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How To Get Lost in Venice, Italy: The Ultimate Way To Find Yourself In Venice

If you are willing to venture away from the main sites of Venice it’s easy to lose your way, but getting lost in Venice is the best way to see the city!

Venetial gondolas covered in blue sit docked against a yellow building

Venice, the city of romance. It’s exciting, it’s magical. Venice is one of those bucket list cities that capture the passion and imagination of those who dream about travel. There is no surprise that Venice still holds the place as one of the most magical destinations in Europe.  The taxis and buses are boats and every turn seems to take you on a journey further and further away from reality. But it may just seem that way because you’re lost. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have been to Venice, and like myself, it seems that every single one of them got lost while they were there!

Tourists look at St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
Crowds gather outside of St. Marks Cathedral in Venice.

Getting to Venice

You need to get to Venice in order to get lost there, luckily, getting to Venice is an easy task that will leave you woefully unprepared for the maze of walking paths and rivers that make Venice so famous. Venice should be part of any Italy itinerary. Many visitors to Venice start their journey in Rome, but Italy, in general, has a fantastic transit system, so it’s not hard to get to Venice from almost anywhere in the country. Just beware that transit strikes are a common occurrence in Italy and they can hamper your transit journey.

Train

The most common way of getting into the old city is via train, which will take you into Venice’s old city. If you go this route, make sure you get off at Venezia Santa Lucia station and not Venezia Mestre station, which is on the mainland rather than the Venetian Lagoon. The train station is a fixture of WWII German architecture, cold, solid and imposing. Once at the station, you can walk outside and instantly be transported from the 1940’s architecture back into the 1800’s and below!

Car

If you are thinking of bringing your car into Venice, it might be a good idea to turn around and find parking. Venice limits automotive traffic to a tiny area of the city and life for those in an automobile just gets more frustrating from there.  Parking fees are excruciating and there are just way better ways of getting into the city.

Water Taxis

If you are coming from the airport with a bunch of luggage, then the Water Taxi might be the best route into old Venice for you. The good thing about this method is that, because the roads are rivers, a water taxi can take your right up to the door of your hotel. Along with being the easiest route, this way gets you a decent first tour of the waterways! Taxis can be booked on arrival at the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia or the Veneziataxi desks in the Arrivals Hall at Marco Polo.

Gondolas parked in a line next to colourful buildings in Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
Gondola’s line the rivers next to the colourful buildings in Venice, Italy

Exploring Venice

Exploring Venice is best left to the directionally challenged. No matter how great you are at following a map, reading a compass or navigating the stars you will eventually find yourself completely and utterly baffled as to where you are. In Venice, the more unfound you are, the better your experience will be because being misplaced here is how you discover all the amazing nooks and crannies that Venice has to offer. If you’re worried about the best time of year to visit Europe, don’t be alarmed. Venice is a year-round destination that can be fit into any itinerary.

Now getting lost in Venice isn’t the first thing you want to do. You need to hit your main points of interest first. Get to St. Mark’s square, visit Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica and try to get to the Bridge of Sighs. Get your Venice photo tour out of the way first, because you want to enjoy your descent into the unknown, and it’s hard to do that if you have important items on your agenda that you are worried you won’t make it to.

Tourists look through St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
Tourists take in the view inside St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy

How to get lost in Venice

If you are willing to venture away from the main sites of Venice, you don’t need to worry about getting lost. Venice will take care of that for you. The streets wind aimlessly with the rivers and you can often be faced with a situation where you are at an intersection with two signs pointing in two separate directions and both are trying to lead you to the same place.

Crowds of tourists fill the bridges and squares of Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
In Venice, crowds are everywhere. The best way to see the city to to get away from them

A sure-fire way to get lost in Venice is to look at the crowds of people hitting the key sites and go anywhere but there. Once you’re away from the crowd and slightly lost, you can improve your locational disability by then trying to get somewhere you think you’re supposed to be. If you’re like me, this will lead you to try and logically sort out your position and try to find a familiar place that you’ve been. Once you’ve wound yourself around in circles and discovered you are anywhere but where you thought you were supposed to be congratulations! You’re lost in Venice!

An empty square looks onto St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
As you get farther away from the crowds, it’s incredible how just seeing a building from a different angle can make it feel like you have the whole city to yourself.

Pro-Tip: In Italy, it costs more to sit down and have your coffee than to stand at the bar. If you need to take a load off, be aware that it comes at a price.

What to do when you’re lost in Venice

So now that you’ve got yourself lost in Venice, what should you do, where should you go? Don’t ruin it by looking at your watch. The St. Marks Square clock will ring on the hour. And you’ll be able to track your time, so just put the phone and watch away and enjoy the view. The answer to where should you go is obvious.

You’re lost, so you can’t go anywhere you want to go, you can just go to where you end up. Being lost in Venice means getting a chance to sit down and have some of the best coffee in Italy. You can capture all those little moments that many visitors never get the chance to see. You can now see what the tiny number of people who call Venice home do with themselves. Discover the small shops hidden down the deep alleyways off of the tourist paths, the locals painting their doors and the beautiful flower arrangements in many window sills.

If you get tired, find one of the many quaint cafes and grab yourself an espresso at the bar. You can mix it with a nice chocolate croissant, our favorite combo. Getting lost in Venice is an intimate experience. One that will be unique to each and every person who experiences it. Each lost in Venice experience will be your own. And the discoveries you make will be shared by only a select few.

A man paints the white door frame of a yellow house in Venice, Italy - Lost in Venice
A local man paints his door frame in Venice, Italy

Getting Un-Lost in Venice

So it’s getting late, your feet are tired and you’ve had all the adventure you can handle for the day. It’s time to get found in Venice. So how do you do it? One option is to hop onto one of the Venice public transport buses. Just notify the boat personnel when you board in case they do a spot-check for tickets. You don’t want to end up with one of the high fines for jumping fares.

You can always ask a local. You’ll recognize them by the lack of camera gear and maps. Another option is to look up. Use the tall towers from St. Marks Square as a way-point. They sit high above the surrounding buildings and can be seen from most squares within the city.

A river in Venice Italy at night is dotted with reflections of light from the surrounding buildings - Lost in Venice
As night falls in Venice, the colours of the city come alive thanks to the brilliant lighting

Whether you plan on visiting the Venice Carnival, or during the off-season, you will be entranced by the city’s beauty. It’s romance, and charm will woo you, just like the thousands of visitors that grace it’s street’s each year. Be sure to let it draw you in so you can take some of its magic with you forever.

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