8 things to know before you go to Venice
1. Be patient
Venice is a notoriously busy city with the huge numbers of tourists coming through each year. It is important to understand that things might take a bit longer than usual, things like crossing the canal, finding specific restaurants, and getting lost on the way to your next destination can all make things take longer than you might anticipate.
2.Don’t bother with a GPS
One of the many beautiful things about Venice is its winding backstreets, and a wonderful way to discover the city is to simply wander through them. Due to the fact that there are so many tiny walkways, many GPS systems will not be of that much help. You can have them on hand, but it is probably more useful to know where your accommodation is in relation to things like Saint Mark's square.
3. Avoid the summer if you can
Venice doesn't exactly have an off season, but the high season is in July and August. The crowds will be even bigger than usual, and city will turn up the heat. In general, spring is considered the most beautiful time of year to visit Venice as it has the most moderate weather.
4. Start early, stay out late
If you do go during the higher seasons of the year, one way to avoid crowds and discover the city from a new perspective is to get up early and stay out late. In the earlier hours of the morning the main tourist areas will be mostly empty, and at either end of the day you will be able to avoid the many people that are only visiting for the day.
5. Beware of bad food
Venice is a wonderful city for discovering local food, but there are quite a few places that might leave you feeling less than satisfied. This is difficult to measure, but some things to look out for are things like how close it is to the main tourist areas (and if the menu is in several languages), if there is a waiter outside who is trying to get people to come in, and if all the people inside are mostly foreign, then you can probably assume that this will not be the great Venetian experience that the restaurant is advertising. Look for places that are a bit off the beaten track and have mostly locals. You might still be stuck with bad food, but it is less likely.
6. Consider buying a transport pass
If you are in Venice for more than a couple of days, then it is probably an economical idea to buy a transport card. The water buses that take people up and down the canal are notoriously expensive (about €7.50 for a single trip), so it is usually a good idea to get a card that will give you unlimited trips while you are there. For extra ease of travel, you could look into getting slightly more expensive cards that will let you ride on the Vaporetto Dell'Arte, which are newer water buses that are a lot less full and provide audio information like a hop-on-hop-off bus tour would.
7. Go beyond the tourist areas
The magic of Venice can often be found in the backstreets. This is a city where people actually live (even though it is flooded with tourists), and so wandering the backstreets and getting lost in locals territory is a great way to get to know the city. You can also visit lesser known attractions like the Viva Vivaldi exhibition, go on secret wine tours to learn how and where to drink like a local, and go to some of the lesser known Chorus churches. If you see a crowd, try walking the other way and see what happens
8. But don't miss the best tourist areas
The tourist attractions are famous for a reason. Don't miss the magic of Saint Mark's Basilica, take the elevator to the top of the bell tower, walk over the Rialto Bridge to the Rialto market and go on a gondola ride at dusk. The city is just as magical, you just have to be willing to fight the crowds to see it.