FMTC Affiliate Disclosure: Blond Wayfarer contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This disclosure pertains to all affiliate links.
Romantic Venice is a bucket list destination for many, many travelers around the world. And who can blame them?
Despite exploring much of Europe, I personally think Venice is one of the most unique and beautiful cities that I’ve ever visited in my life. Although very much on the beaten path, Venice is well-loved for a reason and an open-minded, relaxed traveler is bound to have a great experience.
On the other hand, believe or not, I’ve seen countless Reddit threads and forum posts asking for advice about their upcoming Italy trip, particularly whether or not Venice is worth visiting.
… I will always answer “yes” to that question, haha. For instance, I personally loved getting lost and finding quiet, picturesque canals that were relaxing even in the month of June.
In spite of my love for Venice, though, I understand how the city may not live up to one’s dreamy aspirations, especially without any preparation.
So it’s still very important to do research ahead of time. Small mistakes will add up, and if you’ve spent a lot of money for your Italian getaway, aggravation can boil over and fast. Best to avoid the bad feelings altogether.
To help, I put together a list of the most important things to know before going to Venice. By avoiding rookie mistakes, you shouldn’t have any serious problems, and will fall in love with Venice as much as I did.
7 Important Things to Know Before Going to Venice
For this guide, I tried to include things to know before going to Venice that would be relevant year round. Winter in Venice and summer in Venice are totally different scenes, and therefore, you need to temper your expectations to the seasons.
If you’re visiting Venice in summer, it will be hot and humid, and you need to prepare for extreme weather. I put together a Venice packing guide for June to help you. Sightseeing early morning and late at night is also a smart idea.
As for winter, Venice is more likely to experience flooding. Be flexible. Wear waterproof shoes if possible.
With all that said, here are the most important things to know before going to Venice. Any time of the year.
Pack Lightly in Venice
Don’t overpack. Trust me. Overpacking in Venice is a huge mistake and will cost you time, patience, and money. Ouch.
The main reason not to overpack has to do with Venice’s infrastructure. Venice’s streets are pedestrian only. No cars allowed.
You won’t be able to take a cab from the airport directly to your accommodation. You won’t be able to board a bus that weaves through the city’s narrow lanes. They don’t exist.
Therefore, packing lightly is smart from a physical standpoint, because you’re the one who will have to carry your bags to your hotel. Yup, you.
I saw so, so, so many tourists with huge and cumbersome bags in Venice’s hot and narrow streets. They looked uncomfortable and unhappy, especially since it was June and humidity was sky high.
Furthermore, if you take a water taxi from the airport to Venice, then you’ll likely have to pay extra for heavier bags. Venice water taxis do enforce weight limits on luggage, so you need to be careful and respect the rules.
Ultimately, bring a small carry-on suitcase and a backpack if necessary. You don’t want your bags to ruin a perfectly good vacation to Venice.
Essentials for Visiting Venice
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you value your feet, you won’t wear adorable high heels while you’re sightseeing in Venice. Seriously, just don’t. Instead opt for comfortable walking shoes. In summer, open-toed and pretty shoes work just fine.
- Crossbody Bag: I didn’t notice as many pickpockets in Venice as I did in some other Italian cities, but if it concerns you, then invest in a Pacsafe crossbody bag that will protect your valuables as you sightsee.
- Lightweight Rolling Suitcase: While pricey, Tumi makes my favorite luggage, and I love their international carry-on that is compact and easy to roll through the streets of Venice.
- Lonely Planet Guide Venice & the Veneto: Lonely Planet writes my favorite guidebooks. I firmly believe guidebooks still have a place in the world, even with travel content creators and ease of the internet. This city guide to Venice and the Veneto will help you find great accommodation, restaurants, and activities, and so much more.
- Reusable Water Bottle: You’ll feel dehydrated sightseeing in Venice all day, so a reusable water bottle is essential to stay health on your travels.
- Travel Insurance: Venice is safe, but it always pays to have travel insurance for overseas destinations. I always use World Nomads on my trips, and have never had any issues whatsoever.
- Wide-Brimmed Hat: Protect your skin in the hot Venetian sun! Don’t forget a lovely wide-brimmed hat to keep your face shaded.
Embrace Getting Lost
Don’t worry about getting lost in Venice. I understand losing your way, especially overseas, might feel scary, but Venice is a perfect destination to wander and explore all the small and winding alleyways.
Get lost, get lost, get lost. I promise that aimlessly wandering Venice is part of the experience. I did it!
I was alone in Venice for two days and even when I was jetlagged, I felt very safe switching off Google maps and exploring Venice’s museums, shops, squares, and more. No one ever approached me or bothered me, which was very refreshing.
I even discovered a beautiful little Murano glass shop, far from the big tourist sites, and purchased a small vase for my parents. I never would have found it if I was fixated on my phone.
Still feel overwhelmed about getting lost in Venice? Remember that you’re on an island and cannot leave Venice without stepping into water, haha. You can also ask shops and cafes for a business card, which usually includes a small map of Venice on the back.
Book Accommodation Actually in Venice
Spend the extra money to stay in Venice. I promise you that it’s money well worth spent.
I totally understand the temptation to avoid staying in Venice. For budget-minded travelers, basing themselves in nearby (and cheaper) Mestre is appealing due to its close location to Venice. However, I absolutely think you ought to opt for staying in Venice instead regardless of the additional costs.
First of all, you won’t have to waste time trekking in and out of Venice every single day. Instead you’re able to wake up and enjoy Venice in the peaceful morning hours before all the day trippers bombard the island.
And you’ll be explore to late, too! Venice at night is a treasure.
Furthermore, Venice is home to several small hotels and bed and breakfasts. You will find much larger and more institutional hotels on the mainland. I don’t know about you, but I love staying a more local and family-like accommodation when I travel overseas.
Ultimately, spending the night on Venice just adds to the magic of your vacation. I don’t think the evening atmosphere quite has a monetary value. You’ll just be so happy you did it.
Venice is rather expensive in comparison to other cities in the Veneto. And solo travel in Venice means you will pay more for a room. These three establishments had pretty reasonable prices, though, and very high rated reviews!
- B&B Patatina: This lovely and new bed and breakfast fully captures Venice’s romantic atmosphere, and is in a great location — only a few steps from Rialto Bridge. See prices on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com.
- Ca’ Riza: This small bed and breakfast is an absolute gem in Venice. It’s located in a quiet and laid back neighborhood, and offered some of the best breakfast options on my visit to Venice. See prices on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com.
- Hostel Combo Venezia: If you’re looking for a hostel, Combo is a fantastic option since it’s located right in the city of Venice rather than the outskirts or mainland. You can even pay for a beautiful canal view! See prices on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com.
Purchase Tickets in Advance to Avoid Lines
As a solo traveler in Venice, I didn’t want to waste my valuable time languishing in long lines, especially in the heat of the Mediterranean summer sun. No way.
Instead purchase tickets ahead of time. I bought my tickets for Saint Mark’s Basilica in advance, and was able to walk right in. Meanwhile, the line to actually purchase tickets was well over an hour long. Possibly two hours. What a waste of time.
I also bought tickets to see Doge’s Palace and again, I was able to walk right in with minimal fuss.
You’ll be thankful that you dodged the crowds by purchasing advance tickets. Do you lose a little flexibility? Sure. Is it worth it? Yes.
Watch Out for Aggressive Seagulls
I learned about aggressive seagulls the hard way. I had bought a delicious slice a pizza, with veggies on top, and as I walked across the square, a terrible shriek burst in my ears, and the pizza fell from my hands. A chubby seagull immediately nibble at the cheese and then flew away. Great.
Be cautious eating outside. I know it’s fun to snack in the canals, but keep your eyes peeled. The seagulls are no joke. They’re fast and determined and mean when it comes to your food.
Eat indoors. Or eat fast if you’re having lunch in a canal.
Accept Venice is Expensive and Caters to Tourists
Undoubtedly, Venice is an expensive and crowded city. Accept this fact going into your trip. At the same time, don’t come to Venice and then complain about the tourists and prices. I mean, seriously. What’s the point?
Venice is widely popular, but even so, there are some ways to “beat” the oppressive crowds.
For example, if you stay in the city overnight, you should explore early in the morning or later in the evening to see a more quiet and intimate side of Venice. By wandering down the small alleys, you will also eventually move away from the tourist crowds and discover hidden corners of the city.
However, accepting that you’ll spend a lot of money and see a lot big crowds will make your trip more manageable. You won’t ever have Venice all to yourself. Deal with it.
Always Have a Shawl for Bare Shoulders
Last but definitely not least, Venice’s churches are still rather traditional in regards to clothing. You don’t want to go underdressed and risk being denied entry. I mean, what a bummer.
The internet isn’t exaggerating about Venice’s dress code either. It is absolutely enforced. For example, as I waited in line to go into Saint Mark’s Basilica, I heard one of the staff tell incoming cruises that “this was a church, not a discotheque!”
Yes, in summer, Venice is hot and humid. Regardless, Venice’s churches, including the famous Saint Mark’s Basilica, require covered shoulders all days of the year.
Pack a shawl to cover your shoulders, and then stick in your bag once you’re in the sun again. Layers are crucial.
I hope listing these things to know before going to Venice helps you enjoy the picture perfect trip! By smartly traveling, you’re so much less likely to make critical mistakes on the road.