Everything you need to know about budgeting a trip to Italy
From the canals of Venice to the wineries of Tuscany, Italy is a bucket list destination for most travelers. Any European vacation can be expensive, especially during high tourist seasons, so it's important to think about each aspect of your journey ahead of time. Here's everything you need to know about the cost of a trip to Italy, from flights to hotels to museums.
Flights are often the most expensive part of a vacation, but it's always possible to find deals. Prices vary during different seasons, with summer being the most pricey time for European travel. During the summer months, flights from major U.S. cities to Italy can cost over $1,000 per person. In less popular months, flights average $500-600 from major U.S. cities. Use websites like Kayak and Skyscanner to find the best fares, or look into using frequent flier miles to book your flights.
Consider flying a budget airline like Norwegian or WOW air to Europe and then booking a cheap connecting flight to your Italian destination if your funds are tight. It's possible to find fares to Europe on budget airlines for less than $200 each way. Norwegian, for example, offered flights for $75 each between NYC and London in early 2017, so it's worth digging around for deals.
Typically, mid-range hotels in Italy run from $125-250 per night in cities like Rome and Milan, and it's possible to spend as much as $800 per night on a luxe hotel in Venice. Use TripAdvisor to find the best options and check rates, and consider small family-run B&Bs or boutique hotels when visiting countryside destinations. If you're on a budget, book a shared room hostel for as low as $25 per night.
Look into Airbnb instead of a hotel to save money. Airbnbs are available in most Italian cities and can be significantly cheaper than a hotel (and many have kitchens, which saves money on dining out). Look for rentals in the center of town, and always check the reviews before booking.
Food and drinks
The cost of dining out in Italy depends on your preferences. Lonely Planet estimates that travelers should budget $25-75 per day for food and drinks. If you're planning to eat in restaurants for every meal, you'll likely spend closer to the high end of that range, but it's also possible to spend less by looking for low-key dining options or shopping in markets. Be sure to set aside a few bucks for bottled water at every meal, too, as it's not common to drink tap water at the table.
Don't be put off by street vendors or market stalls. You can save a lot of cash by eating casually for lunch while traveling. Italy, specifically, has great street food, especially sandwiches, which are low-budget and delicious.
Factor in additional costs like ground transportation, museums and shopping when budgeting your trip. Taxis can be expensive, so consider taking a bus or train to and from the airport, and look into the local subway system in places like Rome and Milan. A one-way ticket on a Rome subway or bus is $1.80. Uber is also available in many cities and can cost less than typical taxis.
Museums and tourist attractions may be pricey, but most Italian museums are relatively affordable. The Vatican Museum in Rome, for instance, costs $19, while Florence's Uffizi Gallery is $9.50 per person for admission only. It's best to prioritize what you want to see and consider booking ahead online, which can save a few dollars per ticket.
Finally, no vacation is complete without some shopping, so be sure you hoard away a little cash to buy some souvenirs.
All of the largest Italian cities offer museum passes, which include admission to major local attractions for one fee. This can often be a big money-saver if you plan to visit several during your stay. For example, Florence's Firenzecard costs $86 and is valid for 72 hours, allowing you to visit 72 museums and attractions with priority admission.