10 Days in Italy Itinerary: The Perfect First Trip To Italy

Melanie Haiken

Your travel to Italy should involve more planning than just enjoying your vacation. So, I have curated a complete guide that will make your journey planning easier!

Over the years I have travelled to Italy many times and I have long since become enthusiastic about this country! I have years of experience and can walk you through planning a perfect holiday.

Our best-of-Italy itinerary includes almost all iconic landmarks and a few secret gems that nobody else recommends.

Doing your Trip to Italy Last Minute?

To secure your accommodations and excursions whilst in Italy, go over the details. These are my must-visits for your upto 5 days trip!

Must purchase tickets in advance

  • Vatican Museums and The Sistine Chapel (definitely want to book beforehand
  • Tickets to the Colosseum (you absolutely must book these before you enter!)
  • Skip the Line: Michelangelo’s David Tickets (Most-Fully booked in Florence)
  • Uffizi Gallery in Florence: Skip The Line Tickets (buy online to skip queues!)
  • Entry Ticket for Doge’s Palace (Museum) (Valid 1 day from first redemption; regularly fully booked and may be sold out)
  • Skip the line Tickets for Milan Cathedral And Rooftop

Best Accommodation in Italy

  • Rome: Hotel Relais Dei Papi (Excellent Vatican proximity)
  • Florence: Relais Piazza Signoria (Heart of the city)
  • Venice: Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal (Stunning canal views!)
  • Dolomites: Parkhotel Laurin (Prime location with a pool)
  • Cinque Terre: Affittacamere Casa Dane’ (Budget-friendly option)
  • Milan: Collini Rooms (Only 10 min from Milan airport!)

Can’t wait for you to get your first taste of Italy at its very best. This planner features not only top attractions but also quaint mountain towns and beachside villages.

The below post is based on an intrepid Italy itinerary that covers a few recommended stops with various top sites to include on your visit. As there is no fixed rule for this, I will give you an average time you should spend at each place but you can customize this according to your personal liking. Stay longer where you want to be and short where it does not hold your attention.

10-Day Italian Trip Route Map Guide

For those who would rather see the Italy 10-day itinerary mapped out visually, here is a map for you.

The map below shows exactly what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going on your travels. Bookmark or take a screenshot to plan accordingly!

Every place listed here on this Italy itinerary is easy to find — type the name into your GPS. You can easily download the maps for offline use if you are using Google Maps.

10 Day Italy Itinerary

Stop 1: Exploring Rome

Rome is the perfect introduction to Italian history and culture. Rome is a destination of legends known for its ancient ruins, beautiful architecture, amazing food, and great museums.

Activities in Rome

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, completed in 1762 is one of Rome’s most iconic attractions. Throw a coin into the fountain (the legend is that it will guarantee your return to Rome) or you can make a wish, the choice is yours. If you prefer a more quiet experience visit during early morning or late at night.

Tour the Coliseum

Surely one of the highlights of any trip to Italy has to be a visit to the Coliseum. It is a workout common in history books but one you can live out. It’s worth taking a guided tour, particularly in summer evenings, when sunset tours are offered, to gain the full measure of its history and architecture.

Stroll the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is nearer the Coliseum and offers the same amount of historical interest, but this one was less crowded. It is an amazing place to walk amongst the ancient ruins.

Discover Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona: One of Rome’s giant public squares, ringed by cafes and shops emitting good cheer as they set up tables and serve good local food until late (or until an armed invasion).

Climb the Spanish Steps

One of the attractions that you will have watched from multiple films is the Spanish Steps. A set of 135 steps that gives you a bird-eye view of the city and a half-decent workout as well!

Join a Cooking Class

Take a cooking class to learn traditional Roman-Italian cooking techniques — a fun way to spend a day in Rome (especially in the cooler months).

Explore the Pantheon

The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple but became a church. Due to its historical importance and architectural beauty, it has become nearly an obligation to visit when staying in Rome.

Get To Know Vatican City, Rome

Hence you might be wondering why visiting the Vatican is not under attraction in Rome. The Vatican deserves a whole section of its own as the amount on offer is so diverse and fulfilling.

When in Rome, spend a day exploring Vatican City full stop. The primary thing to do is to head towards Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

Realistically if you only have time for one, Saint Peter’s Basilica should be your innocent victim. From the visuals of the structure and its grandeur and architectural vision, to this day – this is probably the most stunning sight I have seen anywhere across my travels.

The Vatican Museums are many museums in museums and are home to the famous Sistine Chapel. Make sure you buy tickets in advance to get in on the fun.

For those short of time consider early morning and they could spread it to half-day exploration.

Book Your Tickets: Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

Accommodations in Rome – From Near the Attractions

When I come to Rome, I prefer to stay in the vicinity of Vatican City. It gives you the rare chance to walk to Vatican Square at night and see it gorgeously lit.

Find a more informed look at the best area to stay in by reading my detailed guide to hotels and the best neighborhoods in Rome.

Where to Stay in Rome – There are many lodging options, from the basic to the luxury, available in Rome.

  • Close to the Vatican: Relais Piazza Signoria View Rates: Booking. com
  • Mid-Range: Roma Central Guest House. View Rates: Booking. com
  • Luxury The Westin Excelsior Rome View Rates: Booking. com

How Long to visit Rome? Best Period to Visit Rome

what i usually recommend, is to be in rome for 2 days as the optimal time to experience the city as a whole, But if you are spending one day only at Vatican City, it is best to stay for three days.

And when you finally feel ready to venture out of Rome, the city is perfectly located for some wonderful day trips!

Stop 2: Florence and Tuscany Discovery

After exploring Rome, it’s on to Florence, the celebrated cradle of the Renaissance and the jewel in Tuscany’s crown.

Anywhere I saw in Florence seemed to be more relaxed compared to Rome. A trip to Rome should also be split by a visit to Florence – a city about 90 minutes away via fast train, and a magnificent place to be.

Florence is an easy city to explore by foot, and you won’t really need to take any public transportation unless you’re going out of town.

With only one day in Florence, there is so much to see!

Fast Travel Tip: Take the ultra-fast high-speed train from Roma Termini to Firenze S M Novella. The trip takes about 1.5 hours.

Save your train travel here: Trenitalia

What to Do in Florence

Boboli Gardens: Boboli Gardens Entrance Situated on a hill, the 16th-century Boboli Gardens boast unrivaled views over Florence – make sure you bring your walking shoes to climb up. The gardens stretch out on a grand scale, with cherubic Italian sculptures and plantings full of color.

Reserve Now: Skip-the-Line Boboli Gardens Tour

Duomo: You can’t miss THE Duomo from Florence. Please keep in mind to dress conservatively – and keep your voice down in respect to the special aura!

Fast-track access to a guided tour of the Florence Duomo Cathedral

Ponte Vecchio Walk the most famous bridge in the city and enjoy the view of the sunset from one of the best views in town, ideal for a romantic evening. Either way, bring your camera: this makes an excellent photo and a very pleasant experience, especially for a honeymooning couple.

See Michelangelo’s David: Create a trip to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s famous sculptures. It can get a little hectic in there at times so there is the option to purchase a timed entry ticket for some perspective or book a guided tour.

Reserve Florence: Timed Entrance Ticket to Michelangelo’s David

Step into the World of Renaissance Art at Palazzo Pitti Home to one of the largest collections of Renaissance art, the sprawling Palazzo Pitti is nothing short of a paradise for an art lover. Don’t miss this on your visit – an absolute must-do to soak up some of the Florentine art aura.

Florence Pitti Palace Entrance Ticket – Book now saved 13.9%!

Where to Stay Florence: Given Florence is smaller in comparison to Rome you can stay anywhere close to the city center. For an in-depth look at accommodation, here are my pieces on Where to Stay in Tuscany and in Florence, where there are boutique hotels for every taste.

Duration of Stay in Florence: A day or two in Florence is enough for you to capture all its essence and see the key attractions in Florence but you will have start early enough and sleep late. If time allows, it makes for a more relaxed visit if you stay for two full days and see it all in no rush. If staying for an extended period day trips to Pisa or nearby quaint towns can be on your to-do list as well.

Stop 3: Venice – A Dream Destination

One of the most romantic cities in the world is known globally as the capital of Italy’s Veneto region. One can easily access Venice from Florence with the Italian train system discussed in my guide on how to get from Florence to Venice.

To make the journey hassle-free, board a train from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence, bound for Venezia Santa Lucia station. The ride takes a little over two hours at a time.

Pre-Book your train: Trenitalia

Venice Activities

Piazza San Marco Another hot tourist destination in Venice is Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark Square. The square also houses the beautiful Saint Mark’s Basilica tours which are open.

Comfy Shoes: Get ready for Italy with the comfort of walking on your foot!

Click here to book: St. Mark’s Basilica Fast Track Entry and Audioguide

Climb the Campanile di San Marco: With a stunning view over Venice, the bell tower is the ideal spot in Italy for those visiting Italy and who like photography.

Book a Tour: Classical Venice: 1.5-Hour Walking Tour

Feel the Gondola Ride: A gondola ride is a typical Venetian experience enjoying the city and its canals from another vantage point.

Book a Place on Venice: Grand Canal by Gondola with Live Commentary

Explore Doge’s Palace: Walkthrough The richly adorned Gothic-style palace located directly on the canals, Doge Palace doubles as a museum showcasing lacework, paintings, and sculpture; an architectural marvel for all the visitors.

Book your Doge’s Palace Reserved Entry Ticket Venice tickets here.

Venetian Islands: Tour Taking in the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello is a wonderful way to experience more than just the main city. The gondola experience gives unique explanations of Venetian history and tradition.

Make a reservation: Venice: Burano, Torcello & Murano Boat Tour w/ Glass Factory

The Rialto Bridge: This 16th-century stone bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice, so take the time to cross it. This helps in bringing forth photographers of Rialto Bridge from a distance showcasing stunning architecture in place.

Venice Accommodations

The city center is the place to be. Whether you want a luxury hotel or a charming Airbnb, you are sure to find a place that fits all your preferences. Here are my top tips but also how to Stay in a Boutique Hotel: the definitive guide to best places to stay in Venice

Potluck SoupPerfect locations consist of near St Mark Basilica or by the Rialto Bridge, the real heart of Venice.

Hotels in Venice:

  • City Center: Hotel Casanova. Check rates: Booking. com
  • Royal San Marco Hotel 4-Star Check rates: Booking. com

How Long to Stay in Venice: Venice can be done very quickly 1-2 days. Whether you are visiting for a short time, or if this is a special visit, tailor your plan to enhance your time in this fairytale city.

Stop 4: Exploring Bolzano and the Italian Alps

Frequently missed in standard Italian travel plans, these rugged mountains are quite simply the most awe-inspiring mountain landscapes anywhere in the world, and the best thing is that they are easier to get to from major Italian cities.

Most people, however, know the Dolomites also because of beautiful lakes and picturesque small towns. Given that is is so much smaller and less tourist-laden than the likes of Rome, Florence or Venice, Bolzano (often called the Gateway to the Dolomites) is the perfect city to explore if you’re driving throughout Italy.

Now, from here, gently, You will feel a very serene Himalayan mountain atmosphere, and you will feel completely unburdened from the urban hustle and freeze.

If so, I suggest checking out my detailed Northern Italy itinerary – one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

The train journey from Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia in Venice to Bolzano Bolzen station in Bolzano takes as usual about 3:15 to 3:45 hours, depending on the train you decide for. Of course, remember to secure your train seats way before your stay!

Buy your train tickets here: Trenitalia

Things to do in Bolzano and the Dolomites

Renon Cable Car: Ascend the mountainscapes by cable car from Bolzano, reached in only 11 minutes to new heights. Amazing aerial views of the region!

Puez-Geisler Nature Park is a Natural Wonder Just a short drive from the city, the Puez-Geisler Nature Park features some of the best of the Italian Alps. For nature freaks, it is a must to visit and must be one of the highlights in your Dolomite bucket list.

Reserve Now & Pay Later: Bolzano: Great Dolomites Road Private Day Trip by Car

Duomo di Bolzano in Bolzano’s central square, the Duomo di Bolzano is a historical church with a unique white-and-green, tiled-retribution roof. The interior and exterior architecture, also called here, is truly amazing.

Castel Roncolo: Take a walk back in time A short bus ride from Bolzano’s Piazza Walther brings you to ‘Castel Roncolo. Situated atop a hill, the fortress is surrounded by mountains which offers a stunning view to be enjoyed especially by history or architecture buffs.

Guntschna Walk: A leisurely walk through the surrounding countryside is this scenic track starting near the Griest church. Beautiful views of both Bolzano and the green surrounds on this path.

Accommodations in Bolzano

Accommodation ranges from posh Bolzano hotels to delightful inns.

  • Affordable: Residence Fink. Check Rates: Booking. com
  • Intermediate: Gardenhotel Premstall Check Rates: Booking. com
  • Upscale: Parkhotel Laurin. Check Rates: Booking. com

Recommended Duration in Bolzano: I would recommend staying at least 2 days to explore the area of Bolzano and the Italian Alps in the best way. You can quickly get that overview in a day, but to really explore the natural beauties + city we recommend two.

You can spend half of your day in the city center and the second half in the nature park if you are driving.

Your expanse within the Dolomites ensures that a minute region of one’s Italian excursion might be the one which you may remember the majority of, with the wonderful natural elegance a great antithesis of the metropolitan face regarding Italy.

Stop 5: The Mediterranean Coast-Genoa, Portofino, and Cinque Terre

Watch as the mighty Alps give way to the tranquil Mediterranean coastline as your tour through Italy continues. This is the longest leg by train or bus, but you’ll be rewarded with the destinations of Genoa, Portofino, and Cinque Terre.

Skip the craziness of the Amalfi Coast beaches and head to these quiet spots instead. Starting and possibly ending in Genoa, it serves as a gateway to the glitzy Portofino and magical villages of Cinque Terre.

From Bolzano, 2-3 interruptions and a ride of around 5 hours to reach Genoa or an Italian rural area on the off chance that you can think about that climate.) Bolzano Bolzen – Genova Piazza Principe Station

Book your train tickets, here: Trenitalia

In Genoa and Where to Go!

Once you get to Genoa, however, the city offers activities galore, as well as not-too-pricey places to stay.

Genoa Aquarium Visit: The visit to this famous aquarium will be useful, especially in bad weather and will allow you to see the underwater world up close and live.

Book your spot: Genoa: Genoa Aquarium Timeslot Entry Ticket

City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour: If you want to see the best of Genoa in only a couple of days, take the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour.

Reserve your place on the Genoa Hop-on Hop-off Tour Ticket

A Walking Tour of the Historical Center: Discover the history and the hidden treasures of Genova through a guided visit to the Historical Center.

Book Now Genoa: 2-Hour Walk on the Historical Center with Guided Tour

Visiting Portofino: Not far from Genoa, the luxurious enclave is richly dressed and set in one of the most picturesque settings in Europe.

Visit Castello Brown: On the heights above the harbor, a fortress from another era brings stunning views and echoes of old times.

Snorkeling, Diving: Those waters off Portofino are filled with vivid colors waiting to be explored.

Find classes & experiences – 1-Hour Snorkeling Tour in Paraggi Bay, Portofino

Abbey of San Fruttuoso: Hidden in a narrow bay, the San Fruttuoso Abbey is a historical and architectural delight.

Save your favorites: Camogli: San Fruttuoso Abbey Entry Ticket

Have a gelato in Portofino: Embrace the languid-style Italian Riviera lifestyle with a gelato in hand and walk the glamorous streets of Portofino.

Exploring Cinque Terre: Curiosity abounds in the string of five charming coastal villages of Cinque Terre. When you visit them they may be all or only some, because discovering these villages is one of the must-do experiences of any old-style tourist going to Italy!

Monterosso Footpath Hike: The most iconic walk, offering views of the massive boulders of Monterosso, the Italian Riviera coastline, and the entire coastline along the way from Monterosso to Vernazza. It is a worthwhile challenge for those who will venture the cliffs.

Church of San Francesco: Just a peaceful church with a view of the sea.

Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre: One of Italy’s most iconic landscapes, this small but stunning national park.

Cinque Terre by Boat: Perfect for those short on time and who want to quickly see all five towns.

Book your Tour: Cinque Terre Speedboat Tour from La Spezia

The Best Places to Stay on the Ligurian Coast Home

Milan can be reached from both Genoa and one of the Cinque Terre villages, depending on your vacation agenda.

  • Budget Genoa Hotel: B&B Hotel Genova Check rates: Booking. com
  • Stylish Stays in Cinque Terre: The First – Manarola 5 Terre Check rates: Booking. com

Stay on the Ligurian Riviera

If possible, take at least a 2-day break along the Ligurian Sea, in the middle of the park, to really feel its beauty and calm. If you have an extra day, consider extending the itinerary to three days to really maximize your time in each city & allow for more beachy recreation.

If you are short on time, then you will probably only need 1 day and 1 night, concentrating your time on Genoa with a flash visit to the Cinque Terre to squeeze in as much of the Mediterranean as possible.

Final Stop: Departure from Milan

Travel exit from Milan – Milan works really well as it is a massive international airport with heaps of flights giving you easy access out and into many other destinations. Begin the trip in Rome and end the experience in Milan so that you can get as much time as possible in Italy, or travel more in the North of Italy.

If you have booked a roundtrip from Rome, you may want to modify your itinerary so that on the day of the flight to Italy you finish in Milan and back to Rome.

Buying two one-way tickets is often the most flexible option, letting you have more time to enjoy Italy.

In even an afternoon or a day in Milan, this city will reach you somehow.

Transfer type: Milan: Malpensa Airport to City Direct Transfer

From Genoa, you can get a train from Genova Piazza Principe to Milano Centrale taking about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Milan. This trip is smooth with a beautiful view of the mountains.

Advance Booking: Trenitalia Tickets

Milan Highlights

The Milan Cathedral: Which was built extraordinaryly in 1386 and ended officially in 1965, took nearly 6 centuries of building time.

Book Now: Milan Cathedral And Rooftop Ticket.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Italy’s oldest shopping arcade and a magnificent 19th-century structure built to appeal to last-minute souvenir shoppers.

Explore Sforza Castle: This 15th-century castle houses numerous artistic treasures, including works by Leonardo da Vinci.

Reserve your spot now: Milan: Sforza Castle Entry Ticket and Digital Audioguide

City Bus Tour: Should you only have time for a quick session, we recommend that you take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Milan.

This ticket can already be booked here: Milan 24-Hour, 48-Hour or 72-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Ticket.

Where to Stay in Milan

Staying near the airport is nice when your flight departs early, and you get to save it for when the city’s charm really shines-and not at 4 am in full travel mode.

Recommended accommodations:

  • Midrange: Sheraton Milan Airport Hotel. Check rates: Booking. com
  • Budget: First Hotel Malpensa. Check rates: Booking. com

Duration of Stay in Milan

One day may be enough in Milan since it is relatively compact compared to other Italian cities. If you need to tweak this itinerary, Milan is the one that could be shrunk or stretched depending on your requirements.

Suggestion: If you have another hour in Milan, consider a day trip to Lake Como – affordable and well worth the scenic adventure.

Arrival in Italy

Your adventure will start through flying into Rome, a global hub. Even if you will not fly out, flying into one city and out of the other can be a good alternative for saving money.

Flights: Skyscanner for the cheapest deals.

Travel Tip: Reserve using a travel charge card to earn factors for future trips

Navigating Italy

By far, I would recommend Italy because of its extensive train network, which is not only convenient but also really nice. On the other hand, renting a car grants you mobility but can get expensive, in particular with non-return rentals and parking fees.

Get Around By Public Transportation In Italy – The public transport system in Italy is one of the best in Europe and you can travel anywhere you want, as there are many connections throughout their territory.

Optimal Visit Timing

While Italy works all year round, your experience will depend on what season you go in:

Spring: Mild temperatures with crowds.

Summer: Hot, the perfect time of year for beach days.

Fall: Gorgeous trees and less crowds.

Winter: Less crowded, the magic of winter and winter sports.

Further Exploration

If you are itching to continue your travels or visit more regions of this diverse country, make sure to check out my 2 weeks in Italy itinerary for some inspiration and a guide into the other fantastic places the beautiful country has to offer.

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