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Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Venice, Italy (and how to avoid them)

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Waiting line - Basilica di San Marco

ABOVE: Waiting lines at popular attractions can cut into your vacation time, so bail out and explore Venice's quieter back streets when the mobs become unbearable.

Mistake #4: Following the crowd

Everybody who comes to Venice wants to see the Piazza San Marco, and for most people, deciding to visit St. Mark's Basilica is a no-brainer. Other monuments, museums, and attractions are iffier: Depending on your tastes, you may enjoy yourself more--and make better use of your time or money--by heading off the well-trodden path.

For example:

  • San Michele from vaporettoThe Doge's Palace attracts group tours and mobs of individual tourists who feel obliged to see it, but during peak season or on holiday weekends, the entrance lines can be horrendous.

    Admission isn't cheap, either. Unless you have an irresistible urge to see large, ornately-decorated rooms with paintings by artists like Tintoretto and Veronese, you may be  just as happy visiting places like the island cemetery of San Michele (inset photo) or the Naval Historical Museum at Arsenale, which is a few minutes east of the Doge's Palace along the St. Mark's Basin waterfront.
  • Rialto BridgeThe Rialto Bridge is an impressive sight, and you'll appreciate the views of the Grand Canal from its balustrades. Still, that doesn't mean you need to imitate the lemming-like crowds who linger around souvenir stands and have lunch at tourist restaurants near the bridge. You'll get a better feel for Venice (and suffer fewer bruises from other tourists' elbows) by heading inland from the Grand Canal and exploring typical Venice neighborhoods.
  • If paying 20 euros for a small glass of peach juice with sparkling wine doesn't appeal to you, don't feel obligated to join the tourists of Temple Fielding's generation who splurge on Bellinis at Harry's Bar. (While you're at it, avoid the Hard Rock Café unless you're desperate for a t-shirt.)

Bottom line: Instead of following the crowds or a guidebook author's itinerary, follow your instincts and inclinations. Your best holiday memories are likely to come from watching daily life in Venice or discovering Venice's lesser-known sights on your own.

Next page: Mistake #5: Paying too much for transportation

Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Venice, Italy:
1. Hit-and-run visits
2. Staying in the wrong location
3. Commuting from the mainland
4. Following the crowd
5. Paying too much for transportation
6. Taking unnecessary tours
7. Overpacking
8. Buying useless souvenirs
9. Being careless with valuables
10. Annoying the locals
11. Not coming back