Travel myths: 6 lies people tell you about Venice

A couple of weeks ago I went to Venice, and it was brilliant. It’s a beautiful city (feels kind of like a movie set) and there is loads to do and see. But beforehand, I was worried.

Worried.

To go on holiday.

Which is stupid.

But it’s because I’d read up on Venice prior to leaving – I always do read up on a place – and had read all these negative things. Some of these things even made me doubt my decision to visit the city, but when I got there I found I’d been worried for nothing.

Venice grand canal

So here are the lies I’d read about Venice:

1. It’s the most expensive city you’ll ever visit: WRONG

So many travel forums and tour books warned about the price of Venice I found myself getting seriously concerned. But the reality? It wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected. Maybe it’s because I live in London and I’m used to expensive prices, but I’ve also travelled a lot, and Venice wasn’t too bad at all compared to cities like Melbourne, Sydney, NYC (etc). I was told that a meal out for 2 people in the evening would cost upwards of 100 euros… this was way exaggerated.

I never spent more than 25 Euros on an evening meal (and that included a main meal, bread, non-alcoholic drinks, and even a side order in some cases). Granted there would’ve been an extra 10 Euros perhaps if I’d have had a glass of wine – but that’s still pretty reasonable.

The cost of a bowl of pasta in the average restaurant was like 15 Euros, and the price of a pizza ranged from 9 Euros (margarita) to 18 Euros (if you wanted shellfish or prawns or generally expensive stuff on there). Of course, you’ll pay more if you eat out at the expensive restaurants n the tourist hotspots like Piazza San Marco – and if you choose the luxury restaurants with fine dining – but you’d pay more for that any city in the world.

It’s not just a Venice thing. That’s a hospitality-industry thing. 

I think Harriet paid around 18 Euros for this massive platter of shellfish.

I think Harriet paid around 18 Euros for this massive platter of shellfish. Not so bad after all.

2. You’ll pay shit loads in cover charges and tax at restaurants: WRONG

Before I went I’d read up to be careful about cover charge and tax at restaurants – and that hidden fees were common practise in Venice restaurants. I’d read couples claiming they’d been charged 30/40 Euros on top of their meal cost, just for sitting down at a table, or eating outside in the courtyard. WHERE WERE THESE PEOPLE EATING?  Yes – If you go to an expensive restaurant the cover charge will be more. But that’s because they know you’re willing to pay it. Go to normal restaurants and local haunts and the cover charge is literally a couple of Euros. We paid no more than 5 Euros in total for tax and cover charge the entire time we were there.

When you think about NYC and other cities in the US where you’re expected to tip up to 20% – this doesn’t seem too bad at all. 

Enjoying a beautiful meal near the Rialto Bridge. Total bill for 2 people: 45 Euros.

Enjoying a beautiful meal near the Rialto Bridge. Total bill for 2 people: 45 Euros.

3. The city stinks: WRONG

OK, so there were times when  noticed a slight smell. And there was one evening when we were walking down a very scruffy alleyway (way away from the touristy part of the city) and it got a bit smelly. BUT it lasted only a few metres and then it faded. Maybe it might get worse in the height of summer in August, but I can safely say, that in June when I was there the smell wasn’t noticeable or uncomfortable.

I was dreading the smell (I have an overly sensitive nose and may have been a Spaniel or police dog in another life…?) so I was like:

“ohmygod it’s going to smell and I’m going to hate it” but it honestly wasn’t even noticeable. Sure, you might smell it when you first arrive – but then, just as with anything, it’ll fade away and you’ll get used to. I mean, for heavens sake, people live in Venice – so it can’t be that bad. You wouldn’t voluntarily live in a place that stinks, would you?

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4. Public transport is a nightmare: WRONG 

It’s no where near as bad asI’d read on forums. It might be a little more confusing initially because you’re riding a boat, not a bus, but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of. And you know, if you’re ever confused – just ask someone. People are generally friendly and will point you in the right direction. And if you do get on the wrong boat? Just get off at the next stop and go back in the right direction instead. It’s really that easy.

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Waiting for our bus.

All public transport take s a little time getting used to – it doesn’t matter if you’re in NYC, London, Paris, Rome – it can be confusing wherever you are. Take a few minutes to accustom yourself to it – look out for the major stations such as Rialto Bridge, San Marco, etc – and then at least you’ll know what to look out for and where to aim for.

5. It’ll be swarming with Mozzies: WRONG

I read on a view Trip Advisor forums that the mozzies in Venice are awful because of how much water there is there. I stocked up on DEET, got myself in a fluster (I really hate mozzie bites and seem to react terribly to them) and prepared for the worst.

The good news?

I didn’t see a single mozzie during my time there. Not in the daytime, not in the evening. AWESOME.

6. Taking a Gondola ride is over-rated and over-priced: WRONG

I was watching a TV show a few weeks before visiting Venice, that advised people to give the Gondola rides a miss. Claiming they were over-priced and over-rated. I just don’t understand this at all.

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If you’re in Venice, you absolutely must to a Gondola ride. Because it’s iconic, beautiful, romantic, wonderful and a once in a lifetime thing. Yes it’s pretty pricey (official prices are in the image below) but you can share your Gondola ride with other people for cheaper fares, and daytime rides are less than evening rides, s0 you can save money there too. We booked our ride with Viator in advance too online, and that saved us around 20 Euros.

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So yeah. Venice is great.

I was worried for no reason, and I loved every second. It’s a beautiful city.

It is a little expensive in parts – but any smart tourist with a brain knows how to avoid those areas, and knows how to avoid paying 18 Euros for coffee. It can be done on a budget – I even came home with 40 Euros left over (which was about 20% of the total cash I took with me). Not bad going!

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If you’re booking your trip soon, I’d recommend the following websites for great deals and prices:

tripadvisor.com (hotels and reviews)

expedia.co.uk (hotels)

agoda.com (hotels and tours)

skyscanner.net (flights)

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