Venice has been on my mind a lot lately. It was my first major experience abroad, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to put my time there into words. It’s a complicated city—not just structurally. It holds the most secrets of any place I have been to, so coming up with some basic tips was harder than it might seem!
Here are some I did manage to come up with that might help the first-time visitor:
Purchase a map. Pronto.
Venice is not set up like a regular city on a grid. There’s a reason that it has been dubbed the “human maze.” A map is necessary in the city, and an idea of the cardinal directions can help you when you run into a dead end or two (because, trust me, you will). Even the most experienced world traveler might have trouble with the streets—so just to be safe, make sure that is your first purchase when you get there.
Think about a vaporetto pass.
Like a metro system on the water, it’s not required to have a pass in order to get around Venice because it really is not that big of a city. However, if you are planning on taking a trip to some nearby islands like the Lido or Murano, you’ll want to stop by one of the main ticket offices and see if you can get a tourist pass, which allows you a few days’ use of the system. There are a few different options that might work for you depending on how long you are staying.
Avoid the Carnevale season.
It’s Venice’s time in the spotlight, but you will be sharing it with thousands upon thousands of other tourists. Prices also increase—the Venetians are astute businessmen and women, and they know when they will get the most cash out of their products. If you still want to enjoy the Carnevale revelry, think about going a week before or after the main events. You can still get the feel of the event without paying hemorrhaging-inducing prices and pushing aside multiple tourists.
The ugliest buildings are the ones worth viewing.
Venetians have had a tax on exterior decorations on the facades of their buildings for hundreds of years. So the best building to enter are usually the plainest-looking. You’ll find that dilapidated churches on the outside are the most gorgeous on the inside, so keep your mind and eyes open for something that might not look like a palazzo—because it probably is.
Have any tips for Venice? How do you find your way around?