VENICE on a budget: when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more

Venice on a budget? Is that even possible?
Agreed, visiting Venice can be pretty pricey.
After all, you find yourself at one of the world’s most unique places – and it comes with a price tag.

Italy Venice Canale Grande
Every visitor to Venice will know this sight: The Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo across from the main train station Venezia Santa Lucia, photographed from the Ponte degli Scalzi.

However, if you follow my simple hacks, visiting Venice on a budget is easy and still very enjoyable.

I’ve been coming to Venice for years – at least every other year to visit the Biennale di Arte. Consequently, I’m not going there for these overpriced touristy places and services. I enjoy Venice on a budget – and believe me, I enjoy it to the max.

Therefore, in this post, I’m sharing my best tips on when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and more.

Insider Tips to Make Your Stay More Enjoyable

No, I will not surprise you with the information that there is a Saint Mark’s Square to be visited, the clock tower to be climbed and many canals to be rowed. You’ll find all this in every guidebook, on each website, or even in the smallest brochure.

Italy Venice Canale Grande
As Venetian as it gets: Gondolas on the Canale Grande and the Rialto bridge in the backdrop.

I’ll make you Venice-savvy and show you how to get more for less.

When To Go

Yes, thinking of Italy, sole comes to mind. Gelato melting in the sun, running over your fingers, and dripping on your favorite white dress.

Italy is the epitome of summer. And summer is the busiest and most expensive season – I would avoid it at any price. It’s hot, it’s full, it’s expensive.

Old couple sitting on a bench in Venice
“Don’t even talk to me!” No, I’m just joking, the lady is shielding her face against the blistering sun, not the husband.

If you haven’t been to Venice before, you want to stroll through the narrow alleys. You’d like to admire the fantastic architecture and sit on benches in small parks. Then, you should rather pick the shoulder seasons from March to May and September to October.

Saint Mark's Square in winter.
Saint Mark’s Square in winter. During the acqua alta, the high tide, these pedestals are set up so people can walk in the alleys and on the squares.

Even then, you won’t get lonely, but it’s much better than in the summer months.

Venice in Winter

So, you’ve been to Venice before, you have lost your way a hundred times in the narrow alleys and taken a thousand pictures of the scenic squares and structures and now want to see all the great museums, churches, and scuole from the inside. In this case, you can happily come back between November and February. Except the Christmas week and the Carnivale weeks in February.

You’ll find accommodations more easily and you’ll pay a fraction of the summer rate.

However, the whole concept is completely different from summer vacation. It’s quite cold and a rough wind is blowing from the waters. Also, there tends to be acqua alta, the infamous high tide. Then, Venetians have to put up pedestals to be able to walk the streets.

Tintoretto's Paradise at the Sala del Maggior Consiglio.
Tintoretto’s Paradise at the Sala del Maggior Consiglio inside the Palazzo Ducale.

So if you’re coming for the exhibitions, for Tintoretto’s amazing paintings at the Gran Scuola di San Rocco, for Tizian’s Annunciation at the Chiesa di San Salvador and all the other wonders, this is the time. All the great sights like Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale are significantly emptier. Lines are shorter, everything is better.

Also, if you are coming for one of the biennials, it doesn’t matter that much which month you pick. Therefore, you can happily opt for a less sunny period.

In my last post, I’m introducing the current Biennale di Arte. If you want to visit this mega-event in Venice in 2022, you should definitely rush over and check it out.

How To Get There

Train

From other Italian cities or neighboring European countries, you’ll probably get to Venice by train. Despite all complaints from frequent travellers, Trenitalia, Italy’s national railway company, offers a really good service at very reasonable prices. However, especially on weekends, trains tend to be very full, particularly the regional ones. The only recommendation I’d like to give you is to make a reservation in advance where possible. And to travel as light as you can to be more comfortable.

In Venice, there are two train stations: Mestre on the mainland and Santa Lucia at the historic center. Trains between these two stations are going frequently. Therefore, if you accidentally get off at Mestre, it’s no biggy. The next train will take you to the final stop in a couple of minutes.

Cruise Ship
No matter how you get to Venice, please do not come here on a cruise ship. Don’t destroy what you love.

Also, if you chose to find accommodation at Mestre, you can get by train to Santa Lucia in about ten minutes. The ticket costs 1,40 €uro. Despite the longer rides and the slightly higher costs, there are a couple of reasons why staying in Mestre is a brilliant idea – I’ll get to that later.

However, if you are an environment-friendly traveller or on a railroad trip across Europe, Venice can be quickly and easily reached for instance from Vienna, Munich, Ljubljana, and even Zurich in about 6 hours. From Vienna, you can even take a sleeper train. How cool is that: You fall asleep in beautiful Vienna and wake up in wonderful Venice.

Bus

Flixbus is conquering the world – at least the world’s European part, hence it’s also serving Venice. It might not be the fastest way to travel, but it’s quite comfortable and definitely the cheapest. For instance from Munich or Vienna, a one-way trip sets you back around 30 €uros, from Rome it’s only 25 €uros.

The Flixbus stops in Venice are at the Tronchetto parking lot close to the cruise terminal as well as at the Mestre train station.

To check schedules and prices, visit their website.

Flight

If you fly into Venice, you’ll land either at Venezia Marco Polo or Treviso airport.

Treviso is about 40 kilometers from Venice. The easiest way to get either to Mestre or Piazzale Roma at the historic center is by ATVO bus. It takes about an hour and costs 12 €uros one way or 22 €uro if you buy a roundtrip.

Arriving at Marco Polo, you have various options to get to Mestre or the historic center. The ATVO bus #35 takes you there in 20 to 30 minutes for 8 €uros one way or 15 €uros if you buy a roundtrip. An alternative is the ACTV-bus #5 going for the same price to Piazzale Roma and back. To get to Mestre, you take the ACTV-bus #15.

A far more spectacular way to travel from Marco Polo to the Centro Storico, Venice’s historic center, is by the Alilaguna boat. Especially on a sunny day, it’s just dreamy and actually the first beautiful sight of your beautiful vacation.

Taking a Vaporetto in Venice
Unusual arrival in an unusual city.

Alilaguna stops at various stations around the main island and then goes to the Lido. So it’s recommendable to check where you’re staying and get off near that spot. A one-way trip by Alilaguna costs 15 €uros to the Centro Storico and the Lido and only 8 €uros if you’re getting off in Murano.

If you chose to go back to the airport by Alilaguna, too, take into consideration that the space on the boat is limited, and if it’s full, it’s full. Since I’m a nervous person, I would not risk it. Also, after having enjoyed the canals for a couple of days in Venice, I can comfortably go back to the airport by bus and be sure to get there on time.

Where to Leave Your Luggage

But what if you’re not staying at the historic center? Then you can still go by boat, but in this case, I’d advise you to get off at the Cruise Terminal (blue line) and cross the Ponte della Costituzione to the train station Santa Lucia where you can leave your luggage and start exploring the city right away.

Especially during the summer months, the storage at the main train station Santa Lucia is often full so you have to either wait or chose a privately operated consigne bagagli: A couple of stores offer to store your stuff for a little fee, and there are even various locker rooms at different spots in the center. But be aware that these places close much earlier than the one at the station.

Two Porters
Porters at the Santa Lucia station are waiting for visitors who are not willing to schlepp their belongings through the busy and hot city themselves.

To leave your luggage in a safe spot in the vicinity of the Piazzale Roma – that’s the final stop of all public road traffic to and from Venice – I can recommend the storage place The Golden Luggage. It’s right across from the vaporetto stops. They are open 8.45 a. m. to 7.30 p. m. and do also offer some touristy services.

Where To Stay

Sleeping at the Centro Storico of Venice

Prices for accommodations are much higher from March till September. In November, I paid a fraction of the high season’s price. Also during the unpopular Winter months, the city is emptier than in Summer – albeit, never abandoned.

I personally experienced the least amount of tourists end of February right after the carnival.

Italy Venice Hotel Antico Doge
The Hotel Antico Doge* is one of the most centrally located accommodations – for about 160 €uros a night.

Especially if you’ve been to Venice before and do not need this Venetian overdose, you might want to check out accommodations on the Veneto’s mainland like at the adjacent city of Mestre or even farther away like Quarto d’Altino.

Although I’ve also witnessed strikes and heard many complaints, I insist that Italy has a comprehensive and reliable system of public transport. Therefore, it is really easy to commute to the historic center and back, I’ve done it during many stays myself.

Bruno Catalano / Sina Centurion Palace in Venice
If you’re not on a budget, the Sina Centurion Palace* might be a good place to crash – setting you back more than 400 €uros per night.

However, I totally understand if you want to stay right in the center of this amazing city. Therefore, here’s a map with some suggestions on where to rest your head*:

Booking.com

Sleeping in Mestre

The closest and best accessible alternative to the Centro Storico should be Mestre. You can get to Venice Santa Lucia from there by train for 1,35  €uros. But there is also a tram as well as many buses going every couple of minutes for 1,50 €uros for a single trip. If you buy more tickets, you even pay only 1,40 €uros. Also, those buses and trams are included in the travel passes I’ll introduce below.

Although Mestre is less expensive than Venice, it’s not cheap since the trick of staying ten minutes away from the action is not so very genius. Hosts in Mestre are aware of that and know what they can ask from you. However, I’m always paying around 50 €uros per night at small private lodgings respectively self-catering studios.

On this map you can check out whether there is suitable accommodation for you in Mestre*:

Booking.com

Sleeping in Quarto d’Altino

Another alternative is the hotels at Quarto d’Altino*, a charmless place less than half an hour by train from Santa Lucia. Surprisingly, there are a couple of houses like the Crowne Plaza* and Best Western Hotel Airvenice* in that area.

The trains to and from Venice go every 30 minutes and one trip costs 3,55 €uro. It’s not the best option, but it’s an alternative just the same. I myself did it twice on really short stays and it was okay. Commuting all the way out there for a longer time, though, might be unnerving.

On this map you can check out whether there is suitable accommodation for you in Quarto d’Altino*:

Booking.com

How To Get Around

On Land…

As you might know, the Centro Storico and most of the smaller islands in the Venetian lagoon are car-free. Therefore, you simply cannot avoid a lot of walking. As a matter of fact, neither can you avoid taking some kind of boat. You have to take a vaporetto at least if you want to visit some other islets such as the Giudecca, Isola di San Servolo, or the Isola die San Giorgio Maggiore.

Alley in Venice
Italy like in the movies: Walking through narrow streets under the residents’ laundry – all that’s missing is Sophia Loren.

Nevertheless, even if you stay and visit just the landmarks within the very core of the Centro Storico, you cannot avoid walking a lot. On city breaks, I’m used to go for miles and miles. However, in Venice, you’ll walk those miles even if you try to walk as little as possible. If you go just straight from the train station to Saint Mark’s Square, it’s more than 2.5 kilometers. And yet you have to add all those little detours because you’ve spotted that cute little church or a gelato parlor or as you lost your way. Also, don’t expect that vaporetto to stop to be right in front of your accommodation. You’ll probably have to cross a couple of bridges to get to your nearest stop.

Gondola
The gondolas are definitely the most expensive way of exploring the city.

Therefore, make sure to wear really comfortable shoes, take some breaks, and treat yourself to a vaporetto ride from time to time even if it’s just for a couple of stops.

Venice has the tacky gondolas, and there are very expensive water taxis. However, there is also a very comprehensive net of vaporetti which are basically water buses.

And On Water

Although the Centro Storico, the fish-shaped historic center of Venice can be reached and also explored by walking, this is not an option if you want to visit also the other islands scattered in the Venetian lagoon. There is a total of 120 isles of which only 11 are permanently inhabited. Those, you can reach only by boat.

Fortunately, apart from public land transport, the ACTV transport company has also a comprehensive net of vaporetti, water buses taking you to any place in the lagoon on a regular schedule.

Italy Venice View from the Punta della Dogana's Belvedere
Quite some traffic between the Venetian islands.

Once the regular vaporetti are suspended, there are a couple of nightly connections; hence, you never get stuck on any of the islands overnight.

ACTV has an excellent website and even an App for iOS and Android. To get an overview of your options, check out their very neat system map.

Which Ticket to Buy

While at 7.50 €uros, individual tickets are ridiculously expensive, there are travel passes that are actually not that bad. The more days you buy, the cheaper are your rides. Here is a chart on how much you pay for a day pass in 2022:

24 hours48 hours72 hours168 hours (7 days)
21 €uros30 €uros40 €uros60 €uros

Note that a 24 hours ticket can actually be used on two days since the clock starts ticking the moment you validate your ticket and lasts actually 24 hours. With the other tickets, it’s the same, obviously.

Venezia e unica card
The travel card for the vaporetti, Venice’s water buses, as well as public land transport. The longer you stay, the better the deal.

Rolling Venice

Young people under 29 years of age get an even better deal with the Rolling Venice Card. This title costs 6 €uros and is valid for one whole year. Not only do you get great discounts at many museums and other places of interest. You also pay only 22 €uros for a 72 hours-pass instead of the regular 40 €uros. Unfortunately, you can actually buy only 72 hours-passes. But if you stay for instance for a week, you can get two so that you pay only 44 €uros in total.

Italy Venice Selfie shooting couple
Young people pay even lower prices at landmarks and attractions.

The passes are also valid in other parts of the Venetian area like for instance on the buses on the Lido di Venezia and on buses, trains, and the tram in Mestre. All in all, they are a really great deal.

There are passes that include trips from and to the Marco Polo Airport. However, keep in mind that as you activate your pass at the airport, the clock starts ticking. It might be cheaper to pay that extra fee for those trips in order to activate your pass later when you need it for your sightseeing.

Discounts

As I said, I will not tell you that the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto bridge are to be visited.

But I tell you that you can visit sights at a cheaper price and without waiting in line by buying e. g. the Museum Pass* that grants you free entrance to the 11 most important state museums and palazzi in Venice. The best way to get it is by ordering it online*, this way, you save even more time.

Saint Mark's Square with the tower, the basilica, and the Palazzo Ducale
Iconic Saint Mark’s Square with the tower, the basilica, and the Palazzo Ducale.

To visit only the landmarks around Saint Mark’s Square, you can obtain a general ticket for 25 €uros that grants access to the Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, National Archaeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. With the Rolling Venice Card, it’s only 14 €uros. To visit the Doge’s Palace, you can make an online reservation for a specific day online, however, not for a certain hour. Yet, you’ll be granted priority access.

Keep in mind that especially during high season, saving time should be your priority since you won’t be able to avoid waiting in line at vaporetti, museums, landmarks, eateries…you name it. So at least try to keep those waiting times as short as possible.

Like in most other touristy cities there’s a free walking tour in Venice, too. Every day, there is a tour at 10 a. m. as well as at 3 p. m. that takes about two hours. You can book online and meet the group at Campo Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.

Extra-Tip

During the Biennale di Arte, which until the covid pandemic has taken place every odd-numbered year, many of the old palazzi are housing the so-called country-pavilions. While these buildings normally cannot be accessed as you please, during this mega art event, you get to see outstanding art at outstanding structures – for free! From 2022 on, the Biennale takes place during even-numbered years.

Venice Italy Palazzo Contarini Polignac
Exhibition of paintings and sculptures by German artist Günther Förg at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac. Quirky twist: Taking pictures of the exhibits was allowed, taking pictures of the venue was forbidden. Still don’t know how I was supposed to take pictures of his work without the palace around it.

In my last post, I’m introducing the current Biennale di Arte. If you want to visit this mega-event in Venice in 2022, you should definitely rush over and check it out.

Island Hopping

Although it’s very touristy, indeed, on a sunny day, an organized trip to the other Islands like Murano with its glass artisans, the fishing village of Burano with its lace industries, and the great church houses of Torcello is just beautiful.

If you want to visit those three gems on your own, you should buy at least a day pass. You can then catch the vaporetto #12 at the stop Fondamente Nove. If you are coming from Piazzale Roma or the train station, you can also take vaporetto #4 and then change to #12 at the stop Faro on Murano. Why? Because it can get really crowded over the day, hence, the best itinerary is to take an early vaporetto to Burano so that you get to Torcello by vaporetto #9 around 10:30 when the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta opens her gates. Eventually, you spend a couple of hours in Burano before you end your day at Murano.

Graffiti on the Giudecca Island of Venice
Totally worth it to check out the surrounding islands, too. Here you have a great view of the Zattere bank from Giudecca island.

This way you strive a bit against the stream of visitors.

Nevertheless, another valid option is to visit the three isles on an organized tour. This option is even not more expensive than going by yourself. However, you have to stick to their schedule and itinerary which can be a bit of a drag. On the other hand, you don’t have to jiggle timetables and check out routes. You just hop on a boat and leave the planning and organizing to others:

While the trip to Murano, Burano, and Torcello is very popular, there are other great outings if you have a day to spare. You can hit the beaches of the Lido di Venezia off the shores of the Centro Storico or the Lido di Jesolo which is a bit further east. While the first can be reached by various vaporetti like #1, #6, or #10, to get to the latter, you take vaporetto #6 to Lido and continue by vaporetto #14 to the stop Punta Sabbioni. Just like on the Lido di Venezia, you can then continue to the beach or explore the island by bus. Yes, there are vehicles on the Lidos.

Where To Eat

You might have noticed by now that I am very passionate about art – but also about churches and temples, alleys, and squares. Although I like cooking and love food, when travelling, I consider it a waste of time. Actually, I think this is one of the few downsides of travelling by myself. Sitting around at a restaurant for an hour by myself just to stuff face is not for me.

Plus, in Italy, they are especially chilled about serving, here you learn where the word waiter stems from. You wait for him to bring the menu, you wait for him to take your order for drinks, you wait for him to come back with your drinks, you wait for him to take your order for food – and it goes on and on till you wait for him to finally take your money.
I’m not making time for this.

People drinking Aperol in Venice
Orange is the new….Aperitivo.

Fortunately, Italy is a street and fast food heaven. I’m not talking burgers’n’fries here, I’m talking juicy pizza, fat-dripping focaccia, or sandwiches with prosciutto di Parma; everything that’s guaranteed vitamin free and rich in carbohydrates.
So I’m having a piece of heaven for lunch while pacing to the next museum. In the evening, I enjoy an epic aperitivo and call it a happy foodie day.

Pizza

It’s very difficult to find bad pizza in Italy, and many of the stands that sell a slice of pizza for about 2,50 to 3 €uro will be even excellent.

The best one in Venice is definitely Rizzo. They have various stores around Venice, selling bread, pastries, and hearty snacks.

Pizza at Rizzo Pane
So many choices! Which one would you pick?

Their pizza comes in long stripes and is covered with the finest toppings like gorgonzola and nuts, quattro formaggi  – whereby the formaggi are like triple of the dough – all sorts of prosciutto and veggies – it’s fantastic. They also sell other treats like tarts and sandwiches and at the opposite counter a variety of cakes and pies. Everybody finds something he falls for at Rizzo.

Rizzo Pane
S. Leonardo
Cannaregio 1355
30121 Venice

Tramezzini

Ever heard of Tramezzini? They are triangles of soggy, unroasted toast, but that doesn’t matter since the bread is only the wrapper for the delicious fillings.

These are not a couple of thin slices, nope, they are a big heap of the finest Italian delicacies: prosciutto, egg, gamberi, which are shrimps, carciofi, in English artichokes, radicchio, you name it. To help the shredded stuff hold together, they are stirred with just the right amount of mayonnaise to a heavenly mixture and then bedded between two slices of toast.
It’s good that the toast is mushy because this way, there is more capacity for the filling.

Tramezzini in Venice
A tramezzino with crab and rocket to the left and to the right with lots of ham.

I limit myself to three pieces in one meal, but let me tell you, the choice is far harder than the soft bread.

The juiciest tramezzini are waiting for you just around the corner from the Accademia at

Bar alla Toletta
Via Dorsoduro 1191
30123 Venice

Italian Etiquette

At Italian bars, there are often at least two different prices depending on where and how you enjoy your treat. If you grab your tramezzino to go or devour it quickly standing al banco, hence, at the bar, you pay a fraction of what they charge if you sit down at a table and order comfortably al tavolo. The price difference can be significant, to say the least, especially in tourist areas. On the other hand, I often have a coffee and a bite not because I’m hungry but because I want to sit down for a couple of minutes, hence, I bite the bullet. Don’t even think about ordering at the bar and then sitting down. Even if they don’t say anything, which isn’t even probable, you’ll definitely be the ugly tourist.

A great place for a small panino and a cheap glass of tasty wine is the hole-in-the-wall Bacareto da Lele. Just a few steps from the Piazzale Roma, it’s a great place for a quick bite in the morning. Don’t be surprised to find their local patrons already enjoying a glass of wine at that hour. Since they are open from 6 a. m. to 8 p. m., you have plenty of time to join them even after your sightseeing tour. On Saturday, however, they already close at 2 p. m. and they are closed on Sunday.

Bacareto da Lele
Fondamenta dei Tolentini 183
30100 Venice 

Aperitivo

I don’t really get the aperitivo concept, but I still love it. Why I don’t get it? Because an aperitif is supposed to tickle your appetite for a complete meal to follow.

In Italy, the aperitivo often is a complete meal – and in comparison darn cheap: at the not over touristy places you pay between €uro 5 and 8 for an aperitivo that includes a glass of something like a Spritz and a small buffet with all sorts of niblets. Sometimes, it’s only some potato chips or pieces of bruschetta, but at times, it’s really fancy stuff like tomatoes with crab stuffing or some nice pasta.

Aperitivo
Finest snacks at the Cantina Vecia Carbonera: a melanzane parmigiano, a polpetta, a fine little meatloaf, and a piece of bread with gorgonzola and nuts – and a glass of Spritz, obviously.

The best place to get a delicious aperitivo is surprisingly located on the very exposed arterial street Strada Nova. It is called Cantina Vecia Carbonera and to be found right at the corner of the bridge over Rio Terà de la Maddalena.

Cantina Vecia Carbonera
Cannaregio 2329
30121 Venice

As they are closed on Mondays, you might want to just cross the bridge, and right at the corner is a teeny-tiny business called Camin Storto. Their Cicchetti are of excellent quality – make sure to sample their polpette, hence, meatballs, if you’re not a vegetarian. In that case, go for the cubes of grilled mozzarella and gorgonzola – you won’t regret it!

Camin Storto
Strada Nova 2208
30121 Venezia

Delis and Supermarkets

If you don’t want to hang around at restaurants and still eat Italian and well, supermarkets can be a great option: You can get fresh bread and cheese from the respective counters. There is a variety of salads and antipasti either pre-packed or at the deli counter.

Tartufo Shop
To be honest, this was my favorite aperitivo this year: Sampling all the heavenly truffle spreads at La Bottega del Tartufo.

And finally, there is the hot food counter where you can buy grilled chicken and meats and roast potatoes and other yummy foods that you then can enjoy at your accommodation or as a picnic at a park.

However, do not sit on the stairs of churches or bridges – either resting or picnicking: Venice installed pretty strict laws on how to behave in the city since many visitors didn’t behave very respectfully.

Two Policemen
These two enforce the rules and make sure that visitors behave.

Mind you, Venice is still a city and not a theme park.

Restaurants

Of course, apart from all these snacks, you will be sampling throughout the day, there comes a moment for a seated meal. Blessedly, there are still some good options at Venice that are not a complete rip-off – here they are:

Cà D’Oro alla Vedova
Cannaregio 3912
30121 Venice

Dining couple at the Giudecca
View of a dinner with a view.

Rosticceria San Bartolomeo/Rosticceria Gislon
Sottoportego della Bissa 5424
(Close to Rialto)
30121 Venice

Trattoria dalla Marisa
Fondamenta San Giobbe
Cannaregio 652/B
30121 Venice

At the city's most famous café, the Florian, where you pay for a cup of coffee more than elsewhere for an entire meal.
At the city’s most famous café, the Florian, where you pay for a cup of coffee more than elsewhere for an entire meal.

Usually, I’m not a dessert person – unless it’s cheese. However, Italian food is just so amazing – even when it comes to dolci, sweets.

My absolutely favorite pasticceria is named….Dolce Vita, the sweet life. Actually, I have nothing to add. Oh wait, there is one thing: One of the best gelato places is just across the street.

Delicious pastries and an original caffé latte.
Delicious pastries and an original caffé latte.

Dolce Vita
Ruga dei Spezieri 378
30125 Venezia

Free Drinks

Like in many places around Italy, you can save some money – and the environment more plastic – if you drink the water from the fountains you find in many places and on basically every square.

Drinking Fountain in Venice
When going to Venice, don’t forget to bring your water bottle. You can fill it with fresh tasty water and public fountains for free. That’s not only good for your wallet, but also for the environment.

Yes, for you Italy-rookies, those fountains might not look that trustworthy but don’t worry, unless there is a clear sign stating otherwise, it is tasty clean drinking water.

Glass Souvenirs

Venice is a very touristy place and this comes with loads of nicknack. There are all kinds of magnets and t-shirts and aprons and other trash. But there are also agendas made from quality leather and hand-made paper. I don’t like the masks, but I love the sealing wax in many colors and the artsy seals coming with it.

And although I’m usually not the kitschy kind, I love some of the glass figurines. While the cheap kind was probably pressed in a Chinese factory, there are still some vendors selling the true stuff made right in Murano or at least another part of Venice.

Glass Blower in Venice
Souvenirs definitely not made in China but by Signore Fabio Calchera.

If you want some truly nice high-quality glass souvenirs, there are two shops in the Centro Storico I can recommend.

There are both in the San Polo neighborhood which is a less touristy part of Venice – provided that there is a less touristy part in all of Venice.

Dosana is on San Polo 1990, and Fabio Calchera is on San Polo 2586. You’ll find both shops on the map below.

Cash And Cards

Since 2001, 19 European countries have been paying with €uros, and Italy is, obviously, one of them. The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0,93 EUR (June 2022), but you can check the conversion on this page.

Euro coins and bills as well as credit dards
Cash’n’Cards

Cards are accepted basically everywhere and now, due to the pandemic, actually preferred.

Communication And Connection

Since June 2017, no roaming charges apply within the EU if you have a European mobile phone contract. This involves all 28 countries of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
The EU roaming regulation applies to all contracts.

In case European roaming is not available, you can connect to the internet without any issue at basically every museum, eatery or café, and, of course, hotel.

Using a mobile phone taking a picture of a painting by Raphael.
Obviously, you can also use your mobile phone to take pictures of unique Italian paintings.

If you insist on being online 24/7, you can get a SIM card, obviously.

The standard voltage in Europe is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. In Italy, they use three plug types, namely C, F, and L.

Whereby, since nowadays, all these chargers have integrated adapters, in general, the voltage and frequency don’t really matter.

By the way, you’ll find comprehensive travel info in my post World’s Most Complete Travel Information – an indispensable globetrotter-classic.

Say It Right

In Veneto, but also in other parts of Italy, a particular language is spoken alongside Italian. Venetian, which was the official language of the Republic of Venice, differs greatly from standard Italian in terms of pronunciation, syntax, and vocabulary. However, if you’ve learned standard Italian, you’ll be totally fine. If you still need to learn some basic vocabulary or brush up on your knowledge, you can do so babbel. Already the trial lesson supplies you with some useful vocabulary – and it’s free.

Zushini, Gnotchi, Raditcho – I’m bleeding from my ears since I hear these mispronunciations so often. Seriously, guys, it’s not so hard.
So here are some general rules.

Letter C

As in any other Romance language, C is hard when written before A, O, and U, hence, it’s pronounced K. Examples: casa = kasa – house – or cosa = kosa which means thing.

If followed by E or I, it’s tch as in witch. Examples: cena = tchena – which is dinner – or cino = tchino – Chinese. By the way, it makes not difference if there is on C or two.

Now, if a C followed by E or I should be pronounced K, an H is added: zucchini, gnocchi, radicchio – zukkini, gnokki, radikkio.

On the other hand, if C followed by A, O, or U should be pronounced tch, they slip a – silent! – I in: ciocolata, ciabatta – tchocolata, tchabatta – forget about the I in-between.

Letter G

The same rules apply to the letter G. If followed by E or I, it’s pronounced like in the word judge. Everyone knows this rule from the word gelato, right?!

If it’s followed by A, O, or U, it’s pronounced like the G in guitar, hence, hard: Lago di Garda.

To make it sound hard in front of an E or I, a silent H is added: traghetto or ghirlanda.

On the other hand, to make a G sound soft in front of A, O, or U, they slip a – again: silent! – I in: giardino, Giotto – jardino, Jotto.

Last not least, let’s get back to the Gnocchi: gn is pronounced like ñ in Señor. So it’s basically ñokki you’re ordering at your favorite Italian restaurant. Buon appetito!

One Or Two?

What seems to be a bit tricky for foreigners is the Italian plural. Albeit, it’s not that complicated: Apart from a few neglectable exceptions, if a noun ends with an a, the plural ends with an e. In general, those are female nouns. Hence, one pizza becomes two pizze – and by no means pizzas!

A noun ending with an o gets an i at the end if it’s a plural. Those are male nouns. One gelato becomes various gelati.
Hence, if you order one sandwich, it’s a panino. If you order panini, they should give you at least two. I prefer tramezzini, anyway – therefore, I never order just one tramezzino.
Nouns that end with an e also have an i at the end – those can be either female or male, but are far more seldom.

Map

Here’s an overview of the places mentioned in this post. Clicking on the slider symbol at the top left or the full-screen icon at the top right will display the whole map including the legend.

Pinnable Pictures

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Note: I’m completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in June 2022.

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45 Replies to “VENICE on a budget: when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more”

  1. Helpful tips because Venice is not cheap. You showed greatly how you can save and also see the attractions and try the local cuisine. I was in winter, and it was much more affordable. And I also used water buses.

  2. I was in Venice pre-pandemic and in April. I always travel in shoulder season due to less crowds and your travel dollars can stretch that much further. Great round up of budget saving tips. The one I didn’t know about and was very intrigued was the Biennale di Arte. That’s worth travelling in odd-numbered years just to be able to get a glimpse inside many of the old palazzi.

  3. I have never been to Venice, but it is on my bucket list. I am always looking for ways to see places on a budget and try to vacation for under $50 per day. I will have to reference your post when I visit Venice.

  4. I was only in Venice as a quick layover. I would love to go back. What I did learn from my trip was to pack light! Getting in and out of a gondola is very difficult with heavy suitcases!

    1. Yes, you’re right – I’m also recommending that in my post. Also dragging your suitcase over the cobblestone alleys is hard 😀

  5. What a fantastic, in-depth roundup of things to do while on a budget! I visited Venice six years ago and loved it, it’s such a unique city.

  6. I would love to visit Venice but have heard it’s expensive. Good to hear you can do some things even if you are on a budget.

  7. Venice is SO expensive! I really feel like it makes the whole city lose part of its charm. Finding budget-friendly options to still enjoy it is very helpful. we can’t have too many guides like that

    1. I find the prices for accommodation especially crazy. Therefore, I always stay in Mestre. I need 15 minutes by bus to get to Venice, but I save big big bucks 😀

  8. Great tips to save money on a trip to Venice. I remember the first time we went to Venice it was in January and it was freezingly cold. But I guess March or November would be a good time. I agree with the strange concept of Aperitivo. Recently we got a whole pizza with the Aperol!

    1. Hahaha – an entire meal – how cool is that?! Yes, winters are very cold in Venice – especially with the wind and the acqua alta. However, if you want to see all the museums, it doesn’t really matter.

  9. Italy, and I say this as an Italian, offers truly unique places in the world, but I am the first to recognize that it has prohibitive prices. Even I didn’t know some of the savings tips in my own country. So thank you!

    1. Actually, it strongly depends. The gastronomy in Venice is quite pricey – because they can get away with it. Also, the poor Venetians are paying a high – ecological – price for their economic wealth 😉

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  16. We would never visit Italy in the summer because of the crowds, so would definitely plan a shoulder season visit. But I do see why visiting in the winter might bring savings on many things. Visiting Murano during the Beinnale di Arte and getting views of the old palazzi is definitely something we should look into. We stayed in Verona once and did Venice as day trips. So staying outside on the Veneto mainland might work for us. We can’t wait to visit again!

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  21. I love Venice! The last time I visited was in December & it was beautiful. Sunny but very cold & almost empty of tourists. I loved arriving by train into the centre & walking out to see the canals & then going back to the airport by boat was a unique experience too. Great post!

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  23. I am hoping to visit Venice next weekend, just for a day trip, so this comes at the perfect time. I have been on a gondola before, so it will be vaperettos for me. It may be raining so I will get a Museum Card and stay dry. Thank you for all the useful tips!

  24. This was so helpful, as I have Venice on my bucketlist. I loved how you described the foods. I would spend the entire day stopping for the street food. Like you, I prefer food lacking in vitamins and nutrients lol.

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