Let us directly get to the point and see what all we must not miss in Italy. Both locals and tourists agree that Italy is great for both shopping and sightseeing. There are some great gems here that you should definitely check out.
For a complete list of things to do, read our Italy Travel Guide.
Santa Maria del Fiore and Duomo
Visit the Santa Maria del Fiore and the magnificent Duomo cathedral, which looks like it has been carved from marble. But if you want to see the famous Da Vinci fresco “The Last Supper”, you need to book your visit in advance. Lines are huge, and visitors can only get inside strictly by appointment.
Florence, on the other hand, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It has everything you need for a great trip: fascinating sights, cozy hotels, nice architecture, and great tourist infrastructure.
If you just have several hours in the city, I don’t recommend wasting your time in numerous museums. You will spend half of a day waiting in lines. The best route for you in this situation would be: Santa Maria Novella – Santa Maria del Fiore – Piazza de Republica – Piazzale Michelangelo (the viewing point) – Ponte Vecchio.
However, if you have a full weekend in Florence, you should definitely visit its famous art gallery. In there, you will find many world famous masterpieces, including the famous David statue by Michelangelo.
A couple of tips, what you must never do in Florence, especially if you are on a budget trip:
- Go to the viewing point on top of Santa Maria del Fiore. Piazzale Michelangelo, just 15 minutes away by foot from the Cathedral, is also a great viewing point. It is free of charge, and, what is more important, you can actually see the cathedral from this spot.
- Visit cafes and restaurants in tourist areas. Florence is a popular tourist city, so, of course, food facilities in crowded tourist areas are very overpriced. What you should do, is just turn into one of the side streets, where you most definitely will find a small supermarket, where the locals shop. Get a sandwich, a piece of pizza, a yogurt or some fruit, and just eat your lunch in Piazzale Michelangelo, while you enjoy the great view of the city.
- Buy souvenirs on Ponte Vecchio. The reason is the same. Being one of the city’s most popular tourist spots, the place offers tons of souvenirs, but the prices are very high!
Take a Picture of a Carabinier
Those are special police forces, which provide security in big cities, and all the officers are very cute 🙂
Plus, depending on the city, they have different kinds of hats. Unfortunately, they are forbidden to take photos with tourists. But you can take a picture of them or carefully take a selfie with them 🙂
Taste Real Italian Pizza & Pasta
When in Italy, you must try pasta carbonara in Rome, lasagna-a-la-bolognese in Bologna, and pizza anywhere. In Italy, you can get pizza anywhere, from luxury restaurants to cheap fast-food places.
And there are so many toppings in menus that your eyes will just run wide. You can have pizza for dinner or just have a snack during the day (separate pieces are sold in supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, bistros, cafes, in other words – everywhere!).
Ride the Bus Around Rome
In Rome, there is a single ticket for all means of transport. Its price depends on the number of trips. You can get a ticket for a single 100-minute trip, for a day, three days, or a month. To buy a ticket, use automatic machines at the bus stops and subway stations or visit a Tabacceria shop. Locals say that you would never spot an inspector in a bus or a tram.
However, if I were you, I wouldn’t take the risk, because the fine is rather big. Keep in mind, if they catch without a ticket, you have two months to pay the fine. If you don’t, you can have troubles next time, when crossing the border of Italy or getting a visa.
You can also get a Roma Card, which not only allows you to use public transport without limits for three days but also gives you discounts in tourist places, shops, restaurants, etc. With a Roma Card, you will be able to use the separate entrance to Colosseum too, which will save you a lot of time and nerve, particularly during the high season.
Walk Under the Porticoes of Bologna
Porticoes are great for a rainy weather walk around the city. Don’t avoid walking 5 km and 658 arcs to St. Luca Cathedral, where the icon of Virgin Mary, painted by Apostle Luca, is located. Also, it is a great viewing and photogenic spot
Saint Nicolas in Bari
The body of the Saint rests in a cathedral on an Adriatic coast of Italy. This place has been attracting tourists and pilgrims for centuries. Also, the town of Bari is very cute itself, with ancient narrow streets of the Old Town and vast blue sea.
If you rent a car, you can also travel around Apulia, one of the world’s most beautiful regions. Don’t miss Alberobello with its unique houses, called Trulli, and Matera, the ancient town carved in rocks, where many Hollywood movies were filmed.
The best way to get to smaller towns, such as Bari, is a train. Trains in Italy are fast, comfortable, and not as expensive as airplanes. Keep in mind, the price increases closer to the date. The best time to get you train tickets is 6-8 weeks before the trip. The price in the 3rd class usually starts from 9 euro per ride, not depending on the distance.
Visit Sistine Chapel
It is located inside the Vatican Museums, and the entrance is paid. You can get in for free on last Sunday of each month. However, you will have to wait in long line to do that, so it is better to come early in the morning.
Paintings on the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel are true masterpieces of the Renaissance period. They look so real, that sometimes you might think a piece of clothes or a book will just fall off the ceiling and land right in from of you.
Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures or film videos inside the Sistine Chapel. But you can always get a nice souvenir postcard!
Go to the Sea
Sea is plentiful in Italy and offers a wide choice of destinations. The warm Adriatic coast in Apulia, the magnificent Mediterranean shore in just an hour train ride from Rome, or the “heel” of the peninsula – the most popular beach destination among Italians.
The Smallest Country in World
The Vatican City is situated almost in the center of Rome. However, to get inside and see the famous Saint Peter’s square, you will need to go through a security check (similar to an airport).
During the high season and on weekends, it is best to come early in the morning, to see the square, the cathedral, and the museums, because waiting in line can take hours.
Travel Between Cities for Just 1 Euro
If you plan your trip in advance, you can actually find bus tickets for 1 euro per ride and get around Italy almost for free with famous European low-cost bus lines, such as Megabus or Flixbus.
It is best to look for tickets as soon as the bus line opens new dates. However, even closer to the trip, you can still get lucky, if it is a low season or a less popular route. And don’t miss sales and special discounts!
In general, Italy is not the cheapest country in Europe. However, in our case, it cost 300 euro per person for a 10-day trip.
So, if you plan your trip and your budget properly, remember about Couchsurfing and follow the travel tips from our bloggers, you will also be able to travel cheaply and with comfort every time!
One thought on “10 Things You Must Do In Italy: Tips From A Local”
This list is amazing. Everything is mentioned. “Go to the sea” is a very important one. Many people just visit main cities Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice and think that they’ve seen Italy. But they are mistaken, they miss the most beautiful Adriatic coast and the magnificent Mediterranean shore.