Italy shore excursions are some of the best ways to enjoy the beauty and magic of the country. On a cruise to Italy, explore ancient landmarks in Rome, glide through the canals of Venice, and enjoy the citrusy scent in the air in the Amalfi Coast.
You’ll find no shortage of things to do, see, and eat during your cruise vacation. Here are some of the best shore excursions in Italy that will have you living out your dolce vita dreams.
1: Take a Trip Inside the Blue Grotto in Capri
During your day in port on a cruise to Naples, hop on a ferry to nearby Capri, the stunning island which was once the home of several Roman emperors.
Explore the town’s square, go window shopping, feast on a four-course Italian lunch, and venture into the magical Blue Grotto, a cave where the sunlight’s reflection creates a brilliant shade of fluorescent blue in the water below.
2: Sign Up for a Photographic Journey Around the Amalfi Coast
Discover your inner photographer on a full-day Italy shore excursion around the Amalfi Coast, where a drive along the colorful cliffs of the region provide endless photo opportunities.
Train your lens on the towering Mount Vesuvius volcano in the background. Zoom in on the little details that make Positano one of the most beautiful beach towns in Italy: quaint pastel houses, streets covered in blooming flowers, and enviable views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Read: Best Beaches in Italy
3: Marvel at Works of Art in Florence
If your cruise ship docks in La Spezia, you’ll be within driving distance to Florence. Sign up for a guided tour and discover the bounty of artistic and cultural treasures that await at the birthplace of the Renaissance movement.
Witness the chiseled perfection of Michelangelo’s statue of David up close. Stroll through the gorgeous trees and manicured lawns of the Boboli Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy. See Renaissance masterpieces by Boticelli, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio at the Uffizi Gallery.
4: Spot Architectural Treasures in Florence and Pisa
If ancient buildings and architecture are more your thing, go on an excursion that combines a stop in Florence and Pisa, where you’ll get plenty of sightseeing done.
In Florence, see the intricate pink, white, and green marble façade of the Duomo, cross the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, order a gelato at Piazza Santa Croce, and admire the Palazzo Vecchio at the Piazza della Signoria.
In Pisa, spend the afternoon in the Piazza Dei Miracoli, which houses three of the most striking landmarks of the city, including the Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Baptistery of St. John, and the iconic Leaning Tower.
5: Sample Rustic Food and Wine in Tuscany
If you want to get a taste of Italian food culture and country living, then drive past hilltop towns and medieval villages on your way to a Tuscan farmhouse, where you’ll sample fresh-from-the-oven focaccia bread, refreshing antipasti, and a glass of wine, all while being surrounded by dreamy vineyard fields and olive groves.
6: See Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii in One Day
During a port of call in Naples, if you can’t decide whether you should visit Pompeii, Capri, or the Amalfi Coast, why not see all three in the same day?
In Capri, take a funicular ride to Capri Town and admire the glittering Mediterranean Sea from above. Then drive down to Sorrento, a scenic beach town full of Baroque architecture and bright yellow lemons.
Finish your tour in Pompeii, where you’ll walk among the archeological ruins of an ancient civilization that was destroyed and buried in mud and ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
7: Mingle with The Glitterati in Portofino
Known for its candy-colored beauty, the harbor town of Portofino is one of the jewels of Italy’s Northern Coast.
You’ll understand why once you go on a guided tour of this stunning Italy cruise port, where you’ll walk by villas covered in blooming flowers, sample local olive oil at a chic hotel, and feast on fresh seafood during a typical Ligurian lunch al fresco.
8: Explore the Gems of the Italian Riviera
While you could easily spend a whole day in Portofino, there are other Italian Riviera cities that are worth exploring on a shore excursion.
One popular shore excursion takes you on a drive down to Rapallo, where palm trees mingle with olive trees and a 16th-century castle stands atop the sea. Then you’ll visit Santa Margherita, where you can spend the afternoon strolling around the town’s picturesque streets or taking a dip in the Ligurian Sea.
Read: An Insider’s Guide to Santa Margherita, Italy
Finish your day back in Portofino, people-watching at the busy Piazzetta, or hiking up Monte de Portofino for a romantic view of the sunset from above.
9: Stroll Through the Winding Streets of Cinque Terre
If you want to venture out a little farther during a day in port in La Spezia, consider an Italy shore excursion to Cinque Terre, a stunning cluster of seaside villages and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You’ll find it hard not to fall in love with its colorful buildings, dramatic sea views, and secluded beaches. One of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is to take a guided walking excursion, where you’ll visit the towns of Levanto, Monterosso, and Rio Maggiore. You’ll explore their winding, clifftop streets and enjoy a taste of fresh pesto bruschetta with a chilled glass of wine.
10: Fall In Love With the Magic of Venice
Part of the allure of visiting Venice is getting lost in its myriad of streets and canals. However, wandering aimlessly may not be the most practical way of spending your time in La Serenissima.
If you’re looking to see the essential highlights of the city during your Venice cruise, sign up for a multi-stop tour of the city. Step into Doge’s Palace, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, which once served as the center of Venetian government. Climb up the Golden Staircase, and see how the former rulers of the city, known as the Dogi, once lived.
Cross the famous Bridge of Sighs and stop by St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll marvel at the ornate exterior of St. Mark’s Basilica. Then, visit the famous Murano glass artisans (and perhaps pick up a gift or two for those back at home), before finally embarking on a romantic sunset gondola ride through the canals while being serenaded to the sound of accordion music—no visit to Venice is complete without it.
11: Tour Rome’s Famous Landmarks
Fall in love with the Eternal City during a guided excursion and discover its many world-renowned landmarks and historical sites.
Regardless of how you choose to spend your day in port on a cruise to Rome, don’t miss a trip inside the Roman Colosseum. See the spectacular arena where gladiators once dueled to death in front of thousands of spectators.
Enjoy a heavenly plate of pasta for lunch, then walk it off with a stroll up the Spanish Steps. If you believe in wishes, head towards the Trevi Fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder to guarantee a return to the city.
12: See the Wonders of The Vatican
You can’t visit Rome without a stop at the Vatican. Marvel at the lovely frescoes painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, and St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the world.
13: Visit an Ancient Roman Theater in Taormina
On a cruise to Sicily, head to the stunning hilltop village of Taormina. Walk through the ancient town that was built in the 3rd century, and take in the gorgeous view of Mount Etna and the surrounding Ionian Sea.
Journey through the town’s squares and chic boutiques. Explore Taormina’s star attraction, the Greek Theater, one of the best theaters in the world. From here, you’ll marvel at the breathtaking view of the island below.
14: Hear the Legend of the Black Madonna in Tindari
Discover another side of Sicily during a day excursion to the clifftop town of Tindari. Hike up to the top of the village, where the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna awaits.
Learn more about this unique artifact, which traces all the way back to the Byzantine Era. Allegedly, it arrived in Tindari after the ship that was smuggling it out of Constantinople was forced to dock on the island during a bad storm.
15: Walk Among Volcanic Remains in Sicily
Get your blood pumping during a panoramic excursion up Mount Etna to the Silvestri Spent craters. You’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet as you navigate the volcanic landscape of these two inactive craters, which were created after Etna erupted in 1892.
After you’re done, stop in a jewelry factory and see how artisans turn Etna’s volcanic matter into wearable pieces.
Book Your Italy Cruise
Now that you’ve discovered some of the best Italy shore excursions, it’s time to book your next cruise. Search through our different Italy cruise itineraries online or call us at 1-800-852-8086 and speak with one of our cruise experts, who will help you plan your next unforgettable vacation in Europe.