Venice is the sort of place that attracts visitors from around the world despite its rising price tag. It doesn’t matter if the city charges extra to stay overnight or that it has a terrible stink in summer. Venice is Venice and it’s a must for anyone visiting Italy. For the skint travellers among us, take advantage of anything free.
Luckily for budget travellers a lot of Venice’s greatest city sights are best viewed from the outside, meaning they’re completely free to visit. It’s the city’s architecture and canals, the tiny walkways and hidden plazas that have really brought it fame. So where should you hang out while admiring the stone splendour in front of you?
Piazza San Marco
Whatever you do, do not sit at any of the cafes or restaurants that line this plaza. They’re some of the most expensive in the city and a humble espresso will set you back a whopping €8 (€10 for a cappuccino). Park yourself outside the Basilica and watch the pigeons and people as they pass by. A trip inside is also priced for budget travellers at only €1.50.
Ponte di Rialto
Arguably the most famous bridge in Italy, the Rialto Bride offers up one of the best views of Venice’s canals. It’s a must! The nearby Rialto Market is also a nice spot to spend an hour or two browsing as fishmongers and fruit and veg sellers show off their best.
Campo Santa Margherita
A lot less crowded than St. Mark’s Square, this roomy piazza is a great place to hang out on a sunny afternoon if you want to people watch and see “real” Venetians as opposed to swarms of tourists. If you arrive here early enough in the mornings you’ll catch the daily fish market.
San Giorgio Maggiore
Get a look at this church designed by Italy’s famous architect Andrea Palladio, located on San Giorgio Maggiore Island. Inside you’ll even find a handful of Tintoretto paintings. It’s free to see the inside of the church but it’ll cost a couple of Euros to take the elevator up to the top of the campanile.
Concerts and Exhibitions
There are a host of free concerts, performances and exhibitions around Venice that are completely free. The only downfall is that they aren’t widely advertised so it can be tricky to find them. Keep an eye out for posters and leaflets in small cafes and bars or for info at other museums. Culture Week in May is the best time to book a holiday in Venice for all the free events.
When the Venice Biennale is in town (every other year) hotel prices soar but there are endless free art exhibitions going on across the city. While the main exhibition hall has entry fees there are many satellite events that don’t.
Bonus (almost free) tip
If you’re really set on a gondola ride, you might settle for a ride on Venice’s public transit canal boat. Catch the slow boat for the price of one vaporetto ticket from either the San Marco stop or just in front of the train station for a trip down the Grand Canal. It’s boat #1.
Have you already been to Venice? What other free tips can you add to our list?
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