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erby2283

No clue what to do in Venice

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Will be in Venice in August on Vision of the Seas. Have several tours booked in the other ports but planing on winging it on our own in Venice. We are in Venice from 3pm on a Friday until Saturday at 6:30 pm.  This is my very first trip to the Motherland and to Europe. Other than taking a gondola ride (yes, I MUST do this), I really have no clue what to do. I have read that I should get off the beaten path before taking a gondola ride - less touristy.  I'm not really a big shopper, shocking for a woman I know. 😊  And the glass blowing thing is not really high on my radar. I have downloaded Tom's Port Guides and looked at Rick Steves' as well. I think I read something about going to see Saint Mark's Basilica and possibly going over to San Marco island. 


Are these places you would recommend? What did you do when you where there? Is water taxi the best way to get around?

 

What is a decent price to pay for two people for a gondola ride and how much should we tip? Does anyone know if I have to return to the ship overnight or can I stay out as late as I want that Friday night?

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Lots of questions -- I'll try to answer a few.

 

First -- there are two "best ways" of getting around Venice. First is by walking -- Venice is quite small with lots of wandering narrow streets and bridges. At some point, it's a good idea to get out and walk a part of it. 

 

However, understanding that time is limited, a faster option are the vaporettos. These are not to be confused with private water taxis, which are quite expensive. They are more like the local equivalent of a city bus. I would suggest you look into getting a vaporetto pass of 24 hours. It only takes 3 vaporetto rides to pay for itself.

 

Don't think of going to the outlying islands on a first trip (these are Murano, Burano and Torcello). Especially if you are not into glass-blowing, leave these for another visit and just explore Venice proper.

 

To my mind, the main "must-see" places are St. Mark's basilica and the Doge's Palace. You can do them on your own or with a tour. Do some research about getting tickets in advance or where to buy once in Venice.

 

You can stay out as late as you like on the Friday evening, but be aware that the main vaporetto service stops at a certain point (I think it's either 11:00 pm or maybe midnight in the summer months....).  

 

To get from your ship into the heart of Venice, you will need to walk from your ship's terminal to the People Mover (a sort of monorail that takes you from the port to Piazzale Roma, a central gathering point for transportation).  At Piazzale Roma you can take a vaporetto that goes up the Grand Canal to St. Marks Piazza -- I highly recommend this as an introduction to Venice. All of the grand palazzos from Venice's golden age face the Grand Canal, and you will also see the Rialto bridge, Accademia bridge, etc.)  You may want to do this as soon as you get off the ship on Friday.  

 

If you do this, get off the vaporetto and just walk around St. Marks Piazza for a bit and enjoy. Perhaps go for your gondola ride. Some even bring a bottle of wine and glasses. 

 

Rick Steves' Venice guide has a great follow-along tour for the grand canal ride on the vaporetto as well as several walking tours in and around St. Marks.

Edited by cruisemom42

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10 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

Lots of questions -- I'll try to answer a few.

 

Thanks Cruisemom - was hoping you'd chime in (didn't want to quote your whole post). I get so nervous just thinking about public transportation in Europe. I hear it's relatively easy but the fear of the unknown makes my hands start to sweat. lol.  I read about a restaurant on here from TLCOhio from an old post from 2010 and then I saw pictures of it right next to a canal and said, "Oh my, I have to eat there!' It's called Da Raffaelle. I even googled how to get there and it had me walking, taking a vaporetto and then walking some more, and now I'm just like.....well maybe they'll be tons of restaurants with a view and menu like that. 🙂

Thanks for the tip on the outlying areas. I did read that we should try and hit up St Mark's when we get there bc they are less crowded in the afternoon. In fact, we are one of two ships in port that day where as the following day, there are a total of 6 in port! That's going to be insane if Venice is as small as you say it is. Knowing the # of cruise ships in port (2 the first day and 6 the next) does that change your advice at all?

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27 minutes ago, erby2283 said:

Thanks Cruisemom - was hoping you'd chime in (didn't want to quote your whole post). I get so nervous just thinking about public transportation in Europe. I hear it's relatively easy but the fear of the unknown makes my hands start to sweat. lol.  I read about a restaurant on here from TLCOhio from an old post from 2010 and then I saw pictures of it right next to a canal and said, "Oh my, I have to eat there!' It's called Da Raffaelle. I even googled how to get there and it had me walking, taking a vaporetto and then walking some more, and now I'm just like.....well maybe they'll be tons of restaurants with a view and menu like that. 🙂

Thanks for the tip on the outlying areas. I did read that we should try and hit up St Mark's when we get there bc they are less crowded in the afternoon. In fact, we are one of two ships in port that day where as the following day, there are a total of 6 in port! That's going to be insane if Venice is as small as you say it is. Knowing the # of cruise ships in port (2 the first day and 6 the next) does that change your advice at all?

 

Hmmm, well the problem is that St. Marks closes at 5pm, last entry is at 4:45 pm. If you really are motivated to see it, then you can try to be off the ship ASAP, but getting around does take some time and you'll probably feel rushed.

 

Alternatively, I would propose (since you are lucky enough to be in Venice from the day before), getting up early and off the ship, so that you are in line to get into the Basilica by about 9:15 am. (It opens at 9:30 am).  You don't want to rush, although you'll be in a line of people walking through.  I would also take the time to visit the Museum of the Basilica, which is accessed by a long and narrow set of stairs in the entry/narthex of the basilica (stairs are on your right if standing in the entry and facing inside the basilica).  From here you have access to the wonderful views across the piazza and the piazetta (the little "leg" of the main piazza that goes down to the water) and close up views of the famous bronze horses.  If you do this, you won't need to queue up for the busy Campanile.

 

After that, visit the Doge's Palace. 

 

Venice is tough for food. Most places tend to be on the touristy side or very expensive (or both). We did find some decent eateries in the neighborhood in back of St. Marks. If facing the front of the basilica, walk to the left and keep the basilica on your right. Keep walking for about 3 or so blocks and then start looking at side streets. It's a pleasant area. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the restaurant you name. 

 

 

 

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I would book a Cicchetti tour for the first evening you are there, just riding the water bus to the meeting place will be an eye opener.  There are several companies which do them.  They will take you on a walk around town and introduce you to some wonderful places.  You will probably see a place to eat dinner, or ask the guide for a recommendation. They can probably direct you to a gondolier or you can book that ahead of time too.  If you want to live the good life, go to St. Mark's square after that, get a table on the square, order a drink (preferably Prosecco) and listen to the bands. Make a reservation for a St. Mark's & Doge's palace for early the next day, again, lots of companies to choose from.  
I would also browse some books or websites and figure out one more thing I wanted to see. If you can't figure one special thing, then after the morning tour, I would start a long, meandering walk back to the ship, stopping to browse shop windows and maybe stop for coffee, gelato or a pastry.
I wouldn't plan too much because just walking or riding around is a treat!

 

Have fun! Venice is our favorite city, just because it is so unique.
Vic

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I haven't been to Venice yet, but I understand your apprehension about public transport.  I live in Europe and I felt that the first time I had to plan a trip to the States.  Guess what ...  it is easy.    

 

I am planning my first trip to Venice in September.  We have a bit longer than you because we are staying two nights pre-cruise and have about 10 hours post-cruise before we catch our plane.  Like you, I don't like shopping and I am not interested in glass blowing.  Still no idea what we will do, but the tickets for Doge's Palace and St Marks are still confusing me.  

 

However - when it comes to restaurants I would not recommend looking for a specific place - you may end up wasting lots of time looking and passing some really nice alternatives on the way.  We rarely book ahead and usually wing it.  You can get the feel of a place quite easily from the menu outside.    We are usually happy with what we eat.  

 

I will do as CruiseMom says and buy the Vaporetto pass.  I need to identify when I am going to visit the Doge's Palace.  After that...  who knows, I might just try to relax and enjoy Venice. 

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8 hours ago, ollienbertsmum said:

I haven't been to Venice yet, but I understand your apprehension about public transport.  I live in Europe and I felt that the first time I had to plan a trip to the States.  Guess what ...  it is easy.    

 

I am planning my first trip to Venice in September.  We have a bit longer than you because we are staying two nights pre-cruise and have about 10 hours post-cruise before we catch our plane.  Like you, I don't like shopping and I am not interested in glass blowing.  Still no idea what we will do, but the tickets for Doge's Palace and St Marks are still confusing me.  

 

However - when it comes to restaurants I would not recommend looking for a specific place - you may end up wasting lots of time looking and passing some really nice alternatives on the way.  We rarely book ahead and usually wing it.  You can get the feel of a place quite easily from the menu outside.    We are usually happy with what we eat.  

 

I will do as CruiseMom says and buy the Vaporetto pass.  I need to identify when I am going to visit the Doge's Palace.  After that...  who knows, I might just try to relax and enjoy Venice. 

Ha, I live in the states and when I go to NYC I feel the same way about the subway. 🙂 And now that you mention it, I agree about the food too. A couple years ago, myself and 2 of my best friends took the train into NYC (we're from neighboring Connecticut so it's something we used to do more often when we were younger). We had no plans and just walked and walked and walked. Found the best restaurant for dinner. I think my fitbit said I ended up walking 35k steps that day. One of the best days ever! So sometimes winging it may just be the answer. 

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I'm similar in that I have no interest in shopping either. I had been to Venice once before on a bus tour and therefore had already seen Doge's Palace, St. Mark's and crossed the Bridge of Sighs so this time (this past September), I decided to just walk. After finding my hotel, leaving the luggage, I chose a direction and just walked everywhere. It was awesome. I did the same thing the next day. Now near the Rialto, there is a mall of sorts where you can go to the roof for a spectacular view of the Grand Canal and Venice and it was FREE! You have to reserve a time and then you have 15 minutes to spend up there. It was great. Not sure I can post the link but google Venice Rooftop Experience and you will find it.

 

After the cruise, I finally got the vaparetto pass and used it to get to Murano and Burano and then up the Grand Canal. That was lots of fun too and quite easy.

 

Walking around Venice is fantastic. Go down alleys, wander over bridges. You'll never get lost and every turn is beautiful.

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Here’s a link to a website about Venice, including transport. I found it very helpful

https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/vi-transport.htm

Other suggestions - take the Secret Itinerary Tour at the Doges Palace, it’s fascinating, it takes you behind the scenes including to see the prison cell where Casanova was held. It’s better to book beforehand. Here’s a link https://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/en/pianifica-la-tua-visita/special-itineraries/secret-itineraries-tour/

The other area that’s great to see is the Jewish Ghetto area, it was fairly quiet when we were there as it’s quite a way from St Marks. It’s actually not too far from Maritima, if that is where your ship will be docked.

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We have signed up for a food tour in the Jewish Ghetto for our first day...the next morning we will get up and off ship early, jump on a Vaporetto to St Marks and then after we take it all in we will walk back toward the ship.  If we get short on time we will again hop on a vaporetto.  

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On 4/25/2019 at 12:09 PM, erby2283 said:

What is a decent price to pay for two people for a gondola ride and how much should we tip? 

 

Back when we were there in 2016, the going rate was €80 for a half hour. the price is pretty much standard.

But the quality of the gondolier may vary. Find a gondolier off the grand canal and away from ST. Mark's Square. Find a gondolier in a side canal. We hired Alex Hai, because back then she was the only female gondolier and she got good reviews and the prices for an hour ride were good. She will meet you near the Fenice Theater, which is a short walk from St. Mark's square

here's the website showing tours and prices:

https://alexhaigondolatours.com/tours

 

She is now a he, but the ride and price she offered was worth it as she had great reviews.

 

We did not tip as tipping is not customary in Italy.

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2 tips for Venice. Walk everywhere and “get lost” ... it is magical.

Don't eat anywhere near St Marks as it will be poor quality and expensive for the tourists.

 

Be on deck for your arrival... great time to get there! 

From ship get the People Mover to Piazzale Roma. Buy a 24 vaporttto pass. This allows you to jump on and off the vaporettos.  REMEMBER TO STAMP & VALIDATE THE PASS BEFORE YOU GET ON YOUR FIRST VAPORETTO... this starts the 24 hr clock ticking.  

I’d first take the 5.1 or 5.2 which does a circular loop to get your bearings and see the outlying areas.  Then back to PR.

Get on the #1  that goes down the Grand Canal.  Sit outside at the back and marvel at the views.  Better to do this early evening as less touristy.  Get off at Arsenal and walk back towards SM.. this way you get to see the Bridge of sighs. Keep along the front to Harry’s Bar and then in this side street is the department store with the outstanding rooftops views that has already been mentioned. Pic below.   If you get to the end of the Harry’s Bar alley (and Louis Vuitton is on your left) you have gone too far!  It is an easy to miss door on your left. 

 

Then walk past LV and follow the streets to the Rialto... keep wandering until you get back to PR.  Directions are painted on the walls.

I would get up early next day and do SM in the early morning mist.  Then over to see the fish market and the morning life... everything is by boat.. rubbish collection, washing machine delivery, ambulances, funerals....amazing to see. 

 

I would also go over to Guidecca as you get the best views of the city from that side, and of the cruise ships going up the Guidecca Canal. The best restaurant we have eaten in is right by Palenca stop.  Back across the water and walk across to see Accademia and then through town the streets back to PR and catch the Mover back.

 

 

 

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Edited by little britain

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Before we went to Venice for a few pre-cruise days, I had read a number of books set in Venice so I knew where I wanted to go <g>.  Highly recommend any of Donna Leon's mysteries and John Berendt's City of Falling Angels (also a mystery).   Finally, a non-fiction book I enjoyed:  Marlena de Blasi's A Thousand Days in Venice.  Venice is a special place.  Enjoy!  [Note: we never rode in a gondola, nor went to Murano, did ride the water buses extensively even out to the Lido, a large island SE of Venice, with upscale neighborhoods on one side, a beach on the other side.]

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Download Rick Steves audio guides for Venice. Take the number 1 vaporetto from Piazzale Roma (where the People Mover takes you) all the way to Piazzale Rome, listening to his guide on the Grand Canal. Amazing! Visit the Frari Church, again using his guide. Walk across the Accademia bridge and go to the Zattere area to eat overlooking the Guidecca Canal. Venice is magical. Avoid the touristy traps like Harry's Bar. Buy a bottle of Prosecco and a carton of peach juice and make your own. Definitely buy a 48 hour Vaporetto pass. It's dead easy to use. Enjoy!

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On 5/1/2019 at 2:12 PM, TSUmom said:

We have signed up for a food tour in the Jewish Ghetto for our first day...the next morning we will get up and off ship early, jump on a Vaporetto to St Marks and then after we take it all in we will walk back toward the ship.  If we get short on time we will again hop on a vaporetto.  

 

When I first read the post I was thinking about this.  We see many churches when we visit Europe and went on a synagogue tour in the Jewish Ghetto.  Using a vaporetto map we were able to get right there.  After the tour we wandered back to the Grand Canal on foot.

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Agree with all the recommendations above. My others to add in: 

 

- a drink or meal at a restaurant on  Fondamente Nova and a stroll up and down that lagoon facing path. see the real Venice and the views are so peaceful. winding your way on foot back to the Rialto Bridge is great too. 

- san Giorgio maggiore tower (opposite Doge Palace) is a great vantage point, as is the look out point by Salute Vaporetto stop. 

- if you like modern art the Peggy Guggenheim museum is good + the view over the canal is great too. 

- for a change of scene have a wander around Arsenale; lovely cafes just outside the main entrance there. 

 

Enjoy!

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Strongly agree with the post that suggested just walking and getting delightfully lost is a lot of fun in Venice.  And with a vaporetto pass (you can buy a timed pass at vending machines or at ticket offices) you also have access to boats (Lines #1 and #2) that are constantly going around the island of Venice (in either direction).  If you get a little ambitious you can use those same passes to go anywhere in the Lagoon such as to Murano, Burano, Lido, etc.  Its all fun and since it seems like everyone in Venice is a tourist you will fit right in :).

 

Hank

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5 hours ago, victory2020 said:

how far is the cruise terminal to St Marks area? Is it walkable? 

 

The question is how fit are you and how long have you got. Its easily walkable and I've done it several times on different routes spending ages stopping and admiring and photographing the back streets etc. Venice has no major route to do that its a wonderful maze of alleyways and paths and there are multiple routes some more direct than others, most of them have signs high up on the walls directing you to either the station or St Marks.  I would say its anywhere between 2 to 4 miles of a walk taking as long as you like.

I would though, as others have said, enjoy the vaporettos to get as far from the port as you want to go and maybe walk back. There are many sites on the way to St Marks and you can hop on and off the water buses as many times as you want. Stop at Academia bridge to admire fantastics views, get back on to go to Aresenal and then walk back via St Marks and from there via Rialto bridge back to the port.  The vaporettos are an enjoyable way to see the city in themselves, a real experience.

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5 hours ago, JBare said:

 

The question is how fit are you and how long have you got. Its easily walkable and I've done it several times on different routes spending ages stopping and admiring and photographing the back streets etc. Venice has no major route to do that its a wonderful maze of alleyways and paths and there are multiple routes some more direct than others, most of them have signs high up on the walls directing you to either the station or St Marks.  I would say its anywhere between 2 to 4 miles of a walk taking as long as you like.

I would though, as others have said, enjoy the vaporettos to get as far from the port as you want to go and maybe walk back. There are many sites on the way to St Marks and you can hop on and off the water buses as many times as you want. Stop at Academia bridge to admire fantastics views, get back on to go to Aresenal and then walk back via St Marks and from there via Rialto bridge back to the port.  The vaporettos are an enjoyable way to see the city in themselves, a real experience.

Thank you. So the vaporettos are water taxis? Do you catch one at the cruise port? I think I saw you can buy tickets at a machine - do they take credit card, and how much for a day pass?

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13 minutes ago, victory2020 said:

Thank you. So the vaporettos are water taxis? Do you catch one at the cruise port? I think I saw you can buy tickets at a machine - do they take credit card, and how much for a day pass?

Actually the Vaporretto s are more like water buses. You can get water taxis which are like land taxis in that they just take you/your party. They are very expensive. This website is helpful https://www.venice-information.com/Transportation-in-Venice.html#gallery[pageGallery]/0/

Yes, you need to buy a ticket before getting on a Vaporretto, and then to ‘validate’ it, by putting in a machine before you get onboard. There are (separate) machines to buy the tickets. A day pass is €20. There is an app you can use - there is information about it here. http://actv.avmspa.it/en/content/avm-venezia-official-app

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52 minutes ago, victory2020 said:

Thank you. So the vaporettos are water taxis? Do you catch one at the cruise port? I think I saw you can buy tickets at a machine - do they take credit card, and how much for a day pass?

 

You cannot catch one at the port. You must get from the port to Piazzale Roma, either via a long-ish walk or by using the People Mover, a sort of monorail that ferries cruise passengers to and from the Piazzale.

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17 hours ago, victory2020 said:

Thank you. So the vaporettos are water taxis? Do you catch one at the cruise port? I think I saw you can buy tickets at a machine - do they take credit card, and how much for a day pass?

No, the vaporetto water busses do not go to the cruiseport.

 

however the alilaguna blu water bus does. This is more expensive and runs between the airport and the cruise terminal. The trip takes around 90 minutes and it is a wonderful way to arrive ; or to end your vacation if you have a later flight.

Edited by little britain

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7 hours ago, little britain said:

No, the vaporetto water busses do not go to the cruiseport.

 

however the alilaguna blu water bus does. This is more expensive and runs between the airport and the cruise terminal. The trip takes around 90 minutes and it is a wonderful way to arrive ; or to end your vacation if you have a later flight.

This goes to the area around St Mark's also? How long does it take to get the airport & how much is it? I have not purchased transfer to the airport yet but have a 12:30pm flight. I'd love this option if it would work

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