Plan a trip to Italy: what to do, know & budget (2021)

Picture of a town in Diano Marina, Italy. Picture shows trees, bushes, grass and a church in the distance.
Located in Southern Europe, Italy is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Italy is a beautiful country, full of gorgeous natural landscapes. A trip to Italy will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into Medieval times. Italy contains hoards of ancient ruins and famous works of art. On top of all that, Italian locals are some of the world’s friendliest locals… you’ll likely find yourself gorging on famous Italian cuisine while interacting with them.
 
This guide will give you the basic information that you need to plan a trip to Italy. There’s much more beyond this to learn about the enchanting country—you’re in for a treat when you visit. Feel free to contact me with any specific questions that you have. 
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Basic Things to Know When Planning a Trip to Italy

Language in Italy

Italian is the official language of Italy. English speakers should have no problem getting around in areas with heavy tourism (such as Rome, Venice, Florence, etc.), as English is spoken as a second language by many in those areas.

When to Visit Italy

The best months to visit Italy are May, June, September, and October. The weather is great during these months and it’s not overridden with tourists.

Currency & Payment in Italy

The Euro is the official currency of Italy. Credit cards are widely accepted as payment and ATM’s are available all over the country for cash withdrawal.

Transportation in Italy

The best way to travel long-distance in Italy is by train. Inner-city travel is possible in bigger cities by Metro, taxi or bus. If you take a taxi, always make sure the driver turns the meter on as soon as the ride begins so that they can’t price gauge you.

What to Pack for a Trip to Italy

picture of the roman coliseum in Rome, Italy

Here’s a list of what to pack while you plan a trip to Italy, in addition to what you would already plan to bring:

  1. Power Adaptor: Italy uses type C and F and operates on 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

  2. Refillable Water Bottle: There are fresh drinking water fountains available throughout big cities such as Rome. You can use these to refill your water bottle while you site-see. 

  3. Comfortable shoes: You’ll likely walk a lot in Italy, especially in big cities, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes.

Best Things to Do in Italy

Here’s a list of things to consider doing while you plan your trip to Italy.

  1. View the Roman Architecture: Rome is the capital city of Italy. Here, you’ll see stunning Roman architecture including the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. Rome was once the center of the Roman Empire that ruled the European Continent for several ages. A trip to Rome will make you feel that you’ve stepped back into a historic novel.

  2. Go to Vatican City: Vatican City is a country within a country. Within it are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums which feature some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures.

  3. Visit the city of Florence: Located in central Italy, Florence is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.

  4. Take a Gondola Ride in Venice: Venice is built on 100 tiny islands…it’s both beautiful and unique.

  5. Sip Wine in Tuscany: The Tuscany region is beautiful with its sweeping hills and ever-flowing wine.

  6. Experience the Italian Riviera: Located on the border of France, the Italian Riviera contains beautiful beaches and adorable towns—including Cinque Terre.

  7. Eat, Eat, Eat: Italian cuisine is incredible and fresh. You’ll taste cheese, bread, pasta, and pizza in a way that you never have before.

  8. Take pictures in front of the leaning tower of Pisa: The leaning tower of Pisa is super cool and provides for a great photo opp.

  9. Experience history in Pompeii: Pompeii was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The preserved site features excavated ruins of streets and houses that visitors can freely explore.

  10. Hike the majestic mountains in the Dolomites: The Dolomites are incredible and a hike through them will surely feel life-changing.

  11. Go to the beaches: Amalfi coast, southern Italy: Italy is home to many stunning beaches along both the east and west coast.

  12. Try Pizza in Its birthplace: Head to Naples and try a slice of pizza where it first became popular. 

  13. Blue Grotto, Capri: Italy is home to several incredible natural landscapes and the Blue Grotto is one of them.

  14. Exploring the mosaics of Ravenna: The mosaics in Ravenna are just one example of Italy’s many preserved works of art.

  15. Visit Milan: Milan is a global capital of fashion and design. It also has lots of great restaurants, cathedrals, and museums to explore.

Fast Facts About Italy

Here are some fast facts to learn about Italy while you plan your trip:

  1. Rome, the capital city of Italy, was founded in 753BC.

  2. It’s disgraceful to eat spaghetti with more than a fork in Italy. 

  3. Gelato ice cream was invented in Italy. 

  4. Pizza got its start in Naples Italy around the year 1860.

  5. Italy was a dictatorship for 20 years when Benito Mussolini ruled from 1925 until 1945

  6. Italy has consistently ranked as the 5th most visited country in the world over the past few years. 

  7. There are three active volcanoes in Italy. The Vesuvius volcano close to Naples, Stromboli, and Mount Etna in Sicily.

  8. Italy has more earthquakes than any other European country.

  9. On average, Italian’s eat more than a half-pound of bread per day!

  10. The espresso machine was an Italian invention, built by Angelo Moriondo in 1884.

Budget Info for a Trip to Italy

Here’s a sample budget to consider while you plan a trip to Italy. The prices in Italy vary—for example; if you visit a small town instead of a big city, then you’d likely pay less. The season that you visit also has an influence. This estimate is based on what it would cost to visit Rome and should only be used to give a basic idea of what you may spend.  

Item Budget Mid-Range High End Notes

Accommodation

$12 - $30/Night (Hostel Dorm)
$35 - $90/Night
(Private Room in Hostel, Budget Hotel, or AirBNB)
$100 - $250/Night
(Hotel)
There are more high-end hotel price points than what's listed here, if you're looking for a more lavish stay.

Food

$1 - $5/pp/meal
(Local Food)
$7 - $25/pp/meal
(Average Restaurant)
$25 - $100+/pp/meal
(High-End Restaurant)
Pizza and pasta are cheap and delicious options. The cost of high-end food can go higher than what's listed depending on what you're looking for.

Alcohol

$1 - $3
(Domestic Beers & Wines)
$5 - $12
(Imported Drinks & Cocktails)
----
Italian wine is a cheap & incredible tasting option.

Transportation

$2/each way (Bus or Metro)

$8 - $10 (average taxi cost 1-way in center of Rome)
$20 - $30/hr
(Private Taxi Organized in Advance)
The cost of a private driver varies pending the company. Rates converted from Euro to USD and are subject to change pending currency variations.

Explore Italy Virtually From Home

It might be difficult to plan a trip to Italy now due to COVID-19 restrictions. Because of that, I’ve included three of my favorite online resources that will help you explore Italy virtually from home.

  1. The Vatican is offering virtual tours online of many of its rooms. Click here.
  2. Learn how to make the perfect Italian Pizza with this instructional video
  3. Learn the whole truth about Leonardo DaVinci with this Airbnb Online Experience