It was September 2003, and my old college roommate was working at a university in Florence, Italy. She had kept bugging me to go visit her after I moved back to the USA after living in Brazil for almost 3 years. I finally checked my schedule, and there was only one week I could go. It was the last week of August, and ironically her orientation week. This was the only week she had to do loads of work, but I booked anyway.
Plan a trip to Italy On Your Own
We will break up the planning part into the following sections:
- Overall budget
- Time of year
- Choosing the cities
- Booking the flights
- Booking the hotels/Airbnbs
- Booking activities or tours
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Italy?
After going to Italy twice with my husband, I decided to consult with a travel agent for booking a trip for the whole family. To my surprise, for 4 people, and I believe 11 days, it would cost $9,000. I almost fell off my chair. This was over our budget, so we booked a couples trip for our third Italian vacation and did not take the kids until very recently.
For flights, I always aim to stay under $600 per person with bags. This is not always possible, but that is the goal. If I can’t find a flight to Italy for that price, then I look for a city in Portugal or Spain to see if I can find a cheaper one and then book from that country to Italy. We tend to be budget travelers, but not super tight budget.
Next, we decide on a budget for food. When it’s my husband and me, we aim to spend about $100 a day on food and beverages. When we went with the kids, we budgeted around $300. This budget does not include activities like museums, tours, or transportation between cities.
Next, we price out any paid activities we would like to do. Since we are more laid-back travelers, there typically isn’t more than one paid activity, unless we are going to a brand new area, and then we may book 3. But overall, we love getting lost in Italy and just going with the flow. Luckily, my kids just made the age cut-off to enter the Uffizi Gallery for free, yay! So, check to see if there are ways you can save. Some people swear by the Roma Pass, but we haven’t done it yet.
Grab my Free Italy Travel Guide
My favorite time of year is generally October because it’s not too cold and not too hot. Additionally, you can find some great deals as it can be considered low season, especially towards the end of the month. I now am using the Google Flights trick to find flights. You can view this TikTok video for more info on that. I have also gone at the end of October into November, the end of November into December, and recently, March. My favorite is still October, and I probably would do April after Easter if there were any good deals.
How To Choose Which Cities to Visit in Italy
Choosing your Italy tour route is super fun! What I love about Italy is how many regions it has and how there are thousands of things to do and see. There is so much art, fashion, beauty, and so many scenic routes.
If you have never been to Italy, I recommend that you do Rome and Florence, giving you enough time to visit Tuscany. If you wish to venture out to more locations on a solo trip, I strongly suggest you follow Alicia on TikTok. She plans the best itineraries when it comes to choosing which Italian cities to visit.
My husband and I have driven from Rome to Florence, staying in smaller cities in between, because it helps break up the trip a bit. We always look for a hot spring and love exploring the smaller towns. By exploring, I mean aperitivo time at a local bar. If you would like to learn more about that, read our 7 Romantic Things to Do In Tuscany blog post.
The Best Way to Book Your Italian Trip
For flights, I do recommend Google Flights, but you should definitely compare bundle deals on Expedia. The first time we went to Rome, we found a great deal on Expedia. In fact, it was the only place we saw a direct flight from Fort Lauderdale to Italy, and we got a great rate on a hotel near the Vatican. Whenever we book the bundle deal, we only pick 2-3 nights in a hotel for the 1st city and make sure to click where it says “I only need a hotel for part of my trip.”
After comparing, we decide on which options are best, and we book the flights first. Now it’s off to find hotels or Airbnbs. The funny thing about Italy lodging is that you will find many Airbnb-type places listed as hotels. Why? Because a lot of people have these investment condos or properties, they list them in several places. The best place to find hotels, in my opinion, is Booking.com.
I love their whole booking process, and I love that I get to save money by being a Genius Level 2. No, this is not a sponsored post, yet I’m putting it out there in the universe… If Booking dot com wants to sponsor my blog or TikTok, I am here for it.
I do recommend travel insurance, and for that, I use Insure Yonder. They have great rates, and fabulous customer service and they give back with every purchase.
Airbnb vs Hotels in Italy
Our most recent trip was the first time we used Airbnbs for planning a trip to Italy. Previously, when we compared prices for a stay for two, the hotels were always cheaper. Again, remember, when I say hotels, sometimes they were B&B and even hostels. When traveling with 2 adults and 3 hungry teenagers, we knew we wanted a whole place to ourselves, and not just one or two rooms. So, our Airbnbs averaged around $200 a night, which is great for what you get.
If you want a list of some awesome Airbnb listings to stay in Rome or Tuscany, you can sign up here.
Another thing that we did differently this time around was staying longer at our first Airbnb. We knew that it would be a bit much for the kids if we were to check out every two days. Let’s face it, they don’t have our stamina or walking desires. They are teens, after all. The trip was still amazing, and you can learn more about planning a Europe trip for teens here.
Overall, you need to read all the reviews before booking and ask lots of questions. Be sure to ask if there is an elevator, and also ask about the location of the place. Then it comes down to budget, location, and what makes sense for you and your family. To book, we use the following websites: Airbnb, Booking, and Expedia. For car rentals, we use Booking and Expedia.
How to tour Italy on your own
I find touring in Italy on your own to be relatively easy. Many locations are walkable and public transportation is affordable and overall easy to use ( there are exceptions lol). First, make a list of the main attractions in the city you would like to visit.
For example, if it’s Rome then the list of the main attractions could like:
- Colosseum and Forum
- Trevi Fountain
- Campo Di Fiori
- Via del Corso
- Spanish Steps
- Vittorino Emmanuelle Building
- Vatican City ( Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica)
- Pizza Navona
- Villa Borghese Gallery and Gardens
- Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum
- Baths of Caracalla
- The Catacombs and Via Appia Antica (Appian Way)
There are many more, especially churches and museums but remember we are not super touristy in that respect so feel free to comment on your favorite attractions below.
So paid attractions versus free. Rome has so many great free things to do that can make planning for it fun. It is easy to plan a few back-to-back items like Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona can be done on the same day. For visiting the Vatican I recommend dedicating the day to that. You won’t be there all day but my husband and I like to book one main attraction per day or we get overwhelmed.
So make your list of the ideal things you would like to see, then add a note if it’s free vs paid.
Withing this also decide on restaurants, here are some tips for my favorite restaurants in Rome, and here is a blog post on how not to fall for Europe Food traps.
So a typical day for us looks like this:
Here are some top websites to book Italian Tours on Your Own
Overall you can totally plan an Italy trip on your own. If you need more help, follow me on TikTok for videos or grab my Free Guide.