Italy is one of the world's most popular travel destinations and it makes for a memorable vacation. It is filled with fantastic sites to see, offers amazing food and drink, and is welcoming to tourists. To make the most of your trip to Italy, it's wise to do some planning, and we're here to help with all the details and a few travel tips.
The Best of Italy: What to See and Where to Go
There is a lot to see and do in Italy and many great cities to visit on your travels. Narrowing down your options can get a little overwhelming, so you might want to consider hitting some of the best and most popular locations first.
Rome, Florence, and Venice are among the top destinations and you'll find many great attractions in each city to visit. Whether it's the ancient ruins of Rome, the Renaissance art in Florence, or the romantic waterways of Venice, some things are just natural additions to your itinerary.
Keep in mind, however, that you can buy advanced tickets for many of the popular sites. This is a useful travel tip that will save you time and eliminate the need to spend hours in lines.
Beyond the best-known destinations, consider side trips that are a little out of the way. Italy has fantastic islands like Sicily, Capri, and Sardinia that are fun to visit. The breathtaking lakes the country has to offer are a nice place to relax as well. Also, if you'd like to get away from Rome, Tuscany is filled with medieval towns, beaches, and great food and wine.
Hotels and Lodging: Where to Stay
On your journey, you will need places to stay at night. Luckily, there is no shortage of hotels available in any of the major tourist areas of Italy.
As you explore options for lodging, you will find a nice mix of hotels. They range from small, intimate suites to luxurious 5-star rooms and in the countryside, you can take advantage of agriturismo and stay in a farmhouse. Many retain that traditional Italian charm, so you really cannot go wrong.
Before you book rooms, consider staying in one of Italy's more unusual accommodations. From castles to caves and monasteries to a hotel focused on chocolate, you'll find some very interesting places to rest.
Itineraries: Ideas for Your Trip
With so much to see in Italy, you would need months or years to cover it all! But because you have to start somewhere, we have a few sample itineraries that can give you a jump start on what to do depending on how long you plan to stay.
In just two weeks, you can see a lot of the best of Italy. Start your trip in Rome and enjoy the sights for a few days, then head to Tuscany for a week. You can then finish off the trip with a short stay in Venice before heading home.
On the other hand, maybe you'd like to spend your time touring Milan and Venice. The northeastern region of Italy has a lot to offer and, while you could spend a month there, you can still enjoy a week or two and catch most of the sites.
If you'd like to hit Rome and have just a few days to spare, you'll find a well-planned itinerary can help make that happen. The first day is spent at ancient sites, the second touring the neighborhoods, and the third takes you to the Ancient Appian Way.
Timing: When to Go to Italy
Deciding when to plan your Italian vacation is probably the biggest decision. After all, you want to make sure you can hit all the sites, but there are advantages to choosing the off-season as well. No matter when you go, it's not hard to find festivals and special events.
Summer is the busiest time of year for Italian tourism. While you may have to deal with some crowds, it also offers the full benefits of summer: bright sunshine, warm beaches, summer festivals, and much more.
Spring is another good option because you get sunny days and cooler weather, as well as prices lower than in the summer. Many people like to spend Holy Week in Italy, so that is the one exception.
Autumn is the other off-season time that many tourists enjoy. You don't have the heat of summer, so wandering city streets is more comfortable and the fall colors are beautiful. Again, you can save a little money during this time.
Winter turns much of Italy into a winter sports dream. Skiing in the mountains is a favorite activity for many winter travelers, though you will find that many famous attractions have shorter hours. It's not all about snow, either. You will find it mild along the coasts and off-season discounts are available. However, some places do close for the season.
Transportation: Getting Around Italy
Getting to a specific destination in Italy is pretty easy. To start off, most of the major cities have an airport that you can fly into.
Once on the ground, many travelers choose to use public transportation. Between buses and trains, Italy has a very good system in place to get you almost anywhere. Italian trains are very affordable compared to other European countries, so this is a reliable and cheap way to get around the cities or travel to different regions.
Of course, you always have the option of renting a car during your stay. If you go this route, be sure to brush up on tips for driving in Italy.
Trip Planning: What You Need to Know Before You Go
As many travelers know, every country is a little different from the next. Italy is no exception, and there are a few things you'll want to know before you get on the plane.
For instance, Italy uses the same 220 wall sockets as most of Europe. This is different than what we use in the U.S. so you will need power adapters in order to charge your phone and other devices or use your blow dryer or electric shaver.
Money is another object of concern for travelers. While you can use a credit card in many Italian businesses, not every place accepts them. This means you'll need to have some cash on hand and understand how to find and use an Italian ATM to withdraw the euros you need.
Understanding how Italians eat is also a good idea. The "coffee" you order may not be what you expected, and there are customs for drinking before and after a meal that you'll want to know. Plus, you can get the most out of your culinary experiences by brushing up on regional foods that you really don't want to miss.
Finally, you'll want to avoid the most common mistakes that tourists make in Italy. From driving in the correct lane to validating a train ticket and avoiding theft, consider these essentials. By following a few basic tips, you'll ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.