People save money for their travel. Smart people save money even during their travel. So here are some tips to save money during your trip to Italy.
The very mention of the idea about a vacation in Italy, makes people assume that it should be expensive. They start thinking about the cost of living, traveling between places, restaurants, etc.
Why? Because, they dream & visualize themselves staying in those villas around the Lake Como, or the one in Capri Island. Dinning in those finest cuisines of Italy, starting with the Appetizers and ending with a dolce and cafe!
No, that is not where every traveler stays and do when they visit Italy for vacation. Well, I do not mean to say they stay in a cheap hotel – but good and economical options do exist. And that is exactly what I wanted to convey to you through these tips to save money in Italy.
Travel Economically But Not Cheap
Yes, being economical is much different from being cheap! Agree. The same goes for travel, dining and every other activity you do on your vacation.
To give you a simple example, where you eat makes a lot of difference in how much it costs. Buying a bottle of water from a bar/restaurant and supermarket makes a huge difference.
Not just Italy, but every other country on the planet has a lot of hidden treasures. Unfortunately, every other tourist wants to do the same itinerary or the so-called Tourist attractions. Many of these tourist spots may or may not be of your taste, but still, you try to make it to those places with a sole intention to make yourself showing the world “I have been there, done that” kind of proud.
Stay away from those so-called tourists destination if that is not of your taste, and you will see a huge saving in your cost for accommodation.
Italy in summer is fantastic, there are many beaches that are open to the public for no fees. But still, you can find people bee-lining private beaches. Not bad, probably they feel that it would be safer to do that. This is where the knowledge about the local places comes handy. And this is what is my goal today – To equip you with information so as to plan your next trip to Italy on a budget.
Let’s move on.
Entering Into Italy
Most tourists plan their trip to enter / exit through two of the most famous Airport in Italy – Milan & Rome. While people targeting the north of Italy enter through the airport in Milan, others target the south mostly through Rome airport.
But seldom people think of other alternatives which could be much cheaper to fly in or out and also save money in Italy. Let me explain.
Milan has three international airports.
- Malpensa (MXP)
- Orio al Serio, Bergamo (BGY)
- Linate (LIN)
Of course, Malpensa has most of the intercontinental flight connections, but Linate is also offering several international connectivities. The official taxi tariff from Linate Airport to Milan city ranges from 20 Euros to 60 Euros depending on where you need to reach. The official taxi tariff from Malpensa airport to Milan city is 95 Euro.
But using public transport to Milan is just a fraction of this cost. The fare from Malpensa Airport is just 8 Euros per person on the bus. Similarly, all airports do have excellent shuttle services. Make sure you use them to save money when coming for vacation in Italy.
Orio al Serio Airport is in Bergamo, a small town next to Milan where most low-cost airlines fly to and have a good Airport to City shuttle facility exactly like the one from Malpensa.
So, when you search for flight tickets, make sure you include the destination as “Milan All area” and not just Malpensa(MXP). This will help you to get low-cost airline options too which mostly fly in/out of Bergamo Airport.
If the decision on where you enter saves a lot of bucks, the answer to when you enter will save another ton. Not only Italy, but all the countries in Europe are also expensive to fly during the summer vacation – July/August.
So, if you can plan your trips a bit flexible and off the season, you have already saved money on the most expensive expense of a vacation even before you began your vacation.
Traveling around in Italy
As I mentioned before, flight costs could take a major chunk of your travel budget. Although Italy has many low-cost airlines including RyanAir & EasyJet connecting the major cities, I recommend to use it only if you have a strict time constraint.
Most people take flights to connect different cities assuming to save time. Negative, because all you see is the “flying time” and not the “total time”.
Imagine this, you need to plan to be in the Airport before 1 or 2 hours of the departure. Go through all the check-in or baggage drop-off queues, the irritating security lines, boarding queues, etc. And the flight time could be anywhere around 1 or 2 hours too.
Then comes the most interesting part. The wait for the baggage on the destination. And if you succeed all these, then reaching the accommodation from the airport could be another hour of drive from the city.
Note: The Hi-Speed train from Milan center takes just 3 hours and 10 minutes to reach the Rome center.
Now if you consider the total time for the calculation, I am sure you will agree with me.
So, my recommendation is to skip those flights and get on the land transports, especially the Train. Italian cities are well connected with other cheaper transports like trains and buses. In fact, the hi-speed trains could be much cheaper than flights if planned accordingly.
This will not only save money for Italy trips but also help you save money from the accommodation expenses. You heard me right. You can plan the long-distance connectivities as night travel on the train and save the hotel costs too.
The Italian railway system works with fantastic discounts and offers. The sooner you book, the better the train tickets cost.
Read the Ultimate Guide to Traveling by Train in Italy for knowing about the train networks, ticket booking and more in Italy.
Couples can rejoice since they can benefit from the Buy 1 get 1 free offer. If you are traveling as a family, even better. Many trains offer the “Kids travel free” option when parents get the full ticket.
If this is not sufficient, you also have the Trenitalia passes which start as low as 129 Euro for 3 trips in Italy. Add to that, these passes allow up to 2 kids less than 12 years to travel free with their parents.
Every major Italian city has a dedicated Bus station for long-distance travel. Flixbus is one of the most used buses for long-distance not just in Italy, but also in Europe. There are offers running all through the year that makes you buy a ticket for as low as 10 Euro. The buses are equipped with Toilet facilities too if you are worried about such facilities.
Due to these cheaper options for connectivity, you can stay outside the expensive locations or in a place with lesser tourist crowd and make several one-day visits to important tourist destinations and save money in Italy.
Staying in Milan has its own advantage. It is possible to make many One-day visits from Milan including Lake Como, Venice, etc with just public transport.
Accommodations in Italy
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are many economical options in Italy than those luxury villas. If you are traveling as a family with kids, make sure you look for both Hotels and apartments. Yes, even though I mostly book apartments for my vacation, I had instances where I got better offers from Hotels (including breakfast) than apartments.
So, it is important to check all the below sites to get a good deal and save money in Italy.
One word of caution here. When booking hotels, make sure to check for the prices with and without breakfast. If the breakfast costs anything more than 12-15 Euro per person, strictly no. You will be better off enjoying your brioche in the bar next door. To give an idea, the cost of a fresh croissant with a coffee or Latte Macchiato should be around 3 Euro in most of the cafe bars.
Read more: How to Book Hotels Cheap?
Even if you get into those famous bakeries called Pasticceria, it would not cost more than 5 Euro. You could also buy sandwiches and juices for breakfast from the supermarket to stock in your room which would be just a fraction of the cost of the Hotel breakfast.
Eating out in Italy
There is a saying that you can never go wrong with food in Italy. And after living in Milan for almost a decade now, I endorse it too. So, there is no need to fear the quality of food and keep searching for high-end dining.
Even a quick grab of the kebab and sandwiches in the streets should be delicious and cost less than 7 to 10 Euros. When you are roaming in the streets of Italy visiting those tourist attractions, you will come across numerous bars/street food corners. Not only in the interest of time but also in the interest of cost, I would recommend you to get your lunch done in such food corners.
Are you a Pizza freak?
No issues, you should find them in every other corner of the street and restaurants. Typically should cost a max of 10 to 15 Euros depending on the topping you order with.
One important advice here is to get your cooldrinks and water bottles from supermarkets, which should cost a fraction of what you will otherwise spend in the bars.
Evenings and dinners are the time to relax. And after the tiresome walking all along the day, you do deserve a treat, right? So, it is obvious that we need to get into the restaurant and have a relaxing dinner.
Typical Italian meal starts with Appetizers and ends with a dessert and/or espresso. So before you jump to order those delicious meals, go through the menu card. I am sure the restaurant will have a fixed menu for the day.
Such fixed-menus cover a two or three-course meal with a pre-defined selection of starters, main course, and deserts. Ordering such a fixed menu will help you save a lot of cost without compromising on the quality or ambiance.
If you are fond of wine, Italy is the place. Go for it!
Make sure you order by the bottle and not by the glasses. Ordering a few glasses will be more expensive than ordering a full bottle. Each region of Italy has its own famous wine so just go by the region and enjoy it without looking for an expensive option.
Additional Tips To Save Money in Italy
- Do not exchange Dollars at the airport
- Use Credit cards. In Italy, almost every transaction can be with cards.
- Use Train passes for multiple travel plans
- Always book trains in advance
- Buy from a supermarket than cafe bars
- Have a coffee at the counter and not in the desk
So, never assume things are costly in Italy. You have plenty of economical options in every city. Plan your trips well in advance, book your tickets, and pack your bags.
And pack lighter, not only to save the hassles but also cost. I am sure the above tips will help you save money. I am also sure that the saved money will be going to be spent on your next travel.
How about sharing your experience and tips on how you actually saved on those trips around the world? Feel free to share your inputs to the world, comment and let the world hear about your smartness!!!
Keep flying, good luck.