Low Budget Rome

Rome is notoriously expensive with its gourmet restaurants, famous landmarks and fashionable designer shops. However with Marco Polo’s top money saving tips you can have a holiday to remember, without splashing the cash!

Colosseum, Rome. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Colosseum, Rome. Photo credit: Tim Kelly


In many state museums, you get free admission or a considerable discount if you are under 25 and from the EU. The same applies to those over 65. Don’t forget to take ID!

It’s free to visit magnificent monuments like the Pantheon, the spectacular Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. Charges will apply for some attractions if you want to go in, but the best views are usually from the outside anyway!

Trevi Fountain. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Trevi Fountain. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Sistine Chapel for free: If you want to see the world’s largest art collection, Raphael’s Stanze and the Sistine Chapel without paying a penny: on the last Sunday of the month there is free admission to the Vatican Museums (9am–12.30pm). Unfortunately, at this time they are even more crowded than usual… because it’s free of course!

View of the Forum Romanum: In Caesar’s time Romans and travellers paid nothing to stroll across the Forum Romanum. Today you have to pay for admission, but if you just want to get a glimpse then take the steps to the left of the Piazza del Campidoglio for a wonderful view of the Foro Romano. Piazza del Campidoglio | Bus 30, 60, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 87, 117, 119, 160, 630


Food & drink

Da Augusto: One of Trastevere’s good old trattorias. When you take a seat on the piazza, the owner Augusto lays out a paper tablecloth and immediately takes your order. If you can’t understand his thick accent, simply order the dish of the day from the blackboard, e.g. coniglio (rabbit) or pollo (chicken). Mon–Fri and Sat midday | Piazza de’ Renzi 15 | Tel. 0 65 80 37 98 | Tram 8

Il Bocconcino: Right behind the Colosseum, Giancarlo – who is actually a pharmacist – and his wife Nelly have opened a slow-food trattoria that has been a real hit in the locality. Try their traditional Roman-style starters such as polpette di melanzane e pinoli, aubergine dumplings with pine kernels, crostini di alici, toasted bread with anchovies, or spezzatino di vitella, veal stew with beans. Thu–Tue | Via Ostilia 23 | Tel. 06 77 07 91 75 | Tram 3, bus 60, 75, 81, 85, 117

Drink your espresso, cappuccino or orange juice at the counter. Served at a table, especially around the tourist haunts, it can be three times as expensive.

You can get a quick refreshment or cup of coffee for very little money at the souvenir stand run by nuns in the dome of San Pietro.

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Photo credit: Tim Kelly


Affordable apartments and studios are on offer at www.friendlyrentals.com/Rome and www.only-apartments.com. Bargains like a 4-room flat for 6 people at 180 euros near the Vatican Museums, however, book early as they tend to sell out very fast!

A popular address for young people is Village Flaminio in the north of Rome, a campsite in green surroundings with a pool. Bungalow sleeping 5 from 132 euros | Via Flaminia Nuova 821 | Tel. 0 63 33 26 04, 063 33 14 29 | info@villageflaminio.com | Local train towards Prima Porta from Piazzale Flaminio, the stop is Due Ponti | By car: from GRA Gran Raccord Annulare uscita (exit) 6 in the direction of Flaminio/Roma Centro, as far as Corso Franci. www.villageflaminio.com

Azzurra: No great luxury, but a first-class location near the Fontana di Trevi. Via del Boccaccio 25 | tel. 0 64 74 65 31 | www.hotelazzurra.com | Metro A: Barberini, bus 52, 53, 60, 61, 62, 492



Designer fashion, sometimes at half price: Discount dell’Alta Moda (Via del Gesù e Maria 14–16 | Metro A: Spagna, bus 117).

At the clothing market in Via Sannio (Mon–Sat morning) you will find the women of Rome and lots of truant schoolkids hunting for bargains. Piazzale Appio | Metro A: S. Giovanni

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

A Train to the Mediterranean

Rome’s beach fans and clubbers know the way. The 20-mile trip on a local train to the beach resort of Ostia costs only 1 euro, next to nothing. In the evenings until 10.30pm a normal Metro or bus ticket will take you to the hip resort Lido di Ostia, where you can hit the club scene. The first train back in the morning leaves at 5.18am. Lovers of archaeology take the same train and get off at Ostia Antica to see a city of ruins.

You can stroll beneath pine trees along streets of ancient shops, past the forum with its temples and baths, dwellings, warehouses and the theatre. On the square behind the theatre you can even see an example of ancient sponsoring: nymphs, sea monsters and ships giving advertising space to the commercial enterprises that financed the theatre – all of which already existed in Augustus’ time (Tue– Sun 8.30am until one hour before dusk | Admission 4 euros).

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