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

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    Coming to Venice? Whether it’s your first time, or if you’ve visited already, here are a few insights and recommendations to help you get the most out of your visit and to fully enjoy the city.

    Don't fear to get lost, don't follow the crowd, explore.

    Venice is safe. Venice is really safe. You can walk alone all around Venice at any time, and know you are absolutely… safe.

    This is why our first suggestion is to get lost. Leave your hotel room or your apartment and go wherever you feel like going to.

    During the busiest months of the year (summer time and Carnival) we discourage you from following the crowd unless you don’t mind being stuck in huge queues of people on the main street that connects Train Station–Rialto Bridge–San Marco.

    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.

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    Get on a boat to see Venice from the water

    Venice is known by different epithets as “La Serenissima” (for political reasons) “The city of Love” (for emotional reasons), “The Queen of the Adriatic” (for historical reasons) and “The City on the Water” (for obvious topographical/geographical reasons).

    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, on a kayak, by taxi or by water bus.

    Gondola rides are one of the most beautiful ways to discover the city, but 30-40 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 to, at least get on board of the water bus and to navigate the full length of the Grand Canal, enjoying its amazing beauty and admiring the stunning palaces that surround it on both sides.

    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. Besides a list of restaurants and places we recommend, keep in mind that every real bacaro serves tasty affordable cichetti that will leave you full and satisfied.

    If you want to maximize your chances to find the right place,  check out our tips to help you understand where to eat in Venice.

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

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

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

    So our suggestion, when in need of a restroom, is to have a coffee or a pastry in a bar or cafeteria: at the same price of a public toilet you will enjoy a good Italian coffee or a nice fresh pastry and you will be very welcomed to access the restroom.

    Please, do not just enter a place, use the toilet and leave, it is considered to be a very rude behavior in Italy. Instead, see if there is a bathroom and then ask for a “caffè” (espresso coffee, 1 euro), a “pastina” (pastry, 1-1,50 euro), or anything you won’t mind. At that point, you’ll be a customer and will 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. Indeed, rents in Venice are very very high, and shops often have to give up on toilets to maximize their selling space).

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

    Let’s have a quick word about guides. In 2014. EU, in a questionable move,  equalized the “guides” all through Europe. What does that mean? It means that until 2014, the people allowed to work as guides in Venice (same goes for every other Italian city) were only those who had studied there and had passed a strict and rigorous examination regarding Venice’s history, museums, and traditions.

    Therefore, if you are considering looking for a guide for your stay in Venice, we suggest you not to rely on (literally) outsiders. Let instead a local guide show you around, someone who really knows the city and has studied it in-depth. If you are looking for a guide, it means that you want to discover Venice in the deepest and most professional way possible, not just be taken for a walk by someone who won’t be able to answer your questions, give you real insights and might even make up stories, or tell you plain wrong facts (we heard some utter nonsense told by “guides”, while passing by on our strolls around the city).

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    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.

    Leave those fancy and uncomfortable shoes behind

    Don’t wear high heels. Trust us, do not wear high heels! Venice is a pedestrian city, and as such you will have 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. Once on the water bus, you are likely to be pushed around by other passengers, while balancing the natural movement of the waves and the mooring maneuvers. If you’re staying in your hotel or get picked up by a water taxi to go to a private party, high heels are a fair choice. In any other case, trust us, you really don’t want to do it. Your feet will thank us.

    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 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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