In Italy, there is so much to discover, admire, and see that a single life would not be enough. For this reason, spending the summer in the “Bel Paese” means that wherever you decide to go, you will always find something interesting to visit or pleasant to do.
It is known that the most important summer destinations in Italy are the beaches of southern Italy, such as those in Salento and Gargano, in Puglia, or among the coasts of Sicily and those of Sardinia, or along the routes that cross the “Cinque Terre” and Amalfi Coast. All places where you can associate the pleasantness of the sea with visiting places of art and tasting excellent local food. It is therefore not strange that they are destinations with a lot of Italians and foreign tourists every year.
But summer is also the time when, in order to escape from the heat, you may prefer to stay in the mountains. From the Alps to the Apennines, there are those who decide to take advantage of the summer to go trekking, hiking, climbing or, simply, walking through woods and nature. The mountain in summer is also an opportunity for the most reckless who want to try paragliding, free climbing, diving, mountain biking. The mountain in summer is therefore the right destination for those who love to enjoy the summer in idyllic places and get away from the crowding of the beaches.
For lovers of the lake and unspoiled scenery, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore are instead among the most beautiful and famous destinations, together with Lake Como. Those who prefer the Apennines for the charm of the places or the convenience can count on the equally enchanting lakes of Bracciano and Trasimeno.
Best summer destinations in Italy
We begin the journey that will lead us to discover the most beautiful summer destinations in Italy starting from the north. Nestled in the mountains, Aosta Valley is one of the most famous tourist regions when it comes to the mountains. The town of Courmayeur is, in particular, one of the most famous places in winter for its ski slopes and its luxury hotels, while in summer it turns into an ideal destination for those who love the quiet of nature and walking in the mountains or hiking. If you decide to spend a few days in Courmayeur and in Aosta Valley, stop to admire the panorama of Mont Blanc, perhaps with a trip to France in Chamonix, or taking the new Skyway cable car, which will take you up to the altitude. Do not miss the thermal baths of Courmayeur too.
Going down to Piedmont, the Langhe and Roero areas are characterized by a hilly landscape with expanses of vineyards. Small towns that come alive in summer and many opportunities for those traveling to discover good food and good wine, for which the area is famous.
Read: Wineries in Piedmont
Do not miss Alba (in autumn internationally famous for the Truffle Festival), Barolo (famous for its DOC wines), Cherasco, Grinzane Cavour, and Bra, the latter famous for its cheese and for the dedicated festival of the same name, which takes place every two years.
Trentino Alto Adige is one of the regions most loved by those who like to play sports. If in winter it is a destination for those who ski or engage in activities related to snow, in summer it is a destination for tourism interested in the mountains and in direct contact with nature, as well as major exhibitions and culture. If you are thinking of a holiday in Trentino Alto Adige, you will be spoiled for choice on accommodation, things to do, paths to follow, and even things to eat. There are also alpine lakes, such as Lake Resia in Val Venosta and Lake Braies in Val Pusteria.
Venice leaves you breathless and at least once in your life must be seen: walking through its streets, getting lost in the canals, taking refuge in one of the many places to savor typical dishes are just some of the unmissable experiences to do in Venice, even in summer. If you decide to stay in the city as a stop on your trip, we also recommend that you board a ferry and visit the island of Murano with its historic glass factories and the colorful island of Burano. To the visit to Venice, it might be interesting to add a visit to the Palladian villas that are located in the nearby Province of Vicenza.
Read also: Things to Do in Venice
From Venice, it is then possible to quickly reach other renowned destinations, such as Lake Garda. Always loved by foreigners, Lake Garda is a real must for trips to Italy, and a tour of these areas will not leave you disappointed. The largest lake in Italy, which borders Veneto, Lombardy, and Trentino, offers countless opportunities that will satisfy everyone: from those who love food and wine to those who love nature. And those who love to swim in the summer will have beaches on the lake. Wide choice also to relax, thanks to the many spas in the area. Finally, for those who like to discover cities, in this area, they are spoiled for choice.
Read also: Things to Do in Lake Garda
Moving to Liguria, Sestri Levante is a town that enchants with its scenic beauty, rich in history and culture where there is no shortage of monuments to visit and shops for shopping, Sestri Levante is one of the capitals of holidays in Liguria, a few steps from Portofino. Blue sea, fine sand, diving, sailing courses, windsurfing, water sports but also trekking with the panoramic path that leads to the promontory of Punta Manara.
Of course in Liguria, we also have the most famous area of the Cinque Terre, which includes the small towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Their position, the colors of the houses, the scent of “focaccia” that can be heard walking on the streets, and a sea that invites all year round make Cinque Terre one of the areas to be considered absolutely for a summer trip to Italy. Lovers of mountain walks can take one of the two paths that cross the territory to enjoy Cinque Terre from a different and less frequented point of view. In addition, the various towns are connected by train.
- Read also: Things to do in Cinque Terre
In the heart of Conero Riviera, in the Marche region, Numana is the perfect location for a relaxing holiday between transparent waters and breathtaking scenery. The ancient fishing town offers a historic center where you can stroll through narrow alleys and colorful houses while the coast surprises with the wonderful beaches that stretch for kilometers, lapped by a clear sea. Numana is a picturesque terrace overlooking the sea where tradition and modernity coexist to give unique experiences.
Further south, always along the Adriatic coast, within the protected marine area of Cerrano, Pineto is worth a visit. It is a beautiful town in Abruzzo characterized by greenery and large pine forests. The lush pine forest by the sea runs parallel to the beach for kilometers until it reaches the sixteenth-century Torre di Cerrano, one of the most beautiful castles in the region which today houses a library and the Sea Museum. The beaches of fine sand, the shallows and the shelter of the pine forest make it the ideal location for families with children.
In Tuscany, the Chianti Road, also called “Chiantigiana”, connects Florence and Siena and winds among the towns of Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti up to Siena among several wineries, “pecorino” cheese producers and places where time seems to standstill. Here the hills frame small stone towns, vineyards and olive groves that overlook and complete a panorama that is already unique and fascinating in itself, loved by both Italians and foreigners.
Traveling along Chianti road means not only enjoying the beauty of the landscape but also having a unique food and wine experience for lovers of good wine and a good living. Continuing towards Siena, you can reach Val d’Orcia, between the wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano, and go up to Bagno Vignoni and its spas.
The northern part of Lazio is also perfect for those looking for a relaxing place to discover. From Lake Vico to Viterbo with its structures dating back to the papal period without forgetting Bomarzo and its Monster Park. But also Soriano Nel Cimino, Tuscania with its Etruscan necropolises, and Tarquinia, an ancient Etruscan town overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
A separate discussion must be made for the splendid Civita di Bagnoregio, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known by the name of “dying city”; it was in fact almost completely abandoned at the end of the eighteenth century after an earthquake that destroyed the bridge that connected the fortress to the lower city and today it is a must tourist destination for those in the area.
Going further south, in Campania, we find the city of Salerno, nestled between the beauties of Cilento area and Amalfi Coast. Salerno holds a thousand-year history of which traces can still be admired today. In the heart of the historic center not to be missed are, for example, the Cathedral of Santa Maria degli Angeli, a union of Arab-Norman architectural styles; the Giardino della Minerva, a green area used by students of the Salernitana Medical School (the oldest medical university) and the Archaeological Complex of San Pietro a Corte, which tells the long history of the city.
Read: Things to do in Salerno
Amalfi Coast covers a relatively little territory in terms of size but is decidedly rich in natural food and wine beauties. The main towns are Amalfi, Atrani, Cetara, Conca Dei Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori, Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Vietri sul Mare, all connected by State Road 163, considered one of the most beautiful roads in Italy.
The peculiarity of the Amalfi Coast is the arrangement of houses and land along the slopes of the coast and towns that impress with their maze of picturesque streets. There is no shortage of beaches and promenades, while as far as attractions, we recommend Ravello with its villas, Amalfi with its cathedral and alleys, and Positano for its restaurants on the sea.
Read also: Things to do in Amalfi Coast
Puglia is also to be discovered and certainly, Salento is one of its most famous areas, thanks to the fantastic coast but also to the hinterland and its very rich culture. The centerpiece of Salento is Lecce: a baroque city of rare beauty. It is worth visiting even if you decide to visit this area in summer only for its sea and beaches.
Gallipoli, Otranto, Porto Cesareo, and Santa Maria di Leuca (the most extreme tip of Italy) are not to be missed in Salento, without forgetting the many beaches that resemble the Maldives.
Polignano a Mare
In Puglia, we have also Polignano a Mare, a city that enchants for its extraordinary position perched overhanging the Adriatic Sea, the splendid natural caves, the streets of the historic center, and the terraces with spectacular views. Without forgetting the pebble beaches and the steep cliffs. It is one of the most suggestive places in Puglia.
Maratea, in Basilicata, is called the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea”. Perched on Monte San Biagio where the statue of Christ the Redeemer stands, in a panoramic position on the Gulf of Policastro, Maratea is a destination not to be missed. The picturesque old town still retains its medieval layout with its narrow streets and countless monuments of great interest, including important religious buildings, so much that Maratea has the name of “city of 44 churches”. Here too there is no shortage of beautiful beaches and coves.
We arrived in Calabria, the tip of the “boot”. Nestled on the slopes of Monte Poro, Ricadi presents an evocative territory rich in history, scenic beauty, white and fine sand beaches including the enchanting Capo Vaticano. The Capo Vaticano lighthouse and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Lauretana are also of interest. Not far from Ricadi we find the town of Tropea, which waits for the traveler with over 3 km of white beaches, a historic center full of noble buildings built on the rock overlooking the crystal clear sea and a breathtaking panorama with the famous Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola.
After crossing the Strait of Messina, we arrive in Sicily. The eastern part of the island deserves a special mention in the list of unmissable trips to Italy. You can start from Catania and enjoy its Baroque architecture which is well expressed in the amazing Piazza del Duomo (the square of the cathedral), continue along Via Etnea, and reach the Villa Bellini Garden. Also worth seeing is the “Piscarìa”, the fish market in Catania, where you can also eat.
From Catania, you can then visit the splendid Taormina, but also Syracuse, Marzamemi, Ragusa, and Noto. If you love nature, do not miss an excursion on the Etna volcano and a walk through the Alcantara gorges.
In the province of Agrigento, Licata is a picturesque location where you can enjoy a holiday by the sea, history and good food, as well as a starting point for a tour to discover the rich cultural heritage of the area. Baroque noble palaces, liberty villas, the San Giacomo lighthouse, Castel Sant’Angelo and the succession of sandy beaches alternating with imposing cliffs, make Licata a tourist destination not to be missed.
On the west coast of the island, we find Trapani, a city to be discovered with its museums, culture, sea, and nature. The Salina Reserve of Trapani is also worth a visit, a regional natural reserve managed by the WWF where the ancient salt extraction is practiced. By the way, do not leave Sicily without first delighting the palate with the various local specialties.
We conclude our tour with Sardinia and in particular with the Maddalena Archipelago, one of the most fascinating destinations in Italy: it is a set of islets that, with the mainland, constitutes a national park and covers a total of over 20,000 hectares. From Baja Sardinia, La Maddalena, Palau, and Santa Teresa Gallura depart boat excursions that allow you to admire, among others, Budelli, Caprera, Razzoli, Santa Maria. Budelli is famous for its unique pink beach. If you have time, plan a visit also to Costa Smeralda and the little town of Santa Teresa di Gallura.
Read: Beaches of Sardinia
Finally, you can also visit the Gulf of Orosei, a real paradise between dream coves and Caribbean beaches, such as the enchanting Cala Luna, Cala Mariolu, and Cala Goloritzè. Breathtaking coast, wild and romantic coves, imposing rock formations, paths, and rivers: the gulf is perfect for those who love immersing themselves in nature, hiking, trekking, and practicing outdoor tourism.