If you are planning ti visit Italy these are the essential tips to plan your trip!
Planning a trip to Italy isn’t hard, but it does take a little bit to work in advance to be sure to experience Italy at its very best! Italy indeed is filled with fantastic sites to see, offers amazing food and drink, and for that reason planning is higly recommend
Setting Your Itinerary: start by doing a little research
Guidebooks and articles can tell you all you need to know about Italy, like the best hotels, restaurants, attractions and other tourist destinations. When reading articles online, look for reputable sources.
But don’t forget that you can also check out blogs of people who have traveled and take in mind to talk to anyone that has visited Italy to get some additional tips. The best suggestions you can receive are those come from others experiences!
Once you get an idea of the things you would like do and the cities you want to visit, you can start to plan your trip.
Where will you go? Choose the areas you want to visit
With so much to see in Italy, you would need months or years to cover it all! Based on our experience as italians, we can say that in just two weeks, you can see a lot of the “best of Italy” destinations.
You can choose the cities to visit based on the zone of Italy you are most interested to. Don’t forget that in Italy you can spend all of your time in one area or visit multiple areas.
You can start your trip in Rome and enjoy the sights for a few days, then head to Tuscany for a week.
But if you are fascinated by the southern Italy charm (“mezzogiorno”) you can visit Naples, that offers you a variety of possible day trips around, while the Italian Riviera lets you enjoy many charming seaside towns.
Whether it’s the ancient ruins of Rome, the Renaissance art in Florence, or the romantic waterways of Venice, some things are just natural additions to your itinerary. Popular destinations in Italy also include indeed Milan and Naples.
Beyond the best-known destinations, consider side trips that are a little out of the way.
Italy has fantastic islands like Sicily, Capri, and Sardiniawith beautiful beaches. Thelakes the country has tooffer are a perfect place if want relax. Also, if you’d like to get away from Rome, Tuscany is filled with medieval towns and other beautiful cities like Siena, beaches, and great food and wine.
So, don’t forget the basic rules:
- If you visit more than one area, allow enough time to visit each area.
- The shorter your trip, the fewer number of areas you should try to visit.
- If it is your first time visiting Italy, start with Rome, Florence, and Venice.
- If you want to go to the beach, consider going to Southern Italy (e.g., Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Naples, Sicily)
- Traveling with the kids? Dont’ worry, Italy is a great country for family vacations.
When will you leave? Determine the time of year you will go
No matter when you go, it’s not hard to ind festivals and special events. So, don’t forget to make some research once you’ve decided the period of your stay.
The travel year in Italy is generally divided into three seasons: peak season (mid-June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and the off-season (November through March).
Summer: most tourists visit Italy in July, August and early September, so it wolud be more crowded this time of year and it is also very hot and humid with the highs around 90℉/32℃.
But this part of the year also offers the full benefits of summer: bright sunshine, warm beaches, summer festivals, and much more.
Spring is a good option because you get sunny days and cooler weather, as well as prices lower than in the summer. Many people like to spend Holy Week in Italy, so that is the one exception.
Temperatures are more pleasant from April to mid June and mid September to October with highs around 70-80℉/21-27℃ and lows 50-60℉/10-15℃.
Autumn is the other off-season time that many tourists enjoy. As said you don’t have the heat of summer, so wandering city streets is more comfortable and the fall colors are beautiful. And you can save a little money during this time.
Winter turns much of Italy into a winter sports dream. Skiing in the mountains is a favorite activity for many winter travelers. The winters are cold and are not always or everywhere the best time to walk around. But it’s not all about snow, either. You will find it mild along the coasts and off-season discounts are available. However, some places do close for the season.
How long will you stay?
This will help you plan your attractions, based on the time you have. The length of your stay will depend on your budget and how many cities you plan to visit. Consider how many days you will actually have on the ground when you are in Italy. The day that you arrive and they day that you depart should not be included. Also consider the time it will take you to travel in between cities.
The train from Rome to Florence takes one hour and thirty minutes. The train from Florence to Venice takes a little over two hours.
If you are going from Southern Italy to Northern Italy, you will need even more time. The train ride from the Amalfi Coast (i.e. Southern Italy) to Florence (i.e. Northern Italy) will take you five hours and forty five minutes.
Which attractions do you want to see?
Once you decide what cities you will visit, look up the major attractions in each city. For example, if you are going to Rome, you may want to visit the Colosseum. If you go to Venice, you will want to visit the canals. In Florence, you may want to visit the Great Museum of the Cathedral of Florence or the Uffizi Gallery.
Based on our twenty years experience the best strategy is to purchase tickets for major attractions and museums before you leave for your trip, or you may not be able to get in. Infact, some of the most important Italian places only allow a limited number of visits per day or require you to wait for hours and hours to get in.
What’s your budget?
Look up the price of everything. Consider the costs of hotels, food, transportation (e.g. airfare and getting around the country), attractions, and shopping. There are options for every price point, but you will need to thoroughly research. Also, remember the exchange rate. Italy uses the Euro (€). Check the current exchange rate with your currency as it changes all of the time.
The amount of money you need will really depend on the types of activities you plan on doing. If you plan to eat at more expensive restaurants or visit a lot of attractions, you will need more money.
It may help to have a set amount of money you will spend each day.
Don’t forget that in Italy some little shops or taxis could not accept credit card.
Flexibity is the keyword!
While it is nice to plan out what you would like to do every day, allow some flexibility in your agenda. Things will not go exactly as you plan. You may get lost or your train may not be on time. The line at the museum may be longer than you anticipated. You also may want to explore the streets or stumble upon something interesting.
If you do have activities planned, allow some flex time between each activity. If you plan to visit a museum from 10:00 am-12:00 pm, do not have another activity that starts at 12:15 pm or 12:30 pm. Consider giving yourself forty five minute or an hour of cushion time.
Purchase a plane ticket
Your plane ticket will be the biggest expense for your trip. Very often flights to Italy are more expensive than flights to other European cities. Search for the best offer and travel during the off season (October – April). Take in mind thay flying into the major airports in Rome and Milan would be more expensive than flying into a smaller airport and taking a train or bus to the major city.
Use the rail system
Italian trains are very affordable compared to other European countries, so this is a reliable and cheap way to get around the cities or travel to different regions.
- There are no baggage fees or weight limits, and you can bring your own food and drinks.
- Buy your tickets at the station or online. You can buy the tickets 120 days in advance and will save money by purchasing your tickets in advance.
- High speed train intercity travel times on popular routes:
Rome to Florence – 1 hour 30 minutes
Rome to Naples – 1 hour 15 minutes
Rome to Milan – 3 hours
Rome to Venice – 4 hours
Florence to Venice – 2 hours
Florence to Milan – 2 hours
Drive around Italy
A car is not the easiest way to get around Italy, and most cars have manual transmission. If you plan to drive while you are in Italy, you will need an International Driving Permit.
A car is best if you are traveling around southern Italy, but public transportation is usually the best way to get around.You will not have to worry about parking, driving in an unfamiliar city, and getting tickets.
Use public transportation
Public transportation is a great way to get around the country. Train, metro, and bus tickets can be purchased at tobacco shops, bars, or vending machines at the metro station or bus stop or by mobile.
Do a bit of research before your arrival.
Validate your ticket by entering it into one of the validation machines located near the entrance of the station or bus stop. The machine will stamp your ticket with the date and time.
If you know you are going to be in a city for a few days, go ahead and purchase a multi-day pass. Prices will vary depending on the city and the number of days (e.g. 7 day pass, 48 hour pass, 24 hour pass). Always have your ticket ready in case a ticket inspector comes by to check your ticket!
If you are thinking about taxi, remember that they’re usually found at official taxi ranks, for example at railway stations or near town centres, and aren’t usually hailed in the street, although they may stop if they’re empty.
Where do you want to stay?
You can stay in a hotel, hostel, agriturismo accommodation (farm-stay), convent/monastery or rent an apartment while you are in Italy. But in general when looking for a place to stay, consider the location and distance from public transportation.
Exchange your money
When you convert money, you pay an additional fee. These rates will vary depending on where you exchange your money. Exchange money at an Italian bank or use your ATM card to get the best exchange rate.
While you can use a credit card in many Italian businesses, not every place accepts them. This means you’ll need to have some cash on hand and understand how to find and use an Italian ATM to withdraw the euros you need. Please note that ATMs in Italy are called “Bancomats”.
So, the principal recommendations are:
You will need to have some cash on hand to pay for a taxi or in some restaurants and shops.
Call your bank and/or credit card company to see what the foreign transaction fee (i.e. percentage of your overall purchase) is and if your card will be compatible with Italian banks.
Be careful exchanging money at a storefront. They do not post their exchange rates and may charge you more if you are a tourist
Last but non least: What You Need to Know Before You Go!
As many travelers know there are a few things you’ll want to know before you get on the plane.
By following a few basic tips, you’ll ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
Good to Know: 14 TIPS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL ITALY LIKE A PRO
- BUY MUSEUM TICKETS ONLINE: On some days, you risk spending three hours or more waiting in line.
- COVER YOURSELF WHEN VISITING PLACES OF WORSHIP: Many churches and religious sites do not allow visitors in shorts, mini skirts, or bare shoulders to enter.
- TABLE SERVICE COSTS MORE: Ask for a menu before sitting down at the table to avoid misunderstandings.
- AFTERNOON CLOSURES FROM ABOUT 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm – In smaller towns, shops close for a long lunch/afternoon break.
- AVOID THE TOURIST TRAPS FOR LUNCH: Avoid low cost, fixed price menus for lunch, they often denote tourist traps
- SUMMERTIME ALERT: SUN, HEAT, AND MOSQUITOES: Make sure you are prepared – bring a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray.
- THE BEST FOOD IS EATEN WHERE IT ORIGINATED: Carbonara in Rome, steak in Florence, Pici in Siena, squid ink risotto in Venice.
- TIPPING IS NOT COMPULSORY: In restaurants, tipping is not mandatory – but it is always appreciated.
- PARKING AND LIMITED TRAFFIC ZONES: Some cities have a limited traffic zones (ZTL), check the signs.
- THE CAPPUCCINO IS DRUNK ONLY IN THE MORNING: Italians never drink cappuccino after lunch or dinner. The reason? Milk inhibits digestion.
- APERITIF INSTEAD OF DINNER: Try the very Italian apericena(“aperi-dinner”). Wash it down with a Spritzin Venice.
- TRAIN TICKET VALIDATION: Train tickets must be validated before boarding the train – you’ll be fined if you forget.
- ITALIANS HAVE LUNCH FROM NOON TO ABOUT 2pm and DINNER FROM ABOUT 7:30pm TO 9:00 pm.