Venice Hotels Articles

April 23, 2010

Off the Beaten Track in Venice

It may be known as the City of Water and the City of Light but as anyone who has been there in the height of summer season will know, it’s also the City of Tourists! I should know – I’m a Venice transfer driver, running airport transfers to Marco Polo and Treviso (the two main airports nearby), and I’m kept busy almost all year round.

Venice is one of the toughest cities to beat the crowds (14 million people visit each year), but it can be done, and the reward is well worth it – the medieval architecture and unique atmosphere of this canal city make it one of the most astonishing cities in the world, so if you want to enjoy Venice and avoid the crowds, read on for my tips to get off the beaten track…

Travel Out of Season

Travelling out of season in Venice is tricky as the tourist season never really stops, but there are a few things to bear in mind when booking a holiday here. From April to October is the peak season, and avoid July and August at all costs – the combination of massive crowds and muggy weather makes it very unpleasant at this time of year. Needless to say, I ferry a lot of people on Venice airport transfers at this time of year, and a lot of them complain about the crowds!

(On this subject of Venice transfers, one inside tip: there are no cars in the centre of the city, so if your hotel is near the centre, you’ll have to book a Venice airport transfer and a water taxi to make it all the way. Plenty of visitors get caught out by this!)

Travelling in the weeks just before Easter can be a good compromise – the streets are hardly deserted, but it isn’t as busy as the summer and you get to enjoy some very good weather. If you really want to beat the crowds, January is the month to travel to Venice. It is cold and wet, with fierce winds coming in from the sea, but the streets are nearly deserted, and exploring the city without the crowds can be a magical experience. January is about the only time of the year that I’m not run off my feet with Venice airport transfers, so take advantage of the lull if you really want to see empty streets in the City of Light!

See the Sights…Not Just St Marks!

There’s more to Venice than St Marks Square. The tourist trail between the Rialto Bridge and St Marks is packed for most of the year, but stray to some of the lesser known parts of the city and the crowds thin out remarkably quickly. The Cannaregio part of town in the north of Venice gets less foot traffic than the rest of the city and is home to many hidden gems – one of these is Madonna dell’Orto, a beautiful gothic church with some superb artwork on the inside. Cannaregio also contains one of the seldom explored corners of Venice: the Campo del Ghetto Novo. This used to be the Jewish ghetto during the middle ages, and it is one of the oldest parts of the city with many medieval buildings – a real pleasure to explore on foot.

Further out, a trip to Murano is a chance to see the traditional Venetian glassblowers at work, and it is a quiet and beautiful part of town to while away an afternoon. If you want to go further still you can catch a boat to Torcello, one of the other islands in the Venice lagoon. With only twenty residents, this tiny town is the perfect place to relax while on holiday in Venice.

At the end of the day, for all the complaints that people make (myself included!) about the crowds in Venice, there’s little that can detract from the magic of the city. When I’m not run off my feet doing airport transfers to Marco Polo or Treviso, it is a great pleasure to just wander the streets and see where I end up. That’s the best piece of advice I can give for getting off the beaten track – just keep walking till you leave the crowds behind, and you are sure to find something fascinating in a hidden corner of Venice!

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