8 tips to make the best of your first trip to Venice, Italy

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    If you’re coming to Venice and are looking for tips for your first trip to Venice, you’re in the right place!

    Below, you will find a few tips and recommendations which will help you to get the most out of your first trip to Venice and to fully enjoy the city. These Venice tips, of course, can be very valuable also if you’ve visited before!

    Our 8 insider tips for your first trip to Venice

    While our tips for your first trip to Venice are not written down in a particular order, the first one will make an immediate difference in your visit. Are you curious to know more?

    Let’s start!

    1 - Our first tip for your first trip to Venice: don't fear to get lost, explore.

    Our first tip for your first trip to Venice is to get lost. Seriously, get lost! Leave your hotel room or apartment and go wherever your feet bring you.

    During the busiest months of the year (summer time and Carnival) we discourage you from following the crowd. You can follow the mass, of course, but only if you don’t mind being stuck in huge queues of people. This is particularly true on the main “streets” that connect the Train Station, the Rialto Bridge and Saint Marks.

    Losing yourself is the best way to discover and appreciate the stunning beauty of the tiny alleys and narrow canals which make the fabric of Venice, and to have the opportunity to take better pictures, discover more of Venice and feel the Venetian atmosphere.

    Also, you don’t need to worry about your whereabouts, as Venice is safe. When we say that Venice is safe, we mean it is really safe. You can walk alone all around Venice at any time, and know you are totally safe. Isn’t that great?

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    2 - Get on a boat to see Venice from the water!

    Venice was built to be seen from the water. The Canal Grande, the most beautiful “street” of Venice, can only be seen from the water; the façade of the Palaces are on the water.

    Last, but definitely not least, the Doge’s Palace itself was built to be seen from the water.

    In fact, its façade overlooking the lagoon was built 100 years before the one facing the “Piazzetta” and the Marciana Library.

    This is why our second tip is to absolutely see Venice by boat, whether it is on a Gondola, on a private boat, by taxi or by water bus.

    Gondola rides are one of the most beautiful ways to discover the city, but 30 minutes might feel a bit too short for you.

    Taxis are more of a locomotion service, but can also be booked for a sightseeing experience.

    Private tours on rowing boats and kayaks are definitely the best way to spend a few hours discovering Venice by water.

    In any case, during your stay in Venice, we suggest you board at least a water bus and navigate the full length of the Grand Canal. That gives you the opportunity to admire the stunning palaces that surround the canal and just enjoy the amazing beauty of Venice.

    3 - Eat authentic local food, there is some for any kind of budget

    If you’d like to eat authentic Italian food, you can do so even without spending too much.

    A great Italian restaurant is an amazing experience, but you might be on a tight budget or not feel like investing much money into it. No issue.

    You can eat well in Venice spending much less than you’d think.

    Every real bacaro serves tasty affordable cichetti that will leave you full and satisfied. Make sure to check out the list of restaurants and places we recommend for a great experience!

    If you want to maximize your chances to find the right place, we wrote an article which helps you to understand where to eat in Venice.

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    4- Don't do it in an alley! Do what?

    A piece of very useful information we can give you is about… toilets!

    Public toilets, in fact, are super clean but have a cost of 1,50€ and are not always easy to find.

    When in need of a restroom, our tip is to enter a bar and have a coffee or a pastry. This way you will enjoy a good Italian coffee or a nice fresh pastry, and you will be welcomed to access the bar’s restroom.

    Please, do not just enter, use the toilet, and leave. This behavior is considered to be very rude in Italy. Instead, check if the bar has a bathroom and then ask for a “caffè” (espresso coffee, 1 euro) or a “pastina” (pastry, 1-1,50 euro). At that point, as a customer, you’ll be welcomed to use the bathroom.

    Quick note: While the Italian law makes it mandatory for bars to have restrooms, shops often do not have toilets. If you wonder why that is so, keep in mind that spaces are small but rents are high in Venice. Therefore, shop owners chose to maximize the available selling space.

    5 - If you book a guided tour make sure your guide is a local

    In 2014. EU, in a questionable move,  equalized “guides” throughout Europe. That means that, since 2014, all European guides have the right to work everywhere in Europe.

    Before that date, only people who had passed a rigorous examination on a city’s history, museums, and traditions were allowed to work as guides in a given city. 

    This is why, if you are considering a guided tour, we suggest you not to rely on (literally) outsiders. This will give you the chance to discover the city in a professional way that goes beyond information on landmarks that can easily be found on Wikipedia.

    A local guide that knows Venice inside-out will be able to answer your questions and give you real insights. On the contrary, some improvised, or not specialized, guides do make up stories and tell plain wrong facts about Venice (walking around Venice it’s not too uncommon, unfortunately, to hear non-local guides tell absurdities about the city!).

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    6 - Make sure that you spend your money in the right place/ Spend the time to enter the shops of artisans

    The invasion of mass-produced souvenirs is amongst the most visible things which are destroying the city and playing an important role in forcing the inhabitants to move out of Venice.

    The other problem caused by some of these items is a threat to your health. Cheap masks, for example, do not comply with EU legislation regulating colors and substances for wearable products: the contact with your skin is potentially dangerous.

    We created a shortlist that summarizes the risks and annoying things you should be aware of when in Venice.

    7 - Leave those fancy and uncomfortable shoes behind

    Don’t wear high heels. Trust us, do not wear high heels! Venice is an old pedestrian city, with uneven streets, that will require you to walk, and walk, and walk.

    Even if you are planning to board a water bus, you’ll have a lot of walking to do to walk to the water bus stops, trying to navigate the uneven stone pavement, the bridges, and the crowds.

    If you’re staying in your hotel or get picked up by a water taxi to go to a private party, high heels might be a fair choice. In any other case, trust us, you really don’t want to do it. Your feet will thank us.

    As Wikipedia points out, Venice is a pedestrian traffic-free city with almost 3.000 alleys… now you see the importance of wearing good shoes, don’t you?

    8 - Our ecological tip for your first trip to Venice: Carry a refilable bottle of water

    The water of the fountains in Venice is drinkable and of a very good quality. Almost every main square has a working fountain where you will be able to refill your bottle.

    If you want to drink a prosecco, however, there is no such fountain yet. In this case, a stop at a bacaro will fulfill your needs.

    If you care about your impact, read this New York Times article for more ideas on how to use less plastic in your everyday life.

    Do you have any tips or suggestions that you want to share with us and other visitors? Feel free to contact us and let us know!

    If you found this article useful, make sure to check out also these resources to plan your first trip to Venice:

    I'm visiting Venice. Why should I follow your recommendations?

    The way you visit Venice has an impact both on the quality of your experience and on Venice itself.  Chilling, exploring, shopping, eating and drinking where the locals do, can make a huge impact both on the memories you bring home and on the local economy and community.

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