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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 24 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Nicky Swallow

Dishes, both fish and meat-based, are seasonal, prepared with the minimum of fuss and often dressed with just olive oil, a little lemon and seasoning. In spring and summer, menus feature abundant fresh vegetables, many sourced from the  island of Sant’Erasmo.

You’ll find unique ingredients in Venetian restaurants such as moeche (soft-shelled crabs), and schie (tiny grey prawns).

Meals are traditionally divided into antipasti (starters), primi (soup, pasta), secondi (meat, fish) and dolce (dessert).

What to try

Venetian specialities include baccalà mantecato (creamed salt cod), sarde in soar (sardines with onions and vinegar) and seppie  (inky black squid) with polenta. Fegato alla Veneziana (liver with onions) and beef carpaccio are good choices for non-fish eaters. Also see Nicky’s round-up of the traditional Italian foods you must try in Italy.

Cichetti are Venetian tapas, tasty morsels to whet the appetite and soak up a glass of wine or two. A plate of cichetti is one of the cheapest ways to fill up in this expensive city; 6 or 7 make a light meal, and at an average price of €2, along with a glass of inexpensive local wine, that’s a bargain.

Veneto wines are among Italy’s best. Reds include Valpolicella,  Bardolino and the hefty Amarone while whites include Prosecco, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Manzoni Bianco.

Spritz, the ubiquitous orange-coloured aperitivo, is a Venetian institution;  served on ice with a green olive and a slice of orange, it is made with Aperol, Campari or Select (a Venetian bitter) plus prosecco and a squirt of soda.

The dining scene

Like all cities, Venice has its share of white-cloth, Michelin starred establishments serving (pricey) gourmet riffs on the traditional cuisine. Locals mainly eat at simple neighbourhood trattorias, serving hearty home-cooked local food.

Cicheti are traditionally served in a bacaro (wine bar), which also offer wines by the glass; Venetians eat cichetti before lunch or dinner, usually standing at the bar.

Avoid anywhere touting a set ‘menu turistico’.

Recommendations

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Cicchetti Crawl

Venice, Veneto, Italy

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Bucket List Experience
Cicchetti Crawl

Cicchetti are Venetian tapas, traditionally served in a bacaro (wine bar), and often eaten by the Venetians before lunch or dinner. Take a cicchetti tour – guided or independent –  and sample these weird and wonderful dishes.

Adult price: £-

Best for ages 13+

Duration: -

Coffee at Café Florian

Venice, Veneto, Italy

Coffee at Café Florian

Dating from 1720, world-famous Florian’s is a jewel-box of a café, all mirrors, stuccoes and frescoes. Join the locals perched at the bar rather than pay way over the odds for a table seat where a simple espresso is likely to set you back €10.

Best for ages 13+

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Drogheria Mascari

Venice, Veneto, Italy

Drogheria Mascari

A perfect place for foodie gifts, this deliciously retro grocery shop sells a fabulous range of exotic spices, dried fruits and mushrooms plus wines, olive oil and vinegars from all over Italy. The range of coffees and teas is also excellent.

Best for ages 13+

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Locanda Cipriani

Venice, Veneto, Italy

Locanda Cipriani

For a special lunch on a beautiful garden terrace, hop over to Torcello and this iconic restaurant; Ernest Hemmingway and Princess Diana were fans. People come for the peaceful, bucolic setting as much as the food – pasta with scampi and seabass with artichokes, maybe.

Adult price: £30

Best for ages 18+

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Rialto Market

Venice, Veneto, Italy

Exterior of the square market building

Venetians have shopped and haggled at this food market on the banks of the Grand Canal since 1097 AD. It’s a mosaic of stalls piled with aubergines, tomatoes, vats of artichoke hearts and (under the arched Pescaria) a zillion varieties of wriggling, glistening fish.

Best for ages 13+

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More details >

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

In Venice, it pays to steer clear of the most touristy areas to avoid inflated prices and mediocre food. Instead, wander through some of the quieter neighbourhoods (along the Fondamenta Misericordia in northern Canareggio, in and around Via Garibaldi in Castello, the area in and around  the Zattere in Dorsoduro) to find places where Venetians go to eat and drink.

Venetian resident Monica’s blog about life and food in Venice is a reliable and interesting source of information about the city, and has excellent foodie recommendations.

A fun way to enjoy the cicheti tradition and to sample the wide variety on offer is to take a cicheti crawl.

When to do it

Venice is not a late-night city; normal dinner time is 7.30pm or 8pm (maybe  8.30 in high summer), and the streets in all but the most central areas are often deserted by 11pm. Cicheti are traditionally eaten before lunch (from around noon) or dinner (from around 6pm). A Spritz works at almost any time of the day!

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Eat Like a Local: 3-hour Venice Small-Group Food Tasting Walking Tour

Venice

Eat Like a Local: 3-hour Venice Small-Group Food Tasting Walking Tour
Fall in love with Venice, through your 3-hour discovery of the gastronomic tradition of the city, through a uniquely designed small-group, walking food and wine tour of the lesser known places to tourists. With at least 13 tastings from well-known restaurants and bars to the locals, between sipping some glasses of wonderful local wines, and trying some of the best restaurants in Venice with the guidance of your expert foodie, you will also get to hear about its unique histories of what makes Venice a truly wonderful place.

Price: €89

Min age: 0

Rating 4.66 / 5 [1431 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Eat, drink and repeat: Wine tasting tour in Venice

Venice

Eat, drink and repeat: Wine tasting tour in Venice
There is no other region that boasts such a winemaking diversity as Veneto:  From the embraced-around- the-world elegant wine Prosecco to a hearty red Amarone ... Veneto has it all.  Being a part of the Veneto region, when it comes to choices of drinks, Venice has a lot to offer with lots of lovely bars with spectacular wines. On this tour, you will  get to experience Venice in a glass with 6 different regional wines at 6 different bars or restaurants paired with savory regional food from famous bars, restaurants. If you would like to learn how to wine and eat like a local here in Venice this tour is for you.  * This wine-focused tour with food pairings offer regional wines from red, white, sparkly and desert wines depending on the time of the year and what seasonal dishes we are pairing it with on that day.

Price: €90

Min age: 16

Rating 4.79 / 5 [588 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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PRIVATE The 10 Tastings Food Tour of Venice: Spritz Included

Venice

PRIVATE The 10 Tastings Food Tour of Venice: Spritz Included
Eat your way through Venice's culinary scene on a private food tour. Go on a delicious journey as you try 10 of the best food items beloved by the locals: from savory to sweet and local drinks; this tour will leave every foodie satisfied! Enjoy tastings typical of the local cuisine and hand-picked by a local guide passionate about food like spritz and gelato. But that's not it! This tour is more than just food; it's a cultural experience! In between food stops, you'll also find city highlights making this experience a well-rounded tour that will satisfy every foodie. Withlocals The 10 Tastings Private Food Tour™ is one of Withlocals' signature tours available in major cities worldwide. We work with passionate local guides who earn a fair fee. We support local economies by only offering local produce and prevent over-tourism with only small non-intrusive groups. Our tours are carbon-neutral and away from the standard tourist routes.

Price: €212

Min age: 1

Rating 4.79 / 5 [441 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Venice Street Food Tour with Local Guide with Local Food Market Visit

Venice

Venice Street Food Tour with Local Guide with Local Food Market Visit
Taste delicious specialties and visit the highlights of the city on waters while you walk from one stop to another. This 2.5 hour small group tour is led by a local top-rated guide. Explore Rialto Market, beautiful squares and magnificent churches.  See Basilica dei Frari (outside), Campo Santa Margherita, San Polo , the Grand Canal, and savor authentic Venitian food such as different kinds of cicchetti (local appetizers), cheese, buranelli, dessert and much more! You will also get precious suggestions from your guide on how to spend best your holiday in the city. Our local guide will take you to taste the best of the street food scene of Venice while you learn fun facts and curiosities about the local life. The tour will start and finish in central Venice. It will all be by walking, since there are no cars in the city. You will be crossing several bridges on the canals so wear comfortable shoes.

Price: €44

Min age: 0

Rating 4.67 / 5 [423 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Venice Food Tour - Do Eat Better Experience

Venice

Venice Food Tour - Do Eat Better Experience
The Do Eat Better Experience food tour is a walking tour around the historical center of Venice. The tourist is guided by a "Foodie", a local "buddy" able to explain every detail of the selected eateries, their preparations, and the relevant history/curiosities. Do Eat Better Experience tours are a mix of high-quality gastronomy as a way of showing Italian culture and lifestyle and a walking experience together with a local friend. This is the reason why we accept small groups only: we want to focus on a genuine exchange and give to each tourist the highest attention possible. Please, note that the tour is always run in English and Italian; other languages upon request.

Price: €92

Min age: 0

Rating 4.77 / 5 [317 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Venice

Veneto, Italy

Venice

Crammed with picturesque canals, Renaissance palazzos and artistic masterpieces, this unique and alluring city is heaven-on-earth for art lovers and romantics.