Things To Know Before You Travel To Venice

If you’ve been following my Instagram account, you’ll have caught a glimmer of our trip to Venice.  I can say without a doubt; it is one of our favourite destinations that we have traveled to.  I was truly blown away by its rustic charm, grand beauty and picturesque canal setting.

If you’ve booked a trip already or are planning to visit in the future, here are some top tips that are handy to know before you travel.

Hotels

  1. Italian star ratings do not match up with the UK/US star rating system.  A 4* hotel in Venice will not have a pool, and may not even have a lift. A 4* on one side of Venice may differ from a 4* on the other side (or even down the street!)  My biggest piece of advice is to take the star ratings with a pinch of salt, and read the reviews.  I looked through social media accounts on all platforms, checking tags and hashtags, as well as looking through Trip Adviser.  (For reference, we stayed at the Hotel Marconi).
  2. Be prepared to pay a city tax.  Many hotels like this to be paid in cash when you check out.  We paid €3.50 each, per night.
  3. A room with a view will cost you!  We looked at booking a canal view, but for 3 nights it was going to cost us an additional £450 on top of the bill total for a standard room rate.  I did read a number of reviews for various hotels where people had experienced booking a canal view, but at check in were told it was no longer available.  But I did also read many say they had an unexpected room upgrade – so if you’re looking to book a canal view, check for this in the reviews.
  4. When reading hotel reviews, I found many hotels had separate buildings or were in a partnership with other hotels.  Guest reported being moved to other hotels, or into a separate building at check in.  If you check through the reviews, you can usually find if this is an issue quite quickly.
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Enjoying our Juliet balcony from room 202 at the Marconi Hotel

Saving Money

  1. If you’re visiting Venice for more than a day, you’ll likely want to see the palaces and museums.  You can purchase varying priced multi passes that emit entry into the main museums.  We purchased the full package (at €35 each), it allowed us entry into the 12 main museums.  It was money well spent.
  2. Gondolas are not cheap! A day ride (which lasts for approximately 25 minutes) will set you back €80, a night ride will cost up to €130.  But there are ways to do this whilst not taking out a second mortgage!  You pay per gondola, not per person; you can share a gondola with other tourists and then split the bill between you.  If you want to get that cute Instagram picture without breaking the bank, then you need to visit Libreria Acqua Alta.  Its great hidden away bookstore; it has a full sized gondola inside filled with books, as well as baths and canoes, and a staircase made of books!  Out the back of the store on the canal, they have a gondola that you can sit on free of charge.  If you’d like to see Venice by water for cheaper; you can take the water bus.  We paid €20 each for a day pass.
  3. If you’re planning on getting the water bus to various locations (Murano Island, the Lace Museum etc), you’ll likely want to purchase a full day water pass.  At €20 a pass, this can quickly add up in cost if you’re staying for several days.  A lot of Venice is doable by foot, so I’d recommend planning all of the boat related destinations on the same day.
  4. Eat inside!  There is a service charge for eating outside – this is usually printed at the bottom of the menu.  Each restaurant we ate at had a service charge of 12% on top of the total bill.
  5. If you’re trying to keep the cost down, but you want to eat real authentic Italian food; try to avoid eating in the main squares or immediate surrounding areas.  We spent our evenings exploring Venice by foot, so we stumbled across many reasonably priced places to eat out of the heart of the city.
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Taken on the gondola outside Libreria Acqua Alta

Things To Watch Out For

  1. In New York, it is people dressed up encouraging you to take a picture with them.  If you happen to do this, you’ll be expected to pay a few dollars for the privilege!  In Venice, it is men with plastic roses – they are everywhere!  They usually hand the girl two roses, pay you some compliments and then ask the guy to pay a few euros.  You’re in Venice, the city of romance, so they’re banking on the fact that you will pay.  If you want to avoid this, say no as they walk over as they can be quite forceful with putting it into your hands.
  2. The other thing we notice was in St Mark’s Square – the men with pigeons!  If you stand still for more than a couple of seconds, you’ll find bird feed in your hands and a number of birds sitting on your arms!  If you take a photo, or stand for too long with the birds on you, you’ll be expect to pay for this service.
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St Mark’s Square

Other Handy Tips

  1. If you’re planning on visiting St Mark’s Basilica; make sure you’re dressed appropriately.  It is required that your shoulders, stomach and legs are covered (you can wear shorts and skirts of a modest length – no minis!)  You could potentially be stood in the queue for a considerable amount of time, to be turned away at the entrance.
  2. Comfortable shoes are a must!  There is so much to see by foot; we walked 27.5k by mid afternoon on our second day.
  3. Bag drop services are a frequent thing at attractions.  If you’re visiting the museums, galleries, palaces, basilica or other major attractions; you will asked to leave large bags in their bag drop.  This is usually a free or €1 refundable locker service.
  4. If you travel to the Murano Island – you can watch them create glass sculptures.  We visited the main factory straight off the boat; there are others further up the side of the island, but we found this to be the most impressive.  I expected it to be a huge facility, with a large production line; it wasn’t!  It was a small facility, where the men made everything by hand, one-by-one.  We watched them make a glass horse in 2 minutes flat, and a cat in just 1 minute!  It’s incredible to watch.
  5. If you’re travelling with children; I will be honest, it isn’t the most pram friendly place.  There are a lot of bridges that have stairs up and over them, and many of the buildings don’t have lifts.  If you have twins and a double buggie; the streets are narrow (wide enough for the buggie), but not necessarily wide enough for someone to pass.  If you’re planning to travel with children; I highly recommend slings or baby/toddler carrying backpacks.

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Without a doubt, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities we have visited.  If you’re going soon, planning on going in the future or have been before; I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on my latest Instagram post.

Elisabeth

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Prices are subject to change; the prices listed in this post are accurate at the time of publication.

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