Plan a Budget Italian Adventure – Part 2

Plan a Budget Italian Adventure – Part 2

  • Jens headshot 2:6:23
  • The Travel Mum

We recently had an amazing cheap trip to Italy covering Palermo, Naples, Amalfi coast, Sorrento, Pompeii and Rome. The consensus is usually that Italy is a ridiculously expensive place to visit, but like most places, it really doesn’t have to be.  I cover how we decided our route in part one.

Our Italian Adventure consisted of:

Palermo: 4 nights

Naples: 1 night

Conca dei Marini (on the Amalfi coast): 2 nights

Sorrento: 1 night

Stop off at Pompeii enroute to Rome (5 hours)

Rome: 2 nights

(1 night at the end staying near the airport in Rome as we flew home at 7am the following day)

Conca Dei Marini

We stayed in the house to the left of the beach

Arriving in Amalfi

Part One takes us up to our departure from Naples to Conca die Marini, a beautiful part of the Amalfi Coast. We took a big taxi (as there were 5 of us traveling) which cost £130 for the one way journey. There are much cheaper ways to get there, but we were tired and wanted to be taken door to door. With hindsight you could get the train from Naples to Sorrento, spend a night there, and then go to the Amalfi coast using the regular buses that connect the two. The coastal drive is beautiful and much cheaper than the taxi.

I found an amazing house, in a secluded spot right by a beach. It has amazing views and cost only £269 for the two nights. (Click here to check it out) Divided between the 4 adults that is only £67pp for the two nights. £33pp per night – which is an absolute bargain. My one warning would be the steps to get down there. It is a trek. Around 300 steps, often without a rail to assist people with limited mobility. It was fine going down, but even for a young relatively fit person like myself, it was exhausting going back up! We saw a couple arrive at the beach by boat, which could be an option for anyone unable to manage the steps. My parents are in their 60’s and managed it, so don’t be too put off. It is just worth being prepared (as we were not!) There is a bus stop right at the top of the steps, so perfect for accessing the rest of the Amalfi coast without having to rely on expensive taxis. The key to a cheap trip in Italy is to choose your accommodation carefully, focusing on less popular areas with easy access to the highlights. 

Conca dei Marini

View from our house in Conca Dei Marini

Once we arrived at our accommodation and dropped off our things it was around 5pm. We went straight back up the stairs and caught the bus to Amalfi town. We had already decided we would cook our own meals during this part of the trip, and the nearest supermarket was either up another 1000 stairs to Conca dei Marini town, or in Amalfi Town which was a short bus ride away. In hindsight we would have done a food shop in Naples so we could have chilled out that evening.  We were excited to explore and see the famous Amalfi town, so we didn’t mind our spontaneous afternoon adventure. The bus came immediately as we reached the top of the stairs. It was 2.50 euros from this stop in Conca dei Marini to Amalfi Town and the journey took around 15/20 minutes. You can pay on the bus, just try to have correct change. The buses are really comfortable and the views along the route are insane (make sure you sit at the side facing the sea!). Our trip was in April and we didn’t have any issues with buses being crowded. This isn’t the case in the peak summer months!

Amalfi Coast, Amalfi Town, The travel mum

Amalfi Town

Amalfi Town is just as beautiful as it looks in the pictures, but it is really busy. I highly recommend staying somewhere else on the coast and visiting here by bus. The accommodation in Amalfi Town is very expensive and personally I would rather stay somewhere more peaceful (and cheap!) The town is relatively small, there is the beach area that you can see in the picture above just to the right, then a path taking you up through the main centre. If you want an amazing view over the town, and fancy a walk away from the crowds, head to this point here. There is a photo we took from this view on part one of this post. We had lunch the following day in a small square recommended to us by the guy who owned our apartment. If you weren’t looking for this square, you would likely walk by it. This is a link to it here. The food was great, it wasn’t cheap, but a lot cheaper than restaurants in the main square. A main pasta course was around 12 euros, a margarita pizza was 7 euros and deserts were around 6 euros. Make sure you try some lemon sorbet or limoncello gelato – the picture below was 100% the best ice cream I have ever had (I went 50:50 lemon sorbet:Limoncello gelato – highly recommend). It was 8 euros so be mentally prepared when you approach the counter!

Amalfi town, Amalfi coast

The best gelato


Our favourite part of the Amalfi Coast, aside from our little piece of paradise in Conca dei Marini, was Positano. We got the bus there from our bus stop in Conca dei Marini (up to this point we had no issues with the buses) and again it was 2.5 euros. Spiaggia Grande is the large beach you can see at the base of the town and is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi coast. This town is beautiful, it is expensive and consequently draws in a lot of rich folks and celebrities. The streets reminded me of something from DisneyWorld, they are so perfect; clean, intricate and colourful, it feels like you could be walking around a theme park. We mooched about, ate gelato, sat on the beach and did some window shopping. A great place to spend the afternoon. Getting the bus back to Conca Dei Marini ended up being a nightmare. It is obviously a popular place to visit as a day trip, so when we approached the bus stop at 6pm there must have been around 100 people already waiting. We waited just under an hour but when the bus finally came, it didn’t have enough space for everyone. We were told the next bus would be another hour, no problem we are at the front of the queue now… But as this bus arrived an hour later, it was already full so drove right passed us! At this point we went looking for a taxi which cost 50 euros. Frustratingly, the moment we got in the taxi we saw another bus appear with no one on it! If we had been patient and waited a little longer we would have gotten on that for 2.50 euros each. After two hours of waiting with a little one, our patience had worn thin! Be cautious if you are planning on heading home at the end of the day and be prepared for a long wait if getting the bus. This was in April, I can’t imagine the chaos in summer!

Positano, Amalfi coast, The travel mum

The Beautiful Positano



After checking out from our beautiful apartment in Conca dei Marini, we got the bus to Sorrento. We hadn’t initially planned this part of the trip, we always keep some days free with nothing booked, just incase we learn something along the way that dictates where we want to visit. We hadn’t learnt anything along the way, so decided to spend the night in Sorrento. It was a convenient location between the Amalfi coast and our next planned stop Rome.

We went online before we checked out of Conca dei Marini and found a beautiful 4 star hotel called “Hotel La Vue d’Or“, a double room with a cot for Leo was £90 per night and this included breakfast. Sometimes last minute bookings pay off as the usual price for this place is much more. The bus dropped us off in the centre of Sorrento, this hotel is a little way away from the centre so we hopped in a taxi to take us there. The views from the hotel are amazing. You can have dinner and drinks outside, overlooking mount Vesuvius. There is a free shuttle running to the centre of Sorrento, so we had some lunch at the hotel, had a swim in the pool, did a little bit of work before heading into Sorrento for drinks and dinner. Sorrento is beautiful, but we found it a to be a bit of an anti climax having spent time in Amalfi just before. We had a walk to the busy Piazza Tasso, saw the cathedral of Sts Philip and James, mooched around some market stalls, went to the sea front to watch the sunset, and then had dinner at a place called Ristorante Pizzeria L’Abate. We sat outside and enjoyed the lovely atmosphere, the food was great, a little pricey, but we were used to this after our stay on the Amalfi Coast!

sorrento, the travel mum

The view from our hotel in Sorrento


As we were only staying in Sorrento for one night we enjoyed our free breakfast and then checked out. We got the free hotel shuttle to the centre and then walked to the train station. From here we bought a train ticket to Pompeii. The plan was to head to Naples to get the train to Rome, but en route visit the historic city of Pompeii, which we were all excited to explore. The single ticket to Pompeii was 2.40 euros per person. We were enjoying our train ride so much, we missed the stop for Pompeii by two stops! We had to get off the train and wait for an hour for another train to be heading back in the opposite direction. Don’t be like us – pay attention! Especially on a day which is already so restricted for time. The stop you need is ‘Pompeii Scavi’ and from here you are very close to the gate to the city. From here you can purchase tickets to visit the crater of mount Vesuvius, given its an active volcano predicted to erupt at any time, we gave that a pass. There is luggage storage room by the train station so we put all of our cases and bags there. Tickets to enter the ancient city were 11 euros. You could easily spend a whole day, if not more, exploring the ruins. We had a map and just focussed on the highlights as we still needed to get to Naples for our onward train to Rome! We took our pram around with us as Leo was sleepy, but the terrain is NOT easy with a small pram. If you can take a baby carrier it will be a lot easier. We managed, but there was a lot of pram carrying involved!

pompeii, the travel mum

Leo enjoyed exploring Pompeii Ruins

Travelling to Rome from Naples

We left Pompeii around 6pm and got on the circumvesuviana train to Naples. The station has trains regularly heading to either Sorrento or Naples, so it is really easy to buy a ticket and find the right platform. It is a 45 minute train journey from Pompeii to Naples, so we arrived in Naples just before 7pm. The fast train to Rome takes an hour and 15 minutes. If you book these tickets ahead of time you can get them for around £20, we however were not that organised. We ended up paying about £40 each purchasing them 15 minutes before departure. It was around 9pm when we arrived in Rome. We had booked a hotel right by the Termini, so we didn’t have far to walk to check in. We stayed at a place called Albergo Marechiaro which we highly recommend. It was £108 for two nights in a triple room. We had a double bed for us and a single bed for our son (which ended up being a double bed for my son and I, and a single bed for Joao!), the place was clean and very well located. A great budget friendly option.

the travel mum, trevi fountain

Leo admiring the Trevi Fountain

Rome marked the end of our budget trip to Italy; we arrived on a Friday night, explored all day Saturday and Sunday, then on Sunday evening we got the train to a guest house by Rome Ciampino airport. Our flight home was at 7am on the Monday so we wanted accommodation cheap and conveniently by the airport, meaning we could sleep in as long as possible. Two full days of exploring turned out to be enough. Rome is a fantastic city that deserves all of the attention it gets. You could spend a lot longer here and have an amazing time, but if you want to whizz around and see the highlights, two days is enough. Use our search feature to find some some cheap flights getting you there after work on Friday evening and stay until Sunday night for a perfect weekend break. Use the specific date search to select the weekends you are available. 

Day one in Rome

Day one in Rome was a busy one. We started our morning with an extortionately priced breakfast with a view of the Colosseum – the cafe was called Oppio Cafe Colosseo – we had 5 croissants, 4 coffees and a bottle of fanta for 39 euros. The cafe is right across the road from the Colosseum which was our first stop of the day. Stupidly we didn’t pre book tickets and it was easter weekend – I have no idea what we are thinking sometimes. They kept releasing a few tickets online, and the stress of trying to get them was like sale day of Glastonbury Festival Tickets (if you know, you know). We were sat in the heat, refreshing the page until tickets were available, then trying to fill in our details quickly before they sold out. There must have been 500 people hanging around trying to do the same, so the internet kept giving in too! This went on for a while until we got them – Wahoo! But the excitement didn’t last long, as I went to check my email, there was no confirmation, the money has been taken…. then I realise… I made a typo in my email address. We had picked 11am entry, it was about 2 minutes to 11. We then had to queue in a 100 person long queue, to try and convince someone to print our tickets. Long and stressful story made short, we got in! Moral of the story, buy your tickets online it will just save so much hassle and uncertainty. It was 18 euros per adult to enter and Leo went in for free. We spent around 2 hours exploring the Colosseum. If you are interested in Roman history, you can spend a long time here reading all of the information, consider getting a guided tour if you want a more in depth experience. With a small child, a tour would be impossible – we always do a lot of reading about places before we visit, this way it makes understanding it much easier if we are whizzing around with a grumpy child! Luckily Leo fell asleep in his pram for the entire visit, so we got to really enjoy it and appreciate the enormity of what we were seeing.


After the Colosseum we headed to the Vatican City. We took the metro from the Colosseo Station right by the Colosseum. The ticket was 1 euro 50 and this allows you 100 minutes within the metro system. Once you leave it becomes invalid. We got to the Vatican by taking a train to Roma Termini and then swopping to another train going from Termini to Ottaviano. We use google maps to help us work out which lines to use, we have always found it to be very accurate. It was around a 15 minute walk from Ottaviano station to Vatican City. En route we stopped for lunch at a great little place called Luma Bistro – the menus were hand written with meals fresh for the day – all very traditional and delicious. You can sit outside and the service is great.

In continuation of our terribly planned day, St peters square was closed in preparation for the Sunday mass (Easter Sunday was the following day). We had both visited the square and the Vatican museum before, so it wasn’t a huge problem. But lesson to be learned, it doesn’t hurt to be a little organised before a trip to somewhere as popular as Rome!

That evening we had dinner plans. Whenever we visit a big famous city we like to splash out on a fancy meal near an iconic landmark. We found a restaurant called Royal art cafe Roma, i’ve attached a picture below to show how amazing the view was. Restaurants with views of the Colosseum are extortionate, and so this place was great value. We always call ahead to reserve a table with a great view, if you turn up without a reservation they likely wont have the best tables available. We ordered starters, a main each and a desert each – had a bottle of red wine AND a bottle of Prosecco (YOLO?) – and it came to £95! We could not believe how well priced it was, until the next morning when we looked at the receipt and realised they hadn’t charged us for the bottle of Prosecco! But even still, restaurants like this can cost hundreds of pounds, so this is a great value lux option. The food was great too. We sat there chatting and enjoying our drinks for around 4 hours, they couldn’t get rid of us!

Restaurant with a view of the Colosseum

Dinner in Rome

Day two in Rome

Today we had to check out of our hotel as we would be travelling to another guesthouse close to the airport, in preparation for our early flight home the next day. We were able to leave our bags at the hotel so we didn’t need to carry them around with us all day.

We started our day at the Roman Forum. We walked here from our hotel. It is such a big area to explore, you definitely need a whole morning if you want to enjoy everything. When you buy a ticket for the Colosseum it includes entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine hill – we separated the two over two days purely because we knew Leo’s patience wasn’t ready to explore another Roman site straight after the Colosseum. We started by walking around Palatine Hill, we had downloaded a walking tour that you essentially scroll through and it gives you relevant historic information about the places you are exploring. Head to Palatine Hill view point for a great view over the Roman Forum, then descend the stairs to explore the ruins.


After this we went to get lunch followed by an ice cream on the way to see the Trevi Fountain. Naturally it was absolutely rammed but a great free thing to enjoy in Rome. We then did an open top bus tour of Rome. We find these a great way to see a lot in a short space of time. They are great for little ones who enjoy the novelty of the open top and whose little legs get tired easily. You can hop on and off these, but sometimes we just sit on it for the entire route and enjoy the views. You get a set of earphones which allow you to listen to a pre recorded tour speaking about the different monuments as you pass them. Great option if you just want to sit and be driven around the main sites with very minimal effort!


That pretty much covers our whole cheap trip to Italy! We were very limited on time but managed to see some amazing places, and it didn’t feel rushed. I would highly recommend this route if you have a similar amount of time.

Want to visit Italy on a really tight budget? Try our search feature! Type Italy into the specific location box and select all the cities you fancy. We will find you the best value trip there looking for flights and hotels simultaneously!

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