Self-drive holiday tips and itineraries Italy

European Itineraries: 3 week self-drive tour of Italy

January 5, 2016 (Last Updated: August 26, 2022)
by Carolyn
Italy road trip

Ask anyone that’s heading to Europe which countries they are visiting and chances are, Italy will be amongst them.  This three week Italian itinerary is perfect for those who enjoy a road trip as it takes in many of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. 

I planned this self-drive tour itinerary for a family of four who wanted longer stays wherever possible in order to not feel too rushed.  You could adapt this Italian self drive itinerary to suit your own needs and timeframe.

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3 week self-drive itinerary

Day 1 – Rome to Greve, Tuscany

Italy road trip San Gimignano
San Gimignano. Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club / Freesurf

After collecting your hire car*, enjoy the views of the Italian countryside on your road trip as you head north to Tuscany.  Greve is situated in the Chianti region in northern Tuscany with easy access to Siena, San Gimignano and Florence. 

There is plenty to do in the area so you’ll have no trouble filling your days. These road trip tips for Tuscany could be helpful.

*I always recommend collecting your hire car from the airport.  Read why here.

TIP: If you plan on visiting Rome in winter, these tips will be really useful.

Day 6 – Greve to Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre Vernazza is one of the five Cinque Terre villages.

A four night stay in the Cinque Terre will give you three full days to explore the five stunning villages and admire the beautiful Ligurian coastline.

Park your car for the duration of your stay and use the local train service to reach each of the villages – or go on foot by hiking one or more of the well maintained hiking trails.

My Cinque Terre Travel Guide provides lots of useful information to help you plan your visit.

For a list of basic Italian phrases which will be handy throughout your travels, click here.

Day 10 – Monterosso to Venice

Venice Italy
Venice is one of the most popular destinations on a self-drive holiday in Italy – just make sure you plan your car parking in advance!

No trip to Italy would be complete without a visit to Venice.  This unique city certainly leaves an impression with its architecture, art and busy canals. 

As well as all the usual attractions (St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, The Doge’s Palaces, Bridge of Sighs, etc), why not visit the nearby islands of Burano and Murano? 

The islands are famous for glass making and lace making, whilst Burano is also home to row upon row of brightly coloured houses.

Day 13 – Venice to Arezzo

Country road in Tuscany
The lovely Tuscan countryside. Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club / FedevPhoto

The drive south from Venice to Naples is a long one so I suggest an overnight stop at Arezzo.  This medieval town houses one of Tuscany’s most famous frescoes depicting the story of the cross used to crucify Christ. 

You’ll find the fresco in the church of San Francesco.  Alternatively, you could head for the east coast and spend the night at San Marino or nearby.

Day 14 – Arezzo to Naples

Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the background. Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club / TL_Studio

Naples doesn’t have the best of reputations so it’s not going to be on every traveller’s bucket list, however it does make a convenient stop for those heading to the Amalfi Coast. 

Naples is also a handy departure point for ferries to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida, and for visits to Pompeii or Herculaneum.  Be sure to try a pizza – after all, Naples is the birthplace of pizza.

Day 16 – Naples to Amalfi

view of amalfi coast from ravello
View of the Amalfi Coast from Ravello. Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club / janoka82

After escaping the hustle and bustle of Naples, you’ll be ready for a few days of R&R and what better place to enjoy that than on the Amalfi Coast?

Amalfi, Sorrento and Positano are the most popular places to stay but don’t rule out Ravello, situated higher up the cliffside, which also offers stunning views.

My guide to visiting the Amalfi Coast includes must-see sights in many of the coast’s towns as well as tips for driving in this scenic part of Italy.

Day 20 – Amalfi to Rome

Conclude your self-drive holiday in Italy when you return to Rome today for your flight back home or to continue your European vacation.

3 week self drive tour of italy

Tip: Parking in Venice and the towns of the Cinque Terre can be problematic. Check well in advance with your accommodation provider for details on where to park.

Browse accommodation in Italy and check current prices here

If you’d love to visit Italy but would prefer not to do a self-drive tour, my 19 day Italy by rail itinerary could be just what you’re looking for.

Top image © FedevPhoto / Dollar Photo Club


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