The short answer is, yes.
As you might have read my declaration of love for Venice here, you can only imagine how sad I was to read indonesia in my pocket‘s very different view on Venice (ok it is not that I was sad sad but I like to exaggerate things). I understand her frustration, though. 5 euro for a scoop of gelato is a crime against humanity. Had I encountered such ridiculous price tag/cost of staying in Venice like her, I don’t think I could have written such a loving post about Venice.
Luckily for me, however, my short holiday was very affordable and pleasant for such a popular city.
And here is how.
Venice’s hostels/hotels are famous for being expensive but I came across Backpacker’s House Venice for only 15 euro a night. For this city that is cheap. It was definitely not the best place I have ever stayed at, but it was acceptable and functioning. Location is excellent: 10 mins from the train station, 10 mins from Rialto bridge, 15 mins from St. Mark Square (that is, if you don’t get lost :P). It has fast wifi, running hot water, and is located 2 mins away from a huge supermarket, as well as one of the best gelato shops in Venice (find it for yourself!).
A 40-minute ride on the gondola will set you back for 80 euro. That is the standard price, you can’t do anything about it. But if you are willing to walk, everything is free. Venice is not that big, seriously. Walking is totally doable.
Should you take the gondola? I had a 70-minute balloon ride at 5000 meter above ground in Cappadocia for 90 euro. Life is full of trade-offs, my friends. If you are willing to splurge, then go ahead. If you will splurge once or twice in your traveller life, better think about it twice.
If you have a group of up to 6 people, though, sharing a gondola is a great option. 80 euro divided by 6 equals = ~13 euro pp. Why not take the opportunity?
My favorite bit:)
Here are some golden rules for an enjoyable food experience in Venice:
– If you can cook, shop for fresh seafood at Rialto bridge and have it your way.
– If you can’t, restaurants are the places to go, of course. AVOID restaurants near St. Mark Square at all cost. You don’t want to pay 10 euro for a pot of tea at St. Mark Square, do you? An espresso for 4 euro? A plate of pasta for 15 euro? Trust me, in this area, the sky is not the limit for the price.
– Have a BIG lunch, because lunch is much cheaper than dinner. Have 3, maybe 4 scoops of gelato for dinner. That was how I lived during my one week in Italy, and I came back not fatter, but happier.
– Not having a sweet tooth? Liar.
– Jk, if you really don’t have a sweet tooth, keep eating gelato. You will become a convert. I don’t like ice cream, but Italy changed my entire world.
– Okay double jk. If you are not into gelato, try bar hopping at happy hours. Venice, like many other Italian cities, have enough bars in which you only pay have to pay for a drink (usually around 5 euro or less), after which you can enjoy a buffet. Yes, a freaking buffet (but the Italian call it aperitivo). Pasta, pieces of pizza, couscous, salad, ham, salami… you name it. Order a drink and eat your hearts out.
Like none of the above suggestions? I have some cherries on top for you.
Eat at takeaway pizza joints. There are 8263723649893 of them in Venice, some are worse than other, but the overall quality is excellent for the price. I mean, you can’t and shouldn’t complain if you pay only 2-3 euro for a big piece of pizza. I ate at Antico Forno and was not disappointed. The staff was a bit surly but well it’s Italy :D
Join the local crowd at Rosticceria Gislon. For a restaurant located 1 minute away from Rialto Bridge, the price is surprisingly cheap. And the quality is simply excellent. Expect to pay 8-15 euro for a fulfilling, satisfying, scrumptious meal. On my first time to Rosticceria, I felt a bit intimidated as everyone inside the resto was Italian, but a smiling (handsome!), English-speaking guy took my order welcomingly without judging my Italian capacity (naught!). A rule of thumb is, however, when you see a local crowd in a resto, you know that it is a good one. I ordered a seafood pasta (10 euro), waited for 10 minutes, and the rest is history.
Is it possible to have an orgasm while eating? I think it is. My pasta was just crazily good. The essence of Mediterranean ocean was packed in each bite with jumping, breathing, dancing marine creatures. The spaghetti was cooked to al dente, of course. Def. the best pasta I had ever tasted in my life. It was hard to control my tears.
It was so good that I decided to pay 8 euro more to try Rosticceria’s risotto. One of the best decisions in my life. Creamy, briny, mellow. Amazing.
The next day I knew I had to come back. And this time I ordered a squid ink pasta (Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia/10 euro). Insane. It tasted outta this world. Indescribably delicious. A harmony of flavors, aroma and sensations.
The best bits were the squid pieces. Amazingly tender but packed full of flavor.
Naturally, I ordered another plate of pasta (just because). My clam pasta (Spaghetti alle vongole/8 euro) did not look very inspiring, but the taste was anything but ordinary. No fancy stupid sauce to hide flawed cooking techniques or ingredients (Korea I’m looking at you), my pasta was a straightforward, simple dish of al dente spaghetti with plenty of fresh clams. Simple but not plain. I could feel the flavors from the clams seeped into each and every strand of spaghetti, making my pasta yet again a religious experience.
For dinner/dessert, a gelato is a smart choice. Again, do NOT buy gelato near St. Mark Square. Go to hidden alleys of Venice and look for a gelateria. Or go to Google and search “best gelato Venice”. That’s what I did. Too bad I visited Venice in January, none of the suggested gelateria was open. I still, however, came across several places. I popped in a hidden gelateria in the San Polo neighborhood and only had to pay 3.5 euro for THREE scoops of gelato. The price did not reflect the quality at all. My gelato was still creamy, mouthwatering, finger-licking good like that found in some other famous establishments in Milan or Rome.
The Guardian‘s Top tips for romantic Venice are worth taking into account.
Google everything before you go. Or ask the owner of hostel/hotel for recommendations.
Have fun in Venice. And keep in mind, the city will disappear one day. You simply must have fun there while you can.