Italy is truly a masterpiece! There is excellence in everything – the nature’s splendours, epicurean delights, joyous lifestyle or historic Renaissance heritage. Undoubtedly one of the most enticing nations in the world, Italy has allured globetrotters to Europe to experience its breathtaking landscapes, awe-inspiring architectures and tempting food and lifestyle.
This charming Mediterranean destination offers a plethora of sights, attraction, and flavours which can get overwhelming for any first timer to pick which places to visit and what things to do in Italy. Get a gist of what you need to know for your first trip to Italy with this short Italy travel guide.
Best time to visit Italy
First and foremost, before you start planning a vacation to any destination, you have to check the weather conditions of that destination and decide the best time you would like to visit it. For a trip to Italy, autumn which is from September till November and spring months of January to April are the best months to visit as the weather tends to be warmer and there are fewer crowds during these months.
July to August is usually the high season for Italy tourism when prices of accommodation and ground handling services skyrocket and places are swarming with tourists. The month of December is bitterly cold and is recommended for visitors who don’t mind the frigid climate and wish to experience Italy in its icy winter ambiance. Visit Italy in winters to enjoy winter sports and celebrate the season holidays and festive events.
Where to go in Italy
While Italy doesn’t seem like a massive country, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to tourist attractions. While there is plenty to see and do in Italy, for the first time Italy trip, you definitely have to include Italy’s significant cities and countryside.
Italy’s capital city is a place where art and life intermingle in perfection. The splendor of Rome’s intricate art and architecture is extraordinary and hard to believe that all these wonders are human creations. With a colossal collection of statues, architectural structures, motifs and paintings of some of the world’s best artists, Rome takes you to a realm filled with Renaissance charms and creative imagination.
A trip to Rome is incomplete without visiting the iconic landmarks like Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Vatican City. The city’s Renaissance grandeur takes you on a journey into the past but keeps you firmly grounded with modern lifestyle. As dusk falls, tuck into some delicious Italian meals at delightful cafes, bistros, street markets and fine dining venues at historic Piazzas.
Florence is all about art and architecture. Known as the ‘Cradle of Renaissance’, the city is located in Tuscany region of Italy. Florence is crammed with stunning domes and basilica, rustic churches and chapels, elegant palaces and museums all interlinked with winding cobbled alleys. Rightly earned the honour of UNESCO World Heritage city, Florence showcases the astounding creations of famous painters, architects and sculptures such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Filippo Brunelleschi and Botticelli.
The city is also renowned for its shopping and culinary experiences. At Florence, you can find yourself amid an incredible collection of haute couture and famous fashion designer’s boutique shops. Enrich your Italian experience further by combining the gorgeous surrounding sights of Tuscany with your Florence trip.
Venice is an utterly mesmerizing city. The interweaving canals docked by rustic structures, marble palaces, and elegant bridges are a sight no traveller should miss on an Italy visit. A gondola ride serenading through the waters of Grand Canal is one of the popular attractions of Venice.
Once you struck off cruising on the Venetian canals from your travel bucket list, experience the charms of Venetian architecture with a trip to Palazzo Ducale, Basilica di San Marco and many olden Venetian churches. Venice will put you under a spell losing track of time gazing at the city’s wonders. Snap out of the trance and take some time to relish a delicious Venetian meal at cicheti or Venetian tapas.
While Rome, Florence, and Venice are all about bygone era’s grandeur; Milan is all about present-day sophistication. Style and modernity grace Milan’s vibes and fuses seamlessly with Renaissance opulence. The metropolis tells you the tales of ancient epoch through Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper alfresco, Il Grande Museo del Duomo and a collection of Basilicas. For art lovers, Milan opens up a fascinating world of Leonardo Da Vinci’s artworks and creativity.
Milan’s modernistic visage exudes in an excellent way through contemporary architectures, elegant art nouveau and installations. Visit to Museo del Novecento, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, and Galleria d’Arte Moderna gives you an insight of the surging avant-garde of Milan. Considered as the Mecca for fashionmongers,
Milan is also the hotspot for the who’s who’s of the fashion and couture world. Even if you are not in the mood to splurge, a visit to some of the high-end fashion boutiques, outlets of famous designers like Armani, Chanel are worth your time.
Medieval seafront towns, lakes & vineyards
Italy is not all about historic heritage and renaissance splendours of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice. Though it is what Italy has always been renowned for, taking a detour to the breezy coastal towns, cliffside townships, beauteous lakes and vineyards lets you experience Italy’s essence of dolce vita. While you are in Florence, take an excursion to Chianti where postcard-perfect panoramas of fresh vineyards appease your eyes and traditional authentic cuisines will satiate your appetite.
Discover the idyllic farmhouses, rolling hills shrouded in grapevines and Romanesque countryside on a cycling trip. Lake Maggiore and Lake Como are some of the places to visit in Italy that offer a fresh perspective into Italian’s beguiling natural panoramas. The rugged Italian Riviera of Amalfi Coast and a vivid assortment of cliffside villages of Cinque Terra overlooking the deep blue sea are some of the places you can only experience in Italy.
Where to stay
An Italy accommodation during your holiday depends absolutely on your budget and genre of experience. There is an expansive range of stay options to choose that suits your travel plans. Craving for some picturesque overnight stay, how about a seafront room with a view or lakeside campsite?
You can stay at luxury palaces and villas or quaint farmhouses and chalets surrounded by scenic countryside. Whichever accommodation type you opt, it comes with a promise of comfortable, friendly services and long-lasting memories. Budget-wise, a one night stay at simple dorm room would cost around 30 Euros, the mid-range hotel will be around 150 Euro, a four-star or luxury hotel prices will be ranged above 200 Euros.
Good to know Italy travel tips
- For your Italy holiday, you will require a valid passport and valid Italy visa. Italy visa is part of Schengen visa hence you can even plan and include visit Italy’s bordering countries in your trip.
- Travelling in and around Italy is convenient as it is connected by train, ferry and road routes. Italy’s hi-speed trains are an ideal way of travel from one Italian destination to other at reasonable prices and less duration.
- Avoid driving in cities like Rome and Florence as the roads are congested and driving can feel very frustrating. Walking around these cities are worth the effort and you get to view attractions up close and at your own pace. Save your driving thrills for countryside visits where you can opt for a self-drive car or cycling tours.
- Tipping is not mandatory but is a voluntary choice. Italians don’t expect big tips. Restaurants usually have additional service charges and pane e coperto (bread and cover charge) added in the bill.
- Italy is liberal in dressing sense. However, you should pack your clothes keeping in mind the weather and tourist attractions on your trip. While visiting cities, you will be walking a lot so make sure you wear comfortable apparels, hats, sunglasses, and footwear. If you are visiting religious sites such as St Peter’s Basilica, then you will have to adhere to dress codes and dress modestly.