Venice city tours are ideal for any eco-tourist considering a European holiday and Venice is an obvious choice for more than one reason. With its lack of motorised transport, the last thing you have to concern yourself with are vehicle emissions.
At around 1400 years old, Venice is situated towards the north east of Italy around 175 miles from Milan. Known for its lack of roads and gondola transport, the city that is built on water is regarded by many as one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world.
Getting around on Venice city tours
What better way for the green traveller to start their vacation than by a tour on a traditional Venetian merchant boat. The Venice Lagoon Discovery tour lasts around 3 hours and will take you on a journey through Venice's numerous islands and to the San Francesco del Deserto monastery, where you will take a guided tour with a resident monk.
There is also a scheduled stop on one of the islands, where you can relax and enjoy a picnic while admiring the city's fortress. All of the guides speak English and are said to be very knowledgeable, so you're likely to learn a lot during your excursion. There is even a complementary glass of wine or a soft drink to quench your thirst as you take in the wonderful scenery.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to negotiate your way around Venice on foot, and for those who would rather be on solid ground the Avventure Bellissime's Original Venice Walking Tour is a great place to start. The tour begins at the Royal Gardens and ends at the Rialto Bridge and includes a visit to St Mark's Basilica.
As well as a tour of some of the more famous aspects of Venice, this tour will take you slightly off the beaten track, showing you some of the quainter aspects of the city. The tour doesn't run 7 days a week all year-round, so do check whether the tour is operating before making plans. Furthermore, access to the Basilica is dependent on water levels and this is a part of the tour you really won't want to miss, so it would be advisable to look into this before booking.
A good eco base for your Venice city tour
For those on a budget, a good base for your visit to Venice is Residenza Santa Croce. Beds start from around EUR21 per night and it has a good rating. Not everyone is keen on sharing a dormitory, so if you are looking for reasonably priced accommodation with a little privacy there are private rooms available.
When it comes to quality, self-sustaining hotel accommodation, there isn't a huge amount to choose from in Venice. However, there are one or two worth considering when booking; the Hotel Villa Edera is a three star hotel and has a good reputation for being eco-friendly. However, the hotel isn't in the most convenient location and you will need to get a water bus across to the main island to enjoy most of what Venice has to offer.
An alternative that also has a good reputation is The Caponi Bros bed and breakfast. Located only 150 meters from the train station, this is an ideal base to head off from every day on your various Venice city tours. It's quite affordable, with double rooms costing between EUR50 -80 per night. The accommodation is quite basic; however, in a city as beautiful as Venice, it is unlikely visitors will be spending too much time at the hotel anyway.
Eating out in Venice
Truly organic restaurants aren't easy to find in Venice but the Caffe Orientale Tearoom is worth a visit if you're a vegetarian. Easy on the pocket, this lovely caf? is located in the Santa Croce area of Venice and also has a selection of vegan friendly items on the menu. However, when visiting do remember to take cash with you as they do not accept cards.
Markets for the green traveller in Venice
For the best part, markets in Venice are very much scattered around the city, with many smaller markets in alleyways and on corners. However, for those looking for something a little larger, head for the Rialto district where you will find the Rialto Market. Located by the Grand Canal, this market is where the local Venetians and tourists flock to purchase their food. Awash with fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as a great fish market, this is definitely the market to visit for authentic and fresh Italian produce. If you don't like crowds though, you may want to get there early as it can get very busy as the day goes on. Be careful as well, there is the odd stall looking to ensnare tourists with cheap trinkets at over inflated prices.
Culture and architecture for the Green Traveller
No trip to Venice would be complete without a trip to Piazza San Marco. St Mark's square is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world and is a must for anyone visiting Venice. Throughout the square there is beautiful architecture to be seen, such as the famous Campaline bell tower. The tower is around 1000 years old and is well worth the trip to the top to admire the square. The central point of the square is Basilica San Marco, one of the finest pieces of architecture in Venice and the finest example of Byzantine architecture.
There is a fee for anyone visiting the Basilica San Marco, as well as some of the other sites on the Piazza. However, you may want to pop into a local tourist board where there are better value tickets which you can purchase that will allow you entrance into most of the more popular attractions.
As a city built on water, Venice is an ideal location for any eco-tourist. A beautiful and serene environment, with a maze of canals and paths, a trip to Venice is likely to leave green visitors relaxed and eager to return.
Photo credit Arian Zwegers