How to be Romantic in Venice on a Budget

Venice is a city for romantics. As soon as you turn the corner from the busy tourist attractions it’s hard not to fall in love with the small, quaint, car-less walkways where history literally surrounds you. Love is what often draws couples to City of Canals, whether it’s newlyweds on their honeymoons, old couples stopping for the day while on a cruise, or couples celebrating a major anniversary as Mrs A|T and I did for our tenth a few years ago. Looking around you’ll often see people paired off as they explore the city.

Couples everywhere you look in romantic Venice

With its reputation as a unique romantic destination it can be easy to fall into the Venetian tourist trap, but you don’t have to try too hard to find quiet, less expensive ways to experience la dolce vita with a loved one. I wanted to say affordable, but less expensive is probably more realistic to be romantic in Venice. Love isn’t cheap unless your idea of romance is graffiti hearts.

Signs of Love in Venice

Don’t stay too close to the big attractions

Venice is pretty small and very walkable. Yes you can get lost but eventually you’ll find a sign pointing you to a familiar landmark or you’ll come across the Grand Canal and can take a water bus back to someplace familiar. Once you’ve figured that out it doesn’t take very long to get from any point a to any point b in town. There are many nice little boutique hotels and those that are more out of the way are not only very romantic but also more affordable. We stayed near the Zattere promenade [] in the Dorsoduro area. It was away from Rialto and St. Marks and was filled with students and locals strolling along the water. Our hotel, the Charming House, wasn’t quite budget but it was romantic. They even offered heart shaped coffee packets.

Heart Shaped Coffee Packets from DD724 in Venice

Eat where the locals eat

The standard rules apply here for avoiding tourist food. Don’t eat somewhere because they have an English speaking staff member standing outside beckoning you in. Try to find a place that is reasonably full of well dressed locals speaking Italian. If you are splurging for a romantic dinner look for out of the way patios.

Dining al fresco in Venice

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money you can stop at a grocery store and make yourself a picnic to eat on a bench or back at your hotel. One of my favorite experiences in Venice was trying to order some prepared foods and salumi at the deli counter of a Billa grocery store. Surrounded by little old ladies picking up some mid morning food (which is a good sign) they gave me slightly dirty looks until I started using the very basic and broken Italian that I learned on YouTube before the trip. The nonnas warmed right up once they saw me making an effort. We then had a feast of bread, cheese, olives, salami, prosciutto, and fruit in our hotel room (my wife and I, not the nonnas).

Consider alternatives to the gondolas

This one breaks my heart a little bit. Gondolas are a symbol of Venice but they are very expensive []. It costs 80 for a 40 minute ride during the day and 100 for the same ride at night. To be honest I don’t personally find them all that romantic. I think walking hand in hand along the water or down a quiet Venetian path is a better way to go for romance.

If you can afford a gondola ride by all means please do it. It’s a great way to see the city and more importantly it’s a way to do your part to keep the Gondolier tradition alive. Instead of paying for a private gondola ride we signed up for a tour that had a gondola ride included. While on that gondola ride we came across this scene. Pointing it out got me some serious romantic in Venice points. It was serendipity I guess.

Wedding Photograph in Venice

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11 thoughts on “How to be Romantic in Venice on a Budget

  1. I have been to venice 35 years ago and am hesitant to return in case the crowds make me dislike it. I think slightly out of season and as you suggest staying a distance away from the action would be good though. I like the way you chose the love theme. How romantic is that balcony shot?

  2. I managed a gondola ride back in the 1970’s when I think it was about $15.00! Love Venice and will go back one of these days. The coffee sachets are a nice touch.

  3. I have yet to visit Venice and feel that it’s a place to see with my husband. This post is full of great tips — and good t know that you can walk or get around so easily. I think I’d head there in the off season too.

  4. Thanks for this. Something to keep and share to friends who wants to go on tour to Venice on a limited budget. Just an insight: we don’t really need to abuse our savings to enjoy things… because simple things are good too 🙂

  5. I have watched so many movies where Venice is featured in it. Like people all over the world, I agree that Venice is the most romantic place in the world. And the dream land for honeymoon couples!

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