Saturday, 9 February 2019

Venice revisited

Being a fan of Venice and of travel hacking, here are a few tips that help you save on a trip to Venice and make the most out of it:

  • Venice is not an expensive city to fly to. That is because of the massive competition on this destination. It should be relatively easy to get there for 100 euro for a return, even on a legacy carrier. Beware, though the likes of easyJet will fly you to the main airport, of course Ryanair chose Treviso as its base. There's probably nothing wrong with Treviso, but it's not as well connected with Venice as Marco Polo airport. 
  • You've heard about the hordes of tourists at the San Marco square and the train station? Yes, they are there. But if you go in low season, things get much better. Our last visit late January: there was no high water (acqua alta), and there were no queues at the San Marco basilica. What's even better: if you go to the San Marco square in the evening, there will hardly be anyone over there. 
  • With an overload of hotels on the main island and the surrounding islands such as Giudecca and Murano, prices can be extremely attractive in low season. We stayed at the absolutely wonderful Hilton Molino Stucky for less than 100 euro per night per room (yes, we did book over half a year in advance). The hotel threw in a view from the sixth floor to the main island on our Hilton Honors gold status too (not to mention several other benefits).
  • If you're a regular visitor, you can buy a 'local' transport card which will allow you to take a water bus ride for only 1,40 euro instead of the usual 7,50. This requires you to invest a hefty 100 euro though. It's an investment for five years - for an extensive guide take a look here.
  • The best things in life are (almost) free: once you have that ACTV water bus pass (either the regular or the tourist one) you can take lines 1 or 2 to have that wonderful boat trip over the Canal Grande (if you start on Piazzale Roma, you have a chance of getting a seat). Also consider a trip around the east side of the main island, which shows the Giardini and the remainders of industrial locations and less glamarous parts of Venice (if it's your cup of tea).
  • Of course, you can visit the tower on the San Marco square if there is no queue (there wasn't end of January) and at 8 euro it's not even really expensive and definitely the view is worthwhile. You can also take the boat (line 2) to San Giorgio Maggiore and take the elevator to take in breathtaking views for only 5 euro. 
  • The rooftop of the commercial center Fondacio dei Tedeschi can be visited for free if you book in advance. Definitely worthwile with a view from above on the Rialto bridge (much better than trying to walk over it - the one location I would recommend you to stay away from). You can find all relevant information here
  • This one is definitely not for free, but even if you're not interested in art or architecture, it is strongly advisable to visit the Biennale, usually from May to November. There are two locations: Arsenale and Giardini. Especially the first one is worth the visit in itself: a huge, cathedral-like factory building originally used for building boats in an early form of mass production.
  • Download apps such as The Fork and Tripadvisor on your mobile phone. In low season, you can get discounts of up to 50% on your restaurant bill. Check the quality of the restaurant based on the review score in order not to get disappointed. During our last visit, we had dinner with on average a 40% discount.
  • Finally, the best way to explore Venice is to walk! A few hundred meters from the San Marco square or the Rialto bridge, there might be virtually no one left and you can explore the streets, alleys and canals of Venice on your own.