Visiting Venice, Italy on a Budget

Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Carina Punkio

The city of canals, where citizens use boats instead of cars, creates a quiet and silent atmosphere. The city of bridges and sotoporteghi, where intricate paths create magical corners. A romantic city where you can enjoy a gondola ride while listening to a romantic song in Italiano.

Venice is a wonderful place in a lot of senses, but it’s also an expensive city. Although the most typical things to do in Venice aren’t usually cheap, visiting the Italian city of love on a budget is possible, and here’s how to do it.

St. Marks Cathedral
St. Marks Cathedral

When arriving in Venice, I’m sure you’ll be visiting Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). It’s a central spot for many of the city’s tourist attractions and the main vaporetto stations are located there, making it one of the most famous spots in the whole country. Around it, there are many beautiful buildings like Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Bell Tower), Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Cathedral) and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). As it can be very crowded, I would recommend visiting there early in the morning. Seeing the sunrise slowly illuminate it is a wonderful sight, and a must if you love photography, because there will be fewer people around. Although the cafes in Piazza San Marco are extremely expensive, walking around the square is free, so enjoy the views!

Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Bell Tower)
Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Bell Tower)

St. Mark’s Cathedral is one of the most stunning buildings in Piazza San Marco. It has 8,000 square meters of mosaics in its façade, which become a wonderful postcard when the sun is shining. Admiring its byzantine arches from the outside, I find it stunning, and you can also visit the inside of the Basilica, for free.

Gondolas are part of the magic atmosphere of Venice, but if you want to sail the Gran Canale without paying much, a traghetto would be the option that best suits you. When a Gondola is old, its luxurious seats are removed and they are transformed into traghettos. These narrow boats can be used to cross the Gran Canale from one side to another when there isn’t a nearby bridge. The average price to cross the canal is€0,50, while a ride in a gondola would cost around€80. Great deal, right?

Gondola Arch
Gondola Arch

A must see spot of the city is Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), the oldest in the city above the Gran Canale. You can cross it for free, while you look at the shops on both sides of the walkway. Two minor corridors are located on both sides of the bridge, with great views over the widest canal of the city. In the Southern part of the city, there is also another famous bridge: Ponte dell’Accademia. It is mainly made of wood and has many padlocks stuck, although attaching them is actually forbidden by local authorities. But, what can you expect in the city of love? From this bridge, you will have a stunning view of the Gran Canale.

Ponte dellAccademia in Venice, Italy
Ponte dellAccademia

If you like to walk, Venice can offer you a great experience. Even if you have a good sense of direction, Venice is a place where you can easily get lost. Its intricate urban design full of dead-ends can make this city a challenge for anyone. If you have some time, put the map in your pocket and let yourself get lost into the small alleys and narrow streets of the city. You will find many wonderful corners, sotoporteghi (corridors below old buildings) and quiet canals where all you will hear is water and the sound of your steps. Maybe you’ll even hear a gondolier singing a romantic Italian song. To make it more authentic, you can head to the sestieri (neighbourhoods) of Castello and Canareggio where you will hardly find other tourists, and the real spirit of the city will invade your senses. At night, this city is specially beautiful with the lights reflecting on the water, and it’s a safe place to go for a peaceful walk.

If you are lucky enough, you will be able to experience Venice’s unique meteorological phenomenon: Acqua Alta. During some hours, the water of the lagoon floods a few streets, especially in the South near Piazza San Marco, and the square itself can be completely covered in water. Walking with water touching your legs can be a wonderful sensation that only Venice can offer you. Acqua Alta information is provided with weather forecasts, so make sure to put your wellingtons in your luggage if it is expected to happen.

When we talk about eating, Venice can be highly expensive, especially if you want to seat in a ristorante. But, there is a great alternative to eat without spending much: pizza al taglio (Pizza to take away). You will find many restaurants and takeaway spots offering pizza, which will allow you to take slice of the pizza of your choice to wherever you go. If you are a dessert lover, don’t miss the opportunity to grab gelato! You will find many ice cream shops all around the city which will offer the traditional recipe for a reasonable price. 

Gondole in front of a ristorante in Venice, Italy
Gondole infront of a ristorante

If you visit Venice during February or March, you will probably experience the most famous event in the city, il Carnevale. Many people dress up in epoque costumes and wear masks around Piazza San Marco transporting you back to centuries ago. It is a spectacular event and a must-see if you are traveling at the time when it takes place, as it is one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the world.

As you can see, Venice can be very expensive or price-reasonable, it depends on the choices you make when visiting it. I hope these tips can help you if you are planning a trip to Venice!

Carina is a passionate traveler from Catalonia. She’s in love with Italy and visits once a year. Carina loves travel photography, writing, learning languages, and tiramisu. For her, traveling means freedom but also learning about myself, especially when she travels alone. Writing about it gives her the chance to show the way she sees the world to others, and encourage them to discover new places. Follow Carina on her website, Instagram and Twitter. 

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