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Updated: January 31 2023.
Italy is one of my absolute favorite countries in all of Europe. Is it cliche to love Italy so much? Maybe, but come on. Visiting Italy is so popular and beloved for a reason.
But what about people who don’t have a romantic partner or group of friends to take a trip with? What if you’re going to Italy all by yourself? Um. Still fantastic! Actually, traveling alone to Italy is a wonderful idea.
Is exploring Italy’s stunning medieval villages and museum-packed cities necessarily an original solo trip? Not really. You can’t travel alone to Italy, and not hear at least one comment about Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love.
Yet, regardless of pop culture references and lack of originality, Italy’s still fantastically awesome for people who want to travel alone, and surprisingly, affordable too, especially once you leave the major cities.
I mean, come on! Who wouldn’t want to go to Italy? You’d have to be crazy to turn down this country. Italy’s one of those travel destinations almost everyone dreams of visiting someday.
People want to wander Piazza Navona, while enjoying a half-melted pistachio and strawberry gelato.
Or get lost among the colorful alleyways of Venice.
Or hike through lush rolling mountains overlooking Cinque Terre.
The options are endless when one’s taking a solo trip to Italy.
My Experience Traveling Alone to Italy
As for me, I’ve been fortune enough to visit Italy twice. Don’t hate me.
The first time I came to Italy was waaaay back in 2012.
I had just finished writing my master’s thesis (aka NIGHTMARE) and was pumped at the thought of traveling. I went on a guided tour with my family to the Big Three: Rome, Florence, and Venice.
Years into the future, on my second trip to Italy, I explored the northern regions, and this time, I went completely alone. No guided tours, no big buses. Just me and plenty of Italian trains, haha.
Traveling alone in Italy was much different than being part of a guided tour.
For one, I had to be responsible for booking all transit tickets and accommodations reservations.
Sure, I could stay in any given location as long as I wanted, but all the research fell on my shoulders. I need to feel brave enough to occasionally eat by myself, although I have a fear of eating alone in public.
However, a solo trip to Italy was inspirational and built a tremendous amount of personal confidence. I always feel successful exploring new countries without someone holding my hand.
I even decided to go back for a third time, and even though I was with a friend for part of the trip, I spent a few days in Venice all alone and delighted in getting lost on an island that I knew I couldn’t wander off. Venice was perfection for traveling alone.
Now let’s get to the meat of this “Solo Travel Italy” Guide.
10 Reasons to Take a Solo Trip to Italy
Hahah, confession time. It was hard for me to come up with only 10 reasons for taking a solo trip to Italy. The truth is that I could write a novel about this topic.
But, alas folks, this is the internet and our attention span is less than a goldfish’s. So ten is gonna be our magic number.
Of course, feel free to drop more reasons in the comments.
The Food is *Beyond* Exquisite
Oh god. Italian food in Italy is a gift from the gods.
We all think we know Italian food, but eating in Italy is truly a different experience. Just don’t expect Americanized dishes such as Fettuccini Alfredo or Spaghetti and Meatballs. Italy’s cuisine is far more complex, and varies by region.
Personally, I thought the food was especially incredible in Emilia-Romagna. Eating until my stomach burst was one of the best things to do in Parma. Take a tour of the cheese factories and sample true balsamic. Your taste buds will rejoice.
Another place to visit for a foodie trip is in Trentino. This region is in the north of Italy, not too far from Milan, and has gorgeous mountains in addition to wonderful gastronomy. Leave with a full stomach!
And don’t even get me started on gelato. I’ll drool all over my keyboard.
And eating alone in Verona? Perfection!
Don’t come to Italy expecting to diet. Save calorie counting for home.
The Public Transit (ie. trains) Are Extensive
Italian’s rail system makes it super duper easy for someone to travel around the country all alone.
Are there some towns that require a car? Yes, but in Italy, most places have a train station. You don’t need to drive in Italy if you don’t want to. And honestly, I don’t recommend it, especially as you head further south and road conditions get more chaotic.
Trains are (relatively) fast, comfortable, and affordable. Buy your train tickets online – ahead of your departure dates – to save both money and time. These tickets are also timestamped so you don’t need to validate them at the station.
One final thing to keep in mind about the trains here. While Italians are known for having a relaxed sense of time, the trains don’t ever follow this rule, so don’t be late for your ride! If you miss your train, you’re out of luck. Period.
Plenty of Museums to “Get Lost” In
Ahhhh, I adore art museums, especially wandering through them alone. A quiet museum offers great moments for personal introspection.
And Italy? Is known for its truly great art. I think Florence has the most masterpieces of any city in the world, but don’t quote me on it.
Art history buffs will find traveling alone in Italy a true joy, simply because of the country’s artistic significance.
However, do your research ahead of time regarding museums (see a pattern here?).
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are planning to spend one day in Milan and see the world’s most iconic pieces of art, such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Welp, you need to reserve ahead, and purchase timed tickets weeks (or even months) in advance.
Being part of a guided tour, for say the Vatican Museum, will also save you time waiting outside in line.
English is Widely Spoken – Even in Small Towns
Traveling Italy alone is made easier due to the country’s fantastic tourism infrastructure. This is a country that’s very used to dealing with English-speaking tourists. You don’t need to worry about the language barrier too much.
Now I don’t advocate not learning any Italian. It’s always nice to say a phrase or two to show respect for the local culture. Bring an Italian phrasebook with you to brush up on your skills!
But you don’t need to stress about it either.
For instance, while spending 2 days in Cinque Terre, I didn’t have any issues finding fluent English speakers.
The prevalence of English makes traveling Italy alone less of a daunting prospect.
Learn All About Your Heritage
Lots of people in the USA claim to have Italian heritage. This is especially true in New Jersey where I’m from, haha. Save the jokes, though. I’ve heard them all.
A cool idea for a solo trip to Italy is to find out the regions and towns that your family is from. Then visit those places.
Pack a guidebook if you’re unsure how to plan your journey. I personally recommend Lonely Planet’s Guide to Italy. Lonely Planet makes my favorite guidebooks of all time! I own a ton of them, haha.
You might encounter distant relatives or learn something new about your family.
Adding this personal touch will make traveling Italy alone a million times more special.
It’s Possible to See Italy on a Shoestring
A big mistake would be keeping “expensive” and “Italy” in the same sentence. Can Italy be pricey? Sure, if you travel at peak periods and stay at the Four Seasons in all major cities.
However, if you play your cards right, Italy’s actually a lot cheaper than many other destinations in Europe.
Go to less touristy areas to save some money on accommodation and food. For example, you can save a bundle by opting not to eat in the main squares and exploring more residential areas of the cities you’re staying in.
Smaller cities too, such as Padua in northern Italy, are also less visited by international tourists, and therefore, a lot gentler on your wallet.
If you’re planning on using a credit card in Italy, make sure your card has no international transaction fees. I use Chase Sapphire Preferred for all my purchases, and have never had a single problem.
The Scenery is Spectacular
Italy’s natural wonders are absolutely freakin’ gorgeous! Photographs don’t do a justice.
For example, spend a day in Lake Como and fall deeply in love with Italy’s alpine mountains and aqua-colored lakes. Go in spring when flowers – white, purple, red – are all in vibrant bloom.
Head to the seaside cliffs of Liguria. Or the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Ultimately, you’ll find endless beauty outdoors. Go hiking to “feel in touch” with nature and reflect on your life. You’ll feel so refreshed!
So, even though Italy’s museums are great, don’t stay inside the entire time. Get some fresh air and fantastic photographs!
You Can Still “Wander Away” from Tourists
Time for some bad news about traveling to Italy.
Overtourism in Italy is a major problem. Seriously, it sucks. Personally, I experienced these massive crowds on train platforms in Cinque Terre. I felt SO PRESSED INTO the crowd, which made me a bit panicky. It ain’t pretty.
However, when traveling alone in Italy, it’s still possible to break away from the main tourist crowds and find your own “hidden gems” (to use an annoying term).
For example, I discovered that there were plenty of things to do in Camogli, which is a small fishing village located not too far from Cinque Terre.
And be mindful of overtourism in Italy. Pick up your trash. Try to support local businesses. Respect how delicate the buildings and nature are.
Each Region is Different and Special
Italy’s divided into several regions that are vastly different from one another. And this makes sense.
Remember: Italy wasn’t fully a unified country until 1871. On occasion, locals will identify with their region or city more than Italy as a whole.
Experiencing each region is very enjoyable for solo travelers, because you feel as if you’re going to three countries for the price of one.
For example, on my solo trip to Italy, I was lucky enough to explore Lombardy, Liguria, and Emilia-Romagna. Each spot was so, so, so different in its architecture, scenery, and food.
Don’t limit your stay to one region.
Read More: 10 Essentials for Your Italy Packing List
Chances to Fall in Love w/ Fashion & Beauty
Last but not least! Traveling Italy alone will give you a newfound appreciation for high fashion.
And you’ll see this plain as day as you wander through the crowds. Without a doubt, Italians know how to dress well.
Seriously, I always feel hopeless at fashion every time I step foot in Italy. So, if you love high-end designers, then you’re in for a treat visiting Italy.
Definitely take time to go to Milan for tons of exclusive window shopping. The original Prada store is always a great spot to check out!
However, don’t skip over the vintage boutiques either and support some smaller designers.
Solo Travel Italy: Other Tips and Tricks
Lastly, I wanted to wrap up this solo guide to Italy with a few important tips to make your solo trip easier. Sure, researching the attractions and restaurants is a ton of fun, but you also need to consider other factors. I know talking about safety and travel insurance feels like a buzzkill, but at the same time, it’s necessary to do so.
Traveling Italy Alone – Is It Safe?
Yes, solo travel in Italy is safe. Violent crime is very low even against tourists.
In Italy, your biggest concerns will be petty scams and pickpocketing, especially in big cities such as Rome.
Don’t be paranoid, but always keep a close eye on your possessions. If you want to take precautions a step further, then invest in a theft-proof bag such as a Pacsafe Crossbody Bag.
Another awesome and stylish way to keep your stuff safe is in the hidden pocket of the Infinity Scarf! Plus you’re able to wear the scarf in the more traditional churches.
As for the men… well, for solo female travelers, you ought to be aware that Italian men are notoriously forward and flirtatious. Hearing compliments in the streets is common. The best thing to do is simply ignore them. Duck into a shop or restaurant if the attention escalates.
However, I was harassed much less on this most recent trip to Italy than I was in 2012. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a more experienced traveler or what.
And, obviously, always buy travel insurance prior to any international trip. My personal recommendation for travel insurance is a policy with World Nomads because they’re comprehensive and affordable at the same time. I feel a million times safer with World Nomads – especially if I am alone.
Solo Trip to Italy: Where to Stay At Night
Luckily for you, Italy has no shortage of hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, and other accommodation. You just need to figure out your priorities.
For example. Italy has so much social accommodation available if you want to meet other travelers. Milan and Lake Como have some of the nicest hostels that I have ever stayed in!
On the other hand, if you want to connect with locals, I suggest doing a homestay of some sort. AirBNB has lots of available options especially in smaller towns. You can usually save money on AirBNB compared to hotel rates, too.
As for packing, check out my 21 Solo Travel Essentials Guide for more information.
Hostel Suggestions for Italy
- The Beehive in Rome: Are you feeling overwhelmed in Rome? The Beehive is the city’s chillest hostel, providing you with some peace in this incredible but busy city. See prices on TripAdvisor.com
- Hostel of the Sun in Naples: Headed south? Hostel of the Sun is located in a safe part of Naples close to the ferry and bus terminal, making day trips a breeze! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- My Friends Guesthouse in Florence: This cosy guesthouse is located near all the best attractions, such as Uffizi Galleries and Duomo. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Ostello Bello in Milan: One of the top ranked hostels in Milan, which is a major part of why this city is so special to me! If you want to form true friendships, go here. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Ostello Bello in Lake Como: Another great hostel in the Osello Bello chain. This one is located right on the shores of gorgeous Lake Como! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Ostello S. Fosca in Venice: A hostel located in the heart of Venice and not off the island? Sign me right up! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com
- We_Bologna in Bologna: Located in Italy’s best food region, this hostel organizes plenty of activities to immerse you in the local culture. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com
I hope you enjoyed my “Solo Travel Italy” guide! Have you ever gone traveling to Italy alone? What are your best reasons for going to Italy? Share all your thoughts in the comments.