An aerial view of a car driving along a country road in Arezzo, Italy
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Getting around Italy

Exploring Italy is one of life's true pleasures. The public transport system is surprisingly reliable, while driving yourself can offer some of the most scenic road trips in Europe.

But there are some careful considerations to be made when planning how to get around Italy. Mistakes can be costly, so make sure to do your research and know the rules before you arrive.

Public transport is organised and convenient with a comprehensive rail and bus network. Services are heavily reduced (or sometimes non-existent) on Sundays and public holidays so try to plan around travelling on these days.

Trains in Italy

The rail network is affordable and reliable with the options of Regionale, InterCity (IC), and Alta Velocità (fast trains). In some places like Cinque Terre it’s the only way to travel while other routes like the Alp-traversing Bernina Express are a tourist attraction in themselves.

Trenitalia is the main rail operator in Italy, fast trains connect all major cities with regular and reliable services. For travelling the rest of Europe, there are several sleeper train services that connect Italian cities with Paris, Vienna, and Barcelona. Italo Treno also offers a high speed service at competitive rates with Trenitalia.

Tickets without a timed booking must be validated before travel. Yellow validating machines are easy to spot and available at most platforms. Failure to validate can lead to hefty on-the-spot fines.

Ticket prices are very reasonable with returns priced similarly to two singles. Booking in advance can save a lot of money especially on the high speed trains. InterRail and Eurail passes are accepted on the Trenitalia network but they offer little benefit if you are only travelling in Italy itself as the Italian trains are so affordable anyway.

Buses in Italy

Buses are a great and affordable way of getting around in cities, but they can often get crowded in places like Rome. Bus terminals, called autostazione, where you can buy tickets and ask about routes are conveniently located in all major cities.

In cities, you can buy bus tickets in newsagents and tobacconists, generally costing little more than €1.20 - again they must be validated once on the bus or you risk fines.

Driving in Italy

Italy has some of the most scenic drives in Europe with vast mountain passes and timeless road trips like the Amalfi Coast. It’s a wonderful place to drive, but you will need to become accustomed to the Italian way of driving. Horns are regularly used, parking is chaotic, and signage isn’t always particularly clear.

Like most of Europe, Italians drive on the right and give way to the right. The speed limits are 50km/hr in built-up areas, 110km/hr on dual carriageways, and 130km/hr on autostradas (the speed limit reduces by 20km/hr if it’s raining).

Dipped beams must be used at all times, a yellow vest and warning triangle must be available for breakdowns, and in many areas snow chains must legally be in the vehicle if travelling in winter.

Driving in Italian cities can be complicated and requires planning and patience. Northern cities see heavy traffic, while southern cities (especially in Sicily) disregard many rules of the road. Restricted traffic areas called Zona Traffico Limitato (ZLT for short) are in place in many Italian cities. There is no standardised resource for ZTL’s as they are local to each city, but drive in one and you can guarantee a fine from one of the many cameras set up to enforce them

Toll roads are common in Italy - simply get a ticket when entering a motorway and pay at the cash booth when you leave (avoid the fast Telepass lanes marked in yellow as it isn’t worth setting this up for tourists). Toll rates are very reasonable when compared to neighbouring countries like France.

Petrol costs 1.63 per litre, while Diesel costs 1.50 per litre on average - San Marino offers heavily reduced fuel if you are travelling in the area. Look out for fai da te - self-service pumps, as pumps where someone adds the fuel for you usually incur a higher rate.

Renting a car in Italy

You must be over 21 to rent a car in Italy and will need a valid credit card to act as a deposit. Car hire prices vary greatly by season, but the best deals can usually be found by booking in advance from reputable car hire companies.

Expect to pay around 150 Euros for a week's car hire when booked before travel, and around double if arranging in person. Campervan hire is also growing in popularity in Italy, companies like Blu Rent offer a week's hire with unlimited mileage for around 900 Euros.

e-Scooters and shared bikes

Lime scooters and shared bikes are very popular in most major Italian cities. You often need to download an app to unlock a scooter or bike, then simply pay by the kilometre.


Uber doesn’t operate fully in Italy due to the taxi unions, but in built-up places, taxis have apps that make booking them just as easy. FreeNow is the taxi equivalent of Uber in around 100 cities, while ItTaxi is another good alternative.

Useful apps

  • Scooterino - an app that lets you book Vespa rides in Rome and Florence. It’s a great idea to travel as the locals do especially in car restricted areas - just make sure to always wear a helmet.

  • ItTaxi and FreeNow - taxi booking apps that allow you to see the price and pay in advance throughout Italy.

  • Omio - A European travel planning app where you can book train and bus tickets in advance.

  • AVM Venezia official APP - get tickets and timetables for the tram, bus, and the water bus in Venice.

Travel costs

  • Get unlimited travel on regional trains for either 3 or 5 consecutive days with an Italia in Tour ticket - €29 or €49.

  • Hiring a small car for a week - €100

  • Hiring a small 50cc scooter - €35/150 per day/week

  • Fuel costs on average 163p for Petrol and 150p for Diesel.

  • Renting a bike costs around €12 per day, E-bikes start from around €35 per day.

Accessible travel

Accessible travel

Many urban buses and some taxis are wheelchair-accessible, but assistance might be needed getting in and out of transport as pavements can be uneven.

The Trenitalia website has information on barrier free stations and SALA BLU offices that offer assistance to those with disabilities.

Planning a trip to Italy? Read our Italy travel guides

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 29 August 2023


Italy is one of those countries that has something for everyone, from food, beaches and mountains to art and ancient history.