A Budget Travel Guide for Venice, Italy
By Nick Herron
the budget traveller there’s some good news and bad news about
Venice. First, the bad news: Venice is an expensive city no matter
how you try to save. Since its main share of tourism comes from
the hordes of day tripping tourists who jam the city’s narrow
walkways and crowd its fabled footbridges, prices are high; and
you’ll be hard pressed to find a bargain to write home about.
The good news: Although Venice may be expensive
and, at times, chock full of tourists, all it takes is one moonlit
stroll through its streets, one view on a clear day from the top
of the Campanile in Piazza San Marco, one quiet afternoon watching
the Grand Canal and listening to the slosh of water as boats pass
one another, and you’ll be absolutely smitten.
Head for a Hostel
Finding a cheap place to stay in Venice can be
difficult. Since accommodation can make or break a trip, it’s
a good idea to take your pick from one of a couple of (relatively)
cheap Venice hostels. Many have private rooms for only a slight increase
in price and hostels are generally a great resource to use for learning
more about a city.
Albergo San Samuele – an attractive
old Venice hostel/hotel hybrid – is a good choice. Located
within walking distance of the heart of the city, it’s conveniently
placed for exploring everything Venice has to offer. It’s
also a sound option for those travelling in pairs with private rooms
for 25 euros a person.
Make for the Market
We could reel off a nice array of restaurants
where you’d find many the veneto’s specialty
dishes risi e bisi, (rice and peas in a sort of risotto
consistency) or fegato all veneziana (liver and onion)
or any local fish on the menu that day… But to save money,
you can eat just as well by finding smaller neighbourhood style
Local grocery stores are filled with fresh meats
and cheeses that are at a fraction of the cost of meal at a restaurant,
and after a stop at one, there are literally hundreds of hidden
spots where you can easily lay a picnic spread out and enjoy a lazy
afternoon’s eating and drinking.
A good place to go is the Campo Santo Vidal
on the north end of the wooden ponte dell’accademia,
one of three bridges that span the Grand Canal. Adjacent to the
bridge there are park benches where you can enjoy some wonderful
views of the city.
Out to the Islands
Once you’ve explored the main areas of Venice
on foot, another money-saving activity is to explore a couple of
the neighbouring islands: Murano and Burano. They’re only
a short vaporetto ride away and are a part of Venice where
infinitely fewer tourists bother to go.
Murano is known for its glass-blowing and
Burano for its lace industry. Though buying might not be an option
for a backpacker in Venice trying to do the city on the cheap, free
demonstrations of the artisans at work on each respective island
are certainly worth the visit.
Skip the Gondola Ride
Unless you’re willing to pay up to 80 Euros
for a one-hour ride in a gondola, it’s better you search for
an alternative experience to see the city from the water. Public
ferries called traghetti – they look like a regular
gondola only larger – cross the Grand Canal at points where
there are no nearby bridges. And you can squeeze yourself onto one
of these for about fifty cents.
For a longer ride down the canal, catch
one of the many vaporetti that operate as Venice’s
public transportation on water (3 euros for a single ticket, 11
euros for a day pass). Though these newer boats lack the romantic
appeal of a gondola ride, they still offer amazing views of what
is, undoubtedly, the world’s most ravishing cityscape.