The 10 Best Day Trips in Italy
If you're looking for somewhere less mainstream to explore on your Italian vacation, these day trip destinations are a great alternative!
From Rome: CASTELLI ROMANI
Just twelve miles southeast of Rome, the verdant and tranquil Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) region is the perfect refuge from the crowded streets of the Eternal City. Besides castles, you’ll find volcanic lakes and historic villages concentrated around Lake Albano and the Castelli Romani Regional Park. Pay a visit to the picturesque village of Castel Gandolfo, where you can tour the Pope’s summer residence and enjoy dramatic views over Lake Albano. Make sure to stop for lunch in Frascati, a town loved by Romans for its terrific food scene and delicious white wine of the same name.
How to get there: You can drive to any of the Castelli Romani towns in around 30 minutes, but a train from Roma Termini is just as fast and saves you from the stress of having to drive in Rome. Trains to Castel Gandolfo and Frascati leave Roma Termini every hour, and cost $2.40 (€2.10) each way.
From Florence: CHIANTI
Though you’ll never run out of things to do in Florence, leave room in your itinerary for a quick wine-country getaway. Go truffle hunting and tasting at Ruffino’s sprawling Poggio Casciano estate, visit the Antinori winery and sip Chianti Classico at its source, and stop into one of the area's picturesque towns (we like Strada, Greve, and Panzano) for the kind of hearty, homemade country cuisine you won’t find in Florence.
How to get there: Unfortunately, public transportation won’t get you to most of Chianti’s cantine, so driving is your only option. From Florence, cruise south on the SS22 for 30 minutes until you reach the heart of the Chianti wine region.
From Venice: THE DOLOMITES
Turin doesn't have the only Italian mountains worth climbing: just north of Venice, you’ll find the spectacular, UNESCO-listed Dolomite mountain range. You can access the mountains via the 86-mile Great Dolomites Road, one of the world’s most breathtaking alpine drives. Stop at Falzarego Pass for a ride on the Lagazuoi Cable Car (it takes you to the top of Mount Lagazuoi, where you can enjoy the best views over the Dolomites’ craggy, sawtooth peaks) or a quick ski, if the weather allows.
How to get there: From Venice, drive north for two hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo, the start of the Great Dolomites Road. From here, it’s another 30-minute drive up to Falzarego Pass. If it’s your first time driving in Italy, it’s best to book a day trip from Venice with a reputable tour company, as the roads are narrow and winding (and the scenery dangerously distracting). Viator offers well-curated day trips from Venice to the Dolomites all year round, starting at $150.
From Milan: LAKE ISEO
Lake Como might be more famous, but Lake Iseo’s low-key vibe and laid-back charm makes it the ideal one-day getaway from buzzy Milan. Iseo, Lombardy’s fourth-largest lake, has the fairytale views and pastel-colored villages of Como, without the thick summer crowds and inflated prices. Plus, there’s wine! The neighboring Franciacorta region is home to the best sparkling wine in Italy (sorry, Prosecco). Enjoy it paired with fresh-grilled lake trout at La Foresta on Mount Isola—a mountain island that soars dramatically from the lake’s center.
How to get there: It’s convenient to get to Lake Iseo from Milan by car or train. If you’re driving, simply head east on the A4 towards Bergamo, exiting at the Sarnico junction to reach the lake’s western shore (the drive takes about an hour and a half). Otherwise, hop on a train from Milano Centrale to Brescia, switching there for trains to Iseo or Sulzano (the whole trip also takes an hour and a half and costs $10.50, or €9.20, each way).
From Naples: CASERTA
Though the Amalfi Coast is the most obvious day trip from Naples, you’ll likely want to spend more than just a day there (road trip, anyone?). Caserta, on the other hand, is a relatively under-the-radar destination you can get to in 40 minutes and enjoy thoroughly in a single day. Its main attraction is the UNESCO–listed Reggia di Caserta, a spectacular, 18th-century royal palace dubbed the Italian Versailles (it’s technically even larger than Versailles, with a whopping 1,200 rooms). Spend the morning gawking at its spectacular frescoes, the afternoon roaming its lush, 300-acre gardens, and then grab a pizza at Masanielli for dinner before heading back to Naples.
How to get there: A train ride from Napoli Centrale will get you to Caserta in just 40 minutes ($4.45, or €3.90, one way). From Caserta station, it’s a five-minute walk to the palace.
From Turin: ALBA
You’ll probably never want to leave the “Paris of Italy” once you get there, but trust us: You’ll want to go to Alba. Nestled in the heart of the Langhe wine region, Alba is known for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines, its chocolate (it’s the birthplace of Ferrero Rocher and Nutella) and above all, its white truffles. Alba’s annual white truffle festival attracts chefs and gourmands from around the globe every fall, but you can enjoy Alba’s famous white truffles all year round. Go to any trattoria (it’s impossible not to eat well in this little gastronomic wonderland) and ask for tajarin, a pasta dish consisting of Piedmontese tagliolini dressed in butter and cheese and topped with shaved white truffles.
How to get there: It takes just an hour to drive from Turin to Alba via the A6 towards Savona. Alternatively, you can take the train from Torino Lingotto station directly to Alba in the same length of time ($6.50, or €5.75, one way).
From Verona: LAKE GARDA
Thanks to its diverse and dramatic landscape, Italy’s largest lake makes for a great day trip, no matter what you’re into. At the mountainous, windswept northern end, nature-lovers can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, windsurfing and paragliding, while its southern end—peppered with pretty lakefront promenades and majestic palazzi—is ideal for more cultural and leisurely pursuits. Sirmione, in particular, is worth a visit for its relaxing thermal baths and beautiful 13th-century castle. Juliet would approve.
How to get there: Driving is quick and easy: just head east on the A4 from Verona for 45 minutes and then exit at Sirmione or Peschiera. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Verona to Sirmione or Peschiera (Line 26) or Garda (Lines 163 and 162). Each ride takes about an hour and costs €3.50 ($4) one way.
From Bologna: THE ADRIATIC COAST
Though it’s hard to drag yourself from the food mecca that is Bologna, you’ll find buzzy, sun-kissed beaches—and the freshest fritto misto—a little over an hour’s drive away. The Adriatic Coast might not be as scenic or dramatic as the Mediterranean, but its wide, sandy beaches and lively seaside towns (frequented largely by locals, not tourists) are still worth exploring for the day. Cattolica and neighboring Gabbice Mare are particularly lovely with their sprawling golden beaches, great food, and multitudes of theater, concerts, and other events in the summer.
How to get there: Drive west on the A14 towards the coast and exit at Cattolica. Alternatively, hop on a train from Bologna Centrale to Cattolica Giovanni-Gabbice station (the trip takes an hour and costs $12.85, or €11.30, one way).
From Palermo: ZINGARO NATURE RESERVE
Sure, Palermo’s beaches are nice, but some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy—if not the entire world—are within easy day-tripping distance. The Zingaro Nature Reserve, on the Gulf of Castellammare, is home to a collection of stunning, white-sand beaches framed by steep cliffs. Though each of its beaches and secret coves are stunning, we like Cala Tonnarella for its seclusion and calm, Bermuda-blue waters.
How to get there: From Palermo, drive west on the E90 and take the exit for Castellammare-Del Golfo. Make sure to park at the north entrance of the reserve for easiest access to Cala Tonnarella (it’s an easy 10-15 minutes walk from there).
From Genoa: CAMOGLI
Camogli isn’t exactly a secret anymore, but it’s still a must if you happen to be staying in the Ligurian capital. Unlike the narrow, tourist-congested streets of Portofino, this sleepy, colorful port town is home to quiet, open piazzas, and plenty of nature paths that lead to spectacular coastal views. We suggest strolling the main promenade and hiking up to San Rocco church in the morning, then taking the ferry over to the 1,500-year-old San Fruttuoso village in the afternoon. Stop in for some spaghetti alle vongole (with clams) at Da Paolo before heading back to Genoa.
How to get there: Though Camogli is only a half-hour drive from Genoa on the A12, the train to Camogli gets you there just as fast from Genova Brignole station and costs only $6.80 (€6) for a return trip.
This article originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler. All images courtesy of Getty Images.