Venice Travel Tips from a Local
This post is all about the best Venice travel tips from a true Venetian local!
A few weeks ago I took an amazing walking tour in Venice, Italy. The guide was a native to Venice, which is quite rare when you consider that while more than 20 million tourists visit Venice every year, only about 55,000 people live in the historic city anymore.
Hearing from a local guide was very enlightening, and he had a bunch of wisdom for our group. Here are six great tips he shared with us that will help you maximize your experience in Venice.
1. Taking a gondola ride
To avoid getting ripped off by a gondolier, make sure you know the standard rates for a thirty-minute gondola ride: 80 euros during the day, and 100 euros at night (from sunset until eight AM.)
This is for the ENTIRE boat (not per person.) Up to six people can ride in a gondola and split it.
If the gondolier tries to tell you the price is going to be more for any reason, they are not telling the truth and you can politely but firmly let them know that you know that the rates are set.
Discuss the route with the gondolier before you leave, and do not pay them advance! Pay them at the end after it’s been thirty minutes and they have taken you on the promised route.
Make sure to pay with exact change, or else they just might try to keep your extra money as a “tip” without giving you any change back. Fun fact: Venice gondoliers make upwards of $150,000 a year so don’t feel bad for them and don’t let them rip you off.
2. How to find the best gelato
Real fruit gelato always tastes better than gelato made with artificial flavoring. To spot the best gelato, just take a look at the coloring. If it’s brightly colored (think bright green for pistachio gelato, or hot pink for strawberry gelato) then it’s probably made with artificial flavoring.
If it’s more of a muted shade, then it’s more likely to be real, fresh, and delicious.
It should go without saying to look for gelato shops on side streets and not in the main tourist areas, because you’ll probably save yourself a euro or two and find much better gelato!
3. A gondola ride for two euros
If you don’t want to spend 80 or 100 euros on a gondola ride, you can still have the experience for a much cheaper price: just two euros.
How? Hop on a gondola crossing the Grand Canal. It’s called the traghetto, it’s not fancy, and the journey only takes a minute or two, but it’s enough time to snap a quick photo of yourself and get an incredible view of the Grand Canal from a traditional gondola.
The most reliable traghetto crossing is at the small wooden dock right beside the Rialto fish market. This gondola crosses the Grand Canal every day from around 9 AM to 7 PM and costs just two euros.
4. Don’t get ripped off buying Carnevale masks
One of the most popular souvenirs you can buy in Venice is your very own colorful Carnevale mask.
Almost every souvenir shop you pass will be selling masks. However, to avoid buying an overpriced fake, make sure to take note that someone is inside the shop making the masks.
Real Carnevale masks are made inside the shop. If you walk in and don’t see anybody making masks, they are probably selling cheap, mass-produced masks instead. The best place to find great authentic masks is the San Polo neighborhood of Venice.
5. Don’t get scammed buying Murano glass
The second most popular Venice souvenir is colorful Murano glass. Almost every souvenir shop you pass will be selling plates, ornaments, tumblers, etc. made of this pretty colorful glass.
To avoid getting ripped off by a cheap fake, your best bet is to buy your souvenir from the island of Murano itself. It’s a short water bus ride away from Venice.
However, if you’re buying from a shop in Venice, make sure to check that the glass says “Made in Murano” or “Made in Venice” on it. NOT “Made in Italy” or “Made in China” or anything else.
Real Murano glass will also not be too brightly colored and it won’t be extremely cheap. Those are a couple more of the sure signs that you’re getting a fake.
6. Get lost!
The number one tip my local Venice tour guide gave our group was to get lost in Venice. You will feel like you’re in a completely different city once you move away from the chaos and crowds of the touristy areas like St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge.
Spend a few hours walking around without looking at a map. One of my favorite neighborhoods for wandering around is Cannaregio. Located on the northern side of Venice, this quiet neighborhood has a more local and less touristy feel to it. It’s the perfect place to stroll around at sunset and stop for dinner somewhere along one of the canals.
This is also where I’ve stayed every time I’ve been to Venice. I stay at the Grand Hotel dei Dogi and I would recommend it for anyone who’s going to Venice and looking for a totally unique experience.
Where to Stay in Venice
Here are some of the best places to stay on your trip to Venice:
- Most Unique: Grand Hotel dei Dogi (As I mentioned, I have stayed here multiple times now and think it’s one of the best hotels in the world!)
- Best Luxury Hotel: The Gritti Palace (I’ve never stayed here but it’s on the bucket list for sure! This is by far the most luxurious hotel in all of Venice with a great location.)
- Most Convenient: AC Hotel Venezia (I stayed here for one night and enjoyed it. It’s really close to the train station and cruise terminal making it a very convenient location.)
- Best Budget Hotel: Hotel Olimpia (Haven’t stayed here either, but from the reviews it looks like a great affordable option still right in the heart of Venice.)
There are also plenty of gorgeous Airbnbs in Venice. Airbnb can be a great way to save money in Venice, because many are cheaper than hotels and you will typically have access to a kitchen where you can cook some of your own meals.
Click here to get $40 off your first Airbnb booking!
I hope these Venice travel tips will help you on your trip as much as they helped me!
For more tips on visiting Italy, be sure to read the following:
- What Not to Do in Italy: 10 Common Tourist Mistakes
- The Perfect One Week Italy Itinerary
- The Perfect Two Week Italy Itinerary
- 11 Amazing Things to Do in Venice, Italy
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