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Italy on a Budget

May 19, 2023

Filed in: Travel

Almost one year later and I’m finally writing about our family trip to Italy! Have you thought about doing this trip with your family but it seems out of reach? If you do any research on Google the amounts most sites suggest to bring per person per day are outrageous! Could you spend that much? Of course, easily. But do you have to? Absolutely not. Our family of five travelled to Italy and stayed for 3 weeks visiting Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany area, Cinque Terre, San Vincenzo and back to Rome for under $10k. On a popular Italy Travel Planning group on Facebook (which I recommend if you need help planning your itinerary!) you will find people spending this for one week for just a couple. But this took a LOT of planning and researching on my part. So let me share with you our itinerary and budget for 3 weeks in Italy and my tips for saving money while you’re there.

I won’t include airfare but everything else is included – Canadian dollars

2 adults 3 kids (14, 11 and 7)

Rome 5 nights

Venice 3 nights

Tuscany 7 nights

San Vincenzo 3 nights

Cinque Terre 3 nights

Accommodation $4040

Transportation (trains, buses, car rental for 1 week including gas, airport transfer, parking, tolls) $1919

Food/Drinks/Alcohol $2711

Tours/Tickets (3 private With Local tours, Ferrari museum, Colosseum, Uffizi Boboli Gardens, Vatican Museum) $997

Misc (international drivers licenses, luggage storage, bike rentals) $185.06

Total WITHOUT airfare 3 weeks $9852 CDN

You CAN do this trip on a budget. It will still be amazing. I’m really proud of what we were able to do within a reasonable amount.

I hope this helps any of you wondering if you have to budget $100 per day per person for food (what many website will tell you is reasonable) – absolutely not! Our budget was $100 a day for our whole family. We went over but averaged $130CDN a day for food. And we tried everything!

I just want to add another perspective as I know there’s such a variety of people that may be interested in this trip – some with endless amounts to spend and others that need to follow a budget (Me!). So to preface, I’ll say that my husband and I are both under-spenders and also pretty easygoing when it comes to accommodation – as long as it’s safe, clean, has a bed for everyone – we don’t need luxury.

A few of the ways we saved:

Car rental – we got a standard and we got the smallest car that would fit us – Fiat Panda. Did the kids have luggage on their laps from the car rental place to our accommodation? Yes. Did we care? No. Once we dropped the luggage off, the car was fine for the week.

Walking – we walked everywhere pretty much. Only had to taxi in San Vincenzo as there was no other choice. In Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre we walked everywhere.

Accommodation – Airbnb’s were very affordable especially with a family of five. The Eurocamp we stayed at in San Vincenzo Parc Albatros is a really great budget accomodation and super fun for kids. Think all inclusive Mexican resort (minus the all inclusive).

Rome AirBnB – Great AirBnb that included the host making us breakfast every morning.

Venice AirBnB – In Venice we stayed in Maestre which is a 10 min bus ride to the island. Was much less money and I loved our apartment and host left us a fridge full of milk, yogurt, eggs as well as lot of coffee and pastries.

Monterosso AirBnB – Perfect location.

Tours – Just like food, you could go nuts with this. Our With Locals private tour in Venice was a food tour for the kids and was $190cdn. Included 5 tastings for all of us. She must have spent at least 60 euro on food for us plus we had a tour! Well worth it. I thought we would for sure ride a gondola in Venice but turns out once we were there we enjoyed sitting on the edge of the water watching the gondola’s pass by and kids decided it would be boring to sit on one for 20 minutes. We were able to ride a gondola to cross the Grand Canal for 2 euro. The proper gondola ride is 80 euro – that’s a big savings and no one felt like they missed out. Think carefully about what’s important to your family.

Food/Drinks/Alcohol – The biggest way we saved is in this category I’d say and it’s not for everyone. You may want to go all out for your meals and trust me if I didn’t have 3 kids with me I would too! But I also don’t believe in going into debt for a vacation so we had to be purposeful.

SO – we shopped a lot at the grocery store. Often we would come back around 1-2pm to rest and grab a couple of beers, juice boxes for the kids and a bag of pretzels or cookies (that was our aperitivo many days!)

We also drank a ton of water out of the Rome water fountains. When there were no water fountains we filled our water bottles at the Airbnb and brought them. Because of the heat we still had to buy a lot of water and drinks, we had no choice. A way to save on drinks (again, not for everyone but…) one night we were walking home and all of us needed a boost of energy and a drink. I popped into a grocers, grabbed 5 bananas and a big carton of orange juice (again, much less than 5 separate drinks) and we all drank out of the carton.

We shared food a lot. Ordering one of something and all of us trying it. We did our own ‘food tours’ and would buy one of something and we all tried it. Then go somewhere else and try something new. Was fun for the kids and we got to experience lots of food!

We mainly ate street food or grocery store food and did one nice dinner in each city we visited.

For our airport transfer we used Terravision bus which was the most economical for 5 of us.

In Cinque Terre, I had more planned but we spent the majority of the time swimming in Monterosso where we stayed. I was planning on renting beach chairs but then we found a little cove on the free beach and parked ourselves there. All 5 of us are in the water 95% of the time so it didn’t make sense to spend the money on chairs. It would have been 75 euros for 5 beach chairs. Now if you’re a sit by the water and read person this could be a perfect way to spend your money! We also hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza after 5pm when it’s free (and also not as hot!)

I would say just be mindful of your spending. Give yourself a budget but don’t be a total stickler. Some days you’ll go over, some you’ll go a bit under but having a budget at least keeps you thinking and you’re not mindlessly spending every day. The most magical and special parts of our trip were things I couldn’t have planned and were free! The kids playing soccer on the beach in Vernazza with other Italian kids, a car rally race through the streets of Rome, getting lost (literally) in Venice. I suspect our budget trip has given us just as many amazing memories and experiences as one that cost twice as much.

Would you like our exact itinerary? I’m happy to share. Just send me an email to

Would you like a little piece of Italy in your home? Visit the SGP Print Shop to purchase fine art prints of my favourite places in Italy!

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  1. Janet Sorensen says:

    We are sitting in Helena in our trailer en route to Yuma. I just read your Italy blog and like you, it’s incredible. Frank and I have a list of all our trips since our first Europe trip in 1977. We are budget conscious as well. That trip was less than $2500 each including airfare and a 3 month, 1st class Eurail pass. Europe was much cheaper then, of course. Our motto for years has been, if it’s more than 1 star you are not experiencing Paris! Of course we’ve splurged a bit over the years, especially when we discovered New York. Expensive on the hotel and cocktail side, but still manage to cheap it up some. We’ve always been grocery shoppers and picnic-ers. We’ve had a great quantity of trips, but still have enjoyed our quality immensely. Your kids are super lucky to have parents like you two! Love you all. 😍

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