If you are planning to visit Italy for the first time check out our insider tips about getting around Italy avoiding common mistakes. You may be surprised to know that the best way to visit the Italian’s most famous sites is by train. Nevertheless, if you are planning to get off the beaten path, discover the more local parts of the country and see Italy from an entirely different perspective, you better rent a car. Find out how to travel Italy by train and by car:
Tips On How To Travel Italy Like A Local
GETTING AROUND ITALY BY TRAIN:
Trains are the least expensive way of getting around Italy and rail passes can help you saving some extra money too. The national train company is online at , where you can look up schedules and purchase tickets. If you are visiting Italy in the summer, over a holiday or on a weekend and you’re planning to travel long distances by fast train then remember to prebook your ticket. You might find offers and discounts too! Your other choice is the privately owned Italo trains, travelling as fast as 360 kph/224 mph. Lastly, if you are planning to visit multiple cities check out the Eurail Italy Pass, which also allow free passage on ferries to Greece, 20% off City Sightseeing bus, 10% off on bookings at Europe’s Famous Hostels and bus journey to and from Austria.
If you’re traveling between a large city and an outlying town, you will likely be on an InterCity, InterRegionale, Regionale or Diretto trains. Many of these slower trains make lots of stops and have no difference between first and second class. For short runs there is no need to book the ticket in advance.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket
Make sure you validate your ticket before hopping on a train! Just buying the ticket isn’t enough. Most tickets are not date or time specific, so if you don’t validate it before boarding it’s as if you haven’t paid for your ride. You can find the yellow (or green) ticket validation machines on platforms before you get on the train or inside the bus.
Remember… trains are always late
Italy’s rail network is by far the best way to get around for most travellers, especially on the fast high-speed trains. But fast or not, trains in Italy are never on time! Keep that in mind while planning your trip! In the south moving around by train can be even more challenging, and to really get off the beaten path you’ll need a car.
GETTING AROUND ITALY BY BUS:
Getting around Italy on a budget is possible! …long, but possible. Check out Flixbus fares to have an idea of how cheap it could get. An example? Milan – Venice from € 9.90. And remember, many smaller towns that don’t have train stations will have bus stops, so you’ll be able to get a little further off the beaten path if you go by bus than if you rely solely on trains.
GETTING AROUND ITALY BY CAR:
To drive or not to drive? If you will only be visiting Italian cities, you simply don’t need to rent a car – traffic is hellish and ZTLs (limited traffic zones) are quite prevalent. Most cities have excellent public transportation and Italy’s train system will get you between cities. But if you want to head into the countryside and discover the local side of the country it’s well worth considering. Don’t forget to rent a good GPS or use your smartphone.
The best way to save on renting a car in Italy: don’t wait until you get here! Book in advance, on the web, always. By reserving in advance, you can get 20 to 60% off what the price would be if you waited. Stick to a small city car, easier to park and cheap in fuel (or hybrid – even better!) and add the insurance for danno, furto e atti vandalici – damage, theft and vandalism.
Before you rent a car bare in mind: all Italians are wanna-be Formula 1 drivers. That being said, getting around Italy by car is not as nerve-wrecking as you might think. The roads are fine (except for the pot-holes on countryside roads) and outside the main urban centres the traffic is reasonable and the scenery is often spectacular. All highways have a toll that you can easily pay by cash or card at the tollbooth.
Parking in Italy
Often harder than driving is parking. Street parking is denoted by white (free), yellow (residents only) and blue lines (payment). You can buy a ticket from a coin-operated meter (mostly accepting coins only) or tabaccheria, shops selling cigarettes with a big T sign outside the front door.
GETTING AROUND THE ITALIAN CITIES BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
You can’t buy tickets directly on the bus/tram
Bus and metro tickets can be found by the newsstand, edicola, or in the tabaccheria (with a big T sign outside the shop). Here you can buy bus tickets as well as phone cards, and postage stamps. If you’re planning on using public transportation on a Sunday, buy your tickets the day before!
The tickets are generally valid for a set time period. Usually, a single €1.50 ticket is valid for 100 minutes. During that time you can use as many trams and buses as you like and take one metro journey.
If you’re staying in a city for a number of days, a travel pass will probably save you money. In Venice, a single journey on a vaporetto (water bus) costs an eye-watering €7.50, but various passes are available, starting at €20 for 24 hours.
Mind the pickpocketers
Italy has two cities – Rome and Florence – listed as the top 10 pickpocketing places in the world. Nothing to worry about, just use some common sense and you will have a dream holiday. Mind the metro/bus/tram. If they are packed, keep your backpack in front of you and don’t leave wallet and phone in the jeans or jacket pockets. In Rome be overly careful near the Trevi Fountain and around Termini Station.
If you need to call a taxi…
If you would like to move around by taxi you will need to call and reserve one or go to an actual taxi stand (you find them near the train stations and the main attractions). You cannot hail a cab on a street in Italy, although it’s amusing to watch tourists try! Keep in mind that radio taxi meters start running from when you’ve called rather than when you’re picked up.
GETTING AROUND ITALY ON A VESPA:
Have you ever considered getting around Italy on a Vespa? This might be the ultimate Italian experience and the most romantic way to explore Italian regions like Tuscany, Sicily or the Amalfi Coast. You can rent a Vespa or join one of the organized Vespa tours throughout Italy.
GETTING AROUND ITALY BY BOAT:
With as much coastline as Italy has, it’s not surprising that taking boats to get from place to place is something to consider when you’re planning your trip. You can reach Italy’s two largest islands — Sardinia and Sicily — by overnight ferry from the mainland. On the Amalfi Coast, there are numerous ferries and hydrofoils running from mainland towns like Naples, Positano, Amalfi and Sorrento to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. The same goes for Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. In Venice the vaporetto is the boat equivalent of a public bus. If you are staying in Venice for a few days consider buying a city pass so you can hop on and hop off the different islands, like Burano and Torcello. Consider taking a ferry trip on the main lakes too: Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.
Are you looking for more tips before visiting Italy? Read also 10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING ITALY>>