Visiting Italy is something everyone should experience once in their life. It’s one of the top visited countries in the world for good reason! The food, the history, the culture, and the scenery will surely exceed all expectations.
I’ve had the great fortune of living in Italy on multiple different occasions and in different areas of the country, so I feel truly lucky to have been able to experience so much of it. Each time I visit, I fall in love all over again.
The different regions of Italy offer so much and so many different types of experiences, it can be overwhelming to decide what to do and where to go on your first visit.
getting to italy
Italy has 77 airports and has an excellent rail system. If you’re coming from outside Europe, the most popular international airports are Rome (FCO), Milan (MXP), and Venice (VCE).
Coming from within Europe, smaller (and cheaper!) airlines connect with smaller regional airports. The full list of airports in Italy can be found here.
when to go
There’s no bad time to go to Italy! Depending on your personal interests, you’ll always find something to do. Head to the Dolomites for winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or relaxing fireside holed up in a cabin!
During the summer months, the major cities can get quite hot. Popular activities in summer include visiting Cinque Terre, Sardinia, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, or the Italian Riviera. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, Italy is also home to some of the most underrated beach destinations in Europe.
The best time to visit for reduced prices are the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November. You’ll also find far fewer crowds during these months.
what to see
Given its extensive history and geographical location, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Italy.
|Rome||Capital City, Vatican, Colosseum, Ancient Ruins|
|Venice||Canals, St. Mark’s Square, Carnivale|
|Milan||Il Duomo, Fashion, da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’|
|Florence||Renaissance Art & Architecture|
|Cinque Terre||Cliffside Fishing Villages & Seaside Hiking|
|Naples||Pizza, Art, The Royal Palace|
|Capri||The Blue Grotto, Luxury Accommodations|
|Verona||Romeo & Juliet, Summertime Opera Series|
|Amalfi||Resort Town, Medieval Architecture|
|Sardinia||Mediterranean Island, Beaches, Bronze Age Ruins|
|Genoa||Maritime Port City, Exquisite Buildings|
|Bologna||Food, College Town Vibes|
|Cortina d’Ampezzo||Skiing, Winter Activities|
|Sulden||Skiing, Glaciers, Hiking|
|Orvieto||Truffles, Food, Etruscan Caves|
The above list is by no means exhaustive – You’ll be hard-pressed to find an Italian city with nothing to see!
traveling within italy
The Italian railway system is well-connected and very efficient. Driving and parking in Italy is a bit of a nightmare, so unless you’re road-tripping to some truly off-the-beaten-path villages, train travel is what I would recommend. Buses are also an option, and they are cheaper than trains (yet slower). Flixbus is a great bus company within Europe, but it’s worth noting that they are not pet-friendly.
On the other hand, if you want to road trip (or if you’re traveling with a furry friend or lots of luggage), renting a car is also an option. Be sure to get an International Driving Permit in your home country, they are required to rent a car!
packing for italy
If you’re keen on visiting churches and cathedrals, dress the part. Be sure to not have excess skin exposed (particularly us, ladies) – bring a pashmina to cover your shoulders in the hotter summer months. Bring a few layers with you as the nights can get cool, even in the warmer months.
Below you can sign up for my (free) detailed Italy packing list.
detailed italy articles
Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘Italy’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!
When I travel, I personally prefer to use Airbnb. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine. Since my dog(s) travel with me, it also allows me to filter based on pet-friendliness without the stress of disturbing hotel guests.
If you’re travelling long-term, Airbnb usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can get a discount by using my link below.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler and not travelling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in Italy.
For standard hotel stays, Booking.com usually offers the best deals.
Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and scams are unfortunately all-too-common in the major cities of Italy where there are tons of crowds. When I lived in Rome, my roommate had her cell phone taken right off of our dinner table one evening! My wallet was taken out of my bag while on a bus in Rome as well.
Be aware of the common scams in Italy.
Overall, Italy is a safe country, but it’s important to trust your judgement and do your best to blend in. Don’t accept unsolicited help from anyone!
money saving tips
Stock up on wine, grab some cheese, prosciutto, and bread – picnic time! Great Italian wines aren’t too expensive here because they’re not imported.
Grab some suppli or a slice of pizza for a bite to eat on the go, and to save a few dollars.
Eat out for lunch and stay in for dinner, as many times lunch menus will be less expensive.
Purchase city passes if you plan on hitting a lot of tourist sites.
Search on Pinterest: ‘Free Things To Do In….’ There are a ton of great resources out there from travel bloggers, and Pinterest is where you want to search.
Take a free walking tour or self-guided walking tour.
covid-19 resources for italy
Before making any travel reservations, be sure to check the COVID restrictions currently implemented in Italy. Be aware that things are subject to change with no notice and that most travel insurance companies do not cover COVID-19 for cancellations or treatment. Travel safely, wear a mask, socially distance, and follow all local regulations.