In addition to being renowned as the most romantic place in the world, Venice is also known for being one of the most expensive too, which was one of my initial reservations with regards to going. Unless you’re planning to backpack through Venice (as there are several hostels located just outside of the city), it can work out to be quite pricey. But, as Max and I are students (with limited funds) and still had the most wonderful time, we can definitely vouch for being able to visit Venice on a limited budget, but still enjoying everything Venice has to offer.
You can fly into Marco Polo airport, which is the closest airport to Venice and probably the most convenient, but this tends to work out a pricier option. Ryanair fly to Venice Treviso airport, which is a 40 minute bus ride away from Venice – and a return journey is 18 euros. I managed to find flights in early July for £60 each (although this did include an early morning flight) so I snapped them up quickly, considering they were in peak time – but it’s definitely worth taking a look, as they often offer great deals.
Before we left for Venice, we’d been told time and time again that the food there was unbelievably expensive – and instead, to buy a slice of pizza from a market, rather than sit at a table to eat. This is true if you’re eating near St Marc’s Square or the Rialto Bridge – but in our case, we managed to find many delightful little outdoor restaurants, with views overlooking the grand canal – for prices cheaper than you’d expect in London.
I think the tip is not to pick the first restaurant you come across, but to explore the back streets a little and look at the menus carefully. If you want authentic and delicious (but inexpensive) food, don’t go for the restaurants that show their entire menus in picture format. We very nearly made this mistake but were warned off by fellow tourists (it’s basically just frozen pre made food, re-heated). One of our favourite restaurants is just around the corner from the Acadamia Gallerie, with several beautiful tables overlooking the grand canal. Fresh pizzas are 8-13 euros (depending on the number of toppings) and a glass of wine is 4,50 euros.
If you only have a 10 euro budget for food and drink (per day), there are lots of little counters dotted around Venice where you can buy a large slice of pizza for 3,50 euros and a drink for 1 euro. Just remember to steer away from the main squares (where the prices are likely to double) and venture off the beaten track a little.
Gondola rides are probably one of the most iconic things about Venice, and I personally believe (with many others) that the best way to explore the city is by boat. With over 400 little canals, which weave their way in and out of the beautiful houses, a gondola ride (especially in the evening) is the most desired and unfortunately, the most expensive way to get around – but it’s certainly the most memorable. For an hour’s gondola ride before 8PM, you’re looking at anything from 80 euros – after that period, it could go up to 120 euros. It’s safe to say that we didn’t have an extra 80 euros floating around – so we looked for alternatives.
Luckily, we were already booked onto a Dark Rome ‘Secret Venice’ tour on the Tuesday evening, which at £52.21 per person, included a 45 minute gondola ride and a 1 and a half hour tour around Venice (on foot) with a very knowledgeable local guide. Not only was this extremely interesting (Max and I had lots of questions to ask) but also worked out a lot cheaper than paying for a gondola ride, and much more stress free too (as we didn’t have to haggle or barter as they were pre-booked).
If that’s still a little out of your price range, you can still explore Venice by boat on one of the water vaporetto (water buses) which cost 7 euros per person for a one way trip. We rode from where we were staying, all the way to St Marcs which was a good few miles and then got off and walked the rest of the way back. It was a good way of getting our bearings a little, as well as the chance to capture Venice (on camera) from the water.
We might be biased, but we honestly stayed in the most wonderful, friendly and beautiful hotel in Venice for our stay, and we consider ourselves so lucky! Not only did it have a fantastic central location and great staff but the rooms were the perfect mix of traditional Venetian decor and modern amenities. Our 2 night stay was priced at around £523, which for a city that welcomes over 11 million tourists every year, isn’t bad considering. It is quite a expenditure, when you factor in everything else – but I honestly think it’s worth every penny. After walking for hours on end each day, full with pizza, seafood and the like – it’s lovely to have a ‘home away from home’ room to come back too and collapse on the bed. If you’re planning a trip, I honestly can’t recommend the Papadolpi Hotel enough.
However, if you’re working on a really limited budget then there are plenty of hostels dotted around Venice which are worth looking into. One hostel I’ve come across before is Ostello Venezia (Hostelling International) which offers beds in a dorm at £28 a night. If you consider that for the majority of the day you will be out and about quite a bit – it’s not a bad option if you’re staying for one or two nights and from seeing the hostel in person, it’s really clean, well presented and recently refurbished.
In Venice, the best and easiest mode of transport is free – your feet. Although a daunting prospect (holidays for me usually entail sipping cocktails by the pool, sunbathing and relaxing – well, at least that is what I imagine anyway), the entire city isn’t overly huge and you can walk from one attraction to another in twenty minutes or less. Even if you have the world’s best map, I guarantee – you will get lost at some point, but it’s all part of the fun and if you are sure to find out the nearest attraction to your hotel, you can usually find your way back by following the yellow signs, which annoyingly tend to be hidden behind trees or buildings, so it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt sometimes.
For journeys further than a 20 minute walk, Water Taxis can be hired at one of the many ‘taxi’ stations dotted through the city. They are a little pricier than your average taxi, but they are a quick way to get around if you’re lost as they can take you directly to your hotel (or attraction).
Overall, Venice is a beautiful city and I personally think that everyone should see it at some point during their life. There’s no other place quite like it in the world and even after a few short days there, it starts to feel like home! 2 or 3 days is more than enough (slowly but surely the walking and the carbs start getting to you), but I had a fabulous time – and it didn’t break the bank either!