Venice. It’s a name that instantly conjures visions of languid canals occupied by black and gold decorated gondolas, chic boutique hotels, and a rich culture heritage, set in one of the most scenic locations in the world. But that awe can wear thin as soon as you try to calculate a trip to La Serenissima. For some budget conscious travelers, the escalated costs of airfare, hotels, and attractions can seem endless, made worse by added expenses of food, transportation, and shopping. However, armed with the right information, it’s a possible to plan a trip on a budget. Here’s how to turn a vacation to Venice from a fantasy to a reality.
Take a Walk in Venice: Everyone dreams of flinging open a hotel window to a view of the Grande Canal. But, that view will likely blow your budget. When researching and booking a hotel, stay away from the Grand Canal and Venice’s main attraction, San Marco, where prices are the most expensive.
Springtime for Venice? The most convenient time to travel to Venice is during the summer months when most adults take their acclimated vacation time, young kids are out of school, and the weather is favoriteable. But this is also the most expensive and annoying time. Crowds are the heaviest. Airfares and hotels are at capacity, charging the maximum prices with little room for negotiating. To avoid this, skip the summer months and consider traveling to Venice during shoulder season in the spring and fall.
Two for One: Airfare to Venice, especially during peak season, is often the traveler’s largest expense. And with airfares at record highs, there are very few specials. But there’s a way around this. Depending on where you live, the cheapest gateway into Europe is through London, which is home to most of the airfare deals, since a majority of the airlines have stopovers in the city (in Atlanta, Delta Airlines is the only airline to fly nonstop to Venice).
Gondola for Six? A trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride. Unfortunately, this 45-minute ride could cost upwards of 80 euros (for one or six passengers), equivalent to $100, with a slightly higher rate at night. However, you can negotiate (a little) with your gondolier.
Where the Locals Are: Avoid eating near tourist attractions and restaurants with “tourist menus”. While they are convenient (with waiters who speak multiple languages and menus in English), you can find a more authentic experience, sometimes better food, and lower prices elsewhere. Find out where the locals eat.
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