History. Food. Drink. Art. Nature.
Italy is one of the most visited countries for a multitude of reasons.
Once the center of the Roman Empire, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and now maybe dabbling a bit in xenophobia again (hey, who isn’t?)– Italy’s culture is as deep as it is diverse. In fact, Italy is home to the most UNESCO world heritage sites!
So as you can imagine, one week in Italy will not leave you feeling satisfied, if you’re anything like me. You’ll leave falling in love and wishing you could go back to experience more!
And there are so many ways to spend a trip to a country with as many experiences as Italy. To help you figure out how you want to do your trip, here are a couple ways to spend one week in Italy. One is the itinerary I used on my Italy trip, which was focused on seeing some of the major sights and cities, and one is an itinerary I wish I did after learning from my experiences!
In This Post
The One Week Italy Itinerary I Used
Days 1 & 2: Milan
Why start in Milan?
There is the obvious: Milanese dishes are amazing. Milan is the fashion and design capital. Milan is home to its own unique art, history, and architecture.
But, it might also be the cheapest airport to fly into when you go. For us, it was cheaper than Rome by almost half! And you can always take the trains to get around, which for us, still didn’t add up to the cost to fly into Rome. That’s why we ended up choosing Milan.
Play tourist on your first day, exploring the major sights in the city. Sign up for a walking tour to get some context or explore on your own. Make sure you check out the Duomo di Milano (Milan’s iconic gothic-style cathedral), catch a glimpse of the Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie (yes, you will need to get tickets well in advance), and get aperitivo in the afternoon (to oversimplify, think Milanese happy hour).
On your second day, get to know what Milan is known for- explore the best fashion and shopping sites in the city. The Grand Galleria is a must if you’d like to see the fanciest shopping center ever! Afterwards, check out the hipster district of Brera for its art, architecture, and restaurants.
Or if you’re a nature lover, take a day trip to Lake Como on day 2. One of Italy’s most famous lakes, it’s only an hour from Milan. We didn’t do this on our second day, just assuming it would be too expensive, and it’s my biggest regret! Everyone I know loved Lake Como!
Days 3 & 4: Venice
Even though we are people and crowds, sometimes we hate traveling through people and crowds. On your first day in Venice, if you’re like this too, I recommend walking the opposite direction of everyone else. This will take you to quieter, more calm areas and less talked about churches and museums. This was where I fell in love with Venice!
Otherwise / afterwards, head straight to Piazza San Marco, Venice’s largest and most famous public square. It’s home to St. Mark’s Basilica, Palazzo Ducale, and a few museums.
On the way, stop by the Pointe di Rialto for some pictures of the iconic bridge.
Note: These areas are also where people complain about Venice being crowded. Like, we went in September which is technically a lower season. And it made Disneyland in the summer look deserted! But, it totally makes sense- Venice is gorgeous.
Did you know that the Venice Lagoon is made up of over 100 islands? On day two, take a day trip to explore the islands outside of the main city!
You could go on your own, but a lot of tour companies will combine a trip to Burano, Torcello, and Murano so it’s less hassle. Burano is famous for it’s cute, colorful buildings. Murano home to many glassblowing factories. Torcello is loved for its history and architecture.
Either way, exploring the different islands will give you a different image of the region!
Days 5 – 7: Rome
Rome is magic.
Honestly, I could have spent the whole week here. Three days was not enough!
On day 1, orient yourself in the city and check out the major sights on your list. Rome has preserved so much of its varied history, that you won’t be able to go through them all during your trip! For us we did the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. But there are literally hundreds of things to do in Rome. For a more complete list, check out this guide.
We also did a hop on, hop off tour to get to these places, since we were so burned out from walking during the other days. But since se spent so much time at each site, we only really visited half of the tour’s stops. I’m not convinced it worked out for us, but maybe you’ll use it differently!
On day 2, take a trip to the Vatican to marvel at the Sistine Chapel, explore Saint Peter’s Basilica, and say hi to the Pope.
Of all the churches I’ve visited in Europe, the Sistine Chapel is hands down my favorite. There’s just something about Michelangelo, I guess.
And if you plan in advance, there a few ways you could see the Pope on certain days. For example, with a Papal Audience or Papal Mass. We did not do this, and honestly I’m not completely sure how we saw the Pope in the Vatican because it wasn’t planned!
Depending on your flight, your last day in Rome might just be a day prepare to travel back. But, we were just going to Athens at night, so we had the whole day.
If you have time too, I’d highly recommend spending a day exploring Trastevere! This was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome. Think laid back, bohemian, great food, Renaissance and Baroque art, and nightlife.
The One Week Italy Itinerary I WISH Used
Our trip was so much fun, but there are a few things I would have done differently. Namely:
Day 1: Milan
Milan wasn’t my favorite city on this trip. If you’re choosing it for the fashion piece and not the cheap flight piece, you might feel completely differently.
But if you’re like me, you might end up wishing you spent less time here and more time somewhere else. Without the shopping, it just felt like another cosmopolitan city that people live and work in– not a magical spot full of tourist attractions and wonder, like the other cities in this list.
Days 2 & 3: Venice
Days 4 & 5: Florence
Specifically… I wish I spent time in Florence! Despite its huge art history scene, I didn’t consider exploring it. A lot of my friends who lived in Italy told me you needed more than a couple of days to really experience it, which we didn’t have.
But I wish I got a taste!
Days 6 & 7: Rome
Even though I loved Rome and could have spent a whole trip here, I would have sacrificed a day to spend that time in Florence. It would have fit with the theme of visiting each city for only a couple of days!
Instead of spending a whole day each in the Vatican and Trastevere, you could probably combine the Vatican in the morning and Trastevere in the afternoon. You won’t get to see everything, but you couldn’t with the whole day either!