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Venice is definitely one of those must-see-before-you-die places and although one can easily spend a fortune experiencing all that Venice has to offer, there is no need to do so. In this travel guide we will show you just how easy backpacking Venice on a budget can be.
Read on to see how you can stuff your face with Italian food for less than €5.00, take a ride on a famous gondola for €2.00 and see Venice’s beautiful architecture without spending a dime.
What You’ll Find in This Guide
How Much to Budget for Venice
If you are backpacking Venice on a budget and follow our suggestions in this travel guide you shouldn’t have to spend more than €50.00 – 70.00 a day. During our three day visit in early September we only spend about €80.00 a day for the both of us, so it is definitely possible to do it on even less. In the end it really comes down to what you are interested in and what you think is worth spending money on.
How Long to Visit Venice
Many people try to cram all that Venice has to offer in just a day, but we think Venice deserves at least two days, especially if you want to experience Venice properly. If you plan on visiting the nearby islands on the lagoon (Murano, Burano, Lido and Torcello), add on another day to your visit.
Cheap Places to Eat in Venice
The best way to find cheap eats in Venice is to just walk around and accidentally find a place, which is pretty much what we did. Cheap food in Venice usually entails pasta, pizza, paninis, aperitivos and cicchetti.
Aperitivo & Apericena: Aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink that is accompanied with unlimited starters such as olives, ham, chips, goat cheese, and more. While a Apericena is a drink that comes with dinner which is usually in the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
How it works: Just order a drink (€5.00+) and get access to unlimited food and snacks.
Insider Tip: Sip slowly and socialize so you only pay once. Also don’t order cocktails as they are usually way more expensive than a spritz or local wine.
Cicchetti: Cicchetti are small snacks, similar to Spanish tapas, traditionally served in bars. The cost of these inexpensive finger foods varies by type and size. However, prices are usually between €1.00 – 3.00 for each. Popular cicchetti are fried squid, Baccalà Mantecato and meatballs. All’Arco and Al Ponte are nice spots for Cicchetti.
Here is a list of cheap places to eat in Venice:
Dal Moro’s – Fresh Pasta To Go | Calle de l’Angelo, 5324, 30122 Castello, Venezia
Dal Moro serves fresh homemade pasta for €5.00 and up. The pasta is delicious and the portions are extremely generous. Closed on Sundays.
Taverna del Campiello Remer | Cannaregio, 5701, 30121 Venezia
This bar is just a short walk from the Rialto bridge and is one of the best places for backpackers to get a cheap meal. Starting at 5:30pm, you get unlimited access to the all-you-can-eat buffet and all you have to do is buy a drink. Which means for just €4.00 you can stuff your face until they have to roll you out, if you sip slowly of course. Closed on Wednesdays.
Muro Rialto | Sestiere San Polo, 222, 30125 Venezia
On Saturdays, Muro Rialto sets up a table outside of their restaurant at the Rialto Market and sells a nice and generous plate of mixed battered seafood, polenta and a glass of wine for just €10.00.
Trattoria Alle Due Gondolette | Fondamenta de le Capuzine, 3016, 30121 Cannaregio, Venezia
A nice family owned restaurant with a fixed menu that changes every month. This local spot caters to the construction workers and does not have English speaking staff but they do know how to fill your belly for just €15.00. The price includes 2 courses, bread, wine and water.
Pizza al Volo | Dorsoduro, 2944, 30123 Venezia
Great place to grab a big slice of pizza for just €2.00. You can also get a small whole pizza for €5.00 – 7.00. Just note that Venice is not the best place to have real Italian pizza as wood ovens are not allowed on the island.
Traditional Venetian Dishes and Drinks:
Risotto al nero di seppia, fried polenta, Baccala’ Mantecato, Spritz, Grappa, and Ombra.
Eating Out Tips:
1.) The moment you sit down at a restaurant, you are automatically charged a service fee of around 10 – 15% per person. If possible, go for the take out option to avoid this fee.
2.) In a restaurant, ask for tap water instead of mineral or still water which you have to pay for. Be prepared to get a funny look, but that’s fine, you are on a budget and don’t need to spend unnecessary money.
3.) Waiters have a tendency to offer you additional food with your order, always ask if it is included before you say yes because you don’t want to be surprised with a check of €50.00 when you order a €10.00 meal.
4.) Coffee is expensive in Venice, especially if you want to sit down, so if you ever wanted to stop drinking coffee, this would be the perfect time to do so.
5.) For cheap eats avoid touristy areas such as the the St. Mark’s Square.
6.) Gelato should not cost more than €1.50 for a scoop, if it’s more, don’t bother!
7.) Be aware of food that is sold by the weight especially pizza and meat dishes. It might look cheap at first but the weight will add up.
Cheap Places to Stay in Venice
When it comes to finding cheap places to stay in Venice during high season (February, May – November) don’t even bother looking for places to stay on the actual island. Beds in a hostel dorm start at €60.00.
Your best bet at finding actual budget options are in Mestre, the mainland district or Lido, a small island on the lagoon of Venice.
Please note: Venice charges a city tax of €0.20 – 3.00 per person per day which is usually not included in your booking.
There are few campsites outside of Venice that offer beds in a two person tent for €9.00+ per person. Just don’t expect these tents to be luxurious, or spacious as they are usually just beds in a tent without electricity. Some campsites also have private bungalows/chalets for around €25.00 that are usually way nicer and might be worth the extra cost.
Camping Rialto is cheap and only 10 minutes from Venice by bus. Basic facilities such as toilets and showers are included in the price, but there is no kitchen. However there is a cheap supermarket, Lidl, across the street. The only downside is that you have to pay €2.00 p.p. for 24 hours of WiFi, which is only available near the restaurant.
If you don’t want to pay the ridiculous hostel and hotel prices in Venice, we would recommend you stay here. We stayed in a private bungalow for €25.00 a night for the both of us. It was basic but definitely more comfortable than the tents. Plus the location really can’t be beat.
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Camping Serenissima offers simple accommodation for a good price and is 30 minutes away from Venice by bus. What makes Camping Serenissima stand out from other camping sites is that there is a fully equipped kitchen for everyone to use, friendly staff, clean bathrooms and free WiFi. There is also a bar, restaurant, mini market and laundry on site.
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2.) Hostels & Hotels
Unfortunately, unlike in Rome or Florence, there aren’t many affordable/good quality hostels in Venice. You are better of staying at a campsite a little bit outside of Venice but if you are rather stay in the heart of it all here are the highest rated hostels in Venice.
Dimora Il Veliero Romantico
Dimora Il Veliero Romantico is located in the historic centre of Venice and only a short walk from all the major attractions. Their dorms and private rooms are simple but clean and a great value for the location.
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The Generator Hostel in Venice is a little bit more on the expensive side but the staff is friendly, the rooms are clean and the lobby/cafe has a great atmosphere. Only thing to keep in mind is that the the only way to get to the hostel is by boat which is 7.50 each way. If you don’t mind spending a little bit more it’s a nice place to stay in Venice.
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You can find Airbnb rentals outside the city center for as low as €35.00 for a private room if you book early, as prices are usually jacked up during the high season. Check out our list of the best Venice Airbnbs for recommendations.
Top Things to Do in Venice
1. See Venice from the Water
The popular and most expensive way to do this is to take the “romantic gondola ride” that you’ve probably seen in movies. You know, the ones where they are singing as they row down the quiet and romantic canal ways of Venice.
Well let me give it to you straight, it cost €80.00 for just 40 minutes, and the gondoliers will not be singing, rather they will be on their phones and/or shouting to other gondoliers. Sorry to burst your bubble.
So why not save money and do it the cheap way?
Three cheap ways to do a gondola ride:
1. Find 5 people willing to do it with you (this is where your hostel friends come into play). That way it will only cost €13.00 per person.
2. You can do a 30 minutes tour with Tu.Ri.Ve for €31.00 and share the ride with up to six strangers.
3. The cheapest way is to take a traghetto, a large passenger gondola minus the fancy decorations and chairs, that crosses the Grand Canal for just €2.00.
2. St. Mark’s Basilica
Honestly, a must see in our opinion. The facade and interior design alone is astonishing. It’s free to enter the church however, if you are visiting in the summer you will wait on a ridiculously long line under the burning hot sun. If you want to skip the line, you must reserve a ticket online for a small fee. Regardless if you wait in line or reserve a ticket, you are rushed/pushed through the church and only get ~10 minutes to explore this gorgeous church with thousands of other people.
Another and better way to visit the Basilica, is after hours with Walks of Italy. With this tour, you get the opportunity to explore the St. Mark’s Basilica after it has closed its doors to the public. Being almost alone in the Basilica, learning about the history of the church with a knowledgeable and funny guide, as well as getting access to areas that are closed off to the public made us appreciate this church even more!
3. Get Lost in Venice
Beside visiting the Basilica this was definitely our favorite thing to do in Venice. Walking around with no map, no gps, or google maps and wandering through the many alleyways just to see where we would end up, was super fun. Don’t hesitate to leave the large touristy streets and get lost in the crazy labyrinth that is Venice. Don’t worry you will find your way back, eventually :D.
4. The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
This gothic style palace was the former residence of the Doge of Venice and the seat of the Venetian government. Today, it is a museum full with beautiful artworks. Tickets are €19.00 and include admission to all other museums on the St. Mark’s Square.
Insider Tip: If you are planning to see more than one museum, including the Doge’s Palace, consider purchasing a Museum Pass which includes all the museums on the St. Mark’s Square and seven other museum around Venice.
5. Rialto Bridge & Market
Interesting area to see, as well as to get a nice view of the Grand Canal and take pictures. Be sure to also check out the Rialto Market, where you can shop for a picnic or have lunch. The market is on the north west side of the Rialto Bridge in the district of San Polo.
6. Free Walking Tour
Venice is a very walk able city so why not learn about it’s history while walking through the narrow alleyways with a free walking tour. Both, Venice Free Walking Tour and Free Tour Venice offer free walking tours in Venice.
Popular Events & Festivals in Venice
1. Venice Carnival
The Venice Carnival is the most famous masked carnival in the world, even more so than Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Though it is an amazing Venetian experience, it is also a very expensive time to be in Venice. The Carnival starts fifty days before Easter.
2. Venice Film Festival
This 11 day film festival is the oldest film festival in the world and is held in Lido in late August or early September. Budget travelers can enjoy film screenings at the Palabiennale and other venues starting at €6.00 compared to €45.00+ at the Palazzo del Cinema in Sala Grande.
3. Voga Longa
This is Venice’s version of a marathon run, and serves as a protest against motorboats. Competitors must row their boat 35km to the finish line in under 3.5 hours. Locals and tourists come from far to cheer on the racers and/or participate in this event. The Voga Longa is held every year in late May or early June.
4. Regata Storica
A colorful boat parade along the Grand Canal with over a hundred different Venetian boats. The Regata is held every year on the 1st Sunday in September.
How to Get Around in Venice
1. Outside of Venice
Getting from the Marco Polo Airport to Venice: The cheapest option is by bus, take Bus #5 “Aerobus” to Piazzale Roma, the last stop. Ticket cost €8.00 and the bus stop is on the left hand side when you exit the airport.
Bus: Standard bus tickets cost €1.50 for a single ride if bought in advance, and are valid for 75 minutes. The ticket can also be used on the tram and on the “People Mover”. If you purchase the ticket on the bus from the bus driver it will cost €3.00.
2. In Venice
Walk: I know I have mentioned this multiple times already but Venice is truly a walk able city. What makes it an even more enjoyable place to walk is that Venice is a car-free city with many narrow alleyways, bridges and canal ways.
Traghetti: Traghetti are ferries crossing the Grand Canal at seven points between the railroad station and St. Mark’s Basin. The fare is €2.00 for tourists and .70 cents for the locals.
Vaporetto: Vaporetto is the “waterbus” in Venice. A single ride on the vaporetto costs €7.50 and is valid for 75 minutes. Everyone says it’s cheaper to just get a 24 hour pass (€20.00) or a 48 hour pass (€30.00) however, we think it’s way cheaper to not take them at all. The only time you might need to use them is to get to the nearby islands, such as Murano or Lido.
General Travel Tips for Venice
1. Avoid Public Bathrooms
In Venice, and many other touristy places in Italy, public bathroom visits will cost you between €1.50 – 3.00. In Venice, they even sell a Public Bathroom City Card (shit is serious :D). Make sure to use the bathroom every time you are in a restaurant or museum. Or just sneak into a McDonald’s (we don’t support them but it’s definitely our favorite place around the world to take a free shit), hotel or cafe shop.
2. Drink Tap Water
Don’t spend money buying bottled water all the time. There are many drinking fountains around the city where you can refill your bottle.
3. See Venice at Night
Explore Venice at night time and see another side of Venice when it isn’t overflowing with tourists.
4. Visit During Low Season
Save more money by visiting Venice during the low season when rates for places to stay, even in the city center are lower and it’s less touristy. Best time to visit is either March/April or early November.
5. Book in Advance
Consider booking your accommodation ahead of time as it will save you a lot of money and headaches. Venice isn’t one of those locations you can just arrive and find a cheap place to stay like Guatemala or Belize.
Day Trips from Venice
Murano: Murano is famous for glass making. Watch a glass making demonstration for free or for cheap as well as buy glass in shops or souvenir stores.
Burano: Burano is popular for lace making and some would call it the more colorful and less crowded version of Venice.
Lido: This small, 11km island on the Venetian Lagoon, is the beach of Venice. Lido is said to be the under-appreciated gem of Venice.
Torcello: Torcello is a quieter and greener version of Venice and is known for it’s ancient byzantine churches.
Get Insured Before Backpacking Venice
No matter how long or short your trip, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
Other Travel Guides
If you are more of a book person and would rather carry a physical guide with you while backpacking Venice, we recommend Lonely Planet Venice. Remember though, don’t follow it step by step, use it as a guide instead.
If you enjoyed our backpacking Venice on a budget guide, please share it on social media and consider coming back to plan your other trips with our detailed backpacking guides.
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