Discover Venice on a budget!
Venice, once the thriving merchant centre of the world, is today considered to be a living, breathing museum. As an art historian I am fascinated by the 117 islands that form the Italian cultural heritage site. As a postgraduate student I must stick to a tight budget when travelling abroad. The city thrives on tourism and a trip to Venice can be costly.
Decently priced accommodation will be your biggest challenge. Venice boasts an array of beautiful hotels with average charges of £150 per night for two guests. Book a hotel away from the main tourist attractions in areas such as Castello. Castello is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Piazza San Marco. Here you’ll find cheaper hotels with the added bonus of being away from noisy crowds.
I suggest renting a private room or a flat through www.airbnb.co.uk, you can rent a room in an apartment for as little as £20 a night, don’t believe me? Check out their website!
Walk. Invest in a good map and orientate yourself in the city, use the Piazza San Marco as your reference point. You’d be amazed at how easy and quick it is to walk around Venice, this will save money otherwise spent on taxi and bus boats.
Everyone wants to visit the Basilica San Marco but the queues are long and you can end up paying additional charges such as a €4 entry fee for the museum, €2 for the Pala d’Oro, €3 for the treasury and €8 for the campinale (bell tower).
My friend and I spent an inexpensive day discovering the lesser know churches, most of which have free entry or entry with a small donation. Invest in the Chorus Church Pass which for €10 allows you into numerous churches for a much lower cost than paying individual entry fees. Churches with free entry include San Francesco della Vigna in Castello.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, soak in the architectural feat of this 16th century Renaissance masterpiece. The church houses the first of Veronese’s paintings in Venice, a fine Virgin and Child with Saints. There is also a painting of the same subject by the famous Giovanni Bellini. These free hidden treasures are worth discovering. Other churches hidden away in Castello include La Pietà, San Giorgio dei Greci, San Zaccaria and San Zanipolo.
Save yourself €50 on a gondola ride. Team up with other couples who are also waiting in line, that way you can split the cost of a trip between 4 or 6 people which means you can end up paying as little as €10 for a ride!
Eating out is expensive in Venice and most restaurants serve basic staple foods catered towards tourists. When dining out, explore the back streets of Cannaregio and Dorsoduro. Here is where you’ll discover authentic (and inexpensive) restaurants. You’ll also have the pleasure of observing a more local Venetian way of life.
Though you may be tempted by the various stalls offering masks along the Canale Grande and at Piazza San Marco, be wise in your mask purchasing. There are many merchants who buy their masks from wholesalers; these are not traditional Venetian masks. For official, handmade masks make sure you take a good look around first.
Once again I would suggest steering clear of buying souvenirs in tourist populated areas. Talk to the owners of the mask shops, watch them make their masks and look out for the seal of approval which most authentic mask makers now put on their masks.
Nastassja is a postgraduate Art History student with a passion for travel, art and photography. You can find more travel writing on her blog www.whatalicedidnext.com.