Frugal Travel Tips for Italy

I love exploring new places, learning about different cultures, and talking to the locals. No wonder I love traveling! There are so many things you can learn from traveling; these are things that you cannot learn from sitting in a classroom or from reading a book. I have been very fortunate to travel all over the world since I was a young boy – I have traveled quite extensively in North America, having been to 9 out of 10 Canadian provinces and 1 out of the 3 territories; I have also been to 45 of the 51 US states. During my university student days I was lucky enough to work as a Co-op student in Germany for 8 months. The job paid OK. The pay was enough to cover my living expenses and I had enough leftover for traveling in Europe. Traveling in Europe while living there was a lot different than your usual European backpacking trips. I had a home base and a “normal” weekday live. On the weekend I was the road warrior, exploring different European cities, enjoying myself. This 8 months of my life was definitely a once-in-a-life-time experience.

One of my dreams have always been to set foot in all 7 continents. So far I’ve only been to 3 (Asia, North America, Europe) so I’ll have to work a bit more on this goal.

Traveling to different places doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. You can definitely travel more frugally. The key thing is to be flexible so you can find killer deals out there. If your work requires you to travel, that’s an added bonus.

Today I would like to share with you some of my pictures from Italy.

Generally speaking Italy is relatively cheap compared to other western European or Scandinavian countries. Items tend to be a little bit more expensive when you’re in major Italian tourist cities like Venice and Rome. If you venture to the more local areas, you can find cheaper items. Here are 10 frugal tips that may save you some money while traveling around in Italy.

Italy travel frugal tips

1. Use grocery stores or open markets for buying food.
Buy bread, deli meat, cheese, produce, and other items to make a delicious lunch and/or dinner. Try finding a mom and pop grocery store as they’re typically cheaper. Buying a bottle of wine (or two or three 😉 ) from a grocery store is also way cheaper than buying one from the restaurant.

Tuscany Italy

2. Watch out for “sit down” fee.
If you’re going to restaurants for a meal or having a coffee at cafes, double check that there’s no extra “sit down” fee. Some restaurants charge a mandatory sit down fee or service fees unless you order from a specific food menu. For cafes, if you’re standing at the bar area you don’t have to pay for service/sit down fee.

Venice Italy

3. Carry some cash with you
Some stores and attractions do not take credit cards. Make sure you have sufficient cash with you. Withdraw money from an ATM is an excellent idea so you don’t have to carry too much cash. Check that your debit/credit card does not charge you extra foreign exchange fees.

Venice Italy

4. Use the public transportation.
Use the Italian public transportation system to get around the country instead of hiring a taxi. A little warning though, Italian trains sometimes does not leave on time, so make sure you give yourself some buffers when it comes to transfers.

Cinque Terre Italy

5. Walk your hearts out
Walking is usually the best way to get around and check out the city. You get to see things up close and personal. For extra adventure, I recommend exploring the city without a map. Especially if you are in Venice!

Manarola Italy

6. Fill up your own water bottle
Don’t buy water. Bring a water bottle and fill up your own water as you travel around Italy. If you’re in Rome, you can drink the water from the fountains.

Cinque Terre Italy

7. Away from tourist centers.
If you’re dining out, walk a few blocks away from the center of the tourist areas. Restaurants outside of tourist areas are usually cheaper. Some restaurant in the tourist areas will serve you a basket of bread when you sit down, and then charge you for it without even telling you in advance. When in doubt, ask your server.

Venice Italy

8. Ask locals for tips.
Locals know the cities the best. If you ask nicely they can typically offer a few pointers and let you know the cheaper local joints.

Italy

9. Be willing to share with others.
Sometimes you can get a better deal by sharing items/trips with others. For example riding a gondola in Venice with a few other parties will give you the romantic gondola riding experience that you’re looking for and save you a few bucks.

Venice Italy

10. Learn to bargain
Learn to bargain at the right occasion. Use the Italian hand gestures for extra authenticity.

Rome Italy

What do you think about these frugal travel tips for Italy? What do you think about my pictures? Stay tuned for pictures and frugal tips from other countries around the world.

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    A Frugal Family's Journey
    September 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Great photos Tawcan! My wife and I visited Italy on our honeymoon and your photos bring back some great memories. Definitely want to go back one day when we have the opportunity and of course financial means. 🙂

    BTW….great travel tips. Thanks for sharing. AFFJ

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Hi AFFJ,

      Thanks. We visited Italy for our honeymoon as well and had a great time. We’d love to go back there again too.

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Henry @ Living At Home
    September 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Italy seems like such a wonderful place. The photos are amazing, thanks for sharing. Recently, I watched House Hunters Internationals on HGTV and the couple was house hunting in Italy. The culture is much more relax than in the states. Good stuff.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Hi Henry,

      Italy is indeed a wonderful place. I really like the country and culture. Life is quite relaxed and people are very friendly. You should definitely check out Italy one of these days.

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    No More Waffles
    September 14, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Beautiful photos, Tawcan! Great tips too! I really like going to Italy because there’s so much to do (lots of history and sports opportunities) and the weather is so nice.

    Italy used to be really expensive, but that has changed drastically the past few years. The economic crisis really left its scar on the country. Where I used to pay 15-20 euros for a really decent dinner, you can have the best of dinners now for only €10, excellent wine included!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 14, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Hi No More Waffles,

      That’s interesting to know that Italy is even cheaper than a few years ago. More reasons to go back there for us.

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Erin @ Journey to Saving
    September 14, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Wow, fantastic pictures! Italy is on my travel list, mostly because my mom’s side is 100% Italian, and I learned the language for 5 years in school. These are great tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Erin,

      Very cool that you have an Italian background. I’d love to know how to speak Italian. 🙂

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Asset-Grinder
    September 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Great tips. Been to Italy once and I loved it, Cant wait to go back.

    Whenever I travel I tend to walk a lot and ride to public transport.

    I too like to visit local grocery stores and have picnics especially for lunch. Good idea on the water bottle as I have never thought of it.

    Man I havent took a trip in a long time. I am jealous!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Hi AG,

      The Mrs. and I both love Italy. The lay back atmosphere in Tuscany was awesome. We are hoping to go back Italy in the near future.

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Roadmap2Retire
    September 15, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Great pics and nice tips. Ive traveled a bit in western EU but never been to Italy…next time we travel to EU, we will probably go to Italy – Ive always thought that Italy should be a trip by itself…there are so many little towns and cities to explore with so much history.

    Thanks for sharing

    Best

  • Reply
    Steve
    September 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I went when I was 15 with my high school and I’d love to go back and see everything again 🙂

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks. The Mrs and I really like Italy too. We’ll most likely go back there in the near future.

      • Reply
        Steve
        September 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        I’ll have to pick your brain before we go in the future!

  • Reply
    Alexis
    September 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I think staying in hostels is a great way to save money but is definitely a risk as well. People can get their belongings stolen as well with money.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Alexis,

      Hostel is kind of a given. I’ve stayed at many European hostels and never had any problems with people stealing my belongings or money.

      cheers.

  • Reply
    Dividend Mantra
    September 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Tawcan,

    Love the pictures, my friend. Awesome stuff. You’re clearly a talented photographer. 🙂

    I’ve been to Malta when I was younger, as that’s where my grandmother is from (she’s 100% Maltese). It was beautiful there. I hope to make it to mainland Italy at some point. Looks like a great time.

    BTW, what’s your favorite city there and why?

    Cheers!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Hi Dividend Mantra,

      I haven’t been to Malta, would love to go there one day. My wife went to Malta with her family when she was a little girl.

      I love Rome because there are so many cool architectures to check out. There’s also so much history behind Rome. I also love Manarola because it’s such a beautiful yet relaxed little Italian town.

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Mrs. Frugalwoods
    September 17, 2014 at 3:53 am

    Beautiful photos and great travel advice! I love Italy–so gorgeous and such wonderful food. I hope to go back some day!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods,

      Yes Italy is lovely. Would you bring Frugal Hound with you? Frugal Hound needs to try some delicious Italian food too!

      Cheers.

  • Reply
    Weekend Reading – September 21, 2014
    September 20, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    […] My Travels – Italy and 10 Frugal Travel Tips Tawcan shared some amazing pictures from his trip to Italy. Travel is something I definitely want to partake in once I’m financially independent, but I’m living vicariously through others in the meantime. Awesome pictures. […]

  • Reply
    debs @ debt debs
    September 21, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Gorgeous shots! Never been to Italy but its on my list for retirement trips. Great frugal travel tips too! 😀

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Hi Debs,

      Thanks. Italy is wonderful you’ll really like it.

      Cheers.

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