Is Rome Expensive? Accommodation | Transport | Food | Activities
Millions of people visit Rome every year, mainly to enjoy its longstanding history and sights. However before visiting, potential travellers want to know if it’s a feasible holiday costs wise. Here is a quick overview about how expensive Rome is:
On average a trip to Rome costs €275 daily per couple. That includes €120 (1 room) per night including breakfast for a hotel in a safe location, €10 for public transport, €50 for visiting important historical sites, €25 on lunch time sandwiches and drinks and €70 for an average priced 3 course meal. However there are ways to reduce the cost of your trip.
Of course if you are travelling as a family, the cost will vary. For example a room with 3 beds would be slightly higher priced. Kids activities are around €20 per person, but prices vary widely.
Now I shall delve into more detail on what you can expect and tips. Note that the prices quoted in this article are according to prices in January 2023.
As is generally the case, accommodation (and in some cases flights) is going to be the biggest expense of the trip.
I travelled to Rome just after Christmas. Since I booked around a month before travelling, I ended up paying more for the hotel.
Of course Christmas is more busy and is in fact reflected in prices. However if you book at least 5 months in advance, you could save around 20% on a hotel in central Rome.
To give you an idea of price and quality, I booked one of the cheapest hotels I could find at €100 per night. For the price it was not great, we got a room that was still not in the new style they were promoting online. In fact I was disappointed in this regard, but there were other things that didn’t make the hotel great.
Breakfast was another one, with stale rolls of bread, very cold boiled eggs and not much choice. We also had an issue one night, and later I found out that the location of the hotel was not that great.
As is detailed on the article is Rome safe, I would suggest you avoid booking hotels or hanging around particular areas especially at night. So even if a hotel is cheaper than the rest, check that article to make sure you do not go to a dodgy part of town.
You can get a hotel for around €120 closer to safer areas like near the Trevi Fountain or Colosseum. However for that price, they are not spectacular hotels as they are some of the cheaper ones. You start getting some nice hotels at around €130-140 which are more likely to be 4 star hotels. There are some hotels for less than €120 around the Vatican area.
If you book way in advance, like around a year in advance, you will get even better deals. On Booking.com there were some hotels that are well below €100 per night in the safer parts of town. You can click on the button for “Show on map”, which is perfect for finding accommodation in the right location.
Of course since it’s Rome, there are hotels that cost in excess of €700 per night and plenty of others in between. So if you can afford it or wanted to splurge there is definitely a lot of choice and the opportunity to do so.
Holiday rentals like the ones on Airbnb are just as pricy as hotels. This means if you are a couple it is not worthwhile as with hotels you can get breakfast included. However if you are a family it would be different.
If you have a family of at least 3 and you kid is older and needs a separate room it is much more worthwhile going for a holiday rental. You will pay more for more beds, but still potentially 60-80% cheaper than getting 2 separate rooms at a hotel.
Most of the time you will likely need to walk around a site or from one site to the next. However to get to particular sites you need to travel on wheels or rails.
There are different ways to get to different sites, you could hire a car, catch taxis or use public transport. There is a more detailed article on transport in Rome, but here is a quick overview:
Of course public transport is going to be the most cost effective. Additionally public transport in Rome is frequent and reliable making it worthwhile. You can purchase tickets from vending machines in metro stations or from news agents to use either the metro, bus or tram.
As of January 2023 ticket prices are as follows:
Renting a Car
Renting a car is more hassle than it’s worth and not something I would suggest. This is because you have to navigate through crazy drivers, dense Rome traffic, and try understand complicated parking rules. It is really more trouble than its worth.
However if you are adamant to hire a car, you can get a small, compact car like a Citroen C1 for as little as €14 per day with free cancelation. For comparison a BMW 1 series is around €32 and a 3 series is €85.
Taxis are always going to be more expensive than any other mode of transport. However they are worthwhile at times, like after spending all day on your feet or going to and from airports.
While I was in Rome I used Uber since I’m familiar with the app. As you probably know, the price for an Uber is not always the same and depends on the time of day you travel. Here is what I paid for Uber rides to serve as a rough guide on cost:
Uber Cost Guide in Rome
Note that the hotel referred below to is close to Castro Pretorio metro station.
|Trip||Distance / Travel Time||Cost|
|Vatican to the hotel||7.8 km / 22 minutes||€16.78|
|Ciampino airport to the hotel||16.9 km / 36 minutes||€31.00|
|Hotel to the Ciampino airport||15.7 km / 39 minutes||€46.00|
If you go to restaurants or cafes and grab food on the go, you are going to spend quite a bit of money. Also most of the time the portion sizes are medium sized and not large which showcases the culture around food there. In fact, like the French, most Italians maintain themselves and there aren’t many Italians that are fat or obese.
This means that if you want to eat a more filling portion of food you are likely going to need to get a starter (primo), main (secondo) and dessert. Hence this all adds up.
Instead of ordering all 3 courses you could do either of 2 things. Order a main plate and snack on something from the supermarket after. Alternatively you could order a somewhat larger portion of the main plate like what we used to do for my husband. We always told them we were happy to pay a little more for this and it was an ideal solution for us.
Average Food Prices in Rome
An average meal will cost around €35 per person at a restaurant in Rome. That includes a 3 course meal with pasta as a starter, a meat dish, a bottle of water, glass of house wine, coffee and dessert. However ordering more expensive meat or ordering bottled wine will increase the cost. Having a pizza or burger will decrease the cost of the meal substantially.
|Pizza||€8 – 15|
|Pasta||€8 – 16|
|Meat||€10 – 22|
|Fish||€14 – 26|
|Dessert||€5 – 7|
Of course there are different options on menus; a simple Margherita pizza is likely going to cost around €8-11 and pizzas with more expensive ingredients will cost more. The same goes for the other price ranges, you will likely pay €22 for a nice fillet steak.
Average Beverage Prices in Rome
|Large bottle of Water||€2.50|
|House wine (glass)||€3|
|Bottle of wine (local)||€10|
|Beer||€3 – 6|
Avoid Tourist Traps
You will spend even more money if you happen to get food from tourist traps. To add insult to injury the quality of the food may not be that good. This happened to my husband and I several times in Rome.
For example in the square where there is the Pantheon there are several restaurants. We ate at one of them, the quality of the food was not great and it was on average more expensive than other restaurants. The pizza was flat and not that filling and my soup was fairly small.
If you notice the large still water (acqua naturale) and cappuccino on the bill in the image above are €5 each! That is 100% more expensive than other restaurants.
Another example are the kiosks in the street leading up to St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on the day of the Epiphany. We got a couple of hot dogs thinking they would be nice.
However they were €12 for 2 and were odd and not tasty at all. The sausage was cut in half and not large, and it was in a ciabatta bread with nothing. The server did ask if we wanted ketchup or mayonnaise and we opted for ketchup. My husband and I joked that it was dog food and not a hot dog…
Hence you should avoid to eat at restaurants or cafés right next to the highlights of Rome. In fairness the food court inside the Vatican Museums is okay, but you have to choose what you order. We had a couple of large pizza slices and a couple of drinks for around €18. This was probably one of the cheapest options on the menu.
Tips to Save Money on Food
If you are on a budget, you should consider buying food from a grocery store, supermarket or open air market like Campo de’ Fiori located here. You can get snacks or products to make sandwiches or wraps and eat on the go. This is what my husband and myself started doing by the end of the trip.
At Campo de’ Fiori in particular, produce and products are usually cheaper than purchasing at stores. Additionally by limiting meals at cafes or restaurants to once per day you will bring your overall food costs down. Moreover you should not forget you can get free drinking water throughout Rome’s many water fountains.
Visiting the highlights of Rome like the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery and Castel Sant’Angelo is quite expensive. However the good news is that most of the highlights are free.
The Free Highlights in Rome
- The Pantheon
- Fontana di Trevi
- St Peter’s Square and Basilica at the Vatican
- Villa Borghese Gardens
- The Spanish Steps
- Piazza Navona
- Piazza del Popolo
Cost of Visiting Rome’s Paid Highlights
You can get different types of ticket for the paid highlights. The basic and cheapest tickets are entry tickets and there are also guided tours. The guided tour prices below serve as a guide as there are different kinds of guided tours at different price ranges.
|Site||Entry Ticket||Guided Tour|
|Castel Sant’ Angelo||€19||€49|
As a side note, I recommend you book tickets in advance if you are visiting during peak season or holidays. These sites are popular and you may have to change your schedule to book a ticket, or end up buying a more or less expensive ticket to visit and/or miss out. I had a combination of all of those issues on my trip. You can pre-book tickets here for: The Colosseum, Vatican Museums, Borghese Gallery and Castel Sant’Angelo.
There are also tickets that combine different activities you may want to consider. For you can purchase a tourist card to view the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, a Rome city and Pantheon audio guide apps for €66.
Cost of Kids Activities
There is a small selection of things to do with kids in Rome to keep kids occupied and interested. Most of them are paid activities, except for the Villa Borghese Gardens. Here are the costs associated with each activity.
Activity Costs at the Villa Borghese Gardens
The gardens are free to enter and kids can play all day there. There are also a few playgrounds to keep them occupied. You can see what there is to at the Villa Borghese Gardens here.
There are also some paid activities at the Borghese Gardens. Of course there is also the Borghese Gallery, but I’ve covered that in the section above. Here are the prices of the paid activities you can get up to.
|Bioparco (Rome zoo)||Kids under 1m tall – Free People with disabilities – €11|
Kids under 10 years and over 1 meter – €14
Adults – €17
Senior citizens – €14
|Lake boat rental for 20 minutes||Kids under 110cms – €2 |
Adults – €4
|Tourist train||€4 per person|
|Bike rental (rickshaw)||2 person rickshaw – €12 / hour |
4 person rickshaw – €20 / hour
Here is where you can pre-book your tickets at the Rome Zoo. For all other things you can book at the kiosk or area of the relevant activity.
Cost of Other Kids Activities
|Explora kids museum (1 hour 45 minutes)||12-36 months – €7 |
3+ – €10
Adults – €10
|Gladiator School (2 hours)||€130|
|Luneur Park||Kids under 80cm – Free |
Kids and adults entry only – €4.50
Unlimited access – €23
With Luneur Park there is an entry ticket and then you can pay for each activity with tokens. Each token is worth €1 and called a Lunalira. If you wanted to get unlimited access to rides and have it all included you can go for unlimited access tickets.
Zoomarine has different areas you may want to explore. There is a water park, shows with sea life, dogs or birds, rollercoasters, rides and games. It has a little bit of everything kids like. You pay for the areas which you want to explore and the minimum is €16 for the zoological garden.
For pre-booking any of the activities above you can book here for: Explora, the Gladiator School, Cinecittà World, Luneur Park and Zoomarine. I highly suggest you pre-book Explora and the Gladiator School especially because they have limits on the amount of instructors and visitors.