A couple of summers ago, my best friend and I decided to go on interrail through Italy. And it was one of the best vacations I have had so far! We visited seven cities in a little over two weeks, and it was amazing. A bit too hot at times, but with tons of water and gelato we survived!
Although I am Italian, and I have visited these cities multiple times, I wanted to experience them when I was a bit older and with my best friend who had never been in Italy prior to this trip. We managed to get a taste of (almost) everything Italy has to offer, from getting lost in the streets of Venice, to swimming in the Mediterranean sea and shopping in one of the world’s most famous fashion cities, Milan.
We started our trip in Milan, and spent a little over a day there to visit some of my family and my friend got a taste of the city. We then headed to Venice for a couple of days, before continuing south to Florence. I absolutely love Florence, and would go back in a heartbeat! After a few days, the trip continued on to the Mediterranean coast, more specifically Forte dei Marmi, where we had some lazy days on the beach. Well rested we stopped in Lucca for a day trip, before heading to Siena (another favorite). Rome was next, before we ended the trip back in Milan. If you have never been to Italy before, I recommend this route as I think you get to experience and see quite a lot! Next time, I would love to go a bit further south and visit Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast.
I have to admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed when we had to start planning the trip. So many questions popped in to my head; which cities are we visiting? how long are we staying? hostels or hotels? how much will it all cost? But as soon as I started planning it step by step, one thing at the time, I just got more and more excited!
When planning the trip, I found Pinterest and travel blogs extremely useful, so I thought I would share some of my experiences and tips with you! If you’re going to Italy by train, or on a similar trip, I hope you find this post useful!
We started our trip from Oslo, and although we could have taken trains to get Italy, we decide to fly to Milan. To find the most affordable tickets, you should by them a bit in advance. Remember to compare multiple airlines, and to keep in mind what they offer you. Maybe the plane ticket is cheaper from one company, but they don’t include luggage, seat reservation and so on. We booked our flight with SAS, which included 23kg luggage and arrived at the most convenient airport for us, Malpensa.
It is of course totally up to you where you decide to start your trip. I recommend either start from the north or the south, so it is easier to travel through out the country. We travelled from Milan and ended up in Rome, which is one way to do it! I
Some useful websites:
Traveling through Italy by train is something I absolutely recommend. You get to see the country from a different perspective and see things you would have missed had you been thousands of feet up in the air. In addition, you don’t have to go through the stress of an airport! The train system in Italy is very good, we hardly encountered any delays or cancellation. Except for during one of our last last traveling days, but we just hopped on a bus and managed to get where we needed to go. There are different kinds of trains in Italy, high speed and regional ones. The regional ones take more time, (most often than not they don’t have functioning air-con…) but are cheaper.
We decided to buy an interrail ticket, as buying a ticket for each trip would have been more expensive, and you can’t really go interrailing without the actual, official ticket, can you? We bought the “8-days one country pass”. This includes 8 days of traveling in one month. You can also buy a 6-days pass, or a multiple country pass.
Keep in mind that on some trains in Italy (the high speed ones) you need to make a reservation, usually this is about €10. I would recommend to chose the high speed trains for the longer distances, for instance from Rome to Milan, as you save quite a few hours (and you get the much needed air-con!).
Some useful websites:
Where to stay:
If you are a “regular” student like me, meaning you don’t have an unlimited budget, you might want to save a little when it comes to where you stay. When I hear the word interrail, the word hostel pops in to my head. And although I was a bit skeptical at first, I did my research and found nice, cheap and safe places to stay.
We were lucky enough to be able to stay with my family and friends for some of the stay, so we only had book three hostels, in Venice, Florence and Siena. We were happy with all three of them, they were simple, as most hostels are, but they worked for us. I think we were a bit “off” season, as we didn’t meet many other backpackers at the hostels. So if you are traveling alone, or want to meet many people, you should plan to go in July or August (we went in mid-June). We booked a private room at all three hostels, and not just beds in a dorm. This costs a little more, but that way you have more privacy and you can keep your belongings safer.
Venice – “Ostello Domus Civica”: This hostel was simple, with friendly staff and you close to the centre of Venice. It was a ten minute walk from the train station. We had our own sink in the room, and sheets were given to us upon arrival. They don’t offer breakfast, but they have a kitchen where you can make food, coffee etc. We bought food and groceries at the nearby grocery store and there are a few cafes right next door. Accommodation in Venice is very expensive, however the price of the hostel was good considering its location and standard, so I definitely recommend to check it out.
Florence – “Academy Hostel”: This hostel was probably my favorite one, and much of that had to do with its location. It is situated by the Duomo, meaning it is right in the centre of Florence. We absolutely loved that we could just walk to and from everything. The room was a bit dark, and we didn’t have a sink in the room, however we we right by the bathrooms which were nice and modern. Breakfast was included in the price, which is a big plus in my book. Highly recommend.
Siena – “Siena Hostel”: This hostel is was okay, very plain, and what you would expect a hostel to be like. It’s location wasn’t the best as it was a bit far from the train station as well as the old city center of Siena, which is where almost everything to see is. The public transportation system was not the easiest to understand, so in the end we had to take a few taxis to get places. It was the cheapest hostel we stayed in, but next time I visit Siena, I might research for something a bit more convenient.
I booked all the hostels through booking.com, but I also used TripAdvisor to check reviews and recommendations.
Some useful websites:
I hope some of you found this helpful! And that you start planning your trip!
Lots of love,