Passport – check. Bags – Check. Ryanair flight to somewhere vaguely near Venice – check. Let’s go on a budget, week long city break!
Rather than going for a blow by blow account of exactly what I did while in Venice, here are some highlights, tips and pointers for your trip to the city of canals.
Flights fly to Treviso airport, it’s really not that far away and for €22 return you can get a bus right into the centre of the city.
Accommodation AirBNB is your friend. Our villa/apartment/room in Santa Croce cost us just over £380 for seven days, which is about the same as a two night hotel stay in somewhere not-so-great.
Transport the Vaporetto (water bus) is the best way to get around, a day return will cost you €15 and there’s an abundance of stops all along the grand canal and most of the major offshoots. No one asked us to present a ticket at any time, however there are barriers at some of the major stops. Single trips are cheaper, but if you want to get the most out of your Vaporetto-ing, I’d suggest going for the day pass.
Sights A funny one this, as the whole of Venice is a sight in itself. We saw St. Marks square, impressive but not breathtaking. We saw the Rialto bridge, it was covered in scaffolding. We went to pretty much every sight in the guide book we found in our accommodation (both the French Lonely Planet and the American Access guide) and the city as a whole was a sight to behold. Every street you turn down you just have to marvel in wonder that it’s a city, built on a swamp, connected by canals, bridges and boats. Personally my favourite thing about Venice was getting horrendously lost on the first day and being amazed by every new street we walked down.
Food Everyone says that when you visit Venice you should try the Cicchetti (Venitian tapas). This is great, but when you’re a vegetarian travelling in a sea food city – not ideal. I was also quite cautious to not get caught off guard with a tourist trap, selling me over priced crap on the assumption it was authentic Venetian cuisine.
Top tip, if there are pictures on the menu – it’s aimed at tourists. However this isn’t always a bad thing, when you find a place on the Strada Nuova doing funghi pizza for €10 with a picture on the menu and a translation in multiple languages – you don’t expect it to be top nosh. However it is going to fill you up and it’s not too pricey, the equivalent of getting a Wetherspoons burger for lunch.
Outside of stopping at the reasonably priced tourist traps, we were making picnics from supplies picked up either at Rialto market or the local Coop, just like most actual locals would do.
We did find one place that was non tourist orientated, La Zucca in Santa Croce. Vegetarian food galore for decent prices and great service.
Drinks As you might expect, Italy is all about the wine, rather than the lager lager lager lager. Here’s where things get interesting though – a glass of house wine can set you back anywhere from €1 – €4, with very little difference in quality. However you can probably get a 1/2 litre jug of the stuff for around €5 – €8. If you’re not that fussed about drinking in bars and happy to setup with a picnic, buy your grog from a wine shop, they’ll fill up a plastic bottle with the house stuff for €2 – €3. We found one on the Strada Nuova, about 3/4 of the way down and one in Santa Croce.
Outer Islands We took a day trip over to Lido for a day away from the city, Lido has a beautiful beach and a few places to hire bikes. Bike hire is reasonable, you can even hire two and four seaters if you don’t mind looking daft. Lido is very much a tourist hotspot though, imagine the Newquay of Venice.
We also took a trip over to Murano to see what that was like. To summarise in a list, this is what you will see walking through Murano:
You get the idea. Some of the glass was impressive, and watching the blowing of authentic Murano glass was a nice sight to see, but in all honesty – it’s probably not worth the trip.
Other Things Some other things I can think of while writing this in the notes on my phone while waiting three hours for the flight home (damn my overzealousness)
St Mark is Venice’s second patron saint, the original being San Teodoro (St. Theodore). San Marco’s body was stolen past a group of Muslim guards from Alexandria in a barrel of pickled pork.
When you order food in a restaurant, the bread is generally free. You look like a fool if you just point blank refuse it.
Spritz is disgusting. Unless you like grapefruit juice, then you might like it.
If you like the t shirts with unoriginal and mildly crude slogans on the front (the likes of which you’d find in every single stall at Camden Market) you’ll love the stalls on Strada Nuova and some of the ones that have popped up at Rialto Market.
I got bitten about 5 times (by insects, not locals) you may want to consider insect repellant when you come here.