40 Valuable Things to Know Before Visiting Venice
Venice, Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations globally, and for a good reason! But, there are a few things to know before visiting Venice — especially if this is your first time visiting.
This beautiful city is home to incredible architecture, beautiful canals, and unique attractions. It’s no wonder that it’s a very popular tourist destination.
With these top tips, you’ll be exploring all that the “City of Canals” has to offer without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.
Whether you’re already planning a trip or just dreaming about it, keep reading this guide about things to know before visiting Venice for an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem!
Essential Things to Know Before Visiting Venice (Perfect for First-Time Visitors)
There are plenty of things to see and do in Venice with attractions like St. Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge, and Doge’s Palace. It’s also one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
But, it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily, with a little bit of planning, you can have an incredible trip to Venice.
I’ll cover everything from crowds and prices to attractions and other insider tips for visiting Venice. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or have been before, this post has something for everyone.
After reading this post, you’ll have all the detailed information and travel tips you need to make the most of your time in Venice. I loved Venice and I’ll help you experience it at its best.
Now, let’s jump into it!
Do Your Research and Plan What You Want to Do in Advance
One of the most important things to know before visiting Venice, Italy is that it’s not one of those cities where you show up blindly and just start exploring.
There’s so much to see and do that it’s essential to know beforehand what you want to do.
Start by making a list of attractions and experiences you want to have while in Venice.
Once you have your list, look up opening times, ticket prices, and any other information you’ll need to know in advance.
This will help you save time while you’re there, and it will also help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Brace Yourself for the Crowds
Venice is one of the prettiest cities in Italy, which means it’s also one of the most crowded.
I didn’t believe my friends who told me how packed Venice would be, but they were right. I totally agree with them now.
According to World Population Review, Venice draws in 20 million visitors annually, increasing every year.
Be prepared for large crowds if you’re visiting during high season AKA the summer months (June through August).
I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit Venice during these months, but it’s important to prepare yourself that it will be extremely busy.
Off Season Isn’t a Thing in Venice
Venice is a popular destination year-round, so don’t expect things to slowerbecause it’s not summer.
While you might be able to find fewer crowds in Venice during the low season (November-March), it’s still not what I would consider “slow.”
March through May and September through November are considered shoulder-season, which means you can still expect moderate crowds.
So, even if you’re visiting during the “off season,” or shoulder season, don’t expect things to be too different.
Sure, there will be fewer crowds, but don’t expect a ghost town.
Prepare Yourself for Sticker Shock
Venice is an expensive city, especially when it comes to food and accommodation.
Even if you’re not on a budget, be prepared for sticker shock when you see prices for meals, hotels, and souvenirs.
However, there are some ways to save money in Venice. For example, eating at restaurants during lunchtime is typically cheaper than dinner.
Also, if you’re willing to walk a bit further from the main tourist areas, you can find reasonably priced accommodation.
One of my important travel tips when it comes to Venice is that anything in San Marco (the main square) will be pricy. I had the most expensive coffee I’ve ever had sitting in this square.
There’s So Much More to Venice Than the Big Three
When people think of Venice, they often think of the three main attractions: the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square, and the canals.
While these are all worth seeing, there’s so much more to Venice than just these three things.
Make sure to leave time to exploring Venice AND other parts of the city, such as Dorsoduro, Cannaregio, and Castello.
Each of these neighborhoods has its own unique charm, and you’ll get a more well-rounded view of Venice by exploring all of them.
Don’t Forget to Check Out the Islands
Venice comprises 117 small islands, and each one has something different to offer.
Some of the most popular islands include Murano (known for its glassmaking), Burano (known for its lacemaking and colorful houses), and Torcello (known for a cathedral built in 639).
One of the best insider tips I can offer you is to at least one of these Italy islands. It’ll be nice to escape the craziness of San Marco for a bit.
Murano is the easiest to get to (and the Murano glass is breathtaking), as there’s a direct boat from Venice, but all of the islands are worth visiting.
Get Ready to Walk… a Lot
Venice is a pedestrian city, which means there are no cars or buses. You’ll be doing a lot of walking while you’re here.
Walking is the best way to get around Venice, but it can be tiring if you’re not used to it.
If you get tired of walking, you can also take the water taxi.
I recommend wearing comfy shoes and taking breaks often. If your feet start to hurt, there are plenty of coffee shops and gelato shops where you can take a break.
The Streets Are Narrow With Lots of Canals
These Venice travel tips might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because it can be a bit disorienting at first.
The streets are known as “calli” in Venice, Italy, and they’re incredibly narrow.
Calle Varisco is the narrowest street in Venice, measuring 53 centimeters in width.
In some parts of the city, the narrow alleys are so narrow that you can’t even fit two people side-by-side.
And, of course, there are canals everywhere, with the most popular one being Grand Canal. The “Floating City” consists of 150 of them — bigger and smaller canals.
Venice Is Sinking
Known as the “Floating City,” Venice is built on a swampy lagoon.
Spoiler alert — Venice isn’t actually floating. It just appears that way because the buildings are built on stilts.
Despite its foundation, Venice is slowly sinking around 1-2 millimeters per year because of rising sea levels.
Some experts believe that Venice could be underwater by the year 2100.
So, if you’re planning on visiting Venice, you might want to do it sooner rather than later.
Venice Is Pedestrian Friendly
As I mentioned earlier, there are no cars in Venice. The only mode of transportation is by foot or boat.
This makes Venice a very pedestrian-friendly city and easy to go on a walking tour.
If you get tired of walking, you can always take a water bus (known as a “Vaporetto”), which I’ll explain in more detail below.
Book A Hotel Overlooking Grand Canal
Like I said before, hotels can be expensive and in high demand in Venice.
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, I recommend booking a hotel with a view of the Grand Canal.
The Grand Canal is the main waterway in Venice, and it’s stunning. There’s nothing like waking up to that view each morning.
I recommend you book ahead because these hotels are popular.
Hotel Antico Doge is a beautiful hotel to stay at. The location is amazing and the rooms are luxurious!
Yes, a Gondola Ride Is Worth It
A gondola ride is one of Venice’s most popular tourist activities, but it comes with a hefty price tag.
The price for the gondola ride is fixed and it costs 80 EUR for a half hour gondola ride. If you want a longer ride, it’s an additional 40 EUR for every twenty minutes.
The price increases to 100 EUR around 7-8 PM. Despite the price, I think expensive gondola rides are worth it.
It’s a great way to see Venice from a different perspective, and it’s a truly magical experience even if people think it’s a tourist trap.
Plus, it’s the perfect bucket list for couples activity.
Ask Locals for Restaurant Recommendations
If you want to find the best restaurants in Venice, your best bet is to ask a local.
Hotel staff will typically recommend tourist restaurants but ask them what their favorite spot is and they’ll usually give you a better recommendation.
You can also ask locals you meet on the street or in shops. People in Venice are generally very friendly and happy to help.
In my opinion, this is one of the best things to know before visiting Venice because it will help you avoid tourist traps and find some delicious food.
Enjoy a Cup of Coffee When You’re Getting Tired
If you’re feeling tired from all the walking, stop at a café for a quick pick-me-up.
Coffee is a big deal in Italy, and Venice is no exception. You’ll find plenty of cafés throughout the city serving up delicious coffee.
I recommend getting an espresso or cappuccino and pairing it with a famous Venetian pastry such as zaletti (small, crumbly cookies), baicoli (long, thin biscuits), or frittelle (fried dough balls).
Pick a cafe with a good view and enjoy people watching while you sip your coffee.
Skip the Line Passes Are Worth It for Popular Attractions
If you’re planning on visiting any of Venice’s famous tourist attractions, I recommend getting a skip-the-line pass.
This is one of my absolute top things to know before visiting Venice and will save you so much time if you’re on a time crunch.
The lines for attractions can get very long, and I remember waiting over an hour to enter some attractions. It made for a rather unpleasant experience in the scorching heat.
Just know that half an hour wait for attractions is totally normal.
Some Restaurants and Shops Close During the Day for a Bit
If you’re looking for a late lunch or some afternoon shopping, you might be out of luck.
In Venice, many restaurants and shops close for a few hours in the afternoon so that employees can take a break.
This is called the “siesta” or “riposo” and it’s prevalent in Italy.
If you’re looking for something to do during this time, you can always visit one of Venice’s many museums or art galleries.
Attractions Are Crowded Even Early in the Morning
Contrary to popular belief, Venice is only slightly quieter early in the morning.
Yes, it’s quieter than during the day, but you’ll still find plenty of tourists out and about.
Most people recommend hitting the city around sunrise to enjoy some peace and quiet before the crowds descend, but Venice is still quite busy even then.
I think many people have heard the same and are all out and about trying to get some solitude.
It Frequently Floods in Venice
If you’re visiting Venice between the months of October and January, be aware that it commonly floods during this time.
The phenomenon is called “acqua alta” (high water) and it’s caused by high tides combined with strong winds.
It usually only lasts for a few hours and doesn’t happen very often, but it can be quite a sight when it does.
You can always check the acqua alta forecast before your trip if you’re worried about it.
I think it just adds to the fun!
Drink as Much Aperol Spritz and Prosecco as Your Heart Desires
Venice is known for its delicious drinks, and there are two that you absolutely must try while you’re in town: the Aperol spritz and prosecco.
The Aperol spritz is a refreshing cocktail made with Aperol (an Italian liqueur), prosecco, and sparkling water. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy while people-watching in a bar.
Prosecco is a type of Italian sparkling wine, and it’s delicious on its own or in a cocktail.
You can find both of these drinks throughout Venice, so be sure to try one (or both!) while you’re here.
Purchase a Pass for the Vaporetto
The Vaporetto is Venice’s public transportation system, and it’s one of the best ways to get around the city.
You can purchase a pass for the Vaporetto if you plan on using it frequently during your trip.
Passes are available for one day, two days, three days, or seven days.
You can easily hop on and off any of the Vaporetto’s many routes without having to purchase a ticket every time you decide to go somewhere.
This is one of the money-savvy things to know before visiting Venice because it will save you quite a bit if you use the Vaporettos often.
The pass also includes Burano, Murano, and Torcello.
Keep the Water Bus/Water Taxi Schedule Handy
The Vaparettos are convenient but they do have a set schedule.
I recommend keeping the schedule handy to know when the last water taxi is.
You don’t want to be stuck somewhere after the water taxi stops running for the night!
Try to Get Lost
One of the best things about Venice is that it’s such a unique and exciting city.
There are many narrow alleyways and hidden squares to explore, and you never know what you’ll find.
I recommend getting making a wrong turn on purpose and seeing where the wind takes you.
You might just find yourself in the most beautiful spot in the city!
Set aside Google Maps for a few hours and enjoy wandering around this gorgeous Italian city.
Consider Your Luggage Choice Carefully
This is one of the crucial things to know before visiting Venice because the narrow streets and many bridges can make it difficult to navigate with large suitcases.
I recommend using a small suitcase or backpack to easily carry it with you and avoid using all your manpower dragging it up and down the street.
Be sure to pack light and only bring what you absolutely need.
Book a Hotel Outside of Town (If You’re On a Budget)
If you’re on a budget, I recommend booking a hotel outside of town and taking the water bus or train into Venice each day.
The train station is is easy to navigate just like the water taxis.
This is one of the best things to know before visiting Venice because it can be quite expensive to stay on the island.
There are many hotels and Airbnbs in the surrounding areas that are much cheaper than those on the island.
You can easily get into Venice each day via train station and enjoy all the city offers without spending a fortune on your accommodation.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
This is one of the most important things to know before visiting Venice because you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
The narrow streets and alleyways can be challenging to navigate, so comfortable shoes are necessary.
I also recommend wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting wet because there are often puddles of water in the streets.
Have One Cheap Meal a Day
One of the best things to know before visiting Venice is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on good food.
Many reasonable and delicious options are available, especially if you’re willing to eat where the locals eat.
I recommend having one cheap meal each day, such as a slice of pizza or a sandwich from a local deli.
This will save you money without sacrificing taste and leave you room to splurge at dinner.
Things to Know Before Visiting Venice: What Should You Not Do in Venice?
Now that I’ve gone over things to know before visiting Venice, here are a few things you should avoid doing so that you can make the most of your trip.
Buy Anything in Piazza San Marco
If you’re looking for souvenirs or gifts, Piazza San Marco is not the place to go.
The prices are sky-high, and you’ll be able to find better deals elsewhere.
Spend Less Than Two Days in Venice
Venice is such a unique and charming city that it deserves more than just a quick visit.
I recommend spending at least two days, and preferably more so that you have time to really explore and see everything the city has to offer.
Leave Your Valuables Unattended
Venice is generally a safe city, but like any other place, it’s always best to be cautious with your belongings.
I recommend keeping your valuables close to you and not leaving them unattended in public places.
Wear Revealing Clothes to the Churches
One of the things to know before visiting Venice is that many of the churches have a dress code.
You’ll likely be asked to cover your shoulders and knees before entering, so it’s best to dress accordingly.
Wearing revealing clothes is disrespectful and will only cause you inconvenience.
Block the Streets
If you’re walking slow or stopping to take photos, move over to the side so you don’t block others.
It’s important to be considerate of others who are trying to get around. Locals don’t want to be stuck behind you taking your sweet time while snapping a selfie.
Leave Your Trash in the Streets
Keep Venice clean and dispose of your trash properly by using garbage cans.
You may see some people leaving their trash in the streets, but don’t be one of them.
It’s disrespectful and just plain rude. I’ve called a few tourists out for doing it and they didn’t seem too pleased about a 4’11, 93 lbs girl confronting them about it.
Feed the Pigeons
It’s actually illegal to feed the pigeons in Venice, so don’t do it!
Not only is it bad for the birds, but you could also be fined.
Expect Amazing Pizza
Wood burning ovens are banned in Venice which means the pizza here just isn’t as good as in other parts of Italy.
It’s still good, but don’t expect the same level of perfection that you’ll find in Naples.
Step in Anything Green
By green things, I mean algae. It’s pretty much everywhere in Venice and can be slippery.
I’ve seen people wipe out hard because they stepped in some algae without realizing it.
Be careful and take your time walking, especially if you’re wearing flip-flops or other shoes that don’t provide good traction.
Swim in the Canals
Don’t even think about it!
The canals are full of bacteria and other nasty things, so swimming in them is a definite no-no.
Plus, you can’t even if you wanted to because it’s also illegal.
Things to Know Before Visiting Venice: What You Should Be Careful of in Venice
While Venice is generally a safe city, there are a few things you should be careful of.
These are must-read Venice travel tips!
Restaurants Charging a Cover Charge
Restaurants charging a cover charge is standard practice in Venice.
It’s best to ask what the charge is before sitting down if you’re not interested in paying it.
Some restaurants charge a “coperto,” (cover charge) which covers your basic bread and water.
I paid a 15 EUR cover charge at a restaurant that wasn’t even good. Three years later and I’m still bitter about that. Anyway, when I asked the server why it was so expensive, he said it was to pay for the tablecloths, cutlery, and plates.
To this day, I’m still confused by this so check what the charge will be beforehand.
This is one of the most essential tips for visiting Venice so pay attention.
If someone walks up to you and tries to give you flowers or a bracelet, say no thanks and walk away.
They’ll entice you by asking where you’re from and engaging in small talk.
Then, they’ll say how kind you are and try to give you a bracelet as a token of their appreciation. They may even try to put the bracelet on your wrist.
They’ll demand money from you and won’t back off unless you pay them.
Just be aware of these scams and don’t fall for them. Usually, it’s the people who get scammed that say Venice is a tourist trap.
Beware of Pickpockets
Pickpocketing is common in Venice (just like pretty much everywhere in other countries), so be careful of your belongings.
Keep your valuables close to you and be aware of your surroundings.
I’ve known people who have had their phones and electronic devices stolen out of their back pockets while walking around Venice, so just be careful.
As long as you keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine.
Things to Know Before Visiting Venice: Tours in Venice
There are a lot of tours in Venice and it can be overwhelming trying to decide which ones to take.
I’ve taken a few different tours in Venice and I can say that some are better (the walking tour I went on was great!) than others.
Do your research before booking anything and make sure you’re getting what you want out of the tour.
Here are the best tours to take in Venice that I highly recommend!
Final Thoughts About Things to Know Before Visiting Venice
So, there you have it — all the things to know before visiting Venice, Italy!
With these great tips for visiting Venice in mind, you’ll have the best authentic experience in one of the world’s most enchanting cities.
I hope you have a fabulous time when you visit Venice and that you love Venice as much as I do.
What are you most excited to do in Venice? Do you have any other suggestions or more tips to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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Monday 11th of July 2022
Thanks for all the advice. My husband and I will be visiting Venice in September at an AirBnB very close to the Rialto Bridge. I think it will be a great location. I am considering visiting Murano and hope to find an opportunity to create a glass piece at one of the studios, while learning about glass blowing. Is there an excursion you might recommend? We will be in the city three nights and hopefully will have time to get a good feel for the city.