There has been a lot of press lately in the travel media on the challenges Venice is facing with overtourism as it struggles with a high volume of daily visitors. Don’t let this discourage you from visiting Venice if it is on your bucket list.
The city is always worth visiting as its beauty and culture are extraordinary to experience. It is possible to beat the crowds with a little bit of careful planning, and discover a more serene and tranquil Venice. Here are 5 tips for how to avoid the crowds in Venice, Italy:
Plan to stay during mid-week dates for at least 3 days
Like many popular European cities, Venice receives a higher number of visitors on weekends. By planning your stay mid-week, you will be off to a good start in avoiding crowds. It also makes for a better experience to stay in Venice for at least 3 days if you can, this will allow you to strategize about the times you will be visiting sites. If you stay in Venice for a minimum of at least 3 days you can enjoy visiting other areas of the lagoon, spending a whole day seeing the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, rather than dashing out to Murano for a quick visit. It’s definitely worth it to see the less visited islands as well!
Organize your arrival and departure logistics in advance
A lot of time and money can be wasted getting where you need to go on arrival, and when organizing your departure, due to the complexities of Venice’s transportation options as a city truly on the water. This can also be very stressful, and crowded! Preparing a plan in advance for how to get around Venice during your stay is important. Consider the best way to arrive to your holiday apartment or hotel from the train station or airport. For example, the Alilaguna waterbus shuttles from the airport can be crowded and this transportation option takes over an hour to reach the Grand Canal. Taking the bus or a land taxi to Piazzale Roma, and then taking a vaporetto (waterferry) or even walking to your destination can be an easier option.
This practical how-to guide to Venice transportation explains the many options for transportation in Venice and is helpful for deciding what is best for your arrival and departure, and for getting around the city during your stay. Don’t forget to consider that Venice has many bridges, big and small, and oftentimes walking is required to get where you are going.
Visit the main sites during the morning and the late afternoon to avoid the day visitor crowds
The source of a majority percentage of Venice’s crowds are day visitors who arrive to Venice from cruise ships or by train or car and visit the city from approximately 10 am to 5 pm. The main sites, such as Piazza San Marco and its museums, and the area around Rialto, are much less crowded, and more enjoyable, if you visit earlier in the morning, or after 4 or 5 pm.
Enjoy off the beaten path sites
Venice has much more to see than only the areas around Piazza San Marco and Rialto. Other neighborhoods, such as Cannaregio and Dorsoduro, are where you will find the charming views of smaller inner canals and canalside cafes. There are also important less frequented sites to visit in these areas, such as the Jewish Ghetto, or the Ca’ Pesaro museum in the neighborhood of Santa Croce, an art museum in a Renaissance palazzo on the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal view café at Ca’ Pesaro is also a hidden gem for the Grand Canal view without the crowds, and high prices!
Eat like a local
The exorbitant prices charged for low quality food in the touristy areas of Venice has also been the source of headlines lately, with one patron infamously charged 1000 euros for lunch, and tales of 20 euro coffees at the cafes in Piazza San Marco. In fact, you can eat excellent local, fresh cuisine (mostly seafood of course) throughout Venice if you seek out local options for dining. Certainly the more famous areas for local food are the “Fondamente” like a Venetian boulevard, the long stretches along inner canals in neighborhoods like Cannaregio. Venetian street food in the inner canals and off the beaten path area is a fun local way to eat as well. Venetians stop in to a few of their favorite spots in the evening for small glasses of wine and “cicchetti” – bite sized snacks of crostini or polenta topped with seafood or meats, or simple platters of meats and cheeses.
To beat the crowds in Venice, above all, take time to enjoy a little local life beyond the main tourist areas, and you will leave feeling you are a little Venetian yourself (and Venetians, indeed, know how to avoid the crowds!).
Author bio: Guest author Shannon Kenny is co-founder of Prontopia, an on-demand app for help getting around the city by foot from locals in pedestrian city centers. The first launch city was in Venice Italy, where locals on the Prontopia platform enjoy helping visitors get where they need to go easily
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