Exploring Italy With Kids On A Budget

A young girl walks through the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Traveling to Italy with your kids doesn’t have to break the bank –  you can do it on a budget! Italy is a treasure trove of culture, history, and natural beauty waiting to be explored, all while maintaining a budget-friendly itinerary. With some strategic planning and savvy tips, you can enjoy the rich culture and beautiful landscapes of Italy while keeping your wallet in check. By choosing the off-season, opting for apartment rentals, eating like a local, and using efficient transportation methods, families can significantly cut costs, for example. This article is dedicated to parents looking to explore Italy without spending a fortune. Here are some tried-and-tested tips to help you save money and make the most of your Italian vacation! 

Choose the Off-Season

Two people bike in the Tuscan countryside. It's one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids!

Since Italy is very popular with tourists during the summer, visiting in January and February, the off-season, is a budget-friendly choice for an affordable European vacation. While the weather might be cooler with occasional rainy days, it’s a small price to pay for fewer crowds and lower prices. With fewer tourists, you’ll have better access to popular attractions, shorter lines, and more space to explore. Plus, you can take advantage of lower prices on everything from gelato to souvenirs. The smaller crowds also make it easier to navigate the streets with children, giving you a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. 

Plus, you’ll get to experience unique festivals like Carnevale! This is especially advantageous for homeschooling families or those with younger children who can travel outside of traditional school holidays.

Pick Smart Accommodation Choices

An aerial view of the grounds at Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & SPA, including the outdoor pool.
Photo Courtesy: Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & SPA

Consider renting apartments instead of staying in hotels during your affordable family vacation to Italy. Platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and RomeLoft offer affordable options with kitchens, which is a big plus when visiting Italy on a budget with kids. In Tuscany, agro-farm houses, also known as Agriturismo, provide a unique and cost-effective lodging experience. For visits to major cities like Venice, where lodging can be particularly pricey, compare prices in nearby towns like Marghera or Mestre, which are only a short bus, tram, or train ride away. Renting an apartment near a train station can also be a practical choice, especially if you plan to explore various regions.

Eat Like a Local

A young girl sits with three Italian women making pasta on a street in Bari, one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Avoid touristy restaurants when visiting Italy on a budget with kids; they’re often overpriced and not as authentic. Instead, dine where the locals eat. Not only is it cheaper, but you’ll also get to enjoy genuine Italian cuisine. An apartment with a kitchen allows you to cook meals, significantly cutting down costs. Visiting local supermarkets for fresh ingredients like bread, cheese, and olive oil can turn into delightful, budget-friendly meals.

Take Advantage Of Local Transportation

A family of four, atop their own bikes, poses along a stretch of road on the Appian Way.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Taking trains is an efficient and affordable way to get around Italy on a budget with kids. Some trains, like the Frecciarossa or Italo, are high-speed and offer quicker travel times, though they can be more expensive. Meanwhile, regional trains offer cheaper prices, but seats aren’t guaranteed and they often take longer or require more transfers. Either way, keep an eye on your belongings and watch out for pickpocketers. 

Renting a car can be economical for intercity travel, but remember to compare prices and be aware of parking challenges in cities. For traveling from main city to main city, trains are efficient, but if you’re venturing into smaller towns, a car is necessary for accessibility.

Plan and Research Resources

A young girl looks at a painting in a museum in Rome.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Booking accommodations and train tickets well in advance can lead to savings if you want to travel to Italy on a budget with kids. Guides like Rick Steves’ Italy book offer fantastic advice for budget travelers. Invest in these resources, as they can help you avoid common pitfalls and save money. Skip-the-line tickets for popular sights can be booked online, for example, and audio guides are available for a more flexible and budget-friendly touring experience.

Maximize Savings on Daily Expenses

A mom holds her infant son on her shoulders, while walking around the Colosseum in Rome.
Photo Courtesy: Danielle Elizabeth Ramirez

Staying close to tourist sites reduces daily transportation costs when traveling to Italy on a budget with kids. Walking is not only free, but also lets you experience the city more intimately. Families can also save on data charges by downloading maps and using public WiFi. Carry flasks to avoid buying drinks and consider bringing a portable coffee pot to save on cafe expenses. Shopping where locals do and avoiding American food can also keep costs low. Apps like Omio and Flix Bus are great for booking transportation directly.

Find Rewards and Free Activities

Two kids walk along a street in Florence with umbrellas on a rainy day.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

If you have hotel rewards like Hilton & Marriott, use them wisely when visiting Italy on a budget with kids. Remember, these options might still be pricier compared to local accommodations during your family vacation to Italy. Take advantage of free walking tours in each city. These tours are often led by knowledgeable guides and are an excellent way to learn about the culture and history of Italian cities.

Leverage Airline Points for Affordable Flights

A family splashes in shallow water on a beach in Italy.
Photo Courtesy: Laura Snoek

Using airline points can lead to significant savings on your family’s air travel to Italy. Start by accumulating points through credit card rewards or airline loyalty programs. Many cards offer bonuses that can be redeemed for flights. 

Plan to maximize your points, especially with airlines that frequently fly to Italy. Keep an eye out for promotions that increase the value of your points. By being flexible with travel dates and using points strategically, you can greatly reduce the cost of airfare, making your Italian vacation more budget-friendly.

Appreciate The Charm of Small Towns

Naples with Pompeii behind it
Photo Courtesy: Denise Jones

Staying in a small town and making day trips to nearby attractions is a great budget strategy for visiting Italy with kids. Small towns offer more authentic experiences and smaller crowds, enhancing your family’s enjoyment of Italy’s genuine charm. Here are some of the best affordable and quaint towns to visit in Italy with kids on a budget!

Forte Dei Marmi

Two blue-striped beach loungers rest in the sand, with turquoise changing cabanas in the background, at Forte dei Marmi.
Photo Courtesy: Claudio Poggio

If you’re searching for a perfect beach location in northern Italy, look no further than Forte Dei Marmi. Located in Tuscany, it showcases a tranquil ambiance, pristine beaches, and gorgeous scenery. Plus, it’s often less crowded than other touristy destinations nearby, like Cinque Terre, making it perfect for an affordable Italy vacation with kids! 

Enjoy over seven miles of coastline and find a spot to spend the day swimming or building sand castles. (Keep in mind you’ll have to rent a cabana at most sections of the private beach.) Kids will love exploring the town via bike, visiting the Wednesday morning farmer’s market, or learning about history at Forte Lorenese. There’s also a small amusement park, gelato shops, boutiques, and Michelin-star restaurants. 

Alberobello

A mom and her young daughter stand together overlooking a scenic view of the traditional trulli of Alberobello, one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Alberobello is famous for its iconic Trulli (singular “trullo”) – these homes were built from drywall stone and given conical rooftops. Families will adore touring the cozy heritage museum in Trullo Sovrano, featuring various artifacts. Then, if you want to explore historic churches, the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua features Trulli architecture, while Basilica Dei Santi Cosma e Damiano provides a lovely display of historic mosaics and relics. 

For one of the best panoramic views of the Trulli rooftops, head to Belvedere Santa Lucia (a city terrace), adjacent to Chiesa di Santa Lucia. Afterward, walk down the steps and head into the enchanting city center, or the Rione Monti quarter. Throughout Alberobello, be on the lookout for unique Trulli like Trullo Sovrano (the only two-story Trullo), Casa d’Amore, the smallest Trullo of Alberobello (Il Trullo più piccolo), and Trullo Siamese

Ostuni

A mom and her young daughter sit together on white-washed steps in Ostuni, one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Nicknamed “la città bianca” (or, the white city), Ostuni sits proudly atop a hill surrounded by verdant green olive groves. When you’re ready to explore Italy on a budget with kids, start with a walking tour or an ape tour (“ape” means bee in Italian, similar to a tuk-tuk). Undoubtedly, littles will love fluttering around the city by an ape, while learning about local history and culture. The streets are incredibly walkable, with lots of twists and turns that add to the fun. After getting your bearings in the city, make your way to Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta. Here, you can admire its beautiful architecture and the adjacent ​​Arco di Scoppa. Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi is another historic site in Ostuni for families. 

Families with older kids and teens can also find a cooking class in Ostuni to learn how to make a local dish!

Gallipoli

A red vespa parked along the Old Town wall of Gallipoli with the sea in the distance.
Photo Courtesy: Vidar Nordli Mathisen

Nestled along the Ionian coast of Puglia’s Salento region, Gallipoli is a beautiful haven for families seeking quiet days on the sea. Known for its long, sandy beaches, this seaside paradise offers families a fantastic location for soaking up the sun and enjoying long Italian afternoons together. Meander the quaint streets of Centro Storico, or the old town. 

Kids will also enjoy exploring Gallipoli Castle, including exhibits, guided tours, and more. When you’re ready to hit the beach, consider Spiaggia della Purità, Punta della Suina, or Baia Verde (not a free beach). In addition to pristine beaches, you can also splash all day at Splash Parco Acquatico, a waterpark featuring everything from a lazy river to thrilling waterslides (and some non-water activities too!).

Small Towns Near Naples

A view of colored buildings in Naples, one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Vanessa Brown Giglio

For a more low-key and authentic experience near Naples, consider visiting the charming small towns of Atrani, Maiori, and Minori along the Amalfi Coast. These towns offer a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere compared to bustling tourist hotspots like Positano. In Atrani, families can explore the narrow streets, visit the beautiful beach, and enjoy delicious local cuisine in a more intimate setting. Maiori and Minori boast lovely beaches, historic architecture, and a slower pace of life. If you want to explore southern Italian culture, you can also visit Salerno. 

Pompei is also a fantastic place to learn about history, architecture, and culture! Explore the ruins of the ancient city in Pompeii Archaeological Park and tell kids about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Then, head to the Pompeii Amphitheatre or the Pompeii Archaeological Museum. Art lovers may prefer seeing the glittering frescoes and mosaics of Villa Dei Misteri or House of the Faun. Don’t forget about the Pompeii Forum or Vesuvius National Park

Small Towns In Sicily

A stretch of coastline in Sicily, featuring a lovely beach and crystal clear waters.
Photo Courtesy: Daniele Putti

While cities such as Palermo and Cefalù are popular with families, there are plenty of other places to see in Sicily! San Vito Lo Capo is another beautiful location to visit during the summer. It showcases clear, blue-green water, white sand, and the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Families can enjoy the sunshine and then explore the trails next door at the nature center for an amazing view! 

Lampedusa, accessible via ferry, is a small island with one of Italy’s most pristine beaches, Spiaggia Dei Conigli. This is one of the rare places in Europe where loggerhead turtles hatch their eggs, so it’s certainly worth a visit! 

Small Towns In Sardinia

An infant boy claps his hands, while sitting on a beach in Sardinia, one of the best places to visit in Italy on a budget with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Lenn Gribble

Families who want a scenic beach destination in Italy will love Sardinia! Pefect for an affordable Italy family vacation, this island boasts stunning shorelines, delicious restaurants, and historical wonders. Visit the quaint, coastal town of Cala Gonone to soak up the sun at Spiaggia Centrale. Or, head to San Teodoro, a popular resort town home to La Cinta Beach. In the evening, families can visit local outdoor markets to browse handmade pottery, rare cheese, or locally grown fruit juice. 

Families can also take a ferry to the Maddalena Islands, only twenty minutes away from the port town of Palau, to see the vibrant sand at Pink Beach in Budelli. 

Happy Travels!

Two young boys ride in a gondola down a canal in Venice, Venetian buildings behind them.
Photo Courtesy: Kelli Wein

We hope you liked this article on Exploring Italy With Kids On A Budget! Between transportation, eating like a local, and appreciating the charm of small towns, there are plenty of ways to maximize your trip to this kid-friendly paradise. Enjoy your family vacation to Italy! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.