Ever wanted to book a city break to Venice but don’t want to spend a fortune? I’ve been 5 times now and have just booked by 6th visit for October. Obviously, I’ve learned one or two things about how to get more… for less. Fancy 4 nights away for as little as £130pp? Of course you do!
Whenever I talk to people about holidaying in Venice, their first assumption is that it’s going to be expensive based on preconceptions. Venice IS an expensive city, both to live, stay, eat and shop, but there IS a way to do Venice on a budget. There are tips and tricks to get more for your money wherever you travel, because experiences don’t always have to be luxury or cost an arm and a leg. Whenever I go on holiday I’m always looking for the best deal. I’ll spend countless hours on the laptop comparing flight prices, hotel locations and looking at where I can shave cost off the holiday so that I have more money to spend once I’m in the city. My budget for Venice for a 4 night break is approximately £160-£220 per person. That’s for flights, hotel and transfers. My trip in March actually ended up costing £130 each based on four people sharing an apartment. Seems pretty cheap considering it costs more than that for one night in London.
Follow below for a few of my tried and tested tips on how to “do Venice on a budget”. Take it from someone who’s been there and done it.
Go out of Season
Although it’s always preferable to visit countries at peak season to see the cities in all their magnificence, it’s not always the best time to visit nor the cheapest. Whenever I’ve visited Venice it’s been between the months of February – April & my next visit is booked for the end of October.
Tourists flock in their millions every year to Venice and although May-August may seem the most appealing time of the year to visit, it’s these months that the number of tourists visiting the small island are at their highest. Not only do you then have the crowds in the often narrow calle (streets), the added heat can make walking around the city unbearable. You’ll find yourself unable to wander aimlessly and will miss many of the beautiful parts of the city that aren’t included in guide books because you’ll be caught up in a thrall of people. Off peak months, although there are still tourists, you being one of them, the streets are easier to navigate and the weather is much milder.
Cheap Flights & Transfers
There are two airports in Venice which budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair both fly into. Easyjet fly to Marco Polo airport from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton, Southend and Manchester for as little as £24.49. The airport is located on the mainland and is just 4.9 miles north of the city of Venice making the city accessible by both road and sea. Take advantage of the location of Marco Polo airport to arrive in the city in the way it were intended… by water. You can take a private taxi from the airport to your hotel for around 90 Euro or for a fraction of the cost, the Alilaguna water shuttle will drop you at various vaporetto stops (bus stops) for just 25 Euro for a return. The Linea Arancio (orange line) follows the route of the Grand Canal and means you can take in the sights of the city as you arrive.
Ryanair flights to Venice land into the mainland Treviso-Sant’Angelo Airport located close to the city of Treviso, 19 miles away from Venice. From Treviso, Venice is accessible by the ATVO bus which stop directly outside the arrivals terminal and take approximately 40 minutes to arrive in the city. It’s not the must glamorous way to arrive in Venice, in fact, it does feel a little bit like you’re entering via the backdoor, but when flights into Treviso are as little as £16.99 one way from UK airports and the bus transfer is only 22 Euro for a return (appx £19) it’s a small price to pay to do Venice on a budget. You can purchase tickets at the airport or on the bus but I always purchase ATVO tickets online beforehand to avoid any queues.
The bus will drop you off at Piazzale Roma, a large open air bus station and is the often the first part of Venice which many see and the last area of the city which is accessible by car, the rest of the island is strictly by foot and boat only. From Piazzale Roma there are a number of stops for different lines of the vaperetto which is a public water bus which both tourists and locals use to get around the island. Of course, if you have a phone with GPRS to hand and fancy taking in the city by foot, it’s about a 20 minute walk to the
I find that being flexible with dates you can travel always means you can score a cheaper deal and of course, its cheaper to travel during the week than over the weekend. Although it’s tempting to go for a Friday – Monday trip, being able to travel during the week means that flights are (and hotels) are less in demand and therefore cheaper. Both Easyjet and Ryanair allow you to review the cheapest prices by month from your chosen airport by month and will show what the cheapest flights are on.
Being flexible on your departure dates can often knock up to £40 off your flight cost per person. Ditch the hold baggage and use the 10kg hold luggage from your chosen airline to get around hefty baggage charges.
Finding somewhere central to stay in Venice is pretty easy, especially considering that it’s possible to walk from Piazzale Roma to Castello within around 50 minutes depending on your walking pace and you’re never more than a 20 minute walk from the main tourist spots such as Rialto Bridge or Saint Mark’s Square. There are 118 small islands which make up 6 main districts (Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce and San Marco) with San Marco and San Polo being “closest to the action” but the other districts being equally as charming with accommodation in abundance.
If I was booking to stay anywhere, be it Venice or Blackpool, I always find that searching the likes of booking.com and Trivago in conjunction with Tripadvisor to be a great point of reference. I tend to sort my results by the lowest price and by traveller rating and then disregard anywhere with a rating of 7 and below. Cut throat, I know. As I said at the beginning of this post, off peak means that you’re going to get more for your money and this is definitely true when it comes to hotels. I managed to Hotel Marconi on the Grand Canal only a few steps from the Rialto Bridge including breakfast for just £330 for 3 people in March, whereas the same hotel costs over £2500 in July. Who said you can’t do Venice on a budget?!
Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about hotel service and a breakfast buffet, you can rent an apartment for a truly authentic Venetian experience. I’ve rented apartments via VeniceApartments.org and Best Venice Apartments via Air B&B (click for reviews of both) and have been thrilled with both for their cleanliness, location and value for money. They’re often done in typical Venetian decor and situated locally with fantastic access to supermarkets, places to drink and eat. I’ve just booked another apartment in San Polo just a stones throw from the infamous Rialto Market via Air B&B which cost a bargain £220 for two of us for 3 nights.
Once you’re in Venice, the best way to get around is by foot so ensure that you take comfortable walking shoes. The ACTV vaporetto are water buses which ferry tourists and locals from A to B both up and down the canal and to the outer islands. You can pick up ACTV passes online which last 24, 48 or 72hours or from the many ticket machines at the various vaparetto stops & the airport. They’re not particularly cheap, in fact, tourists must be prepared to pay up to six times as much as the residential rate & I tend to rely on my feet because you get to see so much more. t it’s well worth making the most of the tickets if you do purchase them by planning a DIY lagoon island tour to Murano, Burano, Giudecca and the Lido or taking the number 1 vaporetto line up (or down) the Grand Canal at night for an evening canal cruise and to see the beautiful palazzos of the canal lit up in all their grandeur – it really is a sight to behold! Be sure to sit at the back of the boat on the open seats for the best view.
There’s a whole post that I wrote about eating on a budget in Venice including a tried and tested ciccheti crawl.