Although prices can be high – like much of Western Europe – an abundance of cheap hostels and good public transport mean that Italy’s lively cities and dramatic countryside are also accessible to backpackers and travelers on a budget.
The Northern Cities
There’s nowhere in the world quite like Venice and, as such, it’s one of Italy’s most famous (and crowded) attractions. Combining the country’s charms with its own unique architecture and history, it’s a great introduction to Italy, even if the cost of living isn’t exactly budget-friendly.
Not far inland, Bologna is less visited but has all the vibrancy and culture typical of Italian cities – just without the crowds. As can be expected, there are fewer hostels in Bologna than in Venice, although there is plenty of budget accommodation to be found in the city.
As Bologna also benefits from more reasonable prices, even backpackers can afford to treat themselves to some Italian cuisine, from a cappuccino or a gelato to a meal at one of the city’s quaint trattorie.
The nightlife is also a highlight in Bologna. Thanks to the city’s large student population, venues are both lively and cosmopolitan.
Florence is one of the biggest destinations for backpackers in Italy and, with its beautiful piazzas and stunning architecture, it’s easy to say why. Like other popular cities, budget accommodation is ample and the Florence hostels scattered around the city are some of the cheapest and best quality in Italy.
Home to the world-class collections at the Accademia and Uffizi galleries – which famously includes Michelangelo’s David – Florence is a haven for art lovers. However, there’s more to the city than museums: after dark, Piazza della Signoria and the Oltrarno are filled with crowds of young people enjoying the atmosphere and the inexpensive local wine.
To the South
Further south lies the capital city of Rome, an ever-popular destination for every type of traveler. Although the high number of visitors to the city mean it can work out expensive, cheap hostels in Rome offer a great budget alternative for accommodation.
Rome’s landmarks number some of the most recognized sights in the world, from the Coliseum to the Vatican. While admission fees to such attractions do add up, much of the city’s history can be glimpsed for free at every turn!
The southern city of Naples is actually most famous for its proximity to Vesuvius and the archeological site at Pompei. Both sights are easily accessible from Naples hostels, but Naples itself makes an intriguing destination.
Perched in the shadow of the volcano, it’s a big, modern metropolis that offers taste of Italy often missed among the picture-perfect streets of Florence and Venice.
Naples is also the birthplace of that great staple of backpacking trips across the world - the pizza – and how better to end a tour of Italy than with a slice of authentic pizza Napoletana after a long day sightseeing!