Little tip: Take a seat on the right side of the plane. You should have a beautiful aerial view of the laguna and its islands. With a bit of luck, the weather will be nice.
Where to stay?
There are several possibilities to save money when booking a room in Venice:
-Going to hostels but sometimes a bunk bed in the city centre can be more expensive than a hotel room with shared bathroom further from the centre: Santa Croce, Cannareggio, San Polo, Castello, Dorsoduro.
-Renting an appartment.
-Booking a room with shared bathroom.
-Booking a room in a former convent. Check if there is a curfew first!
-Going in low season.
-Booking well ahead or at the very last minute (do not try the latter in summer or during the Carnival!). Then you can find nice hotels near San Marco for 50-70€ night instead of +200€ in season.
It is possible to find cheap rooms in nice hotels all year round, even during the main events but it will require a bit of research from your side.
For your information, the breakfast in Italy is offered only in some hotels because it requires a restaurant license. That is why you may have no breakfast at all or a light and sugary breakfast under blister. Breakfast is not an important meal in Italy anyway. Only coffee is.
Also, beware that if you travel with a child, you need to prove that you have the right to do so.
Finally, it is mandatory for hosts to enter your ID details into a database, as part of the law against terrorism.
What to eat?
There are several supermarkets in the city but they are well hidden. Two are near the Rialto Bridge. Another one, supposed to be cheaper, is right on Piazzale Roma.
You can find pizza parts or focacce that can last 2 meals for 3€. Restaurants in Venice can be expensive. You usually have to pay for the cutlery as well. In any case, best is to get away from San Marco circus and check restaurants in other parts of the city. Avoid Cafe Florian. It is beautiful inside but awfully expensive. Plus, they make you pay a supplement if there are musicians playing.
There are several markets in the city, where locals buy their food. Providing you can cook or you have nothing about eating raw food during your stay, it is a very interesting alternative.
What to do? Where to go?
First, be extra careful to respect the following rules:
Absolutely no sitting on stairs. You will see a lot of signs everywhere because it is a big issue in Venice.
No swimming (well, unless you fall, I think this one is easy to respect).
Do not trash.
Keep your clothes on (in churches, knees and shoulders need to be covered).
Absolutely no feeding the pigeons. There are a real pest. Even seagulls are nicer!
Also, do not stand in the middle of the bridges and do not take photographs where not allowed, and everything should be okay.
Every first Sunday of the month.
There are a lot of churches open to public at no fee in Venice, and not only the small ones. Some basilicas are free. It is the case for the Basilicas San Marco and Santa Maria della Salute for example. You can also spend a lot of time watching the beautiful details of St Mark's Basilica. It is a beautiful monument. In low season some churches are free because there is no vendor. Be careful, churches are usually open in the morning but the afternoon schedule is more erratic.
This is the best way to explore Venice. Take every small path, look up under porticoes and down if there are stairs open to everyone.
Admire the facades
You can spend hours going from building to building.
Cross the Rialto Bridge
And visit the Rialto market. It is beautiful even when markets are closed. Do not miss the view on the Grand Canale.
Admire Venice from above and for free
The terrasse on top of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, near the Rialto Bridge, is open to everyone. The view over the Grand Canale is beautiful. The building itself is also worth the visit and the bathrooms are free!
Preferably at night to avoid the reflections. Some shops are in beautiful old buildings and have kept the original furniture. Masks and Murano glass objects are beautiful. It is not your usual window-shopping for sure. And at least you do not risk to buy a Made in China artefact.
Admire the sunset from Fdta Salute
This fondamenta near Ponta della Dogana is the perfect location to watch the sunset over Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore, while the Palazzo Ducale changes colours. Wait until the city lights up.
The best spot for sunrise is supposed to be on Piazza San Marco, near the Palazzo Ducale.
Libraria Acqua Alta
The acqua alta is not only the flooding happening mainly between November and April. It is also a beautiful library full of books disposed in boats, gondolas or baths. It is not a hidden gem anymore but you still can find very lovely and cheap souvenirs Made in Venice there. And it is full of charm.
Carnevale di Venezia
It can be very crowdy but once you are on Piazza San Marco it clears up a bit. You can admire costumed people, buskers, costume contests for free. As everybody can participate, it is actually a lot of fun. It is not at all pompous. But forget the parties, they are very expensive.
Piazza San Marco
Glance into Cafe Florian and wander under the arcades. Watch the clock tower and the Campanile. Admire the Palazzo Ducale and watch the gondolas floating on the water. Have a look at the other side of the Grand Canal. Go to the Bridge of Sighs and see it from both sides.
Murano and co.
Because Venice can be easily visited on foot, you do not necessarily need to take the vaporetto. Tickets are expensive: 7.5€/75min. But it could be interesting to take a 24h pass at 20€ to go visit Burano, Murano, Torcello and even San Michele. It is a 24 full hours, meaning if you compost it at 10am in the morning, you can use it until 9.59am the following day. This leaves you with plenty of time to visit the islands and even go to Giudecca and/or take the N°1 or N°2 to see the Grand Canale. There is no real interest to see the Grand Canale by night as there is no nightime illuminations.
La Biennale di Venezia
The Biennale is a great way to visit places otherwise close to the public and for free, such as private palazzos and multi-stars hotels lobbies. If you are into architecture or contemporary art, and even if you are not, it is worth it to visit at least once this world famous event. The ticket is at 25€, which is very reasonnable considering the size of the exhibition. You will need at least 2 to 3 days to make the most of the Biennale and its collateral events. The ticket allows you to visit one time both the Giardini and the Arsenale locations on 2 non consecutive days.
When leaving the city, do not miss the beautiful glass ceiling at the entrance of Santa Lucia Station.