Italy may be known for pizza and pasta, but there’s so much more to the country than what you can eat. Mountainous landscapes make for countless climbing, skiing, and hiking possibilities, while the countryside is paradise for travelers hoping to cycle. If true adrenaline rushes, delicious food and wine, and endless picturesque scenery is what you crave, Italy is a surprising but satisfying destination.
Given how much you can enjoy in this European country, you may be unsure how to choose the right tour in Italy. Before you head to Italy to enjoy outdoor adventure travel, coastal viewpoints, and a vibrant, welcoming culture, use this guide to help you decide which popular activities to book and how to prepare for the trip.
Culture & Food Tours
Go to Naples and Sicily to taste some of the region’s famous pizza, enjoy artisanal chocolate in Perugia, or take a few days in Rome to visit the Vatican City and famous archaeological sites. If you love good wine, don't leave Italy before touring the flavors of Tuscany -- especially the Chianti region, before heading to Florence to see Michelangelo's David for yourself.
Add the Amalfi coast to your bucket list and take a cruise around Capri. If you are an adventurer seeking the best of water sports on land, you must try canyoning too. When canyoning, make your way from canyon to canyon by whatever means possible: that may mean sliding down or jumping across rocks, or swimming in clear pools of water. Extreme adventurists recommended.
With all of the rolling hills Italy has, it's a great place to go cycling. The Spring is the most pleasant time to visit, while temperatures are still cool, so head here from April to June. Advanced cyclists will love the challenging inclines leading up to the mountains. Those who prefer a leisurely route can also bike through one of Italy's many wine valleys, wine tasting along the way.
Winter Sport Tours
Italy's Dolomites mountain range are one of the best places in Europe to ski. Head here from December to February to make sure the mountains are covered in plenty of snow. There are plenty of runs for beginners to practice their skills and advanced pistes to draw in experts from around the world.
Planning Your Trip
Before you book your Italian vacation, be sure to plan your trip thoroughly. Italy has much to offer and the options can become overwhelming. Use the information and tips below when planning your trip:
Best Time to Visit Italy
Spring and summer are the most pleasant times to visit Italy, as the weather tends to be warmer and drier. You'll want to participate in hiking, canyoning, climbing, and paragliding during this time. While some activities can take place in the rain, it’ll make it much less enjoyable. Cold, rainy weather can dampen spirits for some of Italy's most popular tours and sights, but it's not impossible to still enjoy a tour during that time. Skiing will naturally be best enjoyed during the winter, particularly during December through February.
What to Look For in a Tour to Italy
Before signing up for a trip, consider what area you want to visit or the duration of your stay. Read the reviews for companies you’re considering to get important tips from people who have gone before you on similar itineraries. You can scan for what they liked, any issues they had, or tips they have for future visitors. The best tours in Italy are the ones that offer transportation and a well-rounded itinerary; even if you think you only want to try one thing, don't pass on opportunities to sample more that Italy has to offer.
Typical Tour Costs
Most tours range from $40 for a day trip to $3,000 for a week. Always compare companies to see who offers the best price, but be sure to read the reviews as well. No discount is worth risking your safety, so make sure there aren't any concerning reviews regarding unsafe procedures or accidents, especially in adventurous activities.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Most tour companies will provide all the gear you need for activities, including the safety equipment. This may be at an additional cost though so check to be sure. Dress appropriately for the experience, with sturdy shoes and clothes that can move. If you’re planning on enjoying water sports, wear clothes that dry quickly or bring a change of clothes for later.
The best way to make sure you’re fully prepared is to check with the company first about what they will be providing and what you need to bring. You don’t want to have to cancel your trip last minute because you’re ill-prepared.
Other Tips for Travel in Italy
- Visas & currency: Italy uses the Euro for currency, and accepts major credit cards in most places. Tourists can visit Italy and other Schengen countries for 90 days without a Visa.
- Accommodations: When doing a multi-day tour though, the tour company will often provide tents or lodging arrangements. Always double check that accommodations are included though, so there are no surprises. If participating in a day tour, you can arrange in a hotel in town: hostels can be booked for as little as $15 a night, while hotels range from $100 and up.
- Transportation: Many tours are just outside of main towns, and sometimes offer a shuttle service. If not, rental cars, buses, and trains are a simple way to get around the country, and can be cheap when secured in advance. Cheap airlines are also available throughout the country for a quicker way to get around.
Health & Safety
No vaccinations are required for entry to Italy. Your routine vaccinations should be up to date, as a precaution. As with all adventure sports, make sure you're physically fit for the activity and speak up if something doesn't feel right. To be safe, check that your travel insurance covers the activities you will be participating in.
Italy is a fairly safe country to visit. Like most European cities, pickpocketing is something to be aware of. Guard your belongings when in crowds or on public transportation. Always carry photocopies of your passport and credit cards, and secure them carefully inside your accommodations. If you'll be staying in a dorm room in a hostel, don't forget a lock to keep your valuables safe when left in the room.