Should I Visit Venice With My Dog?

Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. However, thanks to overcrowding, particularly in the summer months, there are many who advise skipping the city altogether.

Dogs and crowds are not the best combination when travelling, so should you visit Venice with your dog in tow; is it a sensible decision? Based on my own experience, I share my thoughts on whether you should visit Venice with your dog.

Visit Venice with Dog

How Dog-Friendly is Venice?

While in some ways Venice is quite dog-friendly, there are other ways in which the city of romance is far from dog-friendly.

Overcrowding in Venice

The main issue with visiting Venice with a dog is the sheer volume of visitors that the city receives during the peak months over summer. During my visit to the city in mid-September 2017, I had thought that the crowds would have already eased off. But I still found parts of the city to be very crowded during the day.

In particular, the narrow laneways in between the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square were a squeeze to navigate. Additionally, the Vaporetto Line 1 heading back up the main canal to the train and bus stations in late afternoon was rammed full with passengers.

Dog in Venice
Schnitzel next to the Rialto Bridge

While crowds are unpleasant for yourself, if visiting with a dog they can be dangerous. There’s the risk of your dog being stepped on (if they’re not small enough to be carried), plus many dogs would not be comfortable with the crowds and may react badly, or at least hate the experience.

Lack of Grass

Another issue to contend with in Venice is just where you dog can do their business. There is virtually no grass in Venice, at least in the central areas. (Burano has plenty of green grass.) If your dog will only relieve themselves on grass, you may be in for a long and fruitless search.

Dogs on Public Transport

In other aspects, Venice is quite dog-friendly, just like much of Italy. Dogs are allowed to travel on the vaporetto (the water boats that criss-cross Venice) without a ticket. Small dogs should be held or in a carrier, while larger dogs should be leashed. All dogs not in a container should also wear a muzzle, although the rule doesn’t seem to be enforced for small dogs.

Dogs in Cafes and Restaurants

Additionally, many cafes and restaurants allow dogs inside (handy for the colder months), although it’s always best to check with a waiter.

Beautiful Venice!

So Should I Visit Venice with My Dog?

Based on these different factors and my own wonderful experience visiting Venice with my dog, I recommend that you go ahead and visit Venice with your dog. However, carefully consider these points to best enjoy your experience…

Avoid the Peak Summer Season

My top tip to keep in mind if you are visiting Venice with your dog is to avoid the peak season. Even when I visited in mid-September, the city was still crowded with tourists, at least during the day. However, when some friends of mine visited in the depths of winter, they reported that the squares and canals were almost empty, and no crowds were to be found.

Gondola going under a bridge in Venice

Consider visiting Venice with your dog during the off-peak season. In particular, consider visiting between October and March, although it can still be busy during the Carnival festival in February and over the Easter weekend.

Just keep in mind that winter time in Venice also means the risk of flooding. While humans can buy plastic overshoes to protect yourself (except for the really high floods), your dog might not appreciate the water, particularly small dogs, so check the forecast.

Try to Escape the Crowds

Even on busy days, not all of Venice is crowded. In particular, I found the busiest parts of the city to be the Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square and the narrow streets and laneways in between these two areas. If you headed off into the laneways away from this area, you quickly escaped the crowds and sometimes even found yourself to be virtually alone.

Right on the Grand Canal, but without the crowds

In particular, I recommend exploring the following districts:

  • Head into the depths of the San Marco district, in between the bend in the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square
  • Explore the northern Cannareggio district, which includes the former Jewish ghetto and is these days home to many of Venice’s local residents
  • Take a ferry to the distant island of Burano, home to colourful houses and plenty of grass!
Colourful houses in Burano

Should You Stay Overnight in Venice?

I’m in two minds whether to recommend you to stay in Venice with your dog. For starters, even if you’re not staying with a dog, the accommodation prices are about the most expensive in all of Italy, and the presence of Airbnbs in Venice is pricing out many locals.

But on the other hand, I probably enjoyed Venice most in the early morning and the evening, when the crowds of day-trippers had left the city. Our small apartment next to Grand Canal didn’t offer a view, but we could perch at the front of the former palace in the evening, enjoying a glass of wine next to the canal, watching the boats go past.

And there was also the big plus that the building we stayed in had a private grass lawn in the rear, which we could make use of during the day, as well as morning and night.

The Grand Canal in the evening

I’ll leave it up to you and what accommodation options you find available in your price range. If you do stay outside of Venice, there will be far cheaper options, and you can easily take a ferry or train into the city for the day.

The surrounding coastline also offers up some dog-friendly beaches, perfect for a stay in the warmer months.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing Ideas for Venice

So, you’ve decided to visit Venice with your dog and you’re now looking for ideas of what to do! Sadly, stepping inside St Mark’s or the other famous churches of Venice and its many museums is not possible with your pup. Instead, consider the following dog-friendly options.

Schnitzel checking out the houses in Burano
  1. Take a gondola ride with your pup – there’s no rules against dogs in gondolas, as long as you can afford the hire fee!
  2. Visit St Mark’s Square and admire the ornate front of the Basilica, plus perhaps chase some pigeons.
  3. Go for a stroll and get lost in the countless laneways, just taking whichever branch you feel like.
  4. Take a half-day trip to Burano and check out the colourful houses.
  5. Visit the Giardini (garden) part of the Venice Biennale, held in odd-numbered years. According to the website, small pets are allowed in the green area of the Giardini.
  6. Sit at an outdoor table and enjoy a Spritz Veneziano (such as an Aperol Spritz) or Bellini, both of which were invented in Venice.
Visiting Venice with a dog
Schnitzel peering down a canal

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4 thoughts on “Should I Visit Venice With My Dog?”

  1. Thanks for such a great post! Although I’ve been to Venice once (in a faraway 2001), I’m going again this weekend with my two little sidekicks, my Chihuahua Daisy and my PomChi, Candace.

    Hope my girls will enjoy Venice as much as Schnitzel did!

    Reply
  2. Hi. Thanks for a great post. We have just returned from a month in Venice with our miniature Wire Haired Dachshund called Badger. We all had a fantastic time. We loved having Badger with us, and it was the start of so many interesting conversations. If you travel as a couple very often people hesitate the strike up a conversations with you. But with a cute dog in tow lots of people want to say hello and hear about how you made it to Venice with your furry friend! There were also lots of other miniature Wire Haired Dachshunds in Venice (even our Airbnb host had one) so of course that was always the start of a conversation/bark/wag.

    Here are a few of tips:

    1) We stayed in a dog friendly Airbnb apartment on the Cannaregio Canal, and it turned out to be a great area and very good for Badger. There are three nice parks with grass where Badger could have a good snuffle about: Parco Savorgnan, Parco di Villa Groggia and a bit further away from us Giardini Papadopoli. Officially dogs are supposed to be on leads in these parks but nobody took much notice of that. Cannaregio is an area popular with locals, but has a lively, young feel thanks to the university sites dotted around the area. There are loads of great and amazingly cheap (for Venice) bars and restaurants – check out Trattoria Marisa on the Cannaregio Canal – awesome fixed fish menu in evenings with 4 courses and wine for Euro 45 per person! Closed Sun, Mon, Wed evenings.

    2) Badger was welcome in all the restaurants, bars and shops we went to (including the fabulous top-end Locanda Cipriani restaurant on Torcello) but some of the swanky hotels with rooftop bars we wanted to go to said sorry but no dogs (Settimo Cielo Rooftop at the Bauer Palazzo, and Skyline rooftop bar at the Hilton Molino Stucky).

    3) If you want to go into the incredible museums or churches, and there are two of you, then will need to take it turns because dogs are not allowed in. The Venice Biennale (Art festival) was on when we visited and this is largely based in massive gardens where your dog can come also. The individual pavilions that house the Art are closed to dogs (other than the French one who said “Oui of course – we are French”  ).

    4) Dogs go free on the Vaporettos. Pick up small dogs if its very busy so they don’t get trodden on. If your staying a while consider getting the 5 year frequent use/resident card from an ACTV office (take your passport). This costs €100 and lasts 5 years but you can then buy a cheap monthly pass (for use in a specified month) for all Vaporettos for just €30, and cheaper single tickets.

    5) Want to go to the beach for a chill. Well the Lido is just 15 minutes vaporetto ride from St Mark’s Square. However almost all the beaches on the Lido say “no dogs”. However we discovered a lovely beach that is specifically setup for dogs, and has sun beds, umbrellas and a wonderful restaurant/bar. Its called Pachuka Beach Bar (aka the “Bau Bau” beach i.e. “woof woof” beach in Italian), at the very north end of the Lido, 3 minute taxi ride from the Lido Vaporetto stop (SME). Big, sandy beach and not busy. In September a day on the beach with 2 x sunbeds and umbrella was €25. Food at restaurant was excellent.

    6) If you all want to go to a no dogs venue one evening (e.g. La Fenice Opera House) then you might be able to organise a dog sitter. Our Airbnb host recommended one for us who came to our apartment and looked after Badger. There were a few growls at the start, but copious treats won Badger over. I can put you in contact if you reach out to me at [email protected].

    7) Nothing to do with dogs but if you like swimming, there is a great public pool 25 metres long called Piscina Sant’Alvise, just next door to the Parco di Villa Groggia. You MUST have flip-flops and a swimming cap, but other than that anyone can go. Closed at weekends unfortunately, and also for a couple of weeks in August.

    Reply

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