9 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Venice, Italy
With its historic buildings and gorgeous canals, Venice is one of Italy’s most famous attractions. This floating city consists of a group of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Planning a trip here can be overwhelming, but keeping these tips in mind before you depart will make your trip much easier!
Top Travel Tips for Venice, Italy
Ferry Ticket Tips & Tricks
A one-way ferry ticket costs 6.50 Euros and it is good for 60 minutes — including switches. If you can’t find a ticket machine, you can purchase a ticket onboard for 1 Euro more, but you must tell the staff immediately upon boarding. Failing to mention it upon boarding will result in a hefty fine of 60+ Euros. If you do purchase your ticket at a machine, you MUST validate it by running it through a machine at the water taxi stop.
If you plan to use the ferries often, look into purchasing Venice’s all-inclusive transport pass before your trip.
Book a Hotel Near a Water Taxi Stop
I highly recommend staying at least two nights in Venice Proper and booking a hotel near a water taxi stop. Trust me, you do not want to drag your luggage very far in Venice.
I stayed at Hotel Palazzo Vitturi, which is within a 5-minute walk from both the Rialto and San Marco water taxi stops. This hotel is in the perfect location for exploring the top spots in Venice — including the Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs.
The rooms are HUGE, the WiFi worked great, the staff was extremely helpful, and I was amazed with the spread they served for breakfast — which is included in your room price. I stayed in March and it was just over 100 USD per night. Keep in mind, prices everywhere in Venice increase during the summer season.
Head to the Outer Islands
Some of the most photogenic places in Venice are on the outer islands. The small islands of Burano and Murano are not to be missed. I recommend spending the day island hopping and plan on having lunch on one of these islands. Fish lovers must try Gatto Nero on Burano. For those searching for more of a sandy beach experience, head to Lido!
Where the Locals Eat
Do your research beforehand on the best restaurants frequented by locals in Venice. If the locals eat there, that usually means it’s authentic. Yelp is a great app and usually the first thing I check when I arrive in a new city. For a few specific restaurant recommendations, here are four local eateries near the Rialto Bridge.
Be Prepared to Get Lost
Even the most directionally gifted travelers get lost in Venice. Google maps will even lead you astray, giving directions to a dead end down a small alley. If you just plan on getting lost, you’ll be much less frustrated. You never know what you might accidentally find.
Don’t Ignore the Top Tourist Sites
Places like Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs are popular for a reason. Don’t ignore these tourist hot spots in Venice. I also highly recommend a trip to the top of Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s eye view of the city. Plan on getting there when the building opens for the shortest wait time.
Spend Some Time Outside of the Main Tourist Areas
This is where getting lost will come in handy. Wear comfortable shoes and spend the day walking to the lesser-known areas of Venice. A few of my favorite neighborhoods include Cannaregio, Santa Croce, and Dorsoduro.
Get Up Early
I’m usually up before sunrise when I travel and Venice was no exception (this is also where jet lag comes in handy). I practically had the place to myself — even the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square) was empty! When I visited the square in the afternoon, I could not believe the crowds and I didn’t even travel to Venice during the busy summer season.
How to Find the Best Gelato
I mean, can you really come to Italy and not eat gelato?? Even if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, most good gelaterias make fruit-based sorbetti, which is also delicious!
In Venice, I met up with a local who gave me the inside scoop on how to spot good gelato in Italy. Since making gelato out of pure fruit is more time consuming and expensive than using flavor extracts, you’ll want to take a look at the colors of the fruit-flavored gelato. If the banana is a bright yellow or the berry flavors are a light shade of purple, then the gelato is made with artificial flavors rather than pure fruit. Similarly, the pistachio should not look bright green.
Oh, and Alaska Gelateria is said to have THE best gelato in Venice.
Packing Essentials for Venice
If you are looking to avoid the summer crowds and visit Venice in the spring or fall, then you’ll want to prepare for cooler temperatures. In addition to the usual Europe packing list, make sure to bring these essential items:
- Travel Umbrella: Regardless of the time of year, don’t forget your travel umbrella!
- Mosquito Repellent: I did not experience mosquitos in March, but mosquitos are not uncommon during the spring/summer months. This travel size spray pump won’t take up much room in your suitcase.
- Earplugs: It’s a city, so bring your earplugs just in case you end up in a noisy location.
- Nice Clothes: Venice is a stylish city, so don’t be afraid to bring some nice clothes. For the women, jeans and a cute pair of boots will be fine. For more travel packing tips, visit our guide on how to stay stylish while traveling.