Venice Travel Guide – More Advice For Visitors

It's worth mentioning again that Venice is visited by a lot of people every year, and this can put a strain on such a small place. It's a wonderful place to visit to revel in its magical qualities. It's also important to act respectfully — to the city, its residents, and to other visitors.

And that's easy to do — it's largely about doing what you would in your own city. Place garbage in the bins that dot the city. Dress appropriately, don't walk around in a bathing suit and flip-flops. Speaking of bathing suits, don't jump in a canal to swim — it's not only forbidden, but it might not be that clean. Instead, take a vaporetto to the island of Lido and enjoy its famous beaches. Here are a few more things to know about this floating city.

What Venice Is

Old Venice Map

Venice is a series of islands in a shallow, protected lagoon at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea.In later Roman times these islands may have been occupied by a few fisherman, but it was northern invaders, attacking the Roman Empire, that caused more people from the Italian mainland to flee to the protection of the islands. The most notable of these invaders was Attila (of Hunnish fame) in the mid-fifth century, while the most serious invaders were the Lombards a hundred years later, for whom the Italian region of Lombardy is named.

A strip of the mainland coastline and the islands were all that remained Roman. In this case it was the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantines. When the Lombards conquered all the mainland, more Romans fled to the lagoon. Originally the centre of the settlement was on the island of San Pietro di Castello, but by 825 CE the island we know as Venice became the seat of power for the city state.

The protected location on the Adriatic proved a strategic advantage and Venice became a powerful city, republic, and finally an empire in the 1200s. Although it retained ties with Byzantium, Venice was most definitely its own contained power. The Crusades and the opening of the Middle East to trade catapulted the Island City to fortune and power. These few centuries created the Venice we know today.

Venice Is a Safe Place

Gondolas & San Girio Maggiore

Despite the Commissario Brunetti crime novels by Donna Leon, violent crime is almost unknown in Venice. Like any city that receives lots of visitors, the only concern you should have is petty theft, like pickpocketing. As we've mentioned elsewhere, we don't want you to become a paranoid traveler, but remember to travel wisely, carrying your bags and purses over your shoulder, perhaps tucked beneath your arm, with zippers closed. Don't worry, you're not likely to have any problems if you use common sense.

Currency & Money Tips


Like most civilized cities in Europe (sorry, London!) the Euro is the official currency of Venice and all of Italy. The great thing about this is as you travel from country to country, you don't need to keep changing currency.

Speaking of changing, our experience has taught us that the easiest thing to do is pick up a couple of hundred Euros at your home bank before you leave, so you have some cash in your pocket. Then use credit cards and bank ATM machines when you're in Italy. We don't recommend travelers cheques or packing wads of dollars. All that is passé is the modern age of bank cards and credit cards that work virtually everywhere.

Tipping in Venice? We don't really recommend that either. Not that it's not appreciated, but Italians aren't much for tipping themselves. Remember, too, that a service charge (which is for the server) is already added to your restaurant bill. If your waiter was great, you might leave a Euro or two on the table when you leave.

One more thing about money. There's a tourist tax on hotels rooms (and we think on some other tourist services) that provides a fund to help the city cope with the hordes of tourist who descend on the city daily. The tax will either be added to your hotel bill, or you will be asked at the desk to pay it separately. We're glad to pay it to help Venice survive.

Don't Feed the Pigeons & Other Advice

Gardens on Torcello Island

It's against the law to feed the pigeons in Venice, for the good reason that they can be a plague on the city. So, don't try to take a cute picture of your kids feeding theses flying pests.

There are also city bylaws against loitering. This means don't settle down on the steps of a bridge or a palazzo to have a snack or rest your feet. This makes sense when you consider the number of people trying to navigate the city's narrow bridges and walkways. Instead, take yourself to one of the city's parks, or even on an excursion to one of the green islands, like Torcello (pictured).

Although it goes without saying, you're also going to get in trouble if you damage monuments, buildings, or bridges. So, leave your hammers at home, and no graffiti.

Don't even think about putting a "love lock" anywhere. Not only are they unsightly, but they damage bridges and fences. In Paris, for example, maintenance workers have had to replace who sections of bridge railings due to damage caused by the weight of all those love locks. They're not cute, they're thoughtless and irresponsible.