Poland Travel Guide

POLAND TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Guided walking tour of Warsaw, Krakow, and other cities you visit.
  • Expert local guides & a dedicated travel director.
  • See St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw.
  • Visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • Explore other cathedrals and synagogues.
  • Taste authentic Polish cuisine.

POLAND VACATION TIPS

  • The currency used in Poland is the Zloty.
  • English is not the native or official language, but most of the population speak English.
  • You’ll want to pack layers as the weather can change quickly.
  • However, the locals will greatly appreciate the effort to say a few phrases.
  • Beer is a big part of the culture so as you are enjoying some of Poland’s culture, please do it responsibly. Drunk tourists causing trouble has become a growing concern to locals.
  • Because Poland is part of the Schengen, US, Canadian and Australian visitors do not need a visa if visiting less than 90 days.

THINGS TO DO IN POLAND

1. KRAKOW

From the Old Town to the Jewish Quarters, Krakow is a city of rich culture, architecture and deep history. Europe’s largest medieval town square is located here and survived the wartime destruction. The entire Old Town has been designated a UNESCO site and is a must-see when visiting Poland.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
According to legend, there once lived a dragon on Wawel hill that required livestock sacrifices so that it would not eat any of the locals. Well, the dragon was slain by the sons of King Krakus and the dragon now has its own statue close to Wawel Castle.

2. AUSCHWITZ

A deep dark stain on history, Auschwitz is, unfortunately, infamous for what Germany did during World War II, committing mass genocide against the Jews. Auschwitz is the location of the most well-known extermination camp. While history cannot be erased, memorials and monuments in memory and reflection have been built to help ease the pain the country still feels.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
In 1945, before abandoning the camps, the Germans destroyed parts of it but much of Auschwitz was intact. It was later transformed into a museum and memorial site. In 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

3. WARSAW

It’s said about 85% of Warsaw was destroyed during the war. However, when you visit today, you can walk around Old Town without even imagining that it had once been just rubble. The only sign of conflict in this city are the museums and monuments scattered around the city. Of course, one of the most famous activities to enjoy when in Warsaw is to take the Royal Route, which is a beautiful way to see Warsaw’s historic landmarks.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Other than the Old Town, you definitely want to take the Royal Route, a nearly 10-mile route to see all of Warsaw’s most historic landmarks and full of churches, palaces, and amazing homes. The three big highlights here are the Royal Castle, Lazienki palace, and Wilanow Palace.

4. LOCAL FOODS

Although traditionally rich in salts, meats, vegetables, and herbs, Polish cuisine has been going through a bit of a transformation. Due to its Czech and Slovak neighbors, as well as German and Hungarian influences, Polish food has gotten much more eclectic. It’s a must-try activity to find some authentic local polish food when traveling through Poland.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
One of the things about Polish food that makes it so famous is the way they pair things. However, if a heaping portion of meats with sauerkraut soup or goose dumplings do not fire off your taste buds, there are plenty of international options for you to try.

5. MUSEUMS

Some of the most inspiring museums and memorials can be found in Poland. It would be a missed opportunity to visit a few and reflect on the history of this beautiful country. In 2017, there were 127 registered museums throughout Poland, with the capital city Warsaw having the highest number at 16.

BEST TIME TO VISIT POLAND

Like a Phoenix, Poland has rebuilt itself to be stronger than it was before. With a lot of the country left in ruins after the war, you’ll be surprised when you see what the thriving cities and communities look like today. You may not even be able to tell that there was once so much misery in some parts. As you visit. you’ll be rewarded with an amazing culture and community of people, architecture, and of course, its history. All that’s left is to find out the best time to go!

QUICK FACTS
Summer is the most popular time for tourists to visit Poland Winter is considered low season but has been growing in popularity due to the Christmas Markets & Winter sports available during this time. Weather in Poland is generally unpredictable so it’s always recommended to bring layers

1. Summer – June – August – High Season

The average high during Summer in Poland is 72F and 52F lows. Summer is the busiest time of the year as it is high season, but it’s also the rainiest time. It can also be very hot in Poland, so plan accordingly if visiting Poland in the Summer. Despite the fact that the weather is completely unpredictable, Poland is filled with tourists during this time and you’ll want to book your trips early on!

2. Fall – September – November – Good Season

The average high temperature during the Fall in Poland is 55F and lows of 43F. The Fall is arguably when Poland’s natural landscapes are at their most beautiful. The foliage takes center stage with beautiful colors, the weather cools down, and the crowds begin to thin out. You’ll want to pack accordingly, as the temperature can drop quickly at night.

3. Winter – December to March – Slow Season

The average high during the Wintertime is 36F with lows at 28F. The brutal winters mean it’s slow season with not too many tourists visiting. However, as the Christmas markets become more popular, more and more groups are slowly discovering the beauty of Poland during winter.

4. Spring – March to May – Good Season

Average highs during Springtime are 52F and 37F low. As the flowers begin to bloom, Spring is a great time to visit. The frosts are gone but the weather can still be chilly. The crowds have not yet arrived so you’ll be able to visit attractions comfortably. Spring is a short window between winter and summer in this unpredictable weather, but if you have time, this is a great time to visit!

Ethiopia Travel Guide

Ethiopia Tours Highlights

  • Relax by the vast Lake Tana.
  • Enjoy seeing wildlife up close almost anywhere you go in Ethiopia!
  • Delight in traditional Ethiopian Cuisine in Addis Ababa.
  • Stand in awe in an underground church at Lalibela.
  • See the rushing waters of the Blue Nile Falls.
  • Experience the cultural diversity of the Omo Valley.
  • Celebrate during one of the many festivals Ethiopia has throughout the year.
  • Take in the diverse landscapes – from mountains and forests to lakes and deserts, Ethiopia has it all.

Ethiopia Travel Tips

  • Keep a scarf or sweater handy for the places in Ethiopia that require covered shoulders, or for the colder evenings.
  • Toilet paper is not always provided, so pack some in your day bag!
  • Bring a flashlight! Sometimes the country restricts power usage.
  • Be prepared for intercity buses that leave very early and travel delays due to rural road conditions.
  • Traveling throughout Ethiopia means going from extreme high altitude to extreme low. Take it easy when you’re changing locations to avoid altitude sickness.
  • Pack for hot and cold as the climate varies with altitude and region.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia is the place to go for a traveler with curiosity. There’s a lot to see in this country that makes it unique. It is home to rare wildlife, has 80 ethnic groups with well-preserved cultural traditions, and has beautiful, sometimes strange, landscapes and sights. Seventy percent of Africa’s mountains are in Ethiopia, making it perfect for hikers. The traveler looking for an uncommon experience will be right at home in Ethiopia. Not to mention, anyone looking for a country that is both beautiful and culturally diverse will want to visit right away.

1. VISIT AN UNDERGROUND CHURCH

We’re talking about a church that is literally under the ground! The Bete Giyorgis of Lalibela is a church carved out of a single rock structure around the 11th century. It is one of eleven such churches that are connected by a network of underground tunnels. The church is cut 40 feet beneath the surface with a roof shaped like a cross.

Best time to visit:

The church is a spectacular site year-round, but it is particularly exciting during Easter celebrations in early April.

You should know:

  • There are two versions of the history of this church. Check it out and learn about this unique piece of local history!
  • The surrounding town is committed to a traditional lifestyle. There are no cars or paved roads.
  • Religious tradition is an important part of the town and ten percent of the population is in the priesthood.

2. SEE THE BEGINNING OF A WORLD OCEAN

Eswatini is home to the Afar Rift, the site of an opening ocean basin. Plate movement in this part of the world has caused the Afar Rift to open up. While the plates move apart at the rate of about one inch per year and the ocean won’t exist for a very very long time, the site itself is interesting to see and learn about.

Best time to visit:

You can visit this site anytime! It is in the desert, so just be prepared for a little heat when you go, and bring sun protection.

3. ENJOY THE CULTURE OF COFFEE

Head to the Manyate Coffee Village in the Harenna Forest for a tour of wild-grown coffee. The world’s supply of wild coffee is becoming extinct. Most of the coffee worldwide comes from cultivated coffee beans. Learn about wild coffee production and grab a cup at the village.

Best time to visit

Go during harvest season, September-November, and you can experience picking your own coffee beans.

You should know

  • Beekeeping in the area is also an important local practice. Find some local honey!
  • The local Sankate Association has worked to develop the area to offer shopping, tours, and nearby camping. Spend some time in the area trying it all out.

4. VISIT BEN ABEBA

This restaurant on a cliffside offers both local food and views. Not to mention, the architecture of the building will leave you in awe. From the strangely beautiful structure, views of the river valley are breathtaking. The whole experience of dining at Ben Abeba feels other-worldly.

You should know

  • Learn the story of how this restaurant came to be while you’re there!
  • The owner prides herself on offering the chefs in-house training and for sourcing local ingredients.

5. GO TO THE HISTORIC CAPITAL

Gondar, or Gonder, was the capital of Ethiopia for over 200 years and it has the history to match! Make your way to this city to see sites like the historic emperor’s palace and fortress city, a chancellery, and three churches. If you want to learn a bit about Ethiopian history, this is the city to visit!

You should know

  • Ethiopia is one of two countries in Africa to have never been colonized. This makes its history both unique and intriguing.
  • You will see Portuguese, Indian, and local architectural styles in Gondar. Find the reasons behind the interesting blend when you visit.

6. SEE THE VIEWS FROM ENTOTO

One of the most beautiful views in Ethiopia is from Mount Entoto, near the capital city of Addis Ababa. Take a tour up the mountain or just enjoy the eucalyptus tree forest on your own. Entoto is home to two of the oldest Ethiopian Orthodox Christian churches

You should know

  • In the St. Raguel Church, you can see 140 year old hand-painted walls that are worth the visit.
  • St. Mary’s Church has a museum which is a great place to learn about the religious history of the country.
  • For more hiking, check out the Simien Mountains!

7. RELAX AT LAKE LANGANO

After you’ve seen the mountain views, head to this stunning lake for a bit of refreshment on the water. There are plenty of resorts around the lake so you can choose to relax with a view, hit the beach for some water sports, or relax on the sand and catch sight of some beautiful aquatic birds.

You should know

  • There is a lakeside forest East Langano Nature Reserve where you can enjoy the view of the lake and wildlife, like warthogs and baboons, on horseback. 
  • While the eastern side of the lake has the best forests, the west side has great beaches.
  • This lake is about three hours south of the capital and part of a series of popular lakes as you head south.
  • Want more Lake? Head out to Lake Tana!

8. EXPERIENCE THE CITY IN AWASA

The city of Awasa borders Lake Awasa and gives you more of the options of city life. It is a smaller city, but a common stop for travelers going to the Omo Valley or Bale Mountains, so it has a lot of the comforts of a bigger city. If you’re looking for a smaller city than Addis and a bit more town than Langano, check it out.

Best time to visit

Walking around the city and enjoying the lake are definitely easiest to enjoy during the dry season, October-March. 

You should know

  • Many city dwellers head to Awassa for a quick getaway, so if you end up here on a weekend, try to book your stay in advance.
  • Awasa is one of the cities in Ethiopia with a higher elevation, so the nights get colder. Be prepared with a sweater if you’ll be out late.
  • Eat some fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants near the lake!

BEST TIME TO VISIT ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia is a country of many climates and has a long peak season for tourism. You cannot go wrong by visiting anytime of year, though. The rainy season will require the most preparation, but using a tour company definitely makes it simple to visit without worrying too much about the weather. When it comes to being prepared for the weather, it mostly comes down to how you should pack. Since the country has high and low elevations, deserts and forests, city and rural life, you will need to pack for all kinds of adventures! It is an exciting country that will defy expectations.

Quick Facts

  • The north and east of Ethiopia are mainly desert.
  • Central Ethiopia has fairly mild and temperate weather.
  • To the south you will find a tropical climate.

In order to plan the best trip possible, consider not just the time of year you’ll visit Ethiopia, but also what areas are important for you to see. The two go hand-in-hand! Every part of Ethiopia has something exciting to offer, so pick one region or see the whole country. Just go prepared!

Seasonal Overview Section

  1. Rainy – mid-April-September are the wet months in Ethiopia. The country still has plenty to offer during most of these months, but, if you have a particular interest in seeing the southern part of the country, avoid the months of June-August as the rain causes a lot of inaccessibility due to the muddy, rural roads. This is also the warmest time of year throughout the country. Although April is the official start of the off-season for tourism, it is just the beginning of the rainy season and much of the country is still navigable. As well, it is a great time to visit because the country’s historic churches celebrate Easter with style!
  2. Dry – October-mid-April is the high season for travel in Ethiopia. There are festivals almost every month of the high season, including New Year on September 11th. September-October is also a great time to see the flowers bloom! Since October-April are the dry months of the year, it is the best time to see wildlife and the most easy time of year for traveling around the country. The busiest months for tourism are January and February, so book tours in advance for these months.

United States Travel Guide

United States Tours Highlights

  • Explore the many National Parks and National Forests the USA has to offer, like Yellowstone National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Zion.
  • New England is steeped in history and known for its amazing fall foliage.
  • Alaska is full of wildlife, natural beauty, huge glaciers, and friendly people.
  • The Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of the largest. Travel to New Mexico for this colorful aerial extravaganza.
  • Discover the major cities in Texas. Stand in Dallas where Kennedy was shot, see the behind the scenes of NASA in Houston, and walk the San Antonio river walk.
  • Stroll around the French Quarter in New Orleans to hear Jazz music, eat delicious Cajun food, and visit unique landmarks.
  • Honky-tonk lovers will love Tennessee, where legends like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash come alive.
  • Island hop around Hawaii to see volcanoes, beaches, and forests. Spend time at Pearl Harbor and visit the USS Arizona Memorial.
  • The west coast is full of fresh cityscapes, sun-kissed seaside cliffs, and rolling hills.
  • Follow legendary Route 66 and see how Americans traveled from the 1920s through the 1960s.

United States Travel Tips

  • If you already live states side, a lot of the same cultural norms stand true throughout the United States.
  • You’ll find large portioned meals everywhere you go. Any sit down restaurant and anywhere you order a drink, tipping at least 20% is normal.
  • It is common to find public bathrooms that are free to use.
  • The United States is a huge country. The weather can vary greatly so plan ahead.
  • Respect people’s personal space when in public areas or on public transportation.
  • The US dollar is accepted everywhere in the United States and no other form of currency is used. Carry some cash to grab a coffee or buy other small items.
  • Beggars are common in high traffic areas. Most people suggest ignoring any solicitations for money.
  • Americans drive on the right side of the road and the driver sits on the left side of the car.
  • The United States uses the metric system for nearly everything.
  • It is likely that English will be the only language people speak. It best to learn some conversation English to communicate.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN THE UNITED STATES

1. STAND IN AWE IN THE NATIONAL PARKS

NATIONAL PARK

The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, and Bryce Canyon really do live up to their expectation. Each one has scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and tons of natural beauty. Choose from over 60 National Parks and experience some of the great wonders of the world.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • There are many National Parks spread out around the country. Pick your favorites and travel to ones that are also close by.
  • A tour is usually necessary to learn about the history of each of the parks.

2. VISIT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

STATUE OF LIBERTY

Lady Liberty is an American icon located in New York Harbor. The copper statue was a gift from the people of France in 1886. She is engraved with the Roman numerals of the date of the US’s Declaration of Independence. She is located near Ellis Island, where immigrants would first arrive when they came by sea. You can walk around the State and even go inside for great views of the iconic New York skyline.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • You need to take a boat to the Statue of Liberty because she is located on an island
  • If you want to go inside the State, you have 2 options. A pedestal only ticket, which gets you halfway up, or a crown ticket, which gets you all the way to the top.
  • Prepare to go through 2 rounds of airport-like security to go to the island and to go inside the Statue.

3. WALK ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

This huge suspension bridge is a mile long and located in the San Francisco Bay over the Pacific Ocean. Opened in 1937, this is one of the most famous and recognizable bridges in the world. Under the bridge is Fort Point National Historic Site, a free NPS location that offers both interesting history and a scenic view.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Summer months are the best time to visit because the weather is warm. Keep in mind fog can obstruct your view early in the morning, so afternoons are best. For great views, go at sunset.

4. LEARN ABOUT US HISTORY IN WASHINGTON DC

WASHINGTON DC

Washington DC is the nation’s capital and full of government buildings including the US Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. One of the world’s largest libraries, the Library of Congress, is a huge research library that contains one of the Gutenberg Bibles. The National Mall is the park area located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • All the Smithsonian Museums are free, as well as a lot of the government buildings. However, some exhibits might require a reserved ticket ahead of time.
  • Check calendars for any closures on public holidays.
  • Located outside of DC, Arlington National Cemetery and Mount Vernon are popular sites to visit.

5. SEE THE HUGE MOUNT RUSHMORE MEMORIAL

MOUNT RUSHMORE

Mount Rushmore is an enormous sculpture carved into the face of a mountain in South Dakota. It depicts the 60-foot heads of four US presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. There are trails to walk around to view the flora and fauna of the area.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Summer months are very popular, but any sunny day is a great time to visit. Spring and Fall have great temperatures and will have lighter crowds.

6. ISLAND HOP IN HAWAII

HAWAII

Visit active volcanoes, beautiful beaches, nature preserves with wildlife, historical memorials, and forests full of walking trails and waterfalls. Go to Honolulu and see Pearl Harbor National Memorial and learn about the attacks in 1941. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park encompasses two active volcanoes with dramatic views and lots of rare flora and fauna.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Rainy season is considered to be from November to March, but there are many parts of Hawaii that won’t receive a lot of rainfall. The Springtime and Fall are both wonderful times to visit.  

7. WANDER AROUND THE FRENCH QUARTER                   

The French Quarter is a popular buzzing area of New Orleans. This city square is the oldest section of New Orleans. The area has historical buildings, lots of restaurants and bars, street art and performers, and a huge church, St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. Stop by Café du Monde 24/7 for some chicory coffee and famously delicious beignets, and shop around the French Market for local foods and crafts. Get out of the hustle and bustle and take a stroll along the walk on the Mississippi river banks.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Busy weekends change week to week depending on if there are any festivals on the schedule, JazzFest, Mardi Gras season, and the French Quarter Festival will bring very heavy crowds. The weather in New Orleans is hot and humid during most of the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Wear very good walking shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen.

8. LISTEN TO HONKY-TONK MUSIC IN NASHVILLE

NASHVILLE

Home of the Country Music Hall Of Fame, there are tons of bars, restaurants, and venues to hear lots of good honky-tonk music. The Johnny Cash Museum opened in 2013 to honor the life and music of country superstar. Spend the day looking at the world’s largest collection of Cash memorabilia. Legendary music star, Elvis Presley is known to have recorded 200+ songs at RCA Studio B, which is also available to tour.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The weather is pleasant and the sites aren’t as crowded in the Spring and Fall months. Summer months can bring high temperatures and muggy weather.

9. SPEND THE DAY AT A THEME PARK

Disney World

From Walt Disney World, Disneyland, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios, there are plenty of theme parks to choose from in the US. Movie lovers will enjoy Universal Studios and can gain insight into movie making. Disneyworld has multiple parks, from around the world activities in Epcot to great rides at the Magic Kingdom and has so much to see that visitors usually spend multiple days exploring. Depending on your location and interests, there is a theme park for you.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Each park has its own calendar of busy days, so be sure to research ahead of time. Rule of thumb, weekends, holidays, and Summer are the busiest times.

10. GO TO A SHOW IN LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS

The Las Vegas strip is full of sensory overload sites and attractions. From roller coasters, huge dancing fountains, sky-high towers, and fancy resorts you can see something new every time you walk around. Live shows are a popular thing to do in Las Vegas and there are performances for every type of interest. From magic to dancing, to circus and music, there are tons of world-famous performers who have graced the stage.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Get your tickets ahead of time because most of the shows sell out quickly.
  • Check the age restrictions on performances to make sure your whole group can attend.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The USA is a beautiful place to visit. Its sprawling geography is vast and varied and there’s nothing more american than a road trip around the US. From the flatlands in the southeast to the ice caps in Alaska, there’s a little bit of everything here for everyone. Because the weather from one place to another is so different, you’ll need to know the best time to visit for the area you’re going.

Quick Facts

  • The USA is separate into six main regions: Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, Southwest, West, and Northwest.
  • Each region has climate that is different from each other and it’s important to know where you’ll be visiting to better your expectations.

NORTHEAST REGION
The Northeast region of the United States consists of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The average temperature during the Summer is 69F and about 20F during the Winter. This area gets four distinct seasons every year. One of the most pleasant times to visit is during the Fall when the leaves are turning colors and the weather is cool and accommodating.

SOUTHEAST REGION
The Southeast region of the United States consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, & Virginia. Average highs during the Summer are solidly in the 90s while during the Winter you can expect average temperatures of 60s. One of the best times to visit this area is during the Winter, when it’s nice and sunny during the day but it’s not too hot. The nighttime temperatures feel nice and just right as you layer up.

MIDWEST REGION
The Midwest region of the United States consists of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Temperatures here tend to fluctuate drastically. Average Winter highs here are in the 20s and 70s in the Summer. This is also known to be quite windy with conditions ranging from high to extreme.

SOUTHWEST REGION
The Southwest region of the United States consists of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. Summers in the south are hot and humid. Average temperatures can reach up to over 100F. Winters cool off slightly at about 60F with the rare 30F or 40F cold front.

WEST REGION
The West region of the United States consists of California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The West is primarily made up of desert and desert Summers can be very hot, up to the 100s. Winters are nice and cool, averaging about 50s. The weather here is mostly temperate and not too unpredictable.

NORTHWEST REGION
The Northwest Region of the United States consists of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. This is the wettest region of the US with the states getting the most rainfall. Winters are cold and wet and Summers are very pleasant. Average temperatures are in the 70F high and 50F low during the Summer. During the Winter, the highs average about 40F and 30F low.

Review: A Week In… Portugal With Tauck

Portugal with Tauck
By: Maya Keith, CTA & Senior Travel Consultant

Portugal has always been on my bucket list for a very long time for its unique mix of old-world traditions – rich history, some of the best Portuguese cuisines and port wines from Duoro valley, historic monasteries, Douro River, palaces and castles. I could not have picked any other company to travel with than Tauck Tours. Tauck is one of the most luxurious company out there that is all inclusive, stays at 5 star boutique hotels, luxurious stops on trips, out of this world cuisines, excellent service, no extra cost on any optional excursions and my favorite slow paced tour that caters mainly to seniors. I can tell you that I am nowhere close to being a senior but it was nice to be treated like a VIP on a Tauck tour. Portugal with Tauck really delivered above and beyond my expectations.

Continue reading

Italy Travel Guide- working

Italy Tours Highlights

  • Step back in time at the Colosseum.
  • Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.
  • Take a picture with the Leaning Tower Of Pisa.
  • Take a Gondola ride in Venice.
  • Cruise the Amalfi Coast.
  • Visit the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.
  • See countless works of art like the David, The Last Supper, and the Mona Lisa.
  • Take a rowboat tour though the Blue Grotto in Capri.
  • People watch in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
  • Drink wine in Tuscany.
  • Walk around the Cinque Terre.
  • Admire the architecture of the Duomo di Milano.
  • Relax in the Italian Lake District.

Italy Travel Tips

  • Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for cobbled streets and lots of stairs.
  • Hotel rooms are smaller than found in America, and there might not be an elevator.
  • Italy is very serious about their food. Plan to spend a lot of time eating meals, sometimes a few hours. It can be considered rude to rush. Some places will charge a per person cover charge.
  • Lots of restaurants and stores shut down for ‘riposo’ from about 1pm-4pm. Italians like to have a break in the middle of the day. Plan ahead if you were wanting to eat or shop during this time.
  • Cars in Italy are very small, and the roads are very narrow. Make sure your luggage will fit. Trains are a popular way to travel.
  • Visit famous sites early in the morning to beat the crowds.
  • Since Italy is a popular travel destination, keep your valuables close to you. Some people prefer to keep their cash, cards, and passport in a travel pouch under their clothes. Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home and don’t accept any ‘free gifts’ from merchants.
  • Italians drink espresso at the end of meals, never during. Cappuccinos are only for breakfast.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN ITALY

1. VISIT THE VATICAN AND SISTINE CHAPEL

Vatican

The Vatican Museums located in the Vatican City in Rome offer a look at the immense art collection amassed by popes thought out the years. There are around 20,000 pieces of Roman sculptures and other mostly Renaissances masterpieces on display. Next door is the Sistine Chapel, whose ceiling was famously painted by Michelangelo. This is the site of the papal conclave, which is how they select a new pope. St. Peter’s Basilica is also next door and most visitors like to see all three sites.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel are 2 of the most visited attractions in Italy and the world. First thing in the morning is your best bet. The line for both places can get very long, we suggest joining a tour that allows you to bypass the line and cut to the front.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • There is a strict dress code to enter the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Your knees and shoulders must be covered.
  • You can’t take pictures everywhere. In the Vatican, there are many places you can snap photos, but you can’t in the Sistine Chapel.
  • Since the Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, they ask you to be respectful and not speak while inside.

2. THROW A COIN IN THE TREVI FOUNTAIN

TREVI FOUNTAIN

Standing over 26 meters high, the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and has appeared in several notable movies. The streets convene and mark the final point of Aqua Virgo, which was one of the earliest aqueducts in Rome. The name of the fountain translates to Three Street Fountain.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Travelers should see the fountain twice, once in the daylight and once at night. Both are spectacular. Crowds are hard to avoid but plan to visit right after sunrise for the best view.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Legend says, throw a coin over your left shoulder and you’ll return to Italy!
  • The money thrown in the fountain is donated to a Catholic charity.
  • The water is not safe to drink and you are not allowed to sit on the edge of the fountain or touch the water.

3. TAKE A PICTURE AT THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA

PISA

This free-standing bell tower is known for its 4 degree lean because of its unstable foundation. Built-in the 12th century, the lean got worse and by 1990, the tilt was nearly 6 degrees. Restoration work from 1993- 2001 reduced the tilt to a little less than 4 degrees. Located in Pisa, Italy, this one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Because the tower was declared stable for the next 200 years, you can still climb the 251 steps to the top of the tower.
  • The word Pisa is a Greek word meaning “marshy land.”

4. STEP BACK IN TIME AT THE COLOSSEUM

COLOSSEUM

Construction of this huge oval amphitheater began in year 72 and was completed in 80. Holding up to 80,000 people, it was used for gladiatorial contests and was the largest built at the time. Sometimes, water was flooded into the arena so naval reenactments could be performed. In the area, there is a vast underground structure of tunnels, which is still visible today. It is located just east of the Roman Forum and is a very popular tourist destination.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Lots of people like to see it both at night and the day, to get a different experience. Either time you choose, we suggest going on a tour in order to skip the line. The Colosseum is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Since this is a top attraction, there are going to be crowds whenever you go. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time. Winter months might have somewhat fewer crowds, especially on non-holiday weekdays.

5. WALK AROUND CINQUE TERRE

CINQUE TERRE

Located on the northwest coast of Italy, Cinque Terre is made up of five villages and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The five villages are also connected by numerous hiking trails, and this allows for easy travel between all of Cinque Terre. Just be sure to pack comfortable shoes, and a light backpack for the scenic walks in each village.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • There is no car access once you are inside the five villages. Don’t be alarmed, there is a local train called The Cinque Terre Express, that runs from La Spezia through the coast and the boarding pass is only a few Euros.

6. ADMIRE THE DUOMO DI MILANO

DUOMO DI MILANO

The Milan Cathedral is located in Milan and is the largest church in Italy. It took nearly 6 centuries to complete. Full of beautiful colorful stained glass windows and a huge marble staircase, it houses the second largest organ in all of Europe. For a great view of the city, climb to the roof to admire the magnificent buildings surrounding the cathedral and the Pizza del Duomo below.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

This top attraction will be crowded, so make sure you go with a tour group or buy your tickets ahead of time. For beautiful colors, we suggest going right before sundown. If it is a clear sunny day, you might be able to see the Alps.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Like other Italian churches, you must have shoulders and knees covered. Bring a light scarf to wear as a shawl during the summer months.

7. TAKE A ROWBOAT THROUGH THE BLUE GROTTO

BLUE GROTTO

The Blue Grotto is located on the island of Capri. It is a beautiful sea cave that sunlight passes through and creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavity. The sight is breathtaking and this crystal clear water attraction is one of Capri’s most famous places.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

The Blue Grotto is usually closed during the winter and can also close at the last minute due to weather conditions. Summer months are peak tourist season, so the wait times won’t be as long in the Spring and Fall. No matter what time of the year you go, aim to get to the Grotto between noon and 2pm because the reflections are the strongest. If it is an overcast day, we suggest saving the Blue Grotto for a sunny day on your trip. Keep in mind that you might have to wait for your turn to enter.

8. TAKE A GONDOLA RIDE IN VENICE

GONDOLA

Riding a gondola is one of the top activities in all of Italy. This traditional form of transportation is the best way to get around the 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea. As you glide down the canals in Venice, the gondolier will sing to you in Italian to really set the mood.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Grand Canal is the most popular spot for gondola rides.
  • A gondola ride can be just as beautiful at night.

9. EXPLORE THE RUINS OF POMPEII

POMPEII

One of the most famous volcano eruptions, Mount Vesuvius exploded in year 79 and covered the small town of Pompeii. You can explore the archaeological ruins for an inside look into the history and how they lived their day to day life. Pompeii is located 14 miles from Naples, south of Mount Vesuvius. A walking tour is the best way to see this very well preserved ancient town.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

The winter and spring will have the least amount of crowds. Holiday weekends will bring out more travelers than usual.

10. EAT WONDERFUL ITALIAN FOOD

ITALIAN FOOD

Travel to the place where pizza was born and dine on an authentic pie. Neapolitan pizza usually just consists of crust, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes. Pasta is also a dish all travelers must try. From hearty lasagna to creamy risotto, you won’t leave Italy hungry. Let’s not forget about another important aspect of an Italian meal, the wine! Tuscany produces some of the world’s best wine and it’s great to pair with any Italian meal.

  • Italians like to have a break in the middle of the day so lots of restaurants shut down for ‘riposo’ from about 1pm-4pm.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY

The best time to visit Italy is anytime. With so much to see, do, eat, and hear, there is somewhere for everyone throughout the year. But, depending on where and what region you’re visiting, you can definitely optimize your experience based on what you’re looking for.

Quick Facts

  • The most popular time to visit is during the Summer – the weather is warm but the crowds are big.
  • The quietest time to visit is during the winter months.
  • Ski birds will want to visit from December to March.

Spring – March to May – Good Season

The average high in Rome during this time is 62F and the average low is 40F. It’s still a little cold for most crowds but this is an optimal time to do exactly what you want in the central and southern regions like Rome or Naples.

Summer – June to August – High Season

The average high in Rome in the summer is 83F and the average low is 58F. You’ll notice it can get a little chilly at night so you’ll want to bring layers. Summer is the peak season so you’ll see a lot of big crowds and long lines. However, if you’re traveling with one of our travel partners, you won’t have to worry as your dedicated travel director will have tickets to the most popular attractions and you’ll be able to skip the line in most cases (inclusions are itinerary specific).

Fall – September to November – Good Season

The average high in the capital city is 82F and 58F low. Fall is a great time to visit as the crowds are starting to thin and you’ll get more of the city to yourself. Popular attractions won’t be as crowded and waits won’t be too long. It does rain a bit more in the Fall so you’ll want to be ready with an umbrella or poncho.

Winter – December to February – Low Season

The average high in Rome during the Winter is 56F and 38F low. The only people here during this time are skiers looking to hit the slopes in the Italian Alps. It’s cold and often wet, and most major attractions close early or are on short winter hours. Although the crowds tend to be really low during this time, the Christmas markets tend to be really popular and draw crowds.