- Eat breakfast at the counter if you are just getting pastries and coffee, you’ll save about 20%. We did this a couple times and it was a savings of about two or three euros per visit.
- Get yourself breakfast at the nearest supermarket: yogurt, muesli, orange juice, coffee, and fruit will cost you €10 for multiple days of brekkie.
- Get a pizza for lunch, by the slice or share a whole pizza. This costs just a few euros per person.
- Bring a water bottle with you everywhere and use the myriad potable fountains to refill. Then decline the €2 water at the restaurant. They’ll look at you funny but who cares, you’re already hydrated! We highly recommend Vapur bottles, they’re not annoying to carry while empty.
- You don’t need primi AND secondi, go ahead and pick one or the other. No server will care.
- Don’t eat too close to the big five attractions. (Hint: if you get run over by a tour group while looking at the menu, leave.)
- Order house wine. (Almost didn’t include this because it seems obvious.)
- Ask about or look for the coperta (cover) before sitting. €1.50 is fine and normal but more than that isn’t worth it. Servizio (tax and tip) is usually 10% and included in the menu prices, but if it isn’t, you want to be aware… since they’ll automatically add it at the end.
- Don’t do a set menu unless you’re going to a highly recommended place and are really hungry. Too much food. The value can be great though.
Accommodation and Getting Around
- If you’re staying more than a couple of nights, book accommodation far away from the Spanish Steps / Pantheon / Colosseum triangle of expensiveness. Google maps is good at transit in Rome, and the buses and metro are cheap. You will save a lot of money per night.
- As a rule of thumb, walk if your destination is less than 30 minutes. The transit system will probably only save you about 10 minutes.
- If you’re traveling solo, hostels are great and cheap. If you’re with a friend and want your own room, AirBnB is awesome. We stayed for a week at this AirBnB with Michela, about 10 minute walk north of the Vatican, and 7 minute walk from a metro station.
The price was $56 per night, and we had our own bathroom. Nothing fancy but a great budget option, and there are many more like it on AirBnB.
- If you’re not planning to see two museums per day, then the Roma pass is probably not for you. We bought it, and it was not beneficial. We ended up spending about 10% more than if we’d bought metro and museum tickets separately. Note that at tobacco shops and newspaper stands, you can’t buy the pass with a credit card. Also, note that if the Colosseum isn’t your first or second visit then you don’t get to Skip the Line. Even if you do skip, the line is still long to get in, because so many people have Skip the Line tickets.
- If you’re with a friend, use a splitter for audio guides: for $3, you can get a splitter off Amazon, and then bring two headphone sets. Use the splitter to never buy two audio guides again (every audio guide has a headphone jack) and enjoy the sound upgrade as well.
- For a few attractions, Rick Steves’ free app has really excellent audio guides that will save you money as well. Make sure you download the audio ahead of time on WiFi. Links: iOS, Android. (Attractions are: Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Pantheon, Sistine Chapel, Trastevere, and the Jewish Quarter.)
That’s what I’ve got for you! If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments.