Venice consists of a series of islands formed by canals, all of which are connected by numerous beautifully designed bridges. These canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot, creating a unique culture amongst visitors and inhabitants alike. With historic structures and water-front strolling, Venice is frequently on the list of travel destinations in Italy. Although it wasn’t my favorite of the cities I visited during my travels, it is definitely a must-see for others who may enjoy its atmosphere more.
Some Basic Tips
1 – Beware of vendors : although vendors are common throughout all of Italy, Venice seems to be a hot-bed of them, which can be more than a little annoying. Just say “no”, adamantly shake your head, and walk away quickly if they ask if you want a rose, picture, etc. in exchange for money, and you’ll be fine.
2- Get a waterbus pass : to get almost anywhere in Venice, a waterbus will be needed. The city is so vast that often walking will take way too long, so getting a waterbus pass for 2-3 days is a definite necessity.
3- Be respectful : most of Venice’s economy is based on tourism, so although locals are generally okay with tourists and visitors, try your best not to make a spectacle of yourself or be completely ignorant of local customs. Your trip will be more enjoyable and go much more smoothly if you are knowledgeable and respectful.
4- Bird-spotting : for you bird-haters, Venice is NOT the place for you. Pidgeons and seagulls are frequent, and the birds in Venice are not shy about swooping down to pick up bits of food off pathways, plazas, etc.
–Piazza San Marco : the quintessential plaza in Venice, this large expanse offers up not only great people-watching, but also has a variety of shops and cafes surrounding it that are great to visit and souvenir shop at.
–“La Biennale” : a world-wide arts, culture, dance, and architectural exhibit, the Biennale is hosted in Venice each year during the summer, and showcases these forms of expression throughout various exhibition locations within the city. If you are traveling to Venice over the summer, I’d definitely attempt to schedule your trip to when the Biennale is going on, because it is truly a great representation of art and culture within the city.
–Lido Beach : Located on a small island on the outskirts of central Venice, Lido Beach has historically been a favorite vacation spot for locals and visitors alike. With its golden brown sand and clear waters — not to mention the abundance of beautiful people on the beach — the Lido was a good spot to unwind from the busy atmosphere of Venice.
–Rialto Bridge : One of the largest of the city’s bridges, Rialto Bridge is flanked by numerous shops along its perimeter, making it a unique place to stop and get some souvenirs, a bite to eat, or a great photo opp.
–Murano : located on one of Venice’s many islands, Murano is a charming town known for its beautiful glass creations. Creating small figurines, jewelry pieces, etc. etc., Murano’s glassmakers can make almost anything you could imagine out of gorgeous glass — yet another great opportunity to buy souvenirs or spoil yourself a little.
–Il Caffè Florian : Italy’s oldest cafe, Il Caffe Florian is situated on Piazza San Marco. It has a great atmosphere, particularly at night with the lights and music of the plaza surrounding you, as well as a great selection of coffee drinks and baked goods.
–The Doge’s Palace : built in Gothic style, this palace sits within the Piazza San Marco also, and now serves as a museum that is well worth the wait in line to see.
–Gondola Ride : before you cringe at this being the ultimate clique touristy move on my part, let me just tell you how great my experience with this really was. This guy literally offered to give us a gondola ride for 10 euro, which is ridiculously cheap, so my group and I agreed. During our 45 minute ride, the gondoleer told us all about his family, the gondoleer business, about Venice as a place to live, etc. It was not only a chance to see more of the city, but it also ended up educating me a bit about real life in the town, which I found beneficial. If you can get a ride cheap with a talkative gondoleer, I’d definitely recommend it.
–Campanile di San Marco : this was actually the first place I went in Venice, and it was a great place to start the trip. Offering up fabulous views of the entirety of Venice, the tall tower sits adjacent to the plaza, and is generally not as crowded as you would expect.
–Hotel Tivoli : this is where my group stayed while we were in Venice. At 70 euro/night, it may be more expensive than what some are looking for, but it has a great location, great complementary breakfast, friendly service, and high-quality room furnishings/fixtures.
–Generator Venice : some friends of mine who visited stayed in Generator Venice, a very affordable hostel they enjoyed a lot. Generator Venice sits a short boat taxi ride from San Marco Square, and offers very nice rooms, free wifi, and other more modern amenities that other hostels may not.
-Beyond these, HostelWorld offers up very good hotel, hostel, or bed & breakfast options as well.
Hopefully this post and other resources can help you get started prepping for your trip to Venice! Happy Travels!