Venice – explore the city like a local
By exploring the beautiful city of Venice like a local, you will see a different side of the city, and one which you will not find in the guide books.
Book a guided gondola tour in Venice or a historical and cultural tour to make the most of your stay and learn more about this fabled city.
Eating and drinking
Saturday and Sunday are the favourite days for Venetians to meet up for a meal. The Rialto market is one of the best places to experience typical Italian hospitality, and fresh, simple food. Noisy, brash and colourful, the market is surrounded by dozens of bars, where, it seems, the whole of Venice descends.
Sample delicious fish and seafood at Vini da Pinto and Al Muro. Huge tables groan under the weight of tureens of fish soup, and vast platters of mixed fried fish.
Banco Giro is situated close to the market, and offers great views over the Grand Canal. A good choice of regional cheeses and local wines served by the glass make this a favourite place for Venetians.
Traditional bars in Venice are known as ´bacari´ and by exploring the back streets, you will find a wide choice of places to stop off for a drink or snack, at a fraction of the price you will pay in St Mark´s Square.
Try the reasonably priced wines of the nearby Veneto vineyards, accompanied by the Venetian version of tapas, which line the bar and are perfect for a quick lunch.
Venice is not known for its wild nightlife or after-hours clubs. Most bars and restaurants pull down their shutters before midnight, but if you are after some late night fun, head for Campo Santa Margarita in Dorsodduroor or the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio. This lively student area is home to dozens of late night bars which are open until at least 2am, and host regular live music performances. Pick up a copy of the Venezia News which publishes lists of local events in Italian and English.
Avoiding the tourist traps
St Mark´s Square is the main focal point for tourists in the city, but also the most expensive. Venetians would never pay over the odds for a cup of coffee while listening to the orchestra of Caffé Florian, but they would happily stand at the bar inside where prices are much lower.
If you want to experience a gondola trip in typical Venetian style, cross the Grand Canal on a ´traghetto´ – a gondola where passengers stand. This is the only type of gondola ride most locals take, except perhaps on their wedding day!
Most Venetians would happily leave town during the annual carnival, and the vast majority of revellers are tourists. If you want to attend a typical Venetian festival, the Festa del Redentore in July should be top of your list. Thousands of tiny boats gather in St Mark´s basin while fireworks light up the sky above.
The emotional Festa della Salute in November commemorates Venice being saved from the plague in 1630. A bridge is erected over the Grand Canal so citizens can make a pilgrimage to light a candle in the Salute Church.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting Venice, the city of lovers, you will learn more about the hidden gems and ‘off the beaten track’ attractions by booking a guided tour of Venice.