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Wandering aimlessly around back streets and canals is a marvelous way to experience Venice, but you’ll still want to hit all the must-see sights—preferably without over-spending or getting stuck in San Marco tourist gridlock. These strategies and time-tested tips will help you make the most of your time here.

  • Avoid the lines: It pays to book ahead (online) for the Palazzo Ducale and the Accademia, which guarantees you an entry time. Venice offers several discount cards that also let you skip ticketing lines (the Museum Pass is recommended).
  • Plan your sightseeing around lunch: Some sights do close for lunch in Venice (12:30–3pm), but most (including the churches) stay open, meaning a lot fewer people at each location.
  • Walk: Aside from on boats, the only way to explore Venice is on foot. Though the layout of the city is confusing, getting lost in its streets is part of the fun. Indeed, explore the far reaches of the city and you’ll be guaranteed to lose the crowds, even in summer—most folks rarely stray beyond the main routes.
  • Be prepared for Sunday closures: While most sights in Venice are open every day (some museums close on Tuesday), much of the city’s art is in churches, and many of those are closed to tourists on Sundays, either for the morning or all day. There’s one way to get around this: Attend a Sunday service as a worshipper. You may not be able to study the art at length, but it’s the best way to put this great religious art in context.
  • Avoid the crowds: Late February and March, just after Carnevale, is a great time to visit; it can be cool and misty, but you’ll have the streets and canals (largely) to yourself. Otherwise, get up at sunrise in summer at least once, just to wander the city before the crowds emerge—it’s a magical experience.
  • Save money on meals: Eating in Venice can be expensive, but there are plenty of budget options. You’ll save loads by frequenting neighborhood bars known as bacari (normally 5–7pm), where you can stand or sit with small plates of “cicchetti” (tapaslike finger foods), washed down with a small glass of wine. Anywhere near Piazza San Marco is likely to be expensive; it’s best to avoid places with "menù turistico" options altogether.

 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.