Visit the Accademia for incredible art. Photo: Tom Meyers
Venice, as everybody well knows, is one of the most expensive cities to visit in Europe.
Hotels, restaurants and gondola rides can quickly and adversely affect your budget.
So we decided to list 10 favorite activities that Venice offers for under €15. Who says Venice has to be expensive?
Venice travel tips
• The Best cheap hotels in Venice: 7 picks from our guide
• Italy 10-Day Itinerary: Rome, Florence and Venice
• 5 Budget hotels with canal views
Let’s start with some activities for art lovers:
1. Visit the Gallerie Dell’Accademia
The Accademia is the world’s greatest museum for Venetian Renaissance art. It hosts an amazingly rich collection of Venetian paintings from the Byzantine and Gothic 14th century. Feast your eyes on works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, and Tiziano, not to mention Tiepolo and Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto and Longhi.
Admission: €15, reduced €7.50 (+ €1.50 if you buy tickets online)
Free entry: 1st Sunday of the month (no online tickets) and for visitors under 18.
Hours: Mon 8:15 am – 2 pm, Tues to Sun 8:15 am – 7:15 pm (ticket office closes one hour earlier)
Entrance: Near the Vaporetto Stop: Accademia – Line 1 and 2
2. Tour the Museo Arte Orientale Ca’ Pesaro
The Museo Arte Orientale Ca’ Pesaro offers one of the most important collections of Japanese art from the Edo period in Europe. The collection was acquired by Prince Henry II of Bourbon during his travels to Asia, between 1887 and 1889. You can admire more than 30,000 artifacts, like swords and daggers, Japanese armors and precious porcelains, with wide sections dedicated to Indonesian and Chinese art.
Admission: €10, reduced €7.50
Hours: Nov to March: Tues to Sun, 10 am – 5 pm, April to October: Tues to Sun, 10 am – 6 pm
Entrance: Near the Vaporetto Stop: San Stae, line 1
Now for some religious activities:
3. Visit the Basilica San Marco
Boasting an incredibly rich ensemble of domes, columns, statues and mosaic-covered interiors, the Basilica San Marco (“St. Mark’s Church”) is the true heart of Venice and the final resting place of Saint Mark. There are always long queues outside, but you can follow our guide on how to avoid crowds.
Admission: free for the church, St. Mark’s Museum €5, Pala d’Oro €2, Treasury €3, Bell Towers €8
Hours: Nov to June, Mon to Sat: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Sundays 2 – 4:30 pm, June to Nov, 9:45 am – 5 pm, 2 – 5 pm
Entrance: Near the Vaporetto Stop San Zaccaria – Lines 2, 51 and 41
4. Take a tour of the Jewish Museum and synagogues
This is the world’s first ghetto and it hasn’t changed since it was created back in the Middle Ages. The museum was opened in 1953 and displays valuable artifacts, sacred furnishings and the nuptial contract of the Jewish community that for centuries has lived in this neighborhood. The tour also includes a visit to the five synagogues of the city, all founded during the 16th century.
Admission: €8, reduced €6.50, guided tours €12
Hours: From June to September, 10 am – 7 pm, October to May, 10 am – 5:30 pm
Entrance: Near the Vaporetto stop Ponte delle Guglie, Line 41, 42, 51, 52 or S. Marcuola, Line 1 or 2
5. Visit the Chiesa dei Frari
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, a religious treasure situated in the middle of the Venice, makes up one of the largest groups of buildings in the city. The massive church, commonly called “Frari,” dominates the area of San Polo with its Gothic forms and creative use of bricks. Inside, gaze at amazing masterpieces by Titian, Donatello, and many more local artists.
Admission: €3, €1.50 reduced
Hours: Mon to Sat 9 am -6 pm; Sunday 1 pm-6 pm
Entrance: Near the Vaporetto stop San Toma, Line 1
How about some outdoor activities, with perfect spots for panoramic photos of Venice?
6. Take a ride to San Giorgio Island
This important Benedictine monastery was built on the small island of the same name by Andrea Palladio. It is designed around the church and two cloisters. Since 1951, it has been run by the Giorgio Cini Foundation. Take the short vaporetto ride to the island and enjoy the view.
Admission: Free for church, €6 for Bell Towers
Hours: April to October 9 am – 7 pm, November to March 8:30 am – 6 pm, Sundays closed for mass from 10:40 am – 12 pm
Getting there: Vaporetti Line 2, Isola di San Giorgio stop
7. Walk the beaches of Lido
Take a boat out to the sandy beaches of Lido, where the city’s aristocrats used to stroll during the summer. If you head over during the Venice Film Festival, you might chance upon some movie stars. The beach is free and there are some very nice restaurants in the area.
Getting there: Lido Line 1, Lido stop
8. Park it
Immerse yourself in one of the few green spots in Venice: the Giardini, created by Napoleon (after knocking down many old churches and convents) when he conquered the city in 1807. The rubble was used to create a small hill, which now hosts the Padiglione della Biennale.
And last, but not least, two of my own favorites:
9. See how gondolas are built at Squero San Trovaso
This boatyard is located along the Rio San Trovaso and dates back to the 17th century. This squero (“boatyard”) is one of the few still operating in Venice and you can watch for free from the outside.
Also, note the unique boathouse, the building shaped like a mountain house. The reason for its sloping shape is twofold: Both the carpenters and the timber came from Cadore (a mountain area of the Dolomites); and secondly, the slope was useful in case of rain, and serves as storage for tools.
If you want to take a tour and see gondolas being built and repaired, you need a group of at least 25 people. The tour usually lasts 30 minutes. Email ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
10. Take a Cheapo Vaporetto tour
Take Vaporetto Line 51, relax and take in the view of the lagoon. The vaporetto circles around the city and connects the Lido to Fondamenta Nove, on the northern lagoon side of Venice’s historic center. From there, it continues through the Cannaregio Canal to the train station and Piazzale Roma before heading up the Giudecca Canal with stops at San Zaccaria, Giardini, and S. Elena on its way back to the Lido. The tour only costs the price of a normal Vaporetto ticket (€7.50), and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the city!
Your favorite cheap activities in Venice?
Have anything to add to our list of great things to do in Venice on the cheap? Tell us about it in the comments section.