Italy On a Shoestring: The Top Tips for Traveling to Italy On a Budget

Italy is a great place to visit, but if you’re not careful, you can end up spending a lot since costs are 4% higher in hotels, bars, and restaurants than the average in the European Union (EU).

The good news is, you can still travel on a budget. Here are some tips to help you find good deals when traveling to Italy.

Travel Off-Season

One of the first things to know when traveling to Italy is the best time to visit.

Summer is the first choice for many people, but the demand drives up the price of airfare and accommodations. This makes it less ideal from a budget perspective. Plus, cities are likely to be very crowded.

A better option is to go in the off-season. Spring and fall are good choices, but don’t rule out winter. This can be a great time to visit museums, and even when you’re outdoors, you simply need to wear another layer.

One thing to keep in mind for the off-season is that you may want to avoid traveling on holidays. If you visit over Christmas or New Year’s, or around Easter, you could still run into higher prices and more crowds. Check for Italian-specific holidays as well so you can plan around them.

Be Flexible with Air Travel

Planning your vacation for an off-season will automatically reduce the airfare for your travel to Italy. But you can do even better if you’re a bit flexible on your dates and flight plan.

Explore options for traveling mid-week, or staying over a weekend or two. You can sometimes get better rates that way, especially if you book in advance.

Another option is to fly into a different city and travel into your Italian destination. Europe has several discount airlines that offer considerable savings once you’re within the EU. If you don’t mind taking a little longer to arrive, this is a great budget choice.

Find Alternate Accommodations

The next step when you’re planning a trip to Italy is to find the best accommodations.

First, determine your priorities. What kind of amenities are essential for you in order to have an enjoyable trip? And how far are you willing to travel to your destinations?

Knowing the answers will help you decide where to stay.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the countryside, consider an agriturismo. This is a farm set up to receive guests, either for a single meal or a longer stay.

For larger cities, look for places outside the city and plan to travel in. With this option, explore the local train schedule ahead of time to confirm that it will meet your needs.

You can also find inexpensive lodging in a hostel, or family-run guesthouses called pensions. Even some religious places, like convents, offer accommodations.

Don’t forget to look at Airbnb. This can be a great choice, since these rentals are often cheaper than hotels, and you have more flexibility in deciding what kind of place you want to stay in.

Getting Around

Once you’re in Italy, you have some options in terms of getting around.

The train system can work very well depending on where you’re trying to go. High-speed trains cost more, but they’ll get around the country quickly.

You can also take local, regional trains. If you’re okay going at a slower pace, these will save you money. Be aware, though, that the local trains don’t have air conditioning, which is another reason to consider visiting in the off-season when it’s not as hot.

Within cities, walking is the best way to explore. You can travel at your own pace and check out any interesting streets and shops you find.

If you want to go a little faster, consider renting a bike. This costs more than walking, but it will also let you see more in a shorter time.

Things to Do in Italy

Finding the best places to visit in Italy is high on the list for anyone going on a vacation. To do it on a budget, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.


You might feel like a tour is a waste of money, but it doesn’t have to be.

Walking tours are a wonderful way to get a feel of the city when you arrive. If you’re a foodie, you could even do a food walking tour.

In fact, you can find a tour to suit almost any personality and style. The larger cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice especially have many options. For example, you can learn more about a tour of the Vatican.


Italy has so many museums, it can be tempting to try to fit them all in. That’s not usually advisable, since you’ll go too quickly to enjoy everything.

Instead, decide on your top choices, and then find out if they have any free days. Visiting then will save a lot. You can also look for discount passes that will get into multiple museums for a lower total price.

Free Activities

One of the best things about Italy is that many of the options are always free. Many churches and basilicas have free admission and are beautiful to visit.

You can also walk along rivers, visit parks, check out street markets, and simply enjoy the architecture of the places you’re visiting.

Food and Drink

Finally, no trip to Italy is complete without sampling the food! If you go out for dinner, though, you could suffer sticker shock.

You’re much better off having a larger meal at lunch. Many restaurants offer set menus for lunch that are big enough to carry you through most of the day. Then you can have a lighter meal in the evening.

If you’re staying somewhere with self-catering, you can do some of your own food preparation. You can also buy simple picnic items, or grab some pizza or a panini or other quick meals for dinner at a lower price than a restaurant.

When you do visit a restaurant, ask for tap water so you’re not charged for bottled water. Some places also charge for bread, or even for a place to sit if you’re just getting coffee. Make sure you know the rules before trying out a new place.

Another good idea is to bring your own water bottle. You’ll find some of the best water in Italy and to enjoy it, you can refill your bottle at free public fountains that range from the funny to the beautiful.

Traveling to Italy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Italy is a beautiful country to visit, and even though some aspects of it are more expensive than other places, traveling to Italy can still be done on a budget. From transportation to accommodations to meals, you have many ways of making your trip both affordable and enjoyable.

Looking for more travel information? Check out our Travel section or more budget and destination tips.

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