In June we had a fantastic vacation in southern Italy, which started in Naples, continued on the Amalfi Coast and ended in Bari. Although, the plan was to do this trip by our own car, we decided to leave the car at the airport and then use public transport. So, during our 10 days in Italy we travelled by all means of public transport: plane, train, bus and boat. If at first it seemed complicated and expensive to travel this way, in the end we realised it was the best decision, at least for us. In this article I want to teach you How to Use Public Transport in Italy.
How to Use Public Transport in Italy – a complete guide
By plane/domestic flights:
It’s easy and cheap to travel from one city to another by plane. From Milan (Malpensa and Bergamo) there are many direct flights to southern Italy, Sicily or Sardinia, at prices up to 10 euro/one way. Domestic flights are mostly operated by RyanAir and WizzAir, and if you look at the offers, you can find flights for 2-3 euro (we bought two round-trip tickets on the Milan-Palermo route for 10 euro). You will also find many such flights from other cities: Rome, Venice, Bari, etc. So for long distances, I would suggest you to save time and take a domestic flight.
I love travelling by train, and if I have a choice between train and bus, I will always choose the train. I don’t know why, but train travel seems more peaceful and relaxing to me. In Italy, I have travelled quite a lot by train, and since my first train journey, which was when I was a student, on the Padua – Milan route, and until now, I have said at least 100 times that I love travelling by train through Italy and that in all the typical Italian chaos, their railway system is extremely well set up and very easy to use. Not to mention how cheap it is compering to Spain, France or Switzerland.
A few things to know if you plan to travel by train to Italy:
- There are two train companies: TrenItalia and Italo. While Italo is a private company that only has high-speed trains, TrenItalia is the national railway company, which in turn includes both regional and high-speed trains. We travelled exclusively on regional trains, so I couldn’t give you an opinion on high-speed trains.
- Regional trains are perfect for short distances (up to 200km) and the big advantage is that you don’t have to buy tickets in advance. Tickets will be the same price whether you buy them online or directly from the station.
- High-speed trains (Tren Italia) are divided into the following categories: FrecciaRosa, FrecciaArgento and FrecciaBianca. Tickets for these trains are a little more expensive and can be sold out, so it’s best to get them early.
- For example, the FrecciaRosa has an average of 7 journeys a day on the Venice-Milan route, a distance it covers in approx. 2 hours and for which you have to pay an average of €50.
- The official website of the national railway company is www.trenitalia.com.
- To search for trains you need to know the Italian names of cities (Venice and Rome do not work) or stations. For example: Roma Termini, Napoli Centrale, etc.
- It’s also important to know that big cities have 3-4 stations, so pay attention when choosing the station and possibly search on Google Maps to see how close it is to the centre (e.g. Venezia Santa Lucia is the name of the central station in Venice; Verona Porta Nuova is the central station in Verona).
- Words you should know: binario=platform; partenze=departures; arrivi=arrivals; ritardo=delay; stazione=station
How do I buy train tickets for regional trains?
As I said, I have travelled a lot on regional trains, and almost every time I bought tickets directly from the station before departure. You will find ‘Biglietti’ machines at all stations where you can buy your tickets yourself. I always use the official website to see the train timetable and prices, and when I get to the machine I know exactly what I want to buy. The machines accept both card and cash payment.
Important (for regional trains only)! Before boarding the train, you must validate your ticket at one of the machines in the station or on the platform. Unlike in Romania, where tickets are issued for a specific train at a specific time, in Italy tickets are issued for the chosen route. Therefore, before boarding the train, the train ticket must be validated (the validation stamp shows the station from which the train departs and the validation time).
If you buy your ticket online, you do NOT need to validate it. When you buy your ticket online, it is no longer open-ticket, but you have to choose your departure time in advance.
Although we prefer trains, a few times we have had to use buses. Sometimes it happens that a bus journey is not only cheaper than a train journey, but also quicker, so in order to save time and money we have also used buses. This is how it was when we wanted to get from Naples to Bari – the bus ticket cost us 12 euros and the journey took 3 hours (by train the journey would have taken 4-5 hours, we would have had to change trains and would have had to pay 35 euros).
When looking for bus/train tickets – for Italy, but not only – we use this website ale the time. On this site we search for the route we want, check the timetable and compare the price, and then, once we have decided on a journey, we go directly to the company’s official website. Many times, as was the case in Italy, we bought our tickets at the bus station at least one day before the departure time.
Bus companies: Itabus, FlixBus and Sita Sud (these are the best bus companies in Italy, they are spread all over the country and have very good prices)
By Boat (Amalfi Coast)
Until we visited the Amalfi Coast, we had never used this means of transport, not even in Venice, where the vaporetto is in great demand. However, having arrived in Amalfi for only 2 days, we had to use the fastest means of transport between towns, namely: the boat. Admittedly, we found it quite expensive (on the trip
Salerno – Amalfi we paid 9 euro/person), but after our first experience with the bus on the famous SS163 road, we decided that water transport was the best for us.
There are several ferry companies that connect Amalfi to the rest of the towns along the coast, but we went with TravelMar to get to Amalfi and Positani from Salerno. From the time we planned our visit to the coast, we knew we’d be looking for accommodation in Salerno and using the ferry, which I encourage you to do too. The ferry trip may be more expensive, but it gives you a chance to see a good part of the Amalfi coast, enjoy the breeze and the scenery. And if you have limited time, 2-3 days, I strongly encourage you to choose the boat.
How we travelled (without a car) for 10 days in Italy and how much the transport cost us
In the 10 days we visited 9 new places in two regions, Campania and Puglia, and our route looked something like this:
- Milan Bergamo -Naples: 10 euro (direct flight with Ryan Air)
- Naples – Pompeii – Naples: 5, 20 euro (by Circumvesuviana train)
- Naples – Salerno – Naples: 9,40 euro (by regional train)
- Salerno – Amalfi: 9 euro (by TravelMar boat)
- Amalfi – Salerno: 3.40 euro (by bus Sita Sud)
- Salerno – Positano – Salerno: 28 euro (by TravelMar boat)
- Naples – Bari: 12 euro (by Sita Sud bus)
- Bari – Alberobello – Bari: 8.60 euro (by TrenItalia bus)
- Bari – Polignano a Mare – Bari: 5.20 (by regional train)
- Bari – Milano Bergamo: 10 euro (direct flight with Ryan Air)
- Transfers from and to the airport: Naples – 5 euro (bus), Bari – 20 euro (taxi)
Total: 115 euro/person (230 euro/couple)
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How to Use Public Transport in Italy – a complete guide
This was the information I gathered over time about travelling by public transport through Italy. Although it may seem complicated, public transport in Italy is all the easier as we have access to a lot of websites, blogs and search engines, and extremely affordable for those travelling as a couple or solo. I hope you find this article useful!
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