Venice – Love it or Hate it?

Whenever the subject of the Italian city of Venice comes up in conversation there’s always a split in the proverbial camps. There are always people who say they’ve been to Venice and adored it and would love to return and then there are always people who say something along the lines of ‘oh isn’t Venice smelly and dirty?’ I’ve found that a lot of the time the people who are in the latter camp haven’t actually even been to the city and yet have preconceived ideas about it.

I’m firmly ensconced in camp number one with the Venice lovers. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Venice 5 or 6 times. The first time was when I was twelve and on holiday in Rimini with my parents. I pestered them until they agreed that we would get up at 4am and go to Venice for a day trip. (Yes, I’ve always been desperate to visit new places. And stubborn. Definitely stubborn.) I loved Venice on that first visit, and I think it’s safe to say I love it even more now.


St. Marks Square

One of the things I love most about Venice is the sheer amount of history that is captured within the canals, bridges and ostentatious architecture of the city. Walking around the city it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine the people who lived there centuries ago walking through the streets, going about their daily business.

I’ve visited the Doge’s Palace twice and both times I simply loved walking through the interior rooms with their ornate decoration and over the top Italian flair. Inside the Palace you can walk through the rooms that have been inhabited by various Doge’s throughout the years and even walk across the famous Bridge of Sighs. Earlier this year I was walking across the bridge peeking out of the holes that reputedly prisoners would glimpse their last views of the city before they embarked upon prison life on the other side. A huge clap of thunder struck just as I walked over the bridge and it added to the atmospheric feeling.


The Bridge of Sighs

The one thing I dislike about Venice is the sheer volume of tourists that are there all year round. The main areas of the city such as St. Marks Square and the streets and canals which surround it are always mobbed with tourists. My favourite thing to do is to wander off the main tourist trail and explore some side streets and quieter areas of the city. I think this gives a more authentic experience of the city and  makes it more enjoyable to see the streets without bumping into groups of tourists following a tour guide with an umbrella every two seconds.


One of my favourite Venice photos

So, reserve your judgement on Venice until you’ve actually visited the city. If you travel there and decide you still don’t like it then that’s okay. Some places aren’t for everyone and we all have different likes and dislikes. But please, don’t denounce Venice until you’ve experienced it for yourself.

16 Responses to Venice – Love it or Hate it?

  1. Susan

    Interesting post. I’m putting together an itinerary for six weeks across Europe this fall, and sites like Venice are falling off the list as I hear stories about obnoxious fellow tourists and price gouging. It’s nice to hear a different side of the story!

    • Emma

      I think if you’re going in the fall you should definitely keep Venice on the list. It won’t be as crowded as in summer, and you might just love it!

  2. Heather

    Have to agree with you Emma, I adore Venice. Have been twice, once on an organised trip and once just me and dad on the local bus.

    The second trip was amazing. We got totally lost wandering through the small streets and canals away from the main tourist routes. We found the most amazing chemist shop that was furnished in beautiful dark wood. We bought uncle bill a shaving brush there made of pig hairs (we could have got badger hair!)

    I love the charm of Venice, the bridges, the canals and the atmosphere. I’m afraid my brother is in the other camp!!!

    Ciao bella :)

  3. Monica

    I absolutely love Venice. It has to be one of my favourite cities in the world. I went in October which seems to be the perfect time of year to go. I’ve spoken to people who have been in August and it sounds pretty awful as it gets all smelly and crowded.

    • Emma

      Yeah I’ve been in September and it’s still pretty busy. I’d really like to go in the winter, maybe in the snow. How cool would that be! Although it does flood terribly in winter :(

  4. Scarlett

    Wow Emma, you’re pictures are gorgeous! I went to Venice as a kid and I’d love to go back! I think I’d avoid the summer months though! xx

    • Emma

      Thank you! And yeah I’d say definitely avoid the summer months. Amazing place though!xx

  5. Annette | Bucket List Journey

    Love, love, LOVE Venice! Then again, I went their in March :)

  6. Jenna | Follow Ben and Jenna

    I’ll always love Venice: my wedding proposal took place there (good taste, Ben)!

    That last picture belongs in a Venice ad campaign – wow!!

    • Emma

      Aw how romantic! And thanks, I was just lucky with that shot :)

  7. Tony Maras

    I totally agree with you. If you can keep away from the tourist traps of Rialto or St Marks, and focus on the smaller canals and amazing palaces during the day, you’ll have a wonderful time. St Marks is better late at night when the day tourists leave. Also, although the food is dreadful near the tourist traps, there are some fantastic genuine Venetian fish restaurants in the back alleys. Torcello and the early Roman remains of Venice are also very understated.

    • Emma

      Definitely agree with all you’ve said, Tony. I loved St. Mark’s Square at night- so much quieter and more pleasant!

  8. Simon

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of Venice, to be honest. I visited it in the height of summer and found it awfully crowded and polluted – and prone to the occasional thunder storm!

    Perhaps it was just a case of my expectations being too high? Or maybe I shouldn’t have gone there during peak tourist season?

    • Emma

      I think visiting in the height of summer may have clouded your opinion of the city. If you get a chance you should try to return when it’s quieter. Maybe you’ll get a different impression of Venice!

  9. Tiana Kai

    Great shots!! I’m one of those on the fence with Venice. My favorite is the architecture, which is great for priceless photos. I can’t stand the amount of tourists and that there isn’t much to do after midnight. There are so many other great cities in Italy, so I hope to explore others than returning to to Venice for a 5th time.

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks, Tiana. I agree with you on the architecture and the subsequent amazing photos. The number of tourists are definitely a downside, but just something you have to put up with if you want to explore this city I guess. There definitely are other great cities in Italy, especially some of the smaller less well known ones. I adore Bologna!

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