Last Updated on July 8, 2022
One of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean, Italy is a standout destination for all types of tourists. Whether you’re looking to eat some really good food (think all of the pasta!), visit historic sites, or you’re interested in seeing some truly beautiful artistic masterpieces, Italy has got it all.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, there are several things to be aware of and to prepare before your trip. We’ve gathered a list of all things you need to know before traveling to Italy, and the best travel tips for Italy, including some that might just save your life!
The best Italy travel tips
Travel documentation for Italy varies depending on several factors: the length of your stay in Italy and the country in which you hold a passport. There are two different kinds of travel documentation; the ETIAS and the traditional visa.
The ETIAS, for US citizens and citizens of other visa-waiver countries, is a form of electronic travel authorization introduced in 2022. It covers visa-free travel across the 26 Schengen nations and is valid for 90 days of travel in a 180-day period. This travel time is counted across the 26 nations.
The ETIAS is valid for travel for tourism purposes and requires an online application with a valid passport. You have to apply for the ETIAS prior to your trip as you will not be allowed to board your plane to Europe without one.
The ETIAS system was designed to provide further security for the Schengen Zone nations from visitors to the countries that did not require a visa. The ETIAS application system will ask a range of security questions for this purpose.
If you are not from a visa-waiver country or your trip to Italy will be longer than 90 days then you will need to apply for a traditional visa. Italy offers a range of different visa types so you need to ensure you apply for the right one for the kind of visa, depending on the trip you are taking.
Getting to Italy
To get into Italy, there are a number of different routes. Most people travel by plane into their destination city, however, if you are already on the European continent, you can also travel to Italy by land.
If your trip to Italy is part of a larger trip to Europe, then consider using the extensive rail network on the continent. You can find affordable rail passes via the Interrail or Eurail sites.
You could also hire a car and travel by road into Italy. All of the same documents will be required as well as specific documentation that allows foreigners to drive while in Italy. Be aware that not all car rental companies allow for their cars to be taken across borders, so if you’re planning to rent a car in France or Germany and drive to Italy from there, double check to see if your rental company allows the car to be used Europe-wide.
Getting around in Italy
Getting from city to city in Italy can be done via the country’s extensive rail network, or by bus. Travel by train will likely be more comfortable, though it may be more expensive. Booking your train tickets in advance via the Trenitalia websites or discount ticket websites such as Omio will save you a lot of money.
When it comes to inner-city travel, transport quality may vary. In most major cities, the inner city bus and rail networks can get you from place to place and you may also find that walking is feasible in lots of Italian cities.
When heading out of the cities, you may need to hire a car or plan your journeys ahead of time to ensure you can make any connections.
Italy travel tips
Once you’ve planned your trip to Italy, there are a few things you need to know before going to the country to ensure you stay safe and have the best experience possible. Here are our best Italy travel tips:
- Learn some basic Italian before you go – Even if you only learn a few polite phrases, it can mean the difference between getting help when needed and not. Not every Italian person is fluent in English, so knowing a few words will help you out.
- Beware of pickpockets – Some parts of Italy, particularly tourist destinations such a Florence and Rome, are known for very clever pickpockets. Take measures to ensure you don’t have any of your belongings taken this way. Pickpocket-proof travel gear (such as purses) go a long way, but I also recommend to never carry all your valuables with you. Take only as much cash as you think you’ll spend, don’t bring all of your credit cards, and leave your passport back at your hotel.
- Always have a valid ticket for travel – Whenever you use public transport, it is imperative that you validate when you get onto the bus or train.