Top

Italy

Welcome to the Ultimate Italy Travel Guide!

Italy is renowned for its ancient ruins, coastlines, wine, food, and museums. Whatever kind of adventure you want to have here, this Italy travel guide has everything you need for planning a trip!

If you don’t have a car in Italy, choose your “home bases” carefully. Make sure you have access to public transportation for any day trips you want to take.

Cortina d’Ampezzo is the best home base for exploring the Dolomites, Sorrento is best for Campania (home to the Amalfi Coast), Florence for Tuscany, Sicily for exploring more of the islands, Venice for Veneto, Milan for Lombardy, Rome for Lazio, and Polignano a Mare for Puglia.

Ready to plan your trip? Then here’s your ultimate Italy travel guide!
page-divider-blue

Top Places to Visit

Capri
Cinque Terre
Florence
Lake Como
Milan
Polignano a Mare
Positano
Rome
San Gimignano
Sicily
Sorrento
Venice
page-divider-blue

Typical Costs When Traveling

Exchange Rate

The currency in Italy is the Euro. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, so be sure to check this as your trip approaches. On average, €1 is equal to about £.87 British Pounds $1.10 U.S. and 7.8 Chinese Yuan.

Accommodation

A hostel room is in the €20-35 a night range (£17-30.50, $22-38, 156-270 Yuan). A budget hotel is in the €60–110 a night range (£52-95.50 , $66-121, 465-850 Yuan). A mid-range hotel should be between €110–200 a night (£95.50-174, $121-220, 850-1546 Yuan). More luxury accommodations start at €200 a night (£174, $220, 1546 Yuan) and go up from there.

Airbnb prices average around €60 a night (£52, $66, 464 Yuan).

Food

Meals from markets or street stalls are relatively cheap, around €5 (£4.25, $5.50, 39 Yuan). Pizza and pasta are between €6-15 (£5.25-13, $6.50-16.50, 46-116 Yuan). Dinner at a local restaurant will be €25–45 (£21.75-39, $28-50, 193-348 Yuan). And if Michelin stars dining is your preference, plan for meals to start at €60 (£52, $66.50, 465 Yuan) and go up to hundreds of dollars per dish.

Plan to spend around €5 on a wine or beer (£4.25, $5.50, 39 Yuan) and €10 on a cocktail (£8.75, $11, 77.50 Yuan).

If you only had basic meals or ate from markets, you could eat for about €20 a day (£17.50, $22, 155). But while this will keep you fed, you’ll miss out on the fantastic food culture of Italy. So I’d recommend allowing yourself at least a couple of sit-down meals to experience authentic Italian cuisine.

Here are 10 Must-Try Italian Dishes!
Metro Transportation

Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin have extensive metro options within the city limits. Genoa, Catania, and Perugia have smaller and more limited metro options. Buses are your best transportation option for getting around the smaller cities and towns.

Individual tickets for buses, metro lines, trams, and vaporetti (small passenger ferries in Venice) will be about €1,50 (£1.3, $1.65, 11.60 Yuan) and are valid for 100 minutes. There should also be a 24 hours pass for €7 (£6, $7.75, 54 Yuan), a 48 hours pass for €12,50 (£10.75, $13.75, 97 Yuan), and a 72-hour pass for €18 (£15.75, $20, 140 Yuan).

Intercity Transportation

Italy’s railways are convenient and relatively cheap compared with other European countries. Most trains are run by Trenitalia, Italy’s national train operator. Another option is Italo, a private operator that runs high-velocity trains to and from Turin, Milan, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Salerno.

Tickets for regional trains must be validated in the green machines found at the head of platforms before boarding. If you forget to validate a ticket, you’ll likely have to pay a fine once you board your train. Tickets printed at home or tickets for Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Italo, InterCity, and EuroCity trains don’t have to be validated. Lonely Planet has a detailed guide of the types, prices, and duration of the main train routes.

Italy also has an excellent intercity bus network. Buses are particularly useful in the more mountainous and rural inland areas where there’s limited rail infrastructure. Bus tickets are usually comparable to train tickets. Omio (formerly GoEuro) is an excellent resource for finding the best bus deals.

There’s also an extensive ferry network that runs to and from the mainland and Italy’s larger and smaller islands. Ferry services are frequent from March until October, but the rest of the year ferry services are limited. Ferries also run between Italy and these countries: Albania, Croatia, Egypt, France (Corsica), Greece, Israel, Malta, Spain (the Balearics), Tunisia, and Turkey.

Ferry ticket prices, like bus and train tickets, depend on how far you’re going, what class you want, and what time of year it is. Traghetti.com is the best site for researching ferry services to, from, and within Italy.

Car Transportation

Renting a car will start around €30 a day (£26, $33, 232 Yuan), and then you’ll need to pay tips, tolls, and gas. Auto Europe is my favorite site for renting cars in Europe. Before renting a car, make sure you understand all insurance and drivers license requirements

Taxi fares within city limits are relatively reasonable, averaging between €10-15 (£8.75-13, $11-16.50, 77-116 Yuan). Uber Black is available in Rome and Milan, but Lyft doesn’t operate in Italy.

Other Expenses

I’d budget around €60 a day (£52, $26, 182 Yuan) for entrance fees, tours, guides, snacks, tips, and souvenirs.

Bancomats (ATMs) are widely available in large and mid-size cities. When visiting smaller towns, I’d recommend already having cash-on-hand. Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, and Cirrus are the most commonly accepted bank and credit cards. Most hotels, restaurants, and larger stores accept credit cards, but always have cash for smaller establishments.

Italy Travel Guide
Tipping

A 10% tip is standard in restaurants, and a euro or two is okay for pizzerias and trattorias. It’s not necessary to tip if you sit at the bar, but leaving some small change or rounding up your tab is appreciated.

At high-end hotels, you should tip porters €5 (£4.25, $5.50, 38.50 Yuan). For a taxi, you can round up to the nearest euro. You should tip around €5 per person (£4.25, $5.50, 38.50 Yuan) for group tour and museum guides and €20 (£17.50, $22, 155 Yuan) per person for private tours.

Suggested Daily Costs

These budget estimates include eating and drinking out at least once a day and a couple of train or bus rides.

Lower End: €100 a day (£87, $111, 775 Yuan). Midrange: €175 a day (£152, $193, 1353 Yuan). Higher End: €250 a day and up (£217, $276, 1933 Yuan).

Money Saving Tips

1
Book Early Reserving your housing and transportation as early as possible can save you money because prices will increase the closer you get to your travel dates.
2
Free Entry Days Many museums and archaeological sites offer free entry on certain days of the week or month.
3
Eat Off The Beaten Path Don't eat at restaurants near famous landmarks. You'll pay a premium to eat near places like the Roman Forum or the Duomo in Florence.
4
Eat Out for Lunch If you're going to eat out, then eat out for lunch because meal prices will be lower.
View my list of fantastic budget destinations in Italy to save even more money!

My Must-Have Guide Books

How to Prepare for Italy

Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and influenza.

Passport Health has additional information on current vaccinations and diseases in Italy, and I recommend visiting their website for the most up-to-date travel requirements.

Visas

For entry, citizens of the EU and Great Britain will need a valid passport or national identity card for the length of their stay, but it doesn’t have to be valid beyond your trip. All other nationals should have a passport valid for at least six months past your stay.

Most nationals don’t need a visa when visiting Italy for less than 90 days, and EU nationals can stay indefinitely without a visa. The World Travel Guide has more information on Italy’s visa and passport requirements.

iVisa is an incredibly helpful resource for obtaining visas. iVisa makes the usually complicated and confusing process of getting a visa easy by taking care of everything for you. You fill out a simple online application, and then iVisa takes care of everything else.

Etiquette

Greet people in shops, restaurants, and bars with a buongiorno (good morning) or buonasera (good evening). When asking for help, say mi scusi (excuse me) to attract attention and use permesso (permission) to pass someone in a crowded space.

When visiting churches or eating out at a nicer restaurant, wear clothes that cover your shoulders, torso, and thighs. Eat pasta with a fork, not a spoon, and it’s okay to eat pizza with your hands.

If you’re invited to someone’s home, bring a gift, such as a bottle of wine or flowers.

When To Go

Italy’s High Season is from June to August. During these months, everything is open and in “full swing” – sights, tours, transportation, etc. But accommodation prices can be double what they are the rest of the year, and tourists and temperatures will be at their highest.

The Shoulder Season from April to May and September to October is considered the best time to visit. Accommodation prices are about 20% lower (and usually even lower in the south), and the temperature and tourist numbers are more manageable.

The Low Season is from November to March when accommodation rates can drop by as much as 50%. But many hotels, sights, and restaurants shut down, especially on the coast and islands, ferry schedules are limited, and it will be cold.

If you want to be laying out on a beach, you should go from May-September.

Italy is one of my Best Destinations To Visit In September!
What To Pack

In addition to your usual travel essentials, you’ll want these items in Italy:

Day pack and water bottle. If you’re doing any treks or longer hikes, make sure you have any specialized clothing or equipment you might need.

Rain jacket because there’s always a chance of rain. If you’re here in the winter months, you’ll want several warm layers and a waterproof outer layer for rain or sleet or snow.

But even if you’re here in the Summer months, you’ll want a lightweight fleece, sweater, or mid-weight jacket if you’re in the higher elevations.

What To Wear

Italians are very conscientious about their appearance, and they usually dress quite fashionably and conservatively. So, to dress like the locals, pack practical dressy-casual clothes. Long or capri pants, skirts, and dresses for women and long pants for men. You won’t see the locals wearing shorts unless they’re on a beach.

If you’re visiting a religious site, you’ll want to wear pants or a dress or skirt that isn’t too short or tight-fitting. You’ll also want to have a layer to cover your shoulders. Some sites, like the Vatican, won’t let you enter if you’re not dressed conservatively.

Comfortable, practical, and interchangeable clothes are always smart choices when packing for an international trip. And if you’re here in the warm months, choose light and breathable fabrics.

Bring your most comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking A LOT, and you’ll continuously be on cobblestone sidewalks or streets.

Have you been to Italy? Comment below with anything you’d add to this Italy travel guide!
page-divider-blue
Shop My Italy Essentials
page-divider-blue

This Italy travel guide is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Some of the links in this Italy travel guide are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

3

Comments:

  • February 17, 2020

    it’s like a bible! haha, wonderful list!

    reply...

post a comment