Complete Guide to Traveling Solo in Italy
If you’re thinking of visiting Italy, let me be the first to say: bravo!
You’re in for a real treat. Italy is a country that’s rich in culture, history, and flavor. The people are warm and passionate, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.
With so many amazing places to see, it’s hard to know where to start your planning your trip. That’s why I’ve put together this super comprehensive guide to solo travel in Italy.
It’s everything you need to know to get the most out of your solo Italian adventure and more. In this Italy travel guide, I’ll walk you through some important information to help you plan and budget for your trip. And give you a ton of ideas of places to visit, things to do, and what to eat!
So, sit back, relax, grab a cappuccino (or a glass of wine) and let’s start planning your trip to Italy!
Italy Travel Planning
Italy at a Glance
⭐️ Highlights: Everything! Art, food, wine, architecture, history, adventure
🧳 Best time to go: April-May to avoid Summer crowds and heat, September-October before Winter hits, and December-March for skiing. Avoid July and August.
💸 Stay, eat and play daily budget: €90 on the low end, €200ish for value hotels and short-term rentals.
🚨 Safety: Italy is very safe for women traveling alone. Just beware of pickpockets and tourist scams.
🛵 Getting around: Public transportation in the city, bus and trains to travel between destinations. Driving only recommended outside major cities.
💰 Etiquette: Round up the bill but don’t feel the need to leave a tip at restaurants. Do tip your tour guides.
When to Go
Italy is a very popular travel destination, and you can feel the effects of overtourism all over the country pretty much all the time, which is unfortunate.
For that reason, July and August are by far the worst time to visit Italy. Unless you love crowds and high prices, you should avoid Italy in the summer.
If possible, plan your trip in the shoulder seasons:
- April thought late June
- September and October
Much of Italy enjoys the Mediterranean weather so during those months, the weather is perfect for walking around. It’s still nice and warm in most places.
But if you’re planning to wear a bikini at some point, you’ll definitely want to be closer to the south outside the May-September window.
Italian ski season goes from late November until the end of April. But, if you’re a skier or snowboarder, your best bet to hit the slopes is from December through March. It’s no coincidence that those months are also the high season in the Dolomites, where the best ski resorts in Italy are.
Festivals and Holidays
If you don’t mind crowds and can work around higher hotel rates, consider visiting Italy around one of its festivals and holidays. Here are just a few to keep in mind:
- February: Carnavale in Venice and Viareggio
- February: Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea
- March: Rome Marathon
- April (Easter): Scoppio del Carro
- May: Lemon Festival in Cinque Terre
- June: Calcio Storico in Florence
- July: Opera Festival in Verona
- July/August: Palio di Siena
- November 1: All Saints Day
- September: Venice Regatta
- October: Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco in Alba
- December: Oh Bej! Oh Bej! in Milan
Italy has several international and regional airports so it’s easy to fly in and out, no matter where you’re going.
Here are some of the bigger international airports:
- Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
- Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
- Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)
- Naples International Airport (NAP)
- Florence Airport (FLR)
From the airport, you can easily get to your hotel or final destination via train, bus, taxi, or Uber (which is only available in Rome and Milan).
✈️ Search for flight deals and the best routes to Italy with Skyscanner.
Italian trains are comfortable, efficient, and most routes offer stunning views of the Italian countryside as an added bonus. They’re also very convenient, which is why travel by train is so popular in Italy and Europe.
The entire country is covered by rail so it’s easy to travel between major cities like Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Palermo, etc.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket! You must validate your ticket before boarding, either by stamping them in a machine or scanning them at a turnstile. It’s a common mistake that tourists make in Italy, and end up having to pay extra fees or fines for no reason. But now you know!
🚆 Buy rail passes online: You can get single-journey train tickets or multi-day rail passes at Rail Europe.
Buses are a cheaper alternative to trains. If you’re on a tight budget, taking the bus from one city to the next is a great idea.
Big travel buses are clean, air-conditioned, comfortable, and many even have WiFi. Although you should really put your phone down and look out the window instead… You’re in Italy!!!
Boats and Ferries
If your itinerary included places like Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, or any of the great Italian lakes, you will quickly become familiar with ferries.
Traghetti (ferries) are a common way to go from places like Naples to Capri or hop around the different villages around Lake Como and Lake Garda. Even in Venice, you can ride the traghetto for only two euros!
I’ll get to cars in a second but there’s really no reason to drive IN any of the major cities in Italy. Just use public transportation. There are buses, trams, ferries, subways, water taxis, you name it. And most cities allow you to use your tickets or pass in more than one.
Tourism centers and your hotel are great places to get information on how to get around a city. My hotel in Milan even gave us tickets to ride the tram, which had a stop right across the street.
So skip the cab and take public transportation instead. If you get lost (like I did on many occasions), remember that all roads lead to Rome and you’ll be fine…
Driving in Italy can be quite an experience… Apart from the fact that narrow, slippery cobblestone roads in old historic centers were not designed for cars at all, drivers in Italy can be quite aggressive.
But if you want to explore the countryside, go from one city to the next stopping in small towns along the way, renting a car is the way to go. Just don’t think twice about getting insurance!
🚘 Discover Cars helps you find the best rental car deals.
Also, beware of ZTLs when driving in Italy. ZTLs, or zona a traffico limitato, are areas restricted to traffic from residents and authorized vehicles. If you unknowingly end up in one, get ready to pay a €100-€350 fine.
Where you stay can make or break your trip, especially if you’re traveling alone. Lucky for you, Italy has a lot of accommodation options and places for you to stay during your trip.
Hotels: Places like Cinque Terre don’t have big hotel chains, only independent and boutique hotels. But overall, hotel standards are fairly reliable as accommodations are strictly regulated in Italy.
Bed and Breakfasts: When I travel alone, I love staying at B&Bs. They’re often family-run and are (usually) more affordable than hotels and more private and cozy than a hostel.
Hostels: Shared dormitory-style hostels are a great option for budget and solo travelers in Italy. Today, you can find hostels that offer private rooms and incredible amenities.
Vacation/short-term rentals: Italy has some amazing villas and apartments that you can rent and prices can be very reasonable, especially if you’re planning to stay a while.
Monasteries and Convents: I bet you were not expecting to see monasteries and convents on this list, huh? Well, monasteries and convents are super unique stays and they can be very affordable. Some even offer meals and guided tours. Just be mindful that you’ll be staying with actual nuns or priests, so you’d better be on your best behavior!
Food and Drink
Hope you’re not hungry because one of the most exciting things about Italy is experiencing its incredible food and drink culture.
Each region has its own unique flavors and specialties, and you’ll never run out of things to try.
Here are a few dishes for you to look out for (and make your mouth water):
- Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Tuscany.
- Pizza Margherita, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana in Campania, of course.
- Pesto Genovese, Focaccia in Liguria.
- Tortellini, Parmesan cheese, and Prosciutto di Parma in Emilia-Romagna.
🍝 Tip: To find the best and more authentic restaurants, wander away from popular tourist areas. Also, don’t be afraid to ask locals for recommendations!
I couldn’t write an Italy Travel Guide and not mention the wine! Italy has a strong wine culture, with many regions producing their own unique varieties. If you enjoy a glass or whole bottle (no judgment), here are some of Italy’s wine regions you can explore:
- Piedmont: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Moscato d’Asti.
- Tuscany: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Super Tuscans.
- Veneto: Valpoliccela, Prosecco, Amarone, and Soave.
Wine is a huge part of Italian culture. If you have the chance, go to a winery. Many offer tastings but you’ll likely need a reservation so book in advance.
🍷 Tip: If you can’t do a full-blown wine tour of Italy, you can book a wine tasting day tour from pretty much any major city.
Popular Destinations in Italy
- Cinque Terre
- Lake Como
- Lake Garda
Things to See and Do
Italy Bucket List: Top Attractions
It’s really hard to list all things that you can do in Italy. But here are a few that draw millions and millions of visitors to Italy each year:
- Explore the Colosseum and Rome’s ancient ruins
- Visit The Vatican, the smallest country in the world
- Tilt your head at the Leaning Tower of Pisa (and take a silly photo with it)
- Float around the canals of Venice in a gondola
- Immerse yourself in art and history in Florence
- Go on a wine tasting tour of Tuscany
- Shop in Milan, the fashion capital of the world
- Eat pizza in Naples
- Get lost in picturesque Amalfi Coast
- Go back in time in Pompeii
- Go skiing (or hiking) in the Italian Alps
- Discover ancient cave dwellings in Matera
Italy Travel Budget
I always laugh when I look back at some of the trips I’ve taken in the past and how little I spent. My first solo trip to Italy cost close to nothing but staying at campsites outside of Rome and Venice is just not something I’m willing to do anymore.
So here’s an estimated daily cost of traveling in Italy based on four personas that I created after observing other solo women travelers over the years.
Don’t fit any of my four travel personas? No worries.
These numbers give you a range for what you can expect to spend per day to help you budget, and can be adjusted based on your choice in accommodation, food, experiences, and transportation.
For example, you can choose to save a lot in your accommodations but you’ll go all out on food and experiences. And would applaud you for that.
The point is: you can travel to Italy on €60 a day as a solo traveler… If you’re willing to give up your privacy, comfort, and be very selective (ie. stingy) about your food and paid experiences.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few important things you need (or are just super helpful) to know before you go to Italy:
Visa: Americans can stay in Italy for up to 90 days without a tourist visa. Everyone else, be sure to check if there are any requirements for you. The Italian embassy in your home country is a great place to ask.
Language: Parli italiano? The official language in Italy is, you guessed it: Italian. You won’t likely have any problems communicating in English in any of the major cities or and tourist areas.
Money: Italy uses the euro (EUR) as its currency. ATMs are easy to find and you can use a credit card in most places. Some mom-and-pop shops and restaurants may only take cash so it’s wise to have some with you for that emergency gelato!
Staying in Touch: Overall, cell phone coverage in Italy is very good. I recommend getting an eSIM card from Airalo.
📱 Get an eSIM card from Airalo and avoid crazy roaming charges.
Safety: Italy is probably one of the safest places you can visit alone. That’s not to say there’s no crime or areas you should avoid but the biggest thing you’ll need to worry about is avoiding pickpockets around major attractions. Keep an eye on your stuff and don’t make yourself an easy target.
Most of Italy enjoys the milder temperatures of the Mediterranean weather but it can get bone-chilling cold in the north during the winter. Temperatures can be very different in the northern, central, and southern parts of Italy so check the weather in every location you’ll be visiting.
Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) zone. Adjust your clocks accordingly.
It’s always a good idea to get travel insurance that covers medical expenses and emergencies during your stay in Italy, just in case.
☂️ Get Travel Insurance: Stuff can happen while you’re in Italy. Protect yourself with SafetyWing in case of injury, illness, or theft.
Italians are very friendly and hospitable but don’t give them a reason to be mad at you. Be courteous and say “buongiorno“, “buonasera“, and “grazie” a lot. When visiting religious sites, cover your shoulders.
Italians are not used to tipping and they won’t expect you to leave a tip at restaurants and cafes. Having said that, rounding up the bill and leaving a few euros will be appreciated. Tip the tour guide 5-10 euros per person if you go on a large group tour, or 10% if it’s a private tour.
There are too many tourist scams to list on this Italy travel guide, but here are a few you need to be aware of:
- Overpriced shitty food at cafes and restaurants in busy tourist areas.
- People selling fake tours and tickets in Rome (book online instead).
- Street vendors selling counterfeit luxury products like handbags and watches (you can actually get fined for that). Also check the authenticity of Murano glass and Venetian masks.
- Gypsies dressed as mime artists in Florence.
- Fake police officers conducting fake searches.
Italy Packing List: don’t forget these items
- An Italian phrase book.
- Reusable water bottle with a built-in filter.
- Power bank to charge your phone (you don’t run out of juice in the middle of the day).
- Power plug adapter compatible with Italy.
- See 10 essential items you need to pack to Italy.
Italy for Solo travelers and Digital Nomads
Although Italy is not the most affordable place to stay for extended periods of time, it’s the perfect destination for slow travelers and digital nomads looking to escape the daily grind and find a little inspiration.
Italians are known for their warm and friendly hospitality, and you’ll be welcomed with open arms wherever you go. You’ll also find that there are tons of opportunities to meet new people, make friends, and connect with other travelers.
And for digital nomads, Italy offers a great infrastructure for working remotely. Many cafes and restaurants have free Wi-Fi, and there are co-working spaces in most major cities.
Nomadlist ranks cities around the world based on things that are important to digital nomads like cost of living, internet speed, fun, and safety. Overall, they give Italian cities high scores on fun and safety, which is particularly attractive to solo women travelers like me. Internet gets a decent score but cost of living is generally really high compared to other nomad destinations.
So there’s a high price to pay to enjoy the il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) in Italy—but the pizza, gelato, and wine will make up for it!
Recent Blogs About Italy
- Solo Travel in Italy: A Guide to La Dolce Vita
- 6 Ways to Avoid a ZTL Fine While Driving In Italy
- Best Things to Do in Sorrento, Italy
- 21 Most Beautiful Towns in Italy
- What to Pack for Italy: 10 Essential Items
- 11 Amazing Things to Do in Venice, Italy
- The Perfect Two Week Italy Itinerary
- What to Do in Lake Como, Italy: A Complete Guide
- What Not to Do in Italy: 11 Common Tourist Mistakes
- 7 Best Destinations in Italy You Must Visit
- The Perfect One Week Italy Itinerary
- The Complete Guide to Cinque Terre
- 6 Essential Venice Travel Tips from a Local
- Nessun Dorma Manarola: The Best Lunch in Cinque Terre
- Venice Gondola Hack: Ride the Traghetto – It’s Cheap!
Where to next?
From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the rugged coastline of Amalfi, Italy truly has something for everyone. I hope you found my guide to solo travel in Italy informative and mildly entertaining, at least.
Thanks for reading, and arrivederci!
Where are you planning to go in Italy? Please leave a comment below if you’re heading there soon.
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