Are you fond of traveling anywhere in the world? Do you love to see different tourist attractions? Well, a beautiful country is highly recommended for you. Come and visit Italy where you can find many hidden gems and major attractions.
However, if it’s your first time visiting Italy, you need to plan ahead and have your Italy travel tips for you to be ready and enjoy the adventure.
With this, here are twelve (12) things you need to know before traveling to Italy. In addition, we will also give a bonus tip, something that we get asked about ALL THE TIME, and that will surely help you save tons of money on your next trip to Italy!
So, let’s begin with our 12 tips to know before traveling to Italy.
12 Ultimate Italy Travel Tips
Number 1: When traveling to Italy, you cannot see everything in one trip
Many people asked us in comments or on social media, “How many places can I visit during my trip to Italy?”. The answer is depends and this is why. The first thing to consider before visiting Italy, is that it is a vast and varied country. Well, think about this: Italy is approximately one thousand kilometers long (621 miles) and about 400km (260 miles) wide in its widest part. This boot-shaped country has 20 regions and has a lot to offer to visitors.
For this reason, you will not be able to see everything in one single trip unless you plan to stay for a very long time.
Even for us who live here, there are areas that we have not explored yet. Also, consider that some areas like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, or Lake Como are not very easy to reach. Also, if you spend most of your time traveling between destinations, you won’t have time to enjoy the destinations that you end up visiting.
The bottom line is, pick a few must-see places and spend time there and enjoy them.
Number 2: When Visiting Italy, remember to Pack Light
This tip goes for almost any trip. It is always better to pack light and bring less. When you visit Italy, you will travel mostly by trains. Therefore, you will need to carry your luggage to the train station and on the trains. Furthermore on board trains language space is limited.
Another thing to consider is that streets in Italy can be narrow and uneven. For this reason it would be difficult for you to carry around a lot of luggages.
Number 3: When traveling to Italy, don’t bother with Wifi
The third tip of our twelve things you need to know before traveling to Italy list has to do with WiFi.
When you visit Italy, don’t bother trying to connect to the hotel or coffee shops wifi – there is no need. Italy has the lowest prices for cellular data, probably in the whole world.
In fact you can find wireless plans that have up to 70Gb of data for less than €10. So when you arrive, go to a local cell phone store (they are everywhere, even at the airport) and buy a sim card.
Buying a sim card in Italy is easy because all Italian cellphone providers offer plans specifically tailored to tourists or non-residents.
We like TIM the most, is the one with the strongest network, and it works pretty much in every corner of the country. 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 right away, it is totally worth it.
Number 4: When you Visit Italy, try an Italian Food
Remember that Italian Cuisine is globally popular and has a reputation for being one of the best in the world. When you visit Italy, you should try to find some authentic restaurant and experience the local food.
Most restaurants offer delicious food, and surely, you will love it, but keep in mind that Italian food in Italy might be very different from the Italian food you are used in your own country. In fact many dishes that are considered Italian in North America, for example, they do not exist in Italy.
Number 5: When visiting Italy, avoid Restaurants with servers waiting outside
Our next tip is on a similar topic of the previous one. Make sure to avoid restaurants that target tourists, because those do not offer a true authentic Italian food experience. One of the first clues to spot a tourist restaurant is the fact that they have servers waiting outside trying to get you in. First-time visitors looking for an authentic Italian experience are usually the ones who easily get swayed by these servers.
Another clue to spot a tourist restaurant is the fact that outside they have large billboards with photos of pizza, pasta, steaks, hamburgers and everything else. When. you see one of those billboards you should just move on.
The last clue to spot a restaurant that target tourists is a sign outside the venue that advertise: “Menu Turistico”. If you see that sign you are one hundred percent sure that it is a restaurant that target tourists.
Number 6: Trains are the easiest way to get around on your Trip to Italy
Italy has an excellent train system. Most of the major cities can be easily reached by train. Not only that – trains are fast, safe and they go from downtown to downtown.
Every city has a train station right downtown or a very short walk from it. Also, if you use the train, you don’t have to worry about renting a car, traffic, parking, etc. However, you need to remember that you need to purchase tickets when you are traveling by train. You can purchase tickets at the ticket counter, or you can purchase your ticket online in advance.
Another way to get around Italy is by bus. Bus tickets could be cheaper than train tickets, although the journey may take a longer.
There are some areas that are not easy to reach by train – such as the Amalfi Coast, the rolling hills of Chianti, or Bellagio on Lake Como. If you want to reach some of those areas the bus might be your only option.
Bottom line, we strongly recommend you use the Italian High-speed trains as much as you can when visiting Italy; it is just an awesome way to get around.
But what if you really want to visit the Amalfi Coast? How do you get there? Well in our opinion the best way to visit this incredible place is by boat. We took a boat tour there a couple of years ago, and we loved it!
Number 7: Know the Italian Culture
When traveling, your experience will be way more memorable and meaningful if you are able to relate to the place that you are exploring. This it is true worldwide. However, when visiting a country with such a rich and important history and culture it is even more important.
In some areas and cities you might also want to consider taking a guided tours. A tour guide might be able to give you some extra insight about what are you visiting.
Number 8: When traveling to Italy, Learn Basic Italian Phrases
It would be enjoyable and more meaningful if you learned some basic Italian phrases. A lot of Italians speak English, especially young generations and in the more touristy areas. However if you go outside the beaten path it might get more difficult to find people that speak English. For this reason, it is better to learn to also understand some basic phrases or a few words.
Number 9: When traveling to Italy, Book your hotels and attractions as soon as possible
Do not ever forget to book your hotels and attractions as soon as possible. Let’s start with hotels. If you wait too long to book your hotel, you might risk finding less availability and higher prices.
In fact, when hotels are almost sold out, they sell the remaining rooms for a much higher price. In our opinion, the best practice is to book your hotel always with a refundable rate and, ideally, with the pay-at-the-location option. This way, if you decide to change your plans or you find a better solution, you can change your reservation without any problem.
Now, let’s talk about attractions. There are some places like the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Uffizi Gallery, and many other museums that are usually packed with tourists. For this reason, it is imperative that you book tickets online in advance. Otherwise, they will probably be sold out.
Number 10: When visiting Italy, make sure to have an International Drivers License if you want to drive a car
If you are planning on renting a car in Italy, and you are not from the UE you will need to carry your driver licence plus the international driver licence.
Number 11: When visiting Italy, remember it is not a tropical country
This is a common misconception, especially for tourists coming from North America. They think Italy is in the Mediterranean, so it will be warm and sunny year round. Well, that is not always accurate. In the summer, yes, it is very, very hot.
However, if you are traveling in the spring or the fall, temperatures could be a bit chilly, especially at night, so when you pack, keep this in mind. Always bring a light jacket or a hoodie when travelling to Italy in the spring or fall.
If you travel in the winter, then it is definitely cold, and winter clothes are required.
Speaking of what to pack for visiting Italy, remember some churches, including the Vatican, have a dress code. You must wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. So no tank tops, shorts or skirts. So make sure to bring something that meets these requirements with you.
Number 12: Where can I get the local currency?
A common question that many people have when traveling to Italy is: “Where should a tourist go for the best exchange rate when traveling in Italy?” In our opinion, the best places to get cash are local ATMs, so bring your debit or credit card with you and use the cash machine. But don’t use your debit or credit card from your home country! You’re going to get hosed on the foreign exchange. Instead, I like to use Wise. 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.
And Wise sends you your very own Visa debit card, which you can use right away online or on your phone, and they 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 travel tips that you need to know before traveling to Italy. We hope you’ve learned a lot and hope that these tips give you an idea of what to do in your travel.
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.
Again, folks, we hope you liked this short but packed-with-information article. Let us know in the comment below if you have more questions. We love to answer them for you! In the meanwhile, see you in our next article.
Happy Travel, this is Rick and Andrea.