There’s no denying that Italy is one of the best places to go in Europe for travelers. With its beautiful cities, magnificent architecture, wonderful countryside, and great places that offer a high standard of living, this country is truly majestic.
These things are what make most people think that Italy, just like many places in Europe, is an expensive place to go. While this is true in a way, you should not be put off because it’s possible to enjoy a trip to Italy on a budget.
But how can you make this possible?
While you can always apply different budget-travel hacks we’ve always known like booking during the lean season, volunteering in exchange of food and/or accommodation, and others, the best thing you can do is to find the most budget-friendly location in the country.
Cheapest Places to Go In Italy
Why places like Rome and Venice are some of the most sought-after places in Italy, and traveling there would definitely make you spend a lot.
Fortunately, there are places in The Boot Country where you can stretch your budget, making you stay long.
From €6 plates of delectable tagliatelle al ragu to an affordable tour of a rooftop observatory, exploring Bologna on a budget is very easy.
If the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Bologna is food, well… that makes sense. Bologna offers a lot of places to go that are related to food preparation and food tasting.
Aside from food, however, you will be able to see different places of interest when you visit. There’s a lot to do and see in the city. You may want to start your exploring Bologna by going to one of its many historic buildings.
This city is home to the biggest medieval city center bordered by buildings of amazing architectural and historical attractions. Most of the buildings are painted in different shades of yellow, reds, and ochre, thus it was nicknamed Bologna la Rossa or Bologna the Red.
The center of attraction, however, is Piazza Maggiore. Throughout the medieval age, it was the location of the Roman forum – today it has become one of the most favorite locations for arts and music festivals.
Bologna is a historical city known well by most Italians, however, not very well known by many foreign visitors. The best time to go to Bologna is normally between the months of March and October, although you have to keep in mind that the months of July and August could get pretty hot.
With its verdant boulevards, cacti, and oleanders, traveling to Merano feels like you have visited a paradise. Long praised for its tropical climate, this budget-friendly town is filled with attractions anyone would love – both for the vicinity’s castles and for the good access to the remarkable mountain ranges that this place offers.
There are also two natural parks in Merano, Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio, Parco Naturale Gruppo del Tessa, as well as the Ortles mountain range which is all accessible and offers different opportunities for trekking and other outdoor activities like mountain biking.
People in Merano almost exclusively speak German, beer, and sausage stands are dotted in the streets and a yearly outdoor play celebration takes place.
One of the best ways to see the area is by riding an aerial tramway or funivia. By doing so, you will be able to see how really pretty the place is.
With an average of €52 daily expenses for budget travelers, this is definitely cheaper than many places in Europe.
Cinque Terre, pronounced as CHEEN-kweh TEHR-reh, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, has the five towns throughout the Ligurian drift in north Italy.
While all five towns are old-fashioned and will remind you of the past, each of them has a bit something different to offer. When you are in the vicinity, no cars will be allowed, so you can either ride the train from village to village or go through the hiking trails by walking.
On top of that, Cinque Terre also boasts some of the most world’s beautiful coast hiking trails.
Again, you can easily hike from village to village along the Sentiero Azzurro, or also known as Blue Trail, though there are many other trails that offer different views and with different levels of difficulty. Whether you are a hardcore hiker or a beginner, there is surely a trail that is suitable for you.
The spectacular city of Verona located in the Veneto region in the northeastern part of the country which is popularly known for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is another place you may want to check out if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to go in Italy.
Verona is a romantic city that is perfect for any type of traveler. The number of well-known landmarks in Verona is really spectacular and you will not run out of things to see and do.
Make sure to check out “Juliet’s House” which was a location for Romeo and Juliet’s legendary balcony scene. So, if you are planning to come here with your partner, this place would be a perfect place for a photo op.
A remarkable ancient Roman amphitheater known as The Arena is something you shouldn’t miss. Dating back to the 1st century, this extraordinary landmark still hosts Opera performances up to the present.
By just walking around the city, you will be left stunned by the construction and beauty that you can see no matter where you look at. A city you can explore by foot, the romance, and vigor of this place will stir your senses and will give you endless reasons to fall in love with it.
Just a few meters from the famous Juliet’s house in Verona, visitors will find the world-famous Torre dei Lamberti. The best way of experiencing it is, of course, is to go up to its highest part (84m above the ground) and admire the three hundred and sixty degrees views of the city from there, all that other people let you see (sometimes it is quite busy at the top).
To avoid crowds, do not go near the closing (which sometimes coincides with sunset), but better first thing in the morning or at lunchtime, when most tourists will find themselves eating lunch.
This way you will ensure all the tranquility that such a magnificent place deserves. No doubt, its impressive marble columns and the vast views from this unique point throughout the city will not leave you indifferent. To go up, you can choose the elevator or the stairs (almost 400). Tickets sell from € 5.
Naples is the third biggest city in Italy. On top of that, it is also one of the oldest, most appetizing, and most artistic. The historic center of Naples is a Unesco World Heritage Site, its archaeological gem is among the most important ones in the world, and its drape of vainglorious castles, palaces, and churches make this one of the most sought-after by many travelers.
Then, there comes their food. Brimmed with rich volcanic soils, a munificent sea, and years of culinary expertise, the region of Naples is one of the culinary havens of Italy, serving up the best pizza, coffee, pasta, delicious seafood, and high-quality wine (given that you’re at the legal drinking age.)
Surely, the urban sprawl of Naples can feel revolutionary, ragged, and unloved. But if you try to look beyond the filth, graffiti, and occasional abruptness, you will uncover a place of spectacular frescoes, views, and sculptures of astonishing elegance, of unstructured conversations and deep humanity.
By the way, here’s a quick guide for you in case you are wondering whether Pompeii is worth your time or not.
Usually overlooked and thought to be just an intractable, gritty port town of Italy, Ancona is not really that charming at first look. But as soon as you start exploring, you will be able to tell easily how planning a trip here is worth it.
Being the capital of a gorgeous and historic region, you will not only get to explore an affordable Italian location but you will also be able to experience the beautiful city of the sea.
Ancona has a lot of a splendid coastline to the south, with sparkling and accessible water and pristine white sand beaches. Not too fat are the gorgeous towns of Recanati, Loreto, Urbino, and Jesi along with the rolling hills in the surrounding area and the renowned Grotte di Frasassi.
If you like outdoor activities, Ancona will not disappoint as it offers a lot of opportunities to take on outdoor activities in its beautiful landscape, mainly horseback riding and cycling.
Sicily is very affordable as far as the cost of food and accommodation. In fact, with only €30 as your daily budget (considering you’re traveling on a shoestring), you will able to survive.
When you choose to escape the mainland and go to Sicily, immediately plan things to do in Palermo.
Certainly a must-see especially for those who don’t want to spend a lot during their Italian getaway, the city has a lot of surprises, from churches filled with beautiful mosaics to messy neighborhood markets, where you are able to try some of their delicious local street foods as you explore
The enormous coast of Sicily offers a lot of wonderful beaches, mostly at the Golfo di Castellammare and Taormina. The varied interior of Sicily is characterized by far-flung hill towns and grasslands scattered by mountain ranges popular for wildlife and spring flowers.
One of the most remarkable attractions is Mount Etna, which is an active volcano whose lava flows throughout the centuries have left the land vastly fertile, supporting a profusion of citrus groves, walnut trees, as well as vineyards.
Cheapest Time to Visit
If you think going to Italy without visiting some of the famous places like Rome, Venice, and Florence would be a waste, then you will be happy to know that you can still find other ways to cut off expenses when traveling to more touristy places where daily expenses are expectedly higher.
Below are some of the ways to travel to Italy on a budget.
Saving on Airfare
Regardless of what airline you use, you have to keep in mind that the most expensive time of the year to fly to Italy is from the month of June up to the early part of September.
On the other hand, the cheaper, as well as less crowded time to travel, would be from the month of April to May as well as mid-September up to October. The lowest tourist season in Italy runs from the month of November to March (except the Christmas season) so you can expect the airfare to be at its lowest.
Airfare to Italy can vary significantly, and while you can randomly find highly discounted flights a few days before your trip, it can be a bit rare.
Make sure to have an early airplane reservation, especially if you are planning to travel in a group or as a family. If possible, choose to book an early-morning flight as that time is usually the cheaper rate.
Low Season Perks
On top of lower airfares, throughout the lean season, you can normally find promotional-priced group tours of major locations.
This is usually the case for tour companies that are selling services directly from street booths or their local offices – booking tours earlier could be a financial drawback during the low seasons. Hotel rates also usually go down during the lean seasons, especially in the month of November. A great thing to know when you are looking forward to booking the best places to stay in Italy on a budget.
When to Avoid Booking
Summer season is the high season in Italy so you can expect for everything from airfares to hotels and tours to be more expensive.
The time of the year you should entirely avoid, however, is the month of August. The number of tourists is really high, but locals usually go on lengthy holidays, usually extending it to early September. You are left with jam-packed streets and closed establishments. Public transports are usually slower, and shops don’t operate.
So, unless you are only planning to go to beach combing, do some outdoor activities, and be ready to deal with a lot of tourists, avoid traveling in August.
There are many travelers who are left disappointed knowing that a famous family-owned pizza place is closed during their visit.
Shopping and Eating Out
There’s a secret to saving when eating out in Italy. The meals on the mid-day menu are usually the cheapest. You are able to fill up at lunch, and try out some cheaper options such as pizza or by simply shopping at a food market for your meals. After all, trying out the local markets and ordering the local delicacies will give you a better feel for local life.
When buying souvenirs, you’ll always find that staying close to popular attractions; you’ll find the prices to be higher, if not double, or triple. Walk around, walk a little further and you will find the same item at a lower price tag.
Traveling to all these top places to visit in Italy on a budget is possible when you know where to go and know how to do it right.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful in finding ways how you can travel in this beautiful country without having to break the bank. Let us know your Italy budget tips in the comments below.
And, if you are too broke or can’t travel to Italy right now, check these 10 ideas to bring Italy to your home next. Enjoy!