A Couple’s Guide to Venice
Venice, being both incredibly expensive and incredibly beautiful makes it hard to see on a budget but impossible to miss. From the 1200 year-old St. Mark’s Basilica to the legendary automobile-free streets there was reason enough for our visit, but could it be done for under €100 per day?
A notoriously expensive city, could Venice be visited for under €100 per day, per couple?
Spoiler alert: we did it, and now you can too!
How to Visit Venice for under €100 per day, per couple
Camping Fusina + Ferry into Venice
Tyler discovered a fully loaded campground just across the Venetian Lagoon, and while the staff left much to be desired, the campgrounds were beautiful and the cost was cheap. At €30/night Camping Fusina was the cheapest lodgings we could find in Venice. The campgrounds were €50 less per night than even the dingiest and most cramped accommodations in Venice.
Plus, look how close to venice we were!
Shot with a 35mm fixed focal length lens and 1.4 crop ratio, there was no zoom feature used on this photo. That’s Venice right there!
There are two ways to enter Venice: a 20 minute ferry ride or a 50 minute two-line-transfer bus ride. The bus ride really tried to appeal to us, and because it only cost €1.50 per person it really came close. The bus ride is cheap, cheap, cheap, and even still I can’t recommend it. The drivers are rude, the camping staff incompetent, and it’s a he-said, she-said cluster about where to purchase your bus tickets. We deliberated between the two means of travel and in the end chose the three-day ferry pass, with a savings that essentially gave us an extra day of transit for free.
Two islands, three days, €56 per couple = €18.75 per day
Um, we can just refer to this section as the “what not to do” portion of the post.
Our first day was spent traversing the labyrinth streets in search of the top budget restaurant the internet could provide. We were starving, but this place promised to be “a worthwhile treasure hunt” for those savvy enough to discover it. The reputable website source described this haunt as “a favourite with the locals, [serving up] tasty, traditional, and authentic Italian food!”
Let’s be clear about something. This was not any of the above. Too expensive to be budget friendly, too bland to be authentic — yet sadly, this is a typical experience in Venice.
Our advice: Don’t sit down! There just isn’t any point. You can satisfy your hunger in a much more economical way and over the next few days we’ll show you how. (And don’t worry, since our friends oh-so-lovingly refer to us as food snobs you can trust that your tastebuds will still be catered to 😉)
Now that we’ve established how not to eat, let’s talk about gondola rides.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but please don’t pay €80 for a gondola ride. I know, I know it’s always seemed so romantic…
But is it really? Unsuspecting travelers are lured into paying before they can see what a congested ride it would really be. This is in May; school hasn’t let out, university students haven’t begun to travel…you hear what I’m saying? This isn’t even peak season. And you think they’re going to sing to you? Think again! Most of the gondoliers had in headphones!
Our advice: Save your money! Wander the streets less traveled for your romantic experience and get swept up in the magic of what I like to call The Fish Tail.
The Fish Tail
On our second day in Venice we woke up to the chirping of birds so serene they may have been straight out of a fairytale. As we boarded the boat and began to sail, the breeze touched our faces and the waves gently pushed us across the lagoon and back into the arms of Venice. Unlisted on TripAdvisor, away from the crowds, today we discovered the magic of Venice.
I urge you to fight through the swarms of tourists to head eastward, and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous canals, empty streets, and an all around picturesque Italian life. With the place to ourselves we were free to wander the charming lanes and get to know the “real Venice.”
Just try to tell me this guy isn’t enjoying himself over on this side of the island 😉
After miles of meandering, we were starving and exhausted; our feet were protesting and our muesli breakfast was long gone. Just when we thought we had been defeated, just when we thought that no street in Venice existed without mass tourism in mind, we found our saving grace. In the northeast region of Venice, nestled up near the fish’s fin, this traditional Venetian bar offered a break — in more ways than one.
We ordered three fresh and tender shrimp skewers, a spinach and mozzarella pocket (calzone? wrap?), two glasses of wine, and an Aperol spritz all for less than €20. Not bad, and definitely much better than yesterday.
Pasticceria Bar Puppa, Calle dello Spezier, 4800
Refreshed and happy, we left our new hole-in-the wall only to discover an even more amazing treasure just a few feet away! With most wine around Venice going for at least €3.50 a glass, you can imagine how excited our wallets were to discover this secret vinerie selling liters of their vintage for less than €2 per liter! Standard, easy-to-drink table wine, and it was even better than any of the overpriced selections we’ve come across thus far.
Our advice: Head on over this way on Day 1. Skip the sit down lunch, bring snacks for early afternoon, and stock up on your camping wine here instead. Purchasing a mid-range bottle here will cost you 70% less than the cheapest bottle at the already-less-expensive campgrounds.
Seek out the free attractions.
St Mark’s Basilica Cost: Niente!
With a long and interesting history, this Byzantine basilica is worth a visit. Originally built on top of a church from the 9th century, the facade visitors now see was constructed in the 11th century — a time when Venice was a major crossroads between the East and West. These dueling influences are evident all throughout the design, and in an effort to increase the importance of their city even further, Venetian thieves stole various things from the routes as trophies for their beloved basilica.
These mis-matched columns weren’t an accident. They were stolen from all over the well-established trade routes in order to show off what an important port city Venice was. Marble columns, treasured jewels, these looters stopped at nothing to increase the importance of their city. They even stole the remains of the Basilica’s namesake from Egypt!
Originally an exclusive church solely for Venice’s rulers, Basilica di San Marco was only made public to the Venetian plebeians in the early 1800s.
Don’t be deterred by the deceptively long line. What looks like an hour or more wait will actually be over within 5-10 minutes.
Just minutes away from the basilica’s entrance is another hidden gem by the name of Bakery Fantasy. In this fantasyland, the meat (if you’re into that sort of thing) is sliced to order, the bread baked in house, and the service is with a smile.
Located at San Marco 925, this shop is such a secret that there isn’t even a sign.
A huge wedge of herbed focaccia, a cheesy double brushetta, two cold beers, one half-liter of frizzante water, and two digestif espressos totaled €11.50. Compare that to our Day 1 lineup of two (small) glasses of wine, two salads, and one pasta at a “budget” restaurant for €40.
Our advice: Tour free sites which are still sure to impress like the 1200 year-old St. Mark’s Basilica. Grab a bag and come prepared. Bring a reusable water bottle with you (filled from the tap at the campgrounds — this is Italy, you’ll be fine!) and keep it company in your pack with bananas and a bag of nutty trail mix. Venice has earned the reputation for the only city in Italy not known for its food, so really there’s no reason to be shelling out cash to eat here.
Besides, you’ll have plenty in your budget left over for this guy at the end of the day.
€10 at the camping pizzeria.