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Italy travel tips – 35 top tips for travel in Italy

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Whether it's your first trip to Italy or you've already been several times, it's always worth doing a little research beforehand. You'll be better prepared for visiting Italy and ready to savor a smooth and enjoyable travel experience. Even when you're traveling with a small group, you never know when you may need to figure out how to navigate a train station or request specific dishes at a restaurant.

 

That's where these Italy travel tips come in handy. From planning tips to customs and local habits that are unique to Italy, these expert travel tips will help you prepare and know what to expect on your trip to Italy.

 

Top tips for visiting Italy

1. Research the best time of year to visit
There are benefits and drawbacks to each season in Italy.

2. Visit top attractions outside of peak hours to avoid the crowds
Our expert local guides know the best times to visit popular sites like churches or museums when the crowds are low and you can better appreciate the experience.

3. Enjoy the outdoors
While many people visit the country for its culture, history and cuisine, Italy is also a great destination for outdoor and adventure sports like kayaking on rivers in Tuscany or hiking in the Dolomites.

4. Make reservations for museums and attractions in advance
A major benefit of booking one of our small group or solo tours is that we take care of all those arrangements for you.
5. Cinque Terre is not just one brightly painted seaside village
Cinque Terre is actually five different fishing villages along the Italian Riviera.

6. Always carry some cash
While most places accept card payments, it’s always a good idea to have cash on hand just in case.

7. Don’t be afraid to explore off-the-beaten-path
Top attractions are popular for a reason, but you never know what you may find when you venture outside the busy city center. Our small group tours offer the best of both worlds, taking in must-sees and under-the-radar treasures in equal measure.

8. Embrace the leisurely quality of life in Italy
Italians are not renowned for their punctuality. Be patient and try not to get too stressed about it.
9. Sicily isn’t the only sun-drenched Italian island off the mainland
Sardinia and the Aeolian Islands offer plenty to do, such as visiting archaeological sites and hiking up volcanos.

10. Learn a little Italian
In big Italian cities like Rome, many locals will speak English, but it's still polite to learn basic greetings, questions and common phrases. It will also help when traveling in small towns where there may not be as many English speakers.

11. Get walking
Italy is a wonderful country to explore on foot, so be sure to pack comfortable, walking shoes.

12. Always double-check before crossing the street
Many Italians drive fast and traffic in major cities can get crazy.
13. Always validate your bus or train ticket
Whenever traveling on trains or buses, make sure to validate your ticket before starting your journey, in order to avoid a fine.

14. Cover up in religious sites
Always cover your chest area, shoulders and legs above the knee when visiting churches, cathedrals and other sacred religious sites.

15. Download maps and directions in advance
You may not always have the internet or a good data connection. Save yourself the trouble of trying to get Google Maps to work by downloading directions beforehand. On our guided tours, your expert guide will escort you to itinerary stops and destinations.

16. Pack sunscreen and mosquito repellent
As you’ll be spending lots of time outdoors, it's essential to protect yourself against sunburn and mosquitos, especially during the summer months.
17. Expect a friendly welcome in Italy
Italian greetings are typically affable. Italians greet each other with air kisses on each cheek. Don’t be surprised if you receive the same warm welcome!

18. Know your Italian emergency numbers
Like 118 for medical services – just in case.

19. Skip the car rental
Use public transport instead. It saves money, is more environmentally friendly, and is a great way to experience local culture. Many big cities like Rome have efficient metro systems and you can take buses and trains pretty much anywhere. Train travel tips include booking regional train tickets for the best rates and always double-checking which train station you're departing from, as big cities may have several.

 

Travel tips for dining out in Italy

20. Be adventurous – try a wide variety of food and drink
Italian food varies by region, so you’ll have the opportunity to sample numerous regional specialities depending on where you are in the country. Try tortellini in Emilia Romagna, seafood in Puglia, chianti in Tuscany, and limoncello lemon liqueur along the Amalfi Coast.

21. Expect to eat dinner later in the evening
In Italy, dinner is not usually served before 7 or 8pm.

22. Enjoy aperitivo time before dinner
Similar to happy hour, aperitivo is a cherished culinary custom with drinks like Aperol spritzes and Negronis accompanied by light snacks. The tradition originated and is strongest in Northern Italy, but you can also enjoy it in Southern Italy.

23. Take the time to savor your food
Meals are leisurely affairs in Italy so both the food and the company can be better appreciated – don't rush.
24. Enjoy a coffee in the bar
In Italy, bars are actually places to drink coffee rather than alcohol.

25. Have a coffee after dinner
Italians drink their coffee after meals, instead of while eating.

26. Pay before ordering
When ordering something quick like gelato or a coffee, you’ll pay first before ordering.

27. Drink your espresso fast in Italy
There are two rules of thumb when it comes to ordering coffee in Italy: cappuccinos are exclusively drunk at breakfast, while espressos are drunk quickly while standing at the coffee shop bar.
28. Don’t order a latte
Latte means milk in Italian. If you order a latte, you’ll just get a glass of hot milk. For an American-style latte, which is steamed milk with espresso, order a latte macchiato.

29. Avoid paying 'tourist tax' at overpriced restaurants near tourist attractions
Heading even just a few blocks away to dine will lead you to better food and prices. The best local restaurants are often a little off-the-beaten-path.

30. Don't eat at a restaurant that serves spaghetti Bolognese
Many Italians argue it's not an authentic dish, so it causes some controversy.

31. Tipping your servers is not required or expected
However, it's always appreciated.
32. You'll have to pay a coperto in restaurants
Meaning cover charge, this fee of a few euros is charged per person to cover items such as bread.

33. Refill at free fresh drinking water fountains
Cities like Rome and Venice have drinking water fountains. Save money by using a reusable water bottle to take advantage of this local perk and stay hydrated.

34. Look out for signs advertising gelato artigianale
It means the gelato is made on-site and of the best quality.

35. Enjoy drinking house wine
When ordering wine at a restaurant, you can find good quality wines for very reasonable prices, often even inexpensive house wine, or vino della casa, will be good.

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