The floating city of Venice was on and off our bucketlist for numerous reasons. We envisioned getting lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and the fairy-tale architecture but feared battling the masses of selfie-stick waving tourists. However, after spending 3 days in Venice in October, as the saying goes – Veni Vidi Amavi – We came, We saw, We loved.
How Much to Budget for 3 Days in Venice
Most backpackers tarnish travel cards with the same tourist trap brush however, the Venice travel card, namely the Venezia Unica saved both time and money. It cost €35 each for unlimited bus travel and Vaporetto (water bus) for the entire 3 days in Venice, including our airport transfer. As we bought the Venice travel card in advance, we smugly walked past the crowds and queues of confused tourists trying to not only buy a ticket but work out the correct one for the duration of their stay. It was particularly great value for money as we were taking day trips from Venice to the islands of Murano & Burano and these transfers were also included!
If the Venice travel card isn’t suitable for your stay, you can book an airport bus transfer for only €8 – book here.
On average a beer was €5, and we were delighted the national drink of Prosecco was usually €3 a glass – during our 3 days we spent £62 a day between 2 of us (including the cost of our travel cards & food but not accommodation).
Best Accommodation for 3 days in Venice
One of the main reasons Venice was on and off the bucketlist was the cost. It is not an overly backpacker budget friendly destination and we were genuinely shocked at the cost of hotels despite the fact we were in Venice in October. So we will let you in on a little secret, although described as “camping” we cannot recommend Camping Venezia enough. It was cabin style accommodation (think wooden lodge meets caravan) complete with en-suite (with power shower) and terrace on a peaceful campsite with an indoor swimming pool, restaurant and mini market. All for £44.20 per night for 3 nights. From here it was a 10 minute bus journey over the water into Venice (included in the Venice travel card), saving us hundreds of pounds!
If you have the cash to splash (no pun intended) and choose to stay on the island, remember the majority of the hotels do not have direct access by boat. So abandon the 4th pair of shoes, your 3 coats and pack light as most likely, you will have to carry your luggage across one or several hundred stepped bridges. Although amusing to watch, there were silly numbers of tourists attempting to drag wheeled cases over cobbled streets so pack light and use a backpack if possible!
Recommended Restaurants in Venice
On our last night in Venice, we had a beautiful meal in a very *rare* secluded street at the restaurant Teamo Wine Bar. To this day, Daz claims it is the best pasta he has ever, ever had. Also, dessert involved pistachio cheesecake – did I hear a “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY?” Daz also enjoyed the wine here a little too much, resulting in him running into a rather posh hotel to pee on the way home as he simply couldn’t wait. Another top tip – posh hotel staff find tipsy Scottish people rather amusing, allowing you to pee for free (when public toilets in Venice charge up to €3!)
We were fortunate with Camping Venezia as there was a Lidl within a 10 minute walk, allowing us to stock up on snacks (and wine as our cabin had a fridge!) Although we smugly packed a picnic with visions of romantic canal-side sandwiches whilst avoiding tourist trap prices, it is important to note on our day trips from Venice to the Islands of Murano & Burano, we noticed that there are signs prohibiting picnics (yep, actual picnic police!) We assume this is due to crowding and the danger of tourists tripping over sandwich scoffing families into the water or possibly the litter some of these picnic parties leave behind. If you’re cool with walking and eating and not pulling out a full-blown blanket and buffet then packing your own lunch is always an easy way to save vital Prosecco pennies!
Things To Do in Venice
There are two points we cannot stress enough before your Venice visit. Firstly, don’t plan too much, part of the charm is getting lost in the maze of meandering streets and photo worthy foot bridges (particularly after dark as the streets soon empty).
Secondly, if you do have a must see list then the Summer months are usually a no-go, but using Venice’s live tracker will help you make the most of the time you have through live updates of how busy the most popular sites are. This will prevent disappointment when faced with crazy queues or sardine-packed-like streets.
On the beaten track: When we first began planning our European adventure we both chose one bucketlist destination that no matter what we had to visit. For Daz, it was Lake Bled, for me it was the island of Burano. Traditionally, fishermen of the island painted their home a unique colour in order to identify it when returning in fog resulting in a vibrant village so beautiful, I was ready to abandon the rest of the Europe tour and hunt down a fisherman husband immediately.
As it is an island the easiest way to get there is to take Vaporetto number 12 from Fondamente Nove which departs every half hour. The Vaporetto also makes one stop on Murano Island which we 100% recommend visiting before hopping back onto the number 12 at the Murano Faro stop. Famous for its intricate glass sculptures we found Murano peaceful and ridiculously photogenic en route to visiting its crayola-coloured big sister Burano.
A great tip we read on Trip Savvy was for fab views of Burano, get off at the small island of Mazzorbo (the stop just before Burano.) We did just that and not only did it allow a unique view as we walked across the small footbridge to the island, it meant we got to hop off the crowded Vaporetto early and before the mad rush of other tourists, allowing us a wee head start on the photographing frenzy! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time on Mazzorbo to visit the 14th-century church of Santa Caterina but this was also recommended.
We loved the journey from Venice to Burano (approx. 40/50 minutes) as we happily snapped the cemetery island of San Michele and Torcello via Vaporetto as well as catching the stunning sunset on the way home.
The journey to both islands, including a lengthy prosecco pause and a silly amount of posing outside every coloured house took us approx. 5/6 hours, so allow a day to thoroughly explore both. This meant we returned to Venice just as the sun was setting, which we felt was the perfect time to explore St Mark’s Basilica as the square began to empty from the tourist masses (whilst golden hour created the most beautiful glow on the surrounding buildings).
Although we didn’t go in St. Mark’s Basilica (our prosecco afternoon in Burano had worked up too much of an appetite and we needed pasta, pronto.) We later discovered you can purchase a skip the line ticket for St.Mark’s Basilica. This means you can beat the crowds (and would’ve saved us time for that pasta – worth an extra few Euros, book here!
A wee tip as backpacks are not permitted inside St.Mark’s, if you have bags preventing you to enter, walk to Calle Spadaria (facing the front of the basilica, the street is on the left) and rent a locker for free. For one hour, your belongings can be kept there. Also, like most religious sites – dress appropriately (covering shoulders, no shorts etc).
Golden hour was also the perfect time to capture the views from Rialto Bridge as the sun set on the canal without wrestling selfie sticks and screaming children alike.
Off the beaten track: *Cue gasps of shock horror* but we left Venice before realising we hadn’t been on a Gondola and as it costs upwards of €80 – €100 for a striped stranger to serenade you for a mere 45 minutes, we felt our money was better spent on something we’d actually enjoy like, wine. We’d recommend taking the water bus (included in your Venice travel card) for an equally memorable tour of the Grand Canal allowing you to take almost identical photos of the famous spots (such as the Rialto bridge) at a tiny fraction of the cost.
Believe it or not one of our most surreal moments in Venice was when we stopped to purchase a bottle of water, recognising the Spar logo we popped inside to what soon became the most insanely extra Spar we have ever set foot in. Complete with a painted ceiling and a bloody LIVE QUARTET on the balcony we could not believe our luck as we browsed the cold meats to tunes of Tchaikovsky. It was one of those, stumble upon right place, right time moments which we’ll never forget, and although the live music may have been a one off, a visit to the shop alone is worth it for a definite WTF moment.
Best Photo Spots in Venice
For a particularly memorable view of Venice we were gutted we ran out of time to visit the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower. Take Vaporetto line 1 and 2 just one stop from San Marco and in exchange for a few euros you can take the elevator to the top of the bell tower (approx. 60 meters) providing stunning views of St Mark’s Basilica & Palazzo Ducale. Opting for this rooftop view which is slightly off the usual tourist track not only means an unbeatable view but the queues are virtually non-existent compared to other Venice viewpoints. As a fellow redhead I felt it worthy to mention the church also boasts paintings by Titian if you need a dose of redhead appreciation.
For more photos of our Italian adventure, please take a peek at our gallery.
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