The 20 Best Italy Tours
There’s so much to see and do in Italy that it can feel a bit overwhelming to plan a trip that makes the most of the country’s fabled history, art, architecture and cuisine, not to mention its more than 55 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Guided tours are an efficient and hassle-free way to explore the country’s top attractions and cities. These 20 tours – considered the best by travelers and experts – vary by region, focus and method of transportation, but they all have one thing in common: highly motivated and informed guides ready to help you better appreciate your time in Italy.
The Roman Food Tour – Prati by Sunset – Rome Food Tour
Enjoy Italian cuisine via this small-group walking tour of five food-centric places in Rome‘s Prati neighborhood near Vatican City. Stops include a cafe, a pizzeria and a gourmet food shop, and food samples typically include cheese, truffles, cured meat, pasta, tiramisu and pizza as well as wine. Food and wine enthusiasts regularly report enjoying learning about Roman culinary arts from the passionate, well-informed guides on this tour. Outings last about four hours and are available daily all year long starting at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. with additional 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. start times from May through October. Prices start at 95 euros (about $105) for adults, 85 euros (about $94) for teenagers 13 to 17 and 70 euros (about $77) for children 6 to 12. Prices cover all food and beverage samples, which may exceed 20 in total. Group size is limited to 13 people. The Roman Food Tour offers a variety of other foodie outings, including one to the Trionfale neighborhood.
City Wonders – Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tour
Visit some of the most famous attractions in Rome on this 2 1/2-hour walking tour. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and Raphael’s Rooms, which are decorated with frescoes dating back to the 16th century. Tour-takers rave about the spectacular art and architecture and appreciate the insightful guides. Tours depart multiple times a day Monday through Saturday. Tickets for tours starting at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and noon typically cost around $65 for adults and around $60 for those ages 6 to 18. Afternoon tours are slightly cheaper at about $60 for adults and $55 for kids and teens for 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. start times. (There’s no charge for children 5 and younger.) Tickets cover all entrance fees. Groups are limited to 20 participants and audio headsets are used so everyone can hear the guide’s narration. Note: There is a fair amount of walking on this tour. City Wonders operates several other tours around Rome as well as in other Italian cities like Milan.
LivItaly Tours – Colosseum Underground Tour with Arena, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
Explore renowned sites of ancient Rome on this three-hour walk. Tours start at the Colosseum and visit areas of the amphitheater, such as underground cages and dungeons, that relatively few people get to see due to space and ticketing limitations. Other highlights include the Palatine Hill, one of Rome’s seven hills where politicians of the Roman Empire once lived and where the ruins of numerous buildings from that era remain, and the Forum, once the center of social and political activity in ancient Rome. Reviewers frequently say the guides are not only informative, but also humorous and make learning about Roman history fun. Tours, which are limited to six participants, are offered daily starting at 12:15, 1:15 and 1:30 p.m. (morning start times may also be available). Tickets start at 119 euros (about $130) for adults, 109 euros (about $120) for teenagers ages 13 to 17 and 104 euros (about $115) for kids ages 3 to 12. LivItaly runs multiple tours in Rome, including one that visit some of the city’s top attractions.
Walkabout Florence Tours – The Best of Tuscany in One Day Trip from Florence
Take a day to experience Tuscany and its UNESCO World Heritage sites on this trip via air-conditioned coach. Highlights include a guided walking tour in the medieval town of Siena, a visit to San Gimignano and a trip through the countryside to Pisa. Optional upgrades include lunch and wine-tasting at a Chianti vineyard and skip-the-line entry to Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower. While trip-takers consistently describe the guides as knowledgeable and personable, they also appreciate having time to explore each destination on their own. Buses depart from Florence‘s Piazza Stazione daily at 8 a.m. and return approximately 12 hours later. Prices start at 66 euros (about $70) for adults and 60 euros (about $65) for kids ages 8 to 17. The full tour, including lunch at the winery and access to the tower, costs approximately 126 euros (around $135) for adults and 120 euros (approximately $130) for kids. Note: While there’s no charge for children younger than 8 to take the tour, they cannot climb the tower.
Walks of Italy – Legendary Venice: St. Mark’s Basilica with Terraces & Doge’s Palace
This tour encompasses some of the most significant spots in Venice: St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Both the church and the palace are art-filled buildings with eventful histories. (The palace, for instance, was more than a site of political administration; it also contains prisons and torture chambers.) Guides recount the colorful backstories, which tour-takers invariably find informative and entertaining. The visit to the basilica includes access to a balcony affording views of the square and nearby lagoon. Three-hour walking tours beginning in the square happen daily at 2 p.m. and every day except Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Earlier departures (at 8 a.m.) may also be available on select days. Prices start at around $95 for adults and $90 for children 2 to 14. (There’s no charge for infants.) Another bonus? Taking this tour enables you to bypass the lines to enter the palace and the basilica.
Withlocals – The 10 Tastings of Venice
As its name indicates, this tour features 10 tastings of typical Venetian food and drinks. It’s essentially a private, customizable, small-group walking tour that can be tailored to participants’ interests. Even so, samples usually include local favorites like spritz (a wine-based cocktail) and gelato. Tour-takers tend to enjoy both the visits to multiple local eateries and the amusing guides’ insightful commentary. Three-hour tours depart from Venice’s Campo Manin daily with multiple start times; the earliest is typically 11 a.m. and the latest 5 p.m. Prices vary by group size and start at approximately 80 euros (about $86) per person for groups of four (the minimum) and descending to about 62 euros (about $67) per person groups of eight (the maximum).
Blue Star Boat Tours – Amalfi Coast Group Tour
Another option for seeing the beaches and caves of the UNESCO-listed Amalfi Coast is from the water. Sights seen on this daylong expedition typically include the picturesque geological features of Fiordo di Furore beach; Grotta della Pandora, a cave accessible only from the sea; and the Emerald Grotto, named for the color of the light that fills the cave. The approximately seven-hour tour, which departs from Positano, also includes an hour or two of free time to explore the town of Amalfi. Travelers typically appreciate the professional, personable staff and the opportunities to swim in such a scenic setting. Tickets cost approximately $75 per person. Note: There’s an additional fee to enter the Emerald Grotto. Private boat tours and sunset cruises are also available.
You Know! – Sorrento coast and Capri boat tour from Sorrento
See the sights along the Sorrento coast, including a waterfall, a lighthouse and Roman ruins, on this boat ride. The tour also features an approximately four-hour stop on Capri during which travelers can explore the small island’s famed Piazzetta, as well as churches and a medieval district. There’s also time for swimming and snorkeling. Tour-takers consistently find the scenery beautiful and the guides professional and friendly. The approximately eight-hour trips happen daily starting at 10:30 a.m. Prices vary by season, but typically start at around 79 euros (about $85) for participants 10 and older and 65 euros (about $70) for kids ages 3 to 9. (There’s no cost for infants to join the trip.) Prices include transportation between Sorrento and the port as well as snacks and beverages on the boat. Fees don’t cover lunch on Capri or entrance fees to attractions. The company also offers boat tours to Capri that depart from Amalfi.
World Tours – Pompeii and Amalfi Coast
Visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites on this daylong excursion. When the volcano Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, ash swallowed the city of Pompeii and preserved many buildings. Now, the archeological site affords glimpses into how people lived during the era of the Roman Empire. This trip includes two to three hours at Pompeii as well as a drive along the Amalfi Coast with stops in the towns of Amalfi and Ravello, both of which boast notable art and architecture. You’ll also have a few photo stops, including one at Positano. Travelers consistently remark on the exceptional coastal scenery and the insight and humor of the guides at Pompeii. Tours occur daily. Departures from Naples begin at 7:30 a.m.; the tour returns to the city around 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost approximately 90 euros (around $97) for adults and 72 euros (around $78) for children 5 to 12. (There’s no fee for children younger than 5.) Prices include lunch at a restaurant on the coast, but do not cover entrance to Pompeii. If you can’t get enough of the Amalfi Coast, World Tours also offers daytrips that visit Capri and Sorrento.
Prestige Rent – Small-Group Wine Tasting Experience in the Tuscan Countryside from Florence
Enjoy red wines typical of the Chianti region on this trip to two wineries. You’ll also sample Tuscan fare, including olive oil, cheese and cured meat, during this approximately five-hour outing. Along the roughly 45-minute drive from Florence, guides will provide background information on local viniculture. At each stop, resident experts will describe the wine-making process. Wine lovers typically find the samples delicious and the guides energetic and informative. Tours, which are capped at 25 participants, are offered twice a day starting at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Prices start at 79 euros (about $85) for adults and 69 euros (about $74) for youngsters 12 to 17 and include transportation between Florence’s Piazzale Montelungo and the vineyards, as well as the various food and beverage samples. Note: Children younger than 12 are not permitted on this tour. Prestige Rent also leads tours to Siena and San Gimignano, as well as the Cinque Terre.
Italian Days Food Experience – Bologna Food and Wine Tour #1
Observe the production of three Italian staples – Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto – on this daylong culinary excursion. Of course, this tour also includes samples of the cheese, vinegar and cured meat, as well as breakfast, coffee, wine and a multicourse family-style lunch. Throughout the day, guides explicate the food-making processes, which foodies invariably find fascinating. Minibuses depart Bologna and head to Modena at 7 a.m. every day except Sunday. They return at approximately 5 p.m. Tickets start at around 170 euros (about $184) for adults and 145 euros (about $156) for children 2 to 11. Prices include transportation as well food and beverages. Italian Days offers a variety of food tours, including a walking tour in Bologna.
Bici & Baci Tours – The Grand Tour of Rome
Admire the signature sights of Rome from atop an Italian Vespa, on this approximately 22-mile ride around the city. Highlights include the Aurelian Walls, the Appian Way, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, ruins of ancient aqueducts and baths, and more. Reviewers consistently describe the guides as helpful, skillful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Fees start at 145 euros (about $156) for a single person operating a Vespa or a passenger riding with a guide. Fees are about 240 euros (about $259) for two people on a scooter. Prices include use of a helmet as well as coffee or ice cream. Daily tours start at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and typically last around four hours; tours beginning at 7 p.m. last around three hours. Note: Operators of Vespas must have valid motorcycle licenses. Children are permitted as passengers with their parents as long as they are tall enough for their feet to reach the scooters’ foot pegs. The company also operates tours that travel to some of the city’s most iconic movie filming locations.
City Wonders – Best of Milan Duomo Cathedral & Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ Tour
Take a walking tour of Milan and enjoy skip-the-line access to two of its top attractions. You’ll experience the Duomo, a monumental cathedral, construction of which commenced around 1386 and went on for centuries. Another highlight of this trip is a visit to Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” in its original location, a former convent. Plus, you’ll visit spots like Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a 19th-century shopping arcade housing upscale boutiques; Sforzesco Castle, a 15th-century military fortification; and the cobbled streets of the Brera district. Travelers consistently describe the guides as insightful and professional. This excursion happens once or twice every day except Monday. Specific start times vary by day. Tours last three hours, including 15 minutes with the famous painting. Prices start at around $118 for anyone 15 and older and $108 for those 14 and younger. Groups have no more than 14 participants.
Grape Tours in Tuscany – Super Chianti Wine Tour
Spend a day indulging in wine on this trip to the cellars and vineyards of two wineries. In addition to visiting Chianti and Chianti classico wineries and sampling vino, cheese and olive oil, you’ll also enjoy lunch at an eatery in the Tuscan hilltop town of Panzano. The outing, which welcomes up to eight participants, also offers the opportunity to wander around the small town of Greve. Wine lovers report enjoying learning about the regions’ wine from the adept guides. Tours happen every day except Sunday. Buses leave Florence at 10 a.m. and return approximately eight hours later. Tours, including transportation and food and beverages, cost approximately 185 euros (about $200) per person. Participants must be at least 16 years old. Shorter five-hour tours are also available.
TopBike Rental & Tours – CITY TOUR ROMA WITH QUALITY E-BIKE
Wind through the streets of Rome and see several of its famed attractions on this four-hour electric bike ride. Morning and afternoon tours have different itineraries, but both include popular attractions, such as the Colosseum, the Piazza Navona, the Jewish Ghetto and views of the Roman Forum. Morning trips include the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, while afternoon rides feature a stop at the Orange Garden for its views of the city, including the dome of St. Peter’s. Cyclists regularly praise the insightful, friendly guides on this leisurely ride. Morning start times vary by time of year, but are usually 8:45 or 9:45 a.m.; afternoon trips start at 2 or 3 p.m. It costs approximately 65 euros (about $70) to take this ride, and that includes use of an e-bike and helmet. The company also operates daylong bike tours that include lunch, as well as guided outings along the Appian Way.
City Wonders – Half-Day Combo: Best of Florence & Uffizi Gallery Tour
Bypass the lines to enter both the Uffizi Gallery – home to 14th-century and Renaissance masterpieces by the likes of Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio – and the Accademia Gallery – where Michelangelo’s 14-foot David sculpture resides – on this tour. In addition to independent visits to the galleries, the small-group outing includes a two-hour guided walking tour of the center of Florence to see top sights, such as its cathedral, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the leather market and Piazza della Signoria. Tour-takers generally appreciate the guides’ commentary regarding the city’s art, architecture and history. Others warned future travelers that the visits to the galleries are unguided. Half-day tours with 10 and 10:30 a.m. start times happen daily. Prices are about $100 for adults and $95 for children 4 to 14. Groups are limited to 14 people.
Walkabout Florence Tours – Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence with optional Hiking Tour
This daylong expedition takes travelers to the towns comprising the Cinque Terre, a string of old fishing villages overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Buses travel from Florence to Manarola, home to vineyards and colorful buildings typical of the area. From there, trains head to Corniglia, which boasts unrivaled views of the sea. After lunch, participants can either hike the mule trails that connect the towns or ride a train to Vernazza, where swimming or visiting cafes and bars are among the optional activities. Trains then proceed to Monterosso, a town known for both beaches and shops. Weather permitting, the tour also includes a boat ride to the fifth and final Cinque Terre town, Riomaggiore. Trip-takers often enthuse about both the atmospheric locations and the efficient, personable guides. Tourgoers return to Florence approximately 13 hours after the daily 7:30 a.m. departure time. Tickets start at around 96 euros (about $104) for adults and 90 euros (about $97) for youngsters ages 8 (the minimum age) to 17. Prices do not include lunch in Corniglia, but an upgrade is available for an additional fee.
Delicious Bologna – Daylight Food Tours
Taste some of the essentials of Italian cuisine on this small-group walking tour. In addition to a light breakfast of cappuccino and cornetto (a croissant-like pastry) and lunch of multiple pasta dishes, this outing features samples of local cheese, cured meat, vinegar and wine. It also visits a food market and a pasta factory. Throughout, guides provide commentary about regional culture and traditions, which culinary enthusiasts tend to find informative. Tours take place every day except Sunday at 10 a.m. and last four to five hours. Groups of up to eight people begin the day at the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. Fees start at around 85 euros (about $92) for adults and 65 euros (about $70) for kids and teens ages 2 to 18. (There’s no charge for infants.) Evening food and wine tours, as well as cooking classes are also hosted by Delicious Bologna.
Streaty Street Food Tours of Italy – Palermo Street Food and Local Market Tour
Savor varieties of Sicilian fare on this walking tour of Sicily‘s capital, Palermo. Samples are likely to include arancina (stuffed rice balls), cazzilli fritters, pani câ meusa (a veal offal roll), sfincione (focaccia with tomato sauce), cannoli filled with ricotta, broscia col gelato (an ice cream sandwich) and seasonal items, as well as beer and wine. After departing from Teatro Massimo, tours wind through backstreets rather than the city’s main thoroughfares. Travelers typically find this tour both fun and educational. Walks last three hours and are available Monday through Saturday all year, usually starting at 10:30 and 11 a.m. Prices start at 49 euros (about $53) for participants ages 12 and older and 20 euros (about $22) for children 6 to 11. (An optional hourlong art- and history-focused walking tour can be added for 15 euros, or about $16.) Groups are limited to 10 participants. The company also offers an evening food tour in Palermo.
Etna Tribe – EXCURSION ETNA AND TAORMINA
Explore Mount Etna, an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily that ranks as the highest island mountain in the Mediterranean, on this daylong tour. Your guide will drive you from Catania to a section on Etna’s south face where you’ll hike up to 6,560 feet above sea level, or (for additional fees) take a cable car up to 8,200 feet. From there, you’ll have the option of taking a van to Torre del Filosofo, which sits at an elevation of more than 9,500 feet. With an alpine guide leading the way, you’ll explore the lava-carved terrain. The trip also includes a stop at an organic farm and a visit to the town of Taormina, where you’ll have time to wander among attractions, such as a cathedral, a clock tower, a palace and a theater, before the drive back to Catania. Tour-takers enjoy walking among the volcano craters and learning about the area from the friendly, accommodating guides. Pickup starts at 8:30 a.m. and tours, which occur daily, last approximately nine hours. Prices start at 85 euros (about $92) for those 12 and older, 70 euros (about $76) for kids ages 3 to 11 and 20 euros (about $22) for infants. The optional cable car ride costs an additional 30 euros (about $33) and the high-altitude option, including both the cable car and the van rides, start at 68 euros (about $74) per person. Etna Tribe also offers sunset excursions to the mountain, among other options.