It’s hard to find a destination with a richer history than Italy. Taking its place at the very heart of antiquity, today there’s a rich array of ancient Italian tourist attractions often dating back thousands of years. But with literally hundreds of places to choose from, selecting the top tourist attractions in Italy is no simple task.
The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy that also includes several islands and archipelagos. Sicily is separated from the mainland by the two-mile-wide Strait of Messina and is reached by boat, plane, hydrofoil or ferry. The island’s most striking geological feature is Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, but the island’s beaches, seaside resorts and sunny, dry climate are Sicily’s biggest tourist attractions.
Anchored between the Italian peninsula and North Africa’s coastline, Sardinia has been home to a succession of civilizations, many of which have left their mark on the second largest island in Italy. From stone structures built by the people known as nuraghi 3,000 years ago to medieval castles and churches, visitors interested in history, architecture and culture won’t be disappointed. Most travelers, however, come to Sardinia for its sunny and clean beaches, the most popular of which are in Costa Smeralda in the northeast region. Hiking, climbing and camping are favorite activities for visitors who want to escape crowded beaches and explore the island’s hilly inlands.
Located in the Bay of Naples, Capri is an island rich in mythology and history. Sirens were said to have lured sailors to their death here with their sultry songs. The Roman emperor Tiberius lived here until his death in 37 A.D. Villa Jovis, the emperor’s imperial residence, is one of the island’s most popular attractions. Capri’s most famous natural attraction is the Blue Grotto, a waterfront cave that’s accessible by boat when the tide is right. The sunlight pouring in from the entrance turns the water a glowing turquoise blue. Riding the Seggiovia chair-lift in the city of Anacapri to the summit of Monte Solaro is a favorite activity too. The 15-minute trip offers spectacular views of the island and sea.
Part of the Tuscan Archipelago off Italy’s western coast, Elba is best known as a place of exile for Napoleon, and most people include a visit to his summer and winter homes while visiting the island. Italy’s third largest island boasts more than 150 beaches too, from wide stretches of sand to sheltered coves. The most popular beach destinations include the resort of Marina di Campo, the ultra-fine sand of Procchio and the dreamy blue waters of Fetovia. Hikes in the mountainous inland area are favorite activities too. Visitors have been known to come across gemstones, quartz and crystals on the slopes of mineral-rich Mount Capanne.