Visiting Venice On A Budget

Even on a sunny day, Venice's Grand Canal in February is relatively tranquil!

Let’s face it, visiting Venice can be expensive – but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to truly enjoy the magical city. Falling into the tourists traps is quite easy, especially close to the main attractions like the Grand Canal. We’ve put together our insider tips on when to visit, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around on a budget, helping you save on overpriced items so you don’t have to renounce great experiences!

1. Visit in the off season. Peak season in Venice means large crowds, expensive hotel rooms and restaurants hiking up their prices. For a great deal, plan on visiting Venice during the months of September and October  for mild weather and lower prices. Carnival – which falls between March and April each year – is a great period to visit, but may bring higher hotel prices. Winter months are significantly cheaper than summer, but the risk of acqua alta (high water) flooding may not be for everyone (read more about Acqua Alta here).

2. Choose a family run B&B or rent a short-term apartment.  Skip the large hotels and opt for a family owned bed & breakfast for a cozy and budget friendly stay. We recommend 3749 Ponte Chiodo or renting your own apartment through rental sites like AirBnb.  Need help deciding which neighborhood to stay in? Check out our guide of the city’s sestieri.

Vaporetto stop

Vaporetto stop (flickr: Jay Galvin)

3.  Gondolas are a once-in-a-liftime experience… but be careful! A gondola ride along Venice’s iconic canals is at the top of many travel bucket lists. The experience is undoubtably special, but it also comes with a hefty price tag of over €50 an hour. If the ride is a must for you, we suggest agreeing on the price before the ride to avoid any surprises, or check out our Welcome to Venice Tour & Gondola Ride. For €59 per adult, you’ll get a 2 hour walking tour plus a 30 minute gondola ride – so you can tick more than one box and save on the price of your gondola ride.

If you have already tried it or are searching for a more economic way to visit the city by water, try the vaporetto (public water bus) that stops at the main attractions with convenient deals. A one-way ticket will cost you 7€, but if you plan on traveling multiple times we suggest a 12-hour ticket at €18, a24-hour ticket for €20 or a 7 day pass for €50.

San Polo sestiere in Venice

San Polo is one of the loveliest, most authentic sestieri in Venice

4. Explore the real Venice… by foot. With no cars on the island, Venice is the perfect city to explore by foot, so #takewalks! You’ll save money on water taxis and buses while getting a taste of the local life. And don’t worry if you get lost while visiting Venice, everyone does but it’s all part of the experience – just ask for directions back to St. Mark’s Square.

5. Consider purchasing a Venice Card. If you plan on visiting Venice’s many museums or have a jam packed itinerary, you may want to invest in Hello Venezia’s Venice Card for free and discounted admission to churches, museums and temporary exhibits. Prices range from €24.90 (0 – 6 years old), €29.90 (6 – 29 years old), €39.90 (30+ years old).

One of the best Venetian foods

Cicchetti at a bacaro in Venice

6. Try Ciccheti! Pop into Venice’s small and hidden wine bars – locally known as a bacaro – for some delicious snacks at a bargain price. You’ll find fried appetizers, fish, meats and cheeses ranging from €1 to €3, making a real Venetian meal after a few plates. Check out more info and a full list of our favorite spots here!

7. For great meals, step away from the popular piazzas. If you’re looking for an authentic food, step away from the main attractions! Most restaurants you’ll find in the proximity of the city’s most popular sights – especially the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge – are overpriced and serve low quality foods.

We recommend staying away from menus written in multiple languages with lots of pictures and heading to a trattoria or osteria (medium-low priced restaurants with local dishes). We’ve found that many restaurants try to rip off tourists by asking for a tip… but if you see a “coperto” cover charge on your bill it is not mandatory to leave additional gratuity.

If you’re on a tight budget, try making your main meal lunch – you’ll find lots of great mid-day (and multiple course!) specials around the city. Some of our favorite spots are Tattoria Ca’ d’Oro alla Vedova, Al Nono Risorto and La Zucca.

Another Venice tip: Be careful about what boat you take to see this in Murano

Want to see the famous Murano glassblowers? Then be careful how you get there!

8. Look for Local Souvenirs
Looking to bring back unforgettable souvenirs for yourself and loved ones? Avoid stands and shops in the main squares and explore the smaller artisanal shops for a better deal and guaranteed quality. Some goods are made in other countries and passed off as “Made in Italy”, so it’s always great to find a certified product – for example blown glass directly from Murano. Insider tip: skip any “free” tours to Murano or Burano as they usually come with a hidden price such as higher price tags or extra transportation charges.

Have any helpful hints for avoiding being overcharged in Venice? Share them in the comments!

A Venetian gondoliere can be expensive. Learn the secrets of visiting Venice without getting ripped off at the Walks of Italy blog.

18 Comments

  • Ashlyne says:

    As soon as I saw the title of this blog, I knew I had to read it! I’ve wanted to go to Italy for awhile now, and I’ve never made my way there because of how pricey the vacation can be. Venice would be one of my top places to visit because I find it so interesting that people travel by foot or gondolas, and I would love to experience that! I never knew that prices go down during September and October! That’s a very helpful travel tip. The picture of the Cicchetti looks delicious. My dad is Italian and I have family friends who are also Italian so I have grown up eating and cooking Italian food. This post was interesting to read, its also very helpful for tourists looking to save money on travel expenses!

  • lucy says:

    Hi there

    Does anyone know if the trains will be operating in Venice to Rome on the 15th August ferragusto? I need to get to Rome, on that day.

    Appreciate it.

  • ian says:

    The wife and I are heading to venice at the end of may for a few days before our cruise leaves. We are there for four days on our own. Do you feel its worth it to do the venice card, for the water boats?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Ian,

      If you plan on staying in Venice all four days, then we think it is definitely worth it to at least buy a pass for the vaporetto (water bus) instead of paying for individual tickets. If you two are interested in the museums and churches and plan on visiting more than one, you can potentially save a lot of money with the Venice Card. It seems that since the writing of this post, the Venice Card has been slightly changed into the “Unique Venice” plan found here http://www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/how-it-works. Otherwise, be sure to check out our Venice day trips for a more guided, authentic tour! Have a great trip!

  • And don’t forget about the traghetti! These simple gondolas will take you from one side of the Grand Canal to the other, for mere coins. Sit and you’ll be pegged as a tourist; stand and you’re assumed to be Venetian. It’s an authentic, and very inexpensive, way to experience this great city and to get where you need to go.

    • Susan Truesdale says:

      hee, hee, I just have to say that sitting or standing I am “pegged as a tourist”:)
      That said it’s still great to experience Venice as a real Venetian and cross standing!

  • Marcela says:

    Hello
    MY husband and i are going to be in Venice for a day before leaving in a cruise on September 2015. My main concern is the price of the water taxis from the airport to the hotel.
    Which is the better and cheaper way to get to the Hotel Saturnia. And then from the Hotel to the cruise port?
    Thank you very much for your help

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Marcela,

      We understand, the water taxi’s can be very expensive, from 75 euro and up! Depending on how far the cruise port is from your hotel, you can either walk directly to your hotel, or take a vaporetto, or water bus, to a stop nearest to your hotel for just 7 euro each.

  • Siedah says:

    We arrive at 22:05 at Treviso airport and are thinking of getting the 22:30 ATVO from Treviso Airport to Venice’s Piazzale Roma getting there 23:10.
    Will the Vaporetto still be available then?

  • Serena Grimaldi says:

    For 40 euros, you can also buy a 3 day travel card for the Vaporetti. You can travel to Lido, Murano, Burano and Torcella on these tickets. We were there for 5 days, and the first and last day we explored Venice on foot…There are also really good free (tips only) walking tours. We took the ‘Free walk in Venice’, and it was most interesting, the guide taking us to parts of Venice that the tourist rarely sees.

  • Paul says:

    Hi, we visited in June and did your fabulous tour and gondola ride. We saved money by staying at Jesolo catching the water bus into Venice.

  • I cannot believe this is really possible. Venice, here I come! Thanks for the motivational post!

  • Jacky says:

    Hi Elena, just want to let you know, by just reading your words and view your pictures, I made my decision to Venice this year, and THANK YOU for sharing your tips. I did check the 3749 Ponte Chiodo, but it seems over my budget a little bit. But I will save some money for Ciccheti! It looks so delicious and I couldn’t wait to try it. I have only about 2 days to stay in Venice and do you think it is enough to cover most of the attractions? My friend sent me an itinerary about 2 day trip in Venice(https://www.43km.co/published_trips/e96d223b-4358-4c21-9c94-bb0d86bca962), how do you think the itinerary? Does it cover most of the places that worth going? Thanks again for your post and hope you can share more travel tips!

  • Amit says:

    Wow, Venice is calling me to come for holiday…Thanks for sharing

  • Bill says:

    Any reason it would be better to visit Venice on:
    Monday–Wednesday vs. Thursday–Saturday?

    We’re deciding between visiting Venice first and then Cinque Terre or vice versa. Actual dates are May 14–16 and May 17–19 2018.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Bill,

      No, we don’t think it changes anything enough to make it a deciding factor! We’d decide based on transit time and where you’ll be before and after that rather than on the days.

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