Practical Tips For Visiting Venice
Venice Travel Tips: If it’s your first time in Europe or Italy, the different names can be confusing. St Mark’s Square is Piazza San Marco in Italian. As well, the general area around the square (piazza) is called San Marco.
Best Day Trips From Venice
Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice: Hotel Antiche Figure – Based on the reviews of other travellers, Hotel Antiche Figure has been voted the best hotel in Venice. It’s a boutique hotel complete with four poster beds in my favourite area of Venice, near Canareggio. With prices around €175 a night, I can see why this is a winner. This is on my list for my next trip.
Italy’s Prosecco Region – 1hr from Venice
Visiting Venice during Acqua Alta (Oct-Dec): A lot of first time visitors don’t realise but Venice floods once a year. It’s called the acqua alta meaning high water. It’s a natural phenomenon based on tides and atmospheric pressure and winds (rather than the common assumption that it’s because Venice is sinking). When does it happen? Well, it can happen any time of year if the natural factors combine but you’re most likely to experience it between late September and early April but more realistically, in November, December and October – in that order of likelihood. Does it mean you can’t or shouldn’t visit. Absolutely not. It’s a normal part of life in Venice and the city is prepared with elevated boardwalks and, of course, there are street vendors galore flogging elegant (?!) plastic booties. My suggestion, expect it, embrace it and get set for a pretty amazing lifetime travel adventure you’re not going to get in many other places. Just think of the photos!
Best chain hotel in Venice: Hilton Molino Stucky Far removed from the boxy airport Hilton hotels you might otherwise be imagining, the building was once a flour mill and was integral to the city’s pasta production. Today, the building has been converted into a luxury space and the roof top terrace is reason enough to stay. Prices around €300 per night.
That’s my 10 tips for things to do in Venice. What follows is my tips for planning your visit including booking tours, where to stay, where to eat, how to get to Venice from the airport and more.
Best full and half day tours of Venice
Venice, like most cities, is a year-round destination so don’t worry. If you can only get time off work at a particular time of year, go to Venice and enjoy. There are, however, a few times of year where you experience will be a little…different.
Eating is one of my favourite things to do in Venice – in any place I visit for that matter – but wow is it difficult to find a good place to eat in Venice. Unlike most of the rest of Italy where you can walk into any eatery and almost always leave delighted, Venice has a lot of bad food. But don’t worry, I’ve worked hard over several trip (and eaten far too much bad food) to find the food gems in Venice. You’ll find them in my post about the best restaurants in Venice.
By road: I’ve never taken a transfer by land – Venice is a city of water. However, you can take a bus or hire a private car. Check a man, though because wheels can only go as far as Piazzale Roma. You might need a Vaporetto or to walk from there. You’ll find a full choice of transfer options here.
My favourite guidebooks for Venice
Best 5 Star Hotel in Venice: The Gritti Palace – Centrally located, this 5-star hotel has views over the grand canal if you want a beautiful luxury stay. Ok, prices are around €800 a night but that’s Venice for you.
Intrepid Travel – And if you’re looking for a more planned trip to Italy, my favourite tour company is Intrepid travel – above all else, they’ll take you places where you’re going to get those photo moments you won’t get on most other tours.
Best areas to stay in Venice: San Marco is the best area to stay in Venice if you want to be right in the heart of things but expect high prices. I tend to stay in Cannareggio because I love the location – old Venice, away from the crowds but still walkable to San Marco. However, I’m still searching for a hotel to recommend to you. The last one I stayed in smelt of feet. My next favourite suggestion is Giudecca island, also away from the bustle. A few minutes away by vaparetto, with a good handful of restaurants to feed you at night and excellent views across towards San Marco, the island had everything you need plus a more peaceful feel.
Fun Venice fact: How not to be beheaded in Venice – Prisoners were once executed between the two columns in St Mark’s Square. The columns are crowned with St Theodore and St Mark’s lion. Superstitious locals won’t walk between the two columns through fear it will lead to an ugly death. I didn’t risk it either.
How to get to Venice from Venice airport
Most of us are familiar with Prosecco, the Champagne of Italy, but did you know that the Prosecco region is just an hour away from Venice? If you have a day or night to spare, why not spend it tasting a glass (or two) while enjoying views over the rolling vineyards. Picture above.
DK EyeWitness Venice & The Veneto – if you want a more detailed guide that covers a wider area, the DK books are expertly done. I especially love the 3D maps – here it is on Amazon.
Fun Venice fact: the owner of Harry’s bar is actually called Giuseppe Cipriani, not Harry and there’s a warm and fuzzy story behind the naming of the bar?
I first visited in 2015 and created a post about How to Plan Your Own Prosecco Tour. It was so popular that I returned to the Prosecco region (as well as Venice). Since then, I’ve created a Prosecco themed travel blog (how was there not one already?) –Visit Prosecco Italy. And, as my contacts in the area have grown, I’ve connected with local drivers to offer private wine tours of the region, starting at €250 for up to 8 people. That price is per van, not per person so it’s a great deal. You can find out more here and read reviews here. Otherwise, you can find more Venice travel blog posts over there.
Visiting Venice during peak summer season (Jul-Aug): honestly, I’d rather spend time in Venice during acqua alta than in July or August when the largest throngs of people descend upon the city. However, you can still enjoy the city at it’s peak months – just be prepared to go slow, book hotels and tours in advance and get out at night when the temperature cools and the crowds decrease.
Public vaporetto: The cheapest water transfer is the public Vaporetto at just €8 per person one-way. Do keep in mind that the Vaporetto, just like a subway system, has different lines and you might have to change. You’ll need to figure out the nearest stop to your hotel (usually mentioned on the hotel website). You can find out more here.
Where to stay in Venice Italy
Private water taxi: On my first trip to Venice, I treated myself to the private boat transfer. It was relatively expensive at €200 for the transfer but I was celebrating my birthday and it was a memorable treat (how to feel like the glitterati in one fell swoop). It’s actually a good deal if there are 4 – 6 of you. The major bonus – no waiting for other people or having to share your transfer. The journey takes around 50 minutes depending where your hotel is. The transfer will take you as close as it physically can. You can book a private boat transfer here.
Also removed from Venice post 28 June 2021
Any excuse to buy a book and I’ll take it. Even though the web is filled with Venice travel blog posts (like this one), I always double up on my research with a good old, print travel guide. My favourites are:
Best Hostel in Venice: Generator Hostel – Perfect if you’re on a budget in Venice. It’s very clean and has a great value happy hour (Apreol Spritz for only €2.50). Dorms and private rooms are available. Prices around €15 for a dorm bed and around €65 for a private room.
Get Your Guide – If the tours above don’t tickle your fancy, check out Get Your Guide. You’ll find a whole host of full and half day tours in Venice and the beauty is you can compare prices and read reviews before you commit.
If you want a full guide to how to get to Venice from the airport, you can find it over on my Prosecco website here.
Where to Eat in Venice Italy
When is the best time to go to Venice?
Fun Prosecco fact: did you know there is a Prosecco vending machine nestled in the Prosecco hills? Just up the road from where the above picture was taken.
Want to experience Venice carnival but not visiting in spring? There are some great activities on year round from a carnival themed walking tour, a carnival pub crawl to carnival mask making website. You can browse your tour options here.
I’d definitely recommend adding in time for some day trips from Venice. It’s really well situated and connected for exploring nearby. Also, all the crowds can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. A day trip from Venice is the perfect tonic. Here are some of the best day trips from Venice to work into your trip.
Best time to visit Venice (Mar-May and September)? I would vote for the shoulder seasons – spring and autumn (fall) – as the best time to go to Venice. This will help you avoid the summer crowds as well as acqua alta. I’ve visited in both shoulder seasons and enjoyed these trips to Venice most.
Italian Phrasebook by Penguin (pic above) – this is one good looking (paperback) book. I learned extra Italian words just because I wanted to have it on show in cafes. I think the locals were impressed too. Or maybe they were laughing at my mangled Italian. Either way, it’s one of my favourite travel books for Venice – here it is on Amazon. Easter over Easter and Christmas: I’ve visited Venice over Easter Sunday as everything was open and the city was very festive with a huge easter egg smashed up for breakfast (now that’s my kind of breakfast). I did book ahead and there were more people but it was otherwise manageable. Over Christmas, many shops and restaurants will close on Christmas Day (25 December). Not a problem if you plan ahead but something to keep in mind.
Best Boutique Hotel: Canal Grande – in a restored 18th century palace, this beautiful boutique hotel is everything you hope your Venice hotel might be. Oh, and it overlooks the Grand Canal (of course it does). At around €200 per night, this is fantastic price for a great hotel. Shared water taxi: The next best way into Venice is using a shared water taxi. That way, your first experience of Venice can be the magical, majestic arrival you’ve imagined (rather than taking the crammed tourist bus or public vaporetto ride along with the rest of the tourists). The price is around €30 and the trip takes about 50 mins with some waiting time if your fellow passengers take a while collecting luggage. You can book a shared water taxi here.
- Since my boat tour in Venice, I’ve become a huge fan of the City Sightseeing tours. Now, whenever I get to a new city, I hop on one of these tours because I know I will both get an overview of what is where as well as the best things to do in Venice. Of course, with Venice being a city of water, the City Sightseeing tour means your Venice sightseeing is done by boat. This is on my list for my next visit to Venice.
If you want more details on where to stay in Venice, I’ve written a more detailed guide setting out the various areas in Venice together with some hotel recommendations over on my Prosecco themed blog.