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How to Plan Your Travel to Italy for the First Time

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

what to know before visit Italy

When travelling to a new country, knowing what to expect and getting all the information needed to plan the best holiday is always better.

Here you will find all the things you need to know before travelling to Italy if you visit it for the first time.

Italy is beautiful, and I am not saying that only because it is my country.

Every year millions of travellers visit it, and they get so fascinated by its beauty, friendly people, food, architecture and culture that they cannot wait to visit it again and again.

This will probably happen to you after visiting Italy for the first time because every Italian region is different from the others and has different fantastic experiences.

From the beauty of the Italian Alps to my hometown Trieste, to the romantic canals in Venice to the delicious food in Rome, and let's not forget south Italy, with its still active volcanoes and local food. If you plan to visit the Campania region, check out this Amalfi Coast itinerary.

trip planner for italy

What is the etiquette to follow when visiting Italy?

It is expected among Italian friends and families to kiss on both cheeks when they meet, irrespective of their gender. Remember to stand up to show respect when an older person enters the room.

Also, Italians love to wear nice clothes. For us, it is essential to dress neatly and respectfully, even to go to the supermarket.

Here is a Table of Content in case you want to jump to read one of them:

More travel resources

italy travel planner
Tips: As soon as you book your next adventure, buy good travel insurance in case you need to “unfortunately” delay, extend or cancel your trip. I recommend VisitorsCoverage for trips shorter than a month and SafetyWing for longer trips.

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local aperitivo in Venice with "Cicchetti"

Read some essential tips for your vacation to Italy

If you like this article, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Maybe someone you know is planning to visit Italy.

*All links in every article open on a new page, so you won’t lose this page while looking around!

what is the language spoken in Italy? how to plan a trip to Italy

What is the language spoken in Italy?

The language spoken in Italy is Italian. But in every region and sometimes in each city of a region, people speak a dialect.

It's very common for people from different Italian regions not to understand each other when both speak in their dialects.

I'm from the beautiful city of Trieste, and I don't understand the South Italy dialect. For me, it's an entirely different language.

Travel Tip: I highly recommend learning a few Italian sentences before your trip to Italy. Not everyone speaks English in Italy, and also, keep in mind that when traveling, locals will highly appreciate it if you can say a few simple phrases. To do so, check out Duolingo, a simple, fun and free way to learn a new language.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, time zone italy

Time Zone in Italy

Italy is in the Central European Time Zone, which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +1).

During summer, Italy observes daylight-saving, where the time is moved forward by 1 hour, so it becomes 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +2). In winter, the time in Italy is moved back by 1 hour to Central European Time.

These changes happen on the last Saturday of March and the last Saturday of October.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, currency italy

Currency in Italy

The official currency of Italy is the euro, even though the country is still somewhat a cash-based economy.

You won't be paying cash all of the time, so I advise you always to have some cash with you when traveling through Italy.

Most shops and merchants in Italy are well equipped to accept card payments – Visa and Mastercard are more common than American Express. Get a prepaid travel card here.

how to plan your trip to italy, italy travel tips

Do you need some Travel Tips?

Check out my Travel Tips section, where you will find all the help, tips and tricks to plan your next adventure in the most organized way!

 italy vaccination needed, trip planning for italy

Vaccinations to visit Italy

Before planning an Italy trip, you should ask your family doctor and ensure you receive all the appropriate vaccinations.

Ensure you’re up to date on recommended vaccinations for your home country, and look at The Travel Vaccines and Advice here.

plug and voltage, travel plan for italy

Voltage and Adaptors in Italy​

The standard voltage in Italy is 220-240 volts. Most of the sockets are European plugs of the two round-pin varieties.

I recommend you buy a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor to use other appliances.

Travel Tip: Do you want to see everything Italy has to offer and save money at the same time? Check here all the activities and tours available. You won't regret it!

visas and passports requirement to visit Italy

Visa and passport requirements

This depends on where you are from, so you should always check the IVisa website to see if you need to apply for a visa before departure.

If you are from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, you can enter Italy and stay up to 90 days without requesting a visa.

Remember that you must have six months of validity on your passport.

book a good travel insurance before leaving for a trip

Book a good travel insurance

Booking good travel insurance is something you cannot forget to do.

It is one of those essential things to do before leaving for a trip, so check out VisitorsCoverage for short trips and SafetyWing for trips longer than a month and purchase your travel insurance before leaving.

best time to visit italy
Enjoy a delicious Italian gelato when in Italy, you will love it!

When is the best time of the year to travel to Italy?

The best time to visit Italy depends on the purpose of your holiday in Italy.

  • Winter Skiing vacation: if you love skiing and dream about the fabulous Italian Alps, you should plan a trip to Italy from December to the beginning of March.

  • Winter cultural vacation: if you wish to spend your holiday visiting Italian cities and museums and learning about Italian culture, planning a trip to Italy from November to March will allow you to avoid the high-season crowd and plan a trip to Italy on a budget. But remember that the winter temperature can be pretty low if you visit northern Italy.

  • Springtime: is the perfect season for an Italian tour to enjoy sunny but chilly days while exploring the fabulous Italian cities. Don't forget when Easter is and try to avoid it because everything gets more expensive that week.

  • Summertime: If you want to spend time at the beach, the hottest months are from June to the beginning of September. The Italian beaches are lovely, especially in southern Italy. The best places in Italy for a vacation at the beach are in Puglia, Calabria, Campania, Sicily, and Sardinia regions. Remember that Italy gets very expensive and crowded in summer, especially in August.

  • Autumn: From October to November, days get shorter, colder, cheaper, and less crowded. It is the best season for planning a trip to Italy on a budget.

Need help planning your next Adventure?

Tired of always forgetting to do something while preparing yourself and your home for your next adventure?

Here is a complete list of everything to do before leaving home!

Everything You Need to Know Before Visit Italy

Going from the Airport to your accommodation

When planning a trip, it is always wise to check how to go from the Airport to your accommodation. There are always many ways to choose.

Some shuttle buses go to the city center, major Italian airports have train lines, or you can book a private taxi in advance that will take you to your accommodation. My go-to airport transfer websites are Kiwitaxi and Holidaytaxi. where I always find some great deals.

how to reach italy from the airport, valentina's travel guide

Travel Tip: In every article, "How to plan your travel to (a city)", I listed all the ways to go from that specific airport to the city centre and how to move around that specific city with links to purchase tickets for all your trips to Italy and more.

Check out how to reach the city center of Rome, Venice or Trieste from their local airports.

Best way to visit Italy

There are many ways to visit Italy. It all depends on where you wish to go, how much you want to spend, and how fast you want to get there.

how to move around Italy
me and my parents during our two weeks tour of Sardinia

Move around Italy by Bus

​You can easily explore Italy by bus; every city is very well connected, and there is always a bus company to move around the city.

I always advise booking bus tickets in advance to plan your holiday the best way possible.

Check bus ticket options and prices on Trainline, where you can check if the best option is by bus or Train and keep all your tickets inside your app.

move around italy by train

Move around Italy by Train

​Not every Italian airport has a connection to the central city by Train, but luckily, most have it.

I always use Trainline and Rail Europe while traveling. They are great websites for booking train tickets in Italy.

move around italy by car

Move around Italy by Car

​If you like driving like me, you can always rent a car.

I always look at my favorite rental car websites and see where I find the best deals when planning trips to Italy.

Have a look at them here:

DiscoverCars: Discover is like Skyscanner but for rental cars. And since you're comparing many companies, you can also choose from many cars. (check it here) is an international car rental booking service all over the world. (check it here)

Economy Bookings: Economy Bookings has a wide range of cars from 25,000 rental points across 150 countries, always at an excellent price. (check it here)

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, drink tap water in italy

Are tap water and food safe in Italy?

If you are traveling to Italy for the first time, you may wonder if tap water and food are safe everywhere, and the answer is yes!

It’s safe to drink water in Italy from taps (especially near and on the Alps) and drinking fountains that you will find in the major cities and parks.

I always carry reusable bottles so I can fill them up anytime.

If you are not sure, it’s always safe to ask locals or, in doubt, to drink bottled water.

how to plan your trip to italy

​Plan Your Vacation in Italy

Check out all my Articles in the "Most Complete Guide of Italy" and get all the information you need to make your next travel successful.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, food in italy

Do I have to tell you if the food is good or not in Italy? I don't think so. You already know the answer if you have decided to plan your trip to Italy.

Travel Tip: I added a complete guide on what to eat for every city I wrote about, so you will know the local dishes and drinks. Check out what to eat in Rome, Venice and Trieste.

Italy has so much delicious food to offer. The only problem you will have is that your stomach is not big enough to eat everything you wish.

Disclaimer: This article contains some general information about natural remedies. Before using any of the items featured here it is strongly recommended that you check that it is appropriate to do so by consulting a medical practitioner. This is particularly important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an existing medical condition and/or are taking prescription drugs.

travel natural remedies

That's why I always carry with me some Natures Aid DigestEeze Milk Thistle, just in case I overeat because, as my mom always says, "I eat with my eyes and not with my mouth".

Unfortunately, bad luck happens everywhere. Sometimes is not the food but just our stomach that needs to get used to the new cuisine (and let's be honest, we all eat and drink more than usual when on holiday).

Take some of these natural remedies I wrote about below in case you will have stomach upset or food poisoning.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, natural remedies travel sickness,

Natural remedies for stomach upset or food poisoning

  • Milk Thistle: is a traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms associated with occasional over-indulgence in food and drink, such as indigestion and upset stomach. Milk Thistle is an excellent natural remedy always to have when traveling.

Ask your doctor if you can take them if they are not suitable for you.

  • Charcoal capsules: recent studies prove that charcoal can be a good help if you eat something that is not good and can prevent you from having diarrhea.

  • Probiotics: These are an excellent help while having food poisoning. Take as soon as you start to have symptoms and after, for at least a few days. My doctor advises me to start taking them some days before my travel, as a prevention, in case I visit a country where water and food can be easily contaminated.

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Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, eating and drinking out italy

Eating and Drinking Out in Italy

In Italy, you will find a wide variety of food, from meat to fish. You won't find only the typical Italian cuisine because every city and region has different dishes to try and love.

Travel Tip: check out my articles about Rome, Venice and Trieste and read my articles about "what to eat and where to eat local food" in that specific city.

In there, I always list suggestions whether you want a place to eat on a budget, a mid-range, or a fine-dining restaurant.

Read these articles to find everything you need about the delicious typical cuisine.

how to prepare for a trip to italy

Food prices may vary from bar to restaurant also from where the place is located if near a famous and tourist spot or a bit further, but these are the approximate prices for the most common foods and drinks in Italy:

In an Italian Supermarket

Bottle 1.5 L water: around 0.40-0.50 Euro

Imported Beer 0.33 L: approximately 1.50 Euro

Bottle of Wine: 5-10 Euro

In an Italian Bar:

Coffee-latte: 1.50 Euro

A glass of 0.5 L Beer: around 1.50-2.00 Euro

A bottle of wine: 12-20 Euro

Coke in a Can: Around 2.00-2.50 Euro

A glass of Wine: Around 3.50-6.00 Euro

In an Italian Restaurant:

Restaurant on a budget per person: Around 15 Euro

Restaurant medium-range per person: Around 30-40 Euro

Fine dining Restaurant per person: From 80 Euro

italian etiquette rules

Do you have to sit yourself in Italy?

The Italian seating customs are like in many other countries. When at a "ristorante" (restaurant), it can be a pizzeria or a local trattoria, you should always wait for the waiter to take you to a table.

While in a café, bar, or gelateria (gelato shop), you can choose a table and sit without waiting for a waiter.

Be aware that if you wait standing still waiting to be seated at a bar, you might end up waiting a long time because waiters might think you are waiting for someone.

So pick up a table, and sit!

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, tipping italy

Tipping guide in Italy

A gratuity of 10-20% in Italian restaurants is often added to the bill, so check that you're not already paying the tip before you add more to your payment.

If not, a 10-15% tip is encouraged, mostly in tourist places.

The tip should reflect the customer service you received, so it is up to you to decide how much to give. Read this tipping guide if you wish to know more about tipping in Italy.

guide to travelling italy, cost of travelling italy

How much does a trip to Italy cost?

​Italy is a very famous country, and often people ask me, "How much is a trip to Itay for two?".

Traveling to Italy for the first time and want to save some money? Read my article "Travel On A Budget: 51 Tips on How To Save Money When Traveling Abroad", to get all the practical tips to travel on a budget.

The cost of a trip to Italy depends on when and where you want to go and for how long. Even during summertime, some less-known cities and towns are cheaper than the most famous ones but still full of charm and beauty.

Travel Tip: Staying in an "Agriturismo" (a family farm with guestrooms where you can eat freshly made food). By doing this, you save a lot of money, eat delicious and fresh food and save some cash.
how to find cheap flights to italy
Ryanair has always the cheapest flights to travel to Italy

Flights to Italy can be very cheap from October to April (once I went from London to Rome, and a return ticket cost me 60 £), so have a look at my favorite flights' websites that I used to travel to check flights to Italy:

Skyscanner and Cheapoair are two travel search engines that allow users to compare airline prices and offers, specializing in low-cost airfare.

italy accommodations

Accommodations in Italy

The websites I love the most to find amazing deals are, Skyscanner Hotels, and Agoda. I usually open all of them simultaneously and then search for the suitable hotels for my needs.

You will find hotels, hostels, and b&b for every price in Italy.

If you are planning an independent trip to Italy, book your flights and accommodation as soon as you finish your Italian trip itinerary and know exactly where you will be each day.

Travel Tip: If you are wondering how to plan a trip to Italy on your own, in this article, you will find all the links and info you need to plan your Italian trip itinerary.
souvenirs and shopping in Italy

Shopping and souvenirs in Italy

The options are limitless in Italy, from leather jackets, shoes, and high street brand clothes waiting for you to take them home and create your following season outfits.

Italy offers many choices. Even if you plan a trip to Italy on a budget, you will find something to take home.

My favorite souvenirs are local food, from olive oil, liquors like limoncello, cheese, cured meat, dried pasta or spices to recreate the dishes you ate on holiday.

Handmade ceramics and paintings are great souvenir ideas. Or some delicious lemon soaps from Sorrento that my mom bought for me when she went there on holiday. Oh, the smell of those soaps, fantastico!

My favorite Italian products

Do you want to feel in Italy even when you are home?

Check out these fantastic Italian items:

can a solo woman travel to Italy?

Is Italy safe for a solo woman traveler?

​Italy is pretty safe. During the day, with tourists and locals around the streets, the only thing you will have to worry about are pickpockets that, unfortunately, can be present in every tourist city.

So the best way to travel in Italy is by having an antitheft purse or backpack. Prudence is never enough when you are far from home, even in the safest place in the world.​

Overnight I advise a solo woman traveler to keep her eyes open wherever you are because bad things can happen anywhere, anytime, to anybody, so please put safety first.

During my solo travels, I always contacted locals through travel Facebook groups, and I have been lucky to meet people that took me around and showed me their city. Hence, I felt pretty safe being out late in the evening because I wasn't alone.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, duty free italy

Duty-Free Allowance from Italy

​While planning the best way to visit Italy, don't forget also to plan what you wish to take to Italy and follow all the country's rules.

If you are traveling from an EU country, there are no limits on the amount or value of goods you want to take home with you if your goods are for personal consumption.

Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty, and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:

  • 800 cigarettes or 1kg of tobacco

  • 10L of spirits over 22% volume, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Italy by travellers over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco

  • 4L of wine (excluding sparkling wine) and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume

  • Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers

You cannot import meat or dairy products into Italy from outside the EU.

what to see and do in Italy

What to see and do in Italy

Italy is a country full of surprises. Every region is different, so It depends on what type of vacation you are looking for.

The Alps are perfect for winter sports and great during summertime if you love hiking while enjoying marvelous landscapes.

If you are looking for culture and art, don't forget that there are 58 UNESCO sites in Italy, and cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, Turin, Verona, Ravenna, Palermo, or Naples are the perfect destinations for a vacation full of history, architecture, fashion, and art.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, book tours and activities in Italy

Book Tours and Activity in Italy

So far, I have written about Rome, Venice, and my hometown Trieste. In these, you will find everything you need to plan your trip, what to do, see, and where to book any tickets and tours you wish.

To book museum tickets, I always check two different websites:

The first one is Tiqets, where you can buy every kind of ticket in advance. For activities, I check to GetYourGuide. If I wish to download a good audioguide to explore on my own, I check what is available on WeGoTrip, where there are always some great audioguide available for a very affordable price.

For more than a day's tour, check out TourRadar, the world’s first Adventure Booking Platform. On TourRadar, you can find private, group, and tailor-made multi-day organized adventures from 160+ countries worldwide. See Italy tours available here.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, is easy to find wifi in italy?

Is it easy to find wifi in Italy?

You won't have any problems finding wifi here. It is available and fast in all hotels and most restaurants or bars. You can also find it on some trains and local buses.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Italy, important telephone numbers in italy

Important Telephone Numbers

I wish you only sunny and safe days while exploring Italy, but just in case, here are all the important telephone numbers you may need if something won't go as planned:

  • Police (Polizia) 122

  • Ambulance / Medical Emergencies (Emergenza Sanitaria) 118

  • General Emergency (Soccorso pubblico di emergenza) 113

  • Fire Brigade (vigili del fuoco) 115

  • Forest Fire (Incendio Boschivo) 1515

  • Car Breakdown Assistance (Soccorso Stradale) 116

European SOS 112 (this is a European number you can call from everywhere in Europe and will help you with serious medical problems, any fire, and life-threatening situations).

how to plan your trip to Italy, Valentina's travel guide

Let's start planning your trip to Italy

I hope you found this article helpful in planning the perfect travel to Italy.

I gave you all the tips, necessary information, and links to book everything to plan the perfect vacation in Italy.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment below!

Enjoy Italy!

More travel resources:

your super-organized travel blogger

xoxo Valentina

Book Your Trip: My Tips & Tricks

Psssst! I use these websites to find the cheapest prices:

Activities in Italy:

Viator and GetYourGuide are my go-to search engine for city tours, museum tickets, and attractions at the best price.

To explore a city yourself, WeGoTrip offers audio guides to download on your phone, while Take Walks offers many guided tours.

Multiple day trips in Italy:

To book organized tours around Italy, TourRadar is an excellent website where you can find private, group, and tailor-made multi-day organized adventures in 160+ countries worldwide. See here all the Italy tours.

How to move around Italy:

To move between cities, Trainline and Omio are websites to book bus and train tickets, while EconomyBookings is excellent for finding the cheapest car rental deals.

Need extra help?

Radical Storage is to find luggage storage while you explore the city.

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