Rome On A Budget: Backpacking Rome Guide 2023

Planning a trip to Rome on a budget?

You’ve come to the right article as I visited the city and created this complete guide to visiting Rome on a budget.

As a solo traveller and budget traveller, I had been procrastinating working out the logistics of a trip to Rome. “It’s a popular, tourist-filled, European capital. It’s going to be expensive!”

Or so I thought, and I imagine thousands and thousands of budget travellers have these same thoughts too.

But in fact, it is entirely possible to experience Rome on a budget. And I would argue, it creates a more authentic experience and insight into what Rome really is.

After spending 4 days backpacking Rome, I can confidently provide a guide to visiting Rome on a budget.

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🇮🇹 When planning a trip to Rome, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels:
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours: Walks Tours & Devour Tours
👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
📱E-SIM: Airalo
💻 VPN: Surfshark

Rome On A Budget

If you are on a tight budget, you may wonder, “Is Rome worth visiting?” or if you should wait until you have a bigger budget.

The answer is Rome is without a doubt worth visiting, even on a budget.

Generally, people expect a trip to Rome to set them back thousands just for a week’s trip. Which it can, if you allow it to.

In 4 days in Rome, I spent €308 including my flights, accommodation, food and activities. That’s it.

Honestly, I can’t quite believe how cheaply I managed to do it. Allow me to break down my budget for you.

Return flights from the UK€60
3 nights in a hostel€50
The photo shows the Colosseum's interior with its layered arches and the central elliptical arena's exposed underground structures. Sunlight illuminates the ruin's textured surfaces, with visitors visible on the pathways. Scaffolding is present along the upper tiers, indicating restoration work. Clear skies enhance the visibility of the architectural details.

And I could have done it even cheaper too! In my 4 days, I visited the Stadio Olimpico (soccer stadium) and the Bioparco di Roma (zoo) so this added €55 to my activities budget.

It’s fair to say that I definitely didn’t take any day trips either- but if you have the budget, I really recommend going to Pompeii.

People always assume Rome is super expensive, but it’s actually a lot more reasonable than I thought.

So, let’s walk through how to do Rome on a budget. I assure you, it’s easier than you may imagine.

How To Get To Rome On A Budget

Getting to Rome on a budget requires you to be in Europe. So, if you are from Australia, the US, Canada or anywhere else outside of Europe, you’ll first want to make your way to Europe.

However, I imagine this is likely part of your plan anyway. I don’t know of many non-Europeans who would only come to Europe for a few days. Instead, it’s best to visit multiple cities or countries within one trip, to make those long flights worthwhile!

Once in Europe, you can easily find cheap flights to Rome if you are flexible with your dates. I used SkyScanner which is the best flight search engine tool for finding cheap flights.

For me, return flights from the UK cost only €60, which is incredibly cheap. Usually, it would be nearly €200 for return flights.

➡️Use SkyScanner to find the best prices for your flights to Rome or anywhere else around the world you plan to fly to.

This image captures a Ryanair airplane on the tarmac, viewed from a side angle from boarding at the back. The plane's livery, featuring dark blue and yellow, is vibrant under the bright, clear sky. Ground personnel can be seen near the aircraft. Sunlight casts strong reflections and shadows, adding contrast to the scene.

Alternatively, you can make your way to Rome via bus or train. Train travel is a great and cost-effective way to get around Europe and is known as Interrailing or Eurraling.

Getting a train to Rome would be included in your pass, allowing you to experience this magnificent city.

If you choose to take a bus, I recommend using companies like Flixbus which are very cheap. Although, prepare for long journeys. For example, a bus from Paris to Rome takes over 22 hours compared to around 12 hours on a train.

But it will cost a fraction of the price. When travelling on a shoestring budget, sometimes spending longer travelling to save money is worth it.

Also, if you are wondering how many days to stay in Rome, I would say you need to spend a minimum of 3 days to get a feel for the city. So even if you are extremely tight on a budget, you should try to spend 3 days.

This photograph features the ancient Roman ruins with remnants of red brick structures and partial walls amidst lush greenery. Above the ruins, standing on a higher elevation, is a stately structure with arched openings, bordered by tall cypress trees against a clear blue sky. The scene is bathed in natural sunlight, highlighting the historic texture and the vibrant colors of nature.
Inside the Roman Forum.

Where To Stay In Rome On A Budget

Choosing where to stay in Rome on a budget is important, certain suburbs will be more expensive than others.

For example, staying in a hotel with a view of the Colosseum will be significantly more expensive than one that doesn’t.

The best part of Rome for budget-friendly accommodation is near the Roma Termini, the main bus and train station in Rome.

If you are a solo traveller or a group of young travellers, I would recommend staying in a hostel. You can save huge amounts of money this way, not to mention the ability to meet new friends.

The image shows a simple hostel room in Rome, furnished with metal bunk beds and basic amenities, offering budget-conscious travelers visiting Rome on a budget a practical place to rest and socialize.

I stayed in the Freedom Traveller Hostel and I can’t recommend it highly enough. They serve free breakfast and lunch and even have free drinks during Happy Hour. It’s a great hostel. I also found it a very clean and sociable hostel where I made amazing friends who I talk to on a regular basis.

Not to mention that it was incredibly cheap, and in a great location as everything is within walking distance. It’s such a good hostel that I wrote a full Freedom Traveller Hostel review.

If hostels are not your thing or you are a couple or family, I would suggest you stay in a budget-friendly hotel. My recommendation would be Raeli Hotel Regio. It’s also close to the Termini and it’s a great budget option.

Remember, when you are in Rome, you won’t spend much time in your hotel, it will pretty much just be for sleeping in. Nonetheless, this hotel is a great budget option. Rated 7.2/10 on Booking, it’s a good bargain for about €55 a night!

➡️ Best budget-friendly hotel in Rome: Raeli Hotel Regio
➡️ Best hostel in Rome: Freedom Traveller Hostel

How To Eat In Rome On A Budget

Eating on a budget in Rome is easier said than done. You just need to look around for a good restaurant.

Trastevere has the hype of being one of the most beautiful parts of Rome, which it is, but it also has a reputation for being incredibly expensive. I did not find this to be the case.

Typically, a pizza would cost between €8-14 and pasta between €7-11, so they’re super affordable and most of the time, I found them to be cheaper than they would be at home for me.

I imagine these dishes will make up the majority of your eating, they certainly did for me anyway!

The image captures a classic dining scene, featuring two Neapolitan-style pizzas with charred crusts, vibrant tomato sauce, and fresh basil—a culinary delight often enjoyed by travelers seeking the authentic taste of Rome on a budget.
The best pizza I had in Rome from Mariuccia cost only €10!

As long as you can avoid eating right beside the Colosseum, the restaurants surrounding the Trevi Fountain, or any other popular tourist spot; your budget won’t be splashed on food.

Simply walk for 10 or 15 minutes and you will find cheaper and likely tastier restaurants, it’s one of my best backpacking tips, no matter where you are in the world.

Top Tip: I always try and see if there are Italians dining in a restaurant. If there are, it’s a good sign to me that it is not a tourist trap and instead serves delicious authentic Italian cuisine!

A restaurant I would recommend would be Tonarello. I had the most delicious pasta dish there, and it was cheap too, I think it cost about €10 but the portion was huge. They allowed me to take it back to the hostel in a takeout box too!

There are plenty of great and affordable restaurants in Rome, you just have to go looking for them.

This inviting photo shows a bowl of pasta with a rich tomato sauce, sprinkled with grated cheese—a quintessential Italian dish. It’s an example of the affordable yet mouth-watering cuisine that budget travelers can savor while exploring Italy’s culinary heritage. The blurred background suggests a cozy dining ambiance, perfect for savoring local flavors and creating memorable experiences without breaking the bank, great if you are visiting Rome on a budget.

Also, you may be interested in the prices of gelato. I found it usually cost me about €2-2.50 for one scoop and €3-3.50 for two scoops. It’s pretty affordable considering it is the most delicious ice cream I have ever had. So tasty!

You’ll be pleased to know there are also some cheap food tours in Rome which won’t completely break the bank but will still allow you to get a good taste of the Italian cuisine on offer in the city.

How To Get Around Rome On A Budget

The cheapest and best way to get around Rome is by walking. I found that everything was within walking distance, as long as I was prepared to walk for up to an hour, which I was. However, most walks are not this long. On average, I would say I walked for half an hour each walk.

For example, Freedom Traveller Hostel to the Colosseum was approximately a 20-minute walk. Some tourists may opt for a taxi for this distance, instead, I chose to walk. I saved so much money this way, a taxi would have cost around €15-20.

And if you are wondering “Is Rome safe?” the answer is yes! I walked through Rome at night on my own and felt completely safe. I cannot complain about the safety in Rome whatsoever.

The image captures Trajan's Market in Rome at night, a complex of ruins beautifully lit, providing a golden glow that accentuates the ancient architecture. The remains of this historical marketplace, with its series of arches and semi-circular structures, stand out against the dark blue of the night sky. The lighting creates a warm ambiance and brings to life the textures and details of the brickwork.

10 Free Things To Do In Rome

Since you are visiting Rome on a budget, you don’t want to be splashing out on expensive activities every day. Unfortunately some things which used to be free in Rome are no longer free such as going inside the Pantheon, but there are still plenty of free things to do in Rome, and these are just some of my favourites.

1) See the Colosseum: Although tours of the Colosseum are not free, you can spend time at and around the Colosseum for free. This can be just as magical, especially if you are a fan of taking photos, the best photos are always from the outside in my opinion. When visiting Rome for the first time, the Colosseum is a must!

2) Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain: This one isn’t exactly ‘free’ as it will cost you €0.01, but making a wish at the Trevi Fountain is a must-do in Rome. Face away from the fountain and throw the coin over your left shoulder with your right hand. Or, just admire the fountain for free.

This is an image of the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and sculpture. The fountain is characterized by its ornate detailing, with statues of mythological figures and horses that appear to emerge dynamically from the cascading water. The central figure is Oceanus, the god of all water, flanked by his tritons. The stone figures are set against a large, palatial façade, with Corinthian columns and triumphant inscriptions. The aqua blue water in the fountain's basin adds a refreshing touch to the scene.

3) Admire the Pantheon: The Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome, words can’t do it justice. You used to be able to go into the Pantheon for free, but it now costs €5 to go in. Nonetheless, simply seeing and admiring the Pantheon is worth doing. It’s a very impressive building, especially since it’s nearly 2000 years old.

4) Tick off another country: Inside Rome is a whole other country, the Vatican City. You can freely enter without any restrictions or passport checks, you simply walk across the border and then you have entered a new country. And what an incredible country the Vatican is, although it’s the smallest country in the world, it has a huge significance.

This image captures the opulent interior of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. The grandiose design is a hallmark of Renaissance and Baroque artistry, with architectural elements like Corinthian pilasters, arches, and coffered ceilings that draw the eye upward to the heavens. Latin inscriptions, likely quoting scripture, encircle the space, while the central nave below is adorned with patterned marble flooring.

5) Explore St. Peter’s Basilica: While in the Vatican, you should go into St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s completely free to enter and it is amazing. You will feel so tiny simply because of the sheer size of the church. It’s enormous, without a doubt the biggest church I have ever stepped foot inside. And it’s absolutely beautiful.

6) Climb the Spanish Steps: One of the most Instagrammed spots in Rome is the Spanish Steps. You can spend as much time as you like here as it is completely free. The steps are beautiful, the fountain is beautiful and the church at the top is beautiful too. All in all, it’s a really nice area. I’d recommend going either early in the morning or late evening to avoid the huge crowds. There’s no point going to the steps if you can’t even see the steps!

The photograph presents the iconic Spanish Steps in Rome, basking under a clear blue sky. These steps rise with an elegant symmetry, leading up to the Trinità dei Monti church perched at the top. Despite wear, the steps retain a sense of grandeur. A few visitors dot the ascent, small against the architectural expanse. In the background, a Christmas tree adds a festive air to the scene, contrasting with the historical stone with its bright lights. This is a place where history, culture, and contemporary celebration meet. It's great to see the steps when visiting Rome on a budget as it's completely free.

7) Look into the Roman Forum: Similar to the Colosseum, tickets to the Roman Forum cost money, but viewing it from the outside does not. You can easily look into the Forum and see some amazing ruins from Ancient Rome. Or if you do take a tour of the Colosseum, entry to the Roman Forum is included, so it is technically free as well.

8) Visit Santa Maria in Trastevere: Visiting this church is an incredible experience. If you do not pay to go into the Vatican Museums and see the Sistine Chapel, this church is the next best thing. It’s beautiful. The paintings and artwork are breathtaking, it’s such a hidden gem. I just happened to stumble into it by chance, and I am so glad I did.

9) Take a free walking tour: One of the best ways to see any city in my opinion is by taking a free walking tour. Rome is no different. I use FreeTour to book my tours and although they are “free”, I normally give my guide a little something just to say thank you, usually about €5-10, but compare this to a €30 tour and it’s a no-brainer.

10) Chill out in Piazza Navona: With the Fountain of the Four Rivers and 2 other pretty fountains, Piazza Navona is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. It’s a lovely little spot in Rome. Piazza Navona is probably the most famous square in Rome and for good reason, it’s amazing. The whole square is really architecturally impressive and when I visited at Christmas, that’s where the Christmas markets were.

The Fountain of the Four Rivers, bathed in sunlight in Rome's Piazza Navona, is a Bernini-crafted baroque marvel. Centered by an ancient obelisk, it symbolizes the world's great rivers – the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio de la Plata – amidst the lively square. The water's playful dance under the sun offers a visual and auditory feast, reflecting Rome's historic splendor and vibrant everyday life. It's one of the best free things to do if you are visiting Rome on a budget.

Josh’s Top Tips For Backpacking Rome

After learning how to find cheap flights, accommodation, food and free things to do; there are still some things to know for saving money when you are backpacking Rome. So here are 6 of my favourite budget travel tips for Rome.

Tips are not expected in Rome – this one is down to personal preference. You may choose to tip in Rome, but unlike in America, tipping in Italy is not customary and is not a requirement. If you are thinking about tipping in Rome, 10% is usually more than enough. Regardless, even if you choose to tip 10% for exceptional service, this is significantly less than the 20-25% in the US.

You still need travel insurance – despite travelling on a budget, it’s always recommended to have travel insurance. You never know what could go wrong when travelling, so it’s best to be covered. SafetyWing is my preferred option as it covers both health and travel accidents and incidents. They even cover travel delays!

Conceptually creative suitcase, adorned with various travel stickers and emblems, showcasing a sense of adventure and world exploration. The suitcase is superimposed onto a background featuring a world map and a network of connections, symbolizing the extensive reach of modern travel and the interconnectedness of destinations around the globe.

Visit on the first or last Sunday of the month – on the first Sunday of the month, tickets for the Colosseum are free, meaning you save around €30 per person. On the last Sunday of every month, tickets for the Vatican are free, meaning you save around €20 per person. Visiting on these days, it’s a great way to save a little bit of money.

You can drink from the water fountains – typically, drinking water will cost you €2 at a cafe or restaurant and bottled water will cost €1-2 at a shop. Instead, carry a reusable water bottle and you can refill from the numerous drinking fountains labelled SPQR (not to be confused with the normal fountains) dotted around the city. You can also drink tap water in Rome.

Classic Roman "nasone," or "big nose" drinking fountain, labeled with the initials S.P.Q.R., an acronym for "Senatus Populusque Romanus," which translates to "The Senate and People of Rome." These fountains are a historic and enduring feature of the city, providing residents and tourists alike with fresh drinking water.

Take the bus from the airport – if you are flying into either of Rome’s airports, the train can be expensive depending on the time of year. Instead, take the bus for only €6 from Fiumicino to City Centre which takes about 50 minutes.

Stand at cafes – in Rome, there are huge fees for sitting in cafes, particularly in piazzas (squares). A coffee that would cost you only €1-2 will cost up to 4 times that if you choose to sit at the tables outside or inside a cafe. Choosing to stand, it’s a great way to save money in Rome.

A picturesque alley in Rome is illuminated by twinkling yellow lights strung overhead, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The historic cobblestone street, flanked by traditional ochre buildings adorned with green shutters and festive decorations, leads pedestrians on a charming journey.

Rome On A Budget: FAQ

Here are some related questions to Rome on a budget, along with my answers.

Can you visit Rome on a budget?

Definitely! Accommodation and flights can be found cheaper than you may expect. And there are also plenty of free and cheap things to do in Rome.

How much should I budget for a trip to Rome?

If you are following the budget of a budget traveller, I would suggest about €70 a day including accommodation but not including flights. This is roughly what I spent during my 4 days in Rome.

How to visit Rome on a budget

Make sure to find cheap flights and accommodation. Then once in Rome, choose your activities wisely, many things can be done for free. And choose your restaurants carefully, you can find good food for low prices by eating outside of the tourist spots.

What’s worth paying for in Rome?

I would strongly recommend paying €8 to climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome, the view is incredible. Also, a tour of the Vatican Museum can’t be missed, the Sistine Chapel alone is worth it.

Is Rome cheap or expensive?

Simultaneously both cheap and expensive but neither cheap nor expensive. If you know how to travel on a budget, it will be cheap. If you spend too much money unnecessarily, it will be expensive.

Rome On A Budget: Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to visiting Rome on a budget.

I can’t believe I got to experience such an extraordinary city for so cheap, and I would recommend it to anyone.

So be witty and smart, making use of all of my money-saving tips, and you too can experience Rome on a budget.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip!

Your next step should be choosing when to go, I visited Rome in December and it was really magical visiting at Christmas. And since it was out of peak season, it was cheaper too!

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