Visiting Venice

Visiting Venice

location of Venice

View from Google Maps

First off let me say straight off this is not a top ten great places to see when visiting Venice, this is more of a Venice survival guide.

If you are thinking of visiting Venice in Italy, here are a few tips that I have found useful on what to do, how to get around, where to visit and how to get the best out of a trip to Venice.

For those that do not know Venice is the capital of Italy’s northern eastern Veneto region close to the border with Slovakia and Croatia. The city is built on a collection of more than one hundred small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It is famous for its canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare which is lined with beautiful Renaissance and Gothic palaces.

It’s a tourist haven in summer, with mass crowds, queues, and horrid smells but in the off-season the canals are clean, public transport is quiet and the sights and squares are deserted.

If you’re thinking about visiting Venice here’s my guide.

 

Getting there: Which Airport

One of the major things you must look at, as an absolute imperative before you book, is into which airport you are flying.

Venice is close to two airports, Marco Polo, and Treviso.

Marco Polo is closest to Venice but more expensive, whereas Treviso is cheaper because it’s served by the budget airlines but is much further away.

To get from either airport you must use public transport or the airport shuttle.

I honestly felt like Treviso sucked the life out of me before I even got to Venice because of the time it took to get there. Although it’s only twenty-five miles from Venice the bus took over 90 minutes to get to and from Venice due to traffic.

Marco Polo on the other hand was a breeze as straight out of the airport we got in a water taxi and 50 minutes later we were booking into our hotel.

 

Visiting Venice

Visit Venice because its a beautiful city, with lots of lovely buildings to see and look around. Prepare to be amazed at its beauty.

If you are thinking of visiting Venice, then I’d say it is a must to research where you’d like to visit.

Have a look at a map, other websites, like the official Venice website, and think about things you would like to see, where you plan to stay, and how much you need to travel/walk to explore in the time you have gotten available. Or even look at my gallery below.

When planning to do a weekend trip you seriously need to plan where you are staying as some cheaper hotels are not in Venice and take time to travel into Venice itself. I have been a few times now and the first time I stayed in Venice Mestre which was cheap but took 50 minutes each way to get to and from St Mark’s Square on public transport.

Hotels at Venice Mestre are cheap but not always convenient if you want to pack a lot in. A 3-night stay in Venice Mestre can cost less than €250.

Hotels in Venice itself are relatively expensive, but you must weigh up the extra expense vs the time of traveling from and to Venice Mestre. Prices in Venice typically start at €400 but because you do not have to travel to Venice it makes exploring the city easier.

The last time I went I stayed near to St Mark’s square, and this cost me €700 for 4 nights with flights to Marco Polo airport from Manchester and this included water taxi transfers.

Personally, I found staying in the city ideal because there’s no travelling to the city, you’re there already.

It’s so easy to just go out for a walk early in the morning or late at night when the city is quieter, and you do not have to worry about the crowds.

Horses for courses though. Convenience vs Price.

 

Traveling around Venice

Remember Venice has no roads so walking or water taxi/bus is the only way around and the bus and water bus network in Venice is superb, I have been all over the world and the buses here are frequent, reliable, clean, and easy to use.

 

Water bus (Vappareto)

You can get a bus and water bus pass from most tobacconists in the area, and they start at just €20 for a one-day pass with the 72-hour pass being a very reasonable €40 per person. This allows you unlimited travel from the time you first use it until your time limit expires. (prices correct as of April 2022)

For those choosing Venice Mestre, the bus station in Venice is right next to the main water bus station and you can easily walk between the two in a few minutes.

The water buses are very efficient, clean, and reliable but be aware that some of the canals have speed limits on them and sometimes the distances traveled seem to take ages because of the lack of speed.

The water bus stations are all well labeled and are a very distinctive yellow and black colour.

Around the main center of Venice, the water buses crisscross the canals from side to side, and entry and embarkation are off both sides of the boats.

A warning that on some routes you will be lucky to get seating during busy times and during colder seasons, not all the boats are heated.

If you’re interested in taking photos, the front and rear of the boats have outside standing and seating areas, again be warned during busy times on tourist routes, these can be extremely busy.

You may also get Venice sickness, let me explain this one.

If you’re getting on and off water buses all day you become used to standing on the pontoons and the water buses and on returning to dry land you do still tend to feel the effects of the rocking boats.

“….if you’re using the water buses and carrying a rucksack it’s etiquette in Venice to remove it while on the water bus. It is considered rude as you are liable to hit people with it when turning around and rocking the boat. It also means there is more room on the buses….”

If you want to visit the outer reaches of Venice such as Murano, Burano, Truvarno, and Lido then you can’t get away from using the water buses as these are the only way other than water taxis to reach these faraway islands. If you’re visiting Venice for more than a few days, the islands of Murano and Burano are a must and I’ll come to these shortly.

You can also get around using water taxis or gondolas. The water taxis are expensive unless there is a group of you and then they can work out as a great way to travel round Venice and see the sights without the crowds of the water buses.

They can be rented out for a single trip or per hour. I asked the hotel how much it would be to get to Burano by Water taxi, and they quoted me €80.

 

Gondolas

Gondolas are the traditional Venetian boats and can be hired for a time due to their size and are ideal for travelling down some of the smaller canals in the city. Always enquire beforehand as to the cost as prices fluctuate wildly. Typically, €100 is enough for an hour trip but again costs is better shared than as a single occupant.

 

Walking

The only real way to get around Venice is to walk. I would recommend a stout pair of walking shoes as you can easily rack up the miles if you just walk around. During a weekend period, I walked twenty-three miles exploring the back streets and avenues on my last visit to Venice.

If you plan your journey with a street map you should be able to get around the tourist hotspots in a timely manner and Google maps is a great tool to find out where you are as many little side streets are not listed on some tourist maps. My advice is to download the Venice map to your phone before you leave home.

Be aware when walking that some parts of the city aren’t connected to others by convenient bridges and you may need to walk some way to visit a location that is a stone’s throw away across the canal. Again, this is a great reason to buy a water bus ticket as stations are aplenty and sometimes, they are the only way to cross the canal without a lengthy walk.

Don’t just assume you can jump on the water bus without paying as the entire water bus system is protected by entry meters which you have to tap a valid ticket against to gain entry to each station. Once a valid ticket is presented the gates open and you are allowed entry. This is very similar to other systems in place round Europe.

 

Where to visit, the tourist bit

  • St Mark’s square
  • St Mark’s Campanile
  • Doge’s palace
  • Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
  • Leonardo De Vinci museum
  • Railto Bridge
  • Campo del Ghetto Nuovo
  • Church of Saint Sebastian
  • Scuola Grande di San Rocco
  • Church of the Pietà – Saint Mary of the Visitation
  • Chiesa dei Santi Geremia e Lucia – Santuario di Lucia
  • Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
  • Former Church Santa Chiara Murano

 

My Recommendation

In my opinion, it is well worth a visit to the Leonardo de Vinci Museum located within easy walking distance of San Toma’s water bus station on routes 1 and 2.

The entrance fee to the museum is €8 for adults.

When you walk in you may think well “that’s expensive”, but the museum is over two floors and the first-floor details the artwork, anatomy studies, and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci as well as taking in a video which details da Vinci’s life.

This takes about 5 minutes and is worth watching because it explains where the great man moved around in his life and his most detailed artworks

There is a virtual reality show which shows you some of the war inventions that Leonardo made during his life.

Upstairs in the museum is where the majority of things happened there are lots and lots of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions which have been actually made into usable objects which you can interact with to see how they work, and you can see the original drawings from which these items are made.

If you have children, this will also keep the kids amused for a good half an hour at least, and if you’re an adult probably longer 😉

For €8 this is a great attraction and I’ve been twice now.

 

Murano

Is world-famous for its glass production and although this can be bought everywhere in Venice, a visit to the island allows you to visit the glass factories, see the artisan craftsmen and women at work, see the art of glowing glass and visit the glass showrooms.

I’d recommend a trip to B.F Signoretti or Wave Murano Glass Srl, to watch the glass-blowing artisans at work. The show is very good, there is a €3 charge, but the process is explained, and they do answer glass blowing questions. The glass being blown was brought right to us as we watched so we could see the injection of air into the glass bubble as it was blown.

There are lots of places to buy glass around Murano and the main canal area is littered with shops and if you can see past this you will see it is beautiful in its own right and very different from the main Islands of Venice.

 

Burano

Canal and multi coloured houses of BuranoPersonally, I would visit Burano over Murano every time as it is so far removed from the tourist hustle and bustle of the rest of Venice. It’s also so vibrant and colourful and an absolute delight to walk around.

It’s also home to one of the best risottos I’ve ever had at the restaurant, Ristorante Da Forner.

So, let me say that when in Burano, don’t follow all the sheep away from the water bus. Lots of those visiting Burano will walk off the water bus to a single area take photos and then head back to the water bus. I spoke to a couple who were staying in our hotel who had done this and said how beautiful it was but Burano is so much more!!

There is a whole island out there.

The island is famous for having a beautiful myriad of stunningly coloured houses. They are vivid in contrast to not just the other houses in the Venice area but to each other. Just look at the photos of Burano and you will see what I mean.

There is also the church, Cappella di Santa Barbara, with its tilting tower. This is well worth a visit.

 

Acqua Alta (High Water)

For a few days each year, between October and January, Venice’s water levels rise and parts of the city flood. When acqua alta (“high water”) occurs, Saint Mark’s Square, the lowest point in the city, briefly becomes one with the lagoon.

Venetians have become used to this annual flooding event and during this time large, elevated walkways are erected around the city for people to walk on, away from the high waters.

 

Stout shoes

I have added stout shoes to my list of things you will need in Venice as wherever you go you will need to walk.

The entire place is a series of islands and although the water buses are absolutely amazing as a public transport system, they do not take you all around the city only to specific points within the city

If you are rich, you can get a water taxi, you can get around the entire city using the water taxis but for me walking is the best way to get around the city plus, if you’re walking you will see more of the city than if you are in a water taxi

Over the 4 days that I was in Venice last I walked close to thirty-five miles around the city and if you are exploring the city not just the tourist hotspots then you will need a stout pair of shoes to get the most out of your trip. My girlfriend chose Dr. Martens, and I chose walking shoes.

It’s also a good idea to take a stout pair of shoes because the pavements in certain places of the city are uneven or rough surfaces. Standing on the water bus in heels, when we went out for a meal, was particularly challenging and gave much amusement to my young lady.

 

Dress accordingly

Why have I put this in the article I hear you cry?

First off, in winter Venice is a bizarre place. During the day it can be 10 degrees during the day but by 6 pm the temperature is zero. I had sunburn on a winter’s day and then ended up shivering on the water bus on the way home. In summer, the city can be stifling as temperatures hit 30 degrees, but shorts and skimpy dresses will keep you cool but also exclude you from some visitor attractions as they have a dress code.

For example, some of the temples and churches will not let you in if you are wearing shorts or a sarong or even a low cut top.

It is also maybe common sense when it comes to footwear, see the stout shoes bit above, but if you are walking around one of the churches and up and down lots of steps high heels may not be the best option!

 

Eating out in Venice

Everybody I spoke to who had been to Venice told me it’s expensive and yes, in certain areas of the city it can be expensive however, this does not mean that everywhere is expensive

My girlfriend and I ate out three times while we were in Venice but on each occasion, our meals were between €50 and €100 and the restaurant quality was always good

If you are staying in Venice Mestre, then there are many restaurants or a meal can be had for less than €50, Cappella di Santa Barbara for example.

There are also many cafes around Venice where you can get a good cappuccino and a sandwich for less than €10 each.

The closer to the tourist spots you go the more you can expect to pay.

Caffè Florian is in Plaza San Marco and for two cakes and coffees, we paid €30 each. It was worth it though just to sit inside this beautiful old café.

If you’ve never been to Italy before, just be aware that most cafes and restaurants have two prices on their menu boards one of these is a price to stand at the bar and the other price is a sit-down price which includes a service charge.

I’ll let you guess which is the most expensive.

 

Covid

From 1 March, all travelers, aged 6 and over, must show one of the following to enter Italy:

proof of vaccination OR

evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before entering Italy or a negative rapid lateral flow test taken within the 48 hours before entering Italy OR

a COVID-19 recovery certificate, certifying that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months

 

Enjoy your visit, my friends.

Page Title: Visiting Venice
Page URL: https://mikkitiamo.com/visiting-venice/
Categories: Travel,

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