Italy is an extremely popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world each year. Boasting a unique cultural heritage, iconic landmarks, stunning scenery and some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, a vacation in Italy should be right at the top of every traveler’s bucket list.
The majority of Indians take vacations in Asia or the Middle East and often overlook the possibilities that Italy has to offer as a holiday destination. However, this is slowly changing as Indian tourists begin to discover Italy’s art, culture and cuisine for themselves. Italians are extremely welcoming to holiday-makers and for people who don’t eat meat, there’s a fantastic selection of authentic regional dishes that are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Most Indians do not know that Italy has the most number of Indians in Europe after the United Kingdom. There are many Indians like me who live in Italy full time or part time. Italians take long vacations and love to travel. So lots of Italians have travelled to India and have a decent understanding of India. This is not the case in Northern European nations, the United States or Canada.
The following are some of the major reasons why Indians should consider visiting Italy as a tourist destination:
Italy Is Not Very Far From India.
Although Italy may seem like a world away from India, with modern transport connections you can fly from major cities in India to most major cities in Italy with ease (including Rome, Milan, Florence & Venice). Flight times are very reasonable, usually about 8 hours for a non-stop flight and about 11 hours with one stop. The prices are also not that high. You can book a one week package (including roundtrip airfare, lodging and some food) for about INR 75,000 (less than $900). Once you arrive in Italy there is a highly developed domestic travel infrastructure which makes it easy to travel around within the country.
IMPORTANT: Flying to Milan is typically cheaper than flying to Rome. Never fly to Florence or Venice which are typically expensive cities to fly to. Until Air India gets better, don’t fly direct to Italy. Always transit through the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar or Etihad). This is cheaper and there is a nice break in the middle of the journey.
Great Airlines Connecting India To Italy.
There’s a good choice of top-quality airlines that operate regular routes between the two countries. Some of the best airlines that cover the route from India to Italy include Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Air India has a few direct connections, but not from all the major Indian cities.
For example, you can fly from Mumbai to Rome with Qatar Airways in under 14 hours, including a 3-hour stopover in Doha on the way. Alternatively, a flight with Etihad Airways from Delhi to Rome takes around 13 hours, with a 2-hour stopover. These airlines provide passengers with excellent onboard service and run numerous flights between India and Italy each week. They also operate out of all the main airports in India, so you won’t have to travel too far to catch your flight.
Prices for flights do vary, although you can get some great bargains, especially during the low tourist season. If you want to compare the prices and routes of flights from India to Italy, the Google Flights tool is a good place to get started.
Italy Is A Year-Round Tourist Destination.
The main tourist season is during the summer months in Italy but the country has a huge amount to offer visitors throughout the entire year. During the winter, the weather is cool, but not too cold, and there are no big lines to get into the top attractions.
Flights, hotel prices and tourist attractions are all much cheaper during the winter, so if you’re visiting on a budget it’s worth keeping in mind. Many of Italy’s headline attractions, such as the art galleries, museums and cathedrals, are all indoors so even if it’s raining or a little chilly outside it won’t spoil your visit.
There are also lots of fascinating cultural events, festivals and celebrations that take place during the tourist low season including the Christmas and New Year celebrations which dominate the cultural calendar in winter. For most of December, there are lovely Christmas markets to explore and a whole host of unique events in churches, cathedrals and museums to celebrate the winter months.
If you’d like a more active vacation in Italy during the winter you can head to the north of the country and enjoy skiing on some of the finest slopes in Europe. Italy’s winter ski resorts are rated amongst the best in the world and prices tend to be a lot cheaper than similar resorts in Switzerland, France and Austria.
IMPORTANT: Cold weather in Italy is typically from November to March. If you do not like cold weather, consider visiting Southern Italy (Rome and South) and Sicily during this time. My favorite time to visit Italy is September to mid November. You can wear a sweater and walk around, the number of tourists are less and it is much cheaper. Avoid traveling from May to end of August if you can because of heavy tourist traffic from Western Europe and the United States.
All-Inclusive Group Travel To Italy.
If you’ve never been to Italy before it can be a bit daunting to make all your arrangements, book hotels, flights and plan your itinerary. Fortunately, many travel agencies in India can offer you an all-inclusive group package. This means that your hotels, itinerary and flights will all be arranged by seasoned experts in the travel industry. Having all the details sorted out before you depart will leave you free to focus on the incredible adventures that are waiting for you to arrive.
An all-inclusive group tour will include all of your accommodation and travel in the price. It will also include some of your meals, drinks, entrance tickets and entertainment during your time in Italy. In some cases, you may need to pay for your lunch and there’s always free time scheduled into the itinerary to give you a chance to go shopping or do a few things that are not included in the itinerary.
Travel agency staff are experienced in all aspects of the tourist industry and will ensure that you stay in good quality hotels and can see all the top attractions, including many that you may not have thought of! If you’re traveling in a group you’ll also be able to make new friends and share your experiences with fellow Indian travelers.
IMPORTANT: Like India, you cannot see everything in Italy in one trip. Focus on specific areas during each trip. If you are visiting Italy for the first time, I highly recommend taking an all-inclusive trip. During subsequent visits, book on your own and spend time in the areas that you like.
Italian Vacation Can Be Done On A Budget.
A vacation in Italy doesn’t need to cost the earth! A vacation to Italy from India will usually be a lot cheaper than a vacation to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or most other Western European nations. This is partly because the flights are much shorter but it’s also because Italy is a relatively cheap European country to visit in general.
For example, you can easily have an evening meal in a traditional Italian restaurant for as little as 10 to 15 Euros per person. There are even restaurants where you can have a pizza and a drink for less than 10 Euros, especially at lunchtime when the prices tend to be cheaper than at night.
Another factor that makes Italy cheaper than other countries to visit is because of the extensive public transport system. Trains, buses, trams and ferries are all priced extremely reasonably and allow you to travel around the country with comfort and ease. For example you can take the Frecciarossa (Italian super fast train) from Rome to Milan for under 50 Euros per person if you book ahead). Slower trains in the same route are much cheaper.
Tourist Visas To Italy Are Easy To Get From India.
You will need to arrange a Visa to visit Italy however it’s very easy to obtain one. The EU Visa is known as the ‘Schengen Visa’ and allows you to travel within the entire European Union, including, of course, Italy. If you are arranging your Visa you will need to attend an interview at a local embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you may be able to apply for your Schengen Visa at one of the European Union Visa Application Centers that are located in most of India’s major cities.
IMPORTANT – If you’re traveling with an all-inclusive group tour, your travel agent should be able to help you make the necessary visa arrangements. Most travel agencies will charge you about INR 8000 for getting the visa and the processing time is about three weeks. You can use the travel agents to get the visa even if you are not taking one of their travel packages. The travel agent will have a streamlined process in place and take the headache out of the application process for you.
Italy Has A Lot Of Historic Sites To See.
Italy has an astounding number of historic sites to see and even boasts the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. In fact, sometimes, as you explore Italy’s cities, it can feel like you’re walking around a vast open-air museum! Italy has a fascinating ancient history and consequently, you can see museum exhibits, archeological sites and artifacts that date right back to the Etruscan Empire, as well as the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.
Every town and city in Italy is steeped in history and this heritage is treasured by the locals. Of course, the top-tier cities are home to many of the most iconic historical sites, including locations such as Rome’s Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon, Milan’s Gothic Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the ruins of Pompeii.
Italians Are Open Minded And You’ll Feel At Home.
I live part-time in Italy. I have a small flat in Volterra. I have been traveling to Italy for over twenty years. It has been a great experience so far. Italians are famously friendly, open-minded and kind. This means that you’ll instantly feel welcomed into the country and will never feel out of place. Visitors from India will feel right at home in Italy and if you ever need help, tips or advice, the locals will be more than happy to assist you. Unlike Americans, who have become prisoners of political correctness, Italians are much more curious to know more about you.
Italy is also an extremely safe country to visit. The levels of crime are very low in Italy, and with the exception of a few districts in the major cities – which are easy to avoid – you should be absolutely safe and secure. There is a small problem with pickpockets around some of the top tourist attractions and busy train stations but if you take a few basic precautions you should have nothing to worry about.
Italian Food Is Suitable For Vegetarians.
If you are comfortable with eating non-vegetarian food then you will do fine in Italy. However, if vegetarian food is important to you, Italy has a lot of options. Lots of the food in Italy does not contain meat. From pizzas, with vegetarian toppings, to pasta dishes, risotto, cheeses, pastries and fine bread, a large number of Italy’s most popular dishes are absolutely vegetarian-friendly.
Italian cuisine is massively diverse and any Indian visitor to the country will enjoy exploring its possibilities. Every region in Italy has its own distinct culinary traditions and the locals are fiercely proud of their own unique recipes. Of course, although authentic Italian food is a major attraction for visitors, all of the big cities also have a wide choice of international cuisine and are home to many excellent Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican and American restaurants as well.
Discover Italy’s Breathtaking Natural Beauty.
Italy is blessed with some of the most diversely beautiful natural scenery in Europe. From majestic, snow-capped mountains in the North to the long, white beaches and rocky coves in the South, Italy’s rural landscapes are heaven for photographers and nature lovers alike.
You can explore Italy’s landscapes by hiking, biking along the country roads or even by taking a hot air balloon ride to see the panoramic views from the air. You can also visit Italy’s lakes, such as Lake Como or Garda, where you can hike, fish, go boating or simply take in the scenery while having lunch at a waterfront restaurant.
Italy Is A Paradise For Shopping.
Italy has an eye-watering array of top-quality designer stores, many of which are headquartered in Milan, as well as lovely boutiques, jewelry stores, and arts and crafts galleries. Milan is one of the nation’s best cities for shopping, especially since it’s the official Fashion Capital, but you can also find great shops in all the towns and cities of the country.
It’s worth remembering that many stores have biannual sales, usually in January and late July when you can snap up some great bargains. Even so, the sheer quantity and quality of designer stores and boutiques make Italy one of the world’s premier shopping destinations.
Italy Is A Top Holiday Destination For Indians.
While it’s sometimes overlooked by Indian holiday-makers, Italy has a huge amount to offer couples, families and solo travelers from India. Whether you want a romantic getaway in Florence or Venice, a cultural trip to Rome or a rural retreat amongst the natural beauty of the country, Italy really has something for everyone!
With good travel connections to and from India, vegetarian-friendly cuisine, and a wealth of cultural highlights and attractions, Italy is unquestionably the jewel in the European crown. So when you’re planning your next vacation, make sure to give Italy a chance and discover the amazing joys that await your arrival.