Italy, the beautiful land of the Dolce Vita, is one best tourist destinations for families who want to discover the cultural and artistic heritage of the country while enjoying fantastic weather and amazing cuisine.
Families can choose from a beach holiday in Sardinia to a cultural trip through the major cities like Rome, Milan, Venice or Florence, from a skiing holiday in the Northern mountains to a rural retreat in the tranquil provincial towns of Tuscany. In short, Italy has everything to offer that you could possibly hope for in a family vacation!
However, some families worry about the costs of a trip to Italy. While it’s certainly true that you can book a jet-setting luxury vacation to Italy you can also visit the country on a fairly tight budget.
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Italy For A Family Of Four?
As a general rule, a vacation in Italy for a family of four will cost between $500 to $1000 per day. This includes your accommodation, meals, entrance tickets, souvenirs, travel insurance and transport costs during your time in the country.
There are several factors that will determine the cost of your visit to Italy:
Which Part Of Italy Are You Visiting?
One of the main factors that will impact the cost of your trip to Italy is the location that you’re visiting. For instance, if you visit the major cities, such as Rome, Venice and Milan then your vacation will cost significantly more than if you take a vacation in a rural part of provincial Italy.
Taking a vacation in a smaller town, such as Siena in Tuscany, can cost as little as $50 to $100 per day per person; so for a family of 4, you could plan a vacation that cost as little as $250 per day! This would probably mean that you would have to miss out on some of the top attractions but you could still experience a slower-paced vacation in a tranquil part of the country.
However, Italy is hugely vibrant with incredible monuments, churches, galleries and attractions to see in every corner of the country! This means that even if you don’t see the Vatican in Rome or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you can still visit any number of spectacular sites on a much lower budget in towns that are off the beaten track.
Anywhere that’s not on the main tourist trail will cost less. So if you want to save money on an Italian vacation you can choose to discover the lesser-known sites of cultural importance instead. Not only will you save money this way but you’ll also see things that most tourists never do, allowing you to have a much more unique experience during your time in Italy.
How Are You Planning To Travel To Italy?
If you’re flying to Italy from the United States or other parts of the world, then the cost of airfare can be quite expensive. For a family of 4, traveling from the US, you should expect to pay around $4000 for your roundtrip tickets.
However, if you’re traveling from within the European Union, you can take a low-budget airline on which you can get some amazing deals. For example, a flight from London, Paris or Munich to Italy can cost as little as $100 per person!
Cost of round trip tickets will also depend on the time of the year. It will be high during the touristic months (generally between May and August) and much lesser the rest of the year (except during Christmas).
Where Are You Planning To Stay In Italy?
Accommodation will be one of the most expensive aspects of your trip to Italy. It’s worth remembering that the price of accommodation varies enormously; depending on where you are staying and the type of accommodation that you choose.
A single night in a luxury hotel in central Rome can easily cost $1000-$2000 per night for a family of 4 or more, whereas you can find a B&B in rural Tuscany that only costs $200 per night. If you stay in a 2 or 3 Star hotel in the major cities you can find prices that start from around $300 per night for a family of 4. Therefore, regardless of your budget, you can find accommodation to suit you and your family’s requirements while you’re in Italy. Most Italian cities
Generally, the cheapest places to stay in most Italian cities are hostels. You should be able to rent rooms with bunk beds instead of the typical beds. Some of these hostels have shared bathrooms or private bathrooms. All major American booking sites like Expedia will list hostels.
A popular alternative to staying in a hotel is to rent an apartment from a website such as Airbnb. This gives you a great selection of properties to choose from at a wide range of prices. Generally, for a comfortable apartment, you should expect to pay about $200 to $500 per night for a family of 4.
The price of an apartment will depend on the proximity to local attractions, the number of rooms and whether you have a balcony, swimming pool, or access to a gym and other amenities.
Are You Planning To Take Guided Tours?
One of the hassle free ways to see Italy is by joining guided tours. You will have a knowledgeable, multilingual guide and be able to jump the lines when visiting attractions. If you are traveling on your own, getting museum and other tickets in advance is highly recommended. Otherwise, you spend hours standing in line!
For a family of 4, a private guided tour will usually cost around $400 to $500 per day, including transportation, entrance tickets and in some cases lunch and free refreshments during the day.
You can also book shorter guided tours of specific galleries and monuments. These tours tend to cost around $20 to $50 dollars per person, depending on the size of the group. In many cases, you can also get discounts on the ticket price for younger children.
The best website for booking these tours is Viator.com.
How Are You Planning To Travel Within Italy?
Once you’ve arrived in Italy you’ll still need to travel around to see the sites on your itinerary. You can join an all-inclusive bus tour however you can also rent a car, hire taxis or rely on the extensive Italian public transport system to get around.
Hiring a car that’s large enough for a family of 4 with luggage will cost about $800 per week. This will you give you the freedom to roam wherever you want and will make it much easier to explore rural parts of the country. Most rental cars in Italy use manual transmission (you have to shift gears). You have to book in advance to get cars that have automatic transmission. These cars are more expensive to rent.
On the other hand, it’s not advisable to hire a car if you’re planning to stay in a city, such as Rome, for the duration of your vacation. This is because the Italian cities are famously difficult to travel around in a car. Not only are many of the roads extremely narrow but they’re also crowded with local drivers and there are often parts of the cities in which you are not allowed to drive your car at all!
Therefore, for city breaks in Italy, you’ll be better served by using public buses, trains and trams. This is a very cost-effective option for getting around and will save you from having to worry about parking your car and navigating the maze of roads in the cities.
For longer trips across the country, from Rome to Florence or Milan for example, you can certainly rely on the public transport network. Highspeed trains are modern, comfortable and have facilities such as charging ports for your electronics, Wi-Fi and onboard restaurant carriages.
Train fares in Italy are very reasonably priced and provide a cost-effective way to travel large distances quite quickly. It’s also very relaxing to travel by train and watch the beautiful scenery go by from the comfort of your seat.
What Are Your Plans For Dining?
Eating out is one of the most enjoyable things about visiting Italy but it doesn’t have to cost you the earth! There is no limit to the options that are available to you in Italy when it comes to finding somewhere to eat. You can eat in traditional Trattorias, cafes and family-run Ristorantes or you can choose a fine dining establishment that serves modern Michelin starred fusion dishes.
It’s quite common to overspend on food when you’re on vacation, especially in a country like Italy where there’s so much choice of delicious food, pastries and snacks on offer. However, if you’re happy to eat pizza and pasta dishes in family-run restaurants you could budget around $125 per day for a family of 4.
On the other hand, if you’re eating out in the top restaurants then meals can cost up to $100 per person in the evening; so your costs for food could easily hit $500 per day for your family.
NOTE: If you are on a tight budget, I recommend that you eat out not more than once a day. You can get small healthy bites in bakeries and convenience stores that are not very expensive. Also avoid restaurants and food outlets that are very close to popular spots. On my most recent visit to Rome, I had a couple of Aperitivo’s during happy hour right in front of the Pantheon. It cost me 8 Euros per drink. Less than half a block away, on the very same street, the same Aperitivo was 6 Euros per drink. I was mad at myself for the momentary lapse of reason!!!
Souvenirs And Other Miscellaneous Costs.
It’s always nice to bring a few souvenirs back home with you after a vacation abroad. The cost of locally made food products in Italy shouldn’t be too high though, with a great bottle of wine costing about 20 Euros and postcards starting at just 50 cents apiece.
However, when you factor in other souvenirs such as leatherware, hand-made jewelry and arts and crafts then you should factor in approximately $50 per day for souvenirs and other miscellaneous items during your time in Italy.
Of course, some tourists may want to spend significantly more on souvenirs to remember their visit by, so this is entirely up to you and your family to decide!
It’s always worth getting a reliable travel insurance plan for your holiday in Italy. Prices for travel insurance can range from $150 per person for a basic plan up to $500 per person for a comprehensive, all-inclusive policy for a week.
Best Ways To Save Money On Your Italian Vacation.
There are many ways that you can keep the cost of your visit to Italy down so you can still enjoy a fantastic vacation on a tight budget.
Plan Ahead And Book Early!
Planning ahead is one of the most effective ways to keep your costs down. For example, if you book your flights at least 6 months in advance you can make massive savings on the ticket prices compared to buying them a few weeks ahead of time. If you’re a frequent flyer you can also use your ‘air mile’ points to get discounts on ticket prices.
This also applies to your accommodation which can be much cheaper if you book your rooms several months in advance instead of just turning up on the day and asking for a room. By booking your accommodation early you can often save 10-20% on the price of your rooms.
NOTE: If you like a hotel and are thinking of booking it, find the website of the hotel, contact them directly and ask for a quote. Many times these prices are cheaper than the listed price in popular booking websites. I would not recommend this strategy if you are trying to book a room in a major chain hotel like Marriott or Hilton.
Use Public Transport.
Once you’re in Italy you can save a lot of money by using buses, trains and trams, instead of taxis within the cities. Similarly, it’s much cheaper to use the train to travel from city to city than to hire a car or pay a taxi to drive you long distances.
Renting a car can be convenient for touring the country but the costs of the rental and the fuel will quickly add up. It can also be difficult to find parking spots in the cities. So if you want to save money you should use public transport in Italy which has a broad network of routes and is much cheaper than the alternatives.
Rent An Apartment Or Stay In A Hostel.
Staying in an Airbnb or a hostel can significantly reduce the costs of your accommodation, particularly as a family of 4. Another money-saving advantage of staying in your own apartment is that you’ll be able to cook your own meals in the kitchen – which is also much cheaper than eating out in a restaurant for every meal. Most hostels in Italy also have a common kitchen and dining area. You will also notice that many hostels are strategically located than fancy hotels. Some hostels have separate floor for families, men, women etc.
It’s great fun to look through the local markets to find the ingredients for home cooking but you can also just drop by a local supermarket and buy a week’s worth of groceries at the start of your vacation. Italian supermarkets offer high-quality food at very affordable prices making it an ideal option if you’re vacationing on a budget.
You can also buy lovely loaves of bread, cheeses and cold meats to make a packed lunch for your family each day. This way you can stop off in a local park and have a picnic for lunch instead of paying for a meal in a restaurant.
Join Larger Tours.
If you want to take guided tours of the sites then you can cut the costs by joining a larger 20-person tour instead of paying for a private tour. This way you’ll still get all the benefits of the tour guide’s knowledge while saving a large amount on the costs of the tickets. In larger groups, you’ll also have the chance to meet other tourists which can be great, especially if you get on well and plan other activities together over the next few days!
Avoid The Tourist Hot Spots.
When it comes to eating out it’s well worth avoiding the main tourist hot spots. By simply walking a few blocks away from the main attractions you can find smaller back street restaurants that have a wonderful atmosphere and charge almost half the price for a meal as the touristy restaurants do!
The same applies to accommodation, so if you want to save a lot of money you can book a hotel in one of the more suburban districts of a city. Equally, if you’re looking for souvenirs try to get off the beaten track and you’ll find some amazing deals.
My strategy is always to find accommodation that is right next to a tram or subway line that will take you directly to the most important tourist site in the city. For example in Rome, I would stay close to Metro A subway route. It has a stop next to the Spanish Steps (Spagna). This stop is also very close to the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Google Maps has a feature that will show the metro map in a given city that you can use as a guide.
Another money-saving tip is to have a coffee and pastry at the bar instead outside at a table. This is something that most Italian locals do but few tourists think of! This is because if you have your coffee and snacks at the bar you’ll pay a lower price than if you eat outside on the terrace.
Visiting Italy Doesn’t Have To Be Hugely Expensive.
While it’s easy to get carried away on vacation and spend more than you had planned, you can still visit Italy without going overboard. There’s a whole range of ways that you can save money during your vacation that includes avoiding the tourist hotspots when it comes to eating out, taking public transport and making picnics for your lunch.
Even if you’re visiting Italy on a relatively tight budget you can still have a wonderful time and create lifelong memories for you and your family to share. In fact, in many ways, by avoiding the most touristy parts of Italy you’ll have a much more authentic experience than a lot of other tourists!