Romantic and charismatic, Venice, Italy is an enchanted vacation destination that let's you step back 600 years into the past. With 20 million tourists flocking here each year locals know how to make sure you have a great time. The popularity also means a plethora of options await. Planning what to do and where to stay can be intimidating in a city with so many choices. We have simplified travel to Venice with top travel tips for your vacation:
Venice is a small city but it would still take a few hours to walk from one end to the other. Getting around is not necessarily easy, especially for those with limited mobility. For this reason due diligence about where to rest at night (not just the hotel but the actual district) is extremely important. If you are one of the 16.5 million yearly visitors staying for a day, spend the extra money and pick something close to your favorite attractions. If staying for a week or more you might want to consider switching hotels half way through. Stay close to the attractions and explore, than move to an outer area if planning on heading to places like Pisa or the vineyards.
Settled in 160AD Venice's long history makes for fascinating attractions, while its popularity ensures proper preservation nowadays.
If you are planning on fitting in as much as you can you should consider buying a combo-pass at the visitor information center. It gives you access to museums, churches, and transport for one fee. It is expensive, but compared to paying for everything separately is cheaper, and much more convenient. Alternative combo passes are also available like the church pass which is best suited for those who want to visit three or more.
Churches are a very popular attraction; true gothic cathedrals and other incredible architecture make them well worth visiting even if you aren't religious. Be aware that if you opt to visit religious sanctuaries you should be dressed appropriately and respectfully. Covered shoulders and skirts at a minimum of knee length are expected. For security large bags are not permitted, and you cannot take photos either. All this said take the opportunity to witness what human kind was capable of even hundreds of years ago. It is simply inspiring.
Basilica di San Marco is a must and is "free" of charge, but the visit is approximately ten minutes and the wait-line can be up to five hours. You can reserve ahead for a fee, which for obvious reasons, we highly recommend. Entrance to the museum and high altar is available at an additional charge.
The collection of museums in Venice boasts a full range of interesting options; from historic to contemporary. The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is a collection of modern art, the glass museum houses incredible Murano glass pieces, Museum of Greek Icons is the place to learn about saints and church history. These are just a few examples of the various museums found in Venice.
There are over 200 landmarks, statues, and sights to spy along the roads of Venice. All of which are free from the outside. You don't necessarily have to plan an exact route but having a good city map which outlines what is where is a good idea so when you happen upon something you will know what it is.
As you can imagine walking and boating tours are in abundance. We do recommend taking a tour at the beginning of your stay so you can familiarize yourself with the area, discern what museums or churches you may want to tour inside later, and get good tips.
Be sure to ask as many questions as you can fit in about the area and their recommendations, as well as the attractions. We also suggest choosing a company that will fit your needs for the entire vacation. For instance if heading to Pisa is a must find a guide that offers this too. Bundle your tours and politely ask for a better rate, the worst they can say is no.
Just off the shores of Venice are hundreds of islands. The most popular three are Murano (where you will find the Glass Museum), Burano, and Torcello. Boats to each island are available but the lines are long so be prepared. Torcello does not boast museums and interesting architecture like the other two, but it does offer peace and tranquility, which in a teeming tourist city can be a much appreciated reprieve.
A gondola ride or sunset cruise is an easy way to capture romance in Venice. The city itself has an atmosphere of love that is completely natural so you don't have to partake in a romantic excursion to be enveloped by the amorous air.
By Italian standards Venice is not known for its food, but that does not mean that it isn't good. In fact the majority of restaurants have good to great reviews from tourists. Everything from cheap eats to fine dining can be found.
You won't find a car in Venice, as it is the world's only (and truly) pedestrian city.
Keep in mind that water taxi's are plentiful and comfortable but the most expensive way to travel, so if on a budget use them strategically. For instance map out your route and take it to the furthest point of interest, then work your way back on foot.
Considered the best way to get around, just make absolute sure that you review an up to date schedule. Water bus routes and times change frequently in Venice.
GONDOLA RIDE: Best suited for as a romantic outing or sightseeing tour, not so much as a transit option, these iconic rides are a must none the less.
Be picky about souvenirs. Venice is home to Murano glass and wonderful handmade artwork.
Consider heading to the Jewish Ghetto of Venice Sunday through Thursday for some great shopping and a history lesson all rolled into one. This was the first established "ghetto".
Rialto market is another shopping destination that should be on your list. This farmers market tends to offer better prices than the touristy Piazza San Marco.