Venice: tips and information for the stay
Everything worth knowing about Venice, as well as tips and a lot of insider information can be found here:
Arrival and departure
If you want to travel to Venice, there are several options: By car, plane, boat and train.
Arriving by car:
Venice can be reached from Germany, Austria or Switzerland via the Tauern motorway or the St. Gotthard tunnel. The motorways in Austria, Switzerland and Italy, however, are subject to a fee. In Austria and Switzerland you need a vignette; in Italy the fee is paid directly at the motorway toll stations. In the summer months you should plan a much longer journey timeas the motorways are heavily congested due to the many tourists, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Generally speaking, travelling to Venice by car is not advisable as Venice is car free and you have to pay a lot of money when parking in one of the many car parks outside the city.
Arriving by plane:
Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) is about 13 miles northeast of Venice; it is connected by regular flights with most European cities. Yellow line buses and blue airport buses run regularly between the airport and Venice. The journey takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can also take a water taxi and line boats to reach the lagoon city. The journey lasts a little longer but leads directly to Saint Mark’s Square, or indeed wherever you want to go should you take an expensive water taxi.
Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo
Viale G. Galilei 30 / 1 - I-30030 Tessera-Venezia
The Santa Lucia train station is situated at the northern end of the Canale Grande. From here you can get to anywhere in the city both on foot and with the different boat operators. By the way, at the station there is a luggage storage service – transport to the hotel can be organised by a private carrier service at fixed prices. You can also purchase tickets for the boats directly at the train station.
Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia
Fondamenta Santa Lucia
Venezia 30 173
Arriving by boat:
Venice is connected to all major ports of the Adriatic Sea. Cruise ships and liners also enter the port of Venice.
Beach holidays in Venice
If you would like to jump into the sea to cool off, you should head to Lido. The beaches here are, however, owned by the hotels and public bathhouses. The latter offer umbrellas, loungers and cabins for a fee. For unadulterated pleasure we recommend visiting the nearby beaches in Marina di Venezia.
Eating and drinking:
Venice offers a huge range of restaurants and bars. From small snacks and gourmet temples to classic “feeding points” for crowds of tourists, you can find everything here. The further you move away from the centre with its large number of tourists, the more reasonable the prices become. Here you can also find really nice little restaurants with moderate prices and good food. Essentially, the Venetians, as all Italians, have dinner, which is their principal meal, from 7 pm. Breakfast is rather neglected and lunch is usually a bit smaller than dinner.
Venice’s cuisine has always been known for its unusual and oriental recipes. This explains why, besides the Italian classics like pizza and pasta, many typical Venetian dishes come with lots of rice, vegetables, maize and extravagant spices. You should make sure to try seafood and fish – don’t miss out on the famous Frittura Mista (mixed fried seafood), accompanied by a glass of good wine from the wine-growing regions of the Venetian hinterland.
Useful information on Venetian cuisine and many recipes can be found here.
Venice is definitely not a city for night owls. Those looking for nightclubs and places to go out to should look around in the beach resorts or in Mestre on the mainland. English pubs are very popular but they are often very crowded. Otherwise you can spend the evenings in Venice in a rather cosy and romantic manner with a glass of good wine.
TIP: If you like taking photographs, you should not miss a night photo tour.
Festivals and events
In Venice there is almost always something to celebrate. Numerous festivals and events throughout the year liven up the streets and canals of the lagoon city and attract many tourists. If you are staying in Venice at the right time, you should not miss out on the highlights of the Venice festival calendar:
On 1 January many Venetians meet on the beach at Lido. Truly hardened swimmers risk a dip in the cold water when they go for their first swim of the year.
The so-called “Regata delle Befane” (= Witches Regatta) is held every year on 6 January.
Carnival of Venice: the famous Venice Carnival begins 14 days before Ash Wednesday. The revelry with the wonderful masks goes on till Shrove Tuesday when it ends with the burning of the Pantalone at the stake. In the church of Santa Maria dell Pietà the Ash Wednesday concert takes place at midnight – the only concert in Venice that you may attend wearing a mask.
“Su e Zo per i Ponti”: Big marathon for all age groups on a Sunday in mid-March
“Benedizione del Fuoce”: Blessing of the fire in St. Mark's Basilica during Holy Week – a beautiful and spiritual experience.
“Festa di San Marco”: The Feast of the Patron Saint Mark. After a solemn Mass in St. Mark's Basilica, the gondoliers hold their traditional regatta on the Canale Grande.
“Sposalizio col mare”: As a sign of the city’s deep connection with the sea, the Doge once went out by boat in front of Lido and threw a gold ring into the water. This tradition still lives on today. However, nowadays it is the mayor’s fleet that goes over to the Lido and, under the eyes of many visitors, a laurel wreath is sunk in the sea.
“Vogalonga”: Rowing regatta from St. Mark’s Bay passing by various islands in the lagoon (www.vogalonga.de)
Biennale d’Arte”: International Art Exhibition
“Sagra di San Pietro di Castello”: Fair with small stands, wine bar and tombola in the last week of June
“Festa del Redentore”: The Feast of the Redeemer is held in memory of the end of the plague in 1576. It takes place on the third weekend in July. After a parade of decorated boats on Saturday, a temporary bridge is built to the island of Giudecca where a celebration service is held in the Redentore church on Sunday. Afterwards people celebrate in the streets and on boats until the early hours of the morning and waitt for the sunrise on the beach of Lido.
“Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica”: Venice Film Festival in Lido
“Concerto Assumption”: Annual concert held on the15th of August in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello.
“Regatta Storica”: The traditional gondola regatta takes place on the first Sunday in September. In a grand procession, historical figures from Venice’s history move through the city before the regatta starts in the Canale Grande. The aim is to reach Ca’ Foscari where the award ceremony takes place.
“Sagra del Pesce di Burano”: Fish and wine festival with regatta in Burano.
“Festival Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea”: Festival of contemporary music
“Festival del Teatro”: Theatre festival
“Sagra del Mosto di Sant'Erasmo”: Wine festival with regatta on the first Sunday in October.
Venice Marathon on the second Sunday of the month. It starts in Strà (start of the Brenta Canal) and finishes in Riva dei Sette Martiri (www.venicemarathon.it)
“Festa di San Martino”: Feast of St. Martin on 11 November. Singing children walk with wooden spoons and pots through the streets of Venice, hoping for a little tip.
“Festa della Madonna della Salute”: Festival and procession to commemorate the end of the plague epidemic of 1630 on 21 November. Solemn procession from St. Mark’s Basilica to the Santa Maria della Salute church.
Cars are not allowed in Venice, and driving up the narrow streets by car would be impossible in any case. It follows that it is also difficult to find a parking space in the limited area where driving is permitted. The only alternative are the car parks. For security reasons, you should make sure to choose a guarded car park – even if the prices are high. You won’t find a parking space for under 20 to 30 euros per day, and even if you pay this amount of money you are not allowed to park directly in Venice. A cheaper alternative are the car parks in Mestre and the surrounding mainland cities. From here you can easily get to Venice itself in a few minutes by rail or boat, saving a few euro.
If you want to bring back a souvenir from Venice, you will be spoiled for choice. Of course, Venice is famous for its masks that can be bought at every corner. The fine Burano laces and ornate glass from the island of Murano are very well known. There are also numerous precious boutiques, antique shops and jewellers in Venice which offer everything your heart could possibly desire. As such, prices vary. Those looking for a big shopping centre in Venice, however, will be out of luck. Small shops and retailers dominate the cityscape.
Essentially, Northern Italy and Venice are considered to be relatively safe. Here you need not be more afraid than anywhere else; you can stroll the streets at any time during the day or night without hesitation. Nevertheless, you should not leave any valuables in your car or inadvertently encourage pickpockets to steal from you, and especially in large crowds make sure you look after your personal things. However, should something happen, there are usually many police officers in Venice ready to help you.
Venice with children
For children, Venice is a paradise where there is much to discover. For parents, however, a trip to Venice usually entails much more attention and effort. The more than 400 bridges are an obstacle especially for parents with baby carriages. Bridges without railings as well as the numerous canals also constitute a safety risk to children.
More facts about Venice and tips for staying in Italy can be found in the general information on Italy.