Are you thinking of visiting Venice soon? Looking for travel tips before going to the city is a good idea. You’ll get to know the main tourist attractions, like Piazza San Marco, San Giorgio Maggiore, and the Grand Canal. But knowing what to avoid doing in the city is also advisable. We’ve been to the place several times (well, maybe more than a couple), and we’re happy to put our experience to good use. So here’s a list of things not to do in Venice.
Don’t go to Venice just for the day
Too many people go to Venice just for a few hours, or sometimes they stay until the evening. This is a terrible mistake. Remember that many people get to Venice by train or cruise ship, which means travel and going on lines can take up a good chunk of your time. You won’t be able to maximize your visit and enjoy the other sights on your day trip. Worse yet, some tourist attractions can close down if your visit coincides with a severe case of acqua alta.
Instead, we suggest spending at least a night or two to appreciate this city’s real magic. Venice at night is a completely different place when the sun goes down. The lights over the water and old architecture give the city ethereal quality, creating an enchanting, even romantic atmosphere for tourists. It’s perfect for going on a gondola ride under the moonlight. The city is also much less busy at night than during the day when most tourists wander around.
So spend the night in Venice. We promise you won’t regret it.
Don’t bring giant bags
Bringing heavy luggage when you visit Venice is not a good idea. To reach any hotel in the city, you will have to walk up and down many steps, and go over at least one or more bridges.
The best option is to leave your big luggage at one of the many bag deposits in the city, then bring a small backpack that’s enough to cover one or two nights. Alternatively, you can hire a porter that carries your bag from the station to your hotel, but this will cost you quite a bit.
Don’t forget to buy skip-the-line tickets
Like any Italian major tourist city, you should always buy skip-the-line tickets for the attractions you want to visit in Venice. If you don’t buy the skip-the-line tickets in advance, you will spend hours waiting in line, or worse, the attraction you really want to see might end up being sold out. This is particularly true for places like Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile di San Marco, and the Doge Palace.
Don’t wear flip-flops around Venice
Venice is a very old city, and efforts to preserve its cultural identity mean that it doesn’t have a lot modern features like smooth sidewalks. Most city streets (called calle) have very uneven surfaces, and you’ll also have to contend with bridges with many steps.
Exploring Venice will require a lot of walking. For this reason wearing flip-flops, shoes with high heels, or any uncomfortable footwear is a terrible idea. You will risk tripping and hurting yourself — and it could ruin your holiday. For this reason, the best shoes to wear in Venice are comfortable walking shoes that fit well.
Don’t eat at touristy restaurants
We feel like this should apply to other places, not just Venice. If a restaurant offers a menu turistico, turn around and look for somewhere else to eat. That place is one of the city’s notorious tourist traps. You won’t find good, authentic Italian food there. Another hint to spot a tourist restaurant is to check the menu. If they offer every possible Italian dish from spaghetti to carbonara to lasagna, to even pizzas and burgers, chances are that it is not an authentic Italian restaurant. It is a good idea to check the reviews on Google before picking a place to eat. Stay away from anywhere that has below four stars.
And lastly, you will have to pay a lot more for eating or drinking at places near major tourist landmarks, like Piazza San Marco. Those spots are prime locations, after all.
Don’t forget to eat the local food
Like any other place in Italy, Venice has its own special dishes, and it would be a shame to visit the city without trying some of the typical Venetian food. Venice is a city on the water and has an incredible seafood dish tradition. Some of the most famous include crab, squid ink pasta and baccala (salted cod). The city is also famous for cicchetti. These are the Venetian equivalent of tapas, which are served mostly during lunch. You can choose several different cicchetti, with seafood or meat, or vegetables, and enjoy them with a great glass of local wine. This is probably the best way to have lunch in Venice.
Don’t stick by the usual attractions
Venice is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it has some incredible attractions. Yes, everyone should visit the Doge Palace, San Marco and the Grand Canal. But Venice has so much more to offer! In fact, every bridge in Venice is a postcard in its own right. For this reason, we strongly suggest you visit areas of the city that are off the beaten path. Once you have seen the famous landmark, start walking around the many narrow streets in the city, enjoy the views and soak in all the beauty the place has to offer.
Don’t forget to buy the Vaporetto pass
Vaporetto is the equivalent of a city bus in Venice. When you visit Venice, you should definitely buy the Vaporetto (or water bus) pass for the full duration of your visit. Getting the pass will allow you to get on and off the Vaporetto and reach many city areas. Also, some areas of Venice, like the Grand Canal, are only visible from the water, and you won’t be able to see them without a pass. You also won’t miss the next thing that we’ll discuss, which is:
Don’t forget to visit Murano and Burano
The two islands of Murano and Burano in the Venetian lagoon should definitely be a part of your visit to Venice. Missing it makes your visit feel incomplete. You can witness the ancient art of glassblowing in Murano, and stroll around the many glass stores on the small island. Burano, meanwhile, offers the sights of its beautiful and colorful houses, which is its main tourist attraction.
Don’t feed the pigeons
There are a few things in Venice that are forbidden. One of these is feeding the pigeons. A lot of people want to take a photo in San Marco’s Square feeding the pigeons, but this is no longer allowed, and doing so will earn you a hefty fine.
Don’t swim in the canals
It shocks me that we even have to mention it, but some people need reminding. So, here you go:
Don’t. Swim. In the canals.
Swimming in the canals is extremely dangerous. The water can be quite polluted in some places (imagine swimming there in hot weather — yuck!), and gondolas and motorboats are moving around. If that’s not enough to deter you, then taking a dip in one of the canals is also against the law. A few years ago, a couple of German tourists were caught swimming under the Rialto bridge and were given a hefty fine of €350 each!
Don’t sit and eat on the ground
This might sound a bit strange, but the city of Venice doesn’t want tourists sitting around eating. It does sound unsanitary with other tourists stomping around the place. And we guess the city council wants tourists to eat in restaurants rather than perching somewhere in St. Mark’s Square The city of Venice fines tourists between €100 and €200 for this kind of infraction.
Don’t buy souvenirs from street vendors
This is expected, but let me reiterate it so we’re clear. Souvenirs from street vendors are usually overpriced, and the quality is, well… not as you’d expect. You don’t want to leave the city with low-quality souvenirs. Instead, consider going to one of the local artisans and buying something from there. For example, if you want to buy a mask, tons of shops offer masks “Made in Venice.” Not only that, you can even book a lesson so that you can paint it yourself. We did this just a few months ago; it was a lot of fun!
Don’t be rude to the locals
One of the most important things not to do in Venice is to be rude to its people. The locals are proud of their city, and with thousands of tourists visiting Venice every day, it goes without saying that emotions can sometimes get heated — just like the weather.
Take it easy. Enjoy the city. Take things slowly, be polite when talking to locals and other tourists, respect your surroundings, and you’ll enjoy yourself more.
It might seem obvious, but keeping Venice clean and preserving its beauty is important. So please, throw your garbage in the trash can! Leaving garbage on the street or, worse, chucking them in the canal is not only gross — it’s also against the law. The police will fine you up to €350 if you’re caught.
Don’t forget to have fun!
And finally, don’t forget to have fun! Venice is a magical city, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time no matter what you do. Some of our favorite things to do include taking a cheap gondola ride, getting lost in the narrow alleys and streets of the city, exploring all the hundreds of little bridges, and taking the Vaporetto to some lesser-known areas.
Oh, and, if you happen to see us in the city or elsewhere, don’t hesitate to say hi! We’ve met a lot of you on our recent trips, and I have to say that we’ve enjoyed meeting all of you. A big shout out to our friends and viewers in the States, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and worldwide.