Italy travel guide
Travelling around Italy remains one of those rare experiences in life – like a perfect spring day or the power of first love – that can never be overrated. In few places do history, art, fashion, food and la dolce vita (“the good life”) intermingle so effortlessly. In Italy you'll find sunny isles, glacial lakes and fiery volcanoes, rolling vineyards and urban landscapes harbouring more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country on Earth. Few places offer such variety and few visitors leave without a fervent desire to return.
The artistic and architectural treasures of Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples draw visitors to them like moths to a flame. Not content with Romans conquering most of the known world, the Venetians dispatched Marco Polo to uncharted lands off the map, while Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo kick-started the Renaissance in Western art and architecture.
Look around at all the splendid palaces, paintings, churches and monuments and wonder at the centuries of hard graft and the unswerving devotion to traditional techniques. Like the local art, wine is also designed to elevate your spirits. From the neatly-banded stone terraces of the Cinque Terre, which snake from sea level to terrifying precipices, to the blousy hillsides of Chianti, the riverine plain of the Po valley and the volcanic slopes of Etna, Italian wines are lovingly made to complement the carefully-sourced regional cuisine on your plate.
Much like its food, this country is an endless feast of experiences. No matter how much you gorge yourself, you’ll always feel as though you're still on the first course. Do you go skiing in the Dolomites, or cycling in wine country? Do you dive the sun-split waters of Sardinia, climb Aeolian volcanoes or stalk market stalls in Naples? The choice is dazzling and bewildering. So take the advice of the locals. Slow down, sit back, tuck in that napkin and get ready to begin.
301,340 sq km (116,348 sq miles).
59,801,004 (UN estimate 2016).
201 per sq km.
President Sergio Mattarella since 2015.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni since 2022.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Italy on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Italy.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Public spaces and travel within Italy
Public spaces and services
If you are visiting a healthcare facility such as a hospital ward, care home, or doctor’s office, you must wear a FFP2 mask.
You may be asked to provide a negative test result. This can be either a rapid antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours, or a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. Self-tests are not accepted. Check with the local health authority or healthcare facility before visiting.
Regional and local authorities in Italy are empowered to adjust these measures where required, which may occur at short notice. You should consult the websites for the regions in which you are travelling for the latest information.
Healthcare in Italy
COVID-19 testing is widely available at private clinics. Rapid testing is also available in many pharmacies. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
Developing symptoms of COVID-19 while in Italy
If you think you have symptoms, you should take a test at a local pharmacy. You can call your regional hotline for advice. Most of the regional hotlines listed have English speaking staff. You can also call your local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale).
You can find details of English speaking doctors on our list of healthcare providers.
EHIC or GHIC covers state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
If you come into close contact with someone who tests positive, you will need to self-monitor and wear a FFP2 mask for 5 days from the last contact. If you develop symptoms you should take a test when the symptoms occur and, if symptoms remain, test again on the fifth day after being in contact with the positive person. Local health authorities have now indicated you can test in a private facility. If you do so, you must send a digital copy of your negative test certificate to the local ASL office.
For further details please see Ministry of Health website (only in Italian).
Testing positive for COVID-19 while in Italy
If you are tested and the result is positive, you must self-isolate for 5 days. A negative test is no longer required at the end of the 5 day self-isolation period, except in certain cases (e.g. health workers, immunocompromised individuals, travellers from China). If you are asymptomatic, or have been symptom-free for at least 2 days, you must produce a negative PCR or antigen test to be released from the self-isolation period early. The local health authority determines the type of test they will use and the pattern of testing.
Once you have completed the period of self-isolation, you must continue to wear a FFP2 mask for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the first positive test result until you have a negative antigen or molecular test result.
You should follow the advice of the local health authorities at all times as regional variations may apply.
Local health authorities have now indicated you can test in a private facility. If you do so, you must send a digital copy of your negative test certificate to the local ASL office.
For further details please see Ministry of Health website (only in Italian).
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health. View Health for further details on healthcare in Italy.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Approximately 4 million British nationals visit Italy every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
Demonstrations may occur with little or no warning in cities. You should avoid any protests, political gatherings, or marches.
Crime levels are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime (particularly bag snatching and pick-pocketing) in the big city centres, such as Rome. Thieves can use a variety of methods to distract you.
Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in city centres, particularly in and around Termini station in Rome, where incidents of street muggings have been reported, and at other main stations.
Be particularly vigilant of theft on trains to and from airports and cruise ports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport), as well as the Circumvesuviana train between Naples and Sorrento, and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches.
Robberies from parked cars have been reported particularly in and around Rome, Ostia, Milan and Pisa, as well as at motorway service stations. Always lock your vehicle, never leave valuables in cars and avoid leaving luggage in cars for any length of time. Be aware that thieves may use a variety of methods to distract you or encourage you to stop your car. These may include asking for help or directions, or pointing out a fictional fault with your car.
Use a hotel safe for valuables where possible.
Alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Don’t leave food or drinks unattended at any time. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted.
Only use officially licensed taxis. These will have a taxi sign on the roof and a taxi name and number written on the side. Taxis should be called or taken from a rank rather than hailed in the street. Make sure the meter in the taxi has been reset before you set off.
Transport strikes are often called at short notice. You can find information on the Ministry of Transport website (in Italian).
Traffic can be busy, fast and chaotic especially in the larger cities. Take care when crossing roads. Pedestrians should cross roads using a crossing. You can be fined for crossing the road if you are within 100 metres of a crossing but not using it. Drivers don’t always stop, even though they are required to under the Italian Traffic Code. The green pedestrian crossing signal also allows cars to turn right onto the crossing, so cross with caution.
In 2021 there were 2,875 road deaths in Italy. This compares to the UK average of 2.3 road deaths per 100,000 in 2020.
If you are planning to drive in Italy, see information on Driving Abroad.
Licences and documents
If you are visiting Italy, you can drive on a full, valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you’re living in Italy, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
It is against the law for anyone who has been resident in Italy for more than 60 days, to drive any car registered outside Italy. This may result in a fine and/or the car being impounded.
Driving a British car abroad
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
Private and hire cars are not allowed to enter the historic centre of many Italian cities without an official pass. If your hotel is in the centre of one of these cities, you can buy a pass from most car hire companies. The boundaries of historic centres are usually marked with the letters ZTL in black on a yellow background. If you pass this sign your registration number is likely to be caught on camera and you will be fined.
There is a congestion charge for Milan city centre. For further information see the Milan Municipality website.
To reduce pollution, the city authorities in Rome sometimes introduce traffic restrictions on specific days whereby vehicles with odd or even number plates are not allowed on the roads in the ‘fascia verde’ area (covering most of Rome). For further information, including exceptions, see the Rome Municipality website.
If you are planning a skiing holiday , take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel and familiarise yourself with local skiing laws and regulations.
You can contact the Italian State Tourist Board for advice on safety and weather conditions before you travel. Address: 1 Princes Street, London W1R 9AY. Telephone: 020 7355 1557 or 1439.
Regulations for the ski season include :
- Third party liability insurance is a legal requirement and can be purchased locally with a ski pass
- You must wear a helmet if you are under 18
- Eating and drinking is not permitted on ski lifts or boarding areas
- It is forbidden to climb a slope with snowshoes unless in a case of emergency
- It is forbidden to ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions meticulously given the dangers of avalanches in some areas and go with a qualified guide. For more information about the avalanche risk, visit the European Avalanche Warning Service website.
You should check your insurance covers off piste activity. It is a legal requirement for skiers and snowboarders to carry tracking equipment, snow probe and shovel if they go off-piste.
Further information about how to stay safe on the slopes can be found on the gov.uk webpage Preparing for winter sports abroad #SkiSafe.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports carry specific risks.
If you’re taking part in such activities check that the company is well established in the industry and that you’ve arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity. For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (for example off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping), your insurance should include mountain rescue services, helicopter costs and repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment.
Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario with items such as a map, compass, GPS and/or telecommunication equipment. Risks are greater if you undertake any activity alone. You may wish to consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone
Terrorist attacks in Italy can’t be ruled out.
There are isolated cases of domestic terrorism. Attacks carried out by the extreme left-wing and secessionist groups have generally been aimed at official Italian targets, mainly in the form of small bombs and incendiary devices. The Italian authorities have made a number of arrests of individuals with links to Daesh and other extremist groups.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
This page has information on travelling to Italy.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Italy set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Italy’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.’
From 28 December Italy has reinstated mandatory COVID-19 testing for passengers arriving from China, including those in transit through Italy. Children aged five and under are exempt from this requirement, provided they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. Further information can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs .
For all other passengers, Italy does not require any proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or a COVID-19 recovery certificate to enter the country, regardless of your vaccination status.
Travellers arriving in Italy, including minors, may be subject to random COVID-19 testing in airports and ports.
Children and young people
There are no specific requirements for children and young people related to COVID-19 restrictions.
If you’re transiting through Italy
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination. Italy’s land borders are open. You should check travel advice for any countries you plan to travel through ahead of your journey and should ensure that you have the necessary tests for each country you transit as well as Italy.
Transiting Italy by Air
Check with your airline before departing.
If the airport does not have transit facilities or you have booked connecting flights with different airlines, you will need to pass through Immigration. You may be asked to show proof of onward travel or proof of accommodation and funds if you intend to break your journey in Italy.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
You should check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
Your passport must be:
- issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
- valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)
You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.
You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.
If you are travelling to Italy and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Italian government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa and/or work permit you may need with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Italian Consulates in London, Manchester or Edinburgh before booking an appointment .
If you are travelling to Italy for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.
If you stay in Italy with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
British citizens who are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of their visa/permit or the end of their visa-free limit due to COVID-19 restrictions should contact their local immigration office (questura)
At Italian border control, you may need to:
- show proof of your accommodation, for example, a hotel booking confirmation or proof of address if visiting your own property (e.g. second home)
- show proof of insurance for your trip. Please check the guidance on travel insurance
- show a return or onward ticket
- you should also be able to prove that you have enough money for your stay. The minimum amount required depends on your accommodation
- your host must inform the local immigration office (questura) in writing within 48 hours after you arrive at their property. They could be fined if they fail to comply with this Italian immigration law
Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Italy as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.
If you are entering from a Schengen Area country (e.g. France) you are required to declare your presence to the local immigration authority (questura) within 8 days of arriving (‘dichiarazione di presenza’). The questura will provide a form to complete. This requirement is not applicable if you are staying in a hotel or a B&B property.
Further information is provided on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
If you are resident in Italy, read our Living in Italy guide for passport stamping information.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Italy.
By law you must be able to show some form of identification at all times. In most cases a photocopy of the data page of your passport should suffice, but in this case you may also be asked for a second form of photo ID. The police will normally ask for your full passport if you are stopped while driving.
Tickets on public transport must be endorsed in a ticket machine before you start a journey. The machines are usually positioned at the entrance to platforms in railway stations, in the entrance hall to metro stations and on board some buses and trams. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of 100 to 500 euros (reduced to 50 euros if paid immediately) if you don’t hold an endorsed ticket. Tickets can be purchased from shops displaying the ‘T’ sign, and are usually bars or tobacconists.
Many major cities in Italy now impose a small tax on tourists. The tax is levied by hotels and is usually not included in any pre-paid arrangements or package deal. The rate of tax varies from city to city, and can depend on the star rating of the hotel. Hotels often ask for payment of this tax in cash. Make sure you get a receipt. For more information check with the local tourist information office.
Venice entry tax
From 16 January 2023, visitors to Venice who have not booked accommodation in the city or surrounding islands will face a separate entry fee of between 3 and 10 euros. Non-compliance may result in a fine of up to 300 euros. Visitors and cruise ship passengers should check with their travel operator whether the fee is included. For more information, see the City of Venice website (in Italian).
Under Italian law, young people and children aged 17 and under cannot check into hotels or holiday accommodation without an accompanying adult.
In some Italian towns and cities you may be fined for dropping litter and in some towns or cities it’s an offence to sit on monument steps or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of main churches, historic monuments and public buildings. It’s also an offence to enter or bathe in public fountains. A fine of up to €10,000 can be imposed for urinating in a public place.
The Municipality of Capri forbids the use of any disposable plastic objects such as bags, cutlery, plates, cups, food packaging, trays, straws on the island of Capri. Violations can incur a fine of up to 500 euros.
Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence, Venice and Rome. It is illegal to buy items from unlicensed street traders. If you do, you could be stopped by the local police and fined.
It’s illegal to remove sand, shells or pebbles from coastal areas in Italy. Doing so may result in heavy fines. It’s also forbidden to collect various species of flowers, plants and herbs from mountain and wooded areas. For more information, check with the regional authorities of the area you’re visiting.
Taking food and drink into the EU
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Italian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
Unlike in the UK, you will need to go to a pharmacy (“farmacia”) to get most over-the-counter medicines. Pharmacies are widely available and are usually identified by a green cross. UK prescriptions are not accepted though you may be able to buy an equivalent medication from the pharmacy. Alternatively you can visit an Italian GP or Guardia Medica Turistica (where available) to obtain a local prescription. Prescription medicines are not free in Italy but with an EHIC or GHIC, and an Italian prescription, you will pay a reduced rate.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 118 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
For more information, read our guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
If you’re living in Italy, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Italy guide.
For severe weather warnings, visit the European Meteorological Services website
Forest fires are a risk during the extended summer months. Forest fires are highly dangerous and unpredictable; check with local authorities if you’re considering travelling to affected areas. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas and report fires to the emergency services. For information on what to do in the event of a forest fire you can visit the website of the Civil Protection Department.
High waters known as “acqua alta” are a common occurrence in Venice during the winter months and can cause flooding in parts of the city.
Heavy rain falls are common throughout Italy during the winter months which can cause local flooding. You should monitor local media and weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities in affected areas.
Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line. Minor tremors and earthquakes are a regular occurrence. To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake visit the Protezione Civile website.
The currency of Italy is the Euro.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.’