Venice is a beautiful city, there’s no denying that. Not at all. It’s also expensive! Venice has been on my list of places to visit for, probably years, and when Mr. Actually and I decided to finally book ourselves a weekend, I was excited! I was also on a budget. I don’t make a ton of money, so being practical when travel is involved really helps me. Venice is notoriously pricey, but there are a few things you can do to cut costs. First though, let me tell you what we got up to!
We arrived in the early evening to warm weather, and a lovely bit of sunshine! On the shuttle bus we went, driving into Venice in a mere 20 minutes.
From there we walked to our B&B, dropped off our things and got exploring! Now, if you don’t know anything about Venice, I’ll tell you a few things. It’s made up of lots of little islands, connected by bridges. The canal system is extensive!
We stayed in an area called Dorsoduro, which was quieter, but had plenty to see. It felt a bit more local which was a bonus, and we had a nice time just walking around! We had a pizza for dinner, and then tucked into bed, ready for hours of exploration the next day!
After a selection of pastries and jam for breakfast, off we went, toward San Marco, the main area (and probably most recognizable) parts of Venice. We walked through the absolutely stunning St. Mark’s Basilica, which left us in awe. We arrived a few minutes after opening and it was packed, though we were only queuing for about 5 – 10 minutes! The Basilica is easily one of the most incredible buildings I’ve ever seen!
After walking through the Basilica, we did a drive by of the Bridge of Sighs, and then decided to just wander around. Neither one of us had a laundry list of things we had to see, but we just wanted to see where the day took us!
Our next stop was to check out the Mercato di Rialto (we’re both big foodies and love checking out local markets) before wandering over to Libreria Acqua Alta! It’s possibly the most famous bookshop in Venice.
Prone to flooding in the winter, the bookstore has gotten creative by displaying their books stacked up high in gondolas, shelves and even a few bathtubs.
There are stacks of books everywhere, and they’ve set up a few reading areas. The back opens onto a canal, and they’ve even constructed a staircase of books so you can climb up and have a nice view!
Also, they have 5 cats who live there. Need I say more?
We spent a little while just hanging out in the bookstore, before heading back to our B&B and relaxing before dinner.
I will be honest for a moment here and say that while Venice was beautiful, and I’m so glad we went, I found it a little bit underwhelming. Some areas are just so overrun with people, we found ourselves avoiding them all together.
It’s a small place with narrow streets (no cars though!) so it doesn’t take much before things are heaving!
It’s got a reputation as being an amazingly romantic, beautiful place, and it is definitely all of those things. However, it’s very much a tourist driven place now, and we felt like we’d seen everything we wanted to by the end of day one.
Other things we considered, but the price tag felt a bit too steep.
There’s a beautiful staircase hidden away near the Piazza San Marco, which I wanted to visit. We got there, and saw that it cost €7 to go up. I was tempted at first, but quickly realized that I’d be paying that to essentially climb a flight of stairs. There was nothing else involved, and suddenly it felt like a bit of a rip off.
There were a few times, walking around Venice, that we felt things weren’t entirely priced on value, but had been inflated due to the tourism heavy nature of the city.
It is an absolutely gorgeous city. The architecture, the history, the mere feat of having built a bustling city in the middle of a lagoon… There’s nothing like it. I think though, that after so many years of hearing how amazing Venice is, the expectation is high.
Still, we learned a few things pretty quickly, about making sure our euros stretched a bit further. If you’re planning on visiting Venice (and you 100% should, because it is worth it… just be aware that it will be busy, and not everything will be as amazing as you’d heard…) and you’re on a budget like we were, I’ve got a few tips for you!
My Tips for How To Do Venice on a Budget
1. Put on your wandering shoes.
We walked everywhere in Venice! In fact, the only time we took any public transportation was when we went over to Burano for the morning. It is easy to walk around, and I think you get to see so much more that way.
From where we were staying in Venice, everything was about a 15-20 minute walk. Yes it could be a little confusing, but that’s half the fun!
I’m also very aware that I’m able-bodied, and that not everyone walks as much as I do. That is something to bear in mind if you plan on visiting.
Venice isn’t entirely access friendly. All of the bridges have steps and I only saw a handful that had ramps. You do have the option of using the vaporetto (the public water taxi), so if walking isn’t feasible for you, make sure you budget the cost of traveling (a one way ticket is €7.50, though bundles are available)
2. Make a meal of cicchetti.
Cicchetti is essentially the Venetian equivilent of tapas. You can get lots of little bite-sized nibbles with all sorts of flavors. We went to Vini Al Bottegon a number of times and had some tasty little bits (and wine!) for a real bargain! The night we had dinner there, we had two plates (about 4-5 on each) and 4 glasses of wine. The price tag? Barely over €20 and the best food we had in Venice!
3. Look at restaurants outside touristy areas.
Prices near big tourist areas (especially around Piazza San Marco) seem to be a little pricier. I saw a place near the Basilica selling bite-sized cannolis for a euro. Minimal cost, but they were tiny. Near our B&B, we found a nice little pasticceria that was selling full-sized cannoli for only 25 cents more. They were really good too!
4. Go for an alternative gondola experience.
I know, I know. Controversial! Going for a gondola ride is the key experience you do in Venice! At €80 a pop (or €100 after 7pm) it will blow your budget out of the water.
If you’re still keen for the experience I’ve got two pointers for you. First, swing by Libreria Acqua Alta and have a seat in their gondola. It’s parked out the back, on the canal, and you get a very nice view!
Second, head to Rialto Bridge and look out for the traghetto stop by the fish market. It only costs €2 and will ferry you across the Grand Canal. Perhaps not as long a boat ride, but a similar experience with a cool landmark to gaze upon!
There you have it! Venice on a budget!