How much should a short 2-night break in Venice off-season really cost?
With low-cost airlines flying from numerous destinations, the return flight is possibly one of the cheapest items of a trip to Venice. However, even this can be deceptive: The budget airlines fly to Venice Treviso, not to Venice Marco Polo. Treviso is a good 31 kilometers from the outskirts of the city: A return taxi fare alone can cost as much as the flight.
To keep the costs down, you’ll have to look at other modes of local transport.
Venice Off-Season – Choosing Your Dates
Doing your homework in advance, and booking as much as possible online before leaving will save time and money.
The following is our itinerary for late January, which is just outside the high season – around a week before the start of Carnival. This is not a bad time to visit: There are fewer tourists and prices are marginally lower. However, it is cold: 4º during the day, dropping almost to freezing at night. For this reason, forget the fancy clothes and pull on plenty of warm layers, with a good hat (many of the locals seem to prefer beanies, which cover the ears). Even if you travel to Venice in March or April, it can be uncomfortably cold if you don’t take the right clothes.
Getting a Map of Venice City
Before you can properly plan a trip to Venice, it’s helpful (if not essential) to have a visual picture of where you’re going. Google Earth is great for making plans from the comfort of your home, but it’s not so great when you’re on the move with no internet connection. The paper maps available in hotels and Tourist Information centres are so general as to be almost useless. Getting a decent offline map of Venice is not as easy as it sounds.
I eventually found this map. It’s not perfect, but it did keep us on the straight and narrow when we needed it (and many of the tiny alleys in Venice are extremely narrow).
The interesting thing about Venice is that it’s actually much smaller than you expect. It’s a great place to explore on foot, but very easy to get lost once you leave the wider thoroughfares. Many of the narrow backstreets feel like mazes, with no visible landmarks to help get your bearings.
Before leaving, it also helps to check out the locations of areas around Venice through which you will have to travel, such as Treviso, Mestre, and Tronchetto.
Booking the Flight and Transfers
First item on the agenda is the flight. As mentioned above, if you’re travelling on a budget, then you will most likely fly to Treviso airport, 31 kilometers to the north west of Venice. The main budget airlines that fly here include Ryanair, GermanWings, Transavia, BelleAir, Wizzair and SkyTrain.
If you’re flexible with your dates, you can get some really cheap deals from these airlines. We paid €69 each for return flights with Ryanair.
However, this is only half the story: You still need to get to Venice. The cheapest way of doing this is by bus. There are 2 bus companies which operate from Treviso: ATVO and Barzi. Both provide comfortable coaches, but Barzi buses only travel as far as Tronchetto. The best bet is to take an ATVO bus which travels all the way to Piazzale Roma, with just one stop at Mestre.
You can book these bus tickets online – saving you both time and money. A return trip booked this way will cost you €20. They have a fixed timetable, which coincides with flight arrivals and departures.
The booking website is only in Italian, but it’s not too difficult to use if you understand a little Italian – and no doubt Google Translate can help if you really need it. To make your booking you need to specify which days you will be travelling (though they don’t ask for specific times). After you’ve paid for your booking, you receive a one page download – also in Italian. You need to print this out and keep it with you for the duration of your trip.
When we arrived at the small Treviso airport, we found the ATVO bus already waiting for us in front of the Terminal exit. It was marked prominently with Ryanair Airport Express, although I couldn’t find any indication that this was an ATVO bus. However, a quick chat with the driver confirmed this. He checked our printout, and we boarded the bus. There are no seat allocations and no specific bus times. You can travel at any time during the days that you booked.
The journey from Treviso airport to Piazzale Roma takes just over one hour, with one stop at Mestre. Piazzale Roma is a good location from which to start your exploration of the city. From here you can take a vaporetto directly onto the Grand Canal, or you can simply walk over the bridge into the western section of the city.
Venice is very walkable, so this is the option we chose.
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