So, you’re planning a trip to Italy and are wondering if one week is enough? It depends on what you’re planning to visit in Italy. We created several inspirational itineraries for one week in Italy.
One week in Italy is enough to visit several highlights in the country. It is not enough for a complete roundtrip throughout Italy. You can choose for a roundtrip through an Italian region, hiking in the Dolomites. Exploring the coastline, go on an Italian food trip, or an Italian city trip visiting the world’s most famous cities. Italy has it all!
We went to Italy several times. In 2019 we traveled through the country with our 15-year-old Toyota Yaris and a rooftop tent on top. It was a great adventure, Italy became one of our favorite European countries! We love the people, the Italian cuisine, the unique history, and the beautiful nature.
When you only have one week to travel to Italy, it can be a challenge choosing which part of the country you should go to. So that’s why I created several one-week itineraries for different areas and things to do in Italy.
Hopefully, it helps you decide where to go. You’ll get much more inspiration for the possibilities for visiting Italy. Let’s find out more!
One Week Itineraries for Italy – What To Expect
Before I describe the different articles more detailed, let me first tell you what to expect in this article.
In the next part, I’ll describe the highlights of each itinerary. Where to go, and the best way to travel around. For almost every itinerary, I will add a link to one of our other articles. This article is more like a summary of many different possibilities. Our other articles are much more in-depth guides. Where you’ll also find roadmaps, best places to stay, and additional helpful information.
The itineraries that we added in this article are;
- A 7 Day City Trip to The Major Italian Cities
- Northern Italian Roadtrip
- One Week in Tuscany Region
- A countryside road trip between Venice and Florence
- Visiting Italians West Coast (Amalfi Coast & Cinque Terre)
- Sicily Island Tour For One Week
- Sardinia Island Tour For One Week
- Italian Food Road Trip in Emilio Romagna Region (Northern Italy)
As you can see, 8 completely different adventures in one of the most diverse European countries.
Fun Fact: Italy, as we know it today, exists since 1861. Centuries before that, the different regions were independent Italian countries. It is one of the reasons why there’s so much diversity within the Italian cultures. Between 1861 and 1946, Italy was official ‘the Kingdom of Italy.’ It became a republic after the 2nd World War.
1) A 7 Day City Trip to The Major Italian Cities
In this itinerary, we focus on visiting the major Italian cities Rome, Florence, and Venice. A trip discovering the Italian and European history, exploring the extraordinary ancient architecture, unique city vibes, and lovely Italian countryside during your travels between the cities.
Of course, it is up to you where to start with this itinerary. For this example, we begin in Rome and travel up north towards Venice. But it is also straightforward to go from Venice to Rome (North to South). I don’t recommend starting in Florence with this itinerary. Florence is located between Venice and Rome, so it is not logical to travel back and forth this way.
I recommend spending two days in each city. Which gives you one extra day for travel time, staying a while longer in a city, or adding an additional destination to this itinerary.
Choosing Rome as a starting point is what I think the most convenient because you can quickly fly into the city from almost every major airport in Europe. And a few times a day there are arriving direct flights that depart from New York as well.
There are multiple ways to travel between the cities. The fastest method of traveling is by taking a domestic flight, but this is probably also the most expensive and non-eco friendly way. The two options that I would recommend is either traveling by train or by rental car. Both ways of traveling are safe, and they are both convenient. The most significant advantage of traveling by car is that you have the freedom to stop wherever you like, and can also visit the small villages in between these major cities.
Traveling by train is much faster, and you don’t have the hassle of finding a parking spot. You directly arrive in the city center while hopping off the train. I think it is the ideal way of traveling for this itinerary!
You can find the latest ticket prices and train schedules between the cities on the website of Tren Italia (The Italian Traincompany)
Highlights of Rome
The city is, of course, known as the capital of the Roman Empire. It was once the greatest civilization in the world. Known for its unique architecture, monuments like the trevi fountain, Spanish steps. And ancient buildings like the Colosseum and Pantheon. It is the only entrance to Vatican City, the capital of the catholic church. Roman civilization had a significant influence on our daily life. It was the first civilization that used a public sewage system, for example. You can read many more interesting facts in our article; What is Rome Known For.
Rome is a fantastic city to visit, and most of the city’s highlights are within walking distance. When you’re looking for a 2-day walking itinerary for your visit to Rome, make sure to read our article Is Rome A Walkable City?
Highlights of Florence
Florence is known as the capital of the renaissance. The renaissance is a period in European history between the 13th and 17th centuries. Also known as the middle ages. During this period, art forms, architecture, politics, and science were all changing.
It was the period of modernism, new inventions, renaissance humanism. This period created a whole new perspective on human life. Florence is often referred to as the capital of this period, and the city where the renaissance began. Renowned artists and scientists, like Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Copernicus, all lived during these ages.
A few of the Famous buildings from that time are the Duomo (Florence Cathedral), Ponte Vecchio, and Church of San Lorenzo.
Highlights of Venice
The city of water or the floating city. All well-known nicknames for one of the most famous Italian cities. Did you know the city exists out of more than 118 small islands that are all connected by bridges? There are over 400 bridges in Venice!
With all those small canals and lovely bridges, it is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world. It is also one of the busiest cities in the world, receiving millions of tourists throughout the year.
During the middle ages and the renaissance era, Venice was an important financial and international capital for Italy. You’ll find many historic buildings throughout the city, with, of course, San Marco square as one of the most famous central points of Venice.
Climate change has its effects on the city. Over the last years, high tides, and heavy rainfalls, flooded the ancient city several times. Damaging historical sites for millions of dollars. The city is still a unique place to visit. However, many parts are being renovated for the coming years.
2) Northern Italian Roadtrip
A road trip through the northern part of Italy can lead you through several provinces of the country. The region Lombardy, Emilio-Romagna, Veneto, Tuscany, they can all be part of the road trip. But if you only have a week to explore this part of the country, it can be overwhelming to choose where to go, and which parts you should leave for another time.
This itinerary is a road trip alongside some unique highlights of Northern Italy. It is based on our road trip itinerary A Roundtrip through Northern Italy. Where we created several routes for 5, 10, and 14 days through this part of the country. If you’re looking for more inspiration, I recommend reading the article.
The route we chose for this itinerary starts and stops in Milan. In between, you’ll visit the highlights of the region, like Lake Garda, Verona, and Cinque Terre. Milan is a metropolitan which is easy to reach by plane from many cities in Europe and the United States. It is the perfect starting end ending point of this road trip.
Recommended Route & Highlights Northern Italy
The northern part of Italy is most famous for its beautiful nature with the Dolomites mountains, and several splendid lakes. Also, it is known as the fashion capital of the world. And many renowned Italian recipes were invented in the Northern part of Italy. We recommend the following route for this road trip:
Milan – Lake Garda – Verona – Parma – Cinque Terre – Milan. Check out the route in Google Maps.
It is a route slightly more than 700 kilometers, and easy to follow using public transport. However, the best way of traveling for this road trip is using a (rental)car. Driving around this part of Italy is the best way to experience the beautiful nature.
Milan is one of the most influential fashion capitals in the world. But did you know the city was already founded 600BC? And it hosts one of the world’s most famous paintings Last Supper of Leonardo Da Vinci. Read more about the Milan highlights in our article; What is Milan Famous For?
For a long time, Lake Garda was used as a holiday destination for wealthy Italians. Today it is a perfect place for hiking, swimming, exploring the Dolomites, and exploring ancient old castles. Like in the renowned village Sirmione.
Find out more in our article; What is Lake Garda Famous For?
Famous as the city from Romeo and Juliet. You can even visit Juliet’s balcony in Verona. But did they both ever existed? They did in the mind of Shakespeare, but actually never in real life. Still, it is one of the most visited attractions in Italy.
Luckily Verona has a lot more to offer. It is a beautiful ancient city with unique buildings and surroundings.
Find out more about Verona’s highlights in this article.
Fan of the world-famous Parma ham? How cool is it to visit the city where this tasty dried pork meat is created. Did you know there are many quality standards before a ham can be called parma ham? The most important factor is that it’s to be made in the region.
Parma surprised me as a city. I really liked the vibe when being there. It is a student city, but also with a great historical vibe. When visiting Parma, make sure to visit Teatro Farnese, a unique wooden theater built during the middle ages! Find out more in our article What is Parma Famous For?
A road trip through this part of Italy isn’t complete without a visit to the famous coastline of Cinque Terre. A UNESCO world heritage site! The region exists actually out of five old fisherman villages, with all their unique identities. Known for their houses, painted in many colors and built along the cliffs.
In our article What is Cinque Terre Famous For, you can find out all the important details of this amazing coastline.
Did you know Genoa is the most important harbor city of Italy? The city hosts the largest container port of the country. But the city has this naval function for a long time. It was even the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, and also the departure point for its journeys exploring the world.
More information about this unique city is available in our article What is Genoa Famous For.
3) One Week in Tuscany Region
A trip to Tuscany is a trip to history. The region is the birthplace of the renaissance, with as the capital Florence. Tuscany is a region known for its green landscapes, villages where you still feel walking back into the middle ages. Just like other parts of Italy, the region is known for its excellent cuisine. Because of its climate and unique countryside, it also has a perfect wine and olive oil region.
The best way to travel around the Tuscany region is by traveling by car. It is simply the best way to explore the beautiful countryside and small villages. However, when you go for a wine tasting tour, it is probably best to park your car and go on a guided tour with transport. So you can enjoy some of the wines and don’t have to worry about driving 😉
Most famous cities in the Tuscany region are Florence and Pisa.
Fun Fact; The Famous Tower of Pisa straightens every year! Find out more in our article What is Tuscany Known For?
The Chianti region is the most famous wine region. Some highlights you can’t miss are, of course, villages like Sienna, Prato, San Gimignano, Volterra, and Trequanda.
I think a week is perfect for exploring this region. It is recommended starting your route in Florence and do a roundtrip through the region. If you have plans to go to other parts in Europe during this trip as well (or coming from a different European city), you might want to start or end this trip in Pisa. Pisa international airport offers many flights to the major European cities, so it is a perfect city to use for a transfer.
You don’t need to spend much time in Pisa, though, except for the famous leaning tower, there’s not much to explore in the city. I would recommend spending a lot more time exploring the countryside of the Tuscany region, which is definitely worth it! In our article, What is Tuscany Known For, we describe many more of the highlights in the region.
4) A countryside road trip between Venice and Florence
The two most important cities from the Renassaince period were Florence and Venice. Florence because it was basically the birthplace of the renaissance. And Venice because it was one of the most important financial and (maritime) trade hubs during these ages.
A road trip between Venice and Florence is possible by following different routes. If you don’t want to drive around yourself, it is also convenient for traveling by train between these two cities. When traveling by train, you will follow basically a straight line between the two cities and even cross the famous city of Bologna.
I would recommend traveling by car and taking your time to explore the beautiful landscapes you’ll come across in between these famous cities. Here’s an excellent example for a route you can follow;
Venice – Verona – Modena – Bologna – Florence
This route is around 340 kilometers long, and 450 kilometers if you plan to avoid tollroads. Avoiding toll roads is recommended in Italy. It saves you a lot of money. And most toll roads aren’t even quicker when you compare them with normal roads.
A different route you can follow is exploring the eastern coastline. You can visit the national park Veneto Delta. And when you cross the city Ravenna, you’ll head in the direction of Bologna. It is all straightforward driving.
Both routes are unique and beautiful for exploring the Italian countryside. It can be a bit overwhelming to decide which route you’re going to take. If you like to visit the old ancient cities, make sure to follow the city route we just described.
And when you’re more into exploring nature, you might be better of exploring the route alongside the eastern coastline of Italy.
You can find both routes on Google Maps here.
Not sure if you want to travel by car or train? In our article How To Get Around Italy, we tell you the best ways of traveling through Italy.
Best Travel Must-Have For Every Traveler
These items are must-haves for every traveler, and I can highly recommend them without any hesitation:
This lightweight hammock is made of ultra-light parachute silk material. The hammock fits in a small portable bag and is very-easy-to you use. You can relax comfortably anywhere: on the beach, by the lake, in the forest, campsite, your hotel, Airbnb and even at home!
The North Face Backpack:
This is a high-quality, versatile, and practical daypack from one of the best brands in the world. It is a perfect choice, no matter what kind of travel plans you have.
Oasis Kindle E-reader:
A waterproof E-reader for unlimited reading while traveling. It is a must-have for every traveler that enjoys reading. This E-reader has an adjustable warm light to shift screen shade from white to amber. It also works with Audible, so you switch effortlessly from reading to listening.
Sony Noise-canceling headphone:
A world-leading noise-canceling headphone to make your travel trip more comfortable and less exhausting. One of the best travel products out there. Either for listening to music, podcasts. Or to block all the noise during traveling, for example, when you’re in an airplane.
GoPro HERO 8:
We’ve been using a GoPro camera since the first generation came on the market. It is our go-to travel camera ever since. Perfect for making the best pictures and memorable videos. It’s easy to use, waterproof and fits in your pocket or daypack. The new generation has a built-in stabilizer so that videos will be even better quality!
Check out our recommendations page for more travel gear and recourses.
5) Visiting Italians West Coast (Amalfi Coast & Cinque Terre)
The Italian Westcoast, worldwide renowned by what many people say, are the most beautiful parts of coastline in the world. I’m talking, of course, about the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre is located in the northern part, close to Genoa. And a region consisting out of five traditional fisherman villages. The Amalfi Coast is close to Naples, more in the South of Italy. Both areas are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Both are known for their steep cliffs, fantastic nature, and beautiful roads between the villages. Perfect for a road trip alongside the coastline. Many people asking themselves which part is better to visit?
What if I told you, you can visit both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre in one week, wouldn’t that be a fantastic thing to do?
Driving between the two coastlines is only around 700 kilometers, and straightforward to do. We drove this route in a few days ourselves during our road trip through Europe. If you plan things ahead, it is an easy route to follow. You can find the different directions on Google Maps here.
I recommend flying into Naples, which is easy from many major cities in Europe. From there, you can rent a car and drive in the direction of the Amalfi Coast. You’ll have enough time exploring the villages like Sorrento, Positano, and Salerno. A maximum of two days for the Amalfi coast is enough. Unless you want to go hiking, then I would recommend planning three days.
When you finished exploring Amalfi Coast, you can drive up north in the direction of Cinque Terre. On the way, you’ll cross the ancient site of Pompeii, Naples. You can even stop in Rome, and Florence if you like.
Once you reach Cinque Terre, two days of exploring are enough. That’s including hiking in the region. Cinque Terre is a bit smaller and more comfortable to drive around.
Cinque Terre vs. Amalfi Coast
You can, of course, stay longer in both areas. You can also decide to go to one of the two regions, and save the other for a different trip. Either way, you might want to read our articles What is Cinque Terre Famous For? And Why Is The Amalfi Coast So Famous? So you can learn more about the two famous coastal regions of Italy.
6) Sicily Island Tour For One Week
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean sea. The island is separated from the Italian mainland by a small sea street. It is located west of the Italian peninsula. Until 1860 Sicily was an independent region. It was merged with the Italian kingdom during the unification process of Italy. However, Sicily became an autonomic island within the Kingdom of Italy (which is now the republic of Italy).
There are a lot of differences between Sicily and Italy. That has not only to do with the independence of Sicily over the years. The island has a rich cultural history and was an important settlement in the development of humankind.
You can read the most significant difference between Sicily and Italy in our article; What’s the difference between Sicily and Italy?
Sicily is famous for the place where the Italian (Sicilian) Mafia is originated. And while the mafia is still active in Italy and Sicily, the island is entirely safe to visit. It is not like you’re walking into a movie scene from the Godfather or something. The Sicilian mafia, which is known for their violent behavior and as an organized crime organization, started off quite innocent.
When Sicily became a part of Italy during the unification process in 1860. The new Italian government distributed land to Sicilian citizens. This process created many landowners, but the new Sicilian government didn’t have the manpower to make sure everyone was paying taxes and obeyed the law. To make sure Sicily didn’t become an outlaw state, the new landowners appointed themselves as ‘land protectors,’ which became the Sicilian Mafia.
Highlights of Sicily
Luckily Sicily is not only known for its history with the Italian mafia. There’s a lot more to discover on this island. I think it is a must-visit when you go to Italy, there’s so much history and beautiful nature to find. Sicily is an island that has it all!
Did you know it was one of the first international settlements in the world? Around the 11th century BC, it was the Phoenicians who started an agreement on the island. The Phoenicians were a civilization coming from the direction that we now know as Turkey (they probably left on the exploring journeys from Lebanon). They were a largely known civilization before the Greeks went on their exploring journeys and reigned over a large part of Europe.
The Phoenicians created their settlement at the most north-western point of Sicily. Their most important city was where we know to find the city of Palermo.
Greeks arrived in Sicily around the 8th century BC and created the settlement Syracuse. The Roman Empire took over the reign of Sicily around the third century BC after they won the Punic Wars. Germans, Spanish, Catalan, Arabs, and Vikings also greatly influenced the island’s culture.
It is because of this history that Sicily is known as one of the best-preserved historical islands in the world. It is a modern island, but you’ll find many historical sites like the valley of Temples. You can still visit original Greek temples (some of the best in the world!).
The island is also known as a hiking paradise. Especially for adventure hikers, looking to explore one of the most active volcanos in the world; Mount Etna. Did you know the Volcano erupts several times a year? Luckily most eruptions are not dangerous for the Sicilian inhabitants.
Mount Etna is not only a hiking paradise, but many winter adventurers are also visiting the Volcano. Despite the extreme warmth of the Volcano, it is possible to go skiing from the mountain during the winter months. Because of the Volcano’s height (3300 meters above sea level), snow slopes are something that often occurs during the winter months.
You can imagine that there’s a lot to see and do while visiting Sicily. And I didn’t even mention the beautiful beaches you’ll find on the island! I think it is a perfect holiday destination. But I would recommend choosing for a dedicated visit to the island, and not combining it with other tours to Italy if you only have a week.
In our article Best City in Sicily, you’ll find different road trip ideas. If you want to know more about the island, make sure reading our articles What is Sicily Famous For and What is The Best Time to Visit Sicily.
7) Sardinia Island Tour For One Week
Of course, this list of best one-week itineraries in Italy is not complete without mentioning the island of Sardinia. Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean sea, after Sicily. However, the island is entirely different than Sicily, and thus also unique to visit.
Sardinia is known as a blue zone. A region in the world, where people live much longer than average in healthy conditions. The island has the world’s highest rate of people that are 100 years or older! There’s a kind of a magic formula, which researchers and scientists discovered while comparing the lifestyle of people living in the different blue zones in the world. Read more about this in our article What is Sardinia Famous For? (or you can order the book The Blue Zones on Amazon)
Anyway, Sardinia is not only known as the blue zone island. It is known for its beautiful nature, white sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters. In fact, it has the most beautiful beaches and seas in the Mediterranean sea. People are often surprised at how clear the seas are around Sardinia. Some of the best beaches are Porto Istana and Cala Luna.
Sardinia is the perfect place if you’re looking to visit an Italian island and beautiful nature. Almost 25% of Sardinia is designated as a national park. The island has a wide variety of eco-systems. It is one of the most important places in Europe regarding biodiversity.
Famous cities in Sardinia are, of course, Cagliari, Oristano, Sassari, and Olbia. The island of Corsica is closeby, which is officially French, and also a national park.
Sardinia is best to reach, taking a ferry from Civitavecchia, which is close to Rome. A must visit when you’re going to Sardinia is exploring the islands of Maddalena. Interesting settlements, and beautiful nature in the north of Sardinia.
Best Time To Visit Sardinia
The best time to visit Sardinia is between April and June or September and October. During these months, the tourist season is not on its peak, and temperatures are convenient. It is not to warm, and there’s less rainfall. The southern part of the island is perfect for surfing and kitesurfing. And other parts are ideal for hiking. So the island has a lot to offer. Find out more on when to visit Sardinia in our article; What is the Best time to visit Sardinia.
8) Italian Food Road Trip in Emilio Romagna Region (Northern Italy)
Italy is, of course, best known for its unique and tasteful Italian cuisine. So how great would it be if you can explore the country and its unique food heritage? A road trip alongside the different cities where some of the best Italian food is originated.
The northern part of Italy is somehow known as the best region to explore Italian cuisine. More specifically, the Emilio-Romagna region is known as the area where much world-famous Italian food is originated. Parmesan Cheese, and Parma ham in Parma. Bolognese sauce in Bologna, and the renowned balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Also, some famous pasta’s like lasagna, tortellini, and gnocchi are made in the traditional way in this region. It has even one of the world’s best restaurant Osteria Francescana (according to the world’s best 50, this restaurant ranked #1 in 2016, 2018, and 2nd in 2017.) It is hard to reserve a table because it is often fully booked. But maybe you’re in luck and can get a reservation, it’s worth a try! More information on the restaurant’s website.
Italian Food Route
Anyway if you can’t get a table at Osteria Fransecana don’t worry, there are many other great establishments you can try. Let’s find out the best route for exploring the Emilio-Romagna region (check out the map with driving instructions on Google Maps here).
It is probably most convenient to fly into Florence. The city offers many connections both from Europe and intercontinental flights. However, when you’re traveling from another European city, it is also convenient to go directly to Bologna. There are many connections from major European cities to Bologna airport.
So, let’s say you’re coming from the USA, you start in Florence on the first day. Give yourself some time to explore the unique historic city, which we mentioned earlier in this article.
Bologna, Parma, Modena are the other cities I would recommend visiting. If you had more time, there’s a lot more to explore in this region as well!
Bologna is not only known for the best Gelato in Europe, and maybe in the world! It is also known for its unique architecture, with classical porticos, connecting important buildings in the city.
I would recommend reading our article ‘What is Bologna Famous For?‘ before you’re going to the city. We tell you all the highlights of the famous city.
After Bologna, it is time exploring Modena, not only known for one of the best restaurants in the world. Also, the place where Balsamic Vinegar is originated. There are many places where you can try this traditional, tasteful vinegar.
Parma is the best-known place in this region regarding food. You can enjoy Parma ham, Parmesan Cheese. It is excellent to visit a food factory where you can learn how everything is made traditionally. We tell you more about the Parma highlights in our article; What is Parma Famous For?
Getting Around Emilio Romagna
I would recommend renting a car to get around this area. When traveling in a car, you can easily explore the beautiful countryside as well.
It is more convenient to visit some local farms and restaurants. In Italy, known as Agriturismo. Where you can often find the best food and hospitality.
A different way of exploring this area is by renting an Italian Vespa scooter. Perfect for driving around the hilly countryside, and picking out a place in the hills where you can enjoy a traditional Italian picnic.
Both ways of transportation are safe, and it is straightforward driving around in Italy. However, if your driving you can’t enjoy the Italian wines, so if you plan to have a wine tasting, you might want to book a tour where the transport is included! 😉
Renting a Car in Italy
If you’re going to rent a car for one of these road trips, I would recommend using rentalcars.com. We always use them when renting a car in a different country. I find them trustworthy, and I like that it is basically a search engine, finding the best prices in the market.
Make sure always renting a car with insurance, it is something I would recommend to double-check. Sometimes prices can change if you add insurance. You can also inform with WorldNomads, a great insurance company focused on travelers like you and me.
Either if you need a car or full travel insurance, I would recommend using World Nomads. Their coverage is, from what I’ve seen, the best and most complete of every (online)travel insurance. And they’re not very expensive. Which is also an essential factor.
WorldNomads offers a wide range of activities for their insurance, and they are incredibly flexible. If your travel plans change, you can just let them know, and easily change your insurance as well.
Find out more about car rental and travel insurance on our recommendations page.