A straightforward Venice Italy travel guide in 2020 (with new social distancing rules) to make the most of your trip!
With a focus on getting there by car, ideas on things to do in Venice, hotel and food recommendations.
Getting to Venice by car (roadtrip)
Venice is a city consisting of several islands located in North Italy. The city doesn't have roads but instead water channels.
Driving from Austria over the dolomites (alps) to Venice takes about 4 hours. The landscape is beautiful and the last bit is a high way. The toll is about 10 Euros.
Traveling from Milan to Venice take 3 hours over the state highway.
Getting from Bologna to Venice is a 2 hours drive on the highway.
Italian highways have toll passes. You take the ticket at the entry point and pay at the exit cash or card.
Parking and Getting around
Coming with a car to Venice can be a bit daunting because you can't just get a hotel on the island with a parking spot in the premises. Everything is water around!
You have two options.
Either you book a hotel on one of the islands and park the car in one of the huge parking garages at the entrance of the city or you stay on the mainland, in Mestre, at a hotel with parking included.
There are a couple of high-story parking lots at the entrance of the island. They are priced somewhere between 20-32 € per day.
The car parking spots are tight and getting there ain't that easy.
You need to cross the same bridge, which the tram and buses use. So, it can get crowded and super stressful!
There is a parking lot in Mestre (mainland) located near the bridge and next to a bus and tram stop.
It's a better option because it's cheaper, only 10€ per day, and you don't have to cross the bridge.
Public Transport is great in Venice! It's straightforward, well connected, not all too expensive and most importantly safe, even at night.
To get into the main Venice island, you will need to cross the large bridge by tram or bus.
The tram and bus pass by every 20 minutes or so up until 1 am, then a night bus or tram takes over.
The tickets can be bought in Tabacco stores, vending machines or so called ACTV offices.
Look out for the large T sign, which means they sell tickets there.
A one-way ticket from Carpenedo to the main Venice island costs € 1,50.
To move between the islands, take the vaporetto. That's how the public boats are called.
A one way boat ticket for 75 minutes is priced at € 7,50.
If you plan on using the tram, bus and boats a lot to get around, I recommend you get a 24 hour ticket priced at € 20.
You have to validate your tickets when you enter the bus, tram or Vaporetto. Look out for the white card reader with the colorful buttons.
Things to do in Venice
We just loved to walk around the city and I still believe that's the most exciting thing to do. Venice is an attraction in itself!
Get lost in the tight alleys, discover beautiful building walls, and walk over old bridges.
Venice is huge and soon you will discover that it's impossible to see it all.
We just walked around the main island for two days and we always discovered something new.
Venice is a beautiful labyrinth. Look out for the following sights:
- St. Marks square, basilica, piazza san marco and doge's palace
- Ponte della Paglia
- Rialto bridge - popular but crowded
- Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo - little hidden gem
- Venetia Arsenal the Piraeus (Greece) lion statue
- Marco Polo's birth house (just a plaque but I got excited)
More things to do
- Take a boat to visit the other islands
- Take a Gondola ride
- Visit the Venice Biennale
- Visit other museums such as the Natural History Museum
You can either stay on one of the Venice islands or on the mainland.
We stayed on the mainland because we wanted a hotel with parking. It's important that we have a safe parking spot for our car.
Hotels on the mainland are about 50% cheaper and as good as the ones on the islands.
If you decide on staying on the islands, you will most probably be staying on the main island.
That means you will get to the main island via public transport (tram, bus or by train) or by car and leave the car in on the of the parking lots at the entrance of the island.
Hotels on the islands do not have a car access. They will mostly have a boat access.
From the entry point of the main island, you will either need to walk to your hotel or take a public transport boat or take a boat taxi.
We saw people walking 20-30 minutes to get to their hotel with their luggage. Apparently it's a common thing to do, it looked exhausting at times.
Because you need to keep in mind that you need to cross bridges and waterways and that the island might look small on the maps but that it take over 70 minutes to walk from one end of the island to another.
Also we went during a time when Venice was empty (due to the social distancing thing) so the passages were not that filled with crowds and we still took that long to get around.
I recommend you check with your hotel. Some classier hotels might provide you with a boat pick up and that does sound exciting. Right?
Also, get a room with an AC if you visit in summer. It gets hot!
Restaurant and Bars
Restaurants and bars are plenty the deeper you walk through the labyrinth of houses.
Food is of course big in Venice but drinks are another great thing about the city in the water.
The bellini was invented in Venice. It's a peach cocktail!
The Aperol Spritz is the signature drink of Venice. It's made with Aperol liqueur, prosecco (sparkling wine) club soda, and an orange slice.
We got hooked on the Aperol Spritz, which btw is also called the Spritz Veneziano.
The bars in Venice are called Bacaro and they serve drinks and so-called Cicchetti (local tapas).
We loved the place Bacaro Pane e Vin! They had great food, great aperol, a great atmosphere and nice service.
So if you ask yourself what to eat in Venice, go to this place and ask them. They will explain you every bite and you get to taste authentic food from Venice.
Things to get from Venice
Venice is known for handmade specialties!
You will notice some of these on your stroll across the city.
- Masks - think Venice carnival
- Leather gloves - a wonderful collection
- Lion doorknockers
- Murano glass
- Burano lace
- Brocade fabric
- Bellini - Cocktail from Venice in a bottle
- Baicoli - Cookies from Venice
Social distancing rules
Always wear your mask in public transport, shops and churches in Venice.
You don't have to wear a mask when you walk around but know that some places are crowded again, such as the St.Marks square or the shop lane after you cross the Rialto bridge.
We put on our masks when we entered those areas and we didn't stay there.
Must people automatically keep distance, some still don't get it, so be prepared to deal with such people.
That said, locals always wear their masks, it's tourists that don't seem to give a f***.
Some shops keep disinfectant at the entrance.
Most folks (not all obviously) traveling now kind of don't believe in the new world we live in. Sadly, most are younger than 30 years of age.
That said, if you keep distance, wear your mask and wash and disinfect your hands regularly, you should be fine. Just keep a distance!
Yes you can! The city has set up public visible taps around the city. The water is safe to drink. I drank it!
We never felt threatened in Venice, it's a perfectly safe city. We went home at night walking from the bus stand to our hotel at 1 am. We felt safe in public transports and people seem to be straightforward and helpful.
Some do not allow photography inside, some don't allow people to enter in short and tank tops. Just look out for posters at the entrance to guide you along. We entered some churches in shorts and didn't have an issue.
Cities in Italy don't seem to welcome the idea of benches because you won't find one. The only place where we found a bench is at the end of the main island in a public garden. The city administration wants people to sit and consume in restaurants and bars.