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If there's one thing that everybody in the world agrees on about Venice, it's the fact that the place is absolutely, unequivocally, and utterly unique. Yes, this sinking lagoon city crossed with canals and festooned with the romance of yesteryear is truly like nowhere else.
In addition to being one-of-a-kind, if there was one other thing that everyone agrees on, it would be that sometimes in Venice, it can feel like all of mankind is right there with you. Yep, it gets that packed, and avoiding crowds in Venice is bound to be high on your to-do list almost immediately after your arrival.
Here are a couple of tips I've come up with over the years that you can use whether you are there for a few nights or just popping in for a few hours on a cruise.
Cancel the Campanile Climb
After visiting St. Mark's Basilica, The Doge's Palace, and the Rialto Bridge,
climbing the famous belltower Campanile di San Marco is one of the most popular things to do in Venice. Sadly, the lines here can be suffocating, so instead, hop a short boat ride over to San Giorgio Maggiore Island and scale its nearly identical belltower. The lines will be shorter, the price is cheaper, and the views will include the teal blue of the lagoon and the city of Venice, unlike the view from the Campanile di San Marco, which is mostly just of roofs.
Buy Your Tickets Ahead
Surprising to most, nearly each and every one of the major Venice attractions offers the opportunity to buy tickets online in advance, and this really comes in handy when trying to avoid crowds. With your ticket already in hand or on your smartphone, you'll be able to skip right by the lines outside and get on with your sightseeing.
One of the best things to do on any trip is to just simply walk the streets of a place, getting to know it better with each and every step. And guess what? You don't need the sun, open businesses, or for other people to be around for this to be a memorable experience.
Therefore, I completely recommend taking a walk in Venice late in the evening - around midnight or so (and before anyone says it, yes, you can stay up that late, because you're on vacation!). The city is magical at this hour, with plazas full of empty benches and romantic latticed lightposts, chiming church bells, twinkling lights reflecting in the lapping water, and resting gondolas to keep you company.
Camp Out at Campo Santa Margherita
Venice is full of plazas teeming with travelers, but this one hidden away by the university remains relatively serene and tourist free day and night. It's a great place to relax during the day and catch your breath, and a fine place to join the locals for an al fresco drink at night.
Oh, and it also just happens to be home to arguably the best pizza joint in town: Pizza al Volo (address: Campo Santa Margherita 2944). They serve up big, budget-friendly slices with both traditional toppings (think ham and mushroom, zucchini, or plain cheese) and adventurous ones like sliced hot dogs and French fries (trust me, it's better than it sounds).
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