Venice is a city of world famous sights and unbelievable beauty, it’s a bucket list travel destination for many and, as a result, it can be very expensive. However, with a little thought and advanced planning, it’s entirely possible to enjoy a city break in Venice on a budget. From the city’s best value food and drink to free walking tours and discount gondola rides, those searching for cheap holidays in Venice need look no further. Our insider guide to the best ways to enjoy Venice on a budget.
DO Eat like the Locals
Venice certainly has its fair share of overpriced restaurants, the majority of which thrive off the custom of unwitting tourists. Save yourself a lot of disappointment, and money, by doing as the locals too. Whether it’s breakfast in a pasticceria or lunch at one of Venice’s historic wine bars known as bacari, you’ll quickly notice that the Venetians often eat standing up at the counter. Follow their lead and swap out a few sit down meals for a cappuccino and cornetto at the bakery or an assortment delicious cichetti and a glass of wine or two at an atmospheric wine bar. Both your wallet and your taste buds will thank you.
DO Visit out of season
The Floating City’s ancient narrow streets and waterways mean that in peak summer, Venice can feel incredibly crowded and, combined with the soaring temperatures, it’s a less than enjoyable experience. Luckily, Venice’s beauty transcends seasons so it’s well worth visiting in the shoulder months of the year. Consider booking your trip in October, when the crowds have died down but the weather is still mild or opt to visit between April to June, when spring is in full bloom.
DO use the water bus system
The likelihood is that, if you’re able, you’ll spend the majority of time exploring Venice on foot. However, when you need to cover larger distances or island hop, your best budget-friendly bet is the city’s vaporetto system. An efficient way to glide around the lagoon, visitors who use the water buses also have the benefit of sublime Grand Canal views at public transport prices. For the most picture perfect views, hop aboard either the number 1 or 2 vaporetti, which sail down the Grand Canal and take in some of Venice’s most exquisite sights, including exquisite palazzi like Palazzo Grassi and Ca’ d’Oro as well as renowned churches.
Purchasing an ACTV Tourist Ticket is a good idea if you know you’ll want to take multiple trips during your visit and costs from €20 for 1 day pass to €40 for a three day pass. Passes can be bought at any of the ticket booths located at the vaporetto stops.
DON’T eat or drink in St. Mark’s Square
It may seem like Venice’s most perfect location for a drink or meal but, unless you’re prepared to blow the budget, choosing to sit down at one of the cafes or restaurants in St. Mark’s Square. If you really can’t resist a visit to the legendary Caffe Florian, and we don’t blame you, op to stand at the bar as you sip an espresso and enjoy the magnificent surroundings.
DON’T take a water taxi from the airport
Private water taxis are undoubtedly one of Venice’s most glamorous forms of transport and they also come with a hefty price tag to match. Those visiting Venice on a budget should skip the water taxis available at Marco Polo airport, which whisk travellers across the lagoon to the city centre, in favour of the cheap and cheerful Alilaguna shuttle boat. It’s less exclusive but, choose a good seat, and you’ll still be blessed with wonderful views of La Serenissima.
DO join a free walking tour
Walking tours are an easy way to get your bearings in a new city and they’re made even better when they’re free of charge. Venice is an ideal city for walking around and there are several free tours available for visitors. Whether its a tour of the main sights, including Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto bridge, a glimpse of the hidden treasures or an insight into the best local spots, it’s worth checking out what’s available when you arrive. Venice Free Walking Tour, Free Walk in Venice, Free Tour Venice
DO check out the free attractions
Venice is home to many world class museums which are well worth seeing, but anyone visiting on a budget, should not neglect the city’s selection of free sights. Entry to St. Mark’s Basilica is free while other worthwhile points of interest like Venice’s Arsenale, the brightly coloured island of Burano and the historic Lido, are all free of charge to visit. It’s also worth noting that government operated attractions such as Ca’ d’Oro and the superb Gallerie dell’Accademia are free on the first Sunday of each month. Additionally, visitors who know that they’ll be visiting at least three museums during their Venice city break, one being the Doge’s Palace, can book a Civic Museum Pass which includes entry to up to nine excellent museums in Venice.
DO take an unconventional gondola ride
For many travellers, a gondola ride along Venice’s canals is an unmissable experience but be prepared for this experience to put a dent in your wallet. The going rate is around €80 for a private gondola ride but there are two cheaper alternatives. Either opt for a half an hour trip with Tu.Ri.Ve, where you’ll split the cost with other passengers so pay €31 per person or discover the joy of the traghetto for a mere €2 each. A traghetto is a larger gondola, operated by two gondoliers, which serves as a convenient ferry service across the canal at select locations. Passengers stand for the short crossing and it’s certainly experiencing one for yourself. Points include between Campo Santa Maria del Giglio and the church of Santa Maria della Salute or San Samuele and Ca’ Rezzonico.