Venice is a magical city unlike any other place that I have ever visited, but it’s individuality brings interesting quirks. I’ve compiled a few of my “lessons learned” that can help you have a smooth sailing (literally) trip to the city of Carnival and artisanal glasswork.
1. Do not expect the commutes to go quickly. With this, expect to spend around 2 hours getting to and from the airport. You can expect to spend around 1-2 hours on the water bus (Vaporetto), depending on what stop you are going to. If you want to expedite your trip, you can always book a water taxi. Water taxi’s cost anywhere between $110-180, so you are definitely paying for the convenience and time saved.
2. Do not pack heavily. Unless you have a porter taking your luggage to your hotel, you will be rolling your luggage through the bumpy (and quaint) streets of Venice. If you have an Airbnb, like I did, then a porter isn’t much of an option. Your best bet is to keep your luggage light so that your walk isn’t more difficult than it needs to be!
3. Do not expect to be lazy. Venice is a city of walking! Not everywhere is navigable by water taxi, so you will need to wear your comfy kicks and get ready to walk to wherever you want to see. This leads me to #4…..
4. Do not walk in the middle of the “street.” If you see pictures of Venice, it appears that it is a myriad of walkways throughout the city. However, these “walkways” are technically their streets. All road rules apply…stick to the right side to avoid getting hollered at by porters and delivery men. It’s important to remember that people live and function in the city, so it’s important to mind the culture and maintain order.
5. Do not only stay near Rialto Bridge or San Marco. These areas are beautiful and you must see them, but they are congested and you won’t get to see the true city of Venice if you don’t veer off the main path. Everyone who lives in Venice will tell you to “get lost” in the city (which you will most likely do without trying anyway). This is the best way to ensure that you can find restaurants without picture menus and support the local businesses that originally created the city of Venice.
6. Do not expect an American experience. Okay, so I don’t really mean American…but I do mean efficient in the sense that an American may expect. This city is a melting pot of tourists that have come far and wide. Everyone is meandering, taking their time (their on vacation), and there is definitely a lack of urgency...the term "Sunday driver" comes to mind! Take your time, enjoy the lapping of the water, ask for the bill when you are done (they won’t bring it until you do), and soak up the experience.
7. Do not sit down for a cappuccino in Piazza San Marco unless you are prepared to pay for it. Please do no misunderstand me here… as I am very supportive of anyone taking in the sites over a cappuccino on the piazza, but you just need to know that you will pay anywhere from $15-25 for a service fee. Despite the crowds, sitting in the piazza at night and enjoying a prosecco and the live music is still one of my favorite things to do.
8. Do not buy a cheap mask. This may sound weird…the masks are part of Venice, right? I had a fantastic tour guide that asked one favor of the group: don’t turn Venice into Disneyland. She asked us to support the local businesses, artists, and restaurants so that the cheap shops do not push out the authentic ones. If you buy a mask, the shop owner should be able to share how the mask was made, and maybe even allow you to get a sneak peak of their workshop.
Venice is a place like no other, but it can be overwhelming to some if you don’t get outside the hustle and bustle. The city, the people, and the ambience is truly beautiful and can be quite calming. To help you create the ideal Venice trip, next I will compile all of my tips that helped make my days in Venice so memorable.