If you’re eagerly anticipating travelling to Venice for the first time, the following travel tips might just come in handy. It is a truly wonderful destination to visit, but, like anywhere, it has its own quirks.
1. Pre-book your airport transfers if you’re travelling at the height of the tourist season. Things can get busy at that time and starting your holiday pushing, shoving and jostling for space on public transport might not be the ideal introduction to ‘La Serenissima’.
2. Look carefully at where your hotel is vis-à-vis water access. There’s an assumption that everywhere in the city has direct canal access, whereas in fact that’s not the case. If you take a water taxi or similar, remember that it will only be able to get you as close to your hotel as the canals permit. So, you might end up dragging your luggage through the streets. Incidentally, that’s even more of an issue if you take a water bus (vaporetto).
3. Think twice about using the bus/rail option for airport transfers when travelling to Venice. There’s nothing actually wrong with it – apart from the fact you’ll be loading and unloading your luggage four times rather than twice. There are certainly more convenient options.
4. At Marco Polo Airport, some visitors travelling to Venice get confused by the directions offering access to water buses, water taxis and airport transfers. If you’ve pre-booked you should get full “find us at” instructions, but if you haven’t, be clear which method you’re choosing. Private water taxis will be, as you might expect, typically very significantly more expensive than other options.
5. Never get aboard a water taxi unless you have explicitly and very precisely agreed beforehand (with the owner or a professional booking company – not intermediaries such as hotel porters) how much it is going to cost and where exactly (that’s exactly!) it will drop you. Also, be sure you agree whether the price you’re being quoted is for the taxi hire entirely or a price per person. Be aware that there are some scams and attempts to rip off unwary tourists.
6. In the city itself, the preferred method of getting around is by foot, so take some good comfortable walking shoes with you.
7. Don’t regard gondolas as a method of transport when travelling to Venice. They’re a fantastic and worthwhile tourist experience for a few minutes on the canals, but if you ask them to take you any distance, well, be prepared to dig deep into your financial reserves! They’re also slow and not practical for getting around quickly.
8. Remember to stay cool when in queues and aboard the water buses. By ‘cool’, we mean in terms of temper. Across Italy as a whole, orderly queues aren’t always respected, and that can be exacerbated by lots of tourists from other cultures where queuing as a concept doesn’t really exist. So, all things taken together, it would be prudent to anticipate some queue jumping around you and jostling at times – but don’t take it personally. Protect your position but don’t get angry!