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What Not to Do in Venice

by Lee Marshall

Try to save money by staying on the mainland or the Lido

Though it is officially part of the Venetian municipality, the sprawling and heavily industrialized mainland suburb of Mestre is not the Venice you came to see. Unscrupulous (or simply optimistic) hotel owners and travel agents sometimes exploit the fact that Mestre is also (strictly speaking) Venice, in order to divert visitors to anonymous mainland hotels. To appreciate this unique destination fully, you should stay in its island heart (known in Italian as il centro storico or Venezia antica). Even the Lido—the long island that separates the lagoon from the Adriatic—can be a disappointment. Apart from the early-September film festival there, it is something of a dormitory suburb.

Explore affordable ways to stay in the centro storico

There is no lack of accommodation options in the picturesque core of Venice. In fact, at all but peak times, historic Venice has a surplus of rooms. The key to securing an affordable hotel on the lagoon is not to stay out in the sticks but to avoid visiting during crowded periods such as Carnevale or Easter. If you come in quieter months like November or March (unless it's a year when Carnevale spills over from February), or just about any time of year if you have the luxury of tailoring your dates to fit impromptu hotel bargains, you can end up paying as little as $70 a night in a decent, clean, and law-abiding two- or three-star. Even a venerable historic four-star like the Gabrielli Sandwirth (pictured) offers classic doubles for as little as $120 at slow times. To see a selection for the dates you are interested in, listed in ascending price, go to the official website of AVA, the Venice hoteliers' Association.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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