Venice on a Budget!

Visitors to Venice can’t help but admire its bridge-crossed canals, cobblestone streets and romantic rides down the canal with singing gondoliers. But many visitors may forget about all of that because of the high Venice goldenprices!  The city’s expensive, touristy restaurants, kitschy souvenirs, and fancy hotels can quickly drain your vacation funds. However, having been to Venice many times, I found that if you learn to live like a Venetian, you’ll find that the city’s greatest pleasures are simple, effortlessly stylish, and inexpensive. Yes, you can visit Venice on a budget!

First, staying  in Venice on a budget takes some forethought.  Most savvy travelers learn that visiting in low season (November – March) is a good way to get a lower rate — up to 50% off. And, there are a few hotels that have fair rates and you won’t have to sacrifice location. The first is the Locanda San Barnaba. A 3- star hotel located in a 16th century palace, it doesn’t have an elevator but it has great Venetian charm. Beautiful wood beamed ceilings, a rooftop terrace and garden, original frescoes and a hearty buffet breakfast, all make this a top choice on my list of inexpensive hotels. Next choice on my budget list is the Venetian Apartments.  They have nine properties under 1000 euros per week. The least expensive, Casetta  Grassi  studio apartment at 695 euros per week, is located near San Marco and it even has a washing machine and air conditioning.

venice gondolaSkip the tourist trap restaurants in St. Marks Square and join the Venetian Café society. Hip Venetians hangout around Campo Santa Margherita. Here, they can enjoy the artsy, intellectual atmosphere of Il Caffè or the e-generation vibe of the Café Noir where you can have a cappuccino, biscotti and 30 minutes of Web-surfing for about $4. At lunchtime and in the early evening, you can satisfy your hunger pangs with cicchetti, the Venetian version of tapas. Bancogiro Osteria da Andrea (Campo San Giacometto, San Polo 122) serves cicchetti, fish, and vegetable platters in a candlelit, vaulted interior. And you can peek at the Grand Canal out the back windows. Or try Osteria Ai 4 Feri (Calle Lunga San Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2754A), it is always packed  with crowds clamoring for the spaghetti !

With gondola fares at $55 for 50 minutes, it’s no surprise that most Venetians use them only for special occasions. An affordable, if less romantic, alternative is to take a traghetto (ferry) across the Grand Canal from one of eight crossing points; try the Santa Sofia ferry at the Rialto market.  The packed trip may last only a couple of minutes, but who’s counting when you’ve paid just 40 cents? For a more scenic ride, grab a front seat in the Number 1 or Number 82 vaporetto as it wends its way down the Grand Canal ($2, one way). Savvy visitors who do Venice on a budget, book a Venice Card at $52 for a week. It must be purchased 48 hours in advance of use, though you won’t have to spend another cent on public water transport.

San MarcoHere are a few tips on seeing the sites for less: If you are planning on visiting churches in Venice, purchase a Chorus Pass from the Foundation for the Churches of Venice (Calle della Passion, San Polo 2986; 39-041/275-0462). It will allow you to see 15 sites for just $7.  See what the locals are doing around town by picking up a free copy of Un Ospite di Venezia, a bilingual events magazine distributed at hotels and tourist offices. See the major sites, like St. Marks Cathedral, in the late afternoon, as most of the tours can be bought for half price.

Last but not least, enjoy all Venice has to offer. Many of Venice’s secrets are discovered by simply walking around and venturing down the little, half-hidden lanes and the smaller Venice canals and alleyways.  If you don’t see a mass of tourists in the area you are exploring, then you have found the right spot !

Share on StumbleUponDigg thisShare on RedditShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on YummlyEmail this to someonePrint this page


  1. doreen toner says

    Hello, I’m impressed with your article and would like to print it so that I can refer to it when planning my trip, but it doesn’t print the article, just the headings. Is there a reason for that? I don’t think it’s my printer. Thanks for your help, Doreen

  2. says

    Hi Doreen,

    You are right, there is a problem with the print program. Until we can get it fixed, I recommend that you do a copy and paste in Word or whatever word program you use.
    Thanks for letting us know about the issue.


  3. says

    Hi again Doreen,

    We have fixed our “print this article” glitch. It should work for all our articles from now on.

    Happy reading and have a great time in Venice.


  4. says

    Those accommodation options you mention can still be too expensive for some travelers. Luckily there is another option. Book a room in a nearby city and take day trips into town.

    If you can spare an extra hour a day for transport and wish to save loads of money on accommodation, this might just be the thing for you.

    I have also posted some other useful tips about Venice on my blog:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *