Few cities in the world are so immediately recognisable as Venice. Who hasn’t been enchanted by its beauty just by looking at pictures of the Grand Canal and the pastel-coloured palazzi lining it? Yet there is no shortage of stories from people who have been disappointed by the city. It’s expensive, it smells bad, it’s too crowded are the commonest complaints and they are not entirely ungrounded. Εspecially the latter. However, La Serenissima, as Venice is traditionally known, is a unique almost unbelievably beautiful city. A fairy-tale destination unlike any other. So, what to do in Venice to fully immerse yourselves in its magic? First and foremost, understand its peculiarities and get ready to have the time of your life in this masterpiece of a city.

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The wonder that is Venice

Venice is not an island. It is a complex of 117 small islands connected to one another by almost 450 bridges. An entirely man-made construction, Venice came to be when people from the mainland fled to the Venetian lagoon so as to escape the Barbaric invasions. It took quite a few centuries for Venice to become the city as we know it today.

This photo shows builders on a boat in a canal in Venice carrying out construction works on a beautiful old building. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to la serenissima.
Construction works are carried out from a boat. Every day life goes on for the real city of Venice.

Venice was always meant to be reached by water. This is why we only see the back of the buildings when we walk around its narrow alleys. The facades can be seen from the canals. Even nowadays there are no cars or even bicycles in Venice. This can only add to the city’s spellbinding effect of course. The only way to get around is walk or ride a boat. Also, all every day life activities are carried out with the help of boats. Ambulances are boats, firefighters ride on boats and there are also boats turned into grocery stores.

For us, visitors, Venice canals are a romantic backdrop but for residents they are of vital importance. Sadly, the increased numbers of visitors and the modern way of life have taken their toll on the canals. That’s where the smelly part comes in. However, the smell affects the narrowest of canals and only during low tide.

This photo shows a typical canal in Venice where residents "park" their boats outside their houses. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Canals to Venetians are what roads are to the rest of us, hence all those “parked” boats outside home entrances.
This photo shows a street sign in Venice Italy, which reads "Ultimo numero del Sestier de S. Crose". What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Look up for streets signs right after you have crossed a bridge.

Finding your way around Venice

As of 1171, Venice is divided into six districts or sestieri: Cannaregio, Castello, Santa Croce, San Polo, San Marco and Dorsoduro. Finding your way while walking around the city is not an easy task. Keep an eye for the street signs every time you cross a bridge or ponte. You may have entered a different sestiere than the one you were aiming for. Getting lost in the narrow alleys is utterly charming. However, if you are in a hurry or simply too tired to aimlessly wander around, use a paper map or Google maps. Try to remember, though, that the latter may or may not give you the quickest route possible.

How many days in Venice

We arrived in Venice very early in the morning on the 18th of April and we left on the 22nd of April in the afternoon. While planning our trip to Venice, we thought that, given its relatively small size, four days and a half would be more than enough to fully enjoy the city and tick off everything on our sightseeing list. It turns out that you just can’t get enough of the place. We would happily stay for a lot more. We skipped seeing quite a few pieces of art so as to have more time to take in the beauty of the city itself.

This is a photo of the Rialto bridge in Venice at night with the moon right above it. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy.
Rialto bridge flirting with the moon. Spending the night in Venice is full of magic.

Try not to spend less than three days in Venice. And, please, under no circumstances should you even consider seeing Venice in a day. Believe us when we say that it’s not day trip material. The vast majority of the negative impressions about Venice comes from those who have only seen it on a day trip. The city is swarming with people from 11:00 to 17:00. It’s early in the morning and in the evening that you really get to appreciate the magic of La Serenissima. Not to mention that the sight of Venice at night is priceless.

What to see in Venice

No matter how long you are staying in Venice, you will inevitably fall in love with the city just by walking around its narrow streets, bridge after bridge and canal after canal. The omnipresent Canal Grande alone is a sight for sore eyes. Venice abounds in famous landmarks and hidden gems alike scattered around its six sestieri.

This photo shows the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
The Grand Canal, the jewel of Venice, playing with the afternoon sun.

Sestiere Cannaregio

Our personal favourite district in Venice. It has a laid-back feeling and it’s usually unaffected by the infamous crowds. It’s home to the most quiet Venice canals and also the Jewish Ghetto, the oldest one in the world. A sunset stroll along the Fondamenta della Misericordia stopping for an Aperol Spritz or three at the quaint canal side bars is Venice at its best.

This is a photo of the Cannaregio district in Venice, Italy at dusk. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Cannaregio at dusk is utterly romantic with an authentic, local touch.

Sestiere Castello

Anyone who has watched the sunset from the Riva degli Schiavoni must have vowed to keep coming back to Venice. Walk its full length and watch the setting sun as it dyes the islands of Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore across the water in all hues of red. The Arsenale, Venice’s former shipyard reminiscent of the city’s glorious past, is also in this district.

This photo shows the view from Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice, Italy, during sunset. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Do not miss a stroll along the Riva degli Schiavoni during sunset.

Sestiere Santa Croce

Although home to busy Piazzale Roma, this district has a very relaxed feeling once you’re inside its maze of narrow streets. Many of Venice’s best eateries are in this sestiere, too. Here you can see the controversial Ponte della Costituzione or Calatrava Bridge. A visual symbol of Venice’s connection to the rest of the world.

This photo shows the view of Venice and the Grand Canal from the Calatrava bridge. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy.
View of beautiful Venice from the Calatrava bridge.

Sestiere San Polo

This is where it all began. The Rialto is the oldest part of the city. Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Venice is the Rialto Bridge. Its unique architecture, remarkable size and the views of the Grand Canal it offers, will amaze you. Visiting the neighbouring Rialto Market should be high on everyone’s what to do in Venice list, too. It’s open until 14:00 but fresh fish and seafood sell out a lot earlier. In the evening, its empty stalls serve as makeshift tables for locals to enjoy their drinks.

This photo shows the Rialto bridge in Venice, Italy with a gondola having just passed underneath it. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
The Rialto bridge is fascnating any time of day.

In the same district the Basilica dei Frari is also worth a visit. There you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Tiziano‘s superb work. Titian, as best known in English, was a prominent figure in the Venetian school of painters and his works can be seen elsewhere in the city, too.

If you are wondering what to do in Venice in the evening, head to Campo Erberia. Grab your drink from a nearby bar saying per portare via – the Italian way to say take away – and sit next to locals on the wooden platform right on the Grand Canal. If you are not already in love with Venice, it will happen there and then.

This is a photo of the wooden platform on the Grand Canal near Campo Erberia in Venice, Italy, where locals enjoy their drinks in the evening. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Grab a Spritz “per portare via” and marvel at the Grand Canal from the best vantage point possible.

Sestiere San Marco

Although a relatively small district, San Marco receives the greatest number of visitors as it is home to the majority of top things to do in Venice. It’s best to visit early in the morning or from the afternoon onwards so as to avoid the crowds. Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco (free entry), the Bell Tower of San MarcoPalazzo Ducale and The Bridge of Sighs are all Venice must-sees. 

This photo shows the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Everyone can see the Bridge of Sighs from the outside. For a chance to cross it though, you’ll need a ticket for the Palazzo Ducale.

Piazza San Marco is home to a historic cafè or two, such as Caffè Florian and Caffè Lavena. Both have an air of times gone by with the orchestras playing live music as you sip on your high-priced Spritz. Harry’s bar is another pricey option but, hey, it’s where the Bellini cocktail was invented after all. If you’re not particularly keen on paying about ten times the price of your cocktails, though, head to the sestiere‘s back alleyway bars and mingle with the locals. That’s what we did anyway.

This photo shows Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Iconic Piazza San Marco in Venice is best visited early in the morning or from the afternoon onwards.

Sestiere Dorsoduro

Art-packed Gallerie dell’Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a gondola boatyard (squero) in Campo San Trovaso, one of the most imposing churches in Venice, Santa Maria della Salute (free entry) and the romantic promenade from Punta della Dogana all along the Zattere claim your time and attention in this beautiful district. Keep in mind that the Peggy Guggenheim Collection offers super interesting, brief presentations on the life of Peggy and the making of the museum every day at 12:00 and 16:00. After you’ve seen the collection, sit at the museum’s terrace and have the entire Canal Grande right at your feet.

This photo shows the Grand Canal as seen from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection terrace in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Step outside to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection terrace and let yourself be seduced by the Grand Canal’s charm.
This photo shows the marble mark pointing a fighter's starting position on Ponte dei Pugni in Venice Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Take your position and fight!

Furthermore, il Ponte dei Pugni has an interesting tale to tell. As its name suggests, the Bridge of Fists held many a fist fight back in the days when such spectacles were immensely popular. Nowadays you can see the marble footprints that once marked the fighters’ starting positions on the bridge.

In the evening, locals flock to lively Campo Santa Margherita, which is buzzing with life until late.

What to do in Venice

Believe it or not, Venice is a city for all budgets. There are so many incredible things to do in Venice ranging from free activities to very expensive ones. That said, if you have a few extra euros to spend or a special occasion to celebrate, there is no better place to do so than nella Serenissima. We have listed our top choices from the best free things to do in Venice to the ones that are definitely worth splurging on.

The view of a lifetime

What if we told you that the best view of the city and the Grand Canal comes entirely for free? A stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge lies the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store. Marvelling at the view from its terrace is one of the best free things to do in Venice. There is a lift and you are allowed to stay up there for about 10′. You should pre-book a specific timeslot for your visit on their website so as to avoid queues. Needless to say that the best time to visit is around sunset. It was up there that we had the surreal feeling that we were actually looking at a moving painting rather than a real city.

This photo shows the view of Venice and the Grand Canal from T Fondaco dei Tedeschi. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy.
Breathtaking views of Venice from the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi terrace come entirely for free.

Free walking tour

We love walking tours, either free or paid ones. We believe that a walking tour is the best way to get an overview of the destination we are visiting. Plus, we always learn something new that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

This photo shows Campo Santo Stefano in Venice, Italy with the statue of N. Tommaseo. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Peaceful Campo Santo Stefano is the meeting point for the morning tour.

There are many free walking tours operating in Venice and our guess is that you can’t go wrong with any of them. We chose one offered by the La Bussola Association based not so much on its awesome reviews but on a hunch. It turns out we couldn’t have made a better choice. The Association offers a morning and an afternoon tour every day and you must definitely make a reservation beforehand on their website. The tours are entirely free. However, donating to the passionate and knowledgeable guides at the end of the tour is the least we can do. They are only volunteers but they are doing such an amazing job.

We took the morning tour which introduced us mainly to the Dorsoduro district. This tour focuses on how Venice was built and I can’t even begin to tell you how interesting it was. The afternoon tour focuses on the history of Venice and mainly covers the Castello district. If we had more time, we would love to go on this one, too. Our guide was Anastasiya, a Fine Arts student with amazing sense of humour and remarkable talent as a guide. Apart from sharing with us invaluable information about the city, she also took us to the best local spots for snacks and she gave us inside tips on what to do in Venice.

Apart from this walking tour being one of the best free things to do in Venice, we’re happy we joined it for yet another reason. La Bussola Association has a mission to try and change the mentality of the vast majority of visitors by encouraging them to get to know the real Venice rather than just use its most famous landmarks as the perfect background for their vacation photos. We find this remarkable and all of us who have fallen in love with this city should be doing the same. Instead of talking about the maddening crowds and all the negative aspects of Venice, we should encourage future visitors to experience, love and respect the real city and its residents rather than treat it like a Disneyland of sorts.

This photo shows a peaceful canal in the Dorsoduro district in Venice, Italy, with a gondolier sitting idly beside it. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
A penny for his thoughts? Peaceful Dorsoduro in the morning is marvellous.

The traghetto experience

Strangely enough, of all 450 bridges in Venice only four cross the Grand Canal. Ponte della Costituzione, Ponte degli Scalzi, Ponte di Rialto and Ponte dell’Accademia. But what happens if you want to cross the Grand Canal but none of the four bridges is in your immediate vicinity? Instead of walking half of the city to get to the nearest bridge, you can hop on a traghetto.

Traghetti are gondolas without ornate seats and other luxurious decoration. Two gondolieri row them from one bank to the other from early morning until afternoon. Specific timetables are posted on each of the seven traghetto stops along the Grand Canal. You can simply take any street by the name Calle Traghetto towards the water and you will find yourself at a traghetto stop. However, I’m not sure if all seven of them are operative, as we only used the San Toma stop.

Apart from the obvious practical reasons, riding the traghetto is also a cheap way to live the gondola experience. Sure, a couple of minutes is way too short a ride, but for 2€ you can get the feeling of being on a gondola and decide whether you would actually want a full ride or not.

This photo shows Calle Traghetto in Venice leading up to San Toma traghetto stop. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy.
Calle Traghetto leads to San Toma traghetto stop.

Vaporetto line 1 at night

This photo shows the Rialto bridge in Venice as seen from a vaporetto at night. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy.
Riding Vaporetto 1 at night is as romantic as can be.

Among the best things to do in Venice is seeing it from the water. If you want to do so on a budget, let us introduce you to Vaporetto line 1. Vaporetti, apart from being the commonest means of public transportation in Venice, can also offer opportunities for romantic boat rides. Ideally, take Vaporetto line 1 as late at night as possible for a serene, almost magic Venice boat ride along the Grand Canal. You will most probably be on your own except for the occasional elegantly dressed Venetian going back home after a night out.

By the way, apart from walking, il vaporetto is the only way to get around in Venice. However, a one-way ticket costs way too much: 7.50€ and it is valid for 75′. You’ll be better off buying a time-limited ticket for 1, 2, 3 or 7 days at the price of 20€, 30€, 40€ and 60€ respectively. Our advice is to divide your time between walking and taking the vaporetto during your stay. We did so. We walked for the first three days. Then we bought 1-day tickets on our last day which allowed us to hop on and off the vaporetti for 24h.

Palazzo Ducale with The Secret Itineraries tour

This photo shows a wardrobe which is actually a secret passageway in Palazzo Ducale in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
This wardrobe is actually a secret passageway you may pass during the Secret Itineraries tour.

If time allows you, do visit the Doge’s Palace. Instead of buying the standard ticket for 20€, though, which also gives you access to a couple of other museums that you most probably won’t have time to visit anyway, buy the Secret Itineraries tour for the same price. It’s imperative that you make a reservation through the official website otherwise you won’t be able to join this tour. There are two tours in Italian, two in French and three in English daily. Especially for the latter, you should book well in advance.

During the 75′ Secret Itineraries tour, a well-informed guide took us to rooms in the palace which are not accessible to the standard ticket holders. While passing through narrow corridors and secret passageways, we were provided with a wealth of fascinating historic facts. I wouldn’t like to go into more detail at this point so as to avoid any spoilers. At the end of the tour we visited the rest of the Doge’s Palace at our own pace.

In order to cross the famous Bridge of Sighs, Il Ponte dei Sospiri, you need to have either the standard ticket or the Secret Itineraries one. The totally enclosed bridge connects the Palazzo Ducale, where the interrogation rooms were located, to the new prison. Legend has it that, while crossing the bridge on the way to their cells, convicts sighed as they laid eyes on beautiful Venice for the last time.

Indulge in a private gondola ride

What would Venice be without its gondolas? OK, it would still be magnificent but all we’re saying is that you just can’t leave Venice without enjoying a private gondola ride. It may sound overpriced and we’ve all thought that it might be a tourist trap but after our own experience, we honestly believe it is indeed one of the top things to do in Venice and one that should not be missed.

Read all about our fabulous gondola ride in Venice!

Venice boat tour

What to do in Venice if you have some extra money to spend? Join a Venice boat tour and enjoy the jaw-dropping charms of La Serenissima from the best vantage point: the water.

Learn everything you need to know about one of the best boat tours in Venice!

Day trips from Venice

The Venetian Lagoon Islands

Venice is the indisputable queen of the Venetian lagoon, but the latter is dotted with a number of other fairly smaller islands, of which we are only mentioning the ones we visited. Depending on the time you have to spare, arrange either a Venice day trip to see some of the Venetian lagoon islands or hop on and off the vaporetti to get a glimpse of a different island every day. We went to Murano, Burano and Torcello on the same day, thus making good use of our 1 day vaporetto ticket.

San Giorgio Maggiore is a tiny island overlooking Piazza San Marco. For 6€ you can climb the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore and enjoy jaw-dropping panoramic views of Venice and the lagoon. We visited as part of the Venice boat tour we joined.

Join an amazing Venice Boat Tour With Grand Canal And Tower Climb!

This photo shows the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy during sunset. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
The setting sun dyes San Giorgio Maggiore in the most romantic colours.

Murano must be the most popular of the smaller islands in the Venetian lagoon. It is a miniature of Venice and it is famous for its glass blowing tradition.

This is a photo of Fondamenta dei Vetrai in Murano, an island near Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Fondamenta dei Vetrai in Murano.

Torcello was the island people from the mainland originally settled on after fleeing the Barbaric invasions. Nowadays, it is an utterly peaceful haven home to the magnificent Santa Maria Assunta Church.

This photo shows a beautiful palazzo in Torcello, a small island near Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Beautiful Torcello breathes an air of nostalgia and absolute serenity.

Burano is hands down the prettiest of all the smaller islands in the Venetian lagoon. Its colourful houses seem to have sprung straight out of a dream. It is famous for its lace and we still regret not spending a night there. If you only have time for one destination on your Venice day trip, choose Burano over all the others.

Plan your own exciting day trip to the Venetian lagoon islands!

This photo shows a row of vividly coloured houses on the island of Burano near Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
Colours in Burano are so vivid you won’t believe your eyes!

Ferrara day trip

Ferrara is an utterly charming medieval town in Northern Italy and surely worth a visit if time allows it.
Check out our Ferrara itinerary and get ready for one of the best day trips from Venice.

What to eat in Venice

Cicchetti

This photo shows a plastic plate filled with chicchetti and two plastic glasses of white wine in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima.
With the wide selection of cicchetti available at local bacari you’ll be spoilt for choice. Order them “per portare via” and head to the nearest piazza!

Cicchetti are small sized bites of bread topped with a wide selection of delicious treats. They are cheap, about 1,50€ each, and they pair superbly with a glass of wine. When in Venice, do as the Venetians do. Order your wine and cicchetti at the bar. Then, instead of sitting inside, head to the nearest piazza or ponte and enjoy them there. Any bar packed inside and out with locals will do. However, we really liked Cantine del Vino già Schiavi (Dorsoduro 992, Fondamenta Nani, 30123, Venezia). 

Seafood

This photo shows a dish of seafood pasta in a restaurant in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. Venice Italy. It's all trip to me.
One of the best seafood pasta you could ever taste.

Venice is seafood heaven. Keep in mind that meal prices range from normal to outrageously high ones though. Avoid the most touristy areas and head to districts such as Cannaregio or Santa Croce. Do a bit of homework by checking reviews on Foursquare or TripAdvisor before making a reservation for a canal side table and save yourselves the unpleasant surprise when the check arrives.

We tried delicious fried sardines and fried squid as snacks at Bacaro da Fiore (San Marco 3461, Calle delle Botteghe, 30124, Venezia). However, for a proper canal side dinner we headed to reasonably priced Il Paradiso Perduto (Cannaregio 2540, Fondamenta della Misericordia, 30100, Venezia). We had the enormous mixed seafood platter and seafood pasta and they were all delicious. Especially the pasta. We washed all of this down with their fantastic house wine. The ambience was very easy-going and we genuinely had a great time. Do make a reservation otherwise you won’t stand a chance finding a table.

Pizza & Pasta

OK, Venice is not famous for its pizza. Actually, many claim that pizza nella Serenissima is the worst there is. But, hey, we’re in Italy and if we feel like filling up with pizza and pasta we should be able to do so, right? So, for what is referred to as the best pizza in Venice pay a visit to Rossopomodoro (San Marco 404, Calle Larga, 30124, Venezia). Pasta is also delicious but, most importantly, this Pizzeria Napoletana stays up until 23:30 which can prove life saving for people used to eating late like ourselves.

In every Italian city we visit, we love to discover those tiny take-away pasta shops that offer delicious value for money pasta. In Venice, we found our favourite spot in Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta to Go (Castello 5324, Calle Casseleria, 30122, Venezia). It’s a bit hard to find but their Pesto has me hooked for life.

Dessert

This picture shows a dessert typical of Venice, Italy, called gianduiotto. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. It's all trip to me.
Words are unnecessary. Just try il gianduiotto!

I am Maria and I have a serious sweet tooth. In Venice, there is this small miracle in the form of dessert called Il Gianduiotto. Personally, I consider devouring one of these masterpieces one of the top things to do in Venice. It is a piece of iced gianduia, a hazelnut flavoured chocolate paste, topped with dollops of fresh whipped cream. You can also add sour cherries. I did and you should too. Writing about it without having one in front of me is painful, enough said. Try it at Gelateria Nico (Dorsoduro 922, Fondamenta Zattere, 30123, Venezia). 

No visit to Italy is complete without some handmade ice-cream or gelato artigianale. Suso (San Marco 5453, Calle della Bissa, 30124, Venezia) offers a wide selection of mouthwatering and original flavors sitting idly atop freshly made cones.

Wine

Venice is home to famous Prosecco wine. You can find it in each and every bacaro – the Venetian word for bar – or restaurant in the city and it starts from 2€ a glass. If you prefer dry wine, go for a glass of Soave. You don’t have to order a bottle of wine in Venice. House wine is of top quality and great value for money. Also, feel like a local and order un’ombra. Literally, it means “shadow” but the bartender will know that you mean a small glass of house wine to wash down your cicchetti. You can even go for a giro d’ombra which is pub crawl the Venetian way.

Spritz

Spritz is the typical Venetian cocktail and we simply can’t get enough of it. It’s a mixture of either sparkling or dry wine with an Italian aperitivo of choice: Campari, which is way too bitter for our tastes, Select which is the truly Venetian aperitivo and our favourite by far Aperol which is the sweetest of the three. An Aperol Spritz can cost anything from 2€ to God-knows-how-much, so beware of tourist traps. The highest we had to pay for an Aperol Spritz was 4€. Venice has a reputation for being an expensive city. Yet, when it comes to drinking, few places can beat its low prices.

Where to stay in Venice

One thing that really is expensive in Venice is accommodation. However, as we said before, under no circumstances should you do Venice in a day. Similarly, staying in more budget friendly Mestre or even Lido should not be an option either. The best place to stay in Venice is its very heart and spending the night in one of its sestieri is an unforgettable experience. It’s better to stay for less days rather than choose accommodation outside the centre of Venice. Booking your hotel early or avoiding the luxury of a canal view room can save you a lot.

This photo shows Campo San Giacomo dell' Orio in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. It's all trip to me.
Feel like a local in Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio.

All six of Venice’s districts, sestieri, are good choices. We stayed in the Santa Croce district in Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio and we liked it very much. We chose B&B La Patatina for our 4-night stay. For a spotlessly clean and elegantly decorated room overlooking the campo we paid about 125€/night. Our favourite thing about this B&B is that breakfast was brought to our room at the time agreed on at check-in.

Book your hotel from Booking.com well in advance so as to get the best deal available!

Perhaps you should avoid the San Marco area during peak season. If you want to feel like a local, consider staying in the Cannaregio district. 

Best time to visit Venice

Venice doesn’t seem to have low or even shoulder season. It feels as if there is only high and peak season, so you’d probably want to avoid the latter. It runs roughly from May to September as well as during Christmas and Easter holidays. We visited mid-April and we couldn’t have done better. Crowds were not that large and the weather was magnificent.

The photo shows the wooden platforms used in Venice, Italy during acqua alta sitting idly along the city's main streets when they are not needed. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. It's all trip to me.
These wooden platforms line every main street in Venice so as to be handy and ready to use during acqua alta.

Another thing you should keep in mind before booking your tickets to Venice, is the acqua alta (high water) period. From October to March you are likely to witness the city’s partial flooding. It is a phenomenon caused by high tides in combination with seasonal winds that blow in the area. Acqua alta poses no threat to the public. Tides are forecast with remarkable accuracy. Moreover, there is a system of sirens used to alert everyone about the coming acqua alta and its intensity. When there is acqua alta, wooden platforms on every main street in the city are used so as to facilitate pedestrians.

If you are spending limited time in Venice, perhaps you would miss out on many things during acqua alta. But, to be honest, we are intrigued to plan our next trip to Venice during the acqua alta period when the whole city must look like an apparition magically hovering over the water.

How to get to Venice

By plane

Venice Marco Polo is the city’s main airport. It is ideally located to offer spectacular views of the Venetian lagoon from above. There are many ways to get from the airport to Venice. It all depends on your budget and the time you have to spare.

Bus: There are two bus companies connecting Venice to Marco Polo Airport.
ACTV, the company responsible for public transportation in Venice, operates Aerobus line No 5. It’s a regular bus, which means that you may be standing all the way to the airport. It also makes many stops along the way.
ATVO is a private company operating Express line 35 to and from Marco Polo Airport. It uses coaches rather than buses and it’s a non-stop route.

Both companies are reliable and their buses run frequently. They start and finish their 30′ journeys at Piazzale Roma and a one-way ticket costs 8€. The only drawback is that if your hotel is not near Piazzale Roma or if you carry heavy luggage – which is advisable not to anyway, as you will have a fair share of going up and down stairs in order to cross all those bridges – you will also have to pay for a vaporetto ticket to get to your hotel.

Alilaguna: You are in Venice, the city on water. So why not see it from the water right from the start? Alilaguna’s blue, orange and red lines connect Marco Polo Airport to various locations in Venice. Check with your hotel for information on the nearest Alilaguna stop and the line you should choose. A one-way ticket costs 15€ and the journey lasts about an hour.

Taxi: Taking a taxi seems the least value for money or exciting way to get to Venice. A ride from Marco Polo Airport to Piazzale Roma costs 40€. From there, you’ll most probably need to also buy a vaporetto ticket so as to reach your hotel.

Water taxi: This is hands down the most luxurious, fast and comfortable way to reach your destination in Venice. It is also the most expensive as it will set you back about 110€. However, most water taxis can carry up to 10 passengers. Therefore, if your party is large, a water taxi is great value for money.

When we landed to Venice, we couldn’t wait to get on the water so we chose the Alilaguna. Moreover, an Alilaguna stop was really close to our hotel so it saved us the trouble of taking both the bus and the vaporetto. When it was time to leave, we took the ACTV bus to the airport. This way, we also crossed the Ponte della Liberta which connects Venice to the mainland.

Low-cost airline Ryanair flies to Treviso Airport which lies about 30km from Venice. There are buses and trains connecting Treviso Airport to either Piazzale Roma or Santa Lucia railway station in Venice.

By train

Italy boasts a wonderful network of fast and reliable trains. Check out the Trenitalia website and plan your journey. Just make sure that your train arrives at Santa Lucia railway station which is located in the centre of Venice.

By car

What if Venice is another stop on your marvellous Italian road trip? In that case, keep in mind that your car will take you as far as Piazzale Roma. From there you will take your luggage and you will either walk or take the vaporetto to your hotel. Parking at Piazzale Roma is expensive. As in 30€/day minimum expensive. Alternatively, you can park at Tronchetto which offers cheaper parking solutions. You can then get to Piazzale Roma using the super fast People Mover (one-way ticket costs 1.5€).

Did you know?

  • Venice has a vast network of canals. Who could imagine that there used to be even more of them in the past? Venice has plenty of streets that are signalled as rio terà, rio meaning river and terà meaning earth. Every time you stroll along a rio terà, you are actually walking on what once was a Venice canal. Those canals were later filled up with earth or sand to become streets. 

    This photo shows Rio Tera Ai Saloni in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. It's all trip to me.
    Rio Terà Ai Saloni in the Dorsoduro district is one of many canals later filled up with earth or sand to become streets.
  • When you start wandering around Venice, you will notice that squares are called campos instead of piazzas. Actually, there is only one piazza in the entire city, the renowned Piazza San Marco. Campo literally means “field” in Italian and that’s exactly what all those romantic squares used to be in the past. Each and every one of the 117 islands that comprise Venice has its very own campo. Complete with its corresponding cistern or pozzo, each campo provided Venice’s first residents with fresh produce and drinking water.

    This photo shows Campo Santa Margherita in Venice, Italy. What to do in Venice: our complete guide to La Serenissima. It's all trip to me.
    Campo Santa Margherita, one of the largest campi in Venice. The city’s heart beats in this campo until late at night.

All in all, Venice is a thrilling destination and one of Italy’s treasures. Its beauty is beyond words and the feelings of awe and amazement it evokes are not easy to describe. Alongside checking things off your what to do in Venice lists, though, make sure you scratch the surface of this floating dream of a city and La Serenissima will reveal its soul to you.

Need an introduction to Venice? Join this tour!
Welcome to Venice: Walking Tour, St. Mark’s Basilica & Gondola Ride

72 Comments

  1. Really enjoy your article and can’t wait to see Venice following your suggestions and footsteps. I like your philosophy of traveling and will definitely come back to your blog for tips and suggestions. Only hope that you’ll write about more cities in the future…

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Diane, thank you so much for your kind words! You will have an amazing time in Venice, we’re sure. Sadly, due to our day job commitments, we are slow in publishing new content at the moment but we are determined to change that. So do keep coming back for more! :-*

  2. Pingback: Leaning Towers Of The World - The Famous And The Unexplored! - STORIES BY SOUMYA

  3. Pingback: Βόλτα με γόνδολα στη Βενετία: μια εμπειρία που δεν πρέπει να χάσετε – Travel Vibe

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      We’re glad you enjoyed our guide! You should definitely plan a trip to Venice some time soon.

  4. Sayandeep Mondal Reply

    All your photographs are amazing, I would love to visit Venice! To wander through the canals would be one of my favorites!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you very much! Just wandering around Venice is enough to fall in love with the city 🙂

  5. Sayandeep Mondal Reply

    THIS IS A GREAT POST. WOULD LIKE TO VISIT THESE BEAUTIFUL PLACES

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      We agree Claire! Venice is one of the most magical places we’ve ever been to and one visit can never be enough!

  6. WOW, you’ve exhausted everything anyone would love to know about Venice. It seems like a very beautiful city with lots of islands and a lot of amazing things to do. I’d indulge myself on the free walking tour as it’s a great way to learn about the city and I wouldn’t miss the famous gondola ride for anything.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Esther, thank you for your lovely comment! Indeed, the gondola ride is a unique experience and should not be missed!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Wow Sherrie you are so lucky to own a home so close to this marvel of a city! I agree, walking around and getting lost in the narrow alleys is amazing.

  7. I loved reading this post. It is so informative and thorough. I think it’s a perfect guide to plan a trip to beautiful Venice. I like that you have added a food and drinks guide too.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Puja! We are so glad you like our guide! We wanted to make it as thorough as possible so as to help travellers make the most of their trip to this fantastic city!

  8. Thanks for presenting a very helpful and detailed guide on Venice. I had spent only a day trip to Venice but now I regret that I could have done more. You have suggested rightly about spending at least 3 days here. Wandering around, talking a walk and crossing the bridges is my favorite thing to do here.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Yukti! Thank you for your lovely comment!I’m sure you’ll get the chance to spend more time in Venice in the future!

  9. This blogpost is great, so handy! I still need to visit Venice. My girlfriend already went there three times so hope she still wants to join me 😉 But I think this city will never get boring?! Saw videos about the flooding in Venice recently, looked very bad. So thank you for the tip!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Roxanne, thank you so much! I’m sure she can’t wait to visit Venice with you, so start planning! The flooding got really nasty this time but usually it’s not that bad, so no worries 🙂

  10. This view from the terrace is looking so cool. I think it is good enough of a reason to visit Venice again. I was there for a short time and covered the main sights.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      I’m sure you would snap some of those amazing shots of yours from up there Alexander 😉

  11. I absolutely loved this write-up despite visiting Venice several times. I love getting lost in Venice’s charming streets. Thank you for sharing, your article brought back a lot of nice memories

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Daniel! We are so happy to have reminded you of your own special Venice moments 🙂

  12. Venice is so stunning. I live nearby and it always fascinates me. Everytime I visit it, I discover a new stunning spot 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      You are so lucky Daniele! We wish we could visit as often as we would like too!

  13. So many great things to do in Venice, it’s much more than just the canals. Your food roundup looks great. I have a serious sweet tooth as well, so I’d be all over those desserts.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Paul, thank you very much! When you go to Venice don’t forget to try the gianduiotto then 😉

  14. I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your fantastic content on Venice and it’s going to be so helpful when we visit. Can’t wait to drink some prosecco and eat all the seafood! It really seems like a city that we could spend a lot of time exploring and getting to know.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Your lovely words are so appreciated Alex! We still can’t get over the prosecco and the seafood, they were amazing. The truth is that although Venice is a relatively small city, we could spend a lot more time there too.

  15. Love this post! so detailed and honest. I have kept venice off my list because of the effect of mass tourism on the place that has effect on the canals, and the overpriced restaurants. But some day, i might have to see this popular city for its charms.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you Jen, we appreciate your kind words 🙂 As you can see, there are ways to avoid the crowds as well as the overpriced restaurants so you should definitely visit Venice some day. It’s a city not to be missed!

  16. Venice enchanted me too with its dreamy feel as if whole city was floating on water. Love your fabulous post with stunning pics.

  17. I went there on my honeymoon (3 weeks in Italy) and loved getting lost in all of the alleys. Thank you for your comment on the traghetto. My husband insisted on riding one just so he could stand like a proper Italian man. He didn’t last very long standing. You brought back some wonderful memories with your post, and shared a lot of wonderful helpful information.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment Alison! We are extremely happy to have reminded you of such special moments of yours <3

  18. renata - www.byemyself.com Reply

    What an amazing post – so complete! I’m in Venice every other year for the Biennale, so I can confirm that you’ve covered it all pretty well. Next year I’m going back – cannot wait, since I love the city despite the destruction by tourism and most of all the horrible cruise ships 🙁

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much Renata! We’d love to be in your shoes and visit Venice so often. You are right about cruise ships but let’s hope that soon this issue will be addressed and the best solution for everyone will be found 🙂

  19. I really love your style of writing. This guide is well written, thorough, and extremely informative. Great piece!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much! We would love to repeat our trip to Venice as often as possible ourselves!

  20. I have been to Venice several times and it’s always a pleasure to go again and discover more. I agree with you, as nobody should visit Venice in one day.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      That’s right, Federica. There is no way anyone could feel the city’s vibe and take in its beauty on a day trip.

  21. Stunning photos! So nice to read a positive post about Venice for a change. I loved it when I went but that was a very long time ago, but seeing your photos, a return trip should be on the cards!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much Sarah! A return trip to Venice should be on the cards for everyone 😉

  22. I haven’t been to Venice yet but what I hear from other people is that they either love it or hate it – I guess I’ll have to find that out for myself. Definitely gonna bookmark your article for my future visit, it’s such a detailed guide! Thanks for giving pointers on where to have great local food and desert.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      We’re so glad you enjoyed our article and thank you for keeping it as a reference, Inna! I’m pretty sure that with a tiny bit of homework you are going to love Venice too 😉

  23. Can you believe that I’ve never been to Venice?? Been to Italy many times but only to Rome and to Tuscany Can´t wait to be able to visit Venice, hopefully soon. I am thinking about going next year. Definitely saving this post!!! Love Spritz and Pizza 😉

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much Esther! We’re glad you’re keeping our post for future reference :-* You should definitely plan a trip to Venice soon. It seems you are an Italy lover just like ourselves so you can’t miss a trip to this wonder of a city. Not to mention the Spritz that’s literally flowing across the city 😉

  24. This is an amazing guide to Venice! I’m glad you embraced the good and immersed yourself in their culture. Great tip on the best view from the department store. Can’t wait to make it here someday!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much for your lovely words Danielle! We always do our best to immerse ourselves in local culture wherever we travel but with Italy it comes naturally to us at this point. We hope you get to visit Venice soon 🙂

  25. So sad to hear that, like in many places, tourism is also causing some issues in Venice. Nevertheless, it looks like such a magical place to visit – and really, how many car free cities there are in the world?

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      The truth is that Venice suffers from the huge influx of tourists. But who can blame people for wanting to visit? It really is a magical place. As long as people start approaching Venice with a more sustainable-oriented mentality I believe that many of the city’s issues will be eventually resolved. And, yes, car-free cities should be protected at all costs.

  26. I visited Venice a few years ago but I didn’t have the time to go to Burano, and I’m sure I’ll do it the next time.
    Thanks for sharing all the tips I need to go back to Venice. Love it!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much Ferny! Make sure you have more time available during your next trip to Venice 🙂

  27. So beautiful! I was there 10 years ago as a student backpacker and I want to go back so badly! My favourite thing was to walk around until I was completely lost, then pull out the map and try and navigate my way out to the nearest gelato shop!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Not much has changed since your first trip: getting lost is enchanting but also inevitable, LOL! Time to start planning your next Venice trip, Amelia!

  28. Seems you had a great time in Venice, I just spent 1 whole day to visit Venice and Burano. And it was raining and cloudy, but it is still beautiful. Interesting fact about il Ponte dei Pugn, didn’t know about that.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      It was one of our best trips ever, actually, even though we were sceptical because of all the negative articles we had read before going. The story behind Il Ponte dei Pugni was indeed fascinating. We didn’t know about it either before joining the free walking tour 🙂

  29. I had no idea Venice was actually a combination of several small islands together! How interesting.
    And thanks for the tip about the flooding! Had no idea that was an issue there. Best not to go during that time.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Brittany! I’m very glad you found our Venice guide so interesting and useful. When you start planning your own trip there, feel free to contact us for more tips 🙂

  30. So romantic! I can’t imagine myself going there without a partner. Actually during my trip to Italy, that was the reason I haven’t visited there. Top secret:)

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey, thanks for sharing this little secret of yours with us! Actually, if I were you, I wouldn’t postpone visiting such marvellous destinations for that reason. After all who knows? By going solo you may end up meeting the love of your life there! <3

  31. Great guide- so thorough! Venice is at the top of our family bucket list. I know it is expensive- so you’ve got some great tips about where to stay!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Elizabeth! I’m very glad you liked our guide. Venice is a destination for all budgets, like any other. It takes a bit of planning and research and you can enjoy this wonder of a city without having to spend a fortune 🙂

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