How to VISIT ITALY on a budget

Admit it!

You’ve always wanted to come visit Italy!

It is an expensive destination, but it’s never been easier to find cheap flights, accommodation, transportation, restaurants and general tips that can help you stay on a budget. Let’s take them one by one and see how could you reduce your costs and come experience the Italian dolce vita dream holiday!

Flights – this is my go to for holidays in general –  check out Facebook pages and websites that post about error fares and cheap deals. Secret Flying and Travel Pirates are two of them. Also set up Google alerts on Google Flights for your destination. Also try to either be as flexible as possible about the period or go off season. Unfortunately Italy is kind of always in season, but there are some periods that are cheaper – October/ November/ January/ February. Yes, these are the cold months but unless you go very up North, the weather is still pretty okay and you won’t freeze to death. And as a bonus you won’t have to share the view and the streets with many other tourists. Well.. at least not with as many as during summer.

Accommodation – I love traveling and sleeping. If I don’t get enough sleep, I cannot function, I am literally a zombie. This applies especially when I am on holiday. Far away are the days when I could party all night, get 2-3 hours of sleep and then go to classes or to the beach. So I NEED SLEEP! At the same time, we don’t always have the money to splurge on accommodation. What I usually do is check on Hostelworld.com for places that have double rooms, like we did for our trip to Marrakech. At the same time, I also check on Booking.com and Airbnb for rooms for under or around 50e/night for two people. If you have enough patience and you also do a bit of research about the city, you will find that some areas are cheaper than others. For example, I find that the Termini area is not only super well connected and already in the centre of Rome, walking distance from many hot touristic spots, but it’s also cheaper in terms of accommodation. It might not be the fanciest, but it’s nice and cheaper. I know everyone uses Booking and Airbnb and yes, often the prices are high, but if you do your research properly about the city and you have enough patience, you will find great deals. You can also use my codes for some credit for your next trip on Booking and on Airbnb. A good tip for finding cheap accommodation in Italy is to go outside the city centre. You won’t only get to spend less but you will also see some parts of the city and of the real Italian life that you don’t see in the touristic centre.

Transportation – trains are the fastest and usually the fastest choice when you are in Italy. However they are also the most expensive, although sometimes Italo, one of the two main train companies, has some very good offers lately. But as any other services, if you buy it in advance, it is cheaper. So check Trenitalia (the other train company) as well while you are at it. When my budget is very low though I go by bus or car sharing. Flixbus is a cheap bus company and you can find very cheap tickets. For example, I paid as little as 5 euros for a Bologna to Florence trip. Their routes connect all the main Italian cities and you can even choose to go abroad with it too. Blablacar is another cheap option. I love the concept of car sharing and every time we go somewhere we share our ride there. Depending on where you go the price for fuel and the highway toll is split between the passengers. For example, a trip from Rome to Florence is around 15 euros, while by train you’ll be lucky if you find it for around 30 euros. Bus and car rides take a bit longer, but you will save some money you can ‘invest’ in a good meal.

Restaurants – Get out of the city centre!!! I know having a pizza or pasta in front of the Colosseum or in Piazza del Duomo can be an amazing experience… except that it won’t be because the food will be quite bad. Those places are only for tourists and you will rarely see locals eating there. Also they’re usually SUPER EXPENSIVE and charge you a lot for everything. Go on the back streets, look for places where Italians are eating, get out of the city centre. The place might not be as fancy as pricier restaurants, but the food is equally amazing. If you look on TripAdvisor, don’t read the reviews of foreign tourists, instead look for the ones that need to be translated from Italian. Also try the local specialties even if sometimes they sound weird like trippa (cow stomach) or coda alla vaccinara (cow tail). Also, trust me, the carbonara you will have in Italy is SO DIFFERENT than what you can get back home so even the more traditional dishes are worth having. If you check my other blog posts, you will find recommendations for few of the bigger Italian cities. Some of the places are cheap and very good so check them out!

Extra Tips

  1. Come off-season. The North of Italy is quite cold during winters, but if you do come from September/October to March, except the winter holidays and the Carnival periods of course, the prices are much lower for basically everything.
  2. Book your train and bus tickets in advance. They’re cheaper and there are also 2 for 1 or discount offers.
  3. Visit less known, yet full of magic and tradition places. Bologna, Bari, Modena, Naples, Sardegna, Ravenna, Turin are all wonderful places, but tourists don’t ever think of visiting them. This makes them cheaper but also more authentic because life there hasn’t been “spoiled” by tourists in comparison with Rome, Florence or Milan.
  4. Don’t buy your water or food from small corner shops in the main touristic streets, walk a bit more, turn left or right and you will find a bigger and cheaper supermarket.
  5. Go to markets. They usually sell cooked food or sandwiches as well, cheap and delicious for your lunch! And you can buy some fruits for your snacks too.

 

What do you think makes it cheaper to visit Italy on a budget? Add your recommendations in a comment below!

 

Stay hydrated and don’t stop traveling!

Mysha

 

4 thoughts on “How to VISIT ITALY on a budget

  1. I just love Italy and Italians. They are such real people and they love life. And make and eat really yummy food. They don’t really care if their trains are on time, either. I used booking.com a lot (plus vrbo, flipkey, and homeaway are solid) to find apartments my family could stay in – so much better than a hotel. You’ve got space, kitchen, and if you are really lucky, 2 bathrooms! Those lesser-known cities are so much more authentic, I agree. Bologna is one of my favorites, plus it’s right in the center so it’s a quick trip to most other cities- Florence, Pisa, Venice. We take the trains everywhere, even though they aren’t incredibly reliable. Booking in advance sure helps, yes. Thanks for a great article!

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  2. I agree with all! We are a family with 2 younger children who love to travel…living in Italy and loving exploring it. Our new “thing” to save money on eating out for lunch is all 4 of us splitting an antipasto. We all have different eating habits and needs, but it serves us well…and usually when I ask, they’ll throw on some extra vegetables for me (vegetarian). We eat light, then grab a gelato or snack a bit later. I don’t like to spend a lot on accommodations since we mostly only sleep there and are on the go! I do like the accommodations to be clean and safe. Lesser visited cities are the best. Our recent trip to Lazio, we waited in zero lines, and the weather was amazing. Hilltop towns kept us in the breeze, and exploring underground helped keep us cool. 🙂

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