A view of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute across the Grand Canal
travel tips

Tips for travelling sustainably in Venice

The ‘sinking city’ isn’t a nickname that any place wants, but despite recent efforts to build a giant protective dam, Venice still faces unprecedented floods. Its beautiful buildings are literally sinking back into the lagoon they sprung from. So if you haven’t been yet, it’s now more important than ever to visit Venice in a sustainable way.

Just half of Venice’s 36 million annual visitors stay overnight. This kind of checklist tourism isn’t good for the local businesses or for maintaining the delicate infrastructure of the city. The huge environmental impact of this many day-trippers is at an imbalance with the peaceful, timeless beauty of the floating city.

Here are a few ways to make your trip to visit a bit more sustainable – and probably enjoy yourself more too

The view of Grand Canal from roof of Fondaco dei Tedeschi

1. Choose when you visit

It almost goes without saying to avoid visiting much of Europe in August. Not only will you spend more, but the attractions will be busier too. Nobody wants to share the place they’re visiting shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of other people... and this is definitely the case in Venice.

You’ll enjoy your visit more if you avoid peak times like summer and weekends. You can also choose to avoid visiting via a cruise ship (see We Are Here Venice for the reasons why), and to always try to spend more than just one day exploring the city.

 But also be aware that there are often floods (aqua alta) in winter, so do what the locals do and bring a pair of waterproof boots.

2. Travel slowly

By spending three days or more in Venice, and travelling more sustainably, we can have a more positive impact on this precious part of Italy. Your tourism dollars are more likely to benefit the local community, and you can see the city at its best - in the evenings when there are fewer crowds.

The city is also set up to go green, with a distinct lack of cars and plenty of reasons to explore on foot. Plus, like many Italian cities, Venice is full of free water fountains where you can refill your reusable water bottle.

A small bridge and colourful buildings in the Dorsoduro area.

3. Find sustainable accommodation

Another way to make a difference is to avoid home-rentals and stay in a locally-owned B&B instead, this way the locals aren’t priced out of their own city.

If you really want to stay in a Venetian home try Ecobnb or Fairbnb, a more ethical home-sharing site that supports community projects as well as the locals.

Otherwise, Corte De Gabriela is an eco-friendly boutique hotel in the heart of the city. Their blend of sustainability and luxury comfort has won them the European Certificate of Eco-Sustainable Hotels.

If you're looking for a more affordable option, Ca’ della Corte is a completely renovated Venetian palace near Piazzale Roma. It’s been certified by Eco World Hotels for its ecological practices as well as its focus on reducing consumption and waste.

4. Use public transport

While water taxis and gondolas get all of the glamour, they do nothing to help the infrastructure of Venice. Use the public vaporetto service to get around like the locals and pay into the city’s economy, by getting a tourist day pass you will save a lot of money too.

Of course, for short distances you can’t beat walking. Venice is one of the best cities in the world for pedestrians and you never quite know what you’ll find over the next bridge or around the next hidden alleyway.

A man making Carnival masks in Venice, Italy.

5. Hunt out locally-made souvenirs and food

Venice-made souvenirs can be hard to track down, with plenty of cheap knock offs available. But if you take the time to seek out the places that sell them, you will be supporting the local economy and you will have something that you can treasure forever. Check out Venezia Autentica’s interactive map of local businesses in Venice to support.

In restaurants and at the fresh produce market look out for the label ‘Nostrano’, it means locally grown or caught and is a great way of supporting the local economy. Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants are also on the rise in Venice, and fresh food is always a source of pride for locals.

6. Choose local tours

A great way to make your money go even further is by booking a tour with a local. Venezia Autentica offers impactful experiences like rowing on the canals, glass bead making, and walks around the lesser-known side of Venice with a Venetian.

These tours all directly support local businesses and give back to the people that are still making a living here.

Colourful houses along a canal in Burano, Venice.

7. Explore the rest of the lagoon

A total of 118 floating islands make up the Comune di Venezia in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, all are inter-linked by over 400 bridges, public bus-like vaporetto routes, and water-taxis. But many visitors never leave the main island.

If you have a few days in Venice, take off on a Vaporetto and explore one of the other islands during the day. Nineteen scheduled water bus routes connect the main island to nearby islands like Murano, Burano, and Lido.

Come back to St Marks and Rialto at night time and you will find there is a lot more room to breathe and there’s still time to take in all of the unmissable sights.

Sustainability in Venice


What is the Venice Tourist Tax?

There are two types of tourist tax in Venice, a city tax is paid through your accommodation (as is the norm throughout Italy), and the new day-tripper tax (initially due to be rolled out in Jan 2023, but has been postponed to 2024) will be paid via an app for anyone entering the city.

Prices will go up in busy periods, and fall in quieter seasons. However, if you are staying for more than one night you will be exempt from this payment.

What is the Venice ‘Detourism’ campaign?

The City of Venice is known for being pretty strict when it comes to tourism management and even has a ‘Detourism’ campaign. Some of their tips to help everyone enjoy the sometimes crammed city are:

  • To be mindful of your surroundings when taking photos.

  • Always walk to the right side of the street.

  • And (like in many Italian cities) don’t sit on the ground or on any public steps to eat or drink - this can lead to congestion and litter (plus the gigantic seagulls will steal your lunch)!

So should I still visit Venice?

All of that being said, Venice is a city that only survives through tourism. It’s what gives the majority of people here employment, so visitors are always very welcome. Venice needs visitors - it just needs us to be a bit more mindful when we visit.

It’s also completely unique. If you’ve been to Venice before it's easy to find the same canal side charms in spots like Chioggia, but nothing quite lives up to the romance of a first visit to Venice.

Plan wisely, and you can help instead of harm this mesmerizingly beautiful sinking city.

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 14 March 2024


Italy is one of those countries that has something for everyone, from food, beaches and mountains to art and ancient history.