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Transportation in Italy: What to Know

Updated September 17, 2023

Figuring out transportation in Italy can be a daunting task, even if you do speak Italian—but it doesn’t have to be! With some local input, we created this guide covering trains, buses, Uber, metros, taxis, airports, and everything else you’ll need to conquer transportation in Italy. 

Get detailed transit instructions when you have a local plan your trip. Italian locals will explain how they navigate in Italy—and where to get incredible cannolis. Learn more

Italy transportation at a glance

No matter where you want to go in Italy, you're going to have to get savvy with Italian transportation. Fortunately, locals tell us that you'll have plenty of options. 

Most Italians get around via car and only 20% don’t own a vehicle—but locals say that doesn’t mean you automatically have to opt for car rental in order to see the country.

Most of Italy’s major cities have metro systems, and Italy also boasts a very efficient rail system that can get you from Naples to Milan in just a few hours.

In addition to these, there’s budget airlines and a fleet of long-distance buses to get you from one beautiful city to another. Here’s what you need to know:

Italy’s train system (Trenitalia) is fantastic

Milan train station | Claire Gribbin/Flickr

Locals tell us that Trenitalia (the Italian rail company) is an excellent way to get around Italy.

It connects virtually every major city and has tons of options, including high-speed and late-night trains. The high-speed trains service the major cities you’re likely to visit (like Florence and Venice), while slower intercity trains access secondary locations.

Trenitalia is extensive and efficient, but using it can be overwhelming at first. Benefit from local insights—locals can provide detailed transit instructions.

A rail pass is probably worth it

When it comes to Trenitalia, locals say you'll have an option between buying individual tickets or a rail pass. They say if you’re only planning on traveling between a couple of cities, go with the individual, city-to-city tickets. But if you’re planning on seeing all the major cities as well as the Italian countryside, then locals in Italy say you should go with a Eurail Italy pass—it’ll give you unlimited train access for whatever duration you choose.

Local Tip:

A rail pass for 6 days will put you back about $200 dollars. That might sound like a lot, but it's less expensive than buying city-to-city tickets throughout the same time period. 

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How to use Trenitalia

Train in Taormina | Vicuna R/Flickr

If you’re coming from the US, odds are you’re not entirely familiar with using an extensive train system like what you’ll find in Italy. Get local advice. Locals suggest following these easy steps:

  1. Book and reserve: If you’re using a pass, you still need to reserve your seat by making a booking on the website. 
  2. Validate your ticket: Any time you print a ticket, you also have to validate it for your date of travel. Before boarding, go to the yellow self-service validation machines on your train’s platform, insert, and then remove your newly-validated ticket. 
  3. Board: Get on the train, sit in your assigned seat, and keep your ticket close in case a conductor needs to check it. 
Local Tip:

You can skip a lot of the hassle of validating tickets by opting for e-tickets whenever they’re available.

Coach buses exist, but they can be a bit tricky

There are plenty of coach buses in Italy, but locals tell us taking a bus is not as simple as taking a train. Unlike the train, there’s no national bus network in Italy—just lots of individual companies.

It’s best to use trains when going between cities, as opting for an inter-city bus line will just mean tons of transfers and headaches.

Locals say that if you do opt to buy a bus ticket, you should use larger European companies like Eurolines.

In addition, each individual city has its own bus company. Tickets can usually be purchased in metro stations and newsstands. Locals note that an average one-way ticket in most Italian cities costs 1.50.

Local Tip:

Make sure to validate your bus ticket at the bus stop before boarding, just like you do for rail tickets. Not doing so could result in a €40 fine!

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Taxis are a solid option, but Uber isn’t 

Taxis in Rome | Hans Tak/Flickr

Locals tell us that taxis in Italy are perfectly safe to use (although they can sometimes be expensive). Here's what locals in Italy say about using taxis (and Uber): 

  • Do not get into unlicensed cabs—they’re often targets for scams. Official city taxis have special colors, usually white, and have official numbers and seals on the doors (and taxi sign on the roof). 
  • Always make sure your driver is using the meter unless you’ve agreed on a flat rate beforehand. Taxis operate on a meter unless they’re going to/from the airport. The meter usually starts around €3.25 in the day time. 
  • Look for taxi stands where cabs queue up or order one via phone (each city uses a different phone number for taxis, so check at your hotel or hostel). You can’t hail taxis from the street
  • You can only use Uber in Milan and Rome, and it’s often more expensive.

The major cities have metro systems

Locals tell us that while you won’t find a subway in every major city in Italy, Rome, Naples, and Milan all have very affordable multi-line metro systems that can help you navigate between important city hubs. Tickets can be bought in the metro stations and cost €1.50.

Using public transit can be intimidating anywhere, so get a local's perspective on how to best utilize the metro wherever you're staying in Italy. Locals can give suggestions based on how you like to travel.

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Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

Flights within Italy are actually quite cheap

It might seem counter-intuitive to think about booking flights within Italy, but in Europe flying short distances can often be comparable to taking the train, price-wise. Plus, hopping on a plane makes it easy to travel quickly between all the incredible places to visit in Italy.

Locals say that EasyJet, Air Italy, Blu Express, and Ryanair are some of the best airlines for booking cheap flights within Italy.

Getting to/from airports in Italy

Italy has many airports | Ross Parmly/Unsplash

Locals tell us these are some of the best ways to get to and from Italy’s major airports.

Fiumicino International Airport (FCO), Rome 

  • The COTRAL bus line can be grabbed near Terminal 2 and serves multiple stops in Rome, including the railway station and underground. Single fare tickets cost €7.
  • Taxis run from Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at a fixed fare ranging from €25–€48 depending on where you’re headed in the city. 
  • The Leonardo Express train runs every 15 minutes from the airport to the city center for €14.

Malpensa Airport (MXP), Milan

  • The Malpensa Express train is the fastest way to the city center and train station. It runs every 15 minutes and costs €13.
  • Taxi stands are located at Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and run on fixed fares. 
  • Terravision runs bus services connecting Malpensa and Milan Central Station. Tickets cost €8 and can be bought ahead of time or at the airport arrivals section. 

Florence Airport, Peretola (FLR), Florence

  • A shiny new tram runs between the city center and the airport. Buy your ticket at the tram stop at Terminal 2 for €1.50, and enjoy the 20-minute ride to the city center. 
  • Taxis are queued up outside the entrance to FLR, and run cheaper here (though still on a fixed rate) than they do at most airports. It’ll cost you €22 to get to the city center. 
  • The Volianbus shuttle services the airport from the city center directly, 7 days a week, every 30 minutes. It picks up and drops off at the Buitalia Bus Station on Via Santa Caterina and costs €6 for a one-way ticket. 
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