One of the top tour attractions in Italy, Duomo in Florence
Italy top tour attraction, the Colosseum in Rome
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Italy - Best Tours & Trips 2019

A captivating epicenter for art, architecture, food, scenery, and history, Italy consistently ranks among the top five countries in the world for attracting visitors. From the shimmering lakes of the Alpine north, to the sun-kissed island of Sicily in the south, Italy offers an abundant supply of historical sights, sensory delights, rustic villages and countryside.
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Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 147 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Top Italy Experiences and Attractions

Top Italy Experiences

Taking a gondola ride through the famous Venice canals

Experiencing Italy’s world famous cuisine

Taking a walking tour through the modern city of Naples

Visiting the historic city of Florence and gazing upon renowned art pieces

Wandering the ruins of the Roman Forum, where an empire was overseen two millennia ago

Touring Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, as well as St. Peter’s Basilica - the world’s largest cathedral (in the world’s smallest state) 

Visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii near Naples

Taking a boat trip on the Po River

Drinking in the views from atop the cliffside city of Taormina in Sicily, including the Straits of Messina and volcanic Mt. Etna in the distance 

Enjoying a picnic and wine tasting in Tuscany, one of the most beautiful regions in all of Italy



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Italy Trip Reviews

4,548 Italy Tour Reviews - Summary 97% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 3,285
Great 1,046
Average 161
Disappointing 36
Terrible 20
Value
4.7
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.7
Meals
4.7

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Italy as you have never experienced it!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

In 10 days we watched and learned how wine is made, visited some of the best restaurants of our lives, tasted a black truffle for the first time, cooked some incredible dishes with expert hands and made some friends in the process! We could not have asked for more. Simply perfect! Thank you, Page and Richard

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Operator The Italian on Tour

Very nice

5.0
Special needs at Sea Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Very nice equipment & was delivered in room & picked up as told when it was ordered.

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Operator Special needs at Sea

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

I had the time of my life!!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

I booked the Amalfi Coast trip for my summer break. I had so much fun during the Amalfi Coast tour and our guides were fabulous! I would highly recommend this to anyone who is visiting Italy, especially for the first time!!

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Operator Italy on Budget Tours

We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT! The tour through Venice, Florence, Cortona, and Rome exceeded our expectations. Absolutely everything was FIRST CLASS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We gave it 5 stars only because there aren’t 6. The published itinerary was delivered in spades with special additions, sometimes twice a day. We never touched luggage, as it was moved for us from location to location. We never had to deal with tickets for transportation or museums. The local, private guides were super. The included dinners and wine were superb. This is a no driving, hassle free tour. We are planning to take another Story Small Group tour.

AND, as a special treat, the owner of the company was our tour captain. We tried several things that may be included in future itineraries. In the course of 9 days nothing flustered him. Everything was taken in stride, dealt with and resolved quickly. Nothing interfered with his fantastic service to his guests. We were not customers in any sense of the word. There was never a hint that Story was trying to watch the budget.

For those of you reading this and trying to decide, there are some things you need to consider. (When you have questions, call. You'll find that the Story help line is very knowledgeable and helpful.)

Small group - There were 15 people on our tour (16 is maximum). The tour caption had the time to get to know all of us. We saw lots of groups that appeared to be 40-50 people! You get to decide which is best for you. The smaller group = higher cost. We thought that it was easily worth it.

Walking - There is a lot of walking on this tour. There is always the option to use a taxi to get from place to place (extra cost). Some of the people on the tour with us had apps to count steps. Most showed more than 10,000 at noon time! MANY of those steps are on stairs and rough/cobble stone streets. Many of the stairs are inside attractions - not between them – so they can’t be avoided. By the end of our nine days, some tour group members were opting out of some planned activities. Opinion: If you can't complete a three mile walk, over uneven terrain, at a three mph pace (that's faster than most people walk), comfortably; get in shape. You’ll never do a constant three mile walk, on the tour – but it’ll feel like it.

Weather - We had fantastic weather! Temperature in the mid/low 70's and two sprinkles in nine days. Mostly sunshine. A great time to go.

Crowds - On the other hand, it wasn't such a great time to go. The crowds of tourists were overwhelming, everywhere except Cortona. I.E.: Our private, skip-the-line guided tour of the Vatican was especially BAD. We waited in line for about an hour and then once inside, we were literally shoulder to shoulder for the remaining two - three hours. It was nearly impossible to enjoy/understand what we were seeing. We spent more time trying to keep in sync with the group than looking at the art. The Sistine Chapel was NOT worth the time it took to get there. This was not something that Story could control. If the Vatican is important to you, go some other time of the year! If you are there during the busy season, opt out. There are thousands of fantastic things to see in Rome that won't be busy.

Security - We had a tour guide point out a small group of gypsy/pick-pockets as we exited the Vatican and steered us around them. That was the only "issue" in nine days - not a big deal. But, we were reminded to be "vigilant" many times - especially around crowds.

Navigation - Venice, Florence and Rome are VERY difficult to get around. There are many streets/alleys that run in apparently random directions. The maps available through hotels/tourist agents are not in adequate detail. Consider a hand-held GPS navigation system MANDITORY. Our phone did not have cell connectivity, so we down loaded the Google map. It worked once. Be very careful that you have a navigation device that works! Download a local map and test, test, test in airplane mode (?) before you go.

Driving – If you are going to Italy and renting a car, during the busy season, Venice allows no cars, problem solved. Driving in Florence and ESPECIALLY Rome is crazy. You've been forewarned.

Hotels - As it says, the hotels are in the center of the city/attractions. For example: the hotel in Rome was 200 feet from the Pantheon! This means that some of the buildings are more than 1,500 years old. You'll get used to seeing corners that you'd think should be 90 degrees, but aren't. Be prepared to spend time learning how things work and how to find your room - it'll be different from hotel to hotel and what you are used to! WiFi worked good in each hotel, except Rome. (See review of Grand Hotel de Minirva on TripAdvisor)

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Operator STORY Land & Sea

Great company makes a great trip!

5.0
America Israel Tours Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Our experience with American Israel Tours was awesome. The tour guide Yeshay was was informative, flexible with our desires, and kind. The bus driver was also funny and got us exactly where we needed to go in good time. The structure of the tour was also perfect because it was not too exhausting per day and ending the tour in Jerusalem really is perfect. Couldn't have asked for a better experience.

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Operator America Israel Tours

Italy Tours and Travel Guide

Italy Attractions & Landmarks Guide

A captivating epicenter for art, architecture, food, scenery, and history, Italy consistently ranks among the top five countries in the world for attracting visitors. From the shimmering lakes of the Alpine north, to the sun-kissed island of Sicily in the south, Italy offers an abundant supply of historical sights, sensory delights, rustic villages and countryside.

Video of Italy tours and experiences for travelers from Visit Italy official tourism

Drawn by the allure of some of the world’s most timeless art, architecture, and scenic beauty -- the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, the canals of Venice, the ruins of Pompeii, and the Tuscan countryside among them -- countless generations of travelers have made Italy one of the world’s most visited destinations. It’s the land of Puccini, parmesan, and pasta -- and so much more.

World-class art museums?  Check.

Ancient history and ruins? Check.

Some of the world’s most beautiful cities? Check.

Food and scenery to die for? Check.

Passionate people? Check.

A vast variety of landscapes and activities? Check.

All this in a country that’s a bit smaller in size than Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana combined. Italy packs in enough culture, scenery and other attractions to fill a continent.

The "Big Three" - Italy's Great Cities

Rome, Florence, and Venice form a rough triangle spanning the upper middle of the country and provide an introduction to the “essential Italy.”

Rome, which legend dates to 753 BC, is a repository of classical ruins now wedged against a backdrop of modernity. Rome is especially magical at night, when its monuments and fountains are illuminated and the glories of ancient Rome -- the Colosseum and nearby Roman Forum being the headliners -- seem not so distant past.

It’s also imperative to take the walk across the Tiber River to what is actually another country, tiny Vatican City, seat of the Roman Catholic Church, where mammoth St. Peter’s Basilica and the opulent collections of the Vatican Museums and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, await.

Overview of Florence, Italy, at sunset

1. Florence, the Art Capital of Italy

Florence, perhaps the greatest art city of them all, straddles the Arno River in the province of Tuscany northwest of Rome. The heart of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th to 16th centuries, Florence nurtured geniuses such as Dante, Giotto, Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael.

The Uffizi Gallery contains the world’s top collection of Renaissance paintings, while the Accademia houses the most famous sculpture on earth, Michelangelo’s David. The Duomo, a cathedral whose immense dome is covered with white, green, and pink marble, serves as the city’s most striking landmark.

2. Rome, the Eternal City

Rome, which legend dates to 753 BC, is a repository of classical ruins now wedged against a backdrop of modernity. Rome is especially magical at night, when its monuments and fountains are illuminated and the glories of ancient Rome -- the Colosseum and nearby Roman Forum being the headliners -- seem not so distant past.

It’s also imperative to take the walk across the Tiber River to what is actually another country, tiny Vatican City, seat of the Roman Catholic Church, where mammoth St. Peter’s Basilica and the opulent collections of the Vatican Museums and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, await.

Colosseum at sunset, in Italy

Tuscany to Rome

Tuscany is a large region in north-central Italy that extends from the Ligurian Sea on the west three-quarters of the way to the Adriatic Sea on the east, north to the Apennine Mountains, and south halfway to Rome.

Its capital is Florence, and it also encompasses such alluring cities as Pisa, Lucca, and Siena, as well as dozens of picturesque hill towns. Its scenic countryside fills the same romantic role that Provence does in France. the food, the wine, the sunshine, the landscape, the architecture, and the art make it an irresistible destination.

Siena makes a great base for exploring some of the hilltowns and wineries south of Florence. Its fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most beautiful central plazas, with steep, narrow medieval streets branching off it. It’s also the site of the famous Palio, a biennial horse race in which 17 different districts of the city compete with one another in a colorful, exciting pageant.

From Rome to Venice

The journey from Rome to Venice is one of the quintessential trips in Italy, just as a trip to Switzerland wouldn't be complete without a hike through the Swiss Alps. It runs directly through Florence – the greatest art city of them all – and Tuscany, famous for its countryside of rolling hills, vineyards, hilltop villages, and sun-kissed cuisine. Bologna, also known for its food – Bolognese sauce is the headliner -- is the next big city encountered after Florence.

And before reaching Venice, you’ll come to the smaller city of Padua, known for its immense Basilica of St. Anthony, the Scrovegni Chapel with frescoes by Giotto, and the beautiful Prato Della Valle, the largest public square in Europe.

Side Trips from Florence

A tour operator can easily expand a visit to Florence with side trips to other Tuscan cities like Siena, a Medieval walled city; Pisa, best known for the Leaning Tower; and Lucca, where you can walk the old city walls. Genoa is farther up the coast but well worth seeing.

The Tuscan countryside is also home to a number of impossibly scenic villages that cling to steep hillsides, invariably topped by a church. Walking tours are a great way to experience the region. Don’t miss the walks through Cinque Terre, five towns perched on cliffs overlooking the sea and connected by trails.

From Florence to Pisa  

It’s just 50 miles from Florence to Pisa, and well worth the trip to see The Leaning Tower, one of Italy’s most iconic structures. Don’t overlook the chance to stop in the city of Lucca on the way – it’s just 40 miles from Florence, but quieter and pretty in its own right. Lucca has wide city walls that you can walk on or ride bikes along – great fun.

This part of the Tuscan countryside is also home to a number of impossibly scenic villages that cling to steep hillsides, invariably topped by a church. Walking tours are a great way to experience the region. Don’t miss the walks through Cinque Terre, five towns perched on cliffs overlooking the sea and connected by trails. They’re just north of La Spezia, up the coastal road from Pisa.

From Florence to Venice

Between Florence and Venice lie a number of potential stopovers: Bologna, Padua, and Verona among them. Verona requires a short detour west from Padua, but you won’t regret it. Made famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Verona is an ancient city with well-preserved Roman, medieval, and Renaissance monuments – and, of course, a house with balcony said to have been Juliet’s.

A Guide to Venice

Venice itself lies on the Adriatic Sea northeast of Florence. Built on some 100 islands dotting a lagoon, the city clings precariously to existence despite the longtime ravages of flooding and pollution. Yet Venice’s grand palazzos and intricate mazes of canals and walkways somehow remain afloat amid almost surreal beauty.

Piazza San Marco, Italy’s most regal square, leads to the Byzantine splendor of the Basilica di San Marco and a passing parade of visitors from around the world. The famous Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal, which snakes through the old city and connects the palazzos and museums by water. Gondoliers stick to the smaller, less commercially busy and more romantic canals that branch off the Grand Canal.

Sunny day overlooking canals and gondolas in Venice, Italy

Practical Tips for Touring Venice

There are essentially two ways for getting around the old city of Venice – walking or taking some type of boat. There are no cars, many streets are narrow, and there are numerous bridges to cross in the canal areas.

So keep this in mind when packing for Venice and selecting a hotel – can you wheel your suitcase up and down several steep bridges? How far is your hotel from the train station or nearest canal stop? Can you even find your hotel in the maze of streets that seem to wind around with no particular purpose?

In regards to the latter, it helps to have a phone with google maps that you can follow – or a guide if you’re on a tour. Paper maps are of little use in Venice except for locating the general direction of, say, St. Mark’s Square, because they can’t be sufficiently detailed.

Once you’ve located your hotel and settled in, the best approach to Venice is just to wander and not worry about getting lost, because you’ll get lost anyway and might as well enjoy it.

The city is relatively small and periodically you’ll see signs for the three main landmarks: “Ferrovia” (train station), “Rialto” (Bridge) – one of the main stops on the Grand Canal – and “San Marco” (St. Mark’s Basilica and Square). Follow those and you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

Gondola rides are expensive and shouldn’t be thought of as regular transportation – but rather for a special occasion. Be sure to negotiate the price in advance with the gondolier. Singing gondoliers cost a bit more.

The least expensive means of water transport are the public water buses (vaporettos) that traverse the canals. One of the best sightseeing bargains in Venice is to circle the entire Grand Canal on the #1 Vaporetto, which you can access at the Rialto Bridge, San Marco, or a number of other stops -- just stay on the boat for the entire circuit (or longer).

Try to grab a seat near the front for the best views. And even though tickets are seldom checked, be sure to have one on you – if they do check and you don’t have a ticket, you’ll be heavily fined. If you plan to ride the vaporettos a lot – and you may well do so – consider buying a single or multiple day pass that allows for unlimited rides. You’ll save money.

As magnificent as San Marco is, there’s much to see off the beaten track in Venice: churches with artistic masterpieces inside, the old Jewish ghetto, streets frequented by locals and not tourists. And if your feet get tired, just hop on the nearest vaporetto for a water ride back to wherever you’d like to be. 

Traveling in Southern Italy

Near Naples, the ruins of Pompeii and the lesser known Herculaneum were buried under ash and mud, respectively, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The result is a vast trove of archaeological treasure, including artifacts of Roman-era life preserved for centuries until re-discovered more than 1,500 years later.

The city of Naples, always colorful, beckons to the south, as do the islands of Ischia and Capri off the coast. Further south yet is the Amalfi coast, a stunning mountainous roadway passing villages overlooking the Mediterranean.

And, across the Straits of Messina from the toe of Italy’s southern “boot,” the island of Sicily, has some of Italy’s most gorgeous scenery as well as its own culture, almost separate from that of northern Italy. Venture around the whole island for a wealth of vistas, vibrant cities and ancient ruins.

Travel in Northern Italy

Northern Italy gets increasingly mountainous and is dotted with shimmering clear-blue lakes, with Lake Como -- north of the Italian fashion capital, Milan -- being the best known. While touring the far-northern Alpine areas, you might think you were in Switzerland or Austria. You can ski there or enjoy lakeside walks.

With so much to see and do in Italy, it can be daunting as to which regions to explore first. So let Stride help you find the right Italy guided tour for your needs and budget.

Top Wine Regions in Italy

Red wine and cheese at sunset in an Italian vineyard

If the idea of Italy is synonymous with anything, it's food and wine. When you tour Italy, you will almost immediately get a sense of how integral the experience of food and drink is ingrained in the culture. A wine tasting trip through the famous wine regions is a great introduction to some of the world's finest old world wines.

1. Tuscany -- The rolling hills of Tuscany are home to some of Italy’s most picturesque wineries, which produce some of Italy’s best known wines. Chianti is famous the world over; Sangiovese and Montepulciano are other varietals. Castello Banfi and Biondi Santi in the Siena region are two of Tuscany’s largest wineries.

2. Veneto -- Except for Tuscany’s Chianti, the Veneto region near Venice and Verona produces Italy’s most widely exported wines: Valpolicella, Bardolino, and Soave (the first two are reds, the third white). Sparkling Prosecco is another product of this fertile region. Fratelli Bolla near Verona is known for its Soaves.

3. Emilia-Romagna -- With roots in the Po River Valley and Po delta, Emilia-Romagna is best known for producing Lambrusco, a light red wine with kick. Bologna -- renowned for its Bolognese sauce and fine food in general -- is the largest city and sits in the middle of the region, which extends to the Adriatic Sea south of Venice.  One winery to check out is the Cantine Romagnoli near Modena (which is also known for its balsamic vinegars).

4. Lombardy -- Another region with Po River Valley roots, Lombardy produces excellent sparkling whites.  Try the Guido Berlucchi winery in Brescia.

5. The Latium -- This is the wine-growing region around Rome, known for its Frascati and other white wines. The Fontana Candida winery is near Rome.

6. The Piedmont -- Located in northern Italy near France, the Piedmont is best known for its flavorful red wines. The Renato Ratti Cantina winery occupies a medieval abbey.

Touring Vatican City

Before you see St. Peter’s, before you see the Sistine Chapel, before you view the Vatican Museums’ incredible art collections, keep some things in mind: don’t go on Sunday, when the museums are often closed, and, during the rest of the week, the Vatican gets very, very crowded with visitors.  In summer, especially, the lines for both St. Peter’s and the museums are often brutal.

It helps to have a strategy. If you love art and want to spend several hours in the Vatican Museums (you’ll need it), try to arrive at least an hour before the 10 a.m. opening time to get in line. Don’t visit St. Peter’s first, because by the time you make it to the museums line, it will stretch clear back to Italy. (The lines for St. Peter’s are also long, but they move faster.)

You can pay extra for “Fast Track Tickets” available at some agencies in Rome, which will get you through a separate museum entrance from the main one, well worth the extra money if you can afford it.

One other key thing to remember: dress modestly, or they won’t let you in, no matter how long you’ve been waiting. That means no shorts or bare shoulders or midriffs for men or women. And by all means, wear comfortable shoes.

If you can, allow all day for a visit to the Vatican. The wealth of paintings and other artworks displayed in room after room are no less than astonishing. The most famous area, of course, is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling filled with vibrant frescoes that the artist produced while lying on his back atop scaffolding high in the air. The chapel gets extremely crowded and you may find yourself being pushed along and out by the mobs of people, so try to find a quiet corner to have time to gaze up at and appreciate the masterwork.

St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most important churches in Christendom and one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture – Michelangelo was one of the designers, the sculptor Bernini another – requires a couple of hours on its own. Inside, the sheer size and the masses of marble, gilt, and decorative extravagance can be overwhelming. 

You probably won’t have the time or energy to enter every chapel or inspect every altar, but be sure not to overlook Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture, which occupies one out -of-the-way niche (there should be crowds milling around it). 

Top Italy Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Tours to Italy very often visit the “Big Three” that is Florence, Venice, and Rome. These are classic must sees for first timers but also always reveal something new for second and third time travelers to Italy.

Choosing an Italy Tour

When choosing your tour to Italy, consider how you want to spend your time. Many Italy tours have a heavy focus on art, history, and archaeological sites. If this doesn’t interest you as much, look into tours that have more of a cultural bent, and perhaps spend more time in the countryside or visiting local towns.

Traveling to Italy, an FAQ:

  1. Are there Italy tour packages that include airfare? The short answer to this is: not many. Because of how widely airfare can vary depending on your departure dates and where you leave from, it is unlikely that your airfare will be included (unless you are requesting a custom tour). However, one of the benefits of Stride is that you can compare the trips that do! Our search feature allows you to easily view the Italian Tours & Trips that include airfare.

  2. What kinds of accommodation exist in Italy? This largely depends on the style of tour you are taking, and what level of luxury it is. If you are taking an active, budget-friendly tour, you may be staying in low end hotels, or some of the country’s hostels (hostels in Italy -- as in much of Europe -- are a safe and popular way to travel). Higher-end tours may stay in cute, local inns or various hotels. 

  3. Is food included on Italy group tours? Food is one of the best aspects of traveling to Italy, so it makes sense to wonder if you will have a say in what you eat! The answer to this question depend on the tour, though the majority of tours will have a couple scheduled meals, like maybe having a group breakfast at the hotel on the first day of your trip, and let you decide on others. If food is your main concern, perhaps consider going on a culinary tour of Italy

  4. Where should I exchange money in Italy? We recommend that you exchange money ahead of time if you can at all. However, there will be multiple opportunities to use your credit or debit cards within the country, just make sure you are using a card with low or no international fees! Also, as you should contact you bank before you travel abroad, so they don’t see your international spending as suspicious activity and cancel your account.

  5. What is the weather like in Northern Italy? The climate in Northern Italy varies depending on where you travel precisely, and what time of year. In the Alps, the wintertime can be very cold with a lot of snow. Summer in the mountains is mild, reaching a maximum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and but getting a little chilly at night. It also can be quite rainy during the summer, so pack a rain jacket! The coast of Northern Italy is quite a bit warmer than the Alps, and has mild winters and its known for its hot, dry summers.

  6. What is the weather like in Southern Italy? The climate in Southern Italy is known for its mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. In the summer, temperatures are on average around 80 degrees. In the winter, make sure to pack a rain jacket, but don’t worry about the snow -- in Southern Italy, this only rarely accumulates on the tops of the Apennine Mountains.

  7. How do I prevent thieves and pickpockets in Italy? Boasting some of the most famous and popular tourist destinations in the world, it makes sense that Italy is also known for its pickpockets. While these do not present any real safety issues, it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting to lose your passport, money, or any jewelry that you have. The best defense you have against pickpockets is to be aware, especially when you are in a major tourist area, whether that be an attraction or the airport. Try to carry only a day’s worth of money on you at a time, and keep it in fanny pack (or money belt), or in the inside pocket of a jacket. If you do carry a bag, do not leave it on the back of your chair or put it on the ground when eating at a restaurant. Do not discount anyone of being a thief -- pickpockets can be children, well dressed individuals, or even a woman holding a crying baby. Be especially on alert if you are approached by a group of people, or someone carrying a sign at chest level.

  8. Is public transportation safe? Yes, using the bus and train systems in Italy is safe for tourists to use. Just exercise caution as you would in any other context -- be careful when traveling alone at night, for example.

Visiting Archaeological Sites on your Italy Tour

Italy is home to some of the most popular archaeological sites in the world, and your Italy tour is sure to hit up one if not more of these wonders.

However, when visiting archaeological sites, it’s important to be flexible. At certain times, large portions may be under construction for conservation, or under excavation by real archaeologists. These specific areas will be off limits to tourists, but it does demonstrate a wonderful collective respect for our past and preserving these sites to the best of our ability.

Food, Coffee, and Wine on your Tour of Italy

FoodEven if your Italy tour is not an official “culinary tour” enjoying long meals is a quintessential part of Italian culture. Meals in Italy tend to be homey, simple yet delicious, utilizing local ingredients and making everything from scratch, often utilizing old tried and true methods from centuries before. Food is incredibly regional and diverse in Italy, with seafood dominating in the south and more earthy fare dominating the northern regions.

CoffeeIf your tour director knows their stuff, they should properly instruct you on how to order coffee in Italy. American travelers in particular may miss sugary concoctions with syrup - coffee in Italy sticks to the standards. And the idea of lingering over coffee is foreign to them - espresso bars are set up for busy commuters or those who need a 5 minute pick-me-up in the middle of their work day. Learning this system is part of visiting Italy, so go with it and “be Italian” on your tour!

WineBoth red and white wine are common and regularly consumed with meals. Italy tours will often visit a wine region or two, particularly the micro regions in Tuscany and perhaps Piedmont, for some sweeter wines. Be sure to exercise proper wine tasting etiquette when visiting vineyards: don’t feel the need to complete each taste, ask questions, and be open to learning about the region!

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