Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice

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When visiting this beautiful Italian city, there are a few things you’ll want to know ahead of time and a few things you’ll definitely want to avoid. While some are actual law, others are just plain old no-no’s that’ll leave locals shaking their heads.

Don’t find yourself in a frustrating (or embarrassing situation), and just read our 9 mistakes tourists almost always make their first time in Venice so you can be prepared and feel confident for your trip to this stunning city!

1. Feeding the Pigeons

First and foremost, it’s actually against the law in Venice. And secondly, they’re gross and are everywhere in Venice. I am particularly biased in my negative feelings towards pigeons in Venice, as one pooped right on my head while we were there!

Imagine, on the day you decide to actually do your hair, dress a little nicer, and do your makeup so you can take some nice pictures with your husband… and 5 minutes after walking out the door, getting splat right on your head by one of these sky vermin! Not my favorite experience.

Do yourself, and everyone in Venice a favor, and don’t feed the pigeons.

2. Not Validating Train & Bus Tickets

This tip is on our Rome Mistakes list too because it’s so important – and something that can feel really foreign to us Americans that don’t have much experience with public transportation. When you’re taking the bus or a train, you will need to validate your ticket before getting on board. 

At the station, there will be a little machine that you have to put your ticket in that punches a hole or clips a corner of your ticket, from there you can get on board. Not validating your ticket can result in a big fine!

3. Putting Your Feet (Or Any Other Part Of You) in the Water

While it may look so refreshing to dip your toes in the lagoon on a hot summer day in Venice, it’s probably not the best idea. Locals warn the water isn’t clean and it’s full of germs, so it’s best to stay away from putting any part of your body in the water.

There might not be a rule against dipping your toes in a canal, but Venice police did recently fine two tourists hundreds of euros each for swimming in the canals. 

On those blazing hot days, you might just want to find some shade instead!

4. Not Packing an Umbrella or Raincoat in Fall or Winter

When we visited Venice at the very end of October, it was pretty cold and windy with frequent rain showers throughout the day. We were really glad to have our rain coats as there were not many places to hide when those downpours hit!

Also keep in mind that Venice floods in certain parts of the city several times per year so keep in mind if you’re close to the lagoon or in a low area that you may have seek higher ground and wear water booties at some point if you’re visiting during the rainy months.

5. Visiting St. Mark’s Square Midday

This is the busiest part of the day to visit St. Mark’s square. If you’re a little claustrophobic, or just want a decent picture, we recommend visiting early int he morning or later in the day. Even at the end of October (during low season), it was still super, super busy in the middle of the day.

6. Eating Food in St. Mark’s Square

This might be one rule you aren’t familiar with – and it can cost you! Eating in St. Mark’s Square and on the Rialto Bridge is banned, and it can result in a big fine. You also can’t even sit in St. Mark’s Square unless it’s in a designated area, or at one of the cafes or restaurants located there.

7. Riding or Pushing a Bicycle in the City

Unless you’re a city resident or under the age of eight, you’re not allowed to use bicycles in the city – even if you’re pushing it by hand. While there’s an expensive fine, we’d imagine all of the bridges and narrow passageways would deter you as well!

While this isn’t a huge deal for most people, there are bicycle rentals and tours in virtually every other Europe hot spot that allow visitors to more easily traverse the city and see the sights. Don’t expect to be able to do it here – you’ll need to be on foot or on a boat.

8. Not Securing Your Valuables

While Venice felt the safest of any other city we’ve visited in Europe, it’s still always smart to make sure your valuables are secured both in your hotel room and on your body. Take advantage of the safe in your room for passports and electronics, and use a slash-proof purse like this one for your explorations around the city! 

I absolutely loved this bag, I used it in Venice and everywhere else we went. It fit my collapsible selfie stick/tripod, a small water bottle, my wallet, and phone with ease. And I was able to clip the zippers together to make it harder (and a much less exciting target) for pickpocketers.

9. Not Staying Near the Train and Bus Stations

If you don’t pack light (I never have and I never will!), staying near the bus or train station is your friend. There are no roads and no cars in Venice, and this can present some issues if you’ve got heavy luggage you’re wheeling around.

The first night we arrived, we didn’t know we could take a water taxi (and honestly, where we were staying, it wouldn’t have saved us that much headache) and my poor husband lugged our two giant suitcases up and down the bridges of Venice (including that super enormous one right when you enter). That poor man was drenched with sweat by the time we got to our Airbnb over by the Museo de la historia natural!

Pack light or pick your accommodations strategically!