“With a little forethought it’s possible to enjoy La Serenissima on a shoestring”, writes National Geographic. Start with St. Mark’s Basilica, where admission is free “but this usually comes with a 45-minute wait.” The Museum of Music, also free, houses a “a good collection of instruments and an exhibit about violin making,” notes TripSavvy, and offers “an interesting look at the life of Antonio Vivaldi.” Also free is the octagonal Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute, on the final stretch of the Grand Canal before San Marco, the “uncontested masterpiece of the Venetian Baroque,” writes Anne Hanley at The Telegraph. The church is free, while the sacristy costs 3 Euro to see.
The Venice Card, good for seven days, is a worthwhile investment. Passes start at around $41 for visitors ages 6 through 29, and $54 for those ages 30 and up. The card provides free admission to the Doge’s Palace and ten other museums. Also free with the Venice Card are the landmark Clock Tower in Piazza San Marco and the Glass Museum on the island of Murano. An abridged version of the pass, the San Marco Pack, is around $34 for all visitors ages six and up. And if you plan to explore the city to any extent, consider, the ACTV, or tourist travel card -- it allows unlimited travel from anywhere for periods of time ranging from 12 hours ($25) to seven days ($68). Those between the ages of 14 and 29 are eligible for the Rolling Venice Card, which can be used for three days and costs about $30.
If you have a family in tow, says National Geographic, you should give serious consideration to the Lido. “The stretch of sandbar hosts several family-friendly beaches, some of which are free, including Blue Moon beach and the World Wildlife Federation-protected Alberoni Beach, a sanctuary for seabirds.” The Lido is also home to a planetarium, founded by a group of amateur astronomers. Accessible from October to May, admission is free, but seats are scarce.
Venice is thronged with churches covering whole centuries of architectural styles, says Italy Heaven, and although many charge a small admission fee others are free to enter (“although you may wish to consider a voluntary contribution according to your means”). Among them: St. Mark's Basilica, the greatest of Venice's churches, Santa Maria della Salute, San Vidal by the Accademia Bridge, and I Carmini, the Church of Santa Maria del Carmelo that contains paintings by Lorenzo Lotto and Cima da Conegliano.
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