Venice is a notoriously expensive city, of course it is a) it’s tiny and b) it’s Venice! Since I spent a load of money on a flight to Sicily I’ve been trying to save a little money. For example for breakfast this morning I had a cake bar and a machine coffee (97c) rather than the €7 campsite breakfast. For lunch I had a slice of pizza €1.80 and for dinner a sandwich and a pack of peaches €4.20. I did though feel like being a bit social and spent a whopping €3.33 on evening beers last night.So while I can always scrimp on food and drinks it’s a little harder to find somewhere safe to sleep without spending money. Couchsurfing is an option but for Venice, for those few days, I just couldn’t find anyone that I felt comfortable with. I think it’s important for my first one that I have a positive experience or it’s going to put me off forever. So I budgeted myself ten euros a night to find somewhere to sleep.
What can you get for less than €10 in Venice, one of the most expensive cities in Italy, I hear you cry?
In my experience, a leaking gazebo, I reply.
PLUS jolly camping has sites near Venice, Florence, Rome, Prague and Berlin they offer a budget camping experience to rival expensive city hostel prices. I slept for three nights in what is essentially a large canvas tent with bunk beds in. For €9.80 a night while the actual accommodation wasn’t great, getting a bed in Venice for less than €25 or €30 was great. So were the clean and large bathrooms, showers and laundry rooms and even better than that was the large, free, bar side pool. Perfect after a sweaty day exploring Venice.
It isn’t actually in Venice, it’s in Marghera but the site has a scheduled shuttle bus that can get you to Tronchetto bus station in about 15 minutes for €2.50 one way or €3.80 return. From there you can grab a water taxi or the cheaper option of the people mover, a monorail that as the name suggests, moves people over to Venice island. This is super easy, super frequent and costs €1.50 each way.
The clientele are varied. You have quite a few families and aging German tourists as well as backpackers and coach groups like Busabout and Top Deck parking up their buses and just wanting to get drunk, loudly. In the evening the atmosphere is fantastic, there’s a really friendly crowd. Someone usually cracks out a guitar, whether you want to hear it or not and its a brilliant environment to meet other travellers from all over the place. Admittedly on the third night of my stay there were four Top Deck tours at the same time and it was a bit of a pain. There were a lot of people drinking a lot that didn’t seem to be very experienced in drinking = weepy vomits homesick shame. I wouldn’t let that put you off as it was just one night in another waist great stay but it made me reconsider whether I would happily recommend Jolly to friends with kids.
Accommodation wise there are different options. Mine was the super budget tent but for not much more there are bungalows and chalets available to book a bed in or to rent privately. You can also put up your own tent at one of the camps tent pitches. The tent was completely fine and while it isn’t super glamorous I’ve definitely stayed in worse places, the fact that the pool and bar area are so nice more than make up for the slightly shoddy tent construction.
My advice for staying at Jolly
- Do. Do stay at Jolly. As a single backpacker stay for the location, for the people, for the price and for the slightly Butlins-esque pool side vibes. If you hugely value your sleep, maybe Jolly is not always going to be the one for you.
- If you’re going to be staying in a tent make friends with people in the bungalows and steal their blankets. The tents are cold. If you’re one of these super organised people who travel with a sleeping bag then good on you but if you are more like me and will spend your first night huddled under two scarves, a shawl and a towel then scoring some blankets is vital.
- Beer in the bar is €5. Beer at the supermarket around 15 seconds away from the bar is 83c. Need I say more?