Ah Venice, it doesn’t seem real. The fairy city of the heart, an exquisite jumble of palaces, spires and turrets in the middle of a lagoon. But when you get there, enjoying Europe’s floating city can hit you hard in the wallet. As The Telegraph reports, “Venice is expensive, there’s no getting away from that. And the most expensive parts of most people’s budget when they visit the city is the hotel and cost of eating out.” They suggest with a little know-how on where to look and how to book, you can take the pain out of your hip pocket. To help you make the most of La Serenissima for a lot less, read these tips about how to stay afloat – financially speaking that is – in Venice.
When to go
Not in the summer basically. It’s jam-packed, prices rocket and it’s actually not as nice. Venice doesn’t get as stinky as it used to but it is more likely to be whiffy in the odd canal and queues for museums and the Doge’s Palace become much lengthier in the warmer months. November is an ideal time to visit, with mists rising from the canals. January is lovely too, a treat in the post-New Year slump.
Popular blogger mymelange.net says: “The landscape becomes hauntingly beautiful, with fog permeating the city and the chance of snowfall at any minute. If you like photography, this is a perfect place to capture the lightly grayed, slanted light of Venice – winter produces eerie, yet spectacular images.”
October to February is high water season, known by Venetians as ‘acqua alta’, even though flooding can occur at any time of year. But the locals are used to it, and so are the authorities, quickly adding board ‘bridges’ in the streets when the waters rise. In November 2012, some tourists made a virtue out of necessity and took a dip in St Mark’s Square – it made for quite a sight.
What to take
Wellies, warm clothes, money and a map…
- Wellies or strong waterproof boots because of the acqua alta.
- Warm clothes to protect you from the icy winds that rise from the Adriatic and whip through the alleys.
- Italyheaven advises: “Although there may be sunny days, the weather is likely to be grey and can be freezing. Venice gets very cold in winter, with a bitter edge to the damp air. You’ll need lots of layers of clothing and a hat.”
- Money and plastic, because even with my tips, you will be spending it. Will Thomas from Tuxedo Money Solutions says that its currency cards are gaining popularity with holiday-makers as well as business travellers. “Carry one of our pre-loaded cash cards on your trip,” he said. “They are simple to set up and load with the amount you want.”
- A map. You can pick up free basic maps from many hotels, tourist attractions and travel terminals but it’s worth investing a few euros in a proper street-by-street map. Getting lost is part of the charm of a visit to Venice, but eventually you’ll want to find your hotel and a warming hot chocolate.
What to do
Walk, walk, walk. Venice itself is a work of art, almost every corner, doorway or rooftop offers a faded frieze, religious symbol or quirky window.
Enjoy the churches. Many charge a small entrance fee but it’s a small price to pay to see works of art by Titian and other Venetian artists in situ. A group of churches has a joint entry scheme www.chorus.org and you can buy a year-long pass for €9, allowing one visit to each of the sixteen participating.
For the Vaporetto, museums, churches, anything except your coffee, buying a multipass can really save you cash. Venice’s civic museums’ museum pass costs €18 and includes entry into the best attractions including the Doge’s Palace. This is a must in the eternal city. As Lonely Planet writes: “Don’t be fooled by its genteel Gothic elegance: underneath all that lacy pink cladding, the palace flexes serious muscle. The seat of Venice’s government for nearly seven centuries, this powerhouse survived wars, conspiracies and economic crashes, and was cleverly restored by Antonio da Ponte, who also designed Ponte di Rialto [the Rialto Bridge}, after a 1577 fire.”
St Mark’s Square must be seen to be believed. Napoleon called it the ‘finest drawing room in Europe’. Its cafes are notoriously expensive but it costs nothing to wander the vast space, admire the architecture and listen to the cafe orchestras and hum of languages being spoken.
Top tip: If you have a coffee and snack at a cafe bar counter, it’s cheaper than if you sit at a table. And you feel more like an Italian. Maybe time it just before you take your water bus or taxi to another part of the city and give your legs a rest while you’re afloat.
The famous La Fenice is well worth a visit, though ironically (or is it just unfortunately) for a place named after the phoenix, it burnt down in 1836 and again in 1996. Veniceonline.it tells of how much Venetians felt the loss of their theatre: “For months a lot of people did a pilgrimage to the theatre, put the flowers, crying, put messages, it looked like if a real person was died …. very, very strange …” Now though, La Fenice has been lovingly restored and is a lovely destination to while away a winter afternoon. You may even catch a member of the orchestra rehearsing in the pit.
When you’ve had enough of ancient beauties, check out some modern wonders at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in a stunning white palace at the end of the Grand Canal, it houses works by modern artists on the Grand Canal. View works by Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock, Max Ernst and Anish Kapoor.
Where to stay
The Telegraph recommends Residenza de l’Osmarin – a cheap b&b in a great location, featuring an elegant décor and a private roof terrace with wonderful views of the city. East of St Mark’s square, L’Osmarin is close to Venice’s main thoroughfares but set just far enough off them to feel secluded and quiet.
I love the four-star Hotel Giorgione in the Cannaregio district, which is a historical house in Venice. The staff are delightful and there is free tea, coffee and biscuits provided in the lobby all afternoon. Ideal for UK visitors needing a cup that cheers after a day pounding the streets. It’s less than five minutes to the Rialto Bridge and less than fifteen to St Mark’s Square.
BA offers good deals on flights and hotel deals to the city at certain times throughout the winter, though you’ll have to make your own way from the airport to the city. Treat yourself to a water taxi and pull up to your hotel landing platform -if it has one – in style.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://photodune.net
London-based lifestyle journalist and travel writer Sarah Thompson loves to explore European cities by foot. An intrepid traveller, Sarah is keen to share her tips on making travel safer, easier and less stressful, though she has to admit to getting lost in Venice frequently and happily. Aside from a love of pounding the pavements of the world’s greatest cities, Sarah also loves to settle down in her favourite armchair with a book. Read more of Sarah’s articles in publications that appear online and in print.
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My boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the Foodies Tour, which included stops at producers of cheese, balsamic vinegar and cured meat. Paolo was an amazing tour guide – he's extremely knowledgeable, kind and a great communicator. We learned so much! It was really nice to be in a smaller group and most of the producers we visited were small so we were able to get a close up view of the processes. We'd highly recommend Emilia Delizia as this tour was truly authentic and a highlight of our trip!
thank you for the kind review
The tour of the Parmesan Reggiano cheese dairy, Balsamic Vinegar farm, the Parma ham and lunch at the organic vineyard was thoroughly enjoyed by our family of 4. Paolo was a gracious and knowledgeable host for the day and provided us with insights to the production of the cheese and balsamic vinegar which was enhanced due to his chemistry background. We would thoroughly recommend this tour to those interested in the specialities produced in the Modena region.
We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!
The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!
Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.
Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.
The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.
I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.
Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge
The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide
It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.
Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).