Places in Italy
Average costs in Italy
Stay – The price for an overnight stay in Italy isn’t very expensive. The further to the south you go, the cheaper the prices will be. In the most touristy cities (including Florence, Rome, Venice, …) the cost is often higher. A double room costs at least €40. A four or five star hotel starts at €200 to €300. Are you okay with staying in a youth hostel? Then you’ll only pay around €20. The campsites around some big cities are even cheaper, sometimes you can already sleep in a tent for less than €10 per person.
In the south (Naples, Sicily, …) prices are much cheaper. A four or five star hotel costs between €70 and €200. You can find budget hotels for €25 to €30, and youth hostels start around €12.
Don’t forget to check out websites such as AirBNB. Especially in cities such as Venice and Florence you will find nice accommodations in return.
Compare prices on Booking / Agoda. They almost always offer me the cheapest options.
Eat – If you’re on holiday in Italy, you should of course enjoy the delicious pastas, pizzas and other local specialties. You don’t have to get scared of the cost of a restaurant either, because usually they’re very affordable. Pizzas are generally the cheapest. A simple margarita pizza costs €5 to €10, a pizza with a little more on top costs between €7 and €15. Pastas start at €10, and depending on the ingredients they can cost up to about twenty euros. A dessert costs on average €4 to €7.
If you don’t want to spend too much money on restaurants, go and have your lunch in the the afternoon. You often get a starter, main course and drink for about €15.
Usually restaurants in big cities are the most expensive. In not so touristic cities (such as Bologna) you often pay much less and you’ll also find much better restaurants.
Also, don’t forget that a ‘coperto’ is asked almost everywhere. This is a kind of mandatory tip. Usually this is €2 extra per person, but the Italians like to exaggerate in tourist cities. I was asked for an extra €6 in Venice for example…
Transport – Public transport isn’t expensive in Italy. Usually a bus or metro ticket costs €1 to €2 per journey. A day ticket or a multi-day ticket is very different in price from city to city. I really recommend to always buy a ticket, because the guards hop on the public transport very regularly to validate the tickets…
If you take the train from one city to another, I advise you to book train tickets in advance via the Rail Euope website. From Cinque Terre I paid for example just under €30 to commute to Rome, friends who bought their tickets on the spot paid €60 +.
Instead of a train you can always take long-distance buses. These are often a lot cheaper and just as comfortable. Sometimes they take a little longer than the journey by train.
Finally, I also want to talk about renting a car in Italy. If you travel to Italy with several people (or even alone!), renting a car becomes a cheaper option very fast. Check out websites such as Holidaycars. I rented a car from them in Sicily for only €20 a day!
Saving money in Italy
Drink your coffee standing – You can’t function without your morning coffee? Take a strong espresso in one of the many small Italian bars, but instead of sitting down you should just keep standing. Drinking your coffee or other drink upright costs a lot less. Often barely €1 per coffee!
Drink the house wine – Many restaurants have delicious house wines! These are much cheaper than the other drinks on the card but they still are a treat for your taste buds.
Go have lunch – Instead of eating out in the evening, it might be better to have lunch in the afternoon. Many restaurants offer lunch for barely fifteen euros per person. You’ll get an appetizer, main course and drink in return. And sometimes also a dessert!
Book your train in advance – The train in Italy is very comfortable, but if you don’t book long-distance rides in advance they can become very expensive. Try to book a few days, or even weeks, in advance for the most advantageous rate. If you’re planning a round trip through Italy, you can also buy a rail pass for Italy.
Visiting museums? Go for free! – In just about every major city in Italy you’ll find some world famous museums. Think of the Uffizi, the Vatican museums, the Galleria dell’Accademia, … For most museums you have to buy an expensive entrance ticket, but often there is a free entrance once a month. In most cases that is a certain Monday or Sunday. Do notice: it gets incredibly busy at these times.
Drink tap water – If you go to Italy during spring, summer or even autumn, the temperatures can get very high. It’s therefore necessary that you drink enough. Instead of buying new bottles of water every time, you better fill up your bottle. It’s cheap, but also better for the environment!
Book your rental car in advance – Rental cars in Italy are surprisingly cheap. Often they are even cheaper than public transport! If you book them a few days (or weeks) in advance, they sometimes cost less than €10 per day. Especially when traveling with family, this is a good idea to save money.
Book tickets and excursions online – Italy has some of the biggest tourist attractions in the world! As a result, it’s often a long wait before you get an admission ticket, and as you know: time is money! Order your tickets online to bypass the giant queues. This can be done through official websites, or via websites such as GetYourGuide and Viator.
Things to do in Italy
Climbing Volcanoes – The boot of Italy has a lot of landscapes that were created by wild lava-spewing volcanoes. Fortunately, most of them have calmed down and you can now climb them. Near Naples you’ll find the Vesuvius, and in Sicily you can see the mythical Mount Etna. Would you like to meet very active volcanoes? Then go to the Stromboli islands! Almost every night you can see a natural spectacle where lava is spewed out by one of these huge bad boys…
Island hopping – Italy has dozens of islands and almost all of them are equally beautiful. Sicily and Sardinia are the largest and most famous islands, but the smaller islands are often much more cozy and more paradisiacal. When visiting Italy, be sure to take a trip to the Aeolian and Egadi Islands (both easily accessible from Sicily), the Flegrean Islands (near Naples), the cozy islands of the Venetian lagoon (Burano and Murano are not to be missed!) and why not the beautiful Elba or the dreamy Lampedusa as well?
Italian food – Stuff yourself with delicious pasta and delicacies! Almost everything you try in Italy will amaze you. Be sure to try out the local specialties. You’ll be amazed at how many delicacies this country has!
Visiting museums – Italy is seen a bit as the founder of our modern society because of the Romans. It’s therefore logical that many artists, archaeological finds and interesting objects or buildings are must-see’s in this country. Florence and Rome are heavyweights when it comes to world-famous museums. Consider, for example, the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Uffizi in Florence and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
Cathedrals, churches and chapels – Europe has a lot of impressive ecclesiastical buildings, but almost none are as impressive as what you can see in Italy. Even the smallest villages have colossal and richly decorated churches or cathedrals! Try to view both the outside and the inside. From the outside they are often characterized by architectural styles from a certain period, inside the colored stained-glass windows and the precious artwork will make your mouth fall open.
Gelato! – Italian ice cream is world famous. Treat yourself to this sugared delicacy, and try out the many flavors. Oh and an important tip: you pronounce ‘Pistachio’ like Pinocchio (with the ‘k’ instead of an ‘s’). Believe me, the Italians get crazy if you pronounce it wrong…
Pompeii – Pompeii is incredibly impressive. The city was buried in 79 AD under the lava and dust from Mount Vesuvius. As a result, this Roman city is still very well preserved. You’ll be impressed by how big and beautiful this city is, but also just to know more about the terrible history is worth a day trip. Try to combine this trip with an ascent of Mount Vesuvius.
Sicily – The heavenly Sicily is located in the south of Italy. A gigantic island with beautiful villages, cities, nature and delicious food. Sicily is part of Italy, but it’s actually completely different. Enjoy the dozens of beautiful beaches, nature parks and local specialties. Cities that you shouldn’t miss are Palermo, Trapani (for the beautiful islands and beaches) and the tiny Cefalu. I also recommend everyone to a trip to Mount Etna!
Naples – often forgotten, but also very authentic! You can not compare Naples with any other city in Italy. It’s close to many beautiful sights, and there is also a lot to do in the city itself. Discover the underground city, do a day trip to Capri or climb Mount Etna and go to Pompeii. Don’t forget to eat pizza in this cozy city, because here you can find the tastiest ones of Italy!
Rome – Rome is great! This gigantic city has something to offer for everyone. Archaeological sites, beautiful churches and cathedrals, a cozy atmosphere and often very good weather. In Rome you can easily hang around for a few days without getting bored.
Venice – It may be very well known, and in the meantime a bit too crowded but Venice remains beautiful. The canals that meander through the city, the beautiful houses and the gently singing gondoliers create a romantic setting like you’ve never seen before. Escape the hustle and bustle by avoiding Saint Mark’s Square. There are many nicer places where it’s also much better and cheaper to eat.
Florence – Are you crazy about culture, museums and more culture? Then you have to go to Florence or Firenze. I think this city has the most museums per square meter in the world! From exhibitions about the ancient Romans to museums with priceless works of art, you’ll find just about everything here. The many churches, chapels, cathedrals and parks are also worth discovering.
Bologna – This place isn’t touristy at all, and that’s surprising. After all, there are plenty of beautiful sights and nice places to discover. next to the terracotta colored buildings and the cozy atmosphere that you’ll find here, the food is another highlight of the city. Without exaggerating: the best Italian food can be found in Bologna.
Cinque Terre – Five tiny villages with colorful houses, surrounded by rocks, hills, the sea and a lot of greenery. That is how you can describe Cinque Terre. This idyllic place is the paradise for hikers, nature lovers and admirers of picturesque villages. Take your walking shoes with you, because from the steep hiking trails you get the best possible views of this dream place!
Don’ts in Italy
Not validate your train ticket – If you take regional trains (usually short to medium distances), don’t forget to validate your train ticket. If there is no specific time and / or seat number on your ticket, you must validate your ticket in one of the machines on the platform or in the station. If you don’t do this, you will get a hefty fine.
Waiting in line to get tickets – It kept surprising me how many people waited in line to enter museums, churches or other sights in Italy. Book your tickets in advance via the official website of a specific attraction, or book them via online travel agencies. Often you don’t pay any extra costs and you won’t lose any more time. For some sights, waiting times can easily be several hours…
Be annoyed by the bad indications – I sometimes got annoyed at the terrible signage in the cities. There’s plenty of tourists in Italy, but that doesn’t seem to bother them: there’s a serious lack of indications of where some of the tourist attractions are located. The directions or signposting to some tourist attractions sometimes make it even more complicated! Always check everything in advance or you might not be on time (eg train stations and tracks, opening hours, …).
Not wearing the right clothing – Italy has thousands of beautiful churches or other religious structures. To enter these you must comply with some kind of dress code. Make sure your shoulders and knees are covered, otherwise you’re not allowed to enter.
Not having enough cash with you – In many places, even in the most touristic cities, you can’t pay with an electronic card. So always try to have some cash with you. Especially for small payments.
Walking around with gelato in a cup – Don’t be surprised when an angry Italian comes to you when you’re walking around with an Italian ice cream in a cup. Walking with the heavenly Italian gelato is only allowed with a cone. If you take a cup, you have to sit down. A cone with a spoon is also not okay! Mamma mia! Quei turisti stupidi!
Trips in Italy
Italy is one of the busiest countries in the world. So there’s a lot to see… From museums to nature parks to paradise beaches and islands: this country has it all! Prepare your holiday to Italy and have a look at what’s going on: