Europe

Venice, Italy Travel Guide

Few places in Europe, if not the world, are as romantic as the city of Venice in Italy.  World renown for its beautiful canals, breathtaking churches, and wonderful shopping and food, Venice is one of the most romanticized cities in the world.  After all, it doesn’t get much more romantic than taking gondola ride down the Grand Canal as the sun sets over Venice.

However, as much as people are familiar with Venice’s infamous gondola rides and the city’s beautiful canals, many people don’t know much about the city beyond that.  For instance, many people aren’t aware that the city is host to Mardi Gras, one of the Top Cultural Festivals and Events to Attend Around the World.

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In this guide, I am going to give you all of the information that you need to not only become more familiar with this wonderful city, but to plan your own amazing adventure to Venice.  I will cover the essential passport, currency, and vaccination information that you need to be aware of to visit Italy.  In addition, I will also outline accommodation options at different price points and several restaurant recommendations to assist you in your planning.  Finally, I will provide you with the top things to see while you are in Venice so that you can make the most of your trip.

At A Glance
Top Things to See
How to Get There
Best Time to Visit
Where to Stay
Where to Eat
Recommended Tours and Excursions
Photo Gallery

At a Glance

Before you head off on your trip to Italy, you should make sure you have made all of the necessary travel preparations.  This includes making sure you have covered all of the necessary passports and VISA requirements, have had the necessary travel immunizations, and so forth.  To assist you in making sure you are prepared, I have included some important information about visiting Italy for you to review below.

Passport requirements exist. See below for details.
Immunizations recommendations are listed below.
The official language in Italy is Italian.
The official currency in Italy is the Euro.

Passport Requirements

When visiting Italy, you must have at least 6 months of validity on your passport beyond the date in which you are planning on arriving in the country.  You will also need to have at least two blank passport pages in order to be processed into the country.  Presently, you do not need to have a Visa if you are planning on staying in the Schengen area of the EU for less than 90 days, but starting in 2021 American citizens will be required to get a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) authorization.

Travel Immunizations

There are not any immunizations that are required by law to enter Italy and there aren’t any significant risks for contracting Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid Fever, or other deadly diseases while in the country.  However, making sure you are up-to-date with your basic immunizations is always a good idea.

If you have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them, below are some general guidelines I can pass on to you from experience.

  • Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance, so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
  • Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
  • Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you.  This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultation will be covered by your insurance up-front.
  • Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them.  Walgreens is able to give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.

In case you are unsure of what travel vaccinations you might need, I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.

  • Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
  • Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
  • Rabies (if you are going to be working in close contact with animals).
  • Dukoral (gives you 3-month protection against travel diarrhea).
  • Flu Shot
Italy Passport and VISA Requirements
PASSPORT VALIDITY: At least six months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: 2 Pages Required
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Not required for stays of less than 90 days (changes in 2021)
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: 10,000 Euros or equivalent
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: 10,000 Euros or equivalent

Top Things to See and Do

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Venice is an absolutely beautiful city with no shortage of amazing things to see and do.  If you are planning a trip to Venice in the near future, I have listed some of my favorite things to see and do in the city below for you to review.  I would plan on spending at least a few days in the city in order to have all of the wonderful experiences I have listed below.

Admire the Splendor of the Grand Canal

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The Grand Canal in Venice is something that needs little to no introduction.  When most people think of Venice, their first thoughts are of gondola rides on big expansive canals within the city.  In Venice, there is no canal as big or as impressive as the Grand Canal.  At roughly 2 miles long, it is one of the major transportation corridors that are used to navigate throughout the city.

There are several vantage spots that you can use to admire and get photographs of the Grand Canal.  Arguably the best place to view the canal and get your photographs are from one of the four bridges that cross the canal.  I have included a map and descriptions of these bridges below for you to review.

Venice Grand Canal Briges Map

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Ponte della Costituzione A modern bridge with glass rails that opened in 2008.
Ponte degli Scalzi Nicknamed the “shoeless bridge” after barefoot monks that frequented, it connects the nearby train station with the Santa Croce neighborhood.
Ponte di Rialto Arguably the most famous bridge in Venice.  This shop-lined bridge sits on the canal’s lazy bend and has some of the most spectacular views of the Grand Canal.
Ponte dell’Accadmia This wooden bridge dates back to 1985 when the original bridge was replaced and connects the San Marco neighborhood to the Accademia Gallery in Dorsoduro.

Visit Doge’s Palace

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This beautiful Venetian-style palace used to be the home of the Doge of Venice, who ruled over the Venitian Republic before Italy became a unified country.  Turned into a museum in 1923, the Doge’s Palace can be toured by visitors to Venice to this day.  The palace is open Sunday thru Thursday from 8:30am until 9:00pm with extended hours on Friday and Saturday where it closes at 11:00pm.  Tickets cost 25 euro for adults and 13 euro for children under 14, students between 15 and 25, and those over the age of 65.

See the Beautiful Saint Mark’s Cathedral

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Arguably the most famous building in Venice, the Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica) is also a beautiful example of Italo-Byzantine architecture.  The church is located on the eastern side of Venice in Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) and is open to the public for masses and for tours.  When visiting the church, please be aware that no photographs are allowed inside the church and talking should be reduced to a whisper.

Stop at the Rialto Bridge

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The Rialto Bridge isn’t just another bridge over the Grand Canal, but is also one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.  The Bridge itself is beautifully designed and as an astetic appeal visually, but it also crosses the Grand Canal in one of the prettiest locations.  The bridge is arguably the most popular selfie location in the city as flocks of people visit the bridge to get their picture taken with the lazy curve of the Grand Canal in the background.

PRO TIP:  If you want to get a selfie on the Rialto Bridge, I would recommend waking up really early to get your shots.  Not only will there be less people to contend with for the prime photo spots, but you can also get some pretty fantastic sunrise shots (as the map below shows).

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Take a Gondola Ride Thru the City

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No trip to Venice is complete without taking a Gondola ridge thru the canals of the city.  What is one of the most popular forms of transportation within the city is also one of the most romantic things you can do in the city.  The tranquility of floating thru the city as you pass beautiful old buildings and pass under quaint arched bridges is an experience every visitor to Venice should have.  I have included a list of some of the most recommended gondola rides in Venice below for you to review.

Classic 30-Minute Gondola Ride
Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride
Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade

Check Out the Bridge of Sighs

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While the Rialto Bridge may be the most famous bridge in Venice, I would contend that the Bridge of Sighs is the most beautiful.  This fully enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and includes two windows with stone bars that look out over the Rio di Palazzo.  The bridge connects the new prison and interrogation rooms within Doge’s Palace, which explains both its beauty and design.  If you take a gondola ride, make sure you ask your gondola operator to take you under the Bridge of Sighs.

Have Lunch in Saint Mark’s Square

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What better way to enjoy Saint Mark’s Square and the beauty of Venice than to have lunch outside of Saint Mark’s Basillica.  If you like to people watch, then you will absolutely love having lunch in this location.  You are right in the heart of the action and can sit and watch the hussle-and-bustle of Venice as you enjoy a drink and some food.  Two restaurants that are located right in Saint Mark’s Square are Caffè Florian and Caffè Lavena.

Go to the Top of the San Marco Campanile

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San Marco Campanile is the bell tower for Saint Mark’s Cathedral and is one of the most visible landmarks on Venice’s skyline.  However, as beautiful as the tower is to look at, the views of Venice from the top of the tower are absolutely breathtaking.  You can really appreciate the beauty of this historical city from a bird’s-eye view.

Buy Some Beautiful Glass in Murano

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If you are looking to purchase a suveinier or two when in Venice, I would strongly suggest that you think about making a trip to the island of Murano to shop for some of the stunningly beautiful glass that they make there.  The hand-blown glass vaces, figurines, and other beautiful items are stunning and make excellent keep-sakes to remember your time in Venice.  If you want some recommendations on where to start your shopping, TripAdvisor has a wonderful guide on the Best Shopping in Murano.

Visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute

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Know around Venice as simply the Salute, the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute is a Roman Catholic Church.  While it isn’t quite as beautiful or as famous as Saint Mark’s Basillica, it is a beautiful church that is well worth touring.  If you would like to visit the church, make sure you check the offical website for visiting hours.

How to Get There

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If you aren’t familiar with Venice or where it is located, it sits on the Northeast coast of Italy, just south of the Italian Alps and across the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia and Croatia.  If you are planning on flying into Venice from outside of Italy, there is a major international airport that you can fly into in Venice that is located on the mainland of Italy.

If you are visiting from another city in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, you can access Venice by either train or car.  To assist you in deciding which option is best for you, I cover both of these options below.  No matter how you travel to Venice, the only way to access the actual city from the mainland is by water taxi.  I provide you with some information on how to access the water taxis and which route they follow below for you as well.

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Getting There By Train

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If you are planning on visiting Venice from elsewhere in Italy or Europe, traveling by train is probably the best option available to you.  The train system in most of Europe, including Italy, is very good and very reasonably priced.  To give you an idea of how long it will take to get to Venice from elsewhere in Italy, I have provided a map below that outlines some of the estimated travel times from other large Italian cities.

If you are going to be traveling to a number of different destinations within Italy, I would consider getting an Italian Rail Pass.  While this will not get you onto any of the country’s privately operated trains, it will cover you for any train on the Italian State Railway (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiano).  However, you will want to keep in mind that you will need to book a reservation on most of the trains that you take in Italy.  In addition to the cost of the rail pass, you will need to pay a small fee to book your train reservations.  For more information, including estimating costs, I would recommend checking out Rick Steve’s excellent guide on the Italian Rail Passes and Train Trips.

Venice Train Map

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Getting There By Car

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If you are planning on traveling elsewhere in Italy or Europe and you would prefer to have the flexibility of having your own vehicle with you, I have included some information below on how to get to Venice from some of the other large cities in Italy.

From Milan From Turin From Bologna
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From Florence From Rome From Naples
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To get to Venice by car, you will take the highway A4 autostrada that runs east-west across Northern Italy.  This highway connects the major cities in Northern Italy, such as Turin, Milan, Verona, and Venice.  You will exit highway A4 at Venezia-Mestre and follow the signs for Venezia – Centro Storico.  This will take you to Via della Libertà in Mestre.  From there, you will keep following the signs for “Venezia” and centro storico until you get to the major causeway over the lagoon called Ponte della Libertà. I have included a detailed map below for you to review.

Map of Parking in Venice

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On the other side of the causeway is a large square called Piazzale Roma, which is the major bus terminal in Venice and a turn-around spot for cars.  This is the only spot in Venice that is accessible by car and the place in which you will need to park your car while you are in Venice.  From here, you will need to rely on water taxis and gondolas to get from place-to-place within Venice.  There are three main parking lots where you can park you car, which I detail below for you to reference.

Public garage on Piazzale Roma View on Map €23.40–€29 per day
Private garage on Tronchetto View on Map €21 per day
Public lot at S. Giuliano View on Map €12 per day

Getting a Water Taxi

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No matter how you plan on getting to Venice, you are going to need to use a water taxi to get your bags, as well as yourself, to your place of accommodation once you arrive.  If you are flying into Venice or taking a train to the city, you can catch a water taxi from the Lido S.M.E. station that is on the mainland of Italy.  From there the water taxi will take you to the docking station that is closest to your hotel or hostel.

If you are planning on driving to Venice, you will need to park your car, as I outline in the driving section above, and then catch a water taxi at the Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto station.  From here, the water taxi will take you to the docking station that is closest to your hotel or hostel.  When you are finished with your stay in Venice, you will want to have a water taxi take you back to the same station so that you can pick-up your car.

City of Venice Water Taxi Map

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Best Time to Visit

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Average Temperature (°F)

The best time of year to visit Venice from a temperature standpoint is the summer months of June thru August, as this is when daytime temps are warmest and the evening temps aren’t cold.  However, this is also the busiest time of year in Venice, which means you will have a lot more crowds to deal with.  In the winter months of December thru February it can get quite cool in Venice, but the number of visitors in the city is typically the lowest.

Average Precipitation (Inches)

The city of Venice gets a decent amount of rain throughout the year with the wettest month being November and the driest month of the year being February.  If you are looking to avoid the summer crowds and the rain and cold temps, I would suggest looking at the months of April, May, September, or October.  The late spring and early autumn have the best combination of nice weather and sparse crowds out of all the months of the year.

Where to Stay

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If you are planning to spend a number of days in Venice, which I would strongly recommend as there are so many wonderful things to see and do in the city, then you are going to want to find accommodations within the city.  To assist you in finding the accommodations that are right for you, I have included a map and list of some of the most recommended accommodations in Venice at different price points below for you to review.

Venice Hotels Map

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Smartholiday ($)
Backpackers House Venice ($)
Hotel Guerrini Venezia ($$)
Casa sulla Laguna Venezia ($$)
Cà Santo Spirito ($$$)
Cà San Giorgio Relais & Suites ($$$)
Palazzo Odoni Venice ($$$$)
Hotel Filu’ ($$$$)
Ai Mori d’Oriente Hotel ($$$$$)
Hotel NH Venezia Rio Novo ($$$$$)

Where to Eat

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As is true with much of Italy, the food in Venice is absolutely fantastic.  If you are a foodie, you are going to love trying all of the amazing restaurants in the city.  To assist you in planning some of the culinary adventures during your stay, I have included a list of some of the most recommended restaurants in Venice for you to review below.

Venice Restaurant Recommendations
Restaurant Cuisine Type Cost
Arcicchetti Bakaro Italian, Wine Bar $
Ristorante Alle Corone Italian, Seafood $$$$
Ristorante San Silvestro Italian $$ – $$$
La Bottiglia Wine Bar, Street Food $
Cantina Arnaldi Italian, Bar $$ – $$$
Pako’s Pizza & Pasta Italian, Pizza $
Ristorante Centrale Italian, Pizza $$ – $$$
Riviera Italian, Seafood $$$$
Impronta Italian, Seafood $$-$$$
Osteria Alla Ciurma Wine Bar, Street Food $

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In addition to being a beautiful city, Venice is also a very active city.  No trip to Venice can be complete without taking a cultural tour or excursion to truly appreciate everything the city has to offer.  If you are looking for a tour or excursion to take while in Venice, I have included some highly recommended tours for you to review below.

Skip the Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour
3-hour Venice Small-Group Food Tasting Walking Tour
Small Group Venice Food Tour: Cicchetti and Wine
Venice Carnival Mask-Making Class
Excursion to Murano and Burano Including a glass of wine
Private gondola ride off the beaten path in Venice
Venice Street Food Tour with Local Guide with Food Market Visit
Rialto Market Food and Wine Lunchtime Tour of Venice
Venice Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Local Guide
Lamborghini factory Tour half-day from Venice

I absolutely loved my time in Venice.  It is such a beautiful city that it makes photographing it extremely easy.  Below is a gallery of just some of the beautiful pictures I was able to take while visiting Venice.

Venice, Italy

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5 replies »

  1. Fantastic post. We currently have no plans to return to Italy, but if we ever do, I’m quite torn about Venice. I haven’t been (the husband has), but I’ve heard just so many bad things about it being overrun with tourists (naturally, we’d have to go in the busy summer months). I guess I don’t need to worry about it now… just thinking out loud.

    • Thank you!! Yeah, it is definitely one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. The crowds can be pretty insane. We went in late October and the crowds weren’t as bad, but I know people who have gone in the summer and said the crowds were pretty bad.

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