I didn’t end up hating Venice

From the time of booking our flights to Italy we debated if we were going to Venice. It seemed everyone we talked to said, “don’t go”, or “we hated it”, and “it’s overrun with tourists”. Never the less, in our typical fashion of not taking advice, we decided to go. We only booked one night in case we hated it. Even though some of the Venice neigh-Sayers were right, we actually didn’t hate Venice.

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The beauty of Venice is undeniable. It’s a one of a kind town that keeps your finger on your camera, and makes you wonder how they built it. Venice is a maze of tiny streets surrounded by canals in every direction. Ornate gondolas floating under beautiful stone bridges. Venice is something out of a picture, a real-life postcard. Unfortunately, the pictures never tell the whole story.

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Sadly, everyone was right, it is completely overrun by tourist. My first thought leaving the train station was “this is tourist hell”. The island sees several cruise ships every day of the year. The ships dock and let thousands of people loose on the narrow streets and bridges of Venice. The city has become somewhat of a floating Disneyland. Everywhere you look strollers being painfully pushed up and down the cobblestone bridges. Kids running and screaming. The constant photo taking anywhere and everywhere with complete disregard of the surroundings. It’s enough to make you want to push someone off of a bridge and catch the next train to the mainland. However, it doesn’t have to be.

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Even with the 60,000 people piling on to the streets of Venice every day, it’s not all lost. Venice can still be a beautiful place to visit, you just have to get lost. We spent our one afternoon actively trying to get lost. Basically going the opposite direction of everyone else. Venturing down small narrow alleyways and uninhabited bridges. For as many people visit Venice it’s amazing that there are still plenty of quiet places to explore. It seems everyone sticks to the main streets and piazzas, which are beautiful in their own right. However, for me the true beauty of Venice is in the peaceful spaces away from the hordes of people.

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Even with its flaws I am glad we went. Have you been to Venice? Did you love it or hate it?

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18 thoughts on “I didn’t end up hating Venice”

  1. First time I traveled to Europe from NY was in the late 1970’s and I was being shown Venice by my then boyfriend who was from there. We stayed at his parents house outside the city and ferried in for day/evening trips. I went in the winter time. It was magical.
    Last year I was in Europe touring about in the springtime and for nostalgic reasons I decided to stop in and have a look. I could not believe how tourism destroyed this city. For example….. Standing in San Marcos and seeing a cruise ship pass by up close ruins the experience of the plaza (the scale of the buildings and the church relative to the obscene cruise ship).
    I do get it. The city is in crisis mode and needs tourist dollars since most Venetians have left.
    It is a city to been seen asap.
    I suggest doing a fast pass at the most touristy spots to see the magnificence of the architecture. Lower your fantasy expectations of those place as they are from a time that is long gone.
    Do get lost away from the tourists!
    Do go to the other islands around.
    Avoid the summer……not worth the crowds, expense or hassle.

  2. I’ve been three times and plan to go again this year; it’s utterly enchanting! Your advice is spot on; get off the main path. Use the public transport to explore nearby islands. Wander. Chat. Eat. There are SO MANY little churches, cafes, bridges, parks, etc. Cross the Giudecca and eat on that side of the canal, looking back at the Piazza San Marco. Try all the gelato. Enjoy the little shops. Sigh.

  3. We went last year and loved Venice! In fact, we loved it so much that we are heading back again next week! This time to see some of the islands like Burano and Murano.

    And like you said, Venice is full of tourists, especially during the carnival season I imagine, but you just have to wander down the alleyways, soon you’ll be away from the tourists and can enjoy being lost in a gorgeous place.

  4. We visited Venice last year in September and it was brillant, I loved it!! The tourists weren’t too bad, we did our own thing and wandering around taking everything in. Love your photographs

    All things nice…

  5. I agree that the hot tourist spots around St Marks and the Rialto can be bad during the peak season but come during the off-season and you will see Venice as Venetians see it – quiet streets, breathtakingly beautiful city scenes, packed with history and traditions. Unless you delve into a city’s history, you miss the heart and soul and just see the superficial tourist traps. Go beyond the check-list tourism and a whole new Venice opens up before you. Its well worth a trip, just don’t come in July or August please!

  6. Venice is pretty crazy during the day, but the beauty is undeniable. We stayed on the island of Venice itself and after about 7 or 8 PM the city is spectacular because all the cruise ships have left and many who are staying on the mainland as well. Then it’s just you, the locals, and a few tourists. There’s a great hostel with very reasonable prices during the summer too! 🙂

  7. we spent two nights in Venice at the end of March. Crowds were not so bad that time of year. The tempaurature was a little chilly in the evenings, but not bad. I fell in love with Venice. We did standard touristy things (tours of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace; a gondola ride), but like others have said, the most fun was just getting lost. Exploring the city at dusk and after dark was breathtaking. It almost felt medieval.

    I will make a point to spend a few days in Venice if (when) I return to Italy, every time.

  8. I totally understand. To escape the madness of all the tourists, you have to consciously make an effort to lose your way in all the tiny street and alleyways. Did you take a gondola ride? We only traveled to Venice for the day and we didn’t have time (or cash) to take a ride. As lame as it sounds, not hopping in a gondola is one of my biggest regrets from Venice.

  9. Ah I am planning my trip to Italy and I have heard Venice is not the best place. I still want to go though! I think I will give it a try!

  10. Wow! The photos are absolutely breathtaking. Love the picture of the gondola with the yellow building in the background. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Venice!

  11. Hey! We visited Venice last year in October and we liked it. The story was quite the same. Everyone told us not to go, but we didn’t care…We got lost as well by exploring the small streets no one passes through. All in all it felt right visiting Venice and we would go back again. Even if it’s overrun by tourists it’s worth a trip. Greetings from Luxembourg! Tascha & Patrick

  12. I haven’t been, but your photos are stunning and so colorful! It’s definitely on my list for my next visit… especially because they banned rolling suitcases 🙂

  13. We spent two days in Venice last September and were dreading the crowds. However, once we got there, fell absolutely in love. We spent hours just wandering down the little alleyways and streets. So many photo opportunities and beautiful buildings!

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