Well Planned Travel

6 tips for visiting Venice Italy

Venice is one of my favorite places to visit. It is everything that it is billed to be. There is something about getting off of the train in Venice and walking out to the Grand Canal. Be warned that it is very touristy and very expensive but worth it. Venice is served by many tour groups who stay outside of the island and many cruise ships who just come in for the day.  So if you really want to enjoy the city, it is best to stay overnight and enjoy it after the day tourists have left. I also recommend if possible to go at off peak time. I have been to Venice in August and in the end of April and the experience in April was ten times better. It is less crowded, less expensive, not as hot and lastly, people who actually live in Venice will actually be there. You can get lots of information on the sites to see in Venice and I recommend you get a guide book before going, but I will give my tips for going to Venice that I have learned from visiting there.
Venice: Very crowded and very touristy, but worth it.

Venice: Very crowded and very touristy, but worth it.

1. Ride the Vaporetto #1 for the best experience of the Grand Canal. The vaporetto is Venice’s bus line that is a boat and #1 goes down the grand canal stopping at most stops. You can catch it right outside of the train station, but I recommend two things, one is take it from the train station towards the P. Le. Roma which it is one stop away going in the wrong direction. Wait for everyone to get off and then get a seat on one of the outside seats in either the back or front and ride it all the way to the end. I also just walk down to P. Le. Roma as well and get on there but sometimes there is a line. If I am not able to get a seat out side, I still ride it and wait until I get a good seat and then consider it the start of my ride. Rick Steves’ guide book on Venice has a good tour written out for what you are seeing on this waterbus route. It ends in Lido and unless you have a reason to go to Lido ( that is where the film festival is located), don’t bother, there are beaches on the other side of the island, but the island has little charm.  
Lido is a close island in the Venice Lagoon but not much to see except for the annual International Film Festival

Lido is a close island in the Venice Lagoon but not much to see except for the annual International Film Festival

I would also recommend buying a tourist card that offers unlimited rides on the Vaporetto.  Ride it at different times of the day and different routes because it gives you a really good view of the place.
Nothing is better then getting a seat in an outside area of #1 Vaporreti to get a view of the Grand Canal

Nothing is better then getting a seat in an outside area of #1 Vaporetto get a view of the Grand Canal

2. Go to Murano. Murano is a small island in the venice lagoon and I could not recommend it enough. It is famous for its glass making and I did buy wine glasses there and carried it in my backpack when I backpacked through Europe the first time I went to Venice, but I recommend it for the scenery. I call it a blue collar Venice. It is just as beautiful, you get the small canals but it has a feeling of people actually living there.I recommend taking the Vaporetto out there and spending a couple of hours walking around the island. It is a good place to get some food as well. There are less restaurants, but they feel less touristy and are less crowded. If you have more time, go on to Burano. It is farther out so I have not had a chance to get out there, but I hear it is even better.
The island of Murano is a highlight of visiting Venice.

The island of Murano is a highlight of visiting Venice.

3. Get lost in Venice. One of my favorite things to do in Venice is to get lost in it. You can get a good walking map in most hotels. I love seeing the little nooks and crannies of Venice. Lots of guide books have walking tours which I like to use as well. But have little agenda, take a smaller area and take your time, go into the little stores, churches and bakeries. Sit in squares and enjoy your day. Sometimes when we go on vacation to great places like Venice, we forget that we are actually on vacation. National Geographic has a couple of  walking tours  that look interesting. I would recommend printing them before you go and putting them in your pocket and just go for a walk without bring a big guide book.
Take your time and get lost in Venice, you never know what you will find

Take your time and get lost in Venice, you never know what you will find

While Venice is not known for food, wander around and you might find something you like

While Venice is not known for food, wander around and you might find something you like

4. Take the elevator to the top of the Clock Tower. I am not huge into go into the buildings at big tourist areas and especially not into going to the top of everything, but besides, the Eye in London, the Effiel Tower in Paris, the top of the Rock in New York there are few places that are worth it as the top of the Clock Tower in St. Marks Square. The view speaks for itself so here are some pictures.
St Mark's Square from the top of the Clock Tower

St Mark's Square from the top of the Clock Tower

You can't beat this view

You can't beat this view

Looking down the Grand Canal from the Clock Tower

Looking down the Grand Canal from the Clock Tower

5. See the city at night.  I never felt unsafe in Venice and the first time I visited there was alone in my 20s.  Of course always use wisdom and don't go into in dark places alone, but if you keep to the tourist areas it feels very safe.  The city feels like a different world at night.  I would recommend taking another ride on the Vaporetto and get off at different bridges and enjoy the view.
It is a different world at night. Do everything you can to try to see Venice after dark

It is a different world at night. Do everything you can to try to see Venice after dark

6. Lastly, it is very important to find where your hotel is located before making reservations.  If you have a rolling bag, now that you might have to walk a long way over bridges with steps.  I try to stay close to one of the Vaporetto stops or near the train station.  It is worth the extra money to stay somewhere where you don't have to carry your bags over long distances.
Along with the larger bridges you have to walk over, there are little bridges all over the place that you have to carry your luggage over to get to your hotel. Plan well!

Along with the larger bridges you have to walk over, there are little bridges all over the place that you have to carry your luggage over to get to your hotel. Plan well!

Have you been to Venice and have some tips or have questions, make sure you add your comments.
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