I lived in Venice for two months last year, and I can say all of this from my own first-hand experience, and while this may sound rather cynical, know that I’m quite fond of ‘The City of Bridges’! During Venice’s busiest times, it’s ransacked throughout the early afternoon until early evening times, by tourists, fresh off the various cruise boats. The biggest issue with this is space, because most of the alleys are very small, and while they are fascinating to say the least, as they wind every which way, but when hundreds of people are bustling to push their way through to all of the ‘must see’ attractions, the overall mystique of Venice is severely taken away. One of the best things to do and to experience when traveling is the authentic shops, markets and various local events, but when in Venice during the busy-season, the odds that you will find complete authenticity are rather poor.
The best way to really experience Venice is to:
- Stay in the city, because you then can experience Venice after dark, and early in the morning, before it’s ransacked by cruise ship-goers. Most travelers seem to come into the city for half the day, and then move on, whether it’s via ship, car, or public transport.
- Perhaps visit in the beginning or at the end of the busier seasons. I’ve been to Venice twice now, and the first time was the best, as far as experiencing all that Venice has to offer in a very short time, because I visited in October, which is right at the end of the tourist season.
- Stay out of the tourist hotspots. There are many unique and locally owned accommodations available among the islands of Venice. It’s great to be near the attractions and what not, but when it comes to this city, you really want to be near one of these local-preferred areas: Castello, Santa Marta, Fondemente Nuove. I prefer to check around online for the best places to stay, like on GoWithOh’s website, as they have a great selection of intimate places to stay, and a series of solid tips for visiting many of Europe’s most popular destinations.
- Go to one of the many outlying islands in the Venetian Lagoon. These are typically less visited, and offer nice insights into what historic Venice was and what modern Venice is today.