This time last week I was in Venice. It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It was awesome, I was literally in awe. Every five minutes someone heard me say “this place is amazing, I love it!” The husband started getting annoyed, “you’ve already said that.”
Have you been to Venice? It’s amazing, I love it! I went expecting to say goodbye to a lot of cash and, if necessary, sell my soul. Yet, our budget didn’t burst its banks at all. This wasn’t actually going to be a post about how you can do Venice on a budget, it was just going to be my usual thing of whacking up pictures and saying what a nice time I had. However, I want you to go to Venice too and I don’t want you to dismiss it because you think it’ll cost the earth. It doesn’t have to.
We did Ryan Air on the way there and Easy Jet on the way back. This wasn’t my job. Another person in our party of six sorted out flights. He found the best times and prices. It didn’t occur to me to choose two different airlines but this saved us money. We booked in November/December so I can’t remember how much it was, around £100 pp return from Bristol. Just over, I think.
Once you’re at the airport you can get a water bus but it’s half the price to get the train. We wanted to be fancy so we got the bus. A private taxi would be even fancier and they really zooom across the water!
Where to Stay
It’s Airbnb all the way for me. My job was to find accommodation and I didn’t bother looking anywhere else. Seeing as we were three couples, we needed a three bed place. This was also booked in November/December and I think that was too late. Many suitable apartments had already gone and there wasn’t loads of choice for nice places. The best bet is to leap on flights as soon as they’re released and book somewhere to stay at the same time. Don’t dilly dally. However we did manage to find a clean place with a nice view out the back and three bathrooms. It was right near a stunning looking hospital in a pretty square with plenty of bars. Nowhere took longer than fifteen minutes to walk to. Unless you got lost, which we did. Frequently.
What We Ate
Oh my goodness! Everything I ate was fabulous. The only thing I didn’t care much for was the gelato. I don’t know if I had a duff one or if it’s because I’m normally all about umami but I didn’t like the dense texture. It was sturdy ice cream! If we’d have had time (and emptier bellies) I would have gone to the Boutique del Gelato; apparently it’s top notch.
Cicchetti!! Wowsers, I loved all of it, even the salt cod and pickley fishy things! Cicchetti is a bar snack a bit like tapas and you need it in your life. We went to several places to get our fill and each time we also ordered prosecco. Yuuuum!!! Stand at the bar and eat or you can sit too. You might have to pay extra to sit though. Cicchetti is cheap and you can easily fill up on it for a few quid. Try All’ Arco for traditional/local and also Acqua e Mais for a cone of deep fried calamari and shrimp. If you’re on a super tight budget, this sort of thing is great and you don’t need to go mad on the drink, which bumps up the cost. Having said that, a bottle of prosecco is pretty much the same price as a pub here, so much cheaper than I thought it’d be. And so much tastier.
Waiters will tell you that you must order seafood. They’re not wrong. It’s what I ate both nights and it was delicious. The first night we went to a restaurant we’d found on Trip Advisor. In we went, winding our way through tables whilst chatting to the restaurant guy about reservations. As we talked, he escorted us right past all the diners, through the kitchen and out into the alley at the back. We thought we’d been kicked out but actually we were waiting for a table. Others were already there, snacking on chilli pesto gnocchi and little glasses of spritz. We were given the same and told how to hold our plate and glass (!). A few minutes later the guy we’d spoken to introduced us to a bemused looking man in blue gloves and an apron. We were told to follow him. We did and ended up in another restaurant a two minute walk away. At the Tratorria Alla Scala there were no tables for six so they got some other diners to budge up and in we squeezed. We got complimentary glasses of prosecco, grissini and gorgeous garlicky tomato bruschetta. Main meals were around 18 euros, which I think is ace, especially as we paid that much for dinner in Amsterdam last year and didn’t get any extra stuff (not even a smile).
I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we went to the second night but it was a lot of sharing platters and ours were delicious. Oh man, I ate way too much in 48 hours. I haven’t even mentioned, the sneeky chips, pizza, sweets, pastries or any of the other things I stuffed in. I couldn’t sleep the first night cos my tummy was so full. Yet I still didn’t spend that much money! Honest! And I bought yarn! (Not from the posh wool shop though as I had Pretty Woman experience in there, so… big mistake, huge!).
Stuff to do.
I think it’s safe to say that this was very much an eating holiday. I’m a big foodie and my bestie’s husband is a chef so it was always going to be about food. That means we didn’t have time to visit other islands or go into any of the touristy places you’re supposed to visit. If you wanted to go up the tower in St Marks’ square though, I think it’s only 6 euros. The Basilica di San Marco is free to enter, as are a couple of other places. Just standing in St Mark’s square is breathtaking, you don’t need to spend money there! You don’t even need to go there at all. The whole of Venice is amazing to just walk around and gawp at.
One thing which was total bucket list territory was a ride in a gondola. It was made cheaper by the fact that all six of us squeezed into one boat. It was essential that our tour included a goggle at the Bridge of Sighs but the bloke we chatted to said it didn’t work into his 30 minute route. We wangled a 45 minute trip for 120 euros. Usually they’re thirty minutes for 80 euros. The alternative was spending more on an hour or finding another fella who was nearer to the prison. Whatever, it was worth every penny. We all loved it, I even got over excited when I saw a little crab perched on the side of a canal! If you want the gondola man to sing you have to pay extra but I would probably pay for him not to sing. Luckily our guy only came out with interesting facts about what we were seeing. He even knew where George and Amal got married and had their do. Real Venetian culture!
Things I wanted to do but didn’t get the chance? There’s a market by Rialto bridge. I’d like to go there. Next time I’d go to art galleries too and time it with Carnevale! That sounds like an alright weekend…week? There is loads to do and I did what I wanted to do, saw the things I wanted to see and came home happy.
Basically, if you want to do Venice on the cheap don’t spend money in the San Marco area and you’ll be fine. Eat cicchetti and get the train over. Also, you don’t have to have your accommodation on Venice itself. Burano or Murano would probably work out cheaper. There you go. Boom. Bargain holiday in one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire world.
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All pics are my own or the husband’s, taken on our phones. xxx
20 thoughts on “Two Nights in Venice (On the Cheap)”
I agree 110% and your photos brought back so many memories of our four day trip in 2004. We were there in November when the high tides brought floods in every morning and, funnily enough, were just watching a documentary last night about the flood defence systems that have been ongoing since then. I’m not an emotional person, but Venice is the only place on Earth that has actually brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. So glad you had an equally amazing time!
Actually, I’m surprised at the emotional response I had. I think it’s because I went with no real expectations.
Did you have to walk on the risers? I saw them stacked up all over the place. For ages I thought they were tables for street parties and then it dawned on me! Haha.
I started to watch Don’t Look Now when we got back but it’s the first time since having children that I’ve seen it. It was even more frightening. So much so I turned it off half way through. I loved every minute of Venice and I’m glad I’m not Julie Christie or Donald Sutherland!
Yes, every morning- they make a fortune selling welly over-boots to the tourists!
Your blog post came at a great time. I am in the midst of planning our trip to Venice in September (part of a trip to Slovenia) and have been whining to my husband that it would be too expensive. Thanks for the reassurance that it won’t be! I have also booked an Airbnb, which we use often, and am so excited about trying all the food. Since I always look for for yarn shops, should I avoid the posh place? Any recommendations? Love your blog. Thanks for sharing.
That’s good to hear, I’m glad to help! I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about tourists getting ripped off but mostly that’s people who don’t pay attention to the small print and people who buy a coffee in San Marco square!
They quite clearly didn’t like the cut of my jib at the posh yarn shop. I’d read really positive reviews so to turn up and be made to feel bad was really disappointing. The older woman was really friendly at first but the woman I assume was her daughter, whispered about me behind my back and the atmosphere changed immediately. Ice cold! If only I knew Italian. If only they knew that I could have spent a small fortune!! It’s a very traditional shop, selling high end Italian yarn, it would be a shame to miss out because of my individual experience. I say go and then tell me what you thought!
Thanks for responding. I’ll go to the posh yarn shop just to see how they feel about the “cut of my jib”! The yarn might not be within my budget, but still, I love to look (if that’s OK with the owners). I will google “posh yarn shop” and see what comes up! I let you know how I like Venice and what happens at the PYS.
Sounds divine ! All that food i would be very happy !!! My husband has a workmate who has an apartment there so we hope to go sometime !!!!
An apartment?! Get yourself over there asap!! The money you save on the apartment can go towards all the food 😀
Looks like you had a fantastic time. I went to Venice years ago and my lasting memories are of the gondola ride, the masks 🎭 and going to a glass blowing factory.
Ooh, didn’t see a glass blowing factory.
Seeing all the masks makes me want to make them for the kids. Was thinking about playing with papier mache at the weekend! 😀
Luuuurve Venice! It’s the BEST place to get lost in.
Absolutely! Didn’t bother us one jot about being lost. 😀
An enjoyable read and makes me want to go back SO much. I went in the height of Summer (bad idea) when I was 18 and had very little money but managed to get by absolutely fine, like you say, just avoid the touristy rip off spots. I remember getting lost A LOT but being delighted around every lost turn we took, everywhere you look is like a postcard scene! Did you manage to get to any of the islands? We did Murano and Burano which were stunning but didn’t have time to do the Lido.
Was it pongy in the summer heat?! We got whiffs of the famous Venetian smell; it made us laugh!
We didn’t have time to visit the other islands and I’m not too bothered. I’d love to go back in a few years and check out the rest.
I loved all that we saw and I loved stumbling upon different bits because we were lost!
Oh wow, looks like you had a great trip! I’ve always shied away from Venice because I figured I couldn’t afford it… Now I’m thinking of putting it on the list! Especially after seeing all that delicious food! 😋 Cheers!
If I can convince you to go then I’m happy! I totally agree though, I always thought the same. I went fully expecting it to be really expensive. 😀
I also loved food in Venice. Seafood is a must and rissoto is amazing there. It can be a bit pricey but every now and then I like to spoil myself.
I would love to go back one day! 😀