Time Zone: GMT+1/UTC
Tipping: Service charges are generally added to the bill automatically, however it is standard to simply round up the bill by a few euros to make a round amount. If you have received excellent service a larger tip would of course be appreciated!
Venice is definitely one of the most popular places to visit when on coach holidays to Italy and tends to be a favourite with couples for its air of romance – let's face it, there's very few of us who cannot think of Venice without the image of a couple in love taking a romantic ride by gondola appearing in your mind – can you?
Located on the northeast coast of Italy, Venice is protected by Adriatic Sea and this means that the area is prone to varied weather systems. The temperature here is normally fairly moderate, however it has been known to rain all year round. If you plan to take a coach holiday to Venice during the summer, be prepared for it to feel quite humid however, the winters are known to be rather wet and foggy. Due to its many waterways and temperamental weather, Venice has been known to flood approximately 60 days a year between October and January. The spring and autumn months are recommended as being the best time to visit Venice, however you can never be sure what the weather will have in store for you so pack accordingly.
People who visit Venice tend to travel by water, however the narrow winding streets are traffic-free and are perfect should you wish to venture out on foot. The Grand Canal is the area most people visualise in their minds when thinking of Venice and this acts like a Main Street, cutting through the heart of the city. No holiday to Venice would be complete without taking a ride on a gondola but it can work out to be quite costly and in some cases it could be cheaper for you to travel via the Vaporetto, especially if you wish to visit the over-crowded Grand Canal. A standard gondola ride will last for 40 minutes but if you negotiate a lower fare, the journey is likely to be cut short. Do note that fares for travelling by gondola at night tend to be a lot higher. You are advised to visit the less touristy areas of Venice where you can experience a different view of the city.
There's much more besides to see and do in addition to the classic gondola ride when on city breaks to Venice with timing being key so you can visit all the sights you wish to. Do not leave Venice without visiting Saint Mark's Square where you can enjoy a latte whilst people watching in one of the many chic cafes, however to be seated outside will be costly because the views are amazing and the café staff make sure you pay for the privilege. Whilst spending time in Saint Mark's Square, a visit to Doges Palace and St Mark's Basilica would be worthwhile especially if you have a passion for architecture. Take a stroll across the 'Bridge of Sighs', the Rialto Bridge which is over 400 years old where you can also purchase local delicacies at the Rialto Food Market. Perhaps take a day trip to one of the Top Islands found in Venice where you can marvel at the art of glass-making in Murano or admire the many colourful houses to be found in Burano which is also an island famous for its lace – perfect locations for souvenirs to take home to loved ones!
Tours start from only £299 per person and each escorted tours package to Venice includes: return coach or air travel, accommodation in a quality hotel, meals and excursions. Those breaks to Venice that are by coach will include overnight stops on both outward and return journeys.
Being situated in a lagoon and home to lots of small bridges, anyone travelling to Venice should be comfortable with navigating steps. While Venice is flat and the paving stones are large and flat which make walking easy, narrow streets, bridges and heavy pedestrian flow in some areas can make it hard to wheel a suitcase, let alone a wheelchair.
Finding Your Way Around
Don't worry too much about needing a map in Venice. Neighbourhoods and larger bridges are signposted at the top of almost all the lanes.
There are public toilets dotted about the centre, close to Rialto and San Marco areas. It will cost 1.50 EURO to use them but the facilities are well looked after.
A seat at a café on St Marc's Square will cost you and you'll pay somewhere in the region of 6 EURO per person before you've even ordered anything for the privilege of enjoying the orchestra. As long as you're prepared for it, it is a great experience.
For a more cost-effective and authentic experience, look out for 'Trattoria' or 'Osteria' instead of dining on the large squares. Trattoria alla Vedova in Cannareggio is a favourite and is very reasonably priced. Try the meatballs (poplette).
St Marc's Basilica
Book in advance to avoid the queues during the day, or go at 4pm when it’s quieter. As with all religious places in Italy, respectful dress is required. Shoulders and legs should be covered.
A great way of seeing the Grand Canal is by catching the number 1 or 2 Vaporetto. See more about getting around below.
How to Get Around
Vaporetto – Venice’s equivalent to public transport, with pontoons dotted about the ‘city’. Buy a 12, 24, 36 hour, 2 or 3 day-pass allowing unlimited travel which you swipe before you board (think Oyster Card). A 3 day pass costs xx EURO per person. If planning on using the Vaporetto for the evening, double check timetables as there may be a limited service.
Water Taxi – think 'James Bond' style boats for smaller groups of passengers.
On Foot – Venice is fairly compact, meaning you can get to Rialto to San Marco in about 15-20 minutes.
Gondola – while it's not an option for all travel whilst in Venice, there are lots of Gondola stations especially along the Grand Canal and St Marco areas, or you can grab a waiting gondolier on many of the small bridges dotted about the city. Rides are about 80 EURO (per gondola) for 30 minutes.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Venice, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
When visiting Italy you should always obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) prior to departing from the UK. The EHIC isn't a substitute for medical and travel insurance, however it entitles you to state provided medical treatment should it become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is given on the same terms as Italian nationals. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on-going treatments or non-urgent medical treatment, so in addition to having an EHIC you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds which will cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
Crime levels are generally low in Italy but there are increased levels of petty crime in the larger city centres. Take care when riding on public transport and when visiting crowded areas in Rome, especially close to the main railway station 'Termini' and when riding the number 64 bus, which goes to St Peter's Square and back. Be vigilant if getting the train to or from the major airports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport) and also be careful when unloading your luggage from coaches and trains. Thieves have been known to rob sleeping passengers on overnight trains, so take necessary precautions.
Alcoholic beverages served overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Never leave food or drink unattended at any time. Victims who have had their drinks spiked have been robbed or even assaulted in the past.
If you hire or drive your own car to Italy be aware that rest stops and motorway service stations are ideal targets for robbers. Be cautious of any offers for help with flat tyres, particularly on the motorway which stretches between Naples and Salerno. Make sure you always lock your vehicle, avoid leaving valuables on display and never leave luggage in your car for any length of time.
European police forces have issued warnings about counterfeit Euro notes being in circulation. Ensure notes received from sources other than banks are genuine.
Local Laws and Customs
Italian Law states you must be able to show identification at all times. It is sensible to carry a photocopy of the data page from your passport, but be aware you might be asked to collect the original document to show to the police officers or you may be asked to produce it within twelve hours. If you are stopped by Police, whilst driving, you will most likely be asked to present your full passport.
In Rome and the surrounding area, restaurants have to display a menu outside. Only if the customer specifically requests it, can they can charge for bread and they must inform the customer of the prices that are being charged when he/she orders it. They must also give a proper receipt and must not make any cover charge (coperto).
In Venice and Florence, you may be fined should you drop litter. In Florence, in the vicinity of the main public buildings and churches it is an offence to eat and drink or to sit on steps/courtyards.
Illegal traders often operate on the streets of major Italian cities, particularly Florence and Rome. Do not purchase anything from the illegal street traders, you may be stopped by the local police and fined.
British nationals don't need a visa to visit Italy. Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay when under three months. Italy does not insist on your passport having an additional period of validity beyond this.
Any other nationality looking to visit Italy must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For further information about Venice please go to the Official Tourism Website:
Venice, beautiful Venice. Even if you're not actually doing something, you can still enjoy yourself just being in this amazingly unique city. Here are some of our top things to do:
Venice is easily to navigate on foot. Explore the streets or pick up a gelato (ice cream) and sit at the foot of Rialto Bridge and watch the world go by on the Grand Canal.
Aside from the Grand Canal and gondolas, the Rialto Bridge is an icon for Venice and visitors come in their hundreds to take a stroll across this ornamental stone bridge where you can also shop for souvenirs whilst admiring the views on either side. Do note though that during peak season, it can get rather crowded.
Opened in 1931 situated in the St Marc's area, the Bellini cocktail was invented in Harry's and everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Hemingway have been here.
It's one of the more tourist things to do but a trip to Venice wouldn't be complete without a ride on a gondola. A 30 minute ride costs about 80 EURO (per gondola), but to keep the cost down you can always look for others to share with. There will be plenty of people waiting at the gondola stops.
Caffe Florian (Italy’s oldest café)
Established in 1720 on St Marc's Square, where the poets (Lord Byron, Charles Dickens) and other famous faces (Casanova) used to reside. Be prepared for an expensive, but better than average coffee!
Vaporetto to Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore
Hop on the Vaporetto for a magnificent view of Venice across the water, offering an alternative to the typical Campanile and St Marc's Basilica options.
Bridge of Sighs
Stop at the Bridge of Sighs (the name given by Lord Byron), used to transport convicts from the Doge’s Palace to their prison cells.
Murano and Burano
Take the Vaporetto to Murano (famous for its glass) and Burano (famous for its lace and coloured houses).