Venice is expensive in high tourist areas; but if you know exactly where to go and you take a cue from locals in the city you’ll be amazed by how much there is to enjoy that costs little to nothing. We have put together suggestions from locals for 5 things you can do for free in Venice, along with 3 things you can do for only 2 euros!
In general, avoid getting lured to dine or shop at tourist traps in the most crowded areas of Venice, where you will often find waiters or vendors outside soliciting you to sit in a restaurant or enter the shop. As is the case with most cities, if you plan ahead or have advice from locals about where to go, you’ll be amazed by how cheap Venice can be.
1. Enjoy the Sunset sitting at La Baia del Re in Cannaregio
In the neighborhood of Cannaregio there’s a really quiet zone called “La Baia del Re.” It is an off-the beaten path place despite being only 2 minutes from Fondamenta della Misericordia (one of the main places where locals like to meet for drinks at night in Venice). La Baia del Re is a residential zone where a majority of local Venetians live. It has many benches where you can sit along with some green areas. This area is perfect for relaxing and enjoying a sunset with a picnic of pizza or pasta take away. The view is amazing: at your left you’ll see trains coming to Venice and in front of you you’ll see Murano island. Enjoying a sunset here is something everyone visiting Venice should do.
2. Visit The Jewish Ghetto, Cannaregio
The Venetian Ghetto was the world’s first, established in 1516 by the Venetian Republic. It is now the heart of Venetian Jewish life. If you’re coming from Venice Train Station, it is only 5 minutes away. Once you arrive at Venice train station, you turn left and continue straight on until the first bridge: Ponte delle Guglie. After crossing the bridge, you turn left and you’ll see the restaurant Gam Gam. Gam Gam is a kosher restaurant owned and operated by Venice’s Rabbi. In fact, it is open every day except for from Friday night to Saturday night (shabbat time). Once you arrive at the restaurant and you’re willing to visit the Ghetto, you should turn into the tiny calle next to Gam Gam. While following along this path you’ll encounter many tiny shops which are actually kind of art galleries with impressive works about Venice, as well as some unique antique shops. By following the main street, you’ll reach the “Campo del Ghetto” where you can relax on a bench while enjoying a taste of Venetian Jewish life.
If you’re curious about the history of the Jewish Ghetto you can read more here in our interview with Manuela Fano and Anna Campos, the co-presidents of the ADEI-WIZO of Venice, The Association of Women Jewish of Italy.
3. Visit San Giovanni and Paolo Hospital, Castello
San Giovanni e Paolo is an amazing Basilica in the Castello area. It is also known as San Zipolo among Venetians. It is situated in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, near Vaporetto stop “Ospedale.” In fact, the next to the Basilica you’ll find the main hospital in Venice: “San Giovanni e Paolo” hospital, the entrance of which entrance is the facade of the “Scuola Grande si San Marco,” one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture in Venice.
The entrance to the hospital can be found through the entrance on the “Fondamenta dei Mendicanti.”
Prontopia Locals know the best way to get you and your belongings where you want to go, and help with any practical needs along the way. You’ll learn firsthand about the best local spots in the city for dining, shopping, and entertainment. Whether you need help for 15 minutes or all day long, a friendly Local is here to orient you to the city. For help with anything you may need during your stay in Venice, download Prontopia, and enjoy Venice like a Venetian beginning at only 15 euro!
4. Go to Sant’ Elena Park
Sant’ Elena is an area of Venice totally out of the tourist center. The Rimembranze park is literally amazing and so big. You’ll find many children playing and families chatting. It is the perfect place for you if you want to relax aside from the crowds. If you’re going in summer, don’t forget to bring something to protect against mosquitoes because there are going to be many there!
5. Basegò Free Prosecco or Coffe, Dorsoduro
When we first heard of the free Prosecco or coffee tradition at a local bar in Dorsoduro, it was a bit strange for us, so the Prontopia team went to check it out and it’s real! Eloisa went to Basegò: a local wine bar dedicated to sustainable food and community. Eloisa talked with Samantha and Tobia Lenardo, the brother and sister who own the place and decided to make it plastic-free. In addition to such sustainable practices, in this special place the owners are also continuing with a neighborly tradition: the “cicchetto and prosecco pagato.” What does it mean? When patrons pay for their wine or cicchetto they can decide to also pay for an additional one for whoever orders next. The bills are tacked upon the wall when you enter at your left. We left a prosecco and a cicchetto paid for whoever might like one. The receipt is hanging upon the wall signed as Eloisa Prontopia. Please, feel free to use it and to start a chain of generosity for whoever is coming next!
Bonus: 3 Typical Venetian Things you can do for 2 euros each activity
– Take the Traghetto to cross the Grand Canal. For only 2 euros per ride, you can cross the canal on a boat that is very similar to a gondola. You’ll be sharing the boat with other passengers, but we’re sure it’ll be worth the 2 euros 😉 Discover How and where to take the traghetto in Venice here.
– Visit Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Santa Maria Dei Miracoli Church is a very small and hidden one in Castello Area, It’s one of the most amazing churches in Venice due to its very specific architecture and because is made entirely by marble.
– Have an aperitivo on the boat with one cicchetto and one vino della casa at Al Timon. This is what every Venetian does on the weekend. Al Timon is a family owned and traditional steak-house in Venice. For aperitivo it is usually very crowded but also very cheap. You can go there and ask for a cicchetto at the price of 1 euro each, and you can ask for the wine of the house which is also 1 euro a cup. You should ask to have plastic glasses, so you’ll have the permission to sit outside on the boat. You’ll feel like a Venetian out there!