Cheap Romance in Venice
If bank accounts could talk they’d probably spin all sorts of stories to put you off going to Venice. It’s a cheapskate’s nightmare destination, but if you’re travelling around Europe with your girlfriend then chances are you’ll end up there. I’m here to show you how to get a taste of cheap romance in Venice, assuming you are already in a relationship.
A (not so) romantic gondola ride
Gondola rides are €80!! It’s the most overpriced tourist trap I’ve ever heard of, but there seems to be an expectation that you’ll do it because it’s “What you do in Venice”. Well, we did technically go on a gondola ride, but it only took 2 minutes and cost €2 each. Some men would argue that 2 minutes is long enough for romance, but probably not when you’re on a boat with 10 other strangers. We barely had enough time to get photos, but we did go on a gondola ride in Venice, so my girlfriend can tick that 1 off her bucket list. If you want to do the same, head to the Rialto Market and look for the public gondola ferrying people to the other side of the canal.
While researching places to stay in Venice, I told my girlfriend that we’d probably have to sleep in a dorm, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, didn’t go down well. I guess you don’t want to share a bedroom with 15 other people while in 1 of the most romantic places on Earth, so we eventually found a nice little 1 star hotel in the heart of the city, Hotel San Samuele. The location was perfect and the hotel was clean and well decorated (and most importantly not too expensive!). You could stay in a dorm, or a cheaper hotel in Mestre (a short train ride from Venice) but you wouldn’t be getting the same experience. Gia wrote a full review of Hotel San Samuele on our travel blog, MismatchedPassports.com – check it out here.
Wandering the old streets of Venice
One of the best ways to spend a few hours in Venice is to get lost in its maze of old streets and bridges– and it’s also one of the only things that won’t cost you.The lack of cars in Venice makes it the perfect place to walk, and once you get away from the main squares it can be extremely peaceful.
Piazza San Marco
Conveniently located around a 10 minute walk from our hotel, Piazza San Marco is home to some of the most impressive old buildings in Venice. Repairs robbed us of a decent look at Basilica di San Marco, but it’s free to enter and look at the intricate interior. We also climbed the Campinele San Marco (the bell tower) for a panoramic view over Venice – the €6 price tag is definitely worth it!
Exploring the outer islands of Venice
While Venice’s main islands can get pretty crowded, its outer ones were extremely quiet and peaceful (in November). We bought a 24 hour transport pass which gave us unlimited rides on the canal buses / the boats to the outer islands – it cost €20, which isn’t cheap, but considering how many rides we took it was actually pretty good value. We went to 3 of Venice’s outer islands…
After some awful weather in Slovenia, it was great to see the sun, and even better to get our first great sunset in Europe. Murano is famous for glass, and you’ll see plenty of shops selling all sorts of souvenirs (glass would have to be the most inconvenient souvenir material though!). We didn’t buy any glass, but a quiet stroll around the canals at sunset was pretty romantic.
For a while we thought we were the only tourists on Torcello, the longest continuously populated island in Venice. It’s pretty much a ghost town now, but of course one of the few other tourists on the island happened to be sitting right in front of something I wanted to take a photo of! If you’re looking for the most peaceful spot in Venice, make sure you check out Torcello.
Burano is basically a more colourful and less crowded version of Venice’s main islands, which makes it a great place for photographers. There isn’t a whole lot to do there, but the quiet streets and squares are perfect for relaxing.
We’re not exactly fine diners, so we weren’t worried about eating some of the cheapest food in Venice. It’s possible to find a pizza for around €6, sandwiches for €3 and a decent sized gelato for €2.50 – it definitely wasn’t as expensive as I thought it’d be!
Venice in low season
If you want some romance in Venice but don’t want to pay top dollar, you better make sure you visit in low season. Accommodation rates are lower and it’s nowhere near as full of tourists as it is in summer. We went there in the middle of November and it was perfect – it wasn’t too cold and the crowds weren’t too crazy. I’m sure it can get pretty cold and miserable in low season, but hopefully you get lucky like we did!
So there you have it, romance in Venice doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s still one of the most expensive places I’ve been to in Europe, but for a once in a lifetime experiences, it was affordable. Let me know what you think!
We were guests of Hotel San Samuele – all thoughts and opinions are my own (I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t like!).