Venice is far from a frugal place to visit. Beautiful, yes, with all the canals, islands and palazzos – but hardly bargain basement. However, there are still travel hacks to make the most of your money
Here, after our family holiday last week, are five frugal tips when visiting Venice.
Nab a vaporetto pass
Venice is a lovely place to wander, but if you want to travel further and faster, hop on a vaporetto (water bus).
Tourist pricing hikes the cost of individual journeys up to 7.5 euros. However, you can also buy day passes and nip on and off to your heart’s content. 1 day costs 20 euros, 2 days for 30 euros, 3 days for 40 euros and 7 days for 60 euros. Basically, if you’re likely to make more than a couple of trips a day, you’ll save time and money with a vaporetto pass.
The best bargain is for young people aged from 6 to 29. Fork out 6 euros for a Rolling Venice card, and you can nab a 3 day pass for 22 euros. Otherwise anyone over 5 pays full fare.
You can buy day passes from vaporetto ticket offices at the major stops, or even order online beforehand and pick up from the ticket machines by baggage reclaim at Marco Polo airport. If you want transport from Marco Polo airport too, add another 6 euros one way or 12 euros for a return ticket.
Once we had a vaporetto pass we made the most of it – riding line 1 along the grand canal, heading out round the north side of Venice and taking a day trip out to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.
Consider a museum pass
I hummed and hawed about whether to buy museum passes. The museum pass for the 11 civic museums costs a chunky 35 euros for adults and 18 euros for children, and doesn’t include access to two of the most popular galleries, the Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Our 9-year-old and 11-year-old aren’t over keen on schlepping round endless museums, and it’s hardly a bargain if you don’t use it.
However, buying museum passes beforehand did mean we could join a shorter queue for the Doge’s Palace, and also came in super handy on wet days when we could walk straight into Ca’ Pesaro (modern art and the Japanese collection), the Natural History Museum (fab dinosaur displays, scary stuffed animals) and Palazzo Mocenigo for the perfume and costume collections. We also zipped round the lace museum on Burano and I nipped into Ca’ Rezzonica.
Totting up ticket prices, we’d have spent twice as much if we’d bought individual tickets to each museum – though I doubt we would have visited so many.
There’s also the Chorus Pass if churches float your boat, with access to 17 of the churches that charge for entry. It costs 12 euros for an adult, 8 euros for a concession and 24 euros for a family.
Look out for bars for lunch
I’m not suggesting this as an old soak, more because bars a great option if you want to sit down for a sandwich at lunch time rather than a full on meal in a ristorante / osteria / trattoria / pizzeria (though we do love our pizzas).
The kids could see the food on offer through glass cases and point to something they’d actually eat. We tried sandwiches, wraps, mini pizzas and a variety of rolls. You can also find a wider variety of ‘cicchetti’ or bar snacks.
Fill up at water fountains
Yes, I was carrying round our old faithful refillable water bottles, and Venetians do have regularly placed water fountains running with drinking water.
Everything is more expensive on the most popular tourist spots: St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and the thoroughfares in between. But you only need to dive a few side streets away to find less pricey and much less crowded options.
Some of the most enjoyable parts of our holiday were spent exploring different streets and squares (‘calli’ and ‘campi’), drifting along canals and over bridges and wandering into fascinating shops. None of that needs to cost a penny!
Now over to you – ever been to Venice? Any top tips for visitors on a budget? Do share in the comments – I’d love to hear! Already dreaming of my next trip.
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