I wrote down any and everything I spent money on when I was in Italy for two weeks, because I wanted to be able to tell more accurately what my budget would be like the next time I visited Italy, and I know that I am not the only one who wants to know as exactly as possible what a trip is going to cost. I certainly learned a few things underway, which I want to relay to you so that you may avoid my mistakes.
This post is meant not so much as a lesson, but as a measuring point. I traveled the way I thought was best – I you want to travel more or less frugally, you can add and subtract to your heart’s content.
Here’s the budget, and I will discuss the individuals below:
The flights I bought was with Ryanair – the route was Copenhagen – Milano Bergamo – Copenhagen. To get from Milano Bergamo to Milano Central Station you’ll have to take a shuttle bus for 5 Euros, and it takes about an hour with the bus. The bus/ferry post comprises those two shuttle buses and the back and forth trip with a ferry from Salerno to Positano.
The train post is the one that could probably have been a lot smaller. The last day I wanted to buy a ticket from Rome to Milano (on a Sunday), and all but the business class tickets at 119 Euros were sold out. The only other options would have been too late for me to catch my flight home.
I had toyed with the idea of buying an Interrail (Eurail for Europeans) with 8 travel days, which would have cost me the equivalent of 245 Euros. I was afraid that 8 travel days out of 14 wouldn’t be enough – in fact it turned out to be exactly 8 days in those two weeks. In hindsight, I think I would have saved some money with the Interrail. The smaller additional trips which I’m not sure I would have used a travel day on (like the short trips between the Cinque Terre villages) wouldn’t have added much more to the cost.
By the way – when you’re buying train tickets, I always found best prices and largest availability with FrecciaRossa trains, compared to Italo trains.
As for metrotickets, a ticket is 1,5 Euro and lasts 90 minutes – it definitely wasn’t those tickets that broke the budget. I walked most places anyway.
It is often easier to take a bus from A to B, but tickets can only be bought at certain kiosks (which are never near when you need them) or at train stations. I wish I had spent the 7 Euros on a 2 day bus card, simply for the convenience of being able to hop on whenever I wanted to. Spent a good deal of time finding metros because there was nowhere to buy a bus ticket. You could also buy several bus tickets in advance for a particular day.
I rented a car for three days because I wanted to see the rural Tuscany and visit some of the smaller cities on my own itinerary. Worked out great, I had a great couple of days. More importantly – I don’t think 115 Euros is that bad for 3 days of car rental and one full tank of gas (economic Smart Car!). I rented with Europcar in Florence.
I had booked accommodation beforehand in Florence and in Rome, but in Tuscany and south of Rome I had decided to wait and see where I was, so that my itinerary wouldn’t have to be too set in stone. I was very happy with that decision, but my mistake through the first week was that I only used agoda.com for finding a cheap place to stay. Agoda is smart for finding a good deal on hotels, but I didn’t find any hostels on the site, and so had to settle for more expensive options. Halfway through my vacation though, I discovered the app HostelWorld, and from then on I was able to find more budget friendly places.
I can recommend these places:
- Ostello Manarola in Manarola, Cinque Terre. Nice, clean, cheap.
- Villa Zara B&B in Siena. Somewhat out of the way, but very very nice rooms + breakfast.
- Sarah’s Home Airbnb in Rome. Great location, sweet owner, nice room.
- Mosaic Hostel in Rome. Very friendly staff and great breakfast.
- Salerno in Alto Mare Airbnb in Salerno. Good location, lovely rooms + breakfast, very sweet and helpful owner.
Important note: I’m not being paid to advertise these places, I just stayed there and liked it.
Breakfast is very cheap, especially if you don’t need very much (I don’t). On average I spent a little more than 20 Euros on meals each day, usually one cheap and one slightly more expensive. I haven’t factored in any kind of snacking, which there was a lot of. Italy is gelato country, after all. My lunches and dinners ranged in prices between 5 and 20 Euros, with one splurge meal of 33 Euros.
- Gelato, cup with 2 flavours: 2-3,5 Euros
- Cappuccino: 1-2,5 Euros
- Morning pastry or croissant: 1-2 Euros
- Glass of wine: 3-5 Euros
- Public bathrooms: 1-2 Euros
- Laundromat (Florence): 5 Euros
In Florence, most of the sights will cost in excess of 10 Euros, especially if you’re clever and pre book to avoid those pesky queues. Pre booking fees are 2-4 Euros. Most popular are the Duomo (where only the church itself is free), the Uffizi and Galleria dell’Academia.
In Rome I only spent money on three sights, and that was the Vatican Museums (20 Euros), Colosseum (12 Euros) and Galleria Borghese (17 Euros). The rest, like St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon and the open air stuff like the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are absolutely free.
Those expenses that will have to be there, no matter how well you plan. This was for the deodorant I lost in airport security check, the shampoo I forgot in the shower in Siena, a souvenir Florence book mark (in leather!), Compeed plaster for weary feet.. you get the drift.
Is there something about this budget you would like to know more? Anything you think is completely wrong by your experience? Tell me in the comments below!