Rome on a budget

Rome on a budget

by Jason Park
Stripes Europe

Once the capital of an empire that encompassed much of the ancient world, and the home of the Pope, Rome is full of historical sites to visit — history is literally around the corner. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in western Europe.

Unfortunately, vacationing anywhere isn’t cheap, even if you live in Europe. All the hotels, food and museums can be hard on the wallet. However, by taking some precautions and following this guide, you’ll find that your stay in the eternal city will only leave an eternal mark on your scrapbook of memories, rather than your wallet.

Budget hotels and hostels

Accommodations can make or break a vacation. Staying in an unpleasant environment can leave you cranky in the morning and reluctant to explore. However, not everybody can afford to stay at a five-star resort. That doesn’t mean you have to stay at a dingy, cramped hotel.  The key is moderation, choosing alternative options such as budget hotels and hostels.

If you don’t mind the inconvenience of a 20-minute commute to the city center, there are good hotels you can stay at for less than 65 euros per a night, perfect for couples or small families. One such budget hotel is Pascia Room & Breakfast. 

Cheaper than budget hotels and a great place to make friends, hostels are a better option for younger, solo travelers. Hostels may not be as comfortable as hotels, but they often have staff that is knowledgeable about the city nightlife and a livelier environment. I suggest you look at Funny Palace Rome. The rooms are nice for a hostel, almost like a hotel’s, and it’s located near the central station, important for those wanting to zip around Rome. For 25 euros a night, this hostel is hard to beat.


Eating well for cheap is possible in Rome as long as you don’t mind a little walking. Finding Italian restaurants isn’t hard; they’re everywhere. The challenge is finding one that doesn’t charge 20 euros for a small pasta dish. If you walk five minutes away from the restaurants near major attractions, such as the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, you can find that the prices drop by almost 10 euros. By avoiding tourist areas and eating at local shops, you can enjoy cuisine that isn’t catered to tourists, both in prices and taste. 

If you’re near the Spanish Steps, I recommend you check out Origano Trevi. It’s an Italian restaurant that focuses on vegetarian food but also has a variety of meat dishes and delicious pasta. The 12-euro special menu includes a salad, drink, pasta and cappuccino, a great deal. 

If you want to get gelato, expect to pay two euros. There aren’t going to be many gelato shops that sell gelato cheaper than that. However, make sure that you are paying for quality gelato and not fake, artificial flavors. One way to tell is by looking at the banana gelato. If the color is bright yellow, it probably has artificial flavoring. If it looks like a brown, mushed up banana, the gelato shop is worth spending money on. Casa Del Gelato near the Victor Emmanuel Monument sells some of the best gelato in Rome, so you should consider stopping by.

Roma Pass

Whenever you go to a major city, the tourism card is often a safe bet; the Roma pass is no exception. The cards come in two- or three-day passes costing 28 and 36 euros respectively. For someone who has limited time and a tight budget, this pass is an essential.

For a three-day pass, which costs 36 euros, you get free public transportation, free access to two museums or historical sites, and discounted tickets to many events and sites. It also comes with a handy guide and map, helping you navigate Rome. It’s easy to get its full value because the Colosseum combo ticket and Capitoline museums plus the three-day metro pass cost well over 40 euros. The two-day pass has the same benefits as above but instead of two free museum entrances, you get one.

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