Skip to Content

Visiting Italy on a budget: 50+ Important Tips And Tricks

From the Colosseum in Rome, through the charming channels of Venice, to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy has some of the most iconic places for travelers to visit. However, most people believe that exploring Italy is expensive. But, the truth is that Italy offers a plethora of inexpensive cultural activities, beautiful nature, and superb public transport. The tips mentioned in this article will show you that visiting Italy on a budget isn’t impossible and that it’s actually much cheaper than what people generally think.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Finding Cheap Flights To Italy

visiting Italy on a budget

  • Embrace Flexibility: Your best bet for a bargain? Flexibility! If you can juggle dates, you might snag a deal. Who knows, flying on a Tuesday might just be cheaper than a Saturday!
  • Off-Peak Travel: Italy in August? That’s like asking for a gelato to melt instantly! Try shoulder seasons (April-May, September-October). Fewer crowds, better deals, and still fabulous weather.
  • Set Alerts: Let technology do the stalking! Set up price alerts on these platforms. When prices drop, you’ll know faster than you can say “Pasta e Fagioli!”
  • Local Airlines: Don’t just stick to the big names. Explore regional carriers – they might just have deals hidden up their Italian sleeves. Another thing you can do is check out Qatar Airways’s Oh-la-la deals for the cheapest flights to Italy.
  • Avoid Direct Flights: Direct flights are convenient but can be pricier. Embrace a layover – it’s an excuse to stretch your legs and maybe explore another city!
  • Pack Light: Luggage fees can be sneaky. Travel light to avoid them. Besides, you’ll need space for all the Italian fashion you’ll want to bring back!

Italy’s Hidden Runways: Overview of Secondary Airports

Ryanair in italy

Another great way to visit Italy on a budget is to start by landing in one of Italy’s secondary airports. If you’re flying from another continent, this might be costly but if your flight is not direct and you’re transiting through another European city, you can get a good deal if you add an extra stop and land on one of Italy’s secondary airports:

Bergamo Orio al Serio (Milan-Bergamo): Not Milan, but close enough! This airport is a haven for budget airlines and a gateway to Milan’s fashion streets. Plus, you get a bonus trip to the charming city of Bergamo.

Pisa International Airport: More than just a Leaning Tower! Landing here often means cheaper flights, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the Tuscan gems of Florence and the Cinque Terre.

Treviso Airport (Venice-Treviso): Venice’s lesser-known cousin. Fly here, enjoy lower prices, and take a scenic bus ride to Venice. You might even find time to explore Treviso’s medieval streets.

Ciampino Airport (Rome-Ciampino): Skip the hustle of Rome’s main airport. Ciampino offers a cozier alternative, with easy connections to the heart of Rome. Perfect for starting your Roman holiday.

Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport: A foodie’s paradise! Land here and you’re just a hop away from Bologna’s culinary wonders. It’s also a convenient spot for exploring Northern Italy.

Naples International Airport: Want to explore Southern Italy? Naples airport is your gateway to the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and, of course, authentic Neapolitan pizza.

Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport: A hidden gem by the sea. Perfect for those looking to explore the Italian Riviera and the picturesque villages of Portofino and Cinque Terre.

Brindisi Airport (Salento Airport): Dive into the charm of Italy’s heel. Less crowded, with access to Puglia’s stunning beaches and unique trulli houses.

Trapani-Birgi Airport (Sicily): A gateway to Sicily’s less-touristed spots. Ideal for those who wish to explore the island’s authentic side, from Marsala wines to ancient Greek ruins.

Alghero-Fertilia Airport (Sardinia): Sardinia without the sticker shock. This airport is a great starting point to discover the island’s beaches and its unique blend of Italian and Catalan cultures.

Consider Visiting During Shoulder Season

Montepulciano 3 days in italy

Shoulder season is that sweet spot between peak (expensive, crowded) and off-peak (less predictable weather) seasons. Think April-May and September-October. Instead consider between October and June, or even in the winter. Here are some of the main benefits of visiting Italy during the shoulder seasons.

Fewer Crowds: Imagine taking a leisurely stroll through Rome or Venice without playing human bumper cars. Shoulder season means fewer tourists and more breathing room.

Better Prices: Accommodations and flights often drop their prices during these months. It’s like a sale on Italy – and who doesn’t love a good sale?

Pleasant Weather: Not too hot, not too cold. It’s just right for exploring ancient ruins or leisurely sipping espresso at a streetside café.

Seasonal Delights: Shoulder season brings unique regional festivals and fresh seasonal produce. Think truffles in autumn and artichokes in spring – delizioso!

Great for Photography: The softer light is perfect for capturing Italy’s beauty without harsh summer sunlight. Your Instagram will thank you.

Outdoor Adventures: Whether it’s hiking in the Dolomites or walking through Tuscany’s vineyards, the temperate weather is perfect for outdoor activities.

Cultural Events: From wine harvests to historical reenactments, shoulder season is rich with cultural events that you might miss in the peak months.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like this guide to visiting Thailand on a budget.

Transportation In Italy On A Budget

Italian trains

Italy has a decent bus network across the country and inside most big cities. Additionally, if you’re staying in a city for a short period of time, consider hopping on one of Big Bus’s tours that cover the main attractions in the city and make the most of your short stay.

Italy also has a superb train network. You can cover the main locations with the Trenitalia express train passing through Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples. I know that you might be used to purchasing your tickets through intermediaries that offer a better price most of the time, but that’s not the case with the Italian Railways. You’ll get the cheapest tickets by purchasing them directly from the Italian Railways. And if you book in advance, the fare will be even cheaper. For more tips about train travel in Europe, check out our detailed train travel guide.

Enjoying this article? Then, check out this list of the best places to visit in Puglia and our list of hidden gems in Florence.

Riding the Rails in Italy on a Budget

italy train

Invest in a Pass: If you’re train-hopping, consider purchasing a rail pass. It’s the all-you-can-ride buffet of train travel.

Regional Trains Over High-Speed: High-speed trains are the Ferraris of the rail world, but regional trains are the trusty Fiats. They’ll get you there with fewer euros spent.

Youth and Senior Discounts: Whether you’re a sprightly youth or a wise senior, discounts await. It’s like the train version of a student discount or a senior’s brunch special.

Night Trains are Cheaper: Overnight rides can save you a penny, and you get a moving hotel experience. Just don’t snore too loud for your fellow budget adventurers.

Points Mean Prizes: Sign up for the train operator’s loyalty program. It’s like a frequent flyer program, but you’re less likely to get jet lag.

Tips For Using Public Transport In Italy

italy bus

Next in our guide to visiting Italy on a budget, let’s cover some basic tips about public transport in Italy that will help make your trip more affordable and easier.

Buses & Trams: Your Urban Chariots: Cities like Rome and Milan have extensive networks. It’s like a dance floor – lots of options and some occasional stepping on toes during rush hour. Buy tickets at tabaccherias (tobacco shops) or newsstands before boarding. It’s like getting the invite before the party – necessary.

Metro Systems: Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin have metros. They’re like underground race tracks – minus the speeding cars and with more pickpocket warnings. Typically, metro tickets won’t cost you more than a cup of espresso, and you can usually transfer between lines on the same ticket.

Ferries: Ferries connect the mainland to islands like Sicily and Sardinia. It’s like a mini-cruise, but with less fanfare and more seagulls. Public ferries also ply the Amalfi Coast. It’s the picturesque route – with views so good they belong on a postcard.

Bicycles & Scooters: Feel the Wind in Your Hair: Many cities have bike-sharing. It’s like having your own Vespa, but with more pedaling and less engine noise. And if you want the authentic experience, rent a scooter. Just remember, it’s not a Roman chariot race.

Accommodation Tips And Tricks


There are a lot of famous hotel chains in Italy that offer a lot of perks, but for an insane price. Luckily for backpackers, there are a lot of affordable pensions (family-run guesthouses) and affordable hotels (use my Booking discount code to save even more). In addition to this, here are a few more options for people looking to visit Italy on a budget.

Hostel Havens: Hostels in Italy are like pasta, they come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find some tailored just for adults seeking quiet comfort. And Who says hostels are just dorms? Many offer private rooms so you can snore in peace.

Agriturismo for the Soul: These are farm stays that offer a taste of rural life. Think of it as sleeping at a vineyard, minus the grapes in your bed. These options often include breakfast, and sometimes even dinner. It’s like having an Italian nonna on demand.

Monastery Stays: Divine Deals: Monastic lodgings are Italy’s best-kept secret. They offer spartan rooms at saintly prices and are perfect for those seeking a serene escape from the buzz of the city.

Budget Hotels: No-Frills Comfort: They might not have a spa, but they’re clean, comfortable, and kind to your wallet. Many are centrally located, which means more time sightseeing, less time commuting.

Camping: Campsites in Italy can be as beautiful as a Botticelli and many have facilities that could rival hotels, minus the solid walls

Free Walking Tours In Italy


Next on our guide to visiting Italy on a budget, we’ll briefly go through free walking tours. Most major tourist cities in Italy have at least a couple of free walking tours that you can join throughout most of the years. These tours are designed for solo travelers or small groups and most hostels offer these tours. The only thing you would have to pay would be a tip to the guide. Here are some of the most popular free walking tours in Italy.

  • Rome offers five distinct types of free tours, covering ancient Rome, the city center, the Vatican museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, the charming Trastevere neighborhood, and even food tours that give a taste of local cuisine. These tours are diverse, allowing you to pick a theme that resonates with your interests​​.
  • “Free tour di Roma Imperiale” is one of the most popular tours in the eternal city. This classic tour, unfortunately in Italian only, takes you through the ancient splendor of Rome over approximately 2 hours, including iconic stops like the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona​​.
  • The Free Walking Tour Assisi spans 3 hours, perfect for those who love photography and history. It weaves through the medieval history of St. Francis and Saint Clare, explores Roman temples, and reveals the city’s hidden alleys. It starts twice daily at Piazza Del Commune’s fountain of the three lions​​.
  • Dive into the cradle of the Renaissance with a free walking tour in Florence. Led by certified and expert Florentine guides, this tour reveals the city’s artistic heritage, the Medici family saga, and tantalizing tidbits about local food. Tours leave twice daily and give you a well-rounded introduction to this iconic city​​.
  • Free Walking Tours Venice are about 2 ½ hours long and promise to show you the lesser-known parts of the city, panoramic views, and local dining tips. Tours are available on Thursdays and Mondays, offering a delightful glimpse into the hidden corners of this labyrinthine city​​.

Other Budget-Friendly Activities

Italy on a budget

  • Rent a bicycle: this will cost you between 10 and 15 EUR per day, but it will allow you to see much more of the city and not to be dependent on the public transport.
  • Visit cathedrals and basilicas: most of those will be free of charge. Not only that, but these breathtaking buildings will give you a glimpse of the amazing architecture and history.
  • If you’re a museum fan: most of the museums in Italy have one day per week when they don’t charge an entrance fee. Make sure you find out which days those are for the museum you want to visit before you make your plans.
  • Head to the beach: Many of Italy’s beaches are free. Bring a towel, and the Mediterranean is your swimming pool. Prefer land to sea? The coastal paths offer breathtaking views and exhilarating walks.
  • Self-guided tours: Download a free walking tour app. It’s like having a guide in your pocket without the cost. Follow historical plaques and signs for an impromptu lesson on Italy’s past.

Dining In Italy On A Budget

visiting italy on a budget

The aperitivo hour is one of my favorite things about Italy! Most bars in Italy serve a light meal with the drink for around 10 EUR. The aperitivo hour usually happens in the evening when people are meeting friends after work. The aperitivo is a good dinner substitute and will keep you full. Plus it’s a much cheaper option than going for a full meal. If you don’t take part in aperitivo when visiting, you will be missing one of the quintessential cultural expressions of Italy as a country.

Another must tip is to have your coffee and morning pastry at the bar. Most Italian restaurants have an extra fee in a form of tax you have to pay if you sit down at a table. Since I mentioned coffee, one bonus tip is to avoid having a cappuccino after your lunch. Unless you want to get some funny looks. Italians consider this to be a morning-only drink. Italians are firmly convinced that drinking milk after a meal slows down the digestion.

Lunch Deals in Trattorias: Many trattorias offer a ‘menu del giorno’ – a set lunch menu with a primo (first course), secondo (main course), and sometimes even a dolce (dessert) at a fixed, wallet-friendly price. Look for places packed with locals; they know where to find the best deals.

Don’t be afraid of street food: From arancini in Sicily to pizza al taglio in Rome, street food is delicious and economical. It’s fast food without the drive-through. Portions can be generous. Consider sharing a meal or ask for mezzo porzione (half portion) if available.

Water wisdom: Ask for tap water where possible, and refill your bottle at public fountains. It’s safe to drink and free!

Dine away from the piazza: Restaurants on main squares charge for the view. Just a short walk away, prices often drop and the food stays divine.

Breakdown of Italy Travel Costs

pisa tower italy on a budget

Lastly, before we conclude this guide to Italy on a budget, let’s crunch the numbers and give you some rough estimates of just how much a trip to Italy will cost you on average.


  • Hostels offer a bed in a dorm room starting from €20-€35 per night.
  • Budget Hotels can range between €60-€100 per night.
  • Mid-range Hotels offer more comfort and location convenience for €100-€200.
  • Luxury Hotels and resorts start from €200 and can go up to €500+ for opulence.


  • Street Food and quick bites like paninis can cost around €5-€10.
  • Trattoria Meals or pizzerias offer heartier meals for €10-€20.
  • Mid-range Restaurant meals can set you back €20-€40 per person.
  • Fine Dining experiences start at €40 and can soar to €100+ for gourmet feasts.


  • Free Walking Tours are tip-based, with €5-€15 being a generous tip.
  • Paid Tours like museum entries and guided tours can range from €20-€50.
  • Day Tours outside the city or specialized experiences may cost €50-€150.
  • Private or Luxury Tours can easily cost €150+ for exclusive access or experiences.
Traveler TypeFood (Per Day)Accommodation (Per Night)Tours (Per Day)
Backpacker Budget€10 – €20€20 – €35 (Hostel)€0 – €15 (Free/Paid Tours)
Mid-Range Budget€20 – €40€60 – €100 (Budget Hotel)€20 – €50 (Paid Tours)
Luxury Budget€40 – €100+€200 – €500+ (Luxury Hotel)€50 – €150+ (Private/Luxury Tours)

What About The Beaches?

We’ve all seen the beautiful pictures of endless rows of beach chairs under umbrellas. But, if you want to rent one of those prices go up to 50 EUR per day in the high season. That’s why even Italians go to the rugged, off-the-map beaches. Italy has plenty of those, and chances are, you probably haven’t heard about most of them. Check out my article about hidden gems in Italy to discover some of them. However, if you want to visit some of these, the best option is to rent a car. Do that with this special offer and save up to 20%.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy soon, I hope these tips will be helpful! If you have some more budget tips for exploring Italy that I missed, share those with me in the comments section below Finally, for more information about traveling around Europe check my tips for traveling around Europe on a budget.

Helpful Resources For Visiting Italy On A Budget

Get the cheapest flights to Italy using this Qatar Airways special offer. Yes, this is an affiliate link, but the flights are so affordable, even I use it when booking my flights.

For the best travel insurance deals for your trip to Italy, I always choose and recommend SafetyWing.

If you want to rent a car in Italy, this AutoEurope coupon gets you 15% off on all car rentals in Italy.

For transportation bookings, use Busbud to save up to 10% on all bus rides in Italy.

And last but not least, if you want to save on all rentals in Italy, use my discount code. Alternatively, if you want to stay in some of the nicest hotels in Italy, use this special offer to get you great discounts on all Radisson hotels in Italy.

visit italy on a budget
visit italy on a budget
Visit Italy on a budget

Pia Gayle

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

Grazie I enjoyed your article on traveling in Sicily.🇺🇸🇮🇹

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

thank you for your comment, Pia, I'm glad you liked my post :)

Aly Chiman

Thursday 14th of March 2019

Hello there,

My name is Aly and I would like to know if you would have any interest to have your website here at promoted as a resource on our blog ?

We are in the midst of updating our broken link resources to include current and up to date resources for our readers. Our resource links are manually approved allowing us to mark a link as a do-follow link as well . If you may be interested please in being included as a resource on our blog, please let me know.

Thanks, Aly

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 20th of March 2019

Thank you, Aly- I really appreciate it. I just sent you an email.

Bhushavali N

Tuesday 18th of December 2018

Wow! This bring back memories. I did a Italy trip with a shoe-string budget! It was incredible! I stayed in hostels and it was my first time. I loved it! And they were pretty close to the attractions as well. I have to visit Italy again to those cities which I didn't go last time!!!! Your post is my reminder to book tickets!

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 19th of December 2018

You should definitely visit again, Bhushavali :)


Monday 17th of December 2018

Italy is one of my favorite destinations. Aside from good food, the sites and spots are really beautiful. I would have to agree that I also thought a trip to Italy is expensive but I was surprised that it was not exactly what I expected.

Thank you so much for your tips. They are very helpful.

Passport Symphony

Monday 17th of December 2018

Thank you, Clarice- I really appreciate it.

Blair villanueva

Monday 17th of December 2018

I am planning to visit Italy next year with my boyfriend, and your post is very helpful. I will add your recommended places to visit in my list. Which of them are your top favorite?

Passport Symphony

Monday 17th of December 2018

Thank you, Blair and I hope you have a great time. It's really hard to choose a few but do take a look at my post about hidden gems in Italy - you'll get a lot more suggestions there :)