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10 Essential Venice Travel Tips for First-Timers

10 Essential Venice Travel Tips for First-Timers

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Are you planning a trip to Venice for the first time and don’t know what to expect? Keep scrolling to check out my top Venice travel tips for tourists!
This list of Venice travel tips was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you traveling to Venice, Italy and you’re starting to plan your trip?

That’s so exciting! There is nowhere else like Venice and the city packs tons of history and beauty in between its canals.

People from around the world know St Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal even if they’ve never visited. Venice is just so cinematic and so iconic!

It’s essential that you brush up on the top Venice travel tips for first-timers to make the most out of your vacation. Visiting a city with water instead of roads and a heap of other quirky traits is not like visiting anywhere else.

Lucky for you, this guide lays out all the essential tips for Venice that all newbies should know. It includes all the best attractions and logistical Venice tourist information so you will have a stress-free, enjoyable trip.

Let’s dive into all the Venice tips you need to know to plan the perfect Venetian vacation!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Venice blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Venice with kids.

Popular Venice Tours/Activities

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Awesome Venice Travel Tips for First-Timers

Planning Your Venice Visit

One of the main things to know about Venice is that while it’s a small city, there are lots of things to do there. Smaller cities are usually quicker to get around but those cities probably don’t have canals for roads! 

A useful piece of Venice travel advice is to make a list of your must-see Venice attractions. Make a second list of attractions that you’d like to see if you have time.

Image of a family posing in front of the Rialto Bridge for a Venice photography session
The Rialto Bridge is a popular Venice attraction. Photo credit: Marta with Flytographer

On your must-see list, you should include St Mark’s Square and the Basilica in the square, the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs

Taking a gondola ride along the Grand Canal should be on that list too! It’s one of the best things to do in Venice with kids!

On your second list, add some museums and churches like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute, and Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The Librairie Acqua Alta is fast becoming a popular bookshop to visit too. 

There are also several amazing prosecco wine tours from Venice.

Venice’s waterways and labyrinthine streets can be confusing. Give yourself enough time to get from place to place without stress. You are on vacation, after all!

How Many Days in Venice?

Around 2-3 days is enough to see Venice’s highlights without rushing. It can also be an expensive city to visit. If you only have room in your budget to tag a couple of days exploring Venice, Italy at the end of your trip then you should go for it.

I highly recommend adding a side trip to Burano when you’re in Venice! Photo credit: Owen Cheung

If you can spare more days, take day trips to some of the other islands in Venice’s lagoon. Burano and Murano are both beautiful.

Public Transportation in Venice

As you might’ve already guessed, Venice doesn’t have an underground subway system. It doesn’t have buses or trams/street cars either. It has waterbuses!

Famous water street - Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
Vaporettos can take you down most Venice canals, like the Grand Canal.

Waterbuses are called Vaporetto in Venice and they are not cheap. Single tickets can cost around €9.50 though you will save money buying tickets from a sales booth rather than onboard.

If you plan on using waterbuses a lot, consider getting an ACTV Water Bus Pass.

Image of two boys scanning tickets for the water bus in Venice Italy
My kids liked scanning the water bus tickets in Venice. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The vast majority of the other streets in the historic center are inaccessible by vehicles so be prepared to walk most places. Here’s a really good guide to Venice transportation options.

Private Transportation in Venice

Venice also has water taxis called Motoscafo. They are fancy and expensive but you may need to use one when you arrive and depart if you’re traveling with young kids and heavy luggage.

Water taxi on the Grand canal in Venice
There are tons of water taxis in Venice.

You can book a normal road taxi or hop on the bus from the airport to the city and then switch to a water taxi.

Be aware that some water taxis charge a difficulty fee if they have to turn down a particularly narrow canal to reach your hotel.

One of the best tips for Venice travel is to ask about this before setting off so you can weigh up your options. Riding in water taxis was a highlight for our kids.

Venice Tourist Tax

As of January 2023, Venice has begun charging a day-tourist tax for day-trippers. This is primarily for cruise passengers but includes all tourists that aren’t staying overnight in Venice. It’s around €3-10 per person, per day.

If you’re staying in Venice, this doesn’t apply to you. But another tourist tax does!

All tourists have to pay extra accommodation tax no matter where they are staying in Italy. This is around €1-5 per person, per night and the exact price depends on the quality of your accommodation.

Prepare for Venice to Flood

You heard that Venice is sinking, right? Well, sometimes it seems more imminent than others!

Pedestrian walkway with people with record high tide in Venice Italy
Pedestrian walkways are used during high tides in Venice.

Venice floods approximately 100 per year from October to January. They are usually only minor floods that last 3-4 hours during high tide and you’ll get a warning from local officials over loudspeakers before it happens.

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    Buy Traditional Souvenirs

    Great memories are the only essential souvenirs you need to take back home with you from a great trip. But if you want to pick up some traditional souvenirs, Murano glass and Venetian masks are perfect.

    Glass making transition in Murano island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy.
    Murano glass is one of the most coveted souvenirs in Venice.

    Don’t buy them from a tourist gift shop as they won’t be authentic. Buy them from an artisan workshop instead.

    These small workshops might not look like stores from the outside but most will have a small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it business sign. 

    All items made with Murano glass have a blue sticker on the bottom that indicates their authenticity.

    Book a Family Photo Shoot

    Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

    Walk on the Right

    One of the best tips for Venice, if you don’t want to annoy the locals, is to always keep to the right side of the sidewalk.

    Everyone walks around Venice and the walkways are narrow so this system is essential to not blocking foot traffic. 

    Invest in The Venice Pass

    If you want to know tips for visiting Venice on a budget, check out the Venice Pass. It’s ideal if you plan on visiting lots of museums and galleries as most are included on this pass.

    You can customize what you get with the card depending on what you want to do. You can also get all public transport included which could make it a really worthwhile investment. Check the latest prices.

    Pack Light

    You already know that water taxis can charge a difficulty fee if they have to travel down a narrow canal to get to your hotel.

    Small Suitcase on Travel Urban Background, Venice, Italy. Horizontal. Toning. Travel Vacation  Concept.
    You won’t want to lug too much luggage around Venice.

    But what if there isn’t a canal in front of your hotel? You’ll have to walk the rest of the way!

    Pack light enough so you can carry all of your belongings a couple of blocks. 

    Carry Change for Public Bathrooms

    Venice has plenty of drinking fountains dotted around the city and lots of public bathrooms. While the fountains are free, the restrooms are not.

    One of the most essential tips for traveling to Venice is that you’ll need to spend at least €1.50 in change every time you want to use them.

    Book Skip-the-Line Tickets to Venice Attractions

    Venice is a popular city and the most popular attractions can get extremely busy. Some of the lines to get into places like St Mark’s Basilica, for example, can be 90 minutes long.

    Saint Marc's Basilica Venice, Italy. Gorgeous western facade of St Mark's Cathedral symbol of wealth and power history
    A skip-the-line ticket is worth it for St. Mark’s Basilica.

    Even though attractions like St Mark’s Basilica are free to enter, it can be worth buying a skip-the-line ticket. You’ll have more time to explore Venice and your kids won’t get tired and fussy standing around for hours. Check the latest rates and availability.

    Money in Venice Tips

    Italy uses the euro and it’s a good idea to have cash on hand as well as credit cards. Most museums, hotels, shops, and restaurants take card payments but there will be some small kiosks that prefer cash.

    Dining in Venice Tips

    Venice is in the Veneto region of Italy and, like all of the country’s 20 regions, it is famous for certain dishes.

    Venice in Italy, Piazza San Marco with the Basilica of Saint Mark. Cafe tables and chairs in foreground
    There are tons of cool restaurants in Venice.

    Fish is king in Venice so meals like pasta in an anchovy sauce, risotto cooked with cuttlefish ink, and sardines are traditional here. 

    Unfortunately, those are not very kid-friendly dishes! Panini sandwiches are available in delis across the city and you won’t have a problem finding plenty of pasta dishes without fish.

    Bring cash if you need to split the bill. This is unlikely if you are traveling with your kids, but restaurants in Italy generally don’t split bills or accept multiple credit card payments.

    Get a Travel Adapter

    One of the most essential Venice travel tips is to bring an adapter to use your electronics in Italy. Most of Europe, including Italy, uses the type C socket which requires plugs with two rounded prongs. 

    Invest in one that also has USB ports so you can plug in multiple devices without needing several adapters.

    Italy also uses a different voltage so check that your travel adapter also converts voltage. This is the one we use!

    Safety and Awareness in Venice

    Venice has a surprisingly low crime rate for a busy city and this rate is far lower than Rome and Milan. Corruption and bribery among businesses and officials are the most common crimes and that’s not going to affect your vacation much!

    One of the most common crimes that affect tourists is pickpocketing in busy places. Some of the best top tips for visiting Venice and returning with all your stuff is to keep all of your valuables deep inside your backpack and don’t keep all your cash in your wallet. 

    Awareness is super important in Venice because one of the biggest dangers isn’t crime It’s falling into a canal! You might accidentally miss a step on a staircase or lose your balance. 

    Always keep your kids on the inside of the sidewalk or walk single file to avoid the edge.

    Travel Tips for Venice FAQs

    What should I wear in Venice?

    Venice has a moderately continental climate with cold, wet winters and hot, humid summers. Pack a hat, scarf, and umbrella if you are visiting in cold weather, and light, breathable clothes in warm weather.

    Venetians are very sharp dressers so leave the board shorts and hiking sandals at home! Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking on cobblestone streets and climbing in and out of boats. You will also need to dress modestly if you want to visit St Mark’s Basilica and other churches.

    Where are the best places to stay in Venice?

    Venice is made up of six islets: Castello, Cannaregio, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Marco, and San Polo. San Polo is the most central islet so try and stay as close to it as possible, but San Marco and Cannaregio are also good choices.

    This city has other great neighborhoods but since you are looking for Venice travel tips for first-timers, these are the best choices! You don’t want to spend your whole trip traveling back and forth in water taxis.

    Do you need to tip in Venice?

    Italians rarely tip in restaurants and when they do, it’s only when the food and/or service was exceptional. While it’s definitely not a requirement, Venetians have grown to expect tips from tourists. However, you only have to tip around €1 per person or roughly 10% of the bill.

    Venice Travel Tips for First-Timers Wrap Up

    Venice is a fantastic place for tourists to visit, but there are lots of things to know before visiting Venice to have the best vacation possible. 

    With this guide, you will now be able to navigate the canals, plan your itinerary, and dine like a Venetian. These Venice, Italy travel tips will ensure you have an amazing trip!

    Looking for more Venice travel resources? Check out the top things to do in Venice with kids, coolest hidden gems in Venice, how to spend 1 day in Venice with kids, where to stay in Venice with kids, how to spend 10 days in Italy with kids, tips for visiting Italy with kids, and where to find affordable photographers in Venice!

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