So you’ve got a long trip to Italy planned, maybe you are taking advantage of the full three-month tourist visas, or you have just come to live in Italy. Obviously, you’ll be wanting to take a few trips around, but what are the best ways to travel in Italy?
Italy isn’t that large a country, in fact, it is approximately the size of Arizona. But from region to region, and even more so from North to South, things can change. Some methods of transport may be much more prevalent and more budget-friendly in some regions, but not others. Living in Rome, regional trains were my go-to, visiting Sicily I was surprised to find how well busses could connect you, and in Piedmont, well without my car, I would be lost!
So let’s take a quick look at the best ways to travel in Italy.
If you are hoping to take a quick weekend getaway flying might be one of the best ways to travel in Italy. Budget airlines connect every region, and they all have multiple airports. The go-to airlines are normally EasyJet or RyanAir and you can get tickets for as little at 7euro each way!
Say you are studying in Milan, but really just need a weekend at the beach. You’ll probably find that a flight to Sicily or Puglia may be cheaper than making your way to nearby Liguria. This is what is so great about flying in Italy.
The only downside of traveling by plane in Italy is that you will have to get to and from the airport, which can be an additional cost. Also, you will have baggage restrictions which can be tedious.
My personal favorite, and what I definitely think is the best way to travel in Italy is by train. High-speed trains, both national and private, now run a standard route from Turin-Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Napoli and now even reaching down to Calabria. But that isn’t all, further tracks connect many other regional capitals and all the cities in between.
High-speed trains are the ideal mode of transport, but there also exist slower regional trains which are great for exploring small towns. If you are hoping to grab a quick day trip somewhere, these trains can take you to many places.
The cons of train travel are that especially the regional trains can be quite late or slow. If you are in no rush and have flexible plans this is ok. But if you’ve got just a short trip it isn’t ideal. Also if you are carrying around luggage, it might get tiring.
Depending on where you are in Italy, buses can be a great mode of travel in Italy. I have noticed in areas in Southern Italy, like Sicily, Basilicata, and areas of Campania, buses were a much better option for Travel. These areas usually were not ideal for train tracks so the bus offers a great alternative.
Usually, buses have different companies depending on the area. Unfortunately traveling by bus does take an extra minute of planning, you’ll have to find the specific bus company, the schedule and probably buy a ticket on-site. I have found Rome2Rio.com to be very helpful in sorting this out. (Here’s a list of all the apps I’ve found useful in Italy!)
Buses usually run through the city centers so can drop you even closer to your destination. It is difficult to say how quick a journey it may be as it can depend on the traffic.
If you are able to rent a car or have your own, this can be one of the best ways to travel in Italy when exploring outside big cities. When exploring Cilento, Basilicata, and Puglia having a car was great. Also if you want to fully explore the mountains around the Dolomites, a car is essential.
Cars will let you get to way more places off the beaten path, and see more of a region.
The downside is that gas is quite expensive in Italy, and if you don’t have a credit card car rental can be very expensive. If you plan on going into larger cities, you will want to avoid driving as traffic and parking can be a nightmare.
Best ways to travel in Italy, in the city
When you are sticking to one city, you won’t need to worry much about planes and trains but there may be a few different ways to get around. I always suggest walking, as much as you can. Walking means you get to spend extra time soaking up all Italy has to offer.
But if you’re feet are getting tired you can bet there will always be a bus for you. Different cities have different bus companies. While some may have apps, your best bet is to get a ticket at a local tabacchi shop.
Some cities – Milan, Rome, Turin, and Napoli, have metros that can get you around even faster.
When in the city you’ll want to avoid driving as you will end up with a longer trip due to traffic. But cabs are an option, you can use an app like FreeNow to book them ahead. Uber and Lyft have still not taken off in Italy, you’ll only occasionally find UberBlack and the price will usually be much higher than a taxi.