Venice is famous for lots of reasons, and not all of them are favorable. Sure, it’s gorgeous, romantic, and singular – but it’s also known for mediocre food and incredibly high prices. How, then, does the traveler without a trust fund experience Venice on a budget?
There are a few things budget travelers can do to minimize their costs in an expensive city like Venice without feeling like they’re missing out on all the cool stuff to see and do. These overall tips are applicable just about anywhere, but there’s Venice-specific information here for the traveler headed to the canal city.
- Look for Freebies – Some of the attractions in any city are bound to be free (or incredibly cheap), especially when the list of attractions includes churches. There is often a donation box at the entrance, and if you enjoyed your visit it’s nice to consider dropping in a few coins for the upkeep, but look for attractions that don’t have set admission fees to help keep your sight-seeing costs low. In Venice, the spectacular St. Mark’s Basilica is absolutely free to enter, and it’s easily the top sight in the city.
- Be Your Own Tour Guide – While hiring a personal tour guide can be great, it can also get really costly. Rather than leave without learning anything about the city you’re visiting, however, bring your own guided tour with you in the form of a smartphone app guide. With DIY guides – like the mTrip Venice guide – at your fingertips for a few dollars, there’s no need to walk through a city uninformed. Pick a guide that has several built-in walking tours and you can proceed at your own pace.
- Travel in the Off-Season – Most places have a high season and a low season, and visiting during the low season will mean you’ll find lower prices as well as smaller crowds. In Venice, however, there isn’t much of a low season at all. You can avoid the highest prices and largest crowds by skipping the summer, the Christmas/New Year holidays, and the Carnivale season. Tickets to Venice are definitely cheaper if you’re flying in when it’s a bit less busy.
- Sleep Cheap – Anyone who’s comfortable staying in a hostel dorm room will save an enormous amount on accommodation over the course of a trip, especially in expensive cities like Venice. For those of us who prefer a bit more privacy, look for 1-star and 2-star hotels. They may have fewer stars simply because the rooms or lobby is small (and not because they’re bad), or there’s a shared bathroom in the hall, but they can be a budget-friendly midway point between hostels and high-end hotels. In a city like Venice, where staying on the islands is so much more expensive than staying on the mainland, you can also consider staying in a mainland hotel and visiting the islands as if you are a day-tripper. You’ll miss out on some of the city’s charms, but you’ll save money.
- Get a City Discount Card – Not every city has these, but more popular tourist destinations tend to have discount cards on transportation and some attractions. They’re typically available in different increments so you can pick the one that covers the amount of time you’ll be visiting, and there are sometimes different cards available depending on the sites you’re interested in. Venice has a variety of discount cards to choose from – some include a combination of transportation and attractions, which can be handy, although walking around Venice is one of the best ways to get around.
>> What are your best tips for making expensive cities a bit less so?
-by Jessica of BootsnAll
photo by BriYYZ