Venice travel tips: things to know before visiting Venice
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Venice is a wonderful location that everyone who’s going to Italy should visit.
I know that many people say to not go to Venice altogether because, well, there are so many people always going there. But I’m not one of those people.
I think Venice is such an incredible destination that everyone who has a chance should visit it.
But of course, since Venice really is unique, there are some things to know before visiting Venice.
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General Venice tips
You need to register your visit if you do a day trip to Venice – one of the most recent Venice tips
Starting from 2023, it will be mandatory to register your trip to Venice.
If you will want to do a day trip, you’ll have to pay a fee of up to 10 euros depending on when you visit.
People who stay at least a night in the city will not have to pay a fee, as in the hotel you’re paying a city tax, but still will be required to register.
There will be a booking system introduced where you’ll need to register your arrival. It will be possible to register on a voluntary basis already in 2022, and there are supposed to be different incentives provided, such as skipping the lines for different sights.
Don’t bring a rolling suitcase
If you didn’t already know, Venice has cobblestone streets and bridges which often include stairs. And, since the buildings usually don’t have elevators, you might have to lodge your luggage up multiple flights of stairs.
Plus, you should know that it’s actually illegal to pull a rolling suitcase in Venice because the noise disturbs other people. It’s not like this law is heavily enforced, but you never know.
Update: apparently, the ban was a bunch of mistranslations going around the web. But I stand by my point – don’t take a wheeled suitcase with you! They make a lot of noise, the wheels of the suitcase can be destroyed on the cobblestones, and the streets themselves get damaged by hundreds of thousands of people pulling suitcases on them.
So, one of the most important Venice tips – pack light!
Better pack some rain gear just in case – Venice tip for a rainy day
Especially if you’re travelling in the shoulder season, it’s a good idea to pack an umbrella or a raincoat. It tends to rain in Venice and, believe me, the rain gear gets way overpriced.
Of course, there are lots of things to do in Venice when it rains as well. It’s just that you’ll have to walk around to get to them, anyways.
Pack some “appropriate” attire as well
By “appropriate” I mean things that cover your shoulders and knees. “Inappropriate” means shorts, short skirts, naked shoulders, and crop tops.
Generally, you will not be let into any church – or basilica – in Italy if you have too much exposed skin. Some churches even refuse admittance to women who wear pants or shorts!
And if you’d like to go and see an opera – which is one of the most unique things to do in Venice! – you need to bring something more formal with you as well.
Related: Venice packing list
The best time to visit Venice is…
The shoulder seasons. That is, April-May or September-October. It’s when there are fewer people and everything is still open.
Of course, if you’d like to see Carnivale, that’s at the beginning of the year – January or February usually.
Summer gets very crowded, and everything is more expensive.
We really loved our visit in April – the weather was lovely and sunny.
The hotel rooms are rather tiny
Venice is quite a dense city, so all the houses have rooms on the small side. That includes hotels.
And it’s not just rooms – the hallways and stairs are narrow as well.
This means – and I’ve been repeating this Venice tip a lot already – pack light! And leave your big suitcase at home.
Related: where to stay in Venice
Don’t feed the pigeons
This is one of those Venice tips that made me sad, but you are not allowed to feed the pigeons on St Mark’s Square.
I was actually surprised when I learned this, as I myself didn’t see any signs during our visit.
But oh well, I get where the authorities are coming from – it’s not great when many birds flood a place, as that means lots of bird poop all around.
Sit only in designated places
That means, on chairs, not on sides of monuments, houses, and so on.
This sign I actually did see, haha.
Venice tips for getting around
The main means of transportation is a vaporetto
Vaporetto is Venice’s answer to our usual public busses.
It’s a water bus!
Vaporettos run all the length of the Grand Canal and to the other islands of Venice, such as Burano and Murano.
You can even get from the airport straight to Venice centre with a vaporetto.
There are many places where you can get tickets for Vaporetto, and the most convenient are tabaccherias or the machines just by the main stops.
Don’t forget to mark your ticket before boarding the vaporetto!
No need to take a private taxi
The water taxis, just like any normal taxi, are generally quite expensive, really.
Of course, it’s possible to share one with others which makes it cheaper, but otherwise, just use a vaporetto.
I’ve seen people suggest that you take a water taxi straight from the airport, but in my opinion, it doesn’t make too much sense. Just take a bus straight from the airport to Piazzale Roma and walk or take a vaporetto from there.
One of my main Venice tips is to walk as much as you can!
Venice is not a big city so you pretty much can walk almost anywhere.
When walking, you can find so many hidden gems!
Of course, for getting to the other islands in the lagoon you’ll need a vaporetto, but otherwise… it’s so easy to find hidden gems when you just walk.
The GPS is not exactly precise in Venice
I’m not really even sure why, but the GPS signal is weak and imprecise in Venice, which means that apps like Google maps are not precise. They might send you down the wrong street or even to a dead end.
This means that to not get lost, it’s a good idea to get a good old paper map.
Or do it as we did – ignore the blue dot of “you’re here” in google maps and just navigate yourself by street names.
An unusual getting around Venice tip – wear comfortable shoes
Venice has cobblestone streets and bridges with stairs on them, which means – you need comfortable shoes!
One of my main Venice tips is – ditch the heels and only take comfy shoes. A nice picture is not worth a broken ankle, right?
Sightseeing tips for Venice
Make sure to visit the main sights in Venice
For so many destinations, I’ve seen people say “go off the beaten path”! “Explore the new!”
My experience is that the main sights are popular because they are amazing.
In Venice specifically, the Saint Marc’s Basilica, the Duke’s palace, the Piazza San Marco, and everything else, really is worth visiting.
If you want to beat the crowds, the best idea is to visit around sunrise time or after sunset. The square is empty then. Makes for great pictures!
As for the buildings, you can get “skip the line” tickets.
The main sights to visit in Venice are covered in our Venice 2-day itinerary.
But still, one of my main Venice tips – get off the beaten path as well
Spend a couple of hours just wandering around the bridges and crossing the channels.
Cross the Grand Canal and explore Dorsoduro district or walk away from San Marco’s to check out Cannaregio.
Cannareggio is lovely! Check out it for yourself in this virtual tour of Venice!
Check out the gardens (yes, there are gardens in Venice as well!)
There are many places in Venice to get lost in.
Go out early or late – one of the best Venice tips for when to visit the sights
To avoid the crowds (and there will be crowds – whichever month you visit) go out very early in the morning or late at night, after the sunset.
During these times the squares are almost empty, since, you know, who wants to wake up early?
At night, of course, it’s harder to see everything perfectly, but still, at least the view is unobstructed. And there are quite a few things to do, actually.
Have a rough plan on what you’d like to see and do
Venice has tons of things to do and see, so it’s a good idea to have at least a rough idea of which of all of the things you’d like to do.
There are many museums, churches, interesting buildings, districts, and even islands in Venice that are worth visiting so it can get quite hard to choose when you’re already there.
We have a Venice 2 day itinerary which contains some more Venice tips for visiting, such as how to get to Venice, how to get around, what to pack, etc., so make sure to check it out.
Don’t miss the other islands near Venice
The most popular islands near Venice are Burano and Murano.
Burano is a cute little place which has many colourful houses, and Murano is where the incredible Murano glass is made.
For Murano, you can even consider going to a glass-blowing workshop.
If the weather permits and you have enough time, consider going to the Lido – an island that has a 12km stretch of a sandy beach! Parts of the beach you have to pay for, but there are free-access beaches, too.
An unusual Venice tip – do book a gondola ride
I know many people say that it’s not worth it, but a gondola ride is a really cool experience.
We rode a gondola together with my parents on a rainy November afternoon in Venice, and it was still quite incredible!
It’s so interesting to see everything from pretty much water level. You get to explore the walls of the houses up close and see some very interesting sights from a different angle.
The rides usually go both on the Grand Canal and on the side streets.
I believe it would be even cooler on a sunny day, haha.
One of the best Venice travel tips – look into unusual things to do as well
We all know that you need to visit the main sights, and I’ve mentioned it here as well.
But don’t knock out some more unusual things to do in Venice!
Did you know that there are 139 churches in Venice? Or that there are almost a hundred museums in Venice?
Well, there are!
So you can look into those as well.
To save time, book skip-the-line tickets.
Or you can experience Venice with a local guide.
Or go for a glass-blowing workshop.
So many options!
Venice tips about restaurants and food
Food is a huge part of visiting anywhere in Italy.
So, when visiting Venice, you have to try out some local restaurants as well!
These are things to know before visiting a restaurant in Venice.
Go to an osteria somewhere away from the most touristy places
Even if it’s just a couple of streets away, there is a bigger chance that the prices will be lower and the quality – higher.
The restaurants in places like San Marco’s Square are more geared towards tourists. I believe you might have seen how some tourists got charged hundreds of euros for a meal.
Unfortunately, there are many people who like to take advantage of others.
If you go further away from the main sights, you can find more restaurants owned by locals where’d you get a normally priced meal.
And make sure to try Cicchetti!
Tipping in Venice
Just like anywhere else in Italy, tipping in Venice is not really a necessity.
Of course, if you really enjoyed the service, it’s welcome to leave a bit. But even in most luxurious places, usually, not more than 10% are expected.
In some touristy restaurants, you might see something like “servizio incluso” on your bill. It means that a service charge – a tip – has already been included and you don’t need to leave any more.
Don’t just eat pizza
Each region – and even city – in Italy has their own typical food. So it’s a better idea to try foods that are regional wherever you visit.
Venice is a seaside – or rather, on the sea – city, so seafood is a better option than a pizza.
Some foods you should be trying in Venice are:
- Cicchetti – typical Venetian finger foods.
- Nero di Seppia – food with squid ink in it.
- Baccalà Mantecato – stockfish with olive oil, black pepper, salt, garlic and lemon juice.
- Fegato alla Veneziana – a dish made of calf liver which is cut into thin slices and cooked with onion, parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a glass of wine.
- Polenta e schie – polenta with a type of shrimp that can only be found in the Venetian Lagoon.
Man food-related Venice tip (and Italy tip, actually) – have some gelato
Oh man, the gelato – ice cream – in Italy is so incredible, you’ll not be able to really enjoy any other anywhere else. We even found an Italian gelateria here in Slovakia – and that’s the only ice cream we eat, haha.
Even if you’re vegan, gluten-free, or lactose intolerant, you can enjoy some gelato, as usually there are sorbetti – fruit-based ice-creams and you can get a GF cone or just have it in a little paper bowl.
As for how to spot a non-tourist-geared gelato? Well, the best tip is to look at the colour of the ice cream. If the colours are bright, move on.
I mean, is the pistachio ice cream bright green? The strawberry – very red? That means that artificial colourings were added, so it’s not real artiginale gelato.
Make use of your refillable water bottle
Water in Italy is generally safe enough to drink. And there are many water fountains scattered around Venice as well.
If you find tap water not tasty enough to drink (like I usually feel), at least you can buy bigger bottles of water in a store and then refill your bottle. It’s still more environmentally friendly than buying 0.5l bottles again and again.
Last thoughts on Venice tips…
There are obviously so many things you should know before visiting Venice that it’s hard to put them in one article. I think, though, that I managed to give you those Venice tips that I consider to be the most important.
There is some additional information mentioned in our Venice itinerary which is good to know as well, by the way.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these travel tips! Is there something that surprised you? Let me know in the comments!