How to travel around in Italy? A comprehensive guide to public transport in Italy

February 27, 2024

Exploring Italy's diverse attractions requires an understanding of its comprehensive transportation network. From local buses to high-speed trains, this guide offers an in-depth look at navigating public transport in Italy.

Local means of transportation


Buses are an integral part of the public transport network in Italy, offering extensive coverage at an affordable price both for residents and visitors. Since they typically run on fixed routes and schedules, you’ll find that buses are a reliable choice for navigating urban areas and for accessing key attractions and landmarks.


  • Affordable: bus fares in Italy are generally lower than other modes of transportation, making them a budget-friendly option for travelers.
  • Extensive coverage: buses provide a convenient access to areas not easily accessible by other means of transport.
  • Fixed routes and schedules: with fixed routes and schedules, you can plan your journey in advance and rely on buses to arrive at regular intervals.


  • Traffic congestion: buses are susceptible to traffic congestion, especially during peak hours, which may lead to delays in arrival times.
  • Slower for longer distances: buses may not be the fastest option for longer journeys between towns or regions.

Tips for bus travel in Italy:

  • Validate your ticket: in Italian cities, you're required to validate your bus ticket using the machines onboard. Failure to validate your ticket may result in fines if inspected.
  • Signal to the driver: if you want to board or disembark at a bus stop, signal to the driver by pressing the "stop" button or pulling the cord in advance.
A man validating his ticket while on a public bus in Italy


In Italy, subway systems, also known as metros, are essential for navigating the bustling urban centers of cities such as Rome, Milan, and Naples. Whether you're exploring key attractions, visiting business districts or meeting with friends in residential areas, the subway offers a fast and efficient way to get around.


  • Fast and efficient: subways in Italy are known for their speed and reliability, providing a swift mode of transportation within city limits.
  • Extensive coverage in major cities: subway networks cover large areas within major cities, offering access to popular tourist attractions and residential districts alike.
  • Good for avoiding traffic: subways operate on dedicated tracks, making them immune to traffic congestion and delays caused by road conditions.


  • Crowded during peak hours: subways can get crowded during peak commuting hours, making it challenging to find seating or personal space.
  • Limited coverage in smaller towns: subways may have limited coverage in smaller towns or suburban areas, necessitating alternative modes of transportation.

Tips for subway travel in Italy:

  • Consider passess: if you plan to use the subway/metro frequently during your stay in Italy, consider purchasing a subscription pass to get discounted fares for unlimited travel within a specified period.
  • Mind the turnstiles: in some Italian metro systems, you'll need to scan your ticket or pass at the turnstiles to enter and exit the station. Keep your ticket or pass handy and follow the instructions to pass through the turnstiles smoothly.
  • Know the night schedule: in some cities, the metro operates limited hours during the night. Familiarize yourself with the night schedule and consider alternative transportation options if you plan to travel late at night or early in the morning.


Trams are a common sight in many Italian cities, offering a nostalgic and scenic way to travel through city streets. These electric-powered vehicles provide eco-friendly transportation options and are often integrated into existing public transit networks combining efficient transport with a touch of old-world charm.


  • Scenic and eco-friendly: trams provide a scenic and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, allowing passengers to enjoy panoramic views of the city while minimizing carbon emissions.
  • Integrated into public transit networks: trams are typically integrated into existing public transit networks, complementing buses and metros to provide comprehensive coverage within cities.


  • Limited coverage: while trams serve as an essential part of urban transit in many Italian cities, their routes may be more limited compared to buses and subways. This may require passengers to combine tram rides with other modes of transportation to reach their destinations.
  • Slower than other modes of public transport: trams often operate at a slower pace compared to buses and metros, particularly in congested city centers. While they offer a leisurely way to explore the city, passengers should allow extra time for their journey, especially during peak hours.

Tips for tram travel in Italy:

  • Validate your ticket: as with buses and metros, it's essential to validate your tram ticket before boarding. Look for the validation machines on the tram platforms or inside the tram and stamp your ticket with the date and time. Failure to validate your ticket may result in fines if inspected by ticket inspectors.
  • Boarding and disembarking: trams may have multiple doors for boarding and disembarking. Wait for passengers to exit before boarding, and be prepared to move quickly when your stop approaches to avoid delays for other passengers.
A yellow tram on the streets of an Italian city


In coastal cities such as Venice and Naples, ferries and water taxis offer unique public transport options for crossing bodies of water and exploring nearby islands. Ferry services provide stunning views of Italy's coastline and can be a memorable way to travel between destinations.


  • Unique experience: traveling by ferry offers a unique and memorable experience, allowing passengers to enjoy the beauty of Italy's coastal landscapes from the water.
  • Stunning views: ferries provide unparalleled views of Italy's stunning coastline, offering passengers the opportunity to admire scenic vistas along the way.
  • Convenient for island hopping: ferries serve as a convenient mode of transportation for island hopping, allowing travelers to explore multiple islands in a single journey and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.


  • Weather-dependent: ferry services may be subject to disruptions or cancellations due to inclement weather conditions, particularly during storms or rough seas. 
  • Limited routes and schedules: while ferries offer access to coastal destinations and islands, their routes and schedules may be more limited compared to other modes of transportation such as trains or buses.

Tips for ferry travel in Italy:

  • Check the weather forecast: before embarking on a ferry journey, check the weather forecast to ensure smooth sailing. Be prepared for possible delays or cancellations in case of adverse weather conditions.
  • Book tickets in advance: during peak travel seasons or for popular routes, it's advisable to book ferry tickets in advance to secure your spot and avoid long queues at ticket counters.
  • Arrive early: arrive at the ferry terminal well in advance of departure time, especially during peak travel periods, to allow time for ticket purchase and boarding procedures.
  • Respect safety guidelines: follow safety instructions provided by ferry crew members and familiarize yourself with onboard safety procedures, including the location of life jackets and emergency exits.

Useful resources:

Navigating the public transportation systems in Italian cities is made easier with the assistance of various Italian public transport authorities and companies. Whether you're exploring the historic streets of Rome, the fashion capital of Milan, or the enchanting canals of Venice, these resources provide essential information on routes, schedules, and ticketing options to help you plan your journeys effectively. Below are some of the key public transport authorities and companies in major Italian cities:

  • ATAC - Rome's Public Transport Authority
  • ATM - Milan's Public Transport Company
  • ANM - Naples' Public Transport Company
  • GTT - Turin's Public Transport Company
  • ACTV - Public Transportation in Venice
  • AMT - Genoa's Public Transport Company

These resources serve as valuable tools for travelers, offering access to route maps, timetables, fare information, and service updates to ensure smooth and efficient travels throughout Italy's cities.

Intercity travel

Navigating between urban centers and hidden gems across is made convenient with a range of intercity travel options. Below, we delve into the different intercity travel options available in Italy, each offering unique experiences and opportunities for exploration.

High-speed Trains

Italy's high-speed rail network, known as the Alta Velocità (AV), revolutionizes intercity travel, connecting major cities with swift and efficient service. Operated by Trenitalia and Italo, these trains offer travelers a comfortable and convenient way to explore the country's diverse regions. The high-speed trains include the following:

  • Frecciarossa: the fastest and most prestigious high-speed trains in Italy. They operate on the primary high-speed lines, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h, offering frequent departures throughout the day, and connecting major cities like Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples, and Turin.
  • Frecciargento: high-speed service on secondary routes, linking cities and regions not directly served by Frecciarossa. These trains connect cities such as Venice, Verona, Bologna and Bari while offering a balance of speed and comfort, with modern amenities and spacious seating.
  • Frecciabianca: high-speed service on traditional lines, connecting major cities with coastal destinations and regional hubs (e.g. Genoa, Trieste, Pisa and Lecce). While slightly slower than Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains, Frecciabianca provides efficient intercity travel with fewer stops.

These trains offer a seamless blend of speed, comfort, and convenience, making them the preferred choice for intercity travel among locals and tourists alike. Featuring spacious and comfortable seating options across standard, premium, and business classes, passengers can relax in ergonomic seats equipped with power outlets and adjustable headrests. Moreover, complimentary onboard Wi-Fi keeps travelers connected throughout their journey, while entertainment options such as movies, music, and news channels add to the overall experience.

Booking and ticketing:

From searching for schedules to securing seats and taking advantage of promotions, all your travel needs will be taken care of by the following websites.

  • Trenitalia: the official website of Trenitalia, Italy's national railway company. The website also offers special promotions, discounts for advance bookings, and options for seat selection.
  • Italo: the website of a private high-speed rail operator in Italy, known for its modern trains and premium services. Italo also offers a loyalty program for frequent travelers, providing additional benefits and rewards.
A train travelling in the countryside

Regional Trains

Exploring the diverse regions of Italy is made accessible and enjoyable with the extensive network of regional trains. These trains connect smaller towns and cities, offering travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the charm and beauty of Italy's countryside. With a more leisurely pace than high-speed trains, regional trains provide ample time to savor the scenic views and discover hidden gems along the way. 

Booking and ticketing:

Regional trains are mainly operated by Trenitalia and Trenord. The companies’ websites will provide you with convenient platforms to plan and book their journeys on regional trains, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience throughout Italy's diverse regions.

  • Trenitalia: Italy's national railway company which operates regional trains across the country.
  • Trenord: the company operating regional train services in the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy.

Intercity buses

While Italy's extensive train network serves many destinations, intercity buses fill the gaps, providing a crucial alternative mode of transportation for areas not easily accessible by rail. These buses offer travelers flexibility and accessibility, making them a popular choice, particularly for exploring Italy's lesser-known destinations and remote areas. With a wide range of routes and operators, intercity buses provide an affordable and convenient option for locals and tourists looking to venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden treasures of Italy. 

Booking and ticketing:

With a variety of operators and routes to choose from, booking your bus tickets is made simple through online platforms and local resources. From well-known providers to local operators offering specialized services, travelers can easily access schedules, compare fares, and secure their tickets online or inquire locally for additional options. 

  • FlixBus: one of the largest intercity bus providers in Italy, offering a wide range of routes across the country. Travelers can visit the official FlixBus website to search for bus schedules, book tickets online, and obtain information on onboard amenities.
  • Marino Autolinee: another major intercity bus operator, serving various destinations across the country. Travelers can check bus schedules, purchase tickets, and access information on fares and routes on the official Marino Autolinee website.
  • Local operators: there are also numerous local bus operators that provide services to specific regions or routes in Italy. Travelers can inquire about local bus services at bus stations or tourist information centers in their respective destinations.

Domestic flights

As an alternative to ground transportation, domestic flights provide travelers with swift connections between major cities, offering a time-saving solution for covering longer distances. With a network of airports spanning the country, domestic flights provide seamless connectivity and access to Italy's cultural gems, historical landmarks, and natural wonders, allowing you to make the most of your time exploring Italy's diverse destinations. If you’re looking for flights option, make sure to check the following:

  • ITA Airways: the successor to Alitalia, ITA Airways operates domestic flights within Italy, as well as international routes. Travelers can use the official website to search for flight schedules, purchase tickets, and access information on fares and services.
  • Ryanair: a prominent low-cost airline operating domestic flights within Italy. Travelers can use the Ryanair website to search for flight routes, purchase tickets, and access information on fares and optional extras.
  • easyJet: another major low-cost airline serving domestic routes within Italy. Travelers can visit the easyJet website to search for flight schedules, compare fares, and book tickets online. 
  • Other Airlines: several other airlines operate domestic flights within Italy. Travelers can explore various airline websites or use flight comparison platforms to find the best deals and options for their travel needs.

Navigating public transport in Italy is an essential aspect of exploring the country's diverse attractions and regions. Whether you're wandering through the historic streets of Rome, exploring the picturesque canals of Venice, or embarking on a scenic road trip through Tuscany's rolling hills, understanding the intricacies of Italy's transportation system is key to a seamless and enjoyable travel experience. So whether you're zipping along on a high-speed train, meandering through charming villages on a regional bus, or cruising along the coast on a ferry, embrace the adventure and let Italy's transportation network be your gateway to discovery. Buon viaggio!

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