10 Tips For A Trip To Venice…

Travelled in: Multiple trips in 2015/2016

So for the most part of 2015/16 I had the pleasure of living in Northern Italy, I was based in a town called Bassano Del Grappa, which is located about one hour by train north west of Venice. I was fortunate enough to spend many weekends in Venice throughout my time in Italy and got to know the city quite well.

Venice is an amazing city and completely unique. Being surrounded by water, with canals running through, hundreds of bridges to cross and many islands to visit, it is no wonder it is a fascinating destination for tourists to come and check out. Unfortunately Venice has become a bit of a gimmick and is over saturated with tourists shops, restaurants, tours and over priced hotels, which is such a shame as it can really ruin the authenticity of a visit. I have been lucky enough to have seen both sides to Venice, the touristy side and the local side, if you venture beyond the tourist traps Venice is, in my opinion, so much more enjoyable…

These are my top tips to avoid the tourist traps in Venice…

1. Never visit Venice in High Summer…

If you are planning a trip to Venice, my biggest piece of advice would be to never visit in July & August! Alongside the rising flight prices, the temperate in Venice also rises to an unbearable humid heat which due to the surrounding water usually causes the city to become quite smelly. Not to mention that it will also be unbelievably crowded and let’s not even talk about how many mosquito’s are waiting to eat you for dinner!

My favourite time of year in Venice is between September/October or March/April, when its warmer during the day and cooler at night, but still generally super sunny. In December and January there is a lot of fog during the day and night which can be a really cool thing to see and experience, but if you are wanting to see the views and colours of the city then this is probably not the best time for you to visit.

2. Get off the tourist track…

Venice is a city for walkers as you have no access to cars, tubes or buses, only your feet, an overprice water taxi or a vaporetto will transport you around. In Venice when you get out of the station there is a main tourist track that everybody follows to get to San Marco which I personally absolutely HATE walking down as it all feels so fake, the food is terrible and the shops are tacky. If you want an authentic Venetian experience you need to get off of this track and venture to more local areas and take other routes to get to the same places. 

I have a couple of personal favourite areas to visit in Venice that are a bit outside of the standard tourist path…

The Venetian Ghetto – This area within Venice’s Cannaregio district was the area of Venice where back in the days of the 15th Century Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. Despite the name this place is no “ghetto”, it is full of cute residential streets with washing hanging from windows across the canals, small alley ways to get lost in, and some amazing canal side restaurants and bars. My favourite canal to wander along is Rio Della Misericordia.

Zattere – Although still slightly on the Venice tourist trail, this area is a lot quieter than some other areas of Venice. My favourite route is to turn left after you have crossed Accademia bridge and walk through the narrow streets towards the Basilica di Santa Maria, maybe stop at the Peggy Guggenheim museum on the way if that’s your kind of thing, then stroll along the waterfront around the other side, stopping to eat some amazing ice cream at Gelateria Nico, then late afternoon have an aperitivo across from the oldest Gondola factory in Venice at Osteria Al Squero.

Dorsodoro – I only discovered this area when I visited Venice with an Italian friend who studied and lived in Venice. Dorsodoro is the most local area you could visit in Venice, and a great place to come for a truly authentic Venetian/Italian experience. If you want “nightlife” in Venice this is also the area to come to, there are many bars around the Campo Santa Margherita area which are great for an after dinner drink.

3.Visit Burano instead of Murano…

Most tourists that visit Venice pay for at least one days Vaporetti pass, but generally don’t really make good enough use of it as they opt for the quick journey over to Murano or a day trip to Lido, rather than make the longer trip to Burano. If you are one of these tourist I hate to be the one to tell you, but you have missed out!

The best way to get to Burano is to take the number 12 Vaporetti from Fondamente Nove, which is about a 15 minute walk from Santa Lucia station. This in my opinion is the easiest stop to get the Vaporetto from as the journey time is much shorter than if you go from San Marco, approx 10 minutes to Murano and 40 minutes to Burano.

I visited both islands in one day and went to Burano first… I spent about 1.5 hours here just wandering around the colourful little streets, looking in the lace shops and even found myself a PROSECCO flavoured ice cream which I was very excited about! I highly recommend a visit to Burano it is very picturesque and a bit like being on the set of Balamory, for those of you who remember this programme!

After Burano I hopped back on the number 12 Vaporetto to Murano, which is about a 30 minute journey from Burano. In all honesty it was a very boring end to my day. I walked around for a while hoping to see something that blew my mind, but it was all very vanilla… Yes there are lots of lovely glass shops and factories to visit which is nice if you are in to that kind of thing, but otherwise there is not a whole lot to do or even restaurants to sit and eat in.

Obviously if you have time its great to see both islands, but if you are on a time limit I would say make it Burano over Murano!

4. Pack comfortable shoes…

Your choice of footwear will be very important in Venice as the easiest mode of transport is to walk… Venice is not so big and is very walk-able, but in the wrong shoes can ruin your trip. Make sure you wear super comfy shoes to enjoy wandering around this magical city.

5. Know your options of getting to the island from the airport…

There are 2 main airports close to Venice. The main one is Marco Polo, which is so close to Venice you can see the island when you land. There are 3 ways to get to Venice from here. 1. Take the vaporetto, this stops in all of the main touristy areas, but takes around 1hr to get to San Marco and costs about €15 for a one way ticket. 2. Water taxi, this is a faster more luxurious and private mode of transport, but expect to pay €100 plus one way! 3. Take the bus. From the bus stops on ground floor of the main terminal take the ATVO bus heading towards Piazza Roma, the bus usually comes every 15 minutes in busy seasons, journey time is 20 minutes and it costs €8 one way. The bus stops on the only part of Venice vehicles are allowed. From the Piazza Roma you can walk to your hotel if it is close, or get a Vaporetto from Ferrovia which is a 3min walk away, right outside Santa Lucia station.

The second airport is Treviso, which is around a 40 minute journey to Venice. There are 2 options to get to Venice from here. 1. Get the bus straight from the airport, there are a couple of companies with ticket offices in the arrivals hall, a one way ticket costs €12 and takes your directly to Piazza Roma. 2. Get the bus to Treviso Centrale from right outside the main terminal, this costs €1.50, then from Treviso Centrale you can take the train to Santa Lucia station.

Check out the ATVO bus timetables here.

6. If you are on a budget look at accommodation on the mainland…

As well as the island, Venice also has a mainland, the main area close to Venice is called Mestre. It is very well connected with Venice by tram, train and bus and easy to get to from the airport. As Venice accommodation can be incredibly expensive, check out hotels in Mestre as well as it may be cheaper to stay slightly outside then commute in to Venice for your visit. There are also other cities close by with easy access to Venice you may want to consider staying in…

7. Check out other Venetian cities…

Venice is located within the region of Veneto, there are so many other great towns close by and easily accessible by train from Venice Santa Lucia or Mestre. If you are in Venice for 3 days or more, for sure you have time to visit other cities as realistically Venice can be seen in 2 days! Some great side trips I highly recommend are:

Bassano Del Grappa – I am very biased as this was my Italian home for 15 months, but genuinely this place is a great tourist attraction. If you want a chilled out piazza to have a spritz in, great mountain views and a world war famous bridge, this is the town to visit! From Santa Lucia station the train runs twice an hour on weekdays and Saturday and once an hour on Sundays, the journey takes just over 1 hour.

Padua – Only a 25 minutes train ride from Venice you can find the city of Padua, it’s is a great place to come for high street & designer shopping. There is also generally good nightlife in Padua with a good clubbing scene. At weekends they generally have some kind of event on such as a vintage or food festival.

Verona – Another popular tourist hot spot in Veneto is Verona. Verona is a fairly small city so can easily be seen in a day. The city is really beautiful and has a lot of charm, great tourist attractions such as the Arena and Casa di Giulietta. By train from Santa Lucia to Verona Porta Nuova it takes roughly 1hr.

Valdobbiadene –
Known as the Prosecco hills for a reason… the rolling Valdobbiadene hills are an amazing place for a day trip if you have a rental car… there are so many vineyards open to book for Prosecco and Wine tastings. I personally recommend Villa Sandy and a trip to L’Osteria senz’Oste for a fun afternoon serving yourself cheese wine and Prosecco from vending machines.

8. Plan your visit around an event…

There are loads of events all year round in Venice, incorporating an event in to your trip could make it even more special, some of the ones I experienced and recommend are:

February is Carnival month in Venice… it is a great time to visit if you want to see some typical Venetian traditions in full swing. The whole city comes alive with people dressed up in traditional Venetian dress and masks. There are load of activities to take part in and events to get tickets to, mainly held in or around St Marcs square.

June is the start of La Biennale di Venezia. Usually across the first weekend of the month over the bank holiday the city comes to life for the start of the art and music festival… Biennale has a different theme every year and typically runs from June to November, I visited in 2015 when the theme was countries, this year the theme is architecture, if you are in Venice at this time I would highly recommend a visit to check this out as it is a really impressive exhibition.

Along side this on the same weekend there is also MORE FESTIVAL. A music event held on a university campus on one of the Venetian islands. This is the perfect event for music lovers who want to see how the Italians party.

September is when a star studded line up hits the streets of the city as it becomes host to the Venice Film Festival. There are loads of events open to the public, bear in mind some are ticketed. 

9. Don’t fall for the tourist traps…

You’ve probably seen it in films and read about it in all of the guidebooks, but as magical as drinking in St Mark’s Square sounds, it comes with a hidden price tag. A drink in one of the bars will set you back about €15 as well as the hidden fees of just listening to the band play, that will cost you an additional €20+. There are plenty of other great places to sit down and have a typical Italian aperitif, try somewhere on the waterfront in Zattere, along the Venetian Ghetto canals or Campo San Geremia close to the train station.

Another big tourist trap are the Gondolas, a 45 minute Gondola ride around the canals will set you back about €80, if you want a singer as well this will cost you additional fees and don’t forget they will also be expecting a tip. I believe the boats can seat up to 6 or 8 so if there is that many of you it could be good value for money, however if your just travelling as a couple ask your self is it really worth it before you fork out all that money for a overpriced boat ride by a man in a stripey t-shirt.

10. Check out the view from San Giorgio bell tower…

A great way to see and understand Venice is from above. A popular tourist attraction is the San Marco Campanile Bell tower in St Mark’s Square, this is the most popular place to see the city from the sky, however the queues are long, the views are average and the crowds are large.

For an amazing view of the entire Venice sky line and beyond take the number 2 vaporetto from San Zaccaria to San Giorgio, the journey time is about 4 minutes. When you get off the boat you will see the bell tower straight away, there is an entrance fee of is €5, but the views you get are priceless! There is not a lot else on this island, but there is the Hiroshi Sugimoto glass tea house which is worth a visit whilst you are there. The trip will take you about 45 minutes totally so the best thing to do if you haven’t already got a day boat pass, is buy a single ticket for €7.50, the single pass is valid for 60 minutes so you can make your there and back journey using the same ticket!


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