Rome on a budget: what to do, eat, drink and see

April 02, 2019

I am no stranger to budget travel. In fact, I unfortunately happen to be one of those people who has a bit of a problem spending money, even when I do have it - not the best trait, in reality. Some would call it tight, I like to call it *thrifty*. Anyway, when I was living in Rome a couple of years ago money wasn't in abundance - which was tricky for me, being someone who likes to eat and drink out, a LOT. So I had to learn the secrets of doing this in Rome without spending a fortune, and I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone tends to see Rome as quite an expensive place, and I guess it can be - I remember my parents coming back from Rome a couple of years ago with the defining memory being the time they paid €20 for two scoops of ice cream at a gelateria near the Spanish Steps - but it really doesn't have to be that expensive. Rome is definitely possible on a budget - here are my tips.

Trattoria Luzzi - this little gem is right in the middle of a touristy area, but at real Roman prices. Pizzas are €6 - 8, pastas the same, litre of wine is around €8. Colosseum area.
Giacomelli - Very similar to the above, usually packed with locals. Great pizza. Prati area.
200 Gradi - Delicious hot sandwiches, take-away around €4-6. Right next to the Vatican.
Da Tonino - Right in the centre next to Piazza Navona, Da Tonino does excellent pasta and meat dishes. Pasta around €8, litre of wine around €10.
Montecarlo Pizzeria - Pizzeria right in the centre, good pizzas, fast service. Around €7-8 a pizza. Piazza Navona.
Circo Massimo Farmer's Market - A great weekend choice, sit in the market's courtyard and eat plates of pasta, meat, soups... anything. Starting at €5 a dish. Wine from €6 a bottle. Circo Massimo.
Testaccio Market - Similar to the above, would recommend a hot panini from Mordi e Vai. Around €4. Testaccio.
Solopasta - this was a prime hangover spot for me - choose your pasta and sauce, and they'll whip up a massive plate of it fresh for you, at €5. Piazza Navona.
Doppio Zero - a little out of the way in Ostiense, this spot does the best aperitivo buffet possible for €10.
Carlo Menta - Solid choice in Trastevere for cheap pasta and wine.

Coming Out - this bar has all the benefits of a touristy area - namely, a great view of the Colosseum - at budget prices. As the name suggests, it's a gay bar! Glass of wine around €4-5, doubles from €7
San Lorenzo - At night head to the San Lorenzo area for a cheap night out. There are loads of bars around the main piazza that sell doubles from €4-5, to take away.
Caffe Peru - A Roman institution, everyone from locals to tourists come here for a drink on the high stools outside. Wine from €4-5, long drinks €6 - 7. Campo dei Fiori.
Testaccio Market - Usually open during the day, but sometimes there are nighttime events - wine from the stalls around costs around €3-4 a glass.
Molinari Antonio - A great little wine bar near Via Salario, this place sells bottles of wine for around €10 - sit outside until late at night with the locals and drink from plastic cups to get the real experience!
Ex Circus - Happy hour with €3 aperol spritz. Piazza Navona.
Fischio - Right near the Vatican, this outdoor spot is a go-to for me during the summer. Pints and glasses of wine from €4.
Brazilian Bar - on Viccolo Moroni in Trastevere, hidden behind a door. Always looks closed. Doubles from €5.

Offically, bus tickets are €1.50. Unofficially, you are very, very rarely checked, and if you make sure that you are carrying a ticket you can just stamp it when you see the inspectors getting on. I'm not telling you that this is a *good idea*, but I'm saying that if you want to get around Rome for cheap, *it can be done*. *side-eye*.
Free Sundays - Usually the first Sunday of the month, Rome's national museums - including the Colosseum and the Forum, are free. This has changed recently, and it can be hard to keep up - have a quick google for the most up-to-date dates.
Gianicolo Hill - This is totally free and a great experience. Just a quick 10 minute uphill walk from Trastevere is this viewpoint, with an amazing sunset view across Rome.
Monte Mario - A national park in the Northern part of Rome, this also has great sunset views.
Trevi Fountain - One of the only attractions that is free! At night when it's less busy, grab a beer from a nearby supermarket and sit in front of it - great beerside views.
St Peters - the Vatican's famous church is totally free to enter - there might still be a queue, but it moves fast and it's worth it.
Altare della Patria - not many people know that the first two levels/terraces are free to enter. A great view of Rome, just stroll on up.

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