Quick Guide to Venice Italy

A straightforward Venice Italy travel guide in 2023 to make the most of your trip!

With things to do in Venice, hotel recommendations, souvenir ideas and Venetian food and drink must have.

Getting there by car? Take a look at our Venice by car guide with valuable parking and public transport info.

Guide to Venice Italy pin image
tight pathways between houses in venice
Venice july 2020

👁️ Things to do in Venice

We just loved to walk around the city and I still believe that’s the most exciting thing to do. Venice is an attraction in itself!

Get lost in the tight alleys, discover beautiful building walls, and walk over old bridges.

Venice is huge and soon you will discover that it’s impossible to see it all.

We just walked around the main island for two days, and we always discovered something new.

Venice with kids can also be fun if you intend to discover the city with your family.

doge's palace
doge’s palace

Venice is a beautiful labyrinth. Look out for the following sights:

  • St. Marks square, basilica, piazza san marco and doge’s palace
  • Ponte della Paglia
  • Rialto bridge – popular but crowded
  • Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo – little hidden gem
  • Venetia Arsenal the Piraeus (Greece) lion statue
  • Marco Polo’s birth house (just a plaque but I got excited)
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

More things to do

  • Take a boat to visit the other islands
  • Take a Gondola ride
  • Visit the Venice Biennale
  • Visit other museums such as the Natural History Museum
biennale in venice 2020

🛏️ Hotels

You can either stay on one of the Venice islands or on the mainland, called Mestre.

We stayed on the mainland because we wanted a hotel with parking in Mestre. We must have a safe parking spot for our car.

Hotels on the mainland are about 50% cheaper and as good as the ones on the islands.

If you decide on staying on the islands, you will most probably be staying on the main island of Venice.

That means you will get to the main island via public transport (tram, bus, or by train) or by car and leave the car in on the of the parking lots at the entrance of the island.

Hotels on the islands do not have car access. They will mostly have boat access.

view of Venice
Venice is surrounded by water

From the entry point of the main island, you will either need to walk to your hotel or take a public transport boat or take a boat taxi.

We saw people walking 20-30 minutes to get to their hotel with their luggage. Apparently, it’s a common thing to do, it looked exhausting at times.

You need to keep in mind that you have to cross bridges and waterways and that the island might look small on the maps but that it takes over 70 minutes to walk from one end of the island to another.

Furthermore, we went during a time when Venice was empty (due to the social distancing thing) so the passages were not that filled with crowds, and we still took that long to get around.

I recommend you check with your hotel. Some classier hotels might provide you with a boat pick up and that does sound exciting. Right?

Also, get a hotel room with an AC if you visit in summer. It gets hot!

water channel of venice
hotel and restaurant near the bus station

🍴 Restaurant and Bars

Restaurants and bars are plenty the deeper you walk through the labyrinth of houses.

Food is, of course, big in Venice but drinks are another great thing about the city in the water.

The bellini was invented in Venice. It’s a peach cocktail!

The Aperol Spritz is the signature drink of Venice. It’s made with Aperol liqueur, prosecco (sparkling wine) club soda, and an orange slice.

We got hooked on the Aperol Spritz, which btw is also called the Spritz Veneziano.

food and drink venice
Aperol Spritz, ham cheese and artichoke sandwich, little tapas with sausage, mini almond tart

The bars in Venice are called Bacaro and they serve drinks and so-called Cicchetti (local tapas).

We loved the place Bacaro Pane e Vin! They had great food, great Aperol, a great atmosphere, and nice service.

So if you ask yourself what to eat in Venice, go to this place and ask them. They will explain to you every bite, and you get to taste authentic food from Venice OR check out our Venice Food + Drink Guide.

shop for artisan work in venice
Handmade and vintage shop

🛍️ Things to get from Venice

Venice is known for handmade specialties!

You will notice some of these on your stroll across the city.

  • Masks – think Venice carnival
  • Leather gloves – a wonderful collection
  • Lion doorknockers
  • Murano glass
  • Burano lace
  • Brocade fabric
  • Bellini – Cocktail from Venice in a bottle
  • Baicoli – Cookies from Venice

gondola ride in venice
gondola social distancing in 2020

💭 Venice FAQs

Can you drink the tap water in Venice?

Yes you can! The city has set up public visible taps around the city. The water is safe to drink. I drank it!

Is Venice safe?

We never felt threatened in Venice, it’s a perfectly safe city. We went home at night walking from the bus stand to our hotel at 1 am. We felt safe in public transports and people seem to be straightforward and helpful.

What’s the etiquette in churches and basilicas?

Some do not allow photography inside, some don’t allow people to enter in short and tank tops. Just look out for posters at the entrance to guide you along. We entered some churches in shorts and didn’t have an issue.

Where can one sit to rest in Venice without consuming in a restaurant?

Cities in Italy don’t seem to welcome the idea of benches because you won’t find one. The only place where we found a bench is at the end of the main island in a public garden. The city administration wants people to sit and consume in restaurants and bars.

Ponte della Paglia
Ponte della Paglia all empty in July 2020