Skip To Content

    Rating Cities In Italy From "Not Worth Visiting" To "I Want To Stay Here Forever"

    Italy is a country I never get tired of traveling. While I haven't been to every region quite yet, I think it's about time I rank some of the most popular destinations in Italy based on how much I loved — or didn't love — it there.

    My favorite boot! Italy is filled with jagged mountains, picturesque seaside towns, and hills that go on for days. While these are my ✨personal opinions✨ maybe they'll come in handy when you finally plan that trip to Italy!

    Positano's colourful cityscape with leisure and fishing boats on the sea
    © Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

    1. Verona

    Rebecca Khera

    When most people think of Verona they think of love, as this little city was made famous by Romeo and Juliet.

    This might hurt some Shakespeare fans, but if I'm being honest, I didn't love it there. I struggled to find things to do other than visit Juliet's balcony which was a very obvious tourist attraction with not much going on other than just looking at the balcony. I'm glad I didn't plan to stay long, as the highlight of my time there was strolling along the river, which I'd much rather do in Florence.

    While I'm open to changing my opinion on Verona, I just don't see myself planning to go back.

    This might be controversial, but my rating: Not really worth the trip unless you have extra time to kill while passing through.

    2. Bari

    City of Bari with a cloudy sunrise over the sea
    Donato Fasano / Getty Images

    I wanted to love Bari, particularly because it's usually the first stop on a trip to Puglia which is my favorite region in Italy and my aspirational home one day. But honestly Bari felt a little basic. It's really an average city, there are some great restaurants, but walking around the city feels like walking around any city. Yes, there are some gorgeous historical sites and cathedrals. But for the most part it's just a humble port city. That being said, I'd still gladly go back!

    I'd rate it: Take it or leave it, but if you're in Puglia, you might as well stay a night.

    Stay at the Olive Tree or Short Lets Grandi Stazioni.

    Hotel room with tall windows and little chandelier
    Short Lets Grand Stazioni / Via

    The Olive Tree is one of Bari's highest rated hostels. I stayed a night and didn't think the Olive Tree was anything special, but it was a nice, basic accommodation with ample space to hang out and meet people. There weren't as many bathrooms as I think they should have considering the number of beds, and the kitchen closed for the night, so that was kind of annoying, but other than that, no complaints. For $22.12 per night, it's a pretty good deal, but I don't think I'll be heading back anytime soon.

    My first time in Bari, I stayed at Short Lets Grandi Stazioni near the main train station, and while it's strangely lowly rated online, I really loved my stay there and  the rooms were beautiful! It's a small hotel, but functions similarly to an Airbnb. Prices vary by room and dates, but I stayed for only $69 per night.

    3. Pompeii

    photo of a hand holding up a postcard of Pompeii in front of the ruins in Pompeii
    Rebecca Khera

    If you love history, then a trip to Pompeii is necessary. This tragic site has been well preserved and walking around is like stepping back centuries in time. 

    The best and, in my opinion, only way to visit Pompeii is with a guide. If you skip a guide at the entrance, you'll miss out on so much. I've gone without a guide and it wasn't really worth it.

    There's not much to see and do in the modern city of Pompeii, so instead of staying the night, it would be better to continue on to your next destination, whether that's Naples, Sorrento, or to another region in Italy.

    I'd rate it: Worth an afternoon visit with a guide, but no need to spend a whole day.

    4. Genoa

    Tall buildings in Genoa
    Rebecca Khera

    If you've heard of Genovese basil, then you've heard of Genoa. 

    Genoa is the capital of Liguria — a region along the northwest coast of Italy. Some of my favorite foods come from this region, including pesto and focaccia! 

    Tancredi J. Bavosi / Getty Images

    While the city of Genoa itself is nice, it's not a must see in my book, but if you ever find yourself in Liguria, do yourself a favor and order some trofie al pesto (pictured above).

    I'd rate it: Good for passing through.

    Hotel Nologo is a nice budget hotel.

    Hot tub on the deck of Hotel Nologo
    Hotel Nologo / Via

    For just $59 a night, I thought this was a fine hotel. It's in a great location, close to transportation, shops, and restaurants. And there's a hot tub which I'm never mad about.

    5. Venice

    Canal in Venice with gondola boats and buildings on the water.
    Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images

    Okay, so this might be the hottest take of all hot takes...but I don't think Venice is worth the hype.

    Venice is known for being one of the most romantic and idyllic cities there is. And in some ways it lives up to its reputation: filled with canals, gondolas, and a maze of streets. It's built on a group of more than 118 islands, so it's truly unique.

    But because the streets are actually a maze, it can be very difficult to navigate, don't expect to just grab an Uber or taxi to get you to your hotel. The ferry and water-taxi prices are kind of steep, so it can be a shock to the system if you're not expecting it. 

    While there is beauty tucked around every corner, Venice also has its downfalls. Because the city is literally sinking, heavy rain and high tides can cause flooding, which isn't exactly romantic.

    I'd rate it: A must see, but manage your expectations...

    6. Rimini

    A sand beach on the east coast of Italy.
    Rebecca Khera

    As an American, I had never really heard of Rimini before. It's not a major tourist destination for Americans, but I quickly learned it's a vacation destination for many Europeans, particularly for Italians wanting to get away. 

    Rimini is a relaxing beach destination with lots of hotels and a vibrant nightlife. But at the same time, it's an unassuming seaside city, perfect for relaxing on the beach, grabbing a bite to eat, or enjoying a night out with friends. 

    I'd compare it to a lot of the beach towns on the east coast of the U.S. It reminds me of coastal towns in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 

    I'd rate it: A good spot for relaxing or visiting San Marino, but not an it destination for me.

    I stayed at Hotel Villa Lalla.

    Outside view of Hotel Villa Lalla
    Hotel Villa Lalla / Via

    I loved this small hotel because it's just a short walk from the beach, the train station, and the buses to San Marino.

    The rooms are nice and clean. I even had a little patio area that was perfect for enjoying the quiet end to summer.

    Also, worth noting, the breakfast spread was amazing!

    Grab a room for as low as $40 a night.

    7. San Marino

    View from San Marino with houses, mountains, and the ocean in the distance
    Rebecca Khera

    San Marino is technically its own country. It's tiny and nestled in the north near the eastern coast. San Marino is small enough that a day trip is plenty. Upon entering the country you'll climb higher and higher until you reach the highest point of San Marino, which is a medieval walled city and old town. The views are spectacular!

    Since it's so small, I'd recommend staying in Rimini (at Hotel Villa Lalla) instead of trying to find somewhere within San Marino.

    I'd rate it: Good for a day trip with panoramic views.

    8. Trieste

    Port city of Trieste's downtown area with boats lining the marina.
    Rebecca Khera

    Located near the border of Italy and Slovenia is the port city of Trieste. 

    I hadn't really heard a lot of people talk about this city, so without knowing much, I decided to make a stop on my way from Ljubljana. I visited in the summer and it was surprisingly quiet. 

    Trieste has a unique blend of Slovenian, Croatian, and Austrian influence. There's history, art, and some great food. 

    It may not have the major tourist sites bigger Italian cities have, but it has a quiet charm that I loved. 

    I'd rate it a confident: Worth spending a couple days.

    9. Rome

    The Trevi Fountain
    Rebecca Khera

    Ah, yes, Roma, the quintessential Italian city. Maybe it's the colosseum or the Spanish Steps, maybe it's the Trevi Fountain or the major airport, maybe it's the Ancient Roman Capital or The Lizzie McGuire Movie? Whatever it is, it's made Rome a force to be reckoned with. 

    The colosseum in Rome
    Rebecca Khera

    To visit Italy without visiting Rome may seem counterintuitive, and so yes, I'd definitely recommend a visit to Rome, but don't just visit Rome, because it's mostly tourists wandering around monuments and people trying to sell you selfie sticks. I'd say 2-3 days in the city is plenty to see the major sites, but make sure you add another stop or two (or three) to your trip to really see the best of what Italy has to offer — outside of pandering to tourists.

    It gets a rating of: Worth a short 2-3 day trip.

    For a party vibe, I was recommended to stay at YellowSquare in Rome.

    Bustling Italian bistro outside of Yellow Square Hostel
    YellowSquare / Via

    It draws an upbeat and eclectic crowd in a central location. Dorms start at $28.26 per night.

    10. Lake Como

    Overhead view of Lake Como and a small town on a peninsula leading into the lake.
    Lepretre Pierre / Getty Images

    Lago di Como is one of the most popular vacation spots for the wealthy. And I can see why, it's a beautiful lake and the vibes are so relaxed, but is it the most beautiful lake? I'd argue it's not, there are so many gorgeous lakeside towns hovering just north of the border in Switzerland. 

    But I do see the appeal, and can't wait until I can go back! It's all the charm of a slow Italian town, but with the glamour of a sparking lake and those super aesthetic boats.

    An easy rating of: Spend a week to relax and unwind.

    Ostello Bello Lake Como comes highly recommended.

    Ostello Bello is one of only a few hostels near Lake Como. While you might have an easier time finding a hotel or Airbnb, Ostello Bello is a great place to meet people and socialize, something that's hard to do in a lot of hotels.

    Prices fluctuate, but you can find a bed for as low as $26.66 a night.

    11. Florence

    The Florence skyline during golden hour with a hazy mountain range behind the duomo
    Piero Damiani / Getty Images

    Home to some of the most jaw-dropping architecture you'll ever see. The first time I saw the duomo (aka Italian church) I literally tripped and fell to my knees out of sheer awe. Maybe it was the dip in the sidewalk, or maybe it was the artistry of the building, we may never know. 

    The intricate architecture of the Duomo in Florence
    Rebecca Khera

    Florence is definitely less hectic than Rome. If you're looking for something romantic, then Florence would be a great option. What's more romantic than strolling along the river with gelato in hand?

    I'd rate it: Spend a solid 4-5 days on a romantic trip, but add a day trip to explore more of Tuscany.

    Since I was on a budget, and just wanted a good view, I stayed at PLUS Florence.

    PLUS Florence / Via

    While this isn't my favorite hostel I've ever stayed in, it's great for the price compared to other accommodations in Florence.

    When I stayed there, the Wi-Fi was pretty unreliable and didn't work in the rooms, but I wasn't in Florence to scroll on my phone, so it didn't bother me much.

    It may not be the best place for digital nomads, but it has a stunning view from the rooftop terrace, not one, but two pools (one outdoors for the summers, and one indoors for any other time of year), and a sauna. With beds starting at $14.67 a night, it's a great place to lay your head when exploring Florence.

    12. Milan

    Negatina / Getty Images

    Milan is SO UNDERRATED! People tend to skip Milan in favor of the other big cities, like Rome, Florence, and Venice. But I'm here to tell you not to skip it. Milan is my favorite of the major cities. 

    Up close shot of the intricate architecture of Duomo di Milano
    Rebecca Khera

    Home to the world's first mall and the stunning Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral). There's so much more to Milan than fashion. It's also the perfect city to base yourself in for some day trips to Lugano and Lake Como if you're short on time. 

    I'd rate this: A great city to spend a semester abroad.

    Stay at Hotel Paradiso if you love cats as much as I do.

    Hotel Paradiso / Via

    I've stayed at a lot of different places in Milan over the years, from small Airbnbs to fancy airport hotels, but on my first trip I stayed at Hotel Paradiso. While the hotel itself is pretty standard, the location is great — especially if you plan on taking day trips — as it's just a short walk to Milan's central train station.

    But my favorite part of Hotel Paradiso is, of course, the hotel cats. I got to meet the orange cat while I was there, and she's so sweet and fluffy, the perfect breakfast companion.

    Prices are as low as $69.90 a night.

    13. Sorrento

    Sorrento dock and boats in the evening
    Jack Robert Photography / Getty Images

    If you love lemons and limoncello, then Sorrento is the perfect spot. There's something about Sorrento that reminds me of middle-aged moms who always say they're gonna sell their house and move to Europe when their kids go to college, but never actually do. 

    But Sorrento is a great spot for those who want to visit Positano, Capri, and Pompeii during the day.

    I'd rate it: A good place to spend a week (or more) exploring the nearby cities and the Amalfi Coast.

    Another day another rooftop terrace, enjoy a stay at Seven Hostel.

    Rooftop terrace with mountain views and lots of seating
    Seven Hostel / Via

    I love Seven Hostel and recommend it to all my friends. It's definitely not a party spot, but it's perfect for those who want a quiet retreat away from the busy streets of Sorrento and Capri. The rooftop is massive and it has multiple levels, so you can always find a spot to relax...oh and the views are great! 

    The beds are comfortable, there's a place to do laundry, and breakfast is included. The biggest downside is not having a kitchen, but there are nice restaurants and grocery stores nearby. 

    Also, the showers all have glass doors, which is kind of weird for a dorm bathroom, but other than that it's a nice chill oasis for travelers who need a break from the hectic cities.

    Grab a bed for $26.38 a night.

    14. Positano

    Beach in Positano with beautiful mountain leading out to the ocean and stacked houses perched in a pyramid-like-shape.
    Rebecca Khera

    Positano is really pretty, but it's not the most beautiful place in Italy. Instagram has boosted Positano into the new it destination (RIP Capri). The Amalfi Coast has always been well-loved, but in recent years the prices have skyrocketed and the crowds have grown. 

    The views of stacked houses and bright blue water is even more beautiful in person than it is in photos, so I highly recommend visiting. But other than spending time on the very crowded beach or on a boat, there isn't much to do.*

    I'd rate it: Beautiful and absolutely worth visiting, but plan to visit other cities in the area too, don't just stick to Positano and call it a day.

    *There might be more to do now, I haven't been back since 2015.

    There are no hostels in Positano, so I chose to stay in Sorrento and take the bus into Positano during the day.

    Balcony with a small table and chairs overlooking the scenery of the Amalfi Coast
    Le Sirenuse / Via

    I will say, however, there is the incredibly popular Le Sirenuse that I dream of staying in one day. But with the cheapest room being $555 a night, I highly doubt I'll be booking anytime soon...a girl can dream!

    15. Capri

    Mountains and cliffs of Capri leading to the ocean. Stacked buildings built into the side of the mountain with large terraces overlooking the view.
    Nikollas Niko / Getty Images/EyeEm

    You might be thinking, "isn't Capri for people who are rich rich?" And to be honest, yes, it is. But as a day trip, it can be affordable for most budgets. Capri is gorgeous and that's probably why celebrities declared it their #1 vacation spot for so long. If you enjoy stunning ocean views, walking past designer stores only the 1% can afford, and outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, then you'll also love Capri. 

    Island of Capri with view of the sea and rock formations
    Rebecca Khera

    I truly believe there are no bad views in Capri, it's not my ideal place to live since it's a small island, but if I were a Kardashian, I'd spend entire seasons here.

    I'd rate it: Stay a week if you're wealthy, but if not, it's still an absolute must for a day trip!

    16. Bologna

    Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty Images

    Often overlooked, Bologna is a DO NOT MISS kind of city. The food is incredible, in fact it's known for being a foodie city. It's also home to the tallest leaning tower in Italy — watch out Pisa! 

    Rebecca Khera

    Even if you don't have the time to add a few days in Bologna to your list, it is absolutely worth a stop for lunch or dinner! If you're headed from Florence to Venice by train, get off the train in Bologna for a good meal, you won't be disappointed.

    Also, if you're wondering where Bolognese comes from, it's Bologna. While you're visiting you'll want to eat: Bolognese (or ragú), tigelle, tortellini in brodo, and lots of parmigiano reggiano and prosciutto di parma.

    The easiest rating: I'd move here in a heartbeat if I could! But for everyone else, it's a necessary stop on any tour of Italy.

    I stayed at Combo Bologna near the train station.

    Large outdoor steps and patio to hang out at the Combo Bologna hostel
    Combo Bologna / Via

    When I visited Bologna pre-pandemic, this hostel was called We Bologna, the name has changed, but the building is the same.

    I liked this hostel because it's close to the train station, but in a quiet residential area of the city. It is a bit of a trek to some of the major sites, but Bologna is a very walkable city, so it's not difficult. The beds are comfortable and the kitchen is huge, so you won't have to wait hours to cook your dinner.

    The prices seem to fluctuate A LOT depending on time of year, but you can find a bed for as cheap as $26.90 a night.

    17. Cinque Terre

    Colorful houses stacked on a hill in Manarola
    Rebecca Khera

    So, Cinque Terre is a famous national park on Italy's Ligurian coast. It's best known for the colorful stacked houses in Manarola, but it's got a lot more to it than just the views (all of which are stunning). 

    Rebecca Khera

    While Cinque Terre is five towns, they're all pretty small. You don't need a ton of time to enjoy the area, but it's absolutely worth the visit. Whether you're watching the sunset over the sea, sunbathing on rocks, hiking between the towns, swimming, or eating all the fritto misto you can get your hands on, you'll be sure to have a good time.

    My rating: I'm never coming home! But if you already have your return flight planned, visit Cinque Terre for 2-3 days.

    I like Grand Hostel Manin so much that I've stayed there on multiple trips.

    Grand Hostel Manin / Via

    It's rare I find a hostel I love enough to go back to time and time again, but Grand Hostel Manin is one of three hostels where I've been a repeat guest. It's located just outside of Cinque Terre in the city of La Spezia.

    The vibe is really low-key, instead of raging parties, you're more likely to experience late night wine chats with other guests in the kitchen and maybe even a little acoustic guitar session. 

    They make fresh baked focaccia each morning for breakfast, which beats most hostel breakfasts! It's a bit of a walk from the main train station, but it's close to some amazing restaurants, the water, and a bus stop.

    Book a night, or three, for $27.85 per night.

    18. Polignano a Mare

    Buildings of polignano a mare built onto caves jutting out into the sea
    Rebecca Khera

    Polignano a Mare is a place dreams are made of. The entire city is built on top of caves you can swim through. 

    Because it's such a small city, there aren't a lot of hotels, so it feels less touristy than other places in Italy. 

    It's most known for the famous seaside cave restaurant that is all over Instagram and Pinterest. I've never been, but the views look incredible.

    Restaurant built into a cave over the ocean
    Franz Marc Frei / Image Professionals GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo / Via

    My favorite thing about Polignano a Mare is everything! The beaches, the caves, the sunset views from the balconies overlooking the sea. The food, the people, the small winding pathways. Everything about it is what I dream of when I think of Italy.

    Obviously, my rating is: I've been favoriting dream homes near Polignano a Mare, and would spend the rest of my life there if I had the chance.

    There are so many more spots in Italy to visit! What are some cities you love that didn't make the list?