There’s no end to the enchantment you’ll find within Italy’s vibrant cities…
Italy is home to some of the most important cities in modern civilization. Many cities, like Rome, Florence, and Venice date back thousands of years and offer visitors art, architecture, culture, and history. Don’t forget about the food and fashion!
Whether you’re traveling overseas for the first time or traveling to your 100th country, Italy is the perfect country if you love big cities. With hundreds of things to do and see in each city, you’ll never get bored, but you might get overwhelmed. Before you embark on your next Italy city break, check out our 12 tips to make your trip incredible.
City Breaks in Italy
Tip #1: Staying longer than just a weekend? Travel between cities!
If you want to spend a bit longer in Italy and visit multiple cities, you can opt for a longer tour. Most people will want to visit Venice, Florence, and Rome with a day trip or two. While you could easily spend months on end exploring Italy and never getting bored, you’ll want a minimum of a week to see the major highlights of this ancient country.
Tip #2: Leave some extra space in your suitcase.
Italy is the ultimate destination for fashion lovers, and you’ll be amazed by all the beautiful goods you can find in the boutique shops, markets and malls. Florence is especially good for artisan crafts and luxurious fashions, shoes, leather, jewellery, and perfume. For high quality leather goods, head to Michelangelo’s Florentine Leather on Via Giovan Battista Zannoni. Make sure you leave extra space in your suitcase so you can bring back souvenirs, gifts, and clothing!
Tip #3: Choose the right time to go.
Italy has something for everyone year-round, but just like anywhere in Europe, there is a high and low season. Summer, especially the month of August, can be an unpleasant time to visit Italy. It can be extremely hot with the average temperature in Rome being 30 degrees Celsius (about 85oF). Many Italians take a few weeks off in August for their own holidays so smaller boutiques, restaurants, and hotels may be closed.
The best time to visit Italy is from April to June and September to October. The temperature and weather is mild with sunny skies making it ideal for sightseeing. Most of the popular attractions are less crowded and hotels and airfares are cheaper.
Tip #4: Travel off the beaten path.
Visiting the Colosseum or the Leaning Tower of Pisa is incredible, but if you’re trying to get a real feel of a city, skip the major tourist attractions and get into the smaller neighbourhoods for a taste of daily living. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path to explore the local side of the cities. Don’t over plan, enjoy the experience! You never know, you might just find the best pizza in Italy on some narrow, cobblestone back alley.
Venice is a romantic city with a rich history and culture. Home to miles of canals and car-free cobblestone roads that wind through ancient colourful buildings that just beg to be photographed, Venice is picturesque. But, it can also be very crowded as it is one of the most visited cities in all of Italy.
Tip #1: Bring a GPS or use your phone.
Venice is a maze of canals and small cobblestone alleyways, so it’s easy to get lost. Grab a map from your hotel and ask the front desk for directions. Better yet, purchase a local SIM card or use an international data plan so you can get directions for the things you want to see.
Tip #2: Explore the Outer Islands.
Most people only visit the island of Venice, but the city also has smaller outer islands worth visiting. Venice itself is built on more than 100 small islands! Many of the city’s outer islands are an easy boat ride from Venice, are very photogenic and have less crowds.
Lido has a great sandy beach perfect for sunbathing. Murano is well known for glassmaking and the Glass Museum. It’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for a unique souvenir or gifts. Burano is an island of fishermen and colourful houses. You can easily spend an afternoon exploring the local neighbourhoods and devouring the delicious fresh seafood. Discover both Murano and Burano by a half-day semi-private boat tour from Venice.
Tip #3: Take a private or small group tour to see more.
Venice can be very crowded, especially during high season during Carnival and summer. There are long queues for many of the popular attractions so you might have to wait two hours before you can even step foot in the Doges Palace. Instead, take a private or small group tour, explore the attraction at your own pace and skip the long lines!
If you love art then you don’t want to miss Florence. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence has Renaissance architecture, winding streets, the famous Ponte Vecchio and Il Duomo. It’s home to some of the world’s greatest pieces of art at the Galleria dell’Accademia and Galleria de Uffizi. As the gateway to Italy’s most famous wine region, Florence is filled with excellent food and wine.
Tip #1: Book tickets ahead for the Museums.
If you’re not doing a private or small group tour that can skip the line, book your tickets in advance. Everyone wants to see David and the lines to get into these museums can be as long as two hours wait.
Tip #2: Enjoy Florence outside of its museums and churches.
Florence has a long history of art and culture that can wear you out if you’re trying to fit all the highlights into a few short days. Take a walking tour to help you get a sense of the city. Don’t feel pressured to visit every museum or art gallery, stop and enjoy a gelato or just wander the medieval streets of Dante’s old neighbourhood.
Tip #3: Get High for the Best Views of Florence.
Florence and its red tiled roofs are incredible from above. Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte offer incredible panoramic views. Rooftop bars are an excellent place to enjoy some local Tuscan wine while taking it a beautiful view of the cityscape. Try bars at the Grand Hotel Cavour, Grand Hotel Minerva, and Terrazza Brunelleschi.
Rome is one of the most important cities of the world with over 3,000 years of influential art, architecture, history, and culture everywhere you look. The city is also home to Vatican City, the centre of the Catholic religion and home to the Pope. The city is also home to delicious food and endless gelato.
Tip #1: Don’t miss Vatican City.
Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, but it is the world centre of Catholicism. Despite its tiny size, it’s jam-packed with sights, relics, and museums. If you’re lucky, you may even get to spot the Pope! There is a strict dress code so make sure you follow it. Join one of our semi-private tours where you can skip the line and learn about the Vatican’s long history with one of our tour guides.
Tip #2: Join a Small Group Tour to maximize your time.
Small group tours let you skip the line at the most popular attractions and the local guide gives you insight into the city and the history. Learn about local places that you would never learn about in a guidebook or the internet.
Are you Ready to Plan Your Next Italy City Break?
Many of these 12 tips can work in other Italian cities and throughout Italy. Small group tours and private tours are a great way to skip the long lines and avoid the crowds at the busiest attractions. Plus, our local tour guides will make sure you don’t miss out on anything and tell you where you’ll find the best food and gelato in the city!
Get in touch today about our many Italy tours and how we can help plan your next Italy city break. If you’re not quite ready to book your vacation, sign up to our free email course to learn everything you need to know about planning your trip to Italy.