Planning your Venice itinerary and feeling overwhelmed? This guide covers how to spend 3 days in Venice and is PERFECT for first timers as it ticks all the boxes including both must see & hidden gems, the best foodie finds, where to stay in Venice on a budget, a full cost breakdown and even the best Venice day trips.
When backpacking Europe the floating city was on and off our bucket list for numerous reasons – will 3 days in Venice be too expensive? Too crowded? Too over-hyped? We envisioned getting lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and the fairy-tale architecture but feared battling the masses of selfie-stick waving tourists. However we spent a long blissful weekend there and we enjoyed every minute thanks to this Venice itinerary…as the saying goes – Veni Vidi Amavi – We came, We saw, We loved.
HOW MUCH TO BUDGET FOR 3 DAYS IN VENICE
Firstly, we’ll be honest we travelled off Season which may have played a major role in our views but we found Venice very affordable. We visited Venice in October and spent less during our three days in Venice than we had actually budgeted.
For our full Venice itinerary we had budgeted £555. In reality, we only spent £445 (for both of us including our travel cards) this did include dining in canal-side restaurants and having a bottle of wine with dinner. More travel costs are detailed below as we used a travel card which saved money and we also found an amazing hidden gem if you’re wondering where to stay in Venice on a budget.
Most backpackers tarnish travel cards with the same tourist trap brush however, the Venice travel card, namely the Venezia Unica majorly saved us both time and money. It cost £30 each for unlimited bus travel and Vaporetto (water bus) for the entire 3 days in Venice, including our airport transfer.
As we bought the Venice travel card in advance, we smugly walked past the crowds and queues of confused tourists trying to not only buy a ticket but work out the correct one for the duration of their stay. It was particularly great value for money as we were taking day trips from Venice to the islands of Murano & Burano and these transfers were also included!
If the Venice travel card isn’t suitable for your stay, you can book an airport bus transfer here for only €8.
In typical Scottish fashion, we always judge how expensive a city is on its price of alcohol. If it’s any help, on average a beer was €5, and we were delighted the national drink of Prosecco was usually €3 a glass.
Food, Drinks & Activities
Avg. Cost / Day: £148.16
WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE ON A BUDGET
One of the main reasons Venice was on and off the bucketlist was the cost. It is not an overly backpacker budget friendly destination and we were genuinely shocked at the cost of hotels despite the fact we were in Venice in October.
However, we will let you in on a little secret if you are wondering where to stay in Venice if you’re also on a budget. Although described as “camping” we cannot recommend Camping Venezia enough. It was cabin style accommodation (think wooden lodge meets caravan) complete with en-suite (with power shower) and terrace on a peaceful campsite with an indoor swimming pool, restaurant and mini market.
The bed was incredibly comfortable, the room cosy and we even had pizza at the campsite one night after one too many wines. There was also a lidl within walking distance where we purchased some snacks and a picnic to save some pennies. There was a fridge in the room which is ideal if (like us ) your 3 days in Venice is on a budget as you can prepare a picnic or snacks to avoid dining out.
We paid only £44.20 per night for our 3 nights in Venice. From our accommodation it was a 10-minute bus journey over the water into Venice (this was included in the Venice travel card), saving us hundreds of pounds on overpriced central accommodation!
If you are wondering where to stay in Venice we definitely recommend avoiding the centre also and getting the bus over the water like we did, as it will make a huge difference to your budget, giving you all the more money for the important things in your Venice itinerary, like €3 prosecco.
If you have the cash to splash (no pun intended) and choose to stay on the island, remember the majority of the hotels do not have direct access by boat. So abandon the 4th pair of shoes, your 3 coats and only pack the essentials as most likely, you will have to carry your luggage across one or several hundred stepped bridges.
Although amusing to watch, there were silly numbers of tourists attempting to drag wheeled cases over cobbled streets so we recommend this backpack for Europe and pack as light as possible!
Nothing is more annoying than when you have to check out your accommodation at 10am, but your flight/bus/train doesn’t leave until 7pm.The guys at Luggage Hero have safe luggage storage in over 22 cities around the world that is super easy to book and reasonably priced.
WHERE TO EAT DURING YOUR 3 DAY VENICE ITINERARY
Teamo Wine Bar
On the last of our 3 nights in Venice, we had a beautiful meal in a very *rare* secluded street at the restaurant Teamo Wine Bar. To this day, Daz claims it is the best pasta he has ever, ever had. Also, dessert involved pistachio cheesecake – did I hear a “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY?” Daz also enjoyed the wine here a little too much, resulting in him running into a rather posh hotel to pee on the way home as he simply couldn’t wait.
Another top tip – posh hotel staff find tipsy Scottish people rather amusing, allowing you to pee for free (when public toilets in Venice charge up to €3!)
We were also fortunate with our accommodation in Venice because from Camping Venezia there was a Lidl within a 10 minute walk, allowing us to stock up on snacks (and wine as our cabin had a fridge!) Although we smugly packed a picnic to avoid the tourist trap prices with visions of romantic canal-side sandwiches, it is important to note on our day trips from Venice to the Islands of Murano & Burano, there were signs prohibiting picnics (yep, actual picnic police!)
We assume this is due to crowding and the danger of tourists tripping over sandwich scoffing families into the water or possibly the litter some of these picnic parties leave behind. If you’re cool with walking and eating and not pulling out a full-blown blanket and buffet then packing your own lunch is always an easy way to save vital Prosecco pennies during your 3 days in Venice.
BEST BEVERAGES DURING YOUR 3 NIGHTS IN VENICE
Alongside the abundance of wine we consumed at Teamo wine bar, we recommend you try the Venetian spritz which is an aperitif made with Prosecco and Aperol or a non-alcoholic Crodino.
Also, most bars/cafes offer cicchetti which is a few small tapas style appetizers and a drink for €5 which is a fab option if your Venice itinerary is on a budget.
One of our favourite Venice day trips was to the island of Burano and not just for the multicoloured housing, but because a jug, yes JUG of prosecco was only €8!
THINGS TO DO IN VENICE
There are two points we cannot stress enough before we kick off your 3 day Venice itinerary. Firstly, don’t plan too much, part of the charm is getting lost in the maze of meandering streets and photo-worthy footbridges (particularly after dark as the streets soon empty).
Secondly, if you do have a must-see list then the Summer months are usually a no-go, but using Venice’s live tracker will help you make the most of the time you have through live updates of how busy the most popular sites are. This will prevent disappointment when faced with crazy queues or sardine-packed-like streets.
The following suggestions include the usual Venice tourist attractions which after our 3 days in Venice, we agree deserve the hype. We also included one or two off the beaten track suggestions which were the highlights from our Venice itinerary as they are not the usual stops you’d find in the guide books.
Venice Day Trips to Burano and Murano
When we first began planning our European adventure we both chose one bucketlist destination that no matter what we had to visit. For Daz, it was Lake Bled, for me it was the island of Burano. Traditionally, fishermen of the island painted their home a unique colour in order to identify it when returning in fog resulting in a vibrant village so beautiful, I was ready to abandon the rest of the Europe tour and hunt down a fisherman husband immediately.
Visiting Burano is one of the easiest day trips from Venice. Simply take Vaporetto number 12 from Fondamente Nove which departs every half hour. The Vaporetto also makes one stop on Murano Island which we 100% recommend visiting before hopping back onto the number 12 at the Murano Faro stop. Famous for its intricate glass sculptures we found Murano peaceful and ridiculously photogenic en route to visiting its Crayola-coloured big sister Burano.
Better yet, day trips from Venice to Burano & Murano are included in the cost of the Venice travel card mentioned earlier, you only need money for a jug of prosecco ha!
If you are not on a backpacking budget and would prefer to learn more history of the islands (including a visit to a glass factory) then you take a guided tour. A multi-lingual guide on-board your boat will take you to Murano, Burano & Torcello, allowing you time on each island.
As a little tip during your day trip from Venice, for the best views of Burano, get off at the small island of Mazzorbo (the stop just before Burano.) We did this, and not only did it allow a unique view as we walked across the small footbridge to the island, it meant we got to hop off the crowded Vaporetto early and before the mad rush of other tourists. This also gave us a wee head start on the photographing frenzy!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time during our 3 day Venice itinerary to explore Mazzorbo which has a 14th-century church of Santa Caterina but this was also recommended.
The journey to both islands, including a lengthy prosecco pause and a silly amount of posing outside every coloured house took us approx. 5/6 hours, so allow a day to thoroughly explore both. This meant we returned to Venice just as the sun was setting, which we felt was the perfect time to explore St Mark’s Basilica as the square began to empty from the tourist masses (whilst golden hour created the most beautiful glow on the surrounding buildings).
Although we didn’t go in St. Mark’s Basilica (our prosecco afternoon in Burano had worked up too much of an appetite and we needed pasta, pronto.) We later discovered you can purchase a skip the line ticket for St. Mark’s Basilica. This means you can beat the crowds (and would’ve saved us time for that pasta – worth an extra few Euros), book here!
A wee tip as backpacks are not permitted inside St. Mark’s, if you have bags preventing you to enter, walk to Calle Spadaria (facing the front of the basilica, the street is on the left) and rent a locker for free. For one hour, your belongings can be kept there. Also, like most religious sites – dress appropriately (covering shoulders, no shorts etc).
Golden hour was also the perfect time to capture the views from Rialto Bridge as the sun set on the canal without wrestling selfie sticks and screaming children alike.
We loved the journey from Venice to Burano (approx. 40/50 minutes) as we happily snapped the cemetery island of San Michele and Torcello via Vaporetto as well as catching the stunning sunset on the way home.
*Cue gasps of shock horror* but we left Venice before realising we hadn’t been on a Gondola and as it costs upwards of €80 – €100 for a striped stranger to serenade you for a mere 45 minutes, we felt our money was better spent on something we’d actually enjoy like, wine. We’d recommend taking the water bus (included in your Venice travel card) for an equally memorable tour of the Grand Canal allowing you to take almost identical photos of the famous spots (such as the Rialto bridge) at a tiny fraction of the cost.
If you cannot bear the thought of leaving Venice without a famous Gondola ride, but are still on a backpacking budget there are discounted versions available. If you purchase a shared ticket (your gondola ride will be with a handful of other strangers) it can be as little as €30 per person.
Visit The Most Unique Spar
Believe it or not one of our most surreal moments in Venice was when we stopped to purchase a bottle of water, recognising the Spar logo we popped inside to what soon became the most insanely extra Spar we have ever set foot in. Complete with a painted ceiling and a bloody LIVE QUARTET on the balcony we could not believe our luck as we browsed the cold meats to tunes of Tchaikovsky. It was one of those, stumble upon right place, right time moments which we’ll never forget, and although the live music may have been a one off, a visit to the shop alone is worth it for a definite WTF moment.
BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN VENICE
For a particularly memorable view of Venice we were gutted we ran out of time to visit the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower. Take Vaporetto line 1 and 2 just one stop from San Marco and in exchange for a few euros you can take the elevator to the top of the bell tower (approx. 60 meters) providing stunning views of St Mark’s Basilica & Palazzo Ducale. Opting for this rooftop view which is slightly off the usual tourist track not only means an unbeatable view but the queues are virtually non-existent compared to other Venice viewpoints. As a fellow redhead I felt it worthy to mention the church also boasts paintings by Titian if you need a dose of redhead appreciation.