10 day Italy itinerary – how to plan your dream Italy vacation

There’s a reason a vacation in Italy is a bucket list experience. Nowhere else do world-renowned ancient structures sit among stunning landscapes of mountains and seas, the cities ooze romance and interest, and the warm climate provides the perfect excuse for yet another scoop of creamy gelato.

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The best time to plan a trip to Italy is generally thought to be between May and September, when the sun’s warmth can be felt

Italy itinerary 10 days

10 days in Italy is more than enough time to begin exploring this country’s many wonders. The important thing to remember when planning a trip to Italy is actually to avoid trying to do too much. Our 10 day Italy itinerary balances the desire to enjoy those must-see destinations for any trip to Italy with time to relax and take in the view, be that the Mediterranean or the local bartender…

Rome | Photo: Christopher Czermak

Days 1 and 2 - Rome

All roads eventually lead to Rome, making it a great place to begin any 10 day trip to Italy, a capital that’s constantly evolving despite its standing as the cradle of western civilisation. It’s also surprisingly compact, with its main attractions tucked within a rough 1.5 square kilometres, bounded by Roma Termini to the east and River Tiber to the west.

Our Rome Travel Guide has the full spectrum of places to stay, things to see and do, and nightspots to check out, but the crowds grow as the day goes on, so its best to begin at the Colosseum, from where you can swing by the ancient Foro Romano, Palatine Hill, and Circus Maximus. Then take the weight off your feet with a coffee before entering the hallowed halls of the Capitoline Museums, which contain treasures such as the bronze equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the marble Dying Gaul.

Start your second day with a photocall at the Trevi Fountain, then head eastwards via the Pantheon and Piazza Navona to the Tiber. The dappled shade its trees make for a pleasant walk towards Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican City, the world’s smallest nation-state at just 0.44 km2. St Peter’s Basilica and the exquisite museums here can easily absorb the rest of the afternoon, but should you have the stamina end your time in Rome at Piazzale Garibaldi, which has spectacular views over much of the eternal city.

Photo: Raghu Nayyar

Day 3 - The Amalfi Coast

After whizzing around Rome, the Amalfi Coast gives you some time to unwind and take in Italy’s extraordinary natural beauty. The turquoise seas are home to gently bobbing yachts, hidden coves, and delightfully authentic village piazzas, make it well worth adding to your Italy trip itinerary if only to soak up the ambience and think of nothing but romance and your stomach – with plenty of places to eat and things to do on the Amalfi Coast.

Days 4 and 5 - Florence

The gateway to Tuscany, Florence sits in the narrow valley created by the River Arno. The majority of its attractions are found north of the Arno, with its southern bank quieter but a great excuse for heading across the Ponte Vecchio.

Just a few metres from the bridge are the Uffizi Galleries, an architectural wonder as well as an artistic one, home to works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Botticelli, though you’ll have to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to take in the full naked glory of Michelangelo’s original statue of David.

If your pocket doesn’t stretch quite as far as the designer boutiques of Via de’ Tornabuoni (well worth visiting for the people watching alone), then head down pretty much any of the narrow streets that lead to the white and green marble façade of the Duomo, via the medieval crenulations of the Palazzo Vecchio, and you’ll discover a world of small independent cafes and stores. Our Florence Travel Guide provides the details.

Florence | Photo: Jonas Smith

Day 6 - Cinque Terre

Comprising five ridiculously spectacular cliffside villages overlooking the Mediterranean’s Tyrrhenian arm, Cinque Terre National Park is jaw-dropping, breath-taking Italy at its very best. Mountain roads wind their way between the villages alongside ancient footpaths while offering up sublime vistas incorporating steep-sided vineyards, colourfully-painted homes, tiny trattoria, and a largely unchanged way of life.

The Cliffs of Cinque Terre | Photo: Jack Ward

Photo: Fabio Schiano

Day 7 - Milan

Maligned by some, underrated by pretty much everyone, Milan may be the industrial heart of Italy, but it’s also the country’s fashion capital, where the shopping gallerias are second to none and the Milanese strut their stuff with a bravura that puts the rest of Italy to shame. Even if you focus on the shopping, be sure to pay a visit to the intricately-decorated cathedral, which took more than 600 years to finish, and the less grand Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie, home to da Vinci’s Last Supper. Find out more with our dedicated Milan Travel Guide.

Day 8 - Lake Como

Italy’s hottest lake (the Clooney’s have had a holiday home here since 2002), Lake Como could be considered Milan-by-the-water. Tucked up by the Swiss border, its inverted Y shape provides plenty of spots from which to enjoy the good life of fine foods, majestic villas, and cobbled village streets, before taking to the water for a gentle cruise, just one of an increasing number of things to do in Lake Como.

Lake Como | Photo: Mariya Georgieva

Days 9 and 10 - Venice

All good things must come to an end, but no Italy vacation should end without a couple of days in Venice. The city of canals has lost none of its charm with its fame, as our Venice Travel Guide testifies, and it’s surprisingly easy to escape the tourist circuit. Jump aboard one of city’s Vaporetto water buses and you’ll soon find yourself on the likes of the glass-blowers island of Murano, fisherman’s island of Burano, or traditional holiday getaway of Lido. In Venice proper, there’s no better way to spend a day while on vacation to Italy then to linger amid the gondolas, canals, and shoulder-width alleys of this unique destination.

Venice | Photo: Canmandawe

The best time to visit Italy

The best time to plan a trip to Italy is generally thought to be between May and September, when the sun’s warmth can be felt. Italy gets particularly busy around August, when Italians themselves traditionally holiday, and temperatures can become uncomfortable for those used to cooler climes.

How to get around Italy in 10 days

Italy’s public transport network is extensive, with even the smallest hamlet reached by either bus or train, while large cities also have metros and taxi fleets. Consulting timetables at the Italy trip planner stage will limit wasted time, while booking train tickets in advance, especially during peak season, is also a good idea.

Lago di Carezza | Photo: Ricardo Frantz

Driving in Italy

Alternatively, you could hire a car, though this comes with its own problems, not least parking, which can be difficult to find. Not only that, but Italy’s famously passionate nature really makes itself known on the roads, with driving conditions chaotic at best. If you don’t believe us, try finding a car in Italy without some damage on it!

Travel insurance

Even if you’re not driving, travel insurance is a must. Not only does it shield you against rapidly-mounting medical fees should the worst happen, but also insures you against loss and theft. Policies can cost little more than a few beers.

Italy’s museums and how to skip the queues

The popularity of Italy’s major museums means ticket queues can be long. Though you’ll still have to wait to pass through security checks, you can minimise queuing times by pre-purchasing tickets online.

It’s also worth noting that the majority of museums are closed on Mondays, and most have free entrance on a specific day, generally the first Sunday of a month, though this does result in bigger crowds.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence | Photo: Clay Banks

Photo: Matthew Daniels

Gay rights in Italy

Though one of the most obviously Catholic countries on the planet – there are 175 churches for every day of the year here – it would be wrong to mistake the church’s less than welcoming teachings for everyday opinion on the street. With same-sex civil unions legalised in 2016, it’s only a matter of time until the LGBT+ community gains full equality with their heterosexual friends, and while nonna might not entirely approve, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any open homophobia.

Cuisine

Italy’s food scene covers everything from cheap eats to Michelin-starred gourmet menus as our individual travel guides to many of Italy’s cities describe. You’ll find the best food away from restaurants on main squares offering tourist menus, and will fit in with the local crowd if you plan sit-down lunches for around 1.30 pm and your evening meal for 8.30 pm or later. While menus boast a plethora of courses, from antipasto to dolce, feel free to opt for as much or as little as you want. Sweets are generally a disappointment anyway – head to a gelateria instead.

Photo: Josh Hild

Plan trip to Italy the easy way

Everything considered, planning a trip anywhere, and of anything length, can take a considerable length of time to get right. Take all the angst out of planning your trip by taking advantage of Mr Hudson’s personalised Trip Design service.

Photo: Daniil Vnoutchkov

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