How to: Visit Venice on a student budget

Glamorous vacations are overrated. While you may look fabulous in that photo at your swanky hotel, nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you (and only you) are funding your own holiday. It may not be as luxurious as what you're used to when you're tagging along with mom and dad, but you'll learn to appreciate the little things that make a vacation so special.

But it isn't easy. While being a student (usually) gives you the freedom to take a long weekend week off to travel, it definitely doesn't afford you the money to do so without cringing a little bit once you look at your account balance. Trust me: been there, done that.

It is possible, though, to travel on a student budget. And even more surprisingly, it's entirely possible to travel on a student budget to a notoriously expensive city- like Venice.

When my boyfriend and I initially booked our flights to Venice, I don't think I realized just how expensive it would be. From Vaporetto tickets to pricey dinners, the romantic sentiment of a weekend in Venice quickly dissipated as we realized that we would have to be surviving on toast for the weeks following our trip.

But, with a few days of research, we found that we could actually get around this financial problem and ultimately enjoy our vacation. Here's how we did it:

Stay on the island of Lido // Your best bet with finding at least a reasonably priced hotel is to stay on the island of Lido, which is just a 15 minute ferry ride from St. Marks Square (the main tourist hub of Venice). While staying on the main island may have its perks, Lido provides a much-needed sanctuary away from the bustle of the city centre. Plus, it's a lot cheaper! We were able to book a hotel (yes, a hotel- not a hostel!) for just €11 per night each. Hotel Reiter provided us with just what we needed for our three nights in Venice- that is, a place to sleep and some peace and quiet. 

Another great aspect of the Lido? Well, since it's not as touristy as the main island of Venice,  it's the perfect place for some authentic Italian food. We both agreed that La Taverna made the best pizza ever and was our favorite restaurant of them all. You know it's going to be a good restaurant when the menu is in Italian and a litre of prosecco is only €11. Let's just say we went back a second time on our last night of the trip.   

Buy a multi-day Vaporetto pass // At first glance, traveling on the Vaparetto (a  network of public water ferries ) seems expensive. Like crazy expensive. But, it's a necessary evil- especially if you're planning on visiting one of the outlying islands or don't really fancy walking from one end of the Venice to the other. Luckily the good folks at ACTV, who run most of the Vaporetto, actually like students and young people and provide them with a substantial discount on tickets. My real advice here is not to buy individual tickets or pay as you go. By buying a multi-day pass (we got the three day for €28) you'll save time and energy, and get the most bang for your buck.  

Picnic on the canal // While I do love a good restaurant, the bright and sunny weather of Venice made picnicking on the canal the most pleasant (and most financially savvy) option. With such wonderful in-season produce at the grocery stores, you're truly missing out if you don't sample at least some of it. Some of our best meals in Venice were had with our feet dangling over the water, soaking up the sun, and munching on coppa, breadsticks, and oranges.

Another traditionally Venetian canal-side meal is called "cicchetti," which consists of various snacks and sandwiches with a bit of "spritz" to drink. For only 1.50 per piece, you can have a light meal of bruschetta topped with roasted vegetables, prosciutto, or tuna tartare. And for the same price you can be getting tipsy by the canal with a classic spritz: aperol, wine, orange and soda water. Or you can make a dinner of it and go on a bar crawl (I'd recommend the Cannaregio area for this- particularly near the Jewish Ghetto) trying the different cicchetti on offer and having a spritz or glass of wine at each bar.

Book a free walking tour // We booked onto this tour just a few days before we left, but I have to say that I'm so glad we did! This isn't your regular walking tour- that is, the tour guides don't take you around to the tourist sights such as St. Marks Basilica or the Rialto Bridge. In fact, each guide takes you on a unique tour of Venice which encourages sustainable tourism. The guides emphasized that while Venice is a tourist hub of the world, it is important to support the local economy rather than the touristic one. I thought that our guide, Elena, did a fantastic job showing us the hidden corners of Venice while also explaining the history of the city in a clear and engaging way. If you're looking for a way to fill up three hours of your day for free, this is definitely the tour for you!

Wander aimlessly // While having a guided tour is all well and good, there's something to be said for getting lost in a city you don't know too well. Venice is unique in that you can be in St. Marks Square surrounded by hundreds of people, and then take a sharp turn down a narrow alleyway and find yourself alone and in utter silence. But you have to be willing to get lost to have these moments of tranquility. The best part is, once you wander far enough off the beaten path, you're more likely to find that little gem of a restaurant or that extra special artisan shop that you wouldn't have found otherwise. Or you may just find yourself sat along the side of the canal with not a gondola in sight.

Venice is a truly magical city. It takes your breath away no matter how many times you've been before, and promises to surprise you every time. And despite the high prices that may cause you to hesitate to book your visit, it is entirely possible to enjoy this wonderful city on a student budget.

P.S. We made a cheesy little holiday video to share with family and friends, so I thought I would share it here as well!


  1. Hey there!
    This was such a great post!! My boyfriend is taking me to Venice for my 21st this year and neither of us have been before. These are some really great tips! I will definitely be using your advice when we go away :)
    Great blog - keep it going.
    Imogen x

    1. Thank you so much! This trip was actually to celebrate my boyfriends 21st haha! Glad this post was helpful to you and hope you have a wonderful trip. I'm sure you'll have loads of fun!
      Xx Leda

  2. What a great post! My boyfriend and I are looking at going to Venice but we were worried about the cost with us both being students.

    Liv x



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