Getting around a different country can be stressful as you try to figure out the best way. This is only exacerbated in a country like Italy, where there is so much for you to see and do spread across hundreds of miles. To help you figure out the best way to travel around Italy, we’ve come up with this complete guide going over the popular ways to get around Italy.

What is the Best Way to Travel Around Italy?

Tourists enjoying a gondola ride in Venice, Italy
Sergii Figurnyi / Adobe Stock

For us, the best way to travel around Italy is hands down to rent a car. If you rent a car, you’ll have the ultimate freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. And you’ll be able to visit charming, off-the-beaten-path towns for a more authentic experience.

But if renting a car is not something you want to do, don’t sweat it! You can also easily get around Italy by train, plane, or boat, or if you want to get creative, a Vespa! Here is a comparison of the different options for getting around Italy before we dive into more detail about each method of transportation:

TrainEfficient, reliable, scenic routes, connects major citiesCan be expensive for long distances, slower for regional trains
Rental CarFlexibility, freedom to explore rural areas, convenient for groupsNavigating Italian roads, expensive fuel/tolls, parking challenges
Domestic FlightsFast for long distances, sometimes cheaper than trainsLimited to major airports, security checks, baggage restrictions
BusAffordable, extensive network, convenient for shorter tripsSlower, less comfortable for long journeys, limited routes
FerriesScenic coastal routes, access to islandsWeather-dependent, limited schedules, seasickness potential
TaxisConvenient for short urban trips, available nationwideExpensive for long distances, language barriers
High-Speed RailVery fast for city-to-city travel, comfortable seatingLimited routes, advance booking required, more expensive
RidesharingAffordable, door-to-door service, app convenienceAvailability varies, language barriers, shared with strangers
CyclingEco-friendly, scenic rural exploration, good exerciseLimited distance, challenging terrain, safety concerns

So, if you’re trying to figure out the best way to travel around Italy, keep reading to learn about the most popular transportation methods! 

Getting Around Italy by Car

Vintage fiat 500 parked along colorful street

If you want to have as much freedom as possible to travel around Italy, then nothing is better than renting a car once you arrive. Rental cars in Italy not only provide you with the ultimate freedom to explore entirely on your time, but they’re also super affordable! If you’ve rented a car elsewhere in the world, such as the United States, for example, you’ll be surprised at how much cheaper it is to rent in Italy.

Once you arrive in Italy, you can rent your car from the airport. Depending on when you travel and which company you rent from, you’ll find prices for as little as $10 per day!

It can almost be silly not to rent a car at that price. All you’ll need to pay besides the rental price is any added rental insurance you choose to purchase, as well as the highway tolls and, of course, the gas to get you to wherever you want to go.

Red Vintage Car in Italy

As alluded to above, the beauty of renting a car to travel around Italy is the sheer freedom it affords you. Want to go on a road trip through Tuscany? No problem. Staying in Rome and want to make a day trip to Pompeii and then swing over to the Amalfi Coast afterward for a night in Positano? Not an issue. The ability to go anywhere you want, any time you want, is what makes renting a car the best way to travel around Italy.

But it is not the only way to do so. Let’s take a look at a few other options. 

Getting Around Italy by Train

Train moving along railway tracks

If you’d prefer not to rent a car and know that you’ll be visiting only the more popular places in Italy, then traveling by train is one of the best options. The destinations and routes that are traveling by train offer the existing tracks limit you, but luckily, train routes are prevalent in Italy. You can get to all of the country’s major cities by just hopping from train to train. 

Not only are trains one of the most common ways of traveling in Italy, but they are also often the fastest. With many high-speed train routes connecting major cities — like Rome to Naples, for example — you can go from place to place faster than anything else. This trip from Rome to Naples can take up to three hours by car. But it’s barely over an hour and ten minutes on the high-speed train. 

Train in Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

Traveling by train does add up throughout a trip, so if you’re going to be there for an extended amount of time, consider getting a Eurail Global Pass. Though expensive, these passes give you unlimited travel via train for a certain length of time. And since they are designated for all of Europe and not just Italy, they are especially great for those who are planning a bigger European adventure than just Italy!

Getting Around Italy by Plane

People having dinner next to a canal in Italy

Although Italy is much smaller than some countries (like the United States), it’s still more than large enough to facilitate traveling by air from one side to the other. You can drive from Sicily to the North of Italy in about 15 hours, but that’s still a significant amount of time. That’s where domestic flights within Italy come into play. 

One such example is going from Milan to Naples or vice versa. Close to the country’s northern border, Milan is about as far away from Naples as possible. Driving there would take about 8 hours, not including any stops. But instead, you could hop aboard the flight from Ryanair and make it in just over an hour. Quite the time savings!

The trick to getting around Italy by plane is finding direct flights from one place to the other as it’s often faster to travel by car or train than to have to deal with connecting flights. For example, if you want to fly from Florence to Naples, you’d likely need to connect in Rome unless you charter a private plane and fly directly.

In instances like these, it’s usually better to take a train (which would be around 3 and a half hours) or to make the 5-hour drive and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Nonetheless, flying around Italy is great for is cutting down on travel time and using it as a stepping stone from one place to another. 

Getting Around Italy by Boat

An aerial view of Bellagio, Italy

One way to get around certain areas of Italy is a little less conventional than some others: to travel by boat. With almost 5,000 miles of coastline and many more rivers and lakes throughout the country, getting around Italy by boat is actually more viable than you might think!

The biggest thing to remember when it comes to traveling by boat is that you are, of course, limited to where you can travel. While Venice is nicknamed the Floating City and almost requires boat travel to and get around, many other major cities are landlocked, and boat travel is not possible. For example, you aren’t going to find any boat trips from Venice to Rome! But if you plan your trip well or you’re staying along the coast, traveling by boat can be a great option.

Leisure Boats in Italy

One of the best ways to take advantage of traveling by boat is to stay along the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. Known for its many picturesque beaches and quaint coastal towns, the Amalfi Coast is an amazing place to visit and one you could easily make a trip out of. And if you’re staying at any of the cities along the coast, it’s easy to go from one place to another via boat or ferry at a super affordable rate. 

So if you’re staying somewhere that boat travel is viable, you should consider it for your trip. Not only is it a unique experience compared to renting a car or riding a bus, but sometimes you’ll get views from a boat that you just couldn’t get anyplace else. 

See Related: Best Small Villas in Italy to Book Today

Getting Around Italy on a Vespa

Vespa parked outside a house

If you’re in for an authentic Italian experience, there is no better way to get around Italy than on the famous scooter, the Vespa. These Italian marvels are known worldwide for their design, reliability, and enjoyment since they were created in 1946. While we don’t think you’ll want to ride a Vespa cross-country from Milan to Naples like the example mentioned above, there is no better way to travel through the Italian countryside or to explore a city.

If you’ve never ridden a scooter or a motorcycle before, we recommend going on a Vespa tour to get you situated. Any of the major tours offered throughout the country will include a lesson at the start to teach you how to ride. And once you get the hang of it, riding a Vespa will be as easy as riding a bike — literally!

Vespa In Front of

Just imagine hopping on an authentic Vespa in downtown Florence and riding along some old cobblestone streets on your way out of the city. As you exit the city limits and zoom out towards the breathtaking countryside and rolling hills of Tuscany, the wind is in your hair, and the roads will take you anywhere you want to go. The perfect day. 

There is no more authentic Italian experience than riding a Vespa around Italy. So if you get the chance, take it! It’ll be an experience that you’ll never forget. 

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