Feature photo by kevinandersson Photo by pizzodisevo

Cheap travel in Italy is still possible – you just need a little luck and an adventurous spirit.

In this guide you’ll find advice for both a bare-bones budget trip of 30 euros per day and a more comfortable but still frugal budget of 100 euros per day.

Shelter

Lodging is where you’re going to spend the most money in Italy.

30E / day

If you’re an adventurer, Couchsurf. Besides bringing the cost of your stay down to $0, you will meet people who will undoubtedly be willing to host you next time you find yourself in Italy.

Couchsurfing is more popular and mainstream than you think. Rome alone has over 1,400 registered Couch Surf members.

100E/day

If you’re not so trusting or have a family, HI Youth Hostels are ample in Italy and are some of the most clean and beautiful hostels in the world.

For 10-20E / person / night you can stay in a renovated church, villa or a converted castle. Most offer family rooms for a higher fee.

Photo by travellingtamas

Food

Food is the heart of Italian life. Even in my poorest backpacking days, I existed on good bread topped with tomatoes, garlic and whatever cheese I could find for 2E per meal.

It is not customary to tip in Italy, so don’t feel bad and waste your money- the service charge has already been added to the bill.

30E / day

If you’re willing to buy and cook your own food, you should be looking at 10E or less per day for food.

Some saving tips:

Eat at the bar, don’t sit down. You could get charged as much as 5x the amount for an espresso if you sit down.

Shop the markets and don’t look down your nose at supermarket boxed wines; I’ve had good table wine for as little as .65E in Italy!

100E / day

If you spend a little more on food, you won’t be disappointed.

More saving tips:

Beware of tourist trap restaurants near major monuments.

Look for trattorias, which are cheaper than ristorante, and order only primi (first courses). This is usually a pasta dish and will fill you up.

Soda is expensive in Italy – order the house table wine instead. Wine is often even cheaper than water!

Photo by wtlphotos

Getting Around

There is an array of bus and train options to take you around Italy.

Once in town, you can walk anywhere that you need to go. There is absolutely no reason to take a cab anywhere unless you are in an extreme hurry.

30E / day

Get ready for this, don’t buy a ticket. That’s right- get on the train/bus and hope for the best.

Italy’s train and bus personnel only conduct random checks for tickets and because schedules are often crazy, you are allowed to purchase when you get on. If the conductor doesn’t come by, you’re in the clear.

Worst case scenario, you have to buy a ticket when the conductor comes by – so have money ready and pretend that you didn’t know any better.

100E / day

Metros, trains and buses are all relatively inexpensive. If there is more than 1 person in your group, you can save by purchasing a Saver Rail Pass at Tenitalia.

The Pass is for 2-5 people traveling together, and costs significantly less than purchasing individual tickets for each leg of the trip.

Sights

Why else would you come to Italy? The sheer volume of architecture and artwork is enough to keep you busy for months.

The sheer volume of architecture and artwork is enough to keep you busy for months.

The things to beware of are extras tacked on expenses – 2E to see this part of the monument, 5E to climb it, etc.

30E / day

Thankfully, most sites are free if you don’t enter. The leaning tower of Pisa, the Roman forum, the outside of the Coloseum, Florence’s Grand piazza, the Trevi Fountain and the beautiful countryside all are sights you can visit without paying a cent.

100E / day

You can choose to visit a few major monuments for under 20E per day. Most cities offer a discounted multi-pass, granting you entrance to all listed sites for one price.

Inquire for these at the tourist information centers, generally located in the train station in the center of town.

Happy Travels!

Community Connection!

For more insider tips on travel in Italy, get in touch with travelers from the Matador community.

RollingStone is an expert on Rome. VitaSogno knows the locals in Assisi. Ghino studied and worked in Italy for two years.

Suz (or diastro americano, as her Italian cousins call her), speaks fluent Italian and has lived in Florence and Rome.

The Matador travel community is blossoming. Join us today.

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