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Heidebraley May 12th, 2010 06:26 AM

7 days in Venice, Italy on a shoestring
I am planning a trip for my husband and myself to Venice, Italy next May for just 7 days. How much should we budget for and should we learn Italian? He has never been to Europe and I have only been to Germany. Any suggestions on how to make our trip budget friendly (3 kids in college and one in high school)? We like experiencing the off-beaten track away from tourist traps if at all possible. We are both in our 40's and want to experience traveling the world while we are young. Should we stick with just Venice and plan other trips for exploring more of the region or tie in another destination?

Sassytraveller May 12th, 2010 06:35 AM

7 days is a long time for such a small city - you could easily see it in 3. You'll soon tire of the tourists if you really like getting off the beaten track. If you're on a budget - I went there with a couple of friends a few years ago and stayed in the "Galbajo" apartment here: which was incredibly good value, really clean and allowed you to head out for breakfast & dinner. If you want a romantic trip why not head to Verona or Bologna?

jamikins May 12th, 2010 06:41 AM

Can you give us an idea of budget? Venice is probably one of the more expensive places in Italy, but there are ways around that.

For hotels we have stayed at Hotel Galleria which is right on the grand canal by Accademia bridge - great location and I think around €130 a night.

We just stayed at a B&B in Castello (5 mins from San Marco but off the regular tourist track in a quiet area) for €90 a night. We would definitely stay here again. Friendly, but basic B&B. Hotel Galleria is much more a traditional hotel.

As for food, you can get pasta and pizza for about €6 - 10, just try to get away from the main tourist route between Rialto and San Marco and avoid most of the restaurants there. We spent most of our time wandering around away from those areas and we basically had the place to ourselves. We ran into lots of wine bars etc charging €2.50 a glass of wine. We hate crowds, so only went to San Marco and Rialto in the evenings when the day trippers/cruise liners had left.

You could spend the whole 7 days in Venice, or add another desitantion (keep in mind moving takes up money). We visited the islands around Venice as well which are worth exploring. If you wanted to try something different Florence woudl work, or maybe Verona.

Hope this helps!

Mimar May 12th, 2010 07:18 AM

If you want to avoid tourists, Venice is not the place to go - even in May. But there's a reason for all those tourists. Venice is magical, fantastical.

You can stay away from the busy spots, Piazza San Marco and the Rialto, and wander around the back "streets." You can do excursions during the day and come back at night when the daytrippers have left. In addition to visiting by boat the other islands in the lagoon, Murano, Burano, Torcello and the Lido, you could take the train to Padua, Vicenza and even Verona.

As for budget, if you rent an apartment, you can do some cooking and save money -- and have more space. Restaurants meals can be expensive in Venice.

Mimar May 12th, 2010 07:20 AM

And, no, you don't need to learn Italian -- unless you want to. A few phrases are useful, like good day, thank you, etc.

Heidebraley May 12th, 2010 04:03 PM

Thanks folks. Not sure about budget amounts yet, but we are always looking for ways to stretch a dollar. We enjoy good quality within reason. I would like to know how the locals live and get a taste of their way of life. My husband loves fishing so we are hoping to see a little of how the Italians fish. We don't mind tourists just don't want to be sheltered from the real Italy.

suze May 12th, 2010 04:13 PM

Venice is just not a "shoestring budget" kind of city. If you really want to live like locals and are on a tight budget, I might kindly suggest you choose an entirely different city for your one week stay.

Or you could stay out in Padua and train in to Venice.

Peter_S_Aus May 12th, 2010 04:13 PM

We spent eight weeks there 18 months ago, and I'd question the "3 days is enough" comments, but it is really a matter of taste.

There's a good thread running here:

suze May 12th, 2010 04:15 PM

Sure taking a class in travelers Italian would be a great idea. Or working together with your husband using an at-home language program. But know that you can't really learn Italian (i.e. become fluent) in only 1 year's time. But it might make you more comfortable to be able to read signs, know the numbers, etc.

nfldbeothuk May 12th, 2010 04:53 PM

Well, I agree that restaurant meals were expensive, but in the summer of 2009 I spent 6 nights (I'm another who definitely wanted more than 3 days) for about $100 Canadian per night. The hotel near San Marco included breakfast and was perfectly clean & comfortable, with great air-conditioning (it was July, that mattered!). Granted it was small, and had no elevator, but if you are budget travellers who don't demand luxury, I think it's possible to see Venice without breaking the bank.
And I tried to balance the dinner prices with takeaway sandwiches at lunch.

suze May 13th, 2010 07:07 AM

Funny you mention sandwiches. That was one of my favorite foods in Venice, the premade sandwiches in glass cases at some of the cafes and sidewalk shops. And economical.

I do think the idea of an apartment in a somewhat out-of-the-way neighborhood and shopping at the grocery store could work to keep Venice on a budget.

Heidebraley May 17th, 2010 04:32 AM

I love all these suggestions. As far as a budget, maybe $200 a day. I will check out Padua since I don't want to spend too much money on housing if we are going to be out and about most of the time. Is it easy to catch a train to different parts of Italy and what about crossing over into Greece?

willit May 17th, 2010 04:57 AM

"I would like to know how the locals live and get a taste of their way of life."

This is one thing that Venice really doesn't do well. Tourists outnumber Venetians by a large factor. Houses will always sell at a premium, and there is always the temptation to sell up to a wealthy foreigner or developer and live elsewhere. Many of the young people will never be able to afford (or even want) to live on the islands, so move to the mainland where housing is affordable.

I'm not suggesting you don't go - Venice is a place for which the word "magical" is not hyperbole. It is a unique, stunning place to visit. If you can stretch your budget, spend at least a couple of nights in Venice itself. In the evening after the day trippers have left, or in the early morning after dawn you can have the city almost to yourself.

The biggest expense after renting an apartment was food - there seem more mediocre, overpriced restaurants in Venice than anywhere else I have been in Italy. Although a longish trip, it is worth doing the Vaporetto, bus, Vaporetto trip to Chioggia. The seafood restaurants there are very good, and far more in line with normal Italian prices than Venetian tourist rates.

suze May 17th, 2010 06:47 AM

For only 7 days and trying to keep your budget down, no I would not add going to Greece!

Heidebraley May 17th, 2010 06:07 PM

Thanks. What about flying into the area from the US. Is there one airport that is more economical than others or do I just plan for Venice?

PeaceOut May 17th, 2010 06:45 PM

I suggest you consider adding another location for a three-night stay. Like Florence or mountains?

Try the Pension Calcina first. If they have availability, it is a great choice.

Less expensive and Very charming is the one-star Hotel Riva. Their room #1 sits above the confluence of two small canals where singing gondoliers drift by beneath your windows. Its a great value. (Bathroomis nice, but tiny FYI)

suze May 18th, 2010 06:34 AM

Oh, OK... To me $200/night is not "shoestring". Knowing that, I vote for a full week in Venice, yes fly into the Venice airport, and stay at Pensione La Calcina, as mentioned (i stayed there twice and LOVED it). Just be aware and keep your meal costs down. Besides that I didn't spend a lot in Venice because it's so amazing just wandering around (and using the vaporetto). You'll have enough time to get out to the islands and the more residential areas or day trip to other towns/cities if you want to. That would be a beautiful trip!

I mentioned Padua since it's worked for backpacking type friends, but they really WERE on a very tight bugdet and didn't mind using the train every day to get around.

zoecat May 18th, 2010 07:36 AM

My suggestion is to stay in an apartment in the heart of Venice for the 7 days. No need to stay outside the city. Many Venice apartments are less expensive than staying in a hotel or b&b. You can cook your own meals when you don't feel like eating out and an apartment allows more space for relaxing. I enjoy shopping for food at the local markets and have found it much cheaper than eating out for each meal. Perhaps it is the reason I don't find Venice an expensive place to stay and visit.

This is the apartment where I have stayed several times. It's in a great location (near Campo Santa Margarita) and has everything needed for an enjoyable stay. Email the owner, Anna, for rates and avalability-

A few other suggestions for saving money-

Check for flight options and to find the best price.

Upon arrival at the Venice airport, take the Airport Express bus into Venice. It departs from just outside the airport doors and will drop you at P. Roma on the Grand Canal. From there, you can walk or take a vaporetto (water bus) to the stop nearest your apartment/hotel.

Purchase your 7 day vaporetto pass in advance to save money. Here is the site to make that purchase (choose your arrival date and pick up your pass at the well-signed airport desk)-

The pass will also allow you to take the vaporetto to the lagoon islands.

Paul1950 May 18th, 2010 07:45 AM

I am another for whom 3 days in Venice are not nearly enough. I spent 4-1/2 days in Venice on my first visit 15 years ago, and didn't have time for several prime sights/attractions. It's easy to get away from the daytripper crowds: Basically, just walk a few blocks away from the Grand Canal.

most of the major sights are not far from the Grand Canal, and this is where the daytripper herds mill about from midmorning to the late afternoon. You'll also find prices of everything notably lower when you walk away a bit.

SusieKay May 22nd, 2010 11:12 AM

We spent two weeks in Venice in the spring last year and could easily have stayed two more. Our apartment was located in the Cannaregio neighborhood-a bit off the tourist pathway.
We loved being able to prepare simple meals, and shop at the local markets-not to mention the wine fill up store. We spent many hours just sitting on our small patio sipping wine and listening to the sounds of the city.
You can purchase a vaporetto pass, and museum and church passes at a savings. We visited most of the main outlying islands-frequently taking a leisurely day for each because we had the time. But we weren't lazy-there are over 400 bridges in Venice, and I think we must have walked over each of them-twice!! If you decide on Venice, don't rush through it, but take the time to savour it. The only people I know who didn't like Venice were the ones who were there for just a short one or two days and tried to cram all the must see tourist spots into a limited amount of time-along with all the other tourists who were trying to do the same thing. I would never recommend staying outside the city and training in-if that were my only option due to budget, I would forgo the trip altogether until I could afford to stay in the city.
We used a US company called Untours that offers apartment rentals all over Europe . We have used them multiple times and have always been pleased. Check out their website

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