Venice Travel Guide

by vacationideaz
grand canal

Venice in Italy is like no other place in the world. Rising from the water, it is an engineering marvel – often called the world’s ‘Most Romantic City’. Venice is built on 160.07 square miles or 414.57 square kilometers, more importantly, on 100 plus islands and a marshy lagoon. There are no cars – only boats, called gondolas. No roads and streets – only canals, and small alleys winding along these canals. There are few places with such a spectacular natural setting, so charming, and so full of architectural heritage. 5,227,300 tourists visited Venice in 2016 according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an increase of 1.7% over 2015.

The Grand Canal is stunning. The city’s museums are a must-visit. There are 141 galleries and churches. Venice has always been the home of artisans. There are 117 small canals and the massive Grand Canal, which are linked by 417 bridges.

Take a ride on the gondola for a unique experience. Explore the narrow pedestrian alleys. You will discover many hidden wonders. Spend time wandering from piazzas to palaces. Visit art museums. Shop at the many street-side stalls. You will find palaces and artisan stalls side by side. In the city, you will find influences from Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman influences at every corner.

  • Canal – called a Rio
  • Square – Campo
  • Street – Salizzada or Calle
  • Quay – Fondamenta or Riva

There are 177 canals, 417 bridges, 141 galleries, and churches in Venice. Grand Canal is the most famous and biggest. 72 bridges in the city are private.

Venice – Quick Facts

  • Venice is the capital of the Venetia region
  • Currency – Euro (€)
  • Venice is spread over 414.57 square kilometers
  • Time Zone – UTC+1 (CET), Summer UTC+2 (CEST)
  • Dialing Code – 041
  • Elevation – 3 feet or 1 meter
  • Language – Venetian. Most locals can speak Italian too.
  • Casino – The world’s first casino opened in Venice in 1638
  • Carnival – Venice has the world’s second most famous carnival after Rio, Brazil. The elaborate masks are beautiful.
  • Venezuela – The South American country is named after Venice.

Venice and its lagoon is an UNESCO Heritage center. Find out more here.

Top Reasons To Visit Venice

City on WaterVenice is called the floating city. There are no roads and cars. Just a huge network of canals with alleys for pedestrians. You have to take a gondola or steamer to reach different places. A unique experience you can have only in Venice.
Grand CanalThe 3.8 kilometers long Grand Canal divides the city into two. It is the super-highway of the city. See many hotels and stunning architecture along the canal.
Gondolas and GondoliersGondolas are small boats made with different woods. They are 11 meters long. They are the main transport in the city. Gondoliers are the operators, wearing a straw hat and a sailor’s jumper. You will see gondolas everywhere – police gondolas, refuse collecting gondolas, fire service gondolas, delivery gondolas, and even funeral gondolas with black pompoms.
PalacesPalazzo Vendramin, Ca’ D’oro, Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Palazzo Grassi, Doge’s Palace, Ca’ Rezzonico – there are many beautiful palaces in Venice with colored marble, windows grouped in the center, and balconies mounted on brackets.
Murano IslandCanal lined with Renaissance houses. Visit the famous glass factory, working since 1292.
St. Mark’s SquarePiazza San Marco is the hub of public life. You will see many tourists and locals on the terrace of Florian and Quadri cafes, admiring the beauty. Mosaics of St. Marks’s glow under the rays of the setting sun.
The Venice CarnivalAn annual festival held between February and March. 40 days before Easter. Most famous because of the famous masks.
The Venice Film FestivalHeld between August and September. This is the world’s oldest film festival, and one of the best.

Getting There

Flights – There are 3 airports.

1. Venice Marco Polo
2. Treviso Airport
3. San Nicolo Airport

Marco Polo is the closest airport. It is on the mainland. Treviso is 16 miles from the city and relatively smaller. But it is getting busier because of Transavia, Wizzair, and Ryanair budget flights. San Nicolo in Lido is only for small aircraft. It has a grass runway, which is also small.

There are many travel options from Marco Polo.

1. ATVO Venezia Express coach bus
2. The local ACTV line 5
3. Rail
4. ATVO MESTRE Express bus to Milan, Verona, Trieste, Padova
5. Mestre, FlixBus to Croatia, Slovenia
6. GoOpti intercity shuttle to Italian cities and Slovenia.

Boat – Small boats and cruise ships arrive at the terminals. Many of these cruises are to different European destinations like Barcelona, Naples, and Greece. Water taxis and vaporetti both serve the cruise port.

Train – There are trains to the Venezia Santa Lucia station at the west of Venice. You can take a water taxi, water bus, or even walk to your hotel from here.

1. There are direct trains from many places in Europe
2. Overnight trains from Vienna, Paris, and Munich.
3. There is also a train from Moscow once every week that passes through Zagreb, Budapest, and Kyiv.
4. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express arrives in the city.

Car – You have to keep your car parked at the western edge of the city, at the Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto, which is the largest car parking facility in Europe. You won’t find any roads after this. But remember, car parking is very expensive in Venice. Alternatively, you can park on the mainland, and then take a bus, train, or vaporetto to reach Venice.

Getting Around

Car – There are no roads, other than at the Lido (island that separates the Adriatic Sea from the lagoon).

Boat – There are many water buses (vaporetti) that service the Grand Canal, the larger canals, and also the surrounding islands (Murano, Burano, La Guidecca, Lido). Take the vaporetti for a longer trip or to cross the Grand Canal.

Water Taxi – The most expensive option, but very flexible. You will find them all the time. The price in Venice is between 40 and 50 Euros. Each taxi can take a maximum of 10 people, including luggage. But they charge more after the 6th passenger. You can hire taxis also for individual sightseeing. But remember, they cannot enter all canals.

Gondola – The most popular with tourists. They will take you to most places, and can navigate through the small channels. The price is 30 Euros for a 30-minute ride. Each gondola can take 4 people, until a maximum of 6. But some seats face backward.

Traghetto – These are shared gondolas. Cheaper than a private ride. It is 2 Euros for each person. They don’t accept cards.

Top 5 Ways To Save Money In Venice

1. Get a Pass – Buy a pass for your transportation. The Gold Pass gives you 72 hours on the vaporetto. There are also 12-hour, 24-hour, and 48-hour passes.

2. Traghetto – Take a shared water bus instead of a private ride. Both business people and tourists use them. You will find the vaporetto much cheaper.

3. Walk – Venice is a walking city. You can see more of the city this way, and you will also save money. You can walk to discover the city yourself, or you can join a more formal walking guided tour.

4. Bàcaro – You do not have to spend money at an overpriced café around San Marco. Head to the bàcari like the locals. Food starts here at €1. There are plenty of options to choose from as well. Try spritz, tapas-style Cicchetti.

5. Happy-Hour Drinking – The happy hour begins around 6 PM.

Read our guide for the top 10 places to visit in Venice.

Venice is famous for its carnival masks. They are elaborate and colorful. Mask-making is a custom that goes back a long time in the city.

The Best Time To Visit

Late spring and early summer is the best time to visit Venice. You will have beautifully warm days. The peak tourist season is still some time away. March is a good time to save money. Hotel rooms may cost 40% less. There can be some flooding in the fall.

Spring (March to May) – Festival and events, leading into the Holy Week and Labor Day, a national holiday. April is warmer, so it is better.

Summer (June to August) – Summer holidays in Italy are from August 15th. So it gets more crowded after this. June is the wettest month, with an average of 90 mm rain, while July is the hottest month.

Fall (September to November) – A good time to visit Venice. There are interesting festivals in October and November. But there is a chance of flooding.

Winter (December to February) – Fewer tourists this time of the year. Chance of rain. The Venice Carnival is between February and March.

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