Top Tips for Sightseeing in Venice
Venice is one of Italy’s most popular destinations and has a wealth of magical attractions to enjoy, such as the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica. If you are visiting Venice on holiday, then we’re sure that you will fall in love with the Floating City and its magical atmosphere; however, to enhance your experience in Venice, we have a few tips when it comes to sightseeing.
Buy in Advance
Popular attractions in Venice, such as the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica, get very busy during the peak season (April to October) and the queues to buy entry tickets to these attractions can be extensive. To make the most of your holiday time, we recommend purchasing “skip the line” entry tickets in advance or pre-arranging a guided tour. As a part of our complete travel planning service, if you book a holiday to Venice with us, we can add entry tickets or a guided tour to your package, so remember to ask your personal travel adviser for more information about our optional extras when you book your vacation.
There’s no doubt that the beauty of Venice is best enjoyed from the water and, whilst in the Floating City, we highly recommend a gondola ride so that you can appreciate the unique and intriguing architecture that defines the ancient water villas that line the banks of some of the most charming canals, some of which are inaccessible by foot.
In Venice, you can choose from a variety of gondola rides, including shared tours (with a maximum of six passengers) and serenade tours, where you’ll be treated to relaxing music and classical singing during your ride through Venice’s prettiest canals. However, for a particularly special and more relaxed experience, we recommend upgrading your tour to a private gondola ride experience, especially if you are visiting Venice during the peak season, as this service allows you to skip the lines and enjoy priority boarding, as well as a more romantic and relaxing experience.
Make Like the Locals
Venice has found itself in the press several times in recent years for its high prices, especially around the St Mark’s area. Keep in mind that, if you stop for a coffee or ice-cream, you may be charged more for sitting down at a table than if you choose to take away or sip your coffee at the bar. This is especially true around the St Mark’s area, where you can pay a hefty premium for sitting at a table.
We advise you to always check prices before ordering and, if you just want a quick espresso to boost your energy, make like the Venetian locals and drink your coffee stood at the bar.
Don’t Get Too Lost!
Venice’s intricate network of canals, calli, alleyways and hidden squares is charmingly magical; however, it also means that it’s very easy to get lost. While we would argue that everyone needs to get lost in Venice at least once in their lifetime, if you are enjoying a short break in Venice, it can be frustrating if you find yourself completely lost!
To enjoy the hidden sights of authentic Venice without getting lost, we recommend pre-arranging a walking tour with a professional guide. However, if you are eager to discover the sights on your own, then be sure to take a map with you (the Tourism Office sells excellent maps, or use the map on a smart phone, if you have one) and keep track of where you are – many of the smaller streets in Venice do not have name plaques, so it is important to trace your route as you go.
If you do get lost, ask someone how to get back to a major landmark that you know is close to your hotel – many shop-keepers and hotel receptionists speak good English so these are the best places to go to seek help.
Take Time Out with an Aperitivo
While in Venice, enjoying a pre-dinner aperitivo in one of the city bars is nearly essential for an authentic Venetian experience.
The word “aperitivo” comes from the Latin for “to open” and, in modern times, is used as a little something to encourage a healthy Italian appetite (as in “to open one’s stomach”). In Venice, the aperitivo is a ritual and is defined by the iconic Aperol Spritz cocktail (recipe here), which is usually accompanied by small snacks, such as cured meats and bruschetta.
Escape the Island
To truly get a feel for the Venetian culture, we highly recommend taking a day to escape Venice’s main island and explore some of the smaller islands in the Venetian Lagoon, such as Murano, Burano or Torcello. These islands have a quaint charm and tend to be less busy, so you can take your time to enjoy the colourful canal-side villas and discover traditional workshops, such as the glass-makers in Murano, which are famous for their intricate chandeliers.
There are several day tours available from Venice that take you to the smaller islands and these guided tours are especially convenient, but, if you would prefer to sightsee independently, then you can take public transport – for Murano, jump on the waterbus from S. Zaccaria (near Piazza San Marco). It takes around 40 minutes and you can get off at any one of the stops on Murano, although we recommend Colonna for glass-blowing demonstrations.
If you are thinking about travelling to Venice as part of a multi-centre holiday and would like one of our travel experts to put together a tailor-made holiday itinerary for you, please complete our online enquiry form and tell us all about what you want from your vacation – we can arrange flights, airport transfers, inter-city train tickets and accommodation, as well as optional tours and activities.
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