Unless you just inherited a small fortune, chances are you’ll need to make some compromises on what you do in Venice. A city with this kind of world-renowned history and beauty is just always going to be pricey.
Fortunately, with a city as unique and stunning as Venice, it’s all worth it. But you still need to figure out how to make the Venice trip of your dreams affordable. These tips show how you can get the most out of a venetian vacation without having to sacrifice what will make it the trip of a lifetime.
1. Don’t Stay in Venice (or at least the famous part)
For most travellers to Venice, the biggest single expense is accommodation. Fortunately, you can stay in Mestre on the mainland, a short (less than 30 minutes) bus ride from the city and save a ton. Alternatively, try staying on one of the lesser known islands. Far away from the throngs of tourists, these spots may have deals you won’t find in the old heart of the city.
Of course, if you don’t want to miss out on the magic of early mornings and late nights in Venice itself, consider staying outside of the city for the first or last nights of your trip when it wouldn’t make as much difference.
But in general, don’t despair. Travellers often point to surprisingly affordable B&Bs available in Venice for those willing to spend some time really searching. So, book ahead and put in the time to find the good deals that are out there.
2. Go Off Season (And Avoid Big Events)
The high-season crowds in Venice are about as spectacular as St. Marks and are a great reason to studiously avoid getting caught there from June to August. Personally, I think May and September are ideal times. You’re avoiding the brutal summer heat and crowds while also enjoying the lower off-season prices. For a real deal though, consider visiting in November or January (just be prepared to bundle up!).
Of course, you’re more likely to experience some rain in the Spring or Fall, but you’re hardly going to find a more atmospheric place to watch a passing rainstorm than in a cozy Venetian cafe. Plus, you’ll be easing the tourist burden (more on that below). So don’t worry too much about the weather!
Also, absolutely avoid periods when the Venice Biennale is first opening. This is a massive international contemporary visual art exhibition held in odd numbered years and Venice is generally packed with visitors when a new one first opens.
3. Travel there by Bus if You Can
Airfare to Venice can be quite pricey, especially in the high season. While there are a few discount airlines that fly there, it’s unlikely they fly from where you are. That’s why getting there by bus can be a more affordable method of planning your trip. A nice side benefit is getting to enjoy the amazing scenery on the way there, whether it’s through the Julian Alps or the Italian Alps. Most of the approaches to Venice are quite stunning and worth seeing from ground level.
If you’re planning on buying any of the world renowned Venetian Glass, you also won’t have to worry about trying to ship it home and praying it makes it there intact. So if you’re planning to set aside some budget for shopping, that’s worth considering.
4. Get Yourself a Venice City Pass
Almost everyone who visits Venice is going to end up using a lot of public transportation to get around and likely visiting many museums. That’s why it makes sense to buy a Venice City Pass ahead of time. This pass offers savings on nearly everything a typical tourist does while in the city.
Plus, buying it ahead of time can allow you to stagger the cost of your trip (a personal favorite, it may not make your trip less expensive but it will make your trip feel less expensive.)
5. Avoid the Gondolas
The hard reality is, the gondolas are a bit touristy, overrated, and absolutely overpriced. A 40 minute ride can run in excess of 80 euros (100 euros if you take one after 19:00)! If you get the singing treatment, that costs extra as well. If it’s always been your dream to experience the classic Venetian gondola ride, then don’t let me stop you (and in that case, consider splitting the Gondola with others, as they can accommodate up to 6 people). But for most visitors, there are much better ways to spend all of that cash.
6. Pack a Lunch
Restaurants are one of the most expensive things about staying in Venice. Fortunately, you can avoid eating out all the time and still get the classic Venetian experience by enjoying the outdoors and having a tramezzini (a traditional local sandwich) for lunch. If you’ve got a room nearby, you can even pick up an affordable but delicious bottle of wine at a local shop, light a candle or two, and have your own romantic dinner.
Side Note: Be Conscious About Helping Preserve Venice
Overtourism is a real problem in Venice. Of course tourists are still welcome, but it’s also your job not to contribute to the problem. Fortunately, by taking many of the suggestions listed above, you’re avoiding being part of the problem. Doing things like staying outside of the city center, not contributing to climate change by taking the bus instead of flying, and coming off season all play a part.
If Venice can be this affordable, what are you waiting for?
With tickets to Venice from cities like Ljubljana starting at less than 20 Euros, seeing one of the wonders of the world is shockingly affordable. So start planning out your budget and experiencing a city like no other.