Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

The northern Italian city of Venice is a notoriously expensive place for a vacation.

But according to a new survey by travel website Omio, the canal city actually works out as one of the cheapest European destinations for certain factors.

Venice came third in their rankings of 100 popular European cities thanks to its numerous free attractions and public drinking fountains.

Here’s how you can enjoy the island city on a budget.

Which attractions are free in Venice?

Many of Venice’s most famous sights are free to visit, the Omio survey points out.

St Mark’s Square is one of the most spectacular places in the city and you can see it without paying a penny.

The vast plaza is lined with sweeping Renaissance buildings, a 900-year-old gilded basilica and the ice-cream colored Doge’s Palace.

Down by the waterfront, you get one of the most iconic views in Venice. Lines of sleek black gondolas bob in the foreground while the luminous white facade of the San Giorgio Maggiore church rises up behind.

Two iconic bridges you can see for free

Walking on down the Riva degli Schiavoni, you reach another of the city’s highlights. The Bridge of Sighs, which connects the Doge’s Palace to the prisons, has always had a melancholy magic for visitors.

The bridge received its poetic name from Lord Byron, reflecting the fact that prisoners crossing the structure would get their last glorious glimpse of Venice from its barred windows.

Another iconic bridge you can see for free is the Rialto. This 16th-century structure is one of only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.

The interior is lined with luxury jewelry shops, while the outer part affords magnificent views over Venice’s most important waterway.

Which churches in Venice have free entry?

Several notable churches are also free to visit. The Basilica della Salute is famed for its grand Baroque dome that has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline.

The church of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by notable Renaissance architect Palladio, contains paintings by Venetian master Tintoretto. Both churches have free entry.

Best walks around Venice to see the sights

The best thing about a budget holiday in Venice is that one of the most pleasant activities in the city is completely free.

You can spend days wandering and wondering through the calle of the canal city, stumbling across grand palazzi, secret gardens, tiny mask-making workshops and characteristic bars.

The historic Jewish Ghetto is a great place to stroll past independent art galleries and kosher bakeries whose windows are filled with sticky, syrupy treats.

Carry on down the Fondamenta della Misericordia, a pavement along a wide canal lined with colorful gothic palaces and pretty cafès.

Alternatively, the Fondamenta delle Zattere running along the city’s south edge affords breathtaking views over the Giudecca canal. Continuing right to the end, you reach the Punta della Dogana.

This triangular point of land looks across to St Mark’s Square and right out into the lagoon in the other direction.

How to eat and drink in Venice on a budget

One thing you can easily save on in Venice is drinking water. There are 186 public drinking fountains in Venice, according to the Omio study.

Filling up your own water bottle is also a great way to help the environment.

For inexpensive and informal food and drink, head to Venice’s bacari. These are tiny traditional bars that serve well-priced drinks and small snacks or plates of food.

You’ll also be able to try some local specialties in these bars, like sarde in saor (sardines in a sweet and sour onion sauce) or baccalà (a creamy codfish mousse).

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