Plan A Budget Italian Adventure – Part one
- Cheap Travel
- Family Travel
Plan A Budget Italian Adventure – Part one
Want to plan a cheap trip to Italy? You’re in the right place! Italy is the perfect country to visit if you love great food, picturesque beaches, famous landmarks and interesting history. We had 10 days to spare in April and couldn’t choose just one Italian destination, so we chose five! We didn’t have a lot of money for this trip so it was important that we kept our accommodation cheap and our transport even cheaper! We were travelling with our 3 year old son and my parents who are in their 60’s. They are pretty laid back, but we had to take them into consideration when choosing accommodation. This trip could be A LOT cheaper if you stay in hostels. This is part one of two, there is so much information to share, I wanted to break it down into two different posts. This part will cover arriving in Palermo up to departing Naples.
The best view of Amalfi Town
The route we took:
We flew Manchester to Palermo, Sicily (£12pp)
From Palermo we flew to Naples (£12pp)
Got a taxi to the Amalfi Coast (wouldn’t recommend this now with the knowledge we gained whilst there – taking the train to Sorrento then a bus to Amalfi would have been a lot cheaper)
(The Taxi was £130 divided between 4 adults – £32.50pp – we had to get a bigger van type Taxi as there were 5 of us including Leo (our 3 year old son)
Bus to Sorrento (£5pp)
Train to Pompeii (£2.50pp)
Train back to Naples (£2.50pp) to get the Train to Rome (£40pp fast train – could have been cheaper booking ahead)
Flew home from Rome (£60pp – expensive as we came back easter Monday)
Transport Total: £166.50pp (Leo didn’t need to pay for bus or train tickets)
Where to Start?
When planning a cheap trip to Italy with multiple stops, you first need to think about where you want to visit. Are there certain towns or cities you have always wanted to visit? Do you want to fly into one city and out of another doing a linear route, or fly into and out of the same city doing a circular route? Ultimately it will come down to flight prices during your travel period and where you want to visit. Use this feature on Skyscanner to find the best options. Put in your departing airport, flying to ‘Italy’ to get an idea of the different options available to you. For example, if it is £200 cheaper to fly to Pisa when compared to Rome, you might want to consider starting your trip there.
Once you have your starting and end points, there will be natural stops between the two which you may be interested in visiting. Open google maps and get an idea for where the logical stops may be.
Following this method we found our best starting point was Palermo (as this was the cheapest place to fly on our particular dates, the flights were an absolute bargain at £12pp) – We then did a Skyscanner search flying from Palermo to “Italy” – this allowed us to find the cheapest next destination, which was Naples. From Naples we knew there were many places we wanted to see around there which were accessible on land. The Amalfi coast and Sorrento being high on the list, along with the ancient city of Pompeii. We also wanted to visit Rome to enjoy the city during Easter weekend.
Once we knew all of the destinations we wanted to visit, it was time to decide how many days we would spend in each place.
Our 10 night cheap trip to Italy 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
I will go into more detail about each place below.
First stop – Palermo, Sicily
Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. This was definitely the place that surprised us the most. We had a good knowledge of our other chosen destinations, and had a fairly good idea of what to expect. But with Palermo, we decided to just wing it and see what it was all about once we got there. We found a good value, quirky guest house really close to the centre.
We stayed at “Abali’ Gran Sultanato” – click here to check it out.
It was £140 for four nights in our “Standard King Room” with a great breakfast included!
The breakfast is served in a cafe just down the street, just a couple of minutes walk away from the guest house. You can choose a coffee/cold drink and a pastry. The croissants in there, especially the pistachio flavoured, are honestly the best I have ever tasted. There is a lovely seating area outside.
There is so much to see and do in and around the city. In terms of cheap things to do in Palermo, you can spend a whole day (or even two) just walking around the city and spending very little. The streets are all incredibly beautiful with historic and culturally interesting sites at every turn. These are the main points of interest I would advise you include on your self directed walking tour. I don’t want to give too much away as honestly, one of the best things about our time in Palermo was how surprised we were at how insanely beautiful every corner of the city is. Open google maps and put in these points of interest to construct a DIY walking tour between them. You will see so much in between, but these were my favourite sites:
La Martorana Church
The old port
On top of the city being absolutely amazing – there are also lots of places you can visit a short bus or train ride away. A stop you definitely cant miss is “Mondello Beach” – easily accessible via the 806 bus. The tickets are 2 euros each way. Annoyingly our Host had told us we could purchase tickets on the bus. As there were around 100 people at the bus stop and we all piled on through the back doors, we weren’t presented with the opportunity to purchase a ticket. This ended up a disaster when a couple of ticket men came on the bus and fined everyone without a ticket! It ended up being around £100 for 4 adults…Initially they wanted 100 euros per person! We tried to argue our point but in the end it was easier to just pay. So yes, purchase your bus ticket BEFORE getting on the bus, we learnt this the hard way, you can buy them from many tabacchi stores around the city.
Mondello Beach is incredibly beautiful, the aquamarine sea and white sands make it the perfect cheap day out (When you aren’t fined £100!) We got huge sandwiches with some fries from a stall by the beach for less than 20 euros for us all (4 adults and a child). You could easy budget 4 euros for the bus and take a cheap packed lunch with you for a fun, cheap and memorable day out!
There are lots of places you can visit via Train. Our favourite was a town called Cefalu. We had seen lots of pictures of this little town and knew it was one of the places we wanted to make a day trip to. The train journey was around 45 minutes each way and cost 6 euros per person for the return ticket (Leo travelled for free). Once we got there we were able to walk around the town in less than an hour, it really is quite small. There is a Cathedral there with a square in front, a great place to stop for an expensive drink or ice cream. I wouldn’t recommend getting lunch in the square, unless your budget allows of course. We found a Pizzeria on one of the small side streets, we got some beers and pizza for a few euros and took it to the near by beach to enjoy. A much cheaper and memorable option!
Naples is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan, and one of the longest continually inhabited areas in the world leaving it with tons of impressive historical sites and monuments. We flew to Naples from Palermo, arriving late (around 10pm). We wanted cheap and conveniently located accommodation so booked a hotel close to the main train station and Garibaldi Square. It was £40 for the night with breakfast included. To get there from the airport we paid 5 euros each in a shared shuttle. With hindsight I wouldn’t recommend this area if you are arriving late at night. It is a really congested area, covered in litter with lots of street venders trying to sell you things. It felt quite intimidating looking for our hotel along dark alleys, but once we set off exploring the following day, it really wasn’t that bad. (Night time can make the safest places feel intimidating, always try to arrive in the daytime if possible, especially if travelling alone).
Exploring the Spanish Quarter
We only had one night in Naples as we decided to head to Amalfi the following afternoon. We woke up early, had our free breakfast (which was great) and had 6 hours to see the highlights of Naples. We had already booked accommodation on the Amalfi Coast (In a town called Conca Dei Marini), and given we were all quite tired at this point, we decided to pay for a Taxi to take us straight there. This wasn’t a budget friendly option at £130 for a one way trip. It was however the most time efficient option, and took us from door to door. If you wanted a cheaper option, you could get the train to Sorrento (around £5), and then from Sorrento take the bus to the Amalfi Coast (between £2.50 and £5 depending where you are staying).
Replicate our 6 hours in Naples. We walked the majority of the route, just using the metro at the end to head back towards where we got lunch – we really enjoy seeing a city on foot, but if you have mobility issues, the metro system is great for getting about.
Stroll around the old town – head along Via Duomo to Naples Cathedral which is free to enter and absolutely beautiful.
Head to Via San Gregorio Armeno – a famous alley selling religious figures and nativity scenes, it’s a great picturesque street to take a stroll down and take some photos.
Walk along Toledo shopping street and stop at its metro station voted “The most beautiful in Europe”.
From here head to the Spanish Quarter, one of the most densely populated areas of the city. Really cute quaint streets with lots of opportunities to pick up souvenirs.
Head to Galleria Umberto and get some traditional pastries. Cannoli, Sfogliatella and rum baba were our favourites! This upscale shopping mall is worth a visit just to admire the architecture and glass ceilings.
Sfogliatella and Rum Baba
Check out the castles – Castle Nuovo and Ovo Castle.
You will have definitely worked up an appetite by this point. Head to Sorbillo’s for the best Pizza in Naples. There is always a bit of a queue outside, but it goes down quickly and is worth the wait. Pizzas are huge, delicious and cheap. Around 8 euros for an entire pizza which can be shared between two or more (we had one each because we were hungry!)
Some Pizzas on the Sorbillo Menu
Top Tips for a cheap trip to Italy:
1) Choose the cheapest flights as explained above, and travel light with just a backpack or carry on suitcase. Check in luggage is really going to hike up the flight prices and often it really isn’t necessary. Check out our TikTok video on how we pack light here . Less clothes means less hassle when moving from location to location.
2) Accommodation – Opt for charming locations just beyond the bustling city center, where you can easily reach your destination by foot or a quick metro ride away.. You can save hundreds of pounds by committing to a 15/20 minute walk or metro ride each day to get from the hotel to the attractions and sights.
3) Eat cheaply. Don’t stroll into restaurants without checking out the prices. There are lots of amazing street venders and pizzerias selling really cheap food. A cheap meal in a restaurant is going to set you back £15/£20 per person. There will also be the “Coperto” charge which is a fee for simply sitting in the restaurant and enjoying the bread at the table. You can get a slice of pizza or a panini from a street vendor for a few pounds. Even supermarkets sell some fantastic food that will save you a lot of money. Even better, get a room with a kitchenette and have a go at cooking your own Italian meals every now and again! Making small savings like this will really add up over a long trip.
4) Avoid expensive Taxi’s if possible. A Taxi to the Amalfi Coast from Naples cost us £130, luckily between 4 adults it didn’t end up being TOO extortionate, but we could have gotten the train from Naples to Sorrento for under £5 and then taken the bus to Conca Dei Marini on the Amalfi coast for £5 or less (the prices seemed to vary on how the bus driver was feeling!)
5) Make the most of free activities. It cost’s nothing to wander around and get lost in a city. Head to a beach with a packed lunch, relax, read a book, and have an amazing day spending very little. There are museums and cathedrals you can enter for free. Whilst in Palermo we got the train to Cefalu for around £6, we bought some cheap pizza and beers from a street vendor, took it to the beach and had an amazing afternoon spending less than £20 for us all. If a company had arranged this as a day trip, it would have been WAY more expensive. Find your own fun, and always keep your budget in mind.
This is the end of Part One – Part Two will be coming soon showing how we were able to visit Amalfi on a budget, what we did there, the places we recommend, as well as how we then got to Sorrento, Pompeii and Rome!
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