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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Low Budget Venice

Venice is renowned for its breathtaking views of beautiful canals and bridges, but Marco Polo has discovered that there are many more reasons to visit this picturesque city… and it can be done on a budget!


Food & drink

Trattoria Cea – a simple, friendly trattoria with tables outside and very reasonably-priced risottos, pizzas and fish. Closed Sundays. Campiello Stella, 5422a | Tel. 04 15 23 74 50 | Stop: Fondamenta Nuove |  trattoriacea.com

Qcoffee – it is on the ground floor of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia and is a popular place for students and office workers to meet for simple, canteen-style food; e.g. a fresh three-course set meal every day for 8–9 euros. Tue–Sat 10am–10.30pm, Sun 10am–7pm | Campo Santa Maria Formosa, 5252 | Tel. 04 12 71 14 11 | Stop: San Zaccaria

Doge Morosini – this centrally-located, well-managed osteria (a place serving wine and simple food) is the perfect spot for a stamina-building lunch during your tour of the city. It is functionally decorated in a modern style, the service is friendly and exceedingly efficient. The cooking is superb with large portions and at low prices. Closed Mondays | Campo Santo Stefano, 2958 | www.osteriadogemorosini.it | Tel. 04 15 22 69 22 | Stop: Accademia



The youth hostel with what is probably the most beautiful view in the world is located on the northern side of Giudecca with a panorama of the Doge’s Palace and Campanile. It is open all year round and reservations are essential. Ostello Venezia | 18 rooms (260 beds) | Fondamenta delle Zitelle, 86 | Tel. 04 15 23 82 11 | www.ostellovenezia.it | Stop: Zitelle

Another alternative to the expensive hotels in Venice is the Campeggio San Nicolò. It is a well-run camp site with space for 174 tents on the north tip of the Lido. There are plenty of other reasonably-priced camp sites on the mainland to the north of Venice too. Via di Sammicheli 14 | Tel. 04 15 26 74 15 | www.campingsannicolo.com

Ca’ Del Dose – a charming guesthouse on a side street off of Riva degli Schiavoni. Modern atmosphere in warm colours, functionally furnished, air-conditioning and friendly service. 6 rooms | Calle del Dose, 3801 | Tel. 04 15 20 98 87 | www.cadeldose.com | Stop: Arsenale



Fish, fruit, vegetables and spices are usually much cheaper at the small markets than in shops – e.g. Campo Santa Margherita or Rio Terrà San Leonardo. Both Mon–Sat 8am–2pm.

Chic, reasonably-priced dresses, jackets, bags and many more articles made of silk, velvet and brocade, tailored by the female inmates of the Giudecca Prison, make a visit to Banco No. 10 worthwhile. Each piece is unique and also helps the prisoners’ rehabilitation programme. Salizzada Sant’Antonin, 3478a | Stop: San Zaccaria



Basilica Di San Marco – the core of this magnificent church, with its five domes and ornately decorated arches and windows, is almost 1000 years old but its over-powering effect on all the senses is the result of numerous extensions and alterations to the architectural fabric. Please note that it is forbidden to take luggage into the church; it can be stored in the Ateneo San Basso (Calle San Basso 315a | Mon–Sat 10am–4.30pm | Sun 2–4pm). Basilica Mon–Sat 9.45am–5pm, Sun 2–5pm, winter til 4pm; galleries daily 9.45am–4.45pm; Pala d’Oro and Tesoro Mon–Fri 9.45am–5pm (winter 9.45am– 4pm), Sat/Sun 2–5pm, winter til 4pm | www.basilicasanmarco.it | Stop: San Marco

Ceiling painting in San Pantalon – a little-known sensation lies waiting behind this modest façade: a gigantic ceiling painting made up of 40 individual canvas elements that will really turn your head in more ways than one. Gian Antonio Fumiani was the man who worked for 24 years to create this colossal Baroque work at the end of the 17th century!                       30123, Dorsoduro 3703, Venice | Open Mon–Sat 3–6pm | Stop: San Tomà

Museum of Harmony – an interesting exhibition of historical musical instruments has been established in San Maurizio. All of this is accompanied by taped Baroque music and is completely free! Daily 9.30am–7.30pm | Campo San Maurizio | Stop: Giglio



Experimental theatres and cultural meeting places offer fascinating theatre, dance, music and multi-media performances at affordable prices and the opportunity to meet some of the young people of Venice.Two of the most interesting are:

Teatro Fondamenta Nuove, Fondamenta Nuove, 5013 | Tel. 04 15 22 44 98 www.teatrofondamentanuove.it | Stop: Fondamenta Nuove

Teatro Toniolo in Mestre Piazzetta Battisti, 3 | Tel. 0 41 97 16 66 www.teatrotoniolo.info (Website in Italian.)

Bar hopping – some of the squares have developed into trendy locations in the summer season where people drink and chat until the early hours of the morning – first and foremost the Campi San Luca, Santa Margherita, San Pantalon and San Bartolomeo.


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