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Venice first timer

Hi All,

I'll be visiting Venice on the 26th-27th Dec. I have several queries:
1. Would shops be closed during those dates? I plan to visit Murano and Burano aside from the St Lucia Lagoon
2. How long would it be total to explore the Grand Canal by the gondolas or waterbus? I'd probably start from around St Lucia waterbus station (Ferrovia or PIe. Roma) up to St Marco Square?
3. Where is the best spot to actually explored by the gondolas? Is it going to be chilly, snowy or windy during my staying period?
4. If not staying in Lido, is it worth a visit? Which part of the northern beaches in Lido that's open to public? I read that mostly are private aside from 2 public beaches.
5. Lido or Maggiore Island? I read it's a good view back of the Lagoon from Maggiore but when I see from gmaps, it just looks like buildings facades across the water. perhaps if Maggiore is in higher ground, it would be a better viewing landscape imho.

TIA

Posted by
7124 posts

I will just make a comment re your questions 4 and 5.
The Lido beaches only operate during summer - you will find the island a deserted wasteland in December.
Similarly I would not visit Murano or Burano at this time.
Visit San Giorgio Maggiore to admire Palladio's wonderful architecture, and for the view across to San Marco.
Great views of Venice from above at the Campanile (San Marco belltower).
Stay near Rialto or San Marco.

Posted by
9454 posts

Jen - a good read of Rick Steves' Venice Guide (or the section of the Italy guide) is in order. He covers all teh basics about gondolas, vaporetti (water buses), and more.

Dec 26 - may be limited openings as it is Santo Stephano, a national holiday. Tourist services will be open (restaurants) and you will have to research each museum that interests you to see what their hours are.

It will be chilly but we have really enjoyed Venice in winter! Expect temps into the 30s at night, but not freezing. Probably high 40s/low 50s during the day.No guarantees. Expect the worst and be delighted when you get sunshine.Snow unlikely but felightful when it happens!

Lido - no, not in winter

San Giorgio Maggiore has a great bell tower, less crowded than the one at San Marco with a fabulous view over the Laguna. There is no "high ground" in Venezia.

We go to Murano, Burano and Torcello in the winter IF the lagoon is calm and it is sunny/mostly sunny. Not in the rain....

Posted by
6544 posts

We were once there the end of January and it was terribly cold and windy. They had wooden walkways on St. Marks Square as the tides were very high--with minor flooding.

It was a much difference experience than going in warm weather--like we have our other 5 trips there.

Posted by
23983 posts

Your question 1 - dunno. I would never travel over the Christmas week. Travel at home is difficult and I like to visit family.

Question 2 - by gondola, ages. It is about 40 minutes by vaporetto. See Rick Steves' Guidebook for Venice for a vaporetto tour, and elsewhere on this website for an audio version.

Question 3 - I wouldn't try to do it by gondola. In nearly 20 visits I've never been on a gondola. Neither has my wife. The weather can be very cold, wet and gray at that time of year. The churches and other buildings are made of stone and hold onto the cold. Really hold onto the cold. The open decks of the vaporettos are susceptible to the cold, the rain and the wind, too. Going into the churches is like going into a walk in refrigerator - according to a long time resident. You may also get the Acqua Alta, when some parts of Venice flood.

Question 4, part 1 - No

Question 4, part 2 - In the middle of winter?

Question 5 - I don't understand the comparison of Lido and San Giorgio Maggiore. I go to San Giorgio every trip. I love it. There is nothing to attract me to Lido. In the middle of summer there is always a wind at the top of the San Giorgio bell tower and it always cool. In the middle of winter - if you have a dry day - you still need to be wrapped up and expect cold winds.

Question 5 part 2 - as said above, there is no high ground in Venice, and there are no high buildings. That is part of the unique beauty of the city.

Posted by
463 posts

Hi All,

thanks so much for the info. now i roughly know what to expect, slight flooding and closed shops on 26th Dec.
Got it Yes to Maggiore and Nope to Lido during winter and waterbus over gondolas (well might try a short trip with gondola if it's not too chilly :D)

What about Murano and Burano on the 27th? does the glass and lace workshops close too >_< ? i'd like to visit these islets mainly for the sightseeing but also interested in knowing their specialty too. few restaurants open would do, not really keen on shopping either.

TIA

Posted by
2235 posts

Jen, about your last question, it will be the middle of the winter and slow tourist season, it will be a holiday weekend, and December 27 is a Sunday. So, I think it's safe to assume various sites and businesses may be closed on Murano, Burano and Torcello. If the weather is clear, no doubt you could get to all these islands by vaporetto, walk the streets and take photographs, and could probably find a meal on Murano and/or Burano. Daylight hours will be limited as that is very close to the shortest daylight day of the year. In terms of sites (museums and churches) and businesses, you probably would need to seek their Dec 27 hours on the web, perhaps website by website. I doubt most workshops of any kind would be open that Sunday.

Posted by
11983 posts
  1. Dec. 26 is a holiday (St. Steven day) and Dec 27 is a Sunday. Most shops will be closed except for restaurants, bars, caffe', and shops that cater to tourists.
  2. Vaporetto about 45 min.. Gondola=hours (price is €80 every 30 min. so I hope you are rich).
  3. Any place near S. Marco is the typical touristy thing to do. Near Rialto bridge is also popular. Impossible to predict the weather this far ahead, but it can get very chilly in Venice, especially with the freezing Bora wind. Yes, it can snow as well.
  4. Beaches are not private in Italy, but rather the local authority (city) may give 'bathing establishments' a concession to use a portion of the beach to rent equipment (chairs, umbrella, changing rooms, bar, etc.), the 5 meter strip from the water edge must be free, public and unencumbered by any equipment (umbrellas, chairs, etc.). There will be no concessions operating at the beach in December, so it will be totally free and empty. However I see no reason to go there in December. It's not beach weather and the Lido is pretty desolate in winter.
  5. San Giorgio Maggiore has a nice view of the San Marco Basin (Bacino di San Marco).
Posted by
486 posts

Two days is also not a lot of time in Venice if you also want to visit Murano and Burano. You don't say if that is two full days or if you are traveling on part of those days leaving only partial days for touring. I have been to Murano twice and it was mostly shopping with not a lot to see there, especially in comparison to Venice. We found Burano to be much more charming but it is farther out in the lagoon, so it takes longer to get there if you are limited on time.

I would suggest to make your decision on whether to take a gondola based on the conditions that day. My first trip we skipped the gondola but I later regretted it so we did that when we went back to Venice on another trip. It gives you a very different perspective because you are low on the water and generally on smaller side canals. So you see the buildings from a different angle. The Vaporetto stay to the Grand Canal or lagoons and you are higher up so they are very different experiences. Our favorite activity though is just "getting lost" and wandering the streets.

Posted by
463 posts

Hi All,

in regards to the weather, in which condition does the vaporetto wouldn't operate? heavy rain?

Hi Roberto
woww the gondola does pretty expensive but I just read roughly somewhere depends on which route we could get for around EUR30.

Hi JenC
I second you on the gondola experience especially with the long and far travelling time to reach Venice. btw do you happen to see a workshop in Murano and Burano or all shops only? I am more interested in looking at the workshop than the shopping itself.

TIA

Posted by
23983 posts

in regards to the weather, in which condition does the vaporetto wouldn't operate? heavy rain?

They have radar so tend not to be stopped by weather. Heavy fog will slow them down.

woww the gondola does pretty expensive but I just read roughly
somewhere depends on which route we could get for around EUR30.

I've never heard of anybody getting a gondola ride for as low as €30. Only if you take the usual €80 to €100 price and have friends with you to divide the cost.

Posted by
11983 posts

The official price for a gondola ride is 80 euro for 30 min during the day, or 100 euro for 35 min at night between 7pm till morning at 8am.
I've never heard of a 30 euro fare.

There is a cheaper way to get on a gondola. You can use a Gondola Traghetto, or gondola ferry, to cross the Grand Canal. I think it costs only 2 euro.

Posted by
486 posts

Yes, you can see a glass blowing demonstration on Murano in an area that is attached to the shops. They are free demonstrations and then you are funneled into the shop to make purchases if you wish. It is interesting, but I am not sure that I would go to Murano just to see a demonstration. Be aware that if you want to make any purchases there are shops that sell glass made in China, usually much cheaper. Murano glass has a special sticker to identify it as authentic. This website has details.

http://www.muranoglass.com/en/

Posted by
463 posts

Hi All,

I saw an advertisement on the web i visited in regards to the EUR30 gondola trip. I tried to revisit the web but couldn't remember which one. I google it and find this web http://www.venice-gondola-rides.com/?rmsrc=1&_$ja=tsid:42173|cid:105333745|agid:5059404745|tid:kwd-19394790169|crid:77180879305|nw:g|rnd:2571597768182000985|dvc:c|adp:1t2&gclid=CjwKEAjwh8exBRDyyqqH9pvf1ncSJAAu4OE3XtxkPYc11Ltt8spL_annA0IhCSTtEMdkqHWcd5tTAxoCppHw_wcB

the trip starts from EUR30 for 30mnts but honestly I haven't really got the chance to read carefully whether there's extra charges or not as it seems everyone here confirms it should be EUR80 minimum.
Perhaps it's a different type of gondola as Roberto mentioned.

Hi JenC
thanks for affirming the glass blowing workshop. I find this web which I think a different company than one you visited? http://www.murano-art.com.tw/about.php
Please correct me if I'm wrong, there's only an area for the glass blowing demonstration which surrounded by the shops. It's not that each shop have their own demonstration.
Thanks so much for alerting me with the product that's not authentic Murano's. We really have to keep an eye on that nowadays ;)

i also have visited Burano tourism website. It's mentioned that the lace making workshop takes place inside the Lace Museum and the museum should be opened during my visit 26-27th of Dec. But it's advised to visit in the morning as lace making activities at its peak time. Have anyone visit it later in the afternoon around 1-2pm could still see the lace making workshop? if you have had, how was it? was it not much to be seen during that later hour?

TIA

Posted by
7191 posts

First time to Venice AND only 2 days (probably not full days) AND you go during a holiday AND you want to visit outlying islands of Murano AND Burano??? There's a simple answer to this question: "NO" The only thing that could possibly make this situation any worse is if you're staying in Mestre. Now that would be a "Perfect Storm" Venetian Vacation!

Posted by
463 posts

Hi Tim

appreciate your input but that's how we do our family vacay hahah. I know it looks too much for many but we need to stick with the holiday period only. How long does Murano and Burano take to visit actually? Last time we did Volendam, Edam Marken within a day too (back to Amsterdam at 5pm) and I think Murano and Burano is even more quaint than them. I'm not going to visit museums and just stick with the sightseeing. We also plan to stay in St Lucia

on the other hand got good news from Burano tourism board. All shops should still be opened during my Dec visit though perhaps some individual stores would choose to celebrate end of year holiday. on their web, they only list very few holiday dates such as 25th Dec, 1st Jan and 1st May

Posted by
792 posts

I stayed in a very comfortable hotel across the street from the Mestre train station. 10 minute train ride to Venice. Stayed all day and half the night strolling around and then simply hopped on the train back around 10pm. Repeated the next day. Easy, cheap, and efficient. Nothing wrong with staying in Mestre.

Posted by
2235 posts

Jen, according to the link you listed, probably others too, the gondola rides beginning around 30 euros are "per person" fares, with a minimum of 4 passengers, up to 6, for the trip to go. So, if you are by yourself you would be sharing the trip with other tourist groups, if the trip has enough people to go. If you are a family group of 2 or more, you would pay the basic fare per person and still share the ride. Also, at least on that site, it appears that the gondolier offers no commentary, let alone a song or two. Those cost extra. But, that does offer a way for an individual to experience a gondola ride. By the way, the 2 euro "traghetto" gondola that Roberto mentioned is merely a gondola directly across the canal, at a few points where people often want to cross, but there is no bridge. The ride takes maybe two minutes, with various people either sitting or standing in the gondola. It is a transit point, not really a sightseeing experience.

Posted by
23983 posts

To confirm, a traghetto is a ferry type gondola with no cushions and hard seats - locals stand - used to cross directly across the Grand Canal. As said above, the ride is short.

The Grand Canal on a traghetto in the middle of winter may be less pleasant than later in the year.

Posted by
486 posts

Since the website you linked for Murano is a .tw or Taiwainese based website, I would not consider it the best reference for something that is authentic to Murano even if they do have a furnace there. Furnace is what the glass production factories are called. Not all shops have a furnace with public demonstrations available on site, but there is more than one company with a demonstration, you just have to walk around and find one. The first time I went to Murano the vaporetto stop (Colonna maybe?)that we got off at had someone directing us to a demonstration nearby so we went to that one. That time and another time we were on the island we saw other demonstrations available while we were walking around.

Posted by
486 posts

For timing it takes about 15 minutes to get to Murano and an additional 30 minutes to get to Burano from Murano. It can take longer depending on which stops you get on/off at. How much time you spend at each place can vary greatly by what you want to do while there. Also check the schedule for timing of the trips back. Especially from Burano the vaporetto schedule is not as frequent as the vaporettos in Venice.

In Burano you can also see ladies sitting outside shops working on lace pieces. Just like in Murano, if you wish to make a purchase be aware that many of the products in the stores may not be made in Burano but in China. So be careful if you want to purchase something authentic.

Venice for Visitors has lots of good information on how to plan your trip out too: http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/venice-islands-tour.htm

Posted by
189 posts

Jen, I believe in packing in as much as you can, good for you. I was in Verona in December 2013 (not too far from Venice) and it was wonderful. You will likely find a Christmas market. Just bring layers for the weather. I have visited Murano in the summer and the heat is brutal, from the weather plus the glass blowing torches. What a treat it would be to visit in winter. And purchase glass NOT from China. I treasure mine.

Posted by
393 posts

For only 2 days . . . I say skip something and spend more time in Venice. You will find plenty of authentic Murano Glass throughout Italy and Venice. We found Murano to be very touristy and very pushy with their sales. We ventured into the backstreets of Venice and took recommendations from our B&B host and found better glass jewely than we did in Murano. We also found great Murano Glass in Sorrento and Florence. We did go to Burano for 1/2 day and we really enjoyed it a lot. Bought some lace bookmarks and ornaments. It's going to take more time than you realize getting to places. Sometimes LESS is MORE. We spent 6 nights in Venice and still wish we had more time.

Posted by
463 posts

Hi All,

thanks for the input. I have some further queries as i start to arrange my Venice itinerary:
1. Is it safe to stroll around the alleys that are less touristy especially during my visit in winter, it gets dark quicker. what should i do if i see some guys hanging around in groups?

  1. Does the small alleys and the campos are well lit after the sunset?
  2. How long would it take approximately to queue for St Mark's campanile especially in December or during winter?
  3. Could we walk to Teatro Verde in San Giorgio Maggiore or it's close for private show?

TIA

Posted by
23983 posts

You have two questions number 1.

The first number 1. Yes. No worries. I've never seen that.

The second number 1. Yes.
Number 2. No idea, it varies.
Number 3, I've never heard of it. EDIT:- As said below, you need to get to San Giorgio by water. I thought the question was about finding it from the vaporetto stop or the church.

Posted by
1994 posts

You can't walk to San Giorgio from the main areas of Venice – it's a separate island. You need to take about a boat.

And I believe the theater you mention is an outdoor amphitheater. It would surprise me if they're scheduling performances in the winter, outdoors.

Finally, you mention "small" alleys – some of them can be quite dark, although I've never felt unsafe. However when I'm going to be out late in Venice, I bring a tiny flashlight with me in case I need it. The hotel that I usually stay at is down a very dark walkway on a relatively dark small canal.

Posted by
463 posts

Hi Nigel and Sherry,
I want to look for other sightseeing aside from the church in San Giorgio Maggiore. I see the open air theatre but not sure if we could access it freely. And yup i know it has to be by vaporetto getting there.

Posted by
463 posts

Hi All,

just want to give an update and thank everyone here for the inputs. Venice is beautiful indeed! it was misty and foggy during my visit but it even added it's own beauty. my hotel concierge told me, as long as it's not raining, it's always have something to look at and enjoy for. The Rialto bridge is unfortunately under heavy construction and with the heavy fog, there wasn't any gondolier in Rialto station. i'd definitely come back for more!