50+ Italy Travel Tips To Know Before You Go

Italy is one of our favorite countries to travel in Europe and definitely one of our favorites in the world. The iconic countryside, fantastic wine, rich history, and strong culture keeps us coming back year after year, always learning about new travel tips for Italy.

Each time, we have a new reason for visiting Italy. There is something for every type of visitor, from the Dolomites in the North to Sicily in the Mediterranean and the vast country in between.

If it’s your first time visiting Italy, you may be overwhelmed with the information, planning, and routing to consider. So, I wanted to share with you my top Italy travel tips for first-time visitors after spending months of my life visiting the country over ten times throughout the years.


Our Top Italy Travel Tips


Learn a few basic Italian phrases

italy travel tips
This is one of my top Italy travel tips!

This is one of my most important Italy travel tips. Many Italians speak some basic English, especially the younger ones. Still, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic Italian phrases like “grazie” (thank you), “ciao” (hello/goodbye), and “scusa” (excuse me/sorry).

My favorite phrase to use when we travel Italy is “non capisco” which means I don’t understand – perfect for when people ask me for directions somewhere!


There Are 20 Regions in Italy

strolling arond lake como area

Before traveling to Italy, brush yourself up on a map of the country. Most people don’t know that there are actually 20 different regions to this boot-shaped country. The regions are as follows:

  • Abruzzo
  • Basilicata
  • Calabria
  • Campania
  • Emilia-Romagna
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Umbria
  • Lazio
  • Liguria
  • Lombardy
  • Marche
  • Moliss
  • Aosta Valley
  • Veneto
  • Piedmont
  • Apulia
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily
  • Tuscany
  • Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Italy is a relatively small country that is easy to get around with an efficient train network, so it’s definitely possible to see multiple regions in Italy on just one trip!


Train Travel is Popular

Train Travel in Italy

Train travel is one of the best ways to travel around Italy and one of my top travel tips for Italy is to utilize the system. The train networks are extensive and fairly affordable. Fast trains cost between €30 – €70, while regional slow trains can cost €6 – €30 depending on the distance traveled.

The two main train companies are Trenitalia and Italo. It’s important to note that even if you have a Eurail pass in Italy you typically still have to pay a reservation fee – typically €10.


Buses in Italy

While there is no national bus network in Italy, it is still possible get around the country by bus. It’s not the most popular way to travel around Italy as a tourist, and unless you speak Italian or find yourself on a tourist-oriented bus like FlixBus, traveling by bus may not be the most seamless way to travel.

Buses tend to operate in regions check out Arriva Italia and Bustalia for regional fares and routes. FlixBus is popular for getting around Italy on a more national level, go ahead and browse their site for ideas on where they travel.


Book Popular Tickets in Advance

italy travel tips

If you want to visit attractions like the Sistine Chapel, the David of Michelangelo, or the Colosseum you should book your tickets in advance, especially if it’s peak summer season.


Understand Coperto

Server on Italian Street Restaurant
Learning about coperto / travel tips for Italy

It’s important to learn about coperto before traveling to Italy. You may not have to tip 20% for service in Italy, like in America, but more often than not you will see a “Coperto” charge on your bill when you dine out. Coperto is a fee or cover charge that you will see at most Italian restaurants.

coperto

We’ve found copertos range anywhere from €1.50 to €4 per person. It’s a form of payment for your waiter, taking up space at the table, utensils, plates, and the bread on the table. You don’t have to tip for service on top of this, but it’s an important Italy travel tip especially if you’re trying to eat on a budget. Copertos can be a surprise for many first time travelers to Italy.

coperto in italy
getting bread that we have no intention of eating in Italy

Don’t try to argue coperto, don’t try to say you didn’t eat the bread to avoid the charge. Trust me, you won’t get it taken off the bill. We never eat the bread on the table and essentially just look at it as an “extra” from the waiter. It may seem annoying to foreigners who are used to eating out in North America, but keep in mind the few euro coperto is typically much cheaper than tipping in the United States.


Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water in Italy?

Bringing me to my next point – tap water in Italy. Don’t expect to receive it at a restaurant. You’ll have to pay for bottled water – frizzante or still. It’s a few euro at a restaurant. Ask for tap water at a restaurant, and the waiter may give you an eye roll. However this doesn’t mean that you can’t drink the tap water in Italy.

In almost all Italian cities and towns the tap water is perfectly safe to drink, however it may not taste the way you like. These pipes are old, so many Italians drink bottled water anyway. So fill up those travel waterbottles at your hotel room and hit the streets!


Understand Cafe Culture

ordering from a coffee bar in italy - italy travel tips
ordering a cappuccino at the bar

Cafe culture is huge in Italy, but it may not be the cafe culture you are used to back home. You know the one I’m talking about. The one where you can venture into a hip third wave coffee shop, order a V60 or mochaccino and sit with your laptop getting work done on fiber internet for hours on end. That one doesn’t exist in Italy.

Instead what you’ll find are Italians starting their day with an espresso (Un caffè”) or cappuccino at an espresso bar. If they are feeling extra spicy, they may order a cornetto for breakfast. They’ll drink these coffee drinks quickly, in less than 5 minutes at the bar, and be on their way – paying only a few euro in the process. If they opt to sit down, the price goes up just a little for taking up the table. Though you should never order a cappuccino at the bar and bring it to a table (if there are any).

No one busts out a laptop and there’s no “coffee with cream” to order. The cafe is to cure an espresso fix and to start the day. If it’s after 12pm and you order a cappuccino, you’ll be the only person drinking it, unless there are other tourists around.

The Italians believe that milk in their coffee in the afternoon leads to bad digestion (don’t ask why they don’t care about all that cheese though). Cappuccinos are for mornings only. Oh, and don’t order a latte and expect anything other than a glass of milk.

If you feel intimidated by the coffee bars while traveling Italy, I hate to say that you’re just going to have to get over it. There are very few Starbucks to walk into and do things the way you are used to. Oh and take away coffees? Pretty much non existent. Don’t worry though – it’s all a cultural experience and a way of life in Italy that is fun to observe.


Eat a Light Breakfast

traditional Italian breakfast

If you have come to Italy with hopes of an American breakfast complete with pancakes, eggs, and bacon every morning you may be a bit disappointed. In general, Italians prefer a very light breakfast to start their day. A light breakfast often consists of a sweet pastry, small cake, or a slice of bread with jam complete with a cappuccino or caffe. It doesn’t cost a lot, and is quick to consume. Even in 5-star hotels in Italy, you’ll notice the breakfast selections are on the lighter side.

There are many reasons for this. Italians don’t like to eat in excess and are mindful of portion control. The tradition of a light breakfast in Italy dates back to the post-World War II era when Italy was still recovering from the economic hardships of the war. At that time, food was scarce and expensive, and people couldn’t afford to eat a lot of food for breakfast. As the economy improved, the tradition of a light breakfast continued and became a part of Italian culture. Breakfast is not the main meal of the day in Italy, it’s meant to be a quick bite to get you through to lunch and not weigh you down.

Don’t worry though, because Italians do lunch better than almost anyone else, and usually you’ll have a delicious meal, with a salad, and starters, and of course vino.


Prepare for Cobbled Streets and Stairs

Strolling around a tuscan town
Strolling around Tuscan Towns

You may want to think twice about bringing a nice rolling suitcase before traveling to Italy. Most Italian towns and cities are filled with old cobbled streets. They are amazingly beautiful and one of the many reasons to love Italy; however, your bag will not love cobblestones.

You also could be looking at a lot of stairs be it around town or actually in your apartment rental or hotel. That’s not to say you absolutely shouldn’t bring a suitcase to Italy if you want though. I personally have traveled to Italy a few times with a suitcase and all was well, I just wished for a duffel bag instead.


Read the Fine Print Before You Book a Flight

15 Things to Know Before Going To Italy

If you’re traveling around Italy you may be flying with a low-cost carrier. Easy Jet and Ryan Air are two of the big ones that operate in the country. We’ve flown both and have had decent experiences, just make sure to read the fine print before booking.

Low-cost carriers can nickel and dime you if you don’t follow their strict baggage regulations and rules.


Early Bird Gets the Worm

early morning at the duomo in florence
We were able to get a photo alone at the Florence Cathedral, the Duomo, only because we were there around sunrise.

Italy, especially in the summer, can become a crowded and touristy place. You’ll be rewarded with peace and tranquility if you are up and at it before the crowds. One of my top Italy travel tips is to wake up early and get out the door before everyone else.

Before 8 am is one of the best times to explore and get a better glimpse into local life. It’s also the golden hour for photographers as sunset often means the streets are packed with locals and other tourists.


Visa Rules

Best Passport Wallet

Italy is a member of the Schengen agreement. Meaning most nationalities get 90 days in Italy and most of Europe. Make sure to check with your embassy to see if this is you or not.


Bathrooms Aren’t Free

bathrooms in italy

If you find yourself wandering around Rome, Naples, or Milan and in need of a restroom, it’s unlikely you’ll find a free one. We often find that even the public restrooms in Italy require a small payment to enter (and often the quality isn’t ideal).

When eating at a restaurant or visiting a museum, make sure to use the bathroom before you leave so you aren’t wandering around the streets looking for a toilet. If you desperately need a toilet, the word for bathroom in Italian is “bagno.”


Drink From Fountains

fountains in italy

While traveling Italy you may notice small fountains all over. These fountains actually have water flowing from them. That water is potable, and you can take a swig on a hot day or even refill your travel water bottle.


Stay Connected

top italy travel tips

Tim and Vodafone sim cards are cheap and you can pick them up at the airport or the train stations. We found Tim to be slightly cheaper, but have used Vodafone all over Europe and have always had a good experience.

Having a sim card in Italy is imperative for us so that we can stay connected when we are out and about. We often find we need directions or need to look up where to go for lunch! It’s worth noting that if you get a sim card in Italy, it typically works throughout the EU too, but make sure to double check with the cashier when you buy it.

Remember that you’ll often need your passport or a photo of your passport to register for a sim card in Italy. You can also get a eSim from Airalo before you land, it’s a bit more money but takes out the hassle of getting a sim card when you get to a new country.


Don’t Look Like a Tourist

italy travel tips

This might be a hard one, but one of my top travel tips for Italy is when you’re in Italian cities and towns try and blend in. Take off the baseball cap, put away the big map, no outdoor hiking clothes in the city, fanny packs, bulky cameras, and take note of your surroundings.

Not only will this make you less vulnerable to scams, but you may get better prices at normal shops. It’s what I like to call being an “aware tourist.” Italy is famous for its pickpockets and they target the easiest looking mark. Granted, we have personally never seen, been victims to pickpocketing, or experienced any of that in Italy.


Attempt to Blend In

travel tips for italy

Speaking of blending in with the locals, Italians are stylish people. In North America, I notice that we think nothing of walking out and doing daily chores in sweatpants and a t-shirt (not hating, I love some yoga pants).

However in Italy, this is not normal. More than likely the Italians will be dressed better than you unless you’re in business attire. Here are a few of my blending in tips:

  • No extremely light blue jeans or dark jeans only
  • Black is always your friend
  • Stylish, but comfortable flats
  • Scarves in winter

Practice Your Toast

Dolomites Superski Pass Trentino

I find that around the world, when you toast to someone with drinks, you should always look at each other in the eye. This is especially true in Italy, where they drink at every social meal, including lunch.

It’s proper to hold your chin high and make eye contact with everyone and drink before you eat. It is considered to be polite, friendly, and apparently can bring good luck. If you’re lucky enough to dine with an Italian, make sure to cheers them with eye contact.

Saluti!


Enjoy the Vino

Dolomites Superski Pass Trentino

Speaking of alcohol, in Italy, good wine can be had at a great price. Drinking wine is a way of life and is often had with every meal at home and out to eat with friends and family.

Those €3-5 bottles of wine in the supermarket? Those aren’t bottom of the barrel wines – that’s just the price of wine in the region!


Don’t Eat Near Touristy Places

having spritz on lake maggiore
On Lake Maggiore

If I could give you just one Italy travel tip for food it would be to venture away from tourist sites. The closer you are to a major tourist sight, like the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Tower of Pisa, the Duomo, etc, the higher the prices will be at restaurants and, typically, the worse the food.

I recommend walking a few streets back from the main attraction to find more affordable and perhaps more authentic food. We also love to do a bit of research online to find some good places we can pick from for the day.


All Pizzas Are Not Created Equal

Dolomites pizza for lunch
Ski break pizza in Italy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the best pizza we’ve ever had was in Naples. Gino Sorbillo‘s is well known in Naples for revolutionizing pizza and thankfully his pizza shop has begun to expand with one near the Duomo in Milan.

If you find yourself in either of these cities and love pizza, then a trip to Gino Sorbillo’s is a must. Although the Naples location is the true winner – we like the city better than Milan too!


Go to Venice

Is Venice worth a visit
Who doesn’t want to see this?

Venice gets either a lot of love or a lot of hate. It’s a beautiful and unique city that is unparalleled. No other city on earth can compare in terms of history, treasures, architecture, and atmosphere.

However, its beauty has also brought in hoards of tourists over the years. They descend on the city like a swarm of locusts in the summer months. Then mix in a sinking city prone to flood and a sewage system that is centuries old. It’s easy to see why Venice can also be a nightmare for some people.

The key is to head there in the offseason when crowds are low and acqua alta hasn’t hit. Another strategy is to stay on the outer islands or even Murano. We’ve traveled to Venice around Christmas and in mid-February, both times were fabulous experiences and trips. We can’t recommend seeing the city for yourself enough.


Get Off the Mainland

Beautiful views in Sicly
Beautiful views in Sicily

This is one of my most important Italy travel tips! There is more to Italy than Rome and Venice. The Italian islands boast some spectacular scenery and world-renowned beaches.

Sicily and Capri may be the most well-known Italian islands, but there are many others to consider visiting in Italy. Sardinia, Stromboli, and Ischia are just a few waiting to be explored. Here’s a great Italian itinerary for beginners.


Find the Best Gelato

gelato on the amalfi coast

Gelato is loved by all. And no matter where you are in Italy you will be able to find a gelato shop.  However, there is good gelato and crap gelato – even in Italy.

Read your reviews online, and be sure to test out a few different shops. When you find the best, you will know. Our favorite gelato shops in Italy are in Florence at Gelateria Della Passera and Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano.


Plan to Spend Some Time Eating

pizza for lunch in the dolomites
Lunch in between ski breaks

Eating in Italy is a serious affair and people take their time to enjoy meals with loved ones. If you’re eating with an Italian plan ahead as it’s not unusual for dinner to take three hours. It’s a time to eat, relax, talk, and drink plenty of good wine.

Italians also eat late and often don’t start dinner until after 9 in the evening, so don’t be surprised if you show up at a restaurant at six and there is no one there, that’s if the restaurant is even open yet. Show up at 10 pm though and the restaurant will be slammed. You didn’t plan on going to bed early on vacation, did you?


Enjoy Aperitivo

What is aperitivo? An aperitivo embodies a beverage enjoyed before a meal, which is like a cultural ceremony in Italy. With roots in the Latin term “aperire,” this tradition aims to “open” the appetite before indulging in a feast.

Throughout the ages, Italians have upheld the practice of toasting – “cin cin” – while savoring drinks and appetizers during the early evening interlude between work and dinner. Many Italians drink Aperol Spritz as an aperitivo. We love those or a Negroni – depending on our moods, but you can also order a beer or anything else you fancy. Oh, and the accompanying small plate of food is typically complimentary!


Prepare For Riposo

riposo
San Francesco Paola on Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Italy

One of the most important travel tips for Italy is to learn about riposo. Like siesta in Spain, Italians also take a break in the middle of the day. Riposo is Italy’s midday siesta. From 1-4 p.m. you can expect to find many shops and restaurants closed. Even grocery stores take riposo, and as a tourist it can get a bit annoying if you’re not prepared.

Italians like to take time in the afternoon to go home, have lunch, and relax with family before heading back out to do business. Plan your day around this accordingly.


Prepare for Italian Sized Cars

Italy travel tips

We’ve rented a few cars in Italy and each time they are what I like to call “Italian size.” If you think you may need a large full-size car on your rental make sure to specify that in the booking.

18 Helpful Tips for Renting a Car in Italy

Get Used to Driving on Small Roads

vespa on the amalfi coast
Cameron on a vespa in Amalfi

Unless you are on a major highway in Italy you can expect most of the roads to be quite small. Driving around places like Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast may get your heart rate up a few times, as the roads are narrow and small, and sometimes very hilly.

Typically only large enough for two compact cars in both directions. When a large bus comes at you in the opposite direction it might make you hold your breath and say a Hail Mary. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it after a few days.


Get a Small Manual Car

The reason you need a small rental car!
The reason you need a small rental car!

All of that being said, when renting a car in Italy get the smallest possible size that you can for your group and the luggage. Not only will it cost less, but cause you less stress on the roads.

You’ll want to be able to drive manual too, as automatic car rentals sometimes cost double what a manual rental costs.

Though if you can’t drive manual, it’s best to pay the extra and get an automatic car. Italian roads are not the place to learn how to drive a stick shift. If you’re not a confident manual driver in Italy, you’re going to have a tough go. Italians also aren’t the most patient of people either. Stall out a few times and it’s going to be an embarrassing and stressful time as all the locals honk their horns at you and curse you in Italian.


Don’t Drive in ZTL Zones

ztl zone

ZTL stands for “Zona a Traffico Limitato,” which is an Italian term that translates to “Limited Traffic Zone” in English. A ZTL zone is an area within a city or town where vehicle access is restricted or prohibited, usually to help control traffic and reduce air pollution.

You’ll find that major tourist cities like Florence, Milan, and Rome have ZTL Zones, typically in the main historic center where you’ll want to be. It’s not just major cities though, small cities like Lucca are completely within a ZTL Zone.

In a ZTL zone, there are typically signs that indicate the boundaries of the zone, and cameras or other enforcement methods may be used to monitor and enforce the restrictions. Vehicles that are not authorized to enter the ZTL zone may face fines or other penalties if they are caught driving within the restricted area. However, these signs are almost always in Italian, and if you don’t know what you are looking for you could miss it and end up being an embarrassed tourist in a tiny car in front of the Duomo.

When booking your accommodation in Italy, make sure to see if it’s in a ZTL Zone. Often if you are staying in accommodation in a ZTL Zone you are allowed to enter and park in a designated parking area (for a very high cost and with proof of hotel stay).


Get Your Haircut in Italy

on como
After I got my hair done in Como

Okay this Italy travel tip may seem a little on the really random side, but coming from someone who has gotten their hair done multiple times in Italy I can confirm that the Italians do hair very well. The hair experience is unlike most you get back home, and everytime I leave the Italian salon I feel like a million bucks.

It doesn’t matter if you and your hairdresser can’t completely understand each other because Italian hairstylists are often highly skilled and well-trained professionals and have a reputation for being some of the best hair stylists in the world with training in classic Italian haircutting techniques (i.e., classic and sleek).

The price of a salon service is almost always less than I would pay in the US and Canada. If you need to get your hair done, don’t hesitate to book an appointment in Italy.


There Are Two Italys

Val Di Fiemma
Snowboarding in the Dolomites

From north to south, Italy is a very different country. There are 20 different regions in Italy, and each specializes in different wines, foods, and traditions. It’s one of the many reasons we love Italy and return every year. Whenever we travel we notice how different not only the landscape is between the North and South, but the culture as well. They are total opposites in many ways.

Northern Italy shares borders with France, Switzerland, and Austria and therefore has cultural similarities with those countries. Historically, it is the heart of the Italian economy with much more wealth than Southern Italy. It’s where you can find Italian style, supercars, and art.

Italy Travel Tips

Southern Italy is close to Greece and has a very strong Mediterranean culture, vibe, and climate. It’s vibrant, loud, and prized for its culinary gifts to the world. They have amazing art and history too! As Americans, we also find that Southern Italy feels much more at home because as that is where many Italian-Americans immigrated from.

Sicily on the other hand, may feel more like North Africa. For example, Sicily is a lot closer to Tunis than Rome – geographically and by culture and cuisine too – cous cous is even a specialty in Sicily!


Prepare for Sundays

enjoying a beach club in sorrento
At a beach club in Sorrento

Italy is a predominately Catholic country, and what do Catholics and other Christians do on Sundays? They go to church of course. This is no different in Italy, where the majority of Italians take Sunday off for worship and to be around friends and family.

Traditionally, many businesses and shops in Italy are closed on Sundays, especially smaller, family-owned stores. However, it all depends on the business and where exactly you are located. If you are in the center of Rome you’ll still find many businesses open. However if you are in a small Italian village, you’ll find most businesses closed for the day. Sundays are for rest, so go have a Spritz and hang on the beach.


Italy Has Many Seasons

Sicily in May
Sicily in May

Quite frankly, Italy in the peak summertime is my least favorite. Prices are higher and tourists (domestic and international) are everywhere. It leads to less friendly locals who are over the flood of tourists.

If you can swing it I would recommend visiting Italy during the shoulder seasons, particularly the fall. Or head there in the winter for their amazing ski destinations!


Learn the Price of a Cappuccino

Getting a quick cafe in Sicily

Cappuccinos and espressos are everywhere in Italy, and it’s WONDERFUL. Our day in Italy wasn’t complete unless we had about three visits to the coffee bar. Coffee is meant for everyone and is therefore very affordable. We usually pay €1.50 for a Cappuccino and €1.20 for an espresso. Anything more than €2 and you are getting the straight up tourist fare. It’s also worth noting that Italians have their own coffee culture as mentioned above.

Again – drinking your coffee standing up and quick is essential to blending in, and is cheaper. Also ordering a cappuccino after 12pm is no-no. According to the Italians, the milk and foam are hard to digest. Don’t worry though, foreigners are typically forgiven for having a midday cappuccino, and I frequently order them at 3pm or after meals. Oh well, it’s pretty clear I’m not Italian.


Get Into the Mountains

via ferrate in the dolomites

Many people head to Italy for the beaches or ruins, but did you know you can ski and snowboard here? We enjoyed a fabulous week in the Trentino region of the Italian Alps and the views and snow were incredible and last summer enjoyed a fun hiking season in the Dolomites.

Not only is the ski great, but the charming mountain towns in Northern Italy offer a wildly different culture than previous places we have traveled. Other nice ski areas in Italy are Bormio, Livigno, and Alta Badia.

Some great places to travel in the summer are Cortina d’Ampezzo and Lago Di Braies.


Have a Sweet Tooth

tiramisu
Tiramisu

Breakfast is also an interesting and sweet time for me. The Italian breakfast is a light one and you shouldn’t be surprised if a croissant or cake is all you get for the start of the day.

brioche con gelato

It’s amazing the first time you have a cornetto and cappuccino to start the day, but by the fifth time, you’re ready for something else, and something err a little healthier.


Embrace Carbs

eating in palermo

I love Italy. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been over 10 times and plan a yearly trip. The one thing that I can’t adapt to is the food. Sure pizza, risotto, and ravioli are great for a few days, but a week or longer of it? No thank you.

If you’re on a diet and eating out in Italy you’re going to have a tough time. There is a good reason Italians save dining out for special occasions and friends. The majority of the time they cook at home.

This is a reason why we particularly like to rent out Airbnb’s to cook our own food. Italy produces some fantastic products and produce so you’ll be able to make some delicious meals from the market.


Don’t Be Afraid to Cook In

getting cheese in italy
grabbing fresh mozzarella on the Amalfi Coast from a local shop

I know you probably traveled to Italy to eat all the delicious Italian food in the restaurants. However, almost every time I find some of the best Italian products in the local markets. Handmade pasta, locally produced sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fresh mozzarella, and beautiful fresh produce are all delicious. YUM!

There are also some great hideaways in almost every town where you can find a little old Italian nonna selling delicious produce and Italian food products. In fact, most towns have a shop dedicated to hand-rolled pasta. Look out for it and buy the tasty products, I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Having a Drink at Lunch is Totally Acceptable

spritz in sorrento for sunset

Remember when I said wine was a way of life in Italy? Well, that philosophy goes for not just dinner but lunch as well. We enjoyed countless lunches in Italy with a glass of vino or an Aperol spritz in hand. There are so many great wines to start off lunch with we love a little bubbly such as prosecco, trentodoc, or spumante.


Cannolis Are Not Delicious Everywhere

cannoli-in-sicily
Enjoying cannolis in Sicily

This is one of those Italy travel tips about food I cannot fail to mention. Cannolis originated in Sicily, and are hands down where I’ve found the most delicious ones. Anywhere else in Italy we have found the cannolis can be very hit or miss.

Remember when I said Italy is a different country with regional foods? These delicious treats are best in the South, just like pizza tastes best in Naples and a spritz tastes better in Venice.


Love Thy Dog

dogs in italy

Every time we go back to Italy we remark how much Italians seem to love their dogs. Pet owners are everywhere around the country and more and more businesses are becoming dog-friendly. If you’re looking to go on vacation without parting from your furry friend Italy may be calling your name.


Paying for Things in Italy

Things to Know before you head to Italy

The official currency in Italy is the Euro, and though things are changing quickly to a credit card society, many things in Italy still run on cold hard cash. It’s always best to have some euro in your pocket for the multiple espressos you’ll consume in a day.


Tourist Tax/City Tax

Almost every place you stay in Italy, you’ll be required to pay a city tax, ie a tourist tax, to your hotel/guesthouse. It’s typically paid in cash, and not included in your room rate. City taxes are generally anywhere between €1-5 per night/ per person and vary by location.


Bring Good Shoes

strolling around sorrento
Rocking my wedges in Sorrento

Most of the cities in Italy are 100% walking cities, so prepare to work off that pasta!  Stay away from the super high heels as many Italian towns have cobblestone streets and you don’t want to break an ankle trying to look good.

tips for traveling italy

That being said plenty of Italian women rock it!  A good pair of leather boots for men will fit in great, make sure they’re polished and in good condition. As for women flats or stylish combat boots are great! Of course, good old fashioned tennis shoes go far in Italy, at night I like to pair my dresses with low-heeled sandals (around 1-2 inches). Read more about some of my favorite travel shoes here.


Avoid Scams in Italy

Unfortunately, you are not immune to scams while traveling Italy and there are a few common scams to be aware of – especially in the larger cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan.

  • Pickpocketing: This is a common problem in many tourist areas in Italy. Be sure to keep your valuables in a safe place, such as a money belt or a cross-body bag, and be extra cautious in crowded areas like public transport, markets, and tourist attractions.
  • The friendship bracelet scam: This is a popular scam in cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, where street vendors offer to make you a friendship bracelet or tie for free, but then demand payment when you accept it. Like anywhere else in the world, nothing is free, especially a bracelet. Once it’s tied to your wrist you have already lost.
  • The fake petition scam: Scammers approach tourists with a petition for a charitable cause, such as helping deaf or blind people, and ask for a donation. However, the petition is usually fake, and the money goes directly to the scammer.
  • The fake ticket scam: This is a common scam outside popular tourist attractions, such as the Colosseum or the Vatican, where scammers offer to sell you a ticket for a higher price than the official ticket office.
  • The distraction scam: A common distraction scam involves someone bumping into you or spilling something on you, while an accomplice steals your wallet or phone. Our

Take your time with Italy

lake sorapis in the dolomites
Lake Sorapis

I’m rounding out this post with one of my most important Italy travel tips. Italy is a country that it’s best not to rush through. If you have a two week trip to Italy, it’s best not to move to a new destination every day and run yourself ragged. Instead, pick a few places and dive into those destinations deeper, plan for a return trip. Most travelers I meet in Italy have traveled to the country multiple times as there is so much to see.

I have traveled back to Italy more than 10 times now (no all these photos are not from just one trip!) and return every year to see a new area. There is so much to explore in Italy, and no two cities or towns are alike.


When is the Best Time to Visit Italy?

Dolomites Superski Pass Trentino
Sunsets and Snowboarding in the Dolomites

When asking about travel tips for Italy, you are probably wondering when the best time to visit is. Unlike many destinations that have a clear best time to visit, I can’t say the same for Italy. It’s a great year round destination. Do you like to ski? You should head to the Italian Alps between December and March.

Like to lounge on the beach? Go to Sorrento outside of the crowded summer months. Feel like a dose of fall? The Dolomites during September and October will blow you away.

Want to travel to Italy solely to enjoy a cappuccino overlooking the Duomo? Well you can do that in the dead of November if you want!

Truly, Italy is a great year round destination. However if you are allergic to crowds, extreme heat, and high prices. you will definitely want to give a skip to July and August in Italy

When Is The BEST Time To Visit Italy?

Transport To and Around Italy

lago di braies

With budget airlines such as RyanAir operating out of many Italian cities, getting to Italy has never been cheaper. If you are flying from a different continent, the main hubs are Rome, Florence, and Milan.

Once in Italy, the best way to get around is via train. For long-distance routes, booking beforehand with Trenitalia is best, and reserving a seat. If you are traveling shorter distances, it’s also possible to show up at the train station a buy a ticket there. Or get around Europe with a Eurail.

We’ve rented a car numerous times in Italy and it’s a great way to get around on your own schedule. An automatic rental car can go for as low €15 a day in the low season up to €50+ a day in the higher seasons and will ensure you get to all the best places in Italy. Knowing how to drive a manual car will often get you cheaper rates in Europe. If you’re traveling as a group it is worth your while to hire a car for your trip.

We traveled around Italy for one week and paid about €300 for a car rental in Italy, which was a pretty decent deal in my opinion! I generally like to check comparison sites so I can get the best prices.

My favorites to look at are:


What to Pack for Italy


hiking in the dolomites
Hiking in the Dolomites

What to wear in Italy is one of the first things to consider once you plan the basics of your first trip to the country. Packing can be simple.

Generally, Italians are stylish and we recommend dressing casually that way you’re comfortable when hanging out with locals. Of course it all depends on your destination in Italy (mountains, city, or beach!)


Our Recommendation For Travel Insurance

Things to do in Nara

We don’t travel without travel insurance, and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country, and it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo offers excellent short and long-term travel insurance policies.


Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

3 thoughts on “50+ Italy Travel Tips To Know Before You Go”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for all the great tips for Italy! I was not aware of the added fee on the bill (#2 coperto). I will be visiting Italy for the first time in September. I thought this article was very helpful.

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