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9 of the best holiday destinations in Italy for 2024

9 of the best holiday destinations in Italy for 2024

With a rich cultural heritage, fine cuisine and a Mediterranean climate, southern Europe’s global tourist hotspot, Italy, gives dull summer holidays the boot – literally.

Famed for its romantic allure, dynamic mountain regions in the north meet idyllic islands in the south, plus there are mainland cities brimming with echoes of the past. Charming Positano fuses days spent sunbathing with sightseeing, fashion capital Milan boasts a wealth of delights for every season, and the olive groves and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside offer visitors a chance to live in the hills as the Romans did.

Whether a food lover, artist or history buff, feast your eyes (and stomach) on iconic landmarks and ancient architecture while enjoying a slice of authentic pizza on glamorous seaside shores.

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Rome

Iconic landmarks line the Italian capital (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Iconic landmarks line the Italian capital (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: History buffs

Rome is home to art masterpieces, ancient mythology and the Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. The passionate Italian capital is littered with ancient ruins, Roman villas, haunting temples and 13 heritage landmarks, including the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Within the walls of the historic centre, a Unesco World Heritage Site, indulging on streetside carbonara, tiramisu and fried artichokes to refuel from long days of sightseeing comes highly advised, after all, when in Rome...

When to visit Rome

A good time to visit Rome is the spring shoulder season from March to May, as temperatures are warm but mild, and crowds are far more sparse than in the height of summer. Accommodation and flight prices tend to see better rates and average daily temperatures reach highs of 24C in May – perfect for sightseeing.

Where to stay

The exuberant Mama Shelter Roma in Prati offers quirky decor, three restaurants and a spa in the basement. A short walk from the Vatican, loud fabrics, lush greenery and comfortable bedrooms greet guests who can enjoy a Roman pizza and homemade gelato in the colourful lobby.

Amalfi Coast

From Positano to Vietri sul Mare, the Amalfi is a popular holiday destination (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
From Positano to Vietri sul Mare, the Amalfi is a popular holiday destination (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: Seaside towns

Italy’s rugged southern shore on the Sorrentine peninsula is 50km of world-famous pastel houses, fishing villages and magical grottos. From A-list hotspot Positano to Ravello, Amalfi and Vietri sul Mare, chic boutiques, cliffside lemon groves and grand villas dot the popular holiday destination, a taste of azure paradise at the foot of Monte Cerreto mountain. Keen hikers can trek the “Path of Gods”, old-mule trails through the picturesque villages, for the most breathtaking views of the awe-inspiring Amalfi Coast.

When to visit Amalfi Coast

It’s off-peak tourism season in May, September and October, which is an ideal time to enjoy the coastline with fewer tourists. Comfortable temperatures in the low to mid-20s are still pleasant for days on the beach as well as afternoon walks in the famous lemon groves that bloom in spring.

Where to stay

Palazzo Avino, a 12th-century palazzo, boasts panoramic Amalfi views, stylish rooms and romantic garden terraces in Ravello. Antique accents, infinity pools and free shuttles to a private beach club on the coast give holidaymakers a taste of luxury before even dining in Rossellinis, the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant.

Sardinia

Sardinia’s white sands and sapphire waters are a Mediterranean dream (Getty Images)
Sardinia’s white sands and sapphire waters are a Mediterranean dream (Getty Images)

Best for: Idyllic beaches

Off the west coast of mainland Italy, Sardinia’s serene beaches and Emerald Coast ooze glamour. The opportunity to soak up the sun on quality sands attracts VIPs to decadent villas and superyachts on the Costa Smeralda every summer. The second largest Italian island has allure in abundance, with luxury spas and beaches on the coastline of Cagliari, the capital, and speciality regional dishes such as porcheddu (suckling pig) for tourists to try in between days spent living like a rockstar in Olbia.

When to visit Sardinia

The height of the summer holidays from June to August brings scorching temperatures, warm seas and luxury boats great for a beach holiday. With daily average temperatures of 32C in the hottest month (August), the renowned Mediterranean climate is a paradise for tourists. To swerve the sun seeking crowds, visit Sardinia in March for reduced room rates, calmer beaches and highs of 17C.

Where to stay

A few metres from Poetto Beach Hotel Nautilus in Cagliari exudes nautical style and authentic Italian vibes. Buffet breakfasts are complimentary and spacious sea-view rooms feature terraces and en suite bathrooms, some with outdoor whirlpool tubs.

Milan

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: Retail therapy

Northern city Milan, Italy’s fashion and design capital, is home to heritage brands such as Prada, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, renaissance art such Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper, and the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral. For those who like the finer things in life, the undeniable style of the flashy metropolis in high-end stores, decadent architecture and bustling business districts, once part of Italy’s industrial Golden Triangle, has a unique lure.

When to visit Milan

September to December may see mild highs of around 18C and rainy days but are optimum conditions for those who wish to spend days in museums and shops on a budget. Ski holidays at nearby mountain resorts are also easily accessible from Milan.

Where to stay

The four-star Avani Palazzo Moscova Milan Hotel offers a small spa, outdoor terrace and contemporary Italian cuisine from inside Milan’s historic old railway building. It’s just five minutes to the cosmopolitan fashion hubs of Corso Como and Porta Nuova business district.

Lake Como

Italy’s deepest lake has a breathtaking backdrop of the Alps (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Italy’s deepest lake has a breathtaking backdrop of the Alps (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: Italian charm

Glistening waters, romantic gardens and glamourous villages epitomise Italy’s third-largest lake. Lake Como’s Y-shaped body at the foot of the pine-fringed Alps is best enjoyed on picturesque private boat tours, secluded beaches and enchanting walks through the villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Tremezzo. The regal shores are dotted with ochre villas, fine dining and fashionable boutiques.

When to visit Lake Como

Head to Lake Como from April to June for mild weather, quiet shores and lower humidity. Highs of 25C bless the lake in June, but sporadic rain showers are not uncommon as Como’s gardens start to bloom.

Where to stay

Casa Sull’Albero, on the shores of Lake Como, features a minimalist design, airy natural furnishings and monochromatic bedrooms. Exploring leafy gardens, a small pool and activities, from wine tasting to water skiing, are on the itinerary for guests. There’s even an “honesty kitchen” stocked with local farm produce.

Dolomites

The dramatic landscape is a hikers paradise (Getty Images)
The dramatic landscape is a hikers paradise (Getty Images)

Best for: Walking holidays

The Dolomites’ 18 peaks are a Unesco World Heritage mountain range in northeastern Italy. Sheer cliffs, dramatic valleys and glacial lakes populate the dynamic landscape and alpine adventures (skiing, hiking) and wellness holidays are abundant. Bordered by chocolate-box villages with winter markets and mountain museums, this Italian corner including South Tyrol, Trentino, and Belluno are great for chic stays in front of a breathtaking backdrop.

When to visit the Dolomites

June to September is an ideal time to visit the Dolomites on a hiking holiday. The region rarely tops 25C, a comfortable temperature for outdoor activities, and mountain huts are open on paths free from heavy snow and regulars on the skiing scene.

Where to stay

If quaint wooden rooms, cosy saunas and mountain views in the centre of Vipiteno are what you desire from a Dolomites holiday, then Steindl’s Boutique Hotel should fit the bill. Less than 100m from cycle trails, local restaurants and cable cars to the Monte Cavallo ski area.

Bologna

Bologna’s cathedral and terracotta tiles in the medieval Old Town (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Bologna’s cathedral and terracotta tiles in the medieval Old Town (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: Foodie delights

Medieval Bologna is a haven of culinary delights in the north of Italy. Swap afternoon teas for Aperol aperitifs and idle past Renassaince fountains to fairytale piazzas and al fresco gelato spots in the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. The 11th-century university town houses collection of libraries, fine art and ancient squares – go on a food pilgrimage around the terracotta-tiled streets to best savour the taste of rich culture and cuisine in the home of bolognese.

When to visit Bologna

The best time to visit Bologna is in September and October, when the weather is still in the pleasant 20Cs but humidity levels are down. With autumn usually comes food festivals of local produce and dwindling crowds so better hotel rates.

Where to stay

I Portici Hotel, in the heart of Bologna, boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, a bar and spacious rooms with intricately frescoed ceilings. A five-minute walk from Bologna Central Station, a lively atmosphere and park view terrace welcome guests to the historic town.

Siena, Tuscany

The Tuscan countryside is home to rolling vineyards and authentic Italian cuisine (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Tuscan countryside is home to rolling vineyards and authentic Italian cuisine (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Best for: Country landscapes

The scenic Tuscan countryside is made up of rolling hills, leafy olive groves and world-famous vineyards. Siena, a raised medieval city with ancient piazzas and an old-world soul, sits amid distant green and brown fields, vines and lines of Cypress trees. Be charmed by the terracotta districts, unique museums and a wealth of tradition – including hosting the thrilling Palio horse race in the cobbled central streets – all an easy bus ride from the rest of Tuscany’s mesmerising sights.

When to visit Siena

Visitors should plan a trip from May to June. Crowds are more manageable, the Tuscan landscape is at its most vibrant and weather conditions reach highs of around 25C. However, for cheaper flights and quieter piazzas, visit off-peak in autumn to watch the leaves change colour.

Where to stay

Hotel Palazzo di Valli is an 18th-century villa built in traditional Tuscan style just 400m from the historic heart of Siena, with rooms featuring valley views, ornate Italian decor and authentic ceiling frescoes.

Palermo, Sicily

Sicily’s tourism capital has a rich musical history (Getty Images)
Sicily’s tourism capital has a rich musical history (Getty Images)

Best for: Cultural classics

Sicily, a volcanic paradise island of seafront resorts and cultural treasures is best absorbed in the musical capital, Palermo. The third largest opera house in Europe, theatrical architecture and echoes of Norman royalty make Palermo’s diverse landscape a hot spot for creative travellers in a fusion of occupier's past. Awash with beaches, chapels and authentic street food markets, a week in Sicily would not be complete without days in Palermo’s ancient world.

When to visit Palermo

The shoulder seasons of autumn and spring are the best time to visit Sicily, as the sweltering temperatures of summer begin to rise and fall to 20C but balmy evenings can still be spent tasting wine with only a light jacket required. Money-saving travellers should visit in winter – between December and Feburary – for the best deals and fewer crowds.

Where to stay

Villa Igiea offers world-class service on the Bay of Palermo. The pricey luxury villa has elegant suites, an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant serving Sicilian specialities – all just a stone’s throw from pristine beaches, museums and ancient catacombs.

Headed for a holiday in the Italy this year? Here’s everything you need to know before you go