A travelers dream destination, there is so much to see in Italy. This jam-packed itinerary will show the best of Italy in 9 days, helping you to get the most out of your trip. See the ancient classics in Rome, marvel at the Duomo in Florence, and explore the watercolor villages of Cinque Terre, and end your trip getting lost in the canals of Venice.
Below you will find an overview of the itinerary and main highlights for each day.
|1||Rome||Ancient Rome: Colloseum, Forum, Capitoline Hill|
Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon
Borghese Gallery, National Roman Museum
|2||Rome||St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel|
Explore Rome: Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona
|3||Florence||Mercato Central, the Accademia (Michelangelo’s David)|
The Duomo, Campanile, & Baptistry
|4||Florence||Uffizi Gallery, Bargello Gallery|
Santa Croce Church and Santa Maria Novella Church
Ponte Vecchio, sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
|5||Cinque Terre||Explore Manorola and Riomaggiore|
|6||Cinque Terre||Hike the Blue Trail from Corniglia to Vernazza to Monterosso|
Relax on the beach in Monterosso
|7||Venice||St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace, Bridge of Sighs|
Gondola ride on Venetian canals
Cicchetti bar hopping
|8||Venice||Day trip to Murano and Burano|
Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Accademia
Italy Itinerary Map
For this itinerary, fly into Rome and out of Venice. You may also reverse the order, starting in Venice and flying out Rome.
1 hour 30 minutes by train from Rome
- Cinque Terre
2 hours 30 minutes by train from Florence
5 hours by train from Cinque Terre
Rome is filled with more ancient treasure than probably anywhere on earth, a maze of relics from times past, a living monument to a people that have endured and inspired civilizations across the globe. From the ancient Roman classics to Renaissance masterpieces, there is so much to see in Rome.
Day One | Rome
Time in Rome | 3 nights, 2 full days
Be prepared to do a lot of walking on day one. We tend to walk as much as possible, not just for the exercise, but because it saves money and is a great way to experience more of the city. That said, you may also opt to take the metro or a taxi between some of the more distant stops.
Day one highlights include:
- Ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Capitoline Hill)
- The Victor Emmanuel Monument,
- The Pantheon
- Borghese Gallery
- National Roman Museum
Morning | Ancient Rome
Start your first morning in Rome with the ancient classics: the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, and Capitoline Hill. These sights are very popular and tend to get crowded later in the day, so it is best to get an early start and visit them in the morning.
Continue on to the impressive Victor Emmanuel Monument, built from 1888 to 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy since the 6th century. You can walk around the steps of the massive monument and go inside for free.
Next, walk about 10 minutes from the Victor Emmanuel Monument to the Pantheon. This ancient Roman feat of architecture is one of those tourist attractions that lives up the hype.
Afternoon | Borghese Gallery & National Roman Museum
In the afternoon, head to the Borghese Gallery, home to a vast collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures, including Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne.
Then end your afternoon at the National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo, where you should be sure to see Greek bronze sculpture, Terme Boxer (Boxer at Rest).
Day Two | Rome
Day two starts with a visit to the Vatican, and ends with free time to explore any remaining sights in Rome:
- The Vatican (St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel)
- Explore Rome (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona)
Morning | the Vatican
Get an early start on day two and head straight to the Vatican, where you will spend the morning visiting St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. It’s best to start with St. Peter’s Basilica because you cannot make reservations and the lines get very long later in the day.
Then, if you are up for a challenge, climb the 551 steps to the inside of the dome and campanile for an incredible view of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square.
Next visit the Vatican Museums, home to Michalengelo’s Sistine Chapel , as well as an extensive collection of other Renaissance works, including Raphael’s School of Athens. Reservations for a specific time are available, and recommended, for the Vatican Museums.
Afternoon| Explore Rome
On your last afternoon in Rome, there are no reservations or concrete plans, so you have flexibility with how much time you want to spend in the Vatican Museums. When you arrive back in Rome, spend the afternoon exploring any parts of the city you haven’t yet seen. Toss a coin into the famous Trevi Fountain, walk up the Spanish Steps, and go shopping or grab a glass of wine Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori.
For more details on how to spend two days in Rome and information on getting around in Rome, be sure to see our detailed itinerary:
The birthplace of the Renaissance and still a major cultural hub, few cities have stayed as relevant for as long as Florence. Located on the Arno River and surrounded by the Tuscan hillsides, Florence is the perfect stop for those of all interests, from history geeks to wine lovers.
Day Three | Florence
On day three, depart Rome and arrive in Florence. Highlights of day three include:
- Mercato Centrale
- The Accademia (Michelangelo’s David)
- The Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Morning | Arrive in Florence
Leave Rome in the morning on day four and take a train to Florence. The train ride takes about an hour and a half.
First head to Mercato Centrale, a huge 2-story indoor market with vendor’ selling fresh produce, wine, cheese and prepared meals, for lunch. Outside of Mercato Centrale is Florence’s famous leather market, selling a variety of locally made leather products.
Afternoon | the Accademia and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
After lunch, visit the Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David. There is not much else to see in the museum, but David alone makes the Accademia worth a stop.
Continue to Piazza del Duomo to see Florence’s iconic Duomo at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Entrance to the cathedral is free, but they allow a limited number of people inside at a time so the lines can be very long. Note that bare knees and shoulders are not permitted inside the Cathedral, so be sure to dress appropriately.
We highly recommend climbing the 414 steps up the Campanile for an incredible view of Florence and the Duomo from above, and stopping into the Duomo Museum to see Ghiberti’s original bronze doors which once hung on the Baptistry.
For dinner, head to one of our favorite restaurants in Italy, 4 Leoni (be sure to try to the pear filled ravioli and fried zucchini). For more restaurant and bar idesas, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to eat and drink in Florence, without breaking the bank.
Day Four | Florence
Highlights of day four include:
- Uffizi Gallery
- Santa Croce Church and Sant Maria Novella Church
- Bargello Gallery
- Ponte Vecchio
- Sunset form Piazzale Michelangelo
Morning | Uffizi Gallery
Start you morning early visiting the Uffizi Gallery, a museum that houses an impressive collection of Renaissance masterpieces, including Boticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, Raphael’s Madonna & the Goldfinch, Titian’s Venusand and a series of unique infinished works by Leonardo da Vinci.
Afternoon | Santa Croce & Santa Maria Novella Churches
Next, visit Florence’s two famous gothic churches: Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella. Though similar in their gothic styles, these two churches are both worth seeing – be sure to go inside to see their intricate stained glass, array of Renaissance works, and beautiful courtyards.
If you have time, make a quick stop at the Bargello Gallery, which contains a vast collection of sculptures, including Donatello’s David. By this point, we were a little museum-ed out so we spent only a brief time here.
Evening | Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge over the Arno River, lined with small shops that mainly sell high end jewelry.
The highlight of this evening is watching the sunset over Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo, a park located on a hill overlooking the city. Pack some cups and a bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch the sunset.
For complete details on how to spend two days in Florence, including transportation information and the Firenze Card, see our post:
Cinque Terre is a collection of five seaside villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola, and Riomaggiore – on the Northwestern coast of Italy known for its vibrantly-colored houses perched on steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.
Day 5 | Cinque Terre
On day five, travel to Cinque Terre and explore two of the five cliffside villages:
Morning | Arrive in Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is about two hours by train from Florence, so catch an early train to arrive in Cinque Terri mid- afternoon.
It really doesn’t matter which town you decide to stay in, as they are all easily accessible via short train rides. You will likely want to purchase a Cinque Terre Train Card or Cinque Terre Trekking Card to hike or take the train between towns.
Afternoon | Manorola
After checking into your hotel or Airbnb, take a train to Manorola, the second smallest and perhaps most picturesque of the five towns. We recommend having a glass of wine and appetizer at Nessun Dorma, a restaurant with an incredible patio perched high on a cliff with an unbeatable view of Manorola.
Evening | Riomaggiore
After spending some time exploring Manorola, head to Riomaggiore, the village furthest South of the 5 towns. You can get their by taking a train, or an easy 30 minute walk along the Via D’Amore. In Riomaggiore you’ll find a great selection of seafood restaurants to choose from for dinner.
Day Six | Cinque Terre
On day six you will visit the remaining three village of Cinque Terre by hiking along the Blue Trail:
Morning | Corniglia & Vernazza
On day six, hike the Blue Trail starting in Monterosso and ending in Corniglia, a total of 7.2 kilometers (roughly 4.5 miles) with epic views of the Cinque Terre villages and surrounding sea.
We recommend starting in Corniglia and hiking the 3.7 kilometer trail to Vernazza. The trails get crowded later in the day, so get an early start. When you arrive in Vernazza, take a break for lunch and spend some time exploring this charming little town.
Afternoon | Monterosso
Next, pickup the Blue Trail again and continue from Vernazza to Monterosso, a 3.5 kilometer moderate hike that should take between an hour and a half and two hours. Monterosso is the most heavily populated of the five towns, and the only town with a real beach. Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring Monterosso and relaxing on the beach after a long hike.
For more details on hiking the Blue Trail between the villages of Cinque Terre, see our post:
With its pastel-colored buildings, intricate footbridges, and teal canals connecting the city, there is something magical and romantic about Venice. Yes, its a little dirty, the buildings are faded and you can tell the city has lost some of the glory it once had. But Venice will never lose its unique architecture, complicated history, and status as an ancient wonder.
Day Seven | Venice
Day seven highlights include:
- St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge Palace
- Gondola ride on the Venetian Canals
- Cicchetti bar hopping
Morning | Arrive in Venice
Day seven is the longest travel day within Italy. There is no direct train from Cinque Terre to Venice, so you have to go back through Florence, a trip which will take around 5 hours.
Afternoon | Explore Venice
When you arrive in Venice, hop on a Vaporetto (water taxi) down the Grand Canal, stopping at Rialto Bridge. If you arrive before 12:30, check out the Rialto Market, a fish market held daily right near the bridge. Then continue down the Grand Canal to St. Mark’s Square. Go inside St. Mark’s Basilica, climb the Campanile for a view of Venice, and tour the Doge Palace.
Afternoon | Gondola Ride
It may be cheesy and tourist, but there is no better way to explore the Venetian canals than by Gondola. You can take a shared gondola ride for relatively cheap (roughly $40 per person for a 30 minute ride). Schedule a gondola tour for early afternoon on day seven.
Evening | Chicetti Bar Hopping
In the afternoon, starting around 4:00 PM, hop around to Venice’s many cicchetti bars, serving wine and bite sized snacks during happy hour. Skip dinner and opt for a night of cicchetti – it’s cheaper than a sit down meal and you get to try a wide variety of dishes! Plus, it’s a great way to explore the maze-like streets of Venice.
Day Eight | Venice
On day eight, escape the crowds of Venice with a day trip to two nearby islands and visit two art museums:
- Take a day trip to Murano and Burano
- Visit the Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim museums
Morning | Day Trip to Murano & Burano
Just across the Venetian Lagoon sit two islands, Murano and Burano, accessible as a day trip from Venice. With just a 15 minute Vaporetto ride, you can visit Murano, a small town famous for its glass-blowing which resembles Venice without the crowds. Burano is a fisherman’s village known for its lace-making and rows of brightly colored buildings.
Read more about taking a day trip to Murano and Burano:
Afternoon | Guggenheim & the Accademia
Spend the afternoon immersing yourself in art at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Accademia.
Located just five minutes from each other, these two museums could not be more different. The Guggenheim is a gold mine of modern art, featuring Cubist works from Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock’s famous paint splatter pieces, and strange Surrealist paintings by Salvador Dali.
The Accademia, on the other hand, is home to a vast collection of 12th through 19th century works, with highlights such as Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi and Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin
Day Nine | Depart Venice
On day nine, your grand tour of Italy comes to a close. Catch a flight out of Venice home or to your next destination.
For more details on how to spend your time in Venice, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite things to do in Venice that won’t break the bank:
For all things Italy: Italy Travel Guide
Questions or comments about the itinerary or traveling in Italy? Comment below!