A city built on over one hundred islands, Venice is a popular tourist destination in Italy. With the absence of roads and the abundance of canal waterways, the city offers a romantic and unique atmosphere. Pair romance with world renowned art and architecture and you start to understand why Venice has made such a statement in the world of travel.
If the charm of a gondola ride along Venice’s shores is calling to you, it might be time to start planning your trip to Italy’s iconic city on the sea. Use these tips to guide your travel plans.
When to go
While Venice can be visited year-round, there are a few times during the year to consider (or should we say, avoid) when choosing your travel dates:
February: Carnival of Venice is a week-long festival held each February (dates vary each year). The city comes to life with masks, music and festivity, but is also jam-packed with tourists and locals alike. If you are looking for a romantic escape, skip this noisy celebration and opt for different travel dates.
November & December: It might not have been on your radar, but Venice does flood. The phenomenon is known as acqua alta or “high water” and can catch tourists off guard when they’re not prepared for the rising sea levels. Venice life continues on during the high tide season, but expect temporary closures of local shops, restaurants and sights. Also, plan to use extreme caution when wandering around town as it becomes harder to notice the edges between canals and land during flooding.
Although the city is surrounded by water you can reach Venice by train or air, with roadways leading to the northernmost border of the town.
Upon arrival at the Marco Polo Airport (located on the Italian mainland just 25 minutes via road to Venice’s point of entry), you will find a multitude of transport options into the city. Buses and taxis will take you via land as far as the Piazzale Roma and if you are in the mood to hit the water right away, opt for the faster and more luxurious water taxi. If taking the taxi on your own, you can expect a hefty price tag, but if you are willing to cruise the canals with a few other travelers, try sharing a water taxi service – you will pay about ⅕ of the normal cost!
Getting around in Venice
While many flock to Venice with visions of gondola rides, you will most likely only take that iconic ride on a special night out. It is true that Venice is best seen from the water, but it is also true that most areas of Venice can be traveled to via foot in under 30 minutes. Plan to bring along a comfortable pair of walking shoes to keep your feet happy. That being said, don’t forget to pack extra cash for rides on the local water buses and traditional wooden boats. These water transport options obey the water speed limits (important for maintaining structural integrity of the buildings in Venice!) and will leisurely get you to nearby islands and along the Grand Canal with Venice as the backdrop.
Venice is known for Venetian or Murano glass, named after the island of Murano where artisans practice their trade. Handmade pieces are stunning, colorful and unique. Other areas of the world have adopted this glass making technique, but Venice is the true home to these works of art.
Whether you are looking for a small jewelry charm or elaborate dishes, this is the place in Europe to make your purchase. If you appreciate variation in art, sort through the section of “flawed” pieces available for a discounted rate at many shops. There is exquisite beauty to be found even in the mistakes, not to mention, a few bucks to be saved!
Experience local life in Venice by trying local specialties. This is the city to try squid-ink spaghetti, marinated sardines and pasta e fasioi (pasta and beans). And if a little caffeine sounds like the right way to start your day, enjoy a cup of coffee or an espresso in the morning by standing up at the bar with locals – you will be charged less than if you sit down!
Whether you’re trying to avoid the crowds, navigate the transport system of a city on water or find ways to appreciate local life in Venice, let these things to know before going to Venice guide you and your plans.
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This post was brought to you in collaboration with Share Venice.