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Venice Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Venice vacation

Venice 4 stars
A truly unique place and somewhere you should visit. Perhaps not as romantic as I had expected, but incredibly interesting to see how it functions as a working city. Be prepared for lots of tourists and unhappy Venetians if you get in their way!

Definitely invest in a good map and wander round some of the back streets as you’ll come across some amazing views and more traditional quieter corners. I liked the canal Rio Nuovo by Piazza Roma, Campo San Rocco and Campo di San Polo (to the west of the Grand Canal) are also worth a visit. It takes about an hour to walk from Piazza Roma (where buses can get to, and near the port) to St Marks Square.

If you are there in the winter it is worth investigating which areas flood – St Marks Square floods twice a day, the locals just know to carry boots with them!

Take Vaporetti number 1 from Piazza Roma for the Grand Canal. It’s definitely worth a trip along here to get a view of the Rialto Bridge and then St Marks square (Piazza San Marco). You can’t really appreciate Venice without going on the water at some point, although you might need a guide book close at hand to show all the sites along the way.
Go up the bell tower in St Marks Square to get great views of the city and surrounding islands – it costs 8Euros and you go up in a lift (you have to leave bulky bags at the entrance). From St Marks Square you can visit the cathedral, Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. Be prepared for St marks square to be very busy and for there to be queues.

If you can get a water taxi try the Giudecca canal – a much wider canal to the south, but you’ll get better view of the islands.

Gondolas are meant for six, so be warned if you are there as a couple a gondola ride for two can cost around 100Euros. Also as a tip if you want to have coffee in St Marks Square, the price will go up (and it starts out quite expensive anyway!) if music is being played.

There are plenty of shops on the streets that go across the Rialto Bridge and head off it. There are thousands of Venetian masks to choose from and plenty of Murano glass at reasonable prices.

The Hotel Danieli next to St Marks Square is the famous one, but expensive! There are now several hotels including a Hitlon, which have developed on their own little islands off the Giudecca. Many of these operate their own water taxi service. If you are planning to stay in Venice I think you need to be prepared to get water taxis and carry suitcases through narrow busy streets.

It can go from rainy to very hot in Venice – so be prepared. There are also limited places to sit down. Nearby the island of Murano is famous for its glass making and Burano for its picturesque houses, if you have time it’s worth venturing away from the main islands. The nearest beach is Lido di Venezia which is abut 45mins away by boat.


Spritz 2 stars
Spritz is the typical Venetian drink. Every afternoon, before dinner, Venetians get together at an outdoor café or bar and help themselves to this fizzy, orange drink. Sometimes, people will have more than one spritz, rotating from bar to bar and meeting up with different groups of people. In this way, the aperitivo, which is the time when Venetians partake in this drink, is similar to the Spanish tradition of tapas. It can be witnessed (and you can participate if you like) in almost any piazza in Venice. The larger ones like San Marco are more expensive, while smaller ones near residential districts have more affordable drinks.

It's not supposed to be purely about the drink. It's supposed to be a social interaction, where you meet up with people you may not necessarily be sharing a meal with but with whom you would still like to talk in the evenings.

While I adore the sentiment, it's hard for me to enjoy something like this when I find the drink so gross. It's really very bitter, kind of like Campari, but I don't feel it has any redeeming qualities. It tastes kind of watered down... I didn't enjoy it at all.

Of course, this is just one person's opinion. Thousands of Venetians (and tourists) love spritz, so you may as well try it. However, have some peanuts or pretzels on hand and don't say I didn't warn you if you spring seven euros on a drink just to find out that it's a drink you hate.


Sinbad the sailor
My passion for Venice 5 stars
I definitively have a deep passion for Venice! Every time I go there I just can’t take any photo in the first hours. It is like if being always my first time in that magic city: the osmosis is too intense, so much to absorb, to look at…that pressing the button of a camera is less of a priority…

Then Venice’s walls start showing their “fossils”. In one hidden corner the house of Marco Polo and tales of his voyages; in a palace on the edge of the Grand Canal lived Cadamosto (navigator who discovered Cape Verde for the Portuguese); in Piazza San Marco’s Campanile you can imagine Galileo selling his telescope to the Venetian Navy; and so on, and so on, …

So many stories, this city has so much to tell, that one’s head gets to spin - and not only if staying bellow the hyper-noisy Campanile’s bells when they mark the hours!! Genius inspires genius – and I just love Venice!!


Masks in Venice 5 stars
Masks and Venice are words that traditionally go together. Carnivale, which occurs each year two weeks before Lent, is a huge party in Venice, where you would wear a mask that would hide your identity so you would be free to engage in all sorts of hedonistic activities in celebration of Carnivale.

You can get carnivale style masks throughout the year all over Venice. There are stores along the Ponte di Rialto selling masks as well as stalls throughout the city, particularly along the Grand Canal and in the main tourist-y areas around the Plaza di San Marco. You can get half masks that just cover the eyes and part of the nose, or full masks that hide the entire face. They range from simple – plain black and white to feathered, sequined, glittered, painted and more. I bought one with fake gold gilding and music notes. It’s a wonderful and perfect souvenir from Venice. My friend bought a mask charm in Venice. I would recommend either option, but do something with masks – it is Venice after all! The cost of the masks ranges depending upon the quality and style, but mine was 20 euros. If it’s being sold in a stall then you can generally bargain the vendor down a little bit or at least try!


Aqua Alta or high tide in Venice 4 stars
Venice is a series of islands and during high tide or heavy rains, the city will flood. It's referred to as aqua alta. St. Mark's Square is one of the city's lowest points, so it will flood first. Flooding is most likely to happen during the winter months - November to March. Just be aware that you may get your feet wet and be prepared.

Wooden walkways are put in place by the city. You can also buy wellies or rain boots from vendors. The prices are likely to be sky high, so you may want to consider bringing your own. We risked not bringing any and we managed to luck out. Even though it had been raining, our visit to Venice was dry underfoot. Then again, we were there in early April at the tail end of the flooding season.


Getting around Venice 4 stars
We got inexplicably and nearly irrevocably lost between the Venice train station and St. Mark's Square. The roads are narrow and twisting and while there are signs pointing the way to the square, they are not on every block (which is what we needed!). If you are on a schedule, I would very highly recommend making sure that you (or someone in your party) has a current map of Venice and knows how to read it. Otherwise, I would suggest getting a guide. Beyond that, do what we did - we had patience and saw getting there as part of the experience. Since we weren't on a schedule that day, we could wander at our leisure. We came across a number of lovely little stores and lanes on our way there. And all of a sudden we rounded a corner and there was St. Mark's! Also, make sure to ask questions. Shopkeepers, I'm sure, are used to people asking them how to get around, and we never found anyone who wasn't helpful. So stay patient and ask questions and enjoy the ride! It's OK if you get lost, trust me, you'll not be the first or the last!


De-publicizing Venice
Venice is undoubtedly unique, almost like a different plane – an old-world romantic land. It’s high on the bucket list of places to be. It hadn’t struck me that it is in fact abnormal for a place like this to survive unscathed in the new world of aggressive tourism, neon signs and hoardings. When it came to light while I was watching a travel program on TV, I looked it up and turns out Venice is under the protective wing of the UNESCO World Heritage banner.
At some point there was even a campaign to ward off day-trippers with negative publicity featuring pictures of garbage and dead pigeons. Somehow the fervent need to preserve makes Venice only more inviting to me.


Venice on the cheap! 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Venice remains my favourite European destination, it is truly unique. Of the three visits I’ve enjoyed to “Venezia” I’ve always been looking for ways to visit it “on the cheap” as one thing it is famous for is its inflated cost. Here are my top tips then for if you are on a strict budget: -

1) It will be much cheaper to find accommodation in Mestre, the town to the north of Venice on the “main land”. If you hunt around here you can truly find a bargain and given that trains run frequently from Mestre train station into Venice in about 5 minutes it’s quite convenient too.

2) A trip in a gondola is pretty pricey but you can get a good impression of the city from the water by taking one of the numerous water buses which (when I was last there) operated a flat fee. You could therefore have a “cruise” along the Grand Canal and around the city much more affordably.

3) See if you can find one of the quayside food markets which sell fresh fruit and veg much more cheaply than buying lunch in the cafés.

4) Consider visiting in the “low seasons”, I went for New Year one year and just afterwards in mid-January things seemed to get a lot quieter (perhaps due to the annual flooding!)

I also found that, with time, some solid internet research beforehand can often turn up some bargains, sometimes hotel accommodation right within the city itself.


Venice, Italy 4 stars
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
As always, it is dangerous when one expects so much of a place. I have always wanted to see Venice, and when I got the chance I almost couldn't believe it.
Just walking in Venice fills one with a sense of culture and history. And of course, if you are there, you just have to go on the gondolas, and experience the attack of thousands of pigeons on the Piazza San Marco - seriously, be careful!
But the one thing that disappointed me of the place was the general dirty state of it - there was human waste drifting in the water! And walking in the many narrow little passages, one becomes acutely aware of the decay.
That said, in a sense it adds to the charm of the place. Much of Venice appears to be stuck in the past - we discovered a little restaurant, for example, with an interior setting - and clientele - that could have been straight out of an old Mafia movie!
Besides taking many photographs, you should also look out for Venetian glass items, and visit some of the museums - the first time I was there a Dali display was on right next to Piazza San Marco. Lastly, I bought a bottle of the best red wine I have ever tasted right there in Venice, and if I recall correctly, the label said San Marco too.


Venice, Italy... Unique in every way! 5 stars
Unfortunately, I was single when I first visited this amazing city. I will certainly be back in Venice when I have been joined in Holy Matrimony, because this place is the KING of romanticism! Riding on a gondola was a once in a lifetime experience. You just kind of coast right through the city while having your jaw drop as you gaze upon the gorgeous architechture. There is no place like Venice in the entire world. You have to see this place. With the awesome, monsterous churches and cathedrals, sightseeing is nothing less than spectacular. The artwork is incredible. The birds in the courtyard are unique. The Italian people are precious. I can't wait to go back with my future wife. Don't miss this, check out Venice before it's to late.


Venice and the rain…. 4 stars
I’m not sure it’s common fair for there to be a lot of wet weather in Venice, when I was there in the off season it rained a little bit but I only had one day that seemed to be really bad. Even then it would come and go so if I timed my walking through the city just right it wasn’t too bad.
The one thing that I did notice is that the second it starts raining there, all the street vendors all of a sudden have umbrellas for sale. Part of me is wondering where they all came from and part of me wonders how they can get away with charging so much. The point is that these are likely the most expensive cheep umbrellas that you’ll come across in your life. Your money is far better spent taking an extended lunch, or finding a nice dry spot to read your book.
After the rain – and this was a tip off to how cheap everything is, the trash cans are full of broken umbrellas.


Casin dei Nobili 4 stars
The first time we tried to eat at this restaurant we failed miserably, because we hadn't noticed that it was closed on Mondays! A local spotted us peeking in the windows and warned us that if we wanted to eat there, we would have to book in advance. So we did exactly that, and it was worth it. The prices at this place are unbelievably low considering the excellent quality of the food. The menu is not tremendously large but is quite varied, and the desserts alone are worth the visit. We even managed to have a bottle of wine for less than ten euros, which was unheard of at other Venice restaurants. Fantastic meal, great price.


Venice Carnival Masks 4 stars
The practice of wearing masks was used in the 18th century in Venice as a form of social amalgamation when people of different classes used masks at the Carnival so they could safely mingle or trade sexual favors. The original masks were rather simple in design and decoration. They often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays there are several categories of Venice’s masks: Commedia dell'Arte masks, Fantasy masks and Traditional Venetian masks such as the white volto. The places I recommend for shopping masks are Mondonovo and Laboratorio Artigiano Maschere.


Venice Carnival (Carnevale) 5 stars
Venice's Carnival takes place in February, in the ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday and it gives a picturesque version of Venice’s more decadent past. The tradition of this mask wearing can be tracked back to the 14th century when the Serenissima made a law saying that masks cannot be used around the city at night. There is a lot to do at the Carnevale and a lot of money to spend: gambling dens, brothels, theatres, cafés, wine shops (licensed and illicit) and restaurants, as well as booths where one could see exotic animals, rope walkers and jugglers.


Madonna dell'Orto 5 stars
Madona dell’Orto is Venice’s finest Gothic church built into northern reach of the city - a somewhat isolated region, so most of the visitors miss the place. People say that the most beautiful places are the hidden places and this is also the case with Madona dell’Orto. Over a hundred years it has attracted the tourists with its noble brick façade and a graceful interior. The interior with paintings made by Tintoretto is still the most beautiful thing about the church. In the Chapel of San Mauro you can see the Tintoretto’s thomb.


Murano: The Glass Island 4 stars
Murano supplies quality glass since 1291 and it had grown into such a prosperous trading center that it had its own coins, police force and commercial aristocracy. The artisans were also allowed to wear swords and their daughters could marry into the Venetians blue-blooded families. Nowadays the Murano artisans still produce stunning works of contemporary art from glass, although some of the designs are by foreign artists. While there don’t miss the Museo Vetrario or Glass Museum and the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato.


Venice's Ghetto 4 stars
In spite of the negative connotations of the word ghetto, the Venice’s Ghetto was created in 1526 not to prosecute the Jews per se but to placate the Roman Catholic Church, which had already forced the expulsion of Jews from much of Western Europe. We must remember that it was quite common for the 16th century period to house the foreign merchants in separate districts, as the Venetians also did with the Turkish and German merchants. If you go there you mustn’t miss the Museo Comunità Ebraica (Jewish Community Museum), the Scuola Grande Spagnola and the Scuola Levantina, where the religious services take place.


Venice gondola serenade tour 5 stars
More cynic people may laugh at the idea of cruising along Venice's back canals listening to O Sole Mio, but once you’ve made up your mind its fairy tale like. During the approximately 50-minutes trip you will need to overcome daydreaming and concentrate on the places that you’ll pass nearby like the Church of Santa Maria Formosa and the Bridge of Sighs and the innumerable palazzi, former convents and private houses. If you are traveling with companions you may find it cheaper to take a private ride, but the inconvenience is that you will not be accompanied by a singer and musicians.


About Venice 5 stars
Perhaps Venice needs no introduction. Everybody knows we are talking about the half under waters and the most romantic city. And everybody also would like to go there and take a gondola serenade tour or admire the Glass Island of Murano. However, what you get to visit now is just a shadow of its former self. The wars had shaken its industrial structures and geologists even say that soon the city will be entire under waters because of the global warming. And if they are right than you must visit this unique city while you still can.


Not particularly wheelchair-friendly 3 stars
The thing about living in America is, if you're in a wheelchair most states have laws that require public areas to be accessible. This is not the case in many parts of Europe, which might mean that those who need special access ramps may find Venice a difficult city to navigate. many canal-side passages are of variable width, and in places can be so narrow that two people walking in opposite directions barely have room to pass one another without one of them falling into the canal. There are also stairs to contend with, lots of stairs, and very rarely did I see any way around these. So if you're in a wheelchair and would like to take a vacation in the Veneto, I would recommend perhaps choosing a city a bit further inland, and just coming into Venice for a day trip.


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