3 Unconventional Things You Must Do in Venice

The giant rope makes a creaking sound as it’s thrown over the iron bollard. The vaporetto seems to resist being lassoed for just a second before it lurches to a halt and thumps against the floating dock. If you haven’t been to Venice before, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen and yet still exactly the way you imagined it. Water everywhere you turn.

View of Venice Italy from the Vaporetto, colorful buildings in the background

I check my phone, “we’re looking for a man in green pants and a leather jacket,” I say to Jared. “I’m right by the dock,” the man texts me. “Me too,” I write back. Ten strange minutes pass before Gabriele finds us and introduces himself. He walks us to our apartment through a feast of beautiful canals and bridges, tiny streets and gondolas galore until we reach a small alleyway with a canal at the end.

A street in Venice Italy with a arched bridge, colorful buildings and laundry hanging on lines overhead

A narrow alley in Venice with an arched opening and a canal and a boat at the end of the street.

If you’re headed to Venice, you probably already know the major attractions you have to see: The Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge and the market and plenty of others, but here are 3 things you might not be thinking of.

1. Walk away from the tourists: There are a ton of tourists here and it can be a bit overwhelming at times. They seem to move in giant groups like schools of fish, and you can easily get tangled up in them. Do your best to move away from the people, this is where you’ll find some of the best parts of the city. We explored tiny streets where we didn’t see a single tourist and got real insight into everyday life in Venice.

A canal in Venice with a number of small white boats lining the side, the sidewalks are empty and buildings are on both sides of the canalA man and woman smile near a bridge in Venice ItalyA very narrow and empty street in Venice, a yellow building with the windows open and flower boxes on the other wall.

2. Inspect the glass artwork: Everywhere you go you’ll see decorative glasswork shining in store windows. Don’t just walk by. Take some time to really look at the work. It’s very impressive and it speaks volumes about the history of the area. Much of it is Murano glass, but do beware of knockoffs if you’re seeking the real thing. I absolutely fell in love with this glass lion. I have no idea what I would do with him, but I seriously considered giving up all of my clothes just to fit him into my carry-on.

An awesome glass lion wearing sparkly high heels and a top hat with his mouth open in a roar. He's very fancy.

3. Pay $11.00 for a beer: I know, I know, but hear me out. If the sun is shining and there’s a table open right on the water, it’s totally worth paying to be at some of the “touristy” restaurants along the water; they have the best views. It gives you a chance to relax and take it all in from the center of the action. Watch street performers and gondoliers do their thing, take in the water and the sunset all while enjoying an over-priced beer. It is vacation after all. 

Two beers on a table in Venice along with some crackers

We spent a quick 24 hours in Venice on our way to Germany but we agreed that we could have spent a week exploring all the area has to offer. While Venice can be crowded, especially in the summer, it can also be magical if you aren’t afraid to step off the beaten path and do it your way. But at least snap a few pictures at the “known” attractions too!

A man and woman smile near the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Blue jacket. Pink scarf.

Have you been to Venice? What would you add to this list? Share your comments below!


2 thoughts on “3 Unconventional Things You Must Do in Venice

  1. We spent a few days there three years ago. It is everything you said and more. I went for a run believe it or not. You have to be very patient, but the stairs and the twists and turns–while being polite to not bump people–made it a very unique experience. I think most of the folks thought I was crazy, but it was cool hearing all the different languages being spoken while sliding past people.

    1. Hey Ed!
      You’re a brave man to take on running in Venice. I feel like I’d try to dodge people and end up in a canal! I bet it was beautiful though :)

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