Saturday, 28 November 2015

Frugal City Guide: Venice {Part 1}

Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell using Olympus PEN E-PL7 (Save £150 through John Lewis Black Friday deals) 
I hadn't been to Venice since travelling Europe almost 10 years ago now, and although still on a budget this time around I decided to do things very differently. Firstly, I had never been to Venice in the winter - and I would hugely recommend it - far less tourists and our flights were under £100 on Easyjet. And let's face it, Venice is beautiful whatever time of year you go.

Denim jacket: £59, Topshop. Jumper: £24.99, H&M. Jeans: £255, Paige Denim.  Trainers: Senso (old). Backpack: £167.20, Radley. 


We stayed in the Cannaregio district, the northern part of town. It is about a 15 minute walk to St Mark's and 5 minutes to the Rialto Bridge.  We took the opportunity to try out Homestay, where you stay with a host - a bit like a B&B really - and our host Monica recommended walks for us to do and restaurants to visit, we loved how local we felt - it was a far less touristy part of town.

The courtyard of our Homestay in Cannaregio
Our room, from £71 a night including breakfast, dressing gowns and slippers and a private bathroom, Homestay

The room was much more comfortable than I imagined it would be, we could come and go as we pleased with breakfast as an added bonus with cooked eggs and fresh coffee...oh, and this was right outside:

Denim jacket: £59, Topshop. Bag: £167.20, Radley (a backpack has completely changed my sightseeing experience - so much easier!)
Our room was one of the windows on the left - and this canal was our view


Venice is not exactly large, so we walked most of it - quicker and more convenient (especially in the winter months when the crowds are less) - plus you see tons of side street osterias (local bars) which we kept vowing to come back to...

From the airport, the waterbus into Venice is so easy and takes around 40 minutes (luckily our stop was the first one), and costs €15 each. I've heard the water taxi is splendid but as it was foggy when we arrived we chose to save our spending money.


Now, I was under the impression that everywhere we'd go would serve home-made pasta SO much better than you can get in the UK and every pizza would taste like heaven. I have to admit, this wasn't quite the case - eating on the go and with convenience can mean you don't always end up in the perfect place - but we did find a few great little places.

Rosa Rossa - A recommendation from a lovely blog reader (thank you for that), we had a great night here, it had a great atmosphere and my gnocchi was melt in the mouth good. Dinner for two, including starter and drinks came to €70 euros.

Dai Tosi - possibly the cheapest, most authentic pizza we ate. The most expensive pizza on the menu was around €8 and the waiter talked us through the menu, advising us against pizzas without the freshest ingredients. Fully booked every night, you'll have to book in advance (we rang on the day), but it's worth it - our whole meal came to €30 (including half a litre of wine).

Caffe Florian - a Venice institution, we went here for our last breakfast as a leaving treat. Right on St Mark's Square (which means good people watching), it is expensive but not outrageously - a coffee costs €9.50 - but is served in such a splendid, one of a kind setting. It's often hugely busy in the summer months - but in the winter you can easily get a table.

Sunglasses: £151, Kenzo at Monnier Freres

Osterias - we learnt quite early on that if you want cheap, easy, tasty food (with a good atmosphere), then do as the locals do and visit some of the many Osterias or Bacaros - small wine bars serving small snacks - Cicchetti - like Venetian tapas.

Street Food stall serving fresh seafood
Fiore - near St Mark's, this was our homestay host, Monica's favourite place for lunch.

Mixed plate of Cicchetti and 2 glasses of wine - €15
Osteria Ruga di Jaffa - great atmosphere here at night, a good place to drop into on your way home.

And what to drink? Well, wine is super cheap and no one blinks an eye when you order the house red - they're all good. I'm not actually a wine drinker (I tried a few glasses of Prosecco) so quickly adopted the (pretty much) National drink of Aperol Spritz - between €4 and €6 euros a glass - always worth a tipple on the way home.

Bar just behind St Mark's Square
Make-up tip: for long-wear sightseeing make-up, I took Smashbox BB Water - amazing coverage and super light for someone who doesn't like wearing make-up. I'd really recommend it for an easy, one-application product which lasts all day until the evening (as we didn't really have time to get changed for dinner).

Clothing tip: it's cold in Venice in November - so scarves and a puffa coat necessary. I took a few evening outfits but didn't wear any of them, restaurants are super relaxed  - a jumper and jeans are perfectly fine for dinner.

My next Venice round-up will include what to see and do - there were just too many photos to include in one post!

We were guests of Homestay during our time in Venice - but would thoroughly recommend it for a more local experience and would definitely book again.


  1. This may be a dumb question, but how do you keep your breton striped tops and jumpers staying in good condition? I find after a bit of washing the white starts looking slightly grey as the lines start to bleed, leaving it looking less than crisp. Do you wash them on their own or use any particular detergent?


    1. Not dumb at all! To be honest, it's not always the same jumper - I have a few striped tops do actually don't wear just one all that much - so they're not always in the wash. Muji and Uniqlo do the best affordable ones to replace when they get a bit tired and I must admit, my Petit Bateau ones never run...I also wash on 30, not 40 degrees x

    2. I always wash with a scoop of vanish, my sister uses colour catcher sheets. Either way, I find helps stop colour bleed :)

    3. Colour run sheets from Tesco in all washes with stripes!

    4. Thanks everyone! Looks like I better get some colour run sheets! :)

  2. Where is the cute little peach coloured bag from? Also, I really miss the shop my style section of your blog. It was great to have lots of inspiration all in one place :)

    1. It's from Radley! So cute...and thanks for your feedback - I wasn't sure how useful it was, to be honest! And so hard to keep maintenance on all these redesigning slowly so will think about where it can sit x

  3. Nice photos :)
    Maria V.

  4. Oh I'm so nostalgic of Venice already! I've been there in September and I absolutely loved it. We decided to go there early/mid September as most of the tourist would have been back to school/work in their original places and we could still be able to enjoy a summery weather.

    Thank you for this post, it reminds me good memories.

    Have a lovely day

    xo. TDVR

    1. it's such a good time to go! My dad said it'd be raining the whole time (he's a real pessimist!) and it was a bit foggy and rained one day but other than that, great. We had a wonderful time x


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