Florence is an excellent home base for exploring Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, Florence is a fascinating, diverse city in its own right.
Similar to Rome, there are a few must-see things to do in Florence, which we’re going to cover in detail with a dedicated section for each. Below that, you’ll find some alternate things to do if you’re not so into museum life, or you’ve already done them on a previous trip.
The Uffizi Gallery
On this last trip to Florence when we spent five days in the city, we opted to do the Uffizi Gallery again despite us both having seen it before. On our previous forays into one of the finest art museums in the world, we visited independently. Which basically means we walked around, looked at some pretty paintings, and left with a limited understanding of what we were looking at.
The thing about the Uffizi Gallery is that it’s massive, and like the Louvre in Paris, you couldn’t possibly see it all in a single day. Which is exactly what most people try to do.
The other thing to know about the Uffizi Gallery is that it’s largely organized chronologically, which will give you an interesting perspective on the evolution of Italian art through the years leading up to and during the Renaissance.
On this last trip, we opted for a guided tour with an art historian and it completely changed the way we viewed the Uffizi Gallery. So much so, in fact, that I’m not sure I will ever do a major art museum again without a guided tour. Like the guided tour of the Colosseum that we did, it adds a level of richness and context (not to mention focus, which is important in this case) that can’t be matched by any independent tour, even if you have the audioguide.
If you’re going to do one guided tour in Florence, this is probably the one we’d choose.
If you want to do it independently, you’ll need to plan well in advance. If you don’t pre-book your tickets, you will end up standing in two long lines, which will likely take hours of precious time in the summer months that you could spend exploring Florence instead. BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE, we mean it.
Tickets sell out months in advance for the popular summer months. You can book tickets through the official website here. For an easier experience (we had issues with the system on the official website), you can book the same skip-the-line-tickets on Get Your Guide.
If you don’t manage to get tickets (or if you’re planning your trip at the last minute), then a guided tour is your best option. Again, we did this tour, and highly recommend it.
The Statue of David & Galleria dell Accademia
The Statue of David is probably the single most impressive piece of art that I’ve ever personally seen. I distinctly remember the first time I laid eyes on the beautiful piece of marble housed in the Galleria dell Accademia. My first thought was “whoa, it’s bigger than I expected.”
For whatever reason, I expected the statue to be about life size, but in reality it’s 17 feet tall! Truly an impressive piece of art.
If you want to see David, once again, you’ll need to plan in advance (or pay the premium for a guided tour). And, like the Uffizi Gallery, you’ll want to book tickets in advance to skip the ticket line and head straight for the security line, which will quite literally save you hours of time.
Alternatively, you could book a broader Florence walking tour that includes skip-the-line tickets to the Accademia Gallery. Take Walks, who is our favorite tour company in Italy (read about our amazing Colosseum Tour here), has one that you can book here.
Climb Brunelleschi’s Dome
Ask anyone what the first building they think of is when they think of Florence, and I bet 9/10 would say “the Duomo.” The imposing cathedral is the centerpiece of an exceedingly beautiful city.
You might be wondering why we’re only focusing on the dome here, and there’s a relatively simple answer: it’s the best value for both your time and money, and it’s the one part of the Duomo complex that we think is a must-do on any Florence itinerary.
There are five areas you can visit at the Duomo, and all but the interior cost money and more importantly, time.
The interior of the Duomo is free, but lines are long (around the block, usually) and the best part of the experience is the interior of the dome, which is painted beautifully, depicting a scene of heaven and hell.
Guess what? You can get an up-close-and-personal view of the interior of the dome on your dome climb! And once you’ve done that, we don’t think you need to wait in line to go inside the church.
The view from the top is sublime, and you can walk all the way around for a 360 degree view of Florence and the surrounding landscape. To get there, you will need to climb 460+ narrow, steep stairs – there is no elevator option. If you get claustrophobic or can’t handle that many stairs, you may have to skip it.
You need to book your tickets to climb the dome in advance, and we’d suggest either an early morning visit, or a late afternoon visit to see the city and surrounding rolling hills awash in a soft, golden light. You can book skip-the-line tickets on the official website here.
Tickets sold out for your dates? The other option is a guided tour of the dome – the tour companies reserve blocks of tickets, so they’ll still have spots for you if you’re planning at the last minute. Here is a tour that is highly rated.
Other Things to Do in Florence
Here are some other things we really enjoyed on our recent trip to Florence.
Explore Oltrarno. The other side of the Arno River holds some fantastic treasures that are well worth a few hours of your time. Start by walking over Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence that survived World War 2, and head to Ditta Artiginale for some of the best coffee in Florence. Head to the Boboli Gardens (tickets here) for a stroll through some beautiful gardens (don’t miss the statue of Neptune and the mini botanical garden). After the gardens, you’ve earned a treat, so grab the best gelato in Florence (according to Alysha, anyway) at Gelateria della Passera and take it for a stroll over to Piazza Santo Spirito. Finally, head back toward the river and stop by Le Volpi e L’Uva for wine sourced from small-scale producers in Italy (and France and Austria, occasionally).
Piazzale Michelangelo. High up on the other side of the river you’ll find this gorgeous piazza, where there is a replica of the statue of David and one of the best views in all of Florence. However, it’s packed in the afternoon around sunset. You could brave the crowds and bring a beer or bottle of wine to enjoy the sunset, or come in the early morning to have the place to yourself. There’s a lovely (and free) rose garden just below the piazza that is worth your time in the spring and early summer, too. This is an easy thing to combine with the Oltrarno walk, detailed above.
Florence’s Two Food Markets. Florence has a duo of food halls, and they offer slightly different experiences. San Lorenzo Market (also known as Mercato Centrale) has two levels – the lower dedicated to fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats, and the upper being a hip food hall with tons of different stalls and options. There’s also an outdoor market that is full of leather goods, trinkets, and other gadgets. The other market – Sant’Ambrogio – is filled with locals going about their weekly shopping, particularly on Saturday. There’s a smaller but more authentic selection of stands ranging from butchers and cheesemongers to ready-to-eat foods. Better yet, take a guided food tour that includes a visit to the markets and try some local delicacies with the help of a knowledgeable guide!
3 Great Day Trips from Florence
As you’ll notice above, we’ve left room for a couple of day trips from Florence. In general, we think you can tackle the “big three” of Florence (the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Accademia) in two days, with some extra time to explore.
We’ve given you four days in Florence in this itinerary because we think it’s an incredible home base for day trips to places like wine country (Chianti), Bologna, and Lucca, which – SPOILER ALERT – are the three day trip options we’ll cover here.
Could you go to each of those places to spend the night? Sure, but having to pack up and move every day or two sucks (speaking from experience here), and these places are close enough to make for good day trips from Florence
We do not, however, think Cinque Terre is a good day trip option here. It’s too far. However, it is one of the first places we’d add with more time (see how to do that in the 14 day version of the itinerary below).
If you’re a foodie, go to Bologna – widely regarded as one of the best food cities in Italy – and gorge yourself on prosciutto, parmesan, balsamic vinegar, tagliatelle alla Bolognese, and anything else you can get your paws on.
Getting There: It’s an easy 45 minute train ride via high-speed train from the main station in Florence.
Lucca was our favorite day trip that we took from Florence, and the main draw for us was the ability to walk on the medieval city walls all the way around the city. You could easily spend a full day here, but you can see the highlights in half a day or so.
Getting There: Unfortunately, it’s a 90 minute ride on a regional train to get here from Florence. It’s a pretty ride, but it’s on the slower trains, which is a bummer.
What to Do: Here’s a guide to taking a day trip to Lucca.
If you’re into wine, there’s no better place to dive deep into wine than Tuscany. Specifically, Chianti, which is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world.
Getting There: If you’ve taken our advice up to this point, then you won’t have a car, which means the best way to explore wine country is going to be on a guided tour that includes transportation from Florence. You could also do a tour that involves you getting out to a specific winery, but it will take 60-90 minutes each way (we did the research for our own trip and decided a tour with transportation is the way to go).
Guided Tour Options: There are two tours we looked at and would recommend. They’re both through Airbnb Experiences, which is our favorite way to book tours when we’re traveling – we’ve done at least 10-12 different Airbnb Experiences, and always love them. Choose a tour that visits multiple wineries and includes transportation (like this one or this one)
Where to Stay in Florence
There are two nice areas to use as a home base in Florence. We have an entire guide that dives deep into how to choose a place to stay in Florence, which you should head over and read for more detail.
The Centro Storico is the most central, but also the most expensive and crowded (but there’s something about staying in the Duomo’s shadow that’s very romantic).
Staying in the Historic City Center (Centro Storico)
Florence’s historic city center is fairly compact and is where you’ll find most of the main attractions and hotels. Staying as central as possible is the best way to make the most of the city during your time here.
Our top picks in Florence’s historic center are:
Staying in Santa Croce
Santa Croce is our personal pick because it’s removed from the hectic Centro Storico – the crowds are no joke, particularly in the summer – but it’s just a 5-10 minute walk away, and is full of some of the best food, drinks, and coffee in Florence.
Day 8: Verona (Our Favorite City in Italy)
As we were putting this Italy itinerary together, we got towards the end of the editing process and decided that Verona deserves a spot. It was, after all, our favorite city on our latest explorations of Italy, because it has everything we love about northern Italian cities – the river, the charming cobblestone streets, the great food – and much smaller crowds than other major cities in Northern Italy. So, at the last minute before publishing, we decided to rework the entire itinerary to fit it in.
That should tell you everything you need to know about our thoughts on Verona.
It also happens to be the perfect size to explore in a day, which is really all you’re going to have here. Though, like us, we bet you’ll be wishing you had more time, and planning your return trip as soon as your flight home touches down.
Read More: Exactly How to Spend a Day in Verona, Italy
Getting from Florence to Verona by Train
We did this journey in reverse – from Verona to Florence – and it’s a breeze on the high speed trains BUT it requires a transfer in Bologna. All-in, it’s going to be about an hour and a half, split between two train rides. Definitely book the high speed train – the regional trains, though cheaper, can take more than double that amount of time.
It will cost you around 35 Euros a person, but it depends, again, on how far in advance you book.
What to Do in Verona in a Day
Verona is a pretty compact city, and it’s fairly easy to see the best of Verona in a day. That being said, we spent two days there, and left wishing we had more time.
Here’s how we think you should spend your time in Verona, assuming you arrive in the afternoon, and leave the following day around noon to head to Venice.
We highly recommend the Verona Card, which is a travel card that includes admission to several places you’ll visit in Verona and free public transportation (which is useful for getting to and from the train station – the bus terminal is right outside the front door of the train station). You can get it for 24 hours, which will be perfect for your trip.
Learn more over in our guide to the best things to do in Verona, which has a section on why we think it’s worth it.
On your first afternoon (after you get situated in your accommodations):
Start with the Roman Theater & Museum. This place was an unexpected surprise for us that we never would have discovered if we didn’t have the Verona Card and say “well, it’s free, right?” Not only is there an impressive theater – the semicircle kind reminiscent of Greek Theaters, versus the Roman-style Amphitheater – but the museum up above it is really cool too, with some great artifacts from thousands of years ago. More information here.
At sunset, head up to Castel San Pietro for the best free view in Verona. The walk up involves a bunch of stairs, though there’s a funicular that you can take up if you don’t feel like walking (or are unable to). We’d recommend walking down though, because the views are pretty spectacular.
Sample some local wines from the Veneto region at Osteria ai Portegheti. Veneto wines don’t get the fanfare that wines from Tuscany get, but we liked them just the same because they focus on whites and lighter reds than the big, bold reds of Tuscany. We loved this particular place, and the friendly bartenders were super helpful, making sure we figured out which wines were right for our palettes.
Afterwards, find a place for a leisurely dinner and call it a night.
The next morning, leave your bags at your accommodations, check out, and head to the Verona Arena, the third largest amphitheater in Italy (after Rome and Capua). It’s not quite as impressive as the Colosseum, especially because it’s used as an opera venue during the summer, which means there’s modern seating and a stage built in the middle, but it’s still well worth your time. The signage could be better, too.
Then head back to the train station and catch the train onwards to Venice!
Where to Stay in Verona
The historic center of Verona is pretty compact, so you really can’t go wrong anywhere you stay inside the historic center.
We stayed at Letters to Juliet in Veronetta, the oldest part of Verona, and absolutely LOVED it. We’d highly recommend it, and it accommodates groups of two to six with three bedrooms (two have single beds), a full kitchen, a washer AND a dryer, and a magnificent view from the balcony.
Days 9-10: The Canals of Venice
We have very, very mixed feelings about Venice. On the one hand, it’s gorgeous, and is something that everyone should see once. On the other hand, it’s a classic case of overtourism’s negative effects on certain places. Nearly zero locals live in Venice these days – because, honestly, why would you want to live in a city overrun by tourists? – and many of the services are stretched thin by the sheer number of people that visit every year.
So why is it in this itinerary, you’re wondering? Because the canals are one of the most unique aspects of a city we’ve ever experienced, and we firmly believe it’s worth experiencing an evening strolling them at dusk once in your life.
Here is a guide to experiencing Venice responsibly. Here’s another one. We’d suggest you follow their advice not just in Venice, but on this entire trip to Italy. Avoid booking Airbnbs, bring along a cotton tote and a reusable water bottle, and do your best to support local businesses and connect with locals at every opportunity!
Getting From Verona to Venice by Train
Verona to Venice – which are just 120 km apart – is an easy train journey on one of the high speed trains, taking just over an hour (about an hour and ten minutes). There are multiple trains per day, and we’d recommend taking one around noon, which gives you time to explore Verona in the morning, and spend the evening in Venice.
Tickets usually cost between 18 and 25 Euros, depending on when you book. Book earlier for better prices on the high speed trains!
Things to Do in Venice
Venice isn’t a huge city, and it’s fairly reasonable to expect to see the main highlights in about a day and a half, which is essentially what you have here.
St. Mark’s Basilica & the Doge’s Palace
The most important landmark on the square, and perhaps in all of Venice, is the 9th-century St. Mark’s Basilica. The amazing church is one of the world’s best-known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture.
The Basilica is free to visit, however it can get extremely busy, so it’s best to pre-book a skip-the-line entry time slot online for €3.
You can also buy additional tickets on the day to access St. Mark’s Museum (€5), the Pala d’Oro (Golden Alter, €2), and the Treasury (€3). These are all definitely worth adding on in my opinion!
Right next door to the Basilica you’ll find another of Venice’s most famous landmarks; the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
The stunning Gothic-Renaissance building was the former residence of the Doges – the rulers of Venice – for more than 1,000 years.
The best way to visit the extremely lavish Doge’s Palace is on The Secret Itineraries tour. This tour takes you through both the public areas of the palace and usually inaccessible areas such as the secret torture chambers and prison cells.
You’ll also be able to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs where prisoners would cross and sigh as they caught their last glimpse of Venice before being locked up.
Take a Self Guided Walking Tour
Explore some more of Venice’s most famous landmarks and attractions on a self-guided walking tour from the Castello district in the east to Dorsoduro in the west.
Follow the landmarks in the order you find them below. There’s roughly a 5-10 minute walk between each spot.
- Ca Del Sol. Visit one of Venice’s most celebrated traditional mask makers where you can watch masks being made in front of you by local craftsmen and take a look around the huge range of beautiful Venetian masks.
- Libreria Acqua Alta. Next, pop by Venice’s coolest bookshop which became famous after deciding to protect itself from flooding by keeping its book collection in bathtubs, bins, boats and even a full-sized gondola.
- Gelatoteca SuSo. One of the best gelaterias in central Venice. It has plenty of exciting flavors and gluten free cones.
- Ponte de Rialto. Cross over Venice’s most famous bridge for spectacular views down the Grand Canal.
- Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. From Rialto Bridge, walk down the Grand Canal then on to 15th century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo and its stunning brick and marble “scala”, or spiral staircase.
- Teatro La Fenice. Step inside one of Italy’s most famous opera houses. The venue hosts regular opera, ballet and music concerts throughout the year. You can take a short 45 minute tour of the prestigious theater for only 11 Euros.
- Ponte dell’Accademia. Walk across another of Venice’s most famous bridges which connects the San Marco district to the Dorsoduro district in the west.
- Gallerie dell’Accademia. End your self-guided walking tour at the most important art museum in Venice. This impressive gallery has one of the largest collections of Venetian paintings from the 14th to the 18th century. There’s no need to pre-book tickets as the museum doesn’t get too busy.
- OR Peggy Guggenheim Collection. If modern art is more your thing, this museum houses one of the best modern art collections in the world, with works from Pollack, Picasso, Dali and more.
A Romantic Gondola Ride
Near the end of your itinerary, check off one last Italian bucket list item; a romantic gondola ride along the Venetian Canals.
You can pick up a gondola at one of the many gondola stations all across the city. Stay away from St. Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal to avoid the longer lines.
This once-in-a-lifetime experience will set you back €80 for 40 minutes before 7:00 pm or €100 for 30 minutes after. Try to arrive just before 7:00 pm so you get the peaceful evening ambience without the increased prices.
The Rest of the Venetian Lagoon
Jump on a Vaporetto (water bus) and head out to explore some of the other hidden gems in the Venetian lagoon. You’ll get to discover a whole new side of Venice that many tourists never get to see.
The islands we’d recommend visiting are:
- Murano. A series of little islands linked by bridges, known for the production of luxurious, high-quality Murano glass.
- Burano. Extremely pretty fisherman’s town, known for its rows of brightly colored houses lining every street or canal.
- Cimitero di San Michele. Venice’s peaceful floating cemetery. You’re welcome to visit this unique spot but be respectful and don’t take any photos.
Where to Stay in Venice
There are two neighborhoods that we like in Venice – Cannaregio and Castello.
Located in the north of the city, Cannaregio is the city’s Jewish quarter, filled with many beautiful synagogues and a museum of Jewish history. As well as being close to Venezia Santa Lucia train station, Cannarego is one of the less-touristy areas, meaning there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy that won’t cost you an arm and a leg for mediocre food.
Best hotels in Cannaregio:
Castello is a large, local neighborhood just east of the main tourist district of San Marco. It’s a convenient place to stay in order to be just a short walk away from many of the city’s main attractions.
Best hotels in Castello:
What to Do With Two Weeks
There are countless ways you could expand this 10 day itinerary if you have more time to spend in Italy.
Lucky for you, we have a perfect two week Italy itinerary waiting for you if you have more time and want to see the main cities along with some of our favorite places in Italy.
14 Days with Cinque Terre and Milan Addition
For this itinerary, keep the base 10 days the same as above but add in two days exploring the colorful fishermen towns of the Cinque Terre and a day in the fashion capital of Milan. These can be added in between Florence and Verona.
- Day 1: Rome
- Day 2: Rome
- Day 3: Rome
- Day 4: Rome to Florence
- Day 5: Florence
- Day 6: Florence/Pisa
- Day 7: Florence/Siena and Chianti
- Day 8: Florence to Cinque Terre
- Day 9: Cinque Terre
- Day 10: Cinque Terre to Milan
- Day 11: Milan to Verona
- Day 12: Verona to Venice
- Day 13: Venice
- Day 14: Venice and Fly Home
Florence to the Cinque Terre
To get from Florence to the Cinque Terre by train, you’ll need to swap at either Pisa or La Spezia then continue onwards to Monterosso. The journey takes around three hours and costs €15-€25 depending on how far in advance you book.
The other option for this part of the itinerary is to hire a car for a few days to drive to the Cinque Terre and drop it off when you arrive in Milan. The drive from Florence to the Cinque Terre takes around two hours and thirty minutes. A car is also useful for getting between the fishing towns while you’re there if you’re not a big walker.
How to Spend Your Time in Cinque Terre
While in the Cinque Terre, base yourself in the area’s largest town of Monterosso al Mare for two nights. Locanda Il Maestrale is a gorgeous hotel right by the beach.
On your first evening, enjoy a romantic evening boat ride from Monterosso along the coastline to see all of the colorful little fishing villages turn golden in the setting sun. Trust me, this will be one of the highlights of your trip!
For your full day, throw on your walking shoes and hike along the Cinque Terre trail (the #2 Sentiero Azzurro). You’ll be able to take in the scenic coastal views of the beautiful national park while visiting several of the picturesque towns. Don’t forget to try some locally produced pesto.
Spend your last morning exploring Monterosso and relaxing on one of the town’s lovely sandy beaches.
Cinque Terre to Milan
From Monterosso you can jump on a direct train to Milan in just three hours. Tickets cost around €30, however, there are only a few direct trains each day so you’re definitely going to want to book in advance.
If not, you could end up needing to make one or two changes along your journey for the same price.
How to Spend Your Day in Milan
With only a day in Milan, be sure to stay fairly central.
Start your next day in Piazza del Duomo to visit Gothic Duomo di Milano, the city’s most famous landmark. You’ll want to pre-book your ticket to save time waiting in line.
Next, head to the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11, one of the most stunning shopping malls you’ll ever visit, and head north to explore the huge 15th century Castello Sforzesco.
In the afternoon, stop by La Scala Opera House then on to Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper. Tickets to visit the Last Supper need to be booked up to three months in advance.
We have an entire guide dedicated to spending one day in Milan. It has exactly what to do in Milan, along with tips for getting tickets for the Duomo and Last Supper, two of the main attractions in the city. Definitely head over there and read that for more detail on what to see in a day!
Milan to Verona
High-speed trains run from Milan to Verona in about an hour and a half and cost €35 if you book in advance. The slower regional trains require a stop in Verona and take three to four hours, however, tickets are cheaper at just €20 and these run much more regularly.
What to Do With 7 Days
If you can’t spend 10 days in Italy for whatever reason, that’s totally understandable. But there’s no reason to miss out. This is what we’d recommend doing with 7 days in Italy.
7 Days: The Classic Italy Itinerary, Condensed
- Day 1: Rome
- Day 2: Rome
- Day 3: Rome to Florence
- Day 4: Florence
- Day 5: Florence/Pisa or Siena
- Day 6: Florence to Venice
- Day 7: Venice
With only 7 days, you could still do a slightly condensed version of the 10 day Italian itinerary above. You’ll just have a little less time in each destination.
Spend your first couple of days based in Rome. Start with a guided walking tour of the historic center, seeing sites such as the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. With your full day in the city, hit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill in the morning, then over to the Vatican for the afternoon. On your final morning, pay a visit to peaceful Villa Borghese Gardens and the amazing Borghese Gallery.
Move on to Florence for the next three nights. With your full day in Florence, spend the morning on a walking tour to explore the best of the city with a local guide. Try to choose a tour that includes Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery.
In the afternoon, visit the Duomo complex then on to Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery. End your day by walking over Ponte Vecchio and climbing up to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset.
On your second day based in Florence, take a day trip to either Pisa or Siena and the Chianti wine region. Alternatively, you could book a guided Tuscany day trip that includes both destinations in one day.
On day 6, jump on the train to Venice fairly early to give yourself two full days in Italy’s famous floating city. Spend one day discovering the historic center, visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, Doges Palace, the Rialto Bridge, and taking a gondola ride along the Grand Canal.
On the other day, jump on a boat to explore the lesser-known islands of the Venetian Lagoon, including Murano and Burano.
For more, head over to our guide to planning a one week Italy itinerary, which has six different ideas for your trip.
Crash Course in Italian Geography
Italy is made up of 20 regions which can be split roughly into northern Italy, central Italy, southern Italy and the islands.
Northern Italy is known for its diverse and scenic landscapes, from the dramatic peaks of the Dolomite Mountains and vast rolling vineyards, to the pristine lakes and beautiful coastline along the Italian Riviera.
Trentino and the Aosta Valley are home to some of Europe’s best ski resorts. While luxurious Lombardy is where you’ll find the fashion capital of Milan and high-end resorts of Lake Como. Veneto is the most popular region in northern Italy thanks to its crown jewel; the floating city of Venice.
Central Italy is the country’s most historically and culturally important area, and the most visited by first-time tourists.
The Lazio region is where you’ll find the capital city of Rome, once the cornerstone of the Roman Empire and now filled with many important archaeological sites.
Neighboring Tuscany is Italy’s capital of Renaissance art and architecture, home to many beautiful Italian towns including Florence, Pisa, and Siena.
Less visited by tourists than the rest of the country, the south of Italy is known for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, charming little towns, and slow pace of life.
Campania is the best-known region within southern Italy, with popular tourist spots including Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the ancient city of Pompeii, as well as the luxurious coastal towns and resorts of the Amalfi Coast.
Italy has many islands scattered around its long coastline, but the two most important are Sicily and Sardinia.
Sicily is the biggest island in Italy, just off the ‘toe’ of Italy’s ‘boot, and has many beautiful beaches and Baroque cities. Sardinia is another large island to the west of the mainland which is known for its world-class beaches, oceanside clubs, and archaeological ruins. Both islands are popular vacation spots for locals and international visitors.
The 10 day itinerary above takes you through parts of Lazio, Tuscany, and Veneto. You’ll also find variations at the end which include Liguria and Lombardy in the north, or Campania in the south.
When to Visit Italy
There’s really no bad time to visit Italy. From relaxing on white-sand beaches in the hot summer sun to skiing in the snowy Dolomite Mountains and visiting traditional Christmas markets, there’s something to do all year round.
The best time to visit Italy completely depends on the type of trip you’re taking.
For this 10 day Italy itinerary I’d recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall.
On our latest trip, we were in Italy from mid-September through Halloween, and it was extremely pleasant throughout the entire duration of our trip. You’ll still get the lovely warm weather but it won’t be too hot to walk around sightseeing all day. You’ll also skip the huge mid-summer crowds at the big tourist attractions.
- Summer is the peak season in Italy’s major cities and tourist destinations. Temperatures are high and the sun is always out. However, this also means that it’s the busiest time to visit Italy. There are long lines at the big attractions and hotels raise their prices to match the high demand. In August, locals in Italy leave the cities to escape the heat, which might mean shops, bars, and restaurants are more likely to be unexpectedly closed.
- Fall is the ideal time to visit Italy. We were in Italy in September and October, and it’s about as lovely as it gets. The leaves are changing color – particularly in cooler northern Italy – and the weather is still warm, but it’s quieter than summer as many tourists have already left. Be sure to bring a few layers and an umbrella in case of drizzle – it can get cold and gray at times (again, especially in northern Italy).
- Winter in Italy can get very cold. It’s not uncommon to experience heavy rain and snow, especially the further north you go. The best time to visit Italy in winter is during December. Italian cities look beautiful covered in Christmas decorations and there are traditional markets and nativities everywhere you go. Just remember to bring a coat and plenty of layers.
- Spring is another great time to visit Italy. The weather is warm and sunny, the flowers are coming into bloom, and the large summer crowds are yet to arrive.