The last time I visited Venice was during a whirlwind Italy trip about six years previous. I will admit that I was largely inexperienced in planning or preparing for a trip, had done almost no research, and spent all of five hours total in Venice itself. See Part One for the details of that trip.
This time was much different. Venice was our first stop in Italy as part of a four month Europe trip; meticulously researched and planned. We knew what we liked and what we wanted to see, and we discovered how to have an awesome time on a limited budget in one of the most notorious tourist traps in the world.
Three days in Venice. Two words; wine pots.
We traveled to Venice from Piran, Slovenia (see Piran blog), which would normally go something like; Piran (Portorož) – Koper – Trieste (Italy) – Venice; using buses and trains. Lets take a better look at the options available.
Piran to Koper bus costs €2.70 and departs regularly Monday to Friday, a couple of times a day on weekends, and takes 15-30 minutes. That’s the only way to go Piran to Koper.
From Koper to Trieste the Brioni bus costs €4 – €6 and takes 15 – 30 minutes. The Arriva bus costs €3 – €6 and takes 45 minutes to an hour. There are departures from the main bus station up to 10 times a day Monday to Friday and twice on a Saturday.
A one way ticket on a Trieste to Venice train can be purchased from €12.90. The journey takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours and there are trains departing almost twice an hour every day. Check times and get tickets at Trenitalia.
Alternatively, there is a ferry direct from Piran to Venice running every Saturday for €63 per person, with additional sailings and costs during high season.
We had booked a last minute ride share using BlaBlaCar, departing from nearby Trieste just across the Slovenian/Italian border. From Piran we took a 30 minute bus to Koper, where we discovered trains don’t run on Sunday’s and there’s a total lack of any public transport whatsoever into Italy. We managed to find the main road and hitch-hiked with a friendly German across the border into Trieste to meet our ride; which cost €8 each and took about 1.5 hours to Venice.
This was our first time using BlaBlaCar and it convinced us to use ride sharing multiple times during our trip. It’s generally cheaper than a train, faster than a bus, you get the benefit of meeting people, and maybe even getting some local tips on the city you’re visiting.
Check out the Venice blog part one for all the usual waffle about getting into Venice.
Hint – Ride sharing in Italy is becoming more popular and is a great way to get around. Also, don’t be afraid to hitch-hike, you will most likely get picked up by some interesting and lovely people.
Rent in Venice itself is criminal if you’re on a tight budget, but thankfully if you stay on mainland Italy the cost drops drastically. We chose an Airbnb room in Mestre for €37 per night, which is towards the low end of the scale for good accommodation. Our room was a cool 19th century Venetian throwback and very comfortable for two nights. It’s worth mentioning that a return ticket Mestre to Venice on the tram is €3 per person, so add at least €3 per day to your accommodation budget (and 25 minutes travel each way) if staying off island. For us it was still worth it.
Hostels can be found in abundance both on the island and mainland. Dorm room beds average around €35 per night in Venice and €10 per night in Mestre, but the Mestre hostels double as camp grounds. The best rated hostel on the island is Generator, and in Mestre is Camping Rialto.
The bnb market is saturated by hotels masquerading as bnb’s (what is it with Venetians and masks?), so I would advise using an owner direct site such as Airbnb to look for bnb style accommodation. Currently a private double room on the island will set you back around €75 on average per night, compared to €55 on Mestre. An entire apartment will average around €120 per night in Venice itself, and something like €70 in Mestre.
Hotels are probably the most abundant resource in Venice. No need for guides here. Suffice to say that they are generally considered to be expensive across the board, and range from chain franchises to unbelievable luxury well outside the realm of this blog.
Camping is a valid option if you don’t mind staying off island in Mestre. Campsites like Camping Rialto and Plus Camp Jolly offer dorm rooms as mentioned above, but also everything from €35 cabins, to tent pitches from €20.50 per night for two people and one tent.
Hint – Stay in Mestre for cheaper accommodation and a break from the tourist zone. Return tickets are €3 on the tram and take 20-30 minutes each way.
If you’re keen on art, fashion, history and culture, maybe do other research about Venice; because this blog is all about wandering the canals of Venice in search of wine and cicchetti. ‘Cicchetti‘ is an Italian version of tapas; small bites that serve to fill a gap between mealtimes, or when enjoyed in quantity provides a meal in itself. Cicchetti in Venice is a tradition as old as it is excellent, and is commonly accompanied by small glasses of wine from hereon referred to as ‘wine pots’. A wine pot is a single serving of (normally house) wine in a tumbler or small glass containing anything to up 150ml and commonly costing €1. They are my favourite thing
Osteria Al Portego was my favourite place for cicchetti. The food is excellent; think various crustini, bruschetta, seafood, salads, vegetables and lots more, all for a good price. The house wine pot is the largest measure we found and is €1 per pot. We went twice since no other place measured up.
Bacareto Da Lele is a more traditional haunt, we visited mid-morning for fresh porchetta rolls and house vino rosso (red wine). This place is very cheap, very good and full of locals.
Osteria Alla Ciurma probably had the best house wine I tried. Excellent with a sour sardine crostini and they have free toilets; a blessing in Venice.
Cantina del Vino Schiavi is a cantina/liquor store in a great canal-side location. Worth a stop.
Cantina Do Mori has an air of the expensive, is nicely decorated and the staff wear white. They serve excellent wine that’s slightly more pricey than other places, but worth it for the atmosphere.
Cantina Do Spade was probably my second favourite wine-pot-stop. Book ahead if you want to sit inside, but we were happy for a couple of hours; snacking and drinking wine on the benches outside while a classic Venetian storm raged.
Finally, if you want a really cheap, quality meal, check out Dal Moro’s pasta place. €5 gets you freshly cooked and beautifully flavoured takeaway pasta of your choice, it’s nothing fancy and even a bit franchise-y (slick-branded, queues, corporate decor), but it’s cheap and it’s good.
Hint – Don’t be intimidated if staff are a bit direct or sharp, they are just busy. Ordering in English is fine, just make sure to greet and thank in Italian. The rules are generally if you are sitting then you are eating a meal, so if you are just snacking and bar-hopping you should stand. Most places open around 6-8pm, but always, always check before you go. Ask for the house wine (and colour), point out which food you want and enjoy.
Hint 2 – Don’t pay for public toilets in Venice, which cost €1.50. Choose any Osteria, Cantina or Bacareto, order a wine pot for €1 – €1.50, and use their toilet for free. Profit.
Venice for two nights;
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