There's no doubt about it: Venice is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With its incredible history, stunning waterways, and jaw-dropping architecture, a holiday to Venice tops nearly every traveller's bucket list.
Because of that, Venice is facing overcrowding, as millions visit every year. In conjunction with Venice's new initiative to promote sustainable and responsible travel (#EnjoyRespectVenezia) we've put together a guide on how we can all be better tourists in Venice.
With an emphasis on respecting the local environment, economy, and inhabitants, responsible tourism can contribute to a sustainable Venice for years to come.
Tips for Sustainable Travel in Venice
The phrase "off the beaten path" may be overused in travel writing, and some may argue it's impossible to step off the beaten path in Venice. But doing a bit of research and joining a local tour can help you unlock some of Venice's lesser-known spots.
Another wonderful option for helping to diffuse overcrowding in Venice is to visit the smaller islands in the lagoon, including Murano, Burano, and Torchello.
2. Focus on local culture
Sustainable travel is all about supporting the local community of a destination. In Venice, this means supporting local businesses, including locally-owned restaurants, tour companies, and shops. Not sure where to start? Ask a local, of course! The staff at your Venice hotel will be well-versed in local places to shop, eat, and sightsee.
Eating in Italy is one of life's great joys, and you'll find no shortage of local cuisines to try in Venice and the surrounding lagoon. If you're unsure what to try, go for a seafood dish (sardines, small crabs, and squid ink are all popular). Risotto and polenta are also very common in the area, and make sure to try bigoli in salsa, a local pasta dish that's perfect as a starter! For dessert, try the delicious (and very Venetian) baicoli with your espresso.
3. Buy locally-made souvenirs
An ideal way to immerse yourself in Venetian culture is to visit a local artisan's workshop. From leather and woodworking to glass and graphic design, there are many workshops where you can learn about how these local products are made. The souvenirs you purchase will be all that much better if you've actually seen the handiwork behind it!
And as tempting as it may be to shop from illegal vendors that usually set up on the street (think fake designer handbags, for example), buying these products only end up hurting the Venetian economy, not helping it.
4. Take care of public spaces
Not only does this include disposing of all rubbish and recycling properly, it also means no loitering or eating in places you're not meant to. As breathtaking as St. Mark's Square is, for example, it is not a picnic spot. Similarly, bridges, wells, monuments, and the steps of churches should not be used as rest areas or spots to eat. There are plenty of public gardens around Venice where you can rest or picnic to your heart's content!
In the same vein, just because Venice is surrounded by water doesn't mean you can swim anywhere you'd like. Make sure to swim in only the designated areas!
5. Visit Venice in low season
There are many benefits to travelling to Venice in low season, including fewer crowds, more space to yourself, and potentially better deals on transportation and accommodation. Travelling in low season is a fantastic way to support sustainable tourism and help offset overcrowding in Venice's peak summer months!
Another way to travel responsibly in Venice? Visit for more than just a day trip. Staying for a few days in Venice helps the local community by giving more business to local hotels and restaurants. And trust us... one day in Venice isn't enough, not when there are so many amazing things to do in the city and the surrounding lagoon!
6. Leave no trace
Sustainable travel is all about creating as low of an impact on the local environment and community as possible. This means absolutely no littering or graffiti (including locking padlocks to bridges). Think of Venice as your backyard... would you want people to throw rubbish on your lawn or write their names on your house?
7. Try to avoid disposable plastic products when possible
Disposable plastic products such as water bottles and shopping bags are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to the world's waste problem. Simply put, plastic waste is taking over our planet, including on land and at sea. There are two simple ways you can help reduce your plastic waste while on holiday in Venice:
-bring a reusable tote bag for all of your shopping needs
-bring a reusable water bottle; tap water is safe to drink in Venice, and there are over 100 public drinking fountains around the city where you can fill up your bottle!
8. Respect Venice's inhabitants
As much as it looks like it was ripped out of a fairytale, Venice is indeed home to hundreds of thousands of people! A big part of being a responsible tourist is respecting the local inhabitants of the destination you're visiting. This can include all of the above, of course, but also making sure to keep noise levels to a minimum at night, never taking a photograph of someone without their permission, and remembering that Venice is a city filled with people trying to live their daily lives amongst the tourists.
A city as beautiful and unique as Venice deserves to be treated with respect. We can all do our part to help maintain Venice's beauty and history for many generations to come; a few small actions by each of us can equal a massive shift in positive sustainability. Sustainable travel in Venice is indeed possible... together we can make it happen!