If Venice, Italy is a destination on your bucket list then this is for you.
While satellite information has shown that Venice is sinking 1-2mm per year, it is actually the highest-ever numbers in tourism that have become the most pressing issue today. It is a valid concern that overcrowding could (and has) led to deterioration and pollution of historic and fragile sites in Venice such as the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco, and it is in our best interests that the situation improves.
Bear in mind that UNESCO considers the entire city a World Heritage Site, a status indicating that on a cultural level, Venice belongs to all of us.
Venice Tourism Numbers
It has been reported by the Telegraph that visitors to Venice have reached 60-90,000 per day. That’s nearly 22 million per year. Additional statistics provided by the Venetian Tourism Office indicate that 4.5 million people stayed overnight in Venice last year, a number that increases annually. On average, these overnight visitors chose to stay 2 nights.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and counsel member for tourism Paola Mar say they have made it a priority to implement measures to manage tourist flows. I’ve had recent correspondence with tourism officials and while there is not yet an estimated date of implementation, new regulations will attempt to inform and re-direct visitors when fragile sites become overcrowded, with a possibility of raising prices on certain dates. Part of this strategy includes issuing new maps and itineraries to encourage tourists to visit areas beyond the city center. My personal contribution is a feature on this blog where I spent time visiting islands in the Venice lagoon; I highly recommend it.
Is a Magical Trip to Venice Still Possible?
Yes, I’ve just done it myself in October! While afternoons at popular areas such as San Marco and Rialto can be utterly claustrophobic you can still have a magical experience by visiting them in the early mornings and late evenings. Another great option is to wander the neighborhoods of San Polo and Dorsoduro. Irish Photographer Maggy Morrissey put it well when she said, “If you get up early enough and visit at the right time of year (i.e. winter) then you can have the busiest of cities to yourself.” Check out photos of my morning walk around Venice — it was nearly empty.
Avoiding Tourist Traps in Venice
There are many ways to navigate Venice smart and efficiently, the most common being to avoid restaurants with a man outside attracting customers or displaying photos of food. Great lesser-known tips are to graze at ciccheti bars which offer small food plates (similar to Spanish tapas) for €1-2 each, take out your own gondola after a lesson from Row Venice, or find real handmade gelato at Gelateria Alaska in the Santa Croce neighborhood.
Don’t wait any longer—Wherever you’ve always wanted to go, pick a date and book it.