While Italy can seem like a luxury destination, there are plenty of ways to save money on your trip.
In fact, Rome is the Eternal City because it continuously reuses and repurposes its history to fit its future.
Do you think the Vatican could have afforded all that marble? Heck no! It stole it from Rome’s crumbling monuments because this is a city that knows a deal when it sees one.
Have you ever asked to see shop’s basement? You are almost guaranteed to find the ruins of an ancient villa supporting the modern establishment.
And all those restorations of the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps? The city of Rome didn’t pay for those things itself. Far too budget conscious, Rome convinced private brands like Tods and Fendi to fit the bill.
In other words, Rome is all about making it work on a dime.
Here are 8 ways to save money if you are traveling to Rome on a budget:
1. Cheap eats: while it can be hard to resist a sit down meal after putting in serious mileage exploring Rome’s monuments, some of my favorite meals are takeaways. Save your money for a bigger splurge by dining at these 7 affordable Rome restaurants. Just remember that it is illegal to eat on the steps to any of Rome’s fountains, churches and monuments.
2. Say ok to house wine: Rome has amazing wine bars but you don’t need to splurge on a bottle to enjoy wine with every meal. Wine has one of the highest markups at restaurants, so while certain occasions may call for a special bottle, if you are on a budget then you will be fine getting by ordering house wine for lunch and saving up for better bottle for dinner. Vino della casa is ordered without bottles, which cuts down on the cost. It is served in carafs – a quartino (25 cl – slightly more than a glass and good for one person), a mezzo litro (50 cl – plenty for two people and stretches to 3 easily) and a litro – a full liter that I would suggest for 4 or more people. A litro usually costs 8-10 euro depending on the restaurant – certainly not budget busting when split among the group.
3. Take your coffee at the bar: coffee prices are regulated only at the banco – the bar. This way, the morning ritual of taking a coffee becomes a great equalizer because nearly everyone can dig into their pocket for a euro. But away from the literal bar? All price bets are office. The price for a coffee at a table (which entails servizio al tavolo) is unregulated. Even after warning friends of this, they sat at piazza Della Rotonda to enjoy a cappuccino with a view of the Pantheon. They paid dearly – €32 for 4.
4. Book local accommodation: it can be lovely to indulge in luxury accommodation when you have the means, but there is no shame in cutting back on the budget for accommodation if you plan to spend most of the time out enjoying Rome anyways. Linda and Steve run a cheerful and affordable hostel called the Beehive as well as area apartments. Livia of The Hunt Guide Rome recommends the Blue Hostel. And me? I do tend to use airbnb. I think it’s a great chance to experience Roman neighborhoods like Testaccio as well as other areas I would suggest as part of where to stay in Rome.
5. Risk the offseason: Speaking of hotels in Rome, they are always always always going to be cheaper in the offseason. The offseason also brings fewer crowds which makes all the free attractions in Rome a whole lot less crowded. You may risk slightly more rain, but you could also avoid the hottest (and most miserable) months of the year. Finding the city to be tourist-free might just be the best thing about your trip, plus there is a lot to do in Rome in winter. For other times, here is a guide of when to visit Rome.
6. Embrace domenica al museo: did you know that many museums and monuments in Rome are free the first Sunday of the month? If you have flexibility in your travel dates, try to ensure your trip falls over the first weekend on the month in order to gain free access to many of the city’s most popular sites like the Colosseum and Capitoline Museums.
7. Look into a metro pass: Rome public transport is by no means perfect. However, it will get you from point A to B is most cases. My monthly pass costs just €35 a month for unlimited bus rides, metros and some regional trains. You can buy unlimited daily and weekly passes in order to skip any taxi splurges– but you can also save the €1.50 fair per ride by exploring most of Rome’s walkable center on foot. If you do want to master public transportation, here’s how to buy a bus ticket in Rome.
8. Know your way around the freebies: Not everything in Rome costs money! In fact, here are 50 free things to do in Rome any day of the year. But did you know that the city of Rome also offers free wi-fi in many public squares? You can also plan to save on little necessities like water by bringing a bottle with you to refill at the city’s numerous nasoni – public fountains found through out Rome.
Do you have any other tips on how to save money in Rome?