How to Save Money in Italy: Top Tips for Saving while Seeing the Best Sites

May 18, 2024

If you’re planning a trip on a budget, you’ll definitely want to dive into our how to save money in Italy guide, as we discover the best ways to get off the beaten track and enjoy the best sites in Italy like a local.

We’ve covered how to save money on transportation in Italy and how to find Italy’s best budget accommodation

Here are some of the best tips to save money while making the best of your trip to Italy.

restaurant terrace in venice canals with gondola and gondolier day

Italy can be an expensive country, but you can find many ways to save money and make the most out of your trip. Photo credit: Igor Oliyarnik

To save money—and discover your “own” Italy—get off the beaten track

Get off the beaten path, like to Pienza, and not only will prices drop, but your experience just might be even better.

Italy’s cities and popular tourist destinations are more expensive than its more local, off-the-beaten-track towns and sites. 

The best part? Those “hidden gems” are often just as rewarding, if not even more so, as what you’ve heard about. 

Instead of spending five days in Florence, consider spending two days in Florence and three in Tuscan towns like Lucca and Pienza. Or head to a region that’s not even as familiar as Tuscany, like Umbria or Le Marche. 

Everything, from accommodation to food to museums, will be cheaper. 

As a bonus, you’ll also feel like you discovered the “real” Italy more than if you spend the majority of your time among crowds at the Duomo and the Uffizi.

road leading to a palazzo in pienza italy

In towns like Pienza you’ll find all the Italian charm minus the tourists and high prices. Photo credit: Kristof Van Rentergem

Remember that Italy’s churches are as filled with masterpieces as the museums

Rome’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva is a church, a treasure trove, an art gallery—and it’s free.

Not all, but many of Italy’s churches are free (a small donation is, of course, always appreciated). 

And that’s a real coup for the budget-conscious traveler, since each church is way more than a religious space: It’s a treasure trove of painting and sculpture. 

In Rome, for example, the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and San Luigi dei Francesi have some of the best Caravaggio paintings you’ll ever see. The church of Santa Maria della Vittoria holds one of Bernini’s most stunning sculptures. The church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva has a Michelangelo, beautiful Filippino Lippi frescoes, and the body of Saint Catherine of Siena. We could keep on going all day.

Santa Maria sopra Minerva interior with ray of light and person walking by

Temples and Italy are much more than that: they’re references in culture, architecture and history, besides museums of the greatest art. Photo credit: Sergei Mutovkin

Carry your I.D. with you to museums and sites

There’s no standard discount across Italian museums and sights. But if you’re thinking about how to save money in Italy, you definitely have to carry your I.D. (and ideally student card) with you. 

At most places, though, including the Colosseum and Uffizi gallery, if you’re an E.U. citizen, you can get a discount if you’re over 65 years old or under 25 or 26, and children under 18 are free. 

Always make sure you have your E.U. identity card or passport with you to prove your eligibility.

But even if you’re not European, you still might be eligible for a discount. Do you teach, or study, architecture, conservation, literature, or art history? 

It varies from place to place, but many sites in Italy, including Florence’s Uffizi and Accademia, allow you free entrance. Generally you need a “certificate of enrollment for the current academic year,” in English, to prove your status. A letter also seems to work fine.

You’re a student, but not in those fields, and not European? Bring your university I.D. with you anyway. 

The Vatican museums give you a discount, from €15 down to €8, with a student I.D. Other sites and museums might give you the student discount (even one that’s sometimes officially only for E.U. citizens) if you have an ISIC card with you.

student staring at ceiling inside an Italian museum Florence

Just by showing your I.D. or your Student Card, you may be able to get a discount in your tickets. Photo credit: Joshua Earle

Walk and take public transportation—smartly

As in any city, cabs in Italy can be expensive. Whenever you can, walk. 

Italy’s cities are incredibly walkable, and often, the only way you can get to a particular site is on foot, anyway! 

But don’t be afraid of public transportation, either. It’s a cheap way to go and there are other perks if you need to take more than one: In Rome, for example, you can ride various buses around and get one metro ride for 75 minutes for the same price.

Want to get around Venice by boat? It may be a bit expensive unless you’re taking the vaporetto.

There often are also “tourist cards” you can get for public transport in Italy’s big cities. 

In Rome, you can get an unlimited metro, bus and tram card for 24 hours or for three days that will likely be cheaper than purchasing single tickets. 

In Venice, there are a number of options; the prices depend on the season. In the “middle/high season,” for example, a 72-hour pass for unlimited water buses can cost twice its “low season” price.. 

how to save money in Italy? Take the vaporetto

How to save money in Italy? Take the vaporetto, it may not be as romantic as a gondola, but it’ll certainly be much cheaper. Photo credit: Henri Picot

Again, just remember to think it through. Calculate how many times you’ll need to take the boat to make that 72-hour Venice pass, for example, “worth it.” 

And remember: in all Italian cities, you might end up walking more, and taking transport less, than you’d think, so always weigh your options. Yes! Even in Venice.

Consider discount cards, but always do the math

If you’re thinking about how to save money in Italy, you’re definitely thinking about all the museums, churches and sights you want to visit. 

Rome, Venice, and Florence each have a version of cards that allow you free or reduced-price entrance into a number of museums and sights. But whether they’re worth it depends on what you plan to do. Here’s a quick rundown for Rome, Florence and Venice.

Save money in Rome

You can purchase a Roma Pass for 48 or 72 hours. It includes all bus, tram and metro transportation, gives you a free entrance to the first two sites you visit, and offers discounts on the others. It also allows you to “skip the line” at sights like the Colosseum. 

Since they’re not technically in Rome, the Vatican museums are not included. Sites that are included are the Colosseum/forum/Palatine (all one archaeological site that will take you quite some time to see), the Capitoline museums, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the Galleria Borghese (here, though, you still have to book in advance). 

Discounts generally aren’t huge, but a couple euros per ticket, so do the math before you jump on the Roma Pass and make sure to maximize the time visiting as many sights as possible during those two or three days.

You may also save time and money by skipping the line and booking complete tours like The Complete Vatican Tour with Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica. Even better, you can book the Rome in a Day Tour and cover way more than you’d be able to do in a day.

If you want to use the night to also cover some relevant sights you may not have time during the day, you’d definitely benefit from the unique experience of the VIP Colosseum night tour.

Colosseum at night Rome

Visiting the Colosseum is always a memorable and unique experience.


Save money in Florence

The Firenze Card can only be purchased for 72 hours, so make sure that you have at least three full days to spend. You can also extend it with Firenzecard Restart for an extra 48 hours, if you’re staying five days in the city.

It includes all bus and tram transportation, plus entrance to most of Florence’s major museums, including the Accademia, Uffizi, Bargello, Boboli Gardens, and Palazzo Vecchio. 

As with the Roma Pass, it allows you to skip any line without worrying about booking in advance—a good option if you haven’t booked for the Accademia and Uffizi as it’ll definitely save you a lot of time.

Once again, make sure that you plan to spend at least those initial 72 hours visiting some of these sights to make the best out of it.

If you don’t book in advance, and even if you do, queues in Florence can be quite time-consuming. You can book a Full Day Walking Tour and save both time and money, or skip the line with the Best of Florence Walking Tour that includes a visit to the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David.

Guide in front of the Florence Duomo explaining to guests about the cathedral

Trust us, there is plenty to see in Florence, and many places you’ll want to visit in detail.

Save money in Venice

Venezia Unica is the City Pass for the City of Venice. It’s an all-in-one pass that allows you to organize your visit to Venice by booking in advance a series of tourist attractions and cultural events, also including public transportation tickets.

You have multiple deals available depending on what is included, so we strongly suggest that you plan in advance and select what you plan to do during your stay in the city.

If you buy over 30 days in advance, you get special discounts and best deals in the City Pass and some museums, but also on the transfer tickets from Marco Polo Airport.

Prices may change according to whether it’s high/low season, so you have to choose your date in the calendar first. Finally, if anyone in your group is aged 14-29, consider the Rolling Venice Card. It lasts for a year, and with that card, you can get a discounted “3 day youth pass” to get unlimited use of public transport on all urban lines. It also gives discounts to various sites around the city, so make sure to check the whole list of benefits.

Doge's Palace courtyard in Venice with group of visitors after dark

Booking passes and tours early is how to save money in Italy and also to avoid queues and get unique experiences.


Update Notice: This post was updated on December 19, 2023.

by Walks of Italy

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