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Tips for exploring Venice

by Charlotte Cook

Venice is quite rightly one of the most popular and recognisable destinations in the World. But with popularity comes a host of pitfalls for the tourist including avoiding scams, over priced accommodation and dodging the crowds to fully appreciate attractions and activities.

For those lucky enough to be heading to Venice, here are my tips to get the most out of your stay:

1) Rise early

I know it sounds obvious but if you can try and get up early, just after dawn, you will get to see a Venice free from the buzz of the yet-to-arrive day trippers and cruise passengers.

The calmness harks back to its past, with fisherman arriving back with their night's catch and store sellers preparing their wares.

2) If you're hungry stay away from the crowds!

There are plenty of places to eat in Venice, but it is harder to find somewhere that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Places near the busiest tourist destinations are the most expensive of all.

If it's value AND quality you're seeking stay away from the tourist hubs like San Marco and Riva degli Schiavoni and head into the city. Your wallet will thank you for it. Maria's tip... try these restaurants.

3) Watch out for Aqua Alta!

If you hear a siren wail and see flustered locals running around with wooden planks and wearing wellingtons it's Aqua Alta time!

Aqua Alta means high tide in Italian and occurs frequently in Venice, though more often in the winter months. When the water rises many paths and bridges become inaccessible, hence the raised wooden boards. If you do go to Venice in autumn or winter make sure you take a Aqua Alta map from the local tourist office, which details routes affected by the tide.

It's also worth checking out the notice board at the base of the Campanile in the Piazza San Marco that shows a live tide reading and predictions for the next few days.

4) Don't worry if you get lost!

As Venice is an island there is no way you can wander to far away from where you want to go. But if you don't want to get too lost make sure you pick up a map from your hotel. Also try to make a mental note of building numbers as you cross bridges and watch out for street signs.

However, feel free to keep off the main thoroughfares and instead wander down the small twisting alleyways in the general direction of where you would like to go, you may be surprised what you find.

5) Use public transport

If you do get lost, are in a hurry or just can't find a nearby bridge to get across a river, use Venice's public transport system.

There are not cars and trains here of course, but the vaporettoes on the floating waterways have the same function. To save money buy your ticket in advance, a 24 hour ticket costs around 18 Euros, if you are there for a week then 50 euros will cover all of your water travel for your stay.

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