Is it possible to see Venice on a budget? With kids? Many would say not. I took my family on a P&O Cruises holiday in the Adriatic recently, with the cruise highlight being the ‘Floating City’. And whilst I don’t mind paying good money for good food, I absolutely didn’t want to blow the budget on day three of our cruise. So I was on a mission to find the best things to do in Venice on a budget. With a 5-year-old. Easier than you might think!
Best way to see Venice on a budget, walk, don’t ride
Yes, Venice is famous for its gondolas, but that’s not the only way to see the floating city. Move away from the crowds in St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge and you’ll experience a city of hidden squares, tiny bridges and tunnelled walkways waiting to be explored. We turned off our phone navigation and used the imaginative wall-signs to guide us around. Yes, we got a little lost at points, but with the Grand Canal on all sides, you’re not lost for long, it’s great fun and free!!
The best rooftop views in Venice, for free!!
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi offers the best rooftop views in Venice, bar none! This historic building, situated right near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal, was first constructed in 1228, but now serves as one of the most beautiful shopping centres we’ve ever seen. But a visit to T Fondaco dei Tedeschi would not be complete without a visit to the Rooftop Terrace which features an overwhelming view of Venice. Book your slot online before you arrive and there’s no waiting for your 15 minutes of gazing at one of the most magnificent sights in Europe.
Explore Venice for free with a treasure hunt
The lion of St Mark and Venice stands guard over the main, and busiest square on the lagoon, Piazza San Marco. But the lion can also be found in unlikely places across the city, you just have to look! I set my little girl the challenge of finding as many Venetian lions as possible on our walk. They are carved into doors, visible on gently flapping flags, fashioned into doorknobs and even sculpted into walls. As we reached a count of 70 before my 5-year-old lost interest, the hunt was both fascinating and educational!
Best place for free music in Venice
Yes, St Mark’s Square is busy with tourists and yes, if you sit down at one of the few places to eat and drink there you’ll find it more expensive than elsewhere in the lagoon. However, three of these cafes are blessed with fabulous concerto stages and it costs nothing to listen to their wonderful music. And as the musicians stagger their performances, with one group taking up after the previous group has finished their renditions, you can move around the square for quite some time, enjoying concert-level music in the fresh air. All without breaking the bank!
Low-cost designer ice cream
Almost everyone’s an ice cream lover. But everyone likes something different. Well, the Magnum store in Venice gives you the chance to make your very own designer ice cream!! Fronting the Grand Canal, next to the Scalzi Bridge, the excitingly named Magnum Pleasure Store is a great starting point to explore Venice. Pay your €7.50, take your ticket and guide the expert ice cream artists towards your ideal confection. Want vanilla ice cream, coated in dark chocolate, coated in brownie pieces, popping candy and Smarties? Done. Prefer chocolate ice cream, with white chocolate, nuts and flakes with a drizzle of milk chocolate. Also done. The ice cream is your oyster.
Yes, there are cheaper places to buy ice cream in Venice, but this is a rare, Wonka-esque experience. And it’ll keep the kids quiet for at least 5 minutes…
Find out more about visiting Venice, see our article, 36 Hours in Venice
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