I'd always wanted to visit Italy, and especially Venice for a very long time but the main reason I'd been putting it off was because I know how expensive it can be. But finally I was passing through on my way to catch a flight from Rome so it was time to tick the beautiful city of Venice off my bucket list.
Ok, I was EXTREMELY lucky that I had a friend living right in the centre of the city! So I got to save a lot of money and had a really great guide, but even without a host in the center I still think it's very possible to visit Venice on a budget.
Try your best to find a host there, it's hard but you might get lucky especially if you put the effort into writing good requests, also try on bewelcome.org as people there tend to get less requests. If you can't get a host in Venice there is a small city just across the bridge called Mestre where you can also try, and a few other towns within an hours drive as well. Especially in small towns most people own a car, so hopefully your host will be kind enough to join you in a day trip to Venice, otherwise hitchhiking from a small town to the nearest major city is always quite easy even in Italy.
If you really can't find a host in or near to Venice Hostelworld has beds/rooms from around €12 per night.
Hitchhiking is tough in Italy as people don't usually stop for you on the road and the petrol station staff don't like you getting in their way, the best strategy which I have found is to quietly stand by the door of the shop/toilets and ask people as they come to you. Don't walk around the petrol pumps asking drivers or you will likely be kicked out.
Once you are in the city you will realize that most things are insanely expensive, some museums cost up to €20 and a water bus ticket costs €7! However Venice is not THAT big, it is definitely possible to walk to almost any area of the city, just remember to bring comfortable shoes.
There are also many many free exhibitions. While I was visiting there was a biennale taking place so it is hard to say which exhibitions will be free when you visit but if you ask around I'm sure you will find some, just ask the tourist information centres, they were very helpful. We also found quite a few shops around the city that were absolutely fascinating! The homoerotic shop in Campo Santa Stefano square was completely free to look around and had a lot of weird and interesting items. And if you love bookshops, or even if not! Definitely check out the Acqua Alta bookshop, possibly the most unique and beautiful bookshop in the whole world, complete with a full size gondola used to hold books, and stairs made out of actual books!
For food your best option is to make sandwiches at home to carry with you, but if you do want to eat out there is a pretty decent pizza place in Camp Santa Margherita square where all the students eat, and a very crowded (because it's good) self service style place called Rosticceria Gislon near Rialto Bridge who's deep fried mozzarella sandwiches were so delicious I had to order another!
You can even experience a bit of Venetian night life without spending more than a few Euros. Just buy a few bottles of wine from the supermarket for around €1-€3 per bottle and go join the crowds hanging out in Camp Santa Margherita, we met a lot of very cool people there and the atmosphere was just perfect!
So this is how I spent my 2 short but wonderful days in Venice, the most beautiful city I've ever seen and still managed to keep my budget extremely low, I didn't actually count the coins I spent but I estimate it was something around €8 per day.
If you have any more tips on visiting Venice on a small budget please share them in the comments below!