Venice Carnival Travel Deals
January 14th, 2011
Traveling to Brazil for Carnival may be one of the things on your lifetime to-do list, but don’t overlook the fact that one of the world’s most famous carnival celebrations isn’t in Brazil at all – it’s in the Italian canal city of Venice.
Unfortunately, a visit to Venice can be expensive at any time of year, so finding travel deals to Carnival in Venice can be a challenge. But there are definitely ways you can avoid paying the highest prices for your trip to this unique festival.
In this article, we’ll look at some ways to get better Venice Carnival travel deals on your airline ticket, some ways to save money on your Venice accommodation, and a few travel tips for Carnival in Venice.
>> 2012 Venice Carnival runs from February 11-21.
How to Find Cheap Airfare for Venice Carnival
Traveling to Venice is, as mentioned, not usually a cheap vacation proposition – even when a big event like Carnival isn’t going on. When it’s Carnival time, however, you can expect everything to cost a little bit more. Still, with a big international airport right in Venice, it’s not entirely out of the question that you can save money on your flight. Here are some ways to get cheap airfare to Venice.
- Fly Into Alternate Airports – Yes, Venice’s own Marco Polo airport is the most convenient airport to use for a trip to Venice. But getting a good deal on a direct flight to Venice from outside Europe can be a challenge. If you find a cheap flight to a major European hub, however, like Paris or Frankfurt, then you can get from there to Venice on short (and often cheap) second flight. You can also look at nearby airports like the one in nearby Treviso, too.
- Fly on Budget Airlines – As we said in the point above, there are often super-cheap flights on the many budget airlines in Europe from major European cities to places like Venice. Most of those airlines don’t fly outside their small region of Europe, so you wouldn’t be able to fly directly from (say) North America to Venice on something like easyJet – but you would be able to take advantage of a great low-season fare to (say) Amsterdam or London on a major carrier, and then hop on a small budget carrier to get to Venice.
- Fly When It’s Cheaper – There are certain times of the day and days of the week when it’s typically cheaper to fly. Although this is skewed somewhat when you’re talking about a big event that’s on a particular day, the good thing about Carnival in Venice is that it’s spread over a long enough time that you’re still likely to be able to get a deal by booking your flight on a certain day or at a certain time. Generally speaking, Wednesdays are cheapest (followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays), and the earlier in the morning you can book your flight, the cheaper it’ll be.
- Fly Flexible – This could mean that you’ve got to be a contortionist these days to fit into the tiny economy class seats, but what we really mean is that if you’ve got a very rigid schedule of when you can travel you’re less likely to be able to find a good deal on a flight. If you can be flexible with your travel plans, you might score a deal on a flight that’s a few hours or a few days off of the one you originally started with. Many online booking sites let you search for multiple dates/times by checking a box that says something like, “my dates are flexible” – but even if that’s not an option, you can do it manually by plugging in a few different dates and times yourself.
Finding Cheap Accommodation in Venice for Carnival
Just as finding cheap airfare to Venice can be tough, finding cheap hotels in Venice at any time of year is a difficult thing to do. This is a city with very few options for truly budget travelers, and even some of the city’s hostels close down for all but the summer months. Still, if you’re having trouble finding a cheap hotel in Venice there are some things you can try.
- Look at Hostels in Venice – There aren’t many true hostels in Venice, and even fewer that are open in February. But it’s worth looking, especially if you’re on a serious budget. The city’s only HI hostel is located on the Giudecca (across the canal from St. Mark’s Square), and there’s a small hostel near the train station.
- Look at Hotels on the Venice Mainland – Usually I’ll recommend against staying on the mainland instead of the islands for a Venice trip, but there’s no denying that the prices on things like hotels, hostels, and restaurants on the mainland (called Mestre) are a fraction of what they are on the Venetian islands.
- Look at Apartment Rentals in Venice – If you’re traveling with a group (especially a family group with kids), you might consider renting an apartment for your stay. You could end up getting a great per night rate (since you’re staying longer) and you’ll have the benefit of a kitchen as well to cook some meals yourself, which is another money saver.
Venice Carnival Travel Tips
Here are some things you should know about visiting Venice during Carnival.
- The parties are expensive, but that’s not the only entertainment. – Carnival in Venice is marked by a series of elaborate balls and soirees which usually come with fittingly high pricetags for tickets. They are not, however, the only things to do during the festival. There are public performances throughout the city, with the focus generally being in St. Mark’s Square, including music and dancers. Plus, seeing costumed people walking through Venice is like watching a theatre production up close – and there’s no ticket necessary for that.
- You can rent costumes to fit in. – If you want to get involved in the theatre instead of just looking in from the outside, then why not rent a costume yourself? Buying one is out of the question for a budget traveler, but renting one is definitely an option. And if even that is beyond your budget, getting a mask at least makes you more spectacle than spectator. A nice mask makes a good souvenir, but a cheap mask is fun and you won’t have any qualms about leaving it behind.
- Crowds invite pickpockets. – It’s not unique to Venice, but it’s worth mentioning: any big crowd like this is a great opportunity for pickpockets and other petty thieves to turn tourists into victims. You can spoil their fun by being a smart traveler – carrying your money in a money belt, making sure your valuables aren’t in an open bag behind you, paying attention to your surroundings, etc.
- Dress appropriately. – Whether or not you choose to don a costume for Carnival, don’t forget that it’s February (usually) in Venice we’re talking about here. In other words, it’s likely to be foggy, damp, and quite chilly – especially at night. Always check the weather forecast before you leave to make sure there’s not some unseasonable heat wave going on, and expect to pack some warm layers.
- It’s “Carnevale.” – As you probably guessed, calling this festival “Carnival” is the English version. If you want to call it by its Italian name, that would be “Carnevale,” which is pronounced kahr|neh|VAH|leh.
photo by David JAGER