The best Italian road trips (With Maps)

by Toti

Last updated on May 12th, 2020 at 04:04 pm

Italy is a beautiful land, full of amazing landscapes and unique scenarios. Those are the main subject of our new blog post, regarding the best Italian road trips. We have accurately selected 7 of the best itineraries along the road of the beautiful country.

The Italian roads are not for everybody, especially for newbie drivers. It is important that you have got a fairly good experience driving if planning an Italy road trip.

Mind-blowing scenarios will open in front of you, driving inside little cute towns, treating you with delicious food and tasty drinks. This list will help you to choose your most suitable Italy road trip.

Because there are so many, and different, you have to understand if you want more a mountain scenario or a sea landscape. As Italian we have driven everywhere, exploring from north to south the land. We think it should be in your personal Italy bucket list to drive in Italy in one of those amazing itineraries.

So, here we are with the 7 best Italy Road Trips you have to plan soon.

The best road trips in Italy

  • Amalfi Coast Road Trip
  • Cinque Terre
  • Sicily Coast
  • The Dolomites – Lakes and Mountains
  • Northern Lakes
  • Tuscan countryside hills
  • Puglia Coastside

Cut down your plan for the best Italian road trips

The curves of Amalfi Coast |
3 to 5 days |
Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Salerno | Beaches, amazing landscapes, tasty food

Pastel coloured Cinque Terre |
2 to 3 days |
La Spezia, Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola | Picture perfect landscapes, fisherman towns, romantic scenarios

Sicily Coast |
7 to 10 Days |
Palermo, Cefalù, Lipari, Mt. Etna, Valley of Temples, Catania | Island landscapes, beautiful beaches, history and culture, roman and Greek ruins.

The Top Picks of Dolomites |
5 to 7 days |
Trento, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Bolzano, Bormio, Dimaro, Madonna di Campiglio, Rovereto, Riva del Garda | Mountain landscapes, unique lakes, romantic ski chalets.

Northern Lakes Itinerary |
3 to 5 Days |
Como, Peschiera del Garda, Verona | little cute villages, amazing food and romantic cinematic landscapes.

Tuscan Countryside hills |
2 to 3 Days |
Florence, Chianti Wine Region, Siena and Pisa | Cute villages, green meadows, vineyards and wineries with stunning scenarios

Puglia Coastside Turquoise sea |
7 to 10 Days |
Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca, Santa Cesarea, Otranto, Torre dell’ Orso | Sea landscapes, history and culture, paradisiac sandy beaches.

Amalfi coast cetara curve - gianluca acampora - italian trip abroad

Amalfi Coast Road Trip
The popular Italian Road Trip

Arguably Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline, the Amalfi Coast should be the first choice looking for an Italian Road trip. We will propose a unique trip through dramatic bluffs, pastel-coloured villages, high cliffs roads and unique fisherman towns. Starting from Naples through the E45 highway and then the SS145 crossing Vico Equense towards Sorrento. An hour drive from the main southern city of Italy. After Sorrento, your drive is toward Positano.

READ > How to reach Positano from Naples

Positano typical landscape over the colourful houses

From the instagrammable Amalfi Coast scenario of Positano, you will move driving toward Amalfi. On your way, you will find picturesque villages like Praiano and the Fjord of Furore. Amalfi is not the last stop of your trip. Visit Atrani, Ravello, Maiori and Minori, Erchie, Cetara and many more, before arriving at Vietri Sul Mare and Salerno driving on the SS163 Amalfitana.

Be ready to increase your driving skills in Italy, and be amazed by the scenarios that will be opened in front of you. The Amalfi Coast is one of the best Italian Road Trips.

Where to stop in your Amalfi Coast Road Trip in Italy – Main attractions

There are so many places to stop by while driving on the Amalfi Coast Cliffs. We can name a few to give you some tips on how to plan a better you Southern Italian Road Trip. A unique picturesque town for food lovers is Agerola, on the hilltop of Sorrento Coast, you can try the typical mozzarella and provola. Gragnano as well on the uphill of Castellammare di Stabia, a few kilometres away is the world-known place of Pasta.

Going through the curves of Amalfi Coast you have to stop by Sorrento. Try the typical liquor from this part of Italy made by local lemon trees. The limoncello is alcoholic so sip it while staying in Sorrento overnight.

The other gems of the Amalfi Coast Road trip are the Furore Fjord, Amalfi and its stunning Cathedral, the little fisherman towns of Maiori and Minori. Visit Praiano and its gorgeous beaches, dance barefoot on the beach of Positano at the Music on the Rocks dance club.

Drive difficult: Mid-difficult – SafeDrive
Trip length: 3 to 7 days
Roads Conditions: Mainly one-lane highway

Top Activities:

Cinque Terre
The most scenic view

Started your trip along Cinque Terre from La Spezia. But you can easily plan it from Genova too. Or even longer from Florence, along the sea coastline, touching Livorno, Porto Venere ending in Genova.

Cinque Terre is a special place in Italy. Cutest pastel-coloured houses on the cliffs, will welcome you to one of the most romantic scenarios in Italy. For many Cinque Terre is too overrated, for others is absolutely stunning. Despite the two opinions, we can assure that driving along this stretch of coast is a unique thing to do in Italy.

Corniglia - The best view of Cinque Terre Italy

Driving in Cinque Terre means touching base in little fisherman towns such as Vernazza, Rio Maggiore, Manarola and Monterosso. The images of the landscape of Vernazza are everywhere on social media. It has become one of the most popular instagrammable places in Italy. But other than picture-perfect locations, the Italy Road Trip of Cinque Terre will take you to amazing beaches and luxurious places. This is the case of Porto Venere and Portofino.

Where to stop in your Cinque Terre Road Trip in Italy – Main attractions

Drive difficult: Mid-Easy – Safe Drive
Trip length: 3 to 5 days
Roads Conditions: Mainly highway one-lane and two lanes

Top Activities:

Sicily Coast
Beaches and good food

Continuing our storytelling about the best Italy road trips, Sicily should be a pin on your map. The Big Island in Southern Italy is awesome all year, with amazing high temperatures even in winter. The beautiful cities of Sicily know how to welcome you at the best. It is a favourite place to enjoy the holiday for food lovers. Our Italy Road trip in Sicily will take you from Palermo the capital of the Region, through Cefalù, Lipari, hiking the Mt. Ena an active volcano. You will visit the Valley of Temples and unwind on the beaches of Catania on the opposite side facing the African Coast.

The roads in Sicily are not the best, but for sure the most suggestive. If you are lucky you will also see the Volcano Etna smoking away, but not only that. You will be launched back in the past when this land was a Greek colony, then passed to Romans, Arabs and many more.

If you still have time, or planning to spend a little more in Sicily. You can place your car on a ferry to one of the many awesome islands. We suggest you check out Lipari, a volcanic dreamy Island. It is really popular in summer, so expect that it could be crowded. If your plan is to come back to Palermo, a few kilometres away from the city, there is Trapani, from where you can reach Favignana with a ferry boat in less than an hour.

Where to stop in your Sicily Road Trip in Italy – Main attractions

Drive difficulty: Easy Drive – Difficult in remote villages
Trip length: 10 -12 days
Roads Conditions: highway one-lane with many dirt roads

Top Activities:

The Dolomites
Lakes and Mountains

Passing from the sea to the mountains landscapes, our itinerary about the best Italian Road Trips will include a journey surrounded by the magnificent Dolomites. Our route through the Mountains and lakes of Dolomites will start in Trento, the Capital city of the Region. From Trento, you can drive up some of the best ski chalets in Italy, in Cortina D’Ampezzo.

The roads in Trentino are pretty good, but the difficult part of driving through the Dolomites is that you have to go up and up to different altitudes. The roads, like in the Amalfi Road Trip of the coast are just with one carriage, that makes it difficult because of the trucks going to the border with Austria and Switzerland.

By the way, talking about beautiful scenarios, your Italy Road Trip of Dolomites will take you around Bormio, ideal in winter for a break from the routine. After Dimaro you can take you way back to Trento passing by Dimaro and Madonna di Campiglio. The roads are not busy, that will make it easy to drive. Your next stop will be at Riva del Garda, a fairy tale place over the Garda Lake.

The best view point of Dolomites - Trentino, Italy

This Lake is pretty huge and you can drive all around passing three different Italian Regions in one time and reaching even Verona nearby. The last trip of this journey along the Dolomites will take you to Rovereto, a city 20 minutes away from Trento, rich in history and stunning building.

You can associate this Italian Road trip with a visit to Venezia or Verona. But also, you can travel to many other Italian cities like Padova, Trieste, Treviso, or a couple of hours away Parma, Bologna, Reggio Emilia.

Where to stop in your Dolomites Italian Road Trips – Main attractions

Drive difficult: Mid-range – Difficult in winter with snow
Trip length: 5 to 7 days
Roads Conditions: highways one lane and high-speed highways

Top Activities:

Northern Lakes
North Italy Road Trip

Still staying in the northern part of the country, our itinerary will take you to an Italian Road Trip of the Northern Lakes. As you have read before, there is some suggestive lake landscape to discover even in the Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary. This one instead will take a bit closer to Milan and the border with Switzerland. This route will take you through picturesque little towns, seeing snow-capped peaks and inspiring you romance watching unique sunsets on the lake.

We thought that it was good to give you an overview of two lakes on this trip through Italy. From Milan is easy to reach Lake Como, strolling around the enchanting and romantic lake. Your next place to visit is then the Garda Lake, a stunning inspiring photo spot in Northern Italy. The end of this trip will be in Verona, the romantic city of Romeo and Juliet. You can also extend this stunning Italian Road Trip to Venice, for a more romantic itinerary.

Lake Water Holiday Italy Lake Como Basant Di Como

Where to stop in your Northern Lakes Italy Road Trip – Main attractions

Drive difficulty: Easy
Trip length: 5 to 7 days
Roads Conditions: One-lane highways

Top Activities:

Tuscan countryside hills
The Chianti Region

If there is a prize for the most enjoyable road trips in Italy, the Tuscan Countryside hills tour in Italy among vineyard and wine factories, will win it. Tuscany is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Italy. But more than visiting popular cities like Pisa, Siena and Florence, the best alternative plan is to drive among the hills of the Tuscan countryside. On your path, driving in the green meadows of Tuscany you will encounter on your way old walled villages lying on hilltops. This is the right place to enjoy a glass of wine on tour. (Remember that you are driving). In the beautiful flower fields, there are always pretty vineyards and wine cellars.

You can start this Italy Road trip in Florence, spending a couple of days in the cultural city. We suggest you check our Itinerary of Florence in one day. You will discover how to visit the Duomo and skip the queue. But also how can I go wine tasting in the Chianti Valley? Check this amazing Tour tailored for you!

Tuscany the Chianti Region - Italy Road Trip in Florence Countryside

We will bet that you have always dreamed of discovering a little castle on the hilltop, watching a unique sunset surrounded by the Italian perfect landscape, sipping a glass of wine. Check this popular wine Tour!

Where to stop in your Chianti Region Road Trip in Italy – Main attractions

Drive difficulty: Easy Drive
Trip length: 5 to 10 days
Roads Conditions: Mainly rural road and one-lane countryside roads

Top Activities:

Puglia Coastside
Italy sea breeze

This is the most underrated Italian Road Trips in our list. It is uncommon and not really popular, but is maybe the most suggestive seascape you will see in your life. The southern part of Italy has got the best scenarios, it is true, but is also famous that is just new to tourism and promoting their attractions. We always focus on less popular hotspots in the World, and for us, Puglia is one of those hidden gems that you have to discover.

The Italian Road Trip we are proposing in Puglia, will take you from Gallipoli and its amazing beaches through the turquoise blue water coast side through Santa Maria di Leuca.

Polignano a Mare is the last stop on our Italy Road Trip Itinerary in Puglia

We bet that those spots don’t say anything to you, but you will be worthless when seeing it. The other stops in the Puglia Coastside Roadtrip are Santa Cesarea, Otranto and Torre dell’ Orso.

Despite the first and the last are literally little villages but cute, it is Otranto the real gem of this trip. The awesome castle on the sea at night is one of the most romantic places in Southern Italy. The city itself is unique and unmissable. In the morning there is a typical fish market on the quay that pours towards the castle with the sea behind it.

Where to stop in your Puglia Coastline Road Trip in Italy – Main attractions

Drive difficulty: Hard
Trip length: 5 to 10 days
Roads Conditions: dirt roads around remote beaches and one-lane busy highways

Top Activities:

Top tips before you start your Italy Road trip

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If you are in love with Italy and you want to see more than just roaming around a cultural spot once, picking an itinerary from our list of Italian Road Trips is the best option. Doing on the road trip to Italy is a smart way to discover more of this country.

This is just one list of Road Trips in Italy, but there are much more underrated to be discovered. You will be surprised by the scenery that will open in front of you, stunning views, amazing lakes and white hat in the mountains even in summer.

However, driving in Italy isn’t always easy, and if you are not comfortable while driving is the best to rely on somebody that drives for you. The narrow streets of the ancient villages are not always easy to drive in. Also parking and finding a space could be sometimes a nightmare for everyone.

Italian when driving is not easy to talk with, despite being generous and open people. You have to be quick to learn how to deal with an Italian driver.

How to rent a car in Italy

  • Checking the best price for renting a car in Italy, don’t look just at the cheapest one. We suggest you see which car suits your needs better. Driving a car along the curves of Amalfi Coast is not the same to push over the limits the vehicle on top of the Dolomite’s picks. Not only, think about parking space if you are driving along the Puglia Coastline in the peak season, where there is literally no parking space for big cars.
  • We have rented cars around the world with many companies, Centauro is highly suggested, but also Europcar. We recommend you to check the reviews of the company. Sometimes the local offices are more efficient in a country compared to another.
  • Check if you are renting directly from the car hire company or from a third-party website. It will make a huge difference in talking about Car Hire insurance. We suggest you check in advance if that insurance they are offering online (if is the third party) will cover all the costs. Sometimes they have a particular agreement that covers the costs partially on nor at all in different situations. We ended up a couple of times having 2 different insurances, one from the hiring company and another from the website.
  • Don’t spend money on extra charges like GPS. The costs will be high calculated per day and you can easily use your phone. We always carry with us a USB plug to charge the phones in the car and a vent holder.
  • GPS Apps off-line. In order to don’t drag down your Data plan, you can use Maps.me, which allows you to download maps and itineraries offline for any time use.
  • Ask the renting company where the documents are in advance. If the local police stop you on the way, they will ask you a few papers over than just the driver licence.

How to drive in Italy, tips by Italians

Roads in Italy - Sicily Italy Road Trip
  • While taking a highway in Italy will not be easy for you at first, keep some spare change with you. For sure you will end up on the wrong track where it is not possible to pay by card.
  • Driving along the Amalfi Coast you will see that there are not that many spots where you stop by and take a shot. When you see a spot to stop the car, do it.
  • Try to rent the smallest car available if in Sicily, Amalfi Coast of Puglia, it will help you with parking space and facilitate you in manoeuvres. While doing the trip to Tuscany, Dolomites and Northern Lakes Italian Road Trips, hire a powerful car 4X4.
  • Fill the tank when you can. In the centre of the cities, it is pretty impossible to find oil stations. You have to get gas outside.
  • The High-speed Highways are always more expensive for gasoline compared to countryside oil stations.
  • It is not true that people in Italy at the traffic lights are passing with red. Don’t be stupid.
  • Don’t drive in the hot hours of the day, neither with low light.

Attractions we suggest you book in advance.

  • If you are thinking about a tight Italian Road trip, we suggest you book your unique experience in advance.
  • We use Get Your Guide to book all our activities while travelling. You will find tickets for all the most popular attractions. You can also get the cheapest skip-the-line tickets to get more time for you to explore.

What to pack for an Italian road trip

  • Depending on when you are planning to make this Italian road trip, we suggest you pack light. You don’t want to move luggage around every day from one place to another.
  • As we said before, renting a car and doing a road trip is meaning you have to drive a lot and use a GPS. Pack a phone holder and a USB charger for cars.
  • Dress to impress. Also don’t leave at home sunglasses and a hat.
  • Comfy shoes are the best travelling in Italy. You will walk a lot through cobblestone streets and ancient narrow passages.
  • If you like hikes, plan to include hiking boots in your suitcase. In our itinerary, you can plan day hikes on the Dolomites, or the Sentiero degli Dei on the Amalfi Coast.
  • Pack a swimsuit, you will see amazing landscapes and dreamy beaches. Sometimes those spots are so remote that nobody is in that. You will have all the beach for you and just the time to change the clothes for the swimsuit in your car.

The best period to go on a Road trip to Italy

Countryside of Tuscany

Some People will say “Italy is always a good idea”, but like every other Country, there are better times to visit some places compared to others. The geographic position of Italy will tell you a lot about the weather and temperatures. The South is typically extremely hot in Summer and wets in winter, with amazing weather conditions in Autumn and Spring as the best time to visit almost all our routes.

The Puglia, Amalfi Coast and Sicily Road Trip are very attractive in Summer. The best period to enjoy the sun and the beaches of the Southern part of Italy. If you are in love with the cold and the snow, we suggest you go in winter for the Dolomites Road Trip or the Northern Lake route. Despite that, the Dolomites are amazing in Summer too, with great temperatures and chance to use their winter sports as well.

We have been travelling through Trentino in June, visiting and swimming in amazing lakes, hiking up to 2000 mt on the Dolomites with the snow on the pick. We have been rafting in the cold water of the Torrente Noce. Everything was amazing, but please remember to carry with you a light jacket at night the temperatures go down a lot.

If you like the best Italy Road Trips post, you might also like:
How to spend two days in Milan
Reasons why Naples is worth visiting
Photos that will make you visit Trentino

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