Southern Italy in detail

Flights & getting there

A plethora of airlines link Italy with the rest of the world, and cut-rate carriers have significantly driven down the cost of flights from other European countries. Excellent rail and bus connections, especially with northern Italy, offer efficient overland transport, while car and passenger ferries operate to ports throughout the Mediterranean.

Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Air

Airports & Airlines

Italy's main intercontinental gateways are Rome's Fiumicino Airport and Milan's Aeroporto Malpensa. Venice's Marco Polo Airport is also served by a handful of intercontinental flights.

Most direct flights into southern Italy are domestic or intra-European, so you may need to change at Rome, Milan or Venice if arriving from outside Europe.

Handy airports in southern Italy include:

Naples International Airport (Capodichino), Naples (www.aeroportodinapoli.it) Alongside Catania Airport, this is southern Italy's busiest airport, with non-stop connections to numerous destinations in Italy, Europe and the UK, as well as to Dubai and (in season) New York. Serviced by Italy's national carrier, Alitalia, and several full-service and budget international airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air.

Karol Wojtyła Airport, Bari (www.aeroportidipuglia.it) Puglia's main airport, with non-stop flights to numerous cities in Italy, Europe and the UK. Serviced by Alitalia, as well as both full-service and low-cost international carriers.

Brindisi Airport, Brindisi (www.aeroportidipuglia.it) Puglia's second-busiest airport, with non-stop connections to cities in Italy and a limited number of direct flights to European and UK destinations, several of which are seasonal. Flights mostly operated by Ryanair and Alitalia.

Lamezia Terme Airport, Cosenza (www.sacal.it) Calabria's principal airport, with non-stop flights to major Italian cities and a number of European and UK destinations, many of them seasonal. Also operates a summer-only service to Toronto, Canada. Year-round airlines include Alitalia, Ryanair and easyJet.

Fontanarossa Airport, Catania (www.aeroporto.catania.it) Along with Naples, the busiest airport in southern Italy. Offers non-stop flights to other Italian cities, and destinations within Europe and the UK, as well as to Dubai. Serviced by Alitalia and mainly low-cost European airlines.

Falcone-Borsellino Airport, Palermo (www.gesap.it) One of Sicily's two major airports, with frequent connections to other Italian cities as well as non-stop flights to numerous destinations in Europe and the UK, many of which are seasonal. Serviced by Alitalia and a handful of mainly low-cost European carriers.

Vincenzo Florio (Birgi) Airport, Trapani (www.airgest.it) Sicily's third-largest airport, with a handful of routes to other Italian destinations and summer-only flights to numerous European destinations. Flights operated mainly by Alitalia and Ryanair.

Comiso Airport, Comiso (www.aeroportodicomiso.eu) Small airport in southeastern Sicily serviced mainly by Ryanair. Limited non-stop flights to Rome, Milan and Pisa, as well as to Frankfurt and Brussels.

Tickets & Discounts

The internet is the easiest way to locate and book reasonably priced seats.

Full-time students and those aged under 26 may qualify for discounted fares at agencies such as STA Travel (www.statravel.com). Many of these fares require a valid International Student Identity Card (ISIC).

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Land

Reaching southern Italy overland involves travelling the entire length of Italy, which can either be an enormous drain on your time or, if you have plenty to spare, a wonderful way of seeing the country. Buses are usually the cheapest option, but services are less frequent and considerably less comfortable than the train.

Border Crossings

Aside from the coast roads linking Italy with France and Slovenia, border crossings into Italy mostly involve tunnels through the Alps (open year-round) or mountain passes (seasonally closed or requiring snow chains).

The list below outlines the major points of entry.

Austria From Innsbruck to Bolzano via A22/E45 (Brenner Pass); Villach to Tarvisio via A23/E55.

France From Nice to Ventimiglia via A10/E80; Modane to Turin via A32/E70 (Fréjus Tunnel); Chamonix to Courmayeur via A5/E25 (Mont Blanc Tunnel).

Slovenia From Sežana to Trieste via SR58/E70.

Switzerland From Martigny to Aosta via SS27/E27 (Grand St Bernard Tunnel); Lugano to Como via A9/E35.

Bus

Buses are the cheapest overland option to Italy, but services are less frequent, less comfortable and significantly slower than the train. Useful companies include:

Eurolines Italy-bound buses head to Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, from where Italian train and bus services continue south.

FlixBus German-owned company offering both interregional and international routes. Interregional services reach numerous cities and towns in southern Italy, including Naples, Matera, Bari, Brindisi, Alberobello, Lecce, Potenza, Catania, Syracuse and Palermo.

Marozzi Regular connections from Rome to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and from Rome to numerous towns and cities in Puglia and Basilicata, including Bari, Alberobello, Taranto, Gallipoli, Otranto, Lecce and Matera.

Autolinee Miccolis Runs daily services from Naples to Bari via Pompeii, Salerno, Potenza and Matera. It also runs from Naples to Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce via Potenza.

Marino Runs regular services from Naples to Bari, Brindisi, Matera, Lecce and Gallipoli.

Liscio Daily connections from Potenza to Rome. Also runs regularly between Rome and Matera.

Lirosi Daily services between Reggio Calabria and Rome.

SAIS Autolinee Operates long-haul services to Sicily from numerous centres, including Rome, Naples and Bari.

Bus Passes

FlixBus Offers an InterFlix buss pass (€99) which allows travel on five FlixBus European routes in a three-month period.

Car & Motorcycle

From Continental Europe

  • Every vehicle travelling across an international border should display the nationality plate of its country of registration.
  • Always carry the vehicle's registration certificate and evidence of third-party insurance. If driving an EU-registered vehicle, your home country insurance is sufficient. Ask your insurer for a European Accident Statement (EAS) form, which can simplify matters in the event of an accident. The form can also be downloaded from http://cartraveldocs.com/european-accident-statement.
  • A European breakdown assistance policy is a good investment and can be obtained through Italy's national automobile association, the Automobile Club d'Italia.
  • Italy's scenic roads are tailor-made for motorcycle touring, and motorcyclists swarm into the country every summer. With a motorcycle you can often enter restricted-traffic areas in cities. Crash helmets and a motorcycle licence are compulsory.

From the UK

You can take your car to Italy, via France, by ferry or the Eurotunnel Shuttle rail service (www.eurotunnel.com). The latter runs up to four times per hour between Folkestone and Calais (35 minutes) at peak times.

For breakdown assistance, both the AA (www.theaa.com) and the RAC (www.rac.co.uk) offer comprehensive packages covering Italy.

Train

Regular trains on two western lines connect Italy with France (one along the coast and the other from Turin into the French Alps). Trains from Milan head north into Switzerland and on towards the Benelux countries. Further east, two main lines head for the main cities in Central and Eastern Europe. Those crossing the Brenner Pass go to Innsbruck, Stuttgart and Munich. Those crossing at Tarvisio proceed to Vienna, Salzburg and Prague. The main international train line to Slovenia crosses near Trieste.

From Continental Europe

  • The comprehensive European Rail Timetable (UK£19.99, digital version UK£13.99), updated regularly, is available for purchase at https://www.europeanrailtimetable.eu/, as well as at a handful of bookshops in the UK and continental Europe (see the website for details).
  • Reservations on international trains to/from Italy are always advisable, and sometimes compulsory.
  • Some international services include transport for private cars.
  • Consider taking long journeys overnight, as the supplemental fare for a sleeper will often cost less than an Italian hotel.

From the UK

  • Trains to Italy from the UK involve a change in France.
  • The high-velocity Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) connects London with Paris, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille. Direct trains to Italy then run from Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Alternatively, you can get a train ticket that includes crossing the Channel by ferry.
  • For fare information and ticket bookings, check out Loco 2 (www.loco2.com), a clear and easy-to-use booking site.

Sea

  • Numerous ferry companies connect southern Italy with ports across the Mediterranean. Some routes only operate in summer, when ticket prices also rise. Fares for vehicles depend on the size of the vehicle.
  • Fares to Greece are generally more expensive from Bari than those available from Brindisi, although unless you're planning on travelling in the Salento, Bari is the more convenient port of arrival and also has better onward links for bus and train travel.
  • The helpful website www.directferries.co.uk allows you to search routes and compare prices between international ferry companies. Another useful resource for Italy–Greece ferries is www.ferries.gr.

International Ferry Routes from Southern Italy

Destination CountryDestination Port(s)Italian Port(s)Company
AlbaniaDurrësBariVentouris Ferries, GNV, Adria Ferries
CroatiaDubrovnikBariJadrolinija, Montenegro Lines
GreeceIgoumenitsa, PatrasBrindisiGrimaldi Lines
GreeceCorfu, Igoumenitsa, PatrasBariSuperfast, Anek Lines
GreeceCorfu, Igoumenitsa, Zakynthos, CephaloniaBariVentouris Ferries
MaltaVallettaPozzalloVirtu Ferries
MontenegroBarBariMontenegro Lines, Jadrolinija
TunisiaTunisPalermoGNV
TunisiaTunisPalermo, SalernoGrimaldi Lines

International Ferry Companies Serving Southern Italy