We were lucky to get a REALLY great map at our Hostel that had some humorous but practical advice for those traveling in Venice:
” if you have coffee (1€) at a bar with tables and chairs you can use the bathroom free. If the bar refuses, note the name and street number and tell the local police the bar owner will be fined.
Big boats let out gas and harm the monuments please don’t arrive in Venice on a big boat.
Do not sit at restaurants with limited seating. No need to play by their rules if they don’t treat customers with respect.
Venice is a small city ( 6km x 4 km) and can be entirely covered by foot. In six places you can cross the Grand Canal by gondolas for the cost of 50 cents. You save money and don’t pollute. Don’t travel by water bus. They are expensive (6.50€ per person) and they cause motion that damage the city’s foundation.
It is not Venezia’s Fault but the private company in charge if trash removal who does not provide sufficient number on bins does not empty them as needed. Please do not throw trash on the ground.
Venice is not a beach. Do not walk around without a shirt or in beach wear.
Do not come in large groups. Besides paying much more this is the worst way to see Venice.
The town council and the church help the poor. The beggars in the city have turned “mendacity” into an organized and lucrative job. Do not give them money.
Fight the nuisance of street musicians they annoy restaurant customers and locals. Do not give them any money: they are unlicensed.
Don’t buy anything from street traders without stalls. The goods support organized crime and child labor.
If you take your health seriously don’t eat spaghetti with clams (alle vongole): they mostly come from polluted and carcinogenic waters.
Do not walk on the green spots on the banks of the canals: they are slippery.”
All of this is so very true and really important for your visit. On top of that I made some of my own observations about my trip in Venice.
Usually I am one to say ignore the locals, the water is fine but in Venice BY NO MEANS should you EVER drink any sort of water from the tap. The water is not good to drink and some buildings still have ancient plumbing (you can still see the old wells in each campo) and also well….when you live on an island….yeh the water is the only place certain things can go. Restaurants will always sell water in bottles so don’t be shocked when they serve it to you or refuse you tap water. Stock up on Evian at the supermarket if you know that you have a need for some agua.
It is one place that I must say has NO WHERE for you to sit so if you know that you will need a rest foresee bringing a tripod chair. They are easy to carry and will strap to your ruxsack very easily.
Forget a map. It is practically useless and your best bet is to let yourself get lost and see what you can find. You can’t get too far…it is an island you hit water one way or another.
Venice is basically a series of interconnected islands which today are almost indistinguishable from each other. A system of really tiny ally ways interconnect many campos or squares that are really the only ways of telling where you are because Calle San Marcos is actually QUITE far away from Piazza San Marcos and equally far from Campo San Marcos. One good thing though compared to cities like Paris the street signs are HUGE and easy to read. There are also some extremely helpful ( and obvious) signs that will point you in the direction of a popular place or campo so if you remember what campo you are near that can really help to orientated you.
So basically don’t be in a hurry to by ANYWHERE plan ahead at least 2 hours to get to you train. There is a wonderful little street right next to the station where you can get that last-minute gelato if you happen to get there early.
Crime is pretty low in the city, I mean where is a thief to go when you are totally surrounded by water and dead-end squares? but you should of course always be careful and aware of the people who are around you.
Don’t bring the kids! This is a place that you don’t want to chase them around in and strollers are 100% impossible in most places.
To those who come to Venice to party: you are in the wrong place. There are no clubs or large bars in Venice and nightlife is almost if not completely non-existent. The younger crowd in Venice will usually have private parties at home but if you are searching for a few bars that are open late go to Campo Santa Margherita you may have the luck of seeing a good 40 twentysomethings outside of the little venetian bars. Since the bars are so small everyone buys drinks and then brings them outside into the square. Best way to meet people: ask them what you should order to drink. They will be delighted to introduce you to “spritz” the local drink and something that the Venetians are proud to call their own. It is a mixture of wine, mineral water, and some sort of apero and it is very good but extraordinarily sweet and WILL make you feel like you head has been sat on by a 50 pound child the whole night.( apparently the “real ones” are also served with olives)
But all in all the nighttime is dead so start early in the morning and at night cook in your hostel, start a party there and you will make friends for life.
Venice is definitely a must for your tour of Europe but I wouldn’t say that it is a place to stay for more than two days. In less than 8 hours my friend and I had walked almost the entirety of the island and we were only in Venice for a total of 26 hours total. Venice is amazing just for the history and mystique that surrounds the culture. And if you can afford it you could leave with one of the most amazing masks you’ve ever seen.
This romantic city is a sight to see, a place like a dream, and it shouldn’t be missed.