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Venice Travel Guide

10 Things You Should NEVER Do if Visiting Venice

Consider this your etiquette guide.

Venice is already facing a plague of problems, including over-tourism, which the city tried to combat by banning cruise ships and implementing tourist taxes. So, the last thing this historic city needs are tourists behaving in ways that are deemed rude, inappropriate, or downright inconsiderate. While some of the following tips might seem obvious (why would you even want to jump in the canals?), others are less obvious (such as not walking on the left side of the road). If you’re headed to Venice, consider this your etiquette guide.

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Don’t Walk on the Left

Think of Venice’s streets as roads and pedestrians as cars. In Italy, you drive on the right, and you should apply the same logic when walking around Venice. The city’s narrow alleyways are an exercise in passing etiquette at the best of times, but in peak seasons and around the big attractions, they are as clogged up as Chicago’s highways in rush hour. Wander over to the left, and you might find an irate Venetian ticking you off.

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Don’t Swim in the Canals

This one is less about being polite and more about hard and fast rules. Swimming in the canals in Venice is illegal, yet tourists insist on doing it every year. Even if you have no interest in being law-abiding, the fact that the waterways are unsanitary and swirling with debris should also serve to put you off.

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Don’t Buy From Cheap Souvenir Shops

Venice has a myriad of independent artisans continuing centuries-old craft traditions, but their number is inexorably dwindling as mass-produced alternatives flood the market. Avoid cheap knockoffs and replicas and seek out the city’s pocket-sized workshops selling marbled paper, masks, jewelry, and textiles, all made by hand.

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Don’t Assume No One Lives in the City

Sadly, some visitors think Venice has lost its battle with over-tourism and become a kind of outdoor museum (even asking when it closes at night). Before you make a loud noise at night or use a dark alley as a toilet, remember that people do actually live in Venice, appreciate a good night’s sleep, and respect their environment.


5 OF 10

Don’t Use the Vaporetti as Tour Boats

While visitors are encouraged to use Venice’s vaporetti (waterbuses) even if to see how residents get around, they should never abuse it as a cheap boat tour as some guides suggest. The public transport service is already struggling to serve locals after COVID schedule reductions were never fully reinstated. So, crowding onto the boats as a group of tourists and blocking passageways to take photos isn’t going to earn you any points.

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Don’t Use Bridges, Piazzas, and Other Public Spaces as Picnic Spots

While church steps might be tempting to perch on for a quick sandwich, Venice’s landmarks are not picnic spots. The council issues fines for consuming food there as well as on wells, canal sides, and bridges. And don’t even think about setting up a camping stove and brewing coffee on the Rialto Bridge—that’s a €950 fine.

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Don’t Just Stay for a Day

Not everyone can afford to extend their time away, but it is highly encouraged if you can stay in Venice for more than a day. The city has introduced a day tripper tax to discourage ‘hit and run’ tourism, but there are bonuses beyond saving a few euros for the tourist who sleeps over. At night, Venice is emptier, and it is also more magical and mysterious than during the day. With more time, you can also delve into the city’s lesser-trod neighborhoods without a souvenir stall in sight.

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Don’t Dress Disrespectfully for Churches

Many churches and religious buildings have signs posted outside indicating suitable dress codes for visitors. Even if they don’t, it is good practice to wear a respectful outfit. That means covering your shoulders and avoiding shorts and miniskirts. Be aware that flash photography or taking photos full stop is also often prohibited.

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Don’t Attach Padlocks to Bridges

Venice is the city of love, but what it does not adore is its ancient bridges defiled with ugly padlocks. This is a form of vandalism—just like graffiti and dumping trash—that can even put bridge structures at risk of collapse. Why not show your passion in a more original form, like a romantic stroll down the Zattere promenade at sunset or cocktails on the terrace of the Hotel Danieli?

10 OF 10

Don’t Feed the Pigeons

Once, it was common to see tourists in St Mark’s Square with arms outstretched, supporting dozens of squawking, pecking pigeons on their bodies. Thankfully, this practice has not only fallen out of favor but has become illegal as the sale and distribution of grain to feed the birds was banned in 2008. Pigeons had become a hygiene issue for surrounding bars and restaurants and risked damaging iconic monuments with their droppings.