Is Venice Worth Visiting? Plus a Few Venice Travel Tips

Is Venice worth a visit

I have been to Italy on six separate occasions, and each time I wondered “is Venice worth visiting”? The first two jaunts I avoided Venice like the plague. I had heard from travelers and Italians alike that Venice is way overrated. The city of canals was supposedly smelly, crowded, and expensive.

On my third trip to Italy, I just could not avoid it any longer. I had to see what all this fuss was about for myself.  So, in the middle of February, we took a nine hour bus across the country to get to the city.  We didn’t know what to expect. As our train pulled in I knew we were either going to love or hate Venice and soon would know if Venice was worth visiting. Here’s what we found in Venice, things to do, and a few of my top Venice travel tips so you can fall in love like we did.

Is Venice worth a visit

Is Venice Worth Visiting?


Before I go into too much detail, the answer is yes. Venice is absolutely worth visiting. When I first went to Amsterdam, the Dutch were boasting that they had more canals than Venice. I’m sorry Dutchmen; as awesome as Amsterdam is no Venice.

“Wow, this is exquisite,” was the first thought that popped into my head when I saw the Grand Canal for the first time. However, this thought never went away during our whole stay in Venice. The beauty of the canals never got old; it truly is something out of this world.  If someone were to ask me now if they should visit Venice, I would say absolutely, Venice is worth visiting. But then I would ask them:

“When are you planning to visit Venice?”

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Venice is said to be crowded and expensive. After speaking to the locals and touring Venice first hand I would say that the time of year you plan to visit Venice crucial.  We unexpectedly went there in the middle of February and hit it right with prices and with crowds.  However a simple Google search of “Venice crowds” yields photos of the mass amount of tourist that flock to Venice every summer. Having the city to yourself is one of the many advantages of traveling during the off season.  We also found great deals on accommodation in the shoulder season.

Is Venice worth a visit

Things to do in Venice

Now that you’ve decided when to visit Venice it’s time to make the most of your trip.  Venice is made up of 117 small islands that are all linked by bridges. One of the best things to do in Venice is to wander around and get lost.  The best way to get around Venice is by foot. There are no cars on these islands. So no road rage maniacs or loud motors ruining the peace. The sounds of the Venice streets are completely blissful.

There are many things to do in Venice besides take a gondola ride.  The whole pensolon (municipality) of Venice is divided into 6 boroughs: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo, and Santa Croce. All have charming places to visit and delicious eats and drinks. Here are some attractions and activities that make Venice worth visiting.

Is Venice worth a visit
1. Liberia Acqua Alta in the Castello district

This hidden bookshop/library was a unique find for us. It is off the beaten tourist path and tucked away in the Castello District. Many hours can easily be spent finding new and used books.

2. Ca’Macana in the Dorsoduro district

Mask shops pretty much rule the streets of Venice, but most of these are cheap imported masks marketing to tourist. Ca’Macana is a fabulous genuine mask shop in Venice that actually make all their own products. You can even find masks used in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut here, as this is where they were made. The nice shop owners allowed us to have a lot of fun by letting us try all the masks on.

3. St Mark’s Square in San Marco district

No trip to Venice is complete without a visit to St. Marks Square in the San Marco district.  This is the main public square in Venice and boasts stunning architecture from the Byzantine era.  Here in St. Marks Square you can also find Cafe Florien; the oldest cafe in the world.Wondering how to order an espresso? Read our coffee guide to Italy.

4. Rialto Bridge in San Polo district

It’s hard to miss the bridge that connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo. Take a walk on it, it is the first dry crossing of the Grand Canal.

Things to do in Venice - Alta Acqua Liberia

Venice Eats & Drinks

Venice gets a bad rap for Italian food.  Eating pizza in Venice is discouraged, as wood-fired ovens are banned from the island. However, we did find great and inexpensive local fare. Here are a couple noteworthy Venice eats.

1. Bacareto Da Lele

Perfect local wine and cicchetti shop. The place is tiny and there are no seats inside but the wine is flavorful (and cheap) and cicchetti makes for a midday snack.

2. Osteria Al Squero

Another great option for cicchetti. You can mix and match here as the different cicchetti options are endless. Small shop but there is enough room to sit inside or at the bar.

3. Gelateria Nico

A perfect option for mouthwatering Gelato with a great view. Located around the corner from Osteria Al Squero.

4. Tre Mercanti

For the best tiramisu in the city head to Tre Mercanti. A lovely specialty shop with a decadent collection of original tiramisus, macaroons, and wine. Standing room only so doesn’t come with sore feet.

5. Have yourself a Spritz

A Spritz Veneziano is a wine-based cocktail served as an aperitif in Northeast Italy. You can’t miss the endless signs for them around Venice. Our favorite Spritz was located at Bacareto Da Lele for a mere €1.50.

Is Venice Worth Visiting

My Top Venice Travel Tips to Remember


Get up early or stay up late

Venice is her best before the crowds. Personally, I love getting up and seeing Italian cities come to life as the sun rises. It will start to get busy through the Venice streets by 10, and those crowds will stick around till after nightfall.

Don’t be fooled by restaurants

There. are. so. many. bad. restaurants. in Venice. Full stop. Venice has never been part of the “amazing world-renowned food” clump that the rest of Italy is in. That’s not to say you can’t get good food out in Venice, just recognize the signs of bad touristy places. Is an employee waiting outside the restaurant calling people in? Avoid. Is the menu in 20 different languages? Avoid. 

Do your research, ask around, and look at reviews before choosing a place to eat. I also like to look at menus before I commit to sitting down so I know the prices, as Venice can get very expensive.

Is Venice worth a visit

Re-consider the gondola ride

Riding in a gondola while a gentle Italian sings you sweet nothings through the Venice canals is definitely a bucket list item. Just be aware that gondola rides cost 80 – per half hour! That singing man? Well he cost extra as well. If you do decide to enjoy a gondola ride in Venice, just be sure you actually enjoying it. About 80% of the people I see the gondolas are on their phones either Instagramming, taking countless photos, or just browsing? Kinda pointless in my opinion.

You’ll get lost

It’s not a matter of if, but when you will get lost through the streets of Venice. Just accept it and marvel in the rich history and beauty of this Italian city. There really is nowhere like it on earth!

Buy glass in Murano

Murano glass is world famous. It is special, unique, and very expensive and one should travel to the island of Murano if they are interested in this glass. Watch out for the imitations all over Venice. If it’s cheap, then it’s fake.

Wear good walking shoes

If you plan on exploring in Venice, you’ll be walking almost everywhere. Make sure you are wearing comfortable walking shoes for your days out.

There are grocery stores

Venice is filled with local vendors, cheese shops, meat markets, and produce vendors. If you are in need of a supermarket to do some more heavy duty shopping, Venice has those as well. Co-op and Conad are two of the big ones.

Venice Travel Guide

Venice is Worth Visiting!

Between walking the endless bridges, gorging on Cicchetti, and drinking ourselves “spritzy,” we could have easily spent more than a week visiting Venice. Venice is certainly a floating city stuck in time and she is worth every second you can give.


Transport To and Around Italy


Getting to Italy has never been cheaper with budget airlines such as RyanAir operating out of many Italian cities. If you are flying from a different continent the main hubs are Rome, Florence, and Milan.

Once in Italy, the best way to get around is via train. For long-distance routes, it’s best to book beforehand with Trenitalia and reserve a seat. If you are traveling shorter distances it’s also possible to show up at the train station a buy a ticket there. Or get around Europe with a Eurail.

We’ve rented a car numerous times in Italy and it’s a great way to get around on your own schedule. An automatic rental car can go for as low €15 a day in the low season up to €45 a day in the higher seasons and will ensure you get to all the best places in Italy. Knowing how to drive a manual car will often get you cheaper rates in Europe. If you’re traveling as a group it is worth your while to hire a car for your trip.

We traveled around Italy for one week and paid about $300 for a car rental in Italy, which was a pretty decent deal in my opinion! I generally like to check comparison sites so I can get the best prices. My favorites to look at are:

Rental CarsAutoEuropeDiscover Car Hire

Things to do in Venice - Alta Acqua Liberia

Where to Stay in Venice


Airbnb

Every time we visit Italy we stay in at least one Airbnb. Most apartment rentals in Italy feel very Italian and staying in someone’s home can enhance your travel experiences. To feel more at home, we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code hereOr take this coupon for your first stay!

Get Your Coupon Here!


Things to do in Venice - Rialto Bridge
The Gritti Palace, Venice

This hotel is arguably the best hotel in all of Italy. It is an institution and occupies one of the best spots on the Grand Canal in Venice. The palace is situated directly across from Santa Maria Della Salute one of Venice’s greatest churches and an incredible sight. Via private jetty, guests can avoid the tourist crowds on their way to the hotel.

Visitors will have a hard time finding what to draw their attention to in the sumptuous palace because even the frescoed floors are masterful works of art. Once you’re able to lift your eye off the floor you’ll find marble-clad walls, priceless paintings, and original antiques from the palace of a former Doge of Venice. There is hardly a better or more fitting place to experience Venice than from The Gritti Palace. Our first time in Venice we even tracked down the hotel to see the famous interior.

Agoda.com Booking.com Hotels.com


Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

The Hilton is one of the best properties to stay at in Venice. It’s set along the banks of Giudecca Island and was once a former flour mill. Now it is a beautiful Venetian masterpiece with the largest spa in town.

Agoda.com Booking.com Hotels.com


Other Places to Stay in Venice

Hotel Antico Doga: This is a 12th century property just 300 meters from Rialto Bridge. It’s not as fancy or expensive as Gritti Palace, but it’s still one of the best and highest rated properties in the city at an affordable price.

Hotel Antico Doga: This is a 12th century property just 300 meters from Rialto Bridge. It’s not as fancy or expensive as Gritti Palace, but it’s still one of the best and highest rated properties in the city at an affordable price.

B&B Art Dreams Venezia: This is the first place we stayed on our first trip to Venice. It was affordable, comfortable, and had a fantastic location. Great for those on a budget.


Plan and Pack for Italy


Book a tour!

Sometimes it’s nice to not have to do the travel planning and thinking!

ViatorGetYourGuide


Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!

Check Rates


Italy Guide Book
Guide Book

Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.

Get Guide Book


Camelbak
Hiking/Daypack Backpack

You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while you’re traveling around Italy. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak.

See our favorite hiking backpacks here!


Beach Packing List Sunglasses
Sunglasses

Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun in Italy. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.

We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.

See Sunglasses


Traveling in Italy
Sunscreen

Skin cancer is for real, even in Italy! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Italy. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.

We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.

Purchase Sunscreen


AllBirds
Travel Shoes

If you’re wondering what travel necessities to bring to Italy then good walking shoes should be your top concern.

I love my Merrell Moab Ventilators and Allbirds for travel, I’ve been going strong in them for two years! Check out my other recommendations on women’s shoes, and the best men’s travel shoes.

Men’s Allbirds Wool RunnersWomens Allbirds Wool Runners


Things to Know before you head to Italy
Activewear

There are many outdoor activities in Italy (Dolomites, volcanoes, and hilltop towns), that require some activewear to enjoy. So, when you’re wondering what to wear in Italy consider packing at least one active outfit. Not to mention all of the carbs you’re going to need to burn off!

My favorite brand of activewear is AlalaAlala makes top quality yoga pants, sports bras, and comfortable tops.  If you’re planning on doing a hike in the Dolomites make sure to get a good hiking backpack.

Alala


Best Down Jackets
Down Jacket

I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me when I’m traveling in the winter, fall, or even spring, even in Italy. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything outside. Mine came in particularly useful in the Dolomites.

Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded JacketPatagonia Down SweaterREI Coop Down Jacket)

Feathered Friends


Packable Rain Jacket - Arcteryx Women’s Beta SL Gore-Tex Jacket
Goretex Rain Jacket

We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy a number of times. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof and really a great travel rain jacket. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.

Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.

Arc’teryx


Traveling in Italy
Kindle Paperwhite

I love real books, but for traveling it can be easier to carry a lighter and more compact item like a Kindle. Plus, then you can download new books on the go!

Kindle Paperwhite


Best Travel Water Bottles
Waterbottle

Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourist that buys plastic water bottles in Italy. It’s a waste of money and plastic!

Grayl Waterbottle


What to wear in Italy
Sun Hat

It gets sunny in Italy, and unless you’re walking around museums you will be outside most of the day. Make sure to protect your face with a nice sun hat.

Sun Hat


Traveling in Italy
Delsey 24″ Spinner

Delsey makes my favorite hard side luggage and after five years of travel around the world, they have yet to let me down. Plus their bags look incredibly stylish, which is essential in countries like Italy. Many of their bags have heavy duty wheels, TSA accepted locks and two full packing compartments with tie-down straps and a zippered divider. If you want something different, check out our other favorite carry on luggage pieces.

Delsey Top Sellers


Best Travel Towel - REI Micro Lite towel
Travel Towel

Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the Italian beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.

Travel Towel


Traveling in Italy
Adapter

Remember that Italy uses both the  “Type L ” Italian adapter and the Europlug. Many adapters are interchangeable, so make sure you find a good one like the one I have to keep you charged.

Get an Adapter


THANKS FOR READING!

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About the Author

Natasha

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Natasha is a five-foot blonde that believes she was made short so she could fit in air, train, car, and bus seats comfortably. She believes in watching every single movie nominated for an Oscar and loves all animals. Natasha has a passion for environmentally friendly and sustainable travel. Natasha recently made a move to Canada and resides near Banff National Park in Alberta and loves new adventures in the mountains. Natasha's favorite countries are Italy, Iceland, Greece, Japan, Mozambique, and South Africa.

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