Venice is a magical, fascinating, and breathtaking place that continues to be one of the most visited in Italy. But what do you think? Despite how much information you have about the city, there are still some surprising facts. These are the top six things that we wish we knew about Venice during our trip there.
1. Even with the best maps in the world, you will be lost in Venice.
That’s all part of Venice’s charm. It’s hard to find something better than getting lost in a beautiful place. You don’t want to spend too much time seeing all the sights and get to every place. We had a lot of experience in Venice, fluent Italian, and an iPad with GPS-style Google Maps when we visited it in January. We still got lost. Constantly. Imagine the winding streets and medieval streets of the central Storico in Rome, Florence, and the obstruction of a canal.
We were struck by one particular fact: It’s almost always there.
It’s impossible to see or do a whole city in one day. This is even more difficult in Venice. If you have a short time and want to see as much as possible, you should either extend your time or take a tour. We’ve come to realize that a guide can be a great way to bring a place alive or give insider advice to it. But in Venice, a guide can also help you get from A to B. Seriously. (And if that seems sensible, you can check out our Highlights Tour with a gondola ride! ).
2. All these ferries are very expensive
Walking is the best way to travel around Venice. Sometimes, however, you just can’t bear it any longer. Venice’s charm is not to be missed. It’s just like any other city, except there are canals and boats instead of trains and buses.
Problem? These boats can be expensive. We don’t mean water taxis. The ticket allows you to travel on the boats for 60 mins, with switches included and costs EUR6.50. It costs EUR3.50 to take a traghetto over the Grand Canal.
This can quickly add up if you intend to use the boat as often as you would the metro in Rome. One thing we have learned is that most people will not use the Venice boats as often as they would the bus. This is largely due to the beautiful city of Venice, as well as its many restaurants and hotels. It is in its back streets, piazzas, and other places that the boats can’t reach.
You might take the boat more than once in some cases. If you have limited walking ability or your hotel is close to one of the ferry stops, consider purchasing one of Venice’s all-inclusive transport passes. These are valid for 12, 24, 36, and 48 hours or 72 hours or seven days. These are a great way to get the most bang for your buck. A 72-hour pass is EUR33 on the spot or EUR28.05 if booked through the website VeniceConnected. You must book at least seven days in advance to get the online discount rate. Remember, however, that this pass is not worth the price. To get a pass, you would have to pay per head and take the EUR6.50 boats at least five times. If you are like most people, you won’t be taking the boats as often.
There are a few other important things you should keep in mind when it comes to transport. Children under 5 years old travel free. The second is that, while there are no reductions for children under 5 (they still get the adult rate), there’s an odd option for youths between 14 and 29 to receive a reduced fare. You can get the Rolling Venice card at many locations around the city. The 3-day pass costs EUR4 and is only EUR18 with the card. You also get discounts at various locations in the city.
3. Legally, you can board Venice’s public transport system without purchasing a ticket…
As long as you notify the boat staff immediately and purchase a ticket right away, it’s okay. If the boat is “spot checked” for tickets, you could be fined hundreds of Euros. Also, make sure you validate your tickets every time you go through the yellow or white machines at the entrance.
4. It’s worth thinking about which restaurants you might like to dine at if you want to feel like a Venetian.
It is no secret that Venice has a high tourist rate. Tourists outnumber Venetians by a large margin — between 15 million and 60,000. This imbalance leads to the same thing: Cheap, authentic, local restaurants are replaced by more expensive, at best-mediocre, restaurants that sell “tourist meals” and “happy hour” (neither of which you would see in Italy’s most authentic trattorias). ).
You might find the best part about a trip to Italy is the food. Have a plan or at least some notes for Venice. Recently, we had clients say they didn’t do it… and ended up spending EUR40 per head or more on food that was so bad it was unpalatable. Another option? The other option? If you want to experience the best food Venice has, then don’t miss our Venice food adventure. It includes tastings.
5. Some boat trips to Murano may not be free.
Tourists will often be given a free ride to Murano to see the glass factories. These are usually free, but trouble can occur if you don’t end up purchasing any of the (generally very costly) glass.
What is the “free” ride? It might not be a round trip. You might instead be offered a ticket to board a regular boat… or none at all. You can avoid frustration and awkwardness by booking your own transfer. Or, you could take a water bus. The cost is EUR6.50 for numbers 41, 42, or 5, depending on the season. Colonna and Faro are the glass factories’ stops, while Museo is for the Glass Museum. We also offer a private boat tour to Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
(Check out our video below about life in the Venetian lagoon. ).
6. It costs more to sit down in a cafe in Venice than in any other part of Italy
This is something you may have heard before: In Italy, the price of coffee goes up when you order it at a café or bar. The price of the same coffee and the same cornetto will be lower if you order them both at the counter. This is why you will see many Italians at the counter.
The price difference in Venice is higher than anywhere else. You can expect to pay three- or four times the price standing for a seat at a cafe with a cappuccino. You decide to sit at a cafe near the Piazza San Marco. You can say goodbye to that wad of euros.
Some cafes add a large surcharge to their bill. It isn’t for servizio or pane e coperto… but it is for “listening” to the band that is playing at the tables. Avoid eating at tourist hot spots and always order your coffee at the counter to avoid these surcharges.