The first part in planning a trip is deciding where to go and how many days to stay in each location. For many of us this is one of the most overwhelming elements in travel planning as the options are limitless. If you're thinking of going to Italy you've come to the right place to start researching your options. My 5 Italy itinerary ideas will help jumpstart your planning on how to spend a week in Italy. I've combined the best cities and done all the logistical research so you don't have to! These 5 Italy itinerary ideas will point you in the right direction in the planning process and are perfect for a first visit to Italy as these focus on the most imporant and popular cities.
Once you have your basic itinerary of where and how long decided, the planning process becomes substantially easier. These itineraries are 7 days in length so you can keep the number of vacation days needed to a minimum. I also list ideas if you need to extend to a 10 day Italy itinerary for each option. Now let's get to the good stuff and check out each Italy itinerary below for how to spend a week in Italy!
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A Week in Italy - 5 Italy Itinerary Ideas
1. Florence and Rome
4 nights Florence, 3 nights Rome.
This is the best Italy Itinerary for art and history lovers and minimal travel time.
LOGISTICS: Traveling from Florence to Rome is a breeze on the 1.5 hour direct train.
*This Italy itinerary is perfect if you have roundtrip tickets into and out of Rome (FCO airport). You can land and immediately go to Florence. It's a 30 minute ride on the Leonardo Express train from FCO airport to the Roma Termini station. You will then transfer to the 1.5 hour train to Florence. Italiarail has full details of how to get from FCO airport to Florence.
Florence: 4 nights. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers not only ample sightseeing in the city center, but multiple day trip and wine tour options in the Tuscan countryside. Spend two days exploring the sights of Florence like the Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia (the David), and Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoint. Florence is the perfect city for a walking tour as it's steeped in history and compact enough that you can see all the main sights by foot. Spend your other two days venturing outside of Florence. If you're a wine lover you could easily spend two days exploring the Tuscany region either on your own by car or with a wine tour. I highly recommend going to San Gimignano and Montepulciano. If you're up for venturing a little further, Siena would make for another wonderful day trip and is 1.5 hours by direct train.
Rome: 3 nights will give you just enough time to see the Vatican, Roman Ruins, Colosseum, and explore the neighborhoods. I would see important sights in the morning and leave the afternoon and evening open for wandering or doing walking tours. Do the Vatican and St. Peter's one morning and save the Colosseum for another morning. Stay up late to see sights like the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon lit up and more impressive than during the day. Rome is a convenient city to end your Italy itinerary as there are plenty of direct flights back to the US from FCO airport.
**NEED TO EXTEND THIS TO A 10 DAY ITALY ITINERARY? Add one more city. The easiest picks would be Milan, Naples, or Venice. Options that take a little more time but worthwhile are the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre.
See my other Italy posts including ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR VISIT TO FLORENCE and BEST TIME TO VISIT FLORENCE ITALY
2. Florence, Bologna, Venice
4 Nights Florence with optional stop in Bologna, 3 nights Venice
This is the best way to spend a week in Italy if you're looking for charming and atmospheric cities that are walkable.
LOGISTICS: Florence to Venice is a 2 hour train. Most lines stop in Bologna on the way, making this a very convenient stop.
Florence: 4 nights. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers not only ample sightseeing in the city center, but multiple day trips and wine tour options in the Tuscan countryside. Plan 2 days exploring Florence and pick 2 day trips.
Bologna: optional stop on the way Venice. A University town conveniently on the way to Venice. Store your luggage in the train station and spend the day exploring the town. Bologna would make a wonderful overnight as well if you choose to cut a night off Florence or Venice. It’s not as touristy as Florence and has a more authentic feel (especially in the evening and morning). This is a foodie capital and would be the perfect city to do a food tour or cooking class!
Venice: 3 nights. Many people spend as little time in Venice as possible because it's become so crowded and touristy. They see the main sights and leave. Don't do this as there is so much more to Venice than a quick stop at St. Mark's Basilica and a museum or two. 2 days in Venice is the absolute minimum and 3 days in Venice is even better. Don't worry too much about the crowds as they really tend to stick to the major sights like St. Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge. You can easily escape the crowds by walking a few minutes past these sights and getting lost in the never ending canals and small alleyways. Don’t worry, it’s impossible to actually get lost as you are on a tiny island. 3 days in Venice would also allow time for a trip to one or two of the neighboring islands like colorful Burano. Do yourself a favor and get up around sunrise each morning. The city is practically empty and offers the perfect opportunity to have the usually crowded sights all to yourself.
**NEED TO EXTEND THIS TO A 10 DAY ITALY ITINERARY? CHANGE TO 4 NIGHTS FLORENCE, 2 NIGHTS Bologna (so you can add day trips like Modena, Parma, or Ravenna), Add 1 night for Verona (or do as a day trip from Bologna), 3 nights Venice
3. Florence, Siena, Cinque Terre
3 nights Florence, 2 nights Siena, 2 nights Cinque Terre
This is the best Italy itinerary if you're looking for a mix of atmospheric and walkable cities along with slowing down and enjoying coastal life.
LOGISTICS: Both Siena and Cinque Terre are easily accessible from Florence. Siena is 1.5 hours via train and Cinque Terre is 2.5 hours by train. Some will argue to base yourself in Florence and make day trips to Siena and Cinque Terre. I think it's worth spending two nights in each place vs. a day trip. If you do day trips you save yourself the hassle of unpacking and repacking, but you will only get a glimpse Siena and Cinque Terra. I’m a big fan of spending the night to experience places in the morning and evening when the day tourists typically empty out.
Florence: 3 nights. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers not only ample sightseeing in the city center, but multiple day trips and wine tour options in the Tuscan countryside. Spend two days exploring Florence and pick one day trip or tour. If you're going to do a wine tour try to find one that combines San Gimignano and Montepulciano, my two favorite Tuscan towns.
Siena: 2 nights. Historically overshadowed by its sister city, Florence, Siena is center stage once again. This city has medieval charm and less tourists than Florence. UNESCO recognizes Siena as the "ideal embodiment of a medieval city" and most agree it's the best medieval city in Italy. It’s an easy day trip, but I recommend staying at least one night if you can. Piazza del Campo is regarded as one of Europe's greatest medieval squares and the Duomo is a true stunner.
Cinque Terre: 2 nights. Known as “the poor man’s French Riviera” because it has the beauty and charm of the French Riviera at a fraction of the cost. 5 colorful towns are knitted closely together along the Ligurian coast. Spend the day hiking the Via dell’Amore trail through all 5 towns. 2 days in Cinque Terre will allow you just enough time to explore all 5 towns, lay by the beach or go swimming, and enjoy some fantastic coastal Italian meals. Try the anchovies as they are typically served the same day they're caught. The three best towns to stay are Vernazza (postcard views with a quaint piazza), Manarola (a favorite with Europeans offering scenic views), or Monterosso (the biggest town with the most hotel and restaurant options).
**NEED TO EXTEND THIS TO A 10 DAY ITALY ITINERARY? CHANGE TO 4 NIGHTS FLORENCE, 2 NIGHTS SIENA, 2 nights CINQUE TERRE, AND ADD 2 NIGHTS IN ROME OR VENICE.
4. Rome and the Amalfi coast
2 days Rome, 5 days Amalfi
The best italy itinerary for a mix of history and big city experience combined with romance and stunning views.
LOGISTICS: Trains from Rome to Naples are a little over an hour. From the Naples train station the most convenient (and fastest) option is to take a private car straight to your hotel. It’s anywhere from 1 hour (to Ravello) to 1.5 hours (to Positano).
Rome: 2 nights will be a quick trip will a full schedule. Plan one day for the Roman Ruins and the Colosseum and 1 day for the Vatican and wandering the city.
Amalfi Coast: 5 nights. If you've been on Instagram recently you will have noticed that the Amalfi Coast, Positano to be exact, has blown up! It's become an extremely popular destination and has won the hearts of almost everyone that visits. This is the ultimate place to relax and enjoy the good life or il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). The Amalfi Coast is truly one of the most beautiful areas of Italy. Positano is the most touristy and expensive, but also the most romantic and atmospheric. You could stay in nearby Amalfi town or Sorrento, but you will skip a lot of the charm and picture perfect views. Spend your days strolling the city, dining on fresh seafood and homemade pasta, and just taking in the views. Spend a day exploring the hill town of Ravello with a stop at Amalfi town on the way. Make sure to take a boat to explore the blue waters of Capri.
**NEED TO EXTEND THIS TO A 10 DAY ITALY ITINERARY? CHANGE TO 4 NIGHTS ROME, ADD 1 NIGHT IN NAPLES, AND 5 NIGHTS AMALFI COAST
5. Florence, Milan, Lake Como
3 nights Florence, 1 night Milan, 3 nights Lake Como
This is the best way to spend a week in Italy for a mix of art and nature.
LOGISTICS: Florence to Milan is a 1 hour 40 minute direct train. Milan to Lake Como (Varenna) is a little over 1 hour via direct train. If you're short on time skip spending time in Milan and go straight to Lake Como (you will still have to stop in Milan as the only trains to Lake Como depart from Milan).
FLORENCE: 3 NIGHTS. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers not only ample sightseeing in the city center, but multiple day trips and wine tour options in the Tuscan countryside. Spend two days exploring Florence and pick one day trip or tour. If you're going to do a wine tour try to find one that combines San Gimignano and Montepulciano, my two favorite Tuscan towns.
Milan: 1 night. Let me be completely honest and say that Milan isn't my favorite city. It lacks the character and charm of other Italian cities and feels more industrial and like a real working/business city. I am including it in this itinerary because 1) it's on the way to Lake Como and the only city offering an easy and direct train and 2) many people have several sights they MUST see that are in Milan like the famed Duomo (purchase a “Fast Pass” ticket in advance) and the Last Supper (must purchase tickets in advance). Milan is also a fashion capital and a must visit for any fashionista. If none of the above appeals to you, skip Milan and add a night to Lake Como.
Lake Como: 3 nights. An area famed for famous residents like George Clooney, breathtaking scenery, and picture perfect towns. Spend your time exploring the towns bordering the lake, hiking and biking the mountains, relaxing at your posh hotel, and eating unlimited amounts of gelato and pasta. Varenna is an easy and good area to stay. If you want something a little more glitzy, head to Bellagio.
**NEED TO EXTEND THIS TO A 10 DAY ITALY ITINERARY? CHANGE TO 4 NIGHTS FLORENCE, 2 NIGHTS MILAN (FOR A DAY TRIP TO BOLOGNA OR VERONA), 4 NIGHTS LAKE COMO.
If you love Italy you should plan a visit to Spain next!
Now that you have your basic Italy itinerary set, start booking your tours!
Do you have a favorite Italy itinerary for how to spend a week in Italy? Let me know in the comments below! If you have a 10 day Italy itinerary that you recommend please share that as well!
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