How To Survive A Weekend In Rome Without Blowing Your Budget
This is a guest post Barry and Julia, who sold up in the UK to travel around Turkey for 6 months. They’re still in Turkey, living in Fethiye on the southwest coast. Their blog, Turkey’s For Life is a travel and food blog about Fethiye and other parts of Turkey – especially Istanbul. All of the images in this post are courtesy Turkey’s For Life.
‘Rome’ and ‘budget’ are not two words that traditionally sit together comfortably when it comes to the subject of travel. We like to think we’ve mastered the art of budget travel over the years but when we found ourselves with an unexpected 2-night stopover in Rome on a recent trip to Italy, we wondered if we might have a challenge on our hands in keeping costs to a minimum. Well, a bit of pre-trip research mixed in with a bit of ‘hit and hope’ while we were there and we proved to ourselves that Rome is not a no-go area for those of us with limited Euros at our disposal.
Here’s how we got the most out of our visit to Rome without making too much of a dent in the contents of our bank account.
Book (Just) Out Of Town Accommodation
Booking a room out of town means you get a lot more for your money. At 38 years old, we feel we’ve got to the stage now where we prefer a little more luxury than a bunk and a shared bathroom. It took a bit of online research but for the cost of a hostel room in the city center, we found a double, en-suite room at the Al Casale de Santis (an extended family villa), set in its own grounds.
Another upside to staying outside Rome city center is you get to see life in a different neighborhood. We like to try to get a feel for the cities we visit and removing yourself from the main sightseeing areas is a perfect way to do this.
Use Rome’s Public Transportation System
As our hotel was 3 kilometers out of town, we needed to familiarize ourselves with Rome’s public transport system immediately on arrival. The good news is, Rome’s public transport system is simple – once you’ve worked it out.
We took a shuttle bus (Terravision) from the airport [4 euros at the booth; 9 online] and were dropped off at Rome Termini, the main public transport hub for the city. This building is colossal but once you’ve found the front, there are tourist booths with fantastically knowledgeable, multilingual advisers who seem to know every bus and metro route in the city. You can buy single (1 euro) or multi-trip bus tickets from these booths and the news kiosks dotted around Rome. And we did say we like to get a feel for the cities we visit – what better than a crowded bus for a spot of people watching?
See With Your Feet
We only had one full day to see as much as we could of Rome. If possible, we love to explore new cities on foot and in Rome’s case, all the main sites are relatively close to each other. Exploring on foot meant our sightseeing didn’t cost us a single Euro.
Finding your way around the center of Rome is easy enough. We soon worked out that wherever there was a huge crowd, there was a famous sight to be seen. But we also cheated a bit. Amongst the ancient sights, modern technology came to the rescue in the form of our (Samsung Galaxy II) tablet. The GPS came in very useful!
Rome Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps were top of our sightseeing list and by late afternoon, we’d had a beer break, a lunch break and seen all of those and more. We were even surprised to find we’d walked as far as the Vatican after friends suggested we’d need to take a bus. Rome is a really pleasant, easy city in which to wander.
Move 50 Meters To Save 50%
What’s the pleasure of travel if not to indulge oneself in the fine foods and beverages of the area? Well, that’s our philosophy at least and this was what we were happy to blow a chunk of our budget on. Our lunch of pizza topped with translucent slithers of prosciutto (we live in Turkey so we feast on pork whenever we leave the country) and an ice-cold beer each was the perfect sightseeing break. And afterwards, once we’d had our fill of the sights of Rome, a cone topped with Italy’s famous ice-cream, gelato, came to the rescue.
If you are on a budget, you can keep eating and drinking costs right down by choosing somewhere away from the immediate vicinity of famous sights. For example, a beer in beautiful Piazza Navona cost an eye-watering 9 Euros. Just outside the piazza, only 50 meters or so away, small panini bars were selling the same beer for 4 Euros.
Rome On A Tasteful Budget
Our accommodation costs (120 Euros) made up the bulk of our spends in Rome. Our guilty travel pleasure is food and drink and as we only had a short time in Rome, we forfeited more detailed sightseeing in favor of a more literal taste of Italy. If you’re in Rome on a budget and want to explore as many sights as possible, spend some time researching your options before you go. There are many types of ‘avoid-the-queue’ museum cards and passes that will get you free or reduced-fee entry to the places you really want to see and some give access to unlimited public transport to get you there.
Thank you very much Julia, Barry for this post on saving without starving in Rome. Barry and Julia are some of the best people I’ve met and you’ll enjoy their engaging posts, photos, and food on their blog, Turkey’s For Life. You can also find Julia and Barry on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ where they’re just as entertaining and appetite inducing.