Tourist traps to avoid in Italy

8 must-know tips to feel like a local

With its old traditions, art and culinary delights, Italy is a dream destination for many travelers. However, venturing off the beaten path and avoiding tourist traps in the most famous towns and cities can often be a challenge. 

Here are 6 tips and tricks to live an authentic Italian experience and escape the tourist crowds!

Two freshly made cappuccinos ready to be enjoyed at the bar counter

A typical Italian breakfast ready to be enjoyed at the bar counter

1) Avoid sitting in cafés facing monuments

Drinking a coffee in Rome in front of the Colosseum or in St. Mark's Square in Venice is beautiful, but you might change your mind when it's time to pay! 

The price of a coffee served at the table in front of the most famous monuments in Italy is almost triple the normal one. If you want to stay close to the action, you can always opt for some cafés located in back alleys. Alternatively, you could drink the best espresso in Italy standing at the bar with the locals!

2) Spot a good restaurant from the outside

It's not true that in Italy you eat well everywhere! There are some basics for recognizing a tourist restaurant in Italy such as: the waiters who invite you to come in and the menus translated into multiple languages with photographs of the dishes. In this case, better run away!

Try to steer clear of highly frequented areas and instead seek out family-run trattorias and osterias. Ask locals for recommendations, delve into regional dishes, taste local wines, and you'll discover the true essence of Italian cuisine!

Extra tip: for a quick lunch, in most Italian supermarkets you can get a fresh panini filled with local cheeses, ham or cured meats. This will cost you much less than a sandwich bought in a café, and it will definitely be tastier!

3) Venture beyond major cities

If you decide to visit Italy’s popular cities, try to balance your itinerary by allocating time for smaller towns nearby

For instance, while in Florence, you could reach the city of Livorno by train (1 hour), enjoy some seaside and even organize a day trip from Livorno to Capraia, a beautiful island in the Tuscan archipelago.

The Italian regions also hide beautiful and little-known villages to enjoy the true local atmosphere. From the north to the south of Italy you are truly spoiled for choice!

Colorful tables and chairs of a traditional trattoria in Sicily, Italy

A cozy family-run trattoria in a village in Sicily

4) Steer clear of illegal taxis

In Italy you may find insistent people trying to offer you a taxi ride outside the airport, near the train station or at the port exit. Some of them are illegal taxi drivers hunting for tourists and offering "low cost" fares. 

Remember that in Italy official taxis are white, they have a visible taximeter, a displayed license and a price list that passengers can consult.

For greater safety you can always use the most famous taxi apps that also work in Italy or prebook a ride online!

5) Tour packages are not always convenient

When visiting Italian resorts near beautiful islands, you may encounter package tour sellers offering boat trips, accommodation and restaurants included.

Even though they might seem convenient, they are often real tourist traps. Better to take a normal ferry and move around the location in total freedom! For the best attractions or restaurants, you can always check our travel guides or get advice from some locals!

6) Buy Italian souvenirs away from tourist hotspots

Another common tourist trap in Italy is overpriced souvenirs. Shops conveniently situated near tourist attractions tend to charge exorbitant prices for their goods. 

Instead, opt for shops away from the major landmarks to find reasonably priced souvenirs. Try also to visit local markets or specialty craft shops for unique treasures!

Artisan in Cagliari creating a traditional Sardinian basket

Local artisan in Sardinia creating a traditional basket woven by hand

7) Find out about free museum days in Italy

Italy has an impressive art heritage, but the truth is that some museums can be quite expensive (especially if you have a large family). An excellent option to save on high ticket prices is to do a little online research in advance about the official free days of museums and art galleries. 

The Ministry of Culture in Italy has also launched the Domenica al Museo initiative (link only available in Italian), an amazing opportunity to visit museums and public archaeological areas for free every first Sunday of the month.

8) Visit the Amalfi Coast in spring/autumn

You too want to visit the Amalfi Coast, we know it! This area of southern Italy is really beautiful, but probably also the most touristy. That’s why it’s better to avoid visiting the Amalfi Coast in summer and choose the spring or autumn months instead. 

The mild climate will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the villages even more and do many activities with ease.

Travel to the Amalfi Coast out of season, explore the small fishing villages and discover the little-known hinterland! Leave the center of Amalfi and Positano and stroll along the hiking trails surrounded by lemon trees.

We also recommend booking your hotel in Salerno to save money and organizing day trips to the Amalfi Coast. Alternatively, you can opt for a coast to coast trip between Naples, Sorrento and Amalfi for a full adventure!

The village of Cetara, on the Amalfi Coast, seen from the sea

The small village of Cetara, one of the most beautiful and least touristy of the Amalfi Coast

Now that we have uncovered Italy's best-kept secrets, it's time to choose your next destination and book your online ferry tickets on Ferryhopper. Embark on your Italian adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Buon viaggio 😎 

Blog author

I'm Nicole Adonopoulos, translator, copywriter and millennial soul. Half Greek and half Italian, I love good food and off-season trips.


My Ferryhopper adventure began 5 years ago, and since then I have been trying to take you around Italy and the rest of the world through my texts. Important note: In my stories you will always find useful tips, alternative destinations and restaurants to try! 😋