Venice is not Disneyland – yet!

Venice has been in the news lately – locals complain about day trippers ruining the island and have been demonstrating for years to cut down on the size and number of cruise ships coming up the Guidecca Canal. It must have been sadly satisfying for those protesters to witness the destruction of the Uniworld Countess river cruise by an out of control MSC cruise ship. I also heard one local complaining that a tourist had asked him when Venice closed for the day. He said it was as if Venice was a Disney resort. What a shame!

But there is still a chance to see Venice properly. You can enjoy a coffee at a stand up bar along with the gondoliers and it won’t cost you a fortune. Of course you have to see St Marks – but what a joy – I got to go there after hours and it was totally worth it having the Basilica just for our small group.

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world – a miracle really of primitive but effective engineering linking together numerous islands by bridges and canals and erecting beautiful buildings on stilts in the silty marshes. And it is like a maze – a real one! That’s what is such fun about Venice – getting lost. Only a local really knows their way around the winding alley ways and tiny bridges. But by getting lost you can discover so much more. Find out where the locals hang out and spend more than a day there. Hotels are generally more expensive on the island but the bonus is that when the cruise ships have gone and the day trippers have returned to the mainland you will have the place to yourself (well almost!).

Spend more days there too and venture away from the main sightseeing spots so you can find cafes that the locals would use. Take your most comfortable walking shoes – go find the Ponte de Chiodo – one of only two bridges in Venice without a parapet

No handrail here! Be careful!

So spend longer in Venice. Sleep in, start late – stay out till past midnight and see Venice by night. It’s beautiful and less crowded.

St Marks Square on a rainy evening

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Tourists have a responsibility to respect their destinations and locals. Unfortunately many do not. Locals in Venice can be rude to tourists, but in Canada are we blameless? On our most recent trip there we did as you said…toured the back streets and discovered a different calmer Venice.


  2. Hi Leslie,
    “When time does Venice close?” = = not the stupidest question I’ve heard about…
    During a cruise across the Indian Ocean last year, we stopped in The Maldives and an American woman (of course) asked, “is it near Florida?”
    She wondered why some of us were laughing!!!


  3. You are right Lesley about Venice. We have been 3 times, usually before or after a cruise, and stay for 2-3 extra days. . We walk and walk, turn down this way and that, with no idea where we are, and discover so many wonderful places.. Our hotel is usually stay close to St.Marks, so easy to ask directions to get back..So I have a funny cruise story; leaving Venice, everyone usually on their balcony taking in the awesome views, I hear our American neighbours rambling on…. So in the distance I see a small mountain, so I said to my husband…”hey look, theres Mt. Kilimanjaro” trying not to laugh, then the neighbour he yells back into the cabin…”hey y’all theres Mt. Kilimanjaro”, they were all amazed. To this day, we often yell out “hey theres Mt. Kilimanjaro” and relive the hilarity of it all.


    1. Oh my goodness Joyce…. I have only just stopped laughing and then every time I think of this story the laughter just bubbles up again. Thank you for making my afternoon and giving me a giggle. Yes you have the right idea about Venice. Getting lost and enjoying it – and maybe even finding Mt Kilimanjaro along the way!


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