Itinerary Southern Italy — 3 incredible South Italy road trips

Vista aerial do parque nacional da Puglia e sua água cristalina e penhascos na frente de uma floresta

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Are you planning a trip to the South of Italy? If so, we’ve got excellent advice to enhance your Itinerary southern Italy. Having lived in Italy for over a year and spent two months delving into Puglia’s hidden gems or getting all around Sicily, we understand that southern Italy offers more than can be seen on just one road trip.

Many people think Northern Italy road trips are the best. We have been to Cinque Terre and it surely is beautiful. But we can assure you that the southern Italy road trips are just as unforgettable experience too.

In fact, we cycled all the way from Parma, near Milan, to the most southern point of Italy, Santa Maria de Leuca. That’s where both seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian, meet. You can see a doc series of this trip in our YouTube channel here.

This region stretches from Puglia’s rugged coastlines to Sicily’s iconic landscapes, packed with a lot of things to do in southern Italy. It includes diverse areas like Campania, Puglia, Molise, Abruzzo, Calabria, and Basilicata, each with its unique allure. Our tip? Pick a region and thoroughly explore its marvels.

In this guide, we’ll navigate you through three distinct South Italy road trips, each focusing on a different part of the region: Puglia, Amalfi Coast, and the enchanting Island of Sicily. From the heel of the boot to the scenic Amalfi Coast and beyond, prepare to embark on a memorable exploration of the best places to visit in southern Italy.

Aerial view of a national park in Puglia with crystal clear sea water and large cliffs in front of a massive forest
The cliffs in Puglia – Photo by Monday Feelings

Southern Italy Road Trip Map

While you travel southern Italy, you could include places such as Tropea or Scilla in Calabria, or Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa, Matera, and Maratea in your itinerary.  But, as we said, our southern Italy road trip map focuses just on some regions otherwise you would have to get a lot of free time to see all the South has to offer or see everything in a rush.

Our itinerary suggestions are Italy coast road trips, which have some of the best Italian beaches, famous cuisine and ancient historical sites.

How to get to southern Italy?

It will depend on where in South Italy you are going. For example, if you are planning a trip to Naples, you can get there by flight, train, bus, or even rent a car, which is our favorite option for traveling in Italy. We will talk more about that on each road trip below.

When to travel to southern Italy?

Aerial view of Italian city surrounded by the sea at sunset
Aerial view of Vista, in south of Italy – Photo by Monday Feelings

You can enjoy these southern Italy itineraries throughout the year so the answer to this question depends on what you are looking for and what kind of traveler you are. January, February, and March are the coldest months in Italy while June, July, and August are the hottest. If you want to enjoy the Italian beaches and pleasant weather while avoiding crowds and higher prices, you might want to go to Italy between April and June or September and October.

Tip: Avoid travelling to Italy in August if you can. You will see that some cities are overcrowded while others are completely empty. That’s because they have Ferragosto, a two-week holiday in August that the whole country goes on holiday altogether.

Tips for driving in southern Italy

A car on a dirty road surrounded by a plain ground on a open sky
Driving in places public transport doesn’t reach – Photo by Monday Feelings

As slow travelers, we love to rent a car in Italy and drive around looking for hidden gems at our own pace. Furthermore, there are a lot of things to do in southern Italy that you cannot reach through public transport.

That being said, driving in southern Italy is not difficult most of the time, and you will also have beautiful landscapes to appreciate along the way. You have to pay attention to narrow roads (rent a small car!) and know there are some limitations to driving in historical city centers. Also, some parts of southern Italy might be hard to park or have too much traffic. Other than that, you are good to go!

Road trip #1 — From Rome to the beautiful landscape and historical sites of Puglia

Colosseum in Italy illuminated by the sun
The Colosseum in Rome – Photo by Monday Feelings

This is a southern Italy Itinerary for 5 to 7 days in Puglia, our favorite spot in Italy. We have spent two months traveling around Puglia from top to bottom, and that is why we could not recommend this southern Italy road trip more.

So you can start your trip in Rome and stay for three days, visiting the very well-known tourist attractions such as the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Pantheon. You can read our detailed guide to things to do in Rome here.

After spending three days in one of the most historical cities in the world, you are ready to begin your trip to southern Italy.

How to get to Puglia

Fernanda in front and the beach of Galipolli in the back in Puglia
Fernanda at the beach of Galipolli – Photo by Monday Feelings

There are two ways to start your journey to Puglia. You can rent a car in Rome and drive to Puglia or you can make this Southern Italy Itinerary by train from Rome to Bari (Puglia’s capital) and, then, rent a car in Bari. You will want to decide this carefully because this is a more than 400km-long trip and some people might not like driving this much.

After getting to Bari, we recommend you go to Polignano a Mare and make it your base city for two or three days. From there you can visit Ostuni, and Alberobello, and explore more of Bari.

Polignano a Mare

A crowded small beach in between rocks of Polignano A Mare
The beach of Polignano A Mare – Photo by Monday Feelings

This coastal town is one of the best places in Puglia. It is full of white houses, stone-paved alleyways, and cliffs that encounter the blue sea. In this charming town, you can sunbathe on one of the best beaches in Puglia called Lama Monachile and try some delicious homemade ice cream.

As you are making this your base city for some days, you might want to know where to stay in Polignano a Mare. We recommend the cozy and centrally located Malu B&B, but there are a lot of other nice options for you to choose from here.


Fernanda in front of an arch showing all the trulli houses in alberobello italy
Fernanda at Alberobello – Photo by Monday Feelings

This is the city of the trulli (the plural for trullo)—the traditional dry stone huts with a conical roof that are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A trip from Polignano to Alberobello is a one-day activity where you can visit the trulli, which today is not used for living anymore. They were turned into shops, restaurants, and hotels.

If you can extend this 3 days Southern Italy Itinerary, you should try to stay the night in a trullo house. Got interested? We have a complete article about the history of the Trulli in Puglia that you can check out here.


View of Ostuni with all the white houses on top of the mountain
Ostuni, the Città Bianca of Italy – Photo by Monday Feelings

A trip to Ostuni can be done in one or two days, depending on your schedule. This city is known as “Città Bianca D’Italia”—the White City of Italy—with its charming white houses all over its old city center and alleyways.

If you stay for the sunset in Ostuni, you will be awed by the many restaurants illuminated by candles, the bar with cushions on the stairs of the old city, live concerts, and a truly bohemian vibe. But our pro tip is to avoid its touristy and pricey restaurants and go have a nice meal in the neighboring town Ceglie Messapica which is only 12km away.

If you decide to stay for a night in Ostuni, have a look at these options for accommodation.


Fernanda on her bike arriving in the middle of the square in Bari, Puglia
Arriving in Bari by bike – Photo by Monday Feelings

The capital of Puglia can be easily explored in one day or a few hours. It has one of the oldest historical city centers in this southern Italy region. Wander about it for a few hours and feel the bohemian vibe with old ladies chatting on their doors and windows, making fresh pasta, or just seeing time go by.

You should visit the marvelous Bari’s main cathedral and maybe get a city tour to explore street food or have an experience making fresh pasta.

For those who wish to make Bari a base city to explore southern Italy, look at accommodations here.


Aerial shot of Lecce with the main cathedral
Aerial shot of Lecce – Photo by Monday Feelings

Your next stop in this Puglia itinerary is Lecce, also called the “capital of the Baroque” or “Florence of the South”. Make this your new base city, where you can explore it for one or two days. This town has a charming city center full of churches, mansions, and a Roman amphitheater.

If you are wondering where to stay in Lecce, we have a full review of the B&B Le Giravolte you can read it here. This is a charming hotel in the center of the city and it is housed inside an old mansion.


Aerial view of the Otranto Castle near the beach and the port
Aerial view of the Otranto Castle – Photo by Monday Feelings

In this southern Itinerary road trip through Puglia, Otranto is one of our favorite cities. It is very historical with its castles, churches, and a sanctuary with the mortal remains of more than 800 men who lost their lives during the Turkish invasion in the 15th century. It also has a spectacular Bauxite Lake with emerald-green waters.

How many days to stay in Puglia?

A large natural pool of sea water in the middle of a rock with the ocean in the back and people swimming
The natural pool of Grotta della Poesia – Photo by Monday Feelings

This Puglia road trip can be done on a 5 or 7 days southern Italy itinerary. If you are short on time, we would advise you to skip Bari and only visit Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, and Otranto. But, if you are lucky enough to have 10, 12, or 14 days in southern Italy, you could surely add other cities such as Cisternino, which is just half an hour away from Polignano, or Punta Prosciutto and Gallipoli, which is 40 minutes away from Lecce. Perhaps enjoy the off-the-beaten destination of Gargano too. You can also check here a detailed itinerary for Puglia and tailor your southern Italy road trip.

After all these days enjoying the wonders of Puglia, you can go back to Bari or Rome to take the car back. And if you still didn’t get enough of southern Italy, maybe you could stop in Matera on your way to Rome.

Road trip #2 — From gastronomic Naples to the glamorous beaches of the Amalfi Coast

An overview of the Vesuvius in Naples and the city just by it

This itinerary in southern Italy starts in Naples. This is a coastal city in Campania. It is washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea and considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Naples is full of historical buildings, monuments, and most important of all, it is the birthplace of pizza and mozzarella!

You can easily explore Naples in two days. In the first one, you can visit the historical city center, walk around the famous Via Toledo, and visit the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish District). On the second day, you can enjoy the beautiful Bay of Naples and have some cultural activities, such as a walk to Castle Dell’Ovo and visiting the Piazza del Plebiscito. Or even go on a quick two-hour trip to the ancient city of Pompeii.  

And remember: you are in the original home of pizza so you cannot miss trying it, along with mozzarella, and drink the famous limoncello.

Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast?

People walking against the sun light in the streets of Naples

As this is a very popular place for tourists in Italy, we recommend you to book your stays in Naples as early as you can (really early, like 3 or 4 months ahead). Even then, many places might already be full and no longer have rooms to reserve.

How to get to Naples?

Naples is the capital of Campania, and it has flights, trains, and buses that come from and go to major Italian cities and other places on the Amalfi Coast. You can get to Naples by flights that get to the International Napoli-Capodichino Airport (NAP), by train that gets to Naples’ main train station, Napoli Central, or by bus through the nearby bus station of Naples. But our favorite option, as we already said, is traveling to South Italy by car. If you are not staying in central Naples, it can be hard to find public transportation at some hours, so you will depend on the bus schedules, which can add up to your Southern Italy trip.

On our last trip to Naples, we stayed in a nearby village called Acerra because it was the only option available as we booked last minute – otherwise we would pay through our noses. It wasn’t the best option really, because we were relying on public transportation and the last train to Acerra was 7pm. So we couldn’t enjoy the night in Naples the way we wanted.

How to get around the Amalfi Coast?

a boat moored near rocks with a large mountain in the background

Many people think it is not a good idea to rent a car to drive around the Amalfi Coast because it can be quite hard to find a spot to park. And during some seasons it might have a lot of traffic jams too. But others prefer not to rely on public transportation schedules or get stuck in a bus because of traffic. Having a car can make you drive calmly along the coast while enjoying the view and maybe stopping by some places you wouldn’t otherwise go by bus.

So, you can choose to rent a car in Naples, or go from Naples to Sorrento by train, car, or ferry, and then rent a car in Sorrento. Then you can drive along the coast using its main road Amalfi Drive. It is a popular 50km-long road and it takes about two hours to drive it entirely. It can get quite congested during the Summer season (June to September), so much so that during summer there is an alternating license plate system for rental cars to limit traffic. Be sure to check this according to the days you are traveling the Amalfi Coast.


So after leaving Naples, this Southern Italy road trip to the Amalfi Coast starts in Sorrento. This is a beautiful city for you to explore in one day. There are a lot of things to do in Sorrento, such as wandering around the picturesque streets and archways of its Old Town, stopping for lunch at Marina Grande, and, of course, trying the famous limoncello, traditionally produced with Sorrento lemons native to the Sorrentine peninsula.

The sun almost in the horizon in the sea with a mountain next to it and framed by olive branches
Sunset in Italy – Photo by Monday Feelings


Your next stop is the beautiful Positano, with its picturesque houses, blue waters, and cute streets. Spending one day in Positano is enough to see its magic. It is a great city to have a nice walking experience, wandering around its alleys and admiring the Positano Cathedral, enjoying the beach at Spiaggia Grande, or even shopping in its unique boutiques. Just note that even though this is a beautiful town, it can be very expensive to stay in Positano. 


A trip from Positano to Amalfi by car can take about an hour, but due to traffic, it can take at least two hours. You can also stop on the way to see the incredible Grotto della Smeraldo— Emerald Cave— that lies outside the fishing village of Conca dei Marini about 5km before Amalfi. As this city lies just in the middle of the Amalfi Coast, it might be a good idea to make this your base city and take a day trip to places such as Atrani, Maiori, Minori, and Fiordo di Furore.


This is a must on your Amalfi Coast road trip, and you can either take a one-day trip from Amalfi to Ravello or choose to stay in Ravello for the night and go to the beach during the day. It is a romantic city and one of the most beautiful places in Italy.

Vietri sul Mare

This town is at the end of Amalfi Drive, and it is the ceramic capital of Campania. It is full of colorful pottery all around and has been made locally since ancient Roman times. It is an authentic town that many people overlook because it is not as popular or visually appealing as the other ones.


This city is mostly known for its important medical school that dates back to the Medieval Era. It was the first medical institution in Europe. There are a lot of things to do in Salerno in one day such as visiting the Arechi Castle with an amazing view of the Golf. You can wander around the historical center of Salerno with its alleyways and historical buildings, visit the Minerva Gardens, and visit the Virtual Museum of Salerno’s Medical School.

As your trip around the Amalfi Coast ends, you can drive to Naples in a one-hour trip and take back the rented car. And if you want to stay in Salerno for a night, you can see the options of accommodation here.

Road trip #3 — Around the archaeological sites and natural beauties of Sicily

Fernanda sit in a rock in front of the sea in Sicily
Fe in Sicily – Photo by Monday Feelings

If you are planning a trip to southern Italy, you certainly should consider visiting Sicily Island. We spent more than a month traveling around Sicily, uncovering its main sights and some of its best secrets. And if you already decided this is a must itinerary for southern Italy, then you can go directly to our article on the best cities in Sicily for you to visit.

How to get to Sicily?

Palermo is the largest city in Sicily and where the main international airport is located, so it ends up being the gateway for most travelers. You can also get to Palermo by ferry, since its port is directly connected to Genoa, Naples, and other cities. Another option is to get to Palermo by train or by bus.

How to get around Sicily?

Our favorite option for this South Italy road trip is to rent a car and travel around the island in your rhythm. But if you cannot do that, you can get around Palermo by train or by bus, which will connect you to the main Sicilian cities. But bear in mind that you will not reach some of our must-see places in Sicily without a car.

In this Sicily itinerary, we will consider you to have more time to explore this region and will tell you all the places you can consider visiting according to your schedule.

Once you get to Palermo, make it your base city and spend the first two days exploring it. Then, you can rent a car and start your journey through the island. If you want to know all the best places to stay in Sicily and get a more thorough guide on what to do on this island, you can read our complete article about this here.


Quatro Canti, the historical city centre of Palermo in Sicily
The city centre of Palermo – Photo by Monday Feelings

Besides being the largest city in Sicily, Palermo is also the capital of this region. There, you can enjoy various street fairs, the baroque square Quattro Canti as well as the Norman Palace. Palermo is definitely a city to spend at least a couple of nights. We spent four nights in Palermo and felt like we needed more time there. Find the best accommodations in Palermo here.


Once you have explored Palermo, you can take a day trip to Cefalù, a charming seaside village where you can enjoy the beauties of nature and historical sites.

Piana degli Albanesi

This is another place you can visit in one day while staying in Palermo. There, you can taste the best cannoli of Sicily.


This is the village where Don Corleone from “The Godfather” was born, so you might want to check it out while staying in Palermo as your base.

San Vito lo Capo

The street of San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily with the lighthouse in the end of the street
The main street of San Vito Lo Capo – Photo by Monday Feelings

After taking your time to explore Palermo and the wonders around it, your next base city can be San Vito lo Capo. This is one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily and it also houses the most beautiful beaches of the island. Next to the city, you can visit the Zingaro Natural Reserve, a natural park with lots of trails and six wonderful beaches for you to enjoy the incredible seaside.

San Vito lo Capo is a good place to stay as a base to explore the surroundings. So, after you enjoy the beaches, you can explore other cities such as Erice, Trapani and Mangiapane Cave.


Favignana is the largest town of the Edagi Archipelago and, as though you can take day trips from San Vito lo Capo to the Egadi Islands, you might like the nice experience of using Favignana as your base to explore these islands for a few days. You can make your way to Favignana from Trapani.


As you finish exploring the Northwest of Sicily, head to Agrigento and spend three days exploring the ancient culture and its archaeological parks. Around this city, you will find Scala dei Turchi (Stairs of the Turks), the Valley of the Temples, and the town of Piazza Armerina.


Aerial view of Ortigia, the historical city centre of Syracuse in Sicily
Aerial view of Ortigia, the city centre of Syracuse – Photo by Monday Feelings

To continue your trip to ancient times, after your time spent in the Southwest of Sicily, you can go to Syracuse, the home of Archimedes (Eureka!), and your next base.

We recommend you stay in Syracuse for at least four days so you can explore most of the monuments and historical places dating back to the times of the Greek and Roman Empires. You can make a day trip to visit Catania and ascend Mount Etna; take another day to go to the glamorous Taormina; another one to go to the Baroque Cities (Ragusa, Módica, Noto); and another one or two days to enjoy Syracuse itself.

After this long road trip around Sicily in this southern Italy itinerary, you can return the car to Catania. But if you still have some days left to enjoy South Italy in Sicily, we have a bonus tip.

Lipari Islands

Overview of the coast of Lipari Islands with Volcano Island in the background
The islands of Lipari – Photo by Monday Feelings

These are seven volcanic islands about 30km off the Northern coast of Sicily. We spent three days there, and it was a happy surprise. We explored the neighboring island and also witnessed a volcano in eruption. Are you curious if you should include this place in your itinerary in southern Italy? Take a look at our article on what to do in Lipari Island and choose for yourself.

If you don’t have too much time to explore all around the island, it is possible to make a 7 day itinerary in Sicily by choosing two different road trips, one heading east and the other one through the west. So which one of these road trips would you choose to dive into southern Italy? Let us know in the comments and contact us if you have any other questions. And sign up to our newsletter to receive sporadically news about places to visit.