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Experience Italy on a Budget: Top Money-Saving Tips for When Luxury Travel is Simply Too Much.

Are you dreaming of exploring the enchanting streets of Rome, savoring authentic pasta in Florence, or basking in the sun on the Amalfi Coast? Italy is a destination that captures the hearts of many, but it's no secret that travel costs are spiraling out of control.

I am here to share some invaluable tips on how to make the most of your Italian adventure without breaking the bank. My hope is these money-saving strategies will help you have an unforgettable experience in Italy while keeping your finances in check.

Travel Off-Season

One of the most effective ways to save money while traveling in Italy is to visit during the off-peak season. Prices for accommodation, attractions, and even flights are significantly lower compared to peak tourist months, allowing you to stretch your budget further.

A panoramic view of Orvieto on the hill in the horizon with golden fall grape vines in the forground
Orvieto in the Fall

Opt for Affordable Accommodation

Splurge on one extra-wonderful hotel and scrimp on the others

This advice only works if you plan to visit more than one destination inside Italy. If my clients are up for this strategy, I always recommend the last destination should be the nicest hotel you can afford. This way you end your travels with a positive experience.

View of St Peter's Basilica from a hotel rooftop terrace with couches surrounded by flowers in the foreground
Spending a few extra dollars on a room with a view for your last night in Rome is worth it!

Use Your Loyalty Programs and Discounts

If you frequently travel or plan to visit Italy multiple times, consider signing up for hotel loyalty programs or booking platforms that offer rewards or discounts for repeat bookings. By accumulating points or taking advantage of member-exclusive deals, you can save money on future stays, access special perks, and potentially upgrade your accommodation without breaking the bank.

While Marriott and Hilton branded hotel in Italy are not my first choice, I have had several clients use thier loyalty points to book hotels here in Europe.

Eat Like a Local

Eat Your Biggest Meal at Lunch

Dining out in Italy can be a delightful experience, but it can also be costly if you don't make a plan. To save money on food, opt for local trattorias and pizzerias frequented by locals rather than touristy restaurants. You will have to walk a few streets from the tourist area, but it will be worth it. Dinner restaurants that are local favorites generally provide the same menu for lunch but without all the frills - so it will be less expensive.

TRAVEL TIP: Ask your travel advisor for a list of local restaurants open for lunch.

Visit Local Markets and Grocery Stores

One of the best ways to experience Italian food culture on a budget is to shop at local markets and grocery stores. Pick up fresh produce, bread, cheese, and other ingredients to create a picnic or simple meal. Enjoying a homemade sandwich or salad in a picturesque park can be both budget-friendly and a delightful culinary experience.

My mother and I have a food tradition when traveling together. We find a local corner grocery store or go to a few food-specific stores and buy cheese, salami, focaccia, and a small bottle of wine (yes, they sell single serving sizes with twist-off tops in Italy) to create a picnic lunch we can enjoy on a bench in a piazza or a park (like the photo above) under a shade tree.

Look for "Aperitivo" Deals

In many Italian cities, especially in the evenings, you'll find bars and cafes offering "aperitivo" deals. For the price of a drink (usually a bit higher than normal), you can enjoy access to a buffet of appetizers, snacks, and sometimes even small dishes. This can be a great way to have a filling meal on a budget while also experiencing the local social scene.

Many places like we have visited in Positano and Rome bring larger and larger food items every time you order a drink.

Black table top with black slate tray of food items in Rome Italy
An Aperitivo in Rome, Italy

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Italy is home to numerous attractions and activities that won't cost you a single euro. Explore public parks, wander through historic neighborhoods, visit churches and cathedrals, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of local markets without spending a dime.

Choose Your Tours Wisely

Sometimes it is impossible to skip the lines or experience the authentic culture without an excellent local insider guide to explain.

Book guided experiences on these two premises:

1.  When navigating an “always crowded” museum that requires a reservation, timed entrance, or skip-the-line ticket.

2.  If you are staying in a location for more than a couple of days a guided walking tour by a local gives you the “lay of the land” for your convenience later saving you time and energy. 

To save money, choose a private guide for your most important experience. Opt for small group tours for other experiences when a guide is needed (as in 1..and 2. Above). And explore on your own all the other days or as you feel comfortable doing. 

Female tour guide with red floral dress holding a map of Venice to tourists
Guided Tour in Venice

Plan and Book in Advance

By planning your itinerary in advance and booking tickets for attractions, tours, and transportation online, you can often secure discounts and avoid last-minute price hikes. Keep an eye out for promotions and deals offered by tour operators and attractions. Remember, traveling on a budget doesn't mean missing out on the best that Italy has to offer.

Places that you should book extra early or with a packaged tour for convenience


Colosseum (includes Roman Forum and Palatine Hill)

Vatican museums


Uffizi Gallery timed priority entrance

Accademia Gallery for Michelangelo’s David


Milan Cathedral and rooftop tickets

Da Vinci’s Last Supper tickets


St Mark’s Basilica

Ask me for personal local guides I use for client tours in Italy.


Private Airport Transfers

After a long flight, you will be tired, sometimes at airports you get bombarded with taxis and pushy tour companies vying for business, often in a foreign language and your costs are often the same if you pre-book a car.

Splurging for a private transfer on your arrival to Italy is the best money spent in your budget.

With a bit of planning, flexibility, and creativity, you can enjoy a memorable Italian vacation without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, follow these money-saving tips, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Italy without worrying about your budget.

Buon viaggio! --- I hope you find these tips helpful for your budget-friendly Italian adventure! Let me know if you need more advice or recommendations. Safe travels!


The Way To Italy has been providing fee-based, custom travel planning for travelers to Italy for 23 years. I handcraft once-in-a-lifetime Italy experiences down to the last detail.


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