Heading to Venice, or thinking about it? Read on for my Venice travel tips from my 48 hours in Venice earlier this year.
- Do whatever you need to do to enable mobile data on your smartphone without bankrupting yourself, because Google Maps is invaluable in Venice. Those twisting, turning, cute identical streets? Yeah, you will get lost. A lot. Sure, you could look like a tourist and look at a map instead (most of them are nonsensical, just a word of warning) but at least on your iPhone nobody will know what you’re really looking at.
- Skip the line. The queue for St Mark’s Basilica gets insane during the summer (the average queuing time is 45 minutes – not ideal in the baking heat or if you’re pressed for time). Did you know you can skip the line by pre-booking? I did this in the middle of July and it saved me a lot of time, and sweat.
- Linger in Dorsoduro. Escape the madness of San Marco and head to the quieter south western area of Dorsoduro instead for a taste of real, living Venice. With a youthful, relaxed vibe, Dorsoduro is an arty area, popular with students and seemingly has little art galleries round every corner. Dorsoduro’s hub is Campo San Margherita, a lively square that hosts a market during the daytime and attracts dog walkers, playing children and locals having coffee. At night it’s a local drinking hotspot and is arguably Venice’s liveliest place to be.
- Don’t spend €80 on a gondola ride. A gondola ride is a must, but if you are travelling solo it’s a) not much fun going on one alone and b) €80 for a thirty minute journey is madness. Do what I did and pre-book your gondola ride. This costs €32 and means you’ll be sharing with others who have also pre-booked, and who knows who you could meet on a romantic gondola ride!
- If you are short on time, stay in the heart of Venice. Especially if you are only in Venice for two nights. It may be less expensive to stay in Mestre or the Lido but for a true, magical Venice experience, avoid the mainland. The cost of transport and time taken to get to the sights would negate any savings anyway.
- Not into museums or churches? Avoid the usual tourist spots and head to the Lido instead for a bit of relaxing beach action. Alternatively, go to Burano Island, a photographer’s dream known for its small, brightly painted fishermen’s houses and lace making. Wander the quieter lanes and enjoy lunch while rejoicing in all the Instagram likes you’re getting.
- Wander around after dark. When the cruise ships have departed and the majority of tourists have dispersed, this is an ideal time to explore. Normally I would advise against wandering deserted streets at night as a lone female, but I did this in Venice and felt perfectly safe (Venice has a very low crime rate and there is very little nightlife to speak of). Stick to the main tourist areas if you’re worried but make sure it’s quiet enough so you can hear the sound of the canals lapping at the walls of the crumbling buildings.
Have you been to Venice? If so, what are your essential Venice travel tips?
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