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Five things to know before traveling to Italy

Are you planning a trip to Italy?  In this article we will tell you five things you need to know before traveling to Italy! Also, we will give a bonus tip – something that we get asked about ALL THE TIME – that will help you save tons of money on your next trip to Italy!

So let’s begin with our five tips to know before traveling to Italy.

Number one thing to know before traveling to Italy: you can not see everything in one trip!

Many of you asked us in comments or on social media how many places can I visit during my trip? Well think about this: Italy is approximately one thousand kilometers long (621 miles) and about 400km wide in its widest part (260 miles). For this reason, you will not be able to see everything in one single trip! – Well, unless you were in Italy for a very long time. 

Venice Piazza San Marco

Even for us who live here, there are areas that we have not explored yet. Also consider that some areas like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, or Lake Como are not very easy to reach. Also if you spend most of your time traveling between destinations you won’t have time to enjoy the destinations that you end up visiting. Bottom line: pick a few must-see places and spend time there and enjoy them!

Number Two thing to know before traveling to Italy: Don’t bother with wifi!

Our second tip of our five things you need to know before traveling to Italy list has to do with WiFi.

When you visit Italy don’t bother trying to connect to the hotel or coffee shops wifi – there is no need. Italy has the lowest prices for cellular data probably in the whole world! 

Anyway, for the sim card, you can have something like 70Gb of data for less than €10. So when you arrive go to a local cell phone store (they are everywhere even at the airport) and buy a sim card. All Italian cell phone providers offer plans specifically tailored to tourists or non-residents.

We like TIM the most, is the one with the strongest network and it works pretty much in every corner of the country. It is also the most expensive you might end up paying a whole euro more for the plan but if you want to post that amazing sunset on Instagram right away it is totally worth it!

Number Three thing to know before traveling to Italy: Trains are the easiest way to get around

Italy has an excellent train system. Most of the major cities can be easily reached by train. Not only that – trains are fast, safe and they go from downtown to downtown.

Venezia Santa Lucia train station
Venezia Santa Lucia train Station – Right on the Grand Canal

Every city has a train station right downtown or a very short walk from it. Also if you use the train, you don’t have to worry about car rental, traffic, parking, etc. Unfortunately, there are some areas that are not easy to reach by train – such as the Amalfi Coast, the rolling hills of Chianti, or Bellagio on Lake Como.

Bottom line we strongly recommend you use the Italian High speed trains as much as you can when visiting Italy, it is just an awesome way to get around.   

But what if you really want to visit the Amalfi, how do you get there? Well in our opinion the best way to visit this incredible place is by boat. We took a boat tour there a couple of years ago and we loved it!

Lets continue our list of five things to do know before traveling to italy with our:

Number Four thing to know before traveling to Italy: Book your hotels and attractions as soon as possible

This is something that we mention over and over in our videos. Book your hotels and attractions as soon as possible. Let’s start with hotels. If you wait too long to book your hotel you might risk finding prices really really high.

In fact, when hotels are almost sold out they sell the remaining rooms for a much higher price. In our opinion, the best practice is to book your hotel always with a refundable rate and ideally, with the pay at the location option. This way if you decide to change your plans, or you find a better solution you can change your reservation without any problem. 

Let’s talk about attractions now. There are some places like the Sistine chapel, the colosseum, or the Uffizi Gallery that are usually packed with tourists. For this reason, it is imperative that you buy your tickets online in advance, otherwise they will probably be sold out!

Rome the Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome

Now it is also very important that you book your ticket from the official museum website. In fact, there are many third parties that sell them but they are usually much more expensive, or they could be fake. Here you can find a few links in the description below for you.

Vatican Museums Tickets

Uffizi Gallery

Colosseum

Many other museums

Number Five thing to know before traveling to Italy: Italy is not a tropical country

This is a common misconception, especially for tourists coming from North America. They think Italy is in the Mediterranean, so it will be warm and sunny. Well, that is not always accurate. In the summer, yes it is very very hot.

However, if you are traveling in the spring, or the fall, temperatures could be a bit chilly, especially at night, so when you pack keep this in mind. Always bring a light jacket or a hoodie. If you travel in the winter then it is definitely cold and winter clothes are required. 

Speaking of what to pack for visiting Italy, remember some churches, including the Vatican, have a dress code. You must wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. So no tank tops, shorts or skirts. So make sure to bring something that meets these requirements with you.

Bonus tip: where can I get the local currency?

A few of you asked us: “Where should a tourist go for the best exchange rate when traveling in Italy?” In our opinion, the best places to get cash are local ATMs so bring your debit or credit card with you and use the cash machine. But here’s the thing.

Don’t use your debit or credit card from your home country! You’re going to get hosed on the foreign exchange. Instead, I like to use Wise. With Wise, you can transfer in any currency from your bank account in any country, or credit card, then convert it into euros at the BANK rate, with no markups. 

And Wise sends you your very own visa debit card which you can use right away online, or on your phone, and they mail you a traditional plastic debit card that you can use to can withdraw Euros from any of the local ATMs, again with no foreign bank charges. And if you run out of money, you can instantly transfer more dollars from your bank at any time, using the app. Of course, if have some extra Euros at the end of your trip, you can convert them back and deposit them back into your US account, or spend them… the choice is yours.

Oh and speaking of cash here is another very very important tip! Always keep some change with you – especially 1 euro and 50 cent coins because most public bathrooms only use those to get in! 

Well folks we hope you liked this short but packed with information article. Let us know in the comment below if you have more questions we love to answer them for you! In the meanwhile see you in our next article.

Happy Travel

Rick and Andrea

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