Key Takeaways

  • There are endless places in Southern Italy waiting to be explored.
  • Learn about local history at numerous UNESCO and archaeological sites.
  • Explore traditional coastal towns and immerse in Italian culture.
  • Enjoy world-class beaches and coves.
  • Taste some of the best food and wine in the world.
Sicily – credits:

Home to a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Southern Italy is a bucket-list destination for many.

Southern Italy offers a compelling distinction from the northern regions, showcasing its expansive plains, breathtaking coastline, and lush green forests, which stand in stark contrast to the mountainous terrain and abundant greenery of Northern Italy.

Sun-kissed and bursting with soul, this wonderful part of the world promises a delight for all the senses.

Southern Italy is home to all kinds of exciting destinations. Uncover spirited Naples and its streets brimming with life.

Visit beautiful Sicily with its rocky volcanic coastlines and white sandy beaches. Not to mention the world-famous Amalfi Coast, where colorful cliffside villages and hillside wineries frame glistening seas.

Planning a trip to Southern Italy? We don’t blame you. In this article, we talk about the best places in Southern Italy. Perfect for crafting a dreamy romantic getaway in Greece and Italy.

From bustling cities to charming rural villages, with the following information, you’ll be ready to plan the Italian trip of a lifetime, living like true southern Italians.

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast – credits:

When in Southern Italy, don’t forget to plan a trip to the Amalfi Coast, located on the west coast of the region.

Spanning roughly 50 kilometers, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts dramatic cliffs, pastel-coloured villages, and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Amalfi itself – one of the many quaint towns on the coastline – is a definite highlight of the region. Nestled between towering cliffs and the shimmering sea below, it oozes with an enticing charm.

Wander through the narrow winding streets here adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, or drop into shops selling local handicrafts.

Another must-visit small town is Positano. Known for its sheer cliff faces and houses of pastel hues, it’s a labyrinth of narrow streets.

You’ll absolutely fall for Spiaggia Grande Beach here, too, as well as the boutiques, galleries, and cafes found around every corner.

Nearby, Ravello, sitting high above the water, is another excellent day trip destination, with panoramic vistas and a serene atmosphere.

The enchanting Villa Rufolo, with its stunning gardens overlooking the sea, is a must-visit in the area.

But it’s not all about the towns on the Amalfi Coast. For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the Path of the Gods is a must. Hike past lush greenery and wildflowers as you head from Bomerano to Nocelle along the cliffs.

Got a little extra time? Explore the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia. Here, you’ll be able to truly unwind on the pristine beaches, explore hidden grottoes, or take a boat tour.

Otherwise, a day spent at the indescribably stunning Furoir di Four Beach is impossible to regret.


Naples – credits:

Beautiful Naples should always be on your list when exploring the best places in Southern Italy.

Bustling, vibrant, and full of chaotic charm, the largest city in southern Italy is packed with experiences waiting to unfold, making a honeymoon in Naples a wish granted, as the region is one of the best honeymoon destinations in Italy.

Begin your visit with a wow at Naples’s historic center– also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the narrow laneways and stumble upon architectural wonders.

The Duomo di San Gennaro, an imposing cathedral dedicated to the city’s patron saint, is a sight to behold.

Make sure you spend some time wandering through the underground city of Napoli Sotterranea, where an intricate network of tunnels and caverns date back to ancient times.

For the art fans, gaze in awe of the Museo di Capodimonte, where an impressive collection of Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces embellish the walls.

Then, for a taste of all things grandeur, you’ll also want to head to the Royal Palace of Naples.

Need a break from the city center? Take a trip to Castel Sant’Elmo or the Posillipo neighborhood for breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples.

Here, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along a seaside promenade lined with cafes and of course, gelaterias.

And speaking of food, no visit to Southern Italy or Naples is complete without a world-famous pizza. Sample the original Neapolitan pizza, made with fresh ingredients and cooked in wood-fired ovens as you sit in an open piazza.


Matera – credits:

Undoubtedly, one of the best places in Southern Italy is Matera. Very unique in its appearance, Matera is known for its cave dwellings and fantastic architecture.

Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this awe-inspiring destination is one that offers its visitors a glimpse into the past.

During a visit to Matera, you’ll want to start at The Sassi di Matera, the city’s historic center. Here in the soul of the city, a maze of alleys and caves will transport you to another world!

Tip: read about Transportation in Italy, and get around the country easily and efficiently!

Now transformed into homes, hotels, and restaurants, these fascinating caves offer a glimpse into a traditional way of life. Don’t miss the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario.

The best way to learn about Matera is to visit the Museo della Civiltà Contadina, showcasing the rural traditions and culture of the region.

Otherwise, you can gain some historical insight as you explore the beautiful churches of Matera Cathedral and the Church of San Pietro Caveoso, known for their intricate paintwork and architectural beauty.

Step outside the city for a moment and discover the Parco della Murgia Materana, a vast natural park surrounding the city.

Hike along its winding trails and admire breathtaking views of the countryside. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, sample the region’s traditional dishes, including orecchiette pasta, lamb, and the famous Matera bread.


Puglia – credits:

No trip to Southern Italy is complete without a visit to the region of Puglia. Here, where white houses on rocky cliffs meet shimmering turquoise waters, a world of beauty awaits.

Specifically, Puglia is known for its sun-soaked coastline and warm weather, which hosts an awesome blend of historical sites and vibrant towns.

Coastal villages, such as Polignano a Mare and Ostuni, are popular tourist destinations blessed with crystal-clear waters and breathtaking cliffs.

The whitewashed streets of Ostuni, known as the ‘White City,’ are a perfect place to admire panoramic views.

Meanwhile, the azure waters of Polignano a Mare and its nearby coves and sea caves are perfect for swimming and exploring.

For a true taste of local history, don’t miss the chance to visit the UNESCO-listed trulli houses in Alberobello.

Quaint and with their signature conical stone roofs, these fascinating dwellings are a real testament to the region’s architectural heritage.

Take some time to wander through the narrow streets here and explore the otherworldly trulli, some of which have been converted into cafes.

Before you leave Puglia, don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. Indulge in the region’s famous orecchiette pasta drizzled with locally produced olive oil or sample fresh seafood from the Adriatic Sea.

Paired with a glass of Primitivo or Negroamaro wine, you can’t go wrong!


Sicily – credits:

One of the best places in Southern Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is a destination like no other.

Everything from gorgeous coastal towns to ancient ruins and incredible mountainscapes can be found right here.

Of course, one cannot overlook the region’s rich history, both ancient and modern, as the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 marked a pivotal moment in World War II.

Allied forces, including American, British, and Canadian troops, launched a massive amphibious assault on the island, leading to the eventual liberation of Sicily from Axis control and setting the stage for the Italian campaign that followed.

Start your Sicilian journey in Palermo, the very vibrant capital of the island. Take some time to explore the bustling markets, admire the stunning architecture of the Cathedral, and visit the Norman Palace, home to the stunning Palatine Chapel.

Allow yourself a day to uncover the island’s ancient history by visiting the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, where remarkably preserved Greek temples come as a complete surprise!

Then, head to the enchanting town of Taormina. Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the glistening Ionian Sea, this is a place where breathtaking views, elegant squares, and the iconic ancient Greek Theater come together seamlessly.

When it’s time for a taste of Sicily’s remarkable nature, head to Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. You can actually take a hike to its summit or admire its looming presence from a distance.

If island hopping sounds like your idea of fun, then the Aeolian Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with their volcanic landscapes and charming villages, are an absolute must.


Calabria – credits:

If visits to Puglia and the Amalfi Coast still haven’t satisfied your need for coastal Italy, Calabria is a fantastic stop.

Located on the southernmost tip of the country, Calabria is a place of authentic Italian culture and rugged mountains.

One of the best places in Southern Italy to visit as a tourist, Calabria boasts a coastline that stretches along the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.

Dotted along this coastline, you’ll find stunning beaches and crystal-clear water, perfect for slow travel.

Visit Tropea, a picturesque coastal town known for its dramatic cliffside setting and beautiful sandy beaches. Explore its charming streets and visit the stunning Santa Maria dell’Isola church sat atop a hill.

Spend a day away from the glistening coastline and head inland to the rugged Aspromonte National Park.

Simply made for adventurers and nature enthusiasts, this peaceful spot invites you to hike through lush forests, discover hidden waterfalls, and admire breathtaking panoramic views.

Make sure you visit Gerace whilst you’re in the area, known for its medieval architecture.

Want to uncover more about the past? Calabria is steeped in history, with numerous archaeological sites waiting to be explored.

Try the ancient Locri Epizephiri, packed with Greek and Roman ruins, including well-preserved amphitheaters, temples, and mosaics.

Calabria is also known for its rich agricultural heritage and, thus, it’s food! Indulge in traditional dishes like ‘nduja,’ a spicy Calabrian salami, or ‘pasta alla Calabrese’ featuring locally grown peppers and tomatoes.


Sardinia – credits:

Idyllic Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most romantic places in Italy. Blessed with endless coves and stretches of pristine white sand, there’s always something to be discovered.

Plus, with its lovely seaside towns and mountainous backdrop, you’ll never run out of wonder.

First and foremost, Sardinia is a sandy beach-lovers sanctuary; thus, if you’re here, you should find out what the fuss is about.

From the famous Costa Smeralda, with its luxurious resorts and exclusive beaches, to the wild and untamed beauty of Cala Goloritzé, there is a beach for every taste, with beach clubs or without.

Try snorkeling, go diving in protected marine areas to explore the underwater world, or simply kick back on the white sand.

Heading inland, Sardinia’s rugged landscape showcases a truly wild side that many don’t see. The Gennargentu National Park, with its majestic mountains and deep valleys, is a paradise for hikers.

Whilst you’re here, head to the UNESCO-listed Su Nuraxi di Barumini and marvel at the tower-like structure made of large stone blocks – something that archaeologists still can’t get their heads around today!

If you’re lucky enough to be in Sardinia during a festival, you’ll taste the island’s heritage: its traditional costumes, music, and dancing.

Otherwise, opt for a different cultural experience and make a trip to the town of Alghero, where an influence on Catalan culture is still evident in its architecture, language, and cuisine.

After a day of adventure, traditional Sardinian dishes like culurgiones (stuffed pasta), pane carasau (crispy flatbread), and pecorino cheese will always be well received (especially paired with a glass of locally produced Cannonau wine).


Abruzzo, Apulia, Trulli – credits:

Beautiful Abruzzo is definitely one of the best places in Southern Italy and one you should visit without hesitance.

Home to a captivating blend of natural beauty, authentic Italian charm, and enchanting hilltop villages, it’s a real gem on Southern Italy’s crown.

Your first stop in Abruzzo should be somewhere in nature, where stunning scenery steals the show.

Head to the majestic Gran Sasso and Maiella mountain ranges and gain breathtaking views with the help of hiking trails in summer or otherwise winter sports.

You could also visit Abruzzo National Park, one of Italy’s oldest national parks. Wildlife is absolutely abundant here, as is the Marsican brown bear!

Historical and cultural treasures are everywhere you look in Abruzzo. Ancient ruins, the medieval castle, rolling hills, and charming towns take you back in time.

Explore the hilltop village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, with its cobblestone streets and stone houses, for a taste of the past.

Otherwise, take a trip to the medieval town of Sulmona, known for its beautiful architecture and annual celebration of sugared almonds during the famous ‘Confetti Festival.’

Now for the best bit – the food! In Abruzzo, dive into hearty and flavorsome dishes, such as arrosticini (grilled lamb skewers), maccheroni alla chitarra (homemade pasta) topped with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.


Basilicata – credits:

Get a taste of the real Italy in Basilicata, where rugged beauty is a showstopper. Known for its dramatic landscapes and rich history, this is a real off-the-beaten-track destination.

The scenery in Basilicata is dominated by imposing peaks. The likes of the Lucanian Apennines and the raw beauty of the Pollino National Park entice adventurers year-round.

As you explore the area, you’ll stumble upon mountain villages, trail through pristine forests, and there’s always a

hidden waterfall or cave to be unveiled. But for a real taste of Basilicata, visit the ghost town of Craco, perched upon a hilltop. Hauntingly beautiful, it’s a great reminder of the region’s past.

And speaking of its past, Basilicata is absolutely littered with history and eery reminders of ancient civilizations.

The Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of prehistoric cave dwellings, is an extraordinary example of this.

Basilicata’s culinary traditions are equally enticing. Local specialties you’ll have to try include handmade pasta, such as orecchiette, and rich dishes like Lucanica sausage and pepperoni cruschi.

The robust Aglianico del Vulture wine from vineyards nestled on volcanic soil is an absolute must-try.


Campania – credits:

When it comes to the best places in Southern Italy, Campania is certainly one of them. With its colorful buildings and turquoise seas, it’s a place where Italian vacation dreams come true!

Home to Naples, as well as many other highlights, Campania is a place that embodies the essence of the Italian lifestyle.

When you think of Campania, you think of breathtaking coastlines, tasty cuisine, and a lively atmosphere. But you can also add impressive historic sites and ancient ruins to this list.

Sicily – credits:

Visitors to Campania can explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, frozen in time by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

What’s more, Campania boasts architectural wonders such as the Royal Palace of Casertaas, the ancient Greek temples of Paestum, and the archaeological site of Cumae.

If it’s the quintessential Southern Italy you’re after, then you’re also in luck. Campania’s coastline boasts some of Italy’s most iconic destinations, including the stunning Amalfi Coast.

Final Thoughts on Southern Italy Cities and Things To Do

Calabria – credits:

Southern Italy is a treasure trove of diverse and captivating destinations that promise to satisfy every traveler’s desires.

From the enchanting Amalfi Coast to the bustling streets of Naples, the historic charm of Matera to the stunning beaches of Puglia, the cultural richness of Sicily to the natural beauty of Sardinia, and the rugged landscapes of Calabria to the hidden gems of Abruzzo and Basilicata, this region has it all.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a foodie, or simply seeking relaxation on the beautiful coastlines, Southern Italy has something to offer.

It’s a place where time seems to stand still, allowing you to immerse yourself in its rich culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and explore breathtaking landscapes.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Southern Italy, take inspiration from the incredible places mentioned above and get ready for an unforgettable Italian adventure. Start planning with this budgeting guide to Italy.

Each destination has its unique charm, and with this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Who knows? You might even get the hang of some southern Italian dialects while you’re at it.

Or pair your Southern Italy trip with more regions of Italy, such as a honeymoon in Tuscany.

We hope this information helps you plan your adventure. Whether it is a romantic getaway to Greece and Italy or an Italy elopement, our luxury travel planners wish you many incredible experiences and cherished memories on your travels to the southern part of this beautiful country. Buon viaggio!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Southern Italy worth visiting?

    Southern Italy is definitely worth visiting! Visitors here enjoy charming towns, stunning coastlines, world-class food and wine, and rich cultural heritage. It’s the perfect area for a couple’s holiday in Italy.

    One of the main highlights in this part of Italy is the coastal towns, including Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento, which boast breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

  • How many days do you need in Southern Italy?

    The number of days you need in Southern Italy entirely depends on how you like to travel and where you want to go.

    However, a general guideline is to allocate at least seven days to fully explore the region. There’s a lot to do here with cities and natural wonders to discover.

  • When should I visit Southern Italy?

    The best time to visit Southern Italy depends on how you like to travel.

    However, it is safe to say that the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) are perfect times to visit.

    Cooler temperatures make it a great time of year to hike, explore the sites, and enjoy the beaches.


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Melina Thalassinou