How to See a Family-Friendly Italy on a Budget

First off, I want to thank Amy and Kate for hosting me on this blog. There’s a ton of great information on here for everything from summer trips to ski vacations, and I love that. Hopefully this post is a good complement to Amy’s post on day trips around Rome—Rome has some neat history for sure, but so do so many of the nearby towns!

iitaly-with-kidsTravelling with your family has its challenges, but it’s a great bonding experience and a great way to instill a love of travel in your children. Italy is a special country chock-full of history, food, and fun—but as you probably know, a visit to Italy typically comes with a pretty hefty price-tag. Footing the cost as even a single traveler can be rough, so how can you do it with a family? Don’t worry—it’s entirely possible! Here are some tips:

Getting There

Flights and accommodation will typically be the most expensive parts of your travel. Start cutting costs before you even arrive in Italy by shopping around for the best deal. Try to pack light so you don’t have to pay as much in baggage fees. Also remember that your cheapest option may not always be to fly directly to Italy—even though Rome is a huge city, you might find that it costs less to fly first into another city in Europe, like London or Paris, and then take a separate budget flight to Italy from there.

Of course, if you have a layover to kill, you’re going to have to keep the kids occupied. The thing is, an airport is just another world for your kids to explore; take a walk and look out the windows. When they get bored of that, sit them down with your smartphone or tablet and get them watching movies using the airport Wi-Fi. If it’s a foreign airport, you may have to use a VPN to circumvent Netflix’s geo-restrictions, but with a VPN hiding your true location, you’ll be good to go!


Figuring Out Where to Go

In general, the further south you head in Italy, the cheaper the prices are. And although many of the northern cities of Italy are beautiful, there’s no lack of charm in the southern parts of the country either. You’ll find plenty of fascinating ruins, sweeping landscapes, and wonderful glimpses into the culture of the country—and by sticking to one region of the country, you’ll also minimize your transportation costs. It is entirely possible to do a grand tour of Italy on a budget, but you won’t lose anything by staying south.

If you do decide to travel around, you may want to look into taking the slower trains rather than the faster (and more expensive) Eurostar trains. If you’re a bit flexible on the days, you may even find that budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair offer flights that are cheap enough for your budget.


Many cities in Italy offer free walking tours, which can be a great way to get oriented and learn something about the history of the cities. However, children will often get bored during these tours, especially during tours with longer stops and more detail. Instead, it may be worth grabbing a guidebook or getting a map and printing off information from online. Have your kids take turns navigating to the next stop and being the tour guide (reading out the information from the sheet).

Once you’ve chosen your cities, do a web-search for something like “free things [CITY]” and you’re sure to come up with a list of activities that you could do on a budget. Seeing museums will add up, so if you plan to see a lot of them, you may want to look into getting a museum pass. Be realistic about how many museums you’ll see, though: if your kids get bored with the museums, you’re not going to learn much about the history anyway as you’re trying to keep them from going bonkers.

One way to keep kids occupied is to play a scavenger hunt game throughout the trip. Make a board with things they’re likely to find and see and do along the trip (eg. “Eat a slice of pizza”, “Hear an Italian man singing”). Have a competition to see who can collect the most “Italian experiences” throughout the course of the trip.


Eating out for every meal can get expensive, but there are a couple tricks you can employ. First of all, look for accommodation that offers a complimentary continental breakfast—even if you’re stuck eating boring cereal or toast for the whole trip, at least it’s one meal a day that you don’t have to worry about. You can also look for cheap bakeries that offer breakfast goods to cover you on that front. As for lunches, many Italians frown on tourists eating wherever they like in the cities, but find a park or a spot in the countryside and you can have a nice family picnic. You might also want to pick up some snacks and drinks from the local supermarket to keep you going throughout the day.


When eating at restaurants, you’ll want to head a little bit outside the touristy areas of the city and keep your eye out for cafés serving cheap Paninis and pastries—these are numerous all around Italy. And hey, your kids will never complain about another slice of delicious Italian pizza!

Despite its often-hefty price-tag, Italy is a bucketlist country for any traveler—and the younger you can expose the kids to some of the magic of this country, the better! You may not be able to see everything with them on the first visit, especially not if you’re trying to keep costs down and only visiting some of the museums and attractions, but hey, that just means you’ll need to go back again soon!

Hi, my name is Jess Signet. My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older! Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)