Venice, Italy has been known for centuries as one of the most romantic cities in the world. Idyllic canals, gondola rides, and architectural wonders fit for royalty are just some of the exciting things you can see here. If you’re like me, however, longing to travel the world and not having the hugest budget, you’ll need to know where in the historic city of Venice you can go without spending every last penny.
Top priority before you travel is finding a hotel before you start your vacation. Ideally, we would all have long lists of possible lodging, call to find out rates and amenities, and have everything arranged by the time we arrive. Spur-of-the-moment travelers often don’t use that logic. They get to Venice in one piece and have to start from scratch concerning lodging. If you’re traveling with a friend, share a room; it will cost less and leave you more cash for more important ventures (like sightseeing and eating!)
Don’t think that every hotel in Venice is beyond your price range; talk to tourists who have visited before, find out which places have the best amenities and cost less. Ask locals what they recommend. It’s a great relief to finally have a room to flop down your bags, change into some comfortable clothes, and begin your tour of Venice.
It’s true that the best things in life are free; looking doesn’t cost anything! Take in the fabulous sights of the canal bridges, Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, and the cathedral basilica. Don’t forget plenty of film or a digital camera. You can spend the whole day enjoying beautiful Venice’s nooks and crannies and still have every precious cent safe inside your pockets.
For a little history: Doge’s Palace, home to some of Venice’s most well-known architecture, is a whimsical centuries-old residence that has been many different things over the years. It was used for law, administrations, political gatherings and even a jail until about 200 years ago when Venice underwent political changes. St. Mark’s Basilica is also a beautiful building where you should expect to take many pictures. Standing outside and gawking at the architecture, wondering how someone could construct such a church without modern technology will be a priceless vacation memory.
St. Mark’s Square (or more romantically, Piazza San Marcos) is an essential Venice stop-off. Try to get here in the early morning (the later the day progresses, the more crowds you’re sure to find). Take a journal or video camera to record what you’re seeing and the thoughts that come to mind. For a cheap, quick lunch, don’t opt for the four-star Italian restaurant that’s being talked about in all the culinary magazines; try a simple slice of pizza! What’s more authentic than pizza in Italy? (Whether or not it originated in that country). Don’t waste your sightseeing time sitting in a crowded restaurant. Take your lunch with you to St. Mark’s Square, the slopes of the canals, or a quiet public staircase (if anything in Venice can indeed be quiet).
Another idea to save money while vacationing in Venice is to buy one larger meal that will serve as both lunch and dinner. Around 2:00 P.M. or so, spend $20 on an Italian meal at a not-so-ritzy restaurant. You won’t be hungry again at dinnertime and won’t have to spend another $20 on another meal. If it’s a restaurant that allows you to take “doggie-bags,” bring back a little in case you do get hungry later, instead of going out on a snack binge. There are little ways to save money in every part of your vacation if you put your mind to being frugal.
Want to know another attraction that doesn’t cost a cent? Travel outside of Venice for an outstanding island known as Burano. You won’t find an abundance of marketplaces or restaurants here, but the architecture alone is enough reason to visit. Stroll through the streets and find beautifully decorated riverfront homes in many colors. The place has the air of antiquity, resembling a busy harbor of the olden days. Like Venice, canals split the streets; if you haggle enough, you may be able to get a boat ride. You won’t leave Venice (and Burano) without dozens of pictures. Of course, even that many pictures may not do these beautiful cities justice.