How to Plan an Affordable Italy Vacation

Posted Nov 29th 2010 09:01 AMUpdated Nov 29th 2010 04:30 PM


affordable italy vacation

Visiting Italy is an unforgettable experience that doesn't have to break the bank. With a little careful planning, you can have a wonderful time in one of the world's most splendid countries on a modest budget. You'd be amazed how much fun you can have on an affordable Italy vacation.

There are a few things you can't miss in Italy: art, wine, food, history and shopping. Fortunately, all these things can be enjoyed for cheap or free. You can decide what's most important to you and choose a splurge accordingly.

When to Plan Your Affordable Vacation to Italy

May through August, you'll find hot weather and a lot of tourists in Italy. If you plan a trip in August, you'll hardly even meet any Italians, as most Italians go on vacation that month. One way to save money on a trip to Italy is to go when it's a little cooler -- you'll find deals further north starting in October. If you aren't much of a beach bunny anyhow, this is an obvious way to save some pasta money.

How to Plan Your Affordable Vacation to Italy

Book your hotel and flight together. Even if you're looking last-minute, booking your flight and hotel together on one website will save you money. If you're arriving by train or are reading this because you already found an amazing airfare deal, call hotels directly to haggle your price. Believe it or not, this is the way the pros do it in Italy and the surefire way to get the best deal. Be firm, and keep in mind that you have all the advantages in the haggling situation; there are a lot of hotels in Italy.

Affordable Art in Italy

Be sure and investigate any free cultural institutions in the city you are visiting. Even if there's virtually nothing, you will never want for art in Italy. From artists on the street to magnificent public sculptures, it's hard not to experience great free art in Italy. Ask at your hotel if there's a gallery where local artists sell their work, and bask in the foreign perspective as if you're shopping. Don't feel bad if you can't afford to buy -- and don't pretend you intend to, that's no fun -- the artists are happy to have visitors in their galleries. Free sightseeing like this is a great part of your affordable Italy vacation.

Affordable Wine in Italy

This is so easy. At an eating establishment, ask for the house wine. It's probably a lot better than you think, and will come in a carafe for sharing at an unbelievably low price. Ah, Italy -- this is one of your finest wiles.

Affordable Food in Italy

Italy is home to some of the best eats in the world. Be aware that you can enjoy some of the finest restaurant food at the restaurant's bar for cheaper than a table. Furthermore, if you find yourself a hotel or hostel with a kitchenette, you can make yourself the most divine fresh pastas with unbelievable truffle oil for a steal. If you're looking to save money in Italy, consider replacing or heavily supplementing a lunch here and there with delicious fresh gelato. Furthermore, you'll find a dish of sit-down pasta is cheap here as it's considered an appetizer, and to the American stomach, it can be just as filling as a full meal. The only no-no on your affordable Italy vacation is to visit an in-demand restaurant on a busy night or lunch and not order a several-course meal. If you want to visit a hotspot, be prepared to spend or offend.

Affordable Historical Sights in Italy

You may have to do a little research about your specific location, but there are plenty of historical sites and cultural monuments you can visit for free. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, for example, is ripe with history and to this day a highly-trafficked bridge -- certainly free to visit. A saunter down almost any street provides an incredible look into Italy's architectural prowess and provides plenty of photographic opportunities for free. Ask your hotel about famous buildings in your area and go explore. You never know what amazing historical gems you may find! The local Tourist Information Office can help, too -- and they can sometimes offer reduced prices on tickets to some of the most popular attractions and museums if you're a senior citizen or traveling student, or intend to buy tickets for several attractions at once.

Affordable Shopping in Italy

Yes, Italy is home to some of the finest design houses in the world. Don't be disheartened by the prices; consider that even the less-expensive designers are forced to compete in Italy's saturated market, so even a lesser designer from Italy can outrank a top designer from your own city by far. You don't need to visit Gucci and Prada, we have those at home. Check out the street sellers and local leather markets for one-of-a-kind pieces and unbelievable deals. Even if something looks mass-produced on the street, it may be a short-run item you'll never see again as long as you live. Don't forget that what is common in Italy is still uncommon at home.

Vacationing in Italy on a Budget

That about wraps it up -- the above tips should help you either spend far less cash on your trip, make your Italy vacation affordable, or help you save your euros for a lavish massage or one extravagant dinner. Have a fabulous time in Italy. If you're headed there, we're already jealous!

Photo by Annie Scott.
Filed Under: Tips & Tricks, Budget
Tags: Italy, rome

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JoAnn Hassler

I have found Florence to be a "go to " city in Italy. It has a great train station and easy access to other cities for day trips or overnight stays. Florence is a never ending delight for museum goers, shoppers and coffee sippers who just enjoy watching the action while sitting for hours while writing or sketching in their journal.

January 05 2011 at 6:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JoAnn Hassler's comment
Tuscany Villas

We found Lucca to be be a great location its near the coast and an hour from Florence, Pisa I think is worth half a day to take some photos so you can say you have been. A tip I would offer is a "Pranzo di Lavoro" (work lunch) offered by most eating places which cost a mere 9 euros usually, its a set menu with wine and coffee and is great value. For accommodation we stayed with and can say that they were very good in organising our trip. If you are driving another tip is to keep your lights on for all the main roads as you you will find it difficult to know where you should have your lights on as there is no signs to say so. Overall a delightful place to be on holiday

May 26 2012 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great article, Its definitely worth getting off the beaten track and travelling to less well travelled areas. We,ve been to Le Marche many times and the prices for food, wine accomodation are far lower. There are great pasta fresca shops where you can buy freshly made egg pasta, including stufffings such as porcini and truffle, go to the cantina to buy amazing wine at around $1 a liter. For accomodation you can search many of the holiday rentals sites, or visit an agriturismo site, which lists some great rural properties and farms. We stayed at fantastic with stunning views of Medieval town & mountains and free fruit herbs and vegetables. There are some great blogs offering insights into regions such as Le Marche for example and many outlet shops for designer fashions.

December 01 2010 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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