A holiday to Rome should definitely be on your bucket list! Don’t be put off by high price tags as we show you ways to skip out on the expense whilst still having an amazing time!
A holiday can have the potential to be very expensive, and especially when you’re in a city like Rome. Thankfully, the diverse landscape and neighbourhoods of the Eternal City mean that whether you want a lavish or budget-friendly vacation, with a little research you can be having the holiday of your dreams! This budget guide will cover where you should stay, the best time to visit and some tips for exploring Rome on the cheap.
Where to stay
Rome’s medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere is only a stone’s throw away from the centre of the city, along with a 15-minute walk to the main attractions such as the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a lot quieter than being situated in the heart of the city so you’ll notice a more authentic vibe here, filled with bright, young locals heading to one of the rooftop bars in the area. A popular hotel for travelling women is the Orsa Maggiore, a female only hostel featuring cheap and clean dormitory accommodation in a safe environment.
This residential area resides in a quiet neighbourhood and features one of the seven hills of Rome; Aventine Hill. It’s perfect to be based in as the area has a lot to offer gastronomic wise. There are plenty of cafes and trattorias around, as well as lush greenery that gives the area a picturesque and calming atmosphere. If you do choose this area, stay at the Hotel Major Aventus, a lovely hotel located inside of a villa that has it’s own Wi-Fi right on Aventine Hill offering reasonably priced rooms.
If you’re after a city stay in the heart of all the action, staying in the centro storico or Municipio I will be your best option. Take a walk to the Spanish Steps or make a wish at the Trevi Fountain. Cheap accommodation in this area is hard to come by, so a stay at the gorgeous Villa Monte Mario will stop you from breaking the bank and instead allow you to spend your money elsewhere. This villa is actually a monastery run by Carmelite sisters who don’t speak much, if any, English at all, but the accommodation does supply a lovely complimentary breakfast. There’s a bus stop right outside that will whisk you away to the Vatican and the Spanish Steps. Or, the Gemelli train station is only a mere 400 metres away.
Where to eat
Campo De Fiori
For a cheap and delicious slice of pizza, head to the Forno Campo De’ Fiori. This bakery is located right near the beautiful Piazza Navona and serves pizza alongside mouthwatering pastries; both sweet and savoury. It differs from the touristy hot spots as you’ll find a lot of locals that rave about this place and their pizza bianca, a pizza with a white base of rosemary, salt and olive oil. ]
Dar Poeta sells itself as a pizzeria of the people who have perfected their thin wood-fired crusts in a delightfully Roman atmosphere. It’s as traditional as they come, with a well-versed selection of pizzas on the menu as well as their iconic ricotta and Nutella calzone. This restaurant may take a while to find as it’s nestled in between twisted laneways, but the walk (and the line) is worth the wait!
A quick bite at Mizio’s Street Food is a great pitstop to keep you going during a long day of sightseeing. This family owned and operated sandwich shop has been winning the hearts and stomachs of locals and tourists alike. After choosing what bread you want, you could go the classic route and stick to an Urbana; with bufala cheese and spinach or be adventurous and try the Angeletto with pork fillet and Taleggio cheese.
When to Visit
Remember that when you visit will have a lot to do with the bargains and prices you’ll find. The best discounts will ultimately be in winter, however from April to May, or September to October. It’s generally advised that unless you’re specifically going to Rome for a holiday like Easter or Christmas, don’t go during this time as it’s super expensive and busy in the city. The best time to go is early spring, as while the weather can be sometimes rainy, the sun is almost always out. Do book your plane tickets well in advance as it will get more expensive closer to the date.
Cheap Ways to get around the city
You really won’t need a car in the city center, as the streets are congested with locals driving out of the city and tourists walking around. The only reason why you might need a car is if you’re planning to visit the countryside, and in this case, book in advance when car hire prices are at their cheapest.
This is the best way to travel through cities, giving you more freedom to explore small towns that don’t have airports. The train stations will almost always have faster check-ins than airports.
The public bus operates 24 hours a day, and tickets can be purchased by tobacconists. You can keep them until they are validated, the BIT is one euro and you can travel any bus or metro within a 75 minute time period, BIG is 4 euros and full day ticket, and the BTI is 11 euro for tourists unlimited for 3 days.
On the first Sunday of every month, attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Borghese Gallery are free to visit with the only downside of this being that the lines of people queuing up to enter can be enormous. The Vatican is free to visit on the last Sunday of the month. There are a lot of other attractions to see that are free in the city such as the gardens of the Villa Borghese, the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Related article: How Long Did Rome Really Take to Build?