Venice Travel Guide
My personal tips
Venice is a unique city, and for this reason, it’s good to learn a bit about it before visiting.
HOW TO GET TO VENICE
First of all, you should know that Venice is divided into two parts: the insular part (the city built in the middle of the lagoon that we all know) and the part on the mainland (which includes various municipalities, including Mestre). Be careful when booking your hotel as there is a big difference between Venice Island and Venice Mestre on the mainland.
PLANE: By plane, you can arrive at the VCE Marco Polo airport (closer) or at the TSF Antonio Canova di Treviso airport. VCE > Venice: 30min by bus or 40min by boat (Alilaguna) TFS > Venice: 70min by bus
TRAIN: Venice is connected to all major Italian and some European destinations, Venice Santa Lucia station is located on the island, and when you get off, you will find yourself directly in the historic center of the city. Since “Venezia Mestre” station is located on the mainland, be careful not to confuse them. To purchase train tickets, you can go to the Trenitalia website or the ItaloTreno website.
CAR, MOTORCYCLE AND BICYCLE: Yes, you can also arrive in Venice by car. The island of Venice is connected to the mainland with a bridge called Ponte della Libertà (when you cross it, be careful of speed cameras). For bicycles, there is a convenient bike path that runs alongside the road. The real problem is parking; the only place where you can leave your car is Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto, and there are several paid parking lots, often full on weekends.
TAXI: There are two types of taxis in Venice. The classic car that connects the mainland and the airports, and the Water Taxis, beautiful wooden boats that allow you to move around the city or towards the Marco Polo airport, but the fares are much higher.
WHERE TO STAY
I highly recommend staying on Venice Island. There are many new and affordable accommodations in Mestre on the mainland, but they will force you to take public transportation every day and endure a journey of about half an hour by bus. One of the things I love most about Venice is moving on foot, think of getting out of your hotel or BnB and already being in the heart of this beautiful city.
HOW TO MOVE
On foot, everyone in Venice moves on foot, wear comfortable shoes and explore, get lost in the calli (in Venice the street is called calle). Don’t stare at Google Maps, if you are in doubt where to go, “follow the crowd,” and to understand in which direction you are going, look for the yellow signs that are at some of the main intersections. Be respectful of people moving around the city, stay to the right as you walk, and don’t stop in the middle of intersections. Between the narrow streets of Venice, imagine your body being the size of a car in a normal city. Would you ever park your car in the middle of a busy intersection?
I recommend walking in Venice, but if you need to take public transportation, you can take the ACTV vaporetti, the local transportation company. The single ticket is very expensive at €9.50, but you can also buy daily tickets or tickets for several days. If you stay in Venice for a long period, you can purchase the Venezia Unica card for the cost of €100. It will allow you to buy tickets for €1.50 for five years (a nice savings).
Venice is a very safe city, you can walk around peacefully even late at night. At most, you may encounter someone a little tipsy (you don’t drive a car in Venice, and this sometimes leads to having an extra drink). Be careful of pickpockets on the vaporetti and at public transportation stops or train stations. They are not dangerous, but don’t get distracted and keep an eye on your wallet or bag. In general, it is a very peaceful city, but it is still a tourist destination that attracts millions of people each year, and there are always a few thieves around.
WHERE TO EAT
Most restaurants are geared towards tourists, you can recognize them from the pictures of the dishes displayed outside or in the menu. There are still a few historic places left, but there are some really good ones. Below is a list of my favorite places.
Zanze XVI – former Michelin Star
Local – Michelin Star
Bistrot De Venise
Glam – Michelin Star
Gio’s – Beautiful view on La Salute
Ca’ d’Oro Alla Vedova – Typical local cuisine
Osteria Ai Promessi Sposi – Modern Venetian cuisine
Osteria da Carla – Near Piazza San Marco, modern cuisine
Bepi Antico 54 – Typical Venetian
La Tecia Vegana – Vegetarian/Vegan
Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele – Italian
Osteria La Zucca – Italian and Vegetarian
Osteria Giorgione da Masa – Venetian-Japanese fusion
Orient Experience – Middle Eastern cuisine
Marciano – Italian Pub
Devil’s Forest – Irish Pub
Rossopomodoro – Italian Pizza Naples Style
BACARI: CICHETI AND OMBRE
A Venice tradition is cicheti (small bites of food, similar to Spanish tapas) and ombre (small glasses of house wine, usually sold for 1 or 2 euros). You can find them in Bacari (a sort of wine bar), here is a list of my favorite places:
Cantine Aziende Agricole – Great wine selection, ask for Claudio, he doesn’t speak a good english but he’s amazing
All’Arco – My favorite bacaro in venice, very crowded during the weekend, amazing fish cicheti
Cantina Vecia Carbonera – I love the atmosphere, good cicchetti
Da Fiore – One of the few good bacaro near San Marco-Accademia Bridge
Enoteca Schiavi – Great wines, good cicheti, very Venetian, my first choice in Dorsoduro area
Cantina Arnaldi – Good wines, good cicheti
Adriatico Mar – Good wines, good cicheti, very small
La Bottiglia – Great focaccia, good wines
La Rivetta – one of my favorite bacaro, inexpensive, frequented by locals
Forget about the nightclubs until 5 am, but there are some areas more frequented by young people and with many bars like Fondamenta della Misericordia and Campo Santa Margherita.
I often hear people talking about scams in Venice, like high restaurant bills, an espresso charged at €10, and so on. As a city with a high emphasis on tourism, these things can happen. Let me make a distinction and then give you some advice.
If you are sitting at the bar in one of the most beautiful squares in the world, Piazza San Marco, you are having a coffee, sitting at a table, and enjoying the sunset. There is a small orchestra playing for you. Do you think it’s worth spending €10 for a coffee? Having said that, if you stand at the counter in the same bar, you will pay only €1.50 for the same coffee. It’s just a matter of choice. In Venice, space is very limited, and in most bars, you will pay a surcharge if you sit down to consume instead of consuming at the counter.
LOCAL FESTIVALS (SAGRE)
During the summer, there are several local festivals (Sagre). The entire city of Venice gathers in the square to eat together, there are stands serving food at low prices, large tables in the open square, and some concerts. The dates vary, but you can easily find them by searching online: Sagra di San Giacomo dell’Orio, Sagra di San Francesco della Vigna, and Sagra di San Pietro di Castello.