Rome – one of the most famous cities on Earth. The heart of the Roman Empire, and the centre of world religion. The birth-city of Neoclassicism, Latin, and Francesco Totti. It’s also one of the best cities in Europe for anyone interested in a budget getaway. There is no city in the world that has as much culture, history, diversity, iconography, and beauty as Rome. And, for those planning on travelling to Rome on a budget, this is the most ideal and comprehensive guide for you.
Getting Around in Rome on a Budget
The best way of visiting Rome on a budget is, like most big cities, via public transport. And, there are a few nifty connections at the airport that allow you to get into the city on public transport. You definitely want to check out the Express train named The Leonardo Express. It costs around €14 for a ticket and will get you into the city centre in around 30 minutes. Sure, there are other options too, like the metro and the suburban train, and these are cheaper but less comfortable, and you don’t get to enjoy the views! You could always get a taxi, but this is going to set you back close to €50 for the privilege!
Once you actually arrive in the city, there are a couple of ways to get around Rome on a budget. The best of these is going to be making use of the wonderful Roman Metro – Metropolitana to locals! This is clean, efficient, and cheap, and only has two lines (Red and Blue), so it’s very hard to get lost. If you want to sightsee, get to the sports stadium, or simply travel right across the city, this is the option for you. The costs depend on what sort of ticket you buy, but a Standard Ticket for one ride is €1.50. The other great thing about Metro tickets is you can use them with the other great form of Roman public transport – buses.
There are literally hundreds of buses running all across the city, and you are covered 24/7 here. The electric buses run from 05:30 in the morning up until midnight when the night bus takes over and runs from, midnight until 05:30. As you know, it’s €1.50 for a single journey, but, you can get a 24-hour ticket for €6, which might be better.
This is a link giving you information about tickets and where you can buy them: http://www.rome.info/transportation/tickets/
Rome is too big to spend all your time walking, but, if you get to an area packed full of wonderful sights and sounds, you could walk for a time. I always think walking is the best way of really taking in a city, and soaking up its atmosphere.
Budget Accommodation in Rome
If you’re planning on looking for budget accommodation ideas in Rome you’ve come to the right place. Sure, with cities like this you’re going to be spending most of your time eating, sightseeing, on getting sloshed on red wine, right?! Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to hit the hay in a great establishment. The three best options for accommodation when visiting Rome on a budget are hotels, hostels, and AirBnB, and that’s what we’re going to look at below.
Many people can’t afford to stay in luxury hotels, especially in places like Rome, but there is still the option of staying somewhere awesome, thanks to AirBnB! Provided you are fine with self-catering, an AirBnB place in Rome is the perfect choice for you. AirBnB, for those unsure, is a format that allows you to rent someone’s home or apartment from them for the duration of your stay. It’s a much cheaper way of staying in the city, even with the cleaning deposits that are sometimes required. Here are three AirBnBs in Rome perfect for singletons, couples, and families on a budget.
One of the best things about this place is that it is tucked away in a quiet area of the city. Federico is a wonderful and informative host and will be there to greet you when you check in. The surrounding neighbourhood has great street performers, wine bars, and fine dining. You’ll have a shared bathroom and kitchen, but, for a little shy of €23 per night, it’s exactly what you need.
Get a load of this beautiful one bedroom apartment in the heart of Rome, with a sensational location. It’s perfect for couples, and the double bed even pulls apart to two singles in case you have a row! Right by the River Tiber, and just a short walk from the Vatican, this €40 per night place is an absolute must for couples wanting budget accommodation in Rome.
Of course, if there is a group of you, you’re going to want somewhere conveniently located, with plenty of space. Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place with this amazing apartment in the famous neighbourhood of Trastevere, just 15 minutes from the Vatican. The owners even offer an amazing walking tour of Rome, which I can’t recommend enough. It’s well equipped, and comfortably sleeps four, and all for a cost of a little over €10 per person!
Maybe you would prefer a holiday that doesn’t involve cooking and worrying about the upkeep of someone else’s place. In that case you will perhaps consider paying a little more for one of the many great hotels in Rome. Many of the affordable budget hotels in Rome can be found in the city centre, which is just exactly where you want to be!
Hotel il Papavero, Via Castelfidardo *
From €21 per night
A quaint and charismatic little hotel tucked away in the centre of the Eternal City, this is the perfect destination for those on a strict budget. It’s a much more stripped back hotel experience, and a short walk from the Santa Maria Vittoria Catholic Church. You can get to all the great tourist hotspots in no time at all, and it’s wonderfully affordable.
Hotel Felice, Via Tiburtina **
From €71 per night
If you’re looking for a slightly more expensive option, I suggest you check out Hotel Felice in Via Tiburtina. It’s literally as close to the train station and public transport as you could hope to be and is the perfect base from which to explore Rome. With clean, cosy rooms, attentive staff, and a sensational location, this is definitely the standout choice for those with a bigger budget.
Hotel Papa Germano, Via Calatafimi **
From €47 per night
My top pick for cheap places to stay in Rome is the mid-range Hotel Papa Germano. This two-star hotel has undergone recent renovations and is one of the finest two-star establishments this writer has ever stayed in. The neighbourhood of Esquilino, one of the oldest parts of the city, is right on your doorstep, as is the Roma Termini station, allowing simple access to anywhere in the city.
You might also consider checking out hostels in Rome if you want something ultra low-budget, and you want to meet like-minded travellers. If you want to keep the costs of accommodation significantly lower, you can share a Rome hostel with other travellers. Perfect for backpackers, and solo holidaymakers, so bear that in mind.
From €9 per night
From €15 per night
From €19 per night
Eating & Drinking on a Budget in Rome
Call me biased, but I’m of the viewpoint that nobody, and I mean nobody, does food quite like the Italians. And the food in Rome is perhaps the best cuisine in the whole of Italy, so you’re in for a treat! Feasting on pasta and pizza every day is the stuff of dreams, but now it can become a reality for you! Roman food is delicious, and you can certainly find budget-friendly cuisine by taking in our delectable tips. Here’s how to eat in Rome on a budget!
Bacon and eggs are not the Roman thing; these guys are far more sophisticated and cultured! Now, if you have breakfast facilities at your hotel, you may wish to sample them, but, often these are not up to scratch. What your taste buds really want is to sample an authentic Italian breakfast; delicious coffee and croissant. If you want to get out in the city and try cheap food in Rome, try these breakfasting hotspots:
Forno Feliziani, Via Candia, Rome
Price Range: Cheap
If you’re looking for the ultimate Roman breakfast, make your way to Forno Feliziani, one of the finest eateries I visited. They have what I can quite confidently claim is the finest coffee in all of Rome! There is also a splendid selection of pastries and bread, and the service is simply impeccable.
Il Dolce Sorriso, Via Torcegno, Rome
Price Range: Very Cheap
Sure, this might seem like it’s predominantly a gelato place, but they still offer a sumptuous breakfast as well. If you’re looking for the most delicious, decadent delights in all of Rome, you’ve come to the right place. Yes, you might be tempted to indulge in a treat, but, you can also breakfast on aromatic coffee and delicious sandwiches.
All the culture and fabulous sightseeing will definitely help you work up an appetite. And you’re in luck because, if you thought breakfast was great, lunch in Rome is about to take things up a notch. There’s so much choice if you want to eat on a budget in Rome, and there’s almost too much choice. These are two of my favourite spots to stop for lunch:
Bar del Gambero, Via del Gambero, Italy
Price Range: Cheap
This wonderfully authentic Italian cafe is notable for having a large clientele of locals; that should indicator how good it is. I would recommend sampling an espresso, unless it’s hot, and then a Moretti might do the trick. As for lunch itself, you could go with the wide selection of paninis available, or you could choose Rome’s most famous dish, and my personal favourite, Carbonara.
Pinsere, Via Flavia, Rome
Price Range: Very Cheap
What kind of tourist would you be if you visited Rome and didn’t try some pizza?! A very bad one, that’s what! The pizza here is ridiculously good and tremendously cheap; you’ll find yourself visiting again before you leave. Trust me, for €5-€10 you can get some of the best pizza you’ll ever have had, and I would advise washing it down with some Chianti!
Eating on a budget in Rome is absolutely doable, it’s simply a question of where you look, and what sort of thing you’re after. The best thing to do is to go off the beaten track a little, if possible, as this is where you’re more likely to find really great local food, for affordable prices. Bear in mind that, in Rome, dinner is serious business. The Romans love to spend time having a leisurely meal, and dinner often consists of several smaller course. Don’t feel obligated to do this, and focus on ordering what you want. These are some absolute gems for dinner on a budget in Rome.
Pane e Salame, Via di Santa Maria, Rome
Price Range: Very Cheap
If you’re looking for somewhere that allows you to have a quick bite and some delicious wine to wash it down, you’ve found the right place. It’s the perfect place for light bites, and the restaurant itself looks fantastic. It’s the perfect place to come with friends, enjoy company over a bottle of wine, and pick at boards of cheese, bread, and antipasti. Heaven!
Enoteca Corsi, Via del Gesu’, Rome
Price Range: Fairly Cheap
This friendly wine bar may set you back a little more than some of the other places – you can enjoy delicious cuisine here from around €10. The front of this place is really beautiful, and the interior walls are bedecked with bottles of wine. This is definitely somewhere I would recommend couples or friends to check out, it might not be ideal if you have kids though.
Pizzeria Loffredo, Via Vestricio Spurinna, Rome
Price Range: Very Cheap
Didn’t I say you’d be back for more pizza?! Pizzeria Loffredo is one of the most authentic pizza places in all of Rome. The food and service are exemplary, and it’s ridiculously good value for money. I’ve been all over the world, and I have to say, the pizza here ranks in the top three for best pizza I’ve ever had.
The great thing about taking a holiday is that it gives you the opportunity to cut loose and really enjoy yourself. So, you’re going to want to know all about the great nightlife on offer. Roman nightlife is every but as cultured and sophisticated as you would imagine. Check out these wicked cheap nightlife options in Rome:
La Botticella, Via di Tor Millina
Price Range: Cheap
What you get: Knowledge of one of Rome’s best-kept secrets. It’s a locally owned sports bar, full of character, that manages to appeal to students and locals alike. Cocktails and beers are cheap, and the also do Jagerbombs – danger! The owner seems to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, as you will find plenty of their memorabilia inside; I definitely recommend checking this place out as soon as you can.
Ai Tre Scalini – Bottiglieria dal 1895, Via Panisperna, Rome
Price Range: Cheap Enough
What you get: Wine! If wine is your thing, and it should be if you’re in Italy, then you should head to this wonderful rustic wine bar. It’s like something out of a fantasy novel, and, when you get inside, there is the perfect combination of food, wine, and atmosphere. A glass of wine in here costs about €5, which makes a mockery of London prices!
Big Mama, Vicolo San Francesco a Ripa, Rome
Price Range: Cheap
The home of Blues in Rome is the wonderfully named Big Mama’s. This live venue is perfect for those who enjoy relaxing and absorbing live music. The drinks are affordable, and the venue is heaps of fun. The last time I visited Rome, I dragged my brother here, and we saw a Pink Floyd cover band. I would also recommend checking out Frances Alina Ascione, who performs here sometimes.
Cheap or Free Attractions in Rome
Sightseeing in Rome ranks of one of the best things you can do here, and it’s pretty clear to see why. If you want to see Rome attractions on a budget there are plenty of ways to do this; it’s just a case of knowing what’s involved. From the moment you touch down on Roman soil, you will have the opportunity to make the most of the sightseeing experiences. Do a bit of research before you arrive as well because it’s a good way to get as handle on the top tourist attractions in Rome. Here are some of the best attractions in Rome, and how to enjoy them as cheap as possible:
- The Colosseum – Surely one of the great modern Wonders of the World, the Colosseum is a truly breathtaking site. It may stand as a ruin, but it’s a testament to the longevity of the world’s most important Empire. You can get tickets for the Colosseum and Roman Forum for around €12, or €14 if you book online. This is peanuts when you think about the history and gladiatorial majesty of the place. The Roman Forum is also quite the spectacle and the excavated heart of the ancient Holy Roman Empire.
- Trevi Fountain – As if the Colosseum wasn’t enough, you can also enjoy the beautiful Trevi Fountain in the Trevi district of the city. This is one of the jewels in Rome’s crown, and the great part is that it’s one of the awesome free things to do in Rome. Arguably the world’s most famous fountain, the Trevi Fountain has appeared in several films, most famously La Dolce Vita.
- The Spanish Steps – What’s so great about a set of steps, right? Well, these are the Spanish Steps – a staggering stairway of 135 steps, nestled in the heart of the city. The Trinita Dei Monti Church sits at the top of the steps, and this is well worth the journey – it looks simply glorious. Sometimes people lay flowers all across the steps as part of holy celebrations.
- The Vatican – Well we all know the Vatican, don’t we? In fact, did you know, the Vatican is home to Vatican City, the smallest state in the world? The hub of Catholicism, many flock to the Vatican every year to get a glimpse of this holiest of places. You can gain entry to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel for around €15; this is a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of people.
Final Top Tips for Visiting Rome on a Budget
So, now you know all the information you need for visiting Rome on a budget, it’s time to look at our list of some final top tips to help make your stay more enjoyable.
- If you want to get away from the crowds when visiting the Roman Forum, head for the Rock of Tarpeia, then head for the hill known as the Palatine. This is where all the Emperors used to live, and it gives an uncrowded view of the whole Forum.
- Another part of budget eating in Rome is getting the best budget gelato you can. Make sure you don’t eat green coloured gelato because it isn’t made naturally. This will generally be flavours like pistachio and mint. They might be your favourites, but try to find a different flavour to enjoy instead.
- To make for an easier and less exhausting Rome sightseeing experience, start your tour at the highest point of the city and work your way down. This will make things much less tiring for you, and ensure you get the most out of your experience.
- There are free drinking fountains peppered all across the city, so take a water bottle with you and fill up whenever you can. These fountains are called nasoni, and have been around since the late 1800s!
- At least once, try to wake up early on your visit. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a morning coffee in front of the Trevi Fountain without a soul in sight!
- Dress right for the Vatican – there is a dress code, as with most religious attractions. That means no showing of shoulders, upper arms, midriff, cleavage, or thighs. Remember this because the last thing you want is to be refused entry on the grounds of clothing!
- Stock up on bus tickets from kiosks to prepare for getting around Rome on a budget. You can’t buy tickets from your driver, you will need to have them before you board, so make sure you bear this in mind.
- People watching is a massive part of Roman culture, and you can spend an evening finding out why. It’s one of the best free things to do in Rome, and perfect for those creative types to get ideas and study how people behave.