Greek and Roman ruins, medieval villages, Renaissance splendor, modern industry and postmodern life coexist beautifully in the Italy of today. There’s something here for everyone, from fans of ancient history to Renaissance art lovers to foodies and adventurers. If you’re thinking about taking a tour of Italy, check out our guide to some spots around the country that are rich with cultural history and beauty.
Nearly two thousand years ago, this enormous amphitheater held between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators who gathered for the most fantastic entertainment that the empire could produce. They came to see circus acts, parades and music, but above all they came for blood sports. They would watch fierce animals being hunted by archers, condemned prisoners being hunted by wild animals or trained gladiators fighting one another to the death. The savage spectacles are gone, but the building remains — the cruel and bloody heart of an enormously powerful empire.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
St. Mark’s Basilica
This cathedral in the center of Venice steals (quite literally) from Byzantine art and architecture. When the ancient Venetians plundered Constantinople, they took many of the most beautiful pieces from the city, and brought it back to make this gorgeous magpie’s nest of a church. Glittering with golden mosaics inside and porphyry marble on the outside, St. Mark’s Basilica is a real gem.
Valley of the Temples
In Sicily, you’ll find this gorgeous Grecian ruin that stands on a hill just outside the city of Agrigento. The remains of seven temples dating back to 450 BC are scattered across the largest archaeological site in the world.
The residents of this Roman town were taken by surprise by a catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and the whole city was perfectly preserved in ash. This slice of ancient history is open now to touristic visits.
This tiny church is entirely decorated by Giotto, completed in the early 12th century. The most marvelous blue color you’ll ever see sits next to delicate and powerful paintings. It’s an intimate and immersive space, and you’ll feel transported to another time and century, when seeing something rendered was a precious and powerful thing.
Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna
This delightful museum is devoted to local art history, with a big collection of works by sensitive and reclusive Bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi. You’ll get a look at modern Bologna, a fascinating city full of political and creative simmering.
The Slow Food Cheese Festival
This incredible biannual food fair brings cheese producers from all over the world, to the small town of Bra, where the Slow Food Movement was founded. Exhibitors from all over Europe bring their particular varieties of cheese. Events, workshops and dinners will not only delight the taste buds but also educate on how good food gets made. This year’s festival will be held in September.
Trieste’s Caffe San Marco
The haunt of literary geniuses like James Joyce and Umberto Saba, this gorgeous cafe serves up perfect coffees and cocktails with a side of intellectual history.
The floating city is built on over 100 different islands connected by bridges, but the best way to experience the city is by boat, because that’s how the Venetians navigated their city for centuries. The gondola in particular is made to go through the narrowest canals and lowest bridges.
The Borghese Gallery
The three stunning sculptures by Bernini alone make this museum worth a visit. This magician of marble transforms the stone into soft, supple flesh. Nobody before or since has done the same.
The gorgeous Northern Italian lake has inspired all kinds of travellers over the centuries, and you’ll find all of the towns along its borders charming and peaceful. Check out Bardolino, where the rolling hills are covered with vineyards that produce the eponymous red wine.
Here in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, you’ll find this beloved dish served everywhere. The best restaurants will be both informal and inexpensive, serving up hot pies to long lines of locals.
Huge, muscular forms writhing their way across the ceiling and climbing up the altar walls will mirror the sea of humanity that will no doubt accompany you into the chapel. Though the crowds can be hard to navigate on the tourist route inside the Vatican, this classic of world art is certainly worth a visit.
This unspoiled coastline of rocks and coves opens up onto the perfectly clear, turquoise Mediterranean Sea. While part of the coast are private beaches attached to jetsetters’ villas, the lovely Spiaggia del Principe is open to the public.
The Uffizi Gallery
The dancing, curly headed blondes of Botticelli, the mischievous boys of Caravaggio and the voluptuous maidens of Titian all live here, at the Uffizi. Don’t leave Florence without spending an afternoon here.
The Palatine Chapel
This gorgeous royal chapel in Palermo mixes influences from Byzantine, Arabic and Norman architecture for a richly decorative visual feast. For example, you’ll find on the ceiling the eight-pointed stars typical of Muslim design arranged to form a Christian cross. If anyone tries you tell you about the eternal dichotomy of East and West, show them a photo of this beauty.
These gorgeous mountains in northeast Italy are incredible spots for skiing, hiking, camping or just relaxing. Any little town in the zone is sure to be lovely, but try Cortina for a more luxurious ski resort feel, or a place like Campitello for a spot of down-to-earth village life.
Rugged landscapes and cliff-side beaches play host to a super-chic crowd, who come for the upscale shopping and fancy restaurants. A great place for a summer swim.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.