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How to visit Venice on a budget 2023

I know that visiting Venice on a budget sounds insane, as the romantic Italian city has the reputation of an expensive destination.

And it is!

But after a thorough exploration of Venice, here you have the results of my research into the city. It puts together free attractions, cheap eating places and affordable transportation in Venice along with tips for budget accommodation!

Visiting Venice on a budget
No filter needed in Venice

Travel Venice! Travel to Venice, in Venice and around Venice! The floating city has a lot to offer! The gondola city is a unique destination with so many places to see, visit, but also smell and feel!

Taste the Veneto cuisine! The Italian taste is worldwide famous and Venice is not below! Baccala, cicchetti or gelato are just some of the things you must try!

Feel the Venetian spirit! To do this, avoid tourist places and simply get lost early in the morning on the narrow streets to meet locals drinking their espresso on a terrace or chitchatting over the news!

Floating in Venice
Floating…
A gondolier waiting for customers
A gondolier waiting for customers

Content:

Money-saving tips
Free Venice attractions
Eating on a budget
Eating options in Venice
Transportation tips
Vaporetto costs 2023 and useful info
Budget accommodation

Money-saving tips

Here are some easy-to-follow tips that will help you visit Venice on a budget.

  • Walk, walk and walk! Majestic in itself, Venice is compact enough to visit from one end to the other in around 1.5 – 2 hours;
  • Go on a free walking tour! Just like in Istanbul, I joined a free tour with Guruwalk. They offer a large palette of tours and are very well prepared. Don’t forget to tip at the end!
  • Vaporettos (water buses) in Venice are expensive. Buy a day pass and take full advantage of it! Find out in this post how!
  • Don’t waste money on buying water bottles – Venice has several drinkable water fountains spread around the city;
  • Run from the places with people calling you out on the street! Instead, try small and local places such as osterias or hidden eateries!
  • Eat one meal a day at the restaurant! For the other meals, opt for the many pasticcerias (pastries) or buy some pizza slices for more friendly prices!
  • Enjoy Venice’s free attractions! More on it later!
  • Take advantage of free admission to famous museums! It is possible on the first Sunday of every month, so arrange your trip accordingly! In Venice you can choose from Gallerie dell’Accademia (the famous Vetruvian man by Da Vinci), “Giorgio Franchetti” Gallery in Ca’ d’Oro, the Archeological Museum, Grimani Palace Museum or the Oriental Art Museum.
  • Buy a city pass: you can opt for the Venice pass worth 65 euros for 24 hours (gives you access to St Mark’s basilica, the Doge’s Palace, churches and one day all transport pass)
  •  Venezia unica pass is another alternative with different prices according to age, number of family members, etc, but no public transport included. Considering the tariff of the waterbuses, I suggest you choose the first option.
  • Avoid the summer high season and the Carnival, which takes place late January to early February. In July, Venice celebrates Redemption (15-16 July in 2023), another event that leads to bigger prices and a more crowded city.
Canal Grande, Venice on a budget
Canal Grande, Venice
Simply love these small canals
Simply love these small canals
Venice, Her Majesty!
Venice, Her Majesty!

Free Venice attractions

Here are some attractions you can admire in Venice without actually spending a penny. You can tick all of them even if you only have one day to spend in Venice.

  • St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is the most iconic church in the lagoon city. There’s a lot to be surprised in this spiritual place, and luckily it has no entrance fee. The bad news however is that usually there are long queues at the entrance, but the best time to avoid them is early in the morning. Only some rooms/tours in the basilica have entrance fees, such as the Pala d’Oro, the Museum or the terrace.
  • St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the huge square in front of the basilica. An undeniable symbol of Venice, this always humming piazza is surrounded by some of the most representative buildings. Next to the basilica, you have the pastel shaded Doge’s Palace, siege of the most powerful man in Venice, the doge. In the same piazza, you’ll see a tall tower, the Campanile. Under the tens of porticoes facing the basilica you may peep into the famous Café Florian, with its extravagant prices and neo baroque décor established over 3 centuries ago. Anyway, the most typical activity is to walk in the piazza, admire the view and take many pics.
St Mark's basilica, Venice, caressed by the sun
St Mark’s basilica, caressed by the sun
View of the Campanile and the Doge's Palace
View of the Campanile and the Doge’s Palace
  • The Bridge of Sighs is steps away from St Mark’s. In fact, it connects the Doge’s Palace to the prison rooms. The length? Just 11 metres. The tiny white bridge got its name after the final glimpse the prisoners would get of beautiful Venice before being taken down to their cells.
  • Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal. The bridge crosses the canal at Venice’s narrowest point and is definitely more than a bridge. Today, besides the initial role, it’s a crowded area full of shops, but it also offers some of the best views over the Canal. For best experience, visit early morning or late in the evening.
The Bridge of sighs, visiting Venice on a budget
The Bridge of Sighs
Rialto and gondolas
Rialto and gondolas
  • Getting lost in Venice is one of the most advisable things to do while in Venice. Not only totally free, but also unique, loitering around the floating city is one of the best ways to discover its beauty and feel the pulse of Venice! Venture off the main canal and discover narrow streets (calle and traghetto) lining romantic canals and exciting shops with masks and Murano glass!
  • Canal Grande is the emblem of the city and part of Venice on a budget! Rich in picturesque views and fabulous palaces (called ca’), the Canal is the beating heart of Venice. Although best explored from a vaporetto, there are lots of streets that offer a close view over the Canal. Not to mention what it’s like to experience sunset over the Canal Grande.
  • Saint Mary of Health (Santa Maria della Salute) is a church that cannot remain unobserved due to its strategic position and size. Erected in the 17th century, it is a celebration of life over the devastating plague epidemic. I particularly liked the central statue focusing on Virgin Mary at whose feet you can observe a beautiful woman (the Republic of Venice) chasing an ugly lady (plague).
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice on a budget
Saint Mary of the Health/Santa Maria della Salute

  • The church of San Giorgio Maggiore is situated on the island with the same name in Venice. Designed by notable Renaissance architect Palladio, the basilica houses paintings by Venetian master Tintoretto.
  • Libreria Acqua Alta is a must, not only if you love books. This is a library filled with books piled up in shelves, bathtubs and gondolas. You can visit it close to campo Santa Maria Formosa and is part of Venice for free.
  • Some say the view from rooftop at Fondaco dei Tedeschi is the best view over Venice and the best part is that it is totally free. All you need to do is to book ahead on the official site and enjoy the view! Another scenic spot that immerses you in the charm of Venice is the spit of land close to Santa Maria della Salute. From here, you can have a 360 degree experience over Venice!
Time for a serenade
Time for a serenade
Peace and quiet in Venice; Venice on a budget
Some peace and quiet

Eating on a budget in Venice

For a detailed guide on best cheap eats in Venice, click here.

Usually, tourist attractions and the best eateries do not go hand in hand. However, Italy seems to contradict this hypothesis. Sometimes in Venice you can count the steps till the best table close to an attraction. And sometimes …

Money saving begins with these tips and tricks about eating in Venice.

  • In most cases, Italians have the coperto included in the menu. This means the tip, so watch for it. During our stay (April 2023), we had coperto ranging from 1.50 to 3.50 euro/person. It is best to check the charge before sitting down to table.
  • If you want to grab breakfast/a snack, you will realize there are different prices if you eat at the counter or have a seat at a table. The former is about 25% cheaper. Maybe now you understand why locals sip their espresso standing.
  • In some menus you will encounter the phrase minimum 2 persons after the name of the dish. It means that they only prepare the dish for 2 people or more because it is meticulous to do.
  • For informal food and drink at a fair price, try Venice’s bacari. These are tiny traditional bars that serve plates of food and drinks decently priced, helping you to stick to Venice on a budget.
  • In high season, it is best to book in advance.

Eating options in Venice

Venice is not cheap. So according to the money you are willing to spend/day, you can cater for your own needs from a supermarket.

However, if you think vacation is not for cooking, you may choose one meal at a restaurant and grab a morning snack (sweet or salty) and a coffee from a pasticceria (pastry shop). They are absolutely tasty. Besides, you’ll encounter lots of pasticcerias along your way.

Here are some pasticcerias we loved:

  • Pasticceria Rizzardini is a place very much loved by locals. Serves delicious pastry;
  • 1000 coffee and bakery is part of a chain that specializes in breakfast and coffee;
  • Pasticceria Tonolo has a delicious breakfast pastry selection and the kindest owners.
Delicious breakfast
Delicious breakfast
Talking about dolci: tiramisu
Talking about dolci: tiramisu

Another option is to have a slice of pizza, a panino (a type of sandwich) or a sandwich.

Venetians are very fond of cicchetti (finger food similar to bruschettas or tapas), the excuse for an aperitivo any moment of the day. But be aware that these yummy snacks are available from morning until around 5 p.m. Do not plan having cicchetti for dinner!

Here are some cafés with good cicchetti:

  • Adagio is a small and cozy place reasonably priced that serves fresh food and a variety of tasty cicchetti.
  • Ai Do Leoni has a fabulous location, however the prices are decent, the food exceptional and the owners really nice.
  • Magna Bevi Tasi is situated in the vicinity of San Marco and is famous for its reasonable prices and good service.
Cichetti at Magna Bevi Tasi
Cichetti at Magna Bevi Tasi

Good and affordable places

Needless to say, that there are lots of eating possibilities in Venice. Here is a selection:

  • Bacaro Quebrado is a very cozy eatery. You cannot book ahead, but if you are patient enough, you’ll soon get seated. This place was very good value for money and surprisingly did not have coperto. So, we totally wanted to tip!
  • Due Colonne is a no frill restaurant with good food at decent prices. Had great lasagna and were offered a shot on the house.
  • Trattoria alla Madonna is an institution among the Venetians. This accessible trattoria is famous the fresh fish and risotto, and serves above all Venetian food.
  • Osteria Fanal del Codega has excellent reviews and a good reputation. Prices are fair as compared to services.
  • Osteria a la Campana is a discreet place not far from St Mark’s. It serves authentic well-priced Venetian dishes.
Excellent food at Bacaro Quebrado
Excellent food and nice atmosphere at Bacaro Quebrado
Ice ice baby ...from Suso
Ice ice baby …best icecream at Suso

Transportation tips

Getting around Venice is as easy as abc. It truly is! It was the first city where I didn’t need a GPS.

First of all, Venice is rather compact. Second, it features some general interest destinations that are carefully painted with arrows on the walls. So, it’s like a maze where you cannot get lost. I already mentioned that all distances can be covered by walking.

Still, some of the best views over the Canal Grande and the palaces surrounding it can be best observed from the vaporetto.

Vaporetto costs 2023 and useful info

A vaporetto is a floating bus, the public Venetian means of transportation. But it doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it is highly expensive.

One vaporetto ride costs 9,50 euro and is valid for 75 minutes. Tickets can be bought at some stops as well as tourist info kiosks and next to the train station. A 24 h day pass costs 25 euros, a 48 h pass is 35 euros, while for a 7 day pass you have to take out of your pocket 65 euros.


The gondola is not the cheapest means of transportation :)
The gondola is not the cheapest means of transportation 🙂

Mestre is the mainland budget alternative to the island of Venice. The distance from Mestre to Venice is around 10 km and you can take the bus, tram or train. The average ride takes between 15-25 minutes. The best price is the vaporetto day pass mentioned above as it includes water and bus transport alike.

  • One vaporetto ride costs 9,50 euro. Consider taking a day pass for 25 euros.
  • A ride/pass includes waterborne network and the mainland road network including Lido, trams and train.
  • Based on the vaporetto ticket/day pass, you can travel to Venezia S. Lucia, Venezia P.to Marghera, Venezia Mestre, Venezia Carpenedo or Venezia Mestre Ospedale. It is a very good option especially if you have accommodation in Mestre.
  • The vaporetto ticket is useful if you’re planning on visiting the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. It is best to take the vaporetto from San Marco or Fondamente Nove. From the latter, the itinerary is shorter, around 15 minutes only to Murano.

For timetable and itineraries, click on the official site.

Budget accommodation in and around Venice

Venice knows its worth. So, hotels are not cheap.

Therefore, many people choose to stay in Mestre or Marghera (2 islands in the vicinity of Venice) because it is more affordable. Here is a selection of rooms from Venice and the two islands that have become a popular accommodation option.

Here are some budget accommodation suggestions for Mestre: Anda Venice Hostel is a clean hostel with good position, Hotel Garibaldi, a well situated beautiful hotel, or Hotel Centrale, also showcasing a great location. If you prefer AirBnb, you can opt for Private bathroom Venice Mestre Station 4 for a decent tariff and cleanliness.

Marghera is another alternative to Venice in terms of accommodation. True, it is less demanded than Mestre, but sometimes it’s more likely to find a room in Marghera. The distance is 10 km as well and you can take the bus to Venice. You can stay in Holly Venice apartment here.

Venice from above
Venice from above

If you consider the city itself to be the best option and want to stay in Venice on a budget, you have decent options on AirBnb. We picked Maria’s room Sweet Dreams. All I can say about our room is that I congratulate myself on picking it for its excellent position, right across Santa Lucia Train Station. The price was also good for Venice, a room of 3 cost around 107 euro/night with private bathroom.

Generator Venice is a very well-reviewed hostel to be found on Giudecca island Venice. Private Room in the middle of Venice is another tidy central location with shared bathroom.

If you are a camping person, there are lots of camping opportunities in Mestre and Marghera at very good prices.

But, as luck would have it, you can find a reasonably priced room right in Venice if you start planning ahead.

I hope you find this guide helpful for your trip to Venice on a budget. And I also hope that through this guide your imaginary trip to Venice becomes real!

Have you been to Venice before? How did you like it? Do you have any further tips for places or restaurants? I look forward to reading your experiences!

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