Central Europe is not the cheapest place to travel and visiting a capital city can make your trip even more expensive. That said, there are a number of ways you can make your trip more budget friendly. Here are my top tips for saving money in Rome.
Fly with a budget airline
Only a two-hour flight away from the UK, it’s well worth flying with a budget airline like Ryanair or EasyJet. We flew with the latter and just took hand luggage, with flights at just £80pp return. We also used our Emirates Skywards to pay for one of the flights, so only ended up paying £40pp. Although the in-flight service and departure times weren’t perfect, for such a short flight, it really didn’t matter.
Travel from the airport by bus
There are plenty of taxis when you arrive at the airport (we flew in to Fiumicino) but it is much cheaper and almost as convenient to jump on a bus such as those run by Terravision, which take you straight to Termini station in the city centre. These run about every 30 minutes, take around an hour and cost $5-6 each way. A taxi will set you back around $48 each way, so you pay a fraction of the cost by opting for the bus. I’ve also read about some horror stories about pickpockets on the airport train to the centre, so the bus is a much safer option.
Stay near Vatican City
When looking for accommodation, it seemed much more affordable to stay near the Vatican than in the more central areas around Ancient Rome. We were keen to stay somewhere with plenty going on and within walking distance of the main attractions but without a huge price tag. I would highly recommend the bed and breakfast we stayed in, Ai Senatori, which was about a 5 minute walk from the Vatican. I wouldn’t have described it as a bed & breakfast- it’s more like an Air BnB. It’s in a beautiful apartment block, mainly resided in by locals. Ours was a double en-suite, which cost us around £140pp for four nights including city tax. This seemed like a very reasonable rate, especially for such a lovely room in a great location; with shops, restaurants, bars and a supermarket nearby. Breakfast included- although there are no facilities on site, you are given tokens to redeem at a lovely cafe around the corner.
The entrance to Ai Senatori
Embrace exploring by foot
Whilst the metro is super cheap by London standards, it’s no where near as good as the tube. With a city as compact and beautiful as Rome, you really should walk as much as you can. We clocked up a lot of steps over our trip but this meant that we saw as much of the city as we could. I would definitely make sure that you walk by night too, the city looks even more magical.
Use the water fountains around the city
Rome can get really hot, especially in the summer but fortunately you can save a lot of money on buying bottled water to stay hydrated. There are safe drinking water fountains dotted around the city, which you should definitely take advantage of. We took a water bottle with us and filled this up wherever possible- kinder for the environment and on our pockets!
Gelato, gelato, gelato
A mid-afternoon snack doesn’t really get any better than the delicious gelato served across the city. Starting from around $2, this is a cheap and mouth-watering snack, perfect for cooling down after a day of sightseeing.
Drink coffee like the locals
The coffee served in Italian is dreamy but not so cheap in most places. You can cut down the cost of your morning coffee (or any time of the day) by drinking this at the counter, as the cafe will charge a lot less than if you were to sit down and have this. Paired with a freshly made pastry, this is a quick and inexpensive way to start your day. You’ll see plenty of Italians doing this and as they say- when in Rome!
The one place I would recommend spending a little more is Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe, where many people say they serve the best coffee in the city. We sat down as it’s in a cute little square and it was VERY expensive for a small coffee but a great treat and certainly some amazing coffee. Again, you could drink yours at the counter inside to save a few euros.
Coffee @ Sant’Eustachio
Eat like an Italian
We saw a lot of Italians eating paninis for lunch as they walked, or sat watching the world go by, and decided to do the same. Stuffed generously with fillings such cheese and proscuitto, they are a great way to enjoy a cheap lunch. Although the general rule is to avoid eating places right by tourists like the plague, the best panini we found was from a place called L’Antica Salumeria, right beside the Pantheon. There is some seating inside but we took our sandwiches and sat on the square in the sunshine.
Panini heaven @ L’Antica Salumeria
As for dinner, I can’t recommend seeking out authentic Italian restaurants enough. Not only to try the real taste of Italy but also from a cost point of view, as they are much better value for money. I’ll make sure I write a post on my round up of the best food places we found very soon.
Be prepared to queue
For attractions such as the Vatican, you can pay a much higher price to skip the queues but from our experience, I would’t recommend it. The cost is usually A LOT higher and to be honest, if you visit at the right time of day, you really won’t be waiting that long. Tour guide touts will hassle you as you queue; just say no firmly and don’t engage on a conversation with them so that they leave you alone. Once you get in to sites such as the Vatican, they are simply stunning and you’ll forget the time spent in the queue!
Vatican City museums
Have you got any moneysaving tips for enjoying Rome on a budget? I’d love to hear them!