If you’re trying to figure out how to plan a trip to Italy on your own, it may seem daunting. This boot-shaped country is famed for its spectacular landscapes, extensive history, charming culture, trendy fashions, and scrumptious cuisine. There are miles of gorgeous beaches along the coast, beautiful islands, and some of the most beloved landmarks anywhere in the world. Naturally, you’ll want to see it all, though that’s going to be impossible in just one visit.
Still, with the right travel itinerary, you’ll have it all figured out. You’ll even know how to plan a trip to Italy on a budget while still having an absolutely phenomenal time.
First, you’ll want to start by making sure your travel documents are in order. This includes checking your passport to ensure it is still valid and has 6 months validity on it. If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, or New Zealand, you can enter Italy and stay for up to 90 days without needing a visa.
For other nationalities, it is wise to check out the Italian government’s website on what requirements may be needed. As information may change for the entrance of any nationality, it can’t hurt to take a look before you plan your Italian itinerary.
From most places in the world, you can find direct or even single-stop flights right into Italy. By far, Rome Fiumicino (FCO) International Airport is one of the main ones though Milan Malpensa (MXP) or Venice Marco Polo (VCE) are also easily accessible.
Much of it really depends on where you are going in your travels, especially if you are traveling to other European destinations and stopping in Italy too. As far as ticket prices go, those are always changing. Booking in advance certainly saves you more. The cheapest tickets are usually found on Skyscanner so be sure to check there and get a comprehensive comparison of the prices for each of the airlines.
The secret to visiting Italy is choosing times when it is less busy. If you’re less of a hot weather fan, you may want to avoid summer. That’s when the biggest crowds are out. Also, the prices are much higher, so if you want to travel to Italy from the north to the south on a budget, it’s best to choose another time of year.
Perhaps the best times of year to visit Italy are in April, May, September, and October. These are the in-between months of the typical visiting seasons and you’ll get sunny, mild weather with manageable crowds. Also, it’s easier to find deals and save more on flights and accommodations.
When traveling to Italy, there are numerous options for places to stay. Choosing where you stay is just as important as planning your itinerary. Luckily, there are options for every budget. If money is tight, an ultra-budget stay in a hostel can range from €20-35 ($25 to $40 USD) per night while an upscale stay will be €200+ ($230+ USD) per night.
If you can swing it, try splurging on the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice, featuring a stunning view of the shores of Giudecca Island. Not far from there, Hotel Moresco is an even more elegant and opulent setting that truly rolls out the red carpet for its guests.
You can view the approximate prices for hotels in some of the most popular resorts in Italy in the chart below.
Hilton Molino Stucky
Hotel Home Florence
Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati
One of the best ways to explore Italy when going between cities and major towns is by train. Renting a car is best if you want to explore the countryside areas and small villages.
Italy’s trains are very modern and make for an efficient way to get around. Booking in advance can save you even more money on the high-speed intercity services where they allocate the seats.
A huge word of caution for the trains though…you must validate your ticket. Make sure you ask someone where you can do that if you do not know. They will randomly inspect tickets on the train and you can get in trouble for not validating your ticket, even if you tell them you didn’t know it needed a time stamp.
If you would prefer to rent a car, you will need to have an International Drivers Permit, something you can get in your home country. You will also need to know how to drive a vehicle with manual transmission as this is most commonly available. Automatic transmission is available for an extra fee if they have any available.
Additionally, driving in Italy can be a challenge because the roads are narrow. You may encounter large fines when you enter ZTL zones as driving is not permitted in these areas.
Buses and ferries are other ways to get around in the cities you visit, and are far more stress-free than renting a car.
In Italy’s major cities of Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan, you will find it busiest at tourist attractions. There are so many things to see, but if attractions like the Colosseum, the Vatican, and Doge’s Palace for example are on your must-do list, you should pre-book in advance or you will be spending hours waiting to enter.
While seeing those landmarks is something you will likely not want to miss, you should also leave room for immersing yourself in the Italian way of life. There are food and wine tours, concerts, countryside explorations, and plenty more to suit any type of traveler. You may want to take an Italian cooking class, take a small private boat tour to Capri, or simply roam from vineyard to vineyard tasting the best wines.
There are a few things you should know when you’re in Italy that will ensure you have your best trip.
Additionally, queuing in Italy is very different. It is customary to push and shove so don’t take offense to this. People will make their way to the front and it can get chaotic, and this can happen in every establishment from the theater to a gelato shop. Instead of waiting politely for your turn, you need to be vocal and get up there or you’ll never get a turn.
Also, while Italy is incredibly safe, don’t forget to pay attention to your belongings. Busy stations, especially Roma Termini, are a pickpocket’s dream come true. Any tourist attraction will have these opportunists around so be smart.
As for what not to do in Italy, you should never joke about the Catholic Church or the Pope, particularly in front of the older generations. Critiquing Italian food is also seen as something rude. And even though you may hear Italians openly complaining about their country, they are deeply proud of their homeland which means they will not appreciate foreign criticism.
Traveling to Italy is going to be an exciting time for you. With these tips to help you know how to plan a trip to Italy, you’ll be sure to make the most of your adventures when you visit the northern and southern regions.
We hunt travel deals, tips, hacks, and more weekly to get the best ones for you.
To Travel Is