How to survive Venice on a budget
Venice is a stunning place, but crazy expensive. There are plenty of ways, however, to make your visit memorable without spending too much money. If you know where to stay, what to do and how to get around you can easily survive Venice on a budget!
HOW TO GET THERE
There are various ways to make your way to this gorgeous city. Most people arrive at the airport – aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo- which is located 12 km from the main island. There is an easy connection between the airport and the city as there are frequent busses (20 min) as well as water buses (1 hour) that go straight to Venice. For the ones arriving over land, Venice is also very well accessible by train. Especially station Venezia Mestre has a lot of international trains as well as excellent connections within Italy (from this train station it is only 10 minutes more to the station at the main island: Santa Lucia). Another option is to fly to a nearby airport such as Milan or Bergamo. From there you can take a three hour bus ride with Flixbus to Tronchetto for only 20 euros.
WHERE TO STAY
Spending the night in Venice is expensive. Therefore staying off the island is a more budget-friendly option. There are many cheap campsites that offer great facilities and easy access to the city (you can be there in less then 20 minutes). I can recommend Camping Fusina or Camping Rialto. Also, the area of Mestre is much cheaper and only 10 minutes by train to Venice. Thus, finding a place to stay in Mestre is a good option too.
However, if you really want to stay at the main island try to find accommodation in Dorsoduro. This is the student and arty part of Venice with more affordable places to stay. A good website to find cheap hotel rates is Hotwire. On this website good or even excellent hotels offer their unbooked rooms below their usual rate (you only find out which hotel it is after you booked though – in this way they keep their good name and standard/prices high).
HOW TO GET AROUND
One thing you should know about Venice: don’t bring your car. You cannot drive through the city and parking at the port (Tronchetto) is very expensive. So if you want to survive Venice on a budget either stay at one of the campsites and leave your car there or make sure you arrive by bus/train/waterbus.
The Venice People Mover tram is the public transit system in Venice and connects Tronchetto with Piazzale Roma, which is next to the train station. From there you can walk everywhere.
If you are not much of a walker, there is a solution for that too: the whole city is connected by water buses. For 20 euros per person you have a 24-hour unlimited pass. Check the connections and timetables here.
WHAT TO DO
1. Sit down at the famous San Marco Square
San Marco Square is the main square of Venice and is absolutely stunning. All signs in the city point you to this place. Go there, sit down and just look around (yes, this is free). The most beautiful building you see is the St Mark’s basilica completed in 1092 (!). The big tower is the Campanile, which I would recommend you to visit for sunset (12 euros per person, half price for students). This gives you a stunning view over the city.
2. Walk over the Rialto Bridge
The world famous bridge over the Grand Canal dates back to 1591. When it was built nobody believed a single span bridge would last long, luckily they were wrong. Make sure you visit the bridge during the day – when the shops are still open – and when the evening falls.
3. Make a visit to Doge's Palace
Doge’s palace is the very symbol of Venice and located at the most perfect spot in the city (see #4). If you want to visit the museum, I recommend to purchase the Venezia Unica City Pass and visit the most amazing museums and churches of Venice for a really cheap price (starting at 27 euros for eight sites).
4. Admire the view of the San Marco Canal
Doge’s Palace is located at a stunning spot as it overlooks the San Marco canal, full of gondolas. In the distance you can see San Giorgio Maggiore. Go for a walk along this street and you will get some of the most beautiful views of Venice!
5. Explore Venice from a gondola
For many the number one thing to do in Venice, however, not an option for the ones on that want to survive Venice on a budget. Nevertheless, first things first: it is a cool experience and gives you the best view of the city (from the water). BUT, when you book a gondola ride in the city prices start at 80 euros. Therefore, if you want to do it make sure you book the gondola ride online prior to your trip.
6. Visit the surrounding islands
Very busy and touristy Venice is actually surrounded by less famous little islands. I visited Burano and it was stunning. This island is about one hour from Riva degli Schiavon (the main street from where the ferries leave, just around the corner of San Marco Square). Burano is honestly the most colourful place I have ever been. Every house has a different colour. Make sure to go off the main streets into the little alleys – you won’t find any other tourists there.
✦ Budget tip:
The last tip to survive Venice on a budget are the awesome wineries in the city, especially in the student area of Dorsoduro. Get yourself a bottle of red wine and find the best spot at one of the canals, sit down and have the most amazing view for the best price. No need to pay 10 euros for a glass of bad house wine!