Is Italy Expensive? An Italy Trip Cost Guide for 2021


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Italy is a country that inspires thousands of people across the globe to visit each year. It is renowned the world over for its fascinating history, beautiful landscapes, amazing cuisine, and incredibly friendly and hospitable people. This massive European nation also, however, has a reputation of being a very expensive place to visit. This has many eager travellers begging the questions: Is Italy expensive to visit? How much will an Italy trip cost?

Contrary to popular belief, a trip to Italy doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank and you can have an amazing experience in this beautiful country while not spending much at all.

While the most popular cities for tourists in Italy — Venice, Milan, Florence, and Rome — are certainly a bit more expensive than other areas of the country, it is possible to save money when travelling in Italy as well. You’ll also likely find Italy to be less expensive than other popular European destinations such as the UK or Scandinavia.

On average you can expect a trip to Italy to cost €55-125 per person per day (~$65 to $150 USD) for budget to mid-range travellers. These prices will be heavily influenced by how you chose to spend your money across accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and entertainment. While it is definitely possible to travel on the high end in Italy, it is entirely possible to have an amazing vacation in Italy while sticking to a low to a mid-range budget.

Accommodation Prices in Italy

This first thing you need to consider in your Italy travel budget is the cost of accommodation as this is likely going be the biggest portion of your overall trip cost. Because the whole country is so popular amongst travellers, there are a number of different accommodations options to choose from pretty much anywhere you wish to go. These range from backpacker hostels to rural B&B’s to boutique hotels to large international hotel chains.

The most budget-friendly option for accommodation would be to get a dorm bed at a hostel. There is usually at least one hostel in most major Italian cities, however, the prices actually don’t really differ all that much depending on where you are. On the whole, you can expect the price of a bed in a hostel to start somewhere around €20-25 for the cheapest option. If you are in Venice or Rome, this might mean a bed in 15+ person dorm, but in smaller cities, you can expect to pay the same for a dorm with a smaller capacity.

The postcard-perfect town of Perugia
The postcard-perfect town of Perugia

Another fantastic budget option, especially for those travelling as a couple or with a friend, is to opt for a private room on Airbnb. Along with being a great way to see how locals live in the city you’re visiting, Airbnb tends to be significantly less expensive than a traditional hotel. A private room can also work out to be less expensive per person than a bed in a hostel dorm if you’re not travelling solo.

Though you can generally expect prices to be higher in bigger cities that have a higher cost of living, like Venice, Florence, or Rome, on average a price for a private room on Airbnb costs about €35-40 per night. If you split this between two people, this can be an extremely cost-effective accommodation option in Italy.

If you’re interested in renting an entire apartment in a major urban area in Italy such as this ultra-modern apartment in the heart of Rome, expect prices to start at around €50-60 per night. Click here to browse the best Airbnbs in Italy

If neither hostels nor Airbnb appeals to you as accommodation options, you can find some decent budget and mid-range hotels that won’t take a huge proportion out of your total Italy trip cost. A good thing to keep in mind is that it is almost always less expensive to stay in a locally run establishment than a well-known chain. Expect a hotel room to start at around €60 per night. Click here to find the best deal on hotels in Italy!

Overall, if you’re smart about your choices, accommodation in Italy doesn’t have to break the bank.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence

Transportation Prices in Italy

The second biggest thing that needs to be considered in your total trip to Italy cost is the price of transportation. Unless you’re planning on only visiting one place and walking absolutely everywhere (make sure to pack good shoes if so!) while you’re in Italy, then you’re going to be spending at least some money on both local and intercity transport.

In the big cities like Rome or Naples, there are multiple public transport options — bus, trams, and metro — and you will probably end up taking a few of them, as places and sites are spread out from one another. If you want to cover a lot of ground while visiting this city and plan on using the public transport network frequently (ie, more than once or twice per day) then it can often times work out to be more cost effective to buy a daily travel card rather than purchasing individual, single-journey tickets.

In other, smaller cities such as Modena, public transport is often just limited to the bus. If the city is walkable, which is most cities besides the bigger ones, then it is rarely necessary to buy more than one or two bus tickets that will get you to and from the train station. You can generally purchase tickets on the bus, but they are normally about 50 cents more. If you purchase bus tickets from a convenience shop, the price is normally €1.50 (€2 from the bus driver).

Cathedral and Ghirlandina Tower in the town of Modena
Cathedral and Ghirlandina Tower, Modena

The other thing you need to consider when it comes to transport in Italy are longer journeys, ie intercity trains and buses. These can range in price significantly depending on the distance you plan on travelling and the type of train you are travelling on. If you know of your general Italy itinerary beforehand, then take the time to research the travel options available to you as there can be many different ways to get from point A to point B.

To give you a general idea, the high-speed intercity trains tend to cost a lot more than the regional, commuter trains. While taking one of the high-speed options can be great if you’re travelling long distances, it’s not needed if you’re only travelling a short distance in the same or neighbouring region. A high-speed train is about three times the price of a regional train and the journey time will not be much longer.

To give a bit more context, a high-speed train going from Florence to Rome booking a couple of weeks out clocks in at around €75. Whereas a regional train for the same day goes for about €40. The former journey will take about an hour and a half to get to your destination and the latter will take around three and a half hours.

Depending on how long you’ve planned for your Italy itinerary, it may work out to be a better bet to take the high-speed train and pay a bit more so as to properly maximise your time in your destinations. If you have a number of weeks that you’re planning to spend in Italy, longer train journeys may not matter as much.

Another tip that can help you save a fair amount on your total trip to Italy cost is to book your longer train journeys in advance. It is much less expensive to do this rather than to purchase tickets on the day. While we’re always advocates of not over-planning and letting the wind take you where it will, it can sometime save you a good amount of money to have a few things planned ahead of time. We suggest booking on Omio to find the best deals on train tickets in Italy – you can read more about Omio here.

If you’re planning on taking a number of trains during your time in Italy, then a train pass can be good value. If you’re from outside of Europe, you can view Eurail Italy Passes here. Alternatively, if you’re from the EU, you can view Interrail Italy Passes here.

Milan's Central Piazza
Milan’s Central Piazza

Food Prices in Italy

So let’s talk about the cost of one of the main things that attract thousands to visit Italy: food. Food in Italy delicious, diverse and, surprisingly, doesn’t have to be that expensive. Sure, it is possible to splash out a small fortune on a high-end meal but in my experience, this is more of an exception rather than the rule.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to only eat kebabs or cook your own meals in order to eat on a budget while in Italy. Sure, if you’re really trying to pinch pennies and make your Italy travel budget stretch as far as possible, then it can be beneficial to cook some of your meals from time to time. However, eating out at a decent restaurant actually isn’t all that expensive.

The biggest tip that I can give when it comes to saving money while dining out in Italy is to always avoid tourist restaurants. This means not to eat at places a stone’s throw from big attractions and sites, and to avoid places that have an English menu published outside with every type of food under the sun. Learn about the foods that are typical for the region of Italy that you are travelling in and if a restaurant doesn’t have many of them on the menu, it generally means that locals don’t eat there.

If you walk just a few streets over from the main tourist centre, you will probably find about a 10-15% decrease in the prices on menus. This is because these restaurants are meant for locals who don’t typically hang out around the Colosseum every day. Eat in these places — you will not only save money but the food will almost always be better.

While we were in Italy, we didn’t shy away from eating out at some nicer restaurants. The most expensive meal we ate was at one of the top restaurants in Modena (it was Michael’s birthday so we justified in our splurge). We spent €109 for the two of us and that was for five massive dishes and a bottle of wine. While it certainly was not a budget meal and it’s not something we would ever spend for on a normal travel day, the prices were significantly less expensive than would be for the same quality of meal in London.

On the whole, when we ate at small, locally run restaurants, the bill would average about €30-35 for the two of us, including a shared starter and a bottle of (local) wine. If you’re looking to eat at nicer restaurants or places closer to tourist centres, then expect the price of a dinner for two to be closer to €40-50 all in.

Pasta in Italy
Delicious Italian food doesn’t have to break the bank!

Activities Prices in Italy

Now that we’ve covered the basic costs of the most necessary things on your Italy vacation, let’s talk about how much daily activities are going to set you back. Well, like most anything else, this really depends on what it is you plan to do.

If you’re travelling to Italy in order to take advantage of all of the fantastic history, art and culture there is in this country, then you’re most likely going to be visiting a lot of museums. Museum entry prices can vary depending on if they are state-run or privately funded. But it’s generally safe to assume that a museum visit will set you back somewhere around €5-10.

When it comes to entry into any museum or historical site, be aware if you qualify for any discounts as well. Almost everywhere in Italy offer significant (up to 50%) discounts if you have a valid student ID and you also won’t have to pay as much if you are under the age of 26 or over the age of 65. Do you research beforehand to see if you qualify for these.

Also, if you plan to visit a number of historical sites and museums in any given city, it can often work out to be more cost-effective to purchase the city’s tourism card rather than pay the full price of every individual site you want to visit. Take the time to work out the sums before you go to see if it’s worth it for you.

If you’re curious about going on any food tours or wine tastings, it’s normally always cheaper to look for individual places to visit independently rather than paying for an organised tour. Also, it can be a better bang for your buck to seek out smaller, locally-run businesses rather than bigger corporations. For instance, we went on a balsamic vinegar tour in Modena that was completely free. We just contacted the acetaia directly.

The same goes for vineyards. Some of the best wine in Italy is produced by small, family-run vineyards rather than internationally-known brands. In Umbria, we contacted a fantastic small vineyard and had a wonderful tour and tasting that included six different wines and an ample amount of food for €15 per person. We also were the only people on this tour. This can be an altogether more rewarding experience both as a tourist and for the local business that you are patronising.

If you are on an extreme budget, then you actually don’t need to spend anything on daily activities. Italian cities just beg to be wandered through and explored and this doesn’t cost a dime! All in all, however, expect to spend an average of about €10 per person per day to account for museum entry or the occasional tour.

Barrels storing balsamic vinegar
Barrels storing balsamic vinegar — the tour of the acetaia was free

Entertainment Prices in Italy

The last thing you need to consider in your total Italy trip cost is the price of entertainment. How much money you spend on this really depends on your habits.

While there are certainly places to party into the wee hours of the night in almost every Italian city, it can be expensive to drink a lot and it also isn’t what Italians typically do every day. If you do, however, enjoy the occasional cocktail or glass of wine in the evening, you are in luck.

Italians have an excellent happy hour culture, called aperitivo. During the couple of hours before one would typically go out for dinner, usually between around 6 PM-8 PM, cafes and bars will typically offer discounted wine and cocktails that come with either snacks or access to a buffet of charcuterie, cheese, bread, olives, etc.

You normally get complete, all-you-can-eat access to the buffet with the purchase of a drink. These kind of things are especially prevalent in cities that have a large student population, like Bologna, but can be found throughout the country. This can be a great way to save money while still enjoying the drinking culture of Italy.

All in all, however, you can expect the average cost of a pint of local draft beer in Italy to land somewhere around €4-5 depending on where you are. A glass of wine will start around the same. If you’re after a basic cocktail like and Aperol spritz or a gin and tonic, expect to pay around €7-8 for this.

Aperitivo in Italy
Aperitivo in Italy is a great deal!

Italy Trip Cost Estimator

With the above aspects taken into consideration, this is the average daily amount you should expect to spend per person on your trip to Italy. This is assuming that you stay in budget to mid-range accommodation, travel long distances every three or four days, cook some meals or take advantage of included breakfasts, don’t eat at high-end restaurants every night and are splitting the costs between two people.

Accommodation: €20-40 / night

Transportation: €10-25 / day

Food: €15-30 / day

Activities: €5-10 / day

Entertainment: €5-20 / day

All in all, you can expect your average total cost of a trip to Italy to set you back roughly €55-125 per person per day. Obviously, this can also be cut down or increased depending on your travel habits and preferences.

Finally, also make sure that you factor in the cost of a travel insurance policy. We personally used World Nomads for our Italy trip however it’s important to read the policy details to ensure it’s right for you. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads.

Spending more days in Venice allows you to visit Burano
Colourful houses of Burano

Travelling to Italy doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. While the country does have a reputation of being expensive, if you are smart about where and how you spend, it is completely possible to have a fun and fulling trip to Italy while on a budget.

Are you planning a trip to Italy? Have you been? What was the cost of your trip to Italy? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

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