Ten Things You Should Know Before You Visit Venice

Year after year more and more visitors come to Venice, our enchanted city is really appealing because of its beauty, art, history and traditions.
However quite often the behaviour of a lot of guests becomes unsustainable in such a fragile city. In most of the cases, the reason lies in the fact that the visitors were not informed beforehand about the rules that should be respected in Venice.
So here are some rules, in the form of questions and answers, that everyone ought to respect. And let us also add some useful advice, which actually works in every touristic place, but that in our city becomes a matter of survival.

1.Where can I put the garbage?

It is really true that in Venice there are few public trash cans, a lot less than those that would be needed.
This is not a good reason, though, to litter the calli, or to leave garbage on the window sills of the houses or, even worse, to throw it into the canals.
If you buy some food in our restaurants and cafés, inside you will find some cans where to put your garbage. If you buy something that you will eat or drink later, you will eventually find some bins (there are quite a few at the railway station, at Piazzale Roma and Tronchetto).
If you really can’t find any, the best way to respect Venice is to take the garbage back home or to your hotel (which is what we normally do when we take walks in the mountains or in the woods, for example).

2. Is it possible to swim in the Venetian canals?

It is strictly forbidden to dive into the canals from the bridges, from the quays or from the boats.
Those who swim in the canals normally get fined, but it is not only the fine that should prevent you from doing do. Consider that the water in the Venetian canals is nor really clean. Furthermore, a lot of motorboats float along the canals, and such improvised swimmers can get hit by a boat, sometimes with severe consequences.

3. And what about walking in the water during a flood?

This behaviour is highly not recommended, for the same reason stated before: the water is not clean. Moreover, as it floods in the campi and the calli, the water cleans the pavement from the bird guano… so avoid walking in the water during acqua alta, and in particular do not let your small children splash around.

Not recommended: walking barefoot in the water.

4. Being Venice a pedestrian city, is it possible to walk as we like and to stop simply anywhere?

It is out of doubt that a pedestrian city offers several advantages: you can walk and cross any street without getting hit by a car.
But even in Venice there are rules that should be respected, both by the guests and by the locals.
When you walk in a group (preferably a small one), it is necessary to walk in a single file, keeping the right, as to leave room for other people. Moreover, from August 1st, 2024, groups cannot consist of more than 25 people, according to the new city regulation.
It is forbidden to stop on top of bridges, or to sit on the steps for lunch or to rest: bridges are essential elements of the city traffic and cannot be obstructed.

Forbidden: a large group obstructing a bridge.

It is forbidden to sit on the steps all around St. Mark’s Square, or along the quays or on the steps in front of churches. It is for sure a matter of decorum, but it is also important for safety reasons: all possible escape routes should be kept clear.
In Venice there are some public parks where you can rest and maybe eat your sandwich. Before you get to Venice, you might want to take a look at the city map and find them. We can name, for example, Parco Savorgnan, Giardini Napoleonici, Giardini di Sant’Elena, Parco Groggia…

5. Are we allowed to ride bikes in Venice?

It is forbidden to ride bikes, you cannot even carry a bike by hand. Let alone the fact that in the presence of more than 400 bridges it becomes quite difficult to move around by bike, do not forget that Venice is exclusively pedestrian, and bicycles become a problem, as well as a danger, for people walking along narrow alleys.
If you reach Venice by bike, you can drop it off at Piazzale Roma, in the designated are. The same can be said as far as electrical or regular scooters are concerned.

Forbidden: bikes in Venice

6. What about criminality in Venice?

To say the truth, Venice is a fairly quiet city from the point of view of criminality. What has really become an issue is organised pickpocketing. We suggest you to keep your belongings under control: do not keep valuables in your backpacks, or place them in front and not on the back. Do not keep wallets or mobile phones in your pockets.

7. Is there any dress code in Venice?

Of course, you can wear what you prefer! However, there are some rules that have to be respected.
It is forbidden to walk around shirtless or wearing swimming suits: Venice is a city, not a beach (and as a consequence it is also forbidden to sunbathe in the campi, on bridges, on piers…).
When you enter a church it is necessary to cover shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect for the holy place. Moreover, gentlemen are asked to take off their hat or cap.

8. Can we feed the pigeons?

It is forbidden to feed the pigeons. Too much food means that the population of such birds grows without control, and pigeons are known for being harmful to people’s health, as well as for the monuments! And it is not really nice if, after you have fed them, they leave an unpleasant souvenir on your clothes…
It is also preferable to stay away from the seagulls: they tend to be aggressive and to steal any kind of food you might have in your hands… so it is strongly discouraged to eat sandwiches, pizza or anything else in open spaces.

A seagull stealing some food (pic from web) 

9. Are there in Venice any public restrooms?

There are for sure public restrooms in Venice, more or less everywhere, in the city centre and on the islands of the Lagoon. They are not free of charge, though: the fee to use the public restrooms at the moment is € 1.50.
Is is true that they are totally insufficient for the amount of visitors we have… so remember that all those places that have seats for the guests (bars, cafés, restaurants…) do have restrooms for their customers. Quite obviously, to be a customer you are required to buy something.

10. What opportunities are there if we bring our children along?

Venice is the perfect place to visit with children! In our blog you can find several posts dedicated to guided tours for families with children. Our city really offers a lot!
Don’t forget, however, that in Venice you are supposed to walk a lot, and children get tired quite soon. It is also tiring for the parents to get up and down the bridges carrying their children or strollers! If you wish to visit Venice with your kids we suggest you to plan all your activities ahead of time, paying attention to your children’s needs. It is preferable to choose private tours and activities rather than group ones. Avoid visiting Venice during the peak of the summer: it is really hot and humid and for the little ones the vacation can become a suffering.

Guided tour with children of Ca' Rezzonico museum

Guided tour for kids, treasure hunts in Venice  

We hope that you can find our decalogue useful. To follow the rules makes it easier not only for the locals to cope with large number of visitors, but also for the guests to get a much better experience.
We’ll be waiting for you!