Are you looking for some budget things to do in Italy? Then you’ve come to the right place!
When thinking of popular budget destinations, Italy is unlikely to appear on many traveller’s lists. Due to the popularity of many cities here, such as Rome, Florence and Venice, many travellers believe Italy is an expensive place to visit.
But it doesn’t have to be.
There are lots of budget things to do in Italy, mainly because the buildings, statues and parks are all so beautiful, even when just glimpsing them from outside entrances.
Why not try some of these fun (and cheap) things to do on your next visit to Italy…
Walk the side streets in Venice
Venice is such a sprawling city towards the North West of Italy and it is quite simply one of those cities like no other. Completely water-locked, there are no cars to take you from one side of the city to the other. Instead you can meander your way through tiny canals on a gondola or wander through the tiny streets on foot and find hidden gems each way you turn.
Whether you spot a pretty church on the corner or a love padlock on an ancient bridge, you will keep uncovering secrets in this city when taking time to explore on foot. And as the buildings here in Venice are so magnificently beautiful when just looking at them, you don’t necessarily need to spend money here to see beautiful sights.
My advice? Wander into the many side streets in Venice and get lost in them… this is the best way to uncover the secrets in the city and find sights not detailed in your guidebook.
Wander along the ancient ramparts in Lucca
Lucca, an ancient town in Tuscany is a fascinating place full of history, romance and stunning architecture. Founded in 180 BC as a Roman colony, you only have to walk mere metres before seeing the history unfold within the buildings and statues here.
What sets this town apart from many others is that it is hidden away from the outside world. It is encircled by ‘The Ramparts’ – large walls surrounding the entire town, which were built in the 16th-17th Centuries to shut out traffic. This means that the town is a calming place to explore by foot.
Take a climb up some steps hidden behind an archway in the Anfiteatro Romano and ramble along the ancient ramparts themselves. This part of Lucca is so unspoiled and with every tree you pass, you will be reminded of how beautiful this town really is.
People watch at the Spanish Steps in Rome
Many a traveller, family and group have met at the Spanish Steps in Rome. It is such an iconic landmark here and because it’s so well known, it really is a great place to do some people watching in the sunshine.
Choose a step as your desired people watching spot and take a look around you. Can you spot a child dripping gelato down their clothes? Can you spot a young couple cuddling on their own step? Can you spot the Italian nun texting on her phone? … Wait, what? A nun? Texting? Yep, at the Spanish Steps, you will see it all so be sure to take it all in!
Also, why not take a wander to the very top of the steps and into the church across the road? This church is free to enter and you are welcome to take a look around (providing a service isn’t happening at the time). It’s a beautiful little church and as it’s not a tourist spot, it’s an unspoiled and traditional looking building both inside and out.
Are you after more Rome highlights? Check these out!
Write a love letter to Juliet in Verona
Although it costs money to enter the actual house of Juliet, there’s nothing stopping you from writing her a love note and stowing it away for safekeeping. There are so many people from around the world who have done just this.
So, go ahead and enter Juliet’s courtyard, choose a bench and take some time to admire her balcony for free. You can even rub her golden breast for luck – no entrance fee for that! Once this spot has uncovered the romantic part of you, write your best love letter to Juliet and you may just find that all you ask for comes true. Ahh, how romantic!
View the Florence skyline from above at Piazzale Michelangelo
Florence is one of those cities that allows you to fully escape into a world of ancient architecture, exquisite art and magnificent views. You should take some time to trek to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo and glimpse this extraordinary city from above.
From up here, you can glimpse the Florence skyline from several different angles. Look out to your right and you will see part of the incredible Tuscan countryside and mountains. Look to the centre and you will notice the famous Duomo dominating the skyline. Look to your left and you will be able to see the Ponte Vecchio bridge and glistening water of the River Arno.
My recommendation would be to take some photos of the views and just take your time – you will love it!
Planning a city break to Florence? Read this first!
Laze by stunning Lake Garda
Lake Garda is an absolutely incredible lake to the north of Italy and is the largest of the Italian lakes. With Verona being a very short train ride away, you can either come to this lake as a day out or spend your entire vacation here.
If you stick to the southern part of the lake, then my recommendation would be to see what Sirmione has to offer. This is the town that sits on the tip of the peninsula that juts out from the bottom of the lake and is home to a fascinating medieval castle, ancient Roman ruins and a pier that is perfect for sunbathing.
Although the attractions themselves will cost you a few Euros entry, it is completely free to take a stroll by the lake and catch some sun. And with the sparkling water being so fresh and clean, you are more than welcome to take a dip into the lake without fussing over any kind of entrance fee.
Admire the Trevi Fountain in Rome
The Trevi Fountain is the largest and most famous fountain within Rome. With its impressive stonework, vast size and rippling green water, this fountain is set to amaze you and keep you wondering about the story behind it for the rest of your day.
Seeing the fountain itself won’t cost you a penny (or a cent), so feel free to take some time here and take as many photos as you like. You may find it a little busy here as it is a famous tourist spot, but this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your time in admiring the fountain.
If you can spare a cent during your visit, wander to the water’s edge and make a wish before throwing your coin in. Although a little cliche, it would be rude not to whilst you’re here.
Imagine yourself living in a mansion in Verona
Home to Romeo and Juliet, one of the most infamous love stories of all time, Verona very quickly becomes the beginning, middle and the end of romantic cities. Similarly to Venice, Verona is also home to plenty of beautiful bridges across its emerald canal that are both pleasing to look at but also hold much history behind them.
If you start with Ponte Pietra first, then you will have a chance to walk alongside part of the sparkling canal. Some of my favourite views of Verona were seen from Ponte Pietro, such as a distant mansion high in the hills partially hidden behind fir trees. You can just imagine someone like Juliet’s parents (or yourself) living there and surveying the land below.
Get off the beaten track in Castiglioncello
So, my first guess is that you’ve never heard of this town before, am I right? You wouldn’t be alone with that thought as I too had never heard of it. But I was reliably informed that it was a beautiful little town perfect for a day of relaxing and staring out at the open water.
So, if it’s relaxation off the beaten track that you’re after then take note of my 5 best ways to relax in Castiglioncello:
- Laze on the rocks
This is a weird thing to recommend, isn’t it? From the rocks, you can see the town from afar, look out at the sea and have plenty of alone time as most people would opt for the beach.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Lazing on some rocks doesn’t sound too comfy does it? But you’d be surprised! Some of the rocks here have been ground down so much by the sea that it’s quite easy to find a perfect spot. I managed to find one area in the rocks that was perfectly contoured to my bum, back and legs! However, if you really insist on heading to the beach then this is also fine to do too (just as long as you don’t mind a few more people around you)…
- Chill out on the beach
… Which brings me on nicely to this suggestion. The sand is bright and golden here and I’m pretty sure the water is a good temperature to swim in during the summer months. Don’t forget your beach picnic – there’s nothing better than having a few drinks and some snacks stowed away in your cooler, whilst your worries drift away from you…
- Walk by the sea
Over towards where the rocks are, there’s a wooden promenade that winds its way past them and beyond. The end of this walkway has a dead-end so you will need to come back the way you came. But this is a truly relaxing walk to take by the sea, whilst you watch the waves crash around you.
- Go rockpooling
Where there’s rocks, there’s rockpooling, am I right? Sadly I was missing a net and kid’s spade when I went, but from my homemade seating area; I saw jelly fish, crabs and fish in little pool formations. If I were to come again, I know to be prepared to go rockpooling.
- Read write and think to your heart’s content
The great part about this place is just how off the beaten path it is. With less crowds around, there’s plenty of time for you to read, write and think without being disturbed. So, go on, have some ‘you-time’.
Marvel at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Square of Miracles
With Pisa being quite a small town, I suspect your main attraction pulling you in is to see the Campanile (Leaning Tower), Duomo and Baptistry. Now, as all of these places are conveniently located on the same plot – your day just got easier!
When you arrive at the Square of Miracles, you will see the three buildings facing you in all their intricate Pisan glory; (plus you’ll likely spot tons of people doing the “I’m pushing the tower over” photography trick – how original, right)?
Insider Tip: Head to the opposite side of the park from where you arrived. This will be the best shot of the buildings as it really does look like the tower is just popping its body around the other buildings. It is quite a comical sight!
I hope this list of budget things to do in Italy proves useful – enjoy your trip! Which city or sight would you like to see first?
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