The beautiful canal-laden city of Venice is an absolute delight to explore. Literally rising out of the water, its unique location makes it unlike any other Italian city. Here are four things every first-time visitor to Venice needs to know.
Boating is a way of life
We’ve all heard about the famous gondola rides, but the waterways are not just for smitten tourists looking for a romantic evening. Cars are almost non-existent in Venice, so water taxis and ferries are the main mode of transport. Home to more than 100 small islands, hopping on a boat at some point is a guarantee. In fact, a Grand Canal cruise is a must, allowing you to sail the main lifeline of the city, past the exquisite and historic palaces and churches. If you plan to spend more than a day or two exploring the city sights, it may be worthwhile purchasing a multi-day transport card.
Getting lost is part of the magic
Those magical winding waterways of the city are just the start of navigating your way around Venice. The city is packed with narrow medieval laneways that meander in and around the canals, sometimes seemingly without logic, but that is all part of the charm. Google maps will help but embrace the opportunity to get lost and use it to discover various hidden treasures dotted throughout the city. See if you can find the narrowest street called Calletta or Ramo Varisco, measuring only 53cm wide at chest level – just don’t visit after you’ve had a big Italian feed.
Seek and you shall find authentic Italian restaurants
You’re in Venice, naturally you want to taste traditional Italian cuisine. However, not every restaurant in town is catering to the locals. Most of the places around St Marks Square will be serving pricey meals to the millions of tourists who flood in every year. Where possible, avoid eating in the tourist hotspots but rather go where the locals go. Do your research beforehand or ask the locals for their suggestions and you are guaranteed a better meal at a better price.
It’s not the cheapest city
(but there are plenty of easy ways to save money)
The first way to save money is don’t sit down when you have your coffee. You’ll notice plenty of locals sipping their beverage of choice standing up. The luxury of sitting could have you paying three or even four times the price for your cappuccino. The ferries cost money too, so pack comfortable shoes and walk everywhere you can. Enjoy your iconic gondola ride during the day, as prices often skyrocket after 7pm. Finally, visit the city during the Northern Hemisphere winter, which is generally considered off-peak tourist season, and also book your tours and tickets in advance.