Ten days in Italy. An absolute dream vacation. Honestly it seems like you could spend months there, but that’s not always practical. So here’s where a perfect 10 day Italy itinerary comes in.
I will always evangelize for efficient travel. I know there is SO MUCH to be said for parking in one place and staying there for a whole week to get the feel of it. But if you are traveling from overseas, you’ll probably want to see as much of the country as possible while you are there because there are so many great cities in Italy!
With this 10 day Italy itinerary we’ll hit all the highlights, from Rome to Florence to Cinque Terre. Plus you’ll still find some time to aimlessly wonder Italy’s streets with a cup of gelato in your hand while you soak in the glory that is Italy.
One caveat: we don’t include Venice here. If you want to see Venice, I’d recommended either substituting it for Cinque Terre, or adding on a few days at the end of the trip. You can travel from Cinque Terre to Venice via train, and in that case I might skip Milan all together and fly home from Venice depending on airline prices.
Now, let’s get to our itinerary!
10 Day Italy Itinerary Overview
Here’s an overview of the cities we’ll see and how many days we’ll spend in each one. Then keep reading for details of what to see on which day or your trip!
Day 1: Rome
Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Rome
Day 4: Rome and Travel to Florence
Day 5: Florence
Day 6: Florence
Day 7: Florence and Travel to Cinque Terre
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Day 9: Travel to Milan and Milan
Day 10: Travel Home
Getting Around Italy
The easiest way for travelers to get around Italy is to go by train. Train tickets are relatively inexpensive, and it’s an efficient way to get from city to city.
One note: if you do take a train BE SURE TO VALIDATE YOUR TRAIN TICKETS. This involves getting the ticket stamped at a special machine before you get on the train (these are usually found on the train platform). Failing to validate your ticket can result in hefty fines. And they really do have people coming by to check.
Renting a car is of course always an option, but since we are going to be spending so much time in cities here, where parking will be limited, we don’t recommended it for this particular itinerary.
10 Day Italy Itinerary
In this 10 day itinerary we’ll highlight the cities and major stops you’ll want to make. But definitely add your own stops if there is something else important in your sightseeing priorities!
Also note that we did not include mealtimes in here. So be sure to think about when you’ll want to eat. Different attractions will take different people different amounts of time (i.e. you might spend 3 hours at a museum while others might spend 1). So just be prepared to fill in the itinerary with meals. The good news is, there are restaurants ALL OVER the place. You won’t go hungry.
Also, get gelato AT LEAST once a day. Hey, you’re on vacation!
Day 1: Rome
We’re going to assume that your first day will involved you arriving in the city, so it won’t have as many stops as some of our other days. Many international flights arrive in the morning (and then you’ll want to take the train into the city center), so one you get settled, you can venture out to explore the city.
Stop 1: Campo de’ Fiore
A perfect place to begin your Italy explorations. Explore the streets of this Roman neighborhood and find a bite to eat (and maybe some gelato). We love starting here because it feels like true unhurried Italy, away from the more major tourist attractions. (Although, this is definitely a popular neighborhood for tourists to explore, so you’re not completely out of the fray here.)
Stop 2: Piazza Navona
Personally, one of my favorite areas of Rome. Piazza Navona was once the site of an ancient stadium and now a popular plaza. And don’t limit yourself to just the plaza, explore the surrounding neighborhood! There are some great restaurants tucked away and the streets are magical!
Stop 3: The Pantheon
The Pantheon is an ancient temple that was built around 125 A.D. It’s a free and popular attraction, so don’t be surprised if there is a line to get in (it should move pretty fast though).
Stop 4: Keep Wandering
Since you’ve been travelling you might want to get to bed early. But if your feet are still itching to explore, you can make some other stops: see the Colosseum from the outside at night, visit the Trevi Fountain, or walk along the Tiber River.
Day 2: Rome
For day 2 in Rome we’re going to focus on ancient ruins: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and more. And if you want even more ruins to explore, check out more from this list of Roman ruins.
Stop 1: The Colosseum
Buy your tickets ahead of time and start your morning at the Colosseum. This is perhaps the most iconic thing to see in Rome. You can walk through yourself, or book a guided tour for an additional price. Also note that if you want to go down to the arena floor, you’ll need to book a “full experience” ticket.
Stop 2: Palatine Hill
You ticket to the Colosseum should also include access to the Palatine Hill. Here you can wonder through the ruins of ancient Roman Palaces. I love this area because it is full of wide open meadows and it has some great views!
Stop 3: The Roman Forum
Access to the Roman Forum will also be included in your Colosseum ticket. This area of ruins includes marketplaces, temples, and so much more.
Stop 4: San Clemente Basilica
San Clemente Basilica is a lesser known spot, but a must-see for me! It is a modern day church on ground level, but below that you can explore a 4th century Basilica and a 1st century Roman street. It is such a unique place.
You can get tickets at the church. And remember that you are visiting a church, so dress appropriately.
Stop 5: Trastevere
Trastevere is a quieter neigborhood across the Tiber River, but it is becoming more and more popular. This is a great place to find some dinner and spend the evening.
Day 3: Rome
Today we’ll spent a lot of time in the Vatican before we see a few more sites. Plus take some time in the evening to revisit one of your favorite areas of the city you’ve seen so far.
Stop 1: St. Peter’s Basilica
We’ll start day 3 of our 10 day Italy itinerary with Rome’s other most popular spot: St. Peter’s Basilica. To avoid the crowds, get here early. You’ll find a short line and a peaceful church.
Entrance to the church is free, but you can get a guided audio tour or a guided tour for an additional cost. Also, be sure to dress appropriately (long pants for men, covered knees and shoulders for women).
Stop 2: The Vatican Museum
How much time you want to spend here is completely optional. (I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge museum person.) But this is where you need to go if you want to see the Sistine Chapel. Plus there are tons of other exhibits. Buy your tickets ahead of time.
Stop 3: The Trevi Fountain
After the Vatican, make your way to the Trevi Fountain. It will be crowded, but it will be worth it. Really!
Stop 4: The Spanish Steps
If you’re running short on time, don’t stress about making it to the Spanish Steps. But if you have the time, this can be a great place to sit down and people-watch after a busy morning of sightseeing.
Stop 5: Revisit Your Favorite Area
In the evening, go back to your favorite area. Rome is fantastic during the day, but it absolutely transforms into a different city at night (mostly, I think, thanks to the magical lamplight). So go back to one of your favorite sights or areas of town and soak it in for the evening.
Day 4: Rome to Florence
Day 4 of our 10 day Italy itinerary is mostly a travel day. But, depending on the time of your train, you’ll likely still have a bit of time in Rome before you spend the afternoon in Florence.
Stop 1: One Last Morning in Rome
For your last morning in Rome, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at a cafe and maybe stroll through the streets one last time.
For more details on what to see in Rome, here’s our 3 Day Rome Itinerary!
Stop 2: Train to Florence
Try to get morning train tickets into Florence. The train to Florence just takes a couple of hours, so if you time it right you can have breakfast in Rome and then have lunch once you arrive in Florence.
Stop 3: Piazza del Duomo
After you’ve gotten settled into Florence (or at least been able to drop your luggage somewhere), head straight to the Piazza del Duomo. This is the plaza where The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo) sits, and it will be a center point to almost everywhere else we go in Florence. Really, you can see it almost anywhere.
Here, take some time to admire the church, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Baptistry of St. John. If you want to, you can go inside the church. But the real glory of the building is on the outside, so if you don’t want to wait in the long line to get in, know that you aren’t missing too much.
There are also options to climb the bell tower or to the top of the dome for an additional cost.
Stop 4: Ponte Vecchio
Next, cross the Arno River over the Ponte Vecchio, admiring all the shops.
Stop 5: Piazzale Michelangelo
Climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the best views of the city. The best time to visit is evening, so if you time this right you can visit right before dinner and watch the sunset.
Day 5: Florence
Today we’ll visit some art, but also just take some time to stroll the streets. This is really what makes Florence to special.
Stop 1: Galleria dell’Accademia
This small museum is where you can find David. You’ll want to buy your tickets ahead of time and schedule a timed entry. But don’t just go straight for David — there is a lot of other great art here too!
Stop 2: Piazza della Signoria
Continue your exploration of sculptures at the Piazza della Signoria. This popular plaza has replicas of many famous sculptures and is a popular place to people watch.
Stop 3: Palazzo Pitti
This Medici palace turned museum is another icon of Florence. In the Palazzo Pitti you can see the Medici’s art collection, modern art, the Museum of Costume and Fashion, plus tour the royal apartments. You can buy a ticket just for the Palazzo Pitti or buy a ticket that combines with the Uffizi and Boboli Gardens.
Stop 4: Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens sit directly behind the Palazzo Pitti. Spend the afternoon strolling through this outdoor museum.
Stop 5: Santo Spirito
This little area of Florence across from Palazzo Pitti is a great place to end your evening and has some fantastic dinner options.
Day 6: Florence
Today we’ll do more art (I mean, that’s what Florence is all about!) plus have an option to take a tiny afternoon trip or stroll through the city a bit more.
Stop 1: Uffizi Gallery
This is the most popular museum in Florence (really, one of the most popular in Italy and the world), and there is so much to see here it would be impossible to see it all in one day. Buy your tickets ahead of time.
Stop 2: Fiesole OR Strolling for Florence More
If you want to explore outside of Florence a bit, we highly recommended an afternoon trip to Fiesole. Fiesole is a small town up in the hills outside of Florence and you can get there easily by bus. Take a tour of the Archaeological area, visit the Bandini Museum, and stroll the streets (if you walk through the town you might stumble across some great views of Florence).
If you’d rather stay in the city for the afternoon, just spend some time strolling the streets some more. Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Dante Museum, and Piazza di Santa Maria Novella.
Day 7: Travel to Cinque Terre
Today we’ll travel to Cinque Terre! Spend a bit of time in Florence in the morning, and then take the train to the Italian Riveria.
Stop 1: Florence in the Morning
Spend one last morning in Florence having breakfast and strolling the streets (depending on the time of your train).
Stop 2: Train to Cinque Terre
Take the train the Cinque Terre. To get there you’ll take a train to La Spezia and then transfer to the 5 Terre Express Train to get to Cinque Terre. The total trip should take you about 3 hours.
Stop 3: Train Hop To Cinque Terre Villages
One you get settled in Cinque Terre, spend the afternoon taking the train to each of the villages. Each village has a train station and for a day pass ticket you can take a train between the villages. Buying the Cinque Terre Card is also a good option, as it will give you unlimited train access as well as access to the hiking trails in Cinque Terre National Park.
Get off at each stop and do just a bit of exploring in each village to get the feel for it. And of course, if there is one you particularly like, definitely spend more time there!
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Stop 1: Hiking
Spend the morning doing a bit of Cinque Terre hiking. There are a variety of hiking trails with varying difficulties between the villages, but be sure to check what paths are open before you go. Sometimes they can be closed because of mudslides.
Stop 2: Take the Ferry
To get a good view of Cinque Terre you can take the ferry. The ferry runs with stops through all the Cinque Terre towns (except Corniglia) and you can get an all day ticket and get on and off as needed.
There are also lots of options for renting private boat tours in Cinque Terre, but the ferry will give you the same views for a much more economical price.
Stop 3: Pick a Town and/or Beach
Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring one of your favorite towns you’ve seen so far and maybe enjoying one of the many beaches that dots Cinque Terre.
Day 9: Cinque Terre to Milan
Stop 1: Morning in Cinque Terre
Depending on the time of your train, spend a leisurely morning in Cinque Terre. Enjoy a breakfast and a seaside stroll.
Stop 2: Train to Milan
Take a mid-morning train to Milan. The train to Milan takes about 3 to 4 hours, so you should arrive in Milan mid-afternoon.
Stop 3: Piazza del Duomo + Duomo di Milano
Stop by the Piazza del Duomo and see the Milan Duomo. The architecture here is entirely different from Florence’s Duomo and still completely impressive.
You can also book a ticket to the Duomo Terraces, where you get to climb up to the top.
Stop 4: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This indoor gallery mall is next to the Duomo and is an impressive building. Inside is plenty of high-end shopping. (Even if you have no plans to shop though, this building is 100% worth visiting!)
Stop 5: Teatro alla Scala
Next to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you’ll also find La Scala, one of the most famous opera houses in the world. If there aren’t rehearsals going on, you might be able to take a look inside even!
Stop 6: Strolling Milan
End your last evening in Italy strolling through central Milan and enjoying some gelato.
Day 10: Travel Home
Depending on when your flight leaves on your last day, you might be able to squeeze in just bit more sightseeing. Enjoy some breakfast and then maybe head to Parco Sempione to enjoy the largest park in Milan.
Then head to the airport! There are busses to the airport available just outside of the train station and you can book your tickets in advance.
Tips for Traveling To Italy
Validate your train tickets. This is maybe the most important Italy tip! If you are traveling by train, you will need to validate your train tickets (meaning get a special stamp on them) before you get on the train. There are validation machines at train station platforms. Failure to validate your train tickets could result in major fines! (Believe me…I’ve seen it happen!)
Always dress like you’re going to go into a church. With so many churches around Italy (especially in Rome and Florence) always be dressed appropriately to go into church. One great pleasure in Italy is to discover beautiful open churches to explore in what seem like random corners of the city. Churches expect you to have your knees and shoulders covered, so be prepared (although do know that this is most important at St. Paul’s). One tip for women — carry a light scarf with you that you can wrap around your shoulders when needed!
Fountains! You don’t have to stress about finding drinking water on your trip. Just bring a reusable water bottle and you’ll find fountains with safe and drinkable water all over Italy!
What more Italy? Check out our more detailed Rome Itinerary!