Looking for free things to do in Italy?
Here’s a list of 25 trip awesomizers that won’t cost you a dime.
1. Drink out of a lion’s head: public fountains are everywhere.
2. Wake up at dawn and take photos. You’ll score good light and empty streets; it’s what the pros do.
3. Learn manners on your first day. Write simple Italian greetings on a sticky note and attach it to your wallet. Try please (per favore), thanks (grazie), and bye-bye (arrivederci or ciao).
4. Smile more + worry less (also essential for life in general).
5. Use a credit card with no “foreign transaction” fees. Typically credit cards charge an additional fee (around 2.5%) when you charge an item in a foreign currency — but you can avoid that scam and carry a card without the fee. We’ve written a post about all kinds of money matters in Italy, complete with a list of great travel cards we recommend.
6. Write down epiphanies (cause they fade).
7. Take a photo of every person you talk to in one day.
8. Visit an Italian festival (here’s a list). Sharing the energy of the Venice film festival or Carnivale won’t cost you anything more than extra planning.
9. Ask your hotel for a free room upgrade.
10. Ask your hotel if you can checkout late (but not at the same time you’ve asked for an upgrade).
11. Ask a local builder, “Where do you eat lunch?” His suggestion won’t be in your guidebook.
12. Walk in the graveyards.
13. Visit a church.
14. Don’t read the menu, just asks the waiter to bring you her favourite meal.
15. Help a traveller who is lost or struggling; practising kindness releases serotonin in the brain (serotonin makes you feel good, and it’s what anti-depressants are designed to release).
16. Talk to strangers.
17. If travelling alone, sit with someone else who’s also travelling alone. In Italy during the lunch rush this is commonplace.
18. Walk up to the highest landmark: you’ll find a church or a villa up there with a crazy good view.
19. Complain less, especially when things aren’t going your way.
20. Download free travel apps. For speaking, for flying, for photo editing, for currency conversions, for organizing itineraries.
21. Score free museum visits (check individual museum websites). For example, the Vatican Museum is free the last Sunday of each month in the morning.
22. Flirt with your waiter
23. Talk to fellow travellers at breakfast and ask them about the favourite things they’ve done since arriving.
24. Go to free mass at the Pantheon in Rome on Saturdays at 5 p.m. or Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Or go on this free tour.
25. Attend “Notte Bianca” – a special night that many Italian cities celebrate with shopping and museums open late and cultural events planned throughout the night. To find the schedule for the time and place you are travelling just Google “Notte Bianca [city] [year]”.
It’s your turn. Share YOUR favourite ways to awesomize your travels without breaking the bank in the comments below.
Great ideas! I’ve visited a graveyard in Florence and it was beautiful, the view of the city from there was amazing.
Ohhh, I think I might know the one you mean! I’ve included that graveyard in this Florence article for directions on how to get up there if anyone else is interested. We did an awesome photo shoot in the rose bush in that graveyard and the views are better than Piazza Michelangelo.
Thanks for leaving a comment my girl! xx Bianca
I know this graveyard too cause I was there with Kristy! She took some of my favorite Italy photos up there. Plus, I bought the most awesome “Ciao Italia” shirt from a vender not far from there. Not free, but a pretty cheap souvenir (especially after I hacked at it with some scissors)!
You’re right, it’s wonderful up there and it does have wonderful panoramas for photos! That is the prettiest free photo backdrops I know of.
Piazza Michelangelo is where you bought that shirt I bet. It is full of cheap and cheerful tacky souvenirs. Nest time you are there take the stairs back down to town, through the gates into Borgo San Niccolo, and eat at Zeb!
A perfect morning!
Thanks for your comment!
if you have a blog, you are a ‘journalist’ — before your trip, research where you’d like to eat or take a cooking lesson or a tour and contact their PR peeps and ask for a complimentary invitation/experience, works pretty well!
Ciao gorgeous Leela,
This is an ACE idea woman! You are so right about this. If you operate with class and intelligence and offer real value to those people providing you a free experience (like an article on your blog — that leads to google ranking for them and social proof via Twitter and Facebook) then it is truly a win win for both parties.
I think you’ve brought up such a great way to infuse your life with amazing memories and the chance to connect with others. Those opportunities don’t have price tags really — but it’s great when the price tag is free!
The bottom line is that saving money just opens you up to travelling more and working less, which for many, is the secret to life!
Thanks for adding your great idea Leela!
With love, Bianca
Good you mentioned free Vatican day- most of the big museums have a free day/ or evening. In Paris they are all free on last Sunday of the month.
It’s also a good idea to book ahead for entry to Uffizi and then you don’t need to wait – I believe you can with a group at St Marks in Venice where there is always a long line up.
Saving up Bianca!!!
I wish the museums in the large Italian cities were as organized as Paris or London. Those cities often have free nights and more standardized days with free entrances. Italy isn’t on the same page which is why you really need to check the unique web sites of each museums you wish to visit to score the free stuff. You’re right about the skip the line tickets — well worth the extra money. Get your hotel to call for you.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment here.
Hi Bianca. These ideas and your blog on Cinque Terre is awesome. I am planning a 9 day trip in July end and would leverage all of these hacks. Thank you so much. Love, Shalini
great ideas and you can add this to it :
Prepare your self to visit tons of impressive point of views, virtually every city has a belfry or castle (or two), and they are constantly, constantly worth the climb! Many of these impressive points of views (such as the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence) are totally free, or else shell out the 5 to 10 Euros to check out the scenic sight throughout the city.
There are also plenty amazing (but pricey) rooftop bars like the Minerva Roof Covering Garden in Rome, Divina Terrazza in Florence and Franco’s Bar in Positano where you could pair the incredible view with a refreshing cocktail or glass of vino.
Hi Dalia! Thanks for much for adding your valuable tips, we love it. We appreciate you!
Really amazing blog, really interesting and well written please keep on writing blogs like this.