“In the glare of the day there is little poetry about Venice, but under the charitable moon her stained palaces are white again…” - Mark Twain
When you go to Venice, you have to plan your trip according to how long you’ll be there for, the sites and monuments you want to visit, and the time of the year you’ll be there. Whether you’re there for 3 days or a week, which neighbourhood you’re staying in, and the weather can all affect your trip.
Over 20 million tourists visit Venice each year and the numbers visiting the city have increased 5% each year in recent decades.
Thus, the number of tourists visiting Venice doubles every 14 years. While the city centre attracts 30,000 tourists a day, an estimated 80,000 people visit daily during the summer.
Despite all this, do you still have your heart set on Venice?
Here’s our mini guide to visiting the city.
When and For How Long Should You Visit Venice?
Most travellers don’t stay anywhere near a week in Venice.
Of the 25 million visitors to the city each year, 12 million of them only spend a single day there.
More and more tourists are opting for free tours of the city, which does nothing for the local government’s coffers.
Despite all this tourism, the city only received around £3 in taxes per tourist.
Venice is the most powerful and influential city in the former Republic of Venice of which it was the capital for over 1,000 years between 697 and 1797.
Most of the city and the Venetian Lagoon are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the amount of cultural and historical heritage is incredible.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Venice throughout the year:
- Carnival of Venice
- The canals and streets in the centre of Venice
- Gondola rides
- The restaurants
- Visiting the islands Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello, and the Lido.
- The San Marco neighbourhood (Saint Mark’s Square, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Palace of the Doge).
- The magnificent Venetian architecture and art.
In addition to all these things, there are also incredible monuments and attractions to see: the Bridge of Sighs, the museums (Museum of Glass, Natural History Museum), the Rialto Bridge, Teatro la Fenice, Gallerie dell’Accademia, and the Cannaregio, San Marco, Castello, Dorsoduro, and Santa Croce neighbourhoods.
So when are you going to Venice?
Venice is home to a warm and humid continental climate. Temperatures can often exceed 35°C, it gets muggy, and there are often violent storms. Similarly, during the high season, prices go up.
If you want to visit in autumn, the weather’s much more agreeable: it’s regularly sunny and it remains warm until the beginning of October.
Then it starts to get grey and rainy. In winter, it can get really cold and even snow. However, this is a great time to visit because there are much fewer tourists. Of course, not during carnival.
The best time is to visit during spring (between May and June) and autumn. You need at least between 3 days and a week to see everything Venice has to offer.
This will give you enough time to visit the different monuments, neighbourhoods, the Venetian Lagoon, and the Grand Canal.
Find out more about how long you should spend in Venice.
The Different Neighbourhoods of Venice
So in the city of the canals and bridges, where can you stay?
There are six neighbourhoods in Venice:
- San Marco
- San Polo
San Marco is the most popular neighbourhood as it’s home to the most historic monuments. It’s also the political, economic, and religious centre of the Republic of Venice.
If you’re not a fan of historic relics, you’ve seen it all, or you want to avoid the crowds, you might want to head to the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. This is the artistic and bohemian side of town, with plenty of bars, restaurants, trattorias, osterias, and places to drink Aperol Spritz. It’s far more relaxed than San Marco.
If you cross the Rialto Bridge, you’ll end up in San Polo, the city’s oldest neighbourhood.
On the other side, there’s the Cannaregio region. This is the area where the Jewish population were forced to live from 1516 until 1797 when the city came under Napoleonic occupation. This is the least regularly visited neighbourhood in Venice, making it rather relaxing.
In the southeast of Venice, there’s Castello, home to the Santi Giovanni e Paolo Basilica, the city’s biggest church.
The Napoleonic Gardens provide a welcome green space and home for the Biennale di Venezia, a music, dance, architecture, and cinema festival.
That’s not all: Venice is an archipelago consisting of 121 islands.
The taxi boat (the Vaporetto) is a great way to get to the other islands like Burano, home to San Martino Church, the Venice Lace Museum, and the fish market, Murano, home to the Glass Museum, and Torcello. The Lido is home to beaches on the Adriatic Sea where you can bathe in warm water.
Are the neighbourhoods in Venice too busy?
You can always go to Mestre on the mainland. This is also a good place to get accommodation.
Find out more about the different parts of Venice.
Where to Stay in Venice?
Got your boarding card and ready for a trip to Venice? Where are you going to stay in Venice?
Venice can be quite expensive. Especially considering that the city is home to 261,905 inhabitants but welcomes nearly 30 million tourists looking for accommodation.
Your budget will determine which neighbourhood you’ll stay in and whether you’ll get a hotel room or private accommodation. You can look for hotels and holiday flats near Saint Mark’s Square if you have the budget. You can also look for somewhere a few minutes from a gondola ride or a Vaporetto stop. In any case, we recommend booking ahead of time to get the best offers.
For short stays, you have a few options:
On HomeAway, you can get accommodation for anywhere between £100 and £3,000 per night in the centre of Venice. By booking on Airbnb you can find accommodation for between £60 and £100 per night in the historic centre and between £40 and £60 per night in Mestre. The latter is cheaper but you’ll need to use public transport.
Keep in mind that the cost of renting will depend on the type of accommodation you get, the neighbourhood, and the season.
Find out more about accommodation in Venice.
Top Things to do in Venice
Let’s have a closer look at exactly what you can do in Venice. There’s something to do for all types of travellers.
What can you do when visiting Venice?
Here are a few things worth seeing and doing:
- Saint Mark’s Square
- Saint Mark’s Basilica
- The Doge's Palace
- The Grand Canal, Venice
- Carnival of Venice
- Cannaregio, Europe’s first Jewish ghetto
- Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute
- The Venetian Bridges
- The islands in the Venetian Lagoon
- A gondola ride
- The city’s museums
Most of these monuments are a testament to Venice’s power in Europe and date back to as early as the 13th and 14th centuries. The San Marco neighbourhood should be top of everyone’s list. Of course, it’ll depend on what you want to see.
Saint Mark’s Square is without a doubt the most visited part of the city. However, you might want to avoid it if you don’t like crowds.
For tourist attractions, you might want to get queue-jumps!
On the square, you can find Saint Mark’s Basilica, Saint Mark’s Campanile, and the Doge’s Palace, the official residence of the Doges of the Republic of Venice. The museum is now home to works from famous Venetian painters like Titien, Bellini, Veronese, and Tintoretto.
While a gondola ride may seem a little cliché, romantics will appreciate it and you can admire the city’s 435 bridges. The most famous bridges include the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the interrogation rooms of the Doge’s Palace. Sadly, the Bridge of Sighs is famous for being the place where prisoners caught their last glimpses of freedom before being imprisoned for life.
What can you do during your holidays in Venice?
If you want to avoid the crowds, you can always stay on one of the lagoon’s islands. Venice is a great place for out-of-the-ordinary holidays despite all the tourists.
Torcello, for example, is one of the quieter of Venice’s 121 islands.
In terms of museums, you can find the Naval History Museum, the Gallerie dell’Accademia, home to renaissance art, and the Peggy Guggenheim, home to modern art.
You’ll come home with plenty of great holiday snaps!
Find various Italian lessons on Superprof.