Easily one of the most romantic cities in the world, the high cost of a trip to Venice can be offset considerably by focusing more on discovery than the tour book experience. Popular tour books list wonderful suggestions for where to go and what to see, but in a city such as Venice, there is something to see around every corner and easy ways to avoid the expensive tourist traps.
Visit in the Off-Season
The off-season for Italy is the autumn or the spring. The summer is the peak time and many travel in the winter as well. In Venice, however, it is much more advantageous to visit in the spring as there is less likelihood of seasonable fall flooding closing major attractions.
Compromise on Hotels
There are many fine accommodations in Venice without lace bedspreads and breathtaking views. Sacrifice the grand room for the more affordable location that is clean and comfortable. After all, why would you pay more to stay in a hotel room – you’ll want to be out exploring.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
There are many restaurants that cater to tourists around Rialto and the Piazza San Marco, but meals at these eateries are often expensive with very light fare. It is far better to wander away from the hot spots and look for the festive and more reasonable trattorias where the locals enjoy hot food and good conversation.
Skip the Gondola
If you need to navigate your way around the waterways of the city, do so on the vaporettos, or floating buses. Gondolas are certainly romantic, but they are very expensive. The vaporettos will move you around the city for as little as €1.00, and the adventure of moving about on the water is still very present – especially if you remain standing as most locals do.
Look for Free Experiences
Murano Island is well known for it’s glass artists and Burano Island is known for fine lace and pastel colors. Both islands can provide hours of interesting sights and experiences that are free or very reasonable. Avoid glass blowing tours that wind up in the gift shop. Many of these have a strongly subtle push to buy to compensate for the free tour.
Another free experience is waiting just outside your hotel door. Literally walk out the door and start off in any direction. Milan is full of fantastic sights and most can only be discovered by happening upon then. Put away the tour book and focus on making your own experiences instead.