Let’s face it, visiting Venice can be expensive – but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to truly enjoy the magical city. Falling into the tourists traps is quite easy, especially close to the main attractions like the Grand Canal. We’ve put together our insider tips on when to visit, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around on a budget, helping you save on overpriced items so you don’t have to renounce great experiences!
1. Visit in the off season. Peak season in Venice means large crowds, expensive hotel rooms and restaurants hiking up their prices. For a great deal, plan on visiting Venice during the months of September and October for mild weather and lower prices. Carnival – which falls between March and April each year – is a great period to visit, but may bring higher hotel prices. Winter months are significantly cheaper than summer, but the risk of acqua alta (high water) flooding may not be for everyone (read more about Acqua Alta here).
2. Choose a family run B&B or rent a short-term apartment. Skip the large hotels and opt for a family owned bed & breakfast for a cozy and budget friendly stay. We recommend 3749 Ponte Chiodo or renting your own apartment through rental sites like AirBnb. Need help deciding which neighborhood to stay in? Check out our guide of the city’s sestieri.
3. Gondolas are a once-in-a-liftime experience… but be careful! A gondola ride along Venice’s iconic canals is at the top of many travel bucket lists. The experience is undoubtably special, but it also comes with a hefty price tag of over €50 an hour. If the ride is a must for you, we suggest agreeing on the price before the ride to avoid any surprises, or check out our Welcome to Venice Tour & Gondola Ride. For €69 per adult, this local-led walking tour offers a comprehensive view of the city and includes a 30-minute gondola ride – so you can tick more than one box and save on the price of your gondola ride.
If you have already tried it or are searching for a more economic way to visiting Venice by water, try the vaporetto (public water bus) that stops at the main attractions with convenient deals. A one-way ticket will cost you 7.50€, but if you plan on traveling multiple times we suggest a 24-hour ticket for €20 or multi-day tickets like a 3-day pass for €40. More details on pricing here.
4. Explore the real Venice… on foot. With no cars on the island, Venice is the perfect city to explore by foot, so #takewalks! You’ll save money on water taxis and buses while getting a taste of the local life. And don’t worry if you get lost while visiting Venice, everyone does but it’s all part of the experience – just ask for directions back to St. Mark’s Square.
5. Consider purchasing a Venice Card. If you plan on visiting Venice’s many museums or have a jam packed itinerary, you may want to invest in the Venezia Unica City Pass to use for public transportation, admission to tourist attractions and cultural events in the city. The pass can be purchased online and to learn more, visit the Official City of Venice Tourist and Travel Information website.
6. Try Ciccheti! Pop into Venice’s small and hidden wine bars – locally known as a bacaro – for some delicious snacks at a bargain price. You’ll find fried appetizers, fish, meats and cheeses ranging from €1 to €3, making a real Venetian meal after a few plates. Check out more info and a full list of our favorite spots here!
7. For great meals, step away from the popular piazzas. If you’re looking for an authentic food, step away from the main attractions! Most restaurants you’ll find in the proximity of the city’s most popular sights – especially the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge – are overpriced and serve low quality foods.
We recommend staying away from menus written in multiple languages with lots of pictures and heading to a trattoria or osteria (medium-low priced restaurants with local dishes). We’ve found that many restaurants try to rip off tourists by asking for a tip… but if you see a “coperto” cover charge on your bill it is not mandatory to leave additional gratuity.
If you’re on a tight budget, try making your main meal lunch – you’ll find lots of great mid-day (and multiple course!) specials around the city. Some of our favorite spots are Tattoria Ca’ d’Oro alla Vedova, Al Nono Risorto and La Zucca.
8. Look for Local Souvenirs
Looking to bring back unforgettable souvenirs for yourself and loved ones? Avoid stands and shops in the main squares and explore the smaller artisanal shops for a better deal and guaranteed quality. Some goods are made in other countries and passed off as “Made in Italy”, so it’s always great to find a certified product – for example blown glass directly from Murano. Insider tip: When visiting Venice, skip any “free” tours to Murano or Burano as they usually come with a hidden price such as higher price tags or extra transportation charges.
Have any helpful hints for avoiding being overcharged in Venice? Share them in the comments!