Venice, the most famous city in the world, unique with its canals and calli is known also for being very expensive. I’m not lying. Venice is not cheap, but if you will follow a few simple tips, it will be less expensive than you can imagine. All you have to do is research and plan in advance, otherwise, you might end up wasting a lot of money. With this post, I’d like to give you my advice on how to save money while visiting Venice. So, let’s start.
Tip n.1: Mestre is not Venice
Mestre is the last town on the mainland before reaching the Lagoon. Mestre and Venezia are connected through a long bridge on the water. The bridge allows people to reach Venice via car, bus, or train.
If you arrive here via train, you will notice two station stops: Venezia Mestre and Venezia Santa Lucia. If your hotel is in Venezia, your stop is the second and final one. When you book your overnight stay, consider that it takes time and money from Mestre to Venice. Maybe it will be worth it to spend a little bit more for a BB on the lagoon than sleeping in Mestre and then commuting to reach Venezia.
Tip. N.2: sleep in Venice
Another thing to consider is that if you want to take a stroll in the night among the beautiful Calli, sleeping in Venezia is an experience I highly recommend. Plus, at night tourists go away. Staying here is really a one-of-a-kind experience.
Tip n3: Get your ferry boat pass
Venezia is a car-free city. Moving from one side to another can take you a 30’ walk, sometimes even more if it is packed with people. Plus, there are many islands to visit: Murano, Burano, Torcello, Lido, etc. Your only option to go there is to jump on and off their so-called Traghetti, ferry boats. It is essential to buy a pass as soon as you arrive.
There are several options from 1 to several days. A 1-day pass costs some 20 euros. A single run costs 7,5 euros. It means that if you take the ferry boat at least three times (and in the next advice you will see that at least two rides are mandatory), you’ll have already saved money.
During my last 5 days holiday in Venezia, I went for a 4 days pass, at a cost of 40 euros.
As soon as you arrive at Santa Lucia Station, get out and in front of the station you will find the ferry boat ticket office to purchase your pass.
Tip n4: Two essential rides with the ferry boat
The ferry boat net is really wide. You can really reach every corner by stepping on and off. But there are two lines you have to do:
the two ones that navigate all around the lagoon, called “giro città”, tour around the city, at the ticket offices, and the one that navigates the Gran Canal.
Try to seat in front of the ferry, and relax during the trip. Passing through palaces and islands will allow you to understand how the city is developed and organized as well as live an experience that is hard to forget.
Tip n.5: Gondola for budget travelers
Do you want to experience a gondola ride but you do not want to spend 80 euros or more for a one-hour ride? There are some places where Gondolas will bring you from one side to another of the streets. In fact, as these crossings are too short, organizing a traghetto is too expensive. Therefore the city has asked gondolieri, men driving gondolas, to provide the service. So, you will find gondolas that will bring you from one side to another of the canals at a cost of 2 euros.
Tip n6: Eat at a Bacaro
Tourist restaurants can be crowded and expensive. The best way to experience local food is to find the so-called Bacaro.
Bacaro is a small tavern or bar, generally with a selection of wines and the famous “Cicchetti”. A cicchetto can be a meatball, a piece of bread with fish or cheese, or a little sandwich. In some ways, cicchetto resembles Spanish tapas.
Find a Bacaro, get in line, and when your turn arrives chose what to drink and eat. You will pay for the drink and each cicchetto. You can have a great lunch break for 10-15 euros. Generally, in can eat inside or immediately outside the Bacaro. But pay attention to birds, especially seagulls. The might attack you for the food. Protect your drink and cicchetto!
Tip n.7: and look for Supermarkets and Bakeries
If you have the possibility of eating in your hotel/BB, you can buy something in a local supermarket. Coop has a great variety of local food. But do not forget to enter a Panetteria, Bakery in English. Here you will find salty and sweet delicacies. Just remember not to buy food, sit in San Marco Square and eat there. Locals will ask you to stand up. You will understand that Venice is visited by thousands of people every day and sitting in the main squares would make it a place hard to visit. Find less crowded places, and go to a public park where you will find a bench to relax a bit.
Tip n.8: Do not buy a museum pass if you only have one or two days.
Personally, I prefer to visit a few museums taking the right time to enjoy them. If you are in Venezia for the first time, you have to visit Palazzo Ducale. The ticket costs 20 euros and a visit can take you a good 3 hours. But with the same ticket, you can also visit Museo Correr, with its section dedicated to Canova, the Apartment of Empress Sissi, the Wunderkammer, or the ancient Biblioteca Marciana. That will take you another good 3/4 hours.
In my opinion, this ticket gives you plenty of things to see if you are here for a couple of days, considering that you might want to visit the Basilica of San Marco as well as other islands like Murano.
I suggest a collective museum pass only if you intend to spend in Venice more than three days.
Tip n.9: Visit Palazzo Ducale by night
If you have decided to follow tip n.2, sleeping in Venice, and you are in the lagoon in Summer, consider that on Friday and Saturday, Palazzo Ducal is open until 11 o’clock. Come here at 9 pm, you will enter without queuing and you will find very few people inside. Unless this post will become viral! Believe me, visiting this Palace at night we’ll give you an experience you won’t easily forget.
Tip n.10: Don’t go to bars and cafeteria in Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is renowned all over the world and with its Basilique is the symbol of the city. A true landmark that has been the set of countless movies. Sitting in one of its bars and restaurants can be extremely expensive. Wander in the calli and fine bars “round the corner”. Remember that if you have a coffee at the counter you will pay less than 2 euros. So having a coffee or cappuccino and brioches won’t cost more than 5 euros. If you sit, prices can be higher but definitely not as much as in Piazza San Marco.
So, there you are. I hope you can find inspiration and have a better idea of how to visit Venice on a budget. Let me know about your experience or if you have a specific address to suggest!