Bus Travel in Italy

by Jessica on October 6, 2007

by | October 6th, 2007  

bus1Italy’s vast and growing network of train tracks and the generally low price for train travel means that getting around Italy by train is almost always going to be your best bet. It’s fast and efficient – barring Italy’s sporadic but all-too-regular train strikes – and even most smallish towns seem to have a train station.

There are, however, times when getting around Italy by bus is the better (or only) alternative, even if you’re not straying too far from the beaten path. One of the places where it’s easier and faster to use the bus is Siena – especially if you’re going from Florence to Siena, but almost no matter where you’re traveling from. There are other places in Italy, too, that either don’t have a train station or where bus connections are more plentiful, so planning on a few bus trips isn’t a bad idea when you’re in Italy.

Unfortunately, there’s no national bus network in Italy the way there’s a national train network – so figuring out bus travel in Italy isn’t always terribly straightforward.

Getting to/from Italy by Bus – From Another Country

Because the European backpacker circuit has long included Italy, there are still cheap ways to get from country to country in Europe – and the train is only one of them. In Italy, trains remain inexpensive enough for most backpackers, but in other countries the price of a train ticket means that the most serious budget travelers choose the bus instead. And for getting between countries, it can be a really economical option.

A couple of routes which may be of interest to you are getting from Paris to Rome and getting from Lyon to Milan.

There are a few companies which run multi-country bus routes, including Eurolines and Busabout. The former offers point-to-point travel between countries, the latter offers organized bus tours of various destinations. Eurolines will get you from one country to another, but although there may be multiple stops in one country it’s not designed for getting you from one region of a country to another. Busabout, while designed as package tours, does call itself a hop on/hop off tour.

For more information about these companies, see the Eurolines website and the Busabout website.

Getting Around Italy by Bus – From One Region to Another

Bus travel, like most government functions in Italy, is more regional than national. If you’re traveling between two cities in one region – like two cities in Tuscany, or Lombardy, or Puglia – you’ll be able to find one company (sometimes more) that serves the routes you’re looking for (traveling within one region is discussed in greater detail below). But try to start in one region and travel by bus to another region and things get complicated.

Update: May 2010
When I originally researched and wrote this article, I had had little to no success finding information about bus lines that crossed regional borders in Italy. I thought I was missing something obvious, so I questioned several friends in different parts of Italy and they all said the same thing – basically, you can’t get there from here, at least not by bus. I’ve since recommended taking the train when traveling between regions, and forgetting about the bus.

Then I got a note from a blogging friend, Robbin of Vineyard Adventures, that she had taken a bus – successfully! – from one region to another on a previous visit to Italy. She dug up the website for me, and that website combined with some more digging on my part has resulted in an update to this section.

I still think it’s generally most straightforward and least complex to take a train between regions in Italy, but there are a few bus companies that do cross regional borders, so if you’re traveling in one of these areas and are looking to save money the bus can be a good option. If you know of an inter-regional bus in Italy that I don’t have listed here, please let me know so I can add it to the list.

  • SAIS Autolinee – The SAIS company operates urban routes in one Sicily, but they also have some national lines. The schedules are a bit sparse in some places, but there are SAIS buses that will connect Milan, Bologna, Pisa, Florence, Siena, Perugia, and Pescara (among other cities). Note: This site appears to be entirely in Italian.
  • SENA Autolinee – The SENA bus company operates several different routes from major Italian cities to other cities all over Italy, and this site has an English version. There are super-budget SENA buses that depart from Milan, Rome, Florence, Siena, Bologna, Grosseto, and Perugia – the destinations served depend on which city you’re leaving from, but they’re all laid out nicely on the front page of the site. For the more complete information on SENA routes throughout all of Italy, see the “Recerca Orari” page.
  • SITA Autobus – The SITA company operates regional buses in several Italian regions, so as a result they connect the dots between a few regions as well. Their long-distance buses are listed on this page, and they’re limited – but if you’re trying to get from Lecce to Padova, or Naples to Bari, or Salerno to Pisa (among other select routes) it can be very handy. Note: This site appears to be entirely in Italian.
  • Tra-In – I love that this bus company’s name spells out “train” in English. Aside from that, I love that their route maps are so great on their website. These buses serve Tuscany, so if you’re hoping to explore more of the countryside without a rental car and want to visit towns that don’t have train stations, the Tra-In buses may be a good bet. Not all of the site is in English, but much of it is – and the maps are PDFs.
  • SAIS Trasporti – This appears to be a different company from the SAIS Autolinee link listed above, and this one has quite an extensive selection of long-haul bus routes around Italy. Upon closer inspection, however, some of the routes are partly on trains and then connecting to SAIS Trasporti buses. Still, for some routes they’re entirely on buses, and quite inexpensive. Note: This site appears to be entirely in Italian.

Again, taking the train may still be your best bet for most journeys (or, if you’re in a group and can split the cost, perhaps even renting a car and driving isn’t a bad idea) – but even if you don’t see the ideal bus route for your trip listed above, it doesn’t hurt to ask at the local tourism office to see if there is perhaps a bus that goes exactly where you want to go.

>> The Orari Autobus website has listings for many bus companies in Italy, including their routes and links, although most of them are regional and not inter-regional.

Getting Around Italy by Bus – Within One Region

bus2As I said, if you’re staying within the boundaries of one region in Italy, you’ll be able to find options for bus travel from place to place. There are a few websites which have links to most of Italy’s regional bus companies listed on them, although keep in mind that not all Italian companies update their websites terribly often – so while some of them will give you a good idea of prices and schedules, some of them may be out of date. Even if you find what you think is current information, it’s a very good idea to check with the station when you get to town – and more than five minutes before you need to take the bus!

To find the bus station in a given city, first check around the train station (assuming there is one). Most cities have their biggest bus station near the main train station for easy transfers. You can also check the main piazza in town, as most cities will have a bus stop in or near it. But if you’re having trouble locating the main bus station, the question you want to ask is, “Where’s the bus stop?” You can say that two ways – either “Dov’è l’autostazione?” (doh|VEH LAO|toh|stah|tzee|oh|neh) or “Dov’è la stazione degli autobus?” (doh|VEH la stah|tzee|OH|neh dehl|yee OW|toh|boos). If all that seems like too much, a lost look and the words “stazione autobus” (stah|tzee|OH|neh OW|toh|boos) with an implied question mark at the end should probably do the trick.

The Bus Station website is my favorite for all the links to Italian bus companies. The list is color-coded so you know which ones are official sites, which have route information, and which ones are set up by “enthusiasts.” (Italian bus enthusiasts? Do they really exist?) There are also notes after each listing to tell you where the bus company is based, to give you an idea of what part of Italy it covers. Note that many of these sites are in Italian only, so recruit an Italian-speaking friend to help you figure them out.

Getting Around Italy by Bus – Within a City

bus3Many cities in Italy have city-wide bus networks, so even if you’re taking the train from city to city you may find that the best public transportation option in each of your destinations is the bus. Some of the city bus websites are listed on that Bus Station site I linked to above (especially the bigger and more touristy places), so be sure to check there.

I’ve also written about public transportation in a couple places where it’s a very good idea to master your options. To learn more, you can read about how to get around Rome, how to get around Venice, and how to use the Metro in Milan.

>> You can read more information about your other options for transportation in Italy, too.

photos, top to bottom, by: Pete Reed, khairul22, xueexueg

{ 21 comments }

Laurie Salyer April 2, 2008 at 12:50 pm
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I need to find out if there is a bus from Baveno to Stresa Italy that will get us there at 5:00 am. The hotel plans to charge us 50,00 euro to go 3 kilometers. I need help. Thank you.

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sanjay March 6, 2012 at 3:12 am
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In the first week of April, where can I get a bus from Sorrento to Naples Airport and the price. Any detailed suggestions. Thanks

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Jessica March 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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There’s information in this post about taking the bus from Sorrento to Naples Airport (or vice versa):
http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/how-to-get-from-naples-to-sorrento.html

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morteza March 7, 2012 at 9:57 pm
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Dear Sir/Madam ,
we are a group of 22 people .we are in Italy for visiting Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre in Rho on March 28th till 30th.
So we need a bus/minibus for a one way tranfser from our hotel in Como near the lake to Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre in Rho for three days from 28th March at 8:00 a.m to March 30st.
could you please give me your best rate for it ?
our pick up address is :
- Hotel Barchetta Excelsior ( Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 1 – 22100 Como , Italy )
I’m waiting for your kind reply.
Thanks,
Morteza

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Jessica March 13, 2012 at 9:18 am
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This is a travel guide for Italy, not a bus/coach company, sorry.

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Bickner May 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm
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We are traveling to San Candido from Trento June 25, 2012 and return to Verona on June 30. Do busses or trains run on weekend from San Candido to Trento and south?

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Jessica May 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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Since you’re dealing with two different regions, bus transportation is more complicated – and, unfortunately, bus schedules are not always online. Your best bet is to arrive at the bus station in San Candido with enough time to figure out your travels with someone at the ticket window – and to be prepared with a backup plan (train? car rental?) if you find that there’s either no bus service when you want to go or it’s too cumbersome to deal with.

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Pri May 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm
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First of all, I want to thank you for the amazing work you do. This blog has been extremely informative. I can’t wait for our Italy trip to begin this Summer!
We are following your one week itinerary for our Italy vacation and need to book our bus rides from Florence to Siena and Siena to Rome. Can I book these online? Or do I have to get them once we reach Florence?

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Jessica May 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm
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It looks like the Siena-Roma trip can be booked online (use the SENA link on this page http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/how-to-get-from-rome-to-siena.html) but there’s a new site for the Florence-Siena bus service (http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/getting-from-florence-to-siena.html) that doesn’t look like it has online ticket sales. You can do it easily when you get there, though.

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Christian Thomas June 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm
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Hi — great info on your site. I’m in an out of the way place, and am going to try to pick up a bus on a road (not close to any station). Can you buy a ticket on the bus? And, it looks like from the Italian bus website that you have to pay 7 Euros each time you transfer…in your experience, is that correct?

Thanks very much!

Christian

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Tony Rodia June 14, 2012 at 3:33 am
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I am looking to spend a week in Italy 23july to 30th July travelling by bus or train visiting cities including starting in Naples visiting Rome, siena, Pisa,Florence,Milan and bologna. My question is there a possibility to by a roaming bus or train ticket allowing me to freely get on and off and determined by overnight stays etc. we would expect to return to ,Naples July 27th to finish our trip there.
Thank you
Tony

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Veronica July 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm
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Hello, I am going to visit family in provincia di Chieti (San Salvo) in Abbruzzo and then want to get a bus or train to the Amalfi Coast – Positano, is this possible? Thank you for all the information!

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Sina Shapin July 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm
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May I simply point out what a relief it truly is to find an individual which truly realizes just what they are going over on the internet. You certainly recognize how to put across a matter. Cheers!

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floranne July 23, 2012 at 6:55 am
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is it possible to get from sienna to luca by bus ?

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floranne August 13, 2012 at 1:17 am
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what is the best way to get from siena to lucca

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Mary Lou Cary August 22, 2012 at 5:53 am
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Is there bus service from Cepagatti to Pescara?

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Prash August 23, 2012 at 2:07 am
Patricia August 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm
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Do you know if there are luggage “restrictions” when traveling by train or bus (Florence to Siena).

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Gerdur Ingimarsdottir September 8, 2012 at 6:44 am
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I want to take bus from Milano to Venezia, can you tell me about thename of the station in Milano

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cheap train fares October 26, 2012 at 12:18 am
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Can someone tell me how to discover more details about how to purchase train deals on the internet ?

my grammy want to take a journey in this fast train, she is old
i complete want to take her to this track journey,
i don’t know how much she have to live , and i want to treasure a miracle time with her and see her satisfied.

i find this site,will it give me a value information ,but it did not focus on deals on the internet

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ALI MUHAMMAD SHAH February 9, 2013 at 2:23 am
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dear Is there any bus service from Venice to Ancona.

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