Is Rome a good option for budget travellers?

Yes, but it can be tough.

This is what we found was most expensive:-

1. Drinking in restaurants

And I don’t mean alcohol.  Soft drinks, juices, water – they are all eye wateringly expensive.  In fact it is much better value for money to drink wine with meals.  I loved that wine was served in carafes rather than by the glass – I could get two small glasses of wine from a carafe for the same price as a coke.

For eating during the day, we took to not ordering a drink with the meal and then buying a bottle of water from a shop afterwards.  Don’t buy water from the many carts offering water, snacks and other drinks for sale unless you are desperate – water from these carts costs twice as much as it does in the shops.

2. Eating out

Meals out are pretty much as expected, costing around €10 to €15 for main courses.  Steer clear of the restaurants around the main tourist attractions to save some money.  There is absolutely no culture of eating on the go in Italy and it took 3 days in Rome before we had even found a supermarket, so our usual money saving method of picnicking was not on the cards.  This means either filling up on the breakfast buffet and skipping lunch (and I would not recommend this – it is important to build in breaks into sight seeing) or having a sit down meal for lunch.  We plumped for the sit down mean and I devoted myself to eating salad as a light option.  It was not cheap at €8 to €10, but the portion sizes were huge.

3. Accommodation

Accommodation in Rome is expensive, although on the whole we found many more affordable options in Rome than in Sorrento.  The rooms in Rome are small.  It was a tight squeeze to get in even with just hand luggage never mind big suitcases.  For me, a hotel is just a place to sleep, and so the room doesn’t have to be amazing as long as it is clean and reasonably located.  We definitely got more room, and a much nicer room, for our money in Sorrento, although we did have to pay quite a bit more.

Rome also applies a city tax, which will need to be paid separately when checking out.  Remember to factor this in to the accommodation charges when budgeting.

My biggest tip when it comes to accommodation is just to shop around as much as possible.  Look at hostels as well as hotels, consider self-catering options or even couch surfing.  With a little bit of leg work you should be able to uncover something that suits your budget.

There is no getting away from the cost of accommodation and food – you will need to eat and sleep, and this will put a squeeze on the tightest of budgets.  However, once in Rome, eating out aside, it is possible to spend very little money.

Firstly, there is no need to incur any transport costs.  Rome is a very walkable city, with quite a compact set of main attractions.  We grouped the sights together and planned our days geographically to ease some of the walking.  The only time we paid for any transport was to take the metro to the Vatican, and this cost just over €1 each way.

Secondly, there is no need to pay to go into anything at all.  We did buy entrance tickets to the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums.  However, the Colosseum is absolutely iconic and can be appreciated from the outside without paying for entrance.

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The Colosseum ticket also covers entry to the Imperial Forum, however there are some great views of this for free on the walk up to the Capitoline Museums.

View of the Roman Forum from the road to the Capitoline Museums

St Peter’s Basilica is also free to enter – you will only need to buy tickets for the Vatican Museums if you are intent on seeing the Sistine Chapel or any of the other art treasures housed there.

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Finally, there are loads of free activities on offer in Rome, including:-

Pretending you are Audrey Hepburn on the Spanish Step…

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Elbowing through the throngs to catch a glimpse of the magnificent Trevi fountain…

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Spotting pagan symbols in the Pantheon…

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People watching in the Piazza Navona…

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Strolling through the Villa Borghese…

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Learning about Italian history in Il Vittoriano…

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Scaling Janiculum Hill for sublime views of Rome…

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Admiring the stunning artwork in Italy’s numerous churches…

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Watching cats roam over ancient ruins…

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…and wandering round getting lost in Rome’s streets and soaking up the atmosphere of the city.

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Rome can be a squeeze when it comes to accommodation, eating and drinking.  Beyond those costs, it is in theory possible not to spend another penny in Rome, and survive on a budget of €25 to €40 per day.  Even with accommodation and food there are bargains to be had, and Rome is definitely a city that is worth putting in that little bit extra effort to make it happen on a budget that you can afford.

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One response to “Is Rome a good option for budget travellers?

  1. Pingback: Study Abroad Travel: Rome - infinite·

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