Our Favorite Outdoor Adventures in Italy: A Guide

Italy is home to all that art, architecture, and history a tourist could desire. Many tourists don’t realize that Italy is also a paradise to outdoor enthusiasts. Here are our top outdoor adventures in Italy.


Land

Hiking in Dolomites


Many people visit the Five Towers (shown below), where there is an open-air museum for WWI. Rick McCharles

Adventurers’ best friend is the Dolomites. These dramatic mountains offer many options for adventurers, including skiing, snowboarding, parasailing, kayaking, mountain biking, and cycling. Walking is the most popular and accessible activity in the Dolomites. You can hike in the Dolomites as easy or difficult as you like. If you are looking for something more challenging, consider the via ferrata, or “iron path”, which is the original World War I mountain route made of iron cables, bridges, and ladders. The via ferrata is best accessed with a guide, unless you’re a seasoned veteran. They are one of the most breathtaking, yet also the most stomach-tingling, adventures in Italy. For more amazing hiking spots, check out our Guide to Hiking In Italy


Camping in Puglia

It’s a great way to visit Italy on a budget. It is also a lot of fun. Camping sites, also known as “campeggio”, are found in almost every part of Italy. We recommend camping in Lecce in Puglia in southern Italy to enjoy a variety of activities. You will find both forest and sea at the large campsite Riva di Ugento. If you don’t feel like roughing it, there are mobile homes and campers available. There are also bathrooms available and a nearby supermarket. Your hammock and tent will look like paradise from any season, but it is especially beautiful in the off-season.


Cycling in Tuscany

Visitors to Tuscany love to cycle in Tuscany, and it’s not hard to see why. You can cycle in Tuscany’s sun-kissed hills and small, carless towns. You can either take a wine tour on a bike or solo to connect UNESCO-listed cities such as Florence, San Gimignano, San Gimignano, and Pienza. Keep in mind that while the hills may seem undulating from a car, you will feel the ascents more on two wheels.

(If you prefer to see some of these towns in a more relaxed way, then check out Tuscan day trips that include air-conditioned vehicle transfers.

If you are looking for something more easy, the Veneto bike paths run along the Adige river. The paths run from Verona to the Austrian border and connect major cities such as Venice, Verona and Mantua. Most are also traffic-free.


Mountain biking in Abruzzo & Molise

The Dolomites are home to some of the most extreme mountain biking in Italy. However, for those who want great trails, less crowds, and beautiful scenery with lots of wildlife, mountain biking in the Apennine Mountains is a good option. You can also explore Molise in central Italy and Abruzzo nearby. These two areas in central Italy are beautiful, green, and rustic. They offer a glimpse into a different way of life. It is still governed by nature, and is less popular by tourists as well as Italians. Abruzzo is surrounded by the Apennines. It hosts some of Italy’s most wild terrain, while Molise is a little more tame, but less-visited. You can bike the trails and plateaus of Abruzzo National Park, as well as the famous Tratture Paths, or Shepherd Paths, in Molise.

Skiing in Val d’Aosta


Quaint Alagna’s powder-loving freeriders are a great choice!

Dirk Groeger, photo credit

Cervinia, Val d’Aosta at 3,500m is the highest mountain resort in Italy. It’s also one our favorite ski locations. It is often the first mountain to receive snow, and the last one to finish the season. Cervinia is a resort town that offers top-of the-line services at reasonable prices. It actually uses the same mountains that Zermatt across in Switzerland, but at a much lower price. If you are looking for more adventure in Italy, AlagnaValsesia in Monterosa Ski provides excellent off-piste ski and heli-skiing with beautiful Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc).


Cave exploring in Le Marche

It is home to some of Italy’s most amazing outdoor adventures, and the little-known Le Marche region in Italy. Visitors can ski in the winter, bike on a mountain bike and explore in the same region as the Apennine Mountains. Grotte di Frasassi is one of Italy’s most impressive caves, and it’s the main draw. The underground caverns are home to stalactite, stalagmite formations. One is so big that Milan’s cathedral, the fifth-largest church in the world, could be inside.

If you prefer to explore the Grotta di Monte Cucco (one of the deepest cave systems in the world), head to Umbria, which is located in the Monte Cucco Park. You will find the entrance by climbing a set of very vertical stairs that descend 27 meters into the cave. You can explore the three main caverns: the Cattedrale and Sala Margherita.


Water

Capri is the best place to go scuba diving


Discover the Capri rock formations, located in the Bay of Naples

To dive the Grotta Azzurra, or Blue Grotto, one of Italy’s most famous sea caves, head to Capri. The grotto is a beacon of iridescent blue light that has been attracting visitors since ancient Rome. The whole Cilento Peninsula is just south of Positano and features peaceful coves. After the Grotta Azzurra, Caprians should head to Procida to find some quiet and a great dive from the Lingua Beach.

You can visit Capri with a guide by checking out our partner trip to Capri.

Snorkeling in Sicily

The Aeolian Islands and Sicily have beautiful waters and plenty of fish. There are even more places to explore than the Amalfi Coast. Snorkelers have access to all three sides of the island, which is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Another sea cave is the Grotto Azzurra in Taormina (Sicily). It’s only a short boat ride away from the beach, and is not overcrowded by tourists. You’ll find red coral, multi-colored algae and sea sponges in all areas, as well as fish, wherever you decide to snorkel.

Sea-Kayaking from Elba Island


You can even find the hidden black rock beach if you are up for the challenge! There are many sandy beaches with easy access, but don’t panic! Photo by Gina Mussio

Elba is the most visited island in Tuscan Archipelago and attracts thousands of tourists every year because of its beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and small size. However, the best way to view the island is from the water. The stunning fauna and flora of Elba can be found in the protected Tuscan Archipelago national park. Kayakers can explore 147 km of coastline and then stop at the beach. We did not forget to mention the many caves and inlets that lie between.

Sail off Sardinia


You can sail in Sardinia and enjoy evening views such as this! Photo by Alessandro Caproni

Sardinia boasts some of the most beautiful sailing in the world. You’ll never tire from the beauty of the landscape, which includes coves, beaches, crags, and cliffs. It is a popular summer destination for Italian sailors, but foreign sailors frequently sail to Sardinia, so it’s not always crowded. Visit the Costa Smerelda and the dunes at Costa Verde. Then, take a stroll on the Budelli Island pink coral sand beach. Sardinia is an island that is stunning from the water.


Wind-Surfing at Lake Garda

Because of the non-stop wind, the enormous Lake Garda makes for a great spot to vacation. From morning until evening, the wind known as the Peler blows north to south. The Ora blows south to north in afternoon and evening. For the best windsurfing, head to the northern end of the lake. There are many places to rent windsurf boards.


Air


Heli-skiing at Piedmont


Although heliskiing is illegal in some areas of Switzerland and Austria, Italy still offers many options. Dirk Groeger

The Monterosa ski resort heli-skiing area is probably the best in Italy. The drop zones can be found above 4,000m, and are only a short helicopter ride away. Register for a 3-day program that includes avalanche training, a guide, and then you can get started at Alagna.


Hang gliding in Umbria

Hang gliding is a great way to make your Italy adventures extra special. The rolling hills of Umbria are a great place to fly calmly. You can find a hang gliding school in Castelluccio (the highest village in the Apennines). You can take off over the hills during spring when the whole region is covered in blooming flowers.

Paragliding in Veneto


Take a flight over Italy to see it as you never have before! Photo by Paolo Trabattoni

Paragliding is possible all across Italy – from the footholds at Lago di Como to the stunning coastlines of Sicilia for water lovers to the rolling hills of Umbria. For the most variety, head to Veneto. Paragliders can fly over Lake Garda to see the pink-hued Dolomites of Cortina d’Ampezzo or over the area from Monte Grappa. Flyers will find perfect weather conditions almost every time they fly to the peak, as it is protected from the northern winds. You’ll be able to fly from there over the Brenta Valley, as far as Slovenia.

Are you a travel enthusiast who has taken on adventures in Italy? Let us know about your adventures in Italy by leaving comments.

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