In such a beautiful destination as Venice, one tends to be overwhelmed the minute one sets foot on the place. The excitement of seeing the canals, the buildings, the cobbled streets and the people makes one forget how and where to begin anything. It is important, then, to know some essential things about Venice. The following is a partial list of some practical aspects of your stay.
Things to know
• No cars are allowed in Venice. Leave yours in the mainland and take public transportation going to the Venetian lagoon. Transportation within the city is good enough, though crowded at times. Also, they only stop at certain points along the Grand Canal and two other places. You walk your way around town.
• Get your Venice Card at the Marco Polo airport, Piazzale Roma and the Train Station. (There are now more places where to buy them.) This can help with museum admissions (discounts), vaporetto rides (lower fares), church admissions, and others. They also have a discounted version for young people.
• Public toilets are plentiful around popular tourist areas, charging 1 Euro for each use. If you have a Venice Card, they are free. Cafes and bars also have toilets which you can use, but as common courtesy, buy at least a cup of coffee.
• Original Murano glass is generally very expensive. But there are places where they are discounted (Piazza San Marco) and can sometimes go very much cheaper away from commercial centers (in outlying areas in Burano). Just be careful not to buy fakes imported from Asia.
• Fixed price “tourist dinner” is cheaper than a plate of spaghetti – there is no cover charge. Of course, the food quality of ‘menu turistico’ can not be guaranteed. Also, restaurants now slap a 10 or 15% surcharge on top of everything.
• The area around San Polo near Rialto and the fish market is typical of “bacaro” or “cichetteria”. These are the typical Venetian places to consume small snacks and drinks. “Cichetti” (similar to Spanish ‘tapas’) are popular snacks.
• If you must insist, here’s a lowdown on gondolas. They are expensive tourist attractions or romantic tours, whichever way you look at it. They charge 80 Euros for the first 40 minutes, and 40 Euros for every 20 minutes. After 7pm, the rate becomes 100 Euros for 40 minutes and 50 Euros for every additional 20 minutes. The maximum number of passengers is 6 persons, and you may split the fare with everyone.
• When ordering a fish dish, be aware that they are charged according to weight and not by piece. 7 Euros for every 100 grams would add up to 35 Euros for a medium sized fish that’s around half-a-kilo (500 grams). It pays to ask questions first before ordering.
• Almost everyone sells maps to tourists. These maps are FREE. You must have yours at the airport together with your transport ticket pass. If not, get them at the reception area of your hotel.
As in all other tourist destinations in the world, it really pays to ask around before committing on anything – transportation, food, shopping, going places, the best times to go, etc.
The above list is just some of the things one has to know about Venice. Be guided accordingly, and enjoy!