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The 11 Dos & Donts to visiting Venice

The 11 DOs & DONTs to visiting Venice for the responsible & intrepid traveller

As Venice is a place that millions of tourists visit each year, it’s easy to get caught in the tourist-tra-ridden ride of mass tourism amidst its canals and narrow streets.

This list of DOs and DONTs is for travellers looking to avoid the Made in China souvenir shops, to respect Venice upon their visit and blend in like a local while experiencing the wonder that is Venice:

venetian mask in a shop window

1. DON’T buy the cheap Carnevale masks that are mass produced in factories by workers under very poor conditions that are typically sold in souvenir shops.

DO buy Carnevale masks from the local artisan crafts people. One we’d recommend is Mistero Buffo ( www.misterbuffomask.com ) who can be found making masks by hand in their workshop & studio in the Campo S. Margherita neighbourhood. Find out more on our blog post.

 

2. DON’T go eating in any restaurant that has either an English menu out the front, or red and white table clothes (this just screams TOURIST TRAP!)

DO venture down the side streets and eat in the family-owned places with Osteria and Cantina in their name. If you hear Italian coming from inside, or see locals in there, you’ve hit the jackpot!

One place like this we’d recommend is Cantina Do Mori near the Rialto market.

Stay tuned for our guide on how to eat like a local & on a budget in Venice.

Venice in the morning

3. DON’T visit San Marco square at midday when it’s a sweaty mosh pit of tourists all whacking each other with selfie sticks.

DO visit San Marco square early in the morning (from 5am-7am is the best time) when you’ll have this beautiful square pretty much to yourself.

 

4. DON’T just stop your culture vulture venture at the Venice Biennale (even though you should definitely check this magnificent festival out)

DO also visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which hosts one of the best contemporary art exhibitions in Europe.

lokk down to a gondoliere from a bridge in Venice

5. DON’T buy into the gondola hype and pay an extraordinary amount of money to be the one hundredth and second tourist that some unenthused Gondolier paddles up and down the narrow canals of Venice.

DO take a Water boat trip to the many islands around Venice that are definitely worth a visit.

Stay tuned for our guide on the must-visit islands around Venice.

Insider tip: try and time your return trip to Venice at dusk so you can catch a spectacular view of Venice in pinks, oranges and purples hues.

two italian caffes

6. DON’T sit down for every coffee and be charged a ridiculous service fee.

DO stand at the bar and drink your Cappuccino, or Espresso (for around 1.30-2.50 €) like the locals do.

 

7. DON’T take photos of the locals (Venice isn’t some kind of human zoo)

DO speak to the locals! Even try out your Italian on them. Ask them for recommendations on where to eat. If you’re lucky, like us, some locals will even take you to where you want to go on their boat when asking for directions. Venetians are super friendly people…if you’re not pointing a camera in their face, that is. Funny about that.

front desk at wombat's venice

8. DON’T pay 300 € plus per night while staying in some overpriced hotel in the middle of Venice.

DO pay less than 20 € per night in July by staying in a much more reasonably priced hostel in Mestre, which is 15 minutes away from the heart of Venice and is where the locals live ( yes, we are shamelessly plugging ourselves here – learn more about booking a bed on the wombat’s website.

Off the beaten path, beautiful side way in Venice

9. DON’T have your eyes stuck on Google maps in your phone the whole time when walking around Venice’s narrow streets.

DO let yourself get lost away from the tourist crowds in Venice.

A plate of Cichetti

10. DON’T just eat pizza while you’re in Venice.

DO try other specialities of the Venetian kitchen, like Baccala’ Mantecata (softened, dried, salted Baltic codfish ), or a plate of Cicchetti (they’re like Spanish tapas, but Venetian-style)

 

11. DON’T spend all of your time trying to get everywhere by foot (the maze of medieval streets will drive you mad after a while).

DO invest in the 24-, 48-, or 72-hour travel card (http://en.venezia.net/venice-vaporetto-tickets.html ) and make use of the many water buses weaving in and out of the canals of the city to help you get around.

Insider tip: when lost, or wanting a quick escape from the maze of streets, head to the Grand Canal where a bunch of water buses zip up and down, 24-hours-a-day.