Travel Tips for Your First Trip to Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy is a surreal place to for an escape, and as with other bustling cities in Italy, your days will be more about site seeing and less about relaxation. However, unlike many other Italian metropolitan areas, Venice is incredibly clean, the people couldn't be friendlier and the feeling of safety abounds.

Don't Get Bitten

Whatever else you choose to pack in your suitcase, make sure bug spray finds it's way in there - especially if you're traveling to Venice during the summer. While it doesn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together - a warm climate and miles of canals - this can be an easy thing to overlook. If you're planning to dine alfresco along a picturesque canal, bug spray will be your savior! While most restaurants do provide citronella candles on the table, be proactive and pack your own protection.

Go With a Gondola

You can't leave Venice without a famed gondola ride - it's the quintessential tourist activity, not to mention romantic! Keep in mind that prices are higher after 6 pm, but worth the extra Euros unless you happen to be visiting Venice on a cool day. However, don't be shy about trying to negotiate the price down on your ride - the area is saturated with gondoliers competing for your business. Start walking away to go on to the next boat over, and more than likely the price will come down.

Taxi In

The primary way to get into the heart of the city is, of course, by water taxi. While the price from the airport will seem steep, after you have been traveling for hours, it's the best solution to take you straight to your hotel. If you opt for public transportation, you more than likely will have to transfer along the way. Not only is the water taxi, well, private, it's a great relaxing ride from the airport and through the Grand Canal.

The Young...and the Young at Heart

As with almost any European city, there can be obstacles for those traveling with young children and the elderly. If you're considering staying on one of the outer islands off the beaten path, keep in mind that you will constantly be on and off of boats heading to all of the attractions. If you're going to be pushing around a stroller and with someone (or are someone) who is not as steady on his or her feet, it could be a challenge on the boats. However, once you're on the main island, Venice proves to be just as accessible as any other city in Europe - just be prepared to walk!

Skip the Line

It's very common now when visiting a city for museum passes to be sold. In some places, it's not worth the extra expense - you may not make it to even a fraction of the sites on the list! However, Venice's museum card is a worthwhile investment. For a flat fee you can gain access to pretty much all museums in Venice except for the Venice Academy. The downside is that you can only visit each museum once, but all are accessible enough that you can easily get through them in a couple of hours. Because the primary sites in Venice are within a close proximity to each other, you can hop from place to place with ease. One site not to be missed is the Doge's Palace, incredibly ornate and dating back to the 1300s!

Eat Your Heart Out

Now, Venice may not have the culinary reputation that you'll find in the heart of Tuscany. But you can still plan to encounter some amazing seafood, quaint sidewalk (or canal side) cafes for people watching and espresso, great pizza and all of the gelato you can get your hands on! Stop off at Harry's Bar for a drink, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway and other members of high society.

Check out that Glass

Venice is, of course, known for Ventian glass. You can find variations of this blown glass all over the islands, from small beads and wine stoppers that can fit into anyone's budget (and suitcase!) as well as more ornate decorative items and bowls that tend to be more expensive. You can even take a boat to the outlying Murano Island to see glass making in action!

Venice is city that everyone should visit at least once. A city run by canals, it offers up exotic charm and scenery that cannot be beat. For a great experience, start in Venice and work your way southwest into Tuscany for a trip that will be full of breathtaking sites that are as different as night and day.

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