Think Venice is only for couples on romantic vacations? I dare you to think again.
Venice seems to be a hit or a miss with most people. A lot of visitors downplay this infamous city, claiming it’s too touristic, too expensive, or even too fake. I disagree.
In fact,Venice is one of my favourite cities. I fell in love with the city of canals during my first visit in 2013, enough so that I made sure to stop by again in 2014. I loved everything about it, I was never bored, and I was totally comfortable being there solo. Because of this, Venice is actually one of my favourite places to recommend to other solo travellers. Here’s why you should consider solo travel in Venice.
The Locals are Amazing
The kindness that the locals have always shown me blows me away, especially since Venice is such a touristic city. My first visit I expected to be snubbed; to be seen as just another North American visitor infiltrating their city. I was so wrong.
I got off to a bit of a rocky start when I took the wrong vaporetto to my B&B, and when we arrived back at Piazale Rome the young man driving noticed that, over an hour later, I was still on board. Not only did he help me figure out where I was going, but he actually walked me to the correct vaporetto, worried I would be confused since things were under construction.
Local vendors were kind as well, posing for my photos, helping me with directions, suggesting places I could find the things I was looking for and circling them on my map. At restaurants, the wait staff usually felt bad for me, the single girl eating alone, and I would frequently get a little something; a second glass of wine or even a special treat from the kitchen of which they had ‘extra’.
The owners of the hotels I’ve stayed at have been equally incredible too, keeping an eye out for me and always ready to help with any questions. Even checking to make sure I was ok after getting food poisoning in Verona, something I would never have expected a busy hotel to follow up on. And when it came time to leave, both locations I stayed at sent me off with friendly hugs, and invitations to come back.
In a city full of couples and families, my single status did mean I stuck out a bit, but based on my experience, it did way more good than harm. I’ve spent a total of about a week in Venice in the past two years, and not once was I harassed by the men. Something a girl really learns to appreciate, especially after non-stop harassment in Florence and Rome.
It Can Be Budget Friendly
If you do it right, the most expensive part of Venice will be your accommodations. Yes, there are a couple of hostels, but I chose to stay in a B&B and then a hotel after hearing some bed bug rumours about the hostels around when I was planning to visit. Besides, sometimes you need a room to yourself for a couple nights. I loved La Locanda di Orasaria, which had really friendly staff and a perfect location by the train station; busy and accessible for those who want to travel solo in Venice. If you are looking to stay in a hostel, Generator Hostel Venice is well rated. Be sure to check Airbnb for affordable options as well.
One of the best aspects about Venice is that it’s so walkable. No cars, no busses, it’s 100% pedestrian friendly and the streets and alleys offer perfect opportunities to explore and get lost. There is a vaporetto (water bus service), but unless you are in a hurry, there’s no need. So save the money for something more exciting, like gelato!
Food can also be affordable. There are plenty of places where you can have a beer and a pizza or bowl of pasta for an easy 10 euros. They key is to head away from Piazza San Marco and the grand canal, and get into the local areas. Your best bet is to ask where you are staying for some suggestions. One of the best meals I had in Venice was in a spot I never would have found on my own.
As for sight-seeing, well everything around you is amazing. You don’t need to pay to go into specific attractions to be awed, just take a walk. As an Indiana-Jones enthusiast, I was pretty happy to stumble upon this building below. Recognize it?
Easily Accessible With Lots of Day Trips
Getting into Venice is a breeze. The train station is right in the city, the airport is about a 15-20 minute bus ride away from Piazale Roma, which is where all busses arrive, and it’s also a port city. It really doesn’t get much easier.
With all these options of transportation, it’s easy to get in and out of the city, even just for day trips. Verona is only a couple hours away by train, or if you’re looking to explore a little more of the area, you can hop on a vaporetto out to the islands of Murano and Burano, both of which can be easily visited in a day.
There’s also some fun options within the city as well. I took a mask making class with a local artist that ended up being a lot of fun. (Book your own mask making workshop here)
So if you are dreaming of windy alleyways, gondolas and canals, pasta and gelato and everything that is fabulous about Venice, go for it. There’s no need to wait to visit with the love of your life. The sunsets will be magical, no matter whom you share it with, even if it’s just the local fishermen.
- Italians eat later…so if you want to fit in a little more plan to eat your dinner around 8pm rather than the typical 5:30-7pm common in North America. Keep in mind, you will be charged a sitting fee to eat in any establishment in Italy.
- Stay in Venice proper. Sure Lido or the mainland may be a little cheaper, however you’ll pay back (in money and time) anything you saved by actually getting into the Venice that you came to see.
- Vaporettos ARE frequently monitored so please don’t hop on without a ticket. You will be yelled at in front of everyone else, and charged. I’ve seen it happen twice, and it’s scary!
- Most people visit Venice only for a day, so for the best ‘local’, non-crowded experience, do your exploring in the early morning or evening.
- Gondola rides are super expensive, especially if you are just one person. But if it is on your bucket list, consider booking online in advance to be part of a group tour. You will save yourself quite a bit of money. Check here for that option.
- Flying into Venice? Check Skyscanner for the cheapest flights.
Must Have Travel Accessories for Solo Travel
I love solo travel, but it does mean I need to take some extra precautions. For any other solo travellers out there, especially my ladies, I highly recommend you pack the following:
- A lockable backpack for when you are in crowded areas and have nobody to keep an eye on your back.
- A whistle in case of an emergency. It’s an easy and reliable way to get attention worldwide
- A lightweight power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying when you are using it as a map!
- Activated charcoal for tummy troubles– the best solution when there is nobody you can count on to go to the pharmacy for you.
- Door stopper. Most hostels/hotels are safe, but if you are worried this will help you sleep better.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Italy
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.
*This post was updated January 2018