OK, OK…now before you start screaming profanities at me, hear me out! Venice is TRULY a beautiful city and I’m sure 50 years ago it really had a lot of charm. I’m ALWAYS honest with you all and I’m not going to sugar coat anything for you, because honesty is the BEST policy, right?! SO, if you’re planning a trip anyway, I’ve outlined it all-every honest detail- the best places to see, a great place to stay, the perfect place to eat and all the reasons why I’ll never go back. Stay tuned 😉
- 5 Reasons Why I’ll Never Go Back to Venice
- How to Get to Venice
- Where to Stay If You’re Going to Venice
- What to Do in Venice
- Where to Eat in Venice
- Nearby Cities That Are Cooler, I Promise
5 Reasons Why I’ll NEVER Go Back to Venice
Are you feeling fooled from the photo above? I was totally dooped, too! If you’re still reading, it means you really want to know why I really dislike this city, and I THANK YOU for still being here (cheers!). If you’re planning to go, I hope that you can learn from our unfortuante experiences there and have a MUCH better time than we did!
I was led in by the gorgeous photos of Venice on Instagram (much like the one above) Don’t get me wrong, it really is beautiful, but the problem was the REST of the city aside from the scenery that really ruined it for us. This leads us to the 5 reasons why we’ll NEVER go back…
1. The City Has Lost It’s Soul
Josh and I travel for CULTURE. We LOVE to connect with locals and learn about the history and way of life in the city. Much like within the city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, so many residents have fled living in the city due to the tourism (note Dubrovnik has now limited the amount of tourists to 4,000 per day from cruise ships). BUT, unlike Dubrovnik, where you can head outside the city walls to mingle with locals and meet ‘REAL’ Croatians, you can’t find it in Venice, I’m sorry.
“Three decades ago, more than 120,000 people called Venice home. Today, there are 55,000. By 2030, some demographers predict, there will be no more full-time residents.” I met ONE kind and authentic Venetian the ENTIRE 4 days were were there. ONE. No one actually lives in the city unless they’re working in the tourism industry, as the only viable income is tourism. So, if you’re coming for a warm and fluffy, romantic, experience in a gondola, Venice is your place. If you’re coming to get to know REAL Venetian life, think again, sisters and brothers.
Don’t believe me, check out this article, which basically puts all the facts to my feelings.
2. The Cruise Ships Have RUINED The City
As of August 2018, there was a new law that bans giant cruise ships from visiting Venice, of which doesn’t take effect until 2022. Why the ban? They pose a HUGE conservation risk from rising sea levels. Venice is a city built upon water, obviously. “Up to 5,000 passengers and crew can disembark from one cruise ship, flooding a city that’s already inundated with tourists. Visitor numbers have continually risen, with over 30 million people estimated to visit every year and tourists frequently outnumbering locals. Such high visitation is thought to be ruining Venice both environmentally and culturally.”
Did you know that the cruise ships increase the population by 25%? There were even protests going on by local Venetians while we were there to oppose the cruise ships!
THANK GOD for my friend Kerry! She suggested we wake up at 6am daily and explore the city until the cruise ships dump off tourists in hoards. This small fraction of time allowed us appreciate its beauty. If you’re planning to go, I highly suggest you do the same! More details to follow about things to see and do below!
3. Corruption Rears it’s Ugly Head, My Friends
If this is the first article you’re ever reading by me, welcome! If not, you know by now that Josh and I have roamed around this globe. We’ve been to almost 50 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America and we’ve only been SCAMMED TWICE (in Beijing, China and Bali, Indonesia). And GUESS where #3 was…ding ding ding, you guessed it, VENICE!
Upon arrival to Venice, you’ll quickly discover (if you didn’t know before) that the entire city is on the water, so you’ll most likely want to purchase a ferry ticket to get to the part of the island where you are staying. Let me paint a picture for you…
Josh and I have just arrived, so so excited that we’ve finally made it. We each have our suitcases and backpacks (we’d been traveling for over a year at this point), a drone and Miesha (our furry baby) in her carrier. After talking to the kind woman in the ferry ticket booth, we happily purchase our ferry tickets and run to the ongoing ferry that is arriving. NO ONE tells us to validate our tickets, not the ticket booth saleswoman, no one. There is a small sign at the boarding station for the ferry, but we are in such a rush that we didn’t read it at all. Upon boarding, the people who are helping us load our luggage NEVER SAY A THING…
I’m sure you know where this is going, right?! Well, in case you’re not following, we boarded the FULL boat, with all of our SHIT and there are ticket police checking everyones ticket. And GUESS WHAT?! We didn’t validate our ticket. EVEN THOUGH I showed the woman our purchase receipt that was TIME STAMPED 10 minutes before, she proceeded to issue us a 200 Euro fine (between Josh and I) for NOT VALIDATING OUR TICKET. Welcome to VENICE!
Side note: this was absolute bullshit obviously. I flipped out and I couldn’t believe that I had my receipt and showed them that we paid the 40 Euros for the 5 minute boat ride 10 minutes before, but they still issued us a ticket, of to which we had to pay within 30 days. First they demanded cash, which I told them we didn’t have (I lied because I wanted to investigate this situation later), then they took our passport numbers and issued us a ticket. It was such a scam, at one point I asked the ticket officers if I was getting PUNKED?!
Sooooo, if you’re planning to go to Venice, you better validate that ticket people!
4. It’s SO Overpriced, It’s UNREAL
Josh, Miesha and I were traveling Europe for a year after we’d just traveled Asia for 2.5 years and (other than Switzerland), I’d never been to a more overpriced place (but Switzerland was worth it, trust me lol). Don’t get me wrong, we’re all about paying $100-$200 for a dinner IF IT’S WORTH THE CASH, but NONE of this food was! These restaurants KNOW they’ll never see you again, so they make the food the cheapest, most cost effective way. There is ZERO love in the food or the service.
Josh and I grabbed a few beers at a restaurant the first night we arrived, and two LOCAL draft beers costed us $20! So, before you think I’m being dramatic, I live in MIAMI and I’m used to paying $10-$25 for a drink or a beer (and $200+ for a good meal), but of which comes with GOOD service and is WORTH THE MONEY. These weren’t. We did, however find ONE HIDDEN GEM of a restaurant that literally SAVED OUR TRIP. Check it out below!
5. Gondolas: The REASON you Came to Venice will Cost You a SMALL FORTUNE
When I thought of Venice, I pictured Josh, Miesha and I riding through the canals, sipping Italian wine with a friendly gondola captain leading us through the gorgeous canals…boy was I wrong! We approached nearly 10 gondola drivers, of all which who were completely cold and clearly just moving on to the next customer. I literally had a HEART ATTACK at the price of a gondola ride when we arrived! Did you know that gondola captains make up to $150,000USD++ per year. Why?! Because each gondola ride costs over 100 Euros for a standard ride, of to which I just couldn’t stomach doing, especially with the lack of friendliness of the captains, so we decided to opt out.
How to Get to Venice
FUN FACT: You cannot get to Venice Airport from the train station in Venice.
I totally didn’t realize this, and probably should’ve planned better, but I didn’t. SOOOO we went to the train station in Venice the day we were supposed to pick up our rental car at the airport. Well, we quickly discovered that we we had to take the bus to the airport. This meant we had to carry ALL OUR BAGS (remember earlier when I said we each had a 50 pound suitcase, a backpack, a dog and a drone?), over this giant bridge to the bus station. Be sure to pack light! Fortunately, there are porters looking for work near the bridge who are willing to carry your bag over for a fee.
The bus to and from the Venice airport costs only 8 Euros one way. But, just as a reminder, I repeat, there is NO train from Venice airport to Venice. The buses leave every 15 minutes, which makes it super convenient, though!
Fortunately, the train station in Venice does to take you via train to anywhere else all over the country and we were super impressed with Tren Italia. The trains are clean, nice and relatively punctual. We rode the train from Venice to Rome and Rome to Naples and had zero problems.
Where to Stay in Venice
Ok so now that you’ve gotten through my bitch fest, we can move on to the GOOD parts of the trip! But, before we do, note that “of the 20 million people who come to Venice each year, only half sleep here, which is why hotel stays have dropped by two-thirds over the past 25 years.” Don’t let this stat allow you to think that hotels are cheap, hotels are still overpriced, which is why we elected to stay in an Airbnb.
Josh and I are forever Airbnb fans, especially when we travel with our fluffy dog, Miesha. Airbnb allows us the freedom to stay in local houses, as well as cook our own food (and save cash)! I’d absolutely recommend our Airbnb in Venice as it was SUPER centrally located, clean and had great wifi.
For $55 off your first AIRBNB booking, click HERE for my discount code!
What to Do in Venice
I couldn’t wait to leave Venice. It didn’t feel romantic. It felt overcrowded and frustrating 90% of the time. But, there were brief snippets where it felt absolutely beautiful I had that GLIMPSE into what it used to be like. All of these moments took place between 6am-9am, before the hoards of cruise ship tourists overtook the city.
The BEST advice I can give you is to GET LOST IN THE STREETS! Take steps off the main pathways (Venice is super safe) and explore. You’ll fall in love with the architecture and beauty of all the canals. JUST FOR A MINUTE, you may be able to picture what life used to be like in Venice.
Of course, there are a few MUST SEE sights while you’re in the city, so be sure to check out St. Mark’s Basilica and Plaza, San Marco Campanile, Canal Grade, the Gallerie dell’Accademia, the Ponte di Rialto and the Bridge of Sighs.
Where to Eat in Venice
As previously mentioned above, the food here is quite far from authentic in comparison to the other Italian cities we’ve been (Rome, Positano, Cinque Terre, Naples). Everything is produced for tourism and the love in the food is lacking. Note that our sample size was a handful of restaurants. You’ll have to go way off the beaten path to really find true Italian cuisine and, fortunately, Josh and I ventured out and found our hidden gem in the city.
Tuttinpiedi was the absolute perfect little small pasta shop. The pasta and sauces were homemade and super affordable. The manger was super kind-he even shared a glass of wine with us at the end of the night. It was the first and only local cultural experience we had in Venice. We loved it so much, we went two nights in a row!
If you’re planning to Airbnb it up and cook inside for a few meals to save cash, there is a GREAT grocery story called COOP, which literally has everything you could ever need. Some nights we just made pasta at our Airbnb, drank a bottle of wine and roamed the streets after all the cruise ships had left.
Nearby Cities that are Cooler, I Promise!
The coolest part about Venice is that it’s SUPER CLOSE to a LOT of really gorgeous cities! These are my top 5 suggestions nearby that I would definitely shorten your Venice trip to go and see:
1. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Located just 2.5 hours by car (we took a Blah Blah Car), Ljubljana is an absolutely gorgeous city with endless amounts of things to do, including a day trip to Lake Bled. Slovenia is one of the biggest hidden gems for us Americans. Slovenians are super cool, sophisticated and are always willing to have fun! PLUS, they’re a VERY active culture, which means that day trips from Ljubljana include hiking, snowboarding and so much more. DO NOT MISS a Paddleboard excursion on Lake Bled with Bananaway, its was the highlight of our trip so Slovenia!
2. Cinque Terre, Italy
In just 4 hours by car, you can arrive at what is arguably the most gorgeous place in all of Italy, Cinque Terre! It is truly hard to choose between Cinque Terre and Positano, but Cinque Terre offers up more of a relaxed feel as opposed to Positano, which is a bit more boujee. BE SURE to do the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza to Corniglia.
3. Mt. Titlis, Switzerland
In just 5.5 hours by car, you can venture up 10,000 feet to the top of Mt. Titlis, Switzerland to one of the most gorgeous views we’ve ever seen. I once had a patient who told me that when God created the Earth, He created Switzerland and New Zealand first, and I couldn’t agree more! Switzerland is literally indescribable, you have to experience it for yourself! BUT, bring a big wallet, because it’s expensive AF!
4. Munich, Germany
From Venice, it’s just 6 hours driving to one of the coolest cultures in all of Europe, BAVARIA! I still have yet to write a Blog Post about Munich, Germany, but its in the queue. Munich is such a cool city. It’s super super laid back, the people are beyond friendly and don’t even get me started on the FOOD! Bring your appetite and be prepared to gain 10 pounds, but I promise it’s worth it! Be SURE to stop at the Hofbrauhaus for beers and pretzels, you won’t be disappointed!
5. Zagreb, Croatia
There’s no secret here, Josh and I are OBSESSED with Croatia. We spent 3 months roaming around the country and we didn’t want to leave even after all that time! Fortunately, from Venice, you can get to Zagreb, Croatia in just 4 hours by driving. Zagreb is a super cool city, laid back and unique its in in own way. We found it really interesting how different the culture was in Zagreb compared to the coastal towns of Split and Dubrovnik. Each should be experienced, so take the time to visit them all!
6. Vienna, Austria
Even though its a bit more of a drive, you can reach Vienna, Austria in 7 hours by car from Venice. I’ve never seen such beautiful architecture as when we were in Vienna and, because my Grandfather grew up in Austria, I felt an incredible connection to the country and its people. If you’re a meat-eater, don’t miss Figlmueller, which has the best German schnitzel ever made, besides my Grandmothers, of course 😉
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
Of course, every single trip we all take is what we make it! Josh and I are probably the most positive people you’ll ever meet. Sadly, Venice (and Beijing) are the only two places on the planet we had an absolutely miserable experience. Of course, you know we still tried to find the good in each place.
PLEASE, go on your own and have your OWN experience! Don’t go into the city with bad ju-ju, you might end up having the best time ever (I truly hope you do!)! I just wanted to share my REAL experience with you in hopes that maybe you’ll learn a few things and have a better time than we did! Or, maybe you decide to go to one of the other wayyyyy more amazing cities in Italy or nearby Venice instead! Let me know what you decide and your feelings on my post in the comments! Thanks for reading, and, as always, happy travels! XOXO
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I am so glad I read this article or this poster blog or whatever they call it these days. Venice sounds like a freaking Disneyland now. I guess I’m not going to go. I think I’ll go to France and then on down to Rome and then on down to the Amalfi coast. I feel sad about Venice
Thank you so much for reading! It’s definitely disappointing. Hope you enjoy your Italy trip!
Girl, I’m with you. I’m here right now and it’s a smoky Disney without the rides!! We did have a nice lunch on the water somewhere, but overall, it’s a factory! Best to head out of the crowded places like you said and avoid the Rialto Bridge area and San Marcos square-
I’m so glad I’m not alone in my thoughts here! Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s a beautiful city, just so sad to see what tourism has done to it…keep traveling ✌️
Thank you. My daughter wants to visit Venice and after reading this and other blogs I don’t think it is what she is hoping for. Would love suggestions places to visit for a long weekend weekend where she can find culture in Italy
You’re most welcome! We loved Cinque Terre, she’ll certainly enjoy it (I also have a blog on this).
Thinking of going to Italy in May but hearing so much about the crowds and commercialism, not sure if it’s worth all the $$$! Where would you recommend in Italy (or in Europe in general) for gorgeous scenery, some unique experiences and fewer crowds?
Thank you so much for reaching out! I really cannot blame you for wanting to avoid the crowds. Slovenia is probably our favorite place that is more low key (and its a short car ride away from Venice, if you do want to go for a day, just in case). I have a blog post on Slovenia, if you’d like to check it out! Any other questions, don’t hesitate to email me thetravelingblondie@gmaillcom. Safeand happytravels!