Venice, also known as Venezia to the local Italians, is a beautiful city located in the Northeast of Italy. Due to its popularity, it has a reputation for being very expensive, and it definitely can be. However, if you are looking to experience Venice and not break the bank, then this blog post is for you. Below are a number of tips to save you some pennies while exploring what may be my new favourite city in the world. Do you want to know how to visit Venice on a budget? Keep reading…
How to Visit Venice on a Budget
Firstly, let’s talk about the location of your accommodation. Staying on the main island (Venice) is extremely expensive and you will easily pay 100’s of euros for a night. To save yourself a lot of money, I recommend that you look into surrounding areas. I stayed in Mestre Venezia at Wombats Hostel in a 6-bed dorm, for €16 per night. The hostel was extremely clean, sociable (but not hectic) and there was so much space in the room that I would recommend this hostel to anyone. There are also private rooms available for couples, friends, or older people who want the privacy.
The hostel was a 3 minute walk to the train station, where you can take a quick 10 minute train over to Venezia St Lucia; Venice’s main train station. The train costs €2.50 return or €1.35 for a single ticket. Buying a return ticket will save you a few cents, however you have to choose a time upfront for your return. Unless you know for certain what time you will be coming back, I suggest you buy single tickets. Be aware that the queues for the ticket machines can be very long, especially on a weekend or during school holidays so calculate your time appropriately. Your ticket needs to be validated before boarding the train, which you can do by placing it inside one of the yellow machines located near, or on the platforms.
One night in a hostel plus transport to and from Venice (x2) for the day will costs you less than €20!
How to Get Around Venice on a Budget
As mentioned earlier, there is a train connecting the mainland to the island of Venice which is both affordable and reliable. But what about travelling around the island of Venice itself?
It’s important to note that if you have limited, or no mobility, Venice may not be the best option for your trip. As you know, the city is dominated by water, and the canals divide up the beautiful streets meaning there are numerous bridges throughout. I witnessed a number of elderly people with walking sticks and simmer frames struggling to get across the bridges on their way to the cruise ships. There were also multiple people trying to drag their suitcases over the bridges while searching for their hotels (another reason to stay on the mainland!).
The city is definitely not wheelchair friendly.
Water Boat Taxi Service
There is a water boat service that takes you to multiple attractions throughout the city. Opposite St Venezia Lucia train station you will find a ticket office where you can choose from a number of passes. To get to St Mark’s Basilica from here will take you nearly 1 hour by water boat. The boat heading to the Basilica is too big to fit through the canals so it makes its journey around the outskirts of the city. The passes do also include the smaller boats.
I personally wouldn’t suggest using this service unless necessary as it takes a long time to get anywhere. However, it does allow you to see Venice from a new perspective and it also stops at the nearby islands if you wish to get off to explore them.
TIP! If you get off at St Mark’s Basilica and make your way on foot to the famous Rialto Bridge, you will find a boat stop there. The walking time between the two attractions is only 5 minutes. This boat will take you back to St Venezia Lucia train station within 10 minutes as it goes through one of the bigger canals. This will save you a lot of time!
How to Visit Venice on a Budget
Water Boat Taxi Service Prices in Venice
There are a number of passes to choose from:
€7.5 for 75 minutes of travel (except for gondolas and private services)
€20 for a day pass (except for gondolas and private services)
They also have multiple day passes available – ask in the office for prices.
TIP! I personally think the day pass is overpriced as you don’t take full advantage of it. You should only need to make a maximum of 2 journeys – one to get to the Basilica, and one to get back from wherever you end up. I would recommend buying a one way ticket to the Basilica and walk back. However, if you want to use the boat services both ways, it is still cheaper to buy two single tickets as opposed to buying a day pass (€15 instead of €20).
How Much is a Gondola Ride in Venice?
Unfortunately your water boat ticket doesn’t include riding on the famous gondolas in Venice (damn!). I checked out the prices when I was there and it costs between €80- €100 for a 1-2 hour journey. It is a little steep if you are on budget but if it is something you have dreamed about doing, just be prepared to fork out the above. You can also hire private boats to take you around the city.
How to Visit Venice on a Budget?
Food & Drink in Venice
Before arriving to Venice, I assumed i’d be spending a lot of money on food and drink but I was pleasantly surprised. As most restaurants are competing with each other, they are offering 2 course menus with a side dish for €11-15! The food is also delicious.
One thing to note is that you can drink tap water in Venice, however the restaurants will not serve it to you. You must buy their bottled water – I guess that’s how they make the extra money back.
Venice doesn’t attract the heavy party go-ers and has a very relaxed vibe. It is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine adjacent to the water and soak in the Italian atmosphere. A glass of wine will set you back a few euros, and Aperol Spritz cost €4.
Snacks in Venice
It is possible to spend €20-25 a day on food if you are smart about what you eat. For lunch, you can buy a big pizza slice for €2.50 from a local bakery and other Italian delights. Gelato icecream is a must-have when you are in Venice and costs €2-3 depending on where you buy it.
Public Toilets in Venice
There are NO free public toilets in Venice. I only came across two public toilets while venturing around the city and they cost €1.50 each! Maybe this is my budget backpacker self talking, but that is a lot of money to do something that all humans need to do.
I decided to try and time my pit stops with meal times so I could use the facilities in the restaurants.
TIP! If you can’t hold it – Go to KFC near St Venezia Lucia train station and order a small re-fill drink for €1.25. Make sure you ask for the receipt and use the code to access the toilet. This way you can have 2-3 drinks (or as many as you can drink really, although you better watch that bladder!) and also use the toilet. Keep your cup if you want another re-fill later on in the day. Win-win.
Planning An Onward Journey in Italy?
The trains in Italy are rather cheap and something I used to get from Venice to Verona. However, do note that they have no luggage storage. I had a big suitcase with me which I had to put next to my seat, but the train filled up completely. People were trying to climb over it and asking me to move it but I had nowhere to go. I spent 2 hours crammed between strangers and it was rather stressful lol! I highly recommend using Flixbus if you are travelling around Italy. Flixbus is usually cheaper, takes relatively the same amount of time and has a compartment under the bus for luggage storage. Please read their requirements to see how much luggage you can take as I believe it is one piece under the bus, and one small handbag.
Another tip for travelling on a budget:
Sign up to TransferWise; an online money transfer service that lets you send, receive and spend money internationally. You can spend money abroad on the TransferWise debit Mastercard, with the correct exchange rate and very low fee.
I have an international card with *TransferWise and save myself a lot of money on online transactions and daily spending while travelling.
*With my link you get a fee-free transfer of up to 500 GBP.
Did you like this post?
Please leave a comment below if you have any other tips on how to visit Venice on a budget. Keep your eyes peeled for a new blog post coming soon; Free things to do in Venice