ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
At a Glance
The center of the Roman Empire and a land of art, fashion, and romance, Italy is a mesmerizing blend of past and present.
From the ancient monuments of the Colosseum to the high fashion of Milan, the canals of Venice to the volcanic Mount Etna and the sparkling waters of Lake Garda to the rolling slopes of the Alps, Italy is a diverse and magical land. Renowned for its cuisine, Italy captivates its visitors with fantastic traditional recipes all served with paired wines or premium lager.
Whether you’re looking for a cultural city break or a relaxing coastal escape, Italy has everything to offer and will leave you truly inspired.
Italy Quick Information
Electricity Socket: 230V, 50Hz AC electricity. Power outlets are usually two-prong round but may accept a three-prong, grounded plug. Be sure to pack a universal travel adaptorso you can still use all your electronic gadgets.
Visa: Italy is a member of the European Union and signatory of the Schengen convention. This entitles all EU passport holders, currently including the UK, to unlimited visa-free travel, and countries given permission by the Schengen agreement such as the USA and New Zealand to 90 days travel visa-free. Any other nationality will need to apply for a Schengen visa in order to travel the country.
Those from outside the EU and Schengen permission zone such as Russia may need a visa to travel. Nationals who did not require a 90-day Visa will need to obtain one in order to stay longer. This can be obtained from the Italian consulate. Further requirements such as a return ticket and 6 months validity on your passport will also be required. EU nationals (inc. Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) do not need a visa for stays exceeding 90 days but must register with a local Ufficio Anagrafe (Registry Office)
Safety: Italy, like most of Europe, is a generally safe country. Particularly in cities, there is a higher risk of petty theft or scams but having your wits about you will keep you as safe as possible. As a Western power, Italy and its major cities such as Rome and Milan remain at risk of terror but the risk is moderate and should not deter travel. Italy is a volcanic country with a warm, Mediterranean climate and is therefore at risk of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and fires from time to time. However, by paying attention to weather reports, it is easy to stay safe.
Language: Italy’s primary language is Italian. English is widely understood in larger cities and tourist destinations but will not be spoken in smaller, rural villages.
Italy Trip Planning
Best Time to Go
You can visit Italy all-year round and have a fantastic time. However, if you want to avoid the masses of people that flock here during the high season, it is better to go in the months where the weather is a lot cooler. During peak season, prices also skyrocket, especially in places like Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast.
The best time to go is April to June.
Typically, the weather is similar to other parts of Europe and it can be broken down into tourist seasons:
- Low Season (Nov-Mar) – Although prices are 30% less than in high season, the weather is cold in winter and many attractions and hotels may be closed.
- Mid Seasons (Apr-Jun & Sep-Oct) – With still-warm weather, the shoulder months are perfect for exploring the main cities and avoiding the crowds. You can also get good deals on accommodation in this season, especially in Southern Italy.
- High Season (Jul-Aug) – While the weather is great, expect massive queues at major attractions and higher prices.
Depending on how you like to travel, Italy can be done on a budget as low as $60-100, with accommodation usually being your largest expense. Obviously, if you prefer to stay in hotels rather than hostels and eating out more in restaurants that aren’t local, then expect this to be higher. The food in Italy is divine so make sure you factor in a couple of splurges here and there, even if you’re on a budget.
Here is a rough cost of basic commodities:
Budget: €20-60 ($25-70)
Mid-Range: €100-200 ($120-240)
Splurge: €200+ ($240+)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Pizza or Pasta: €6-12 ($7-14)
Local Restaurant: €25-45 ($30-50)
Very nice restaurant: €45-150 ($50-180)
Local City Transit: €2 ($2)
Buses: €10-20 ($12-24) Long distance
Trains: €35-65 ($40-75) Fast / €6-25 ($7-30) Slow
What to Pack for Traveling Italy
For Italy, you will need a variety of clothes to suit all weather conditions. Make sure to bring lots of thin items of clothing that you can layer if you’re cold but that would also be suitable to wear alone for the warmer days.
During the summer months, a good travel sun hat, light breathable clothes, and a travel scarfare musts. Since water is drinkable in Italy, we recommend you take with you a collapsible water bottle for convenience.
If you’re planning on hitting some of the slopes and world-class skiing and snowboarding, check out our ski trip packing list to make sure you have all the winter essentials.
For a complete guide on what to pack for Europe, check out our full article below.
Best Things to Do in Italy
Step Back in Time in Rome
Rome is a city that has been frozen in time, full of archaeological treasures and magnificent piazzas that reflect the good old days, yet with all the benefits that a modern and innovative city offers. A truly wonderful place, you could spend forever here just wandering the streets and discovering new delights around every corner.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t have forever, so to make the most out of your visit to this awe-inspiring city, check out our Rome City Break Guide and get your walking boots on!
Hike the Cinque Terre
Amidst all the beautiful cities, there are also heaps of incredible outdoor activities in Italy.
The region of Cinque Terre, in particular, boasts of stunning mountains covered in vineyards with five impressive mountainside villages that overlook the coast. As well as a range of hiking paths and some truly breathtaking views, this region is also home to some of the best seafood in Italy and incredible local wine. Need we say more?
Bask in Nature in Tuscany
To see a different side of Italy, head into the countryside of the Tuscan region and feast your eyes on the rugged Apennine Mountains, colorful olive groves and vineyards, and gorgeous beaches along the West coast.
Perfect for cycling and hiking, Tuscany has many adventures and is perfect for those looking for more rugged activities. While in Tuscany, pay a visit to its capital, Florence. Not only will you be rewarded with ancient buildings and Renaissance art, but you will also eat your fill of Tuscan cuisine and awesome gelato!
Discover the Charm of Venice
Everyone knows Venice, that classic picture of the canal filled with gondolas and lined with colorful houses, but many travelers still haven’t ventured here.
While not the cheapest city in Italy, Venice has a vibe and charm worth experiencing, even if just for a day. Wander the streets and take a gondola ride, or head to the Old Jewish Ghetto for some cheap drinks in one of the many hip bars.
If you have the budget, you could even plan to come here during the famous Venice Carnival. There’s nothing like experiencing a local festival, so grab a mask and join in with the vibrant masquerade madness!
Explore the Hidden Gem that is Sorrento
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and discover a piece of Italy that is full of culture, then Sorrento needs to be high up on your list.
A quaint and quiet coastal town perched atop the cliffs, Sorrento offers amazing views of the Bay of Naples and is the perfect base for exploring the Amalfi Coast. Make sure to make the most of the quiet here so go hiking, sailing, wander the historic streets, stumble upon the popular Piazza Tasso, and drink in the sweeping water views as much as possible.
Wander Through Pompeii
An incredible place with an incredible history, Pompeii is a sight to behold. An ancient city frozen in time by a blanket of ash, you can wander the streets and imagine the activities that were taking place the day that the volcano erupted, preserving this place forever.
Visit Pisa and Take Your Picture
An iconic sight in Italy right in the center of Pisa town, you can’t pass through here without taking that obligatory photo of you leaning on the leaning tower of Pisa. Although quite the tourist trap, take the crowds with a pinch of salt, take your goofy picture, and be on your merry way.
What to Eat in Italy
Italy is home to some of the heartiest carbs in the world and you’ll never get them better than when they are made by the Italians themselves! With both savory and sweet delicacies made to perfection, it’s an honor to eat such traditional creations that have been passed down the generations with little change.
If you don’t know where to start while in Italy, here are a few dishes that you need to try:
An iconic Italian dish, it would be a crime to visit Italy and not gorge on a traditional pizza! While there are many types of pizzas to suit each traveler’s needs, the most popular choice among locals is the delicious Margarita with a thin and crispy crust.
Another staple food while in Italy is a hearty pasta dish! Be sure to try the regional specialties wherever you go such as pasta carbonara seasoned with black pepper, as they will always be the best.
Who doesn’t love layers upon layers of pasta with melted cheese, ground meat, vegetables and a mixture of sauces? This filling tomato dish is a must try if you want to taste the true Italian cuisine.
Wherever you go in Italy, you will come across the creamy ice cream that is gelato, flavored with fruit and nut purees. Definitely satisfying for those with a sweet tooth and a treat for those who just fancy it.
Places to Stay in Italy
Italy doesn’t provide as many options for accommodation as many other European countries, but you still have a variety of choice. From cheap hostels to budget or luxury hotels, you can always find a place to stay.
To help you choose the best places to stay in Italy, here are our personal suggestions on where to stay:
Airbnb is also very popular in Italy, so if you’re looking for a more local vibe, these are always great options as well. We’ve stayed in so many great Airbnb locations over the years and absolutely love the platform. Because most places give you access to kitchens, we are able to save money as we usually just get a few pastries and coffee from a local shop.