Guide to Cruising Italy

Italy – a holiday destination that ensures romance, culture, and fabulous food. However, with so many amazing towns and cities to explore, it’s hard to pick just one to visit- so why not sail around a selection of incredible Italian ports on an Italy Cruise?

What is the best time of year to Cruise Italy?

We recommend sailing to Italy between June and September to bask in the Mediterranean sun.

However, if you aren’t keen to pay school holiday prices or contend with vast crowds of summer tourists, you can still enjoy beautiful weather in spring months like March or April or even October and November in the Autumn.

Which Cruise Lines Cruise Italy?

You can embark on an Italian adventure with a number of fantastic cruise lines, including:

What ports will I visit on an Cruise to Italy?

The ports along the coast of Italy are some of the most enchanting places you will visit. Here are some of the most popular ports and our recommendations for the top things to see and do.

Civitavecchia (Rome)

The port of Civitavecchia is the gateway to the vibrant city of Rome. Steeped in ancient history, Rome is immensely popular with tourists from all around the world. The star attraction is the magnificent Colosseum, but it’s far from the only sight to see in Rome. Toss a coin into the gorgeous Trevi Fountain, or wander around the spectacular Pantheon, a former Pagan temple turned Catholic church.

Just fifteen minutes from Rome’s centre is the exquisite Vatican City, home to the Sistine Chapel with its world-famous Michaelangelo- painted ceiling.


Visitors to Naples often choose to take an excursion to the haunting ruins of Pompeii or Herculaneum. These ancient towns, eerily frozen in time, are certainly worth a visit- but there’s plenty to do in Naples itself too.

The Naples National Archeological Museum contains incredible ancient Roman artefacts that survived Vesuvius’ volcanic eruption. Or if you’re more interested in medieval history, visit the fortress of Castel Sant’Elmo, which has the added benefit of offering fabulous views of Naples.

Football fans should head to Naples’ Diego Armanda Maradona Stadium, renamed to honour the sporting legend in 2020.


The birthplace of Columbus is a truly beautiful city. Start by exploring the stunning medieval old town. Then stroll along the gorgeous Strade Nouve to see the extravagant UNESCO-listed Renaissance and Baroque palaces, built at the height of the city’s wealth, and even go inside a few!

If you’re travelling with kids, visit the Genoa Aquarium. The largest in Europe, this Aquarium boasts an array of fascinating sea creatures to see up close and learn about.


Quite possibly one of the most iconic cities in the world, Venice is a bucket list destination for many. Head to the glorious St. Mark’s Square to see the spellbinding Basilica and Doge’s palace, or why not travel through Venice in style with a gondola ride? Art lovers can’t miss a trip to the Gallerie Dell’Academia to see marvellous works from the likes of Bellini and Titian.


Lerici was a place of inspiration for writers like Dante and Mary Shelley, and it isn’t hard to see why. The pastel-coloured Piazza Garibaldi is the stuff of fairytales, as is the magical St. George’s castle, which overlooks the Bay of Poets.

If you’re looking for a beach day, head to the golden sands of Venere Azzurra to soak up the sun and swim in the turquoise sea. 


You can travel from the port of Livorno to either Pisa or Florence. Both cities are absolutely phenomenal, so choosing which one to visit won’t be an easy task.

In Pisa, you’ll see the world-famous leaning tower and take a cheesy tourist photo for your Instagram. But the tower isn’t the only wonderful sight to see in Pisa. Head to the Knight’s Square to see the Palazzo dei Cavalieri, a palace and former home of the Knights of St. Stephen.

On the other hand, budding artists should choose to head to Florence and explore the city’s many brilliant galleries. At The Uffizi you can admire ‘The Birth of Venus’ whilst at the Galleria Dell’Academia you can marvel at Michaelangelo’s expertly chiselled ‘David’. Or, for awe-inspiring views, climb to the top of the Duomo di Firenze to see all of Florence.


Swan around Piazza del Duomo- Messina’s elegant town square- boasts a fabulous 1500s cathedral and the Fontani de Nettano – a magnificent fountain depicting Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea. There is also an excellent Regional Museum with Renaissance art.

For a slightly more morbid spot of sightseeing, head to the Composanto Cemetery. This stunning graveyard might be an unusual tourist spot, but the blend of neoclassical and art nouveau elements makes it a truly beautiful place.


The pretty port of Chioggia is a delight to explore. In the town square, you’ll find the Refugium Pecatorum, a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Child under a golden canopy, which was the last prayer point for those sentenced to death in the town. The 15th-century Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta is also well worth exploring. This gorgeous cathedral is extra rich in history, as it is built on the grounds of an ancient temple.

For families, the Zoology Museum is always a hit with youngsters eager to learn about marine life. Or, for sandcastle building and swimming, head to Sottomarina beach.

Santa Margherita Ligure

Wander around the fabulous Villa Durazzo Centurione museum complex. See the Prince’s Apartments with exquisite 17th-century frescoes, then head to the Vittorio Giovanni Rossi museum to take in some excellent paintings.

Perhaps you could take an excursion to Portofino, to explore San Fruttuoso Abbey, a remarkable 10th-century monastery, or if you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a snorkelling excursion to see the Christ of The Abyss- a statue of the Messiah submerged beneath the sea.


Palermo is home to the stunning Palazzo dei Normani, a 9th-century palace covered in dazzling mosaics. Nearby you will find the spellbinding Palermo Cathedral, which contains the tombs of former Holy Roman Emperors and even a treasure chamber!

Film buffs should definitely visit Palermo’s Teattro Massimo Opera House- a key filming location for The Godfather Part 3. On the other hand, history buffs should head to Steri Palace Inquisition Museum to see the cells where victims were held.

La Spezia

You can take a magical boat tour from La Spezia around the rainbow villages of Cinque Terre, the five lands. Or instead, you can head to the 13th-century San Giorgio castle to peruse the fascinating archaeological museum.

You might take an excursion to Porto Venere, where you can meditate in the same grotto as the legendary poet Lord Byron. Here you can also explore Doria castle, with its ancient windmills and watchtowers.


From Sorrento, you can visit the enchanting island of Capri, a popular holiday destination for the rich and famous. Here you can take a trip to the otherworldly Blue Grotto or take a refreshing walk around the Gardens of Augustus. For a touch of history, visit the Villa de Tiberio, the ruin of Emperor Tiberius’ Villa. To give yourself some food for thought, why not take a saunter through Capri Philosophical Park? Or perhaps you’d instead visit the spectacular Certosa San Giocomo Monastery.

If you don’t want to visit Capri, there’s plenty to do in Sorrento itself. You can stroll around the pretty old town or visit the marvellous Basilica of Sant’Antonio. For something a little different, you could take the Frantoio Garguilo Olive Farm tour and tasting.


From the port of Bari, active cruisers should head to Alta Margia National Park for beautifully scenic hiking. On the other hand, art enthusiasts will love the Pinoceta Provinciale Modern Art Gallery.

In Bari, you will also find a splendid 12th-century Romanesque Basilica and a 13th-century castle.

One hour from Bari is Egnazia- a ruin of a Messapi Bronze Age town. After exploring the town’s ruin, you can learn about Messapi life in the nearby museum.

What to eat on a Cruise to Italy

Italy is famous for its yummy food, and you’ll find top-notch eateries in every port. Here are just a few of our favourites.

Caffe Florian, Venice

Not only does this café serve superb coffees and decadent desserts, it also has a fascinating history. Supposedly the oldest café in Europe, Caffe Florian, was first opened in the 1700s and is known as the place that legendary lover Casanova would go to seduce women.

Caffeteria del Corso, Palermo

Enjoy the refreshing Sicilian treat, granita, at this delightful café. This yummy, blended ice dessert is perfect for cooling yourself down in the Mediterranean heat.

Seu Pizza Illuminati, Rome

You can’t visit Italy without indulging in its most famous food, the pizza. You can enjoy a tasty slice of this quintessentially Italian dish at Rome’s Seu Pizza Illuminati.

What to pack for Cruising Italy

To make the most of your Italian adventure, you’ll need a few things.

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing
  • Walking shoes and Sandals
  • Swimwear
  • Beach Gear- e.g., bucket and spade
  • Pashmina/shawl/light jacket for cold evenings
  • Suncream
  • Italian phrasebook
  • Backpacks/Bags for Excursions
  • Sunglasses/Sunhat
  • Evening clothes and shoes
  • Chargers
  • Plug adaptors
  • Toiletries

Preparing for your Cruise to Italy

When visiting Italy, we recommend booking excursions and restaurants in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you’re dreaming of a holiday to the land of pizza, pasta and picturesque ports, take a look at Cruise118’s Mediterranean cruise deals to find the perfect Italy itinerary for you.

Charlotte Richards

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