Visit Venice, Italy Things to Do, Attractions and Safety
Venice, Italy is one of the most photogenic cities in the world, with a serene atmosphere and the perfect blend of markets, architecture, stores and shopping centers, and of course, the iconic canals. All of the greatness is what makes it a top-spot for movie filming. Venice is the dream city of the world, perfect for vacations of any type, whether traveling solo, with a partner, as a group, or as a family. There are countless attractions for every age-group and every interest.
To help you plan the best possible trip to Venice, this article will explain some things you should know, the best time to visit, year-round weather conditions, the top attractions and things to do, places to eat, where to stay, the top beaches, covid restrictions, international travel requirements, what to wear, how to get around the city, and safety statistics and tips.
Things to Know About Venice Italy
Venice is the most visited city in Italy, found at the Northern end of Adriatic Sea (which is above the Mediterranean Sea). Venice sees about 10 million international tourists each year.
Venice has many nicknames, including “City of Canals,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Water.” This is due to the fact that the city of Venice sits on over a 100 individual islands, and with only one main road, residents and visitors travel around by using the 170 canals and on small alleys and bridges.
Venice has been taken over by tourism, and as such, many residents have moved away. In 2017, there were about 300,000 residents, and now is home to only about 50,000. Anti-tourism is big in Europe right now, so make sure to be respectful and polite so these places stay open in the future.
Best Time to Visit Venice
The most popular time to visit Venice is in the summer, when most attractions are open, and kids are out of school. This is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit, so expect overpriced fares, lots of crowds, and longer waits. The cheapest month to visit Venice is in October, which is a little cooler but is far less busy. Venice is known to often flood though, which most commonly occurs between October and January.
Some people visit Venice as a day trip, but most recommend 3-4 days to get the full Venetian experience.
Language in Venice and Italy
Italian is the official language of Italy, though most Venetians do have a working level of tourism English to accommodate visitors. Knowing some Italian and having a good translation app is extremely useful, but not necessary. Most attractions and tours have English-speaking guides.
Cash and Currency in Italy
As with most of Europe, the only accepted form of currency in Venice and the rest of Italy is the Euro. Always have cash on hand, but cards are the most popular way to pay. You will get the best exchange rates from banks and credit unions, but make sure to exchange BEFORE you leave. Card skimmers are common in Europe, so be sure to know how to check for fraud. The best thing you can do is open a limited use card to pay with while traveling. Be aware that banks may have certain fees for international use/ATM withdrawal.
Weather In Venice
Weather in Venice is a mix of warm and humid summers and cold winters. The coldest month is January, with highs around 46°F (7.7°C) and lows around 30°F (-1.1°C). The hottest month is July, with highs around 86°F (30°C) and lows around 65°F (18.3°C). It rains an average of six days each month, leaving the city mostly-cloudy year-round. Humidity stays about 70-80% year-round, making for foggy winters and muggy summers.
For those with allergies and asthma, Venice has a high tree pollen and ragweed count, so make sure to pack medication.
Venice has a reputation for being “smelly,” but the truth is, Venice smells just like any other place that’s close to the ocean. It smells like salt-water and fish, which might “stink” at first, but it’s not because the city is dirty. The canals are kept clean, and tourists are expected to keep them that way.
Attractions and Things to Do in Venice, Italy
Nowadays, everything about Venice is catered to tourists, which is part of what makes a trip there so fun. Venice as so much to do you could spend several months exploring everything, so this list includes the most popular and highest rated attractions to help you get started on your trip planning.
- Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica)
With a deep and rich history to explore, stunning architecture to admire, and a host of activities to complete here, St. Mark’s Basilica is a great addition to any trip to Italy. Besides the amazing architecture, there are mosaics, sculptures, St. Mark’s Museum, the campanile, and more to discover at this historic location. The basilica is free to children 6 and under but other travelers will want to book their tickets in advance to avoid missing this popular yet stunning attraction. Be aware that larger purses, backpacks, and immodest clothing are not allowed inside St. Mark’s Basilica.
- Basilica S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (Saint Mary of the Friars)
One of the most sought after Catholic churches by art admirers, Basilica dei Frari is the largest church in the city and is one of the only churches left in the city maintaining the Venetian Gothic style. Much of the artwork in the church is done by the painter Titian, a well-known renaissance artist. The church is full of wall to wall murals, beautifully crafted tombs, and impressive sculptures and statues.
- Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous and one of the oldest bridges in Venice—it is the oldest of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. It is a popular tourist attraction for its history and fame but also for its location. The bridge connects high traffic districts San Marco and San Polo. Crossing the bridge is definitely a check off of any travelers list of things to do when in Venice.
Venice is well known for its salt water canals and romantic gondola rides. Water is a unique part of this Italian city; however, most people don’t think about enjoying the beach while touring it. Lido Beach is only 20 minutes from Venice and great way to escape the crowds.
This quirky bookstore is one in a million. Books are stacked in anything, like a gondola, and stand in precarious piles all around the shop-there is even a staircase made from books that reveal a nice view of the canal.
Once the apartments of various people of historic importance and Doges—the Palace is a breathtaking work of architecture. With floor to ceiling wall murals, classic gold crown moldings, and beautiful beach views, this palace is worth the stop.
Art, theater, dance, music—the spirit of Venice resonates through this large creative space. Tour art exhibits or take part in a dance workshop or even share in listening to musical masterpieces. This attraction is for anyone who enjoys the creative psyche of humanity coming to fruition.
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Guggenheim’s collection is considered one of the most important museums of European and American art from the twentieth century. Famous surrealist pieces deck the halls currently. Visit and enjoy the artistic mastery of this collection.
- Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
Ahh, the Grand Canal of Venice; this is the gondola-filled waterway imagined by many when they think of the rustic Italian city. Lined with historic, Renaissance buildings dating back to the 13th century and the Venetian Republic, as well as beautifully unique in its mode of transportation, the Grand Canal is beloved by locals and tourists alike as it is one of the most popular water traffic ways in Venice. The canal is also situated in one of the busiest neighborhoods of Venice, San Polo, so be aware of this when hoping to catch a vaporetto (water taxi) or looking to do sightseeing.
Luxurious atmosphere. High priced, delectable beverages. Stunning architecture. Have the fanciest cup of coffee of your life. It’s a really spiffy Venetian Cafe you don’t want to miss.
- Chiesa di San Sebastiano (Church of Saint Sebastian)
A 16th century Roman Catholic Church found in the Dorsoduro district is a beautiful and historic sight to visit. Filled with vibrant paintings and little tourists, this is a stunning yet quieter attraction to visit in Venice.
- Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
St. Mark’s Square is the main public space in Venice. The square is centered in the heart of Venice and is a popular location among tourists due to sharing its location with the famous St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doges’ Place. There is a myriad of tours to choose from at la Piazza: San Marco Clocktower, the Doge’s apartments, the basilica itself, and so much more. So, head to this Venetian square early to beat the crowds, grab a cup of whatever you fancy bests at one of the many cafes surrounding the square, and spend the day touring the magnificence history has to offer.
There isn’t much to say about this bar because it is merely that—a quaint bar. Let the delicious meat and seafood small dishes and drinks speak for themselves as you enjoy the atmosphere on the street side terrace.
This beautiful limestone bridge connects the Doge’s Palace and the Prigioni Nuove. Discover the history of this bridge and admire its architecture.
10 Best Beaches in Venice
The Adriatic Sea is quite warm, making a beach trip part of the essential Venetian experience. The beaches in Venice, Italy, are also closest to the best restaurants, bars, and hotels. You can also camp on beaches like Cavallino. Lido di Jesolo is the most popular beach, and is best for families, but it’s also the most crowded. The most romantic beach is Santa Cristina, it’s more secluded making it the most private and also the best beach for couples.
- Isola delle Rose
- Lido di Jesolo
- Santa Cristina
- Punta Sabbioni
- Rosolina Mare
10 Best Restaurants in Venice, Italy
Italian food is famous in its own right. Many of these restaurants have a spectacular sea-side view, perfect for a date, or for finding a date. Venice, specifically, has ten Michelin-Starred restaurants. We won’t list all those hear, but the best places for tourists to eat are:
- Osteria Campo Santa Marina
- Al Covo
- La Zucca
- Met Restaurant
- Terrazza Danieli
- Enoteca Al Volto
- Ristorante Glam
Is Venice Safe to Visit?
Italy, like the rest of Europe, is ranked very high on the Global Peace Index, meaning that overall, it is a much safer place to live and visit than almost anywhere in the United States.
Venice is safe enough that women can walk around alone at night (though caution is always good). It’s a very family-friendly city and welcomes children of all-ages. Violent crimes are almost non-existent, but pickpockets, drug use, and scammers are fairly common.
The biggest risk for visiting Venice is the water. Venice is known to flood quite often (about 100 times a year). Sometimes the flooding is only a few inches, and sometimes it is a foot or two. As we mentioned before, most flooding occurs between October and January.
Canals are everywhere which poses a particular risk to small children who are at higher risk for falling in and drowning. Be mindful of kids at all times. Swimming in the canals is forbidden, when it gets dark, though, it’s fairly easy to fall in.
Things to Pack for Venice
How to dress in Venice: Urban casual. Italians like to look presentable and modest–no matter how hot it gets and expect the same of visitors. This means avoiding stuff with spandex, logos, too much color, or too much skin. Athleisure is a no-no.
- Modest clothes for visiting the churches.
- Light, breathable clothing for summer
- Warm rain clothes for winter
- Clothes you don’t mind getting wet in case of floods.
Where to Stay in Venice
The main islands of Venice are divided into six neighborhoods, each offering visitors a slightly different experience. Each area offers both traditional hotel options, as well as ever-popular Airbnb options. Short-term stay apartments are also easy to find.
When you hear “Venice” you are thinking of San Marco. San Marco is the most popular area and caters best to tourists. It’s home to the most iconic sights and known traditionally as the “heart of Venice.” It’s a bit more crowded and has the best access to attractions. It is more expensive than other areas.
Santa Croce is the least touristy, which also makes it the least crowded. You’ll have to walk a bit to get to the main attractions, but you’ll be closest to Venice’s public transportation systems, meaning that if you want to explore a bit more outside the city, this is the place to be.
Dorsoduro is home to Accademia, the most famous art gallery in Venice, which makes it great for art-lovers. It’s pretty calm during the day but picks up during the evening. If you’re looking for nightlife, this is where to go. There is a mix of high-end and low-end budget options which makes it one of the better areas for couples and solo travelers.
San Polo is an older part of Venice, with an air of charm and culture. It’s the most centrally located, which makes it easier if you’re traveling as a family or if your trip to Venice is going to be a little shorter as it puts you within equal distance of everything. There are lots of restaurants and markets in this area. Still crowded. Requires a bit more walking and use of public transportation.
Cannaregio is home to most of Venice’s locals, and has less attractions, but is a far better authentic or budget choice. There is heavy Jewish influence, and if you visit during December, you’ll get to see some of the Hanukkah celebrations.
Castello is a quieter area with lots of history. It’s a cheaper, but more authentic part of Venice, but does have less access to the big attractions.
Transportation in Venice, Italy
Getting around in Venice is unlike anywhere else in the world and is part of the spectacle that makes Venice so popular. While in the city, expect to walk. Outside the main center, the best way to travel is on water buses or by the Traghetti ferries. Water taxis are a possibility but are expensive. You can also take gondola rides, but those go much slower and are more of an attraction or tour than a mode of transportation.
Traditional (wheeled) buses are not needed within the city center but can help connect you to other destinations. For transportation between the city center and the Marco Polo Airport, the Aliaguna ferries are recommended.
If you stay within the city, a car rental is impossible (there are no cars) but might be nice if you visit other parts of Italy. U.S. citizens will need their legal driver’s license as well as an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Italy.
Things You Need for International Travel
Before traveling anywhere, make sure to check out local news and your country’s embassy page about safety warnings and precautions. Be sure to know where your embassy is and contact numbers in case of emergencies. The U.S. page is found here.
You will need your legal I.D. while walking around Italy. Your driver’s license or even a copy of your passport don’t count. Many travelers leave their passports in their hotels, and while it is unlikely that anyone will ask to see your passport, it is technically the law.
As far as flights go, Venice has two international airports, the more popular Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) as well as the Treviso Airport (TSF).
U.S citizens traveling to Italy will need the following:
- Passport that will remain valid at least 3 months beyond planned return date.
- Two blank passport pages.
- Travel visa if your trip is longer than 90 days.
- At least 10,000 Euros for both entry and exit.
Covid Restrictions and Guidelines
Italy still has a high Covid-19 count. Around 80% of the population is vaccinated.
FFP2 or KN95 masks are required on public transportation and inside healthcare facilities.