Destinations / Travel

10 destinations to visit in Italy for your next European holiday

The 10 most iconic destinations in Italy to visit

Italy is a country known for its vast beauty and diverse locales – from the snowy Italian Alps to the shores of Lake Como – each cloaked in the aftertaste of Aperol, rich wines and cheeses, and of course, their own traditional pasta dishes. If you're planning a trip to the country (either literally or you're just fantasising about a Euro summer far from now), you might be in need of some guidance as to where to go. Sure we all know about Rome and Naples, but we wanted to give you a more comprehensive guide to the most iconic destinations in Italy to visit.


1. Lake Como


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The third largest Italian lake, Lake Como, is nestled into the foothills of the Italian Alps, and remains an evergreen destination popular with the upper echelons of Italian tourists. The city of Como is home to some of the country's most gorgeous Renaissance architecture, and a funicular that travels up to the mountain town of Brunate. It's also less than an hour from Milan.

Stay: Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a recently redone historic villa with over 100 years of history. Enjoy the lakeside champagne bar, book a lake excursion, or enjoy a painting or photography class on the banks of Como.

Eat: Ristorante Materia, Cernobbio is the best place to have a true local culinary experience. Run by Davide Caranchini, who grew up in the hills overlooking Lake Como, the kitchen offers a delicious menu of offerings (including a plant-based tasting menu for those veg-inclined) that showcases veggies and herbs grown in the Materia's own greenhouse.


2. Venice


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This one probably comes as no surprise, but the capital of northern Italy's Veneto region, Venice, is a must-visit spot. Built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, the city is lined with Renaissance and Gothic buildings that line its canals.

Stay: Aman Venice is a hotel that's just about as sumptuous and romantic as the city itself, set in a renovated opulent 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal. Explore the surrounding islands aboard Aman Venice’s 1930s-style private boat, or settle into the property's coveted private gardens to enjoy a delicious menu of meticulously prepared sandwiches and an array of sweet delicacies.

Eat: Restaurant Terrazza Danieli is the perfect locale to savour view over the Venetian lagoon from the rooftop bar.


3. Capri


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Set on an impressively sized chunk of limestone that juts out from the Tyrrhenian Sea, Capri has long been a destination popular with artists, intellectuals and aesthetes drawn to the enigmatic scenery and coastal atmosphere. Most of Capri town is only accessible by foot, so remember to pack light or be forced to trundle your suitcase around with you.

Stay: J.K. Place Capri is set far enough away from the island's buzz and bustle to feel like a retreat without feeling like you're missing out. Set up by the pool, negroni in hand, or experience tranquility from one of the hotel decks overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Eat: Da Paolino is a rustic, citrus-themed spot, where tables are laid under the boughs of a lemon arbour, and feasts of spaghetti alle vongole and lemon pudding are washed back with wine made from grapes grown in the nearby vineyard.


4. Sicily

Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island, found just off the coast of the country's south. Bordering on the eastern edge of Mount Etna, an active volcano, the region is famous for their produce grown in soil infused with volcanic ash. You'll also find an abundance of Baroque cathedrals, Greek Temples and vineyards here – and of course, beautiful beaches.

Stay: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is luxurious in every sense of the word. Opulent marble bathrooms back onto terraces overlooking a spectacular pool complete with a pianist. You'll have to indulge in one room service breakfasts of granita brioche and sugar-dusted pastries, followed by a long lunch and a nap, of course.

Eat: Gagini is the Michellin-star restaurant located in the heart of Palermo in the former studio of 16th century sculptor Antonello Gagini. Drawing on his Italian-Brazilian heritage for the menu, head chef Mauricio Zillo has crafted one of the city's most exciting menus and local wine lists.


5. Portofino


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Southeast of Genoa on the Italian Riviera coastline is the fishing village of Portofino, where pastel-coloured buildings line cobbled roads. Perch yourself at one of the township's famous seafood spots overlooking the harbour and Ligurian sea, or visit its 16th-century museum and art gallery, Castello Brown.

Stay: Belmond Hotel Splendido has sophistication woven into every aspect of your stay – from the glittering gulf views to their wellness centre that draws on the skills and expertise of Dior skincare, complete with Toile de Jouy manchester.

Eat: Da Puny is arguably the most famous restaurant in Portofino, beloved by locals and celebrity visitors alike. It's been around since the 1850s too, so you know it's going to be good.


6. Naples

Capital of the Campania region, Naples is home to some of the country's most well-known food: the pizza. It's also home to some great beaches and iconic monuments.

Stay: Hotel Romeo Naples was designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, and features and interior of modern furnishings, black marble, antiques and artworks throughout. Perch yourself at the hotel's ninth-floor rooftop pool and bar to enjoy delicious traditional Neapolitan fares, or enjoy the waterfront panorama from the comfort of your room.

Eat: Mattozzi Restaurant is located in the heart of Naples and offers some of the best of the region's cuisine. Founded in the early 1830s, this family-owned joint has been passed down through generations.


7. Florence

Florence is our go-to in the Tuscany region, the birthplace of many Renaissance art and architectural masterpieces, and of the Duomo cathedral. For the bohemes and art-lovers amongst us, this is your chance to visit some of the country's most exquisite galleries, in the form of the Galleria dell'Accademia (where you'll find Michelangelo's 'David'), and Uffizi Gallery (where you'll lay eyes on Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus').

Stay: Four Seasons Firenze is the perfect urban retreat, steeped in the area's historic beauty. Stroll their private gardens, retire to your villa, or dine at their Michelin-starred Italian restaurant.

Eat: Essenziale's approach to traditional Tuscan cuisine breaks the mould, whilst keeping to the classics. They're open for brunch, lunch and dinner, and a frequently rotating menu of locally grown produce.


8. Rome

The nation's capital isn't to be missed, despite what other travellers may tell you. It's perhaps not quite as picturesque as some of the other iconic destinations on the list, but it has just as much to offer.

Stay: The Fifteen Keys Hotel is situated in Via Urbana, in the heart of the bohemian and charming Monti district. Featuring 15 individually designed rooms in a renovated five-storey town house.

Eat: Pro Loco Pinciano's stone-vaulted ceilings house a dining experience that places emphasis on the Lazio region's ingredients for pizza toppings, pasta fillings and wines.


9. Milan


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This bustling metropolis in Italy's northern Lombardy region is a hotspot when it comes to all things fashion, finance and design – here you'll find the headquarters of some of the world's most luxurious fashion House's like Armani, Prada, Versace, Moschino, Valentino and Zegna. It's a centuries-old hub of art and culture (home to Leonard da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' mural at the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent), and to the country's well-known fashion week.

Stay: Bulgari Hotel Milano is in the Campo Marzio neighbourhood

Eat: Giacomo Bistro is a French-style bistro in the heart of Milan, where cosy and reassuring interiors feature a large bookcase filled with antique books and rooms communicate via arched passages.


10. Sardinia

A renowned blue-zone (where locals live longer than anywhere else on earth), the island of Sardinia boasts more than 2,000km of sandy coastlines. It also has an abundance of hiking trails that will take you through its mountainous interiors.

Stay: Il Borgo dell'Arcangelo farm stay is run by the Lugas family in this handsome 18th-century farmhouse. Located in the charming village of Tuili, just north of Cagliari, this is an ideal home base for excursions to see the wild horses of the Giara plateau and various archaeological sites.

Eat: Framento pizzeriea is located in Cagliari, just up the hill from its sister restaurant, Josto. Framento's traditional slow-fermented sourdoughs make for a perfectly offbeat Sardinian-style pizza.


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