Italy, a European country with a long Mediterranean coastline, has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine.
Its capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins. Other major cities include Florence, with Renaissance masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “David” and Brunelleschi’s Duomo; Venice, the city of canals; and Milan, Italy’s fashion capital.
Highlights of northern Italy include exploring the lakeside towns of Lombardy, hiking the hillside-hugging villages of Cinque Terre and downhill skiing in the Italian Alps.
Central Italy is known for the rolling vineyards of Tuscany and Umbria, as well as Pisa’s iconic leaning tower. Travel farther south to find Naples, known for its pizza; the rugged Amalfi Coast, where picturesque towns hang precariously over cliffs; and Pompeii’s 2,000-year-old remains. Off the southern tip of the peninsula, Sicily offers ancient ruins, beaches and an active volcano.
One could spend a lifetime exploring all that Italy has to offer and still only see a fraction of it, such is the wealth of beautiful landscapes, incredible cities, and renowned attractions on show. From the Colosseum in Rome to il Duomo in Milan and the Amalfi Coast in the south, Italy has it all and has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
With so much to see and do, here are some of the best tours that will take you around Italy and help you make the most of your time in this breathtakingly beautiful country.
1. Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s Guided Tour
One of the most incredible places on Earth, the Vatican is home to an unparalleled array of riches, and the Vatican Museums really need to be seen to be believed; every surface is covered in beautiful art.
Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll learn all about the museums’ many sculptures, paintings, frescoes, and more. The history of it all is fascinating, with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel just one of the many highlights on offer.
Saint Peter’s is equally impressive and the sheer size and scale of everything is awe-inspiring. Highly recommended by everyone who has gone on it, this tour will astound and awe you.
2. Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill Package
This fast-track combo deal will see you avoid the crowds and make the most of your time in the nation’s capital as you visit some of its most famous sights.
Exploring the enormous Colosseum is an amazing experience; you’re sure to be impressed with the size of the arena – the mind boggles at how it was constructed.
Wandering around the expansive Roman Forum is an equally mesmerizing affair. The views from Palatine Hill of the mess of ruins, columns, temples, and buildings below is breathtaking.
3. Boat Trip: Glimpse of Murano, Torcello & Burano Islands
Located in the Venetian Lagoon, these three islands are among the most amazing ones on offer and it is well worth checking them out when you’re in Venice.
The cruise will take you from Saint Mark’s Square around the islands. On the trip, you’ll get to watch traditional glassblowing and enjoy the picturesque nature of the islands.
Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of the history of the islands and the rich cultural heritage on show. This tour comes highly recommended.
4. San Gimignano, Siena, Chianti Guided Tour from Florence
Starting off in Florence, this tour takes you on a whirlwind journey through some of Italy’s most beautiful sights and is a wildly popular choice amongst visitors to the region.
The rolling hills surrounding Florence are home to some lovely little villages; exploring the medieval town of San Gimignano is a wonderful experience as you get lost amongst the quaint buildings.
After that, it is time to taste some wine in the Chianti countryside, before heading onwards to Siena with its wealth of architecture to show off. A fabulous tour, this excursion certainly won’t disappoint.
5. Milan Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 48-Hour or 1 Day ticket
If you’re visiting Milan and want to see as much of the city as possible, the hop-on-hop-off bus is a great option; it has three routes which pass by more than 30 of the main attractions.
With such incredible sights as il Duomo, la Scala and Castello Sforzeco included, you’re sure to have a memorable time in one of Italy’s greatest cities.
Over the day or two that you have the ticket, you can use it as much as you want. The audio commentary will teach you loads about the history, culture, and architecture of the city.
6. 7-Hour La Maddalena Archipelago Boat Tour
The pristine, turquoise waters of the La Maddalena Archipelago are absolutely stunning to behold and even more divine to dip into. As such, they are well worth visiting when you’re in Sardinia.
With stops at some of the beautiful islands included in the trip, you can lounge on the beach, swim in the warm waters, or simply bask in the beauty of nature all around you.
A fantastic day out, this tour will make you want to return time and time again to the delightful archipelago.
7. Florence Dome Climb Guided Tour
The Duomo is one of the most famous sights in Florence. For many, no visit to the city is complete without a trip to the top of the fabulous building.
Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll visit the cathedral, bell towers, crypt, and more; they will certainly bring the history of both Florence and the Duomo to life before your eyes.
The highlight is undoubtedly the view from the dome itself. The panoramic views of Florence below you are so breathtaking that you would happily climb all the way to the top over and over again.
8. The Grandeur of Venice: Doge’s Palace & Basilica Tour
Stepping through the entrance into the Doge’s Palace is enough to make your heart stop, as beauty greets you from every angle. It is amazing to think that it was from here that the Venetian Republic was once ruled.
Wandering through the elegant and luxurious halls is an incredible experience, and your expert guide will help you to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of everything you see.
After that, it is time to head to the architectural masterpiece that is the Basilica. The interior needs to be seen to be believed and the sumptuous golden mosaics are astounding. Not to be missed, this great tour will take you to some of the best of what Venice has to offer.
9. Mount Etna Summit and Crater Trek
Hiking through the lava fields to reach the summit of Europe’s highest active volcano will live long in the memory, and the views from the summit of Mount Etna are divine.
At 3,300 meters above sea level, you can see until the horizon. The panoramas of the surrounding area make the climb completely worthwhile, while the lunar landscapes all about you are equally enchanting.
Accompanied by an experienced guide who will tell you all about the geography and history of the place, this tour will fly by. You’ll head home tired but happy after a fantastic day’s sightseeing.
10. Roma Pass: 48 or 72-Hour City Card
If you’re in Rome for a couple of days, it is well worth investing in this city card, which will get you discounts on loads of the main attractions.
With free transport included, you’ll be able to shoot around the city and not waste any time walking from the Colosseum to the Castel Sant’Angelo, or from the Borghese Gallery to the Caracalla Baths.
There is a free guidebook and map as part of the package, so you’ll never get lost, and there are lots of other bonuses to score if you purchase the Roma Pass.
11. From Parma: Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano Factory Tour
If you’re a foodie, this is the perfect tour for you; you’ll get to see firsthand how these world-famous products are made.
With a professional guide on hand to take you around the factory, you’ll learn all about the history of the products as well as the traditions surrounding them.
The highlight is at the end of the tour when you get to try a variety of the hams and cheeses for yourself. Delicious.
12. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Fast-Track Entry
A wildly popular option amongst tourists to Rome and the Vatican, this ticket will allow you to skip the queues and visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in no time at all.
The art on show is absolutely breathtaking; you’ll wander around the endless galleries in a daze as a myriad of masterpieces look down upon you.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of mankind’s most amazing achievements and Michelangelo’s masterpiece is well worth the price of the fast-track entry alone.
13. Florence Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 24, 48 or 72-Hour Ticket
With so much to see and do in fabulous Florence, you’ll be thankful that you invested in a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, as it will take you to all of the main sights without any hassle at all.
The two routes on offer stop off at close to 50 stops, so you’ll never have to walk far to see such incredible sights as Michelangelo’s David, il Duomo, and il Ponte Vecchio.
The audio commentary is brilliant and you’re sure to come away having learned loads about Florence, its history, culture, and architecture.
14. Amalfi Coast Full-Day Tour from Sorrento
Starting off in Sorrento, this wonderful tour will take you on a whirlwind journey around some of Southern Italy’s most beautiful sights and attractions.
The cliff-side villages are lovely, and the scenery is awe-inspiring as you gaze out over the Mediterranean.
The Amalfi Coast really is a picturesque place. Visitors will love exploring the old town and all that it has to offer. Not to be missed, you’ll never want this tour to end.
15. Barolo Food and Wine Tasting at Piedmont Region Winery
Perfect for foodies and wine aficionados, this tour will teach you all about the fantastic wines of the Piedmont region, as well as some of the local artisanal products.
The setting of the tour is absolutely divine; vineyards coat the rolling hills and old, picturesque buildings dot the landscape.
The highlight, of course, is the twelve different wines that you get to taste, each accompanied by some cheese or cold cuts from the local area.