Are you thinking of travelling alone to Italy? Here’s why you should do it and six of the best solo travel destinations in Italy.
La Bella Italia, the land of artists and sculptors, poets and dreamers.
Italy was one of the first countries that I visited as a solo traveller 30 years ago, and one to which I have returned more times than I can count.
So what is it that has drawn me back to Italy time and time again?
In this article, I’ll make the case for Italy as one of the best destinations for those travelling alone, including first-time solo travellers and, with the help of some fellow travel writers, recommend the best solo travel destinations in Italy.
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Why Italy is a Great Travel Destination
Let’s start with the outrageous romance of the country. From the serenading Venetian gondoliers to the hilltop Tuscan towns, Italy has a dreamlike quality that fires the imagination.
Italy’s landscape is equally majestic. The lines of cypress trees hugging the Tuscan hills, the rugged cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, the lakes of Lombardy; there’s something for every traveller.
Italy’s historical heritage is second-to-none, from the Etruscans to Ancient Rome to the Renaissance and beyond. I challenge you not to be blown away by a visit to Ostia Antica or Pompeii.
And talking of the Italian Renaissance, in my view, Italy’s artistic legacy is the best in the world. Cities such as Florence, Sienna and Urbino display their Renaissance treasures like the jewels they are. And there are worse ways of spending an afternoon in Rome than hunting down Caravaggios in dimly lit Baroque churches.
To use a well-worn cliché, Italian food is to die for. Each region is proud of its own specialities and even in the humblest establishment you are pretty much guaranteed a first-rate meal.
For coffee snobs, amongst which I include myself, Italy’s bars serve the best coffee on the planet.
And don’t get me started on the gelato. In my book, this is one of the very best Italian things.
But why is Italy a good solo travel destination in Europe, and particularly for female solo travellers?
Why Italy is a Great Destination for Solo Travellers
Here are five reasons why I think that Italy is a great choice for those who are travelling alone in Europe, including first-time solo travellers. And I’m not alone; the results of solo travel studies tell us that Italy is one of the top countries for those travelling alone for the first time.
Italy has an established tourism infrastructure
Italy has been a major travel destination for centuries, reaching a peak with the Grand Tour of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Consequently, when it comes to tourist infrastructure, it has had many years to get its house in order.
There are a plethora of accommodation choices, from luxury hotels to AirBnBs to hostels in historic buildings. For a country with a proud culinary tradition, there are restaurants in all locations to suit all budgets.
With an extensive railway and bus network, it is easy to travel around Italy
English is widely spoken in Italy, especially in tourism hotspots and by younger people.
Travelling around Italy is easy
Most of the major destinations are accessible by train, including high-speed services. Trenitalia will be your best friend.
If you cannot reach a destination by train, there will usually be a bus that will get you there.
There is a well-beaten tourist path
Both Italy’s infrastructure and travel connections serve a well-worn tourist trail. The locals will be used to accommodating a solo traveller’s needs, and these routes are more forgiving to those who do not speak Italian.
And unless you want to be in a gang of one, you won’t have to fret about being the only foreigner in a town.
If it is your first solo travel trip to Italy, sticking to the tourist trail is not a bad idea. Once you gain confidence, you can venture off-piste.
Alternatively, group tours cover the major destinations and may be an option.
Italy is not an unsafe destination
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Italy is a super safe destination. But having said that, Italian cities are likely to be no more dangerous than those in Europe or North America.
Italy will feel like a familiar destination
Let’s face it; without realising it, it is likely that you have become immersed in the nation’s food and culture, from its iconic paintings and sculptures to Italian cinema.
With the worldwide penetration of Italian restaurants and cuisine, ordering pizza or pasta should come as second nature. Just don’t drink a cappuccino after 11 am or order wine with pizza.
7 of the Best Solo Travel Destinations in Italy
To inspire you to book your trip, here are six of the best solo travel destinations in Italy.
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
Food glorious food. This is Bologna’s calling card
Elegant Bologna, in the heart of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, lends its name to ragù alla Bolognese, the dish that spawned many imitations across the globe, including the ubiquitous spaghetti Bolognese.
Bologna’s culinary delights don’t end here. Many of Italy’s most iconic foods hail from this region: cured meats such as prosciutto and mortadella, fresh stuffed tortellini, world-class parmesan (DOP Parmigiano Reggiano), balsamic vinegar (DOP Balsamic di Modena), and local wines, including Lambrusco, Pignoletto and Barera.
But Bologna is not just about tantalising your taste buds. The city is also home to Europe’s oldest university and has one of the best-preserved medieval centres, famous for its 38 kilometres of UNESCO-listed porticoes.
Bologna is a perfect centre for wandering around as a solo traveller. As most of its basilicas and piazzas are in the historic centre, it is easy to get around on foot.
Start at Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square and, after visiting the Basilica di San Petronio, climb up Asinelli Tower for panoramic views over the city. Discover works by a young Michelangelo in San Domenico Basilica and go window shopping in the Quadrilatero, Bologna’s main shopping district.
Visit Bologna as a solo traveller to cultivate your relationship with food but stay to enjoy the city’s rich history.
By Monique of TripAnthropologist
Solo travellers to Italy are in for a treat at the Cinque Terre. It’s like having a holiday in five places at once!
What makes the Cinque Terre one of the best places to travel alone in Italy is the many free and diverse experiences possible in one small area. Other than sunning yourself, the most popular thing to do is also the best way to get around the Cinque Terre, hiking or walking between the villages.
Beautiful walking and hiking trails link the villages from the hills above the villages, winding past old fortresses and among vineyards looking out on the Ligurian Sea. The 12 km (7.5 miles) Blue Path connects all the Cinque Terre villages.
Cinque Terre is a sensuous place.
You can stroll, eat, swim and just gaze out to sea at the beauty of one of Italy’s most scenic locations. Walking in the early evening (la passeggiata), eating gelato and meeting other travellers is mainly what you’ll be doing here. Unless it’s midnight, as a solo traveller, you will always feel safe, and on the hiking trails, you’ll meet someone every few minutes.
The fourth village, Vernazza, is a UNESCO masterpiece, one of the most colourful villages and a mecca for photographers.
On the water in the tiny port is the 14th Century Santa Margherita d’Antiochia church with its famous octagonal tower. Beside it is the small port and main piazza and market. Winding laneways connect small plazas in this pedestrian-only village make it compact and affordable and without large chain hotels.
By Anda of Travel for a While
Florence is my first choice in Italy for a solo trip.
The city is touristy enough that you’ll never feel alone or bothered by anyone. Whether you want to spend a few days on your own or if you like to meet people on your travels, Florence will offer you the perfect setting.
The city is the ultimate destination for art, architecture, and history lovers.
Of the places you should visit while in Florence, don’t miss Palazzo Vecchio where the powerful Medici Family used to reside. If you love art, Ufizzi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, and the Boboli Gardens, as well as Galleria dell’Accademia, should be on your list.
But Florence is a work of art outside the galleries too. Take your time to walk the streets, admire the beautiful piazzas, the stunning Duomo and Giotto Campanile.
Don’t forget to explore the colourful street markets and maybe buy a leather bag or some uncommonly soft gloves.
If you want more social activities, take advantage of the best this region has to offer and try a cooking class or a wine tasting. Tuscany is famous for both good food and great wine.
By Stephanie of History Fangirl
One of the best places to travel solo in Italy is Milan.
The sophisticated capital of Lombardy has a lot to offer, but with its focus on shopping and fashion, it’s a great place for those travelling alone since you can spend your time exploring Milan’s boutiques instead of its bars.
If you do want to make friends while travelling solo here, there are lots of tours to join that will also help you make friends. There are great tours of Milan at night where you can explore the city as well as meet people to enjoy hanging out with.
Important Milanese highlights not to miss include a trip to the Duomo, Milan’s impressive cathedral, Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper, which is displayed in the Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall. Other great things to do in Milan include exploring the Navigli Canal area and taking a trip to Sforzesco Castle.
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
Don’t let Naples’ bad press – filthy, crime-ridden, garbage-strewn – put you off travelling there alone. It may verge on the chaotic, but this is one of the most fascinating and historic cities in Italy.
From Naples Cathedral to the lavishly decorated San Domenico Maggiore Church, this vibrant city has more churches than you can shake a stick at (more than 450 to be precise).
It is home to one of the great museums of the world, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN). This massive museum houses an extensive collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, as well as artefacts from Ancient Egypt.
There are underground tunnels and catacombs to explore. Naples also has a UNESCO-listed historic centre, which is a warren of old churches, small shops, cafes and bars.
This is also the birthplace of pizza and one of the things that you must do in Naples is to snack on a slice of this world-famous Italian food. Better still, join a street food tour with a local guide (more details here)
Naples is also the ideal base from which to explore the Amalfi Coast. Replenish your supplies of limoncello in Sorrento, explore the Blue Grotto on the idyllic island of Capri or explore the Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
By Katy of Untold Italy
All roads lead to Rome and that’s true for solo travellers.
Italy’s capital is full of ancient, Renaissance and modern treasures to explore. From the Colosseum to the Vatican and Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, you can easily spend days in this city exploring its wonders and taking it all in at your own pace.
Enjoy a stroll along the Tiber River and explore the cobbled streets of the Trastevere neighbourhood. Then head to Villa Borghese and enjoy the shaded beauty of this elegant park.
Stay in the historic centre where you have the perfect base to explore all the major sites on foot. This area of Rome is charming and safe and there’s nothing quite like sipping your daily cappuccino just steps from the iconic Spanish Steps or Piazza Navona.
If you’re craving company, join a food tour and taste your way around the city. You’ll stop at several different eateries and try Rome’s best pizza, pasta and gelato, with a few glasses of wine of course.
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
Don’t let Venice’s well-earned reputation as a romantic city put you off; La Serenissima is also one of the best solo travel destinations in Italy.
This floating city, comprising 118 islands separated by 177 canals, defies superlatives and needs no introduction. There are the main attractions, namely the Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square, which form the city’s tourist epicentre.
But much of the joy of visiting Venice is wandering without purpose in its backstreets and finding corners of the city away from the sometimes overwhelming tourist droves. Wear your most comfortable shoes and prepared to get lost in a good way
Mooching around art galleries and museums is the perfect pastime for a solo traveller and Venice has these in spades, from the grandeur and scale of the Doge’s Palace to the more intimate Museo della Fondazione Querini Stampalia.
If time permits, take a vaporetto to Murano, home to the art of glass blowing, and Burano with its lacemaking, fishing culture and candy-coloured buildings. Or explore more of the Veneto region and beyond by taking a day trip to Verona, Padua, Lake Garda or Vicenza. All of these places can be reached by train.