Southern Italy is awash with wondrous stretches of coastline; it boasts islands whose shores tell the stories of millennia gone by; cradles cities where cultures have thrived for generations. Italy's south has something for everyone, and with this guide, you can discover the best places to visit in Italy with ease. Follow us from the anfractuous roads of the Amalfi Coast to the quaint towns of Puglia, or through the long and rich history of Naples, or simply find yourself reclined on Sicily's sumptuous sands or summiting Sardinia's peaks.
Wind along the tortuous Strada Statale 163, hugging the precipice with each turn, from Positano to Ravello. Each twist reveals a new treasure that is awaiting exploration, whether it is a pastel-hued town that hangs from the side of the steep coastal cliffs or yet another view over the cobalt blue sea. There is something otherworldly about the Amalfi Coast and all the experiences it has to offer.
For a great day trip, take a boat to the island of Capri, where the Blue Grotto - a small cave with a submerged entrance that allows light to trickle in - awaits, its iridescent light glowing. Beaches lined with colourful parasols pepper the craggy coast, and jagged rock formations silhouette sea and sky. Take a boat to a restaurant that is cradled in a quiet cove to dine on some delectable Mediterranean and Italian cuisine alongside the lazily lapping sea. To finish, savour a Limoncello that has been crafted from the fruits of the region. The Amalfi Coast is one of the best places to visit in Southern Italy and, with our help, you can relish every moment.
Where to stay
Perched in the hills above the picture-perfect town of Positano, Villa Chiara is a plush place to spend your trip in paradise. Take your morning coffee on the spacious terrace and watch the armada of yachts and fishing boats bob silently in the bay below.
Mesmeric beaches intersperse equally hypnotic towns along the coast of Italy's heel, where some of Italy's most delicious varieties of pasta are crafted and olive from the rich and ancient farmlands are turned into oils. Puglia is one of the best places to visit in Southern Italy: it boasts a varied way of life, with spirited cities such as Bari where the young thrive, and beautiful architecture in Lecce, which has become known as the "Florence of the South", as well as quaint towns and idyllic beaches.
Polignano a Mare is home to one of the most picturesque beaches that Italy has to offer. Enter the auditorium of this beach through the doors created by the arches of the Roman bridge; follow the aisle to where the pebbles meet the sea, spread your towel, and take your seat with the rest of the audience who have come to marvel at the spectacle of the sea lapping and shimmering in turquoise ripples against the sheer cliffs. The white pebbles on this beach are lucky enough to have seats in the stalls, while the houses on the surrounding cliffs gather in the gallery to watch the daily show unfold.
A stone's throw from Polignano a Mare, Villa Lungomare is a sleek, lineal villa that allows the outside world to pour through its vast windows. Surrounded by fields, it's difficult to tell where nature stops and the lush garden begins. Let yourself sink into the pool before making a family feast around the pizza oven.
Naples is a city whose influence reaches far back in the history books: with Pompeii and Herculaneum with their artifacts across the bay, art galleries bulging with significant works, and a cathedral with fresco-lined walls, there is always something to do for historically and culturally curious travellers.
But Naples is far more than a footnote in the world's history books: the city's mouthwatering cuisine will entice people from everywhere with lip-smacking ease. A simple mention of the fact that Naples is the home of pizza will have a gravitational effect on foodies. This magical city, too, caters for lovers of the outdoors, with hikes up the formidable Mount Vesuvius or snorkelling trips in the clear sea, or an easy stroll around the flourishing botanical gardens. Across the bay, you will find the Sorrento peninsula, from where trips to Capri and the Amalfi Coast come with ease. The completeness of a holiday to Naples makes it one of the best places to visit in Southern Italy.
Villa Vesuvius, as the name suggests, boasts spectacular views across the bay to the looming cone of Mount Vesuvius. Life is made to be lived outdoors in this paradisiacal villa, either from the rooftop or the spacious garden's lavish swimming pool.
Atop this Mediterranean gem, you will find everything you have come to expect from an Italian destination: history, world-class cuisine, and bounteous vistas. It's the largest island in the Mediterranean and is a great luxury holiday destination for history buffs. The Valley of Temples is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites of the classical Greek civilisation and will be bound to impress all those who visit it.
Thoughts of Sicily also elicit unbound natural beauty: poised on the eastern edge of the island you will find Mount Etna. On the island's fringes, you are likely to find soft sandy beaches. Sicily is an island worth visiting in and of itself. What makes it unmissable is the wealth of islands that are scattered along its beautiful shores. Cast off for the Aeolian Islands for a day of exploring the brilliantly blue sea around these Tyrrhenian gems.
Set on the southeastern seaside, you will easily slip into a summery daze in Villa Roman. Flit between the pool and the sea as the gentle breeze soothes skin warmed by the summer sun. Inside, you will find a modern, but homely space that allows the light to spill in.
Finding beaches on which to while away summer days in Sardinia is no tall order. Along the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, aptly named by the Aga Khan, there is a bounty of fine-sand beaches that are licked by crystalline waters. Here you will find one of the most glamorous places to visit in Southern Italy, where true luxury meets natural beauty in a perfect melting pot.
There are plenty of trails for all levels that crisscross the island's mountainous interior. Or, one can simply saunter around the charming town of Port Cervo, where boutique shops discretely line the authentic streets. There is something for everyone on the idyllic island of Sardinia, which easily puts it on our list of the best places to visit in Southern Italy.
Villa Abbondanza is set serenely on the northeastern coast of Sardinia, where the garden trickles down to the villa's very own private beach. Nature presides over this peaceful haven; the songs of the cicadas serve as a constant, but gentle, reminder of this happy fact.
With this guide, you can easily explore the best beaches for holidays in Italy.
Each and every one of our best summer holiday destinations in Italy will offer you a unique and unforgettable insight into the wonders of Italy.