Starting with a bang: backpacking in Italy is one of the most expensive places you can travel in Europe.
But if there is a need and want… there is always will. Going on the edges of total extreme, Italy on a budget is possible.
However, that’s not the point of that post. Here are some travel tips that aren’t extreme. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but nothing near impossible or illegal. But having a bit of adventure in backpacking trip to Italy is excellent for the memories.
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Planning a trip to Italy on a budget? Beautiful places, famous cities, historical landmarks and in conclusion, many people want to go there. Where is demand, there is a higher supply. That is the same with prices.
Backpacking Italy on a budget like everywhere is possible. Is it possible to budget travel in Italy with 18 euros per day? A spoiler: It is. But is it considerable for you? Let’s find out how to travel across Italy on a budget!
Read more: Italy Travel Guide.
1. Search for cheap places in Italy
While backpacking in Rome, Milan, or Firenze. There will be different variations of prices (expensive to cheap) when considering food and accommodation. However, smaller tourist places like Venice, Cinque Terre, or Amalfi Coast are costly to mid-range. Not many budgeting opportunities, but it would be complete without visiting Italy’s famous places.
But a good idea for traveling around Italy on a budget would be to open a map and expand it a bit wider to find cheap travel alternatives. For Venice, it’s Mestre, Cinque Terre’s more reasonable neighbor is La Spezia, and the Amalfi Coast’s budget partner is Naples. There would probably be more places that have a “cheap brother” close to desired expensive spots due to high tourist traffic. These are connected with high-speed public transportation when backpacking Italy almost every time.
2. Discover more inexpensive places
Italy is a big country with big cities, picturesque coastal villages, historical landmarks, islands, mountain ranges, and off-beaten tracks around the countryside. In short, there are a lot of beautiful places to visit in Italy. But when not having months to travel around the country, you must choose a region for traveling Italy. If you are thinking about how to plan a trip to Italy on a budget, then backpacking in southern Italy will be more beneficial for your wallet than the northern part.
Anything lined with Napoli and staying below it, like the Puglia region and Sicily, is a cheap place in Italy to visit, with some minor exceptions. Amalfi Coast is expensive, but it’s possible to explore that with a strict budget from Napoli. The southern part is magnificent, with many hidden gems in Italy. There you will find more countryside, warm beaches, Sicily, and many unpopular Italian villages, like Ostuni, Matera, or Castelmezzano. Just backpacking in the Southern part of Italy takes weeks.
3. Travelling around Italy by train or BlaBlaCar
The best way to get around Italy is by train. With high speed trains, it’s the cheapest way to backpacking through Italy fast and smooth. If backpacking around Italy by train a lot quickly, then a Eurail pass could be money-saving. With a Eurail pass, you will have unlimited rides with a train. Check out the prices here. When using trains occasionally, check schedules of public transportation opportunities from Omio.
The following alternative for traveling through Italy on a budget is carpooling with strangers through BlaBlaCar. It’s a car-sharing app, where a driver shares a seat from his car to your desired destination. When, of course, destinations match. It’s cheaper transport than trains, and it’s also possible to travel long-haul routes. Plus an easy way to interact with locals, sing songs, and share stories.
A total Italy on a budget transportation tip is a no-brainer: hitchhiking. However, Italians don’t like it much, and it’s also considered illegal, but it’s possible. Don’t do it traditionally by sticking your thumb next to the road. Use common sense and approach people directly, for example, at gas stations or parking lots. Don’t pressure people; try to find people who pass the vibe check.
It’s not the easiest nor smoothest way to travel, but the cheapest way to travel in Italy, and adventures are guaranteed. It needs some patience, a bit of courage, and just a little knowledge. Nothing that you should be scared of while backpacking Italy. It’s fun, and will have great memories afterward.
Read more: Tips for hitchhiking in Europe.
4. Spend a night at a hostel, camping, Couchsurfing
One of the highest expenses while backpacking in Europe is accommodation. In Italy, housing can burn a big hole in anyone’s budget. But everywhere, there are always some ways to save money, when knowing the game. The most convenient way to get cheap accommodation in Italy is by staying in hostels. Prices can vary a lot, and there are several apps for finding places to stay. For example, from the housing app HostelWorld, I found a hostel in Bari for only 5 euros per night. It was one of the best hostels where I stayed. You can find cheap hostels in Italy.
Also, for camping with a tent or without, have several alternatives. A great place for wild camping is CampSpace. That site has been live for a while, and it’s expanding its reach, also in Italy. Prices are around 10 euros and less. There are even some offers for free. If you are not lucky with that app, plenty of Facebook groups for free or cheap camping spots exist.
My favorite option for housing is Couchsurfing. It’s an app where locals host travelers in their homes for free. There are several apps for the same intentions as Couchsurfing, but it’s the most popular and used one. It’s not about the free couch; it’s more about the people you meet through that. Some of the most incredible memories I have are thanks to Couchsurfing, while I was backpacking Italy on a budget. Also, you can try luck with work & travel apps like Workaway or Worldpacker, to ask for a night to stay.
5. Find ways to taste Italian Food on a budget
While budget backpacking through Italy, there will be three main expenses: accommodation, transport, and food. What and where you eat will impact your wallet drastically. A traditional person needs meals three times per day. Also, especially while backpacking Italy on a budget. Small expenses for food might seem like pocket money at the moment. But when looking back at the food expenses table for one week, it can be shocking if you have no idea how much you have spent.
You have to try out local cuisine to get a local taste. But there are alternatives to expensive tourist restaurants. For budget backpacking, doing local pasta on your own is better. Cooking it in your kettle, in a hostel kitchen, or at a Couchsurfing place with locals.
If you want to get local cuisine from an Italian specialist, I would recommend street food or restaurants out of tourist areas, away from the city center or tourist hot spots. But be aware of additional costs, like sit-down or bread costs.
6. Free activities and tours in Italy
Although travel around Italy is expensive, you don’t have to be a millionaire or anything near that. You can find multiple ways to entertain yourself with a low budget or even for free.
When being a big architecture fan, every major city and village is free to stroll around the area, like Venice, Verona, Cinque Terre, Rome, Napoli, and so on.
Backpacking Italy on hiking trails is mostly free to go, like paths in Cinque Terre (only two small trails are with a fee), The Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast, and trails in the Dolomites.
Read more: Best hikes in Italy.
In bigger cities, there are daily free walking tours. A great way to get to know the location even better. Search it in Google. For example, type: free walking tours in Rome (destination where you currently are).
Spend a long day on the beach and swim in the Mediterranean Sea. There are a lot of coastlines all around the country. As seen, there are plenty of activities to experience while traveling around Italy on a budget.
7. Free entrances on the first Sunday of the month
Italy has a great perk for culture enthusiasts. Many museums, art galleries, historical sites, and others are free entrances for everyone, only on the first Sunday of the month. These attractions will get busy due to free entrance. You must be patient or start early, while others are still getting ready.
8. Search for free outdoor activities
It’s impossible to get a full experience when staying only around cities. That applies to every country you visit. A taste of local culture is gained when discovering hidden paths, countryside, nature, and meeting local people from their simple everyday life.
For backpackers in Italy, there are some attractive outdoor activities. Hiking in Cinque Terre and Alps, cliff jumping, via Francigena pilgrim road in Tuscany, volcanos, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and more. You can have a lot of fun without paying a penny.
9. Do a bit of volunteer work while backpacking Italy
How to travel to Italy on a budget? One option is volunteering. You get food and accommodation for volunteer work. Already the two biggest expenses are covered. Plenty of volunteer opportunities in Italy, but probably the most popular are WorkAway and WorldPackers.
These are international volunteering programs, where farms, families, or small businesses (like hostels) seek extra hands in different tasks. You will get a bed and food for easy and short work days. Besides, plenty of time to see the surroundings and, most importantly, to experience the local culture and life.
Read more: Volunteering with a Workaway in Hungary’s countryside.
It’s not limited to these two; there are more programs for students and adults seeking adventure or just looking for a bit of change in their everyday lives.
10. Using Discount shops for food
As mentioned, food is one of the most significant expenses when backpacking Italy on a budget. Can significantly cut down costs, when keeping track of food expenses. The cheapest alternative to save on food is avoiding restaurants as much as possible and doing more shopping. Healthier food is available in markets, where local people sell their fruit, vegetable, or other ingredients grown by themselves.
But when planning pasta, pizza, or some panini for dinner, the food store is for a broader range of ingredients. Ensure you also use discount chains like Lidl, Eurospin, and Aldi.
11. Discounts for people until 25
This tip is for those who are students or/and youngsters who are under 25. Many attractions like museums, art galleries, or other historic sites are significantly cheaper for people younger than 25 years old.
For example, in Rome, it’s a cheaper Colosseum, in Florence Uffizi art gallery or near Napoli Pompeii historic area. Of course, there are plenty of other attractions for young backpackers in Italy. When being a student, an ISIC card can also save some money on several sites.
12. Know and use some travel apps to budget
Travel apps are here to make journeys easier, smarter, and cheaper. With different apps for backpackers, there will be found the best deals for flights, accommodation, transportation, or a variety of activities. You can save a ridiculous amount of money knowing and using apps properly. It is good to do some research while planning a backpacking trip because there are tons of travel apps for various needs and wants and budgeting.
Read more: Backpacking Apps for easier and cheaper travel!
13. Refillable water bottles
Save the planet from plastic pollution and get a reusable water bottle. It’s not only for the environment but also to travel in Italy on a budget. Small water bottle expenses daily lead to a giant hole in the wallet. There are plenty of water tanks everywhere in more prominent and famous places.
Also, tap water in bathrooms or other public buildings is drinkable mostly everywhere in Italy. If not, it’s probably written: non potabile (not drinkable). Backpacking in Italy has been made much easier and cheaper thanks to the number of water tanks.
14. Strict NO to street vendors
While strolling around in tourist places like Milan, Rome, Firenze, Bologna, or else and you look like a person, who is a foreigner, then you will probably be caught by street vendors. That’s true that they are making this way of living, but so many of them exist. If you give them all the money, you will soon announce bankruptcy for your wallet.
It also can turn into a considerable expense while backpacking in Italy. Giving away money means you can’t have an extra beer, wine, or panini. Strict “no, thank you, have a nice day” is the simple answer for these vendors. When starting a conversation with them, getting away without being sold is already more complicated. Street vendors in Italy are very skilled in sales. Be aware that you won’t end up in a scam.
15. Best time to visit Italy
There aren’t bad times for Italy backpacking trips. Enjoying warm summer months around coastal towns, embracing cooler temperatures during fall, or having fun in Alps ski resorts in North Italy. Many variations all year round.
But when backpacking Italy and considering a budget, the best time to visit Italy is during the off-season months. As already seems clear, the high-season and most expensive months in everything is during summer months (June to August). So anything before (April until June) or after (September until October) summer is the best time to wander around when traveling to Italy on a budget. The Autumn and spring months are still relatively warm, especially in southern parts of Italy.
Backpacking in Italy on a Budget of 18 per day?
For example, when backpacking in Italy alone. How would a day in cities like Rome look with 18 euros? Backpackers in Rome must consider three main expenses: accommodation, food, and transport.
Rome is a big city, but many things are within walking distance. Plus, on the way, it’s possible to see every corner of that historical capital. So no need to spend on transport.
Another need is to have a roof for the night. My best recommendation would be Couchsurfing. The big city has many opportunities to live with local people, see how they live, be your tour guide, and have an excellent time together. If that is not an option for travelers, then there are cheap hostels in Rome. The prices for the cheapest hostels in the off-season start around 10 euros. Plus, many of them have breakfast included (free meal).
Lastly, there is still money for food. You can get something from a cheap food store or treat yourself to some street food for lunch. Either way, the cost should be around 3-4 euros. For dinner, you can cook yourself pasta in a hostel kitchen or at a Couchsurfing spot, and ingredients can be bought for 3 euros. In the end, you still have some euros for a beer. It’s a really strict budget plan, but it’s possible while solo backpacking in Italy. As it is seen, it’s even possible to budget below 10 euros when using the fantastic experience of Couchsurfing.
As already mentioned a thousand times then backpacking Italy on a budget is doable. It just needs some discipline to track along with a strict budget plan. It’s not the most pleasurable way to explore the country, but when you stay in Italy longer, some days have to be with lower needs. Hitchhiking, asking for a place to stay from Couchsurfing, and making meals by yourself might not sound comfortable, but for sure, it will make more great memories while backpacking Italy. Check out more articles about Italy and backpacking:
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