Traveling to Italy can be expensive and for most of the people out there, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Then again if you are visiting Italy or any part of Europe from India (like me), everything gets multiplied to at least 75 times because the Euro is a lot higher than the Rupee (1 Euro is 80 Rupee currently). That’s where we lose a lot and everyone prefers to travel to Italy on a budget. This thought motivated me to share the most simple, obvious and important tips on saving money in Italy. Hope they help!
7 Tips on Saving Money in Italy
1. Walk Walk Walk
Want to save money on transportation?? Walk walk walk. Be prepared to walk a lot when in Italy. But it is therapeutic. Honestly, I can count the number of times I’ve taken the taxi (luggage woes) so in my opinion, the taxi should be ditched unless really required! Italy has such beautiful corners that only by walking can you explore the extraordinary.
So make the most of exploring by walking and then stop for a picture, sit in a cafe, enjoy the little things. This will definitely save you money! And unless you want to get sore feet from walking on cobbled streets, buy a comfortable pair of shoes before you head to Italy!
2. Take the Train for Outside City Travel
Don’t rent a car because someone said that’s the only way to see Italy. If you are on a budget, take regional trains for your city travel. Train journeys are picturesque, fun and fast and there are a fair number of options for discounts on Trenitalia. In Italy, train tickets can be booked 120 days in advance!
Remember that a journey from Milan to Rome or Verona to Florence can easily be done via train because these cities are not on the opposite ends of the country but a journey from Turin to Palermo is not only impossible via train but also tiring with several train changes at time. In that case opt for the plane and fly from one side to another.
Use Regional trains (Regionale) for your journey because they are cheaper! Frecciarossa and Treno are fast but costlier!
Also note that many towns in Italy (especially those pretty hill top towns) do not have a train station in the city centre. So there is usually a long walk or bus involved to get to the centre of the town. Hence, choose your towns wisely when you travel, lest you regret.
DON’T FORGET TO…. VALIDATE!!
If you have bought tickets online, carry a copy of your ticket in your phone or take a print out. However, if you buy from the vending machines at the station, “validate” at the green colored machine on the platform. Not doing so can lead to a fine of over EUR 100 or more!
Additionally, use the Trenit app like I do. This helps to know train schedules from the phone and is quick and easy to use. For instance, down below I’ve used the Trenit website to find options of train from Roma to Milano and it gives details as per time, price and duration. Neat, isn’t it??
Read Next: Booking train for the Cinque Terre
3. Visit the Local Market and/or Supermarket
I always buy wine, cheese and pasta from the outdoor markets or supermarkets such as Carrefour or Conad. In Rome, Carrefour is in every neighborhood. Even in the busiest streets of Rome you will find a supermarket waiting for you. Apart from the supermarkets, the local farmer’s markets have the best produce. Supermarkets in Rome: Carrefour: Via del Governo Vecchio, 119 (close to Piazza Navona) Carrefour: Via Vittoria 32 (near the Spanish Steps). Conad: Via del Boschetto, 52/55 (near the Colosseum) Supermarkets in Venice: Coop: Campo S. Giacomo Dell’Orio 1491A Conad: Sestiere Santa Croce 892 Supermarkets in Milan: Carrefour: Via S. Senatore 16 Supermarkets in Turin: Conad: Via Luigi Tarino 10 Supermarkets in Florence: Conad: Via dei Servi 56R Conad: Via del Olivuzzo 101/R
4. Avoid the Tourist Menu
if it’s an authentic restaurant you won’t see any waiter standing outside and asking you to come to eat. Unfortunately there are many places in Italy with a tourist menu and that visit should be a big NO NO. The food will be average and the place sub standard. Instead, go to a place where you would probably spot locals or simply a Pizzeria where pizza ranges from EUR 5-10! It is the best meal and not only is your stomach happy but you also save money! You can also go for Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) and combine it with a bottle of beer from the supermarket. Other than that, there is the option of cooking in your apartment too!
5. Save on Tours
If you aren’t into history and are traveling to Italy for the food and experience, skip the tours. They can be expensive. Don’t do what everyone is doing. Instead, focus on the free monuments, parks and piazze. Most of the churches are free, unless specifically stated, and they not only provide shade from the sun but are a haven for Italian art. Everything is a personal choice! I’ve noticed “follow the herd mentality” in travel but I would implore you to do what you want. Travel as it suits you. If you want to see Italy in 5 days, do it! IT IS YOUR TRIP!!
Read Next: Italy Travel Things to Know
6. Use the Free Water
Water is not free in any restaurant in Italy (unlike India) so prepare to add that charge of water in your trip. Of course in bigger cities such as Rome, water is in abundance and free because of the many fountains in the city and helps you save the money for that extra bottle(s) of water. Just remember to keep an empty bottled water and make use of the free fountain water. The tap water in Italy is safe to drink too but don’t rely on it!
7. Order Coffee at the Bar
Don’t sit outside a Bar to have your coffee every time in Italy. If you are budget conscious, go to the counter and pay for the coffee you want. Once paid, show the receipt to the Barista and have your coffee standing there itself. If you sit outside, you will be charged. I always do a mix of sitting outside and inside because sometimes you also want a view on your vacation with your coffee. After all it’s ITALY! Carry coins and cash when you buy your coffee because it is uncommon to pay for coffee via cards in Italy.
Hope these tips to save money in Italy helped you! Please consider that any travel in Italy done during the months of May- August, will be costlier than usual. You should always keep an open mind and consider traveling in the off season. There are lesser crowds, cheaper air fares and better experiences (unless you are prepared to pay high prices and visit in the summer!) I really enjoyed this post by Trip Savvy on saving money in Italy and the bifurcations of the Big 3 cities of Italy are definitely worth reading!
Header picture is a stock photo.