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1-day budget backpacking trip to Venice, Italy (from €40 per day).

Each year over 20 million tourists flock to Venice to live out their dream of taking a gondola ride in the world-famous canals. I visited in July, during the peak tourist season, and was overwhelmed by the crowds. In some parts of the city, especially around Rialto Bridge, the foot traffic can become gridlocked.

In response to the giant crowds to the small floating city, the mayor has talked about possible limits on accommodation, live-tracking the number of people in the main attractions, and promoting the lesser-known parts of the island.

To reduce the pressure on local residents and have fewer crowds, to visit in the low season (November to March, excluding end of year celebrations and carnival). Or if you accidentally end up here in the high season, then I recommend staying on the mainland in Mestre, catching the train into the island, and looking for alternative attractions.

I had only 24 hours in Venice and managed to enjoy myself (especially once I got away from the crowds) while on a budget and even found a gondola ride for only €2.

Here is my itinerary and budget breakdown so you can plan your 1 day in Venice.

Planning a trip to Italy? Read this remarkable Rome itinerary on a budget.

Venice, Italy in a day

I arrived in Venice by train, after traveling south from Udine. The Santa Lucia station was only a twenty-minute from my hostel located in the northern part of the island. After checking in and dropping off my bags around lunchtime, I found a free walking tour online. The tour was meeting close to the train station, however, I decided to walk the long way, going southeast then crossing back on the Rialto Bridge.

The first thing that struck me about Venice was the number of tourists where the narrow alleyways can be clogged with people so much that it can bring you to a standstill. After taking a few turns off the main walkways, I found a maze of twisting alleyways all through the center of Venice. In these little alleys, there were barely any other people and I could be by myself in the peace and quiet to enjoy the beautiful city. It’s very easy to get lost in the rabbit’s warren of alleys and I had to rush to make sure I was on time for my walking tour.

Rialto Bridge Venice Italy in a day

Free Venice walking tour and €2 gondola ride

The tour guide took us into the ghetto and shared with us some interesting history about Venice. The best part was when he showed us the “traghetto”, a gondola used for crossing the canal. Usually, gondola rides can cost upwards of 80 Euro. However, for only 2 Euro you can have a shorten experience to tick off the bucket list.

gondola - Venice itinerary 1 day

Self-guided walking tour of Venice

After my mini gondola trip, I decided to separate myself from the tour early as I had limited time and a lot of sites to cover. I headed straight for Piazza San Marco. After spending some time soaking in the sites of the square, including Basilica Di San Marco (church) and Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower), I wandered around the city of Venice finding hidden treasures around every corner. My favorite part of Venice was getting lost and finding gorgeous views at every turn.

Venice is the most expensive city to visit in Italy, however, I kept my trip cheap with pizza slices and gelato from street stores. It was an amazing trip and I would thoroughly recommend to anyone to visit, but try to avoid peak season if you can!

Piazza San Marco Venice itinerary 1 day

The images in this article were sourced from Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0. Originally published in 2016, completely rewritten and updated in February 2018.

Budget breakdown: Venice (2020 update)

All costs are quoted for one person.

Venice Travel Costs

See below for my average daily spend including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Ostello S. FoscaHostel (€27). See current rates for accommodation in Venice.

Food: Breakfast of takeaway sandwich (€4), pizza slices for lunch and dinner (€6), and gelato for dessert (€1.50). Water refills from the hostel into a pre-purchased water bottle.

Activities: City Walking Tour (Free).

Transport: Walking in city (Free), traghetto gondola ride (€2).

Average daily spend*: €40.50 per day ($64.31 AUD / $45.26 USD as of 3 September 2015).

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How to see Venice, Italy in 24 hours

About Chantell Collins

Avatar for Chantell CollinsChantell is a perpetual bargain hunter, veggie lover, and minimalist. She created Budget Travel Babes for women, like YOU, who want more affordable, responsible, and sustainable travel.