Home City Tour 16 insider tips for Venice: Tips & Hacks

16 insider tips for Venice: Tips & Hacks

© Unsplash

16 insider tips for Venice: Tips & Hacks

The Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace or St Mark’s Basilica – we’ve heard it so many times. These are definitely the bestsellers in Venice and the most visited attractions. But what if you want a more authentic experience? Almost live like a local and explore the hidden gems of this exciting list?

That’s why I’ve compiled a collection of tips for anyone who’s up for an adventure and wants to see some of the city’s highlights off the beaten track. The historic island of Venice is full of surprises, and there are plenty of activities and insider tips. Here’s my list of the most spectacular ones!

Visit the Acqua Alta bookshop

Visit the Acqua Alta bookshop
© Unsplash

It’s one of the most unusual shops I’ve ever seen! So authentic! You won’t just find books here but also pictures, drawings, postcards, and more. Disorganized and chaotic could be the second name of this shop. Most books are not on shelves but lying around, even in old bathtubs.

A highlight is the staircase made from old books in the inner courtyard.

If you find a free spot (which is a miracle), you can sit on the terrace and read a book, right next to a small canal with the best view.

📖 Why does the bookshop look like this? The famous floods in Venice have often hit the shop. Many books are housed in unusual containers, such as gondolas, small ships, bathtubs and barrels, which prevent them from getting wet during floods.

🕒 Open daily, including Sundays, from 9 am to 8 pm.
🎟️ Admission is free.
📍 Not easy to find: In the centre of Venice, 500 metres north-east of St Mark’s Square. Libreria Acqua Alta in Google Maps.

Crossing the Grand Canal with a traghetto

Crossing the Grand Canal with a traghetto
© Marc Kugge

The terms vaporetto and traghetto are often confused. Vaporetto is the word for the large water buses that run on the Grand Canal and travel to Murano, Burano, and the other islands. Traghetto, on the other hand, is a small, gondola-like boat used to cross the Grand Canal.

It is a unique and authentic experience. As there are only four bridges in Venice, it can take a while to reach the next opportunity to cross the Grand Canal. Therefore, riding a traghetto driven by a gondolier is also an authentic option.

The journey is cheap and usually costs €2.00. In some places, however, it can cost up to €5.00 per person.

Participation in a mask-making workshop

Participation in a mask-making workshop

The carnival is a historic tradition in Venice. It attracts thousands of visitors annually, and the most spectacular thing is the costumes.

The disadvantage is that the carnival always takes place in winter, which is also an excellent time to visit Venice. Even though it has some advantages, I would recommend spring or Easter because the weather in Venice is already pleasant then.

All information in my article about Carnaval in Venice

So, if you missed the carnival in winter, you can still take part in a mask workshop. There, you will learn a lot about how these carnival masks are made and the different types of masks, which all have their own meaning. Of course, you can take home a mask you have made yourself or bought, which is perhaps the best souvenir you can take home from Venice.

If you want to participate in the workshop with your children, you should know that the teachers do not speak German. Mainly English, Spanish, or Italian. A person accompanying the child may, therefore, be necessary.

Book a mask making workshop here

The local markets

The local markets
Annie Spratt © Unsplash

A visit to one of the famous Venetian markets is highly recommended. Sometimes it’s a good idea to skip breakfast at your hotel or accommodation and go straight to the market, where you can find many local delicacies!

What is so special about these markets? They are full of locals who also do their shopping here. Colourful and lively, you can buy many local products here at a reasonable price!

Whether you visit the Mercato di Rialto or the Mercatino di San Giobbe, it’s a real treat for the senses!

Explore Venice by night

Explore Venice by night
Alessio Furlan © Unsplash

A visit to Venice by night is a truly enchanting and unforgettable experience. It reveals a different side to this historic city that daytime visitors often overlook. As the sun sets and the crowds disperse, Venice magically transforms, revealing its romantic charm and timeless beauty under the cover of darkness.

One of the main advantages of visiting Venice at night is the opportunity to escape the crowds that often flood the city’s narrow streets and busy squares during the day. When the day-trippers retire to their accommodation, Venice becomes quieter and more intimate, and visitors can stroll through the labyrinthine alleyways and enjoy the city’s enchanting atmosphere without the distraction of large crowds.

Explore Venice by night
Jan Tielens © Unsplash

The city’s landmarks, such as St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal, are bathed in soft lamplight, casting a mesmerising light on the calm waters of the canals. The historic palazzi and ancient buildings of Venice are illuminated with subtle light that emphasises their architectural details and enhances their charm.

Strolling along the tranquil canals, visitors can admire the elegant façades and ornate bridges that epitomise Venice’s rich cultural heritage, all bathed in the ethereal glow of moonlight.

Venice is also extremely safe at night!

More information in my article Venice by night

The beaches of Venice

The beaches of Venice
© Unsplash

Although the city is better known for its incredible architecture and its worldwide reputation as a floating city, you heard it right: Venice also has beautiful beaches. The most famous beach is the Lido di Venezia.

It is important to know that the weather in Venice differs from that of northern European countries: It’s not often cold and rainy, but usually warm and sunny! So no matter when you’re travelling to Venice, a visit to the beach (in summer or winter) is always a good idea, as it’s the perfect way to escape the chaotic city life.

In winter you can book a short cycle tour along the Lido, and in summer everyone needs a refreshing dip in the water!

The beaches are clean, well maintained and easily accessible by public transport.

More information in my article about beaches

Discovering the island of Burano at sunrise

Discovering the island of Burano at sunrise
© Unsplash

Exploring the island of Burano at sunrise is a captivating experience that reveals the true essence of this enchanting place. Located in the Venetian lagoon, the island of Burano is known for its pastel-colored houses, picturesque canals, and rich cultural heritage. While the island is a popular destination for day-trippers, those who set out early in the morning will be rewarded with a serene and heavenly atmosphere that cannot be found at any other time.

To embark on this magical journey, travelers can take an early vaporetto or water bus from Venice to Burano. Vaporetto line 12 departs from Fondamente Nove in Venice, and the journey takes around 45 minutes. For those looking for a more private experience, water taxis can also be hired, offering a faster and more personalized way of transport to the island.

If you arrive at Burano in the early morning, you can experience how the island awakens from its slumber. The soft colors of dawn cast a golden glow on the colorful facades and bathed the streets and canals in a warm, ethereal light. In the calm of dawn that unveils the island, travelers can stroll through the labyrinthine streets at their own pace, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and admiring the beauty of the surroundings.

Secure your Vaporetto tickets now

Walk along the Fondamenta delle Zattere

Walk along the Fondamenta delle Zattere
DEZALB © Pixabay

A walk along the Fondamenta delle Zattere in Venice is a delightful and unique experience that captures the essence of this enchanting city.

This picturesque waterfront promenade, located on the southern edge of the island of Dorsoduro, offers visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the Giudecca Canal and the iconic Venice skyline.

Good running shoes, food and water are essential. The hike could be longer than you think.

Visit to the Jewish ghetto – Cannaregio

Visit to the Jewish ghetto - Cannaregio
© Marc Kugge

History can be overwhelming, but it is a reality and very interesting. Cannaregio is an extraordinary place in Venice. It is close to all of Venice’s significant sights but so different. You can feel the history unfolding before your eyes.

More information in my article about Cannaregio

Nowadays, it is a little escape from the hectic city center around St Mark’s Square. Cannaregio now offers authentic restaurants and small bars where you can get tasty snacks, and it is quiet as tourists do not overrun it.

If you are interested in the Jewish history of Venice, you can visit the Jewish Museum (Museo Ebraico di Venezia).

📍 The exact address is: Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, 2902, 30121 Venezia.

The most important and best-known building is the Palazzo Ca d’Oro.

More information about the Ca D’Oro Gallery

Ghost & Mysteries Walking Tour

Ghosts & Secrets Tour
Alessio Furlan © Unsplash

Prove that you are not afraid and can take part in the tour! Do you think this city is all glitz and glamour? You’ll be surprised! Venice also has a dark side – on this tour, you’ll learn all about it while visiting Venice’s sights!

Do you want to know why the Bridge of Sighs has this eerie name? The stories are unbelievable and sad, but true!

A spooky journey between myth and reality. Listen to exciting stories about mysterious apparitions. You will also be given a candlelight and can listen into an underground crypt that has been forgotten for years! A promise is a promise and you won’t be disappointed with this tour: After sunset, Venice turns into a city full of unsolved mysteries and secrets!

🇬🇧 The tour is in English!
📍 Meeting point at least 15 minutes before the start of the tour

The tour can be booked here

Discover the hidden courtyards

There are countless hidden courtyards in Venice, concealed behind inconspicuous entrances. Take the time to discover these quiet oases and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere that prevails there. Authentic Venice!

Some famous courtyards open to the public are Campo dei Greci, Campiello del Piovan, Corte del Teatro Vecchio, and Campo San Giacomo di Rialto. You can find more information on the map above.

You can often find authentic restaurants or cafés in these courtyards. I usually never recommend eating or drinking in touristy places, but this is where it counts. Sometimes, these courtyards are not so well known and are off the beaten track. So you’ll have to see whether making a pit stop in one of these courtyards is worth it. Either way, it’s worth it! You must enjoy the Venetian lifestyle; even locals like visiting these quiet courtyards!

Participate in a Voga Longa Regatta

Participate in a Voga Longa Regatta
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, Venise à l’heure de la Vogalonga 2019 (48336224987), CC BY 2.0

Every year the regatta takes place in May, which is logical as the weather gets warmer and more tourists come to the city.

The Voga Longa Regatta is not usually crowded with tourists, so it is more of an authentic Venetian event. In addition to the actual rowing regatta, the regatta often features music, food stalls and other cultural activities along the route, giving participants a comprehensive artistic experience that showcases the best of Venetian traditions.

By taking part in the Voga Longa Regatta, participants and spectators help to preserve the Venetian rowing culture and support the local rowing clubs and organisations that play an important role in maintaining this tradition.

Cheer on the participants as they sail through the city’s historic canals in traditional Venetian boats.

The discovery of the Sotoportego del Diavolo

The discovery of the Sotoportego del Diavolo
Abxbay, Sotoportego catullo, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Devil’s Underpass: A small passageway in the Castello district of Venice, Italy. Many legends and lore surround the Sotoportego del Diavolo, but its origins and purpose are less sinister than its name suggests. It is a typical walkway that crosses Venice and offers shortcuts between streets and squares. These passageways served practical purposes, protection and provided convenient routes through the city’s maze of alleyways.

So what is behind the name Devil’s Underpass? These are probably more local folklore or urban legends than historical facts. With its rich history and romantic allure, Venice has inspired countless stories and myths over the centuries. The name might evoke a sense of intrigue or danger, which adds to the attraction of the passage for visitors curious about its history.

In reality, the Sotoportego del Diavolo is just one of many charming and historic passageways that make up Venice’s unique character. While its name captures the imagination, the real secret lies in the layers of history and culture woven into the fabric of the city.

Cicchetti Venice and Bacari

Cicchetti Venice and Bacari
© Unsplash

Cicchettis are small, bite-sized snacks or appetizers that are an essential part of Venetian cuisine. Cicchetti is usually eaten with a glass of wine or an Aperol Spritz (a popular Venetian aperitif), like Spanish tapas or Italian antipasti.

These snacks can vary significantly in type and flavor. Some common cicchetti are slices of bread with various spreads or toppings, sweet and sour marinated sardines, tiny meatballs, and salted cod served on crostini or bread. These savory or sweet fritters can contain seafood, vegetables, or even chocolate and fried rice balls filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables.

Cicchetti are usually served in bacari, traditional Venetian wine bars or taverns. These establishments often have a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for socialising and casual dining with friends. It is common for locals to walk from one bacaro to another, sampling different cicchetti and wines along the way, which is known as a cicchetti crawl.

Take part in a Ciccheti crawl

Here are the 4 best bacari in Venice. All are located in the centre near the Rialto Bridge:

📍 Cantina Do Mori, Rialto: Calle Do Mori, 429
📍 Vino Vero, Fondamenta della Misericordia: Fondamenta de la Misericordia, 2497
📍 Stappo, San Stae: Santa Croce, 2166
📍 I Rusteghi, Rialto: S. Marco, 5513

A trip with the water taxi

A trip with the water taxi
© Marc Kugge

Have you ever wanted to feel like James Bond for a day? These water taxis are the boats that can be seen in various films, including The Tourist with Johnny Depp.

Information about famous film scenes

Admittedly, these taxis are expensive. But if you’re in Venice once, spending a bit of money and feeling like a film star on the water is worth spending a bit of money. Why not combine both experiences? Water taxis also leave from the airport and can take you close to your hotel! Then, the journey is not just for the experience but also makes sense.

All information about the water taxis

A cocktail before going to bed

A cocktail before going to bed
© Il Mercante di Venezia

We saw a lot today. We took part in a workshop where authentic Venice Carnival masks were made, traveled across the Grand Canal on a traghetto, visited the Jewish quarter, and finally took a tour of the secrets and ghosts of Venice!

Now is the time to relax! There are a multitude of fantastic cocktail bars in the city. A real heritage, as some of them have been around for hundreds of years, like the bar Il Mercante di Venezia – 4.8 stars on Google Maps! Some of the best bartenders/mixologists in the world work in these famous bars! In addition to the TOP TIP of Il Mercante di Venezia, which is located in the city centre, I have compiled a list of renowned cocktail bars with excellent ratings on Google Maps.

🍸 Il Mercante – Fondamenta Frari, 2564, 30125 Venezia
🍸 Blackjack Bar – Calle Minelli, 1267B, 30124 Venezia
🍸 Bar Longhi – Campiello Traghetto, 2467, 30124 Venezia
🍸 Do Draghi – Sestiere Dorsoduro, 3665, 30123 Venezia

So these are my insider tips for Venice! I hope there’s something for everyone and that I’ve been able to help you with some of these recommendations. If you want to skip these tips and still go to the most popular attractions, then please remember that skip-the-line tickets are a real blessing. Venice is usually overcrowded with tourists and the queues can be endless.

Have fun in Venice!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here