For some people, taking a trip to Italy is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream – so you want to be sure to do it right. Whether that means you plan the trip yourself or you hand the reigns to a capable travel agent, your goal will be the same: You don’t want to miss anything.
Booking a tour of Italy can be a good way to make sure you see the highlights in the most efficient way, but you don’t have to book a tour covering the whole country in order to take advantage of a tour guide’s local expertise. You can be on an entirely DIY trip and join a few city tours or attraction-specific tours as you travel through Italy, getting the most out of each stop without being tied to a tour’s schedule.
Here are a few of the different options available to you if you’re contemplating Italy tours – country-wide tours, city tours, day trips, or adventure trips – with some links to find out more about each one.
Booking a tour of all of Italy can be a good option for anyone who’s never been to Italy before (or never traveled before), or people who don’t have much time to dedicate to researching and booking their own trips.
Not all tours are created equally, especially when it comes to a popular destination like Italy, so be sure to read about what the tour companies you’re considering are like to make sure you’ll be comfortable on any tour you book.
A few things to keep in mind when comparing Italy tours:
- How large are the tour groups?
- How much free time is allowed on a given day?
- What’s included in each city? Will admission charges, hotel taxes, guided tours, etc. cost extra?
- What level of transportation is standard? Is it all big buses or public transit?
>> Here’s a selection of Italy tours to browse through to see if one is right for you.
City Tours in Italy
Rather than booking a whole Italy package trip you can plan your own trip to whatever places you want and then book guided tours in the various cities you visit – or even to specific attractions within those cities. This way you get to dictate your own pace and plan your own route, while still enhancing your knowledge of a place through the expertise of a local guide.
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Nearly every city in Italy has an array of local guides who offer different kinds of tours – there are walking tours, shopping tours, bike tours, ghost tours, hiking tours, boat tours, art tours, night tours, even Segway tours. Sometimes the tours cover only certain sights in a city, other times they focus on an aspect of that city’s history. You can book these before you leave home, but you can also wait until they’ve reached a destination before they check out what’s on offer at the local tourist information office.
>> Some of my favorite guided walks in Italy are by Context Travel – they’re based in Rome, and have tours in Naples, Venice, Florence (& Tuscany), and Rome as well as other cities around the world.
Day Trips in Italy
Another way to incorporate the expertise of local guides into your Italy trip is to go on organized day trips from any of the cities you visit.
If you’re in a place long enough to see its highlights and have some time leftover, day trips are an excellent way to fill that time – especially if you’re in a central enough location that there are ample opportunities for great day trips nearby.
Here are some articles on great day trip options from some of Italy’s most popular destinations:
- Day Trips from Florence
- Day Trips from Milan
- Day Trips from Naples
- Day Trips from Rome
- Day Trips from Venice
Adventure Trips in Italy
Italy may be more commonly known for its art, history, and fashion than its status as an adventure travel destination, but this small country is packed with activities to excite any adventurous traveler.
Some of the trips calling themselves “adventure tours in Italy” are simply the kind of tours that independent travelers love – they’re the sort of small group trips they’d have organized for themselves when they had more time, but now that they have more money they’re happy to leave the logistical juggling to someone else. They’re not big bus tours, and they often allow for lots of free time in each destination, they just take care of things like accommodation, transportation, and a few guided tours of major attractions.
Other Italy adventure tours do more to live up to the word “adventure” in their name – they involve outdoor sports and activities as often as possible. Whether you’re up for this kind of tour is something you’ll need to decide – just be sure to read the descriptions of the tours you’re considering to make sure the activity level is what you want for your vacation.
>> Learn more about the Italy adventure tours that are available.
Some of the Top Italy Adventure Tours:
- Tuscany and Siena, 7 or 5 days Self Guided Walk (from $1340) – Adventure into the heart of central Tuscany – a landscape characterised by remote villages, scattered cypress trees, undulating vineyards and aromatic olive groves. Its gently rolling hills are strikingly familiar from the classical backdrops of Renaissance art, and its charm is immutable – the perfect merging of medieval and modern worlds. The route traverses ancient paths and dirt tracks, past Tuscan farms and forests, culminating in the magnificent city of Siena. Experience the essence of this glorious region on foot.
- Highlights of Italy, 8 day tour (from $1355) – Discover the sights and delights of Italy on this week-long journey. Begin amid the canals of Venice, travel to the Cinque Terre for Ligurian riches, discover the beauty of Florence and wind up the adventure in the piazzas of Rome. With lots of free time to make your own plans, enjoy the freedom to hit the pavement and discover Italy’s history and culture or mingle with the locals at markets and cafes – there’s no better way to master the lingo and the leisurely lifestyle.
- Cinque Terre Coastal Walk, 5 days tour (from $699) – Hike the stunning Ligurian coastline between the impossibly beautiful towns of the famous Cinque Terre: picturesque, traditional villages perched on the cliffs overlooking the sparkling azure of the Adriatic Sea.
- Amalfi Coast, 5 Day Self Guided Walk (from $920) – The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, if not the world. Due to its popularity, the Amalfi’s coastal beaches and villages draw crowds of travellers each year, while the mountainous inland region remains relatively untouched. This independent walking trip takes you into these mountains and along the magnificent Walk of the Gods. After walking through woods and fields during the day, you’ll spend each night by the sea and experience the renowned Italian flair and seaside culture. Sign up for this short hiking adventure and discover your own sparkling jewel within the Amalfi Coast crown.
- Italy Family Adventure, 14 days tour (from $2785) – From glorious Rome and the seaside fun of the Cinque Terre, to the lovely lakes region and fab Florence, this Family Adventure is brimming with culture and cuisine sure to delight both young and old. Cycle around a medieval Tuscan town, climb aboard a cable car for views of the Italian Alps, cross the canals of Venice and sample a rainbow of gelato flavours along the way.
- Sicilian Volcano Trail, 8 days tour (from $1699) – Exhilarating hiking on the edge! A week of Mediterranean villages, black sand beaches, and unforgettable hikes over three active volcanoes on Sicily: Vulcano; Stromboli, one of the most active volcanoes in the world; and mighty Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano.
- A Taste of Italy, 15 days tour (from $3470) – Savour the many flavours of Italy as we travel from the canals of Venice to the cobblestone streets of the Eternal City. Explore natural wonders, historic sites and picturesque villages on this special Italian food-lovers journey. There is plenty of time to indulge in everything from traditional fare and local produce to gourmet meals and wines along the way.