Our tips for traveling to Venice


There are so many beautiful places to visit in Italy, but Venice is truly unmissable – a magical, dreamlike city that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, many visitors miss out on the best of Venice. Some people try to rush through everything in a single day in the summer, or they never venture beyond the most crowded, touristy areas near St Mark’s Square…There are better ways to experience Venice, and a little planning can make the difference between a hectic, whirlwind trip and a relaxed vacation.

If you’re planning to visit Venice for the first time, read on to discover how to make the most of your trip.

An amazing sunset in Venice
An amazing sunset in Venice

Planning your Venice trip: the best way to visit Venice

So, how long should you stay? Is a day trip to Venice enough?

You can’t exactly see Venice in a day, although it’s true that the city’s compact size makes it easy to tick off the main attractions – St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto. If you have limited time, you should definitely consider booking a private tour of Venice. It will be a much a more relaxing experience, as your guide can take care of everything – there’s no need to worry about tickets, queues or navigating the city’s notoriously confusing backstreets!

There’s so much to see in Venice that you could easily stay for a week or longer, especially if you want to explore all the neighbourhoods in-depth, and visit nearby islands like Murano, Burano and Torcello. But for most visitors, 3-4 days is the perfect length of time. You can see all the main sights in a couple of days, ideally with an expert guide on a Venice tour, and spend the other days visiting churches and galleries, exploring neighbourhoods like Dorsoduro, or going on boat trips.

The best time of year to visit Venice (and how to avoid the crowds)

Venice’s tourist season lasts pretty much all year. It’s quieter in the winter, between November and February (January is particularly quiet), but the weather also tends to be very cold and damp, and there’s a higher risk of flooding (acqua alta). In the summer the city can get hot and humid, and it’s generally more crowded. So, all things considered, spring or autumn are probably the best times to visit the city, as there’s a better chance of good weather and a quieter, more laidback atmosphere.

However, keep in mind that you can always find the quiet side of Venice, no matter what time of year you visit. Visitors sometimes complain that the city is “too busy” or “too crowded”, but they’re probably thinking of the more congested streets around St Mark’s Square and the Rialto. If you want to get away from the crowds, simply slip into the backstreets, or walk in the opposite direction to the yellow signs (the ones with the arrows directing you to tourist attractions). In just a couple of minutes, you’ll find you have the streets to yourself!

Some of the quieter areas of Venice include the neighbourhoods of Castello, Cannaregio and Giudecca – something you may also want to consider when booking accommodation.

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Where to stay when you visit Venice

All of Venice is beautiful, and there’s no such thing as a “bad neighbourhood”. As we mentioned above, some areas of the city are quieter, but that also means a longer walk to get to the main tourist sites, or a greater reliance on boats to get around.

If you’re only spending a night or two in Venice, it’s probably best to choose a centrally located hotel – somewhere that’s not too far from the San Marco district, so you can walk everywhere. It’s also convenient to stay in a hotel located close to the Grand Canal, as there are frequent vaporetti (water buses) that go up and down the canal, stopping off at the train station, the Rialto, St Mark’s, and other useful locations.

You won’t find much in the way of budget accommodation in Venice (although there are a few hostels), which is why some travellers opt to stay on the mainland, in the suburb of Mestre. Staying in Mestre is certainly cheaper, and there are regular trains to Venice, but you would definitely be missing out on some of the magic. There’s nothing quite like waking up in Venice, with a view over the canal, and not a single car to be heard…

Venice suffers from an excess of short-term apartment rentals aimed at tourists, resulting in a shortage of affordable housing for local residents. For that reason, we recommend booking a hotel rather than an Airbnb when you visit Venice.

Venice tours: the must-see sights

Join one of our Venice tours, led by an expert local guide, to see the most famous attractions. Highlights include:

  • St Mark’s Basilica and Square
  • The Doge’s Palace
  • The Bridge of Sighs
  • The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge in Venice
The Rialto Bridge 

These are some of the most iconic and important sites in the city – essential for an understanding of the rich history and culture of this beautiful city. In addition, make sure you visit Venice’s best art galleries and churches, including:

  • Accademia Gallery
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Scuola Grande of San Rocco
  • Frari Basilica
  • Salute Basilica
  • Basilica of Saints Giovanni and Paolo
  • Church of San Zaccaria

And finally, make sure you leave some time for exploring off the beaten path, and even getting a little lost. Part of the pleasure of visiting Venice is putting away your map, and seeing where the streets take you. You might stumble across an artistic masterpiece tucked away in a small church, or end up in a cute cicchetti bar. Or you may find yourself in a square away from the tourist trail, where kids play football and local life goes on. There’s something special about seeing the more ordinary, authentic side of Venice too.

In their own way, these experiences can be just as memorable as the trips to the famous sights, especially when they’re completely unplanned and unexpected.

But for the planned part of your trip – the organized itinerary with all the details taken care of – help is at hand. The team at Roads to Rome Private Tours can design customized Venice tours specially tailored to your needs and travel plans. Before you visit Venice, get in touch!

Read more: Venice Travel Guide (CN Traveler)