Just after Christmas the hubby and I treated ourselves to a little trip to Venice on our own! It was the first time in nearly 11 years that we have been away for more than a night without the children, and definitely the first time we’ve been abroad without them. Do you know what? We loved every second and would do it again! That’s a whole other post though, for now I’m going to tell you how you can visit Venice for three days for as little as £500.
When we booked the trip we were told lots of times by all our friends about how expensive Venice is and we were a little worried. We didn’t have a huge budget set aside for the trip and yet we wanted to make the most of the time we had there. Unfortunately we went at a time when the exchange rate was really poor so we knew that we had to make the money we had go even further. We managed to have a wonderful time and the whole trip came in at under £500 each which I think is really good for a wonderful city break in an expensive city.
So here are my top tips for how to do Venice on a budget…
Make sure that you plan well before you go. We researched things to do, where to stay, local transportation and costs and bought a cheap guide book with a map before we left. This meant that we knew where we were going, how to get there and didn’t need to waste our precious time when we were there.
Search for cheap flights
We travelled on budget airlines to get there and at unsociable times. It meant an early start and a little drive to the airport as it wasn’t our local one but it saved us a lot of money on flights. We also travelled on different airlines on the way there and the way back because that worked out cheaper. Look for flights at different times of year, different times of day and from different airports to find the best deal. Skyscanner really helps when looking for the cheapest flights. We saved a bit of money by not checking in a suitcase, instead just taking cabin bags which were more than sufficient for all the stuff we needed for three days.
Stay on the mainland
We stayed on the mainland in Mestre and we loved it there. It was outside the busy centre and it was cheaper than a hotel on the island would have been. I’d definitely recommend the hotel we stayed in – the Relais Ca’ Sabbioni as it was lovely, had excellent customer service and the bus to the mainland stopped right outside and took only 20 minutes into the city. It meant that we got up and headed into Venice for the day and got the bus back in the evening and enjoyed a long hot bath and relaxing evening at the hotel.
Travel on public transport
We bought a bus pass that lasted 72 hours and took us from the airport to the hotel and all over Venice for 46 euros. We could use it on all ACTV buses and Vaporettos (water buses) and it was great value. For another 6 euros we could have used it to return to the airport but as our flight was so early we had to get a taxi which cost almost as much as the bus pass for three days! You can order one online before you go and just pick it up from a self service machine outside the airport.
Don’t fall into the tourist traps
If you want to eat nice food for a decent price then stay out of the really touristy areas. Look down little side streets for reasonably priced nice little restaurants. Avoid anywhere with a waiter outside luring you in and be wary of a ‘cover charge’ – a charge per person to eat in the restaurant. We saved money on food by making the most of our all inclusive breakfast at our hotel and having little snacks and drinks throughout the day from local supermarkets and small cafes and just splashing out on a main meal in the evening. We saved too by eating one night in Mestre where restaurants are cheaper.
Everyone wants a Gondola ride in Venice but at 80 euros it’s an expensive trip. Look out for the Traghetto (yellow or white signs) which take you cross the grand canal on a short trip for only 2 euros – so you can still get a small experience in a gondola and a photo for a fraction of the cost!
One of the best experiences that we had was on a free Venice walking tour. It was two hours long and completely free (we did tip the guide at the end because she was brilliant but there was no obligation to do so). You can book it online here.
Treat yourself to one small souvenir. You’ll have all the reminders you want of your trip in your photos, films and memories so don’t waste your money on trinkets.
What I spent…
Flights and hotel – £250
Petrol to the airport and parking charges – £40
Public transport in Venice (including taxi to the airport on the way home) – £70
Food & Shopping £120
Tour guide & Entrance fees £20
So there you have it – we’re living breathing proof that you can do Venice well on a budget. We had an amazing time and it’s really inspired our next city break – where to go next?
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