Because of the sheer number of sights to see in Venice, some first-time visitors like to start out with an organized tour. Although few things can really be covered in any depth on these overview tours, they’re sometimes useful for getting your bearings. Avventure Bellissime (www.tours-italy.com; tel. 041/970499) coordinates a plethora of tours (in English), by boat and gondola, though the walking tours are the best value, covering all the main sights around Piazza San Marco in 2 hours for 25€ (discounts available online). For something with a little more bite (literally), Urban Adventures (www.urbanadventures.com; tel. 348/9808566) runs enticing tours that feature snacking on cicchettí, Venice’s version of tapas (80€ for 2.5 hr. tour).
For those with more energy, learn to “row like a Venetian” (yes, literally standing up) at Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com; tel. 347/7250637), where 1 1/2-hour lessons take place in traditional, hand-built “shrimp-tail” or batele coda di gambero boats for 85€ for up to 2 people.