ABOVE: A tour boat on the Giudecca Canal. TOP
INSET BELOW: Unless you're
Johnny Depp, why would you want to cruise around Venice in a pirate ship?
Mistake #6: Taking unnecessary tours
many tourists arrive in Venice, climb into a sightseeing boat, and cruise along
the city's waterfront while a guide with a microphone tells them what they're
"On your left is the Ca' Bigoli, built in
Venetian Gothic style by a 12th Century pasta trader who later became a doge.
The interior, which you can't see because you're 50 meters away in a boat, was
later redecorated with paintings by a student of Tintoretto..."
(Are you bored by our fictitious example? Think of how
bored you'd be if you were in the boat, and how annoyed you'd feel after paying
40 or 50 euros for the equivalent of a narrated vaporetto ride.)
Our advice: Venice is
a compact city that any reasonably healthy person can easily explore alone on
foot. There's little reason to spend money on tours unless:
- You have mobility problems;
- You're pressed for time; or...
- You enjoy learning cultural and historic tidbits
during a private or semi-private walking tour with an expert guide like our
friends at Walks Inside Venice.
If you're willing to explore Venice on your own, start by
purchasing a good street map of Venice
(such as the Touring Club of Italy's 1:5000 series) and a sightseeing-oriented
guidebook. Then start walking.
Here are some ideas for do-it-yourself tours using public
up the Grand Canal on the No. 1 vaporetto.
Sit up front if the boat has as open bow; otherwise, grab a seat in the
stern, behind the enclosed cabin.
To avoid crowds, catch the No. 1
vaporetto at the Piazzale Roma in the evening, when day-trippers are on
their way home, and ride toward the Piazza San Marco. Stay on the boat until
the San Zaccaria stop, or even a few stops beyond if you'd like to enjoy a
pleasant walk along the waterfront. (Don't go any farther than S. Elena
unless you plan to buy a return ticket at the Lido and ride back toward your
Visit the major islands of the Lagoon by public
transportation, following the itinerary in our self-guided
a traghetto, or gondola ferry, across the Grand
Canal. The trip is quick, but it costs almost nothing, and it's the best
transportation deal in Venice. (Traghetti cross the canal at half a
dozen points, and the routes are marked on most good maps.)
Suggestions for escorted tours
you do feel the need or desire for an escorted tour, see "Tours and Excursions"
on the Venice
Sightseeing/Culture page of our
Venice Links. (The page also has links for guided tours of attractions such
as Ca' Foscari, the former doge's palazzo that is now a university headquarters,
and La Fenice, Venice's historic opera house.)
Mistake #7: Overpacking
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