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See Italy like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

13 Things to Do in Italy in 2021

ViaHero
Updated December 7, 2020

With so many things to do in Italy, narrowing it down can be a tough task! That's why we asked some Italian locals to weigh in. With their help, we created this list of 13 things to do in Italy during your next trip: 

For even more things to do in Italy, work with a local to build a customized trip. Learn more

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

#1: Explore the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome

Trastevere | Sarah Nichols/FLickr

Cross the bridge from the main part of Rome to the hipster neighborhood of Trastevere, where locals say that life moves at a different pace than in central Rome.

Locals tell us that the narrow cobblestone streets offer tons in terms of cheap eats—they say to try some arranchi!— as well as some of the city’s best craft beer. Find an outdoor table, order a drink, and watch the world go by. 

#2: Drive down the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast | Nick Fewings/Unsplash

The brightly colored cliffside towns along the Amalfi Coast are so stunning that they’re considered an international treasure. The towns here may be small, but locals tell us travelers of all stripes can find activities here. Spend a week seaside, hike along the Path of the Gods, or take a boat tour to see the coast from the water. 

If you're short on time, get some personalized advice on where to visit. Our trip planners tell us that Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello are all excellent choices.

Local Tip:

If you love the idea of the Amalfi Coast but are visiting northern Italy, then check out the seaside villages of Cinque Terre.

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#3: Imagine ancient battles in the heart of Rome

The Colosseum | kirkandmimi/Pixabay

Imagine your favorite stadium. Now imagine it totally empty, quiet, abandoned. That’s what it feels like to walk into the Colosseum in Rome. The air still tingles with the excitement of gladiator battles past. The Colosseum dates back to 70-80 AD and was originally built to hold more than 50,000 cheering Romans. 

Local Tip:

The Colesseum is (obviously) one of the top sites to visit in Rome. So if you're looking for fewer crowds and a similar sense of history, combine your visit with the Roman Forum next door. 

#4: Feast on fresh seafood in Venice

Venice seafood | Christopher Carson/ Unsplash

You'll find lots of things to do in Venice besides eating—crossing the romantic Rialto Bridge, exploring gothic Doge’s Palace, and, of course, wandering Venice’s famous canals.

Locals tell us that you should prioritize eating seafood in this seaside city! They suggest trying anything with squid ink. Don't be intimidated by black noodles or risotto—they're delicious

#5: Take the ferry to Ischia

Ischia | pululante/Flickr

Fans of the My Brilliant Friend book series, this is for you. Ok, locals say that everyone will love Ischia! This Mediterranean island off the coast of Naples boasts sandy beaches, sunshine, and mineral-rich thermal waters. 

Our trip planners tell us that taking the ferry is a fun way to spice up an Italian itinerary; plus, relaxing in one of Ischia’s thermal health spas is the perfect way to unwind and refresh. It's definitely a destination for those who want to get off the beaten path.

Local Tip:

Ischia is a traditional beach town—a place better-known for relaxation than wild nights on the town. 

#6: Order an Aperol spritz

Aperol Spritz in Venice | olilynch/Pixabay

This bright orange drink is sweeping the world—and there's no place better than to sip at an Aperol spritz than in Italy. (Don’t listen to the haters: it’s delicious). The drink, which combines prosecco, Aperol, and a splash of soda water, is sweet, cold, and the perfect refreshment after a long day of exploration. 

Local Tip:

You can also order a Campari spritz, which is less sweet. 

#7: Wander through the preserved city of Pompeii

Time stopped in Pompeii in 79 CE, when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted and coated the city in deadly ash. Today, it’s an amazing place to visit if you want to learn more about what life looked like 2,000 years ago. Locals say the archeological area is cool and a bit eerie—visitors can see old frescos, bodies preserved by the falling ash, and what remains of the doomed city. 

Local Tip:

Visit Antiquarium; which contains tons of artifacts from Pompeii.

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#8: Indulge in traditional Neapolitan pizza

Pizza in Naples | Thomas Duesing/Flickr

Rule numero uno of Italian travel: eat the pizza. It is as good as everyone says. And Naples is the place to eat real, traditional, Italian pizza—because Neopolitans literally invented pizza. You can’t go wrong with people who have been making pizza for hundreds of years.

Traditional Neapolitan pizza is simple but scrumptious: tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil, cooked at high heat. 

Local Tip:

Don't wait to dig in—Naples pizza is best enjoyed fresh from the oven. 

#9: Go skiing in the Italian Alps

Skiing in the Alps | Emma Paillex/Unsplash

It’s the ALPS. So, yeah, the skiing is incredible. Locals tell us that if you don’t like to ski, the insanely beautiful Alpine mountainscapes will take your breath away. 

And no shade to the French Alps, but the food (and wine) in the Italian Alps is truly out-of-this-world. 

Local Tip:

Aosta Valley is also known for its Roman ruins, which makes it a cool place to explore.

#10: Get artsy at Gallerie Degli Uffizi

Gallerie Degli Uffizi | Matteo Lezzi/Unsplash

One of the best-known (and oldest) art museums in the world, the Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence is definitely worth a visit. Wander through the impressive building and wonder over work by greats like Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, and da Vinci. Locals say to plan your trip for earlier in the morning, to avoid crowds. 

Be sure to get off the beaten path in Florence! Locals tell us that the city is full of incredible activities for art lovers, including the beautiful and tranquil Bardini Museum and Garden.

Local Tip:

While in Florence, be sure to rub the bronze snout of Il Porcellino, a famous boar statue. Doing so will ensure your return to Florence. 

#11: Eat ALL the gelato

Gelato | picjumbo_com/Pixabay

Everyone knows that calories don’t count on vacation, so tuck into all the gelato you find in Italy. This cold, sweet treat is the perfect way to finish a meal. 

Locals suggest skipping the vanilla and look for flavors you might not find back home—like fig or licorice. 

#12: Visit Vatican City

Vatican City | Paula11767/Pixabay

Not just one of the world’s top religious sites, the Vatican is packed with some of the world’s most amazing things to see as well. Alongside the religious artifacts and artwork that fill the Vatican’s ornate halls, visitors will find the breathtakingly beautiful Sistine Chapel, the grand St. Peter’s Basilica (climbing the dome is worth the 8-10 euro price), and much more—just don’t count on any pope sightings. 

Local Tip:

This is a religious site, so keep in mind that conservative dress is encouraged. You may be barred from entering certain buildings if you are wearing a short dress or a tank top.

#13: Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain in Rome | Court Cook/Unsplash

The gorgeous and iconic Trevi fountain in Rome, which dates back to 1762, is definitely worth a stop. Toss a coin in the water and make a wish—if that wish is to return to Italy, be sure to stand with your back to the fountain, and toss the coin over your left shoulder with your right hand. Locals say this will ensure Roman voyages in your future

Local Tip:

Coin tossing may feel a bit silly, but you can feel good about it: all those coins make millions for charity. 

Still have questions about travel to Italy?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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