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TOURISM

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

The Italian city of Venice has been named the third-cheapest place for a city break in Europe - a survey result that might surprise some visitors. Here’s why it may not be as costly as you'd think.

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations
Venice has a high number of tourist attractions and sights which are free to enjoy, according to a new study ranking Europe's cheapest city getaways. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

A new survey of 100 different cities in Europe by the Omio transport booking website has revealed that Venice is the third-cheapest destination for a city escape, in terms of being the most affordable and having the highest number of free activities and attractions.

The ranking will no doubt come as a surprise to many, due to the city’s reputation as an expensive destination geared towards luxury travel – and the fact that Venetian residents have been leaving the city’s historic centre in droves partly due to high housing costs.

The objective of the study was to identify the best tourist destinations to visit on a reduced budget, due to the current economic climate of inflation and rising prices affecting almost all daily costs.

It also aimed to show tourists that they can save a lot of money if they organise their travel by taking advantage of free offers and opportunities, as well as thinking carefully about where they go.

“Believe it or not, it is possible to have a cheap holiday in Venice,” the study’s authors wrote, advising travellers to “follow a few simple tricks to turn some of Venice’s most expensive places into low-budget havens”. 

READ ALSO: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

Venice was found to have a total of 136 free tourist attractions, 22 free museums, and 58 guided tours rated as “affordable”. The study also highlighted the city’s 186 public drinking fountains, which local authorities this summer urged visitors to use in order to cut down on bottled water purchases. 

The study however did not include the cost of accommodation, and it put the cost of a 24-hour public transport ticket in Venice at €21.88: several times higher than the prices listed for other cities at the top of the ranking.

Venice is promoting the use of its network of water fountains amid efforts to combat plastic waste. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The average price of a beer in the floating city also seemed comparatively high at €4.38, though this was below the European average price of €4.91.

Travellers can expect a meal for two in an average restaurant to set them back around €61 – that is, as long as they don’t wander into any of the tourist traps notorious for rip-off prices.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

Overall Venice got a score of 82.3 percent to take third place, whilst Bruges in Belgium came in second with 93.6 percent and Granada was first with 100 percent.

Further surprises came in the ranking for other Italian cities: Florence was rated the 10th cheapest European city break destination, with 113 free attractions, 17 museums with free entrance, and a 24-hour public transport ticket costing 4 euros.

Meanwhile Naples – where the cost of living is comparatively low – was rated as being slightly more expensive to visit, in 12th place. Tuscan tourist hotspot Pisa came in 13th place, while the northern city of Turin was 23rd.

Milan was 30th on the list, which the study said has 372 free tourist attractions, but higher costs for food and drink

Rome came in 37th place – despite the survey saying the capital has a huge 553 free attractions, 34 free museums, and ten times more public drinking fountains than Venice (1,867).

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DISCOVER ITALY

Seven ‘secret’ UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you need to visit

From Pompeii to the Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy is home to a host of famous UNESCO World Heritage sites – but there are some lesser-known attractions that you may not have heard of yet.

Seven ‘secret’ UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you need to visit

With a total of 59 protected landmarks, Italy is the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites, followed by China (57), Germany and France (both at 52).

But while most people may be familiar with the famous Pompeii archaeological park, Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel in Padua or the Royal Palace of Caserta, Campania, Italy has a host of spectacular sites that remain relatively unknown, even to locals. 

Pienza – Tuscany

Located in Val d’Orcia, southern Tuscany, Pienza is a picturesque hilltop village surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. 

Built at the behest of Pope Pius II in the late 15th century, Pienza is a supreme testament to Renaissance urban planning.

Over the years, the village has also provided an evocative backdrop to a number of international films, including The English Patient and Gladiator (remember the wheat field scene?).

Crespi d’Adda – Lombardy

Located at the heart of the Lombardy region, right between Milan and Bergamo, Crespi d’Adda is arguably the best-preserved example of late 19th-century ‘company towns’ – villages built by industrialists to provide comfortable housing and services to their employees. 

Completed in the late 1920s at the behest of the Crespi family – then one of the country’s leading cotton manufacturers – the village has remained by and large unchanged over the decades, with all of its distinctive features and amenities still on display to this day.

Savoy Residences – Piedmont

The Residences of the Royal House of Savoy consist of some 22 palaces and villas built in or around Turin at the behest of the dukes of Savoy, who ruled over the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and later on the Kingdom of Italy until 1946.

This outstanding complex of buildings, which includes the Castle of Racconigi, Turin’s Royal Palace and the Palace of Venaria, is not just a testament to the Savoy House’s power and wealth, but also one of the best available examples of 17th- and 18th-century architecture.  

Padua’s Botanical Garden – Veneto

The world’s first university botanical garden was created in Padua, mainland Veneto, in 1545. 

Though some of the current architectural elements were added in the 1700s, the garden still preserves its original layout: a circular central plot, symbolising the world, surrounded by a ring of water.

The garden also houses a 50,000-volume library and the second most extensive herbarium in Italy.

Castel del Monte – Puglia

Castel del Monte is a 13th-century castle perched atop a rocky hill in Andria, around a one-hour-drive away from Bari. 

Completed in 1240 at the behest of emperor Frederick II, it is a unique piece of mediaeval architecture, blending northern European features with Muslim-world design and decorations.

The octagonal library in Umberto Eco’s best-selling novel The Name of the Rose was directly inspired by the castle.

Pantalica Necropolis – Sicily

Located just outside of Syracuse, Sicily, the Necropolis of Pantalica consists of some 5,000 rock-cut chamber tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th century BC. 

The 200-hectare burial ground is considered a key archaeological find in the study of indigenous tribes that inhabited Sicily before the arrival of Greek colonists. 

Urbino – Marche

Urbino is a small hill-top town southwest of Pesaro, Marche.

Considered by historians as the ‘cradle’ of Italian Renaissance, the town’s artistic charm and architectural prestige are just as striking now as they were in the 15th century. 

Urbino is home to multiple unmissable attractions, including the Ducal Palace, the Cathedral (Duomo) and the house where Italian painter Raphael was born

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