Visit Venice what you need to know to plan your trip
Do you need help with your trip to Venice? We at VivoVenetia know how impressive the culture and history of Venice is – especially if it’s your first time travelling to the ‘Serenissima’ and its 118 islands. So here is our first piece of advice! Are you staying in Venice for a weekend? A whole week? Or maybe Venice is just one stop in a longer journey. Whatever your choice is, you are bound to enjoy your time in the Floating City. The Queen of the Adriatic has an exceptionally diverse cultural heritage, including the famous Piazza San Marco. Venice has gorgeous palaces, unique churches and basilicas, picturesque neighbourhoods, and world famous canals and bridges as well as special events such as the Carnival or the Biennale. Check our link to What To Visit In Venice if you want to know more about what can be done in this magnificent city. We must not forget the rest of the Veneto the inland area of Venice, which is equally full of hidden gems. So if you are planning to visit venice then vivovenetia is a very good place to start!
When is the best time to visit Venice?
Whatever the time of the year, Venice is always splendid: in November, come and admire the foggy city and its “Acqua alta” (tidal peaks). And when the sky is clear, you can catch a glimpse of the snowy Dolomites. During spring the lagoon is charming as the whole ecosystem is waking up after winter, and the warm summer is perfect for those who would like to lounge on our lovely Venetian beaches. Venice is a very popular destination all year long. Accommodation prices vary depending on the season, with the cheapest rates being in low season, more expensive in high season and then VERY high season — which relates to the 15 days of the Vernissage of the Biennale at the end of May, the Carnival, and the Venice Film Festival at the beginning of September. Prices are highest during these periods and it gets very difficult to find last minute accommodation.
One could say that there is no off-season in Venice! As in any city of art and history, spring (from April to June) and autumn (from September to October) are probably the best times to travel, since the weather is the nicest, the light is amazing and days are longer. In the middle of summer (July to August), the weather gets very hot and humid. If you plan on travelling at that time, don’t forget to check out our articles on how to enjoy your Venetian trip even in the heat. We also have written several articles on how to best enjoy Venice according to the month of the year. Winter (from November to January, excluding the holiday season), could be a great alternative, since the weather does not get extremely cold in the lagoon. The off-season is a good time to enjoy the city, as it is less crowded, allowing you to meet more true Venetians and save money!! How long should you stay in Venice? That is a tricky question! Four days seem to be enough for you to see all the unmissable places in the city. Thinking about going to visit Venice for the weekend? Vivovenetia is here to help you find the type of trip that suits you best so that you can have an unforgettable experience.
How best to travel around Venice?
Venice is a city built on water. How does the transportation system work in Venice, then? Well, almost everything is done by water! There are many different kinds of water transport. Vaporettos, water taxis, traghettos, gondolas, ferries or speedboats allow you to navigate between the Grand Canal, the Giudecca Canal or the Lido and explore the city. The city has no access to any motor vehicles at all, not even a child’s scooter!
To commute to work, school or just to have a lunch at the Lido, locals travel by vaporetto, a waterbus that is the main “public transportation” system, or by boat — mainly motor-driven ones, although people frequently travel by rowboat too! However, vaporettos or water taxis, are the local “buses” and they are used for daily commuting. Public transport systems are only available on three routes in Venice: the Grand Canal, that goes across the city, the Giudecca Canal, that goes around the city to the south, and the Canareggio Canal that joins the Fondamenta Nuove Canal and goes through the North part of the city. The best option for you if you want to travel freely is to buy a City Pass.
Of course, vaporettos can’t go everywhere in the city. The best and cheapest way to see Venice is definitely by foot! Walking is part of daily life here, and it allows you to discover the hidden gems of the city. You will notice that Venetians walk very fast, are always in a hurry and follow specific rules to ensure there are no collisions in the very narrow “calle” (streets). Getting lost in the city is probably the best way to enjoy it fully! Wandering through the city can be great fun. Just let go and enjoy your trip…
Venice airport – you have two choices!
Located about ten kilometres north of the City, the Venice Marco Polo Airport is without a doubt the best way to arrive in Venice. How do you get to Venice from the Venice Marco Polo Airport? You have several options. The vaporettos remain an option if it is your first trip to Venice. Dive into the local culture by taking one of the 15 vaporetto lines, among which is the famous line 1 that goes along the scenic Grand Canal! The more expensive but equally famous motoscafi (motorboats) are perfect for those who are in a hurry — such as couples on a romantic trip to Venice. You can board these boats 10 minutes away by foot from the airport — follow the “Water Taxi signs. Travellers can also take a taxi (around 40 euros to the city entrance). If your budget is tight, you can take the excellent bus that goes to the West entrance of Venice, at the Piazzale Roma. Click here for more information about the public transport ACTV buses and fares and timetables. The ATVO airport buses provide fast efficient and affordable transport to and from the Piazalle Roma in Venice.
Treviso Airport — also called Antonio Canova Airport — is 3 kilometres away from Treviso and about 25 kilometres away from Venice. This is also a good route into Venice. Built in the 1930s, these terminals have become the hub for low-cost flights to Venice. There are very competitive fares offered to Venice from airline companies like Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizzair. Make sure you do your research and plan the best route for you. From the airport, take the ATVO shuttle or take a look at our dedicated article on How to go to Venice from Treviso.
We cannot talk about a visit to Venice without mentioning the most famous transport in the city. How do you choose your gondola? What are the current prices? You may be put off the romantic idea of a gondola ride in Venice if you look up the price of a ride on forums. Indeed prices are often much higher than they should be. You have plenty of choices to decide where you will go from and to, but keep in mind that the most touristy places such as the basin Orseolo, the Bridge of Sighs or the Rialto are not necessarily the best routes, as they can get very busy indeed. Are the gondolas a tourist trap? We advise you to be careful, but a gondola ride can cost around 80 euros. We can help you choose the best gondolier and the best route for you to get the best value for your euros! For couples on a romantic trip, there are special packages for candlelit dinners or rides at night.
We have a whole section about the history of the gondola, its symbolism, the way it is built and the “voga veneta” rowing style. Believe us, you won’t regret riding a gondola! You will see the city from a new angle, by gliding under the low bridges, discovering the vocabulary of the gondoliers, and, if you’re lucky, your gondolier might even tell you some funny anecdotes or stories… Only in Venice! And if you’d like to be more than just a spectator, you can try to row like a true gondolier. This will be undoubtedly an unforgettable experience!
Visit Venice – where to stay
Venice has all types of accommodation, with a very wide range of prices. How do you choose your accommodation in Venice to suit your needs?
Venice is an unusual city, and staying in San Marco, in the city centre, is not necessarily the best option as the streets are crowded and the rooms are small and expensive. If you want to fully enjoy the city and your stay without being hassled, avoid the areas around Piazza San Marco and the Rialto. The Dorsoduro is perfect for those who love art and gastronomy. If you are attracted by the bohemian and artistic side of Venice, you might want to stay at Giudecca island. The San Polo district is famous among travellers for its good prices and the hospitality of the locals.
Burano (25 minutes away by vaporetto from San Marco Piazza) and Murano (45 minutes away) islands are ideal if you want it quieter, as they are further away from the city. If you have a tight budget, Mestre is ideal, a ten minute bus ride away, with a lot of inexpensive hotels and rooms. ! You can learn more about Where to stay in Venice? with our articles!
It is important to note that Venice is an extremely safe city, where women can walk around alone, even at night...
Visit Venice – where to eat
Venice is becoming more and more global. You will find lots of local bars and restaurants, alongside fast food chains and takeaway pizza. Eating well in Venice is not the easiest, and there are numerous tourist traps! But don’t worry, we’ll provide you with some good restaurant addresses in a special section in Where to eat in Venice If you travel to Venice you must try at least once the famous Aperol Spritz, made with Aperol, white wine and sparkling water or sometimes Prosecco. Keep reading if you want to know more about our gastronomy!
Venetian cuisine is very much linked to sea and seafaring. That is why our most famous dishes contain fish (such as cod), as well as oriental and Northern European spices and fragrances. Venetian cuisine is the result of the city’s long history of trade. Numerous traditional dishes were created to respond to the necessity of keeping food fresh and avoiding scurvy during long sea crossings – hence the fact that onions are a staple in Venetian cuisine. You must also try the “osteria” (which are the equivalent of inns) These typical Venetian “bars” are a great favourite of the locals. Far from the modern wine bars where you can sit and linger for hours, they are places where you eat “cicchetis” (tapas) and “drink a shadow” (a Venetian expression meaning to drink wine)… except that you are standing in the middle of the city, among passers-by. And if you ever want to buy fish, fruit or vegetables like a real Venetian, go to the Rialto market!
Visit Venice – shopping
Even though the capital is full of historical and architectural gems, you can also spend time in Venice browsing in the luxury shops and traditional stores, or just window-shopping along your walks in the city. If you want to do some serious shopping in Venice (link to daughter page), try the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi shopping mall. This temple for the shopaholic opened in June 2017 in a former caravanserai of German and Scandinavian merchants, and is located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal. In this huge shopping mall (7000 square metre and 4 floors), you will find everything you need, from famous brands to local hand-crafted goods. But wouldn’t it be a pity to only bring back from Venice luxury articles that can be found anywhere else? If you are planning on doing some shopping in Venice, you cannot miss out on Venetian glass, the world famous fabric and linens, and obviously, the iconic masks of the Carnival.
Mestre: the mainland part of Venice
Even though administratively speaking, Mestre is a district of Venice, it is in fact an actual city, connected to the island by only one bridge, the Ponte della Libertà (“Liberty Bridge”). In this city, built in the Middle Ages there is a large pedestrian area full of shops, bars, restaurants, pizzerias, as well as the Piazza Ferretto, with architecture extremely reminiscent of the Venetian style. Mestre is actually a vibrant city, known for its lively nightlife. Here are some tips to make the best of your time in Mestre. In recent years, the city has focused on providing high-quality services for tourists, with prices lower than in Venice: so you will find hotels, B&Bs and restaurants to cater for every pocket.
Mestre is also well connected to the Floating City thanks to the Ponte della Libertà, with excellent public transport on buses, tramways and trains. The trip is around ten minutes and allows you to take a great look a the lagoon and Venice as you get closer to the city. It is possible to cross the bridge by foot or bicycle but keep in mind that the Ponte della Libertà is the longest bridge of Italy (2.5 miles). Finally, Mestre is an ideal city for those who prefer to travel by car or those who would like to explore the rest of Veneto, as it is well connected to the A4 Autoroute.