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Budget-friendly Weekend Getaways in Italy

Italy is amazing and full of cities that are real hidden gems. These 7 locations are the best budget-friendly weekend getaways in Italy.

Big cities like Rome, Milan and Venice might be the obvious weekend trip destinations, but if you are planning budget-friendly weekend getaways in Italy, these seven are the best destinations. The cities and the microstate San Marino are located all around the country, so you will find a great location wherever you want to go.

While the cities on this list do have touristic features, most of them do not have a focus on tourism. Therefore venturing through the streets will allow you a glimpse of the real Italy without large crowds. Something that is perfect if you want to go on vacation while practicing social distancing.

I absolutely love Italy and it just might be my favorite country in Europe. There are so many rather unknown cities that will take your breath away and that will make you want to return there again and again. I genuinely believe that these hidden gems are the perfect weekend getaways in Italy. While exploring them you can find anything from medieval architecture to incredible viewpoints with the added bonus of amazing Italian food.

Visit one of these seven places and I am sure you will love it!



The Best Weekend Getaways in Italy

Some of these weekend getaways in Italy are inland while others are located right at the ocean. Therefore you will be able to find the perfect destination for you regardless of what you are looking for.

My favorite Italian city is also on this list and I couldn’t recommend a weekend trip there or to one of the other locations more.

All of these are perfect for a weekend trip. You are bond to have to great time whether you only plan to stay one night or if you are planning an extended weekend.

If you have more time, you can also use this selection of affordable and fantastic cities to plan an incredible road trip through Italy.

Woman waling across Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo which is the best short trip destination in Italy
Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo

Bergamo

When traveling in Europe, I particularly love the less-known towns or neighbors of big cities, as they feature more treasures to explore and are not overrun by tourists. One of those examples is Bergamo in Italy, which is an hour away from famous Milan. Oftentimes it is often overlooked by visitors coming to Italy.

Bergamo is a small city with just a bit more than 100.000 inhabitants, featuring an impressive old walled city center. The Citta Alta, as the historic old town is called, is a small labyrinth of cozy squares, winding alleyways, pretty houses and small shops. Everything is a bit calmer here and if you are just strolling through the cobblestone streets, you will discover many hidden gems of Bergamo and authentic experiences of Italy.

Every now and then you can stop for a pizza, an ice cream or other snacks which are considerably cheaper than in Milan.

View over Bergamo in Italy
Bergamo Italy

Furthermore, thanks to its elevated location, the old town features a UNESCO awarded Venetian defensive system with marvelous views of the surroundings, among them the lower part of Bergamo as well as the Bergamo Alps.

Another unique thing to do in Bergamo is to use the two historic funiculars – one of them is heading to the old town, another one is bound to San Vigilio, which is even higher than the Citta Alta of Bergamo. Both are very affordable, tickets are available for less than 2 Euro.

Thanks to its airport right in town (often referred as Milan-Bergamo) frequented by various low-cost carriers, Bergamo is a perfect budget-friendly weekend getaway in Italy. Flights are usually cheap, and the airport has a direct bus connection with the town center, available for less than 3 Euro.

Contributed by Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog

Montepulciano

Why visit Montepulciano?

Montepulciano is one of those Italian towns worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. It is situated in the most picturesque areas of Italy, in Tuscany, in the province of Siena. Montepulciano is only an hour away from the famous Duomo of Siena. So it’s a perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Montepulciano is a small town with 14 thousand inhabits. It offers fabulous medieval architecture. Around the historic Montepulciano, you can admire idyllic landscapes and hills with vineyards. Furthermore, breathtaking are avenues surrounded by cypress trees and golden fields.

view over Montepulciano in Italy

The best things to do in Montepulciano

The town itself is famous for its unique cuisine and delicious ice cream. Moreover, it offers world-renowned wine. You can taste excellent wine in lots of wineries, restaurants, and shops in town. The most famous local wine is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Furthermore, it’s a city for fans of Twilight Saga. In Montepulciano, the movie Twilight: New Moon was shoot. So, it is worth recognizing film locations during the walk.

The Montepulciano center is built on top of a hill, about 600 meters above sea level. When you enter the cobblestone alleys of the old town, you can feel as if you have stepped back in time.

Strolling in main streets, it is worth paying attention to the palaces and tenement houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. In small shops, you can buy fresh local products, including cold cuts, cheese, truffles, olive oil, and, above all, wine.

Green countryside that you can explore during weekend getaways in Italy

Life revolves around Piazza Grande, which is the heart of the city and its showcase. Various types of events, performances, and shows take place there. Lots of restaurants and bars invite for delicious food or glass of wine.

At the end of your walk around Montepulciano, it is worth visiting Piazza di San Francesco. This square is the most beautiful viewpoint in the town. Furthermore, it is an excellent place for photos. From here, you can admire stone buildings and hills of fairy-tale Tuscany. In the distance, you can see cypresses, vineyards and olive groves.

Recommended by Agnes from The Van Escape

Bari

The capital of Puglia, one of Italy’s up and coming regions to visit, Bari is an easy and budget friendly getaway from many cities in Europe. You can fly straight into Bari and head straight to its bustling port famous for some of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Thanks to its position on the Adriatic Sea, Bari has an abundance of fresh seafood and you can also visit some of Italy’s best beaches. Polignano a Mare, famous for its Cala Porto beach with dramatic limestone cliffs overlooking impossibly azure blue waters, is just a 30 minute drive away.

For a culture fix, head to Castelo Normanno-Svevo. This imposing 12th century Norman fort is home to several art and archaeological exhibits. Bari is home to many interesting archeological finds and you can view some of the best at the San Sabino cathedral museum. Or visit the Basilica San Nicola where Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, is said to be buried. Afterwards, take a stroll through the old town and historic Murat and simply soak up the atmosphere of the city.

In the evenings take a stroll along Bari’s romantic lungomare or seaside promenade or if you like to party then you have the pick of the city’s renowned nightclubs and bars. Don’t stay up too late though. One of the best things to do in Bari is watch the fishermen bring in their catch at the pretty Porto Vecchia in the mornings. 

Explored by Katy Clarke from Untold Italy

Boats in Bari Italy

Matera

Matera is a hidden gem located in southern Italy, known for its fascinating architecture and ancient Sassi cave dwellings you can call home for the weekend. In 2019 it was named the European Capital of Culture by the EU and is recognized as the third-oldest continually lived in city in the world. 

When you arrive in the old city, it feels like you have stepped back into Biblical times. It is no surprise it was the setting for Hollywood movies, Ben-Hur and Passion of the Christ!

The 9000 year old city has transformed over time from an ancient civilization to a city of poverty, and now to one of the most historic and unique places to visit in Europe. You can stay in a private authentic cave home for around €80 per night with Airbnb.

Street in Matera with plants

Best budget friendly things to do in Matera

  • Explore and get lost in the tiny medieval stone streets throughout the old city.
  • Stay in an authentic cave dwelling in the Sassi di Matera through Airbnb.
  • Grocery shop like the locals do and buy fresh ingredients to make a romantic Italian dinner back at your accommodation
  • Hike to the Palaeolithic caves across the La Gravina ravine and enjoy the panoramic view of Sassi di Matera.
  • Enjoy cocktails and people watch outside of Monkey Drink House

How to get to Matera

The easiest way to get to Matera is by flying to the Bari International Airport. From there you can either take a 1.5 hour bus to Matera (€6 one way) or rent a car, which is a 45 minute drive.

Suggested by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes

Sunset over houses in Matera which in one of the best budget-friendly weekend getaways in Italy

Sorrento

Sorrento is one of the best weekend getaways in Italy. It has charm, it has style and it has wonderful landscapes! 

Sorrento is indeed a pretty expensive destination but with a little bit of effort and calculation, you can make it the ideal budget-friendly destination. To save money you have to think about everything: transportation, accommodation, food and other expenses which might occur.

Now let me tell you a few words about each of these categories of expenses and how you can save money while visiting this more expensive destinations! After all Sorrento is worth it, as it is one of the best Italy cities on the coast!

Paddle boats at the ocean in Sorrento Italy

How to get to Sorrento

It is likely, that you will enter Italy in Naples when you plan to visit Sorrento. Hereby it does not matter if you come by plane or with train.

If you come by plane, you should take a bus to get to Naples railway station. Exit the arrival terminal and look for a bus with the Alibus logo; the ride from the airport to the central station costs 5€.

Once you get to the Naples railway station, you should take the train to Sorrento. For a one-way ticket you’ll have to pay around 5 euros and in less than an hour you will reach the magnificent city of Sorrento!

Where to stay in Sorrento

ocean and cliffs of Sorrento in Italy

To get the best price for your accommodation in Sorrento, you should pick something located outside the city centre and check out AirBnB. They usually have the best prices of all available options.

And the big plus if you choose to stay at an AirBnB is that you have your own kitchen where you can cook and save a lot of money on food.

Eating in Sorrento

Speaking about food, I want you to know that eating outside at a restaurant might be pretty expensive, especially if you go to the touristy area of the city. Depending on the restaurant, a meal might cost you more than 20 € per person.

If you travel on a tight budget, you should consider buying food at the supermarket and cooking it yourself. Your budget will be very happy if you choose to do so!

Things to do in Sorrento

The great news about Sorrento is that it is extremely beautiful and you don’t have to pay money to enjoy its amazing landscape!

There are many beautiful and interesting things which you can do for little or no money. Let me give you some ideas:

  1. Chiesa di San Francesco – one of the most beautiful churches of the area and the place where many British and local couples get married
  2. Baths of Regina Giovanna one of the most dramatic pools of the area
  1. Hike in the Sorrento area if you are looking for a different experience and memorable landscapes
  2. Put on your swimming suit and hit the beach for a relaxing day at the sea
  3. Visit Sorrento Market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables

It might look expensive at first sight but with careful planning you can visit Sorrento in Italy on a budget! You will have a really great time there and if you follow the suggestions above, you’ll also have enough money to explore other beautiful cities in Italy. Here are the best cities in Italy to visit during your holiday. They are amazing and unique!

Suggested by World Wide Travel Tips

Cagliari

As one of the best Italian cities on the coast, Cagliari is the perfect holiday destination for those looking for amazing beaches, perfect sun, good food and friendly people! The town of Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia, a beautiful island located on the Mediterranean Sea.

And even if Cagliari is one of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean, the place is not as touristy as Rome or Milan. But hey, this is a very good thing because it is less expensive than the big attractions of Italy. A weekend getaway to Cagliari is the best opportunity to get in touch with local cuisine and to admire the beauty of the place!

Visiting a foreign country might seem very complicated in our days – especially if you have a very tight budget. But you don’t have to worry! I will give you some tips on how to enjoy the beauty of the place without spending a lot of money!

Where to stay in Cagliari

A very important element which influences your budget is the price of accommodation. It might vary from a few dozens of dollars per night to a few hundred. And if we are speaking about a few nights, the price difference is vast.

The cheapest places where you can sleep are hostels and AirBnBs. The price per person per night starts at 15 USD, but can be higher depending on location and facilities offered by that accommodation.

The most expensive hotels from the island are located in Costa Smeralda, the place where rich people like to spend their holiday. But fortunately for us, the common people, this resort does not reflect the prices of the island. This is the exception to the rule!

Italian Streets which you will see during Weekend Getaways in Italy Cagliari

So, if you are looking for a budget getaway in Cagliari Italy it is best to go with hotels and AirBnBs which are not located right next to the sea or in the centre of the city. These are usually more expensive. As always you pay more for the same facilities just because the location is better!

Getting around in Cagliari

Another great way to spare some money is to use public transport and not rent a car or take the taxi. Public transport is really affordable and reliable! It is true that you have to stick to a schedule, but I don’t see this as a major problem. After all you are on holiday. You don’t have to hurry!

Eating in Cagliari

And there is also the food! I would say that after accommodation, food is the second factor which might have a serious impact over your budget!

Beautiful light blue ocean in Cagliari Italy

If you choose to eat all the meals at restaurants everyday, then your budget will cry! Because eating at restaurants might be extremely expensive. The price is dictated by location, services and food quality and might start from 15 USD per person per meal up to a few hundred.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not telling you not to eat at restaurants, but your budget will suffer a lot if you do it on a regular basis.

The best way to spare some money is to go to the supermarket and buy food to cook it on your own. For as little as 10 USD you can buy enough ingredients for at least 2 meals when you visit Cagliari Italy.

Things to do in Cagliari

There are a lot of things you can do in Cagliari including visiting the Bastion Saint Remy, the13th century Roman Cathedral or the medieval Torre dell’Elefante. If you want to visit a museum during your weekend getaway in Italy, you can explore the collections of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Alternative you can relax at marvelous beaches like Calamosra Beach or Poetto.

Submitted by World Wide Travel Tips

San Marino Weekend Trip

A great getaway in Italy, is the tiny micro-country of San Marino. The oldest country in the world boasts breathtaking views of the Italian countryside while being home to an impressive castle. Traveling to San Marino is a must for anyone visiting Italy.  Located three hours south of Venice, or two hours away from Bologna, it’s easy to get there.  

Castle at the peak of Monte Titano in San Marino and countryside

You’ll recognize San Marino by the towering castle on the peak of Monte Titano. There are three towers to explore, dating back to the 11th century! The First Tower, Guaita is the oldest tower built in the 11th century and most famous. The Second Tower, Cesta, is on the highest peak and is home to a museum holding over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. The Montale, the third tower, is on the smallest summit and is not open to the public. 

Visit Ristorante Il Beccafico for a delicious meal. Hand-tossed, fire grilled pizza with local wine overlooking the countryside? What’s not to love? If you still have time to explore, visit the National Museum, the Basilica de San Marino, or for something a bit different – the Torture Museum.

If you’re able to stay in San Marino, then I recommend staying at the Hotel Cesare. They’re located at the top of the mountain, and have a patio overlooking the hillside. Many hotels are located at the bottom of the mountain which means you’d miss out on the views.

Suggested by Pam from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Short Trips and Weekend Getaways in Italy

Did these budget-friendly weekend getaway destinations in Italy inspire you to plan a weekend away? Let me know which one you’ll explore first!

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budget-friendly weekend getaways in Italy in front of 4 photos of an Italian street, a city view, the ocean and boats at sunset
7 incredible weekend getaways in Italy (text)

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