How To See A Doctor In Italy As A Tourist

A guide for how to see a doctor in Italy, what costs to expect, and how to fill a prescription.

How To See A Doctor In Italy As A Tourist
A side street in Venice, Italy.

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Thanks to Italy's public healthcare system, tourists and non-residents, including Americans, can receive urgent care, prescriptions, and continuous medical care in Italy for a very low fee—or even for free, depending on the case.

Don't worry about travel insurance, deductibles, or debt when visiting a doctor or emergency room in Italy. Unlike in some countries, the cost of receiving urgent care or being hospitalized in Italy without insurance will never lead to bankruptcy. A "high" hospital bill in Italy would be around €1,000—and I've never heard of anyone paying this much.

How to Find a Doctor in Italy

Finding a doctor in Italy is straightforward, even for tourists. However, you should first assess the situation and determine what level of care you need.

If you require immediate medical attention...

  • You can dial 112 to request an ambulance. Emergency medical services and ambulances are free of charge in Italy.
  • Alternatively, you can visit your nearest emergency room, called pronto soccorso in Italian. You can find nearby emergency rooms here.
  • Bring your passport or ID card for faster processing.

If you're ill and need a doctor or a prescription...

  • To see a doctor in person, contact the nearest Guardia Medica (or Continuità Assistenziale). These doctors are available 24/7 for non-emergency services and can prescribe medications as well as follow-up care. Find your nearest Guardia Medica here.
    They will likely speak English, but I recommend downloading Google Translate just in case.
    Price: Free for EU residents. Non-residents might pay a small fee.
  • For an online consultation with an English-speaking doctor, I recommend Doctors in Italy. They can prescribe antibiotics and prescriptions as needed, and you can follow up with them after the appointment to ask questions or discuss new symptoms. I've used them twice to get antibiotics for an eye infection, and I was able to book a same-day appointment both times.
    Price: €15-50 per consultation, depending on which doctor you choose.
  • If you're in a major tourist hub, you might find a clinic that caters specifically to tourists, called a Guardia Medica Turistica. Check here to see if there's a tourist clinic near you.

Average Costs When Seeing a Doctor in Italy

If you're a tourist from outside of the EU/EEA, rest assured that Italy's public healthcare system keeps costs very low, even for tourists and non-residents. The cost for visiting a doctor will vary, but it's usually between €0-100, depending on your location, symptoms, and whether you go public or private.

In my experience, I've never had to pay more than €20 for a private consultation.

If you're a resident of an EU/EEA country, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive healthcare in Italy as if you were a local. This card is usually the same one you use in your home country.

Note: Ambulances and other emergency services in Italy are free of charge.

Getting Antibiotics or Prescriptions in Italy

When a doctor in Italy gives you a prescription, you can fill that prescription at any pharmacy in Italy or the greater European Union. European Union countries, as well as Norway and Iceland, must recognize cross-border prescriptions and are required by law to fill them.

Note: Switzerland is not part of the agreement on the recognition of cross-border prescriptions, so it is not obliged to accept prescriptions from Italy.

If the first pharmacy you visit in Italy doesn't have your prescribed product in stock, just try another one. All pharmacies carry similar products, but sometimes the smaller ones sell out quickly.

To pick up your prescription, bring your passport and the digital or physical copy of the prescription to a pharmacy of your choice.

You can use Google Translate or ChatGPT to translate the instructions of your prescription into English.

As an American, I'm a huge fan of the Italian healthcare system. Whether you're a tourist or a resident, you'll receive excellent and affordable care in this country.

Since moving to Europe in 2019, I've taught myself how to ski downhill, ski cross-country, pole dance, and paddle board, all thanks to knowing that if I injure myself, I'll receive free medical care and paid time off from work. Life is much more enjoyable without the looming threat of medical debt or a failed GoFundMe!