Sleeping on the streets of Venice?
July 18, 2006 12:13 AM   Subscribe

Planning on traveling to Venice: Are there any cheap hostels or hotels that are available? If so, where are they? On the extreme side, we're even willing to rough it out and sleep on the streets for a few nights. Anyone ever tried this and is this safe, or are we batshit crazy?

Me and a friend are strapped on cash but want to travel before we settle down into our careers. We decided on Venice for now and are looking for cheap ways to spend 2 weeks out in Italy.

Bonus question: what city have you been to that you think is the "best bang for your buck" in terms of overall adventure (culture, people, environment, history, architecture, etc...) Btw, our ages are 22 and 30.
posted by atmu to Travel & Transportation around Venice, Italy (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't recommend sleeping rough in Venice. I haven't done it but nor would I want to. You are not going to find anywhere particularly cheap in the centre, but there are some youth hostels that may fit the bill. There is a relatively cheap hostel in Castello called Foresteria Valdese (gets booked up though), or you could try a place called Domus Civica near the railway station.

On the bonus question, if you're staying in Italy then I think Rome fits the bill. I've been twice and barely scratched the surface, it is a great city.
posted by greycap at 12:26 AM on July 18, 2006

Don't sleep rough, there's no need to. Stay at the Hostelling International hostel on the Giudecca. It's cheap and pleasant. I've stayed there several times (I did my dissertation on Venetian art) 'though it's almost 5 years since I was there last. You then just need to take a vaporetto (waterbus) to St Mark's etc every morning.

Venice is an incredible city: architecture - Palladio, Sansovino; art - Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto; music - Vivaldi. The problem that you may find is that it is essentially dead. That is the people who work in Venice don't live there but live on the mainland in Mestre. The population of Venice is essentially nothing more than tourists. You may feel like you're visiting a sublime Disneyland.

Venice is without doubt my favourite city, but if you are looking for adventure, you might prefer Rome (or Paris, London, New York).

(One last thing, you're not planning to go now, are you? It'll be hot and smelly and overflowing with tourists.)
posted by boudicca at 1:36 AM on July 18, 2006

Rome and Venice are both amazing. Do the tourist stuff, but also see if you can break away from the barrage of beggars and people who make their living peddling "Rome" T-shirts to the tourists.

To answer your question, though, I'm not so sure sleeping on the streets is a good thing. If memory serves, both cities had their fair share of homeless and "night-folk." In other words, that nice alleyway might be someone else's turf. Besides, do you really want to walk around all day after sleeping on a sleeping bag rolled down on concrete?

Greycap is right - there are a lot of good youth hostels around the area. Two good hostel directories I know of are and

Also, here's another option (this is probably what I would do): go to CraigsList: Rome - and see if you can make a private deal with someone to stay in a place they're trying to rent for a few days. They probably have no one renting it already, so it's free money to them (try to get a good deal). Maybe all you need is a single room? I'm sure someone would be willing to accommodate. Good luck, have fun.
posted by ifranzen at 1:39 AM on July 18, 2006

I stayed at a hostel called Residenza Junghans when I stayed in Venice last year. It is, by far, the most spacious, secure, and cleanest hostel that I have ever stayed in. It's more like a hotel than a scummy, shoddy backpackers.

The building has been recently renovated, the rooms are huge, and the ensuite bathrooms lovely (and, for the price, an absolute bargain). I cannot recommend it enough. Their prices have increased since I stayed there, but I do think the current price is more than reasonable (and hardly out of line for such a tourist city) for the quality of the accommodation. It's also on Giudecca, so you'll need to take vaporetti to get to and from the city proper.
posted by lumiere at 1:46 AM on July 18, 2006

You might try casa Gerotto, though they seem to not have prices on their website anymore. is just a subsidiary of - you might consider booking directly with the hostels if possible as some of them tend to up the prices to cover HW's commission fee.

You don't say when you are going - this makes a big difference in your bang-for-buck calculations. With two weeks, I'd consider splitting it up. Maybe one week in Rome (not biased at all, why do you ask ;) , one week in Venice, maybe stopping for a day (max two) in Florence on the way down/up.
posted by romakimmy at 4:06 AM on July 18, 2006

In terms of "best bang for your buck", I'd recommend anywhere that's not on the euro. The USD->euro exchange rate can really add up over a 2 week trip. If cost is really your primary concern, I'd keep this in mind.
posted by rachelv at 5:02 AM on July 18, 2006

Can't help you on the hotel front (I can't remember the place we stayed and I didn't think it was as cheap as you're looking for), but a word of advice on food in Venice -- if you're looking for authentic Italian food, stay out of the restaurants (the locals won't give up the places where they actually eat). Almost all of the tourist places are expensive and the food is horrible. Stick to the enotecas (wine bars), where you can get a glass of wine for 3 euro and crostati (toast topped various stuff) for 1 to 2 euro. It's tastes so much better and a lot more affordable.

Bring a big water bottle. Most Italian cities have public water fountains (some of them from Roman times) where you can fill up for free. I recall that Venice had some of the best water.
posted by lemoncello at 6:22 AM on July 18, 2006

I used to work as a tourguide in Venice. Casa Gerotto and Foresteria Valdese were always my top two recommendations for people looking for cheap housing there. (If it were me, I'd prefer the Foresteria.)
posted by occhiblu at 7:46 AM on July 18, 2006

I third the Foresteria Valdese (their direct website is here). It's like staying in a decaying Venetian palace.

I've also found very good deals with the touts who meet the trains. They tend to represent places that are a bit far from the center of things, but in Venice the whole joy of the city is walking around.
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:58 AM on July 18, 2006

I've just returned from a visit to Italy and had a great time in Venice. Still, I wouldn't want to stay there for any length of time. It's beautiful, but - as has already been mentioned - almost exclusively for tourists. It is the bastard child of Wisconsin Dells and the Louvre.

Consider staying in Mestre or Padova (a beautiful place with amazing art and architecture of its own) and taking the train to Venice instead. It stops right in the middle of the city and is reasonably priced.

Regarding the suggestion of renting a place in Rome: I found a great deal through Sleeping In Rome and ended up spending a few days in Senora Lotti's house with her husband and dog. I had a private bathroom and she made breakfast every morning - far less expensive (and far more pleasant) than staying in a hotel.

There is, however, one caveat: as you'll be dealing with native Italians who may not speak English, you'll want someone fluent in Italian helping you out. A friend of mine helped me track down the best deals and communicated on my behalf over the phone. It's doubtful that I'd have been able to get such a good deal or work out all the details on my own.
posted by aladfar at 8:11 AM on July 18, 2006

You're trying to get the best bang for your buck by staying in one of the most expensive cities in Europe? At the height of tourist season? This strikes me as a very bad idea. If you want cheap, try Greece or Eastern Europe. You'll probably get four weeks' holiday for what you pay for two in Venice if you're careful.

Maybe it's just me, but I've been underwhelmed by Venice on every visit. Smelly, expensive, full of tourists... I'd make contingency plans in case you want to go somewhere else after a few days.
posted by blag at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2006

Yes, I would say that "bang for your buck" does not come anywhere in Italy in August. Late September and early October, before the fog really sets in, was my favorite times in Venice, when the city actually becomes a real city again. (Or failing that, April and May, before the tourist hordes descend.)
posted by occhiblu at 8:25 AM on July 18, 2006

Bah! Naysayers!

The train station doors in Venice are locked during the week, so you can either sleep on the steps outside the train station, or if it's on a weekend, the train station will have several dozen people sleeping inside it. I've done this a few times either due to missing the last train, or purposely staying out too late and having to wait a few hours for the next train. There pretty much aren't any trains between 11pm and 5 in the morning.

Of course, you'll feel quite a lot better if you just grab a hostel, but try to book your room in advance. If you do need a hotel, expect 60+ euros for two people if you're just walking in. Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to sneak people into rooms in Italy, as many of the cheaper hotels won't allow "guests", and hotels rarely have entrances that don't go past the front desk.

As far as having fun, it's likely that 2 weeks is a bit too much time in Venice. I'd recommend Rome (cheap hostels everywhere, plenty of fun), Florence, or if you're willing to leave Italy, my personal favorite: Barcelona.
posted by cactus at 8:43 AM on July 18, 2006

I had good luck with for a room in Venice. I booked it the day before my visit and got a lovely hotel room for less than I would have paid for a hostel.
posted by judith at 10:26 AM on July 18, 2006

Wow, cactus -- the trains only run to Venice on weekends, now?

We camped on the island opposite the Lido, the Punta Sabbioni, for very cheap, riding the ferry back and forth -- but that was a long time ago.

Yeah, Venizia is the Disneyland of Europe -- a dead city, preserved for the tourists -- but you gotta go at least once.
posted by Rash at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2006

What about Couch Surfers or the Hospitality Club? Then you can sleep for free and meet someone who knows the town and area well.

I belong to the Hospitality Club and have been fortunate to have good luck with everyone I've met through it. I don't know about couch surfers but haven't heard anything bad really. Remember though that house guests are like fish in that they start to stink in 3 or 4 days. Unless you really get on well, I wouldn't plan on staying in the same person's house for the whole 2 weeks.

If you make it over to Tuscany, I Bike Italy is a fun way to spend the day. It was a highlight of our trip.

Have fun! Italy is so fabulous!
posted by dog food sugar at 12:18 PM on July 18, 2006

my parents-in-law like to camp in Italy - there are different campsites around - it saves them money, and gets them into the country-side. Take a light tent, and it might be a way to go if you'd like to see life outside the cities for a few days.
posted by jb at 6:29 PM on July 18, 2006

Hah woops, bad edit. What I meant to say is that they close the train station between ~midnight and 5am during the week - it's only open all night long on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights).
posted by cactus at 11:44 PM on July 18, 2006

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