The city of Venice has been capturing the imagination of travelers for centuries. About 20 million people visit the city annually, and about five million stay overnight.
There is so much to see in the iconic warren of streets and canals that make up the city of Venice. Its main attractions, such as Saint Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge, are world-famous.
But it Venice safe to visit in 2023? Allow us to explain.
Is Venice Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes, Venice is safe to visit, so feel free to plan your trip! The worst that you might encounter when visiting is crimes that are common in all places that are popular with tourists, such as pickpocketing and scams.
More serious crime is rare. The city is located in Italy, a country that’s generally considered safe for tourists. Most governments, such as Canada, give their travelers the green light to travel to Italy.
Italy is under Canada’s lowest possible travel advisory, which means that tourists are advised just to take regular precautions to protect themselves. Some countries do issue an elevated travel advisory for Italy.
For example, the United States advises its citizens to exercise increased caution in Italy due to the risk of terrorism.
However, terrorism is not a problem that is likely to affect you. Although it is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, it is also one of the country’s smaller cities and doesn’t have much political significance.
There have been plots to target Venice in the past, but they were all foiled. Crime is the more likely threat to visitors to Venice.
Criminal incidents are mostly petty, such as:
- Bag snatching
- Tourist scams
- Verbal harassment
These problems are common in tourist destinations throughout Italy and Europe, and Venice is no exception. There is one problem that is unique to Venice, and that is the acqua alta.
This literally translates to “high water,” is a series of seasonal floods that typically affect Venice in the fall and winter. The city is surrounded by water in the canals and lagoon, so whenever the water level rises, the city naturally floods.
This phenomenon has been happening for centuries, and the Venetian authorities have developed a system to deal with the problem.
The Venetian authorities even put together a series of explainers in English for tourists to prepare them for visiting Venice during the high tide. If you are visiting during fall and winter, your visit may be affected by these periodic floods.
If the floods happen:
- Check the tidal forecast (in Italian, but you can use Google Translate).
- Follow alerts on the web and on your smartphone. The city also sounds sirens when the tide comes in.
- Stick to designated pedestrian routes, which are elevated platforms.
- Visit parts of the city that are more elevated so they are less likely to flood.
- Wear waterproof boots to get around—walking barefoot is dangerous (and illegal).
- Most public transportation vaporetto lines are undisturbed by high water.
The good news is that the acqua alta usually lasts for just a few hours. Within a few hours, the tide recedes, the waters fall away, and Venice returns to normal. Don’t let your worry about the acqua alta stop you from visiting Venice in the fall and winter.
It is not a very dangerous phenomenon and is, in fact, an authentic part of the city experience. Plus, visiting during the colder months means you will have fewer crowds in your way.
Crime in Venice
Crime is definitely the primary concern for visitors to Venice. There are few other dangers, and most crime in Venice tends to target tourists.
For both of these reasons, it’s a good idea to inform yourself about the crime situation before traveling there.
Overall, Venice has a low crime rate. According to Italian crime statistics from 2022, it ranks #18 in terms of its overall crime rate. Its overall crime rate is 3,773.2 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, there is the caveat that the rate per 100,000 people is not the best way to get an accurate picture of crime in Venice. Many crimes affect tourists, who don’t get counted in the population statistics but do in the crime statistics.
Plus, the city has a fairly small population of about 250,000 people overall, with only 50,000 of those people living in the historic city center.
The breakdown of crime in Venice further shows how safe the city is. The province of Venice has one of the lowest homicide rates in Italy, ranking #73 overall, with a homicide rate of 0.1 incidents per 100,000 people.
The rates for other violent crimes, such as mafia violence and armed robbery, are also below the national average. Crime statistics for the province of Venice include more than the city center, such as Mestre and other regions of Veneto on the mainland.
These areas, which tourists only pass through on their way to Venice, usually make up most of the violent crime statistics for Venice. The most common crime in Venice is theft.
Theft is the only crime where Venice ranks above the national average. The rate of theft is 1,773.4 incidents per 100,000 people. Venice is the ninth worst city in Italy when it comes to theft, which is a high position considering its low population.
This view of crime in Venice is backed up by perception. Numbeo, which collects crime data based on public surveys, gives Venice a score of 27.32 out of 100.
That means that most respondents perceived a low risk of overall crime in Venice. However, they said that there is a moderate risk of certain crimes, including petty theft.
Pickpocketing is probably the most common crime in Venice, or at least the most common one that affects tourists. It is so prevalent that one local Venetian woman went viral in the summer of 2023 for filming pickpockets (although she was later criticized for her political views).
The narrow streets provide ample opportunities for pickpockets to get away unnoticed with someone’s valuables, especially when the streets fill up with crowds from the cruise ships in the summer.
Pickpockets tend to target tourists because they know they are more likely to have more cash and valuable documents on them than locals and because they tend to be distracted by their surroundings.
Common locations for pickpockets in Venice include:
- Around the Santa Lucia train station
- On vaporetto lines and other public transportation
- In St. Mark’s Square and other popular tourist locations
The Australian government mentions the risk of pickpocketing in popular tourist destinations such as Venice in its travel advisory for Italy.
It also offers tips for preventing theft, such as remaining alert, putting your belongings in a secure place, and not leaving your valuables unattended. Before exploring Venice, invest in an inconspicuous bag that is hard to snatch.
A fanny pack is a good choice now that they are back in style or a small cross-body bag. Many tourists opt for money belts, but they are not always the best choice because they single you out as a tourist and quickly alert criminals to where you are keeping all of your valuables.
Even if you are awed by Venice as you are walking around, stay alert to potential theft.
Keep your possessions somewhere where you are not likely to ignore their disappearance (that means no phones in back pockets or unzipped purses). Thieves often work in groups, so stay alert to common distraction tactics.
The most common crimes in Venice tend to be non-violent and often rely on deception. Especially since the city has so many tourists, many people have realized that the best way to make money is by scamming tourists.
A common genre of scam is overcharging. Restaurants, especially those in prime tourist locations, are often guilty of this.
While coperto, or service charges, of one or two euros are a common practice in Italy, some in Venice add many other hidden charges. To avoid this scam, always look at the menu before sitting down, and avoid restaurants close to major tourist attractions.
Another common type of scam is people selling false goods or services. Although knock-off designer bag sellers are not as common in Venice as they used to be, they are still present.
You are unlikely to find an authentic Louis Vuitton on the street. You should also be careful of people claiming to be tour guides. The tour guide system is highly regulated in the city, so opt only for an official tour guide.
Finally, be careful of people offering you “help” that will quickly turn into a charge. Scammers offering people help with their luggage or hailing a taxi tend to lurk around the train station or entrances to Venice.
Decline their services as they will aggressively demand payment later. Flower sellers are also common. They will gift a woman a flower and then demand payment from her male companion.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are a few areas in Venice where crime is a bit more common, such as the area right around the Santa Lucia train station and popular St. Mark’s Square.
However, there are no parts of the city that are so dangerous you need to avoid them completely. We just mention these ones because you’ll need to use a bit more caution when visiting, which you should be doing anyway.
Things to Consider
Here are a few common tips to help you stay safe in Venice:
- Be respectful of locals and local laws. Many Venetians are frustrated with the high number of tourists pouring into their city and their often bad behavior, and the local government has put regulations in place around tourist behavior. Avoid behavior such as swimming in the canals, defacing monuments, or putting locks on bridges. Not only is this disrespectful, but you may also earn a fine.
- Be prepared for crowds. Venice is a very popular tourist destination. In the summer, expect to be surrounded by many other visitors, especially in more popular areas of the city.
- Watch your step. The streets can sometimes be slippery, and there aren’t barriers between the street and the canal. Plus, some parts of the city are poorly lit. Be careful when walking around at night, and turn your flashlight on in poorly lit areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other common questions people tend to ask about Venice.
Is it safe to visit Venice right now?
Yes, Venice is safe to visit right now. The city has a low crime rate, just like always, and few other dangers that may affect tourists.
Is it safe to walk around Venice at night?
In terms of crime, it is safe to walk around Venice at night since violent crime is practically non-existent. However, public street lighting is not the best in the city, so you will have to watch your step!
Is it safe to walk in Venice at 5 am?
Venice is safe at any time of day and night, including 5 am. In fact, that is a great time to walk around the city as you get to see it without the crowds.
Can you just walk around Venice?
Walking is the best way to get around Venice, thanks to its network of streets and bridges. There are no cars allowed in the city center.
What to be careful of in Venice?
The most important thing to be careful of in Venice is pickpocketing. Pickpocketing is the most common crime and frequently targets tourists.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
Venice is very safe to visit — as long as you keep your wallet in a safe place. Pickpocketing and petty theft targeting tourists are very common, but you can minimize your risk with basic precautions. Happy travels!