A Guide to Visiting Venice (part 2): Tips
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Venice is truly spectacular and unique. To make sure you have the best time possible, I've put together these tips gleaned from multiple trips. Specific highlights to visit were covered in my last post, A Guide to Visiting Venice (part one).
Pack only what you can comfortably carry. You will be hauling bags over bridges and steps, you will need to transfer between docks and vaporettos. Most bridges are steep and have steps. Do not expect help or even for people to wait for you to accomplish the task. Few buildings in this historic city have elevators and interior stairs are often very narrow.
There are porters with specialized carts that "climb" stairs. If you arrive with a LOT of baggage (as our performing groups did), you can also hire a boat with porters to carry the load.
Be prepared to pay for public toilets up to €1.50 -- if you can find one. They are generally fairly clean but can lack toilet paper. Tuck some in your day bag. City passes may include a toilet pass. For the price of a public toilet, you can find a coffee bar that allows customers to use their facilities and get a quick espresso too. Flooding happens on a fairly regular basis between October and February. Raised sidewalks are placed in the piazzas during those times and plastic shoe covers are widely available. Most flooding events cover small areas of the city and recedes in a matter of hours.
Moving around Venice is done on foot or by water. Wear comfortable shoes and, if travelling in the heat of summer, bring a hat. There is little shade outside of the calles.
Don't bother with mapping apps. Use a paper map. Embrace getting lost. Some of those calles are dead-ends. Enjoy the experience and chance to discover new areas.
When you get lost, look high on the wall of a building at an 'intersection' for the yellow direction signs. They point to major areas such as San Marco, Rialto, and Piazalle (train station).
You can use the vaporetto (water bus) to move all around the Lagoon and out to the nearby islands but this is best saved for longer journeys at €7.50 per 75 minute ticket. Tickets are sold at vending machines at the main stops, at the train station, and in tobacco shops and newspaper kiosks.
Learn the vaporetto routes and schedules. Memorize the name of the one closest to your lodgings. It will take you longer to get from place to place than you think.
Gondola Rides Take a gondola ride. Yes, it's cheesy and can be expensive but it is necessary to truly experience Venice from the canals. Many gondoliers include some narration as you float along the canals.
The standard rate for a thirty-minute gondola ride is €80 for a daytime ride and €100 for a sunset ride. Note that this is a cost per boat, not per person. Up to six people can ride in a standard gondola. Make some friends in the lineup and share the costs. Some companies will fill a boat with multiple parties.
For true budget travellers who want a gondola ride but just can't fit it into the budget, you can take a very basic 2-3 minute ride across the Grand Canal on the traghetto for only €2.