Cultural Experience | Italy

20 Budget Life Hacks for Italy

Turn the affluence of Italy into a cost-effective experience

By Caitlin McConnell, Marist College

Italy is one of Europe’s biggest attractions with its abundance of art, delectable food and world renowned views. Unfortunately, this label makes the country a pricey destination. But don’t let Italy’s luxurious lifestyle scare you; there are many ways to save money and still enjoy your time during your visit. Make this popular destination an affordable one by using these tricks that will help you not empty your savings account.

1. Go to an appertivo at dinnertime. 

This is better than dining at a three- course restaurant for anyone on a budget. This way, you will spend no more than 10 Euros and indulge in a drink of your choice and an all you can eat buffet.

2. Eat locally.

eat local, italy, budget, fresh food

It is easy to get intrigued by the tourist attractions and decide to dine by the Duomo in Florence or the Trevi Fountain in Rome, but these places will be significantly more expensive than it would be to eat at a local trattoria, which will have better food at a good price.

3. Pass on the bread!

Restaurants will charge you for the bread that they place in the middle of the table if you eat it, but not mention it until the bill is delivered.

4. Drinks are cheaper at the bar than at the table.

drinks, duomo, italy, bar

 If you are planning to stick to liquids and not solids, then avoid the main seating area!

 5. Tipping is not an obligation in Italy.

Do not forget that you are in another country and do not need to add that extra 20 percent onto your bill.

 6. Student museum cards are a great way to visit museums at a reduced price.

For example, in Florence, a card is around 25 Euros and it permits a student to walk in and out of most of the museums in the city for free. Also a secret hint: If you are an art student, mention it and you will usually be guaranteed a free entrance.

 7. Travel during the off-season.

Generally this is October through April. During this time everything will be much cheaper including airfare and accommodations. Not to mention, you won’t have to wait in those long, ceaseless lines.

8. Walk whenever you have the chance to in Italy.

walk, explore, italy, transportation

After eating all of those heavy carbs, it is a great way to not only walk it off, but to explore the city without having to look through the windows of an overpriced taxi or bus.

9. Check out travel companies like Bus2Alps.

There are many companies that bring students or just regular visitors to locations all around Italy at a very good price with all trip accommodations and itineraries included.

 10. Visit the Trenitalia webpage for information on how to navigate Italy’s train system.


If it is necessary to fly to a destination, Ryanair and EasyJet are airlines that have very inexpensive flights.

12. Stay in a hostel.

hostel, bunk beds, budget, student travel


Who cares if it means bunk beds?  There is no need to stay in an upscale hotel when you can save money by only spending around 20 to 40 Euros a night in a hostel where you can meet other travelers and have a free breakfast included!

13. Bargain shopping is key.

It is very easy to get distracted by all of the amazing displays in the surrounding designer store windows. Try saving money by going to the outlet malls or bartering with the seller before making a purchase.

14. Layering will be your best friend abroad!

There is no need to buy an abundance of new clothes because you can add or take away clothing in those weird weather conditions with the correct use of layers.

15. Grocery shopping will be a money saver in the long run.


Instead of going out to eat every night, try going to the local markets to get produce at an economical price and make your own dinner at home with all of the fresh food Italy has to offer.

 16. Find deals on sporting event tickets.

fiorentina, soccer game, sporting event tickets

Go through your school or travel companies for sporting event tickets at a discounted price. Go see one of the country’s favorite teams, Fiorentina, play a soccer game without corroding your wallet.

17. Make use of smart phone apps!

When it comes to having free communication with your folks back at home, use apps that smart phones provide such as Viber and Skype instead of multiplying the phone bill with direct calling.

18. Try paying with cash instead of credit.

Many credit cards have a foreign transaction fee. In addition, most places in Italy only accept cash; so make sure you have it in a safe place such as a money belt.

19. Have a jar to collect your coins in.

Americans are used to putting their change aside, but in Italy coins are much more lucrative.

20. Forget about paying for entertainment.

venice, carnival, costumes, entertainment, free

 Go for no expense by checking out the local newspaper to find out what free concerts and performances are going on in parks, venues or churches around the area. When in doubt, visit Venice for the carnival (Carnevale di Venezia) in the spring and walk to Piazza San Marco to see people dressed in ostentatious costumes for the best entertainment of all time with no cost!


Caitlin McConnell

Marist College | 12 stories

Caitlin is a senior at Marist College studying public relations and fashion merchandising. She enjoys being active, shopping and spending time with friends and family. She is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She has gained valuable experiences through interning at companies such as Seventeen Magazine in New York City and traveling abroad to Florence, Italy for a semester. She fell in love with Europe and dreams of traveling to new places to further explore cultures, languages and traditions!

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