Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Italy; no visas are required for visits under 90 days.
Security: Venice is one of the safest cities in Europe and violent crime is rare. Pickpocketing is a major problem, however, particularly during high season. Mind your valuables at all times and be especially cautious when riding the vaporetti (water buses).
Time: Italy is six hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: The currency of Italy is the euro. For current conversion rates, go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: The city code for Venice is 041. For calls to Venice from outside Italy, dial your country’s international access number 39 (Italy’s country code) 041 the six or seven digit telephone number. For calls to Venice from inside Italy, dial 041 the number.
When to Go: Winters in Venice are cold, damp, and dark, with average temperatures from the low 30s F (-1 to 1ºC) to mid-40s F (4 to 6ºC) from December-February and just a few hours of sunlight; thick fog frequently blankets the city in the winter, but snow is rare (and enchanting). Summer can be oppressively hot and humid, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and 90s F (26 to 37ºC), humidity in the high 80s (30 to 31ºC), and frequent thundershowers. High season runs from April through October in Venice; accommodation can be hard to find, so reserve in advance.
Getting There: Venice’s Marco Polo International Airport is served by several international carriers. Direct flights from the U.S. come from Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New York; connecting flights usually change planes in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Paris, or other European cities. The airport at Treviso, about an hour by bus from Venice, is served by European low-fare carriers Transavia and Ryanair. Travelers arriving at Marco Polo have several options to reach the city: Bus, car taxi, the Alilaguna boat (www.alilaguna.it), or a water taxi. From Treviso, take the ATVO bus (www.atvo.it). There is a train station, Venezia Santa Lucia (not to be confused with Venezia Mestre, on the mainland).
Getting Around: In a city without cars, everyone walks or takes a boat. You can travel from one side of the city to another lengthwise in about an hour; walking from Rialto to San Marco takes about 20 minutes. The public transportation water bus system run by ACTV (www.actv.it) is expensive, costing about $8.50 for a single ticket for visitors; multi-day passes can save money. Buy tickets and passes at booths before boarding; single-ride tickets are sold on board if you forget. Water buses run down the Grand Canal and circumnavigate the city, stopping frequently. Water taxis are pricey, costing about $130 from the airport to the center of town.
Tips: Good shoes are paramount. Visitors to Venice walk more than they imagine. “Comfort is the first requirement; sneakers are rarely the best choice, either for their appearance or feet-saving properties.”—Nan McElroy author, Italy, Instructions for Use. A sturdy pair of stylish leather shoes is better, and in winter, waterproof shoes are a plus.
Street Vendors: Do not purchase fake designer handbags from street vendors; travelers caught buying them are subject to enormous fines (about $14,500). Bag sellers may bolt into crowds if the police approach, so give them a wide berth.
Mosquito Repellent: Mosquitoes, zanzare in Italian, are pervasive. Bring repellent for evening dining al fresco, or buy some at a local pharmacy.
Umbrella: Though its annual rainfall isn’t significant, Venice is prone to frequent thundershowers, even in summertime.
Ear Plugs: Overall, the city tends to be quiet, but early-morning delivery boats or late-night revelers may wake you up. “Earplugs can come in handy at the oddest times, and be a real sleep-saver.”—Nan McElroy.
Pocket-Size Binoculars: “[Pack a pair of compact binoculars] for all those ceiling paintings, and for the lagoon wildlife.”—Jonathan Buckley, author, The Rough Guide to Venice & the Veneto.
Lightweight Top: Women should carry a lightweight top, even in summer. Serves as a quick cover-up for exposed shoulders when visiting churches and keeps you comfortable in case of overzealous air conditioning.
Natural Fabrics: In summertime, synthetic clothing is a nightmare in Venice’s humidity.
Dress Clothes: “Pack clothes that are nicer than what you normally wear because in a country where style matters above nearly all else, Venice is more stylish than anyplace else.”—Jeff Booth, travel writer and photographer (www.travelphotographer.net). Think casual but elegant in the daytime, a bit more dressy for dinner. Leave shorts, T-shirts, and sports shoes at home.
Search maps by street name, district and address, bridge or canal name, vaporetto stop, even by nearest pharmacy; helps make sense of the city’s diabolically difficult address system. maps.venicexplorer.net
Tourist Board of Venice
Official site with information about sightseeing, events, webcams, and even recipes. www.turismovenezia.it
Read fellow travelers’ trip tips, accommodation reviews, and Italian how-tos; there’s also a forum to post questions. www.slowtrav.com/italy
Save Venice/Venice in Peril
Boat transportation to and from the airport to Venice, Murano, and the Lido. www.alilaguna.it
Information on events plus vaporetto timetables; also operates ticket booths at major vaporetto stops in Venice; the site is in English and Italian, call center operators speak English. www.hellovenezia.com
Details on accessible sites and itineraries for disabled visitors. www2.comune.venezia.it/handicap/nuovo/pagina.asp?idmenu=19
Details on the city’s famous biannual art exhibition, music festival, theater festival, and film festival. www.labiennale.org/en/
A monthly in Italian and (sometimes awkward) English about local arts and entertainment scene; also publishes special supplements about the Biennale and film festival.
La Rivista di Venezia
Quarterly magazine published by the tourist board with details of upcoming events and exhibits, current affairs, cultural insights, and history tidbits about Venice and nearby towns. www.turismovenezia.it/eng/dynalay.asp?PAGINA=6029
Un Ospite a Venezia (A Guest in Venice)
This slim book-size paperback monthly is a bilingual roundup of all the major exhibits, concerts, and events in town; reads like a guidebook. Distributed free at hotels. www.aguestinvenice.com
Mostly Web-based event and concert information; sometimes prints bilingual magazines and special event supplements. http://2night.it/venezia/
Sign up for the free weekly email newsletter on news and events. www.veniceword.com
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.