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Venice—The Only Way to Visit Without the Crowds

The City of Venice is a great many things. First of all, and most likely the reason you’d want to go, it’s utterly beautiful. Rustic architecture, delicious food, filled to the brim with a stunning history of painters, poets, and all manner of renaissance vigor—it is among the most original and wholly remarkable cities on earth.

Secondly, and likely on the other hand—it’s crowded. At only about 2 miles north to south and 3 miles east to west, Venice is one of the smallest historic cities. In addition, and this something we have to stress: Venice is a walkable city—that means no cars and very few mopeds. The taxi service, as I’m sure you’ve seen, runs through its canals and is based on water transport or the lovely (and crazy expensive) gondola rides. And make no mistake, Venice runs on its tourism industry—which can be a good and a bad thing.

The Good:

  • Food everywhere, and delicious at that.

  • Memorabilia and memories to be made on every canal walkway and historic squares.

  • Affordable clothing and accessories interspersed with high-end stores, options for every tourist budget.

  • And Oh, the places you’ll see:

  • Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Piazza San Marco, San Giorgio, and wonderful artwork meant to be explored at every corner and found in to every lost alleyway

The Bad:

  • Everyone and their grandmother wants to do all the same things at the same time.

So, with Venice, most everyone you can think of, living or visiting, will be out and about on the streets. A vendor every few feet, a restaurant by that, a store of elegant clothing every foot in between, and the ever kindly tourist turning a map rightaways(or maybe sometimes wrongaways) in any space left. The city is alive with adrenaline throughout the day, and well into the night. But with so much to see, getting through it all can be quite the ordeal.

So what’s our recommendation?

Do what we did—Go in the morning!

We’re not talking wake up at the crack of dawn, 7 am with a fresh start. (People have already started by then).

We’re saying before the rooster.

We showed up on a train to Venice at around 4 am.

4 am means before the city is awake. It means the crowds are asleep, the vendors, what few rise that early are setting up shop. I cannot express to you the beauty of a city like Venice with hardly anyone there to run in to. You literally feel like you have the place to yourself, it’s magic.

We met another couple who had arrived at the same time as us (looking lost and confused at first) but we joined them and walked the entire circumference of the city in about 2 hours. We saw the Piazza empty of people, only the birds and the street lights and calm waters of the canals where people hadn’t driven to cause ripples. We ate at a coffee shop looking out at cruise ships entering through the waterway and the sun the perfect shade of orange over the water and rising on St. Mark’s Campanile. Looking back, seeing Venice before the city was awake was one of our favorite adventures.

So please, if you have the opportunity, see this beautiful place and have a city to yourself (for a few hours, at least). And if you get tired waking up so early, do what we did and hang up a hammock in Giardini Papadopoli (a public Garden) for a power nap!

P.S. Venice was built on a swamp and is sinking, so it won’t be there forever. Hurry and visit!

Happy Adventuring! (Check out more of our photos from Venice below!)

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