Venice is a dream destination for most people (and justifiably so), but this tiny place gets swarmed seasonally by people eager to explore — which means some basic rules on how to survive and make the most of your visit (without disrupting the locals) are a must. Luckily, our local Venice tour guides are on hand to help you navigate the scenic streets and waterways, discovering the best of Venice along the way.
The main international gateway in Venice is Marco Polo Airport, which is not situated in the city but on the mainland. To reach the city there are few options, depending on your budget.
The quickest but most expensive way to get you directly to the doorstep of your hotel (or at least to the nearest dock) is a water taxi. Beautiful boats glide on the water in about 25 to 30 minutes from the airport to the city centre at an average cost of EUR 100 to 120 depending on how many people and where you need to go. All water taxi offices are just outside the arrival hall.
The water bus from the airport is another option, operated by Alilaguna. The journey is about one hour to the city and it will stop in different locations. The average price is EUR 15 for a return ticket.
If you prefer to take the bus, there are two options to reach the city. One is public transportation line n. 5 Actv, and the second one is via a private company called ATVO. The price is the same for both, but the second one is a direct shuttle that takes only 20 minutes. Note: Remember that if you reach Venice by bus, your journey ends at Piazzale Roma (bus station) and from there you need to either take the vaporetto (water bus) or walk to your destination.
Venice is one of the most walkable cities ever, so in case you were wondering, yes you can walk basically everywhere in the city centre. To reach the islands or just to move faster around the city, we suggest you go for the water buses. Get the daily passes directly from the ACTV ticket offices at the vaporetto stops. Prices range between EUR 20 to 80, depending on the duration of the ticket. One-way or return tickets are also available.
Another useful means of transportation are the gondolas traghetto, larger boats than the gondolas you might be picturing, with two gondoliers, that are designed to transport people across the Grand Canal. You can find them at three different points of the canal, available from 7am to 6:30pm at the reasonable price of EUR 2 per person to be paid directly to the gondolier.
We suggest getting to the main tourist sites and museums of Venice early in the morning to avoid crowds. If you want to visit the Basilica, make sure to get the skip-the-line ticket online to avoid spending precious time in the queue, and for an aerial view of the city, ditch the bell tower in St. Mark’s (it gets busy by 10am), and instead head over to Saint Giorgio’s Island. The bell tower there also has an incredible view of Venice, with less or no line at all.
Venice gets really packed during high season, especially around midday. We recommend you disappear in the backstreets; wander the narrow calli (alleyways) of the Castello district towards the old Arsenal and discover hidden architectural gems like the Miracoli Church or the gracious garden inside the cloister of San Francesco della Vigna. Eat your way through the many traditional bacaros (small, local bars) in the Cannaregio district while visiting an old foundry or the workshop of one the youngest forcola (rowlock) makers. Don’t miss a visit to the Jewish Ghetto to learn everything about the different influences of the Jewish culinary tradition on Venetian cuisine.
During summer, escape to the minor islands, reachable by public transportation. Less known than Murano and Burano, Sant’Erasmo and Vignole are the perfect places for anyone craving some nature and serenity. You will find a couple of restaurants that serve local products and wine, with amazing views of the surrounding lagoon.
If you want some beach life, Alberoni in Lido is the spot to hit. Lido, a small island in the Venice Lagoon, can be reached in 20 minutes by boat from central Venice. The beach here stretches for over 10 kilometres and makes for the ideal spot to chill out, away from the crowds you might find at other beaches.
Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers day tours in Venice and beyond, all led by local experts who will give you a taste for local life in the city:
Cicchetti & Wine Tour of Venice
Wine + food + traghetti = Venice personified. Join this best selling Venice tour to dose yourself up on Venetian culture in the form of local food specialties and regional wines. It’s the Italian way!
Canal & Aperitivo Experience
Forget the gondola! Go local in a Venetian boat taxi that’ll take you through the city’s lesser known canals. View Venice from the water while riding past main sites such as Rialto and San Marco, and heading into the local neighbourhoods of Cannaregio or Castello. Finish it all up with an aperitivo of local wines and cicchetti at sunset.
Treviso Gourmet Discovery
Escape Venice and discover the medieval city of Treviso! On this wine-and-food-fuelled adventure, you’ll enjoy some local aperitivo, explore the Veneto countryside with its heartbreaking views, and taste some of the region’s most interesting local wines. Perfezione!
The Sweet Taste of Venice
Sweets lovers and coffee lovers alike will want to jump on this tour of traditional Venetian bakeries! Discover the secrets behind Italian caffè culture and taste some of Venice’s best desserts as you mingle with locals in Cannaregio and Castello.
Everyone will tell you that Venice looks like as it is out of a movie, and the list of movies about the city or shot here is longer than the Grand Canal. The “modern” Venice is the protagonist of movies such as The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Deep, or James Bond’s Casino Royale and in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Some of our favourites though, are two Italian movies: Venice, The Moon and You shot back in the late ‘50s, with the legendary Alberto Sordi. It gives you an idea of how the city appeared back then. Another pick is the award-winning Bread and Tulips, showcasing the real romanticism that the city embodies.
You cannot get into the real Venetian spirit if you do not know any reggae songs played by Pitura Freska, so we suggest giving the band a listen before your trip.
The most iconic book that depicts the essence of our beautiful city is Death in Venice by Thomas Mann; you will fall in love with the city even more — or want to visit as soon as possible.