Italy is one of the world’s top tourist destinations with tens of millions of tourists pouring in every year. No surprise really as Italy has everything you could possibly wish for – breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, fabulous food, fantastic fashion, superb beaches, and great ski slopes.
However, Italy can be quite pricey compared to other European destinations, such as Spain, Croatia or Portugal. Tourist hot spots such as Milan, Florence, Venice, and Rome can get especially expensive.
But don’t despair, it is always possible to visit this fascinating country on a low budget. All you have to do is choose destinations that are more affordable, but equally fascinating. Bonus, you avoid the large crowds that plague Italian cities especially during the peak season.
Let’s check out 7 amazing Italian cities to visit on a budget.
Verona is associated with the idea of romantic love because it is the setting of Shakespeare’s most famous play – Romeo and Juliet. This northern Italian city has an undeniable charm. However, being smaller than other northern rivals such as Venice, Milano, or Torino, Verona has managed to keep a low profile which makes it ideal for budget travelers.
Verona’s landmark is the famous Juliet’s House, a must-see for romantic couples, many of whom come here to make love vows and sealed with a photo. If you are more into historical stuff, then the best place to go to is the Arena, an ancient amphitheater that’s often the scene of cultural events and opera performances.
The famous Lamberti Tower is another symbol of the city that allows you to enjoy its stunning architecture from its dazzling 84 meters height.
Bologna is famous for hosting the oldest university in Europe. Not surprisingly, up to the present day, Bologna remains one of the most reputable cities in terms of higher education. Nonetheless, there is plenty much more to see in Bologna besides an opulent university and busy students hurrying to be in time for their next lecture.
One of the top attractions that makes Bologna famous is its fabulous cuisine. Yes, that addictive spaghetti Bolognese originated in this city and there are other tasty dishes belonging to the local cuisine you would definitely love to try. Bologna is dotted with all sorts of restaurants, ranging from fancy places where you need to book a table way in advance, to affordable eateries.
Other attractions include the medieval city center with its imposing architecture, the city’s gathering place, Piazza Maggiore, where you can indulge in street art and open-air events, Torre degli Asinelli, the city’s landmark, as well as several basilicas and museums.
Merano is an astonishing natural refuge. Having managed to steer clear of Italy’s busy tourist map so far, this town is one of the affordable destinations you should visit before its popularity and tariffs grow in unison. Merano is located near the border with Austria and it is famous for its thermal spas. The quality of these facilities is comparable to what you get in other locations for twice the price.
Due to its geographic position, Merano is strongly influenced by Austrian culture, so don’t be surprised to hear people talking in German here and asking for sausages and beer instead of pasta and wine. Merano is blessed with splendid mountain views, a peculiar mild climate that’s hard to find elsewhere in the region, and two amazing natural parks. Merano is the place to go if you want to relax at the spa without a big financial effort.
Alternatively, you can go hiking in the nearby Ortles mountains or take a walk down the old streets of the historic center and admire art nouveau villas.
Ancona is another one of Italy’s hidden gems. This town often goes unnoticed as many people still consider it simply another one of Italy’s numerous ports. However, if you are traveling on a low budget, Ancona is a great way to visit the Italian coast, that’s generally pretty expensive, and still stay within budget.
Ancona is surrounded by a beautiful landscape. Whether you choose to take long and refreshing walks on its pristine beaches or indulge in other outdoor activities in the nearby hills, you won’t get bored in Ancona. This town also has several historic and cultural attractions including the church Chiesa di Santa Maria della Piazza, San Ciriaco’s Cathedral, the archeology museum, Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche, Arco Clementino, the baroque Porta Pia, and the 16th century fountain, Fontana del Campo.
Catania is one of the best places to visit in southern Italy if you are traveling on a limited budget. Southern Italy is usually considered more affordable than the north. However, this doesn’t apply to all its destinations, think about the Island of Capri, that’s a celebrity’s hotspot, for instance. Nonetheless you don’t have to be a VIP to enjoy the warm and azure sea of southern Italy. It’s enough to know where to go to and Catania is one of the places that welcome tourists with all pocket sizes.
This historic town is dotted with attractions. The list includes Teatro Massimo Bellini, Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chiesa di San Giuliano, the Ancient ruins at Parco Archeologico Greco Romano, the Dioceano museum, the 13th century Castello Ursino, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Fontana dell’Elefate.
Catania is a great place to enjoy a stroll on the seashore, indulge in the exquisite southern Italian cuisine, or even go shopping in one of the lovely boutiques on Via Etna where you can also admire the imposing Mount Etna.
Let’s linger a little bit longer in southern Italy and talk about another hidden treasure of this area where you could spend your next holiday without worrying about money – Trapani. This town is located at the foot of Mount Erice and is another one of Sicily’s vibrant ports. This is one of those places where you can really get to know the traditional Italian way of life.
Charming historical buildings line Trapani’s promenade, where you can take a long and refreshing walk, enjoy a meal or a drink at one of the numerous bars or dining places, or take memorable photos. Trapani’s long history began more than 2,000 years ago.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this town boasts a rich architecture and numerous attractions including the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the Regionale Pepoli Museum, the Church of Sant’Agostino, Palazzo Cavarretta, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Itria. Moreover, the nearby salt fields and the lovely windmills are a sight you shouldn’t miss if you visit Trapani.
Just like Bologna, Perugia is famous for its universities. This lovely city located in central Italy in the Umbria region, has an astonishing cultural significance. It is home to some of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country: the University of Perugia that dates back to the year 1308 and the University for Foreigners that attracts thousands of foreign students every year.
Because this town is so popular among students, it is easy to find cheap accommodation and dining options here. Also, the great advantage of staying here is that you are close to other major Italian cities such as Rome or Florence that you could easily visit on day trips.
If you decide to visit this vibrant city of Perugia, there is plenty to do. Students gather every evening in the old center to chat, have a drink, sit on the steps of historical buildings, sing and enjoy life. Perugia’s rich portfolio of attractions includes Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, where the works of the renowned local painter Perugino are shown, Piazza IV Novembre with its impressive fountain Fontana Maggiore, the gothic church of San Lorenzo, Palazzo dei Priori, the hidden ancient streets of Rocca Paolina.
Italy means culture, beauty, great cuisine, and a laidback lifestyle. All these 7 locations contain these ingredients and the best thing about them is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to stay in any of them.