Want to travel to Italy? Here’s where you should go.
Land of pizza, pasta, and Negroni, Italy is a traveler's dream. Discover your perfect Italian getaway—and how to return with cash to spare!
9 min read
Home to the pizza, the piano, and the Fiat, over 58 million tourists travel to Italy each year to enjoy its majestic coastal towns, thriving cities, and stunning mountains. Catering to adventure travelers, culture enthusiasts, and families alike, you’re sure to find your perfect vacation in Italy. Not sure where to start? Here are the best places to visit in Italy—and how to budget for your trip!
Planning your trip to Italy
Before you travel to Italy, it’s a good idea to get the basics covered. This includes:
- Getting up-to-date with Italy’s COVID-19 travel restrictions
- Finding the best places to visit in Italy to match your needs
- Setting up your travel budget
Luckily, we’ve got your back. Here you can discover how to do all of the above. Before you know it, you’ll be ordering another glass of Chianti, digging into a bowl of homemade pasta, and taking in Italy’s stunning landscapes all with cash to spare!
Covid travel restrictions
As of May 1st 2022, travelers to Italy no longer need to show proof of vaccination when entering the country. Additionally, they no longer need to fill out a passenger locator form or quarantine upon arrival. However, while FFP2 masks are no longer mandatory on planes, they must be worn on ships, ferries, most trains, buses connecting more than two regions, and local and regional transport.
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Budget your trip to Italy
Being financially prepared for your vacation can be incredibly empowering. Knowing that you can cover any hiccups that may happen along the way can be a deeply reassuring feeling. So, before you land on Italian soil, first take some time to work out how much cash you’ll need while you’re there. This means researching how much accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and food cost in your chosen destination. A useful tip is to use the baseline of how much you pay for food at home to get a rough idea of how much you’ll spend while in Italy. Of course, this will vary if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family—and depend on how extravagant you want to be while you’re there!
Once you have a rough idea of how much you should save, the next step is to identify areas where you can start cutting back. To begin, go through at least three months of recent bank statements. This will help you understand how much money you have coming in and going out of your account each month. From here, identifying areas where you can make some savings becomes much clearer. The easiest expenses to tackle are what’s known as your “variable costs,” i.e., your less essential expenditures such as subscription services, eating out, and unused memberships.
If the idea of creating a budget seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. A great starting point is the 50/30/20 budget. It’s a simple budgeting method that has helped many people gain control over their finances.
Managing your money when traveling to Italy
Before you travel to Italy, it’s important to make sure you know how to take money out while you’re there—and what to do in case of an emergency.
Using your debit card in Italy
In general, Italian ATMs will accept most foreign debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this with your bank before you go. It’s also smart to tell your bank that you’re planning to travel to Italy so they don’t block your card while you’re away. Banks occasionally do this as a security measure if they suspect that your card is being used fraudulently.
Foreign transaction fees abroad
When using your debit or credit cards in Italy, your bank can charge you foreign transaction fees. These fees are often incurred when using a currency different from the currency in your ‘home’ country. In addition, some banks also charge a 1.5% currency conversion fee on top of any transaction that takes place on the weekend. This is so that the bank can protect itself against any fluctuations in the exchange rate. In general, it’s best to ask your bank what fees you can expect to incur when using your cards in Italy.
Losing your debit card while traveling
If you lose your debit card while traveling, act quickly and contact your bank immediately. The quicker the better as canceling your card stops any potential fraudulent activity from taking place on your account. In some cases, your bank may be able to send you an emergency card to a fixed address while you’re traveling so you can still access your money.
Get insured when traveling to Italy
For peace of mind when traveling abroad, consider getting travel insurance to cover any health emergencies or cancellations while you’re away. This can save you a considerable amount of money and can help to reduce any travel anxiety both before and during the trip. There are many insurers to choose from, the important thing is to make sure you choose a plan that makes sense for you.
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Where to stay and what to do in Italy
There are many incredible places to visit in Italy, so to narrow down your options, you should decide what type of vacation you want to have while you’re there. As Italy offers various different experiences, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of our top places to visit in Italy to point you in the right direction.
The family-friendly vacation: Bardolino, Lake Garda
If you’re looking for the ideal family-friendly Italian vacation, then the town of Bardolino by the stunning Lake Garda could be for you. A picturesque town only 30km from Verona, Bardolino is filled with impressive churches, restaurants, small shops, and gorgeous walkways along the lake. There’s a playground right in the center of town and Bardolino’s Lido Mirabello beach offers easy access to the water and has many sunbeds and umbrellas to rent.
A little further afield you’ll find Gardaland, one of Italy’s largest theme parks, which is also home to Legoland Water Park. But if a day spent on stomach-churning rollercoasters doesn’t sound appealing you’ve got three great nearby alternatives. Head to either the Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium or the Caneva Aquapark which are right next door to Gardaland, or to Movieland Park, Italy’s first cinema-themed amusement park, just a five-minute drive from Gardaland. To get your nature fix, try exploring some of the many forests surrounding Lake Garda or discover one of Garda’s numerous adventure parks such as Jungle Adventure Park or Busatte Adventure Park.
For the adventure traveler: Ortisei, the Dolomites
No matter the season, the Dolomites, a striking stretch of 26 different mountain ranges in the North of Italy, is a haven for adventure-seekers. Declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 2009, in the summer you can go hike up the mountains and in the winter you can ski down the slopes. The town of Ortisei located in the Val Gardena region is a great base from which to explore the surrounding landscape. From the town center, you can catch cable cars to the Seceda and Resciesa mountains as well as the Alpe di Siusi mountain plateau, all of which are the gateway to hundreds of spectacular mountain trails.
The Seceda mountain also offers mountain bike enthusiasts plenty of terrain to explore the area on two wheels. Simply hire a bike in Ortisei, take it up the mountain in the cable car, and begin your adventure! Seceda is also a favorite spot for paragliders, with many taking to the air from Secada's peak and getting unbeatable views of the breathtaking Dolomite mountains. During the winter months, the Seceda boasts five different ski slopes and plenty of opportunities to enjoy a spot of Après-Ski! For those more interested in scaling cliff faces as opposed to hiking above them, the nearby Sassolungo, Furchetta, and Sass Rigais mountains are frequented by many avid rock climbers each year.
A culture lover's dream: Rome
With 280 fountains and over 900 churches, Rome, Italy’s most visited city, combines ancient architectural wonders with modern cosmopolitan flair. The infamous sights are a must. In the Historic Center, you’ll find the Colesseum, ancient Rome’s largest amphitheater. A ticket will also grant you access to the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. From here, the Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Campidoglio, two thriving city squares are just a few minutes walk away. The mesmerizing Pantheon and its colossal dome are situated 10 minutes northwest of the squares and just next to the Piazza Navona which is home to three striking fountains.
On a rainy day, be sure to check out the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna which has masterpieces by Cézanne and Van Gogh, the Galleria Borghese which is home to Apollo and Daphne by Bernini, and the National Gallery of Ancient Art which displays works by Caravaggio and Raphael. However, no trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to Vatican City, Europe’s smallest country, populated exclusively by nuns, priests, and guards. Entrance to the city can be found in St. Peter’s Square and the city itself is home to 13 museums and the spectacular Sistine Chapel.
For a fantastic evening, try and catch a performance at the Rome Opera House which, during the summer, puts on performances al fresco in the Baths of Caracalla. When your stomach is growling, head over to the Trastevere district to enjoy some authentic pizza and pasta, then on the Piazza di Spagna or Piazza del Popolo squares to get a glass of prosecco or a refreshing Negroni.
One of the easiest ways to get around Italy is by train. ‘Trenitalia’ is the government-run fast-speed train operator for both inter-city and regional services. ‘Italo’ is a private fast-train operator that connects major cities. In general, Italy’s rail network is extensive and its fast trains can get up to speeds of 300km/hour which makes it a particularly efficient way to get across the city. However, things get slightly trickier if you’re heading up to the Dolomites. While there are train and bus routes that can get you across this mountainous terrain, many tourists opt for exploring this spectacular landscape by car. But beware—many towns and city centers restrict entry by car and you have to pay tolls on many ‘autostrada’ highways.
If you decide to explore Italy by car, car rental companies like Sixt, Auto Europe, and Europcar have got you covered. But be sure to use a price comparison site such as Kayak, Expedia, or rentalcars.com to find the best deal out there. Additionally, in some of Italy’s bigger cities, you’ll be able to hire a car for short trips using car rental apps such as SHARE NOW, Enjoy, Ubeeqo, and Auting. For even shorter trips, you can hop on a scooter from Ecooltra, ZigZag, and Acciona, or an e-scooter from Helbiz, Lime, Bird, or Dott.
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