Venice is known for being romantic, historic, and unique. But it’s definitely not known for being cheap. Here’s how to visit this dream destination without spending a fortune.

Stay in a hostel or Airbnb. 

Hotels in the Venice city center are around 200 euros a night, so if you’re staying for three nights that’s already 600 euros or more. Yikes! Fear not, you have options, and you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice comfort by not staying in a hotel. If you plan far enough in advance, you can find entire apartments on Airbnb for under 100 euros a night and private rooms for 50 euros or under. There are some really cool places to stay in the city center for a fraction of hotel costs, and it’s really affordable if you’re traveling with others.

Hostels are another great option, especially if you’re solo travelling. Hostel prices start from around 15 euros euros a night (but around 30 is probably the average), and can be really unique. My go-to when booking hostels is hostelworld.com. On this website you can filter results by price, location, and rating so that you find exactly what you’re looking for. My biggest tip is to read the reviews, and don’t stay anywhere with under an 8 rating if possible.

Before booking anything, make sure you pay attention to the location. Prices are cheaper on the mainland, but you’ll have to pay to commute to the city. When I visited Venice, I was travelling solo (yup, solo traveling one of the most romantic cities in the world, but no regrets!) and I chose to pay a bit more to stay at a hostel in the city center and definitely explored more than I would have if I had stayed farther away.

Prioritize what you want to do, especially museums.

Venice isn’t a huge city, but it has a lot to offer! But with museums costing about 12 euros each, you need to make sure you go with a plan of what’s most important for you to do and see so you don’t break the bank.

If you want to see art by the Italian greats: Gallerie dell’Accademia. As an art lover, I really regret missing out on this one! This museum, which once was a convent, is now home to 14th to 18th century Venetian art. If you want to admire the work of Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese (among others!), this should make your Venice museum list.


If you’re looking to learn about how Venetian history: The Doge’s Palace. I’m a big fan of any and all palaces, so this one was number one on my list. It’s way more than just a palace though! You can learn about how the Venetian government worked and see where the Senate and Council of Ten met. If you want to see art by famous Venetian artists like Titian and Tintoretto, you can see them here as well! One of the most famous works in the Doge’s Palace is Tintoretto’s “Il Paradiso.” 

One of the coolest parts of the Doge’s Palace for me was visiting the prison. Particularly that I got to walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs to get there! While the bridge is far more beautiful from the outside, it’s still really cool to say that I’ve walked across it. The prison itself is cold, damp, and a bit creepy, but I’m glad I got to see it.

The ornate facade of the Doge's palace in Venice, Italy with a crowd of people standing outside.

If you want to see Napoleon’s Venice, interiors, and art: Museo Correr. Like the Doge’s Place, the Museo Correr is also located in Saint Mark’s Square, but is very different! The building is decorated in the style of the time in which Napoleon conquered Venice, so if you’re interested in art and interiors from the Napoleonic and also Hapsburg periods this is a good place to go. The museum has Venetian art and historical artifacts as well.

If you want to see 20th century art: the Guggenheim Museum. Unfortunately I missed out on this one as well, but here you can take a break from Venetian art and see more modern art if that’s your style. It has very diverse collections including African, Oceanic, and Pre-Colombian works, as well as a sculpture garden. The museum also happens to be located on the Grand Canal next to Casa Artom, a house owned by my undergraduate university, Wake Forest! 

There are so many other museums in Venice, especially art galleries, so do some research and prioritize in advance which places you want to see the most.

Take advantage of free and low-cost activities. 

My favorite parts of Venice were just exploring all the small alleyways, crossing the plethora of bridges, and seeing the amazing architecture. The good news is that this is free! Put your map away and just wander. You might just find the coolest places this way. Some other low cost activities include:

Going on a “free” walking tour:

I learned so much on my walking tour, and saw parts of the city that I hadn’t seen other days including the oldest Jewish quarter in Europe and the Mary Magdalene Church from The DaVinci Code. I also learned that rich men’s Venetian masks allowed them to gamble and that rich women’s masks were just a plain circle with no hole for the mouth so that they couldn’t speak. I definitely would not have done well as a rich Venetian lady. The popular half masks were actually worn by lady’s maids.

Walking across the Rialto Bridge:

The first bridge here was built in 1181, and while it has been rebuilt, it’s still the oldest bridge in Venice! You can shop the stalls on the bridge while you’re walking over the Grand Canal, or visit the nearby Rialto Market.

The Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy full of people.

Dodging the pigeons in Saint Mark’s Square, and going inside Saint Mark’s Basilica:

This is the most famous square in Venice and it’s not a disappointment! Definitely escape the pigeons by heading inside of the church. The interior is a sight to see as it is covered in gold leaf, which shows off its wealth from years ago. Seeing the basilica is free, but you’ll have to pay to see the museum, pala d’oro or treasury.

Saint Mark's square with St. Marks's Basilica and a tower in the background.

 

Admiring the Bridge of Sighs:

You can see this architectural beauty near St. Mark’s square, as it it the part of the Doge’s palace that leads to the prison. It’s said to be called the Bridge of Sighs because this is where prisoners would take their last sigh before losing their freedom in the jail.

The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

Crossing the Grand Canal:

The Grand Canal is a sight to see as the boats and gondolas make their way along Venice’s largest canal. While you can cross the canal by ferry or by bridges, I think the best view is from the ponte dell’accademia.

Views of the grand canal and buildings in Venice from a bridge crossing the grand canal. The dome of a church is in the distance.

Eating gelato:

You can’t go anywhere in Italy and not eat a ton of gelato! So grab a cup or cone of your favorite flavor, find a beautiful place to sit, and take in the amazing views of Venice while enjoying one of the best desserts in the world. If you get gelato everyday, I won’t judge you.

Going inside churches:

There are tons of churches in Venice to see, and typically they have beautiful art and architecture. Often times, you can see art my famous artists here without paying gallery fees. Most churches ask for a donation, but it’s up to your discretion of how much, if any, you give. 

A church in Venice, Italy with a highly decorated stone facade.

Don’t skip the gondola, but take a cheaper one.

A forty minute ride on a gondola in Venice during the day is 80 euros and 100 euros in the evening! If you’re traveling solo, this expense would be a budget killer. This experience is super unique to Venice though, so you shouldn’t skip out completely. Six people can fit in a gondola, so if you’re visiting with a group of friends it would be much more affordable. If you aren’t visiting with a large group, but are staying in a hostel, you could see if other people in your hostel want to share a gondola.


View of San Giorgio Maggiore from across the sea near St. Mark's square in Venice, Italy. Boats and gondolas are seen in the sea.

If that’s not an option either, you can do what I did and take the super cheap option: a traghetto. Traghettos are public gondolas and you can take a 2 euro gondola ride from one side of the canal to the other. Yeah, it’s not a long ride (probably around 5 minutes) and you’re sharing the gondola with other people, but it’s cheap and you can still say that you rode on a gondola in Venice. I took the traghetto from Santa Sofia to the Rialto Fish Market. If you want to feel like a Venetian local, this is the gondola ride for you.

The historic buildings of Venice as seen from a gondola on a canal. Gondolas can be seen in front a building with the Italian and European flags flying.

See? You can still have your dream trip to Venice without spending a fortune! Do you have any money saving tips? Are you currently dreaming of a romantic (or solo!) trip to beautiful Venice? Need any other tips about visiting this gorgeous city? Comment below!

Itinerary: 72 hours in Venice

Day One

  • Walking tour
  • Saint Mark’s square
  • Go inside St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Get lost in the streets

Day Two

  • Cross the grand canal
  • Visit academia if you’re interested in medieval art or walk to the Guggenheim for 20th century art
  • Walk across the Rialto Bridge and check out the Rialto Market

Day Three

  • Walk through the Jewish Quarter
  • See the Mary Magdalene Church from the DaVinci Code
  • Take a traghetto ride back to Rialto Market
  • Go back to St. Mark’s Square and visit Museo Correr

Carrie Hancock

American living in Madrid, Spain and taking 72h travels across Europe.
When not traveling, I can be found hiking, running, and attempting to make Spanish food.

Learn more about me

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