Unless I want a really warm beach vacation, I’ll never travel to Italy during the summertime. Between the crowds, heat, and smell (you know the smell I’m talking about!), it is just not an enjoyable experience. However, traveling to Italy in the springtime. Now that’s a totally different story!
A few years ago, during my undergraduate years, I studied abroad in Germany for 6 months. During a break in the semester, my cousin came over from the USA and we did our “Epic EuroTrip.” We started in Nice and followed along the coast until we hit Pisa, Italy before going inland. It was seriously one of the best trips and the best part (besides being with my cousin!)? The lack of tourists and the amazing weather!
So whether you’re trying to plan your spring break or just want to get away for about 12 days, this spring itinerary is perfect for you! I’ve included all the places we went. However, I’ve made notes on how you can make it longer or shorter :) Enjoy and happy traveling!
Table of Contents
1. NICE, FRANCE
Flying into beautiful Nice, France your first view is the blueness of the Mediterranean Sea! Although the beaches aren’t really open and the water definitely isn’t warm enough, it was still great walking along the shoreline. I mean, how could you not absolutely LOVE the views?!
If you want to make your trip a bit longer, fly into Marseille, spend a day there, and then take a train to Nice!
One of the smallest countries in the world, Monaco just smells of wealth. I mean, the trees that line the streets have oranges on them. ORANGES! Seriously people, coming to Monaco is a totally out-of-this-world experience. My cousin and I only stayed for a day (those prices!!!) but we loved walking along the harbor of this country. Instead of going inside the Monte Carlo Casino, we grabbed breakfast (for like $35…yikes) right next door to the Monte Carlo and watched all the luxurious cars pull up.
3. GENOA, ITALY
This city was definitely a pleasant surprise. I had heard that it was more of a dumpy port city. What I wasn’t expecting was the abundance of history and friendliness of everyone (our B&B host was CONVINCED that my cousin and I were dating and not actually cousins…haha!). The birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa was named the 2004 European Capital of Culture. Definitely stop by this adorable city!
If you want to make your trip a bit longer, stop in Portofino before heading to Cinque Terre
4. CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
Unfortunately, my cousin and I visited Cinque Terre less than 6 months after the horrific floods and mudslides that destroyed 2 of the 5 villages. We had no idea of the devastation before we arrived and ended up only spending an afternoon here. While we were there, all the hiking routes were closed for safety reasons and a lot of the shops still weren’t open. However, I know that all the towns are back up and running 100% so you should definitely stop by this UNESCO World Heritage Site!
5. PISA, ITALY
Yes, this city is overly touristy but you have to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! I recommend finding food off the beaten path…don’t go to the restaurants right next to the Leaning Tower or else you’ll end up spending an arm and a leg!
6. FLORENCE, ITALY
Florence was the only town in which we ran into a lot of tourists! Obviously, being one of the most famous cities in the world for art and architecture, it was expected. My cousin and I made the big mistake of not booking museum or church tickets in advance (do it! Even if you think it is low season!) so we ended up just walking by the Duomo and seeing a replica of David. We learned our lesson :)
If you want to make your trip a bit longer, take a day trip to Siena (a bit further south) and stop in Bologna on the way to Venice!
7. VENICE, ITALY
Probably my favorite city in the entire world, Venice is just stunning, gorgeous, and every other positive adjective :) I mentioned before in my post on Venice but I had two totally different experiences in Venice. I loved it during the springtime and hated it in summer (too humid, hot, sticky, touristy, and smelly). If you want a more authentic experience, definitely visit Venice during the low season! Don’t worry if you get lost in Venice. You’re supposed to get lost and discover something new :)
8. ZAGREB, CROATIA
I definitely recommend only going to Zagreb if you have the extra time because it takes a full day worth of travel! However, now that it is part of the EU, it is a lot easier to get in and out of the country. I love the history of Zagreb and the influence of so many different histories, cultures, etc. Bonus, if you visit Zagreb in the next few months, you can visit me!
If you want to make your trip a bit shorter, skip Zagreb and head to Trieste, Italy instead.
+ Invest in a Eurail pass for Italy. Details can be found here. You save a lot of money, time, and hassle trying to figure out which tickets to buy. Order your EuroRail online a few weeks before you leave. I did the 4 Day Italy pass…and they forgot to stamp 2 out of the 4 days so I had 2 extra days left (which I used to go to Naples to visit family!)
+ Bring layers! The weather was cardigan weather when I was there but depending on the time of day I was in short sleeves (in the afternoon) or a heavier sweater in the early morning/late night.
+ Go in the springtime! By going in the spring (the earlier the better), you’re still in low season at most places which = cheaper prices for lodging!