Venice, which is located in northeastern Italy, is without a doubt one of Europe’s most beautiful gems. Entering the picturesque canals that connect the more than 100 islands the city is built on, truly feels like entering a different world. However, this fantastic experience comes at its price: during high season tens of thousands of tourists visit Venice every day, which makes it almost impossible to fully enjoy the magical city. Here are the ups and downs of paying a visit to Venice and a couple of tips that will guarantee you the best experience possible.
What is the best time of year to travel to Venice?
I have to admit, it’s way easier to recommend a time slot in which you SHOULDN’T travel to Venice. Between June and September dozens of massive cruise ships stop there every single day and unleash thousands of day tourists into the city’s alleys and canals. Under these circumstances it is absolutely impossible to enjoy a peaceful walk through the city. Unfortunately there is hardly any time of the year in which you don’t have to share the beauty of this city with many others but my favourite time slot to go there happens to be in October or March. The weather tends to be quite nice for a stroll through the city while the big tourist mob is yet to come or rather has just come to an end. Make sure to visit during the week and avoid the weekends to avoid even more fellow tourists.
Where do I stay?
There is no way to gloss over the following fact: Venice is extremely expensive. Unless you have the funds to stay in a beautiful hotel situated in one of the historic palazzos you will be pretty shocked when you are first looking for an accommodation in the historic city. One way to bypass the hassle of finding an affordable place to stay in the city is staying on the Italian mainland and taking the ferry to go into the city. Jesolo, for example, offers a variety of affordable accommodation, but keep in mind that the round-trip tickets to Venice can cost up to 20 Euros and the last ferry usually leaves the city at about 10pm. My favourite way to spend the night is at Hotel Dalla Mora, a reasonably priced hotel in the heart of the city with a magical view over one of Venice’s many canals. Staying in the city overnight has the advantage of you actually getting to experience Venice at night, when lights turn the city into a movie set and many day tourists have already left.
How do I get to Venice?
If possible, you should avoid coming to Venice by car, since parking in one of the garages or lots can cost up to 30 Euros a day. In the event of you finding a reasonably priced flight to Marco Polo Airport I would recommend you take the water bus from the airport to Piazza San Marco. The round-trip tickets are offered for 25 Euros and the 1 hour ride will provide you with a beautiful first impression of the lagoon Venice calls home. I have found that the most affordable way to travel to Venice is to do so by train; the railway station is situated pretty centrally and is the ideal starting point to explore the city.
What is there to do?
Don’t worry, this is not going to be a boring stringing together of the countless churches, museums and other historic buildings you can visit during your trip. Instead, I will recommend you get rid of your phone and your city map and just dive right into the madness. Even though at a first glance Venice seems to be quite confusing, I can assure you: it is almost impossible to get lost. Every piazza is marked with a sign that points the way to the most prominent landmarks, such as Piazza San Marco or Rialto Bridge. Finding your own way through the city will enable you to actually look behind the tourist facade and meet true Venetians mastering their daily lives. Don’t spend all your travel money on a terribly overpriced gondola ride; use the vaporetto instead. Take the water bus underneath the famous Rialto Bridge at least once and try to not freak out when dozens of passengers shake up the boat; that’s just part of the charm.