Sometimes, it’s hard to find budget friendly weekend getaways. But discover the secrets to low-cost accommodations and cheap eats, making a weekend in Venice for $300 possible.
I stayed in the cheaper Mestre area, just off the island of Venice. I was especially impressed with the Meininger Venezia Mestre -- it was a hotel/hostel with dorm rooms and private hotel rooms. They offered a kitchen and laundry service. It was conveniently located only 5 minutes from the train and bus stations, with several restaurants nearby. I also walked about 10 mins to a grocery store for snacks and breakfast foods. A night here in a mixed dorm during the high summer season will run ~$65-75/night per person.
Total spent for 3 nights: $205
By staying off the island, you are saving tons in hotel costs, but need to travel each day into the city or Venice. You can take a Tren Italia one stop from Venezia Mestre to Venezia S. Lucia for €1.45 each way. Tickets can be purchased online or at the train station moments before you travel. Trains leave every 15-20 mins so there is no need to book in advance. Remember to validate your paper ticket before traveling.
Total spent for 3 days round trip: €8.70
Save money by buying snacks, drinks and breakfast items from a grocery store. I bought juices, fresh fruits and pastries for each morning.
Enjoy lunch each day on the island at a sandwich or pizza shop. My favorite was Farini. They offer fresh focaccia pizza by the slice and sandwiches. Prices range from €5-€13.
Stop for a spritz and afternoon snack at Al Chioschetto. It's on the water, away from the tourist crowds and offers a cheaper drink than average on the island (I spent €10 on 2 spritz).
In the evenings I enjoyed a bowl of pasta by my hostel - usually €8-10 per dish.
Total Spent on Food: $60
When I arrive somewhere new, I love to take a free walking tour of the city. My favorite provider, GuruWalk, offers great tours around the city. Remember the tours are tipped based so be sure to leave a good review (if you enjoyed) and provide a cash tip (€10).
Stroll through the city. The best way to explore Venice is to get lost in the narrow passageways and find new canals to cross. You can make your way to the famous San Marco Square one day.
You can visit St. Mark's Basilica, but I would suggest going early. Lines can stretch for an hour to purchase tickets, which are €3. You can climb the tower for an additional €10. As a church and place of prayer, please dress appropriately covering your shoulders. Shorts are allowed during the summer months, but modesty is respectful.
Get out on the water. Gondola rides have fixed prices (currently €80 for 40 mins and €100 after 7 pm), but you can save money by taking a ferry ride instead. The public boats, called Vaporetto, travel through the canals and around the island. Each trip is €9.60 or you can purchase a day pass for €25. It's cheaper to purchase multiple day tickets. To keep my budget low I only traveled by Vaporetto one time from San Marco Square back to the Venezia S. Lucia train station one afternoon after a particularly long day of walking.
No trip to Venice is complete without strolling over the Rialto Bridge. The Ponte di Rialto spans over the iconic Grand Canal and attracts visitors from all around the world. Shops like the bridge and restaurants sit along the waterfront. Enjoy window shopping and people watching in this area.
Outside of Doges' Palace and around the corner from San Marco Square is the Riva degli Schiavoni, which is a wide promenade that runs along the lagoon. You can walk to the famed Bridge of Sighs as you cross the Ponte della Paglia. Buy a granita or spritz and sit along the waterfront.
One of the best free things to do in Venice is to visit the T Fondaco Rooftop Terrace. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi building is next to the Rialto Bridge. Originally built 800 years ago, it offers a terrace with sweeping views over the Grand Canal. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. When I was in town there were no reservations available. Tickets are released 21 days in advance for a 15-minute time slot. For more information, check out their official website to reserve your time.
Total Spent on Activities: $25 (Basilica + Walking Tour Tip + One Vaporetto Ride)
You can enjoy a weekend getaway in Venice on a budget with these ways to save money. A weekend in the romantic city can cost as little as $300.
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