With its romantic canals and unique architecture, Venice is a classic city that tourists flock to in groves to fall in love. Spend time wandering through the streets, taking in the distinct Italian culture, and savoring seafood tapas that you won’t find anywhere else in Europe. While many tend to fly in and out of this town during their Italian tour, it is best to slow down a bit and soak up the pace of Venetian day to day life.
Geography & Demographics
Population- 263,996 people
Food & Culture
Currency: Euro (€) 1 USD = .77 EUR
Movies to Watch: The Tourist, The Italian Job, Summertime
Key Phrases: Per favore- please, Grazie- thank you, birra- beer
Safety Precautions: The crime rate throughout Italy is moderate, but generally only involves petty street theft, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching. Thieves generally work in groups, so be mindful if a stranger comes up and starts talking to you out of nowhere. A common trick they use is to have one guy “accidentally” spill something on you, and while he helps you clean yourself off, his accomplice empties your pockets clean. Also, be mindful of groups of children encroaching on you, they aren’t as innocent as they appear.
Plane. There are two major airports that serve the city: the Marco Polo, which is the closest option, or the Treviso, which is popular amongst budget airlines. Regardless of which airport you fly into, the best way to travel into the city center is by bus, as the ferry option easily costs €100 or more.
If flying in to the Marco Polo airport, take the ATVO shuttle bus, which takes you into the center in about 20 minutes for €3. You can purchase your ticket at the ATVO ticket window in the arrivals hall of the airport. If you’re really a penny pincher however, you can take the ACTV bus for €1.20, which is the local public bus. It makes stops along the way, so it takes about 30 minutes to get to the city center. Both options drop you off at the same terminal station, Piazzale Roma. You can purchase your ACTV ticket at one of the machines on the departure platform.
Just like the Marco Polo, the same guidelines apply if you’re landing at Treviso airport. You can purchase your bus ticket in the arrivals hall at the ATVO ticket window. Tickets will cost you €5, with the journey time lasting about 70 minutes, since Treviso is a bit farther away. Avoid the ACTV bus when landing at Treviso however, as it requires transfers that overcomplicates the entire process.
Train. If you’re traveling by train into Venice, you’ll arrive into Venezia-Santa Lucia train station. Be sure not to get off at Venezia-Mestre, as this is a common mistake with tourists! After you exit the train station, you will see the famous Grand Canal. There will be two docks located on the canal, both of which have ferries that can take you to Piazza San Marco (City Center). You can purchase ferry tickets from the clearly marked booth for €6.50 and hop on either the no.1 (local) or the no. 2 (express) ferry.
Transportation Around Venice
Once on the main island, you can explore the city by foot, or navigate with any one of the many vapporetti, or bus-boats. Vapporetti are not cheap, with a single ride costing €6.50, but can easily get you across the city in a hurry. Tourists can easily strategize to make a 12 hour pass worth the €16, by consolidating all cross-lagoon sightseeing into one day.
Things to Do
Carnivale is Venice’s Mardi Gras, happening annually over a span over ever changing dates. The celebration is always packed with people dressed in ornate, traditional costumes. There are frequent parades and marches through San Marco’s Square, so you’ll have to jockey with the crowd to get a good spot for your viewing pleasure. The second weekend of the 10-day celebration is said to be the culmination of the party.
Arte della Pizza
Like every city in Europe, there are numerous takeaway pizza joints in Venice, all of which match the level of quality you’ll get anywhere else, with Arte della Pizza being the only exception. You can grab a slice for €1.50, or get a whole pizza with some friends for €6l. The place is always jam packed and only stays open until nine o’clock in the evening.
Rosticceria San Bartolomeo
Come here for some great comfort food at an incredible price. The restaurant acts as a self-service cafeteria, where for six to ten Euros you can choose from over a dozen tasty pasta dishes, seafood entrees, and meat options. Be sure to eat on the lower level, as prices are 20 to 30 percent higher upstairs. For an even better deal, order your food take-away and you’ll get a ten to 20 percent discount.
Probably the hippest bar in Venice, Orange has recently started a buffet happy hour from 6:30 to 9:00pm Monday through Thursday. The huge buffet includes pasta dishes, tramezzini sandwiches, fruit, and desserts all waiting to fill your stomach. Hang around and grab drinks here too, as the atmosphere really livens up in the evening hours.
Rialto Fish Market
A great place to come for lunch, there are dozens of bars and stalls to choose from, serving up the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere in Italy. Muro, a stall that serves heaping plates of their dish of the day for €7 to €10, with a glass of wine included, is a must try. The market is always fresh, always delicious.
Club Malvasia Vecchia
Though its technically a member’s only club, becoming a member is easy, and is well worth it due to the lack of legit places to party in Venice. Simply pay a one off €15 charge and you’re officially a member. Once inside, drinks are reasonably priced, with a glass of wine costing about €2 and cocktails around €4.
This place is a quadruple threat, as it serves cappuccinos and pastries in the morning, tasty panini sandwiches and salads at lunchtime, and drinks and cocktails at night, all complete with a photography gallery that has ever changing exhibitions. At night in particular this place gets packed with party goers ready to take on the night.
The Vitae is located in Campo San Luca, one of Venice's prime early evening meeting points. The square and its numerous bars are always teeming with crowds deciding where to head off for the evening, but the best spot to head for is Vitae, tucked away down a narrow side street. You can't miss the bar as the whole street is typically filled with its customers (getting a drink at the bar can actually take some time). With its glass wall and metallic bar, the place looks like a sleek yuppy hangout, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Prices are rock bottom, €1.50 (£1) for a glass of wine and €3 for a lethal gin and tonic, the music spans techno, funk, and cult local reggae band, Pittura Freska, and the clientele is young and friendly. Vitaeis a great place to meet some authentic, young Venetians.