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I’m considering going to Venice for a long weekend, but am concerned that it might be quite expensive. Have you got any advice on how to visit cheaply? Paul, via email

Firstly, take advantage of the attractions you don’t have to pay for. Three of Venice’s main sites have free entry, including the enormous cathedral in St Mark’s Square – the Basilica San Marco, the Rialto Market and the Ghetto (Jewish quarter).

A number of art galleries offer free entry, including Galleria Traghetto (breakthrough local art) and le5venice (contemporary art).

Shun pricey gondola rides for a traghetto, a public gondola that travels only a short distance across the canal, but is also a fraction of the cost of a private gondola at about 50p.

When it comes to food, never eat in the main tourist squares. The prices can be four times that of backstreet cafes and restaurants.

Eat cicheti, Venetian tapas, found in bars at lunch and between 6pm-8pm. It is cheap (only a couple of pounds per serving) and a great way to fill up.

Accommodation prices can be high. Make sure you don’t time your visit during any of the city’s major events, such as the Carnevale in February, as prices will soar.

Renting through home owners can be a cheaper way to the visit the city (airbnb.com), or check out some of the city’s budget accommodation a short walk from the tourist areas, such as hotel Locanda Sant’anna, where prices start from as little as £35 per night for a double room.

 

I’m off to visit a friend who lives in Helsinki, but would like to make a holiday of the trip too. I’m visiting for just over a week and wondered what you recommend I should do while I’m there? Michelle, via email

Helsinki is a gorgeous peninsula city set on the edge of the Baltic Sea, with numerous islands to explore. There’s a cool vibe with
a great music and art scene.

This year, it’s been named World Design Capital, and to mark this there are a host of events taking place in the city, including innovative design exhibitions. One of these is the Turn Table, an urban farm and restaurant set among railway engine sheds.

Helsinki’s top sights include Tuomiokirkko, a neoclassical bright-white cathedral, and the central market square of Kauppatori, where you’ll find the main quay for ferry services to the city’s islands.

The island of Suomenlinna is a must see, just a 15-minute ferry ride away. In the 18th century, the island was fortified with walls, cannons and bunkers, which you can now explore.

Bring a picnic if it’s a nice day, as there is plenty of green space on the island.

To explore the city, use the historical tram system or the city’s bike hire scheme. Easy-to-use and free, just deposit a €2 coin to release a bike from the stands, which you can reclaim when you return the bike.

HSL (hsl.fi) operates the extensive network of buses, metros, trains and the Suomenlinna ferry. You can buy tickets for use across the network for as little as £2 for an hour.

 

Lonely Planet’s Laura Lindsay will give you the benefit of her infinite wisdom if you email a question to traveltips@tntmagazine.com.

If your question is answered, you’ll win a Lonely Planet guide of your choice.

 

Image: TNT, Thinkstock


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Venice and Helsinki travel tips from Lonely Planet's Laura Lindsay
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