Welcome to the Venice Travel Blog

Cheryl Imboden with Venice map
Venice Travel Blog is an extension of our travel-planning Web site, Venice for Visitors, which PC Magazine has called "the premier visitors' site for Venice, Italy." We hope you'll visit often, and we invite you to post your comments about traveling or living in Venice. If you're fond of animals, take a look at our dog blog, Maggie in Venice: A Bearded Collie's Adventures in Italy.

Finally, if you're traveling to Venice for the first time, don't miss our "Introducing Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com.

- Durant and Cheryl Imboden


What you need to know about "acqua alta" (Venice flooding)

Spazzini collect garbage during acqua alta in Venice

ABOVE: Spazzini, or sanitation workers, pick up household trash in the Calle dei Albanesi during an acqua alta flood tide in Venice.

In the wake of the November, 2019 flooding in Venice, we thought it would be helpful to draw your attention to our acqua alta resources here and at our main travel-planning site, Veniceforvisitors.com:

Acqua Alta
This illustrated article at Venice for Visitors tells what acqua alta or "high water" is and how to prepare for it if you're going to Venice from mid-autumn through early spring.

Venice Travel Blog: Flooding
Our acqua alta index page links to a number of posts about Venice tidal flooding (including this one), featuring such topics as tidal warning sirens and forecasting apps for your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Important things to know:

  • Acqua alta is an abnormally high tide that occurs under certain weather conditions--e.g., when atmospheric pressures are low and winds from the south push water northward in the Adriatic Sea.

  • Acqua alta tends to occur seasonally (mostly from October until March or April), and it typically lasts only a few hours at a time. Just as important, it normally affects only lower-lying areas of the city (such as the Piazza San Marco, where water can seep up through the drains even in midsummer). You should not let fear of acqua alta discourage you from visiting Venice.

  • If you're visiting Venice from fall through spring, don't book ground-floor accommodation. (This isn't likely to be an issue in hotels, where rooms are usually on upper floors, but short-term apartment rentals at street level can be risky.)

  • When acqua alta does occur,  avoid frolicking in the water. Flood tides are a costly nuisance to the locals, and splashing around, kicking up water in the streets, or stripping down and swimming in front of the Basilica di San Marco isn't likely to win you any Venetian friends.


BELOW: Cheryl Imboden points to a marker on the Hotel Cavaletto & Doge Orseolo that commemorates the worst acqua alta tide in Venice's history, which occurred in November, 1966.

Marker at Hotel Cavaletto showing highest-ever flood level in Venice (1966)


'Should I rent an apartment in Venice?'

View from a vacation apartment in Venice

Short-term rentals are more popular than ever (in Venice and elsewhere), but don't book until you've read our advice.

Staying in private accommodation has a long history in Venice. In the 19th Century, the city was like flypaper for artists, aristocrats, and cultural strivers from countries such as Britain and the United States, who would stay for several months (and sometimes longer), usually in rented rooms or dwellings.

That tradition continues today, but with a vengeance: Thanks to the World Wide Web, it's now almost as easy to book a vacation apartment in Venice's historic center as it is to reserve a hotel room.

Still, there are caveats to consider before plunking down a deposit on a holiday flat that you haven't seen. Here are some observations and tips to keep in mind:

1. Know your Venice geography and topography.

Look for an apartment near your arrival and/or departure point.

If you're coming from Venice Marco Polo Airport, you'll want a flat near an Alilaguna airport boat stop, a canal that can be reached by water taxi, or the Piazzale Roma (where airport buses and land taxis arrive from the Venetian mainland).

If you're arriving and departing by train, an apartment within walking distance of the Venezia Santa Lucia Railroad Station will be your best bet.

Before booking an apartment on the ground floor, be sure that you aren't at risk from acqua alta, or tidal flooding. This occurs mainly from October through March or April, but it can happen at any time of year. If the tide is higher than the floor of your apartment, you'll find yourself wading in brackish and unsanitary water from the drains or nearby canals.

(Vulnerability to flooding depends on location. For example, the Piazza San Marco has minor flooding even in the summertime, while some neighborhoods--such as Sant'Elena, near the historic center's eastern tip--hardly ever get wet.)

2. An apartment isn't a hotel.

If you want services--or even if you just want help close at hand when something goes wrong--stick with a hotel or B&B, or make sure that your apartment is in a serviced building with multiple vacation apartments and a 24-hour reception desk.

3. Most apartment buildings in Venice lack elevators.

Is mobility a problem for you? Are you traveling with bulky or heavy luggage? Don't get stuck in a building where you'll need to haul your bags up several flights of steps.

4. Checking in can be a hassle, especially if you're arriving late.

Apartments with keycode entry aren't yet common in Venice. Some landlords use lockboxes that let you enter a numeric code to get your keys. (The lockbox can be by the apartment's front door or at a nearby luggage-storage facility such as Vaise.)

Such convenience is rare, however: Normally, you'll collect your keys from the landlord or an agent at a prearranged time. If the hour is late, you may be required to pay an extra fee.

5. Cancellation can be expensive.

With a normal hotel reservation, you can cancel at any time before the day of arrival without penalty. Apartment rentals usually require a firmer commitment, with big penalties (sometimes up to 100 percent of the rent) if you change your mind. Be aware of the cancellation policy, and buy trip insurance if you can't afford to lose your rent in an emergency.

Also, you'll often need to pay all or most of the rent at the time of booking, and security deposits aren't uncommon.

6. Payment can be a nuisance.

When you stay at a hotel, you normally present your credit card when you check out.

Apartment payment policies vary: Some landlords accept payment by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, but others expect cash via PayPal or a bank draft.

You may even be asked to pay a deposit by wire transfer and the balance of the rent in banknotes upon arrival. Complicated (and sometimes costly) payment arrangements may be fine if you're staying a month or two, but if you're visiting for only a few days, you'll want to keep things simple.

7. Extra fees can add up.

No matter where you stay, you'll need to pay the Venice tourist tax. It's cheap--only a few euros per day--but you'll normally be expected to pay it in cash up front, so have some euro banknotes and coins handy when you arrive.

Other fees, such as cleaning fees or additional service fees, can push the rent up quickly.

If you dislike service fees, avoid HomeAway and Airbnb. Our hotel and apartments partner, Booking.com, is more transparent than many of its competitors, and it's a good choice if you're staying for 28 days or less.

For more information on renting vacation apartments in Venice, including links to agencies and specific properties, see our Vacation apartments article at Veniceforvisitors.com.

Also read our article on Garbage and recycling collection for apartment renters.


We've expanded our guide to hotels near Venice's cruise piers

AC Hotel Venezia by Marriott, Venice

ABOVE: The AC Hotel Venezia by Marriott has an entrance directly on the transportation hub of Piazzale Roma, but its guestrooms face a quiet side street, an attractive interior courtyard, or this traditional Venetian canal.

We're often asked what hotels are most convenient to Venice's cruise port, especially when passengers are traveling with heavy luggage or would like to avoid long walks over multiple footbridges.

The answer is "It depends." Venice has two sets of cruise terminals:

  • Marittima is the main cruise basin. It serves all larger ships, such as those of Costa, MSC, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. Depending on how busy the port is, it also may be used for small and medium-size vessels.

  • San Basilio and its neighboring pier of Santa Marta are used by small ships, the occasional mid-size ship, river vessels (such as Uniworld's River Countess and CroisiEurope's Michelangelo), and hydrofoils to Croatia.

If your ship departs or arrives at Marittima, you'll probably want to stay on or near the Piazzale Roma, which is the land-transportation hub for Venice with airport buses, taxis, and the People Mover automated tram to both the Marittima cruise basin and the Tronchetto parking garages.

If your ship departs or arrives at San Basilio or Santa Marta, you may want to stay in the vicinity of those piers.

For current listings of hotels near Marittima and San Basilio/Santa Marta, we recommend looking at "17 Hotels Closest to Cruise Ships" guide on our main Venice for Visitors site. This newly-expanded guide describes 10 hotels that are extremely close to Marittima plus seven that are within easy walking distance of San Basilio and Santa Marta.

Each listing includes a photo, a link to the hotel's individual map and directions page at VeniceHotelDirections.com, and guest ratings from Booking.com.

The article also has Piazzale Roma and San Basilio maps that show the locations of all 17 hotels.

As a bonus, you'll find a secondary page with nine more hotels that are worth considering if you don't mind a slightly longer walk.

To get started, see:

For even more Venice cruise information, go to:

BELOW: The Hotel San Sebastiano Garden is a short walk from the San Basilio cruise terminal.

Hotel San Sebastiano Garden, Venice