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Rome on a tight budget

(28 Posts)
NadiSel Fri 15-Jan-16 18:31:24

Hiya - I've booked a cheap flight for 2 adults and 4 children (ages between 8-14) to Rome in mid Feb. Step 1 of securing a cheap flight was successful. Now to get cheap accommodation.

I'm after tips for a cheap b&b/hotel/apartment. Anything considered! But I want to see the Vatican, Colloseum and Parthenon so it must be somewhere central or have good metro/bus links. I won't be hiring a car because I don't fancy the hectic driving.

Don't know if anyone has noticed that some places charge a whopping 45 euro extra if arriving after 6pm and another 45 euro if leaving early in the morning. Unfortunately my cheap flights mean I'm going to arrive after 10pm and depart at 6am so will fall foul of both extras!

Any tips?

gingerdad Fri 15-Jan-16 18:35:16

Public transport is great. We stayed at the Crowne plaza wasn't too expensive.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Jan-16 10:20:07

We went to Rome in October. Accommodation isn't cheap, but the further out of town you stay the cheaper it is. Rome is big, so even if you stay somewhere central you will still do a lot of walking and/or use public transport. Their metro system only has two lines and not everywhere is convenient for the metro.

We stayed in a hotel next to the French embassy, so it was quiet at night, but convenient for some nice places to eat. It was about a 10 - 15 minute walk to the nearest metro station. I didn't feel confident enough to use the buses - I never do in a strange city, but the metro was really easy to use, you just buy tickets at tobacconists and other local shops.

We did the Vatican, Colosseum, the Parthenon, the Trevi fountain (under repair when we went, the Spanish steps (under repair when we went) Palatine Hill the Forum and umpteen churches.

Don't even think of driving in Rome. The traffic is bad and there is nowhere to park.

Tips - Rome has a bad reputation for pick-pockets especially on public transport. We never had any problems because we were very careful and didn't look vulnerable so we were left alone. I was staggered at the number of tourists who kept their phones in the back pockets of jeans, so I expect a number of phones will have been stolen.

The street hawkers were selling selfie sticks everywhere, but they leave you alone if you aren't interested.

We didn't find eating out any more expensive than eating out at home.

Take comfortable shoes. As you are going in February they will need to be waterproof.

Be prepared for how crowded the Vatican is. I would book timed tickets online before you go. I have to admit that after the very ornate and colourful galleries that you walk through before you get to the Sistine chapel the chapel itself is rather underwhelming in comparison. DD said she was bored with paintings of fat babies by the time we had finished. My favourite sites were Palatine Hill and the Parthenon which is astonishing when you consider just how old it is.

I loved Rome and would happily go back. We only had four nights there and didn't see everything.

NadiSel Sat 16-Jan-16 19:29:54

Some great tips Bunbaker - thank you. I still haven't managed to find any cheap accommodation yet. When I do find something reasonable, there just seems to be tax after tax to pay - cleaning tax if an apartment, late arrival tax, early departure tax, city tax.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Jan-16 20:41:36

Talking about taxes you have to pay a daily tourist tax unless you are staying in self catering accommodation in Rome. We paid €48 for our stay in Rome - €6 per person per night.

zazas Sat 16-Jan-16 23:13:52

Hi, we took our five kids to Italy (7 - 16 yrs) including Rome in 2014 and managed to do it on a budget (just)! Rather than randomly telling you things, here is a link to my trip report to it which might help...? We used airbnb which worked brilliantly as we could eat in the apartment and walked everywhere to save money yet we still saw and did everything we hope to. It was an absolutely brilliant trip - enjoy!

SwirlySmokingChimney Sat 16-Jan-16 23:22:10

Parthenon = Athens, Pantheon = Rome!

Accommodation is generally cheaper around the Termini area, but it's not the nicest of areas - perfectly fine though. Someone upthread said they stayed near the embassies - Piazza Barberini is on one of the Metro lines, walkable to everywhere and a bit less stressful than some areas. I would look for an apartment or on air b&b in either Barberini, San Giovanni or Trastevere/Piazza di Largo Arentina areas personally. (Used to live in Rome).

StayWithMe Sat 16-Jan-16 23:26:21

My DH and I stayed I the irish college ( and I believe they've updated their accommodation since we were there. It was very basic b&b but very clean and the staff were made up of irish students. It's within walking distance of the colosseum, which is beautiful at night. The students can let you know the best places to eat, which are usually used by the locals.

allegretto Sat 16-Jan-16 23:33:31

I love Rome! My parents sometimes stay at Hotel Sonja (booked through laterooms) - sometimes really cheap and sometimes expensive, you might get lucky! You really need to walk around Rome to get a feel for the city so pack good walking shoes. I managed to walk about 11km a day when I went with DS! The Vatican queues are long so go early and look out for nuns trying to queue jump. It is worth going up to the top of the dome too as the views are amazing, especially at sunset.

Bunbaker Sun 17-Jan-16 08:54:21

Is the dome is St Peter's itself? We couldn't get anywhere near it as the queue was so long, and we didn't fancy waiting for a couple of hours as our legs were so tired by then.

My mistake about the Parthenon. I should have known better.

rookiemere Sun 17-Jan-16 10:06:59

we stayed here
It was a great apartment, very centrally situated - we walked everywhere, nice and cool and great wifi. There's also some inexpensive restaurants on the side streets near by that don't attract as many tourists.

Another tip is we bought advance tickets for the Vatican, at the time they had Friday evening viewing. Nice going early evening and not busy at all. We had some lovely antipasti with a nice glass of wine at a nearby tavern.

It was a lovely trip, enjoy.

Bunbaker Sun 17-Jan-16 10:10:16

Evening tickets for the Vatican sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately we went in October and it was getting dark at about 5ish and DD I didn't fancy having to make our way right across town in the dark back to the hotel.
We bought advance tickets for the Vatican as well.

Eminybob Sun 17-Jan-16 10:18:04

We stayed in hotel Pace Helvezia on via 4 Novembre. It was really reasonable, lovely and very central.

DancingDuck Sun 17-Jan-16 10:23:00

I'd look for an airbnb. They can be fantastically cheap and you save loads by not eating out every night. We use them all the time now. They halve the cost of a holiday and you get to stay right in the centre and come and go as you please, like a local.

DancingDuck Sun 17-Jan-16 10:26:35

I've just had a quick look. Not many places left for half term, but you will get somewhere nice, bang in the centre, for less than £25pppn.

breward Sun 17-Jan-16 18:40:23

We stayed A room for all 4 of us in the middle of Aug was E100 (about £70 with the good exchange rate.)

It was close to the station so we could jump off the airport bus and walk to it. The owner is lovely and it is opposite an ice cream parlour/factory which our children loved.

We walked to the colliseum from there and jumped on the metro about a 2 minute walk away for everything else.

NadiSel Sun 17-Jan-16 23:05:03

Thanks some great tips and have emailed out to a few to get the final costs to make sure I'm not hit with any unexpected charges. Anyone with tips for travelling around with kids in tow?

Loved the comment about queue jumping nuns Allegretto. Not sure what I'd do if they do jump the queue. They've got a clearer path to the top than me and I wouldn't want to be smitten down by a thunderbolt grin!

NadiSel Thu 21-Jan-16 05:50:39

My goodness. I've now come across a 'Destination Tax' which is 10euro per person per night. What is that? No explanation on the website and it's in addition to a professional cleaning fee of 50euro and a city tax of 3.5 euro per person per night.

Any ideas on what a 'Destination Tax' is?

Bunbaker Fri 22-Jan-16 20:58:15

Isn't that the tourist tax? I mentioned it in one of my posts. We have been to Italy a few times recently and it is mandatory I'm afraid. €10 per person per night is a bit steep. We paid €6 each per night in October.

NadiSel Sat 23-Jan-16 12:50:42

No I don't think so because then you would expect it to be featured everywhere like the 3.50 city tax. I only came across destination tax in one place I looked at.

In hotels and B&B I've generally only seen the city tax for all aged 10 and over.

In apartments there is an extra cleaning charge and generally a late arrival and early departure charge.

May I ask another question Bunbaker - I won't have a car so will buy tickets for the buses, trams etc - they are cheap at 1.50 euro a ticket. Does the ticket allow travel in trams trains etc for a certain time period (e.g 1 hour) or is it 1.50 euro per person per journey?

Bunbaker Sat 23-Jan-16 14:05:36

I know there is a time limit, but can't remember what it is. It might be 24 hours. We just bought all the metro tickets we required for the day from a little shop across from our hotel, so I know they are valid for several hours.

Rome is not car friendly at all so don't even think of hiring a car.

Apparently 2016 is a holy year so there will be a huge increase in visitor numbers. There is a plan to increase tourist tax to deal with the congestion.

ExitPursuedByABear Sat 23-Jan-16 14:13:43

There is a pass you can buy which gives unlimited travel on buses and entry to two museums. Roma Pass. It was very useful until DD lost hers in the Colloseum. <grr>

Bunbaker Sat 23-Jan-16 14:17:45

I looked into getting Roma passes, but they weren't good value for us as we walked nearly everywhere. We weren't that near a metro station, and found that most of the main sites weren't that near metro stations either.

ExitPursuedByABear Sat 23-Jan-16 14:19:30

We got lots of buses. But I was with an Italian speaker.

hardheadedwoman Sat 23-Jan-16 14:26:42

Another one seconding booking online for the Vatican - best 60 euros I've ever spent. You walk straight in compared to a 3 hour queue

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