What I Spent: Two Nights in Venice, Italy

  • 01 of 04

    Upfront Costs

    Canal and footbridge in Venice
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    The upfront costs of vacations are predictable. It’s the little things—airport snacks, cocktails before dinner, tipping a tour guide—that can throw even the most well-planned vacation budget off track. In this new series, we’ll look at the spending patterns of real travelers in popular destinations, so you can estimate what you’ll actually spend.  (Thanks for the inspiration, Refinery29!)

    For this installment, a couple heads to Venice, Italy for a minimoon. 

    Transportation: $400 (£285), London Luton to Venice Marco Polo via easyJet

    Hotel: $522 (£370) for two nights at Palazzo Barbarigo Sul Canal Grande, including breakfast 

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04


    J.M.F. Almeida/Getty Images

    9 a.m. It's the day after the day after the wedding. In the planning and partying blur we've forgotten to pack for our romantic escape so we're up at 7 to fill our carry-on bags surrounded by cards, gifts and bunting. Bleary-eyed, we don sunglasses and catch a train from Herne Hill to Luton Airport. Cost: $94 (£33 per person round-trip)

    10 a.m. Coffee and bagels at Benugo before my husband sneaks off to make a surprise purchase in one of the duty free stores. I pick up a couple of trashy gossip magazines on the way to the departure gate. Cost $22 (£16)

    2 p.m. Touch down and head to the arrivals hall to figure out how to get to the hotel but the hubs is one step ahead and has pre-booked a private water taxi transfer. Swoon! We make like the Clooneys and sip the surprise bottle of bubbly from the airport on the way to the Grand Canal. Cost: $112 (€100) plus $22 (£16) for the bubbles

    3 p.m. Check-in, spruce up, drink more bubbly. The hotel has put a bottle on ice for us in the room. Cost: Free (although getting married is an expensive business)

    4 p.m. Set off to explore the city armed with an orienteering map from my husband's days as a race competitor in Venice. They say getting lost here is part of the fun, but his champion navigation skills allow for more aperol spritz stops.

    6 p.m. Head off the beaten path in the Dorsoduro neighborhood and strike gold by snagging a table outside Al Vecio Marangon, a hidden gem with a cozy wood-paneled dining room and reasonably priced hand-written menu. Ditch the pre-wedding diet plan and binge on antipasti, squid ink linguini and a couple of glasses of prosecco. Cost: $59 (€52.87)

    8 p.m. Drift back to the hotel via the Grand Canal and cancel out our hidden gem find with a drink at the super touristy Ristorante Al Ponte Di Rialto. Drinks are pricey and you can't move for selfie sticks but hey, we're on honeymoon gazing into each others eyes under the Rialto Bridge anyhow. Cost: $25 (€22.66)

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  • 03 of 04


    Gondola with tourists on a canal in the old town of Venice, Italy
    Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

    10 a.m. Leisurely breakfast at the hotel: Strong coffee, views of the Grand Canal and Nutella on everything. Cost: Included in the hotel price

    11 a.m. Head to the Rialto market to browse the food stalls laden with fresh fish and colorful fruit and veg. Serious shoppers arrive at 7 a.m but we're here for Instagram pics and three packs of flavored risotto for €10. Cost: $11

    12 p.m. Stop for an aperol spritz at Il Sigillo da Mauro e Mimmo, a small cafe with outdoor tables, where we hatch a plan to see something nearby from the Hidden Venice guidebook we got as a wedding gift. Cost: $20 (€17.60)

    12:30 p.m. Walk to the University of Architecture of Venice. The building once belonged to the Trons, one of the richest families in Venice and in the garden we explore the remains of the grand casino which was destroyed in the 1800s. Cost: Free

    1 p.m. Wander over to the Campo San Giacomo dall'Orio and pop in to the square's ancient church, which dates to the 9th century. Cost: Free

    1:30 p.m. Lunch time. We share a pizza and sup prosecco at Ristorante Al Bagolo, a great people-watching spot opposite the church. We also order the Venetian specialty of sarde in saor, a dish that combines fried sardines, onions, raisins and pine nuts. Cost: $28 (€25.18)

    2:30 p.m. Touristing is taking it out of us so we head back to the hotel for a quick snooze and to get ready for our Big Romantic Night Out.

    7 p.m. Stroll hand in hand to the Rialto bridge at dusk and wobble onto a gondola as the sky turns pink above the Grand Canal. We choose a route that takes us off the main waterways and glide onto the smaller canals as our gondolier points out Marco Polo's house and medieval palaces. Cost: $112 (€100). It's cheaper before 7 p.m. and you can cut costs by taking a group trip.

    8 p.m. Dine at a restaurant recommended by an Italian friend (the hotel made reservations for us at check in). Trattoria da Jonny is a small, secluded spot on Campo de la Gate. It's homey rather than hipster and is reassuringly packed full of Venetians. We dine on mushroomy polenta and roast seabass from the Rialto market. Cost: $95 (€84.35)

    10 p.m. Walk to Campo Santa Margherita, a bustling cobblestone square lined with bars and cafes. Hop between the Orange Bar and Margaret Duchamp for a couple of spritz before bedtime. This area is packed with students so the drinks are around €3 a pop. Cost:  $13.50 (€12) 

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  • 04 of 04


    Cannaregio, a canal
    Maremagnum/Getty Images

    10 a.m. Fill up on fruit at breakfast to compensate for all the inevitable carb loading.

    11 a.m. Check out and leave our bags at reception before following the tourist trail to Piazza San Marco. Shuffle past the pigeons and wait in line for tickets to the campanile. Ignore the fact that the iconic bell tower collapsed in 1902 (it was originally built in 1514 and reconstructed in 1912) and take the elevator to the top for stunning views of all of Venice. Cost: $18 (€16)

    1 p.m. Stroll to the Cannaregio neighborhood, which has a down-to-earth village feel. Stop for a coffee at Osterio dal Riccio Peoco and apologetically order lattes (Italians never, ever order coffee with milk after breakfast). Cost:  $4.50 (€4)

    2 p.m. Take endless snaps of laundry hanging from crumbling balconies before a long leisurely lunch by the canal at Osteria da Rioba. We order the risotto for two topped with red mullet and end on a gelato high. Cost:  $70 (€63)

    5 p.m. Head back to the hotel via the Santa Croce neighborhood but not before stopping for a final spritz in the sunshine at Il Bacaro Quebrado. Not only are these jumbo drinks the cheapest we've found but they're also served with snacks. Cost:  $4.50 (€4)

    7 p.m. Pick up our bags and walk across town to the Piazzale Roma, the city's main transport hub. Wedding and minimoon budget blown, we buy bus tickets back to the airport and back to reality. Cost:  $18 (€16)



    Food & Drink: $358.50

    Transportation: $224

    Entertainment: $130

    Miscellaneous: $16