This Italy travel guide will show you why Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world. This beautiful country is popular with backpackers, families, retirees, expatriates, and more. Regardless of your budget or traveling style, there is a place in Italy that will enthral every essence of your soul.
Whether you are seeking the more touristy regions like Rome and the Vatican, or are questing for more desolate hiking locations in the mountains or along the coastlines, you’re going to find it.
Since Italy is expansive, you probably have questions about where to go, which cities are safest, and how to save money while journeying throughout the country. Don’t worry. I have answered all your questions and more in this Italy Travel Guide.
Best Places To Travel In Italy
I mentioned it before, but I think it takes precedence: The boot of Europe is bigger than you’d expect. Every single region, in this Italy travel guide or not, has unique characteristics that shine through, as well as varied climates and cultures. To get a well-rounded experience, here are the best places to travel in Italy:
If you have some spare time in your itinerary, I added a few extra places to this Italy travel guide that are highly recommended for a pit stop:
- Amalfi Coast
- The Italian Lakes Villages, Como and Garda
Common phrases In Italian
No, you don’t have to be fluent in Italian to get around Italy, but being able to speak common phrases can truly make your trip much more fulfilling. Besides, Italians love it when you attempt to use their language, as it’s a sign of respect for their beautiful culture. Give these helpful phrases a try:
- Buon giorno – Good morning
- Buon pomeriggio – Good afternoon
- Buona sera – Good evening
- Grazie – Thanks!
- Prego – You’re welcome
- Mi scusi – Excuse me (formal)
- Mi dispiace – I’m sorry
- Arrivederci – Goodbye (informal)
- Si/No – Yes/No
- Aiutami, per favore – Please help me
- Quello, per favore – That one, please
- Ripeta, per favore – Please repeat
- Parla inglese? – Do you speak English?
- Non parlo italiano – I don’t speak Italian
- Non capisco – I don’t understand
Accommodation in Italy
Now for the fun part of this Italy travel guide – where should one stay? Depending on where you go in Italy, the prices of accommodations can fluctuate crazily. Don’t be surprised if you see some hostels in less populated regions going for $15 USD a night and others in Roma charging you $50-100 USD or above. Most hostels will have free WiFi, regardless of their location. Hotels, again, vary largely depending on the tourist situation. Rome is outrageous, Puglia not so much.
What’s astonishing is that Airbnb is sometimes the better solution, especially if you opt for shared or private rooms around the outskirts of major cities. Sharing someone’s home will cost around $18-25 USD a night. Entire apartments are noted to start around $40-50 USD a night.
For the most adventurous of backpackers, Italy is very option to Couchsurfing, which lets you snooze on someone’s couch or spare bed for free. Not only do you get a place to crash for the night, you meet fascinating locals, too.
Transportation in Italy
This is where a lot of people have questions. Should I rent a car? Try train travel in Italy? Walk? Use Uber? So, let’s get those questions answered while I have you reading this Italy travel guide.
The best way to travel between major cities is by train. Regional trains, though a little slow, cost only about € 6-25 per trip.
The faster Eurostar trains cost around € 35-65 per ticket. Cheap airlines, like Ryanair, are also viable, since a 95 minute flight between Florence and Rome costs only € 30.
In cities, bus and subway transportation is reasonable, because ticket price is maxed at € 2. You can also use Uber in Rome, Florence, Milan, and a few other cities.
Food and drink in Italy
You won’t have any problems finding food and drink in Italy—the foodie mecca of the world. Pasta, pizza, bread, gelato, seafood, and wine are everywhere; but finding budget-friendly meals will be a challenge in touristy spots. Buy quick meals, like pizza slices and paninis from restaurants and cafes while you’re moving around, since these only cost about US$3-9. A complete meal is generally US$30 per person.
To save some money, make your meals at the kitchen at the hostel or your Airbnb. Italy has a number of discount grocers like Aldi, Lidl, Eurospin, Penny Market, and In’s Mercato.
For those of you who like ordering water: always ask for tap. Otherwise, you’ll be charged for overpriced bottled water.
Believe it or not, Bologna is considered by many to be the foodie mecca of Italy. Check out this Bologna food guide for the best eats in the city!
Internet and wifi in Italy
Finding internet in Italy and staying connected to friends and family isn’t difficult. There are a number of Wifi hotspots throughout Italy. Most hostels and hotels have free access to Wifi. Railway stations, cafes, and tourist hubs also have WiFi, but these connections are usually slow due to high traffic.
In 2017, Italy also launched the free Wifi Italia app, published in Italian and English, and available in both the App Store and Google Play. It’s constantly undergoing updates to ensure greater connectivity.
If you’re looking for a solid connection, though, you might want to rent mobile Wifi. It’s a little more money, but your connection will be secure and faster than public hotspots.
If you’re connecting to hotspots throughout the day, you will start to drain your battery quickly. Pick up a battery pack for while you are traveling!
General Safety in Italy
Italy is very safe, and violent crime is at an all time low. In fact, the country is currently ranked as the 35th safest country in the world. The main issue would be pickpockets who target areas crowded with tourists. These pickpockets usually work in teams, sometimes even with street vendors trying to get your attention or beggars flashing cardboard signs in your direction. Be aware of these tactics before you head to Italy. Purse snatching is also a problem in tourist areas. Be cautious and protect your personal belongings (passport, identification, wallet, and phone) at all times. Never leave anything unattended.
However, security is overall high. Major transportation hubs are under constant watch to avert terrorist attacks.
LGBT Safety In Italy
Italy is, in fact, one of the best places for LGBT travelers. Homosexuality is legal and widely accepted in most regions. The only places where LGBT travelers will want to tone down the PDA would be within the Vatican. Rural regions are also conservative, so overt affection from gay couples could prompt a negative response.
However, Rome, Milan, and Bologna all have gay venues. Florence and Naples are following closely behind, and there are even several popular gay vacation spots in places like Viareggio, Tuscany and Taormina, Sicily.
Remember to bring one of these Amity Jack essentials bedside boxes with you when you travel. No matter what happens, you will be safe and prepared! I include this information in all of my guides, not just this Italy travel guide. I want to make sure you guys stay safe and happy while you travel the world!
Travel Cheap In Italy: Budget Tips
Want to pinch your pennies like an Italian? Then be sure to put these additional budgeting tips into practice:
- Try an agriturismo farm stay, where you stay on a farm for free in exchange for farm work!
- Take advantage of free walking tours and free museum days, which usually happen once a month, every month.
- Eat bigger lunches and go smaller for dinner, because lunch time prices are cheaper;
- Buy fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and breads from the daily farmer’s markets and save a lot of money on groceries.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and drink the tap water (or drink wine), you’re in Italy!
- When booking guided tours, reserve multiple experiences at once. Booking companies give you bulk discounts.
- Go off the beaten path—don’t just stick to the major cities, check out the honorable mentions listed earlier in this Italy travel guide for some ideas!
Top Places to go in Italy
This section of my Italy travel guide is not region specific, but here are the can’t-miss things to do while you travel Italy! For a complete list of the best things to do in Italy, I made a whole post about it. Check it out!
Ride the Vaporetto in Venice
Gondola rides in Venice are a must-do, even though many people say they are a not romantic nor budget-friendly. But, those people probably haven’t ridden the Vaporetto, a slow-moving boat ride that is perfect for viewing the moon from the magical canals of a stunning floating city.
See the Vatican with a Tour Guide
Sure, you could try to understand the magnificence of the Vatican on your own, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of information. There’s architecture around the Piazza San Pietro and St. Peter’s Basilica, museums, statues and so much more to see that choosing the most important parts to see is challenging. That’s why a guided tour will streamline your visit and take you to the most amazing attractions.
Get Pizza in Naples
Florence might be the birthplace of the Renaissance, but Napoli is the cradle of pizza. No matter where you go in this bustling city, you are bound to find both traditional and contemporary pizzerias that send you on a flavorful journey. You won’t go hungry, that’s for sure.
Check out the Greek Ruins in Sicily
Sure, Italy has a number of Roman ruins scattered throughout the boot, but that’s not the only traces of an ancient world you can find. There’s the Valley of Temples on Sicily, a group of Greek ruins, that is breathtaking. When in Sicily, don’t pass up a chance to see these ruins.
Hike Around the Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre region of Italy has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a designated national park. There are “five lands” that comprise this area, each with distinct villages, coastlines, craggy cliffs, the stunning Italian Riviera, and so much more. You can hike through olive groves, find charming towns, and wine and dine with locals wherever you wind up.
Taste Authentic Gelato in Milan
Milanese gelato is the real gelato. Anywhere else in Italy is just an imposter. Gelato is made with milk, not cream, and is less fattening than people believe…so you can easily eat your weight of gelato in Milan then burn it all off while walking around seeing the attractions. The top gelato shops in Milan include Il Massimo del Gelato, La Bottega del Gelato Cardelli, and Gelato Giusto.
Become a Lush in the Wine Regions of Tuscany
Wine tours through Tuscany should be on everyone’s bucket list. The best part is that you can travel the wine trails by yourself, no guide necessary. Some of the best wine trails include the Chianti wine trail, the Vernaccia wine tour around San Gimignano, and along the Etruscan coastline, which brings you through Campiglia Marittima, Suvereto, and Bolgheri—all regions that produce world famous wines.
Check out the History of Rome
This is more than standing, mouth agape, in the shadow of the Coliseum. Rome is a city steeped in history and founded on the ruins of one of the greatest civilizations known to man. You can traverse the Roman Forum on the Palatine Hills overlooking Rome, throw a coin into the waters of the Trevi Fountain, then get inspired at the Sistine Chapel. No wonder it’s called a Roman Holiday.
Soak up the Sun in Naples
If you love lounging on beaches and soaking up the sun, then Naples is the place to sunbathe. Since the beaches are situated along the Gulf of Naples, the waters are warm and clear. The best beaches are Bagno Elena, Area Marina Protetta Gaiola, Flying Beach, and the Lo Scoglione. There’s also rock formations, marinas, and nearby attractions to keep everyone entertained.
Italy is a land of history, fashion, performing arts, outdoor attractions, food, and culture. You can venture from the northern regions to the south and never have the same experience twice. Everywhere you go, there are Medieval remnants, interesting people, walkable cities, natural wonders, and exciting excursions. I hope that this Italy travel guide has shown you that no matter where you go in Italy, there is something that will keep you coming back for more.