I just got back from my trip to Italy last Saturday, and it was just what I needed! With the sun on my skin and surrounded by the gorgeous Italian culture, I could recharge my batteries for the final weeks of the academic year. It’s been a couple of years since I traveled to Italy, back in 2012 to Umbria and Rome, but I still had some good memories about it and was longing to experience the country once again. Venice wasn’t quite the same as the other places I’ve already been to in Italy. I was afraid it might be overrated or too busy. It sure was busy in some places, but you have to know where to go. Venice can be perfect for any budget traveler, getting lost along the many canals is just a perfect way to get around. Here are some tips on how you can experience Venice without spending your money on overpriced hotels or pasta.
•••Take a free walking tour•••
In Venice you can choose between a range of free walking tours. And yes, they are FREE, there’s no catch. You get guided around by locals who know their history, and let you see things in a different perspective. At the end of the tour you can decide to give some money, which they totally deserve. How much you give, or even if you give anything at all is up to you. So far my experience with these kind of tours is more than great. The guides know how to capture your attention and make time go by so easily. You know what you see, and you pay attention to the smaller things as well. In Venice, I did two free tours, both from Venice Free Tours. One about the history of Venice, and one on its construction, both showing different areas and landmarks in the city.
•••Don’t spend too much money on food •••
Go where the locals go. And where is that? Definitely not on Piazza San Marco, unless you like to pay about 10 euros for your coffee. You need to get away from the crowd to get value for your money. Non-touristic restaurants are often better in quality, and cost way less. My guide told me you should have a look at the price of Prosecco or Spritz, locals don’t pay more than 2,5 euros. Dorsoduro, or the student neighborhood is a great place for a bite/drink. In Campo Santa Margherita you can find many cosy places that are budget friendly. Another option is to move away from the center and go to the mainland. In Marghera you can escape the crowd and enjoy a good pizza or pasta.
•••Spend your nights in Marghera•••
Hotels are quite expensive in Venice, definitely during high-season. That’s why Marghera could be a good alternative. I rented an Airbnb apartment here, which was wonderful and had everything it needed. It was only 50 euros a night for two, which isn’t bad eh. To go from the mainland to Venice, you have different options. Venice Mestre trainstation rides you to Venice Saint Lucia in only 10 minutes, one-way ticket is 1,25 euros. You can also take the bus or tram (20-30 min) , for 1,50 single ride. Boats are also an option, but then it’s best to buy a multiple day pass. A single ride will cost you about 7,5 euros.
•••Just get lost•••
Venice isn’t the most logical city when it comes to navigating yourself. It’s kinda logical considering it wasn’t intended to walk around in in the first place. But getting lost in this city is actually a great thing, you will stumble upon some pretty places you wouldn’t have considered in the first place. Get away from the tourist masses and just find yourself a silent spot to really enjoy the city. An even better way to explore the city is by boat. However this can be quite expensive. A gondola ride during the day costs you about 80 euros. Be aware that you pay for the tour, not per person. A gondola can take about 5-6 persons, so get social and you can catch a ride for a decent price! Another option is to take the public transport boats (7,5 single or with day pass). You can also get your selfie in the gondola for only 2 euros. Since bridges are rare for the Grand Canal, you can cross it for 2 euros by gondola. You will only be on there for less than a minute though.