Venice for Less – Save Money in Italy’s Floating City

in Trip Planning

Venice has a reputation as one of Italy’s most expensive cities, but frugal travelers needn’t steer clear of The Floating City. With a little research you needn’t bust your budget in this European hotspot.

Firstly you’ll need to find a place to rest your head. You’ll discover some great travel deals if you visit Venice during the off season, from November to the start of Carnevale in around February or March. The weather is a chillier at this time of year, but it shouldn’t put a dampener on your stay. Groups may find renting an apartment is a cheaper option than staying in a hotel room, particularly as you’ll have a kitchen and laundry facilities. If you’re willing to step away from the main drag you can also find reasonable rooms at suburban bed and breakfasts including Ca Del Pozzo B&B at Campo San Maurizio, the B&B Villa Elisabetta at Lido di Venezia Island, and B&B Biennale Venezia on the island of Sant’Elena.

Like most Italian cities, Venice has a reputation for fine food. But to see value for your dollar you’ll need to avoid the tourist traps and dine like a local. It’s easy to spot the restaurants hoping to lure the tourist dollars. They’ll have menus printed in a variety of languages or with pictures accompanying the dishes. Instead keep your eyes peeled for places that forgo the fancy linen and have local dogs curled up underneath the tables. The friendly waiters will help you if your Italian is rusty, or you could always trust your gut and pick a dish at random! Antica Birreria La Corte has excellent and affordable pizza and pasta, Rosticceria San Bartolomeo specializes in comfort food, and the all-you-can-eat buffet at Taverna del Campiello Remer is ideal when you’re hungry.

Most local bars also serve up cicheti, the Venetian equivalent of Spanish tapas or Greek mezze. It’s a great way to indulge in a variety of dishes, and you can eat as much or as little as you like.

And finally make sure you avoid those hotel breakfasts. They’re never as good as the pastries and coffee at the local cafes and you’ll pay much more for them!

Some say you haven’t seen Venice unless you’ve been on a gondola, but with rides costing more than $100 a piece the cash-strapped traveler should consider other options. A one-hour ride across the Grand Canal on the vaporetto, or water taxi, will cost you less than $10. There are also gondola ferries called traghetto which take visitors across the canal for just a couple of dollars. You’ll have to stand up so the experience isn’t quite as luxurious as those tourist trips, but you can at least say you’ve been on a gondola!

St Marks Square is another must for tourists, but many are surprised by the surcharges that come from watching the bands from the tables. Clued in locals know you can simply loiter at the back and enjoy the live entertainment without paying a cent.

A view of Venice from Ponte Vecchio

A view of Venice from Ponte Vecchio

And never underestimate the appeal of setting off without a plan and discovering the city around you. Veer off the well worn tourist path and explore the neighborhoods of Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, and Castello. After all, soaking up the atmosphere of Venice is completely free!

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