Oh Venice…the good old bucket list city for probably everyone on this planet. If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably also thinking about going to Italy’s romantic hot spot. Well, you’re not the only one – Venice is incredibly crowded and touristic (even now in a worldwide pandemic!). So, to ensure you’re not tapping into one of the many tourist traps and freak out while carrying your luggage across the 10th bridge while getting hit by another selfie stick, I wrote down all of my favorite Travel Tips for Venice
Wait, before you read on…Let’s start with some basics on how to navigate around Venice and its streets or canals.
How to get to Venice
Most connections will arrive at Marco Polo Airport (VCE), which is a little outside the city. From here, you can take a boat (Alilaguna, Orange line) that brings you directly to Rialto in around 50 minutes, or you take the bus to Piazzale Roma. This is basically the “main entrance” to Venice where all the busses will drop you off. From here, you can either walk, take a water taxi, or – the easiest – a Vaporetto to reach your desired area. The Airport Bus is Line Number 5, and the most common Vaporetto Lines to Rialto are Number 1 or 2.
(Line 1 is the one that stops at every station along the canal grande, Line 2 is the “quicker” one since it only stops at the more common stations)
You can reach Venice by train as well. Depending on where you’re starting your travels, you will probably get to the “Mestre” train station on the mainland. From here, you can take another train to “Santa Lucia,” the train station in Venice itself. The ride from Mestre to Santa Lucia is only 10 minutes and very cheap (around 1.35€). Apart from many people living on the mainland and working in Venice, many tourists stay overnight in Mestre. With that being said, the trains can get very, very crowded. From Santa Lucia, you can either walk or take a boat.
Venice itself is car-free, so you have to leave it outside of the city. If you want to bring it as close as you can, you can use the parking garages at Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto. Those are the more expensive picks since a day ticket for your car can easily range from 20€ up to 39€. During the high season, it’s recommended to make a reservation for your vehicle before arriving. If you want to save some money, you might want to use the parking garages in Mestre on the mainland. From here, you can take the train that takes you to the romantic laguna city like I just described in the “Train Chapter.” A 1-day parking ticket is around 10€ to 15€ in Mestre.
→ You can check the parking garages on this page
How to get around in Venice
The Vaporetto is the public water taxi that connects different areas around the city along the Canal Grande. The company is called ACTV, and you can buy your tickets online or at the Stop. A ticket for a Single Ride is 7€, and – in case you plan on using it more often – they offer 1-/2-/3- day tickets, too. ACTV is offering combination tickets for the Vaporetto and Airport Bus as well. You can purchase your ticket at the ticket vending machines directly at the stations and pay with cash or card. Bigger stations like the Piazzale Roma also have information counters that help travelers getting their tickets.
Walk (your a*s off)
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on Vaporetto Tickets or Water Taxis, you can also reach everything on foot. On my first time in Venice, we actually didn’t take the Vaporetto at all. We walked and walked and walked. I personally am a fan of walking through the city since you’ll discover so many more spots, and it’s just the easiest way to get around the city. You’ll definitely get lost once or twice, but that doesn’t really matter – you’ll always find your way back somehow. Just keep in mind that there aren’t many bridges crossing the Canal Grande. You’ll have to walk back to the Rialto bridge to get to the other side most of the time.
The easiest but most pricy way to get from A to B. Definitely not a choice I would make, especially when you’re on a budget.
Travel Tips for Venice, Italy
#1 | The best time to visit Venice
… isn’t the weekend or during European holidays!
You might consider making a quick stop in Venice for the weekend but honestly… I don’t recommend that. Venice is super crowded already, and with all Europeans (including myself) traveling on weekends, it’ll be even more packed. Venice is one of the main tourist destinations, not only for international travelers but also for Europeans, because it’s so easy to reach for a short trip. During the week, your chances of crossing the Rialto Bridge without being pushed by the crowd are definitely a little higher.
But, what about Carnival and the Biennale? Needless to say, these are some of the most crowded times of the year. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure it’s worth the mass of people. It’s iconic!
There is one weekend where personally I do accept the crowds: The third weekend in July. Why? Redentore!
The Redentore festival is one of the main celebrations in Venice and is definitely worth seeing. There is a fantastic firework taking place after sunset. Traditionally, the Venetians are watching the fireworks from their boats a little outside of the city. As a tourist, if you don’t want to watch it from the city, you can also book a boat experience. We already did it twice and went for a “party boat.” We spent 100€ on tickets (ugh!), but they included food and drinks. The experience of seeing the fireworks from the boat was 100% worth the money. We danced the night away and had so much fun. I’ll leave the link to our tour here.
#2 | Do your research before your trip
What I mean by this is check on how to get from A to B. Due to its “special” infrastructure, Venice doesn’t just offer one Airport Transfer to the city. The tickets for the Vaporetti are pretty expensive, so I recommend planning ahead whether you’ll use it more often. (eg. due to your hotel being a little farther from the sites) There are combination tickets for the Airport Bus and the Vaporetto as well. If you want to save some money, you might want to check transportation according to your itinerary before you arrive.
#3 | Re-think your shoe and luggage choices
In Venice, you won’t be able to avoid carrying your luggage over one or more bridges. Consider packing light and/or using a backpack because you will need to carry your suitcase at one point. Many apartments also don’t have elevators and very steep, narrow staircases. And oh, the floors are uneven. That’s why I also wouldn’t recommend walking Venice in high heels but rather switching them for some comfy sneakers.
#4 | Check for AirBnB’s
Venice has a wide range of hotels, but many of them can get quite pricy. Our favorite way to stay in Venice is in AirBnB’s. There are so many great apartments available, and many of them are uniquely designed. Most hosts try to keep the Venetian homes as traditional as possible, and that’s for sure more charming than any hotel can be. Also, many apartments or small B&B’s have better locations than the big hotels.
I created a list of my favorite AirBnB’s in Venice for you to get some inspiration!
#5 | Be early for everything touristic
If you want to explore the city less crowded or take some decent pictures, you should wake up early. It’s most congested in the afternoon/evening, so the lines for the attractions are getting longer and longer. The earlier you are, the less time you spend waiting. (During the day, many cruise ship tourists come to only spend a few hours in Venice – which is another argument to be as early as possible. )
Also, when you need to be somewhere on time, you might leave a few minutes earlier than usual. During high season, the boats can get packed, and it already happened more than once that some tourists didn’t get on their water boat to the airport because it was already way too full. You might need to wait for the next Vaporetto during rush hour and high season so just keep that in mind.
#6 | Get off the beaten path!
We all know that most tourist traps can be found just along with the main sights but in Venice, going off the beaten path is so much more! You’ll find little shops, cute original restaurants, and some way more empty areas and canals. I can only urge you to start walking without turning on google maps and see where you end up!
Must see and do in Venice
My favorite restaurants in Venice
Caffè Vergnano 1882
Located directly around the corner from the Rialto Bridge, it offers an excellent view of the Canal Grande. We usually go here for breakfast, and if you’re early enough, you might get one of the famous brioche alla crema (they’re sold out quite fast). The brioche is 2€, and the Cappuccino is 3.80€. Amazing!
Adress: Rialto San Polo, 129, 30125 Venezia
Osteria Sora Al Ponte
They only have a few tables for two outside on the bridge, but the scenery and the food are excellent. Enjoying some wine and fresh, homemade pasta while seeing the Gondolas passing beneath you – what more could you ask for.
Adress:San Polo, 1588 ponte de le Becarie, 30125 Venezia
Prices for food and drinks in Venice
Venice isn’t that expensive when it comes to dining out but is Venice cheap? Hmm, depends. You definitely get some cheap coffee in your espresso spot around the corner, and a quick breakfast brioche doesn’t cost a fortune either. Nevertheless, you can definitely spend some extra money on fancy ice cream or dinner along the canale grande. In my opinion, Venice is similar to most other western European cities.
We usually spent around 15€-20€ per Person for dinner with a pasta dish, house wine, and an espresso.
Did you know that you don’t need to tip? The service fee is already included in the price. Still, they will be pleased if you leave a bit on the table, yet that’s absolutely not expected.
Enough of the crowds?
Venice’s surroundings offer many beaches. You can take a boat to Punta Sabbione or Lido, take a break, and swim in the sea. For some more sightseeing, you could go to Murano or Burano for example.
Travel Tips for Venice: The Sightseeing Map
That’s it for my little guide and the top 6 travel tips for Venice. I hope you enjoyed this one and found it helpful. Let me know in the comments if you liked your stay in Venice and if you would go back. Also, make sure to follow me on Instagram for some more travel/flying tips and follow me around the world on the layover chronicles series.
As always, stay happy and healthy!
See you soon,