Venice is one of a kind, a unique urban environment, a UNESCO world heritage site and a cultural city of outstanding value. In such a special and beautiful destination, it is important to make sure you go green, and enjoy as sustainable a stay as possible.
#EnjoyRespectVenezia is the city’s awareness campaign to encourage responsible and respectful approaches to the environment, landscape, artistic beauties and identity of Venice. The aim is to raise awareness of tourist impact, in the belief that responsible travel can be sustainable.
The DETOURISM Campaign , run by Venice’s Tourism Department, promotes slow tourism and sustainable tourism in the city – encouraging visitors to come outside of peak season and to venture off the beaten track and explore Venice’s hidden gems – beyond the overcrowded main attractions.
Going Green in Venice involves Getting Off the Beaten Track
While you may wish to see the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge, Venice is far more than just a list of highlights. Taking time to explore the city’s hidden corners and less well known attractions not only reduces your impact; you will also get to know the real Venice and enjoy its beauty in away from the shuffling crowds. Check out the DETOURISM campaign’s magazine for plenty of cool alternative things to see and do.
For getting around, Venice makes green local travel easy! From its centre you can reach any part of the historic city on foot in 30 minutes. And public transport, if you need it, is a pleasure. The water-bus trip down the grand canal, for example, gives you some of the most spectacular views in Europe.
Amongst other things, you should see Venice’s lesser known islands, from the brightly coloured houses of Burano, to the ‘island of the mad’ – San Servolo Insane Asylum – and maybe Poveglia Island – the ‘plague island’ with a dark yet fascinating past. You could also make your way off the tourist circuit to the peaceful island of Torcello, where the city began over 1,500 years ago. Take a public water-bus (See the vaporetto network map ) or informative guided tours.
Going Green means finding Sustainable Accommodation
Finding a sustainable place to stay is key to going green in Venice. Most hotels in Venice make some effort to be eco-friendly, and notable examples include these two 4-star hotels:
• Hotel Corte di Gabriela, San Marco, Venice, where nothing is thrown away, re-using is integral to their philosophy, and there are a range of other eco-friendly features.
• NH Collection Palazzo Barocci, San Marco, Venice part of a truly eco-friendly chain of hotels, covering key issues such as water consumption, reduction, recycling, lower CO2 emissions, biodiversity etc.
A budget-friendly but very pleasant option, where sustainability is treated seriously, is:
• Ca’ Riza Residenza Tipica Veneziana, a friendly B&B in Santa Croce, Venice.
Apartments are often better value than hotels. Some eco-friendly options in Venice can be found at ecobnb.com.
Tripadvisor now has a ‘Green Leaders’ programme which rates member hotels Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum according to their green credentials. As with all such programmes, not all eco-friendly hotels join the programme, and some may get accepted without deserving it, but it can be a useful starting point. Look out for the green leaf symbol under a hotel’s ‘About’ section.
You could also consider a farm stay or tent camping at one of the eco farms in the area around the city, rather than staying within the city itself.
Going Green means Eating and Drinking Sustainably
Venice has fabulous natural drinking water, considered superior in quality to bottled drinking water, much fresher, and provided free throughout the city. Pumped from far below ground and rigorously monitored for quality, it now flows from more than 100 city-wide drinking fountains.
Filling your one bottle from these, instead of buying multiple bottles repeatedly, reduces the vast tonnage of discarded plastic that cities and waterways normally suffer from.
Venice is also an easy place to eat sustainably. If you’re staying in an apartment, you can source fresh local produce at markets such as the famous Rialto market in the city centre, full of local produce from Venetian islands such as Sant’ Erasmo as well as fresh fish of all kinds.
For organic vegetables, try the Mercato Biologico Solidale Aeres on Thursday and Monday mornings in Rio Tera dei Pensieri, in Santa Croce. Or the Thursday morning market (9-10 a.m. only) in front of the women’s prison on Giudecca. Everything here is grown by the female prisoners without the use of chemical products, machinery or fertilisers.
You’ll also find a growing number of organic and health food stores around the city. Find them on the searchable map of Venice, using search terms ‘organic’ or the Italian ‘biologico’.
For dining out, some of the city’s best rated organic and eco-friendly eateries are:
• La Tecia Vegana (Vegan & organic), Callei dei Secchi.
• Le Spighe (Vegan & organic takeaway, with compostable containers), Via Giuseppe Garibaldi.
• Oro, Giudecca.
• Bacarretto Bitrot il Siciliano, Sester Santa Croce.
• All’ombra del Gabbiano, Via Caneve.
Find them on this searchable map.
Going Green in Venice means Buying Local, Sustainable Products.
Like anywhere else, it’s eco-friendly to support local producers, and it’s worth considering this when choosing souvenirs and gifts. The most visited parts of Venice are awash with touristy tat masquerading as ‘souvenirs of Venice’ but actually imported from the other side of the world. It’s more rewarding for both you and the people whose city you are visiting to seek out authentic local products, especially high quality items made by local crafts people.
World-famous Murano glass, exquisitely made carnival masks, and genuine gondolier hats are good examples.
Warning: some shops in the places most frequented by tourists offer sub-standard copies of these products made in China or Taiwan. Ask a local where to find the genuine articles or see these useful lists of authentic local souvenirs and where to find them, here, and here.
Another green option is to buy some of the cool, locally crafted accessories made from recycled materials. Find these at:
• the Mercato Biologico Solidale Aeres (See above).
• ‘Piedaterre‘, selling traditional Venetian Fruilane shoes made from jute bags and other recycled materials
• ‘Dream’, an upcycling store on Calla Seconda dei Saoneri
• ‘Magoga’ an upcycling shop in Castello, with locally hand-crafted bags made from damaged sails.
Counterfeit goods such as cheap handbags with fake designer labels should be avoided. The illegal street traders in the touristy parts of the city may seem harmless, but the criminal gangs who supply them are often involved in much nastier activities.
When going green in Venice, it is always a good idea to befriend some locals, who will be happy to point you in the direction of sustainable and off-beat options, no matter what kind of adventure you are looking to enjoy.
Venice has had issues with the high numbers of tourists who visit here each year, especially the crowds who troop on and off large cruise ships. But it is possible to avoid contributing to the problems that the city faces. As you can see from the above, going green in Venice is easier than you might imagine.