Are you visiting Venice for the first time? I am happy for you! Venice is one of the most unique and definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, and it certainly has its issues – think overtourism, as well as the regular flooding and the damages caused by the cruise-ships that regularly dock at Giudecca (though the decision was finally taken to ban cruise ships from the historic center).
With all this in mind, you should make sure to prepare for your visit, and go in with realistic expectations of what you’ll find – some people end up being disappointed by Venice because it is not exactly what they have seen in movies, and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen!
If you are looking for the best Venice travel tips, you are in the right place. I have been to Venice countless times and I will be sharing plenty of hacks that will help you have a smoother experience.
Continue reading for my tips for visiting Venice!
13 Useful Venice Travel Tips
When is the best time to visit Venice?
Venice is pretty much always crowded with tourists, and the weather is unforgiving. Picture cold, humid and foggy winters with regular chances of high tide (acqua alta, in Italian) – which makes it hard to walk around town; and very hot, humid summers that make it really exhausting to explore.
With this in mind, the best time to visit Venice is shoulder season – March and April in the spring, before the larger crowds of tourists arrive; and October and November in the fall, before the weather turns miserable.
If you want to experience Venice famous Carnival, the best time to visit is February. If that’s the case, make sure to book your stay well in advance as the city actually gets crowded then.
Plan to spend at least one night in Venice
One of my top tips for visiting Venice is to spend at least one night in town. You see, many people visit Venice on a day trip, thinking the city is fairly small and can be tackled in a short amount of time. Honestly, don’t! Albeit small, Venice has so much to see and do that a day is simply not enough, and the economy in town – restaurants, bars, pubs etc – can certainly do with the influx of money brought by tourists that spend the night.
Furthermore, Venice is simply charming when the sun goes down and the big crowds of tourists are gone.
Pick the right accommodation
When deciding where to stay in Venice, make sure to pick your place carefully. You may be tempted to stay somewhere in the lagoon – ie in Mestre, which is connected to the city by a 2.5 miles long causeway – as it is cheaper, but take my word for it: it’s worth investing a little extra to stay in the heart of the historic city, steps away from all the main attractions, so that you can walk everywhere.
I have selected a few places which are all excellent, and some are even very budget friendly considering the location. Here is what I recommend:
- The Gritti Palace is where to go if you can splurge. It has beautiful, stylish rooms with fantastic views. It really can’t get better than that. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Friendly Venice Suites has large, plush rooms in a fantastic location. Some rooms even have a computer! Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Rosa Salva Hotel has small but modern and well equipped rooms. Locations is as good as it gets. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Consider joining a guided tour
Even if you are planning to spend a few days in Venice and feel like you have plenty of time to discover the city, you may want to invest in a guided tour (or more) to get a proper introduction to the city. Expert local guides are trained to take you to the best photo spots; they know the history and culture of the city and will be happy to share it with you; and you can even rely on them for information on the best local restaurants.
Get skip the line tickets
This is one of the most important Venice travel tips!
Some of the most popular attractions in Venice offer skip-the-line tickets. In fact, you can even get skip-the-line tickets for St. Mark’s Basilica, which is actually free to visit. With a skip-the-line ticket you simply book your visit in advance for a set date and time, pay a fee that is either the same or slightly higher than what you’d pay at the door and skip the lines at the ticket counter, thus saving precious time.
These are the attractions that offer skip-the-line tickets:
- St. Mark’s Basilica
- Doge’s Palace
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Leonardo da Vinci Museum
- La Fenice Opera House
You may even want to invest in a Venice Pass, which includes skip-the-line admission to a number attractions. You can get it here.
Wake up early
The largest crowds of tourists appear in Venice between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm – that’s when day-trippers visit, or people disembarking from large cruise ships that have just docked start exploring.
To make sure to avoid the crowds, set your alarm nice and early and plan to explore the city when it’s still waking up. Avoid St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge during the peak hours and plan to get a bit off the beaten path at those times. Just as well, an evening tour may be a great idea to avoid the crowds at the most famous tourist attractions.
This nighttime tour of St. Mark’s Basilica starts at 9:00 pm and costs €89. You can book it here.
For information on night visits of Doge’s Palace, click here.
Avoid tourist traps
Restaurants and cafés around the main attractions, and especially in Piazza San Marco, will charge you an extortionate amount for a drink or a meal – go there at your own risk! Walk a few blocks away to one of the smaller streets and you will find nicer local spots serving cicchetti (bite-size kind of appetizers) and spritz cocktails, or delicious seafood and fish dishes for a more reasonable amount of money.
Plan to get lost
I don’t mean this literally! Fact is: Venice is a maze of narrow alleys, canals, bridges and small squares. You can definitely help yourself navigating the city with Google Maps (for which you will need to have data), but at times even Mr Google is less than precise.
With this in mind, you should make it a point to leave extra early whenever you have a scheduled tour or a restaurant reservation – just in case!
The good news is that by getting lost you may end up finding some of the cutest corners of the city!
Consider the costs of a gondola ride
Riding a Gondola is usually on top of the bucket-list for anyone visiting Venice – this is one of the symbols of the city, an art that is often passed through generations. To many, this is the ultimate romantic activity in Venice – though in fact you can expect canals to be at times congested with boat traffic; people from the bridges taking random shots of you as you pass by; and the Gondolier to be less than cooperative on the romance bit. Sorry to break the news, but most of them just row the boat and don’t sing as you may have seen in movies!
Additionally, riding a gondola isn’t a cheap thing to do, but the prices are actually fixed so you can know what to expect. Here’s a breakdown of the costs and other useful information:
DAY-TIME GONDOLA RIDE – €80, regardless of how many people join the ride. The maximum number of people allowed on board is 6.
NIGHT-TIME GONDOLA RIDE – From 7:00 pm onwards; €100.
DURATION OF A GONDOLA RIDE – Between 30 and 40 minutes.
ADDITIONAL CHARGES – €40 for every 20 additional minutes during the day; €50 for every additional 20 minutes during the night.
Double check the prices and agree on the fee before getting on board your gondola. Remember prices are fixed.
Riding a gondola is certainly cheaper if you do it in a small group. If you are traveling alone, you may want to book it online. Chances are you’ll be put in a group with others but it’s definitely cheaper than riding on your own, and easier than trying to put a group together. You can book your gondola ride here.
Spend a day on a nearby island
One of my top Venice travel tips is to actually get out of Venice!
Venice Lagoon is made of several islands other than the one where Venice is located, and you should definitely visit at least one. These are places where locals live, so make sure to be respectful of their space when exploring and don’t be too nosey! Here are the islands you can easily visit from Venice:
MURANO – A beautiful small island famous for its glass blowing; it’s actually a great place to buy some unique souvenirs to bring home (in fact, much better than the Made in China stuff you may find in the main tourist areas).
BURANO – A lovely local island famous for its lace and the super colorful buildings.
LIDO DI VENEZIA – Also known as Lido, it’s where Venice beach is located and still very much a local island.
SAN MICHELE – Home to Venice’s cemetery.
TORCELLO – It’s where you can see Byzantine mosaics.
Plan how to get to Venice in advance
Venice is a well connected city and you have several options to get there. One of my tips for traveling to Venice is to make sure to plan how to get there ahead of time. Here are the options.
Venice is well connected to the rest of the world via two airports.
Venice Treviso is mostly served by budget flights from various destinations in Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean basin. To get from the Venice Treviso to Venice you must catch a bus to Venice Piazzale Roma station.
Venezia Marco Polo is the main airport and it is located on the mainland; it has direct connections to many international destinations. From there, you have several options to get to Venice:
- by private water taxi;
- by Alilaguna waterbus;
- by bus to Piazzale Roma – book it here;
- by shared or private transfer to Piazzale Roma (book it here) from where you can get to your accommodation in town.
By train or bus
Venice is well connected to mainland Italy by bus and train. Buses will leave you in Piazzale Roma, whereas trains go as far as Venezia Santa Lucia train station. From both places, you can easily catch a water taxi or water bus to get to your final destination.
You can also get to Venice on a cruise, but given the bad impact these are having on the lagoon, the main dock is being moved from its current Giudecca location.
How to move around Venice
One of my best Venice travel tips is to walk everywhere. However, if you need to cover longer distances you can count on water taxis, traghetto (which covers shorter distances) and the famous vaporetto. Here is a breakdown of the costs for Venice vaporetto:
- SINGLE RIDE – €7.50, maximum 60 minutes during which you can switch to other vaporetto services.
- 24-HOUR PASS – €20
- 48-HOUR PASS – €30
- 72-HOUR PASS – €40
- 7-DAY PASS – €60
You can get a one-day transportation pass for €10.50 (little over $12 USD) here.
Consider investing in a Venice City Pass if you are planning to visit many attractions in one day, as it will include the use of public transportation. You can get it here. Otherwise, get a one day or multi-day vaporetto pass.
Other useful information
If you are coming from the EU, you won’t need a visa to travel to Venice, Italy and to other Schengen countries. If you are coming from outside of the EU Schengen area, you need to confirm your ETIAS validity before your trip.
Make sure to read my other posts
- The Best Things To Do In Venice
- A Guide To Visiting Doge’s Palace
- A Guide To Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica
- A Guide To The Best Places To Visit In Italy
- 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy
- A Perfect Italy Itinerary: What To See And Do With 10 Days Or More
- 67 Extremely Useful Travel Tips For Italy