Best for Long Distances: Trains & Flights
Trains are by far the best way to travel long distances in Italy. The popularity of trains is not limited to tourists, and locals enjoy the comfort, ease, and speed of trains as well. It’s not uncommon for Italians to ride the trains daily from the countryside or distant urban neighborhoods into the larger cities like Rome or Milan. High-speed trains are also a great alternative to driving with speeds reaching over 220 miles per hour. Not all trains will travel as rapidly as the high-speed trains, but regional and interregional trains are great for reaching towns and the seaside.
Italy has a total of 40 airports that accommodate domestic flights, which makes it easier for you to travel long distances over land and sea rather than taking the train or a car. The logistics of train travel are much easier to manage when transferring between major destinations, such as Venice to Rome or even Venice to Naples, compared to taking a high-speed train. However, traveling long distances, such as Rome to Bari, Venice to Palermo, or Florence to Cagliari in Sardinia, is much easier and faster when done by plane.
Best for Short Travel: Private Chauffeur, Cars, and Buses
A private chauffeur in Italy allows you to experience, explore, and discover the layers of a city, countryside, or coastline at your preferred pace. You can indulge in the views and relax as a transportation specialist, who understands the driving culture of the nation and specific region, navigates the roads for you. The most typical way to experience a private chauffeur is when transferring to and from airports, train stations, or accommodations and activities. High-speed trains are much faster than cars when traveling long distances, but a private chauffeur is great during a local tour or when visiting nearby towns and villages.
Italy has an extensive system of state-funded highways that crisscrosses the nation, making it great for cars. Different cities have unique roads that reflect modern engineering and ancient grids. Driving in the cities can be hectic with places like Naples and Palermo being notorious for the chaotic ballet that local drivers understand and visiting drivers do not. Typical country roads made of gravel or dirt can take you off the beaten path from popular tourist villages or larger rural towns, but the winding rural roads most often connect to the motorways, providing drivers with easy access to the beauty of the countryside.
The best reason for traveling by bus in Italy is to reach towns and villages away from the tourist centers. Busses are less convenient than traveling by train in Italy. While the country has its own national train company, the bus networks are owned by individual companies, which affects their times, routes, and consistency. An even smaller number of bus companies travel across regional boundaries, such as from Rome to Venice; this is a route that will generally require a transfer. While certain routes may be difficult to find, buses generally have great quality with comfortable seats, air conditioning, and wifi access.
Best for Urban Travel: Taxis, Buses, and Ridesharing Apps
Taxis & Local Buses:
Taxis and local buses are the best alternatives to walking or taking the metro when visiting large Italian cities. Rome’s metro is small and focuses mainly on the historic city center. Milan’s metro line services mainly the historic center but also offers a suburban railway that connects to the greater metropolitan area. During your travels through Italy, taxis are the fastest and easiest ways to travel within any city; a taxi often acts as a great way to get your bearings straight as well.
Ridesharing apps are illegal in Italy. Their popularity has grown in nations around the world, but the only cities where apps like Uber remain available are Rome and Milan. The ridesharing apps are available in certain cities but are not widely accessible. Only Uber Black offers services but is regarded as more expensive than the average taxi ride.
Best Alternative Travel: Boats
Travel by Boat:
Italy is surrounded on three sides by the Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Adriatic seas, making boats and ferries a historical necessity for travel. Boats are not necessarily the most efficient way to travel around Italy but do provide unique experiences, stunning views of the scenery, and access to islands such as Sardinia, the Aeolian Islands, and Elba. A ferry is the only alternative to flying when trying to reach Sicily. The Boats and ferries in Italy are not relegated to the coastline and can also help you travel across the waters of famous, historic lakes, such as Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, and Lake Garda.