Italy road trip ideas for ERASMUS students
All you need to do is get a ride – bus, train or the best option to travel with all the freedom - rent a car – what remains is just to pack, and go. If you decide to rent a car, Atet has the best prices online and if you are an International or Erasmus student you can also use a 10 € discount on your first student rental.
Car rental gives you a different kind of freedom compared to public transport, and if you get a friend to join you, you can share car gas expenses, making the road trip cheaper.
While Erasmus student exchange is great to study and experience a foreign EU country, it is also an excellent opportunity to take a road trip and visit nearby countries during less study-intensive weeks. This is especially true in warmer, blooming spring months or in charming autumn, as the roads clear of summer traffic jams and the weather is usually still warm and pleasant. Since Slovenia is so small you will be in Italy in no time!
One great advantage of Europe to keep in mind is its relatively small size and excellent transport links. This means that you can easily walk among Viennese buildings on Monday, ski in the Italian Alps on Tuesday, visit famous French restaurants on Wednesday and return to Slovenia on Thursday – if you wanted to. In Europe, everything is close, accessible and easy to explore, which will undoubtedly translate into memorable adventures and priceless road trip experiences.
Best Italy road trip ideas you need to experience
#1. Northeast Italy
Ljubljana – Grado – Lignano – Venice road trip
Google maps route for roadtrip here.
Starting from Ljubljana, you can take the highway to get to Grado, through the border crossing Vrtojba. On your way to Grado you can visit Aquileia, an ancient Roman city with plenty of archaeological sites to see. Its main sights are the Aquileia Cathedral, a Benedictine monastery with a museum, and other ancient Roman remains, such as street segments, town walls, the river port, baths, parts of the cemetery, forum, market and more.
The first (official) road trip stop is Grado, a town on an island with a vibe akin to Venice – narrow streets and similar looking houses. It isn’t a large place to cover, therefore you can find walking around the well-preserved historic city center refreshing and relaxing. There is a large water park with swimming pools, spa center and engaging in different sporting activities, such as windsurfing, is possible. Its main sights are the Basilica of Sant’ Eufemia, Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Barbana Sanctuary.
Next stop is Lignano Sabbiadoro, which translates to “golden sand”. It is one of the main summer resorts in Italy with long sandy beaches, a historic city center and plenty of shops and restaurants. Walk down the pier to the Faro Rosso - a famous red lighthouse, visit the Church of Santa Maria, take a walk in the Hemingway park, check out the zoo or float around in the waterpark’s lazy river.
The final stop on this road trip is the famous Venice, built on a group of small islands, separated by its famous canals and bridges. There are many things to see in Venice, but the most famous sights are Piazza San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, the Grand Canal, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto market, Murano Glass factory, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and San Marco bell tower. Do not feed the pigeons in Venice, as that is illegal.
After taking in all the charm of Venice, there are a few ways to get back. You can decide to return to the Slovenian coast through Trieste. It is an ancient city and a seaport, located at the intersection of many cultures and also considered an end point of the maritime Silk Road. Trieste is an underrated travel destination, as it offers many sights and vistas, and is worth visiting during a road trip.
Only 8 km from Trieste you will find Miramare Castle, located on the seashore. It is a must-see historic castle, famous for its castle gardens and beautiful scenery.
The second return road trip option is to go through Tarvisioand Kranjska Gora. Tarvisio sits in the valley between the Julian Alps and the Karawanks, surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery.
Kranjska Gora is an alpine resort town also nestling between the Karawanks and the Julian Alps. It is a great place for hikers, walkers and cyclists, as it is located next to Triglav National Park. You can explore nearby valleys and lakes, and take an easy walk or a day hike to one of its many hills or mountain peaks.
The third option for returning home from the road trip is to leave Italy over the Predil Pass with magnificent views of mountains, lakes and remains of historic fortifications. You can check out the entrance of the 4.5 km long tunnel that was built beneath the pass and used as a lead mine with its own mine railway. For the history buffs there are fortifications, monuments and remains of historic battles, and don’t miss out on Kluže Fortress with its long history.
#2. Southern Italy road trip idea
Tuscany and Amalfi coast
Google maps route for roadtrip here.
This road trip will take longer to travel and experience in its full capacity. Visiting Tuscany itself can take you a few days, as there are many things to do and sights to see.
If you are leaving from Ljubljana, the closest route to Italy is through the border crossing in Gorica. Going a little further you can stop in Palmanova, which is an example of a star fort. Built in the Renaissance following the ideals of utopia, its concentric shape provided military protection. Nowadays, it is also a great place if you want to do some shopping and get new clothes, shoes and other apparel.
The road trip will take you past Venice. If time permits, definitely stop in this charming city and see the famous canals, bridges, squares and palaces. Venice is full of history and beautiful sights, and The New York Times regarded it as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”.
A good 150 km outside Venice to the southwest, is the larger city of Bologna, known for its excellent cuisine, red buildings and universities that are among the oldest in the world. Here you will find a well-preserved city centre, towers, churches and landmarks. The road trip to Bologna is especially recommended to anyone who likes to eat well and enjoys visiting historical cities.
South of Bologna lies the region of Tuscany, one of the greatest repositories of art, also known for its excellent food and wine selection that will delight wine connoisseurs. In Tuscany you will find rolling hills and beautiful countryside, surrounded by mountains. The region boasts cities such as Florence, Siena and Pisa, while artistic souls should extend the road trip and also visit Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano and Lucca.
After all the sightseeing and experiences in Tuscany, you will continue your journey south. You know what they say - all roads lead to Rome! Or, in our case: all road trips in Italy lead to Rome.
The capital of Italy, also known as the "eternal city", is extremely rich in history, full of monuments and colossal remains that remind you of the glory and power of Rome at every turn.
The third most visited European city will impress you with its incomparable history: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and many other monuments.
Take your time and go tothe Vatican City. Take a walk in St. Peter’s Square and visit the basilica, the museum and the Sistine Chapel with its famous frescoes by Michelangelo.
The last stop on the road trip to the Amalfi Coast is Naples, Italy's third largest city. A city marked by turbulent events, it sits on the coast, near the famous Mount Vesuvius. Its history goes back a long way - you can see it both on the surface and in the underground of Naples. In addition to historical remains and castles, you can visit museums, and nearby are the ancient remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You have finally arrived at your road trip destination - the Amalfi Coast. Here you will find charming Mediterranean seaside towns and villages with beautiful, world-famous views that will take you several days to see in full. Don't forget to book your accommodation in advance - especially in the summer months as everything is quickly booked.
We suggest you visit the terraced town of Positano with its pastel houses, turquoise sea and Marina Grande beach. For those of you who like nature, you can walk along the Path of the Gods, a 6.5 km hiking trail with wonderful views, while the stunning Emerald Grotto awaits you in the bay of Conca dei Marini.
The Amalfi Coast offers many views and sights worth visiting, such as Valle Dei Mulini, Villa Rufolo, Furore beach, Blue Grotto and Capri, the Ferriere Nature Reserve and Sorrento.
This concludes one of the most popular Italy road trip ideas: definitely worth a visit.
Driving rules and regulations in Italy and what to look out for
It is always a good idea to know the traffic rules and regulations when going on a road trip. General rules of driving and traffic signs in Italy are similar to those in most EU countries, but definitely different from those in the US. You should keep in mind to:
- drive on the right side of the road
- keep your seatbelts on – in the front and back seats
- keep headlights on
- stay in the right lane, except when passing other vehicles
- don’t use your phone, as it is illegal
- give advantage to the car on the right at intersections with no traffic lights or signs
- no right turning at red lights
Speed limit rules in Italy are also similar to the Slovenian speed limits. Follow the general speed limits unless there is a traffic sign with a different limit posted. For the best road trip experience keep in mind the general speed limits below:
|Road type||Speed limit||Exceptions|
|Motorway/Highway – toll road (autostrada)||130 km/h||110 km/h in bad weather|
|Expressway /dual carriageway(strada extraubana principale)||110 km/h||90 km/h in bad weather|
|open road outside built up area (strada extraurbana secondaria)||90 km/h||80 km/h in bad weather|
|Urban road /built up area(strada urbana)||50 km/h|
|Dirt / gravel road (strada bianca)||Whichever speed limit is posted|
During your road trip you will most likely find yourself in a city at some point. In the cities you might come across a ZTL zone – zona traffico limitato, or a limited traffic zone. Only vehicles with special permits can enter these streets, so don’t drive there, unless you wish to get a fine.
The Alcohol limit in Italy is 0.05 % - about a glass of wine.
Parking in urban areas in Italy can be stressful. If you wish to visit an Italian city, we recommend you park on the edge of town, if you can walk to the center. Most of the parking spaces will be marked, and there are a few different colors with different meanings:
- Parking, marked in white - free parking, however, do read the surrounding signs carefully. It might be free parking, but only for a limited time, etc.
- Parking, marked in blue – paid parking, mostly via nearby parking machine. Don’t forget to display your ticket on the dashboard.
- Parking, marked in yellow – disabled parking or loading zones.
Some additional parking tips:
- Don’t forget where you parked your car, as the urban areas may get confusing. Mark it on your phone or take a screenshot of your Google Maps when parked.
- If you see a passo carrabile sign, do not park there, as you will be towed away.
- Definitely don’t leave your valuables in the car and fold your wing-mirrors, especially when parallel parking.
Italy, a great country for your road trip adventure, is safe to drive, as long as you know the traffic rules. Some other helpful tips and what to expect are:
- Tailgating is quite common
- If a car behind you is flashing its lights, it means that they want to overtake you
- If a car in the opposite lane (coming towards you) is flashing its lights, it most likely means that there is either police ahead or some kind of hazard on the road
- Hazard lights signal that the traffic is either standing still or has slowed down very quickly, especially on roads with higher speed limits
- Get comfortable with roundabouts, as they are common in Italy and in most of Europe
Some other useful information for your road trip to Italy:
- The Currency is Euro.
- Booking your stay: you can easily book your lodging on sites such as Booking.com, Plum Guide, Airbnb, Bookings For You and other sites and applications.
- Tipping is definitely not mandatory and not even expected. If you wish to express that you appreciated the service you can decide to tip.
In case you would need any additional information we will be more than glad to answer all your questions and prepare an individual offer if possible as well. You can always contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +386 1 320 82 30.