If you've been to Venice, you know it can be insanely expensive, and tricky to navigate on a budget. Here are some incredible FREE ways to experience the aquatic city of love.
1. One of the best views in the city is absolutely free. It's a rooftop terrace at the top of an artsy high end mall near the Rialto Bridge. It's called T FONDACO DEI TEDESCHI. The experience is free, but you will need reservations which you can make when you get there, or online before you go. The mall itself is a glam way to while away a rainy day.
2. Walk around San Marco Square, but don’t sit. You might be charged up to €20 just for your seat, not to mention the price of a cappuccino here is somewhere around €15. Insane, right?! But strolling through the basilica, people watching in the breathtaking piazza, and listening to live music is priceless.
3. Everyone says the Rialto has the best views, but I think it’s too crowded and commercial. Wondering around the city, which is made up of over a hundred tiny islands, you’ll find these charming little bridges overlooking canals with gondolas and beautifully ancient architecture. Each canal has it's own charm and finding your favorite is half the fun.
4. Visit some art stores. I was surprised how interesting some of the art stores are here. Even my boys (10 & 12 yrs) enjoyed browsing through the local artists on display. Our favorite is BELAIR FINE ART. They have a lot of optical illusion art, sculptures and pop culture, which we love. You'll also find some talented street artists around the city.
5. Instead of taking that expensive cooking class you found on Airbnb, cook at home. If your place has a kitchen, find a few recipes online and let google be your guide. If you don’t have a kitchen, you might be able to get creative with your coffee maker. We had to roll out our ravioli with a wine bottle. Click here to learn how to make fresh homemade pasta.
MORE TIPS WHEN YOU'RE ON A TIGHT BUDGET
6. Instead of watching the sunset from a restaurant near the water (overpriced, prob mediocre food), grab a bottle of wine, some bread and cheese and sit on some nearby steps enjoying the same gorgeous view without the ridiculous price tag. I suggest at least once to do this on the waterfront just past Doge's palace in Piazza San Marco.
7. Share a gondola ride. The ride costs €80, but if you share it with a few other people and split the cost, you can ride very cheaply. Don't have any friends in Venice? They're easy to make, esp since everyone wants to ride a gondola and hardly anyone wants to pay full price. Ask your neighbor at a restaurant, or spend some time chatting people up at a bar or on the Rialto Bridge and you're bound to meet a few cool people to share a ride with and maybe even make a lasting friendship.
8. If you can't find a friend and paying €80 isn't an option, you can take a short ride across the canal on a traghetto for €2.
9. Look for restaurants that offer 3 course menus. You'll find them all over, and some of them charge as little as €11 for a huge plate of pasta, a second plate of meat or seafood, and a final plate of salad or french fries. Our favorite so far is Trattoria Al Poggio. The servers were all friendly, and one of them taught my boys how to eat pasta like a true Italian. If you can't find this type of restaurant, just order pizza. It's always the cheapest thing on the menu, and there's usually one pasta dish that won't break the bank.
10. Street food. Obvious right? Like, every city in the world's got their take on it. In Venice this consists mostly of tapas like crostini loaded with various vegetables and cured meats, flavorful seafood and steamed seasonal vegetables. Our favorite place to get it is Osteria al Portego. You can expect to pay around €2 per tapa and €4 per glass of wine. buon appetito!
If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments!
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