Italy in three weeks: top things to do, see and experience in Italy when you have three full weeks to travel around. Discover all Must See like Rome, venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and Amalfi coast, plus off the beaten path destinations such as Verona and Sicily.
Three weeks will give you the possibility of visiting most of Italian highlights, with some spare time to also discover some “off the beaten path” treasures (hence, it’s the most consistent itinerary with the “delightfully Italy philosophy”!)
As the one and two weeks itinerary, also this one is based on my personal tastes, on the hypothesis you are purchasing and “open jaws” ticket and with a train / public transportation as far as possible (in brackets average transfer times).
The logistics, as far as possible, optimized based on my (extensive!) Italian travel experience (and so are the days spent in each location). However, consider that with three weeks at your disposal, you can really design your itinerary with a good level of freedom, based on what you like the most.
So get a good guide book and invent your own holiday!
1 – Venice: 2-3 days, Ferry Boat in Venice + a lot of walking (and maybe a cheap Gondola ride). Of course Rialto, San Marco and Palazzo dei Dogi, but also fancy Museums (Punta della Dogana) and off the beaten track walks . If you are travelling with kids, have a look at a child oriented itinerary. On the third day visit Murano-Torcello- Burano (1 day, ferry).
Where to stay in Venice:
- The Foscari Palace: enjoy a room on the Canal Grande, just in front of Rialto market (click here to know more)
- The Hotel Pausania: a charming hotel in the off the beaten path Dorsoduro Neighborhood. Live Venice just like locals would do (click here to know more)
2 -Venice >> Milan (stop over in Padova/Vicenza/Verona, if you have enough time). Sleep in Milan or, if you have enough time, go directly to Bellagio (check the Ferry Boat schedules). If you spend the night in Milan, have a fancy Aperitivo.
3 -Milan >>Bellagio, train + boat (2-3 hours), visit Bellagio and a couple of the famous villas on the west branch of Como Lake (1 day)
4 -Bellagio >> Milan >> ” Cinque Terre”. From Milan you have many direct trains (2,5 hours). It’s worth spending 1-2 days at Cinque Terre, but should also visit Portofino + San Fruttuoso: it’s a must! Sestri Levante, right in the middle, could be a good base, otherwise head to Monterosso. Don’t use a car, parking is a nightmare. (2-3 days).
5 -Sestri / “Cinque Terre”- Florence (with a stop over in Pisa / Lucca) – just transfer and light sight seeing. It take a little less than 3 hours to go by train from Sestri to Florence, via Pisa. Lucca is half an hour from Pisa by train (1 day). If you decide to visit also Lucca, you could consider spending the night in one of the two towns (I personally prefer Lucca).
6 -Florence (1-2 days), depending if you are keen on museums or not. Uffizi, Michelangelo’s David (in Galleria dell’accademia, the one in front of Palazzo Vecchio is a copy) , Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce, San Miniato, piazzale Michelangiolo, Via Tornabuoni, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli, Fiesole (20-30 minutes out of town).
Where to stay in Florence:
- The Grand Hotel Cavour: lots of atmosphere and history for this fascinating hotel located between Santa Maria del Fiore and Palazzo Vecchio. The roof bar will seduce you (click here to know more)
7 -Tuscany country side >>> Rome. Chianti, Monteriggioni, Siena, Montalcino, Val d’Orcia, Pienza, Montepulciano >>> Rome. (2-3 days, even more if you like the countryside and the good food, better to rent a car)
Where to stay in Tuscany: Monteriggioni (Siena)
- The Hotel Monteriggioni: a charming and romantic hotel, located in a fortified medieval village (click here to learn more)
- The Castel Pietraio, a true medieval castle, now four star hotel, to treat yourself like a king (click here to learn more)
8 -Rome (3-4 days or more). You don’t want to have a car in Rome; walk + on & off buses (follow this link to reserve your tickets with a discount). Bicycles or scooters are fantastic solutions!). Spanish steps, Piazza Navona, Panteon, Fontana di Trevi, Campo dei Fiori, Old Ghetto, Trastevere. St Peter (consider climbing on the Cupola) + Vatican Museum (RESERVE! queues are terrible – click here to book a tour and skip the line).
Mercati di Traiano, Fori Imperiali (including Orti Farnesiani), Colosseum, Palatino are unmissable destinations, and for this reason may be crowded. A tour could be a good soluton to skip the line and enjoy an expert guide (click here to reserve on line).
Don’t forget Trastevere and Isola Tiberina (very lively area in summer time, funny & crowded), Appia antica + Catacombs (best by bike, you can rent one in via Appia), medieval Rome and its underground treasures. If you are a running fanatic, don’t miss Villa Borghese and the awesome Borghese Gallery.
Villa Adriana and Villa D’Este, both in Tivoli (30 km from Rome) make a pleasant one day trip out of town.
Since you have several nights, you may consider awesome activities such as night visit to the Colosseum or a romantic dinner cruise. Follow this link for more suggestions.
Where to stay in Rome:
- The Hotel la Lumiere, a delightful hotel hidden a few blocks away from the Spanish steps, in posh via Condotti (click here to learn more)
9 -Rome >>Naples/Sorrento (2/3 days) Train. You can sleep in Naples or, better, in Sorrento. Visit Pompei, Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, Capri. Naples is also worth a visit. You can use public transports: boat service between Sorrento and Positano is very convenient, while buses, especially to Ravello, could be extremely crowded (consider sharing a taxi with fellow travelers). Renting a car could be an option in high season, but car parks are very expensive (and driving on the costiera is an experience on its own!)
For more info about Amalfi coast visit my posts: Capri: breathtaking Faraglioni and Natural Arch walking tour and Best of Amalfi coast
Alternative itinerary (especially in wintertime): get a low cost flight in Rome or Milan, and visit Sicily. Palermo, San Vito lo Capo, Segesta, Agrigento and the Temples Valley, Siracusa, Catania, Taormina.