Venice is not a cheap place to visit, but there are some things you can do to plan your stay without breaking the bank. Here are
Ten tips for planning a budget holiday in Venice
1. Eat away from St. Mark’s and tourist areas
If you want to save money and get a real taste for the region, you will need to move away from the tourist-laden areas like St. Mark’s square. Restaurants in these places will take advantage of weary travelers and the prices will not reflect the quality of the food. You will find authentic and reasonably priced food more inland from the Grand Canal and the more north you go. Castello, Dorsoduro, Cannaregio, Santa Croce are good areas to try. Here is an interesting post on where to eat in Venice.
2. Drink more, eat less
Like most of Italy, you can save money if you drink more, eat less, and drink standing up. Have your morning espresso and pastry standing at the bar so that you do not get charged premiums for sitting down.
3. Be smart about where you stay
The main tourist areas are obviously going to be the most expensive for accommodation, and like the food in Venice, the price of your lodging will not always reflect the quality. If you are wanting to stay close to Saint Mark's Square or the Rialto bridge so that you can get around easily, you can expect to pay top dollar (and this will get even higher during the summer months).
4. Know how to get around
If you want to save money, using the public transportation system is probably not the way to do it. Single trips on a vaporetto are around €7.50, and you can lose a lot of money if you buy a transportation card and then realize that the city of Venice is incredibly pedestrian friendly for the main sights.
If you are staying in a neighbourhood close to Saint Mark's and are only in the city for a couple of days, you will probably get away without using any of the water ferries. If you want to get on a gondola but don't want to pay €80, you could always pay €2 to catch a traghetto across the canal.
5. Know what to skip in Venice
There are many beautiful and historic museums and galleries in Venice but these can add up if you want to see everything. There are plenty of free or very cheap things you can do while you are in Venice if you plan your trip correctly. For example St Mark's Basilica is free to enter, and so you can go and marvel at the glittering mosaics without spending a dime.
You can also discover the city simply by wandering through the streets, and this is often a highlight for people visiting the city. You can also go and discover places like the Rialto Market and watch locals barter for the best prices on local produce. For the price of one ferry ride, you can cruise the Grand Canal on the number 1 or number 2 ferries and get a view of the city from the water.
6. Plan early and avoid last minute local offers
If you are serious about travelling on a budget, you should probably let go of the idea of going on a gondola. These cost from €80 to €100 depending on the time of day you want to go. Gondoliers and hotel desks might make you tempting offers but I recommend that you should know well in advance whether you want to spend this kind of money at all.
If you are planning on booking tours, you can book these through the tourist offices - hotels often offer this service, and it can be very convenient, but it often comes at a much higher cost.
7. Know when to go to save money
Like most of Europe, the high season in Venice is during the summer months in July and August. During this time the prices for accommodation and restaurants can skyrocket alongside the temperatures, and you will be surrounded by people wherever you go. If you are flexible in your planning, consider going in the cooler months of the year (just remember to take your waterproof shoes for the Autumn puddles).
8. Know where to shop smart
There are many beautiful souvenirs and fantastic foods to try while you are in Venice, and these can all vary greatly in price. For example if you are wanting to buy blown glass products from the island of Murano, it can get extremely pricey on the island itself and you would be better to find something on the mainland. Food is also expensive in the touristy areas, so if you are eating on a budget, move in to the side streets, or cook for yourself by shopping at supermarkets or the Rialto market.
9. Know where to walk
It is incredibly easy to get lost in Venice, and although this is sometimes the beauty of the city, if you have limited time and money then you should invest in an offline map that can help you navigate so you don't end up having to take a water taxi back to the main centre. It would also be a good idea to take a free walking tour so that you can orient yourself in the city and get to explore the streets with a local that will know all the best places to eat and all the best things to see and do.
10. Know that Venice is not a cheap city to visit
Although you can reduce your costs greatly with these tips, you should expect to be spending money when visiting a city like Venice. There is not a lot of culture that does not revolve around tourism in this island city, so you should plan to spend money on accommodation and have money for extra bits and pieces like ferries when you get lost in the back streets or for beautiful museums and churches you discover along the way. Venice is a beautiful and unforgettable city, so let it show you what it has to offer.
Venice is an expensive Italian city, but if you apply the right precautions, you can spend a pleasant holiday without spending too much. In Venice there are many hotels, but it also swarms of low-cost bed and breakfast and air b & b. Most of the tourist attractions are outside (like the squares and parks) and therefore can be visited without paying any ticket. Almost all the churches can be visited for free. We must be careful to avoid restaurants or bars very tourist or near the San Marco area, because they are very expensive.