Your Perfect Amalfi Coast Itinerary: 5 Days on the Italian Riviera [2024]

detail of the amalfi coast town of positano with mosaic roof and beach and hillside houses

Coastal breezes, fragrant lemon trees, and candy-colored houses perched on cliffsides overlooking cerulean seas… is there anything more Italian than that?

This is exactly what you’ll find when you visit Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast, so of course, it’s really no wonder this cluster of seaside towns features highly on many traveler’s bucket lists!

Just a short jaunt from the city of Naples, the Amalfi Coast is a gorgeous destination on the southwestern coast of Italy — it’s the perfect summer destination if there ever was one.

view of the town of positano in amalfi coast, with an old-fashioned doorway with an arch and pots on the walls

It’s a place to explore at your own pace, taking the time to soak in the landscapes, indulge in the unbeatable cuisine, and truly enjoy life to the fullest.

If you’re planning to spend a few days around the beloved Costiera Amalfitana, as it’s called in Italian, then go for a slow-paced Amalfi Coast itinerary: there’s a lot to see and even more to do in this part of Italy!

This post was written by Gabi Ancarola, a full-time travel blogger and writer who currently lives in Crete (and blogs about it here), but spent over a decade living in Italy and traveling all around the country.

She’s here to share with you her expert advice for a flexible plan for how to spend 5 days in the Amalfi Coast itinerary — with unique, in-the-know hidden gems and alternative ideas to make the most of your trip.

It was last edited on December 29, 2023 to update the post for the 2024 travel season.

But First, Where is the Amalfi Coast?

beautiful seaside town of positano with colorful houses on the hillsides and brilliant blue water

Located in the Campania region, the stretch of coastline known as the Amalfi Coast is the part of Italy that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea on the Gulf of Salerno.

It is located on the steep southern end of the Sorrento Peninsula, of which the town of Sorrento is the main hub. 

The Amalfi Coast runs for about 25 miles (40 kilometers) starting in the famous town of Positano and ending in the small village of Vietri sul Mare. 

Along the coast, there are 13 different picturesque villages that you can discover!

From west to east, these charming Amalfi Coast towns are: Positano, Praiano, Furore, Conca de’ Marini, Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Scala, Tramonti, Minori, Maiori, Cetara, and Vietri sul Mare.

How to Plan Your Amalfi Coast Itinerary

a red and blue fishing boat in the water near the town of amalfi in the central part of the amalfi coast in italy

No matter where in Italy you start your itinerary, you will first need to reach Naples (Napoli in Italian) in order to start your Amalfi Coast tour. 

You can then decide whether to begin in the westernmost area (Sorrento/Positano) and make your way east.

Alternatively, if you are starting your Amalfi Coast itinerary from a Southern Italian destination, such as Salerno, it may make more sense for you to begin the trip in Vietri sul Mare and then move from east to west.

Personally, I think the best way to travel along the coast is to start in Sorrento which, although is not officially part of Costiera Amalfitana, is a picturesque coastal town worth seeing.

the charming town of sorrento located on cliffsides above the water

Following this route, you will end the tour in Salerno. From there, you either drive back or board a train back to Naples.

From Naples, you can even add an optional last stop in Pompeii (or the lesser-known hidden gem of Herculaneum – for a comparative guide, read this).

Of course, this itinerary also works the other way round: that is, from Salerno to Sorrento, and then back to Naples.

For the purposes of making this Amalfi Coast itinerary easy-to-follow, we’ll start in Sorrento.

However, as it is a day by day travel itinerary, you can easily start at the end, in Salerno, and just reverse things!

5 Day Amalfi Coast Itinerary: Day by Day Guide

Day 1: Sorrento and Positano

people walking around in the town of sorrento, italy north of the amalfi coast

Start your first day early in order to spend the morning discovering Sorrento!

This is the largest town in the area and there is plenty to do, however, we will limit our visit to a few of the most iconic landmarks.

After that, we will then move to the real Amalfi Coast after lunch, when we head to Positano.

Morning: Sorrento

yellow buildings in the main plaza in sorrento italy

Start by heading to the historic district of Sorrento’s Old Town. This is better seen early in the morning, as it is often overcrowded later in the day when tour groups arrive.

Take yourself on a little self-guided walking tour of Sorrento. Check out the beautiful, colorful houses dotting the winding alleys and then reach Piazza Tasso for a taste of the local culture.

Here, local residents like to gather to talk and spend time, so it’s a great place for people-watching from a charming café.

Right after, pay a visit to the adorable Villa Communale to admire the views over the Sorrento coast and Mount Vesuvius.

You can then walk to the Marina Grande, a historic fishing village with picture-perfect scenery everywhere you look.

Local tip: As an alternative to Villa Communale, you can check Bellevue Syrene, one of the most exclusive hotels in Sorrento — with a panoramic terrace open to everyone, although few people know this! The views from here are out of this world.

Lunch in Sorrento can be an unforgettable experience if you know what and where to eat!

The best place for lunch is around the Marina Grande. Choose one of the many family-run trattorias in the area and try the famous gnocchi alla Sorrentina or a selection of seafood-focused antipasti (starters). 

Not hungry yet? Worry not, you’ll be able to taste great food also in Positano!

Afternoon: Positano

town of Positano italy as seen from the water

You will probably arrive in Positano at the time of siesta!

Although this is a touristic town and most shops will still be open (especially in summer), the afternoon nap is still a thing in southern Italy.

Don’t fret — that means it’s the perfect time for casual sightseeing along the old, colorful alleys surrounded by a more quiet atmosphere.

If you feel like shopping, you can explore the town’s charming art galleries, artisan shops, and upscale boutiques.

If you prefer a more cultural experience, pay a visit to the Church of the Holy Virgin.

The town of Positano is quite small when compared to Sorrento, which means that you can move around easily and see the key sights in about an hour.

If you are a beach fan, instead, head directly to Spiaggia Grande located right at the foot of the village. You can spend some time relaxing and even sunbathe or go for a swim. 

In the evening, you can enjoy a pizza in one of the many restaurants on the waterfront. Don’t forget to have a limoncello after dinner, you won’t regret it! It’s a great digestive and is local to the region.

Day 2: Amalfi, Atrani, and Ravello

the small town of atrani italy with some cars on the road and a small beach and blue waters

Amalfi is a small and delightful town to visit, and it makes a good base for further exploration of the Amalfi Coast due to its central location!

Today we will devote the day to exploring Amalfi, as well as two other small villages on the Costiera.

Morning: Amalfi & Atrani

the town of amalfi in the amalfi coast itinerary

Wherever you’re based, you’ll want to make your way to the town of Amalfi as the first stop on your second day’s itinerary.

Walking around the old alleys of the settlement is the best way to start your day after a cappuccino and a cornetto (brioche) at any local bar.

Reach Amalfi’s Main Square to see Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, a fantastic church dating back to built in 987, with its imposing steps and mosaic facade.

Right after, check Amalfi’s Paper Museum — a unique can’t-miss attraction in Amalfi.

The local bambagina paper is an iconic local product given the long history of Amalfi as a national center of paper mills and top-quality handcrafted paper.

If you want, you can reach the nearby Atrani on foot! It will only take you about 10 minutes from the center of Amalfi. 

the umbrellas on the beach at atrani with the town in the background on the amalfi coast

Atrani is a tiny coastal town, which holds the record of being Italy’s smallest town!

It stands tucked away between two steep cliffs facing the sea. Since the town is so small, it’s not hard to visit, although the hundreds of steep flights of stairs can be a challenge.

If you feel that you’ll be better avoiding the hundreds of steps, then head to the coast!

Atrani’s shore is a magnificent place for photos, with the picturesque tiny homes clinging to the cliffs and the arches under the coastal road that plummet into the sand behind the beach.

You can check Atrani’s picturesque bay, or, alternatively, take a bus (or drive) up the mountains to discover Ravello.

Alternative: Morning or Afternoon Boat Tour from Amalfi

a boat going towards a natural arch off of the coast of capri

You can also take a boat tour and snorkeling tour from Amalfi, which is a great way to see the Amalfi Coast from a different perspective!

This tour brings you to several beaches and sea caves only accessible by boat, giving you the chance to explore sea grottos. The tour also makes two snorkeling stops where you can swim in beautiful waters without any crowds.

A few sights you’ll see along the way include the stunning Saint Andrew’s Grotto, Duoglio and Santa Croce beaches, Lovers Arch, the Furore ‘fjord’, the Runghietiello Grotto and beach, the Africana Grotto, and so much more!

There are two tours daily: one leaving at 9:30 AM and one leaving at 2:30 PM — so you can choose whatever works best for your day to customize this Amalfi itinerary to your liking.

Check details of this Amalfi boat tour itinerary here!

Afternoon: Ravello

terraces around ravello in italy's amalfi coast, a must stop on your amalfi itinerary

Dubbed the City of Music, Ravello is home to an important Auditorium and serves as the annual host of different prestigious music festivals.

The town is also known for its two imposing villas with medieval gardens, stunning views over the sea, and stunning architecture: Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrione

This exquisite mountaintop settlement is filled with manicured gardens, medieval streets, and ancient paths.

It boasts a lush green landscape as it is also home to a vineyard that stretches up and down the slopes of the hills.

When in Ravello, do not hesitate to visit a winery to taste some of the local varietals of grape that grow beautifully along the Amalfi Coast! 

Day 3: Furore and Vietri sul Mare

Today we will discover these two lesser known towns in the area, equally beautiful and representative of the Amalfi Coast as their more famous siblings like Positano.

Here’s your chance to get a bit off the beaten path and explore a more local side of Italian coastal life!

Morning: Furore

stairs leading to fjord of furore and the small beach and the water

Start the day early and head to Furore, home to a unique sight: the Fjord of Furore!

Not a true fjord, this sight is nevertheless fantastic: a hidden beach with magnificent scenery and a fantastic bridge offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

You can access the beach cove by a designated trail or simply by heading to the arched bridge on the Amalfi Coast.

The imposing bridge stands at about 100 feet (30 meters) over the sea and creates one of the most spectacular landscapes that you can imagine!

Afternoon: Vietri sul Mare

the charming town of vietri sul mare with its famous church with the mosaic ceramic tower

You can now head to the end of the coastal highway and visit Vietri sul Mare, which is thought to be the oldest town along the Amalfi Coast and is absolutely worth visiting on any Amalfi itinerary.

Vietri is an important crafts center dedicated to the production of artistic ceramics, with its characteristically lively bright colors and original designs.

In Vietri, be sure to visit the Museum of Ceramics located in Villa Guariglia, featuring ceramics and pottery for everyday use, as well as typical Salerno ceramic arts and religious ceramic objects.

Another place to explore in Vietri is the imposing late Renaissance Church of Saint John the Baptist, with its unique dome and bell tower which are made of typical painted ceramics as well as ceramic and majolica interiors!

If you have extra time, you can also head to the gorgeous village of Conca de’ Marini where you can board a boat trip to visit the spectacular Emerald Grotto!

Day 4: Capri

gardens in upper capri with view of flowers, statue, and sea stacks below

One of the most magnificent destinations facing the Amalfi Coast is the small island of Capri!

While Capri is an island and thus not technically the Amalfi Coast, it is often combined with small towns on the coast on Amalfi itineraries.

While Capri is a place known for being a preferred summer destination for the international jet set, Capri has a lot more to offer than just luxury.

You can follow this itinerary or read my one day guide to Capri for more detail.

Morning: Arrive in Capri

colorful buildings and boats on capri harbor, an island off the amalfi coast

There are ferry boats several times a day connecting the mainland of Italy to Capri.

You can reach Capri from Amalfi, Sorrento, Positano, and even Naples and the ride is about €40 for a return ticket. Admire the stunning sea views as you make your way to the island.

Once on the island, get on a cable car to head up to Capri Town, the main city area.

Head to the Main Square for a walk and then visit the Gardens of Augustus, this is the perfect place to get amazing views of the Faraglioni.

Faraglione is the Italian word for sea stacks, a typical steep triangular rock near the coast, usually formed by erosion.

Capri’s Faraglioni, Scopolo, Mezza and Stella, are among the most famous sights of the Costiera!

You could also head up to Anacapri, another town on the island of Capri, for even better views over the Bay of Naples!

Alternative: Guided Tour of Capri

the green grotto of capri - not quite as famous as the blue grotto but worth a visit!

Alternately, if you want to leave the sightseeing and planning in someone else’s hands, you can opt for a guided tour of Capri from Sorrento!

This affordable day trip includes exploration of the Grotta Bianca and the Grotta Verde (White and Green Grottos — but not the Blue Grotto, although you can do that at your own expense!), as well as the Natural Arch of Capri, all by boat.

You’ll also get to see the Faraglioni and enjoy a swimming stop at Marina Piccola, as well as about 4-5 hours to explore the Capri at your own pace.

Book your tickets for a day in Capri from Sorrento here!

This tour is also quite similar, but it departs from Amalfi Coast towns such as Positano, Amalfi, and Praiano.

It also visits the Green and White Grottos (with an optional addition of the Blue Grotto on your own personal time) as well as swimming time at Marina Piccola and time to check out the sea stacks and town of Capri at your own speed (3-4 hours of exploration).

Book your tickets for Capri from Positano or Amalfi here!

Afternoon: The Blue Grotto

the intense color of the blue water in the blue grotto with a man in a small boat leaving the cave

Once you’ve checked out the gardens and faraglioni, and the nearby Via Krupp, go back to the Marina.

Here is where you can experience what might probably be the highlight of your trip, a boat tour to the incredible Blue Grotto!

These impressive sea caves feature dazzling light effects created by the blue waters and the interplay of light coming into the cave.

Depending on your budget, you can book a group tour (€15-25) per person, or pay a higher fee for a private tour on a gozzo boat (about €100 for a private boat, convenient if you are traveling with more people and not solo). These typical Capri boats will provide an authentic experience!

You can book your tour of the Blue Grotto online here, but note that you’ll also need to pay an additional €14 fee for entrance to the Blue Grotto — this cost only covers transportation to the grotto, not to enter it.

Day 5: Choose Your Own Adventure!

a town on the amalfi coast

On your last full day on the Amalfi Coast, you have many different options.

You can go back to the towns that have impressed you the most — perhaps you want to spend more time in Positano and use this day to walk the Path of the Gods before indulging in some more limoncello and tasty seafood.

Alternately, you can explore other coastal towns of the Amalfi Coast such as the gorgeous Maiori and Minori.

Finally, you can start making your way back to Naples with a day trip to Pompeii. Let’s see these possibilities!

Option One: Hike the Path of the Gods

Especially if you’re traveling in summer, it is a good idea to do this hike early in the morning, so it is a good idea to get an early start to avoid the worst of the summer sun.

Known in Italian as il Sentiero degli Dei, the path is an 8-mile (13-kilometer) roundtrip hiking trail that connects the villages of Bomerano and Nocelle.

It’s a rather intense hike. Although it’s rated moderate on AllTrails, expect nearly 2,500 feet of elevation change along the 8-mile out-and-back route.

I suggest reading this excellent guide to the Path of the Gods to help you plan your day if you choose this option!

You can also go with a guided tour like this one if you prefer company while you hike and to make sure you’re staying safe.

The whole hike usually takes about 5 hours if you go back the same way you came, but you can also just go one-way.

Remember that in order to get the best views, it is better to start from Bomerano and make your way to Nocelle — that way, you’ll get that stunning view of Positano at the end of the hike when you descend!

Don’t forget to carry enough water (I suggest a backpack with a hydration bladder inside it, so you can be sipping from it as you hike), wear appropriate hiking clothes, apply adequate sunscreen and sun protection, and of course — wear proper hiking boots.

Option Two: Maiori and Minori

the charming seaside town of maiori in italy with a sunflare

Maiori is a quiet historic town known for hosting the biggest beaches in the Amalfi Coast, including the gorgeous Erchie Beach with its magnificent tower overlooking the sea!.

Located between Amalfi and Ravello, Maiori is better known for its history as a seaside Roman baths and summer resort.

When in Maiori, don’t overlook the Norman Tower located over the main beach that dates back to 1563 and which was once known as the Torre dell’Angolo

Another place to visit in Maiori is the Saint Nicholas Castle, a mysterious fortress from the eleventh century, on top of a hill with gorgeous views over the bay

Next, make your way to Maiori’s sister village, Minori.

The best way to get there is via The Lemon Path (Sentiero dei Limoni)! This ancient footpath runs between Maiori and Minori, offering breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast.

The path is a fairly easy hike, it is about 1.2 miles (2.5 kilometers) long each way and takes about an hour to hike, though there is a decent amount of elevation change.

Minori is an unpretentious little town with a beautiful beach and a history stretching back millennia, likely back to Etruscan times.

The colorful village has a relaxing and calm atmosphere and it is a perfect place to spend a half-day enjoying a lesser-known side of the Amalfi Coast.

This unassuming fishing town hosts a splendid ancient Roman villa from the first century AD, Villa Marittima Romana, one of the most important ancient sites on the whole Amalfi Coast.

The villa, which was probably the seaside residence of an influential Roman senator, features a beautiful open-air atrium with a central pool and dozens of mosaics and frescoes.

Option Three: Day Trip to Pompeii

the pathway through the ruins of pompeii in italy

If you feel you’ve seen enough of this stunning coastal area and want to start making your way back to Naples, you can devote the last day of your itinerary to visiting the important ruins of Pompeii, locally known as Pompeii Scavi.

Note that Pompeii is closed on Mondays, so don’t take this option if it’s Monday!

You can reach Pompeii by car or, even faster and easier, by train. However, I strongly recommend taking a day tour so you can have the important historical context that you need to make your trip to Pompei even more impactful.

To get to Pompeii, take the Campania Express train. It will take you about half an hour from Naples to Pompeii (or about 20 minutes from Sorrento).

The Campania Express is a special train along the Circumvesuviana train line with stops only at tourist sites. These trains run from March to October and the tickets are about €6 (from Naples train station) or €4 (from Sorrento train station). 

You can book a fantastic 3-hour tour via Take Walks or a shorter 2-hour tour via Get Your Guide, both of which include skip-the-line tickets and a knowledgeable, licensed tour guide.

Alternately, you can self-guide when you arrive, or you can also buy an entry ticket with an audioguide if you like to go at your own pace.

detail of some of the ruins of pompeii including vases and stone walls

Covering a surface of about 440,000 square meters, Pompeii was an actual entire city before its devastation, complete with streets, temples, squares, villas, theaters, baths, and shops.

Honestly, it would take a few days to explore the entire site of Pompeii completely, but you can get a pretty good idea of it on a day trip.

To get a general glimpse of the former buried city, you can follow a short itinerary that features the most important sites and that will easily give you a general picture of how life was in this ancient Roman settlement.

The best way to visit Pompeii is by relying on an organized tour that has already figured out the best sights, as they can provide you the most context which will bring the ruins of Pompeii to life.

If you just want to self-guide your own Pompeii tour, be sure not to miss the following sites (all tours will cover these in-depth, as well):

  • The Large Theater and the Odeon: two theaters in the same area, the first probably devoted to the performance of plays and the second one boasting incredible acoustics.
  • The Garden of the Fugitives (Orto dei Fuggiaschi): an old quarter named after bodies of 13 victims that died as they were trying to escape from the volcano eruption.
  • The Lupanar: the city’s brothel was with small cells and erotic frescoes, the building is easy to find by following the phallic symbols on facades of nearby buildings.
  • The Villa of Mysteries: a captivating and mysterious villa that probably belonged to a powerful family, located outside the city walls overlooking the sea.
  • The House of the Faun: one of the largest residences in Pompeii (around 3,000 square meters) with special areas for the servants.
  • The Forum: a large square with triumphal arches, public buildings, the basilica, the market, temples and other buildings. This area hosted the main civic, religious, and commercial activities.
view of pompeii with mt vesuvius in the background with ruins

Other options for this final day include full-day guided tours that also include a trip to Mt. Vesuvius — the volcano which caused all the destruction that lays before your eyes at Pompeii.

If you want to also visit Mt. Vesuvius, it’s best to do so on a guided tour that combines both sites to make transportation markedly easier. I recommend either this tour of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius leaving from Naples, or this one that departs from either Naples or Sorrento.

Book your full-day trip of Pompeii and Vesuvius from Naples or Sorrento here!

How to Get to the Amalfi Coast

rooftops and church dome with mosaic tiling in the fishing villages of the amalfi coast at sunset

The easiest and smartest way to get to the Amalfi Coast is to first reach Naples.

You can swiftly get to Naples by train from virtually any other Italian city. There are also frequent buses from Rome to Naples, which takes about 2.5 hours.

If you’re traveling from another European city, keep in mind that many low-cost airlines fly directly to Naples!

Once in Naples, you can either rent a car (recommended if you want the most flexibility with this Amalfi Coast itinerary) or take public transportation to get you around the Amalfi Coast (recommended if you’re uncomfortable with driving narrow coastal roads or are on a strict budget).

If you choose to rent a car, I recommend renting a car only once you arrive in Naples.

Even if you’re visiting other Italian cities beforehand, you likely won’t want a car in most Italian cities, but it’s a great option once you arrive in Naples and plan to hit the Amalfi Coast.

Not sure where to get the best price on your rental? Whenever I’m traveling Europe, I always use Discover Cars to find the best deal — they search over 500 car rental agencies (including little-known, destination-specific ones) to find the best price for your rental.

Check rental prices and availability from Naples Airport here!

If you’re not planning to drive, you’ll be relying on a combination of trains, buses, and potentially private cars in order to get around during your Amalfi Coast trip.

If you’re going west to east, I suggest taking the train from Naples to Sorrento, and then taking the bus or a private car to Positano to start your Amalfi Coast itinerary.

Alternately, if you’re going east to west, take the train from Naples to Salerno and then take a bus or a private car to Vietri Sul Mare.

How to Get Around the Amalfi Coast: Travel Tips & Key Things to Know

bridge on the amalfi coast going over water below and sea in the distance

The only land route along the Amalfi Coast is the State Road 163 (Strada Statale), from Positano to Vietri sul Mare.

You can rent a car and drive along the coast, taking the opportunity to make stops whenever you want.

This is what I strongly recommend, as long as you’re a confident driver! Taking an Amalfi Coast road trip offers you the most flexibility and ease.

Note for Americans (and other places where automatic cars are standard): Many rental car companies in Italy have fewer automatic cars in their inventory and many more manual cars. If you don’t know how to drive manual, or you just prefer automatic, you’ll want to book an automatic car as early as possible, so you can be sure to get one!

Another note about driving in Italy: If you’re not from the EU, there is a chance you will have to show your International Driving Permit. I didn’t have to the last time I rented a car in Italy, but there’s always a chance you will, so err on the side of caution and have yours ready.

It only costs $20 and will save you a hassle — especially if you’re pulled over and are asked to show your IDP. Fines can be costly — several hundred euros costly — if you don’t have one and are caught driving without it. Lesson one of Italy travel: tickets are expensive, so avoid them at all costs!

You can also travel along the Amalfi coast by bus. There are tickets valid for a 45-minute ride or a 90-minute ride (€2.40 or €3.60).

There are also one-day tickets and three-day tickets (€7.20 or €18). These last two are the best options for an extended Amalfi Coast itinerary like this one!

Tickets are normally purchased at the tabbachino (tobacco shop), bars, and at the giornalaio (newsstand).

Always ask for directions the bus stop when you purchase the ticket as there are no official bus stops (public transit can be confusing in Italy, hence my exhortations to rent a car!)

the amalfi coast town of amalfi town as seen from the water with white and colorful buildings on a sunny day with some clouds

Finally, you can travel by ferry. There are a few perks to traveling by ferry: it is a convenient way to move around from one town to the other, there are fewer crowds, and of course, the views are spectacular!

Ferries, however, stop in just a few of the coastal towns, including Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Minori, Maiori, Cetara, and Salerno.

Prices range from €9 to about €20 per ride, so this can get more costly than taking the bus, but it is less crowded and more scenic.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths in town or near the ports.

One final note about getting around: If you’re prone to motion sickness at all, you’ll want to bring Dramamine for your travels around the Amalfi Coast!

Whether you travel by car or bus (winding roads with steep curves) or ferry (choppy waters), there’s a high chance of motion sickness if you are at all prone to it.

A little Dramamine will do you huge favors if you have strong motion sickness. If you prefer a more natural option, the non-drowsy ginger Dramamine is a great alternative.

When to Visit the Amalfi Coast

the beautiful beach in positano with its telltale umbrellas and blue sea and lots of small boats

The southern area of Italy is an ideal destination for summer!

During the hottest months of the year, you are more likely to enjoy this itinerary for the Amalfi Coast if you’re doing it by ferry.

The weather is often hot, but the seas are calm and it is also easier to visit extra places such as Capri. Take into account that in summer (high season) prices are higher and places overcrowded.

Autumn, spring, and winter will be better for those who prefer to drive or travel by bus along the coast.

If you had to pick one time, I’d say spring is the ideal time to visit: the temperatures are not extreme, making it easier and more pleasant to move around, and it is less crowded in spring than in fall.

However, the water will be colder than in fall, since it won’t have had the chance to heat up all summer long, so it’s not the best for swimming.

In general, the Amalfi Coast has a Mediterranean climate, with long and hot summers, while winters tend to be short and not so long — although there is always a slight chance of snow in the winter, so it’s definitely not beach weather!

Which City to Base Yourself in for an Amalfi Coast Itinerary

minori beach on the amalfi coast

The first answer would be that you should pick either Positano or Amalfi as your home base, since it is relatively easy to move west or east from there.

However, let’s explore these and other options in detail — and if you want even more detail, I have a full guide to where to stay on the Amalfi Coast, including accommodation suggestions for the 13 best Amalfi Coast towns!

Positano

Many consider Positano the prettiest of all the towns in the Amalfi Coast, plus it has the most guided tour options and accommodations.

However, prices tend to be high all year round in Positano… and not only when it comes to accommodations, but also food, restaurants, and entertainment.

If you can afford to splurge, then definitely book a hotel here as it’s the best option if price isn’t a concern!

LUXURY | Hotel Villa Franca is one of the most luxurious hotels along the entire Amalfi Coast — and staying here comes with an eye-watering price tag. However, you do really get the best of the best: two fine dining restaurants, a rooftop pool with mouth-dropping views, the ultra-luxurious O’Spa Wellness Center with a hammam, and spacious rooms with incredible views.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Hotel Conca d’Oro is a great choice for a luxurious but not outrageous hotel in Positano. Right in the center of town, the room has spacious and beautifully-designed rooms with a minimalist eye for elegant detail. Most rooms have balconies with sweeping beautiful views and the terrace is a to-die-for place to watch the sunset.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

BUDGET | Relais Il Sogno de Positano is one of the more affordable options in Positano, although I would hesitate to call it truly ‘budget’. The rooms are vibrant, colorful, and spacious, with great views of the sea in the distance. It is a bit far from the main town area, which isn’t a bad trade-off considering the huge difference in price tag between this and other options in Positano.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Sorrento

the red rooftops of the buildings in sorrento italy and the harbor and blue sea and cliffs in the distance

Personally, Sorento is my favorite town in the area, and it really doesn’t matter if it is not technically part of the Amalfi Coast.

Regardless of whether it’s part of the Amalfi Coast or not, you should absolutely see Sorrento during your trip!

Besides, staying in Sorrento will allow you to visit extra places at the end of your Amalfi Coast tour, including a day trip to Pompeii, Naples, and even the small islands of Capri, Procida, or Ischia.

As another pro in favor of staying in Sorrento, consider that Sorrento is bigger than the other villages, offering more accommodation options and better services, and yet the town remains small and charming.

However, keep in mind that if you choose Sorrento as your base, it will be necessary to wake up very early every day in order to move around and take advantage of the day.

In fact, Sorrento is quite far from most of the eastern towns on the coast, so that is something to keep in mind.

If you choose Sorrento, it may make more sense to spend a portion of the itinerary in Sorrento, and a portion elsewhere like Amalfi.

LUXURY | Grand Hotel Royal is the most elegant option in Sorrento, with a private beach with free parasols and sunbeds for its guests. The hotel also features its own private gardens filled with palm trees and other lush plant life. There are several on-site fine-dining restaurants as well as a stunning pool with sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Accademia 39 is a charming boutique guesthouse is a lovely property right in the heart of Sorrento, just over 500 feet from Leonelli Beach. The design of the hotel is very whimsical and unique, with fun vintage details in the rooms. Its outdoor areas evoke the Amalfi Coast with lemon trees, yellow detailing, and stunning terraces with views over Sorrento.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

BUDGET | Il Palazzetto is a fantastic option with a rather affordable price tag. It has charming rooms set in 16th-century building right in the middle for Sorrento, just 350 feet from Piazza Tasso. The rooms are basic but clean, and a daily breakfast is included.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Amalfi

the charming town of Amalfi, Italy with beach, mountains in the distance and charming cityscape

This might sound like the best idea, since it is located more or less in a central position, letting you reach every village with a relatively short ride.

This is the best option also when you are not driving and plan to move around with buses or ferries.

However, when it comes to accommodation, prices are also high since it is a very touristic area — but it also does have some of the best luxury options, too!

If you are trying to save some money during your trip, it can be a good idea to stay in smaller towns or to change accommodation, at least once during your five days in the Amalfi Coast as you move along the coast.

LUXURY | Borgo Sant’Andrea is technically located in Conca dei Marini, but it’s just a short walk away from Amalfi. This is one of the most luxurious hotels of the whole of the Amalfi Coast. It boasts many impressive amenities, plus one of the best infinity pools on the entire coastline. The rooms have sea views that will drop your jaw.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Hotel Aurora is a lovely mid-range option just a short walk from the town of Amalfi, about a 7-minute walk away from the town’s beach. The hotel has its own private beach, as well as a lovely garden area with blooming bougainvillea plants. Some rooms have stunning sea views either from windows or balconies, and there is a breakfast terrace with great views of the Bay of Naples.

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

BUDGET | Villa Maria Luigia is a great pick for an affordable place to stay near the town of Amalfi, about a 20-minute walk from town and a 2-minute walk from the nearest beach. The rooms are clean but basic, but guests rave about the hospitality and the view from the terrace!

Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Alternative small towns for you to stay include:

the charming seascape of ravello on the amalfi coast with red flowers, an old church, terraced landscape, and tree with water with boats below
  • Ravello: This popular town along the Amalfi Coast has a ton to offer, and it is also home to one of the nicest luxury hotels in all of the Amalfi Coast! For a stunning luxury stay, consider Villa Cimbrone, which quite literally looks like a castle!
  • Praiano: This is a small village with a nice beach and quite good places to stay, perfect if you are driving. Tramanto d’Oro has rooms and amenities that would be double or even triple the price in Positano or Amalfi, so if you want luxury digs without the price tag, this is a great choice.
  • Minori: Another gorgeous seaside village with a large and very pretty beach, also great for driving. It has affordable and charming guesthouse options like Antica Rheginna which has gorgeous rooms for a reasonable price.

More Than 5 Days on the Amalfi Coast?

If you have more time — or if one of the days on this Amalfi itinerary didn’t quite sound like your cup of tea — you can add on or swap out one of these destinations.

Ischia 

the charming island of ischia in italy

This volcanic island located off the coast of Amalfi can be a cheaper and less-crowded alternative to Capri!

The island is certainly bigger and offers plenty to see, such as the Castello Aragonese, dramatically located on a rocky island linked to Ischia Ponte by a narrow bridge. 

Next up are the Hot Springs of Ischia, the volcanic island has over a hundred thermal springs with therapeutic waters.

You can choose to check these thermal baths in local water parks or luxurious spas. There are also thermal springs in Sorgeto Beach that you can enjoy for free! 

And if you’re in the mood for a quaint little town, then check Ischia Porto, a popular place to explore, starting with the charming Corso Vittoria Colonna, ideal for some shopping and grabbing either an espresso or some authentic and delicious gelato!

Salerno

the large town of salerno italy with churches harbor and more

If you prefer the lifestyle of a bigger town rather than the quaint villages with a tranquil atmosphere, then Salerno is a good place to visit. 

You can discover the Duomo of Salerno, a Romanesque church built back in the eleventh century.

Another place to visit in town is Villa Comunale di Salerno with its terrific landscaped garden, sculptures, exotic trees, and a small pond.

Finally, towering above the city, the Medieval Castle of Arechi stands 300 meters above the sea dominating the Gulf of Salerno.

Naples

famous galleries and buildings in the main downtown area of naples (napoli) italy - a good place to stop at the beginning or the end of your amalfi coast itinerary

The biggest and most important town in the Campania region is Naples, and it can be an excellent additional destination to add to your Amalfi itinerary if you can spend more time in the area!

Here, you can explore Piazza del Plebiscito, with the Royal Palace and the Basilica.

You can also visit the National Archaeological Museum or the fantastic, sixth century Castel dellOvo, the oldest remaining fortification in town.

And when it’s dinner time, nothing better than a slice of Neapolitan pizza (Naples is famous for its many delicious pizzerias) or a delicious portion of sweet and creamy pastiera napoletana.

How to Spend One Day in Florence: The Perfect Mini Itinerary

the facade of the florence duomo church with green marble and all sorts of detail work including mosaic

While Florence has a lot to offer and even a month wouldn’t be enough to see all the masterpieces that the local museums house, one day in Florence can easily offer you a well-rounded view of the most iconic places in town.

The historic center is small and compact, making it easy to walk from one attraction to another in no time, something that will work in your favor to make the most of your day in Florence.

 Planning your trip to Florence at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Florence Experiences:
1. Tuscany Wine & Food Tour with Guide (#1 day trip!)
2. Florence Duomo Visit & Bruneschelli Dome Climb (#1 attraction!)
3. Art Tour of the Uffizi & Accademia (see the Uffizi & Statue of David)

🏨 Best Florence Hotels:
1. Cicerone (charming central Florence guesthouse)
2. Piccolo Borgo Antico (quiet studios near Boboli Gardens)
3. Hotel Unicorno (beautifully revamped 17th century building)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
the octogon-shaped baptistery in front of the florence duomo

While living in Italy for nearly a decade, Milan was home, but I visited Florence frequently, and I know how to maximize a short stint in Florence like a pro.

Ready to go? Keep this one day itinerary handy to better plan your Florence adventure!

And if you find yourself wanting more time in Florence, read this guide to spending 3 days in the city.

How to Get to Florence

view of the duomo in florence from some windows

Often considered part of the northern region in Italy, Florence is easy to reach from the most important cities in the country.

It’s a comfortable 2-hour ride from Rome or Milan, and no more than 3 hours from Venice or Naples.

Although there are different flights arriving from other Italian cities, both to Florence’s airport, train travel is often cheaper and even faster, once you factor in the waiting time you need to spend at the airport.

Arriving from the rest of Europe is also easy. In addition to having its own airport, the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, there’s also the nearby Pisa Airport.

Only about an hour from Florence by train (and a common day trip from Florence), Pisa receives dozens of daily flights from most European capitals, typically from budget airlines.

If you come to Italy directly from another country in Europe, you’ll probably land in Rome or Milan. From there, you can get to Florence by train, bus, and plane too.

Moving Around in Florence

view of the florence duomo from far away showing the bell tower and other important buildings in the complex

The most enchanting quality of Florence is just how pedestrian-friendly the city is!

You’ll love discovering how easy is to get around without even needing to use public transport.

Everything is within a short walk, making it a great one-day destination or even a good a day trip from other Italian cities like Rome or Milan, which are each 2 hours away by train.

Arriving to Florence early in the morning and leaving from the main station by the evening is a totally realistic plan.

Even just that short amount of time will allow you to see and visit a lot of what the city has to offer, and you won’t leave disappointed!

Gateway to Tuscany

side mirror of a car looking out onto the tuscan countryside

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence is also a great gateway to exploring the charming towns and wineries of Tuscany, the most famous Italian wine-making region.

In Tuscany, there are several famous towns to visit, most of them located just a short train ride from Florence, including Pisa, San Gimignano, and Siena.

That said, Tuscany isn’t always the easiest region to get around by train, especially to smaller towns like Monteriggioni and Montepulciano.

Renting a car in Tuscany (that you pick up in Florence) will allow you to see the best of Italy’s rural side and its most charming hilltop Tuscan towns!

When to Visit Florence

sunset from the dome of the florence duomo with the belltower in view

Florence is one of those Italian cities that never gets a break from tourists. It’s a favorite destination, receiving millions of visitors all year round.

So whether it is winter, summer, or any season in between, finding accommodation isn’t easy and prices tend to be on the higher side.

If you’re planning to stay longer than just a day, and would like to book a hotel, try to do so in advance. Last minute accommodation is often impossible to find, even if you’re willing to pay a high fee.

The weather is also a factor to consider.

Summers are hot in this part of Italy, and obviously, the city will be more crowded with visitors on summer vacation.

Winters can be cold, but it doesn’t often snow, and since you’ll probably spend a lot of time inside museums or art galleries, it will be easier to put up with the low temperatures of winter.

As usual, shoulder seasons (fall and spring) offer much pleasant temperatures and better weather conditions in general to walk around town.

Know Before You Go

florence duomo from afar as seen from the other side of the arno river

The best way to make the most of a single day in such an incredible city that so much to see is a lot of planning — and planning in advance, no less.

As I’ve said above, the city is among Italy’s most visited, so you’re bound to find crowds pretty much everywhere you go.

Tickets can often sell out weeks in advance, and you can be disappointed if you turn up to any attraction without having booked your entrance ticket ahead of time.

This doesn’t apply just to museums and art galleries! The same rules apply if you want to visit Florence’s Duomo, see the Statue of David, or do a city walking tour, which also book up quickly.

Wherever possible, I’ve indicated how you can book something in advance, so you can be sure you don’t miss anything on your day in Florence.

Florence in a Day: What to See and Do

Start the day at Santa Maria del Fiore, aka the Florence Duomo.

The facade of the florence duomo at sunrise

The first place you should visit upon your arrival in town is the Florence Duomo (aka the Cathedral), and the earlier the better in order to avoid huge crowds.

This attraction is quite close to Santa Maria Novella train station, so you can easily walk from the station if you took the train in for a day trip.

It won’t take you more than 15 minutes to get to the heart of the historic center, the Duomo Square, where you can not only visit the Florence Cathedral (aka the Duomo), but also its Baptistery and the impressive Bell Tower.

Start by exploring the church, which is thought to be a fantastic example of Renaissance architecture in the country.

The most remarkable feature is its well-known red-tiled dome, conceived by the genius mind of Filippo Brunelleschi back in 1436!

It’s one of the largest domes in the world and you can even climb it in order to enjoy a breathtaking view of the rest of Florence.

the interior of the bruneschelli dome with the painting of the last judgment inside of it

This skip-the-line ticket bundle offers excellent value for money, offering access to the whole Duomo complex all in one bundle.

It includes access to the Dome, the Crypt of Santa Reparata, Saint John’s Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Cathedral, all in one package.

If you’re not afraid of heights and are eager to see a different perspective of Florence, be sure to climb the 400 steps that lead you to the top of the tower.

It’s incredible to admire the intricate masonry work that was needed to create the cupola for which this church is so famous.

If you just want to tour the cathedral and learn about the complex area without seeing every bit of it, you can book this Express Cathedral Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry.

Book this Duomo Complex tour (including Dome) Book this Duomo tour (no Dome climb)

Visit the Uffizi or the Accademia… or maybe both?

The architecture of the courtyard in the Uffizi Gallery with arches, detailed windows, and open courtyard plan

If you have one day in Florence, that’s enough time to allow you to check out at least one of the many museums in the city.

Since visiting all of them could take considerable time, you’ll have to choose carefully.

If I had to pick, I’d say that it’s hard to go wrong with the impressive Galleria degli Uffizi, as it houses perhaps the most impressive collections of Renaissance paintings in all of Europe — it’s one of most iconic Florence landmarks for a reason.

The art gallery takes up the first and second floors of Palazzo Vasari, a fitting setting for its beautiful art, and features works by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Raphael, and more.

If you prefer, you can choose to focus on the works of just one artist, Michelangelo and one of his best known masterpieces: the David.

the statue of david in the accademia gallery as part of a combo tour

This Accademia ticket includes a timed entry slot, so it’s a good way to plan a quick visit to this iconic work of art and then move on with your day in Florence.

There are a few combined tours that include a visit to both premises, and if you ask me, that’s the best option for those really wanting to squeeze these two visits in a day.

This 4-hour art walking tour focuses on the main pieces of art exhibited in the Uffizi as well as seeing the works like David in the Accademia.

Alternately, you can choose to visit just the Uffizi and enjoy a real-size copy of Michelangelo’s David when you visit the Signoria Square (our next stop).

In that case, I recommend booking this fast-track ticket, since it’s a priority entrance ticket with a reserved time slot, offering you the chance to spend as much time as you want inside the gallery

Book skip-the-line Uffizi tickets Book Accademia & Statue of David tickets Book a combined Uffizi + Accademia guided tour

Admire free art in the Piazza Della Signoria.

the palazzo vecchio brick building with a clock

No more than 5 minutes from the Duomo, right next to the Uffizi Gallery, lies the beating heart and political soul of Florence.

For those whose wallets are hurting from all these entry tickets, you can exhale: the best thing about this part of this piazza is that you can enjoy several unique art exhibitions without spending a dime!

Immediately, your eye will be drawn to the crowning feature of the square is the medieval Palazzo Vecchio (or Palazzo della Signoria).

This old brick structure houses a distinctive tower with a storied past, as it was once the seat of power and ruling body of the former Republic of Florence.

At the entrance, there is a magnificent copy of Michelangelo’s David (the copy dates back to 1873), but that’s not all.

Don’t miss the lesser-celebrated but equally beautiful Hercules and Cacus, which a Renaissance sculpture made in marble by the Florentine artist Bandinelli, completed in 1534.

statues in the open in florence

On one side of the square, don’t miss the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air gallery featuring antique and Renaissance statues, including the famous pair of Medici lions, also in marble (Florence loves its marble, what can I say?).

In the center of the square, you can admire the Fountain of Neptune (dating from 1575), made of bronze and marble as well as an equestrian bronze facing Palazzo Vecchio.

If you are also interested in the past of Florence, you’ll be happy to know that it’s also possible to tour the Palazzo Vecchio for a fee.

Here, you can learn all about the families that ruled and decided the destiny of the city, including the so-called Godfathers of the Renaissance, the House of Medici.

You can book your tickets here if you wish to explore the inside of the Palazzo Vecchio, but keep in mind that it will take up some time, so you may have to cut one of the art museums above if you choose to tour the Palazzo Vecchio.

Cross the famous Ponte Vecchio.

covered bridge in Florence Italy over the river with beautiful reflection in the water

Another place you can’t skip when exploring Florence is the outstanding ancient bridge that crosses the River Arno

Known as Ponte Vecchio (which literally means old bridge) this is Florence’s most iconic landmark, often full of tourists trying to cross to the other side of the river or visiting the many jewelry shops located on top of the bridge. 

The bridge was originally a medieval construction made of wood which was at a later point replaced by stone. 

Although in the past it used to be the place where butchers were concentrated, it’s been polished up quite a bit now (literally!).

You’ll now find tons of souvenir shops as well as several workshops where local goldsmiths create unique and refined gold and silver pieces.

Explore the other side of the river, Oltrarno.

View of the Duomo in Florence from the other side of the Arno River, with the Duomo visible and other towers, and hills in the background

After crossing the bridge, you’ll be stepping into a different neighborhood, the lovely Oltrarno, with a more relaxing vibe that is often less crowded than the historic center. 

The best thing to do on this side of the river is to walk through the streets and enjoy the food in one of the many small restaurants and trattorias that you’ll find in the district.

While in Oltrarno, don’t miss stopping off at the best viewpoint in the city, Piazzale Michelangelo, but that might be a better stop after the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace, as this viewpoint is located a little further down the Arno River.

If you have time, it’s a great sunset spot

Wander through the majestic Boboli Gardens and/or Palazzo Pitti.

Fountain in front of Pitti Palace with view of Florence's cityscape in the background below it

Perhaps the most remarkable place you can visit when in the Oltrarno district is Pitti Palace.

The building was constructed for the important Pitti family but later became home of the powerful Medici family. 

It was designed by Brunelleschi (the same creator of the Duomo’s iconic dome) and completed around 1457.

Today, inside the palace, you can spend some time admiring two important art exhibitions, one that focuses on Renaissance artists and a modern art collection.

You can book your tickets to the interior of the Pitti Palace here.

Framing archway pillars in the Boboli Gardens area of Florence on a partly cloudy day, with trees and other greenery in the background

If, instead, you’ve had enough art galleries with the Uffizi or the Accademia galleries, then focus on the gorgeous gardens of the Palace that you can book with a different ticket.

Modeled after the symmetry of French gardens, this incredible green area can be a fantastic oasis to rest your tired feet after all that walking.

However, the beautiful surroundings will be begging to be explored, so you won’t be able to sit for long!

Inside Boboli, you can admire Baroque sculptures, delicate fountains, and marvel at one of the most amazing views of the city’s skyline, featuring the most important cupolas, towers, and buildings in the historic center.

Book your Pitti Palace tickets! Book your Boboli Gardens tickets!

Shop for memories at Florence’s San Lorenzo Market.

a view of the market in florence with a window

Since you probably don’t want to spend your day carrying souvenirs in your daypack, it’s a good idea to leave a visit to Florence’s most important market for the end of the day. 

Not only is it comfortably close to the main train station, but trust me, you’re going to want to buy everything!

The market is famous for selling bags, jackets, boots, and even luggage made from superior quality Tuscan leather.

You can also purchase more modest souvenirs, including old books, magnets for your fridge and postcards, and incredible Tuscan wines. 

The market is also an affordable place for a bite before boarding the train as most bars in the train station are quite ugly and most definitely overpriced. 

At San Lorenzo market, instead, you can even try some of Florence’s best street food, such as porchetta (a delicious local cold cut), cheeses, and fresh fruit cultivated in the region.

Even if one day in Florence isn’t enough to see all that the city has on offer, this 24-hour itinerary of Florence includes the most precious landmarks. 

Remember, if you organize your day well in advance, you’ll be able to find the right tickets to visit the different attractions and museums and visit it all in a day.

Be sure to leave some free time to walk the lesser-known alleys of the city, try a Fiorentina steak, or enjoy a huge gelato cone in this incredible Italian destination!

3 Day Florence Itinerary: How to Visit Florence & Tuscany in 3 Days

florence duomo with bell tower and face of the Florence duomo

Remarkable capital of the arts, Florence is among the most important cultural centers in Italy.

It’s also the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany, one of the most important centers in the country when it comes to phenomenal gastronomy and stunning wines!

 Planning your trip to Florence at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Florence Experiences:
1. Tuscany Wine & Food Tour with Guide (#1 day trip!)
2. Florence Duomo Visit & Bruneschelli Dome Climb (#1 attraction!)
3. Art Tour of the Uffizi & Accademia (see the Uffizi & Statue of David)

🏨 Best Florence Hotels:
1. Cicerone (charming central Florence guesthouse)
2. Piccolo Borgo Antico (quiet studios near Boboli Gardens)
3. Hotel Unicorno (beautifully revamped 17th century building)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!

Florence can be a great day trip from nearby cities, such as Rome and Milan, but it is even better as destination on its own with plenty of places to visit.

When planning your Italy itinerary, you really ought to devote at least two days to Florence and its many landmarks and attractions and one extra day to the gorgeous, verdant landscapes of Tuscany and some of its medieval towns!

A road in tuscany going through the landscape

With this Florence itinerary, you will be able to combine seeing some of the richest artistic heritage in the country with tasting the incredible wine and culinary scene Tuscany has to offer.

In this Florence travel guide, I’ve written out all the unmissable things you can do in Florence and Tuscany in 3 days… let’s go!

What to Know Before You Visit Florence

view of the duomo of florence as well as the rest of the historic town from a viewpoint on the other side of the river

Florence, known as Firenze in Italian, is one of the most spectacular cities in all of Italy, especially when it comes to culture!

Florence has been home to several of the most important figures of Italian art and culture, including Dante, Donatello, Michelangelo, and many other famous Renaissance-era artists.

This gorgeous Renaissance Italian city is situated in the central part of Italy, about two hours from Rome by train, and at about the same distance from Venice and Milan, making it easy to reach from virtually anywhere in the country. 

Florence is compact, small, and quite pedestrian-friendly for those who enjoy discovering new places on foot.

However, that doesn’t mean you will be short of things to do. On the contrary! There never seems to be enough time to get bored in Florence.

The city is populated with stunning buildings, some of them really impressive, such as the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo, or the many medieval stone bridges that cross the Arno River

Florence proudly houses some of the most perfect examples of Renaissance art in Europe, including Michelangelo’s David, the numerous paintings inside the Uffizi Gallery, as well as many picturesque churches, gardens, and piazzi

sampling different florence tuscan wines

The city is also the capital of the Tuscany region, a worldwide known wine-making area in the country (and you should definitely do a Tuscany wine tour from Florence during your visit!)

Tuscany also hosts other famous and beautiful small towns within a short train ride from Florence, which you can easily visit in a day, as well as larger cities nearby such as Pisa, Bologna, and Siena.

If you have more time in the region, follow this 5 to 6 day Tuscany road trip itinerary.

You could even stay at one of these gorgeous villas in Tuscany with a private pool!

Getting to Florence, Italy

the train station in florence with signs that say firenze s.m.n.

It is quite easy to reach Florence by train from any other city in the country. Rome is a 2-hour train ride away, while the train journey from either Milan or Venice lasts about two hours and a half.

Florence International Airport is well-connected to several European capitals through many low-cost companies.

However, if coming from overseas, note that Florence does not receive flights from non-European countries.

In that case, flying to Rome or Milan and then connecting to Florence by train or by bus are the best solutions.

Best Time to Visit Florence

a small cappuccino enjoyed outdoors on a rooftop terrace with a view of the duomo in the distance

Florence welcomes tens of thousands, if not more, visitors every month of the year!

As is usual in most Mediterranean countries, visiting is most pleasant in spring, when you won’t have to battle high temperatures and attractions are not overcrowded. 

Late April and May offer plenty of sunny days, almost no rain, and mild temperatures.

If you have to come in summer, June is best, followed by July. I suggest avoiding August, as summers are very hot in Italy.

Also, most Europeans choose to tour Italy during their August summer vacation…. and many Italians choose to go on vacation in August as well, leading to lots of shut restaurants and more!

Autumn is also a good alternative, especially from mid-September and all throughout October.

Winters can be quite cold and drizzly, but there is rarely snow in this area of Italy, so it can be a good time to take advantage of reduced fees for accommodation and many attractions, especially if you don’t mind some cold weather!

Where to Stay in Florence: Best Areas and Suggested Hotels

a street in downtown florence with the sign piazza del pesce and historic buildings

It won’t be difficult to find a good accommodation to stay in Florence, as there are many hotels, guest houses, and rental homes available in town!

However, booking in advance is always a wise thing to do. Florence is one of the most visited cities in the country all year round, so booking well in advance will guarantee you the possibility to choose better rooms at more affordable rates.

For a city with such a large international reputation, Florence is small and easy to navigate — you’ll get the lay of the land of Florence in 2 days quite easily.

It’s divided in two by the River Arno which creates two main areas where to stay: the old historic district and Oltrarno (which, in Italian, means “on the other side of the Arno River”). 

The first area, the historic part of town, is often more crowded and touristic since it hosts some of the most visited landmarks in Florence.

Despite being a busy spot in town, it is in a great central location allowing you to comfortably access every corner of the city. The area also has many hotels for every budget. 

For instance, Cicerone is a comfortable guest house with great reviews, in the heart of the city center, perfect for solo travelers and small groups!

Check rates and availability here!

The Oltrarno district, instead, is quieter and has a more local vibe. It hosts a few hotels but also several rental homes and vacation apartments, perfect for a longer stay or simply a more relaxed kind of stay. 

Piccolo Borgo Antico is a small but cozy apartment in the Santo Spirito district of Oltrarno offering easy access on foot to the gorgeous Boboli Gardens.

Check rates and availability here! 

The area near the train station, known as Santa Maria Novella can also be a good place to stay. It is not as crowded as the train station in Rome or Milan, and certainly, it is not as a dangerous place. 

Budget travelers can find plenty of accommodation choices in the area, for example, Hotel Unicorno, a 3-star hotel set in a building dating back to the seventeenth century, is only steps from many of Florence’s celebrated attractions.

Check rates and availability here!

Day Trips Worth Taking from Florence

the cinque terre area of italy not too far from milan - a good addition to a milan itinerary. colorful houses perched on a seaside cliff with flowers and harbor.

Being in such a central position in the Italian peninsula, Florence offers plenty of opportunities for day trips not just to the Tuscany region but also to other neighboring areas of the country, making it easy to escape to Rome, the Cinque Terre, or even Venice for the day.

Popular places to visit around Florence include Pisa, with its magnificent leaning tower and basilica, as well as the medieval cities of Siena and San Gimignano.

Additionally, in nearby Liguria, Genoa and the glorious Cinque Terre can also be reached by train in a little more than an hour.

In this 3-day Florence itinerary, I’ve included a day trip on the last day to the winemaking region of Tuscany with stops in some of the above-mentioned medieval towns.

There are plenty of organized trips to discover the Tuscan wine country, visit farms and wineries, and taste some authentic food from the region — this is the best way to do it, unless you prefer to rent a car and explore Italy independently.

Driving in Italy can be… well, chaotic, especially with via controllati (I once had to pay 150 euros in fines and another 150 euro in “administrative fees” for driving on the wrong road in Bologna).

If you’re just needing a car for one day, I’d suggest taking a guided tour. If you plan to drive around more of the region on a longer trip, I recommend renting a car in Tuscany.

🚗 Best Tuscany Rental Car Prices: Discover Cars

This search engine not only looks at the typical rental car agencies (which can be $$$), it also looks at local, small Italian agencies that may offer better deals. Their pricing is straightforward (no bait-and-switches) and they offer free cancellation if you need it.

➜ Check rental prices in Tuscany with Discover Cars here!

Things You Shouldnt Miss in Florence

statues in the front of the uffizi gallery

Florence attracts tons of tourists every year that flock to this beautiful city, thanks to its impressive cultural heritage that offers so many wonderful sightseeing opportunities.

Among the things you should visit in the heart of Florence are the imposing cathedral (the Duomo) with one of the most stunning cupolas in the world, but also smaller churches, like San Lorenzo and Sant Croce, two churches located just a few steps from the center of town. 

Likewise, do not miss the public market, the art galleries, such as the Uffizi and the Accademia, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and the gorgeous Piazza Della Signoria, one of the most charming squares in the country.

This 3 day Florence itinerary features some of the highlights you really cannot miss in town, so let’s get started!

If you only have one day in Florence and need an abbreviated itinerary, you can find that here.

3 Day Florence Itinerary: Day One

Start the day at the Duomo, the Santa Maria del Fiore.

the famous belltower and facade of the duomo of florence, also known as the santa maria del fiore cathedral, on a sunny day

If you’ve just arrived in town, no matter what time it is, head directly to the heart of the historic center, Piazza del Duomo, to start your first day exploring Florence.

Your first stop is the fantastic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo), probably the most-visited place in the city, easy to recognize due to its pristine white marble facade.

Santa Maria del Fiore is considered a perfect example of Renaissance art, as well as one of the most remarkable religious buildings in Italy. The construction of the church took about four hundred years to complete — so no wonder it’s so impressive!

Among the most notable features is its famous red-tiled cupola, an architectonic masterpiece created by world-famous Renaissance architect and painter, Filippo Brunelleschi.

On the inner side of the cupola, you can admire a unique series of frescoes of the Last Judgement. 

Check out the other important buildings in the area.

the st john baptistery part of the duomo complex in the heart of florence, a cant miss florence itinerary item

When visiting the cathedral, don’t miss the other two important buildings that stand just meters away, Saint John’s Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, all a part of the same religious complex.

Saint John’s Baptistery is, in fact, a minor basilica that features an original octagonal plant and impressive iron gates.

The gates facing the East side were conceived by Michelangelo; they are known as the Gates of Paradise and are well-known for their intricate decorations and unique attention to detail.

Not everybody is aware that the baptistery is one of the oldest constructions in all of Florence, dating back to 1128!

Steps from the cathedral and the baptistery, don’t miss the campanile, locally known as Giotto’s Campanile.

Depicting a completely different style from the cathedral and the baptistery, the campanile was built in perfect Gothic style and it can be easily seen from any point in town!

If you’re not afraid of the heights and are eager to see a different perspective of Florence, then you can climb more than 400 steps that lead you to the top of the tower. These are some of the best views over all of Florence!

Have an espresso in Florences most traditional cafeteria.

espresso and cornetto in a traditional espresso bar

Since visiting Santa Maria del Fiore can take up to about two hours, after the visit is a good time for a short break and a cup of authentic Italian espresso, perhaps with a cornetto if you’re hungry for breakfast! 

If you’re eager to discover Florence’s pace of life, stop for a cup of coffee at Café Scudieri, an elegant cafeteria that first opened its doors back in 1939.

This is the perfect place for coffee and traditional pastries that boasts a spectacular terrace with unique views of the Duomo.

Check out the Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.

the facade and clocktower of the palazzo vecchio in florence italy

Just a short distance from the cathedral, another important Florence landmark is the huge square known as Piazza Della Signoria, a place that hosts several important buildings.

One of them, Palazzo Vecchio, was once the main administrative center in Florence, home to the ruling power of Florence for centuries.

Although everyone knows the place simply as Palazzo Vecchio, its formal name is Palace of the Signoria of the Republic of Florence.

The structure dates back to 1299 and it is constructed like a small castle.

The building is better-known for its important access gate where there is a fantastic replica of Michelangelo’s David (the original masterpiece is in another point in town, Galleria dell’Accademia) as well as a statue of Hercules.

Located on one side of the palace, you can spot a wonderful fountain known as the Fountain of Neptune.

Check out the statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi.

marble statue in the loggia dei lanzi archway in central florence (firenze)

Also in Piazza Della Signoria on the opposite side of the Neptune Fountain, a curious selection of Renaissance sculptures give life to the Loggia Dei Lanzi, also known as the Loggia Della Signoria.

This open-air gallery located adjacent to the piazza features impressive arches and Corinthian columns, and is conveniently located right next to our next stop, the Uffizi Gallery. 

On the steps of the Loggia there are the marble statues of the Medici Lions which were historically the heraldic symbols of the city.

Meanwhile inside the Loggia, other statues include the bronze of Perseus and the head of Medusa and the Rape of the Sabine Women made from a block of white marble — the largest block ever transported to Florence!

Since our next stop, the Uffizi Gallery can take quite a few long hours to explore, pick a bar around Piazza Della Signoria for a quick lunch and move on to the Uffizi.

Spend some time in the Uffizi Gallery.

the famous courtyard that is part of the uffizi gallery a famous gallery in florence italy

The most important art gallery in the city is the worldwide famous Uffizi Gallery which you should book tickets for way in advance to visit if you want to avoid the crowds and even bypass the long lines with a skip-the-line ticket.

This notable art gallery is located a few steps from the Arno River, as soon as you leave the Piazza Della Signoria behind you.

The gallery entirely occupies the first and second floors of the Vasari building, which was built between 1560 and 1580. 

The Uffizi hosts one of the most magnificent art collections in Europe, and certainly the most remarkable Renaissance art exhibition in the world, with masterpieces by artists such as Botticelli, Tiziano, Da Vinci, Raphael, and Caravaggio.

There are also paintings from the 14th century by artists such as Giotto, Piero Della Francesca, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, and Raffaello, in addition to many precious works by German, Dutch and Flemish painters.

Such a massive art exhibition could take days to explore, but if you only want to have a glimpse at the most important works of art, then a guided tour with a licensed guide is the best way to visit.

Book your timed entry ticket or a guided tour online here!

Cross the Ponte Vecchio and spend the rest of the day in Oltrarno.

the covered bridge of the ponte vecchio with several stone arches going over the arno river in florence italy

Our first day in Florence has been packed with visits to interesting sites such as the Duomo and the impressive Uffizi Gallery.

It is a good idea to leave other historic buildings for the following day while devoting the rest of the first afternoon to a relaxing walk in a more tranquil part of town, Oltrarno.

Walk along the river until you reach the spectacular Ponte Vecchio.

Although it is a very crowded place, it’s also an ideal stop for an iconic photo of Florence. Crossing this old stone bridge is certainly part of any Florence itinerary.

The Arno River divides the city in half. It is crossed by numerous medieval bridges, but none of them are as remarkable and famous as Ponte Vecchio (which translates as Old Bridge).

This stone arch bridge hosts dozens of shops built along its whole length!

In the past, butchers, tanners, and farmers occupied the shops, but it currently houses some of the finest art and jewelry shops in town and it is exclusively pedestrian.

Ponte Vecchio leads you to this other side of Florence, where life can take a more relaxed pace and where you won’t find as many tourists.

Depending on how much time available you still have after the Uffizi, you can choose to visit all the premises of Pitti Palace, or devote some time only to its green area, the incredibly beautiful Boboli Gardens.

Check out the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens.

a gated area in the boboli gardens with greenery and sculptures

Oltrarno is a beautiful area where you can enjoy small eateries, artisan shops with unique souvenirs, and a wonderfully romantic atmosphere.

One of the places that you should check out in the area is Palazzo Pitti and its incredible Boboli Gardens.

Depending on your interests, you can visit both the palace and the gardens, although most tourists just opt for a relaxing walk and skip the palace.

Palazzo Pitti is extremely important to the history of the city. The huge building used to be the home of the important Medici Family, the most important and powerful political dynasty in Florence.

This palace now hosts an important museum complex, with exhibitions and art galleries and endless impressive examples of Renaissance art. If you’re not filled up on art after checking out the Uffizi Gallery, head into the palace museum for even more art!

At the back of the palace, the Boboli Gardens are one of the most interesting places to visit in Florence and make a great change of pace after seeing so much architecture and artwork.

The 16th century Baroque-style gardens are massive, occupying over 45,000 square meters!

The green landscapes are decorated extravagantly, featuring bizarre sculptures, incredible fountains and ponds, and hundreds of plants and trees from all over the world. 

Have dinner by the bridge.

pasta with basil on top and a carafe of red wine with a blurred background of a european city

Finally, head back to the bridge area for dinner.

I have several recommended restaurants in Oltrarno: Cavalieri Ponte Vecchio Ristò, Osteria Ponte Vecchio, and Amici di Ponte Vecchio.

All of them are traditional trattorias offering delicious and time-tested Florentine menus.

Admire the spectacular view from Piazzale Michelangelo.

view over the city of florence at sunset from piazzale michelangelo, a must-stop on this florence itinerary

Finally, walk over to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the most incredible view of the historic district of Florence as seen from a hilltop vista on the other side of the Arno River.

This place is a really popular sunset spot, but it’s also lovely after the sun has set, when all the lights come on in Florence.

There’s also a bronze replica of David here, but you really come for the best views over Florence.

3 Day Florence Itinerary: Day Two

Start the morning at the Galleria dellAccademia to see the Statue of David.

By Commonists – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Start your second day with a visit to the Galleria dellAccademia. This is another popular place that often gets packed with tourists, so it is always better to visit early in the day.

The main reason to visit is that the gallery is the place where you can admire the original David sculpture, Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

You’ll need a timed entry ticket to see the Statue of David without the hectic lines, otherwise visiting this attraction can be quite a headache.

In the venue, there are displays of other pieces of Michelangelo’s art, such as test sculptures and even drawings.

The Accademia is also home to a tiny museum of musical instruments and music-related inventions.

Book your timed entry ticket to see the Statue of David and Galleria dell’Accademia here!

Grab something to eat at the Mercato Centrale.

the central market in florence italy

Located near the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Mercato Centrale is one of the most beloved marketplaces in Florence.

You’ll find pastries, sandwiches, and all sorts of other quick bites that will help fuel you up for the rest of this day’s walking tour of Florence.

Check out the charming San Lorenzo and Santa Croce churches.

the cupola in san lorenzo church with fresco painted beautifully

There are many fantastic churches to visit in this beauty other than the Duomo!

San Lorenzo Basilica is one of them. Although it features a structure and architectural style much simpler than the spectacular marble Duomo, this big structure impresses with its imposing dome and terra cotta roof. 

The church was built by the powerful Medici family during the Renaissance, and it is the final resting place of some of the most prominent Medici figures inside the Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee).

The church is a great place to admire unique works of art including exquisite examples of funerary art and tombs as well as frescoes and other paintings from the same period.

Another interesting church also in the area of the Duomo is Basilica Santa Croce, which was built around the same time as the Duomo and which shares a few characteristics with Florence’s main church.

Just like Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Church of Santa Croce features a dazzling white marble facade with details in green and pink marble and white stone.

Inside the religious building, you can visit the tombs of some of the most important figures of the Renaissance, such as Michelangelo and Galileo.

Taste the local cuisine.

florentine steak cut to show beautiful rare cooking style

It is not possible to visit Florence and skip the most famous dish in town, the world-famous Fiorentina steak!

Although it can be a fairly expensive experience, the Fiorentina is adelicious meat cut served by the kilo and is worth every single cent you’ll pay for it.

It is often served with some of the local red wines that have made the whole region famous — Supertuscans and Chiantis, both of which are absolutely delicious!

If you’re on a budget and a Fiorentina is out of your league, don’t be discouraged!

The city has other staple dishes that will be equally rewarding: lampredotto is one of them, and can be a good thing to taste if you’re an adventurous eater.

This typical dish of the region is traditionally made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow.

This is then slow-cooked with plenty of herbs in a thick vegetable broth, seasoned with spices, chopped, and served in a hot bun with a variety of sauces or a small portion of fried onions.

Sample a cone of Florentine gelato.

hand holding a chocolate and vanilla two scoop gelato cone

After lunch, take an afternoon break with a delicious taste of gelato!

They say that the modern version of gelato, as we know it today, was created in Florence, so what better place in Italy to sample the country’s favorite afternoon treat?

The story goes that this creamy treat was first produced by the local alchemist Cosimo Ruggieri to please the Medici court back in the 16th century. It seems to have worked — gelato is now everywhere in Italy!

This unique form of ice cream is made using a higher percentage of milk than cream. It is also whipped only for a short amount of time, thus avoiding an excess of air in the gelato.

This, combined with the warmer serving temperature than ice cream, makes its flavor more pronounced and rich!

As expected, there are several gelaterias in town.

They not only serve typical gelati, but also fruit sorbets without any milk, which are both vegan and gluten-free.

Some of the best gelaterie in town are My Sugar close to theAccademia Gallery, Dei Neri, near the Uffizi Gallery, and Vivoli, the oldest gelateria in Florence, dating back from 1929, near Santa Croce church. 

Shop for fine leather products.

various colors of leather bound diaries and journals in a florence street stall

Florence is a perfect Italian destination to purchase refined leather bags, jackets, and shoes!

The region of Tuscany and Florence in particular, are known all over the world for their millennial leather tradition and craftsmanship.

In the area of Santa Croce Church, you will find several artisan leather shops and workshops where you can purchase fine quality leather products at affordable prices, especially considering the level of workmanship.

You can also find them at the outside stalls of the San Lorenzo Market.

These products are some of the best souvenirs from Florence that you can take home with you!

3 Day Florence Itinerary: Day 3 (Tuscany Day Trip)

view of a beautiful tuscan villa with tree lining road in the autumn

As we have mentioned before, you should devote the third day of your Florence itinerary to taking a Tuscany day trip.

Spend the day visiting the amazing vineyards in Tuscany, enjoying the local landscape, tasting delicious wines and learning about the local winemaking tradition.

You can also sample other Florentine delicacies as you move around the magnificent verdant fields of the region — eating well is never a challenge in Italy, after all, and this goes even more so for Florence!

I will suggest a Tuscany itinerary that you can either self-drive or take a guided tour of. If it’s your first time driving in Italy or you plan to drink, a guided tour is the better option.

When planning your day trip to Tuscany, bear in mind that driving in the Tuscan countryside surrounding Florence is not as stressful as it can be to drive in Milan or Rome.

side mirror of a car looking out onto the tuscan countryside

However, since the most important thing you will be doing today is sampling Florentine wines, joining an organized tour is a smart move to avoid the dangers of driving under the influence — as well as expensive fines on the road. 

Remember that drinking and driving are heavily fined in Italy, so having someone else do the driving while you enjoy the delicious Tuscan wines is nothing but the right thing to do.

If you agree with me, I highly recommend checking out this tour,which offers an excellent opportunity to visit some of the highlights in the region and to taste some of the most delicious Tuscan wines!

Book a guided tour bringing you on a day trip to Tuscany here!

First Stop: Siena

the beautiful hillside city of siena in the tuscany region

The best way to start the day is to head directly to Siena, an important medieval city in Italy where you can spend some time walking in the old district where a myriad of ancient terracotta roofs adds a pop of color to the whole landscape.

In Siena, take some time to discover the Cathedral of Siena (Duomo di Siena). The medieval church was built between 1215 and 1263 featuring an imposing dome and a bell tower. 

The dome, completed in 1264, has a famous lantern made by the artist Bernini. Inside the bell tower, there are some iron bells, the oldest of which dates back to 1149.

Some of the finest Italian artists of those times completed works in the black and white cathedral, which proudly features the colors of the city!

Second Stop: San Gimignano

the beautiful low hill town of san gimignano with the towers that it is famous for in tuscany

Located atop a low hill, San Gimignano is one of the most representative Tuscan towns dating back to the Middle Ages.

It’s home to some unique tower houses from that same period which have earned this town the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In San Gimignano, you can take some time to visit its traditional squares and ancient palaces, as well as the famous medieval skyscrapers.

The town hosts about a dozen of these tower houses as well as protective encircling walls, that shelter incredible churches and public buildings constructed both in Romanesque and Gothic styles.

When in San Gimignano, it is a good idea to taste its distinctive white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is produced from the Vernaccia grape variety, an ancient grape that is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the town!

Before heading to the last stop of this day trip, you can make a stop to explore a local wine state in the world-famous Chianti wine region.

Most wineries in the area offer wine tasting sessions paired with an informal lunch. This gives you the chance to sample some authentic farmhouse dishes that are so beloved in Tuscan cuisine.

Last Stop: Pisa

leaning tower of pisa and the church of pisa

Fairly close to Florence, it is only fair to end this day trip to the Tuscany region by visiting Pisa and, of course, the fantastic Leaning Tower of Pisa located in the heart of Piazza dei Miracoli. 

Here, it is also a good idea to spend some time exploring the Cathedral of Pisa, devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, not far from the Pisa Baptistry and Leaning Tower, which is — in fact — the campanile of this basilica.

The cathedral was built in the so-called Pisan Romanesque Architecture and it was completed in 1092, making it one of the older cathedrals in Italy.

Where to Go After Florence & Tuscany

If you have time to extend your trip, it’s quite easy, as Florence enjoys such a central location in Italy.

You can add on a few days in Rome before heading down to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, or you can go a bit off the beaten path to explore some of the charming towns of Umbria that are less-visited.

Alternately, you can head north to Milan, the Cinque Terre, and the Liguria region of Italy.

7 Best Tuscany Wine Tours from Florence: A Curated List

view of wine regions of florence's surrounding area of tuscany

If you’ve been planning your Italy trip for a while now or if you’re really into Italian food and wine, you’ve almost certainly heard about Tuscany and the impressive varieties of wines produced in the area.

Considered among the best wines in the world, Tuscany is a heavy-hitter in the world of Italian wines.

When spending time in Florence, do not miss the chance to try a sip (or thirty!) of the local vintages.

But planning a Tuscany wine tour on your own can be confusing.

For one, their websites aren’t exactly the most user-friendly, and language barriers when making calls to reserve tastings can be an issue.

For another, there are so many wineries spread out across such a wide region that it can be impossible to do without a car (which then begs the question — who has to drive?)

View of a road in Tuscany overlooking a vineyard

While you can certainly dedicate several days to exploring Tuscany (like I’ve outlined in this 5 day Tuscany itinerary), not everyone has that time in their schedule.

If time is short, going on a wine tour from Florence can be one of the better ways to explore the wine scene of Tuscany — and leave that car rental behind, so you can have a designated driver along the way, of course!

Here are some of the best Tuscan wine tours from Florence that are worth your time.

So be sure to save a day of your Florence itinerary pulling yourself away from its many museums, churches, and landmarks as you get to know its wine and gastronomy!

This is one of the best Florence day trips you can do, so make sure you save time for it.

If you want to experience both Florence and Tuscany, I suggest doing a day trip of the wineries from Florence, then chilling out in the Tuscan countryside and visiting some of its towns — perhaps staying in a pool villa like one of these ones!

This post was written by Gabi Ancarola, a travel blogger who lived in Italy for 10 years before moving to the island of Crete. In addition to blogging, Gabi is a licensed tour guide who organizes food and wine tours as well as sightseeing excursions. Enjoy her knowledge of Tuscany as well as her wine expertise here! This post was updated on September 15, 2023 to ensure all the tours are active.

Our Top 3 Picks for Tuscany Wine Tours from Florence

#1 TOP PICK

Two glasses of wine overlooking fields and vineyards in Tuscany

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Tuscany Wine & Food Tour with Guide
✔️ Three traditional Tuscan wineries
✔️ Authentic Tuscan lunch plus olive oil and balsamic tastings

↳ Book it

#2 PICK

backroads of tuscany in a small cute car

Vintage Fiat Tuscan Winery Tour
✔️ Get driven through Tuscan backroads in a vintage Fiat 500
✔️ One winery visit with tasting, Tuscan lunch, and olive oil tastings

↳ Book it

#3 PICK

vineyards in tuscany with a winery house on the hill

Chianti Wineries Tour
✔️ Two wineries in Chianti
✔️ Snacks of cheese, bread, salumi, and olive oil

↳ Book it

 Wines of Tuscany

Two wine barrels on the hill in Tuscany, a popular place to go on a wine tour from Florence

 Before we get into all the best wine tours from Florence, let’s brush up a bit on the wines you can expect to see on a trip through Tuscany.

Here’s a quick glimpse into some of local varietals and historical background that define Florence’s refined wine panorama.

 As you may have already read about in my article about Florence, the city has a long, remarkable history spanning from the Roman Empire well into modern times.

Vineyards were planted in the region as far back as Ancient Roman times.

However, it was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, in the surrounding fields of Florence (what today is the region of Tuscan wine country), that winemaking became a solid and storied tradition.

As years went by, it eventually evolved into a prestigious industry and a trademark of the region.

Florence was not only the cradle of the Renaissance with its plethora of churches, palaces, and culturally significant paintings and sculptures.

It was also the birthplace of the noble Sangiovese grape, one of the most famous varietals in Italy.

Blueish purple Sangiovese grapes seen on a pallet in Italy

The Sangiovese grape has grown for centuries on the lush rolling hills of the region, populated by hundreds of vineyards and olive groves.

There are several wine areas in Tuscany. The most famous of all is Chianti, also classified as the oldest wine region in the world.

Some other important wines you will be able to try in the area are the magnificent Chianti Classico, the Nobile di Montepulciano, and the Brunello di Montalcino.

You can also learn all about the Super-Tuscan wines while sipping your way through the scenic local vineyards.

It’s a bit of a crash course in wine education, with thankfully no test at the end.. though you will likely crash after your wine tasting tour!

Chianti Region

Rows of vineyards and fields in the Chianti region of Italy with a winery situated in the middle of it on a summery day

 Arguably the most important, famous, and remarkable wine region in the country, the boundaries of Chianti were defined back in the 16th century by the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

 Amongst its beautiful green hills, dozens of vineyards give life to Sangiovese, a grape variety that offers all the favorite characteristics of a red wine: boldness, fruitiness, and structured tannins.

Head here to visit several important wineries, taste a glass or two of the spectacular Chianti Classico, and be amazed at the gorgeous views and soft magical light of this quaint area.

You simply can’t miss doing a Chianti wine tour while you’re in the region. 

Montepulciano

Rows upon rows of vineyards, trees, and wineries in the hills of Montepulciano region of Tuscany

 Known for its Nobile di Montepulciano (which should not be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a well-known wine from another Italian region), Montepulciano is a red DOC wine.

It is not a single varietal but rather a blend. It is primarily made from Sangiovese grapes blended with Canaiolo Nero and other grape varieties.

This full potential of this wine benefits from at least one year in a barrel and a total of two aging years (three aging years make it a Riserva wine). 

Montalcino

Rows of grapes in a vineyard with a stone wine house nearby in the area of Montalcino, Italy in Tuscan wine region.

Moving along towards the province of Siena, Montalcino is a beautiful medieval hill town as well as another impressive wine region of Italy. 

Montalcino is the place where one of Tuscany’s best aging wines, Brunello di Montalcino, is made. It typically requires a minimum of two years in a barrel. 

The Super Tuscans

A Super Tuscan wine being poured into a clear wine glass

Although Chianti is usually the first wine that comes to mind when thinking about Tuscany, the area has been growing a name and reputation for a different type of wine… one that wasn’t always so respected, known as the Super Tuscans. 

But what even is a Super Tuscan?

A Super Tuscan is a style of wine more fruity and powerful than Chianti.

It blends popular international grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, with local varietals like Sangiovese.

The result is a wine with lower acidity while maintaining French oak flavors (vs. Chianti, which requires aging in Slovenian oak casks) and robust tannins. 

These slightly rebellious wines (considered DOC rule-breakers), are now known as part of the category IGT (which can be roughly translated as Typical Geographic Indication).

They have become a prestigious category of their own, often competing with renowned Italian varietals and even wines from prestigious French vineyards!

Independent Wine Tasting or Wine Tours from Florence?

View of vineyards and a winery as seen from a vantage point further away with Tuscan hills in the background

 It’s hard to go wrong renting a car in Tuscany and driving your way through the inspiring Tuscany hills — you’ll undoubtedly get lost once or twice, not that you’ll mind with the views.

However, you won’t always have enough time to visit many places on your own, and – more importantly – drinking and driving are heavily fined in Italy, for good reason.

 The best piece of advice that I can give you is to join one of the many wine tours, which allows you to visit multiple wineries and old towns in a single day on one of these easy Tuscany wine tours from Florence.

A guided tour may not sound as romantic as zipping from winery to winery on the back of a Vespa or in your own little Fiat… but it’s easier, more convenient, and a lot safer.

This way, you’ll be able to taste as many wines as you want without being unsafe when it comes to driving back to your hotel when the day is over… or making an unlucky person in your travel party the designated driver! 

Pro Tip: If you do decide to rent a car in Tuscany and have a designated driver plan in place, I suggest booking your rental car through Discover Cars — they search over 500 car rental companies, including smaller local ones, to find the best price for your rental!

Best Wine Tours from Florence

Two empty wine glasses overlooking rows of grapes on a vineyard in Tuscany

According to your taste, your budget, and the available time you have, you can choose whatever tour from Florence best suits your style.

You’ll find everything from full-day tours with a visit to a medieval town, brief sampling tours, vineyard tours, and even tours with visits to two or three wineries in a day with a three-course meal included! 

All these Tuscan wine tours include pick up, drop-off, a tour guide to teach you all about the wines of Tuscany, and of course… samples of several different wines included!

  • Best Budget Wine Tour: Chianti Wineries Tour with Food & Wine Tasting from Florence is a half-day experience that takes you to two wineries in the Chianti Hills. 

    During the trip, you will meet local winemakers, walk through stunning vineyards, and sample local wines and other gastronomic goodies such as cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Book your Chianti wine tour here!

A bottle of Chianti on a barrel with an empty wine glass overlooking the rest of Tuscan countryside
  • Best Small Group Tour: Tuscany Wine & Food Tour with Guide from Florence is an intimate experience that takes you to visit three wine estates and their wine cellars and taste several wines as well as local olive oil and high quality balsamic vinegar. 

    After, you will enjoy a fresh lunch of authentic Tuscan specialties and visit not only the idyllic Tuscan hills and vineyards, but also lesser-known Tuscan villages.

Book your small group tour here!

small taste of red wine standing on the table, blurry vineyard behind it
  • Best Wine Tour for Younger Travelers: Tuscany Wine Tasting Full-Day Trip from Florence is a full-day wine tour to the Tuscan countryside, open to all ages but particularly geared toward independent travelers aged 18-35. 

    During the day you can socialize with other travelers while exploring the beautiful Chianti landscape and sampling delicious traditional wines.

     This is a fun experience, with stops at the medieval walled hill town of San Gimignano as well as a wine tasting school to learn how to recognize different flavors and develop your palate so you can be the wine snob you’ve always wanted to be!

Book your guided tour of Tuscany’s wines here! 

scenery of a Tuscan hill town outside of san Gimignano as well as wineries and vineyards
  • Most Scenic Tour of Tuscany: Wine Tasting and Tuscan Lunch in a Vintage Fiat 500 is a perfect experience for Instagram fans eager to surprise their followers with amazing vintage photos, but it’s also perfect if you just love old-school cars and wine! 

    On this half-day tour you’ll join a colorful convoy of vintage cars winding through Florence and rural Tuscany, and head to a fifteenth-century villa and vineyard for fine wine and an olive oil tasting paired with a lunch of Italian delicacies. It’s a unique experience you won’t forget!

Book your Fiat tour of Tuscan wineries here!

red vintage fiat next to a door in Tuscany italy
  • Best Evening Tour with Dinner: Wine Tasting and Dinner in the Vineyards of Chianti is a trip that lets you get lost in a romantic setting right during sunset, soaking in some of the most unforgettable scenes of your Italian experience.

    The excursion includes a wine tasting in a winery, a visit to the farm’s historic chapel, and ends with a memorable Tuscan dinner in the vineyards.

Book your evening wine tour with dinner here!

sunset over a vineyard in Tuscany italy for a romantic tasting and dinner experience
  • Best Tour Combining History and Sights: Chianti and Castles Tour with Wine Tastings does not depart from Florence, but rather from Siena, a city that you can easily reach from Florence by train or bus.

    I’ve decided to include this tour even with its different departure point as it is a real value-for-money experience. 

    The tour starts with the opportunity to explore the gardens of the Brolio Castle and visit the Castellina in Chianti.

    Next up, you will go for a wine tasting experience at a wine estate that includes Chianti and Super Tuscan wines, all paired with a delicious meal of typical Tuscan food. You will also visit ancient churches and small villages where the rhythm of life has remained unchanged over time.

    Finally, you will visit another winery in the middle of the Chianti Classico area, where you’ll have a second optional wine tasting as well as an extra virgin olive oil tasting.

Book your castles and winery tour here!

the remnants of brolio castle in Tuscany and the vineyards surrounding it which you can visit on a wine tour in Tuscany
  • Best Wine Tasting Safari: Chianti Wine & Food Safari is a 10-hour Tuscany wine tour that combines adventure and delicious Tuscan wines. Buckle up for this unique comprehensive introduction to the region and its wines while touring two of its best wine estates.

    Sample the winery’s signature wines and receive tips about the art of wine tasting and pairing wine with food. Tastings also include the sampling of cheese and olive oil. 

    Here’s the safari part: you’ll actually go off-roading through ancient woodland and rolling hills dotted with rustic farms and churches as you make your way to a typical Tuscan restaurant with stunning views. 

    To visit the final wine estate, you go even deeper into the Chianti hills while enjoying the incredible countryside on your way to a Chianti Classico vineyard.

    The final stop is in the village of Greve, where you will have free time to wind down, have an espresso or simply wander the traditional alleyways.

Book your wine tasting safari here!

Wine Tasting in Florence

hands holding wine glasses with a plate of cheese and dried fruit behind the people

 If you have limited time in Florence and are not able to visit the rural Tuscany region, it does not mean you cannot taste the local wines.

The city is full of gorgeous bars, wine shops, and enoteche (wine bars) where tasting Tuscan wines is super easy.

Head to one of the many wine bars in the center of Florence to sample some good Tuscan varieties.

Here are some of the best-known wine bars where you can enjoy wine tasting without leaving the city:

Le Volpi e LUva: This is a very famous wine bar in Florence, also serving stunning local dishes. They have a good choice of Tuscan wines on their wine list, available by the glass or by the bottle. If you have no idea what to taste, ask the sommelier for a suggestion! The staff is approachable and knowledgeable and will offer sensible advice.

Enoteca Marconcini: If you’re visiting the Marketplace area, then head to this enoteca for an impeccable local wine experience. Do not be deceived by its tiny size – this place features an extensive wine list. You can also indulge in local charcuterie and cheese during your tasting.

Pitti Gola e Cantina: Another picturesque wine shop right opposite Pitti Palace, in the Oltrarno district. Here you can taste wine by the glass and purchase a bottle to take back home with you. If you’re looking for a complete experience, check out their wine tasting combined with a lunch menu.

While you’re exploring, don’t forget to sample some of the other delicious products that Tuscany is known for, including extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

You’ll find the local varieties on display throughout most of Florence’s shops and restaurants!

Italian Wine Words to Remember

glass of wine with tuscan countryside in the background

 There are a few Italian wine-related words that you’ll often hear during the tours even when they are conducted in English.

These words help to define the wines you will taste and the land you will visit.

So keep them at the ready in your mind and impress yourself, if no one else!

Vino bianco: white wine

Vino rosso: red wine

Vino rosato: rose wine

Dolce: sweet

Secco: dry

Vino amabile: semisweet

Vino frizzante: slightly sparkling wine, fizzy

Spumante: sparkling wine

Riserva: a wine aged longer than usual 

Bollicine: bubbles

Cantina: both the cellar and the winery

Azienda vinicola: wine estate

Vigna: vineyard

Annata: vintage year

Calice: wine glass (also known as bicchiere, a plain glass)

Cavatappi: corkscrew or bottle opener

Bottiglia: bottle

Etichetta: label

Tappo: cork, closure, cork cap

Sughero: cork, the material

Degustazione: tasting

Salute/chin chin: cheers! 

Are you ready for a tasty wine tour in Florence? You won’t regret a drop of it!

How to Spend Two Days in Cinque Terre: Itinerary for 2023

Imagine picturesque seaside villages with cobblestone alleys filled with fragrant flowers and colorful tiny homes — all with some of the best food you can dream up.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s anything but: the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cinque Terre, in the Italian region of Liguria is where you’ll find all this and so much more.

These five old fishing towns perched along the coast of the Italian Riviera are best visited by walking along the ancient system of footpaths, which take winding paths through the mountains that bring you from one village to the other.

the beautiful harbor of manarola as seen from above with colorful houses and blue waters

Over the centuries, the beautiful landscape of the coastal region has been shaped by the different terraces carved into these seaside towns.

These terraces were carefully built in order to cultivate grapes and olives on the steep lands facing the Mediterranean Sea, and beautiful colorful houses came to accompany them, creating a truly magical landscape.

This post was written by Gabi Ancarola, a full-time travel blogger and writer who currently lives in Crete (and blogs about it here), but spent over a decade living in Italy (Milan) and traveling all around the country.

In this post, she will share all her local insight from her many years traveling Italy in order to show you how to spend a two-day Cinque Terre itinerary -- and how to make the most of your time visiting Cinque Terre.

Where Is Cinque Terre?

pretty pink flowers in the foreground, overlooking a village on the hillside with boats an da small marina, and another larger boat out on the water

The Cinque Terre (literally translating as Five Lands) is a ravishing coastal area in Liguria, on the northwest of Italy facing the Ligurian Sea.

This is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and it features highly on nearly every traveler’s bucket list!

The five villages of Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

The villages as well as the surrounding hillsides and the coastal area belong to the Cinque Terre National Park, which is why the natural landscape is so beautifully preserved in this part of Italy.

How to Move Around in Cinque Terre

a man in shorts with walking sticks hiking along the path on the edge of the hillside near the ligurian sea in the cinque terre part of italy

The villages of the Cinque Terre teeter over the manmade terraces that were built on the rugged landscape up the steep hills facing the sea.

The five villages are linked via hiking trails, train, and boat trips — there are no cars in all of the Cinque Terre, so if you’ve rented a car in Italy, you’ll need to leave that behind.

Although the best way to discover the area is on foot, you can also explore the little towns by train or boat.

If you go by foot, you’ll travel along the Sentiero Azzurro, which means the Blue Trail, named for the stunning ocean views you’ll be admiring the entire time!

Planning Your Cinque Terre Itinerary

view of the town of la spezia which is the main gateway to cinque terre - view of the buildings of downtown and the harbor and marina and water

The best way to reach the Cinque Terre is by train from either La Spezia or Levanto, since they are all connected to the train line that runs between the Cinque Terre villages.

Genoa (Genova) is also another popular place to start, as it offers more alternatives when it comes to train connections and accommodation.

However, it is further away and not directly connected to the main Levanto —> Cinque Terre —> La Spezia train line, so you will have to take two trains.

I don’t recommend basing yourself there while you visit the Cinque Terre itself, though it makes a good place to visit either before or after your time in Cinque Terre.

Since La Spezia is the closest large city to Cinque Terre, it makes it the best solution to start your journey, as it’s located on the south end of the seaside villages.

Levanto is another great option for starting your Cinque Terre visit, and it’s an adorable seaside town in its own right, but it’s a little smaller than La Spezia and has fewer accommodation options.

the seaside town of levanto with an old castle and church and some beach

If you plan to travel by train ride, there is a train which runs between Levanto and La Spezia, making stops in each of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. You can check out the timetable online here.

No matter which village you choose to start your Cinque Terre itinerary from, the best way to go about the Cinque Terre is to move along the coast following the villages in order.

You can start your journey in the northern or southern villages, depending on whether you start in Levanto (on the north side) or La Spezia (on the south side) and move along the coast visiting one settlement after the other.

Note that if you are hiking between the towns in the high season (any time between April and October), you will need to buy a Cinque Terre Card.

As of 2022, it costs 7.50 euro for a day pass (which you can buy at the entrance to the trail) or 18.20 euro a day for the Cinque Terre Card that also includes train usage.

For a two day ticket, which would make the most sense for this Cinque Terre itinerary, it costs 14.50 for a trekking-only ticket or 33 euro for a trekking and train ticket.

You can check up-to-date ticket prices and more details on the official website here.

If you are visiting in between November 1 to March 30, the hiking trails are free and you can just buy individual train tickets as needed, which are just about 2.50 euro per one-way ticket, and therefore a Cinque Terre Train card is not really necessary.

Which is the Best Town to Stay in the Cinque Terre?

the charming town of corniglia as seen perched above the water's edge on the cliffside

I have a full guide to where to stay in Cinque Terre here, but you can also keep reading for my personal perspective.

Staying one night in the center of the coastal region in the village of Corniglia allows you to divide your Cinque Terre itinerary into equal parts.

If you do this, I recommend staying in a hotel in Levanto or La Spezia beforehand, and seeing if you can leave your luggage in the hotel while you travel the Cinque Terre with just what you need for an overnight.

It allows you to devote one day to the northern villages of Monterosso and Vernazza, and the second day to the southern villages of Manarola and Riomaggiore.

If you’re traveling from La Spezia, the first village you will reach is Riomaggiore.

view of the harbor of riomaggiore in the cinque terre region with boats and colorful buildings and the sea

Probably not as picturesque as Manarola or Corniglia, it is nevertheless a good place to stay because there are plenty of accommodation choices, places to eat, and entertainment. 

Another alternative is Manarola, arguably the most beautiful of the five villages.

Keep in mind that this comes at a price: Manarola is often overcrowded, finding accommodation is not as easy, and prices tend to be quite high.

the town of manarola at sunset with beautiful colors on the horizon and the town washed in golden light with colorful houses

Corniglia is another alternative, although not the easiest one of all. The town is hard to access as it lies perched upon a hill, while the train station is below.

As a consequence, reaching the town needs to be done on foot (that means climbing over 300 steps), or by bus.

Despite this minor flaw, I suggest you consider a stay in Corniglia because it is located right at the center of the Cinque Terre, allowing you to organize the visits to the other four villages more easily.

Next on the coast comes Vernazza, also beautiful and charming, not as crowded as Manarola and a great alternative for accommodation as well.

beautiful views of vernazza with its harbor area and tower and colorful buildings on the mediterranean coastline

Finally, Monterosso al Mare offers easy access with less flocks of stairs. Monterosso is also a good place for entertainment, local cuisine, and the best beaches in Cinque Terre. 

It is a good and more affordable alternative to stay in La Spezia and discover the different villages by train. 

This itinerary for Cinque Terre starts in the northernmost village of Monterosso al Mare and ends in Riomaggiore, and combines a mix of hiking and train/bus/boat travel.

Accommodation Recommendations for Each Town in Cinque Terre

view of the town of corniglia as seen through the open windows of a hotel room

There are an absurd amount of options for where to stay in Cinque Terre.

After all, there are five towns in Cinque Terre and two towns bookending it with easy train access to all the villages.

Normally I give a lot of detail about each hotel option but at the risk of this Cinque Terre itinerary becoming a million words long, I’ll just quickly list the best options in a few words for each.

These are listed in from north to south. Levanto and La Spezia will be the cheapest options because they are not in Cinque Terre proper but offer easy access via the train.

LEVANTO | Affittacamere Il Borgo (beachfront, easy walk to the train) or Park Hotel Argento (high luxury with pool, sauna, spa, and Turkish baths)

MONTEROSSO AL MARE | Piccolo Principe Affittacamere (charming boutique guesthouse) or Zia Letizia Bed and Wine (lovely hotel near the best beach in Cinque Terre)

VERNAZZA | Candidina (best view in all of Vernazza!) or MADA Charm Apartments (large suite-type apartments with kitchens and bathtubs, central location)

CORNIGLIA | AMARE IL MARE Affittacamere (beautiful terrace and boutique design in an apartment-style accommodation) or Residenza Solferino (two-story apartment rental in heart of Corniglia)

MANAROLA | Arpaiu (modern minimalistic design hotel with stunning terrace views) or La Torretta Lodge (high luxury suites with in-room hot tubs and sweeping terraces in a converted medieval tower)

RIOMAGGIORE | Giadere Penthouse (great views from a top-floor apartment) or Agave Room Rental (cute design hotel with great views and a lovely hot tub)

LA SPEZIA | Affittacamere Casa Dane’ (sustainable, affordable boutique hotel 350 feet from the train station) or The Poet Hotel (hip and modern hotel in the heart of town)

Things to Know Before Visiting Cinque Terre

Hiking trail leading to one of the cute towns of CInque Terre at the end of the trail

Hiking Passes: To hike the Blue Path (SVA or 592 path) it is necessary to purchase the Cinque Terre Card. You can choose between two different passes that also allow you to access other services:

  • Cinque Terre Trekking Card: Access to Blue Path and local shuttle buses (1-day pass: €7.50, 2-day pass: €14.50)
  • Cinque Terre Treno Card: Access to the Blue Path, the buses, and train travel between the villages (1-day pass: €18.20, 2-day pass: €33.00)

When to Visit: If you are trying to visit Cinque Terre on a budget, avoid the crowds during the summer. If you can, visiting right before summer (late May) or in September. During these months you will also find better prices for accommodation and food. However, avoid the real off-season: winter is not the best time due to heavy rains and potential for landslides.

Day 1 of Your Cinque Terre Itinerary: Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza

Take the train to Monterosso al Mare.

Morning light in Monterosso al Mare the northernmost town in the CInque terre

Start your first day in Cinque Terre early by taking a morning train from La Spezia or Levanto to Monterosso al Mare.

Even from La Spezia, which is the furthest point away, the ride is only 20 minutes!

Monterosso al Mare is the village on the northernmost extreme of the Cinque Terre, so it makes the perfect place to start your Cinque Terre itinerary.

It is one of the most visited villages of the five, attracting tourists for its gorgeous beach, especially in late spring and summer.

If timing is not a limit, or if you love sunbathing and swimming, you could easily spend a day in this village alone!

Monterosso al Mare is also a great starting point for hiking. Stop at the tourist office (look for a brown sign marked with an “i”) to check if there are closed hiking paths. This is not uncommon as the area is prone to landslides due to the abundant winter rains!

However, since you only have two days in Cinque Terre, you’ll have to restrain yourself and make the most of your time, so we’ll offer an abbreviated suggestion for what to do in Monterosso.

Explore the charming village of Monterosso al Mare.

colorful houses with painted shutters in the town in monterosso al mare

Located on the hills with plenty of lemon trees, olives, and vineyards, Monterosso in the largest of the five towns of the Cinque Terre.

The town is divided into a modern, more vibrant and touristic part, Fegina. The landmark of Fegina is the famous Giant, a statue of Neptune that is a symbol of the town.

The older town features the ruins of an ancient castle, typical winding medieval roads (locally known as carruggi) and colorful houses.

Spend some time on the beach at Spiaggia Fegina or take a kayaking tour.

the famous beach of spiaggina fegina in monterosso al mare with the telltale orange and teal umbrellas

Monterosso is best-known for its amazing beach, Spiaggia Fegina — the largest sandy beach in Cinque Terre — whose crystal clear waters features unique reefs, perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

Spiaggia Fegina gets really crowded, and while there is a small section of free beach access you can enjoy, you’ll likely need to rent an umbrella and chairs at a lido in order to have a space.

If you’ve ever seen those iconic teal and orange striped umbrellas on the beaches of Cinque Terre — that’s exactly what I’m talking about!

It costs about 30 euro for an umbrella and two chairs, and you’ll still want to show up early. I recommend doing this early in the morning so you can enjoy it before it gets too hot.

If you prefer a more active way of exploring the area around Monterosso, with scenic views of the villages of Cinque Terre up above you, I highly recommend this kayaking tour.

It departs from Monterosso at 10:30 AM and lasts three hours as you kayak past Vernazza and Corniglia and head back, with the pastel buildings perched atop the cliffs contrasting beautifully against the turquoise sea.

Book your Cinque Terre kayaking tour here!

Wander around the Old Village of Monterosso.

views over monterosso al mare

Before heading to the next village via the Blue Trail, take some time to walk around the Old Village of Monterosso.

The town square with its souvenir shops are a charming place to take photos, and you can also visit the ruins of the ancient Castle of Monterosso.

It’s more ruins by now than a proper castle, but it’s still a fantastic place to visit, not least for its spectacular sea views!

Grab lunch before your hike.

trofie pasta a very famous pasta in liguria and the cinque terre made with handmare pasta and pesto

Before you head to Vernazza, you’ll probably want to grab a hearty and delicious lunch to prepare you for your hike!

For a quick bite so you can continue your sightseeing, stop at Il Frantoio for delicious pizzas made atop focaccia bread — they’re famous for their pesto and tomato one, and their stracchino cheese one is also a favorite.

If you prefer a sit-down lunch, another great option is Da Eraldo, an unfussy trattoria specializing in seafood (as well as pasta) on a cute little piazza off the main street up through town.

Hike to Vernazza.

hiking to vernazza town in cinque terre

Once you’ve wandered around the old town of Monterosso, head towards the departure point for the Blue Trail and start hiking to Vernazza.

There are plenty of signs that indicate the way, so don’t worry about getting lost — it’s virtually impossible in this town! 

The hike towards Vernazza is rated as moderate on AllTrails, 2.2 miles (3.5 km) with about 688 feet of elevation gain along the way.

The hike takes about 2 hours at a slow pace and considering the uneven rocky portions along the path but also a few stops to admire the landscape, take pictures, and take a rest.

You will begin the trail climbing a steep stairway, but it will soon turn into a flat path with fantastic sea views.

This trail is pretty unshaded, and you’ll likely be hiking in the middle of the day, so be sure to wear plenty of sunblock, a sunhat, and bring along plenty of water.

Explore the beautiful village of Vernazza.

the colorful town of vernazza in liguria with beautiful houses and sea in the distance

Your next stop is Vernazza, one of the most breathtaking villages in all of the Cinque Terre, with an old town founded back in the year 1000 AD.

As a result, this charming seaside town is home to a medieval castle, Castello Belforte, which was built mostly to prevent the village from pirate sieges!

Vernazza features a myriad of gorgeous pastel houses, a charming port, and a picturesque small beach called Vernazza Port Beach.

If you want, you can visit a more private and secluded beach, called Vernazza Beach, which hidden from the main town area.

You can reach it after passing under a small bridge, but note that this is a rocky beach so you’ll want to have water shoes for this type of beach. It’s better for a quick dip than a relaxing beach lay-out.

Hike or take the train to Corniglia.

views that you see of the ligurian sea on the way to corniglia

Around mid afternoon, get back on the trail to reach Corniglia, the place where I recommend you spend the night.

You will find the access path that puts you back on the Blue Trail in the center of Vernazza, which is well sign-posted.

If you hike, it’s another moderate trail, similar in difficulty to the hike between Monterosso and Vernazza.

As per AllTrails, the hike is 2.1 miles long (4 km) with 501 feet of elevation gain, and it should take no more than two leisurely hours allowing for rests and to take photos, though most people complete it in about an hour and 15 minutes.

The hike from Vernazza to Corniglia is even more beautiful than the one from Monterosso to Vernazza, offering even better views of the sea and the villages below.

Vineyards and olive groves alternate along the way adding an extra touch of green to the scene. If you’re doing this part of the trail in summer, pack enough water as the trail is steep and can be more tiring in hot weather!

As an alternative, you can take the train to Corniglia if you don’t feel like hiking any further or if it’s gotten too late to hike safely; bear in mind that you cannot reach Corniglia by boat as it is a clifftop village with no sea access.

If you are not staying in Corniglia: Organize your routine accordingly if you are going back to La Spezia/Levanto to spend the night. You can choose to either hike to Corniglia for dinner and then to La Spezia or Levanto to spend the night at your accommodation by train.

Alternately, you can go back to La Spezia or Levanto directly from Vernazza and start your second day in Corniglia.

Have dinner and explore a bit of Corniglia.

view of the climb up from the base of the train station to upper corniglia

You will arrive in Corniglia late in the afternoon or early evening, probably tired if you have hiked all the way from Monterosso!

I suggest you head directly to the hotel, have a shower, and take a rest before going out for dinner.

Corniglia is located about a hundred meters above the sea and it cannot be accessed with a boat (it’s the only village that can’t). If you walked along the Blue Trail, then you will not need to climb or walk any further.

However, if you traveled from Vernazza by train, you need to know that the train station is close to the sea… so reaching the village can only be done after climbing the more than 300 steps that take you up the hill! 

The path is known as Lardarina and it features exactly 377 steps — but don’t worry, if you’ve come by train and feel too tired to climb the stairs that take you to the village, you can use the local bus shuttle!

Note about the shuttle bus: There are 2 to 3 buses departing per hour from Corniglia train station and that reach the center of town on the top of the hill. Most people opt to take the bus instead of climbing the trail, so the service can be disorganized and overcrowded.

The main trait of this ancient Roman village is its important agricultural tradition which makes it more similar to a rural mountain village than to a coastal settlement, unlike the other villages of the Cinque Terre, which have strong fishing village traditions.

With awe-inspiring vistas over the sea, there are tons of great restaurants with stellar views to dine at. Even though it is not as popular to visit as other Cinque Terre villages, you will still find some very good restaurants for dinner!

If you’re a wine lover, then check some of the wine bars in town and ask to be served some of the local labels. There is nothing more refreshing than a glass of chilled white Ligurian wine after a tiring day hiking the coastal path of the Cinque Terre!

The Cinque Terre is a designated DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) which only produces white wine that is a delicious blend of three main grape varietals: Bosco (must be at least 40%), as well as Albarola and Vermentino.

The wines of the Cinque Terre are simple but intense with persistent aromas, typical of a coastal town where the sea breeze play an important role in the grape production.

Day 2 of Your Cinque Terre Itinerary: Manarola and Riomaggiore

Decide your day’s itinerary.

charming colorful buildings in the town of manarola

Get an early start on this second day if you want to check out Corniglia in the morning light a bit before heading to the next destination, Manarola.

Unfortunately, due to some heavy mudslides, the path between Corniglia and Manarola is currently closed as of the time of writing (April 5, 2022) as per the national park website.

Therefore, you will need to descend towards the sea and board the train to Manarola, or you can also take an alternate route for hiking if you are really ambitious!

Hiking Bypass: Although the Blue Path is closed, there is another way to get to Manarola hiking, ascending through alternative paths. For instance, it is possible to go from Corniglia to the town of Volastra.

From there, you can descend about 10,000 steps to Manarola. Both the way up and the way down are very steep and strenuous, so it’s only recommended for very experienced hikers! Read more about it here; you will need to take the following three trails: 506, 586, and 587, which you can see on the trail map here.

Keep in Mind: Manarola is probably the most gorgeous and romantic of all the villages in the Cinque Terre, and although this makes for stunning photo opportunities, it is also the reason why it gets crowded and waiting in line is practically the rule for everything!

It is a good idea to reach Manarola as early as possible to avoid hordes of tourists, or, even better, you can skip Manarola and travel directly to Riomaggiore to spend most of the day at Riomaggiore’s beach.

Then you can head back to Manarola before sunset: the vistas are spectacular, and most tourists have already reached either Riomaggiore or Corniglia.

We’re going to outline an itinerary that puts Manarola first, but know that you can do the itinerary either way depending where you want to catch the sunset!

Visit the charming village of Manarola.

charming pink, yellow and orange street in manarola with vineyards behind the street

The village of Manarola stands more than 200 feet (about 70 meters) above the sea, with stunning views nearly everywhere you look.

Its tiny harbor has a boat ramp allowing easy access to boat tours that depart from this area if you want to take a short little excursion to give you a view of the village from sea level.

Manarola also has a small piazza with plenty of restaurants and cafes. That classic view of the picturesque multicolored houses facing the sea are the most iconic view you’ll see: it’s what you likely think of when you think of the Cinque Terre!

In the upper part of Manarola, you can visit the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, which has a remarkable bell tower that served in the past as a watch tower to protect the town against pirate attacks.

If you love to snorkel, it’s a great bonus that Manarola offers some of the best snorkeling experiences in Cinque Terre, specifically at Back Manarola Beach.

Another characteristic trait of Manarola are the steep alleys (carruggi) that lead from the town to the sea, making for gorgeous walks down to the sea.

When in Manarola, take some time to explore the narrow alleys, enjoy lunch in a trattoria with an amazing view.

Be sure to taste the delicious pasta al pesto typical of Liguria (best served with local hand-rolled trofie pasta).

And of course, indulge in some gelato from one of the many gelaterias after lunch before you head towards Riomaggiore! 

Remember: Manarola is a more picturesque village than Riomaggiore, so don’t rush to leave! Make the most of Manarola, as it’s perhaps the most beautiful of the five Cinque Terre towns, and take your time.

the beautiful harbor of manarola as seen from above with colorful houses and blue waters

Normally, the section of the hike between Manarola and Riomaggiore is rather easy, along the Lovers’ Lane (Via dell’Amore) which brings you over the rocks along the seaside in an easy 40 minute walk that is less than a mile (about 1.5 km).

However, the landslides that took out the previous portion of the hike also affected the Via dell’Amore and this trail likely won’t reopen until 2024.

You can still hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore, but just via the old hiking path that used to connect these two villages, which is a lot more difficult.

You can hike via Route 531 which is still only 0.9 miles or 1.5 km, but involves a pretty steep climb of 650 feet (200 meters) between the two villages, and it’s a fairly strenuous trail only recommended for experienced hikers.

Sounds a little too intense? You can easily reach Riomaggiore by train if you are tired. A boat is also a romantic alternative!

Spend the rest of the day in Riomaggiore.

colors of many different buildings in riomaggiore and rocky cliffs

When in Riomaggiore, devote some time to explore the coastal area. This is the most picturesque part of the village, with its stone houses with colorful facades and characteristic roofs perched on the slopes of the hill.

In fact, the town climbs up overlooking the sea making it a wonderful location that rewards you with incredible picture-perfect views!

There is a pebble beach a bit of a walk away from the town that you can enjoy a refreshing tip in — just remember to bring those water shoes, as the pebbles are not the most comfortable thing to walk on!

Prefer a Guided Experience? 

blue waters, boat, and colorful houses typical of cinque terre on a sunny day, with laundry out on a line

There are several ways to visit Cinque Terre with a guide — either on a private tour or on a small group tour — if you prefer having people do the legwork for you in terms of planning so you can just enjoy.

These tend to be day trips, so you can combine a tour of the Cinque Terre with some experiences in La Spezia, which has the most excursion options.

PRIVATE | Take Walks offers a wonderful 6-hour day private day tour of Cinque Terre departing from La Spezia — perfect if you want to explore Cinque Terre at your own pace, customized to your own travel tastes.

Book your private tour online here!

SMALL GROUP BOAT TOUR | If you want to combine sightseeing on foot with sightseeing from a boat, this small group boat tour is one of the most scenic ways to see Cinque Terre… without all the hiking! It departs from La Spezia and covers all five villages, as well as Porto Venere — plus places only accessible by boat!

Book your small group boat tour online here!

CRUISE EXCURSION TOUR | If you’re taking a cruise that stops in La Spezia, this option is a great way to see the Cinque Terre on a budget. The group will be larger, but the price is hard to beat! It includes a guide, train tickets, and even a limoncino tasting (the Cinque Terre’s spin on limoncello)!

Book your 8-hour shore excursion tour of Cinque Terre here

Can You Take a Day Trip to Cinque Terre?

taking a day trip to cinque terre is possible but it will be rushed!

As this itinerary for Cinque Terre suggests, two days in Cinque Terre is much better if you can swing it on your Italy itinerary!

But if you only have a short amount of time, there are guided day tours of Cinque Terre that leaves from popular Italian destinations.

This popular day tour leaves from Florence and includes time in all five villages.

After leaving Florence, you’ll arrive in Cinque Terre and begin your whirlwind tour.

You’ll start in Manarola, then go to Corniglia, where you’ll have the option to hike from Corniglia to Vernazza or take the train.

Then you’ll have time in Monterosso (with a boat tour if weather allows) before finishing the tour in Riomaggiore before heading back to Florence via private transportation.

Book your day tour from Florence here!

You can also book a similar itinerary from Milan or from Pisa.

These tours will allow you to get a good overview of Cinque Terre if you have limited time, but frankly, spending two days in Cinque Terre independently is a much better option if you can!

What to Pack For Cinque Terre

Comfortable hiking shoes: You are not allowed to hike in flip flops. And honestly, you would find it too hard and steep for flip flops! Pack comfy hiking shoes or hiking sandals in summer. (I love these cute red & brown hiking boots from Danner or these surprisingly cute hiking sandals from KEEN)

Refillable water bottle (or a water bladder backpack if you’re hiking a lot): Remember to carry water with you at all times. A good refillable water bottle works just fine, but if you’re hiking, I really recommend a daypack that has a water bladder inside where you can sip from a straw that rests on your shoulder, without having to constantly reach for your water bottle. This is the best way to keep you protected!

Sunhat: You’ll want to pack a hat (preferably a packable, rollable one like this one) to protect you from the sun while hiking between Cinque Terre towns. It also looks great in photos! I have and love this foldable sunhat and can attest that it holds up well to being jammed in a suitcase!

Sunscreen: Of course you’ll also want to wear sunscreen to help protect you from sunburn! I recommend SunBum SPF 50 sunscreen which is octinoxate-free and oxybenzone-free, making it a better alternative for keeping marine life and reefs healthy if you take a dip in the waters around Cinque Terre!

Bug spray: Mosquitos can get vicious in the summer, so bring some bug spray, and be sure to reapply before sunset when they are at their highest activity! I like this natural lemon eucalyptus spray, but I also carry some After Bite Itch Eraser in case I get bit anyway.

Breathable clothing: Hiking in summer means that you will sweat a lot! Choose clothes made of breathable and natural fabric — skip anything polyester! I love REI’s moisture-wicking, easy-breathing hiking pants like these Savannah Trail Pants (plus they’re not hideous!) and a simple quick-dry T-shirt like this one.

Swimwear: You will certainly want to get in the sea after a long hike under the sun, so be sure to bring swimwear as well as a swim cover-up so you’re not wandering around the village in just a dripping wet swimsuit. I have and love this cute swimsuit, which goes well with this cover-up.

More Time After Visiting Cinque Terre?

Have some more time to explore Liguria? Check the following nearby places after you’ve visited Cinque Terre:

Porto Venere

the colorful seaside town of porto venere just outside of la spezia and the cinque terre

Known as the Gulf of the Poets (Golfo dei Poeti), Porto Venere is a fantastic coastal town a few minutes from La Spezia, at the end of the southern part of the Cinque Terre Trail.

This romantic coastal town features a beautiful coastline with pretty colorful houses, a magnificent castle.

It’s also home to one of the most impressive churches in the area, the fortified church of Saint Peter, on top of the promontory overlooking the sea! 

La Spezia

view of la spezia from above

La Spezia is the second largest city in Liguria, after Genoa, which has been continuously inhabited since the prehistoric times. It also became an important commercial port of the Roman Empire.

Today, La Spezia is the most common departure point to explore the Cinque Terre as well as a popular tourist seaside resort in its own right!

Genoa (Genova)

You cannot miss at least a day in Genoa after (or before) visiting the Cinque Terre.

You can get to Genoa by train. The two main stations are Genova Piazza Principe (that receives trains from Milan and France) and Genova Brignole (with arrivals from Rome and Turin).

If you have limited time, head directly to the marina to visit the Genoa Aquarium, one of the best in the world!

Genoa’s Old Town or Centro Storico features big and heavily decorated buildings dating fromMiddle Ages, built by the wealthy trader families of the city.

Don’t forget that Genoa was one of the four maritime republics (Repubbliche Marinare) of the Mediterranean, which was composed of four city-states together with Venice, Amalfi and Pisa — this is why it has such rich history.

Because of this history, the atmospheric streets of the medieval Old Town of Genoa are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

For lunch or dinner, there is nothing quite like the restaurants on the waterfront near the port!

Must-try dishes include impepata di cozze (mussels with pepper and cooked in white wine), trofie al pesto (pasta with pesto sauce often served with potatoes and green beans in the Liguria region), and focaccia (a flat bread similar to pizza, with no sauce and made with chickpea flour).

Lerici

Last but not least, The gorgeous coastal town of Lerici belongs to the province of La Spezia and it is a great place to spend the day by the sea once you’re done visiting the Cinque Terre!

Close to the beach you can visit the beautiful 12th-century Pisan-Genoese Castle or seek some privacy by the sea in the unique Cala Marmozza.

The Lido of Lerici is a popular beach with plenty of restaurants and trattorias along the waterfront and the small tourist marina.

When in Lerici, devote some time to explore the small historic quarter and the crescent-shaped piazza!

One Day in Venice: How to Make the Most of 24 Hours

view of venice at night with gondolas going past into the sunset

Alluring, romantic, and incredibly pretty, Venice is one of those destinations you don’t want to miss for any reason. 

The iconic Italian city is home to superb palaces, glorious churches, and a romantic lagoon, as well as so many attractions you can enjoy in the city… all of it is bound to conquer your ability to form words for what you’re seeing and leave you breathless!

view of a venice church from across a lagoon
Planning your trip to Venice at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

 Top Venice Experiences:
1. Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica + Doge’s Palace (skip-the-line!)
2. Scenic Gondola Ride (can take private or shared)
3. Venice Street Food Walking Tour (quickly taste the best of Venice!)

🏨 Best Hotels:
1. The Carlton (4-star hotel on the Grand Canal)
2. Ca Bea (budget-friendly guesthouse in trendy Dorsoduro)
3. Eurostars Residenza Cannaregio (former monastery with canal views!)

✈️ Flying in? Book your water taxi transfer to make getting into the city center a (beautiful!) breeze.

While living in Italy for 10 years, Venice was just a short train ride away, so I visited it often and can tell you how to make the most of a short trip.

If you’re heading to the gorgeous city of the gondolas and only have 24 hours to explore the city, then this one-day in Venice itinerary is all you need!

How to Get to Venice

venice gondolas all lined up in a row next to an old-looking building facade on a canal

With frequent train connections including Rome, Milan, Naples, Florence, Pisa, and Turin, spending a day in Venice is close at hand if you’re already in Italy.

That not counting other closeby Northern Italy cities, including Vicenza, Verona, and Padua, all of which can be reached with just a short train ride from Venice.

Venice is also near the Prosecco region, Lake Garda and its towns like Peschiera del Garda, and the Dolomites, all of which make excellent additions to an itinerary including one day in Venice.

The city is also home to an airport, Marco Polo International, but to get from the airport to the city it’s necessary to plan your transport in advance.

The best solution is to book a water taxi, especially if you are bringing more than just a small bag.

Moving Around in Venice

a venetian water ferry boat called a vaporetto

Maybe the most fun part of any trip to Venice is that you’ll have to (or should I say “get to”?) use means of transport that you wouldn’t normally consider in any other city!

Venice is a pedestrian city made of different islands crossed by canals and connected by bridges — no cars to be found in the inner city!

This means that you’ll either be walking around (a lot) or that taking a vaporetto (a kind of water bus) will be the most affordable and convenient way to move around.

The vaporetto is the most popular means of transport, and it’s not just for tourists: it’s also what the locals will use to reach different corners of the city.

sign that reads 'al vaporetto' which means "to the water taxi" in italian

Different lines operate until midnight; however, the lines working at night are limited, and the service isn’t as frequent.

Depending on how much you plan to move around, you can either purchase a day ticket or a single ticket for each trip.

If you think you’ll walk more than you’ll use the vaporetto and don’t plan on using it more than two or three times, single tickets are the cheapest option.

For more details, and prices as well as to learn how to validate the vaporetto ticket, check out their website.

Once you’re ready to book your travel, it also includes a section to purchase tickets online.

Since the vaporetto doesn’t run all night long, a good alternative is a water taxi.

These private rides are a bit more expensive but will take you anywhere, any time of day.

It’s always a good idea to have the phone number of Venice’s local taxi company: 041 522 2303 — save that!

Taxis operate 24 hours a day and prices should be confirmed beforehand, as they might change according to the time of the day and availability.

People on boats in Venice in winter

It’s also possible to enjoy a classic Venice gondola ride, but these can often be quite expensive, so they are more of a tour and a romantic experience than a practical means to move around.

With that said, a gondola ride often includes an itinerary that features the most important sights in the city, such as the Rialto Bridge or the small canal near the Bridge of Sighs.

This particular gondola ride takes you to discover the historic sights along the shoreline, admire marvelous palaces and churches, and explore the romantic secret waterways of Venice.

The ride also includes a glimpse of St. Mark’s Square and the La Fenice Opera House.

Book your gondola ride of Venice here!

One Day in Venice: How to Make the Most of It!

view of a church in venice


It’s no surprise visitors to Venice can be easily overwhelmed by the sheer volume things to do, landmarks to see, museums and churches to visit, streets to walk, and districts to discover.

Although you won’t be able to see all the sestieri (districts) of Venice in a single day, you’ll certainly check out the city highlights if you follow this organized itinerary that packs in quite a lot in a short time!

If you have more time, follow this 3-day itinerary for Venice to explore further, or add on something fun like a Venice cooking class to learn more.

Take a panoramic Vaporetto ride on the Grand Canal.

the Rialto bridge in Venice with turquoise canal and gondolas and colorful buildings on a sunny and beautiful blue sky day


If you arrived in Venice by train, after you reach Venice Santa Lucia Station, head towards Rome Square (Piazzale Roma).

This isn’t just the place where buses arrive from the mainland, it’s also where you can catch the most famous vaporetto line in town (Line 1).

On this water bus, you can sail along the Grand Canal and enjoy some incredible views.

Line 1 is considered the most touristic vaporetto ride as it passes near the most iconic Venetian buildings (watch your belongings for pickpockets, here!)

On your way along the canal, you’ll see the Venice Casino building, the impressive Ca’ Pesaro Palace, now an international art gallery, and the Rialto Market.

I suggest getting off the vaporetto at the Rialto Bridge stop right after you have passed under the bridge.

This way, you’ll also be able to walk through some of the most beautiful alleys in town.

Walk across the stunning Rialto Bridge.

side view of the rialto bridge with bright red and marble color buildings on the other side of the turquoise canal with boat traffic in the water

Often overcrowded and busy, visiting Rialto Bridge in the early morning is the best idea to avoid crowds, even in winter and the off-season.

You’ll want to go to the top of the bridge for great pictures of the Grand Canal!

If you’re also interested in taking a gondola ride, this is one of the suggested departure points.

The Rialto is one of the four bridges spanning across the Grand Canal to connect the districts of San Marco and San Polo; it’s also the the oldest of them all, first built in 1173

Its original appearance was quite different from the stone bridge you can see today, as it was made of timber.

The bridge underwent different rebuilding and restoration processes over the centuries, until settling in its iconic form that you see today.

The current version and structure date from 1591 and it features two ramps leading to a central portico lined up with (overpriced) souvenir shops.

Walk to Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).

The busy square of Piazza San Marco with lots of tourists milling about in the square area on a sunny day. The campanile (bell tower) stands high over the top of the piazza)

Follow the street signs that read “To San Marco” for your next stop.

The walk is only about 15 minutes, traversing past some of Venice’s cutest alleys and canals, and it takes you right to the heart of Venice and to its main square.

It’s here at Piazza San Marco that you’ll be astonished by the view of the imposing Saint Mark’s Basilica.

This is the most important church in the city, just next to the Doge’s Palace, with its distinctive pink marble facade.

Also in the square, you’ll find Venice’s tallest tower, which you can climb for spectacular views of the Venice lagoon.

Visit the Saint Mark’s Basilica.

The ornate decoration at the entrance of St. Mark's Basilica in St. Marks' Square, the heart of Venice city center.

Saint Mark is the most visited church in the city (and one of the most visited in Italy), so the lines tend to be huge.

Booking an advance entrance ticket is key to being able to visit the church without a ridiculous wait.

There are several skip-the-line combined tours available that also give you access to the Doge’s Palace.

This experience also includes a tour guide to give you important historic details about the buildings, as well as access to the terrace of Saint Mark’s Basilica.

Book your skip-the-line tour of St. Mark’s & Doge’s Palace here!

Saint Mark’s Basilica is modeled after the sixth-century Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

As a result, you can find clear Byzantine, Romanesque and Islamic details in its design, as well as unique Gothic elements that were added in later years!

The most important of these are four bronze horses located over the main door of the church, an iconic detail of the church.

Visit Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.

Looking up at the beautiful pillars and pink stone of Doge's Palace, a popular former palace in Venice that is now a museum.


The Doge’s Palace, often also called the Duke’s Palace, is attached to the Basilica (which used to work as the Doge’s private chapel — not bad, eh?).

In Venice, between the year 726 and the late 1790s, the doge (or duke) was the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice.

A typical example of Venetian Gothic architecture, the palace was not only the Doge’s residence, but in later years it also became the seat of Venice’s law courts and prison.

The cells of this political prison were connected to the palace through the famous Bridge of Sighs (or Ponte dei Sospiri), which can be seen on one side of the palace.

A high bridge connecting two buildings in Venice over a canal

The area faces the most beautiful part of the Grand Canal, opposite the imposingly beautiful Santa Maria della Salute Church.

From this area of the Grand Canal, it’s possible to board the vaporetto to visit the small island of Murano, which is a great place for a mini day trip to explore if you’re curious about Venice’s famous glass production.

You could also take a vaporetto to check out the other famous island in the Lagoon, the colorful Burano.

Yellow House, red and other color houses brightly painted on a canal with some small boats on an island in the outskirts of Venice

This destination is ideal for those interested in picturesque photo opportunities (Instagrammers, take note!).

Visiting both islands could be quite difficult if you only have a day in Venice. There are half-day tours, but they take up about 5 hours — quite a big chunk of your day.

If you have to pick one, choosing Murano might be easier as it’s closer to the San Marco district, and it’s smaller, which means it will take you less time to visit.

You may also want to skip the outer islands entirely, with only one day in Venice, so you can spend more time exploring the city itself.

Take a scenic gondola ride.

a bridge that spans a canal with scenic Venetian architecture in the background

If there’s one thing you wouldn’t want to miss when in Venice, even if just for a day, it has to be a romantic gondola ride!

Even though it can be a bit more on the expensive side, there’s something incredibly romantic about the experience and it’s the best way to see the smaller canals.

Trust me, you’ll see Venice with completely different eyes.

There are different tours available making it easier for those with a more restricted budget, like small group tours instead of private tours.

There are tours lasting just 30 minutes while there are also longer rides, another way to save money while still having the experience of a gondola ride.

Night gondola rides tend to be more expensive, and adding on a serenade can definitely make this quite a costly experience!

To avoid bargaining stress and unpleasant surprises, I suggest booking the ride beforehand.

You can opt for a more luxurious private gondola ride or check out this more affordable option in which you share the ride with other people.

Book a private gondola tour Book a shared gondola tour

Enjoy some of the delicious local food.

a selection of venetian tapas or cichetti that you can enjoy in venice

Food is one of the most genuine cultural expressions, no matter what country you are visiting… but especially Italy.

However, when it comes to Venice, a food tour is the perfect activity if you don’t want to waste precious time at a restaurant, either at lunch or after sunset.

A street food tour guarantees tons of fun moments discovering the city while tasting delicious local staples.

Venice is one of the best cities to learn more about Italian cuisine.

Just trust the knowledge of a local guide who will walk with you to explore the street markets, local bakeries, and other interesting places that mix history with flavor.

This particular food tour is really interesting (and affordable) as it combines a stop at the historic Rialto Market, famous for the fresh fish as well as fruit, veggies, herbs, and spices that locals often use in their kitchens daily.

The walking experience also includes a visit to Basilica dei Frari. Along the way, you’ll taste a wide range of regional cheeses, typical cakes, biscuits, and tiramisù.

The highlight of the tours includes a taste of the cicchetti culture, those Venetian snacks resembling Spanish tapas served in local bars known as bàcari.

Book your food tour of Venice here!

Admire the stunning La Fenice Theater.

interior of the la fenice opera house in venice, one of the city's most famous landmarks

Another iconic place that needs to be part of this one day in Venice is the city’s most historic theater, La Fenice (The Phoenix).

This incredibly beautiful opera house was founded back in 1792 and it has had the honor of being the location of the premieres for some of the most important masterpieces of the history of opera.

The site of a complex history, the theater burned to the ground on a cold December night back in 1836, but its importance has always been such that its reconstruction was decided immediately.

Just like the mythical bird, on Saint Sylvester’s night just one year later, the theater rose from its ashes, more beautiful and spectacular than ever before.

It’s a good idea to join an organized tour to check out the backstage and those lesser-known areas of the theater.

Since it is a popular place on the tourist trail of Venice, a skip-the-line ticket can guarantee timed access without wasting time and detailed information provided by an audio guide you can use at your own pace.

Enjoy a sunset by the Grand Canal.

view of venice at night with gondolas going past into the sunset

It’s no secret that the best spot for sunsets in Venice is right by the water, where the dark silhouettes of dozens of gondolas, gently rocked by the sea, are illuminated by the last rays of the sun.

For an unforgettable experience, sit at any of the different waterfront cafés that are located in the area to enjoy the last hours of the day before slowly walking your way back to Santa Lucia train station.

If you have more time in Venice, such as if you’re spending the night, you can also read this guide to what to do in Venice at night for more ideas on what to do next.

Where to Stay in Milan: 7 Best Areas [Picked by a Milan Local]

the navigli canals of milan city center

If you’re planning to spend a day, weekend, or more in Milan, one of the first things you’ll need to know is the best place to stay in Milan, close to the main landmarks of the city.

Luckily, nowhere is too far out of reach; the city has a modern tram and metro system, which is quite affordable and allows you to get anywhere in town with just a few euros and a short ride. 

Being aware of the best places to stay in Milan is helpful to make the most of the visit without spending a lot of time commuting.

the backside of the milan duomo building with marble facade, spires, stained glass window, and people walking around behind it
The back of the Duomo is just as beautiful as the front!

And lucky for you, I spent nearly a decade living in Milan, so I’m well-qualified to help you pick the best neighborhood in Milan to stay in!

To help you out, I’ve put together this guide to the best areas to stay in Milan so you can be informed of the pros and cons of each part of the city, before booking your Milan hotel.

Prices of Accommodation in Milan

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

Let’s start with the bad news: Milan isn’t  the cheapest destination in Italy.

You’ll find that a well-situated hotel or apartment rental starts at about €150-180 per night. 

If you can spend a bit more, you’ll find better hotels in more central locations, such as the Duomo area. 

Prices for mid-range accommodation in the center of the city can go from €200 to €300 per night.

And more premium hotels, including boutique hotels, villas, and fully-equipped apartments start at €300 or more per night in the center!

That said, if you’re willing to stay a little further afield and make use of Milan’s excellent public transit network, this is a good way to save!

Best Places to Stay in Milan

#1. Duomo Square: Perfect for First-Time Visitors

beautiful view of the milan duomo from the side a key european landmark

The area near Milan’s Cathedral can be a bit noisy and crowded any time of the day, but it’s a great place to stay for first-timers.

Many of the attractions you’ll want to visit are either immediately in the area or within a really short walking distance.

The area is packed with restaurants, bars and pizza places, but it’s also close to the following attractions:

  • The Duomo, Milan’s famous Gothic cathedral
  • Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, one of the best-known covered passages in the country
  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of the most exclusive shopping districts in town 
  • Teatro alla Scala, a worldwide famous opera house in the center of Mila
  • Piazza del Mercanti, a fantastic medieval square
the interior of the la scala theater in milan with gilded boxes and red seats and beautiful lighting

Within walking distance from Duomo, you can also find the more affordable shops on Dante Street as well as the beautiful Sforza Castle, another must-see place in Milan! 

Along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, you can also visit Milan’s oldest department store, La Rinascente, as well as incredible book stores and music shops.

And for those with a sweet tooth, you can’t miss the traditional coffee shops serving Milanese pastries and treats starting in the early morning hours.

Also close to the Duomo, you can explore the famous Quadrilatero della Moda, home to the most expensive clothing shops in the country.

Here, you’ll see the most important Italian fashion flagship stores featuring exclusive haute couture pieces by designers such as Armani, Versace, Prada, Valentino, and many others.

The area is safe at any hour of the day (though watch for pickpockets in busy areas!) and most metro lines are connected to Line 3, which has a stop right in Duomo.

#2. Navigli: Ideal for Young Travelers

the navigli canals of milan at night with lights

If nightlife, good food, and trendy bars situated in an atmospheric district are your key desires, then when it comes to where to stay in Milan, Navigli is the perfect choice for you.

This ancient system of canals, similar to the ones that you’d find in Venice with its famous gondolas, is home to gorgeous rental apartments with views over the water.

The Navigli area is very much alive at all hours, and it’s just a short metro ride from other tourist areas in Milan, including the Duomo.

To get to Navigli, the best metro Line is Line 2, and the closest stop to the heart of the Navigli canals is Porta Genova.

Staying in the Navigli district will allow you to enjoy:

  • Vicolo dei Lavandai, where you can walk along the street where local women used to wash their clothes in the past
  • San Lorenzo Columns, where you can discover a group of ancient ruins from the Roman times opposite the famous San Lorenzo Basilica
  • Creative street art scattered along the Navigli district
  • Dozens of food tours and great eateries, modern restaurants, trendy cocktail bars and alternative places for aperitivo with stunning views of the district
the red brick building of the church which holds the last supper inside iet

The area is also great for those interested in visiting the Last Supper, in the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church.

It’s just a few minutes from the heart of the Navigli.

There are also many shops, street art performances, concerts, and things to do until late in the evening hours.

#3. Brera District: Unique Destination for Art Lovers

the beautiful residential area of milan's brera district with elegant balconies and greenery

Locals consider Brera the most aristocratic, elegant, and exclusive area to live in Milan.

This neighborhood has a special refined, residential flair that enchants anyone who visits — you can immediately imagine yourself living there while walking through it.

Given its more residential character, there aren’t many hotels in this district.

However, there are several homes to rent, including lofts, flats, and villas that make it a great base for a longer stay in Milan.

This area is perfect for those who want to integrate and live like a local, taking some day trips from Milan and exploring the surroundings, at least for a short while.

Brera is also a vibrantly cultural part of town, hosting not just interesting bookstores, but also delicious restaurants and bars.

the area of brera in milan with beautiful architecture

However, the main reason to book accommodation in Brera is to visit some of the following landmarks:

  • Brera Art Gallery (or Pinacoteca di Brera in Italian), for its  remarkable art exhibition with world-famous masterpieces by local and foreign artists
  • Brera Astronomical Observatory and Museum, perfect for lovers of space and the sciences
  • Brera Botanical Garden and Aquarium, for a little slice of quiet in Milan

This is one of the safest areas to stay in Milan, and home to plenty of green spaces, including parks and small squares. 

However, staying in such a picturesque and tranquil neighborhood comes with a bit of a price, and accommodation is often a bit more expensive than in other neighborhoods. 

To reach this neighborhood, you can use metro Line 2.

#4. Quartiere Cinese, Milan’s Chinatown: Perfect for a Different Milan

chinese style red lanterns hanging against the backdrop of milanese architecture in the city center, one of the best places to stay in milan

While this area of Milan is one that nobody would have recommended ten years ago, Milan’s Chinatown has gone through a deep process of change in recent years.

It’s now become a picturesque district, safe and lively at any time of the day.

If you’re interested in shopping for affordable fashion staples, enjoying some pedestrian roads, and sampling international food from different countries throughout Asia, then this is the right area.

Milan’s Chinatown has a long history, as it was home to the first Chinese immigrants to arrive in the country since the beginning of the past century, most of them originally from the Chinese region of Zhejiang.

Most restaurants serve delicious and incredibly affordable food (including takeout!), often specializing in Zhejiang cuisine, though it’s also been heavily influenced by Italian gastronomy. 

Over the years, the neighborhood also started receiving Chinese immigrants from other areas as well as residents from Vietnam and Thailand.

details of milan chinatown architeecture with red and pastel brown brick and stone

Today, the place is full of shops, eateries, and accommodations, all on the affordable side, making it a great destination for the budget-conscious traveler.

The area is close to the following local landmarks:

  • Via Paolo Sarpi Street, the heart of Milan’s Chinatown and a green, pedestrian boulevard that is home to stores, street food joints, and cheap eateries
  • Fabbrica del Vapore (Steam Factory), a space dedicated to kids and teens offering interesting exhibitions and workshops
  • ADI Design Museum, a museum devoted to graphic design and industrial creations where the works of modern Milan’s designers shine
  • The Oriental Mall, one of the best places to purchase affordable souvenirs and clothes in town

Chinatown is easy to reach from Milano Centrale train station by metro (Line 2).

If you are interested in visiting the Brera district but prices are too high for your budget, the Chinatown district is a good, nearby alternative.

#5. Sempione Park: Ideal for a Quiet Stay

the triumphal arch in milan's sempione park

Another unique area, safe and well connected to the rest of the city, is the area around Parco Sempione, the biggest green space in the city. 

It’s a fairly residential district where you can enjoy pleasant walks that take you to the Sforza Castle, or to Via Dante, an interesting commercial road that ends just steps from the Duomo.

Another advantage of staying in Sempione is that just a few feet from the park, you’ll find Cadorna train station.

From this station, you can take the Malpensa Express train to get to Milan’s most widely-used international airport.

Parco Sempione is perfect to visit:

the front of the sforza castle in milan with a fountain
  • Sempione Park and the Arch of Peace, the most important triumphal arch in the country, where you can spend time exploring the city aquarium
  • Sforza Castle, an important Medieval castle, once the heart of the city, housing some of the most important museums in Milan, the Civic Museums
  • Arena Civica, a gorgeous neoclassical stadium dating back to 1807. The historic track is open daily to the public, and it’s a favorite place, just like Parco Sempione for jogging and exercising.
  • Torre Branca, a simple steel tower that is among the city’s tallest buildings with unique views of Milan’s skyline. The top of the tower can be accessed by elevator and it stays open until midnight, making it perfect for nighttime snapshots of Milan’s city lights.

The best metro lines that connect the area to the center and the Duomo Square are Line 1 (red metro line) and Line 3 (yellow metro line).

#6. Isola: Perfect for an Alternative Stay in Milan

the green vertical towers of milan's isola neighborhood

Another place in the city that, just like Chinatown, has gone through a deep transformation, Isola has become one of the most exclusive places to find accommodation in Milan. 

Isola is now an area where you’ll find plenty of new houses, modern skyscrapers, design schools, several lofts, and aparthotels.

In general, this neighborhood of Milan appeals strongly to the local hipster and artistic community, giving it a lively communal vibe.

This alternative neighborhood is close to the second most important train station in the city, Porta Garibaldi, where you can catch trains to Bergamo, Como, and other important Northern cities in the Lombardy region.

the porta garibaldi area of milan at night

Also near Isola, the places you can visit include:

  • Viale Zara, an important avenue where the locals love to shop, walk, and spend time people-watching
  • Bosco Verticale, the original green towers that have been recently built in Milan, known for the unique quantity of gardens and trees that decorate their facades
  • Cimitero Monumentale, the famous city cemetery home to the most impressive collection of funerary art you could ever imagine
  • Original exhibition spaces such as the Typewriter Museum and the House of Memory (Casa della Memoria),
  • Art galleries and important theaters, including Verdi Theater and Fontana Theater
  • The Church of the Holy Face, a stunning offbeat church.

The Isola area is home to dozens of new restaurants and typical trattorias, bars, pubs, and other meeting spots where locals love to gather for an aperitivo or dinner.

#7. Porta Venezia: A Great Place to Stay for Families

one of the buildings in milans porto venizia area a popular place to stay in milan for families

The area around Porta Venezia metro station and the lively Buenos Aires Avenue (Corso Buenos Aires) is perfect for families traveling with kids. 

This district is home to another magnificent park, Parco Indro Montanelli, where families love to spend time in a peaceful green space.

You can spend some time with your kids walking along the different paths, admiring the swan ponds, having a snack at a bar, or simply sitting on one of the many benches under the shadow of huge plane trees.

The park is also home to the biggest planetarium in the country which organizes weekly exhibitions and shows that attract the whole family.

a milan local park that families like to visit in the autumn or winter

Moms of the families staying near Porta Venezia will enjoy walking along Corso Buenos Aires, one of the best shopping spots in Milan. 

This area is home to exclusive boutiques that have much better price tags than the ones you’ll find in central neighborhoods like the Duomo or the exclusive Via Montenapoleone.

Among the places to visit in Porta Venezia, don’t miss:

  • Indro Montanelli Park and the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium
  • Milan’s Civic Museum of Natural History, also located in the Indro Montanelli Park features five different sections that fascinate adults and kids alike; Mineralogy, Paleontology, Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, and Natural History of Man.
  • The Milanese Pink Flamingos (locally known as the fenicotteri rosa di Milano), a curious park situated inside Villa Invernizzi, an ancient home in the heart of the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, an elegant neighborhood with quite a curious name.
  • The original Cà dell’Oreggia (House of the Ear), an old aristocratic building that is not just a great example of Liberty art, but which also houses an odd detail. There’s a huge bronze ear that used to be the doorbell of the building, but unfortunately, this unique device has been out of order for several years

In addition to these interesting corners in this neighborhood, don’t forget that the whole area is perfect for shopping, hosting the highest number of clothing stores in all of Europe!

However, Porta Venezia is more than just fashion stores. It’s also safe, great for kids, and close to the center, only a few metro stops away (Line 3).

The neighborhoods included in this article are the best-located, safest, and more convenient Milan neighborhoods, making them perfect choices for your Milan accommodations.

They’re quite near Milan’s main attractions and most important train stations to allow not only an entertaining visit but also an easy way to reach other cities in the country!

How to Spend One Day in Milan: From Someone Who Lived There!

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

As Northern Italy’s largest and most important city, the lively metropolis Milan is a fantastic place to spend a weekend (or more!).

However, there may be some valid reasons you only have a day in Milan.

If your Italian itinerary is already looking a bit full, and you’re going to be busy visiting classic destinations such as Rome, Florence, and Venice, Milan may be one of the places that needs to get the cut.

Planning your trip to Milan at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

 Top Milan Experiences:
1. Milan Duomo Cathedral & Terraces (skip the line entry)
2. The Last Supper Tour (must pre-book your time slot!)
3. Milan Aperitivo + Food Tour (best evening activity!)

🏨 Best Hotels:
1. The Carlton (luxury hotel with Grand Canal views)
2. San Marco Boutique Apartments (hip studios in lively Brera neighborhood)
3. La Casa Colorata (lovely apartment-style rooms with two saunas for guests!)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
the facade of the milan duomo during the day time without too much of a crowd in front of it

Or maybe Milan is just your first gateway to a tour of Northern Italy, one that includes iconic destinations like Lake Como, Lake Garda, Verona, or the Dolomites.

Wherever your Italy endpoint, Milan is often a place where international flights land, so it’s hard to avoid.

Plus, it’s also home to some of Italy’s most iconic cultural sites, like the Duomo di Milano and the Last Supper, so a visit to Milan — even for just a day! — is absolutely worth it.

Take it from me: I spent nearly a decade living in Milan and even though I no longer call the city home, I visit it frequently on my return trips to Italy.

This one day in Milan itinerary will give you an overview of the key Milan landmarks that you don’t want to skip, as well as some tips for getting to and around the city.

Enjoy!

How to Get to Milan

the milan train station with a beautiful open-style roof with iron work

Milan is Italy’s most important economic and financial center, as well as a super-developed industrial city in the northern Lombardy region.

For many people, Milan is their first stop in Italy, as the city has two large international airports, Milano Malpensa and Milano Linate. There’s also the nearby Bergamo airport which functions as a budget airline hub.

Milan is also home to an important train hub, Milano Centrale, which not only connects Milan to the rest of Italy, but also to other major European cities in the area.

If you’re flying into Milan with a lot of luggage or you just don’t want to deal with the stress of figuring out a new country’s public transit, you can pre-book a transfer into the city center through Welcome Pickups.

Pre-arranging transit with Welcome Pickups is one of my favorite travel hacks: when you arrive, an English-speaking driver already be at the airport awaiting your arrival (monitoring for any flight delays) and able to help with your baggage, all at the same flat rate as getting a taxi from the airport, all pre-paid and settled.

Moving Around in Milan

woman holding luggage on a street wearing a white shirt and jeans

The city has a very efficient urban transport system that includes metros, buses, trams, and local trains.

All of this public transit is perfect for travelers, since it all makes it incredibly easy to move around in town to explore different neighborhoods!

There are daily, weekly, and monthly passes available in the most important train and metro stations — of course, if you’re only visiting Milan for a day, you’ll only need a daily pass.

Helpful Tip: You can also download the official app to purchase tickets from your phone and have a useful city map in your pocket at all times.

Best Time to Visit Milan

view of one of the most famous buildings in milan, a church that houses in the last supper, seen through archways of a courtyard on a sunny day

Even though Milan is not as popular among tourists as Venice, Rome, Naples, or Florence, the city still attracts tourists year-round.

Although winters can be a bit fierce in the northern areas of the country, Milan in winter doesn’t actually have as much snow as you might expect, so winters can be a great time to beat the crowds and find cheaper accommodation.

What you do have to expect in Milan is rain. It’s one of Italy’s rainiest destinations in any season!

Keep this in mind when packing, and remember to toss a high-quality raincoat in your luggage, like this Marmot PreCip or this cute yellow rain jacket (trust me, you’ll be glad you did!).

Summers in Milan are shorter than in the rest of the country, but they can still be quite hot and humid.

If you plan to visit in the summer do some online research before deciding what attractions to visit.

Many exhibitions and museums close for a few weeks or operate with reduced hours in August.

The hard-working Milanese take their summer break (the two central weeks of August) very seriously.

This means it’s the perfect chance to walk around and enjoy the virtually empty streets and free places to sit in the metro and buses.

However, this does also mean that many shops will be closed, so if you’re dying to visit Milan for a chance to go shopping, then spring and fall might be your best bet.

Know Before You Go…

people inside the milan duomo visiting the city's most famous church and landmark, wearing appropriate covered up clothing

Despite not being Italy’s most touristed city, Milan is still rather popular. After all, it’s home to impressive art galleries, significant museums, and one of the most magnificent churches in Italy.

While all of that means you’re in for a great day in Milan, there will be long lines at the most important attractions, no matter the time of the year (yes, even winter).

The best suggestion I can give you is to plan your one day Milan itinerary in advance — that way, you can buy your entrance tickets to the key sights at least a few weeks before the trip and avoid the long lines.

Some landmarks, like time slots to view the the Last Supper, do sell out — so you’ll want to make sure you book anything important ASAP (luckily, buying online means you can take advantage of free cancellation if needed).

Also, if you are planning to stay the night in Milan, book your hotel in Milan in advance (and here’s our guide on where to stay — I suggest the Duomo area for quick visits to the city!)

How to Spend One Day in Milan

Start your day at the Duomo di Milano.

beautiful view of the milan duomo from the side a key european landmark

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the right place to begin your one day in Milan tour is in the heart of the city center.

We’re talking, of course, about the city’s unique white marble cathedral, Milan’s Duomo, as well as the impressive Duomo Square (Piazza del Duomo) that surrounds it.

One of Italy’s most remarkable religious buildings as well as one of the largest churches in the world, the magnificent Cathedral of Milan is a breathtaking example of Gothic style.

The building was conceived from the inspiring ideas, dreams, and nightmares of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, a former Duke of Milan.

Although it was begun back in 1386, the construction of the Duomo took over six centuries to be completed — and the result is why the Duomo is so unique to behold.

stained glass and sculpture at the very front and center of the church, extremely colorful and detailed

This lengthy construction period led to the building also featuring unique examples of other architectural styles that came after the Gothic period, including expressions of Baroque (as you’ll see in the Crypt), as well as Renaissance styles

The Duomo is the most popular attraction in the city and pretty much every visitor wants to at least check out the impressive stained glass windows from inside the church.

Best of all, you can even walk on its white roofs to experience a different perspective and view of the city center and Milan’s skyline.

The terraces of the milan duomo with brilliant blue sky with some patchy clouds

You can do so by booking a Cathedral and Rooftop Terraces guided tour like this one if you want some historical context given to you while you visit the sight.

If you prefer to DIY, you can access the building (and its terraces, which shouldn’t be skipped!) with a skip-the-line ticket without the tour to save some money.

Book a Guided Tour Book Skip-the-Line Entry

Wander through the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

View of the arcade in Milan with lanterns and a glass roof

Opposite Piazza del Duomo, head to another famous place you’ll absolutely want to visit during your whirlwind day in Milan: the beloved covered arcade Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II.

This passageway’s appeal isn’t just because of its aristocratic flair and refined architectural style, but also because it’s the best way to get to Milan’s famous opera house, Teatro alla Scala, the next stop on this mini Milan itinerary.

Fun Fact: The construction of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II started back in 1865 and it took twelve years to be completed.

Another Fun Fact: It’s the oldest active covered passage devoted to shopping in the country, housing both important high-end brand boutiques and a few traditional cafés. 

Admire the opulence of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.

the interior of the la scala theater in milan with gilded boxes and red seats and beautiful lighting

As I’ve just mentioned, at one of the ends of the gallery stands the Duomo and its square.

At the opposite side, you’ll find the small but gorgeous Piazza alla Scala and the Scala Theater, the most important opera house in the country… which is saying something, as this is the country that invented opera!

Usually referred to as La Scala, this temple to opera and ballet in Milan first opened its doors to the public in 1778.

While the theater is also home to one of the most prestigious ballet academies in Europe, it also has its own chorus, the famous Filarmonica Della Scala orchestra.

It’s possible to book tickets for the ballet or the opera to experience a wonderful night at La Scala — check the schedule for the theater here.

The 2023-2024 season begins on December 3, right in time for Milan’s winter!

If you don’t have time for a show, or there are just no shows when you are visiting Milan, you can simply visit the theater and its museum by booking a guided visit that includes a skip-the-line ticket!

For those curious about the stories and myths of this legendary venue, this Italy Hidden Experiences tour reveals tons of historic details and curious secrets about the theater.

Although there’s still a lot to see near the Duomo and La Scala, a day would never be enough to explore the medieval squares and other impressive churches in the area. 

If you’re still in the mood to see the best of Milan in a day or less, your next stop will leave you speechless…

Book Your Guided Visit Book Your Hidden Experiences Tour

Visit the Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the Last Supper.

the red brick building of the church which holds the last supper inside iet

In fact, if you can only visit Milan for one day, there’s one more thing that you don’t want to miss in addition to the Duomo, and that is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, the Last Supper. 

This UNESCO World Heritage site includes both the church Santa Maria Delle Grazie and the famed Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. 

The painting is located on a wall of the refectory that was originally part of a large monastic complex, which belonged to the Dominican order.

Considered one of the most important works of art in the city, this Milan landmark attracts hundreds of tourists all year round and at any hour of the day. 

With this popularity in mind, it’s easy to see why booking your entrance ticket in advance and getting to the place at least 30 minutes before the beginning of the tour is crucial for a flawless experience.  

Plan ahead and book an organized visit at least a couple of weeks (better yet, at least a month) before the actual trip! Note that a tour is the only way to visit the famous painting.

the beautiful artwork of the last supper in milan, a famous painting of jesus with his disciples sitting around him

Keep in mind that the guided visit includes a visit to the old refectory where all visitors are allotted a 15-minute time frame to admire the painting. 

The tour also gives you the chance to learn about the incredible history behind the masterpiece as well as the reconstruction works that were necessary inside the building after the bombing of Milan during WWII.

Not far from this church, you can walk to the nearby Basilica of Saint Ambrogio, another important religious building in the city.

The basilica is among the oldest churches in town as well as Milan’s best-preserved example of Lombard Romanesque architecture. 

Fun Fact: Saint Ambrogio is also Milan’s patron saint and is celebrated all over the city with special events in December!

Book your time slot for the Last Supper in advance here!

Step into Sforza Castle and Sempione Park.

the front of the sforza castle in milan with a fountain

Just steps from Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, one of Milan’s most distinctive locations is the medieval Sforza Castle (also known as Sforzesco Castle), a place you shouldn’t pass up the chance to explore.

There are several interesting museums located in the old rooms and different wings of the fortress, most of them related to the medieval history of Milan, including paintings, musical instruments, and other masterpieces.

Since you’re on a tight schedule and you might not have enough time to visit the Duomo, the Scala Opera House, the Last Supper, and the museums, it might be best to save the museums inside the castle for your next trip to Milan!

For this one, you can simply enter the huge building and wander around the different courtyards and incredible corners that remain open to the public. 

Visit the lovely Sempione Park and its key monuments.

the triumphal arch in milan's sempione park

Once you’ve checked out the different open spaces, ancient arches, and wooden bridges part of the castle, it’s a good idea to walk to the back area of the fortification and explore the immense Sempione Park.

This immense green area is Milan’s most important park, a perfect place for a picnic, a walk in nature, or simply for a restful stop after so many hours walking on the (fairly uncomfortable, though rather photogenic) cobblestone streets of Milan.

In the park, don’t forget to pay a visit to the impressive Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace), a triumphal arch also known as Porta della Pace (or Gate of Peace)

The gate dates back to the nineteenth century in its current form, but it has ancient roots.

The gate you see today was built over an ancient gate located on the former Roman Walls that once surrounded, protected, and granted access to the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum, today Milan.

A curious fact about the arch is that it faces the so-called Strada del Sempione, or Sempione Road.

This route is still in use today and connects Milan to Paris through the Sempione Pass in the Alps, something the many locals don’t even know!

End the day the Milanese way with an aperitivo.

two hands clinking together an aperol spritz for aperitivo time at the end of the day in milan

The Milanese society enjoys spending time and chatting with friends every day after work or during the weekend before going to dinner. 

The way they love to do so is by gathering in any of the many bars and aperitivo spots in the city.

Here, for a fixed price it’s possible to enjoy a drink (which can be wine or a cocktail) and nibble on tasty snacks and finger food. 

This is the typical Milanese aperitivo, a ritual that no local misses when the opportunity comes up!

If you’re not sure where to go for the best aperitivo experience, one great option is to book this aperitivo tour with a variety of local street food to sample along the way, and you won’t be sorry, because it packs in a lot! 

In fact, during this guided experience, you’ll discover the different ways of relishing the aperitivo Milanese and taste different versions of the aperitivo including cocktails made with typical Milanese spirits (like Aperol, Cinzano, Amaro).

On top of all this, you’ll get to sample wines from the northern regions of the country, paired with delicious local Italian cheeses, cold cuts, and other snacks. 

What’s more, at the end of the tour you will be given the chance to try an espresso coffee and a piece of patisserie!

Having an aperitivo in Milan is one of the most traditional rituals that you can experience during your trip.

If you ask me, it’s the best way to transition from the afternoon to the evening, and it’ll certainly be one of the things that makes your one day in Milan utterly unforgettable! 

Book your Milan Aperitivo + Food Tour here!

Visiting the Louvre: Tips & 11 Mistakes to Avoid [2023]

Symmetrical views of the two pyramids in front of the Louvre, with the Louvre behind it

As the French call it, Le Louvre (short for Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre, quite a mouthful!) is perhaps the world’s most inspiring museum.

For many travelers, a visit to the Louvre is something they simply cannot miss when in Paris!

Housing countless pieces of art and objects from ancient civilizations, visiting the Louvre can be overwhelming.

Having a visit plan for your trip to the Louvre will help you maximize your time within this impressive museum and admire the pieces you really want to see.

The glass and metal pyramid designed by IM Pei in front of the Baroque front facade of the Louvre, a former royal palace in Paris, on a clear sunny day.

Unless you have several days to dedicate to visiting the Louvre, there’s simply no way to see it all.

Spreading over an area of nearly 800,000 square feet, it is quite easy to get lost when looking for specific exhibition halls or pieces.

Since your time in the French capital may be limited — whether you have one day in Paris, four days in Paris, or more — you certainly don’t want to get frustrated looking for something specific and end up with a bunch of wasted time.

For this reason, in this Louvre visit guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about the museum — and, most importantly, I’ll clue you in on what mistakes to avoid when visiting the Louvre.

But first — just a few quick suggestions for best Louvre tours in case you’re in a hurry!

My Top 3 Picks for Louvre Tours

#1 TOP PICK

visiting the louvre with the glass pyramid that inverts into the floor

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Masterpieces Tour with Pre-Reserved Tickets
✔️ 2-hour guided tour where you see the key words of art out of the 35,000 in the Louvre
✔️ Avoid overwhelm and see the most important pieces with context

↳ Book it

#2 PICK

people with cameras trying to get a good angle of the mona lisa in the museum

Louvre Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guidance to Mona Lisa
✔️ Best for those who have Mona Lisa at the top of their bucket list
✔️ Explore the Louvre at your pace without a guide after

↳ Book it

#3 PICK

people walking around the interior of the louvre with gray walls and marble details

Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry
✔️ 3 hours with a guide for the most comprehensive tour
✔️ Free time to explore the Louvre after the tour

↳ Book it

History of The Louvre

Exterior of the Louvre on a cloudy day, lots of Baroque detailing and fancy style of architecture that shows its roots as a former royal residence for French kings

Before your visit to the Louvre, it may be helpful to know a few things about this famous Paris landmark.

Once the former royal residence of the Kings of France as well as a royal fortress, the former Louvre Palace — now the Louvre Museum — is now one of the best-known museums in the world.

Its name recognition makes it perhaps the most famous museum in the world, alongside maybe the Met in New York City. Along with the Eiffel Tower, it’s one of the main icons of Paris.

The Louvre presents vast and rich collections of art. The museum’s collection numbers 38,000 masterpieces and antiquities, scanning multiple millennia, scattered through a real maze of massive galleries and exhibition halls. 

They say you would need about six weeks to quickly see every single piece exhibited, and even more time if you also wanted to take some time in front of each work to read the informative details!

Despite its practically inexhaustible permanent collections, the museum is perhaps the most visited museum in the world, attracting millions of visitors year after year.

Is It Worth Visiting the Louvre?

Ornate ceiling work in gold leaf on the ceiling of the Louvre, with angel sculptures and other detailing such as spirals, shells, etc. on the piece

It all depends on what you like! If art is something that interests you, then you simply cannot miss visiting the Louvre when in Paris! 

However, it is no sin to admit that you’re not interested in the Louvre or that you do not care much about it. There is a lot more you can do in Paris than just tick off supposed “bucket list” items you have no personal interest in.

Museums can be tiring, and even if you like them, museum fatigue is a real thing.

Especially if you’re traveling with kids or teens, a full visit to Louvre can be tiring for them, even if you’re catering to them in other ways like finding fun places to stay in Paris with teens or young kiddos.

view of the louvre from the exterior with very few people around in the winter weather

Besides just the sheer amount of walking or standing you do when you visit, remember that the museum is designed to preserve the works of art — and not for the comfort of the tourist! 

As a consequence, some halls in the Louvre can feel too hot or too cold, as certain paintings or objects need to be preserved under certain conditions according to the materials. 

Besides, museums can be crowded, and tiring, and — let’s face it — that special piece you might be looking for will always bee one floor up or one floor below where you are, necessitating backtracking.

So give it thorough thought. If art is not your cup of tea, or if you prefer modern art, or smaller, more focused exhibitions, there is nothing wrong about not visiting the Louvre… especially not when Paris has so many other amazing museums!

Paris has dozens of other incredible museums, many of them smaller, often not as crowded, where you could spend a much more entertaining (and shorter) time, leaving the Louvre for those who really care.

Having that clear in your mind, also remember that not every visitor is interested in many of the works at the Louvre.

A large crowd in front of the Mona Lisa, many people holding up cell phones or cameras to try to take a photo of the small Mona Lisa painting

The average traveler just visits the Louvre looking for three works of art, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace…. often not even know anything about them, not even why they should see them! 

Unfortunately, more often than not, people just want to see what everyone else sees… and not out of real interest. Don’t be that tourist!  

Keep in mind that a museum is also a place that attracts art students from all over the world.

People who may have worked hard to maybe get a scholarship and to be able to spend hours sketching or learning about art, and the Louvre being crowded with otherwise uninterested tourists does them no favors.

If the Louvre calls to you, then absolutely go! But if you feel like you’re visiting the Louvre just to say you’ve visited, there’s no shame in skipping it.

Alternatives (or Additions to!) the Louvre

The old gold clock in the Musee d'Orsay a former train station turned into an art musuem, with beautiful light fixtures and an incredible interior architecture

We don’t mean to dissuade you from visiting the Louvre during your time in Paris — only to encourage you to ask yourself if it’s something you truly want to do, or something you feel you ought to do.

Here are a few other excellent art museums in Paris worthy of a stop, and which types of art lovers they will appeal to.

  • Musee d’Orsay: Housed in a stunning former train station, this is the best museum in Paris for fans of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist era. There is a large selection of art by Renoir, Degas, Monet, and more. While not as crowded as the Louvre, it still gets busy, so book skip-the-line tickets here.
  • Musee de l’Orangerie: Another must-visit for fans of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Musee de l’Orangerie picks up where Musee d’Orsay leaves off. You’ll find art by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, as well as a large selection of eight of Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ mural collection. A must-visit for Monet fans! This is also quite busy due to its central location in the Tuileries gardens in the heart of Paris, so booking skip-the-line tickets is advised here as well.
  • Picasso Museum: Big Modernism and Picasso fans should not miss this comprehensive museum with over 5,000 exhibits, including prints and paintings by one of the most famous painters of all time. Book your skip-the-line tickets here.

Insider Tips & Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting the Louvre

People in winter clothing visiting the Louvre, in a series of arches from which you can see the glass pyramids on the other end.

Having said all that, many people are truly interested in seeing the Louvre — drawn in by its main attractions and genuinely interested in seeing more — and would gladly spend 3 to 5 hours checking out at least some of the exhibited works!

Since the Louvre is really big and crowded, it is a good idea to keep these common mistakes in mind to avoid them and to make the most of your visit to the Louvre.

Dont overlook the building itself.

Male figure standing in front of the glass pyramids of the Louvre, one smaller pyramid and one larger one, and the former palace structure which houses the museum behind it.

We get it, you go to the Louvre for the stunning pieces of art, the magnificent jewels of the French crown, or for some of the most stunning antiquities, paintings, and sculptures.

However, overlooking the architecture and style of the palace in itself is something that you will regret!

Originally constructed as a military fortress, the structure was later turned into a royal palace and house of the kings of France.

The Louvre’s first iteration as a fortress began all the way back in the 12th century, and you can find some remnants of the medieval phases of its lifespan in the crypt — it’s truly impressive.

The building housed different French royal families until the royal family moved their residence to the to Palace of Versailles in 1682.

Later on, the palace was used as a residence for artists under royal patronage.

Additionally, several monarchs used the palace to store their acquisitions of paintings and other artworks throughout history.

As a result, many halls and rooms feature spectacular hand-painted ceilings, magnificent staircases and columns, vivid frescoes, and impressive windows with views over the well-curated gardens of the palace.

The palace is a work of art in itself, so don’t forget to look up, down, and around you as well!

Remember to tour the gardens (they’re free!).

Yellow flowers and other colorful flowers and green grass, with sculptures in garden, and the Louvre Palace architecture in the background, in the Tuileries Garden of Paris.

The Tuileries is a gorgeous park open to any visitor where it is possible to enjoy a stroll or even enjoy a picnic with a baguette and some cheese and charcuterie!

Besides, you can enjoy free admission to the Tuileries regardless of whether or not you buy Louvre tickets, and it is a great place to soak in the vibes and the beauty of the whole Louvre complex.

Plus, the Tuileries itself are massively historic: this green area has been standing between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde for almost 500 years! 

The Tuileries used to be the royal and then imperial garden of personalities such as king Louis XIII and Napoleon I — and unfortunately, it is another place that many tourists miss in their haste to squeeze everything into their first trip to Paris.

There are different sections of the garden you should consider — the garden, too, is large and overwhelming!

Fr example, the part of the Tuileries that is closer to the museum, known as Grand Carré, is probably the prettiest one.

This section of the garden features ponds, sculptures, and flower beds, and it was specially designed to be admired from inside the palace.

Another area worth a stop is the Grand Couvert, which gives the visitor the idea of a wilder wooded area, with symmetric tree groves and passages — it’s the perfect romantic place in Paris for a lovely walk.

In fact, the Tuileries Garden can be defined as an open-air museum of sorts, as it has been decorated with statues and vases from different periods!

Pick your entrance wisely.

Large crowd in the winter of people waiting in line to get into the Louvre at the popular Pyramid entrance... there are other entrances that are less crowded!

Everyone wants to access the museum by going through the glass pyramids.

Of course, they are not to blame!

The imposing modern entrance, in clear contrast with the style of the palace, soon became an iconic sight of Paris, where everyone wants to take a picture! 

The Pyramid is the Louvre’s main entrance, but of course, it is more than just that.

The large structure is located in Coeur Napoleon and dates back to 1988.

It’s designed by one of the most famous architects of the modern era, the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.

The main glass pyramid is made of metal and glass and is surrounded by three smaller pyramids. 

Despite being the most popular access to the Louvre, it is certainly not the most practical one, nor the least crowded.

There are several alternative places to enter the museum, some of them virtually empty.

The most obvious one is located in the underground mall known as Carrousel du Louvre. 

However, during peak times it is also possible to access entering through any of two alternative doors: Richelieu and Porte des Lions.

Either of these two entrances is a great way to help you to beat the crowds. You will easily find more details at the official website.

Book skip-the-line tickets in advance.

The famous Caryatids sculpture at the Louvre, where large human figures form pillars, that support a larger structure

This is the #1 Louvre tip, so pay attention!

Keep in mind as well that booking your ticket a few days (sometimes even weeks or months) before the visit is the best way to avoid the queue at the ticket booth!

This way, you will also be able to choose your time slot and even check out the museum during the late hours (Friday evenings, the museum is open until 9:45 PM), which often results in less crowded and more peaceful visits!

If you don’t mind seeing the museum late, this is the best time to visit for fewer crowds.

We suggest booking online tickets in advance, especially if you have a specific date in mind.

The cheapest option is a Louvre Museum Timed-Entrance Ticket which ensures you get in within 30 minutes and allows you to skip past the ticket line of people who didn’t read this article and know to plan in advance!

Alternately, you can pair your Timed Ticket Entry with an Audioguide or Timed Ticket With a Tour if you prefer your sightseeing with additional historical context.

Book your skip-the-line entrance, your ticket with audioguide, or your timed ticket & tour here!

The skip-the-line ticket can be used at the dedicated Priority Access line at the Pyramid main entrance, at the Porte des Lions entrance, or the Carrousel entrance.

Note that with any of these tickets, you’ll still have to pass through an airport-style security checkpoint; there’s no skipping the security line.

Please remember to bring your ID to enter the Louvre!

If museums are your thing, and the Louvre is not the only one you might want to check out during your time in Paris, then it can be a good idea to purchase a Paris Museum Pass to visit more than just the Louvre.

Starting at $55 USD for a 2-day pass that includes 60+ attractions, you will easily get your money’s worth with Paris Pass if you plan to visit at least four museums during two days in Paris, since most museums’ ticket prices are around ~$15-20 USD per ticket.

Book your Museum Pass here!

Forget about seeing everything in a day.

The famous armless Venus de Milo statue is one of the most visited pieces of art in the Louvre

If you’re a real art history lover, you might want to see a lot more than the regular traveler, and that would be a dream!

However, it is a good idea to keep your expectations at a realistic level. The impressive quantity of objects exhibited makes it impossible to see as much as your heart desires!

This is the largest art museum in the world (and one of the world’s largest museums, period)!

In my opinion, you should plan your visit around seeing three or four key works of art, plus a few wings or exhibition halls that have a particular interest for you.

Doing more than that, your Louvre visit can quickly get very tiring and time-consuming, especially if you have to spend half of the time trying to figure out where everything is!

Plan in advance! The museum has an outstanding website that helps you decide in advance what to see and where to find it.

Besides, it also tells you what rooms might be closed during certain days of the week (this is very common!) allowing you to plan the visit accordingly.

Grab a map before entering and read it!

One of the halls in the Louvre, featuring a lot of unique sculptures and urns and people taking photos of the works of art in there

Do not think that because you checked the site or read the Wikipedia page of the museum you are ready to visit. 

For real — the Louvre is as impressive as it is is overwhelming, so once you’re inside, grab a map of the premises in your language and take at least 15 minutes to read it.

This will help you orient yourself and understand what halls, wings, and exhibitions to check out, and where to go next. You might feel that you are wasting time, but you’re not. 

Refer back to the map every time you feel lost, read the signs, and feel free to ask the numerous staff — the wonderful museum staff speak several languages and are always ready to help with directions! 

Avoid rushing the visit.

A large crowd around the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a beautiful headless and armless statue with wings - but you will find fewer crowds in other areas of the museum!

Another common mistake is to move around the Louvre fast looking for just a few things to see (typically: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory). That’s the worst thing you can do!

You will be ignoring impressive masterpieces that might even be more worth your time.

Don’t get me wrong, you should quicken your pace to check out some key pieces, especially at crowded hours, to avoid spending the whole day inside the Louvre, but don’t run around like crazy You will see very little, you will enjoy nothing, and you will end up frustrated and exhausted.

Visit with someone that knows best.

Interior photo of the Musee du Louvre with the pyramid that also reaches down below the floor level.

Organizing the visit on your own is totally possible and free to plan (besides the admission to the museum itself) if you have the luxury of tons of extra time before the visit.

There are tons of videos online explaining how to visit the Louvre, what to see inside, and where everything is.

But let’s be honest — the Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums, so even if you watch them dozens of times, once inside the Louvre, you’ll have no idea where to go first.

For that reason, it is a good idea to book a tour with an art expert or at least with a guide that can show you around and explain the pieces you will be admiring.

There are dozens of interesting visits available — most of them even include a timed entrance ticket, to save time and meet your guide once inside the Louvre.

If you’re not art savvy but are willing to learn or if – on the contrary – you know something about painting and sculpture, but want a deeper insight and a new perspective, then a tour with an art expert will be priceless!

Among the many options, I recommend checking out the following:

Louvre Museum Tour: This guided tour includes priority entry and an expert guide who leads you on a carefully-planned route of both the famous spots and a few less-crowded hidden gems. You’ll see the crown jewels of the French Monarchy, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, ancient Egyptian antiquities, and Greek and Roman antiquities as well: everything you’d want to see on your first visit. After the small group tour, you’re free to continue the visit on your own, adding on any spots that may intrigue you — or asking your guide what they suggest next!

Book your museum tour here!

Louvre Museum Entry Ticket with Guidance to Mona Lisa: This tour is perfect for those who know their priority is seeing the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and want to save time and energy finding it. Not only will you have skip-the-line entry to the Louvre, you’ll also have direct access to the Mona Lisa, then free time to explore the museum at your leisure.

Book your skip-the-line tickets and Mona Lisa guidance here!

The famous painting the Wedding Feast at Cana by the artist Veronese

Louvre Masterpieces Tour with Pre-Reserved Tickets: This 2-hour tour is perfect for the true art geek with time constraints: you’ll pass through 8 of the Louvre’s curatorial departments, guided by an expert who will bring you straight to the most important pieces and give you the history of them. Of course, you’ll see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. But you’ll also get to see other oft-forgotten but equally impressive pieces, like the Coronation of Napoleon, the Caryatids statue, Venus and the Three Graces, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Raft of Medusa, Liberty Leading the People, and Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.

Book your Masterpieces tour here!

Louvre Museum Timed-Entrance Ticket and Audio Guide: A perfect option for budget travelers who don’t want to miss the highlights of the Louvre, this comes with skip-the-line tickets with full access to the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. There’s an additional fee for the official Louvre audioguide, but it’s quite a good deal nonetheless.

Book your ticket and audioguide here!

Wear comfortable shoes.

Person wearing white Nikes and green cuffed trousers

When visiting the Louvre, you will walk and stand for hours, from the moment you access the museum until you end your visit.

Therefore, it’s key to leave fashion trends behind for the sake of a comfy pair of shoes – and honestly, of all the things on this list, it’s probably the best suggestion I can give you!

Forget everything about being stylish — yes, even though it’s Paris!

Wear shoes that have been broken into, have supportive soles, and won’t cause blisters, especially if you plan to spend the entire day out and about.

Just in case, pack a few band-aids and some painkillers in your bag too.

Decide when to visit.

Lit up interior of the glass pyramid in the Louvre as seen at night - you can visit at night on Friday and the first Saturday of each month

As I’ve said already, pick your time wisely! The museum is closed on Tuesdays, so that’s out.

The rest of the week, the Louvre is open from 9 AM to 6 PM (last entry 1 hour before closing), and on Fridays, you can also visit in the evening, as the museum’s closing time is at 9:45 PM.

If you can do late nights, Fridays are one of the best days to visit, and night an especially good time.

This is a great time to visit (especially during the high season), as it’s not as popular as in the middle of the day, because not everyone knows about the late night opening hours!

It’s a good option if you want there to be fewer people in the museum with you during your stay.

Another great time to avoid a long line and crowded exhibition halls are in the early mornings.

Get in the ticket access queue around 8:30, about 30 minutes before the museum opens, to enjoy at least the first hour of your museum tour with almost no crowds.

If you happen to be in Paris on the first weekend of a month, know that there is free entry between 6:00 PM and 9:45 PM on the first Saturday of each month. It was formerly the first Sunday of the month, but has since changed.

If that coincides with the day of your visit, it’s a good way to save some money on your Paris trip! Just know you will be with larger crowds, and there’s no way to skip the line if you are entering for free.

In terms of time of the year, there’s not a huge low season in Paris, but in general, visiting Paris in winter will have fewer crowds, as long as it’s not the week around Christmas and New Years.

Pick which wings to dedicate your time to.

The sphinx statue in one of the lesser-visited sections of the Louvre

The Louvre features three main wings. Here is what you’ll find in each and why they might be interesting!

  • Denon Wing: You can’t miss this wing because it has the three most important pieces of art in the Louvre: The Monsa Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and The Venus de Milo. But there are many other pieces also worth your time, that’ll be less crowded! You’ll also find other da Vinci paintings like La Belle Ferronniere and Portrait of an Unknown Woman. This wing also houses some frescoes from Botticelli, as well as the famous Wedding Feast at Cana, as well as the crown jewels, some antiquities from Greek, Roman, and Etruscan times, some sculptures from Michelangelo such as the Dying Slave (found on the ground floor in the sculpture gallery)
  • Sully Wing: The oldest part of the Louvre, this is where you’ll find the medieval Louvre walkway taking you past the old city walls and the aspects of the Louvre that recall its history as a fortress. You’ll find a sphinx and other Egyptian antiquities, French paintings up until the Impressionist era (from Impressionist onwards, you’ll find in museums like the Musée d’Orsay and de l’Orangerie), art from Ancient Iran and the Levant, and decorative arts from the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Richelieu Wing: The least-crowded part of the Louvre, this wing features the apartments of Napoléon III (although it should be noted he never lived here). You’ll also find a sculpture garden, decorative arts from the Middle Ages through the 19th century, older French, German, Flemish, and Dutch paintings, and Islamic arts. You can access this wing directly through the Passage Richelieu, one of the many Louvre entrances.