Venice is a world of never-ending alleyways, blue water, bridges, hidden historical structures, gondolas and art-centric shops and galleries. There are no wheel powered vehicles in the whole city and there is an island-wide ban on pizza ovens that is a surprise to many who are expecting to sample the world’s most indulged Italian delicacy.
Venice is also notoriously expensive, with some people reporting prices of a single coffee at €15! We spent 9 days in one of Italy’s most lucrative cities on a backpacker budget and it was a lot easier than we thought. We also got to see and do things we wouldn’t have normally done if we had more money to spend.
One of the most important tips for saving money in Venice is to use the toilet in restaurants and cafes where possible as the public toilets charge €1.50 per visit, one of the worst offenders of our trip.
Also take carrier bags with you if you plan on shopping as they are also chargeable.
Every aspect of your trip will benefit your budget if you travel between these dates and there will most likely be fewer people around too so you can enjoy this sweet city without the crowds.
If this is an option for you, you will literally save €100s. Out of season in Italy is generally considered to be between November and Easter, excluding Christmas and New Year and quite possibly Valentine’s day.
Accommodation was the biggest hindrance of our budget on our round the world trip so we always actively looked for the cheapest deals with hotels and hostels. We found great central accommodation on Booking.com right in the centre of Venice at the end of March for only €30 a night. This was the going rate for private 2-3* accommodation and we knew we were onto a good thing arriving at the hotel’s main entrance!
We chose Hotel Caneva who just so happened to offer a vacant private apartment separate from their hotel building with a full kitchen allowing us to save money by cooking.
Our apartment was enormous with 2 bedrooms which would have been even cheaper for a group of people. There was a kitchen area with all utensils and a separate living area.
Hostels were slightly cheaper for the both of us and we were told locally that the prices double, if not triple, on the 1st May which is considered the first day of the holiday season.
Not only will staying at one of Venice’s neighboring camping and holiday parks offer you a unique off the beaten path experience, it will also save you a tonne of money if you go out of season. We opted for Marina Di Venezia at Punta Sabbioni, a holiday park on the island of Punta Sabbioni across the water from Venice and on the Vaporetto route.
Punta Sabbioni is full of holiday parks and it has its own stop on the Vaporetto. It took around 15 minutes via boat to get to the island.
Not only did we have an entire two bed, two bathroom caravan to ourselves for €200 a week, we also had access to an exclusive private beach. The glorious soft sand beach stretches along the island facing South to the Adriatic Sea.
Most of the holiday parks have amazing fun features like crazy golf, bars, entertainment and water parks. You may have all of this to yourself like we did.
Food was the second largest chunk taken out of our round the world budget. We wanted to experience local cuisine wherever possible but not pay over the odds for it. We scoured Venice for the best options of dining in and eating out.
Some restaurants across parts of Europe will add a ‘cover charge’ to your bill if you choose to eat in and Venice was one of them. We spotted a great deal in several restaurants offering ‘Pizza or pasta with a drink for €8.50‘ right by St. Mark’s Square, quite a bargain for authentic Italian food right in the heart of it all. When the bill came, an additional €6 was listed for the ‘cover charge’ that includes labor and tax. After being stung, we were on a mission.
Watch out for those ‘cheap beers’ too, ask what size is being offered, we got a step up from a thimble for €5!
The restaurant is a little hard to find, but so is everything in Venice, it is not far from the Rialto Bridge and is situated right by the Grand Canal. Our tip is to find the San Giovanni Crisostomo church and there will be an alleyway across from the church behind the news stand:
Our best find was the Taverna Remer who offer an all-inclusive lunch and dinner buffet consisting of great Italian staples such as pasta, risotto, bruschetta, spaghetti and desserts. The hours of service for the buffet are 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 7.30pm. All you have to do is buy your first drink from the €5 Menu and the food is all yours.
For reservations: [email protected]
Dal Moro’s is located a stone’s throw from St Mark’s Cathedral:
We found amazing take away pasta place offering the best freshly made pasta that will make you wish you had found it earlier.
The front of the building is pretty well disguised (at the time of writing), just look for groups of people carrying the distinctive white take away boxes. Though it is hard to locate, it is worth the hunt purely for the reward of the freshest made-to-order pasta you will ever find at the lowest prices. You can pick up a hunger banishing box for as low €5. Be sure to follow the shop rules and requests which are clearly marked on the interior walls.
If take away pasta doesn’t take your fancy, ask any restaurant or pizzeria if you can take the food away to avoid being stung by cover charges and tips.
The shop was around a 10-15 minute scenic walk from St Mark’s Square and they had bottles of red wine for a mere €1.50. Staples such as bread, pasta, sandwiches and snacks were a quarter of the price offered by the Coop beside St Mark’s Square, this small grocery store is also cheaper than another neighbouring Co-op.
We found an unbelievably cheap supermarket located at 1798 Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. This whole street is where the locals shop and you will find the prices for everything way cheaper than the touristy areas.
Not only will you find affordable food and drink but you can also experience how local Venetians live.
This will always be more expensive for tourists, locals are the only beneficiaries of discounted prices. The water bus isn’t cheap but it is cheaper to buy a pass for several days. A one way journey will set you back €7 so consider where you want to go during your stay.
The longer the duration of the pass, the more you save. Be sure to make the most of your pass and head to places such as Punta Sabbioni, Murano and Burano for unique experiences. This could save you on excursion costs too by going yourself.
As tempting as it is to ride on the most famous mode of transport Venice has to offer, before 7pm a ride can set you back around €80 for 40 minutes (last time we checked). You may also be tempted to add a further 20 minutes to your experience which can cost a whopping €40 each increment.
Once night time arrives, and the sun sets, it may be even more tempting to part with a base rate of a €100 ride, with €50 for an additional 20 minutes. Keep in mind that up to six people can share a gondola so you will most likely not be alone, which could be a bit of a passion killer.
These rates don’t include tips and there are recommended tip signs by all of the Gondola stations ranging between 10% and 20% so slap on another €10/€20 out of courtesy.
If you want to experience a real gondola ride minus the love themed decoration and extortionate rates, we found the perfect solution.
Traghetto Santa Sofia offer Gondola rides for €2. The word traghetto means ‘ferry crossing’ and there are around half a dozen gondola ferry routes along the Grand Canal.
Some of the most popular boarding spots are by the Pescheria or Rialto Fish Market side of the Grand Canal.
When the traghetto is full, the gondolier and oarsman will row across the Grand Canal. Seating and standing is allowed and the ride may only last up to 10 minutes. For less than the price of a coffee, you can still tick that bucket list item that you ‘rode a gondola in Venice’.
The beauty of Venice is that you can see all of its famous sites for free. The Grand Canal, The Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square and the Academia bridge can all be seen without charge. Some of the best sites in Venice are found by getting lost and walking around.
Nowhere else in the world would you be able to wander a city and suddenly stumble across a leaning tower. Pisa isn’t the only home to a leaning tower, most major cities in the country have one including soft grounded Venice!
Every corner your turn you will be greeted with bridges, canals, art and history, don’t forget the breadcrumb trail to help you get back to your starting point!
Exteriors of the beautiful Biblioteca Marciana (library of St Mark), St Mark’s Campanile, Doge’s Palace, the Clock Tower, the two Saint columns and St. Mark’s Basilica can all be seen for free.
The central square of the city and it’s most famous is completely free to enter and there are many historical buildings to admire both inside and out.
Cover up your shoulders and legs prior to entering and keep baggage to a minimal to avoid being turned away at the front door.
Entry is free but you could be contending with enormous queues. Ask the locals if they know when the cruise ships are arriving to avoid another few hundred eager tourists.
The queue is worth the wait to witness the magnificent interior, partly consisting of the famed Byzantine mosaic tiles.
You will see fascinating historical buildings of interest on the tour such as the recently restored Banco Rosso, or the Red Bank. Its name is derived from the red receipt that customers received in the Middle Ages when they pawned an item in exchange for cash, and this is quite possibly where the phase ‘in the red’ was derived when referring to debt.
It is what it is, completely free (plus optional tips) and it takes you to places in the city that you might not have considered on your itinerary. You also get to learn Venice’s rich history and fun facts saving you heaps of time on research.
One of the highlights from the tour was the Jewish Ghetto. The tiny Venetian Jewish community (consisting of only 500 people) is still based in the world’s first ghetto of its kind.
It is also here where Venice’s holocaust memorial can be found right in the centre of the Ghetto square. It is a great place to learn about the history of the local community here and is completely off the beaten path.
The tour takes you to parts of Venice with minimal tourists giving you a valuable heads up on cheaper places to eat and drink in one of the most expensive cities in Europe. We recommend taking the tour at the beginning of your trip.
Consult Venice Free Walking Tour for times and meeting points.
This is where the locals eat, live and thrive and it is only a 10 minute walk from St. Mark’s Square. Experience true Venetian culture and stock up on souvenirs and authentic Italian wine for only €1 in one of the many supermarkets here.
Prices while dining out on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi are more than halved depending on the season with an Aperol Spritz costing a mere €3 compared to €15 in St.Mark’s Square.
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