13 Things You Must Know Before Traveling to Italy

Here’s your roadmap to authentic experiences and timeless memories.
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 22, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  • Italy's vastness means you can't see everything in one trip, so prioritize must-see destinations and make the most of your time.
  • Opt for minimalist packing to ease travel on Italy's trains and buses, and consider booking cheap flights for added savings.
  • Book accommodations and attraction tickets early to secure better rates and avoid disappointment, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Are you fond of traveling around the world? Do you love to see different tourist attractions? If you answer yes to both of these questions, then we highly recommend visiting Italy, where you can find hidden gems and world-renowned attractions.

But, as usual, you’ll have to plan ahead if it’s your first time visiting this gorgeous country, and we’re here to help you out. Here are twelve things you need to know before traveling to Italy (plus a bonus tip that people ask us about ALL THE TIME.)

Ultimate Italy Travel Tips

When traveling to Italy, you cannot see everything in one trip

One thing to know before visiting Italy is that it is a vast and varied country. Many of you asked us how many places you can visit during your trip on the comment section and social media. It’s a good question, and we have your answer: Italy is approximately one thousand kilometers long (621 miles) and about 400km (260 miles) wide in its widest part. Italy has 20 regions organized into a boot-shape territory, and has so much to offer to many visitors.

For this reason, you will not be able to see everything in a single trip unless you will be in Italy for a while and if you don’t have any deadlines. If you want to stay and discover more about Italy, you are free to stay for a long time.

Vernazza Cinque Terre
Sunset over Vernazza, Cinque Terre Italy

Even we, who actually live here, haven’t gotten around to seeing everything the country has to offer. There are also some places that can’t be easily reached, like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Lake Como. There’s also travel time to consider: having a lot of destinations in mind will mean a lot of traveling, which can cut into your time sightseeing and enjoying the place.

The bottom line is, pick a few must-see places to spend time in and enjoy as much as you can.

When Visiting Italy, remember to pack light

This tip goes for almost any trip. It is always better to pack light and bring less. You’ll be mostly using trains or busses to get around in Italy. You’re going to have a hard time dragging your luggage around if you pack too much.

Additionally, you can consider booking cheap flights to save money if this is your first trip to Italy. But if do you see a cheap flight, perform your bit of due diligence to make sure it is not a scam. And always, always secure your travel insurance. It’s for your own protection.

After all, the first trip experience should be both memorable and remarkable.

Buy skip-the-line-tickets

I’m not sure about you, but I’m not a fan of waiting in line- especially on vacation. I mean, how many days, or weeks do you have off? Unless you’re a millionaire, you likely have 2, maybe 3 or 4 weeks off a year. As such, your time in Italy will be limited. So, why wait in line? Book a skip-the-line ticket to all the attractions you plan to visit – and you’ll be able to see more things! That and – who wants to wait hours under the hot Italian sun? Yuck!

When traveling to Italy, try the local cuisine

Italian cuisine is arguably the best in the world. And sure, you can get it in almost any country in some form or another, but having original Italian food in Italy is not something you get to experience every day. The country is known for having the best restaurants, and you can easily spot them in your travels. Be sure to try Tagliatelle al Ragù — it’s one of our favorites!

When visiting Italy, avoid restaurants with servers waiting outside

So you’re on the lookout for a new restaurant to try in the city, and you see one with a server waiting outside. They’re very convincing, and after a brief but lively conversation, they manage to get you into a seat at the restaurant.

Unfortunately, you have just been duped.

These places are designed to take advantage of unwary travellers. They’re known for offering less than authentic food, limited menu choices, and atrocious prices. You’re better off looking for other restaurants where you’re sure you’re being given the proper offerings and treatment. Keep this in mind when visiting the city.

Trains and buses are the easiest ways to get around in Italy

Italy has an excellent train system. Most of the major cities can be easily reached by train. Not only that – trains are fast, and safe and they go from downtown to downtown i.e. Florence to Rome.

Every city has a train station right downtown or a very short walk from it. You won’t need to worry about renting a car, pushing through traffic, or finding a place to park. However, you need to remember to purchase tickets from the ticket counter, or better on line, when you are traveling by train. You can buy them right on the train itself, but they’re going to come with an extra fee.

Buses are the way to go if you’re looking for something cheaper, but they may take a little longer.

It’s all up to you. In our experience, buses are more economical, but trains offer a better travel experience.

But, as mentioned earlier, not all places can be easily reached by train or bus – like the Amalfi Coast, the rolling hills of Chianti, or Bellagio on Lake Como. You can look up all available options for you to reach these destinations.

For example, there are several ways to reach the Amalfi Coast. We went there a couple of years ago via a boat tour and loved every second of it!

You don’t need to worry about Wifi

Connectivity is such an important aspect of travel, but we’re glad to say that this isn’t something you should overly concern yourself with when in Italy. You don’t need to ask for network passwords from hotels and restaurants — not when Italy has one of the world’s lowest prices for cellular data.

Data prices are around €10 for 70GB. You can get a sim card almost anywhere, even right at the airport. All Italian service providers offer plans tailored for tourists and non-residents.

We like TIM the most, as it has one of the strongest networks, and it works pretty much in every corner of the country. However, it is also the most expensive. You might end up paying a whole euro more for the plan. But if you want to post that amazing sunset on Instagram immediately, it is worth it.

Familiarize yourself with Italian culture

Traveling is so much more than just looking at the pretty sights.

Italy is as much a country as it is a living, breathing collection of history dating back thousands of years. Your visit to Italy will be more meaningful if you can manage to relate to the place and its culture. You can bask in its history and enjoy a look into the country’s colorful past, or learn the current local customs while speaking to the natives. There are a lot of memories to make here, and being interested in a country’s culture and people is a great show of respect.

When traveling to Italy, learn basic Italian phrases

Italians don’t speak many languages, and there are only about a third of the people that speak English. You might want to brush up on your Italian before traveling to Italy. Of course, you can use Google Translate and other translation apps, but nothing beats personal effort when it comes to speaking the language.

Here are a few examples of common Italian phrases:

  •  Excuse me (for attention): Scusi – Skoohzee
  •  Excuse me (to pass by): Permesso – Pehr-mehs-soh
  •  My name is …: Mi chiamo – Mee kyah-moh
  •  What is your name?: Come si chiama? – Koh-meh see kyah-mah?
  •  Do you speak English?: Parla Inglese? – Parh-la een-glay-zeh
  •  I don’t understand: Non capisco – Non kah-pee-skoh
  •  Thank you: Grazie – Grah-tsee-eh
  •  You’re welcome: Prego – Preh-goh
  •  I’m sorry: Mi dispiace – Mee dees-pyah-cheh

When traveling to Italy, book your hotels and attractions as soon as possible

One thing you need to remember is to book your hotels and attraction entrances as soon as you are able to.

Hotels have been known to offer their remaining rooms for a much higher price when they’re almost fully booked. The best practice here, in our opinion, is to always look for hotels that offer refundable rates and, ideally, with a pay-at-the-location option. This way, if you decide to change your plans or find a better solution, you can change your reservation without hassle. Airbnb is also a great alternative for accommodations. They’re affordable, safe, and easy to find in Italian cities.

Now let’s talk about attractions. Some places, like the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Uffizi Gallery, and many other museums and tourist spots are usually packed with people, especially during midsummer. It’d be a pain to travel all the way to see your dream destination in Italy and find that tickets are all sold out. It’s also best practice to book your tickets as soon as possible and ideally book the skip the line ticket to avoid waiting in line for long time.

When visiting Italy, make sure to have an International Driver’s Permit if you want to drive a car

Buses and trains are great, but you’ll need to get your International Driver’s Permit if you want to drive around the Italian countryside on a rental. This is a pretty common rule for almost all countries, and it’s only a requirement if you’re a non-EU citizen. You can apply for an IDP (or International Driver’s License) from your country of origin. Requirements vary from place to place, so be sure to get this sorted before traveling to Italy. Remember to bring your original license, too.

You also need to know that your IDP is only valid for one year. If you need to drive in the country after that period, you will have to apply for an Italian driver’s license.

When visiting Italy, keep in mind that it is not a tropical country

This is a common misconception, especially for tourists coming from North America. Italy is considered a Mediterranean country, so they think it will be warm and sunny all the time. While it is true that it can be very hot during summertime, that is not always the case.

Weather during the spring and fall seasons can be a bit chilly, especially at night. Remember to pack warm clothing for comfort, and make sure to bring a jacket or hoodie when traveling. Treat Italian winter as you would any other winter in countries above the equator.

And while on the subject of clothing, you need to know that some tourist attractions (especially churches like the Vatican) enforce a dress code. So no tank tops, shorts or skirts. Be sure to bring something a little more formal for the occasion.

Italy is not a country for digital nomads

Now, let me preface this by saying that this is not applicable to every single place in the country. Remote work and work-from-home setups are rapidly becoming a thing in Italy, and the superb access to the Internet just makes things easier for those who like to travel while they work. But if you are — or if you want to delve — into this lifestyle, remember to consider the crowds, the travel requirements, and the potential hassles that can come up when you want to go to your preferred tourist attraction or view to work. It’s better to have realistic expectations.

Bonus tip: Where can I get the local currency?

A few of you are asking us where they could get the best exchange rates in the country. It’s a great question, and we have just the thing for you.

The best places to get cash are the local ATMs. Remember to bring your debit or credit cards when you travel — but don’t use them at the local cash machines! You’re going to get hosed on the foreign exchange, not to mention the fees your bank may charge you.

I like to use Wise for these kind of situations. With Wise, you can transfer in any currency from your bank account in any country, or credit card, then convert it into euros at the BANK rate, with no markups. 

Wise also sends you your very own Visa debit card, which you can use right away, online or on your phone. They also mail you a traditional plastic debit card that you can use to can withdraw Euros from any of the local ATMs, again with no foreign bank charges. And if you run out of money, you can instantly transfer more dollars from your bank at any time using the app.

Of course, if you have some extra Euros at the end of your trip, you can convert them back and deposit them back into your US account or spend them — the choice is yours.

Oh, and speaking of cash, here is another very, very important tip! Always keep some change with you – especially 1 euro and 50 cent coins because most public bathrooms only use those to get in! 


That’s it for our tips that you need to know before traveling to Italy. Italy may be a small country, but it is one country that will surely leave you with great memories and experiences that you would love to reminisce about once you’ve visited it. We hope you’ve learned a lot and hope that these tips help you have a wonderful time in the country!

Let us know in the comment below if you have more questions. We love to answer them for you. And we’ll see you in our next article.