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(MCT)—History, architecture and some of the most impressive artwork in the world draw visitors to Venice, Italy, by the millions. A popular life-list destination, the city is considered prohibitively expensive by many travelers. However, it is possible to pinch a few pennies during your visit.

Transportation: There’s no driving in Venice, so getting around the city will take some getting used to. While gondola rides and motorized water taxis are certainly available, they tend to be a bit pricey. Walking and taking the public water bus are always my methods of choice. Take the first bridge to your left after exiting the train station, and make your way by foot for free to the Rialto and Basilica di San Marco. Take the time to enjoy the sites and attractions along the way. Hopping an affordable, mid-afternoon vaporetto from St. Mark’s Square back to the train station will provide you with the best photo opportunities of the Grand Canal.

Dining: Coffee for four with a view of the Rialto Bridge can sink you an easy 40 bucks. It’s best to wander a few streets away from all of the major attractions before searching out a local trattoria. Using this strategy, you will spend significantly fewer Euros than you would dining within sight of the city’s more famous attractions. If you don’t mind a more casual meal, there are a number of affordable panini shops near the train station suitable for starting or ending your day in Venice.

Activities: It’s definitely possible to drop a large amount of cash during a day in Venice. However, there are many free and affordable things to do in this historic city, along with a few worth-the-money splurges. St. Mark’s Basilica, one of the most impressive religious structures in the world, is free to enter and explore. For a nominal fee, you can purchase small bag of bird seed to feed the pigeons prevalent in the piazza. Strolling the streets is a free architectural and art tour, and can also result in glass-blowing demonstrations at local shops. Must-see attractions include the exquisite Palazzo Ducale, the Peggy Guggenheim collection and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which is sure to take your breath away.

Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget,” and founder of, a website for independent travelers.

© 2011, McClatchy-Tribune News Service.