Do you feel like walking in a stunning natural setting and taking wonderful pictures?
Well, you need to spend 2 days in Cinque Terre!
Let’s discover how to plan the perfect Cinque Terre hiking itinerary! (Ifyou don’t feel like hiking you can follow the same itinerary and explore the towns by train or by boat).
Riomaggiore from the water
The best time to visit Cinque Terre
April or September – to enjoy mild and sunny weather and to avoid the crowds of tourists. If you go there during summer, stick to the classical “beach life”, because trails and villages will be too crowded to be fully enjoyed.
How long should you stay in Cinque Terre
One weekend is enough for visiting Cinque Terre. The perfect solution is visiting Genova or La Spezia for 2 or 3 days, then spend the weekend trekking in the Cinque Terre area.
What to choose as a departure point
La Spezia is nearer to the area, so it’s an obvious solution. Moreover, it gives you the chance to visit Porto Venere too, which is another popular coastal village.
On the other hand, Genova is really well served and connected and it is a picturesque city hosting the largest Italian Aquarium with more than 500 different species, which makes it an ideal place for kids.
A 2 day itinerary in Cinque Terre
2 days in Cinque Terre: Day One
Depart from Genova or La Spezia to reach Monterosso by train (1h10 from Genova and 22 minutes from La Spezia. For more information about timetables and tickets visit Trenitalia.
Once you have arrived to the train station in Monterosso, just follow the waterfront on your left to reach Fegina beach and follow the signs to reach the departure point of the Blue Trail. Take the first part of the trail to reach Vernazza. It is an ascent of medium difficulty, taking about 1h45 (3,5 Km). The trail starts with a steep stairway among vineyards to become a flat path overlooking the sea.
Vernazza from above
Reach Vernazza at lunchtime and relax!
Early in the afternoon, you can rent a “gozzo”, which is a typical fishermen’s boat to take a short trip and enjoy the view of the coast from the sea. You can rent a boat for a couple of hours or for the entire afternoon, just check some rental services like this one here.
Later in the afternoon, you can get back to the Blue Trail to reach Corniglia. This second part of the trail begins in the middle of Vernazza village and goes up along the ancient fortifications. It is an ascent of medium difficulty taking about 1h30 (4 Km). From the trail, you can admire Guvano beach, which you have probably seen from the sea a few hours before.
Arrival at Corniglia before dinner. Here you can rest in a Bed & Breakfast and enjoy a typical dinner.
Depart in the morning to reach Manarola via the Blue Trail. This portion of the path begins close to San Pietro church and runs parallel to the tracks. Since Corniglia is located in an elevated position, the trail is always flat and the walk is easy, taking just 1 hour (2 Km). After this short walk, you’ll get to Manarola’s waterfront.
Walk around the village to explore its “carrugi” (narrow alleys) and take some pictures, then have a break at a local restaurant.
After lunch, you can get back to the Blue Trail for the last portion of the path leading to Riomaggiore. This is the easiest part of the trail and also the most picturesque one, which is often referred to as the “Love Trail” for its beautiful setting. It just takes 30 minutes and it is 1,5 Km long. At the moment, this part of the trail is closed due to a landslide, so that you’d better ask if it has been reopened and rebuilt before going there.
In the afternoon, you can either sun-bathe and relax on the beach or explore Riomaggiore and its particular conformation due its narrow strip of land caught between the mountain and the sea.
Later in the afternoon, you can catch a train in Riomaggiore and get back to Genova or La Spezia.
The best solution is sleeping in Corniglia, which is right in the Middle of the Cinque Terre area. Here you’ll find several B&B located in ancient and picturesque houses or with a wonderful view of the sea. A few examples are:
B&B da Beppe is a charming bed and breakfast in the heart of the town. Rooms are comfortable, if maybe a little small, but come equipped with kettle and coffee/tea making facilities, an ensuite bathroom, and views across the town and sea. Owner Beppe gets rave reviews from past travellers thanks to his warm and engaging personality.
In Vernazza: enjoy a light and quick lunch with sandwiches, bruschetta, pizza or light local dishes. Don’t forget to taste local ice cream, which is a typical Italian snack for any time of the day!
A few tips:
Ananasso Bar in Piazza Marconi 30
Blue Marlin Bar via Roma 47
Gelateria Vernazza via Roma 13
Gelateria Il Porticciolo via Visconti 12
In Corniglia: try a homemade dinner based on local ingredients and traditional recipes. Taste for example “pasta al pesto” or marinated anchovies.
A few tips:
A Cantina de Mananan via Fieschi 117
Enoteca Il Pirun via Fieschi 115
Il Buongustaio via Fieschi 164
In Riomaggiore: enjoy an afternoon snack with ice cream, focaccia, farinata (a sort of focaccia made with chickpea flour) or canestrelli (local biscuits).
A few tips:
Gelateria Centrale via San Giacomo 105
Panificio Rosi via Colombo 188
Old School Gelateria & Snack Bar via Pecunia 110
In winter there can be frequent landslides due to abundant rain, so that in spring there are often many maintenance worksites on the Blue Trail. Ask for information before planning your trip, to make sure every path is open and safe. Use the app Cinque Terre Hiking Guide to monitor the situation.
To access the Blue Trail, you have to pay a fee of about 5 euros (prices vary according to the period of the year). In the future, the Blue Trail might be accessible for a limited number of people at a time to prevent overcrowding and damages, especially in summer. Once again, check well before planning your trip.
Consider the Cinque Terre Card, that is a prepaid card including access to the Blue Trail, pullman transfers, guided visits and educational activities. For more information click here.
Wear sturdy shoes for your trekking and don’t forget you are in the mountains and the terrain is rough and slippery.
In some portions of the Blue Trail there are no barriers on the cliff, so you might experience some vertigo.
Spending just one day in Cinque Terre? Check my post here.
During your 2 days in Cinque Terre you have surely enjoyed outdoor activities and nature and, if the weather is warm enough, you can spend some more days in one of the villages relaxing on the beach!
Planning to travel more around Italy, you might be interested in:
Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) is a 10 Km long coastal area in the Southern part of Liguria Region, close to Toscana border and to the city of La Spezia. These “five lands” are five small villages located on top of cliffs and steep slopes overlooking the sea. The beauty of the rocky coast and the picturesque and colorful villages have made this area really popular and renown worldwide.
The main activities are still fishing and tourism and they are also famous for their vineyards and the areas of terrace cultivations nearby. To explore them all, you can walk along the so-called “Blue Trail”, which connects the five villages and offers amazing views on both sea and hills. Cinque Terre area was included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997 and it is considered one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre- The best areas A Traditional Italian Seaside Resort – Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare beach
It is the most populated village with about 1500 residents. It is located in the Western part of Cinque Terre and it overlooks a small gulf. This medieval village has some interesting pieces of heritage, like San Giovanni Battista church and the Giant statue (or Neptune statue), which is a huge monument overlooking the beach and built in 1910.
Neptune statue in Monterosso al Mare
This place was also the summer residence of the Italian poet Eugenio Montale and you can still see his house. As for natural beauties, you cannot miss Punta Mesco, that is the promontory that encloses the gulf which offers a beautiful view from its ancient lighthouse.
Pros: large sandy beach (the only one in Cinque Terre), several facilities for tourists and families and beautiful views.
Cons: crowded in summer.
Beaches: Monterosso has the largest beach in Cinque Terre (Fegina Beach) and the only sandy coast. This makes it the most crowded place, especially in summer. There is also a smaller beach located in front of the old town, which is used as a starting point for the Blue Trail trekking.
Trekking: Monterosso – Vernazza Trail – average hard, it takes 1h45. Monterosso – Levanto Trail – with a significant slope, it takes 2h30.
Sport: trekking, swimming, sailing, biking.
Culture/Art: San Giovanni Battista Church, Giant statue and Montale’s House
Is it for you? you are searching for a classical seaside vacation and you have kids. You like quiet and comfortable vacations with plenty of different activities for both adults and kids.
How to get there: by train from Genova or La Spezia or by boat from La Spezia or another Cinque Terre village.
Monterosso al Mare
Where to Stay in Monterosso al Mare
As Monterosso al Mare is the last town of the five towns, it’s a popular spot to stay overnight. La Casa di Zuecca is a beautifully designed modern hotel in the centre of town, steps from the beach. The hotel offers breakfast on the terrace, and all cafes or wine bars are only metres away in town. If you have a car, unfortunately, there is no parking here and parking in town will cost upwards of €25.
Locanda Il Maestrale is also located in town, in an old 18th century building that overlooks the historic town. The rooms here are spacious suites, with ensuite bathrooms, a minibar, and complimentary breakfast on the terrace, but it is not suitable for families as it is an adult-only B&B.
The second village you’ll encounter on the Blue Trail. It is surrounded by vineyards and just above the town you can see the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio (easily reachable by a 2 Km trail). Vernazza is renowned for its vineyards, its lemons and the olive oil production.
Pros: many trekking trails and a beautiful rural landscape.
Cons: tiny beaches.
Beaches: a tiny beach is located less than 200 m from the train station, so it’s really easy to reach. Close to the main square, you’ll find another small beach, but you can only reach it by going through a natural cave.
Trekking: Vernazza – Monterosso Trail – steep but beautiful, it takes 1h45. Vernazza – Corniglia Trail – average hard, it takes 1h30. Sanctuary Trail – easy and partially paved, it takes less than 30 minutes.
Sport: trekking and swimming.
Culture/Art: Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio and Santa Maria di Antiochia Church.
Is it for you? You are young and you love outdoor activities and trekking. You don’t care about comfort.
How to get there: by train from Genova or La Spezia or by boat from La Spezia or another Cinque Terre village. The main beach is just in front of the train station.
Where to Stay in Vernazza
beach in Vernazza
Vernazza is one of the most popular towns and as a result accommodation in town can be scarce at times. If you have a car, the Cade Ventu is a great hotel. Located a little more than 3km from town, the pet-friendly hotel offers spacious rooms with balconies or terraces and a complimentary breakfast. Cade Ventu is on the coast between Vernazza and Corniglia, with spectacular views across the sea. It’s a great spot for families as they also offer an apartment.
Another ideal spot for families is The Terrace. The self-contained flat is located in the centre of town (I suggest not taking any heavy luggage, as there are quite a few steps!) and is just a few steps from the train station. The sun terrace is the perfect place to enjoy your home-cooked dinner or to savour the late afternoon sun before heading to town for an aperitif.
It is located in the middle of the Cinque Terre area and it is the only landlocked village. It is located on top of a promontory overlooking the sea and it surrounded by vineyards. It is a really tiny village, so there are no pieces of heritage, but in the local Saint Peter’s Church an annual organ festival takes place during summer.
Pros: the most picturesque village with a beautiful rural landscape nearby.
Cons: tiny village and uncomfortable beaches.
Beaches: Guvano beach is small and it is difficult to reach (only going through a tunnel or walking through a steep slope from the Blue Trail), but it is quiet and isolated. Just below the village, there is another rocky beach that is inaccessible in case of rough sea conditions.
Trekking: Corniglia -Vernazza Trail – average hard, it takes 1h30. A trail passing through vineyards – easy
Sport: mainly trekking.
Culture/Art: annual organ festival.
Is it for you? You are searching for a trekking area with beautiful views and natural landscapes. You are not interested in sun-bathing nor in entertainment.
How to get there: by train from La Spezia or Levanto. Once you have arrived at the station, you have to climb 400 stone steps to reach the village above. You can also reach Corniglia by boat from La Spezia, Genova or another Cinque Terre village.
Corniglia, view from the water
Where to Stay in Corniglia
Corniglia, is often less crowded than the others as an overnight stay. B&B da Beppe is a charming bed and breakfast in the heart of the town. Rooms are comfortable, if maybe a little small, but come equipped with kettle and coffee/tea making facilities, an ensuite bathroom, and views across the town and sea. Owner Beppe gets rave reviews from past travellers thanks to his warm and engaging personality.
An ancient village clambered up a steep hill. It is made of a network of narrow alleys named “carrugi” and typical of several towns in Liguria (like the historic city center in Genova). The village is built around the ancient castle, which is now a private mansion but still recognizable as a defensive building. Manarola is famous for its “presepe” (nativity scene): in December, a bright crib is built upon the hill, with figures covered with many lights and visible from a great distance.
Pros: beautiful scenery, both in summer and winter, and many facilities for outdoor activities.
Beaches: the main beach is located near the port. If you don’t mind walking, you can also reach another larger beach located 3 Km away from the village.
Trekking: Punta Bonfiglio Trail – on the top of the promontory you can find a playground for kids and a bowling green. Manarola – Corniglia Trail – easy, it takes 2h30.
Sport: kayak, swimming, sailing, trekking.
Culture/Arts: light crib in December.
Is it for you? You are searching for a place where you and your kids can do several outdoor activities. You are searching for a seaside resort where to spend your Christmas holidays.
How to get there: by train from Genova or La Spezia or by boat from La Spezia or another Cinque Terre village.
If you just have a few days to visit Italy, you won’t probably have the time to explore its many artistic and historical beauties, nor its many different landscapes. For this reason, we suggest you some insights to plan your trip according to your preferences by choosing to privilege Northern or Southern Regions (or a mix of both!).
Where to go in Italy? Northern Italy or Southern Italy?
Let’s start with a short overview of Italian Regions!
Do you know them all?
Northern Regions of Italy
Varenna, Lake Como
Valle D’Aosta – capital: Aosta – main tourist area: Mont Blanc
Piemonte – capital: Torino – main tourist area: Torino and the Langhe area
Lombardia – capital: Milano – main tourist area: Como Lake
Liguria – capital: Genova – main tourist area: Cinque Terre
Friuli Venezia Giulia – capital: Trieste – main tourist area: Alpes and Dolomites
Veneto – capital: Venezia – main tourist area: Venezia and Verona
Emilia Romagna – capital: Bologna – main tourist area: Rimini and other seaside resorts
Central Regions of Italy
Toscana – capital: Firenze – main tourist area: Firenze
Marche -capital: Ancona – main tourist area: San Benedetto del Tronto and other seaside resorts
Umbria – capital: Perugia – main tourist area: Orvieto and Assisi
Lazio – capital: Roma – main tourist area: Roma
Southern Regions of Italy
Abruzzo – capital: L’Aquila – main tourist area: seaside resorts and ski destinations
Molise – capital: Campobasso – main tourist area: Appennines
Basilicata – capital: Potenza – main tourist area: Matera
Campania – capital: Napoli – main tourist area: Napoli, Capri and Amalfi
Puglia – capital: Bari – main tourist area: Salento area
Calabria – capital: Catanzaro – main tourist area: seaside resorts
Sicilia – capital: Palermo – main tourist area: Palermo, Taormina and Eolie islands
Sardegna – capital: Cagliari – main tourist area: seaside resorts
The best destinations to visit in Italy for each month of the year
January: skiing holiday in the North of Italy. The most popular ski resorts are located in Trentino Alto Adige and they are perfect for all kinds of winter sports.
Cortina D’ Ampezzo, mountain peaks of Dolomites, Trentino Alto Adige region
February: a romantic St. Valentine in the Alps in the North of Italy. You can choose a ski resort or a picturesque mountain village in Valle D’Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia or Friuli Venezia Giulia.
March: early spring is perfect to go sightseeing in the many small and picturesque towns of Central Italy, which are among the richest destinations in cultural and artistic heritage. Choose Toscana, but don’t limit your visit to Firenze: explore the surrounding hills with their villages and medieval towns and the beauty of the rural areas too.
Le Complexe du Duomo in Florence
April: Easter holidays are a classical tourist period in Italy and locals often choose the main cities of arts: Venezia, Firenze, Roma, Torino, Napoli, Matera etc. It is the perfect time of the year for a trip like that, because you’ll find a sunny and mild climate in every Region of the Country.
May: the ideal period to discover the lakes in the North of Italy. Choose Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto or Trentino Alto Adige.
June: a seaside holiday in June is way cheaper than a vacation in July or August, so now it’s the moment to explore some small villages along Italian coasts. For a quiet and relaxing holiday, choose Liguria, Marche or Lazio. Any coastal Region of Italy is a good choice in this period, but avoid the most popular and crowded destinations.
Atrabni – Amalfi Coast
July: this month is often synonymous of seaside vacations in the Southern Regions. Don’t miss Salento (the most popular area in Puglia), Sardegna or Eolie Islands (Sicilia).
August: in this month we have “Ferragosto” (August 15th), which is the moment every Italian is on holiday somewhere. Every tourist destination in Italy is really crowded during this period, especially the Southern ones, because many locals choose a seaside resort. You’ll also find plenty of tourists in the mountains, especially in the Alps or in the many National Parks in Northern and Central Italy.
September: in the Southern Regions is still summer, so you can go the beach and have a swim in Calabria, Puglia and Sicilia. Now any location is less crowded and cheaper.
Polignano a Mare Apulia (Puglia)
October: the ideal period for visiting the historic towns of Sicilia (Palermo, Taormina, Agrigento and Siracusa). Sightseeing in the South is better during Autumn or early Spring, to avoid hot Summer weather.
November: in Autumn, any Region has its own gastronomic festivals. Some examples? Torrone Festival in Cremona (Lombardia), the Truffle Fair in Alba (Piemonte), Saint Martin celebrations in Veneto and Lombardia, the Wine Festival in Merano (Trentino) or the culinary festival of Lucca (Toscana). Choose a gastronomic tour of Italy!
Christmas market in Bolzano
December: the month when the first ski vacations in the North of Italy take place, but also an occasion to discover Italian Christmas traditions, like the typical markets of Trentino Alto Adige (Merano and Bolzano) or Roma and Napoli. Another important tradition is “presepe” (the nativity scene), which is performed by actors (like in Abruzzo and Lazio) or is reproduced in creative and artistic ways (like in Liguria or Emilia Romagna).
Where to go in Italy if you enjoy shopping
Do you love shopping?
These are the best destinations for you:
Milano: the “Fashion City”. It is quite expensive and it is suitable for people searching for luxury and trendy shops.
Serravalle Scrivia (Alessandria – Piemonte): here you’ll find one of the largest Italian outlets. If you come here for a weekend of shopping, don’t forget to take a tour of the Monferrato area, to admire its hills and vineyards, especially in Autumn.
Fidenza (Parma – Emilia Romagna): the second most popular Italian outlet. Fidenza is a really nice town, rich in heritage and with a famous Romanic cathedral.
Firenze: here you can find many fancy shops, but also some affordable malls. Don’t forget to tour its markets and the artisanal shops.
For a shopping vacation, the best options are in the North of Italy, especially Piemonte, Lombardia and Emilia Romagna.
Where to go in Italy for Natural Landscapes
Italy has some amazing natural landscapes: mountains, hills, lakes, coasts and natural parks in almost any Region of the Country. Let’s see a few examples for each part of Italy!
North – famous for its mountains, lakes and river landscapes
Carezza Lake– Trentino Alto Adige: also called “Rainbow Lake” for its colors. It is located near Bolzano.
Cervia’s saline– Emilia Romagna: an historic saline and a beautiful natural landscape where you can watch flamingos and other rare birds.
Gran Paradiso National Park– Piemonte & Valle D’Aosta: it is famous worldwide for its sceneries and its many trails
River Po Delta Park – Veneto: it is located at the confluence of River Po and the sea. Here you can..
Southern Italy is full of history, cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes. If you only have 10 days for your visit, you can try this itinerary through the main cities to get a general overview of this area and come back in the future to further explore your favorite destinations.
Best time to visit Southern Italy
Spring. The weather is warm (without being hot, like during summer months) and there are fewer tourists around, so that you can enjoy both the cities and the natural landscapes at their best. In May, you can also enjoy some “beach life” and have a swim!
Southern Italy itinerary overview
This Southern Italy itinerary includes the following places of interest:
Amalfi Coast (Positano, Praiano, Amalfi and Ravello)
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.
Where to sleep in Southern ItalyWhere to stay in Naples
Here are two great hotel recommndations for your stay in Naples.
Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo
This 4-star hotel, a member of the Marriott Group, is located centrally close to the main attractions of Naples and the ferry terminal. Rooms are comfortable and modern while the rooftop where breakfast is served has lovely views of the Bay, Castel Nuovo, and Mount Vesuvius.
Located near the main station, this hotel is an excellent choice for those thinking about visiting Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. It provides excellent 3-star value with comfortable rooms including Wi-Fi, satellite TV, air-con and safe.
For more hotel recommendations check out my post where to stay in Naples here.
Where to stay in Matera:
You shall definitely seize the opportunity to sleep in Sassi district (or even in a real Sasso!) to enjoy this beautiful scenery, both day and night. On my visit to Matera I stayed at the :
Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita
Located in the Sassi area of Matera, this luxury hotel offers rooms with stone floors and antique furnishing. Room Amenities include Wi-Fi and air-conditioning, The hotel also offers a terrace with panoramic views of the Murgia National Park. This was one of the most unique and beautiful hotels I have stayed.
It is located in Crispiano 17 km away from Taranto and 40 km away from Alberobello the Masseria dates back to the 15th century. It is surrounded by 170 hectares of olive trees and vineyards and its rooms feature hand painted tiles against a dark wood background or simple white tiled backsplash. Each room has its own private bathroom and seating area with comfy chairs. Luxurious toiletries, wifi, and exceptional service are included in the room rate.
A 10 day Southern Italy itinerarySouthern Italy itinerary: Day 1 Arrive in Naples
Piazza del Plebiscito
Your 10-days itinerary starts in Naples.
How to get there? The best solution is a flight arriving at Capodichino Airport. From there, you can reach the city center either by car or by bus (it will only take about 20 minutes). For more information about airport shuttles visit here. Naples is also very well connected to the main Italian cities by train in case you arrive from somewhere else.
In the afternoon, you can start your visit from San Carlo Theater. It is the oldest Opera House in Europe which is still active today and it represents one of the most important cultural institution in Italy. Enjoy a guided tour in English to discover its neoclassical decorations and its history.
You can now head to Piazza del Plebiscito, one of the largest historical squares in Italy and visit the Royal Palace. Don’t miss its roof garden with their beautiful view of the city and the sea;
Day 2: Explore Naples
Start you day with a visit to Maschio Angioino Castle (also named Castel Nuovo), which is one of the most iconic monuments of the city.
Have a walk in via Calabritto, which is the ultimate shopping destination in Naples, and reach Vittoria Square. This is one of the most important places in town, which celebrates the victory of the Christians over the Turkish during Lepanto battle (1571 A.C.). In front of the sea, you can notice the so-called “broken column”, a monument dedicated to the people who died at sea;
In the afternoon, you can have a tour of the underground city: it is a guided tour lasting 1 hour and taking you to hidden places like narrow alleys, reservoirs, archeological remains and other places located about 40 meters underground. You can find a Roman theater from Nerone’s Age, but also the shelters people used during World War II. For more information and to book a tour click here.
To breathe some fresh air, have a walk along Spaccanapoli, that is the main street going through the whole ancient city center;
Today, head to Pompei. How to get there? It takes 35 minutes by train and 30 minutes by car, so it’s really close to Naples city center. Pompei would require at least a whole day of visit to be fully explored, but if you only have 3 or 4 hours don’t miss the Foro, the Teatro Grande, The Terme Stabiane and Casa del Fauno.
Tip: There will be queues in Pompeii so booking in advance allows you to get in quickly and not waste your time otherwise be there as soon as the archaeological site opens.
Here are a few options that I recommend:
If you want just to skip the line and see the archaeological site on your own I suggest that you buy a fast track entrance ticket.
You can spend the afternoon in Sorrento. It requires a 45 minutes’ drive from Pompei, but you can also reach it by train in 30 minutes. What you cannot miss: Tasso Square, Corso Italia, San Francesco..
If you think about Italy, you’ll probably dreaming of summer, sunny days, seaside resorts, long walks along picturesque streets and so on…well, winter arrives here too and it brings along a great variety of wheatear conditions, peculiar landscapes and many activities and events you cannot miss!
A guide for visiting Italy in Winter
Illuminated Ski Resort of Madonna di Campiglio
How is the weather in Italy in winter?
It depends on the different areas of the Country! Italy has a wide range of climate scenarios, but we can summarize the typical winter wheatear as follows:
The coldest months are December and January, where the temperature may reach -10°C. In the North Eastern areas there is a cold wind called Bora. Fog is a common phenomenon along the Po river, which often makes driving difficult. In the Northern Regions it does not rain often in winter, but it can snow a lot, especially in the mountains. Generally, days are cold but sunny and it’s the perfect weather for winter sports and outdoor activities.
In winter it can get really cold, but the temperature rarely goes below zero. It snows a lot in the mountains, especially in January. In Umbria there is a cold wind called Tramontana.
Palermo Sicily in November
This area of the Country is milder and the temperature rarely goes below 8-9 degrees. On the other hand, winter is generally rainy. Sometimes, Scirocco wind coming from Africa makes the temperature rise up to 20°C.
Winter is warmer (about 10-12 degrees) and sunnier. In Sardegna there are frequent sea storms.
What to pack for Italy in winter
It largely depends on your destination, but there are some things that are suitable for any place in winter: wool sweaters, a coat, a scarf and an umbrella!
Choose thermal sportswear that will keep you warm without filling all the space in your suitcase;
Dress in layers, so that you can have a t-shirt for warm restaurants and shops, a sweater for museums and public places and a coat for open air activities;
Wear a hooded jacket, so that you can protect your head in case of sudden rain or snow;
Wear comfortable shoes and, if possible, make sure they are waterproof too, because you’ll surely face rainy or snowy days;
Don’t forget a pair of gloves if you go to the mountains;
me in Rome in December
Main winter events for each Region in Italy
Sant’Orso Fair (January 30th and 31st in Aosta): typical folk crafts fair (wooden sculptures, panniers and laces)
Trentino Alto Adige
Christmas Markets (December in Merano and Bolzano)
Christmas market in Bolzano
Christmas Markets (December in Turin): in Piazza Castello and Cortile del Maglio
Ambrosian Carnival (February in Milan): it begins when the other Italian Carnivals end, that is the first Saturday of Lent season.
Flowers Carnival (February in Sanremo): traditional parade of floats decorated with local flowers
Venezia Carnival (February in Venezia): one of the most famous Carnivals in the world
Italy is more than just cities of art and seaside resorts: discover its beautiful lakes, especially those located in the Northern Regions of the Country! Among the most popular lakeside destinations you can find: Braies Lake (in Trentino Alto Adige), Maggiore Lake (in Piemonte, Lombardia and Switzerland), Fusine Lake (in Friuli Venezia Giulia), Iseo Lake (in Lombardia), other than Como Lake and Garda Lake, of course, which are popular among international tourists too!
Como & Garda Lakes are especially appreciated for some common features like beautiful landscapes, mild climate and picturesque villages, but they also have some specific elements that can help you choose which one to prefer for your Italian vacation.
Lake Como or Lake Garda? Which one is for you and why.
Como Lake. Why should you choose it?
Como Lake is located in Lombardia and it is just 50 Km away from Milan. For this reason, it is one of the most common weekend destinations for locals. Many famous people choose to spend their vacations here and its shores are dotted by luxurious villas. This is an ancient habit and you can see many historic mansions too, from different historical periods (from Roman villas to the residencies of XVIIIth century nobles!). Como Lake is also known for being the setting of one of the most important Italian novels of all times: “I Promessi Sposi” by Alessandro Manzoni.
3 adjectives to describe it:
Glamorous: beautiful parks, luxurious villas and pieces of art. These features have been popular among famous people of all times and nationalities. It’s also a common choice for filming and photo-shooting.
Romantic: sunset and dinner along the lake, the colors of flowers and water on a sunny day, beautiful gardens and parks…everything here reminds of a romantic vacation. Choose small villages, far from mass tourism, and enjoy a peaceful weekend with your loved one!
Expensive: Como Lake destinations are quite expensive in comparison to other lakeside resorts. This is due to the beautiful scenery of course, but also to the fact that Lombardia is one of the most expensive Regions in Italy.
What to see in Lake Como:
Brunate: a small village hosting plenty of mansions built in Liberty style. It is located uphill and you can reach the shore by a cable railway offering a beautiful view of both Lake Como and the Alps behind. This place is called “the balcony over the Alps” to indicate its amazing scenery.
view of Lake Como with funicular from Brunate
Cernobbio: it is one of the most popular resorts of Como Lake and it also hosts many important business meetings, events and scientific and cultural conventions. It is located only 5 Km away from the city of Como. Not to be missed: a stroll along the lakeside and an easy trail in the mountains called Via dei Monti Lariani (from 600 to 1200 m high).
Laglio: this small village became famous when George Clooney chose it as the residence for his summer vacations. Here you can admire some ancient mansions and an historical Roman tower. The surrounding area is dedicated to vineyards and olive groves and in the mountains (about 600 m high) there is a famous cave (il Buco dell’Orso) containing fossils.
Laglio, village on the Como Lake
Comacina Island: a tiny island (just 2 square kilometer) belonging to the town of Tremezzina. It is famous for the celebrations taking place on June 24th, that is St John’s Day: a boat procession, an open-air Mass and an open-air dinner based on polenta and snails. The shells of the snails are then turned into little candles to be released on the lake surface at night.
view of Comacina island from the hiil of Ossuccio village
Lenno: it is famous for its olive groves and it is an ancient town whose origins date back to the Roman Age. It overlooks a portion of the lake called “Venus’ Gulf”, to indicate its beauty. Not to be missed: historic Villa del Balbianello, an ancient villa.
You are a couple searching for a romantic vacation
Lake Garda. Why should you choose it?
Garda Lake is the largest Italian lake and its shores are split over 3 Regions: Lombardia, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige. Its mild climate and its ample mirror of blue and calm water make it look like the sea and its shores are similar to the ones you can find in some seaside resorts, hosting a lush Mediterranean scrub. The strange thing is the view of the Alps just behind!
3 adjectives to describe it:
Wild: trekking, sailing, climbing, swimming, paragliding…these are some of the activities you can do there while enjoying nature.
Kids-friendly: the best of a seaside and a mountain resort all in one place. Here your kids won’t risk to get bored and the mild climate is perfect for them all year long.
Mediterranean: olive groves, lemon-houses, vineyards, brooms and all the colors and scents of a Mediterranean landscape, even far away from the sea
What to see in Lake Garda:
Sirmione: it is located on the Southern bank of the lake and it is a popular tourist destination. Here you can find some archeological remains (Grotte di Catullo), a medieval castle (Scaligero), a well-known spa center and a beautiful natural landscape.
medieval castle Scaliger on lake Garda
Garda Island: it is located in front of Porto San Fermo (Western bank of Garda Lake) and it is only 1 square kilometer wide. It’s a private property and you have to ask for a permission to visit it. Nearby, you can see Scogli dell’Altare (Altar cliffs), which were once the place where a marine Mass took place for local fishermen, and the Rabbits’ Island, that is a tiny island where lots of bunnies leave freely.
Riva del Garda: it is located in Trentino Alto Adige and its Mediterranean scenery contrasts with the surrounding Alpine landscape and climate. Here you can find beautiful white shores and you can sun bath, swim, sail or kayak along the sandy coast.
Riva del Garda
Vittoriale degli Italiani: a monumental complex built near Gardone Riviera, on the Western bank of Garda Lake. Here the famous Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio lived and died and you can visit both his house and tomb, other than parks, gardens and some monuments dedicated to the Italian heroes of World War I
The Italian Vittoriale
Limone sul Garda: one of the most popular tourist destinations of Garda Lake. It is famous for its lemon-houses, that is special greenhouses built in XVIII century with stone and wood to protect citrus plants.
Sicily lies southwest of Italy; on the map it is the island that the mainland boot kicks. An island with a vastly different vibe than the northern cities of Italy, Sicily is a cultural melting pot with so many exciting things to see and do. It is the largest Mediterranean island and is located between Italy and the eastern coast of Tunisia. The history stretches back thousands of years, and the cultural influences on Sicily range from Africa to the Middle East. Sicily is a destination that needs more than just a few days; spend five days in Sicily to immerse yourself in the culture of this rich Italian island. My five day itinerary for Sicily covers the eastern half of the island and features several of the highlights in Siracusa, Catania, and Taormina.
Things to do in Sicily in 5 days – A winter itinerary
5 days in Sicily: Day 1 – Explore Catania
Fly to Catania from numerous places across Europe. Spend your first day exploring Sicily’s second largest city and home to Mt Etna, an active volcano and national park. Catania is home to the oldest university in Sicily. During the early Renaissance, Catania was one of the most important cultural, artistic, and political centres in Italy. The old city core is one of the best examples of Italian Baroque architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where to stay in Catania
Il Principe Hotel Catania
This 4-star hotel is located in the historical centre of Catania and only 20 minutes on foot from the beach. All rooms offer elegant furnishing free Wi-Fi, and a satellite TV.
The Elephant Fountain is a fountain at the centre of a piazza in Catania; it dates to the 18th century and the origins of the fountain and bizarre Egyptian obelisk atop it are well documented. However, the origins of the basalt elephant are mysterious – it supposedly dates to the Roman period although some have pointed out that it doesn’t look Roman. In the 12th century, the geographer Muhammed al-Idrisi finished the most accurate map of the world, and in it noted that the citizens of Catania venerated this elephant, which supposedly has magical powers. Today, you can view it in the centre of the Piazza Duomo.
Catania’s duomo, or cathedral, is an 11th century cathedral built on the ruins of the Roman Achillean baths. It is dedicated to Saint Agatha. Little remains of the original cathedral, which was built in the style of a fortified church, because it was badly damaged by earthquakes in 1169 and 1693. Parts of the original Norman edifice remain, though, and can be seen in the towers and transepts.
Ursino Castle, also known as Castello Svevo di Catania, is a 13th century castle in the centre of Catania. It was built for the emperor to stress royal power, and was later used as a prison. It is one of the few buildings in Catania to survive the devastating 1693 earthquake. The city bought and began to restore the castle in the 1930s. Today the castle is a museum dedicated to the diverse cultural influences on Sicily.
Palazzo degli Elefanti
The Palazzo degli Elefanti is a historical building in the cathedral square. It was designed and built following the 1963 earthquake and is of the Baroque style. Today it houses the Town Hall.
5 days in Sicily: Day 2 – Take A Day Trip to Mt. Etna
Spend your second day out exploring Mount Etna, an active volcano just a short distance from the city. The mountain towers over the plains below, at over 10,000 feet above sea level. You can do a tour that begins with a pick up at your accommodation. You’ll ride up to the ancient crater while listening to your guide talk about the history of the volcano, the flora and fauna among the ecosystem, and how the various eruptions have shaped the surrounding landscapes. Other highlights of the half-day tour include a visit to a lava flow cave and a stop overlooking the Valle del Bove, one of the most important valleys on the east side of the volcano.
If you want to visit Mt. Etna on your own, you can take a local bus from Catania to the foot of the mountain. There is only one bus that leaves from the Catania bus station in the morning and returns late in the afternoon, so if you choose to do this you can expect it to be crowded.
Once you get to Etna, you have the following options: For a single ride on the cable car you pay €24 , for a return ticket you pay €30. Many people like to hike Mount Etna, and for a reasonably fit person it is easy to do.
If you want to go higher without climbing, you also have to purchase a jeep trip with a mandatory guide €9 and €24 extra for the jeep.
To climb from 1910 meters to the summit of Etna (2900 meters) with the help of both the cable car and jeeps you will have to pay a total of €63.
The bus from Mount Etna leaves for Catania at 4:20pm, and if you miss it there is no other way back, so don’t be late!
5 days in Sicily: Day 3 – Visit Siracusa and Ortygia Island
Siracusa, or Syracuse, is an ancient Greek city on the Ionian coast, known primarily for its Greek and Roman ruins. It has been a Mediterranean power for over 2,700 years, allied with Sparta and Corinth, and was one of the most influential cities across Magna Grecia to rival Athens. Since 2005, the city of Syracuse and the nearby Necropolis of Pantalica are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors will see Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Baroque influences.
Ortygia Island is the historical core of the city, as its island status allowed for natural defenses and it was big enough to hold the population within its walls. Today it is a popular tourist destination as well as a residential area.
The ancient greek theatre of Syracuse in Sicily
Cathedral of Syracuse
The Syracuse Cathedral is a 7th century cathedral on Ortygia Island; it is built on the site of a 5th century Greek Temple of Athena, which was built on the site of an even earlier temple. The Temple of Athena was incorporated into the cathedral walls and can be seen both inside and out. The cathedral was restored following the earthquake and is now considered a Baroque style cathedral.
Necropolis of Pantalica
The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of rock-cut chamber cemeteries within the Siracusa region, about 23 kilometres from the city. It is estimated that there are between 4000 and 5000 rock-hewn tombs on the promontory, which is surrounded by a deep gorge made by two rivers. Pantalica is actually five different necropolises spread out over a wide area. There is also a Mycenaean palace, which was excavated in the 19th century. Archaeologists are uncertain if there are various habitations associated with the different burial eras. The region is also an important nature reserve, and home to several indigenous creatures. There are plenty of pathways to explore, including some old, abandoned railway stations.
You can easily get to Siracusa with the bus leaving from the Catania bus station. Alternatively, you can book a day trip that visits Siracusa, Ortigia and the small town of Noto, famous for its unique style of Sicilian Baroque architecture.
Taormina is a resort town within the Messina region of Sicily, on the east coast of the island. It boasts the second largest Greek theatre (after Syracuse) in Sicily and is also home to a number of other Greek and Roman ruins. The city lies at the top of a steep cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea; a Saracen castle lies an even further 150m higher, atop an isolated rock. Taormina is known for its ancient theatre, local nature reserves, and a lively town centre.
Ancient Greek Theater in Taormina
Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina
Taormina’s ancient theatre ruins are in accordance with Greek plans, although the actual construction is brick, leading researchers to believe that the Romans rebuilt the theatre on top of earlier ruins. The theatre, which is incredibly well preserved, is still used today for concerts.
Isola Bella is linked to the mainland by a small strip of land, accessible at low tide. The island is rocky and surrounded by many little sea grottoes. Isola Bella is counted among Taormina’s most beautiful beaches.
Whether you are young or old, want adventure or relax, have children or are traveling solo, the Amalfi coast (and its surroundings), have something for everyone. When researching this area, there is so much information, as it is a famous tourist destination- for good reason! If you have a few days to spend here, here is an itinerary of the Amalfi Coast with everything you cannot miss.
5 to 7 Days in Paradise – The best Amalfi Coast Itinerary
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 1 – Sorrento
Most likely, you will be coming from Napoli or Rome, so Sorrento is a good place to start. It is bigger than the rest of the towns on the Amalfi coast, so you have more options as far as hotels, restaurants and other services, but it still retains its small-coastal town charm. It is also easy to reach by train, bus, car or ferry, and it could be a perfect home base to see the rest of the Amalfi coast, Pompei and Capri.
What to see here? Stroll by the Villa Comunale, a beautiful park on a terrace overlooking the sea and gorgeous Sorrento Bay. There is usually someone playing a violin or harp- could it get any more romantic? Go for a dip at the beach- the water is all sorts of different blues! Walk through the adorable little and lively streets where you can taste limoncello in its birthplace and take some unique photography at the Vallone dei Mulini, a 200-year old abandoned mill set in a mysterious looking valley close to the main square. End the day with some delicious pizza or seafood pasta. Unlike some other towns in the Amalfi coast, Sorrento always has night life. Stay downtown if you like some action, or just outside the center for more quiet.
If you decide to base yourself in Sorrento here are some great hotel options:
The Grand offers 5-star luxury with all the features that guests would expect of a hotel of that standard including a private beach. It provides stunning views over the Bay of Naples as well as Mount Vesuvius.
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 2 – Positano and Path of the Gods
Sorrento is beautiful, but now get ready for more dramatic views as the cliffs get higher and the colors get more intense. Take a bus from Sorrento (or drive, if you are confident in driving on windy roads) and start your second day with a beautiful hike on the Path of the Gods. It is 5 miles long, starting in Agerola, but of course you can choose to walk it for any length. It is an easy path- starting from Agerola you will be going down the whole time, and there are benches along the way – and good even for children and older ones. Many legends surround this beautiful road, which was believed to be threaded by Greek divinities. The views are spectacular, as you are surrounded by green and overlooking the transparent sea. Near the Vallone Porto, not far from the end, you will also see a waterfall and a canyon. Bring some water and comfortable shoes, and in about 4 hours (including rest) you will reach the end of the trail which is in Nocelle, where you can walk down 500 steps and find yourself right in Positano (at least it’s downhill, right?).
Positano is small and can be seen in just over an hour, but it is considered the highlight of the Amalfi coast. The setting is simply magical, the way the town is vertically built on the precipice, the way the colorful homes and churches are framed by blooming flowers, and of course the water surrounding it all. By hiking in the morning and arriving in Positano in the afternoon you get to relax in this stunning setting and can enjoy the sunset here.
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 3 – Amalfi and Ravello
On the 3rdday, continue exploring the Amalfi coast by seeing 2 of the main towns: Amalfi, and Ravello. Amalfi is the biggest town on the coast, easy to walk (it is mostly flat!), and with beach access. The main square flaunts a beautiful cathedral, the Duomo di Amalfi, built in 987 with mosaics in the typical Amalfi colors – yellow and green. Inside the cathedral there is the Chiostro del Paradiso, which features Moorish architecture and gardens. There are many boat tours offered in the summer to see the coast from the sea- which is breathtaking- and most allow you to jump in the water.
Of course, if you want to visit the town of Amalfi, sit at a restaurant for lunch and spend an afternoon on the beach/boat, you can add a day to the itinerary and see Ravello on the 4th day. If you want to get an overlook, or you are not going in the summer, you can see each town in half a day. Ravello has two main landmarks: Villa Rufolo and Palazzo Cimbrione, two medieval palaces and gardens with Arabic architecture. Ravello sits higher on the mountain so the view from both of these villas are stunning and you can see two different sides of the bay. The gardens are beautiful, and the setting is almost unreal.
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 4 – Pompei
At this point of the trip, we have mostly seen amazing views, beaches, cliffs and cute towns. Pompei is a nice change of pace as it is a huge historical site where you can spend a day completely thrown in a different era. I love history, but always thought Pompei would not actually be “aesthetically” appealing, being a bunch of ruins left from a volcano eruption over 2000 years ago. At least that is what online pictures show. However, what you can’t understand from the internet, is the size of this place.
It is a real and proper CITY, so walking along its well-preserved streets, passing every home, temple, villa and shop is like time traveling, being completely immersed in this ancient world, imagining what their life (and their death) was like. Usually modern and historical coexist in many cities, but Pompei is unique in that the whole city has been left untouched. A tour guide is recommended to get extra interesting gems you could not get otherwise. Take a train from Sorrento (the Campania Express is a quick and comfortable one) and you will be left right in front of the entrance.
There will be queues in Pompeii so booking in advance allows you to get in quickly and not waste your time otherwise be there as soon as the archaeological site opens.
Here are a few options that I recommend:
If you want just to skip the line and see the archaeological site on your own I suggest that you buy a fast track entrance ticket.
No matter how you choose to visit the site, know that it is very busy especially through May to October. Bring a hat and a sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes and drink plenty of water.
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 5 – Capri
They say to save the best for last right? That is why Capri is number 5 on this list. If you see it first, nothing might impress you after it. Easily reached by ferry from Sorento, Napoli, Positano and Amalfi, Capri is a luxurious little island with some of the best views in the world. On arriving to Capri, you can take a boat tour to get an overview of the island and visit its majestic grottos with incredible light effects (such as the Blue or the Emerald grottos). The tours are about 15-20 euros per person, but if you are traveling in a group (up to 8) I recommend taking a private boat tour on one of the typical old Capri boats, for about 100 euros per boat (if you have 4 or more people you pay the same or less than the commercial tours and you are not with another 30 people).
Once you are back on land, there is a beautiful little rocky beach with some of the most beautiful and transparent waters in Italy. From the harbor, take the cable car to the actual town. It is full of fancy boutiques, stunning hotels, and romantic restaurants competing for the best views. What you must not miss, are the Giardini Di Augusto, splendid manicured gardens -made by Roman emperor Augusto on top of the island-which boast the best views of the Faraglioni (two giant rock formations in the middle of the sea) and of the Via Krupp, an amazing ancient path with many steps leading to the bluest waters of Capri. Do not miss this!
If you have an entire week, what can you see in the remaining two days? These are some suggestions.
Amalfi Coast itinerary: Day 6 & 7 Furore, Vietri and Ischia
More Amalfi coast: Other unique sights in the Amalfi coast include Furore, with its amazing 30 meters high bridge over the water; Grotta dello Smeraldo, a beautiful grotto with stalactites which can be toured in the summer from Conca dei Marini; Bagnidella Regina Giovanna, a natural sea pool with crystal clear water amidst Roman ruins; and Vietri, the town of ceramics, colorful and lively.
Italy is one of the most stunning places in the world for many reasons. It’s not only home to incredible landscapes, like majestic mountains and colorful flower fields, but is a land full of history and an intricate culture. In addition to this, you’ll find that Northern Italy is home to magnificent lakes which make the perfect getaway for travelers. They aren’t only a tranquil destination, but allow you to immerse yourself into the Italian culture in a unique way. Below are seven lakes in Northern Italy you must visit while in the area.
7 Lakes in Northern Italy to Visit
Limone sul Garda
Lake Garda is known for its mountains and incredibly clear water making it a popular place to go swimming and sailing. Besides this, you’ll also find many historic buildings scattered around Lake Garda,like Scaligero Castle, a 13th-century structure that features winding staircases to the top of it so you can get panoramic views of the area below.There’s also the Vittoriale Degli Italiani which was the home of the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio during the late 1920s and early 1930s. This villa sits on the edge of a hill and offers not only stunning views of Lake Garda, but is a great place to take a walk thanks to its massive gardens and unique outdoor sculptures.
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern to do, you’ll also find Gardaland. This family-friendly amusement park offers many rides and shows you can watch. There’s also the Parco Natura Viva, a local zoo filled with exotic animals and large dinosaur models.
Situated in the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como is a popular resort area. It offers many panoramic views, like of the Alps, and is known for its Renaissance architecture. While here, you can venture to Villa Carlotta which is an elegant mansion filled with ancient artwork you can view. The villa is also home to many gardens which are filled with numerous fragrant plants.
You can also take a hike up to Valsassina, a valley located between the Alps. It’s a popular place in Lake Como to go for a walk or bike ride. If you’re not up for walking, but want some incredible views of the lake, you can take a cable car up to Monte San Primo. This is the highest peak in Lake Como and offers views of the mountains and lake you can’t find anywhere else.
Another popular destination in the area is the Como Cathedral. This Gothic cathedral was built in 1396 and features ancient frescos and tapestries you can view.
Filled by the Oglio River, Lake Iseo is one of the best spots in Northern Italy to go hiking or to take a boat ride out on the lake. The area is filled with numerous things you can do. For instance, you can venture to the nearby Monte Isola, a small island situated in the middle of the lake. The island is called home by many people and is filled with 17th-century churches and the Rocca Martinengo, a medieval castle. Lake Iseo also features Castello di Grumello which is preserved to look exactly like it did back during the Middle Ages. The castle is also home to a winery where you can try some fresh wine and learn more about how it is made.
There’s also the Tadini Academy Gallery which is filled with the artwork once collected by Count Luigi Tadini during the early 1800s. It’s considered to be one of the oldest art collections in the region and contains many historic pieces of artwork by Italian artists, like Antonio Canova.
Lake Iseo is also home to Tinca, a fish used in many local dishes. While here, you’ll definitely want to try some at a local restaurant. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a boat and instead go fish for some yourself.
View to Lugano lake from Monte San Salvatore
Lake Lugano is nestled near the border of Switzerland and is just a short distance away from Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. This glacial lake is known for its vibrant mixture of Swiss and Italian culture and hosts many events and activities throughout the year, like a chamber music festival and an ice skating rink during the winter.
Besides this, Lake Lugano is also home to many historical structures, like the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto. This church is known for its Romanesque architecture and frescos. There’s also an ancient olive grove near the lake called Sentiero dell’olivo which you can wander around in and maybe catch a glimpse of a hidden grotto while doing so.
View of Lugano lake from Italian side.
Another great thing to try while in Lake Lugano is the fondue. You can visit one of the many cozy restaurants scattered around the area to try some mouthwatering cheese combinations.
Cannero Riviera on Lago Maggiore
Situated on the southern end of the Alps, Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in the country. It is nestled between the Swiss and Italian border so you’ll be able to get a taste of both cultures while here.
A popular place to visit while at the lake is Verzasca. This bright blue river flows between the Alps and is a great spot to go swimming or bungee jumping. There are also many boulders scattered around its edges which give the river a rugged look.
Isola Madre is another great place to venture to while here. This island is the largest of the Borromean Islands and is known for its stunning palace and luscious gardens. You can tour these gardens to see ancient olive groves, lemon trees, bamboo, and magnolia bushes, many of which have been here for centuries.
St. Catherine’s Hermitage on Lake Maggiore
The lake is also known for its UNESCO sites so you’ll be able to see a handful while here, like the Sacro Monte of the Holy Trinity at Ghiffa, believe to have been built during the 1600s, and the Sacro Monte of Varese, a church filled with fourteen unique chapels you can explore.
While at Lake Maggiore you’ll want to make sure to try some of the local food, like handmade Gorgonzola, or a loaf of Crescenzin which is filled with walnuts, raisins, and figs. The lake is also known for its delicious honey made from the wildflowers that grow in the mountains. Because of the variety of flowers, the honey ranges in its sweetness levels and color.
Lake Garda, situated in Northern Italy, is a quaint part of the country known for its rugged landscape and translucent water. Besides its natural wonders, it’s also filled with historic palaces and ancient archeological sites. You’ll find that Lake Garda is surrounded by charming towns that each have their own personality. This article will explore more behind the best towns in Lake Garda, Italy and what you can experience while visiting there.
The Best Towns in Lake Garda
This resort town rests on the southern edge of Lake Garda. It is known for its ancient structures, and impressive natural landscapes. When here, you can visit many of the archeological sites on the island, like the Grottoes of Catullus. This ancient Roman villa was built in the 1st century B.C. and you can still see part of it with the few ruins remaining. It is believed to have been the villa of Roman poet Catullus.
Another popular place to visit in the town is Scaligero Castle. This 13th-century structure is considered to one of Italy’s best preserved castles. It towers over the town and offers stunning views of Sirmione and the lake from its tower.
In addition to this, this town offers stunning beaches you can relax on, like Jamaica Beach. This beach is one of the most popular in the town thanks to its cliffs and tranquil water. It also has healing thermal waters at the many spas located around the town you can relax in.
Malcesine is located on the eastern part of Lake Garda and is well-known for its collection of medieval structures. The town is filled with cobblestone streets that wind around various shops and homes in the area.
This town also offers a variety of outdoor activities you can enjoy. You can take a cable car up to its highest point, Monte Baldo, where you can get panoramic views of the town and lake. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can rent a bike and ride up the hill yourself. If you’re looking for some interesting things to view while here, you can stop by Porto Vecchio, which is known for its sculptures and restaurants. There’s also the Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona, a church built into the edge of a mountain during the 1600s.
Malcesine on Garda Lake
After touring the town, you can stop by a local bakery to try Malcesine’s famous limoncello. It’s also a great spot in Italy to try some fresh pasta and local spremuta.
Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda is a charming little town known for its strong winds due to it resting at the end of Lake Garda. Because of this heavy wind, it’s a popular spot for windsurfing. Riva del Garda is also home to many beautiful sights, like the Torre Apponale, a 13th-century clock tower. There’s also the Rocca which is a local museum that tells the history of this Lake Garda town.
Riva del Garda town by night
Another interesting place to see while in the town is the Hydro-Electric Power Station. This structure was built in the 1920s as a way to help send electricity through the town. Riva del Garda is also home to some stunning churches, like the Church of S. Maria Assunta, which is known for its Baroque architecture. After touring the town, you can also stop by one of the town’s many cafes to try some homemade gelato.
This town is known for its colorful houses that are covered in fragrant wisteria vines. At one point, it was one of the top areas in Italy for wine thanks to its unique tasting grapes. You can still view many of the local vineyards scattered around the town and take a tour of the land while trying some of this delicious wine yourself.
Besides wine, Bardolino is also packed with ancient churches you can wander through. One in particular is the Church of San Severo. Built in 893 A.D., it is known for its faded frescos and carved columns. After touring the church, you can head over to the Piazza Matteotti which is just a few steps away. Here, you’ll find a handful of shops you can browse through that sell everything from clothing to ceramics.
Lazise might be a small town, but it’s filled with numerous things to do and see. Situated on the eastern side of Lake Garda, Lazise is known for its old town which is filled with narrow alleyways and stunning piazzas. You’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of ancient villas that line the streets, many of which date back to the 14th-century.
One of the best places to visit while in Lazise is the Garda Thermal Park. This picturesque place is surrounded by lush vegetation and steaming water that you can swim around in. When you’re done swimming, you can relax in the chairs lined around the thermal pool or head over to its Winter Garden Pavilion which gives stunning views over the park. After touring this park, you can stop by the Church of San Niccolò. This church features old frescos, including one from the 13th-century.
Castle Scaligeri at Lake Garda
When in this town, you’ll also want to be sure to try some of its culinary delicacies. Some of the most popular being its fresh olive oil and grilled fish.
Punta San Vigilio
This resort town is filled with old Venetian villas and even ancient rock etchings that are carved into various boulders around the town. A popular villa to visit while here is the Palazzo del Capitani which features a large courtyard and massive archways.
Location within the town is the famous Punta San Vigilio. This peninsula stretches into Lake Garda and is filled with small chapels and villas. It’s situated near the legendary Sirens Bay which features large pebbles resting beneath clear water. Garda is also known for its weekly market that sells a variety of local products you can try, like olives and wine.
Situated on the southern edge of the lake, Desenzano del Garda is known for its churches that are filled with vibrant mosaics. One church to check out while here is Duomo Di Santa Maria Maddalena which offers an incredible array of paintings and intricate architecture.
You can view many of the artifacts found around the town during archeological digs in the Antiquarium. Inside this museum, you’ll find exhibits that showcase items found throughout the town and their history. Many of the large items in this museum feature small walkways you can take so you can get close to the mosaics and frescos to see them even better.