Best Places to Visit in Southern Italy – A Guide to the Must-Visit Locations

Best Places to Visit in Southern Italy – A Guide to the Must-Visit Locations

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In this article we’ll uncover the best places to visit in Southern Italy if you are visiting this wonderful area of the Bel Paese. My guide will help you to navigate on your research. Let’s talk about this amazing part of Italy. Southern Italy is a captivating region that beckons travelers with its extraordinary blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Boasting a plethora of picturesque towns and awe-inspiring ancient sites, this southern gem is a must-explore destination for those seeking an unforgettable travel experience.

With its charming coastal towns, enchanting islands, and fascinating historical sites, Southern Italy offers a diverse range of attractions for every type of traveler. Whether you’re an enthusiast of ancient history, a lover of stunning landscapes, or a connoisseur of delectable cuisine, this region has something to captivate and delight you.

Get ready to embark on an exciting journey through the best places to visit in Southern Italy. From the breathtaking Amalfi Coast to the ancient ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Maratea, Alberobello, Sorrento, Tropea, Capri and Naples, let us guide you through the hidden gems and iconic destinations that make Southern Italy a traveler’s dream come true.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the diverse and rich history of Southern Italy.
  • Discover the picturesque coastal towns and enchanting islands.
  • Uncover the ancient ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • Indulge in the delectable cuisine and regional specialties.
  • Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Amalfi Coast.
maratea

Maratea: A Mediterranean Gem

Discover one of the top spots in Italy

Maratea is a hidden gem nestled along the picturesque coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. With its mesmerizing natural beauty and charming medieval architecture, it is no wonder that Maratea has become a favorite destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.

When visiting Maratea, one of the best accommodation options is the renowned Santavenere Hotel. Situated on a hilltop with panoramic views of the coastline, this luxurious hotel offers a truly unforgettable stay. Guests can relax on the hotel’s private beach, indulge in gourmet dining experiences, and take in the breathtaking vistas from their own spacious balconies.

“Maratea is a hidden gem that captivates visitors with its stunning coastal views and rich history. The Santavenere Hotel is the perfect choice for those seeking a luxurious and unforgettable stay in this Mediterranean paradise.” – Traveler’s Review

Exploring Maratea’s Charms

Maratea offers a plethora of attractions for every traveler’s taste. The charming old town, known as Maratea Vecchia, is a labyrinth of narrow streets and historic buildings that exude an enchanting medieval ambiance. Explore the town’s ancient churches, such as the 6th-century Basilica of San Biagio, or wander through the quaint artisan shops to discover unique local crafts.

For nature enthusiasts, Maratea boasts a wealth of outdoor activities. From hiking the rugged mountains to sailing along the coast, there are endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty. Be sure to visit the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer, perched high above the town, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Top Attractions in MarateaDistance from Maratea Vecchia
The Statue of Christ the Redeemer5 kilometers
The Port of Maratea3 kilometers
Maratea BeachesVarious locations along the coast

Whether you choose to explore the historic town, soak up the sun on the pristine beaches, or simply savor the local cuisine at one of the charming seaside restaurants, Maratea is sure to leave a lasting impression on your travel memories.

 
sorrento

Sorrento: A Perfect Blend of History and Charm

Sorrento is a picturesque town located in the Campania region. Nestled on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Sorrento is renowned for its rich history, charming streets, and delectable cuisine, making it one of the top towns to visit in Southern Italy.

A Taste of Sorrento

One of the highlights of a visit to Sorrento is indulging in its gourmet cuisine. The town is known for its fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and fragrant lemon-inspired dishes. A popular restaurant that captures the essence of Sorrento’s culinary scene is Accento Restaurant. Located in the heart of town, Accento offers a delightful menu featuring traditional recipes with a modern twist. From succulent seafood risotto to creamy lemon tiramisu, every dish is a treat for the taste buds.

Gelato: Sorrento’s Sweet Delight

No visit to Sorrento would be complete without savoring some authentic Italian gelato. Gelato shops line the narrow streets, tempting visitors with a variety of flavors. Whether you choose classic favorites like chocolate and pistachio or opt for refreshing fruit varieties, every scoop is a heavenly delight. Don’t forget to stroll along the waterfront promenade while enjoying your gelato, taking in the stunning views of the Bay of Naples.

Exploring Sorrento and Beyond

Sorrento serves as a gateway to many other attractions in the area, including Naples, Pompeii, and the nearby Isle of Capri. Visitors can easily take day trips to these destinations, exploring the ancient ruins of Pompeii or hopping on a boat to discover the natural beauty of Capri. Sorrento itself has plenty to offer as well, with its vibrant shops, historical landmarks, and charming cafes. Take a leisurely walk through the town’s winding streets and discover hidden gems at every turn.

AttractionsHighlights
NaplesMedieval Castel Nuovo, Castel del’Ovo, and Mount Vesuvius
PompeiiWell-preserved ancient Roman ruins
Isle of CapriVilla Jovis, Blue Grotto, and stunning coastal views

Sorrento offers a delightful mix of history, charm, and gastronomy. From its picturesque streets to its delectable cuisine, it is a destination that will captivate visitors from all walks of life. Whether you’re exploring the town’s historical landmarks or savoring the flavors of Sorrento’s culinary delights, this enchanting town is sure to leave a lasting impression.

paestum

Paestum: A Journey into Ancient Greece

Paestum is a fascinating town in southern Italy that offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the wonders of ancient Greece. Known for its well-preserved Greek temples, Paestum boasts a rich history and remarkable architecture that showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the ancient Greeks.

The centerpiece of Paestum is the Temple of Hera, the oldest temple in the town which dates back to around 550 BC. This magnificent structure is a testament to the skill of ancient Greek architects and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and architecture lovers alike. The temple’s imposing columns and intricate details are sure to leave a lasting impression.

When visiting Paestum, travelers can choose to stay overnight at the Mec Paestum Hotel, which offers comfortable accommodations and convenient access to the town’s attractions. With its proximity to the ancient temples, guests can immerse themselves in the history and beauty of Paestum at their own pace.

Experience the Beauty of Paestum

Exploring Paestum is like taking a journey back in time. The town’s archaeological park allows visitors to wander among the ancient ruins and imagine what life was like in ancient Greece. In addition to the Temple of Hera, the park also features the Temple of Neptune and the Basilica, both of which are equally impressive in their grandeur.

“Paestum is a hidden gem of southern Italy, offering a unique blend of history and beauty. The well-preserved Greek temples are awe-inspiring, and the Mec Paestum Hotel provides a comfortable base for exploring the town. It’s a destination that should not be missed!”

Aside from the archaeological park, visitors to Paestum can also enjoy the beautiful surrounding countryside. The lush landscapes and scenic views make it the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Paestum truly offers a captivating experience that combines history, nature, and tranquility.

AttractionsDescription
Temple of HeraThe oldest temple in Paestum, showcasing remarkable Greek architecture from around 550 BC.
Archaeological ParkA vast area filled with well-preserved ancient Greek ruins, including the Temple of Neptune and the Basilica.
Mec Paestum HotelA comfortable and convenient accommodation option located near the archaeological park.

Visiting Paestum is a truly immersive experience that allows travelers to marvel at the architectural wonders of ancient Greece. From the imposing columns of the Temple of Hera to the serene beauty of the surrounding countryside, Paestum offers a journey into the past that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

alberobello

Alberobello: Discover the Fairytale Town with Trulli Architecture

Alberobello is a captivating town located in the Puglia region of Southern Italy. What sets Alberobello apart from other towns is its unique trulli architecture. These traditional buildings feature whitewashed walls and conical stone roofs, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere that transports visitors to another world.

One of the best ways to explore Alberobello is by taking a 2-hour walking tour. This guided tour allows you to discover the secrets of the trulli and learn about the town’s fascinating history and culture. As you stroll through the narrow streets, you’ll marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of these cone-shaped houses and gain a deeper understanding of their significance in the local community.

During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to step inside a trullo, experiencing the unique architecture up close. You’ll also visit the Trullo Sovrano, the only two-story trullo in Alberobello, which has been converted into a museum. Here, you can admire traditional furniture and artifacts that provide insight into the daily life of those who once inhabited these charming dwellings.

“Alberobello is like stepping into a storybook. The trulli architecture is truly enchanting, and the walking tour offers a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the town’s magical atmosphere.” – Traveler’s Review

Experience the Magic of Alberobello’s Trulli Architecture

Aside from the guided walking tour, Alberobello offers other attractions that showcase the town’s unique architecture. The Rione Monti district is the main area of Alberobello where trulli can be found in abundance. Explore the maze-like streets lined with these whimsical structures and discover hidden gems around every corner.

For a truly unforgettable experience, consider staying in a trullo during your visit to Alberobello. Many trulli have been converted into comfortable accommodations, allowing you to immerse yourself in the town’s fairytale atmosphere. Wake up surrounded by history and charm, and enjoy the tranquility of this magical place.

What to do in AlberobelloWhere to stayWhere to eat
  • Take a 2-hour walking tour of the town
  • Visit the Trullo Sovrano museum
  • Explore the Rione Monti district
  • Trulli accommodations
  • Charming guesthouses
  • Boutique hotels
  • Local trattorias
  • Traditional Puglian restaurants
  • Roof terrace dining

Alberobello is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Southern Italy. Immerse yourself in the architectural wonder of the trulli, discover the town’s rich history, and experience the enchantment that has captured the hearts of visitors for centuries.

tropea

Tropea: An Ancient Town with Breathtaking Views

Tropea, located in the Calabria region of Southern Italy, is a hidden gem known for its ancient history and stunning vistas. This picturesque town sits atop sheer cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. With its narrow sandy beach below, Tropea offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty and historical charm.

One of the town’s most iconic landmarks is the medieval Santa Maria del’Isola church, perched on a rocky promontory. The church, with its stunning backdrop of the sea, creates a dramatic setting that enchants both locals and tourists. Visitors can climb the steps to the church and take in the panoramic views of the coastline and the surrounding countryside.

Another notable attraction in Tropea is the grand cathedral, which dates back to the Norman era. The cathedral houses several unique artifacts and displays exquisite architecture, showcasing the town’s rich religious heritage. Inside, visitors can admire beautiful frescoes and intricate mosaics that depict biblical scenes.

AttractionsHighlights
Santa Maria del’IsolaMarvel at the medieval church perched on a rocky promontory with breathtaking views.
Tropea CathedralExplore the grand cathedral and admire its beautiful frescoes and mosaics.
Historic CenterStroll through the charming streets of the old town and discover hidden gems.

The historic center of Tropea is a delight to explore, with its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and traditional shops. Wander through the cobblestone alleys and discover local artisans selling handmade crafts and regional specialties. Don’t forget to indulge in the town’s famous red onions, a local delicacy known for its sweet and mild flavor.

Whether it’s admiring the breathtaking views from Santa Maria del’Isola, exploring the grandeur of Tropea Cathedral, or getting lost in the charm of the historic center, a visit to this ancient town is sure to leave a lasting impression. Tropea offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination in Southern Italy.

naples

Naples: A City with a Strong Personality

Naples, the largest city in southern Italy, is a vibrant destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and cuisine. Situated along the picturesque Gulf of Naples, the city is known for its stunning architecture, bustling streets, and mouthwatering pizza. Whether you’re exploring ancient castles or indulging in local delicacies, Naples is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Castel Nuovo: A Glimpse into Naples’ Medieval Past

One of the iconic landmarks in Naples, Castel Nuovo is a medieval castle that stands majestically in the city’s historic center. Also known as Maschio Angioino, this imposing fortress was built in the 13th century and served as the royal residence for the Angevin dynasty. It features a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque, making it a fascinating sight to behold. Visitors can explore its courtyards, climb the towers for panoramic views of the city, and admire the intricate frescoes.

Castel del’Ovo: Legends and Breathtaking Views

Perched on a tiny islet called Megaride, Castel del’Ovo is another must-visit attraction in Naples. This castle holds not only historical significance but also legends and folklore. According to one popular legend, the poet Virgil placed a magical egg in the foundations of the castle, and as long as the egg remains intact, the city of Naples will be protected. Besides the fascinating tales, visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples and the picturesque fishing village of Borgo Marinari from the castle’s terraces.

Mount Vesuvius: Witness the Power of Nature

No visit to Naples would be complete without a trip to Mount Vesuvius, mainland Europe’s only active volcano. This iconic natural landmark, famous for its catastrophic eruption that buried the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, offers a unique opportunity to witness the power of nature up close. Visitors can hike up to the volcano’s crater, guided by experienced local guides who share insights about its geology and history. The breathtaking panoramic views from the top make the strenuous climb well worth it.

AttractionDescription
Castel NuovoA medieval castle with a mix of architectural styles, offering panoramic views of Naples.
Castel del’OvoA castle with legends and stunning views of the Gulf of Naples and Borgo Marinari.
Mount VesuviusMainland Europe’s only active volcano, offering hiking opportunities and breathtaking views.

Top 8 Free things to do in Naples

capri

Capri: A Romantic Island Paradise

Capri is a small island nestled in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Southern Italy. Known for its natural beauty and rich history, Capri has long been a favorite destination for travelers seeking a romantic getaway. With its crystal-clear blue waters, dramatic cliffs, and stunning views, it’s no wonder Capri has captured the hearts of many.

One of the must-visit attractions on the island is Villa Jovis, the former residence of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, this ancient villa offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Roman elite. Explore the ruins and imagine what life would have been like in this luxurious retreat.

Capri’s most famous natural wonder is the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra). This dazzling sea cave is a true spectacle, with its azure waters illuminated by the sunlight that filters through an underwater opening. Visitors can take a small boat inside the cave and marvel at the mesmerizing blue hues that surround them. It’s a truly magical experience.

To fully enjoy the beauty of Capri, it’s recommended to book boat tickets in advance to visit the Blue Grotto and explore the island’s coastline. From the scenic Faraglioni rock formations to the charming town center filled with upscale shops and restaurants, there’s so much to see and do on this enchanting island.

Table: Top Attractions in Capri

AttractionDescription
Villa JovisAn ancient Roman villa perched on a cliff, offering panoramic views of the sea.
Blue GrottoA stunning sea cave with vibrant blue waters, illuminated by the sunlight.
FaraglioniIconic rock formations rising from the sea, perfect for scenic views.
Capri TownA picturesque town with charming streets, upscale shops, and delicious cuisine.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a romantic escape, Capri is a destination that ticks all the boxes. Immerse yourself in the island’s captivating beauty and create unforgettable memories.

pompeii

Pompeii and Herculaneum: Time Capsules of Ancient Rome

Pompeii and Herculaneum are two ancient Roman towns that offer a unique glimpse into the daily life and culture of the ancient Romans. Both towns were buried under volcanic ash and debris during the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. These well-preserved archaeological sites stand as time capsules, preserving the history and architecture of ancient Rome.

Pompeii, located near Naples, is larger and more popular among tourists. It was a bustling city with vibrant streets, markets, and impressive public buildings. Visitors can walk through the streets of Pompeii and explore the well-preserved ruins of homes, shops, and even a brothel. The preserved frescoes and mosaics provide a vivid depiction of life in ancient Rome.

Herculaneum, on the other hand, was a smaller, wealthier town that was buried deeper under the volcanic ash. This preserved the town and its buildings to an even greater extent. Herculaneum is known for its well-preserved wooden structures, such as the Villa of the Papyri, which housed a vast library of ancient texts. Exploring Herculaneum offers a more intimate and immersive experience of Roman life.

Pompeii Entry Ticket Information

To visit Pompeii, it is recommended to purchase an entry ticket in advance to avoid long queues. The ticket allows access to the archaeological site and provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and witness the ancient ruins up close. The ticket prices may vary depending on the season and the type of visit (individual, group, or guided tour).

Visitors can choose to explore Pompeii on their own or opt for a guided tour, which provides in-depth insights and commentary about the history and significance of the site. Guided tours are available in various languages and offer a comprehensive experience for those interested in delving deeper into the ancient Roman world.

Types of TicketsPrice (USD)
Adults15
Children (aged 18 and under)Free
Guided TourVaries (approximately 25-35)

It is important to note that the ticket to Pompeii does not include entry to Herculaneum or other nearby archaeological sites. Separate tickets or combined tickets are available for those who wish to explore multiple sites in the area.

amalfi coast

The Enchanting Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is a picturesque and captivating destination in southern Italy, known for its stunning coastal views and charming towns. This scenic stretch of coastline is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors from all over the world. From the vibrant colors of Vietri sul Mare to the glamorous allure of Positano, there are several enchanting towns to explore along the Amalfi Coast.

Vietri sul Mare

Vietri sul Mare is often considered the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. This vibrant town is famous for its ceramics, which are beautifully crafted and hand-painted. Stroll through the narrow streets adorned with colorful tiles and visit the Ceramics Museum to learn about the long-standing tradition of ceramic art in the region. Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine, particularly the seafood dishes, as you take in the sights and sounds of this charming coastal town.

Positano

Positano is perhaps the most iconic town along the Amalfi Coast, with its pastel-colored buildings cascading down the cliffside towards the crystal-clear waters below. The town is known for its luxurious resorts, boutique shops, and exquisite dining options. Spend your days lounging on the beach, exploring the charming streets, and enjoying breathtaking views from the viewpoints scattered throughout the town.

Minori and Cetara

If you’re looking for a quieter and more authentic Amalfi Coast experience, make sure to visit the charming towns of Minori and Cetara. Minori is renowned for its beautiful beach and historic sites, such as the Villa Romana, which houses well-preserved Roman ruins. Cetara, on the other hand, is a quaint fishing village known for its anchovies and traditional fishing techniques. Both towns offer a peaceful ambiance and a glimpse into the local way of life along the Amalfi Coast.

TownHighlightsRecommended Activities
Vietri sul MareCeramics Museum, Colorful streets, Stunning coastlineVisit the Ceramics Museum, Explore the charming streets, Enjoy local seafood
PositanoPastel-colored buildings, Luxury resorts, Breathtaking viewsLounge on the beach, Shop at boutique stores, Experience the vibrant nightlife
MinoriBeautiful beach, Roman ruins, Authentic atmosphereRelax on the beach, Visit the Villa Romana, Taste local delicacies
CetaraQuaint fishing village, Anchovies, Traditional fishing techniquesExplore the fishing village, Try local seafood, Witness traditional fishing practices

The Amalfi Coast offers a truly enchanting experience with its stunning vistas, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, this coastal paradise has something to offer every traveler. Plan your visit to the Amalfi Coast and immerse yourself in the beauty and magic of this breathtaking destination.

Top 10 Things To Do in Amalfi Coast For First Timers

Conclusion

Southern Italy is a region full of beauty, history, and charm. From the stunning coastal towns to the ancient historical sites, it offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Whether exploring the Amalfi Coast, delving into ancient ruins in Pompeii, or relaxing in the picturesque town of Sorrento, Southern Italy has something for every traveler to enjoy.

With its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Southern Italy is a dream destination. Visitors can soak up the sun in Maratea and enjoy breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. They can step back in time and explore the ancient Greek temples in Paestum. And they can immerse themselves in the fairytale-like atmosphere of Alberobello with its charming trulli architecture.

Plan your trip today and uncover the best places to visit in Southern Italy. Whether you’re drawn to the coastal towns, ancient ruins, or the enchanting landscapes, Southern Italy promises to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

FAQ

What are the best places to visit in Southern Italy?

Southern Italy is filled with incredible destinations, but some of the top spots to visit include Maratea, Sorrento, Paestum, Alberobello, Tropea, Naples, Capri, Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the Amalfi Coast.

What makes Maratea a must-visit destination?

Maratea is a medieval town located along the rocky coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. It boasts a ritzy harbor, beautiful beaches, and stunning views. The Santavenere Hotel, with its private beach and coastal vistas, is a popular accommodation choice.

What should I do in Sorrento?

Sorrento is a picturesque town with narrow streets and a rich history. It provides easy access to Naples, Pompeii, and the nearby Isle of Capri. Along with exploring its charming streets, make sure to indulge in the gourmet cuisine, especially seafood, and try the delicious gelato at Accento Restaurant.

What is special about Paestum?

Paestum is a town founded by the ancient Greeks and is renowned for its well-preserved Greek temples. The oldest temple, the Temple of Hera, dates back to around 550 BC. Visitors can explore these temples and stay overnight at the Mec Paestum Hotel or take a day trip from nearby Sorrento.

What is unique about Alberobello?

Alberobello is a town famous for its trulli architecture. These traditional buildings with conical stone roofs create a fairytale-like atmosphere. Take a 2-hour walking tour of Alberobello to explore these charming structures and learn about the town’s history and culture.

What can I expect in Tropea?

Tropea is an ancient town perched on sheer cliffs overlooking a narrow sandy beach. It is believed to have been founded by Hercules and is known for its stunning views. The town is home to the medieval Santa Maria del’Isola church and a cathedral that still has unexploded bombs from World War II.

What are the highlights of Naples?

Naples is the largest city in southern Italy and offers a unique blend of history, culture, and cuisine. Some of the highlights include the medieval Castel Nuovo, the seafront fortress of Castel del’Ovo, and the proximity to Mount Vesuvius, mainland Europe’s only active volcano.

What can I do in Capri?

Capri is a small island known for its natural beauty and rich history. Visitors can explore the home of Roman Emperor Tiberius, Villa Jovis, and experience the stunning Blue Grotto, reachable only by boat. Remember to book boat tickets in advance to avoid any cancellations.

Should I visit Pompeii or Herculaneum?

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are ancient Roman towns preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pompeii is larger and more well-known, while Herculaneum offers a glimpse into the lives of wealthy Romans. Consider booking a Pompeii entry ticket or a guided tour to avoid long queues.

What makes the Amalfi Coast special?

The Amalfi Coast is a collection of clifftop towns and villages renowned for their breathtaking views. Visitors can enjoy a scenic drive along the coastal road or take a boat tour for a more relaxed experience. Some popular towns along the coast include Vietri sul Mare, Positano, Minori, and Cetara.