Italy is one of the most dreamy destinations in the world all year round, but it is particularly fun to visit in the summer. Italians consider the annual August holiday sacred and manage to stretch the vacation vibe from June through September, so this is the season when food and cultural festivals are in full swing, the coastline comes to life, and the general pace slows so everything from dining to strolling is done at a leisurely, almost meditative, speed. These are the best places to visit in Italy in the summer
If you are looking forward to a summer trip to Italy, start planning as far in advance as feasible. Since summer is high season in Italy, you’ll want to book things like hotels and villas, yacht and speedboats, drivers and guides, and restaurants when the top choices are still available. Wait too long and you may find that the suite you had your heart set on or most sought-after table with a view is already reserved.
With so many stunning areas of Italy, it can be a challenge to narrow down your choices to decide where to book your holiday. Here are our insider picks for the best places to visit Italy in the summer, from seaside resorts to alpine getaways. Still not sure? Contact Visumo Travel and we can create a customized itinerary based on your specific travel style and preferences.
The Best Seaside Destinations in Italy
It comes as no surprise that Italy’s spectacular coastline tops the list of best places to visit in the summer. From the glitz and glamor of the Amalfi Coast and Capri to the authentic charm of Puglia and Sicily, Italy offers a wide array of seaside destinations for a romantic break, family holiday, or simply a few days (or weeks) away from it all.
The Amalfi Coast and Capri
This stretch of southern coastline and island opposite has been a favorite summer holiday retreat since the time of the ancient Romans…Capri is still covered in the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ many pleasure palaces. Both the Amalfi Coast and Capri are almost exclusively summer destinations and shutter almost completely from November to April (Sorrento, located just outside the confines of the Amalfi Coast, remains lively all year round). Come spring, however, the hotels and restaurants throw open their doors, the beach clubs start setting up their iconic striped umbrellas, and the shops stock the latest season’s collections from some of the top designers in the world.
Plan to spend at least a few days on the coast and a night on the island to be able to savor the charming villages and spectacular views in the evening when the bulk of the tour bus crowds and day-trippers have left. Top attractions include the Amalfi Coast towns themselves—most famously Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello but also the lesser-known gems of Praiano, Minori and Maiori, and Vietri sul Mare. You’ll also want to venture along the Path of the Gods for superb views and stop at lunch at one of the delightfully rustic restaurants at the trail’s end. Don’t forget the excellent local food and wine, and you can explore local wineries or plan a jaunt to Cetara or Nerano, both famed for their traditional cuisine.
The highlight of the Amalfi Coast and Capri is, of course, their coastlines. Be sure to book a day cruise along the coast or to the island while there to take in the dramatic coastal cliffs and colorful villages from the sea. You can also opt for a multi-day mini cruise, mooring each evening at a different location to savor the very best of the area without ever having to deal with crowds or traffic.
If you’ve already visited the Amalfi Coast and Capri but loved the vibe (and cuisine) in southern Italy, Puglia is an ideal alternative and one of the best places to visit in Italy in the summer. Less glamorous than many resort destinations along the Tyrrhenian coastline, Puglia sits along the Adriatic side of Italy retains an authentic, timeless air despite its recent explosion in popularity. A number of luxurious resorts have opened over the past few years and the countryside is thick with fabulous holiday villas that were created from renovated “masserie” (farm estates) or “trulli” (conical stone dwellings).
By far the most scenic corner of Puglia is the Salento peninsula, which forms the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”. Here you can visit the ornate old town of Lecce, known as the “Florence of the south” due to its ornate baroque architecture, as well as picturesque whitewashed hilltowns like Ostuni, Locorotondo, or even Alberobello on the far northern reaches, home to the region’s famed “trulli”. Puglia is also known for its historic olive oil and wine productions, so foodies will have plenty of opportunities for culinary tours and tastings.
The crown jewel of Salento is its coastline, however, and no trip to Puglia is complete without spending time strolling the winding lanes of the seaside towns of Otranto, Gallipoli, Monopoli, and even the larger port city of Brindisi. Relax over a hearty, informal meal of fresh fish and seafood, savor a bottle of wine far into the evening, and enjoy watching the locals out for their evening “passeggiata”.
With more art, architecture, and archaeology than the Amalfi Coast or Puglia, the island of Sicily is ideal for culture vultures who want to combine some days at the seaside with excursions to ancient Greek and Roman sites, guided visits to take in some of the most breathtaking art in Italy, and architecture walks through historic cities like Syracuse, Taormina, and Palermo.
Like Puglia, Sicily has seen a huge increase in luxury hospitality over the recent years and today is a top choice for travelers who want to experience the unique history and culture of this captivating island without sacrificing white-glove comforts and service. The island is quite big, so unless you have a full two weeks to spend exploring, you will probably want to focus on a smaller area. On the eastern side of the island, the towns of Taormina, Syracuse, and Ragusa beckon, as well as the rumbling volcanic peak of Mount Etna. The western half of the island is home to Palermo, Trapani, and Marsala and the ancient temples of Agrigento.
No matter where you are on the island, however, a beautiful stretch of beach isn’t far. From the cliffs of Scala dei Turchi to the stretches of sand at San Vito lo Capo and Cefalù, Sicily has some of Italy’s most gorgeous coastline. Charter a multi-day cruise or day-long sail to skirt the coastline or strike out to the Egadi or Aeolian Islands just offshore.
The Best Countryside Destinations in Italy
The seaside isn’t your only option for a summer visit to Italy. Summertime is perfect for exploring the Italian countryside to discover its historic hilltop villages, art-rich provincial towns, and postcard-perfect landscape. You can hop from town to town each day or book a few days in a centrally located villa or hotel and take day trips to the nearby sights.
One of the most famous corners of Tuscany, the Chianti is home to a clutch of storybook villages, boutique wineries, and thermal hot springs…all within striking distance of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. This area is home to some of the most famous Italian cuisine and wines, so ideal for an epicurean getaway. Book a driver or your own car and explore the scenic country roads or simply relax by the pool overlooking the patchwork of vineyards, olive groves, and oak woods.
Those who have already explored Tuscany and want to enjoy a similar landscape and cuisine while discovering something new in Italy can head south to the bordering region of Umbria. Here, the rolling hills are just a bit wilder and the hilltowns just a bit less touristy…though word is out about Umbria’s authentic beauty and the region is no longer as under the radar as it once was. Highlights here include the Montefalco wine country, the provincial capital of Perugia, and the hilltowns along the Umbrian Valley: Assisi, Spello, Trevi, and Spoleto.
The foodie mecca for travelers in the know, this area of Piedmont is where some of the most prestigious wines in the world are produced as well as the famed white truffle of Alba. Take in pretty towns like Bra, La Morra, and Alba between winery visits and unforgettable meals. The proximity to Turin makes this an easy fly-in-fly-out countryside destination.
The Best Alpine Destination in Italy
Finally in our guide to the best places to visit in Italy in the summer, for pure scenic power, there is no better alpine destination for a summer visit to Italy than the Dolomites. This UNESCO-listed group of almost 20 peaks covers the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige/SudTirol in the Alps, straddling the Italian-Austrian border. The dramatic pinnacles and spires tower more than 3,000 meters above vast green expanses of Alpine forests and flowering meadows. Area resorts like Hotel Villa Abbazia in Follina the Rosa Alpina Hotel in San Cassiano in Badia offer easy access to hiking and biking but also Michelin-starred dining and indulgent spas.