Updated: Jun 7
Table of Contents
Northern Italy Travel Itinerary
Italy is home to ancient history, coastal villages, rolling countryside and floating cities. Italy has so much to see, it is hard to visit all that this country has to offer in just one trip.
Depending on where you are able to find an affordable round-trip flight, we would recommend starting your Italy trip in Venice or Rome. We started in Venice, however, you can easily complete the below itinerary in reverse.
J&L Tip: When looking for a flight to Italy, use Google Flight's Explore Feature to determine the best round-trip. Within Europe, you can get an affordable flight to your first destination within Italy.
Day 1: Venice (Arrival)
On day one, arrive in the floating city of Venice. Venice is home to a network of canals, romantic gondola rides, and ornate cathedrals. We recommend planning two full days in Venice in order to view the top sights, as well as, take in the beauty and simplicity of this remarkable city.
Where to stay in Venice
There are two options for lodging when staying in Venice. Some people choose to stay on the island of Venice itself, however, hotels are limited and prices are higher. Others choose to stay outside of the island where there is more affordable lodging but it also requires a tram ride to the island (roughly €1.5 one way).
We decided to stay on the island due to our limited time in Venice. We stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in the heart of Venice at Doriana's house. Our location was perfect and Doriana was the sweetest, most hospitable host we could have ever asked for. If our travels bring us back to Venice, we would book this Airbnb again in a heartbeat.
Day 2: Venice
On day two, we recommend booking tickets (€15 / Person) for the first time-slot available at St Mark's Basilica in order to admire the beauty of St Mark's interior without too many tourists.
The upstairs museum of St Mark's Basilica contains artifacts and paintings that have been restored over the years. It also provides access to the rooftop terrace overlooking St Mark's Square, the Dodge Palace, and the ever-popular Grand Canal.
Appropriate Attire Required for Entry: covered shoulders and knees
Spend the afternoon wandering around San Marco, indulging in Venetian delicacies, and exploring the ornate basilicas hidden around every corner.
If there is only one food you try in Venice, make sure it is cicchetti. Compared to the rest of Italy, cicchetti is only found in Venice and it's their equivalent of Spanish tapas. These small plates consist of seafood, meats, cheeses, fried vegetables, and breads to create a delicious snack paired with spritz on a hot Venetian day. Enoteca Al Volto provides affordable €2-3 cicchetti and €5 spritz.
Also Read: Top Things To Do in Venice, Italy
Day 3: Venice
Put away your map, turn off your phone, and just get lost! This is how to truly appreciate the beauty of Venice, the narrow winding canals, the buildings suspended above water on wooden pegs, and the delicious eateries around every corner. Head over to some of Venice's art galleries, a quirky library, or relax with a brew.
End your time in Venice with a bird's eye view! The views from this rooftop terrace at Fondaco del Tedeschi were magnificent, and the best part, completely free! If time-slots are not available on the day you visit Venice, head to the fourth floor of this mall anyways and see if they have space to add you to the next group. It is certainly worth a try!
Day 4: Venice to Florence
The train ride form Venice to Florence takes you two hours southwest to the heart of Tuscany. Public transportation within Italy is widely available, easy to use, and most often punctual. Trenitalia offers high-speed trains that can take you to all major cities throughout this itinerary. We had a seamless experience using Trenitialia and would recommend it as the most sustainable option to travel to Florence.
How to get from Venice to Florence
By Train - Estimated $60-70 / Passenger
*J&L Recommended as Eco-Friendly Travel Option
Book a direct train ride from station Venezia S. Lucia to Firenze Santa Maria Novella via Trenitalia. Trains run direct roughly every 30 minutes and tickets can be bought at the station, however, you may prefer to buy your tickets ahead of time to secure the time you prefer.
By Car - Estimated $160-200 / 4 Passenger Vehicle
If traveling in a group of four or more, it may be more economical to rent a car from Venice to Florence. Please note, most cars in Europe are manual transmission. Cars with automatic transmission are limited, yet available in some cases at a more expensive cost.
Where to stay in Florence
We lodged south of the Arno River in Piazza Santo Spirito in order to escape the hustle and bustle north of the River and experience Florence surrounded by locals. We found this to be an ideal location as it was within close walking distance to all of our desired Florence attractions. We never had to use public transportation within the city.
Day 5: Florence
Florence is home to some of the most famous pieces of art throughout history. On day five, spend the morning exploring some of the city's most illustrious galleries, such as Uffizi (book ahead) and the Accademia Gallery (book ahead).
The Uffizi Gallery holds masterpiece paintings by Botticello, Raphael, Michelangelo, & Leonardo Da Vinci. The halls are lined with awe inspiring sculptures by Bandinelli and Caravaggio that are hard to walk by without stopping to admire. The Accademia Gallery is most famously recognized for its statue of Michelangelo's David.
In the afternoon, head south of the Arno River to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. As the residence of the Medici family in the 1500s, the Pitti Palace became a symbol of the Medici family's power over Tuscany. It became a public museum in the 18th century and today, holds over 140 rooms of art galleries filled with artwork by renowned renaissance and baroque artists such as Raphael and Titian.
Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici, bought the land on Boboli hill directly behind the palace, turning roughly 11 acres of land into an expansive garden. A hidden gem within the Boboli Gardens is the Museo delle Porcellane. This beautiful garden overlooks rolling hills of Tuscany and is lined with blossoming roses in the spring.
Day 6: Cinque Terre Day Trip
Cinque Terre is a National Park, UNESCO Heritage Site, and home to five villages with brightly colored pastel houses. Cinque Terre is located two hours west of Florence and can easily be explored as a day-trip from your Florence lodging.
One thing we loved about the day trip from Florence is that it provided the smoothest logistics in Cinque Terre while including history of the villages, food advice, and a knowledgeable local guide. You are given "free time" in each city to explore on your own as much or as little as you prefer. It was the perfect way to experience Cinque Terre in just one day and we strongly recommend booking this tour for your adventure as well.
Day 7: Florence
Day seven is all about climbing to new heights for awe-inspiring Florence VIEWS. One of the largest cathedrals in the world, Santa Maria del Fiore towers over the entire city of Florence at over 26 stories high. Referenced as the Duomo, or house of God, there are five main attractions within Piazza del Duomo: Brunelleschi's Dome, Crypt of Santa Reparata, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San GIovanni, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo.
Duomo is one of the most popular attractions of Florence, so book your tickets at least a month in advance of your trip.
Late afternoon, indulge in one of the most mouth-watering, made-to-order sandwiches you'll ever taste. All'Antico Vinaio typically draws a line out the door and down the street at most hours of the day. However, the line moves quickly and you will not be disappointed with any of their delicious options.
End your time in Florence with a romantic evening picnic in Giardino delle Rose, followed by watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. As with most magnificent viewpoints, it requires a bit of elevation gain to reach. Once at Piazzale Michelangelo, we recommend also heading further up the hill to San Miniato Church, a Renaissance chapel and sacristy depicting scenes of St. Benedict and home to the first Christian cemetery in Florence.
Also Read: Top Things To Do in Florence Italy
Day 8: Florence to Rome
The train ride from Florence to Rome takes you two hours southeast to the Eternal City. Public transportation within Italy is widely available, easy to use, and most often punctual. Trenitalia offers high-speed trains that can take you to all major cities throughout this itinerary. We had a seamless experience using Trenitialia and would recommend it as the most sustainable option to travel to Rome.
How to get from Florence to Rome
By Train - Estimated $40-55 / Passenger
*J&L Recommended as Eco-Friendly Option
Book a direct train ride from station Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Roma Termini via Trenitalia. Trains run direct roughly every 30 minutes and tickets can be bought at the station, however, you may prefer to buy your tickets ahead of time to secure the time you prefer.
By Car - Estimated $75-180 / 4 Passenger Vehicle
If traveling in a group of four or more, it may be more economical to rent a car from Florence to Rome. Please note, most cars in Europe are manual transmission. Cars with automatic transmission are limited, yet available in some cases at a more expensive cost.
Where to stay in Rome
We lodged south of the Tiber River in Trastevere. We found this to be an ideal location as it was within close walking distance to all of our desired Rome attractions while being surrounded by quaint eateries, nightlife, and local charm. We never had to use public transportation within the city (although it is available from Trastevere if needed).
Giorgia's Condo was in the perfect location to explore the Eternal City while still being tucked away off the main street enough to enjoy a peaceful night's sleep. Her condo was clean, filled with thoughtful touches, and overlooked a stunning view of Basilica di Santa Maria.
Day 9: Rome
The nickname for Rome is "Caput Mundi", which is Italian for Capital of the World. Home to more than 2,000 fountains, ancient ruins, and the world's smallest country, Rome has surprises around every corner.
On day nine, spend your first full day in Rome visiting ancient monuments. Start with one of Europe's most recognizable landmarks, the Colosseum. This colossal, functional stadium was used for entertaining the masses and is the most visited attraction in all of Rome. We recommend purchasing the 24-hour Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Combo pass. This pass requires a time-slot to enter the Colosseum, however, you can visit the remaining attractions any time after the Colosseum within 24 hours.
In the afternoon, visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, the birthplace and civic center of Ancient Rome. This common ground between Rome's famous seven hills preserves thousand-year-old history, artwork, and architecture.
From the Roman Forum, be sure to stop by the Arch of the Fatherland and Capitoline Hill.
End your day with delicious pizza-by-the-slice at Pizza Florida. With its unique flavors and incredibly friendly staff, you pay for your pizza by the weight. This allows you to try many different pizza options and keep coming back for more.
Day 10: Vatican City
On Day 10 it is time to leave Italy and visit the world's smallest country, Vatican City. One of the most impressive churches on earth, St. Peter's Basilica is home to Michelangelo's Pieta and Dome. As one of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, this basilica marks the burial site of St. Peter, the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and first Pope of Rome. St. Peter's Basilica is filled with unmissable treasures and Christian relics. There are several that most people miss, which we have included in our Hidden Gems of Rome guide.
Spend the afternoon getting lost in the Vatican Museums, home to four miles of the finest art within the Western civilization. From sculptures to paintings, to a room filled with painted maps, the Vatican Museum experience culminates with Michelangelo's magnum opus also known as the Sistine Chapel.
Day 11: Rome
Escape the hustle and bustle of Italy's capital city with a day at Villa Borghese, located on the north side of Rome. Stretching across roughly 200 acres, Villa Borghese offers peaceful serenity. With scenic ponds, magnificent greenery, temples, museums, and even a zoo, Villa Borghese is the most beautiful park in Rome. For art lovers, you may also consider visiting the Borghese Museum (requires tickets in advance).
Views: Don't miss Passeggiata del Pincio for beautiful views over Piazza del Popolo.
In the afternoon, head to one of Rome's hidden gems, the Coppedè District. The Coppedè District is a fairy tale district that most tourists do not know exists. This district is known for its unique architecture, eateries, and art.
Piazza Mincio, home to much of the unique architecture, is a 15 minute walk from the Borghese Gallery. You may also consider visiting Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata, which is the first South American national church in Rome.
Day 12: Rome
On Day 12, wander through the heart of Rome and witness the monuments that have made this Eternal City so famous. Gaze upon the most well-preserved monument from ancient Rome, the Pantheon (free to enter), and toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
Discover elaborate churches, including the four main Papal Basilicas in Rome, and witness the hustle and bustle of Piazza di Spagna from atop the Spanish Steps.
Also Read: Top Things To Do in Rome
Spend your evening in the quaint neighborhood of Trastevere where you can indulge in delectable pasta from Tonnarello, or unique street food such as Trapizzino or Suppli.
Also Read: Top 10 Restaurants of Rome
Day 13: Catacombs and Appian Way
A very popular day trip in Rome is to the Appian Way and Catacombs, which is about a 30-minute bus ride from the heart of Rome via the 118 bus. Bus tickets (valid for 100 minutes) are roughly €1.5 one way and can be purchased in a metro or tobacco shop ahead of your trip.
The Callisto and Sebastian Catacombs contain crypts of Christian martyrs and popes, as well as, third century frescoes. Tickets are €8 to enter the Catacombs and include a 35 minute guided tour (Open 10:00am - 5:00pm; closed on Sundays).
The Appian Way was Europe's first highway, connecting trade to and from Italy's capital city. Go on an e-bike tour through this ancient road taking you through ancient parks and monuments along the journey.
Book your day tour to the Catacombs which includes e-biking through the Appian Way!
Day 14: Rome (Departure)
On the final day of your Italian adventure, it is time to say goodbye to pizza, pasta, and endless gelato.
Rome is a great city to fly out of, as flight deals can be easy to find from Rome's major international airport (Leonardo da Vinci) to many US cities. Should you have a round-trip flight out of Venice or Florence, you can easily book a connecting flight to these cities, or take the train.
How to visit Italy in 2 Weeks
Whether you are backpacking through hostels or treating yourself to an upscale experience, two weeks in northern Italy is the perfect amount of time to visit these three major cities. Of course, there is much more that Italy has to offer, however, this would require months rather than weeks of vacation time. Venice, Florence, and Rome are the perfect combination for first-time visitors to Italy who want to see some of the best art, history, architecture, and greenery that Italy has to offer.
Tip: If you only have time for roughly one week in Italy, we recommend altering your itinerary: Venice: 2 nights - Florence: 3 nights - Rome: 4 nights
Getting to Italy
Getting Around Italy
By Train - Estimated $40-70 / Passenger
*J&L Recommended as Eco-Friendly Travel Option
Booking a train ride to connecting cities within Italy is the most economical way to get around for 1-2 people. Unlike most American metropolitan areas that require a car to get around with ease, Italian cities have excellent networks of public transportation. With options for metros, trams, trains, and buses, we have found public transportation to be the easiest, most efficient, and cost effective way of traveling through Italy.