Some of you may know that Miloš and I took a short jaunt to Venice last week for an early Valentine’s trip. We were only there for two nights/three days, which was convenient for us, as Miloš’ hometown in Croatia is pretty close to Venice. It was only a few hours of travel on the bus and train to get there. (I’d been wanting to go to Venice for quite some time, so I was super excited for the trip!)
Let me preface by saying that I won’t pretend to be a super expert on ALL things Venice. But having been there myself, I have some personal insights and tips I can share. And if someone is looking to get some basic info on a trip, I thought I’d share some pointers that we learned from our experience. Consider it a starting off point.
First, if you want to go easy on your budget, GO IN THE OFF-SEASON! Seriously, we scored an amazing price on a nice room with a canal view for a fraction of what it would cost to go in the warmer weather. Our total hotel price was around $200 US, and that included free breakfast in the price too. Yup! And we were a five minute walk away from San Marco Square. Go in the cold weather and pack a coat to save a ton of dough. That’s how to get your hotel cheap. (Plus, you’ll be more likely to score a better price on airfare if you need to fly to Venice. Luckily, we had minimal transportation expenses since we were not going a far distance to get there, and there were no flights required.)
Here was the view from the private terrace of our hotel room…
Second, pack light. There really are no cars in the city, as there are no streets for them to drive on. It’s all canals and pedestrian walk ways. You’ll save money by not using transportation – just walk. We had a back pack and a small carry-on suitcase for us both to share. So at the end of our trip, it was easy enough to walk back to the train station while carrying our bags. Even the water buses are SUPER expensive. We’re talking €7 per person for an hour ticket. Upon our arrival in Venice, we did take the water bus, as we didn’t want to get lost trying to find our hotel, and we had directions on how to get there from the closest water bus stop. But it was our only time using the expensive water bus. (Expect to pay a pretty penny to take a water taxi!)
Third, if you want to take a gondola ride, bring some serious change. Holy moly! It could have been a romantic thing to do, but it was NOT in our budget. Maybe another time in the future. Currently, the prices are €80 for 40 minutes during the day, then after 7pm, the price goes to €100 for 40 minutes. (Those are prices that are regulated by the local government.) And that’s the starting price. Some will try to charge more. Expect to bargain. I’ve heard that it’s best to go with a group so everyone can split the price and make it more affordable. (The gondolas can seat up to 6.)
Lastly, food is pricey, but nothing crazy when you think of other big cities. (NYC, Paris, London.) If you research, you can find really great places without worrying about breaking the bank. (I did a lot of looking around on Trip Advisor before we left.) A few tips: check to see how much the restaurant charges for a cover charge. Cover charge? Yup. For restaurants. And some add in the tip to the bill without telling you. Usually places in really nice locations will be the biggest culprits. We had some great dinners, but for lunch, we fell into a tourist trap – because it was pretty and we were hungry. The food wasn’t bad, the view was great (just below the Rialto Bridge), the service was terrible, and the bill was ridiculous. Lesson learned.
Our awesome dinners were at Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti and Alle Testiere. Both were great! Excellent food, good service. Both were down little narrow streets, had small seating areas, and were ranked highly on Trip Advisor.
Both mornings, we filled up big time on the free hotel breakfast so that we weren’t hungry too soon during the day. Fortunately, our hotel had breakfast until 11am. Perfect for us non-morning people. We got there at 10:30am and chowed down!
Our full day in the middle of our trip was the perfect weather! We couldn’t have asked for better. It was bright and sunny and in the 50’s Fahrenheit. We also got some relaxing sunshine time our last day too – we even took our jackets off!
There are amazing costume shops all over the city – perfect for window shopping! Carnival is huge, and you can find masks and costumes everywhere!
Part of the allure of Venice is just its architectural beauty. The entire city is literally a maze of paths and canals and sheer gorgeousness. (Lots of dead-ends, narrow walk-ways, and bridges, bridges, bridges!) Wander around, look at the beautiful buildings, and feel free to get lost!
Here are some more pics from our trip….