A street in Burano, Italy.

Top 5 destinations for an unforgettable day trip in Italy

Looking for unique places to discover in Italy? Here are top 5 alternative destinations that you can explore in just one day.

4 min read

Tired of the usual tourist hotspots, and looking for an exciting getaway in Italy? Or perhaps you’d like to escape the city for a day, surrounded by the sea or the mountains. We’ve got you covered—here are the top 5 unique places for a memorable day trip in Italy this summer.

Duino, Trieste (Friuli Venezia-Giulia)

Not far from Trieste and its seaside resorts, the town of Duino is famous for its 14th-century castle overlooking the sea. Duino Castle has hosted some impressive visitors over the years, including Gabriele D'Annunzio, Empress Sisi, Eleonora Duse, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke also lived at Duino Castle while writing the famous Duino Elegies—and the beautiful promenade that runs along the Riviera delle Falesie is dedicated to him. 

From Duino Castle, you can admire the ruins of the old castle of Duino, an old manor house from the 10th century. Local legend has it that a ghost called the White Lady wanders between the rooms and corridors of the old castle, looking for peace after her evil husband threw her into the sea and she transformed into a white rock. See if you can spot the rock on the cliff that Duino Castle is built on—you’ll know it’s the one if the shape resembles a female figure wrapped in a mantle.

Panorama of the cliff on which the old castle of Duino stands.

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Triora, Imperia (Liguria)

This is the ideal destination if you’re looking for a short trip full of good food and relaxation. Triora is part of Valle Argentina, and sits roughly 800 meters above sea level. Since it's far from the coast, it has a mountainous climate—making it perfect for those who want to escape a heatwave. Take a leisurely stroll through the green pastures and along the streams, surrounded by olive trees and chestnut woods. 

In contrast to the idyllic setting, Triora is also known for a bloody episode of the witch hunt from the 16th century. The small Ethnographic and Witchcraft Museum in town is recommended as an interesting pitstop, if time allows. And of course, the delicious regional cuisine doesn't need any introduction. Typical local fare includes Triora bread, made with flour and bran, and the local cheese—bruss or bruzzo—which is made by fermenting ricotta cheese. 

The village of Triora in the mountains.

Spoleto-Norcia Railway (Umbria)

If you’re looking for a real adventure surrounded by nature, the Spoleto-Norcia Railway is for you. Inaugurated in 1926 and abandoned shortly after in 1968, this railway stretch once connected the two towns of the Apennine Mountains. Fortunately, the old tracks have been transformed into a 30km cycling and hiking path, and you can now enjoy the magnificent view of the Umbrian countryside as you walk across any of the 24 bridges. 

The moderately easy route is filled with many resting areas for you to enjoy a scenic picnic, but if you want to cover the complete route, it’ll take about 15 hours on foot. It’s also a family-friendly destination, as both children and adults alike will appreciate the opportunity to see many different kinds of animals.

Isola di San Nicola, Tremiti (Puglia)

San Nicola Island belongs to the Tremiti Island archipelagos, and can be reached via ferry. Ideal for both a short day trip or a longer vacation, the island is surrounded by large rocks that offer many secluded coves, as well as incredible caves to explore. The Tremiti Islands are also a marine nature reserve, which makes this destination perfect for diving enthusiasts. 

San Nicola Island was also home to Benedictine monks, who settled there in the 9th century, and built the Abbey of Santa Maria e Mare monastery in the 11th century. The now-abandoned monastery is still open to visitors, and is said to be so beautiful that it's considered an open-air museum.

The island of San Nicola.

Policoro, Matera (Basilicata)

Ever struggled to organize a holiday with friends who all have different interests? The town of Policoro on the Ionian coast offers the sea, mountains and history—the perfect trio to cover all tastes. The Bosco del Pantano, a natural oasis protected by WWF, offers guided excursions on foot, by bike, or even on horseback. The Lido of Policoro is equipped with many beach resorts, while the small Lido of Metaponto is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Basilicata. The history of Policoro will also take you quite far back in time, as this is the place where Pyrrhus fought against the Roman army. History buffs will be chuffed to spend their days at the National Archaeological Museum of Siritide, and in the archaeological area of Metapontum.

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