Venice on a budget

As beautiful as Venice is, this destination is also known as notoriously expensive. But is it possible to visit Venice on a budget? Hell yes, it is! As you know, I fell deeply in love with this lovely city after visiting in January. But being a broke university student also means that I wanted to visit Venice on a budget. And since you are reading this, I am guessing you want to do the same. So I collected all the budget tips and tricks you need to enjoy Venice on a budget. 

Disclosure: When you decide to purchase through any of the shared links, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you! This will make a huge difference to Finding Falke and ensure I can keep sharing many more travel tips and tricks.

When to visit Venice

From my personal experience, I can only recommend Venice during the off-season. During my visit in January, I had the feeling I could actually see and enjoy this beautiful city. The city tax for tourists is also lower in comparison to the high season which is nice for budget travellers. The only con during winter is the low temperatures. But this is a solvable problem if you put the right (warm) clothes in your suitcase. 

The most popular time to visit Venice is during the summer. The weather is usually nice, but it can also get insanely hot. It is also the busiest time leading to hotels skyrocketing their prices. You might also not get in at certain attractions like the Palazzo Ducale unless you buy tickets well in advance. 

I would love to return in shoulder season – during spring or autumn – as the temperatures are more moderate. In those seasons, you won’t freeze during a romantic Gondola ride. And it seems that Venice is also still kind of free of the big summer crowds at this time. 

Transport

How to get to Venice on a budget

Transport to Venice can be very cheap. Ryanair is one of the low budget options flying into Venice Treviso or Venice Marco Polo. Getting from the airport to the city centre can be easily and cheaply done with public transport. Be sure to avoid private water taxis because prices often go over 100 euros for just one trip. 

If you’re coming from another Italian city, I recommend going by train. The train station of Venezia Santa Lucia is right on the main island and from there everything is walkable. There is one thing you have to know about the trains in Italy: book early! This is where I made the biggest budget mistake. I booked the trip the evening before leaving. I had to pay over 100 euros for a round-trip from Florence to Venice. If I had booked earlier I would have saved a lot of money. So if you want to save money and be sure you have a spot on the train, book in advance.

How to get around Venice on a budget

It’s pretty simple, bring your best walking shoes and walk as much as possible! It’s the cheapest and easiest way to get around Venice. You can get pretty much anywhere by using the many bridges connecting the islands. 

Can’t find a bridge close by? Look for one of the seven traghetto. The traghetto is a large gondola that will help you cross the Grand Canal for only 2 euros. A few things you need to know before boarding one of the traghetto. First of all, you won’t be able to use it with luggage, a stroller or a wheelchair. Instead, use the Vaporetto No. 1. And secondly, the service hours are a bit unpredictable. The traghetti row back and forth across the Grand Canal during the day so you might have to wait for a little. But it is also very possible you will be waiting for nothing. 

That being said, you might want to look into Vaporetto or water bus too. I loved to hop on one of their boats and enjoy Venice while cruising through the Grand Canal. A one-way ticket costs 7.50 euros and will last for 75 minutes. This is quite expensive, so you might want to look into day tickets. If you are planning a 3 days trip to Venice and you are younger than 29, make sure to look into the Rolling Ticket pack. This option includes a discount card for specific cultural locations and a 72h transport ticket for only 28 euros. You can find the different offers here.

If you want to go to the nearby islands – including Murano, Burano or Torcello – you can hop on the Vaporetto. Burano is the furthest away and takes about 40 to 45 minutes. 

Whatever you do, don’t take a boat taxi. You’ll quickly go over 100 euros for one single trip. That isn’t exactly budget-friendly, is it? 

Where to stay in Venice on a budget

Accommodation is notoriously expensive, especially in high season. So my first tip for visiting Venice on a budget is to go in the low season. I went in January, stayed in a luxury hotel on the Grand Canal and I only paid 78 euros for two nights. As if that was not enough, I got upgraded from a single room to a double room. 

For everyone who is curious, I stayed at Residenza d’Epoca San Cassiano. I had a lovely time here and I can only recommend.

If you want to visit in shoulder season or even high season, staying in Venice might be a little more expensive. But I got a budget tip for you too. You can look for accommodation in Mestre which is a lot cheaper. The only downside is that you have to take the train every day to Venice. You will also be most likely considered a day tourist so don’t forget to reserve your tickets for Venice. 

Where to eat in Venice on a budget

Food and drinks in Venice are an easy way to save some money. Take breakfast at the coffee bar, standing up with a coffee and pastry like a ‘real’ Italian. A cappuccino should not be more than 2 euros. In addition to a coffee bar, you could also choose to grab your breakfast at the pasticceria, which sells pastries, cakes and coffee.

One of my go-to budget tips for lunch is the typically bàcaro. These small local osterias sell delicious cicheti. They are a true food experience: just order a plate of these small delights with a glass of wine or Aperol for very low prices. A fun way to discover Venice is through a bàcaro tour. 

For dinner, I recommend looking for hidden restaurants in one of the little streets and away from tourist attractions. Dinner on the San Marco square will very likely be insanely expensive for not even good food. One of my favourite discoveries was Osteria Antico Giardinetto. This little restaurant was right around the corner from my hotel, but I only noticed it on the second day because it did not stand out. Nevertheless, this restaurant was so good, rather budget-friendly and the owners were the nicest people ever. Another good option for when the weather is good is takeaway pizza and turn it into a picnic.  

Remember that Italian restaurants will charge coperto (1-3 euros) which is a cover charge for servings of bread, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper at the beginning of the meal. 

What to do and see in Venice on a budget

Now that we have discussed the biggest things where you can save some money, let’s talk about some extras so you can include an extra Aperol Spritz in your budget.

Walk around and get lost

Venice is an open-air museum. So if you don’t have a lot of time or want to visit Venice for ‘free’, just walk around. There is plenty to see and discover. One of the most interesting neighbourhoods to discover is the Jewish Ghetto. Despite its troubling history, the Jewish Ghetto is now full of restaurants, shops and synagogues. Also, Piazza San Marco is a thrill to walk through. This popular area is the home of many touristic attractions. 

Free walking tour

Don’t know where to start in Venice? Take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to see the main sights on a budget while connecting with a local guide who can share their insider tips and advice. Just don’t forget to tip in the end.

Food tours

Like I said before, a bàcaro tour through Venice is amazing. I did one myself by looking up some places myself. However, if you want to learn more about the history and culture behind Venice’s cuisine, take an official food tour. 

Gondola ride

Is paying for a gondola ride in Venice worth it? Yes! Gondolas are one of the most iconic symbols of Venice and are simply a must-do when in Venice. Is a gondola ride expensive? Hell yes! Prices start at 80 euros. Do I know a cheaper option? Of course, I do! If you are on a budget, you can book a spot on a group gondola ride on Get Your Guide with prices starting from £25 per person. Sounds better right? 

Another, cheaper option would be the traghetto. The traghetto is a large gondola that will help you cross the Grand Canal for only 2 euros. Since you are only crossing the Grand Canal once, this is a very short ride. 

Island hopping

The main island of Venice isn’t that big, you can easily hop on the Vaporetto and visit some other islands like Murano and Burano. 

Murano

Murano is located the closest to Venice. This small island is known for its glass-blowing. Murano’s glass-blowing history started in 1291 when the Venetian Republic ordered the glassmakers to move to the island out of fear of fire and the destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings. Go for a stroll and discover today’s glassmakers. 

Extra tip: Souvenirs are expensive here, but if you want to buy some glass souvenirs from Murano double check they were actually made here. If you go to a tourist shop, you might find some souvenirs made in China instead of Italy. The same principle counts for Venetian masks!  

Burano

You might have seen Burano on Instagram already! This island is an Instagrammers dream. But the brightly coloured fishermen’s houses of Burano existed long before Instagram. It was a way for the fishermen to find their way back home from the water through the fog. To make this island even lovelier, I recommend taking the vaparetto at sunset back to the main island of Venice. 

Money-saving tips for Venice on a budget

Discounts

If you are young or still a university student, always ask for student discounts and look into the Rolling Venice card. This card gives you a discount for 3 days of public transport (vaparetto) and several discounts for museums and accredited commercial enterprises.

If you are too old for this card, you might want to look into the Venezia Unica City Pass. You have to buy this pass but you will get discounts on transport, museums and other attractions. And you won’t have to worry about queues as it promises priority access to certain museums. 

In the end, you have to decide if it’s worth the investment for your trip. For me, as a young person below 29, the Rolling Venice Card was definitely worth it since I hopped on and off the vaparetto continuously and visited two museums which were discounted. 

City tax

Overnight stays

If you are staying in a hotel, you will have to pay a tourist overnight tax. The tax depends on the time of the year (high season or low season), the location, type and classification of the accommodation. You will have to pay more tax if you are staying in a 5-star hotel than in a 3-star hotel. The full rate is between 1 and 5 euros per person per night. Children under the age of 10 and disabled people are exempt from paying the tax. Young people between 10 and 16 years of age are entitled to a reduction of 50%.

Day trips

If you are visiting on a day trip, you will not be exempt from this city tax for much longer. Venice has been struggling with mass tourism and too many daytrippers in the city centre for years and they are ready to tackle that problem with a booking system. 

Starting from the summer of 2022, you will have to make a reservation in advance if you want to enter Venice. And pay an entrance fee. The booking system will be voluntarily for 2022. So visitors will be offered incentives to use the portal, including queue-jumping status at various sites and museums. 

Whereas if you are visiting in 2023, you will have to book well in advance and pay an entrance fee ranging from €3 up to €10. The price depends on how busy that day will be.

Overall

Venice left in total awe after visiting in January 2022. With some conscious choices, it turned out to be a pretty affordable trip. I spent 328 euros in total for three days while travelling by train – which is more expensive than by plane -, staying in a luxury hotel and having three meal dinners. While I travelled on my budget with was as cheap as possible with a few luxuries, I am convinced you can go even cheaper with these tips and enjoy Venice on your budget. 

Disclosure: When you decide to purchase through any of the shared links, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you! This will make a huge difference to Finding Falke and ensure I can keep sharing many more travel tips and tricks.

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