15 best Italian road trips

Read this post in a different language:
Author Alessandro 29 September 2022
Blog Cover

Do you want to leave for a wonderful holiday but you don’t have much time? What’s better of unforgettable holidays on the road in Italy among natural views and historical treasures!

I want to recommend you the best road trips in Italy who will take you to discover some amazing spots that you wouldn’t have even imagined: in terms of road trips, Italy has a lot.

I’m here to introducing the best 15 on the road itineraries in Italy!

15 itineraries in Italy to do by car

15 car itineraries in Italy
15 car itineraries in Italy

From north to south, from east to west, with its extraordinary car itineraries between villages, art treasures and breathtaking landscapes, Italy is among the best countries for a road trip,

In fact, Italy boasts some of the most famous scenic drives in the world.

Like the Amalfi Coast Road which connects Positano with Vietri sul Mare - known as La Nastro Azzurro, due to its curves overlooking the sea -, the Dolomites Road - a route between Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto which reveals the Alps in all their beauty - and the winding Strada dello Stelvio - which leads to the highest car pass in Italy - .

Those who love wild landscapes cannot miss the Friuli Venezia Giulia, between mountains, countryside and typical flavors of the north-east, or the Cinque Terre, in Liguria, which truly deserve to be knocked out: along the Litoranea it is impossible not to stop and admire the colors of the five enchanting villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

From here you can continue in Tuscany, wandering among the many medieval towns and the legendary hills.

For history, culture and good food lovers another spectacular itinerary is the Umbria road trip, from Perugia, to Assisi with its Abbey of San Francesco, to Gubbio, Passignano and Lake Trasimeno, up to Abruzzo.

Further south, you can opt for a road trip of Basilicata, from Matera European Capital of Culture 2019, Metaponto, The sea caves of Maratea, The Pollino National Park and the historic villages of Tursi and Craco.

Or maybe you can choose to travel the coastal stretches of Puglia and Campania or to visit Sicily and Sardinia by car, which combine the most beautiful seas in Italy with culture and tradition.

After this long introduction, which I hope aroused in you the desire to leave as soon as possible, it is the time to find out in detail the 15 unmissable Italian road trips.

Lombardy and the Lake Garda Tour

Lombardy and the Tour of Lake Garda
Lombardy and the Tour of Lake Garda

If you are in northern Italy I suggest you start right from the Lombardy road trips.

The one of Lake Garda is considered among the most evocative panoramic roads in the world: a 150 kilometers blue paradise that passes through an incredible variety of landscapes made up of ancient villages, beaches and mountains.

If you have decided to go on for the Tour of Lake Garda do not miss a stop in Sirmione, to admire the Scaligero Castle and the Grottoes of Catullus and then continue towards Riva del Garda and Salò, through the 007 Quantum of Solace chase road.

In Lombardy on Como Lake

Lombardy and the Tour of Lake Como
Lombardy and the Tour of Lake Como

Let’s stay in Lombardy for another one of the most beautiful road trips in Italy: the tour of Lake Como.

Starting from Como the route is a succession of villages, towns and breathtaking landscapes: Brunate, Tremezzo and Menaggio, Gravedona, Varenna, Mandello del Lario, Lecco, Bellagio to go back to Como again.

Veneto on The Great Dolomite Road

The Great Dolomite Road
The Great Dolomite Road

Do you love driving through the mountains?

The The Great Dolomite Road or Große Dolomitenstraße is a historic tourist itinerary that you cannot miss: an exciting road trip away from the cities targeted by mass tourism.

Designed by South Tyrolean members of the Deutscher und Österreichischer Alpenverein at the end of the 19th century it winds through 180 kilometers of majestic views over Italy’s most beautiful alpine landscape.

From Vigo di Fassa continue towards Canazei, towards Pieve di Livinallongo, Cortina d’Ampezzo up to Auronzo di Cadore.

For more information: The Great Dolomite Road on tomtom.it

In Trentino at the Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass
Stelvio Pass

Still in Trentino, another mountain tour of Italy will take you to an altitude of 2,758 meters on the highest car pass in Italy and the second highest car pass in Europe, after the French Col de l’Iseran (2,770 meters).

The Statale n.38 dello Stelvio, which connects Valtellina with Alto Adige through a climb of over 20 kilometers and 54 increasingly narrow hairpin bends, mainly driven by motorcyclists and road trips lovers, is one of the the most beautiful hairpin bends in Italy and the most instagrammed road in the world.

From Piantedo to Bolzano, passing through Tirano (the end station of the famous Bernina red train), passing the Stelvio Pass, continue towards Prato allo Stelvio, up to the destination.

Info: venosta. net

In Friuli along the wild Trieste coastal road

Trieste coastal road
Trieste coastal road

Among the most famous and fascinating panoramic Italian routes there is the one that runs along the Trieste coast: Sistiana, Miramare up to Trieste, between cliffs, karst rocks and breathtaking views on the Gulf of Trieste.

You can’t miss visiting the white Miramare Castle, an architectural jewel overlooking the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by a luxuriant romantic park.

Dedicate at least one day to the regional capital visiting San Giusto Castle</a>, stroll along the Canal Grande, and to try on of the historic cafés in Piazza Unità d’Italia, the largest open to the sea square in Europe.

In Liguria at the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre

If we move from East to West we find Le Cinque Terre, among the most evocative and popular destinations for a road trip in Italy, even out of season.

What’s better than a road trip to discover the wonderful Ligurian Riviera di Levante, with its villages overlooking the sea, the colorful houses and the amazing nature paths along the coast?

Along the itinerary from Genoa to La Spezia I suggest you plan stops in the beautiful villages of Camogli, Portofino, Rapallo, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, * Manarola, *Riomaggiore and Portovenere: ancient fishing villages full of charm, history and culture, built on rocky walls overlooking the sea.

And to walk the Sentiero Azzurro, the Via dell’Amore or the High Path of the Cinque Terre, which inspired writers and poets for centuries.

Tuscany between the Siena and Chianti hills

Tuscany between Siena and Chianti hills
Tuscany between Siena and Chianti hills

Without straying too far from the Cinque Terre we can move to Tuscany, for another of the most popular Italian on the road itinerary.

The charming Tuscia with its splendid locations ensures a unique and unforgettable road trip in Italy. A refined land of incomparable beauty with enchanting landscapes, art and historic villages, with a long stretch of natural coast.

A region rich of naturalistic and artistic point of view that offers so much. Spas, oil mills, trattorias and Etruscan necropolises will be the protagonists of the stages along the country roads.

The Chiantigiana, one of the most beautiful roads in Italy, crosses the whole Chianti from Florence to Siena from the gentle Chianti hills, between villages and rows of grapes, to the Sienese hills, passing through Panzano in Chianti and Radda.

Once in Siena I suggest you to continue towards the Territories of Brunello, around Montalcino, the natural baths of Petriolo, the Abbey of San Galgano, up to San Quirico d’Orcia and the village of Monticchiello, which seems to come out of a fairy tale.

If you take this road trip in Tuscany, don’t forget a visit to Lucca, Arezzo, Garfagnana and San Gimignano.

Marche: from Portonovo to Porto Recanati

Marche Tour
Marche Tour

Loved all over the world, the Conero Natural Park has turquoise waters that lap wild coves and bays of white sand topped by white rocks and luxuriant vegetation.

From Portonuovo to Sirolo and Numana until reaching Porto Recanati.

Umbria, through historic villages by car

Umbria tour
Umbria tour

Little affected by mass tourism, Umbria deserves much more than a simple visit.

With its unique and splendid landscape, surrounded by nature, between castles and villages, it is the ideal destination for an art and history Italian road trip. A tour to discover architectural wonders and small villages, crossing medieval towns, enchanting and evocative sceneries.

Get lost in the narrow streets of Gubbio, stop in Perugia, with the best preserved medieval buildings in Europe, walk the road that surrounds Lake Trasimeno stopping in Passignano. Leave for Assisi, where a visit to the Basilica of San Francesco is a must.

Continue towards Spello, a romantic flowery village among the most beautiful villages in the Belpaese, Foligno, and Spoleto with its Cathedral and majestic Rocca, symbol of the city.

And if you are a excursions lover bring your bicycle with you because Umbria is ideal for long rides.

Abruzzo: holidays on the road among parks, villages and mountains

Abruzzo: holidays on the road among parks, villages and mountains
Abruzzo: holidays on the road among parks, villages and mountains

Crossing the splendid Umbrian natural landscapes we end up in Abruzzo.

Starting from Monti della Laga, continue towards Gran Sasso, Monte Velino, and the Abruzzo National Park with a stop in Celano, at Civitella Alfedena, at Lago di Barrea, Sulmona and finally at the Riserva della Maiella.

The Abruzzo road trip ends in Chieti.

Discovering Puglia: Salento on the road

Puglia: Salento on the road
Puglia: Salento on the road

We leave the central Italy for a road trip in Southern Italy dedicated to the sea: the Salento peninsula road trip.

History, heavenly white beaches, crystalline sea, ancient culinary traditions and hospitality make Salento one of the most popular Italian destinations.

First stop Lecce: the Florence of the South, an open-air museum, among the most beautiful town in Italy, full of scenographic buildings to visit.

Following Otranto: the easternmost city of Italy, with the characteristic white houses and the Magnificent Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Continue towards Castro, Santa Maria di Leuca and Gallipoli up to Porto Cesareo.

One tip! Don’t miss the splendid beaches of Punta Prosciutto and Pescoluse.

<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/2/embed?mid=1yc61eZlFnVKxgVLrNmNEiJDrFP3zb9Q&ehbc=2E312F” width=”100%” height=*“480”></iframe>

Campania by car: along the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast

With a coast to coast we move from Puglia to Campania, for another Italian road trip between amazing views overlooking the sea, a corner of paradise on Earth that always fascinated travelers with its splendid architectural jewels between lemons plants.

Also know as Divina Costiera, the Amalfi Coast, declared in 1997 a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, concentrates nature, art and beauty.

Suspended like a terrace between the Tyrrhenian Sea waters and the blue sky, with its breathtaking landscapes of overhanging rocks, terraces for the cultivation of vineyards, orchards and multiple historical-artistic testimonies, has inspired painters since the past.

It is the land of orange blossoms and lemons where the Mediterranean scrub slopes down towards the sea between picturesque villages, golden domes, ancient villas with luxuriant gardens and colored majolica tiles.

The Statale 163 or Nastro Azzurro winds from Positano to Vietri sul Mare for about 60 km on the most beautiful roads in the world and the most panoramic in Italy. Better to afford it in the spring to avoid the crowds of summer tourists, but it is enchanting in every season.

Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, Maiori and Cetara are just some of the beauties that can be found between the hairpin bends and the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.

Basilicata: from Matera to Metaponto

Basilicata: from Matera to Metaponto
Basilicata: from Matera to Metaponto

Nestled between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian, almost disputed between Campania, Puglia and Calabria, Basilicata is a region still little known by road trip lovers, but with its natural havens of wild peaks and dense woodland it’s the ideal destination for a road trip off the beaten track.

Starting from Matera, the City of stones with huddled huts and caves, you can visit unique places, such as the natural beaches of Metaponto, the historic villages of Tursi and Craco, almost abandoned but custodians of an extraordinary scenic beauty, the Pollino National Park, the largest protected area in Italy and the beautiful Maratea with its clear waters and caves marine.

Sicily on the road

Temples Valley in Sicily
Temples Valley in Sicily

How not to mention the largest island in the Mediterranean road trip, which competes with Sardinia for the italian best island for road trips primacy.

Between good food and the sea, touring Sicily by car offers unique emotions.

Seeing it all in a single holiday is impossible. It takes months to discover the scenic and historical beauties of the island, but there are some places that just can’t be overlooked.

I suggest you start from Noto, the capital of the Sicilian Baroque, to make a stop in Avola and Syracuse, among the most important cities of Magna Graecia with its Greek Theatre of Syracuse, and in Catania, where I suggest you visit the historic center with its treasures of Baroque architecture, such as the Sant’Agata Cathedral, and Taormina.

From here you can travel along the coast to Palermo, rich in treasures of art and history.

Spend a few days visiting the splendid Zingaro Nature Reserve, San Vito lo Capo and Trapani, to set off again, still on the coast, but towards the south.

Last stop Agrigento, where you can admire the incredible Scala dei Turchi and the majestic Valley of the Temples, among the best preserved archaeological sites of Magna Graecia.

Sardinia: between beaches and flavours

Sardinia road trip
Sardinia road trip

The last all-Italian car itinerary that you absolutely cannot miss is the road trip of Sardinia.

Visiting Sardinia by car, embarking the vehicle on the ferry or opting to rent a car once you arrive on the island, is a classic, especially during the summer holidays.

Given the size of the island and the number of beautiful spots it offers, it is advisable to plan a precise itinerary based on the time available.

If you have enough time, I recommend a complete road trip of the coast, to discover the Caribbean-looking beaches and the hundreds of small hidden coves.

Start from Oristano, stop in Porto Torres, continue towards Santa Teresa di Gallura, Cala Gonone, Costa Rei, Chia until you close the loop again in Oristano.

The best 15 on the road itineraries in Italy: Conclusions

Our review of The best 15 on the road itineraries in Italy ends here.

Have you decided to travel by car? Don’t forget to take a look at the article Travelling on the road, with useful advice and information before leaving!

Have you decided to carry out a van conversion? We have published a really exhaustive and complete guide on the subject: DIY campervan conversion in 2023: the A-Z guide to van conversion!

Share on
Alessandro Gemscovery Travel Blog
Alessandro Lussi
Computer scientist, electrical engineer, mechanic and jurist, traveling on the road since birth.
Passionate about off-grid life and self-production, I write for passion.