If you have read my 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary (and I hope you did) you know I’m very good at planning trips in Italy. Thus, here goes my one week in Southern Italy Itinerary.
Italy is amazing. The narrow streets, colorful houses, delicious food, and strong coffee. Take that and add in incredible beaches and Caribean-like water, and you know you are in South Italy.
I’ve traveled back to these places on several occasions and I could never get bored. Italy is amazingly beautiful, but its southern part, or at least certain destinations, will steal your heart and help you skip the crowds.
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Before we start, here is some useful information worth having for your trip, no matter where you choose to go in the end.
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Table of Contents
- Southern Italy vacation 1 – week Itinerary – Option 1
- Southern Italy itinerary 7 days – option 2 – Southern Italy itinerary by train
- Southern Italy and Sicily itinerary – how to spend 7 days in option 3
- Southern Italy Road trip itinerary Option 4 – Sicily
- 7 day Southern Italy itinerary option 5 – Puglia
- Have more time? Here is a great option for a Southern Italy itinerary 14 days
- Southern Italy Itinerary 10 days
- Organized Tours
- Other FAQ about your South Italy Road Trip Itinerary
- When is the best time to visit Southern Italy?
- How many days do you need in Southern Italy?
- Is Southern Italy worth visiting?
- Is it safe to road trip in Southern Italy?
- Renting a car and driving in Southern Italy
- What to pack for a South Italy vacation
- How to get from Rome to the Amalfi Coast
- How to get from the Amalfi Coast to Puglia (or the other way around)
- Italy travel resources
Southern Italy vacation 1 – week Itinerary – Option 1
First stop: 2 nights in Alberobello
Land in Bari and jump right in the car and make your way to Alberobello, where I would book the 2 nights in a Trullo. Or choose to stay by the sea in one of the old chic authentic Italian towns Puglia has on display.
No matter where you choose to stay in Puglia, the region will steal your heart and leave you wanting more. At least that’s what I felt about it.
Get your guide on what to wear in Italy in spring!
If you have read my 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary, you know that I totally recommend doing it by train, because trains are very well organized, cheap when booked in advance, and very efficient in Northern Italy.
The southern part of the country, on the other hand, is another story. The best way of making the most out of your trip is to rent a car and spend the rest of your one-week itinerary driving around Puglia and its beautiful villages.
During the time spent in Alberobello (or Martina Franca/Locorotondo if you are looking for cheaper Trullo housing), head to Polignano a Mare for the most perfect views over the deep blue sea, Ostuni for the narrow white streets, Monopoli for its Baroque beauty on the shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Head even more to the South and explore the Gargano Peninsula, one of the most scenic yet hidden destinations in Italy. At least for tourists from outside of the country.
Most of this area is a National park, with unspoiled destinations, and blue water which will give destinations like the Maldives a run for their money.
The last stop while driving towards the following location on your South Italy itinerary in 1 week should be Matera, with its impressive cave-like houses.
Get inspired by my stunning 4 days in Puglia
Best activities for Puglia
From Polignano a Mare, book a boat ride and explore the caves along the coast. Enjoy an aperitif on board, and come prepared to swim in the crystal blue waters. See more about the tour here!
Learn about the history of Ostuni, on a walking tour. For 1.5 hours walk along the city center together with a local guide. Book your tour here!
Where to stay in Alberobello/Puglia
As I’ve said, staying in a Trullo house would be something else when visiting Puglia, but at the end of the day there are so many incredible accommodation options around you’ll have a hard choice to make.
But here are a few of my recommendations, based on feedback received from people who have tested them:
- Masseria Le Cerase – a traditional white house with a stunning pool, perfectly located for daily trips to the sea or Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, or Ostuni. Book your stay here!
- Masseria Alchimia – enjoy the most authentic and fresh Italian breakfast, only a few kilometers away from Polignano a Mare, in a stylish and immaculate location. Check out the rooms here!
- Hotel Don Ferrante – who wouldn’t want to experience staying right in the walls of Monopoli? This 10-room boutique hotel will not only charm you with its design but also with the rooftop terrace and pool overlooking the blue. See when they’re available here!
- Trullieu Guesthouse Alberobello – even though the Trullo guesthouse is located extremely close to Alberobello’s center, it is still hidden from all the noise and fuss. And it also has a free close-by parking space. Book your stay in a trullo here!
Second stop: 3 nights on the Amalfi Coast
Read also: 30+ Italian gifts for Italy lovers
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast
When we think about the Amalfi Coast, the accommodation options are endless, and you should always choose a place with a view. Because what a view that is!
Here are only a few options to consider:
- Alcione Residence – a family-run hotel with a great location and stunning views, AC in all their rooms. Make sure to book way in advance, because they have only a few rooms. Check when they are available here!
- Villa Magia – bright airy rooms, perfect for a special occasion such as spending your honeymoon in Italy. Breakfast is made by the house chef and can be delivered to your balcony so that you can enjoy it with a stunning view. Book your stay here!
Last stop: 2 Nights in Sorrento
You could choose Naples, but after having spent some 4 days in the Southern Italian town, I would rather go back to Sorrento and book a stay there.
Why have I included Sorrento as the last stop in my one-week in Southern Italy itinerary?
First of all because of its beautiful coquette streets, and balconies with amazing views starting to look a lot like the rest of the Amalfi Coast.
Naples, on the other hand, is a bit hard to take in. Filthy hectic streets, run-down buildings, delicious food, and historic buildings all stand together. The Bay of Naples is a stunning sight, and there are beautiful areas in the city, don’t get me wrong.
Another reason for choosing Sorrento as an overnight stay is the fact that you can get plenty of boat tours to Capri Island, the Blue Grotto, or Ischia Island. Skip the ferry lines, forget about the time wasted on searching for things to do in Ischia, and take advantage of the easy cancellation process when booking online.
Moreover, getting from Sorrento to archeological sites like Pompeii or Herculaneum is also easy, both on your own and even more so on a guided tour. Book it online in advance and don’t worry about wasting precious time out of your one week in Italy looking for tours or buses.
Where to stay in Sorrento
- Grand Hotel Aminta – great all Italian traditional food, beautiful pool, incredible views, and a convenient shuttle bus. Book your room here!
- Hotel Palazzo Guardati – incredibly central location, with a rooftop pool and killer views. Check it out here!
Southern Italy itinerary 7 days – option 2 – Southern Italy itinerary by train
First stop: 2 nights in Rome
The second option is to start your itinerary in the Eternal City. I know 2 nights and 3 days in Rome might not seem a lot, but when you only have 7 days in Italy and you want to scratch the surface, you can fit plenty into your trip.
A vital tip to take into consideration in order to make the best out of your Italy itinerary is to try as much as possible to book your tours and tickets in advance. This way, you will go directly, skip the line and see the Musei Vaticani, Villa Borgese, Colosseo, and all the other attractions you have on your mind.
Another thing to have in mind when booking your stay in Rome is the area for your accommodation. You’ll want to be close to public transportation, yet close to the train station not to waste time on your commute to the next stop on your itinerary.
While I usually say I prefer traveling by train in the Northern part of Italy, and by car in the Southern part, I’ll stick to a train, boat, and bus combination for this second option of my itinerary.
That’s why you’ll want to book your hotel close to the Termini train station. It might not be the perfect area in Rome, but it is convenient also because you’ll get the train directly from the airport to here.
So make the best out of your 2 days in Rome: see the Castel Sant’Angelo, move just a few steps away and visit the Vatican and its Sistine Chappel, stroll your way to Piazza di Spagna, and take a picture on the Spanish Steps, eat an ice cream close to the Trevi Fountain, and go inside the Pantheon.
Once you have seen the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Tour, you’ll be ready to move forward on your Italy 7 days active itinerary. We want to see it all, right?
Second stop: 2 nights in Sorrento
I know Naples is closer to Rome than Sorrento is. But Sorrento is so much lovelier. And it is closer to some of the places you’ll want to see in the region: Pompeii & Mount Vesuvio, Herculaneum, and Sorrento itself. This will pretty much fill your schedule for the 3 days you have to spend in the area.
When I was there a few years back, I chose to stay in Naples and did everything from there. I must admit that seeing how lovely Sorrento is, I ended up regretting I didn’t choose that as our location. So learn from my mistakes, and build your trip from here.
Hey, you can even go to Naples for half a day. It is only less than one hour by train away.
Or better yet, take the ferry and go and see one of the most beautiful islands in Italy: Procida Island.
The third stop: 3 nights on the Amalfi Coast
I chose the best for last because you’ll get to rest in Paradise. I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to the Amalfi Coast, and all my Southern Italy trips must pass through this Italian coastline.
No matter where you choose to stay on the Amalfi Coast, chances are you are in for some breathtaking views and amazing day trips. Just check out the options listed above in the first option for my South Italy itinerary in 1 week.
Southern Italy and Sicily itinerary – how to spend 7 days in option 3
First Stop: 2 nights in Alberobello
This 3rd option of the itinerary in 7 days will be packed with sightseeing and lots of kilometers. I also suggest renting a car for this one and making your way from Bari airport down South.
Don’t leave Puglia behind without seeing the trulli in Alberobello, the grotto restaurant in Polignano a Mare, the charming little town of Monopoli, and the crystal clear blue water in that part of Italy.
Second stop: 1 night Matera
Please don’t make a mistake and spend one night in Matera. Seeing the unique town light up might just be one experience you won’t get to live in again.
Third stop: 1 night in Reggio Calabria
The real South, Reggio Calabria is a hub linking the peninsula to Sicily. Because that’s where you’re going next.
If you don’t want to spend time here, go directly to Catania and start your Sicily adventure. But if however, if you do want to take it easy, just explore this hidden gem. I guarantee there won’t be many other tourists around.
Fourth stop: 3 nights in Catania, Sicily
I know only 3 days in Sicily is bearly enough, but you will still get to see the Eastern part of the island. And that’s still something.
If I could choose only one or two of these places, I wouldn’t miss Taormina and Syracuse. And if you have more time to spare, go all the way to Palermo and let yourself be seduced by the pretty small town of Cefalu less than one hour away.
Southern Italy Road trip itinerary Option 4 – Sicily
This option is about spending one week exploring Sicily. To be fair, this incredible island has so much to offer that even one week would not be enough. However, here is a comprehensive itinerary option for one week in Sicily.
Depending on where you arrive, you will either be in Catania or Palermo. So start your itinerary from there and make your way towards the other major city.
My suggestion would be to split your stays between Catania and Palermo, and from there make day trips to the important attractions nearby.
Where to stay in Catania
Altevolte Rooms – set in the heart of the old town, here is where you will take full advantage of the vibrant life of Catania. The rooms are set in an old and stylish building, minutes away from the most important attractions in town. See more here!
What to see in and around Catania
- Piazza del Duomo – with the Elephant’s Fountain
- Catania’s Cathedral – steps away, you’ll find the Duomo di Catania, where the famous Italian composer, Vincenzo Bellini is buried.
- Go for a stroll on Via Etna – get ready for some window shopping, admire the view of Etna, and stop by one of the many cafes along the way.
- Stop at the gardens of Villa Bellini – one of my favorite places in town, the gardens are set on a hill, and as you go up, you can admire a perfect view of the city.
- The Roman Theatre – an impressive place, that would fit up to 7000 people, and that is believed to be dating back to the 2nd century AD, built on the ancient Acropolis. Not only the interior of this place and how well preserved it is will impress you, but also the view you get of Etna and the sea.
- The Ursino Castle – or the Castello Svevo di Catania, dates back to the 13th century and has now been transformed into a museum that is open to the public.
- Climb Mount Etna – go on a volcano hiking tour or a morning or sunset day trip.
- Visit Taormina, one of the prettiest small villages in Sicily
- Go on day trips to Messina and Syracuse
Where to stay in Palermo
- B&B One – beautiful rooms, with a modern design, located in an old building with a special charm. Guests particularly enjoyed the breakfast here, but also the fact that it is within walking distance from some of the most important attractions in town. See more here!
- Ci’Cala House – perfect location and a charming view, especially when you book the room with a sea view balcony. See more here!
- Quattro Incanti – you might know by now that if there’s one thing I love most, that’s a beautiful rooftop terrace. And that’s the main reason why I chose this apartment. Just know that it is located on the 3rd floor of a building without an elevator. See more here!
What to do in and around Palermo
- Visit the Norman Palace – the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and the oldest royal residence in Europe.
- Go on a city center walking tour – it is the most efficient way to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of this bustling Sicilian capital.
- Do a local cheese and wine tasting held in a beautiful 16th-century Sicilian house
- Climb to the rooftop of the Palermo Cathedral
- Visit the first public botanical garden of Palermo, Villa Giulia, the place that Goethe once called “the most wonderful place on earth”
- Go for a guided tour at the Teatro Massimo Opera House, one of the most iconic buildings in town
- Spend some time at Mondello Beach, or simply come here for the sunset and to have a drink at one of the clubs and restaurants along the seafront.
- Go on day trips to Cefalu, San Vito Lo Capo, and Trapani
7 day Southern Italy itinerary option 5 – Puglia
Another great option for a one-week itinerary would be to spend the whole week exploring the magical Puglia. This is by far one of my favorite regions in Italy and one that provides a great mix between history, city life, delicious food, and great beaches.
I would suggest choosing a base and going on day trips to some of the most important attractions and towns around.
Of course, I have included Matera as well, even though the city is not actually in Puglia. However, it is easily reached and should not be missed.
Where to stay in Puglia for your 7 day itinerary
Even though Bari might be the first option, I would not choose to stay here, but only visit it as a day trip.
This itinerary will also have you staying one night in Matera – you should not miss the Sassi as they light up.
Puglia Itinerary option
Day 1 – Alberobello & Locorotondo
Day 2 – Polignano a Mare and Monopoli
Day 3 – Ostuni and Martina Franca
Day 4 – Bari
Day 5 – Lecce
Day 6 – 7 Matera
You can fly in and out of Bari, and rent a car to get around.
Traveling by public transportation is possible but much harder than in other parts of Italy.
Have more time? Here is a great option for a Southern Italy itinerary 14 days
If you have more time to spend in Italy, planning for a two-week itinerary could offer you more time to explore some of these amazing places.
Here is an easy-to-follow itinerary option:
Days 1 – 3 : Rome
Days 4 – 6 Naples
Days 6 – 8 Amalfi Coast
Days 9 -14 Sicily
For part of the trip you can travel by train and public transportation, and in Sicily, you should rent a car and drive around – you can use the above example for a one-week itinerary.
Southern Italy Itinerary 10 days
You will find it easy to fill up 10 days in this part of the country, and here are 2 great options, depending on how you choose to travel from one place to the other.
10 days in Southern Italy by car
Day 1 – 3 Rome
Day 3 – 6 Naples & The Amalfi Coast (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri Island)
Day 6 – 10 Puglia (Matera, Bari, Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli)
10 Days in South Italy by train
Day 1 – 3 Rome
Take the train to Naples, Sorrento, or Salerno (fast train) for the Amalfi Coast.
Day 3 – 5 Amalfi Coast
Fly to Sicily and spend the rest of your itinerary on the east coast (Catania, Taormina, Mount Etna, Syracusa) or on the west coast (Palermo, San Vito lo Capo, Cefalu).
Day 5 – 10 Sicily
If you would rather book a tour and forget all about planning the vacation and itinerary, here are a few options to have in mind:
- Highlights of the Amalfi Coast – spend 8 days exploring one of the most beautiful areas in Italy. See more here!
- Sicilian Secrets – the complete tour of Sicily. See more here!
- Highlights of Southern Italy & Sicily – See more here!
Other FAQ about your South Italy Road Trip Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Southern Italy?
While it is understandable that many can only plan their Southern Italy road trip itinerary during summer, particularly July or August, that might not be the best time to visit. Since you will be traveling through some of the hottest Italian regions, during those months temperatures can rise and make your vacation a bit hard to handle.
That being said, in my opinion, the best time to visit the region is during the shoulder season, with both spring and fall as ideal periods. Temperatures aren’t so high, prices are more affordable, it is easier to find availability for your dream accommodation, and there aren’t so many people around.
How many days do you need in Southern Italy?
That depends a lot on a few things: how much you want to see, what is your travel style, how much time you want to spend on the road, and of course, your time and budget.
I think that spending one week in South Italy would allow you to scratch the surface while planning for anywhere between 10 and 14 days could make a great vacation.
Is Southern Italy worth visiting?
Come here for the stunning coastlines, lush rolling hills, and majestic ancient cities.
Local cuisine is an important part of the experience, with delicious dishes like pizza and pasta being common.
Of course, no visit to Italy would be complete without a trip to the iconic Mount Vesuvius! The beautiful views from its summit are unforgettable.
From outdoor activities to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in South Italy, so planning a vacation here is a must.
Is it safe to road trip in Southern Italy?
Yes, it is generally safe to road trip in the southern part of Italy as long as you research your route in advance and take the necessary safety precautions such as avoiding unfamiliar areas, traveling only during daylight hours, and staying at secure hotels or accommodations.
Don’t leave money or other valuables in the car, choose to rent a small car (streets can be narrow), and be alert in traffic.
All in all, I drove with a friend from Puglia to the Amalfi Coast and back, without any issues, so I would say it is safe to road trip around this part of the country.
Renting a car and driving in Southern Italy
Many might tell you it is challenging to drive in Italy in general, especially on the Amalfi Coast, in Sicily, or in Puglia. But if I can make it, so can you, with the right information and guidance.
Here are a few rules to follow when you choose to drive in and around Italy:
- Choose a small car – roads are narrow and winding, and parking spaces are hard to find. That’s why it is recommended to rent a small car (such as a Fiat 500, my dream car in Italy) that will allow you to make your way easily towards your destination.
- Rent ahead of time to make sure the right car is available – that is so important! We ended up getting a car from the airport and the only one available was an SUV. We had to take it because there was no other option, but let me tell you driving an SUV in Southern Italy is not ideal. Choose your car here!
- Make insurance – if there’s one place in this world where you don’t want to skip insurance, that’s on the Amalfi Coast or Sicilu! You will want to be covered against any possible incident.
- Don’t risk it if you don’t have enough experience – and I don’t mean 20 years of experience, for example, I had been driving daily only for the past 3 years before driving the Amalfi Coast. What I mean is that it helps to be able to be confident and relaxed behind the wheel.
- Plan your itinerary and start early – skip the crowds, traffic jams, and potential accidents.
- Parking can be challenging and expensive in some areas, especially on the Amalfi Coast. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a spot, especially when you start early in the morning. Remember that Italians don’t always leave space between cars when they park, so that’s another reason why you will want to buy insurance.
- Don’t leave any valuables in your car when you leave. I’ve heard so many stories about breaking into cars while in Italy and you don’t want to risk it! Take all your documents, money, and any other valuable things such as phones or cameras with you.
What to pack for a South Italy vacation
Your packing list will depend a lot on the time of the year you choose to visit. Chances are you will be going on sunny days, thus here are a few things to consider when deciding what to pack.
If I spend one week on your vacation, and if I don’t have access to laundry, I would pack one outfit for each day. I would include something I could layer in case it gets colder in the morning and evenings – after living in Asia I never leave without a scarf or jacket to wear in case it gets cold (outside or inside).
Also, for one week I would pack two pairs of shoes: something I could wear on hikes or comfortable walks, and some sandals that go with dresses. I’ve learned the hard way that I should never bring new shoes!
I’ve seen many people asking about how Italians dress and wanting to blend in. I never worry about that – just bring whatever you feel comfortable in, depending on the season.
If you are traveling from outside of Europe (or from the UK), you might need to check and bring an electricity adapter.
Never forget to take the important documents: passport, International Driving Permit, and travel insurance.
Also, if you are traveling during summer don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat (or something to cover your head), and a swimsuit.
How to get from Rome to the Amalfi Coast
There are a few ways to get from Rome to the Amalfi Coast fast and easy. Of course, it depends a lot on where you choose to stay on the coast, but these are the most important transportation options:
- Take the fast train from Rome Termini to Salerno Central Station. The ride takes less than 2 hours. From there, you can take a bus (SITA bus) to one of the villages perched on the hilltop. Check here for train timetables and prices!
- Take the train from Rome Termini to Naples Central Station. From there, you can take the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. And from there, hop on the boat or SITA bus to your final destination. Check here for train timetables and prices!
- Rent a car and drive along the winding roads.
- Book a private transfer.
How to get from the Amalfi Coast to Puglia (or the other way around)
I’ve been asked in the past about the easiest way to get from the Amalfi Coast to Puglia, and I have even written a comprehensive guide for a great itinerary.
While you could take the train, there are only a few options throughout the day, and the train ride lasts very long. So, the best option would be to rent a car and make your way from one coast to the other. At least that’s what I did.
Italy travel resources
- Have less time to spend in Italy but still want to live it up? Spend one day in Genoa on your way to the Cinque Terre. Or stop for one day in Rome on your way to some other amazing destination. Or do it differently, but however, take a Cinque Terre day trip.
- Check out the ultimate Italy 10 days itinerary and plan your trip with these 2 options.
- Take the perfect pictures for your forever memories in these Instagram spots in Positano.
- How many days are just enough for seeing Venice and living it to the fullest? I’ve been there 3 times already and I think I have just the answer you are looking for, along with all the great things you shouldn’t miss in Venice.
- See a lot more with these fabulous day trips from Genoa.
- Spend an incredible 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary and see all the destinations you’ve ever dreamt of.