Ah, Venice. The narrow canals, the irresistible gelato, the glowing atmosphere. You fell in love with it the first time, and now you're planning your next visit.
Once you've done the big sites, you'll want a more local and authentic travel experience. Here's where to go on your next trip to Venice to travel like a real local, away from the crowds...
Go inside the Bridge of Sighs
While most tourists journey to Venice to look at the Bridge of Sighs, few think to actually go inside it. Ironically, the entire point of the Bridge of Sighs is the view that you get over Venice from inside. In case you didn’t know, the Bridge of Sighs is a gateway between the Doge Palace and St Mark’s Square where most of Venice’s executions were held. On their way to their deaths, prisoners would stop as they walked through the Bridge of Sighs and gaze out onto the view of Venice, one last time. Hence the name. Now you’ve got the inside knowledge, no need to weave through the jungle of selfie sticks for a glimpse of the view…
Head to a summer Sagra
Italy’s best-kept foodie secrets are the Sagras; local festivals which show off a region’s specialised food and drink. At a Venetian Sagra, you’ll see everything from tastings to competitions to live music, and you’ll get a real feel of how ancient Venice used to party. The biggest (and most pretty) Sagra in Venice is the Festa del Redentore, a huge feast taking place every third Sunday of July. Thousands of Venetians decorate their boats with beautiful colours and fill them with food and garlands. The festival remains mostly a local tradition, so you won’t have to elbow any tourists out of the way for a photo op.
Explore the Jewish Ghetto of Canareggio
While most of the crowds swarm the more picturesque neighbourhood of San Marco, mosey over to Canareggio, a district largely unchanged by modern day tourism. Here, you’ll get a much better sense of authentic local Venetian life and find charming second-hand bookshops, Adriatic eats and live music. For an extra dose of culture, head to the Jewish Museum to learn more about the history of Venetian Jews.
Do a Venice ghost tour
There’s something deeply poetic about Venice at night. The crowds clear and the reflecting night lights glisten in the water. Discover Venice’s dark past on one of the city’s infinitely entertaining ghost walking tours. You’ll hear haunting tales of the sinister goings-on of ancient Venice, as you walk through empty squares and through dark alleyways led by your cloaked guide. Whether you believe the stories or not, it’s undoubtedly one of the best (and most fun) ways to take in the atmosphere of the city.
Head to one of the local islands
Venice is surrounded by a lagoon which is home to a whole host of stunning islands just a short trip away from the city, and are even accessible by public transport. For the oldest church in the Lagoon, head to Torcello. For more well-known islands, visit Murano or Burano, home to arts & crafts including lace-making and glass blowing. Desperate for some beach side action? Lido is your best bet.