Italy tours

Top Italy tours

Each Italian city offers an experience totally different from the next; you only have to compare the cosmopolitan air of Milan with the hardiness of Naples, or the splendour of Rome with the quiet village life in Puglia to understand this. There are regional cuisines and approaches to lifestyle; there is something that appeals to everyone. But knowing where to start on an Italy tour can be overwhelming, which is why a guided or self-guided tour helps you gain a better understanding of a particular area, sight or tradition – read our round-up of some of the best and book onto your favourite one.

  1. Archaeology tour: Pompeii
  2. Vatican Museums: Vatican City
  3. Fashion tour in Milan
  4. Gondola tour: Venice
  5. Bike tour: Turin
  6. Walking tour: Florence

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1. Archaeology tour: Pompeii

One of the most popular tours is covering the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In 79AD, nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted and blanketed the towns in ash. Villas, brothels and restaurants were among some of the buildings covered in pumice, but this blanketed them for thousands of years until they were rediscovered centuries later. With ongoing excavations and restoration work at play, you can take a guided tour to gain a better understanding of ordinary life in Pompeii, from the faded frescoes to the plaster cast copies of the bodies discovered in huddled positions. Browsing Italy holiday packages? Don’t miss out on the chance to discover nearby Naples and the Amalfi Coast - you won’t want to leave...

Come for: Ordinary life in the ancient Roman Empire.

Explore nearby: Smaller Herculaneum works well as part of a day tour with Pompeii.

2. Vatican Museums: Vatican City

The Vatican Museums are made up of 8 museums, 5 galleries, the Apostolic Library, the Borgia Apartments, the Raphael Stanze (Rooms) and the unmissable Sistine Chapel. With so much to take in, you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you, and you’ll want to spend the best part of a day navigating your way around the place. Taking a guided tour is a brilliant way to learn about the stories behind the details; not only will you find out more about the artists and the significant meanings behind the pieces, but you’ll also learn more about the city’s long history, too. Plus, if you book onto a guided tour, you get to skip the queues, which is never a bad thing.

Come for: Unrivalled art.

Explore nearby: St Peter’s Basilica - it’s the largest Roman Catholic church.

3. Fashion tour in Milan

With its annual Fashion Week attended by the fashion glitterati, Milan is Italy at its most stylish. There are loads of designer shops to be window-shopped in the sheltered arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II - including the flagship Prada store - and dedicated shopping streets filled with boutiques, ateliers and tailors you can pick your way through. Once you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped (or seen where others can afford to do so), wind down at an outside table with an espresso and watch the next in-vogue styles strut past.

Come for: Superlative fashion.

Explore nearby: Bar Luce by Prada for a stylish, Wes Anderson-themed experience.

4. Gondola tour: Venice

The best Italy tours are the ones that move away from the standard walking or cycling tours: and exploring Venice by gondola is no exception. Drift through one of the most romantic cities in Italy - if not the world - and see Venice from a canalside position. You’ll be swept past some of the most picturesque sights in Venice: past the wide-set Piazza San Marco, under the charming Bridge of Sighs and through quieter waterways with pastel-coloured residences either side of you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to steer the gondola yourself - a uniquely dressed gondolier will punt the way, and you might even be treated to traditional Venetian songs and stories, too. Take a slower pace in Venice and you won’t be disappointed.

Come for: A different side to Italy.

Explore nearby: Rialto Bridge, one of Venice’s oldest bridges dating back to the 12th century.

5. Bike tour: Turin

Turin’s renovated squares and elegant buildings make it prime cycling territory. Once an industry town - it’s home to the giant Fiat and Pirelli factories - the Piedmontese capital is also well-known for its Baroque and Classical buildings. While you can hire a bike and set off by yourself, consider booking onto a guided tour. Your tour guide will be able to explain so much more about the sights and parks you pass, and gives you a good heads up as to where you might like to revisit once the tour is over. Some streets are pedestrian and cyclist friendly, so you don’t have to worry too much about tackling the notorious Italian traffic, either.

Come for: An undeservedly underrated city.

Explore nearby: The National Cinema Museum - take the lift all the way to the top for panoramic views across the city and beyond.

6. Walking tour: Florence

You don’t want to speed through the charming city of Florence; you’ll want to savour your time here, so exploring the city by foot is the best way to take it in. Start off on an early morning when the streets are quieter to give you an introduction to the city: learn about its history, its development and architecture. It was home to the Medici family who once ruled Florence and are to thank for the city’s Renaissance splendour. And exploring by foot means you can take however long you want, and at any time of day: gaze up at the red-domed Duomo, cross over the medieval Ponte Vecchio with its tight strip of shops, and traipse around the impressive Piazza della Signora before plonking yourself down for a bite to eat.

Come for: Renaissance art and architecture.

Explore nearby: Uffizi Gallery, by the riverside, with a number of Renaissance paintings and masterpieces.

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